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What I bought – 9 June 2010

That woman was the closest thing to himself Achilles had ever come across. But he didn’t find out until a moment after he had killed her. She was hostile, and dead: everything Achilles loved in a woman. (Roberto Calasso, from The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony)

How does he pee? That's not a great cover, but it's a pretty neat drawing! He just read his own comic, and that's what happened to him! That table is only forty bucks at Cost Plus! You're in trouble when the palm trees start staring at you On the plus side, he's a hit at raves! McKeever writes his dates the cool way! That Darwyn Cooke - he has a future in this biz, I think They look like they're about to tango! Goin' crazy gives a man a powerful hunger! Man, I love this issue Ain't nothin' more American than shootin' guns at a football game! Now I have a hankering for some soul sushi I don't think J. Bone is capable of doing a bad cover Why, everyone loves the Tommy Taylor books! It's all ...... giant-sized!!!!! He won an award that begins with an 'X'!  That means it HAS to be good! I'm dying to read this!

Two comics pissed me off this week. The nerve of some people at Marvel! Oh, you can be sure I’ll be ranting!

AvengersAcademy1Avengers Academy #1 (“Permanent Record Part 1″) by Christos Gage (writer), Mike McKone (artist), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I mentioned when this and the other first issue down below were solicited that even if I think Marvel’s new “Heroic Age” is a cynical marketing ploy, I was at least going to try some of the new books, and here they are! I know this is just a reboot of the Initiative book, but I decided to give it a try anyway. What the hell, right? I still don’t understand Marvel’s idiotic policy of pricing first issues at $3.99 for the regular number of pages. I mean, this has “extra” pages introducing the characters and featuring a brief interview with Christos Gage, but I’m sorry, Marvel, that doesn’t cut it. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t buy a lot of other entertainment stuff (video games, CDs, DVDs/Blu-Rays, tickets to movies), so I can afford a $3.99 book if I really want to check it out, but based on some commenters on the blog here, a lot of people won’t buy this for the sole reason that it’s four dollars. It has nothing to do with quality. Really, Marvel? Really?

Sigh. Anyway, this is a pretty good first issue. It’s interesting contrasting it with Young Allies #1, because while that book is almost all action, this is almost no action. You might think that makes this a boring book, but it’s not, because Gage makes sure there’s some tension within the book, so it’s carried by this sense of menace, which is neat. First of all, there are the kids – Finesse, Mettle, Hazmat, Reptil, Veil, and Striker. They have interesting but not overly complicated powers, and as they’re new heroes, they have no idea what they’re doing. They seem like mutants, but maybe because the Avengers books are selling better than the X-books, Marvel wisely put this under the Avengers banner. As they don’t know what they’re doing and their powers aren’t all that great for them – Veil, for instance, is slowly discorporating into gas, even though no one knows how long it will take, while Hazmat leaks radiation, killing people who are in close contact with her for long periods – it leads to an angsty situation where they don’t really trust or like each other because they don’t know what’s going on. Gage throws a good monkey wrench into the works at the end which should propel the plot for a few issues and bring the team together, so that’s nice.

Gage does a good job establishing that these kids are young and unsure of themselves. Veil – a girl named Maddy – is the POV character for this issue, as she narrates the events. Gage does a good job making her an insecure teenager who wants to make friends at the academy but isn’t sure how and, of course, she crushes on Justice, because who can resist that 1990s headgear? As this is not a huge action book (we get some action in the academy’s “danger room,” but it’s just showing off their powers, with no real stakes), the interaction between the characters – both the new ones among themselves and with their teachers – has to carry it, and Gage manages that. It’s interesting comparing the way Gage establishes the characters with the way Sean McKeever does it – Gage seems to go this route because these are new characters (well, except for Reptil), whereas McKeever’s characters are better established. Maybe. Beats me. Still, Gage does a good job giving these characters a lot of personality, which is neat.

McKone does a good job on the art. I’ve always been a fan of McKone’s, even though he’s not the kind of artist I follow religiously. He’s a solid superhero artist, and he does a good job both with the character designs for the kids when they’re in uniform and when they’re in street clothes. I always chuckle a bit when, in movies, a girl who is obviously attractive wears her hair up and has glasses on and all she needs to be HAWT is to let her hair down and get some contacts, and McKone does a bit of that with Maddy, as once her powers kick in, she doesn’t need glasses anymore so now, of course, she’s a hottie. Hank Pym mentions this – he says, “When a superhuman ability manifests, there’s often a general augmentation of physiology that accompanies it.” That’s an interesting point, but I’d love if a writer went even further and explained that when powers manifest, it actually makes you more attractive. That would be awesome.

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Three more things: 1. This is the first of two comics this week in which the writer appears to be going all meta on us with regard to fans’ comments about characters. Pietro says to Hank at one point, “I know you don’t want to spend your life being reminded of a few bad decisions, but … certain people … seem unable to let these things go.” I don’t read many Avengers comics, but it seems that the “certain people” who are unable to let it go are not the characters in the comics but the fans, who always have fun with Hank beating Janet (I’m guilty of this, certainly). So is Gage mocking fans who bring it up all the time? Beats me. It feels like that to me. 2. I still can’t get over the fact that these Avengers keep talking about being fooled by Norman Osborn. That just cracks me the fuck up. HE’S THE GODDAMNED GREEN GOBLIN!!!!!!! You idiots! And finally,

3. What the hell is Marvel doing? There are six characters in this book. There’s an Asian chick, two white chicks (well, I’m not sure if Finesse is a white chick, but what the hell), a Hispanic dude, an Asian dude, and whatever the hell Mettle is. WHERE THE HELL ARE THE WHITE DUDES?!?!?!?!? Doesn’t Marvel realize that this kind of politically correct, mealy-mouthed, affirmative-action crap WILL NOT STAND!!!!!!! I mean, since white dudes are the only ones who READ comics, and white dudes have no imagination to see the Marvel Universe from any other point of view than their own, THEY BETTER FUCKING GET SOME WHITE DUDES ON THIS TEAM!!!!!!! I mean, what the fucking fuck, Marvel? I’m sure this book will go down in flames. Pretty soon. Boy, Marvel sure is stupid, aren’t they?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Mettle tells it like it is!

