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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 12 May 2010

You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there’s a day when you turn round, catching them unexpectedly, and they’re just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)

Bruce Wayne angry!  Grrr!!!!! Hi-YAAAA! Hey ladies in the place I'm callin' out to ya! So many great covers in this series! The covers of this story arc are SPOOKY!!!!! There's a distressing lack of gunplay in this issue! Okay, I've never seen Tora with long hair.  Never ever ever.  Why does she have long hair on this cover? What a fine way to die! I don't hate this Humberto Ramos cover! So much detail! Man, I did NOT see that coming! Sinkiewiczey! Templar-iffic!

BatmanReturnofBruceWayne1Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 (of 6) (“Shadow on Stone”) by Grant “You’d read a thesis on Bulgarian cabbage recipes if I wrote it, wouldn’t you, fanboys?” Morrison (writer), Chris Sprouse (penciller), Karl Story (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $3.99, 38 pgs, FC, DC.

Is this the first time we’ve seen that the other heroes know that Bruce is alive? As I don’t read enough DC comics, I don’t know if this has been brought up before. It’s refreshing, because there’s no suspense about whether the other heroes will be SHOCKED when Bruce inevitably shows up. I assume they know because Dick Grayson told them about the body of Bruce not being exactly Bruce, but did we see it in any comic? Anyway, it’s neat.

Morrison fascinates me. This issue has a generic plot, but it’s kind of fun. In the hands of a lesser writer, this would suck, but it doesn’t. I’m sure Sprouse’s art has quite a bit to do with it, because Sprouse is, you know, excellent, but the story zips along nicely. The thing about Morrison is that he doesn’t waste any words. He doesn’t over-explicate, which is nice. Some people might get grumpy about it, but it simply streamlines the comic and makes it more “realistic” even as he gets stranger and stranger. Things feel disjointed because they are, but that’s the way a lot of life is. We don’t get the big picture because it’s, well, big. Some of Morrison’s comics might seem to speed by (like, say, Joe the Barbarian #1) because he’s counting on us to relax and take our time puzzling everything out. This is, perhaps, why he’s so polarizing. It IS frustrating reading a Morrison comic where “nothing happens,” because he does know, after all, that he’s writing in small increments for an impatient audience, so why can’t he give us something? Someone who is new to Morrison might not come back, because they might feel like it’s a waste of time. I get that. If you just look at this issue as even part of a six-issue mini-series bringing back Bruce Wayne, you might be a bit lost and wonder what the hell is going on. But Morrison writes on a much bigger tapestry, so this is a sequel to Final Crisis and also a companion piece to Batman and Robin. I get annoyed when Marvel gives us twenty different Avengers books and tries to tie them all together, so why don’t I get annoyed by this? Well, partly because I trust Morrison. But also because it’s Morrison’s corner of the DCU, so it’s easy to follow. Morrison tends to ignore what’s going on in the bigger DCU (he pays some lip service to it, but that’s it), so there’s no need to get anything else. And the grand tapestry, when it’s completed (and he will complete it some day, right? Right? Is this thing on?), will be a sight to behold. At least I think it will be, based on what he’s done before. I have that confidence in him, much more than I have in pretty much every writer out there.

“Chief Savage has angered the sun.” Tee-hee.

One panel of awesome:

Yee-ha!

Yee-ha!

BlackWidow2Black Widow #2 (“The Name of the Rose Part Two”) by Marjorie Liu (writer), Daniel Acuña (artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

If Natasha was jumping down off of a building, her hair wouldn’t do that, would it? I mean, unless there was a pretty stiff crosswind. Just sayin’.

So in this issue, we find out what Natasha had inside her that was ripped out of her in issue #1, and it’s not a bad idea. And the government wants Natasha because they think she’s gone rogue. I’m actually quite glad that the superheroes – Hawkeye (is it Clint again?), Tony Stark, and James Barnes – tell the government man to jump in a lake. I mean, sure, Natasha has been a bad guy in the past, but who hasn’t? Certainly not those three fine gentlemen! Natasha busts on out of the hospital and goes hunting, running into Elektra at the end of the issue. It’s a fairly tense issue even though not a ton of stuff happens – the most action we get is when the government tries to apprehend our heroine – but Liu has done a good job in these two issues of establishing a mood and giving us enough information to keep things interesting. Unlike last issue, where I thought Natasha was taken down just a bit too easily, in this issue she kicks a bunch of butt after she’s been sliced open and then stitched back together. So that’s hard core.

I should point out that in this issue, we get an example of obscuring a female nipple (because, you know, we might go blind if we see one in a comic) that makes sense. Natasha strips off the bandages around her abdomen and puts new bandages on, and in two different panels, Acuña does a good job making sure we don’t see areolae in a natural way. Well done! If you’re going to pretend that 10-year-olds still read your comics, at least don’t make it too obnoxious when you hide things.

This is a second solid issue in a row, and I continue to hope that the series does well. And if you haven’t picked it up yet, next issue promises a cat fight! How can you resist?

One panel of awesome:

Did I mention that Natasha is hard core?

Did I mention that Natasha is hard core?

BoosterGold32Booster Gold #32 (“Tense Future”) by Keith Giffen (plotter), J. M. DeMatteis (scripter), Chris Batista (penciller), Rich Perrotta (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

You may recall that I read a few issues of Booster Gold when Dan Jurgens was working on it. I didn’t love it. It wasn’t bad, but like much of Jurgens’ work, it was completely bland. Jurgens is like the Barry Manilow of comics – his stuff is pleasant enough as background music, but do you really want to pay top dollar for the front row at a concert? So I just wasn’t interested in getting Booster Gold, but now that Giffen and DeMatteis have taken over, I suppose I should give this a try, right?

Well, I’m not sure if I’m going to continue buying it, but it’s certainly an improvement. I mean, Giffen and DeMatteis have honed their craft for years, so they’re good at it, and they know when to throw in some serious stuff too. Booster arrives just in time to see the start of the Great Darkness War, as Darkseid is busy destroying Daxam and Booster has to get something off-planet (and out of that time period) before the big rock dude can get his fat mitts on it. Booster gets the artifact easily enough, but he tries to save a bunch of non-Daxamites who happened to be on the planet when Darkseid arrived. As no one knows who he is, this leads to jokes about, well, who he is, and how nobody trusts Booster very much. Then the Emerald Empress shows up, and there’s a fight, and things get a bit darker. One thing that people often overlook about Giffen and DeMatteis is that they can do “dark” better than a lot of writers (this is surprising, as they both started out in the biz writing very serious stuff, but they’ve been riffing on the Justice League for so long that some people tend to forget that), and when this gets dark, it gets way dark (but not graphic – Giffen and DeMatteis, unlike far too many writers these days, don’t get those two adjectives confused). So we get a new addition to the cast (I assume the new addition will be around for a while) and this issue leads directly into the new Justice League mini-series (see below). It’s not bad.

But I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to keep buying it. If Giffen and DeMatteis write stories like this, they’ll be entertaining, but this still feels like a series that only exists to wallow in DC continuity. I don’t have a problem with that, but I’m not sure if it’s my cup of tea (and I don’t even like tea!). The reason why I might keep buying it is because of the way Booster handles the crisis on Daxam. He tries to be goofy, then tries to be a hero, but realizes he can’t be a hero to everyone. It’s a good story that doesn’t force the reader to rely on knowledge of other titles to make an emotional connection with the characters. If Giffen and DeMatteis keep doing that, I might have to keep buying this. We’ll see. A good start, though.

One panel of awesome:

Why, his experience is positively HAIR-raising!

Why, his experience is positively HAIR-raising!

Daytripper6Daytripper #6 (of 10) (“33″) by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (writers/artists), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

As I’ve written before, knowing the ending of this story helps immensely, because it makes certain things during the course of the issue more meaningful. In this issue, Brás is sent to the airport to cover a plane crash and then write obituaries for everyone who died. It becomes a testament to his writing ability and a way to connect more deeply with those he cares about. When his best friend goes missing, he believes that he was on the plane, but it turns out he was just freaking out, as he was on the next plane out of Rio de Janiero. So he’s having his own crisis of faith, but Moon and Bá show us how Brás is able to become even closer to him and his wife thanks to writing these obituaries. As usual with this series, the twins are bringing death into life to make the latter more important, and they’re doing a fine job of it. It’s impressive how they manage to shine lights on so many different facets of life and death and keep it fresh. And, of course, the art is magnificent.

I’m really loving this series. I can’t say it’s getting better because it started out so well, but the twins’ writing is becoming tighter, which is nice. I’m looking forward to the next four issues as much as I’ve looked forward to the first six!

One panel of awesome:

That's just a gorgeous image!

That's just a gorgeous image!

Fables95Fables #95 (“Rose Red Chapter Two: Snow White and Rose Red”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Willingham does something interesting in this issue: He tells a straight-forward fairy tale. He basically retells the fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, with the enchanted prince/bear and the grumpy dwarf whose beard Snow White cuts off in increments. It’s kind of bizarre, because Willingham has simply assumed we know the fairy tales behind these characters, and some are far more obscure than this one. The one thing he does is add an undercurrent of danger with the bear and his nursery rhyme “Snowy-white, Rosy-red, Will you beat your lover dead?”, which is far creepier in Willingham’s hands than in the original. He also shows that this story is being told because Rose Red, in the present, is talking to her mother, who tells her there’s more to the story. That will, of course, be revealed next issue. As this story is cribbed almost totally from the original, Willingham’s writing doesn’t really come into it too much, but Buckingham, as usual, is tremendous. He has to be good at animals on this title, and his bear is large and threatening yet still a bit cuddly. It’s hard to imagine him going all feral on the dwarf, but Buckingham sells it well (and, in terms of animals, his eagle is amazing). Meanwhile, the dwarf is much the same way – he looks totally non-threatening when we first see him, except for the fact that his eyes are blank white holes, and as we move through the story, he becomes more and more horrid. Buckingham is excellent, and it’s a pleasure to watch him bring Willingham’s scripts to life. Here, he just needs to bring an old fairy tale to life, and he excels at that, too.

We’ll see what the mom has to say about Snow White next issue. I’m sure it will be gripping!

One panel of awesome:

He's so adorable and cranky!

He's so adorable and cranky!

FrenemyoftheState1Frenemy of the State #1 (“Codename: Noob Part One”) by Rashida Jones (writer), Christina Weir (writer), Nunzio DeFilippis (writer), Jeff Wamester (artist), Rob Ruffalo (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

All right, I have no idea who Rashida Jones is. I had to Google her, and, well, dang. But as I don’t watch The Office (yeah, I know) or Parks and Recreation and haven’t seen I Love You, Man, I don’t have any idea if she’s a good actress or not. More than that, I have no idea if she’s a good writer or not. More than that, I have no idea how much she actually contributed to this series. She’s listed as a writer, but how much did she write? Beats me. I picked this series up because Weir and DeFilippis are wildly underrated writers, especially when they’re not writing mid-level Marvel comics (which this isn’t) or when they are writing cool mystery/espionage stuff (which this is). So if Jones did nothing more than name the character or write the brief tweets on the first two pages or whether she wrote the whole thing and is just letting Weir and DeFilippis take the credit, I don’t care. Because this is a fine first issue, one with a lot of potential.

The story is simple: Ariana von Holmberg, a young socialite, attends the birthday party of her “frenemy,” Haven Douglas. While she’s there, she breaks into Haven’s father’s safe. Why? Well, in a flashback, we see that she tracked down her cheating boyfriend and hacked several security systems to do so. As her boyfriend’s father is a senator, this brought her to the attention of the gub’mint, who decided to use her skillz instead of chucking her in prison. So now she’s a spy. Well, of course she is!

Ari finds out what the MiB want her to steal from the safe, but it’s not what she thinks. More than that, she’s discovered. Oh dear. The issue ends with her falling toward the street. That’s a good place for a cliffhanger!

This is a fun first issue. We begin with faux-Twitter updates letting us know who’s who, which isn’t a bad device. Then we get, briefly, the nasty rivalry between Ari and Haven, which is nicely done in only a short conversation. The biggest set piece of the issue is Ariana tracking her boyfriend, which lets us know how good she is at doing this sort of thing. We get plenty of intriguing background about our heroine, but not enough so that there’s not still some mystery about her. And the writers do a good job satirizing the lifestyle of the rich and beautiful, as Ariana is unfazed by the fact that the gub’mint knows all about her – “E! had a special report about me losing my virginity,” she tells the spooky CIA dude, so how can they scare her by telling her they know all her secrets? It’s a nifty set-up, and leaves a lot of story opportunities moving forward.

Wamester has a nice style that reminds of someone, but I can’t quite put my finger on whose. I hate Ariana’s hair style, but otherwise, he does a good job with the action of the book and gives the characters a lot of personality, especially the star and Haven, her rival. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, but then again, he’s not asked to. He tells the story well, and that’s perfectly fine. I’m curious to see what he does with a more challenging script. We’ll see.

Give Frenemy of the State a look! Do you really need to spend four dollars on Siege? Here’s a hint: The good guys win! There! Now you don’t have to read it!

One panel of awesome:

Ha!  You tools!

Ha! You tools!

JusticeLeagueGenerationLost1Justice League: Generation Lost #1 (“Part One: Gone But Not Forgotten”) by Keith Giffen (plotter), Judd Winick (plotter/scripter), Aaron Lopresti (penciller), Matt Ryan (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 32 pgs, FC, DC.

I’ve written before about how my overwhelming love for some characters makes me buy comics I otherwise wouldn’t, but how I can also resist that urge, unlike, unfortunately, far too many of the comics-buying public. I mean, I love Looker but can’t stand Vampire Looker, so I’m not going to read comics with her in them, am I? And the good thing about this is that the characters I love often don’t show up too often – I mean, I know Rogue basically has her own book these days, but it hasn’t interested me. Dazzler hardly ever shows up (and no, even her presence couldn’t get me to buy that recent undead thing), and Psylocke was dead for a while. I still give Moon Knight a long rope, but I actually like most of his most recent series (I count the current one and the previous one as one long series, because there didn’t seem to be any reason for a reboot). And then there’s Beatriz DaCosta. I bought the most recent incarnation of Checkmate because Greg Rucka writes those kind of comics really, really well, and the fact that Bea was in it was just icing on the cake (if you’ll forgive, for a moment, the image that brings up in my mind). And here she is again, showing up in Justice League: Generation Lost, which I must admit, I bought almost solely because she was in it. How can I be objective when Beatriz is in a comic? HOW?!?!?!?

This isn’t a bad issue, for what it is, but the entire idea behind it bothers me. I still can’t deal with Maxwell Lord as a villain, especially as his motivation for being a villain – saving the world from superheroes – is so stupid and poorly developed. I’m not sure who decided that Maxwell Lord had to be a villain, but couldn’t they have figured it out a little better? Whenever I read a story with Max as a villain, it feels really off, because it feels so arbitrary. It’s almost as if DC Editorial had every single character except for the Big Three on the wall and someone threw a dart at the wall, hitting Max. “Hey,” said someone, “I guess we’re making Maxwell Lord a bad guy!” And, of course, I wonder why he can’t be rehabilitated. How many deaths is he personally responsible for? I mean, Hal Jordan destroyed the universe and got to blame it on a giant insect and everyone loves him again. Poor Maxwell Lord. Geoff Johns didn’t have a nerd boner for him in the 1980s, so he gets to stay a villain. And you know how we know he’s a villain? On the final page, he’s smoking a cigarette. THE HORROR! He must be hunted down and killed like the dog he is!!!!!!!

And as a villain, the response of the heroes to him seems wildly out of proportion. I mean, based on what he actually does in this issue, I suppose it’s good that they take him seriously, but at the beginning of this issue, they have a worldwide manhunt for him, enlisting every single hero who’s ever put on a cape and cowl? How frickin’ powerful is this dude, anyway? Back in the day, he could only control one person at a time, and then he got those nose bleeds. The way his big scheme unfolds in this book, it appears he loses more blood than any human should be able to lose and remain, you know, alive. Yet Batman seems to be shaking in his boots when talking about him. Yes, the Batman who single-handedly defeated Darkseid. It just seems like an extreme response to Maxwell Lord. Did coming back to life beef up his power somehow? Help me, DC Nerdlings!

Oh, the issue? Well, it’s not a bad start. Winick’s dialogue isn’t quite as painful as I remember it can be, and he and Giffen keep things zipping along. Bea, Tora, and Captain Atom find a bomb in a cave, the energy of which Atom must absorb and which seems oddly irrelevant, but I’m sure it won’t be. Meanwhile, Booster figures out where Max is and almost gets beaten to death when he flies in alone. And then Max unleashes his secret weapon. It’s kind of clever, actually. If it weren’t for all the things that were bugging me about Max and his ways, I’d probably enjoy it more. And it’s been a while since I’ve seen Lopresti’s art, but it’s quite good. It’s solid superhero fare, and he doesn’t overdo Power Girl’s attributes, and Tora looks great in her early moments of indecision, and Max in the midst of executing his master plan is a bit scary. Lopresti’s not doing the entire series (it’s a bi-weekly series), but I kind of wish he was, as Joe Bennett isn’t as good (and I don’t recognize Fernando Dagnino, the other artist). But I’m surprised by how good he is. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve seen his stuff.

One more thing that bugs me (yes, there’s a lot that bugs me). In the DC Nation column at the end of the book, Michael Siglain, the editor of this comic, writes: “For those of you who don’t remember the classic JLI … they were the laughingstock of the super hero community. The underdogs. The NY Mets to the NY Yankees.” I usually don’t read the DC Nation columns, and I wish I hadn’t read this. This really annoys me. I have no idea how old Siglain is or how long he’s worked for DC, but has he actually read the old JLI series? It’s fashionable to consider them the “laughingstock” of the DCU, but there’s very little out-and-out slapstick in the series – the characters make jokes, but there’s a difference between being funny and being a laughingstock. Some superheroes are specifically created to be laughingstocks. The fact that a DC editor can’t tell the difference between people joking with each other (who saved the world on at least four different occasions that I can think of) and an ineffective group makes it much clearer why DC has treated the people in the JLI so shabbily. And any group that had Batman, J’onn J’onzz, Ice, Fire, Guy Gardner, and all the others who were on the team can’t really be called “underdogs.” I guess they are like the Mets, in that the Mets have a huge payroll and can’t really be called an underdog. The Minnesota Twins are underdogs. The Tampa Rays are underdogs. Whiny Mets fans who claim their team is an underdog just because they pay tons of money for shitty players and they choke all the time doesn’t actually make them an underdog, you know. You know the team currently in second place in the NL East, the one that is playing better than the whiny Mets? The Natinals? They’re underdogs. Shut up, Michael Siglain. When the Phillies kick your team’s ass again this year and win another pennant, then you can whine.

Man, I’m angry, aren’t I? It’s fun! Anyway, if you live with Joe Bennett’s art next issue, this isn’t a bad series to check out. Needs more Beatriz!

One panel of awesome:

Yeah, I know it's two panels, but I dig Atom's scene here!

Yeah, I know it's two panels, but I dig Atom's scene here!

Light2The Light #2 (of 5) (“101″) by Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Brett Weldele (artist/letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

It’s kind of hard to write about this series. The hook – that somehow light is killing people when they look at it – works very well, and we’re following Coyle and his daughter, Avery, as they try to get away from any source of light. So they come across a plane crash, pick up a survivor, and move on. Weldele continues with his very atmospheric art, and Edmondson does a good job doling out bits and pieces of information as they move along. But it’s a hurried issue, which isn’t surprising, because they’re running away and don’t want to stop anywhere, fearing a sudden burst of light. It’s just a really nice issue that takes us a bit further than issue #1 but not too far. There’s plenty of stuff still hidden, and it’s fun to read along and find out what’s happening as Coyle does. What the heck is going on? We don’t know, but it’s fun to be in the dark. So to speak.

One panel of awesome:

Well, that can't be a pleasant sound!

Well, that can't be a pleasant sound!

PrinceofPower1Prince of Power #1 (of 4) (“Blasphemy Can Be Fun”) by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Reilly Brown (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Jason Paz (inker), Val Staples (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It’s somewhat odd that Marvel is rebranding this with Amadeus Cho as the star, not because it’s not logical in terms of the long-running story that Pak and van Lente have come up with, but because it’s not really that friendly a jumping-on point. I mean, it’s a first issue of a comic, the title of which has never been used, so people who might not have read Incredible Hercules might pick this up. Maybe not, of course, but while I enjoyed this issue a lot, it’s very much a continuation of the previous series. Van Lente and Pak do a very good job bringing us up to speed, but it’s still strange. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks so.

Anyway, Amadeus Cho is Athena’s new champion, and he’s also tracking down Hercules. Pak and van Lente dig into Bruce Banner’s past and bring back Agamemnon from the Pantheon (who is now called Vali Halfling). Amadeus is going to use the information Vali gives to find Hercules, but of course it doesn’t go as planned. Hence the appearance of Thor at the end of the issue, who’s a bit peeved with Amadeus. Oh, and Amadeus still has the hots for Delphyne. I mean, who wouldn’t?

It’s your typical good issue from these writers, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen when it’s over. A relaunch of Incredible Hercules? Beats me. Brown’s art, meanwhile, is solid, although everyone looks a bit emaciated – against my will, I kept envisioning Ben Stiller in Zoolander when I was looking at some of the faces. You know:

Pouty!

Pouty!

All the characters should eat some Twinkies. I swear.

One panel of awesome:

Well, it's funny in context!

Well, it's funny in context!

Starstruck9Starstruck #9 (of 13) by Elaine Lee (writer), Michael Wm. Kaluta (artist), Charles Vess (inker), Lee Moyer (painter), and Todd Klein (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

I hate to write this, but I’m just out of things to say about this. Lee is slowly bringing the Galactic Girl Guides into the main story, as Brucilla has been in the main story for a few issues and now the GGG show up, heading toward a rendezvous with destiny! Lee also shows us some of the principals and how they react to Brucilla’s antics, which is good to see. And Kaluta remains amazing. The detail of this book is astounding, and the imaginative characters and places Kaluta (and Lee, I suppose) come up with are wonderful to behold. I’m sorry I can’t say more about this series. It’s magnificent. I can’t wait to see the entire tableau.

One panel of awesome:

Man, that's cool!

Man, that's cool!

Unwritten13The Unwritten #13 (“Dead Man’s Knock: Monsters”) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (writer, artist), Chris Chuckry (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

You know what? Carey’s Harry Potter pastiches within the pages of The Unwritten make me want to read the Tommy Taylor books. He’s so much better than J. K. Rowling that it’s just not funny. I mean, have you ever read the Harry Potter books? I mean, really read them? I’ve been reading them aloud to my daughter, and when you read them aloud, they are really terrible. I mean, the plots are okay, but the actual writing is awful. Carey’s few snippets of the Tommy Taylor books are almost painful to read in comparison, because those few scenes are so much better than the Harry Potter books that it makes me sad that Ms. Rowling, who I’m sure is a delightful woman, is richer than the Queen of England. That makes me so mad! But I’ll get over it.

As the first issue of a new storyline (one that follows directly from the last one, of course), this is a good beginning. The new book is coming out, and of course that’s a big deal, but of course the bad guys are still trying to kill Tom, which is never a good thing. And we learn some stuff about Lizzie and Savoy, and there’s a SHOCKING! ending. Positively SHOCKING! I’m serious – I totally didn’t see that coming. I’m still not sure what I think of that guy, but what the hell. Oh, and there’s a tremendous double-page spread in the middle of the book that scares the shit out of Tom, as it should. Oh, and Frankenstein’s monster shows up. Isn’t that always the way?

I’ve kind of gone back and forth on this book, but it’s always interesting. As Carey gets further into this strange world, I find myself enjoying it more and more. It’s still not perfect, but I’m getting more confident about it. Having Gross on art certainly doesn’t hurt, neither.

One panel of awesome:

Oh, Pullman, who can stay mad at you?

Oh, Pullman, who can stay mad at you?

The Question volume 6: Peacemaker by Dennis O’Neil (writer), Denys Cowan (penciller), Malcolm Jones III (inker), Carlos Garzon (inker), Tatjana Wood (colorist), and Willie Schubert (letterer). $19.99, 160 pgs, FC, DC.

You know, I’ve never been seriously impressed with this series. It’s fine, I suppose, but I’m not totally impressed by it. Yet I’ve bought every single collection, this being the final one. It’s very weird. Am I ill?

Solomon’s Thieves by Jordan Mechner (writer), LeUyen Pham (artist), and Alex Puvilland (artist). $12.99, 139 pgs, FC, First Second Books.

Templars. Over-exposed, perhaps, but still freakin’ awesome. And this book has a bibliography. It’s all high-brow and shit!

I should point out that today, 13 May, is the 25th anniversary of the MOVE bombing. Read about it here and here (that link is really long). If you’ve never heard of the MOVE bombing, it’s the day in 1985 when the mayor of Philadelphia, Wilson Goode, dropped a bomb on a house in his own city, leading to the destruction by fire of 61 homes and the death of 11 people. Let’s consider that: The mayor of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on his own city. This is one of the more bizarre events in recent American history, and I remember watching a great deal of it on television. It really traumatized the entire area.

You know, as I wander around the Internet, I often find mind-boggling web sites. One of the weirdest is LazerTits, which is … well, exactly what it sounds like:

Feel the power!

Feel the power!

It’s somewhat NSFW, although most of the nudity is covered up by, well, lasers. It’s simply difficult to conceive of what kind of mind came up with this site. But go check it out – it’s good for a laugh. Maybe not quite as humorous as Hot Chicks With Douchebags, but still pretty fun.

I was also watching Sullivan’s Travels for the first time this past week, and I was struck by how absolutely gorgeous Veronica Lake is:

Yow-ZA!

Yow-ZA!

I had actually never seen Veronica Lake in my life, which I guess is odd. She had a terrible life after the 1940s, too. So sad when Hollywood spits out starlets. Sullivan’s Travels, by the way, is really funny.

Moving on, let’s check out The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle But Which Often Gets Reset, A Vexing Dilemma):

1. “What If” – Coldplay (2005) “Every step that you take could be your biggest mistake”
2. “A Rush of Blood to the Head” – Coldplay (2002) “So I’m gonna buy a gun and start a war if you can tell me something worth fighting for”1
3. “Rock and Roll” – Jerry Lee Lewis w/Jimmy Page (2006) “I can’t count the tears of a life with no love”2
4. “Streams of Whiskey” – Pogues (1984) “Life has often tried to stretch me but the rope always went slack”
5. “Cuckoo Cocoon” – Genesis (1974) “Don’t tell me this is dying ’cause I ain’t changed that much”
6. “Add Me” – Chumbawamba (2008) “I’d really like to mail you the picture that I drew, it’s Kylie’s body but the head is you”
7. “Whyyawannabringmedown” – Kelly Clarkson (2009) “I’m not your love monkey”3
8. “Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin (1971) “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow don’t be alarmed now”4
9. “Semaphore” – James (2008) “It’s too late now for sorry, it’s too late now for grace”
10. “Pass the Mic” – Beastie Boys (1992) “I explode on sight, and like Jimmy Walker, I’m Dy-No-Mite!”

1 Yes, two Coldplay songs in a row. I’m the whitest person you know!
2 Last Man Standing is awesome, man!
3 Own your love of Kelly Clarkson, people! Join me on the Dark Side!
4 My lovely wife refuses to listen to this song more than once annually. That’s how much it was overplayed on the radio during her formative years!

You know what time it is! It’s time for totally random lyrics!

“Fire in the ice
Naked to the t-bone
Is a lover’s disguise
Banging on the head drum
Shaking like a mad bull”

Chew on that, fanboys! Have a swell day!

40 Comments

Did coming back to life beef up his power somehow?

Maxwell Lord was responsible for the whole “1,000,000 people are now OMAC’s thing and are now ravaging the land under Brother Eye’s orders” and it’s conceivable that he has other technological tricks up his sleeve.

As for the blood thing, Brightest Day 0 made it clear that Max raided a lot of blood banks to pull of this stunt of his.

I assume they know because Dick Grayson told them about the body of Bruce not being exactly Bruce, but did we see it in any comic?

The beginning of the most recent arc of Batman and Robin had Dick specifically mentioning that the Justice League knew about the Omega Sanction and Bruce. Red Robin and the previous issue of Booster Gold also discussed it briefly.

Well, DC Editorial after Andy Helfer tended to treat JLI as the laughing stock of DCU. In fact, the whole point of Identity Crap was making JLI characters look like buffoons and morons as if it was representative of a “happier DCU” time.
DC Editorial also treats Giffen’s Ambush Bug and his AMAZING Legion run as something to be forgotten and ignored. So it’s not surprising at all.

At the same time, JL:GL sounds exactly like a subtle ****-you to those (like Siglain) who dismissed the early JLI books as if they were a “funny book”, and not the best selling title DC was never able to recoup. It found a niche they have never gotten back. And in ONE SINGLE PANEL (punch?), it has solved the GIGANTIC plot hole that was Identity Crisis: why had the whole DCU treated Ted Kord like a moron? Up to now, just because JLI was a joke. Giffen & Winick put it right back into the right direction. This (and BG) are the kind of books I look forward to: well-written, tight, not decompressed-for-decompression sake, with solid dialogues. I just wish they could get Aaron Lopresti level artists for the book, but asking to get decent artists on DC books depends whether they are written by Johns and his friends.

This is really your first exposure to Rashida Jones? Man, have you been missing out. She’s not only jaw-droppingly hot, but really smart and seems pretty cool. Major celebrity crush, here.

As for the hairstyle, is it that you think it’s an ugly style or you think it’s wrong for the character? Because that style is pretty popular among young women.

Veronica Lake:Yeah, Veronica Lake is drop dead gorgeous.Try checking her out (pun not intended) in THIS GUN FOR HIRE, a very solid Alan Ladd movie.For another genuine beauty of the screen, have you ever seen any of Hedy Lamarr’s (Not to be confused with Headly Lamarr) films? Even when the film is only so-so, she is always worth looking at.

Marjorie Liu: I have been watching her career for a while, and I think that she shows real promise (She is also really pretty as well).

Honestly, Mets:Yankees sounds like a pretty good comparison to JLI:JLA.

“Prince of Power” has been used before. There were two Hercules mini-series in the ’80s with that title.

Giffen back to writing Booster Gold?

What is the point? He ruined the character’s concept way back when he wrote the JLI already. It took decades to fix that. So naturally DC gives him the chance to ruin Booster once again.

Seriously, why?

Generation Lost was disappointing to me. I don’t have a problem with Winich writing because i’ve enjoyed some stuff by him before (yes, even superhero stuff). I think my problem stems with the choice of Maxwell Lord as the principle villain for the first story (hopefully not all 26 issues, bleh!). It simply doesn’t wort for me. I guess it might help if I had read any comics where he was indeed a villainous characters as opposed to just the JLI books.

Luis: Booster Gold was a D-list at best before Giffen got hold of him. So it is just the opposite: he was an average superhero until Giffen got right his essence as a flawed (and very human) hero.

Mario: JL:LG seems to be a history of redemption (as it sounds from the DC Nation column), so it seems that Giffen will fix (again) bad storylines from the past and make Max workable again.

Chris Donaghy

May 14, 2010 at 6:48 am

FWIW, unless Dick Grayson took down Darkseid single-handedly somewhere I hadn’t heard of, this isn’t that Batman. OK, that might be a nitpick, but you did ask.

As far as to why they’re bugged out, this guy mind-f***ed Superman, dared Diana to kill him (with all the rotten implications that followed, including the Mini That Shall Not Be Mentioned), and as Dick mentions, raided the files of the Batcave. Not to mention all the mess in Arlington during Blackest Night that was probably laid at his door.

So, yeah, I can understand why the Big Three are perturbed. And, if I’m a cape in the DCU, something that has THEM nervous is something that will get my attention.

I liked Lopresti’s Peej when she appeared in Wonder Woman, and Dagnino has done a decent job filling in on short notice for Nicola Scott while she dealt with her mother’s death. I’m hoping Dag does more of the fill-in work.

Greg, I’ll make a deal with you: I’ll start liking Kelly Clarkson if she starts putting fucking spaces between the words in her title songs :-)

Luis: Booster Gold was a D-list at best before Giffen got hold of him. So it is just the opposite: he was an average superhero until Giffen got right his essence as a flawed (and very human) hero.

I take it that you never read the original Dan Jurgens series, then.

Booster had a very unique concept for the time, albeit one that probably did not sell all that well. He also had fine Jurgens art and a very personal writing style. He was also quite flawed, but not pathetic, under Jurgen’s pen.

Giffen and company gutted the characterization out of him so that they could build some jokes, thereby making him the D-list that he has been since. Too bad, really.

Someday someone will write the untold tale of how Booster had a breakdown off-panel and gave up on taking himself seriously, thereby becoming the buffon that teamed up with Blue Beetle (another victim of decharacterization).

Luis Dantas

I DID read the original Booster Gold AND the original Ted Kord and both were fine characters, but they never had anything exactly unique or extraordinary. What you are saying is exactly what critics of JLI used to say back in the days: they were buffoons – which is so not true. They weren’t depressing gritty characters (one of my main problems with Dan’s view of BG: he is so whinny and serious!), but buddies and colleagues: they took things seriously when they had to be taken seriously. There is nothing more pathetic than gritty whiny oh-I’m-too-serious characters (Johns is particularly proud of over-the-top dramatic dialoguing). That’s so easy to do.
And you are clearly forgetting that it was JLI that put Blue and Gold as the top characters they’ve become ever since (both books were cancelled back in the days). And if you read the latest issue of BG, DeMatteis and Giffen did not turn him into a buffoon, on the contrary. But they got back what was unique in BG: his voice. Dan turned him into one of those generic flawed-guy-trying-to-do-his-best. There is more to Michael than that.

By the way, Luis, you are Brazilian and you probably read the Abril edition of JLI. If so, their translation was pretty much screwed from the beginning, and they indeed made JLI look “dumber”. The original edition is much less over-the-top. It’s funny, but not 100% comedy as the translation made it look like.

Brian: I just like to rag on the Mets. As a Phillies fan, that’s my right! Although I find it humorous that a team that has such a high payroll and plays in such a big market can ever be considered an underdog. They’ve been there for almost 50 years, after all – it’s their problem if they can’t crack the Yankee stranglehold.

Dan: It’s very hard to pull off Bettie Page bangs, both in real life and in comics. I know it’s popular, but I think most young ladies would be better served by not having the bangs.

trajan: I’ve never seen a Hedy Lamarr movie, but I have seen her, and yeah, she was very nice. But I’d never actually seen Veronica Lake, much less a movie with her in it. I don’t know why!

Chris: Son of a bitch! Yeah, you’re right. D’oh!!!!! And I know that Max is powerful and can do that individually, but if, say, ten really powerful superheroes attacked him, could he control them all? Maybe one, but then he’d start with the bleeding, and then his concentration would be split, and then he’d be easy to take down, right? That’s all I wondered. If I’m one or two heroes facing him, I’m a bit worried. But ALL of them? Man, he’s a doozy, ain’t he?

Dude: She has a lot to say, man! She has to get it all out!!!!!

Greg, I enjoy your “Ten Most Recent Songs Played On [Your] iPod” lists, probably more than I should. Music always offers a different take on a personality.

I’m curious, though –NOT critical, curious — as to roughly what percentage of your collection is Coldplay, Genesis/Gabriel, Chumbawamba and (astonishingly missing from this week) Marillion.

You’ve got the look, Burgas.

Brian: I just like to rag on the Mets. As a Phillies fan, that’s my right! Although I find it humorous that a team that has such a high payroll and plays in such a big market can ever be considered an underdog. They’ve been there for almost 50 years, after all – it’s their problem if they can’t crack the Yankee stranglehold.

Oh, I agree.

I just think that it’s a good comparison between the JLI and the JLA. It’s not like the Mets are JOKES or anything like that. Just that compared to the Yankees, they are the underdogs. Same with the JLI. They’re fine, but compared to the JLA, they definitely are the “lesser” team.

funkygreenjerusalem

May 14, 2010 at 8:45 am

Poor Maxwell Lord. Geoff Johns didn’t have a nerd boner for him in the 1980s, so he gets to stay a villain

You’re so mean to Johns – I doubt it was him.
Look at what he does when he’s just writing a book, not a crossover – tearing down other characters isn’t something he normally does.

That said, did you read Joe Casey’s ignored Justice League Academy proposal in When Worlds Collide?
Damn that would of been good.

Ms. Rowling, who I’m sure is a delightful woman, is richer than the Queen of England. That makes me so mad! But I’ll get over it.

I think we should all be richer than the queen of England.

And you are clearly forgetting that it was JLI that put Blue and Gold as the top characters they’ve become ever since (both books were cancelled back in the days).

I’m strongly disagreeing, not forgetting. JLI Booster and Beetle were caricatures, and I don’t miss them at all. Much unlike the in all ways superior Jurgens version of Booster Gold. The solo Blue Beetle DC stories were a bit unspired, though – even if that version of Ted Kord was still far more developed and serious than Giffen JLI’s.

And if you read the latest issue of BG, DeMatteis and Giffen did not turn him into a buffoon, on the contrary. But they got back what was unique in BG: his voice. Dan turned him into one of those generic flawed-guy-trying-to-do-his-best. There is more to Michael than that.

Maybe that panel reproduced above gave me the wrong impression then. Still, I can’t help but wonder why bring Giffen if he’s already proven to be disrespectful to the character.

By the way, Luis, you are Brazilian and you probably read the Abril edition of JLI. If so, their translation was pretty much screwed from the beginning, and they indeed made JLI look “dumber”. The original edition is much less over-the-top. It’s funny, but not 100% comedy as the translation made it look like.

You’re lending the translation way too much credit. It wasn’t Abril who created the likes of Koeykoeykoey Island, Tortolini’s return, or Jonn Jonzz’s addiction to Oreos cookies.

sgt. pepper: Indeed!

GarBut: It’s odd you mentioned them, because I think this is the first time Coldplay has shown up on my list. The others have been there a lot, but not them. Anyway, I currently have 1040 songs on the ol’ iPod. Only 18 of them are by Coldplay. Only 14 of them are by Genesis. About 32 of them are by Chumbawamba (some of those are listed under “Unknown Artist,” so I can’t remember off the top of my head how many there are). I do have 50 Marillion songs on there. I actually have 90 ABBA songs on it. I have a lot of old cassette tapes that I’m converting to CD and then onto the iPod, which will give me a lot more Genesis songs, but right now, I’ve only done that through 1976. The chances are good that one of the ten will be by Marillion, ABBA, James, or the Indigo Girls, just because I have those albums on CD. One of these days I’ll convert all my Van Halen to CD, and then I’ll have a lot of that on the iPod!

I agree with you, though – it’s always fascinating to hear what people are listening to. That’s why I list them, even if I get heckled for liking Kelly Clarkson!

Veronica Lake is very beautiful and Sullivan’s Travels is a great movie.

I don’t think the Harry Potter series is poorly written. I enjoyed reading it. But then again, I haven’t read it in a while.

I just think that it’s a good comparison between the JLI and the JLA. It’s not like the Mets are JOKES or anything like that. Just that compared to the Yankees, they are the underdogs. Same with the JLI. They’re fine, but compared to the JLA, they definitely are the “lesser” team.”

But a lot of the “old guard” heroes – Hawkman, the Atom, I *think* Hal Jordan – did treat most of the team as jokes.

Speaking as a big ‘ol JLI/E fan, I think “laughingstocks” is a reasonably apt description.

Have you read all the Harry Potter books, or just the first few? Because the writing gets better over time. (I agree that her writing can be pretty stiff in places, and there’s way too much stuff about Quidditch, but overall, the story is great and the words flow reasonably well.)

People forget that DeMatteis can be dark? I thought Kraven’s Last Hunt was his best known story. Am I wrong?

I grew up in the seventies and eighties. I’m still sick of Stairway To Heaven and I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

I think the thing to consider when looking at the JLI is that hindsight changed how history views them.
Greg is right, at the time it was published the JLI titles were really popular, and also a great contrast to the overwrought storytelling that was coming into vogue.

Afterward, when we entered the deepest/darkest part of the 90s/00s and Grim & Gritty was really at its peak, fan and DC Editorial opinion turned on the book, and the unique/humorous character take (one that was “invisible” to the rest of the DCU characters of their day) got re-interpreted as “who let these losers in, and boy those were some bad days.” by the DCU characters, who “took on” the feelings of Editorial who now felt the characters should be written as a drama.

People, especially myopic comic book fans, often fail to make a distinction between something that is “different than” and something that is “better than.”
For example: The Giffen/DeMatties JLI is different than the Morrison JLA, not necessarily better.
But the Morrison JLA was better than the Dwayne McDuffie issues (not saying it was his fault, but they were).

Mary: Yeah, I’ve read them all. And I enjoyed them, because as I pointed out, plotting-wise, they’re interesting. I’m talking about the actual writing, which you tend to zip through when you’re reading to yourself. Rowling uses the same words in very close proximity when synonyms or a different sentence construction would make it less egregious, and she uses adverbs far too often. Nitpicky stuff like that, where if you’re reading aloud it becomes much more obvious. When I read them the first time, I thought they were breezy fun. Now that I’m reading them aloud, I appreciate her intricate plotting much more, but I’m also aware of the really bad writing as well.

JRC: Thanks, that was exactly my point. When Hawkman joins the JLI briefly, he complains about how goofy they all are, but it’s clear from the tone of the writers that HE’S being made fun of because he just can’t relax. Now, the consensus is to believe that the “serious” characters were right, but when the book was being published, Katar and Hal were the butt of the joke because they never loosened up.

Regarding Harry Potter and repititious language: Try counting how many times Rowling uses some variation on “stretching my legs” as a synonym for walking. That one really bothered Harold Bloom.

Heh, it’s amusing how well some of those Lazertit shops work with the late 70′s early 80′s imagery. A few of those could almost work as Dazzler promos.

“It’s very hard to pull off Bettie Page bangs, both in real life and in comics. I know it’s popular, but I think most young ladies would be better served by not having the bangs.”

I totally agree that it’s usually an unflattering hairstyle. Looking at the images above, though, I’d say they did a good job of making it look its best. I guess when you’re drawing a character, you can make her face fit her haircut perfectly.

“(I agree that her writing can be pretty stiff in places, and there’s way too much stuff about Quidditch, but overall, the story is great and the words flow reasonably well.)”

I completely disagree. My main problem with the Potter books is that the language doesn’t flow AT ALL. There are too many made-up words and it just clunks off the tongue. Kind of like a George Lucas script.

He ruined the character’s concept way back when he wrote the JLI already.

Yeah, sucks that Giffen and DeMatteis made him actually interesting.

I think DC editorial has confused JLI with JL: Detroit. Now that would work as a laughingstock, probably (no matter how much I like Vibe and Gypsy).

Sullivan’s Travels is a great movie. And without it, we wouldn’t have O Brother, Where Art Thou! So extra points for that alone.

beta ray steve

May 14, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I thought the Harry Potter books got worse as Rowling went on. The first book is fairly taught, while the later ones lapse into hundred-page flashbacks. The worst is the final, where Harry and the crew wander pointlessly for a few hundred pages and all the explanations/revelations are packed into the second half. If just one of those revelations (Snape=good?) had been doled out before the trek to nowhere, it might have given some meditative weight to their wandering.
The repetitive descriptions (“greasy Snape” how many times?) are, I think, part of ‘writing for children’ , though 4 or 5 books in, you’d think she’d ease off it.

As for JLA, it really is the bastard of the DCU. They say they want a successful JLA book, but they crap on it at every turn. They HATE JLI because it was light and fun, they’ are trying to kill off everything related to it. But they also hate the GMo JLA because it was the most popular JLA ever, and an achievement in superhero comics. They rotate artistic teams in and out every few months, because, hey why not? There hasn’t been any continuity between characters or creators in years.
Does Marvel screw with the Avengers this way?

Luis Dantas wrote: You’re lending the translation way too much credit. It wasn’t Abril who created the likes of Koeykoeykoey Island, Tortolini’s return, or Jonn Jonzz’s addiction to Oreos cookies.

Yeah, but they created the “gay” Guy Gardner and skipped JLA #38, in which Max Lord uses his manipulative powers for real for the first time (in a very serious story).

By the way, Giffen & DeMatteis also created The Grey Man, The Teasdale Imperative, Despero saga, Breakdowns and basically recreated Guy Gardner as a non-Hal Jordan wannabe, Blue Beetle as a non-Peter Parker wannabe and ripped through all the clichés of “make my comics dramatic with lots of grit” back then. That’s serious stuff.

“They created the “gay” Guy Gardner” means Abril (publisher of DC at that time) which instead of translating Guy Gardner as a sensitive man, changed it all to make the dialogue seem to be from an openly gay man, which was never the point. They were also keen on “skipping” stories from chronology if they thought it had no importance.

Guy Gardners character in JLI was exaggerated, but it did seem to be based on what was happening in GL books of the time. Guy Gardner was awoken, clearly brain damaged after spending a number of years in a Coma, for which he blamed Hal Jordan for. And resulted in him making up for lost time as a GL by being an over the top alpha male.

I appreciate your clarification concerning Harry Potter’s supposedly bad writing style. As a wannabe-writer striving for not-too-shabbiness (in German), I am always interested in what is considered good or bad by critics these days. In your reviews your description of writing styles sometimes comes across a tiny bit vague, as opposed to your rather precise descriptions of plot structure, art and colouring. I was wondering whether you couldn’t point out some more specific elements of the writing in the future, just as you did in these here comments in response to Mary’s post.

trajan 23: Harold Bloom’s criticism cannot really be taken seriously, I am afraid – some years ago he adopted the sour old cliche of assuming an age of cultural decline without ever giving proper reasons why this should be so. The canon of English literature is a monolithic structure to him, not constructed, but natural, based on undefinable criteria FELT by a select, intellectual elite. It’s vexingly paradoxical, an old man heralding the beginning of an age of “dumbed down literature” while not even bothering to argue for his position in a way that would transcend said dumbness. He doesn’t have to argue, his position is natural, normal – hence, ideology. Sad to see such a brillant scholar end up the same way as so many cranky, arrogant generations of white old men before him.

Oryll: I’ll certainly try! Thanks for pointing that out to me – now I’ll be more aware of it.

Thanks, as always, for the great reviews, Greg! But sometimes I think you just need to sit back and just enjoy your comics a bit more, instead of worrying so much about them. :)

funkygreenjerusalem

May 17, 2010 at 5:28 am

I suppose it’s good that they take him seriously, but at the beginning of this issue, they have a worldwide manhunt for him, enlisting every single hero who’s ever put on a cape and cowl?

Because he wants to kill off heroes.
You want to kill a million humans, one team will come after you.
You want to kill all the super powered people? They going to hunt you down.
Oddly, they are almost justifying Max’s fear of them by acting that way.

And you know how we know he’s a villain? On the final page, he’s smoking a cigarette.

I thought that’s how we knew he was cool.

But they also hate the GMo JLA because it was the most popular JLA ever, and an achievement in superhero comics.

Actually, I think the JLI may have been the most popular Justice League there was – it had the most spin offs of any JL, was DC’s number one book, and Mark Waid, an editor at the time, has said that the book made the bulk of DC’s profits and kept the company afloat.

Which makes it even odder that they don’t follow that model more closely, or use the characters more.

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