Mettle tells it like it is!

Batman700Batman #700 (“Time and the Batman”) by Grant “You can’t gaze upon my face, fanboys, because my head shines with pure genius light!” Morrison (writer), Tony Daniel (artist), Frank Quitely (artist), Scott Kolins (artist), Andy Kubert (artist), David Finch (penciller), Richard Friend (inker), Ian Hannin (colorist), Alex Sinclair (colorist), Tony Aviña (colorist), Brad Anderson (colorist), Peter Steigerwald (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $4.99, 31 pgs, FC, DC.

As usual, it’s almost pointless to review a Grant Morrison comic anymore. More than almost any other comic book writer, he’s so polarizing that there’s really nothing to say about him, because everyone has made up their minds. If you’re certain people, you will love everything he sets down on paper and make any excuse to cover up anything bad in his writing, such as blaming the artist and/or the stupidity of the general reading public. If you’re other certain people, you will not like anything he writes because it’s vaguely “too weird,” even though a great deal of his stuff is ridiculously straight-forward, and you will say anyone who likes the G-Mozzer is just an elitist jerk. To each his own, say I, but it makes it very hard to write about Morrison’s comics anymore. People have been bashing me here at the blog and in the real world both because I like Morrison and because I don’t love everything he writes. My answer to those people is always the same: Morrison is my favorite comic book writer ever, and he has a LOT of credit in my bank. Therefore, even when he writes something that I don’t love (which is, to be honest, about half of his Batman run, including this issue), I still buy his stuff, both because I know that when I sit down and re-read them, I will find stuff I missed the first time around, and also because a mediocre Morrison comic (like this issue) is better than about three-quarters of what you’re going to find out on the shelves. For instance, this was a pretty good week for me, so I bought quite a few very good comics. But Batman was, if not better (although it was than some of them), at least more interesting than Avengers Academy, Booster Gold, The Light, The Murder of King Tut, Prince of Power, Sparta U. S. A., Spider-Man: Fever, Super Friends, The Unwritten, and Young Allies. And I would say I enjoyed most of those comics either the same amount or more than Batman #700, mainly because I’m always aware that at any time, Morrison can write a transcendant piece of comics excellence and when he doesn’t, it bugs me (for the record: Chew, Daytripper, Meta 4, Secret Six, and S.H.I.E.L.D. were all better and more interesting than this issue). It’s very frustrating being the kind of Morrison fan I am, because I read Our Dread Lord and Master’s reviews of his work (I haven’t read his review of Batman #700 yet, because I don’t want his thoughts to color mine) or see what Tim Callahan has to say about his stuff and I know those guys are smarter than I am, yet I can’t figure out why they occasionally rave about something that I don’t like (I’m not being falsely modest, either – I’ve met Tim and I know he’s smarter than I am, and although I’ve never met Brian, have you read what he writes, both here and elsewhere? – the dude has a mind like a steel trap!). It’s vexing.

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This issue, for instance (yes, I suppose I will write about this issue, even though I’m not going to convince anyone). It’s not bad. It’s a modestly clever time travel story, with some of Morrison’s pet ideas for the character thrown in, but it’s not genius-level. It’s just a serviceable story, and as an anniversary story, it feels a bit hollow. Anniversary stories are tricky, because you want to do something big and bombastic, which this certainly feels like, but you also want to illuminate why the character has managed to survive for so long, which this doesn’t succeed in doing. As it comes in the middle of the whole “Bruce isn’t Batman” saga, it’s difficult to show why Batman is so iconic, even though Morrison gives it the old college try by bringing back Damian-as-Batman in the future and even going further to show several future Batmen. But that’s just window dressing; it’s imposing by writer fiat the fact that Batman is TEH AWESUM, and that’s why it feels hollow. The best part of the book is, perhaps not surprisingly, the Frank Quitely section, but not because of the art (which looks a bit rushed) but because of the fact that it’s the anniversary of the night Bruce’s parents were killed, so Dick and Damian visit Park Row and lay a wreath there and one of the denizens of the area helps them keep it crime-free. This idea isn’t new, but it’s nice to see here. Most of the rest of the book is standard action-adventure, raised a bit by Morrison’s attention to detail (the mutants and the weird dudes in the future, for instance), but not too much.

The art isn’t bad, but it’s not great, either. Tony Daniel looks better than he did when Morrison was writing the book a while ago, but it’s still not that great (and I wonder why Dum Dum Dugan is pretending to be the Mad Hatter). Quitely could only do five pages, which is annoying. Scott Kolins gives us some pages that look digitally painted, and everyone looks shrunken for some reason (I can’t explain it). Kubert does his Kuberty stuff (Morrison showing that Max did not, in fact, turn out okay is nice) and Finch does his Finchy stuff. I like both those gentlemen, so I liked their work. However, for an anniversary issue, it would have been nice to see some different styles. Daniel, Kubert, and Finch all have a pseudo-Image, muscular style, and just looking at some of the pin-ups, it would have been keen to see some of those artists handle parts of the story. Juan Doe, Dustin Nguyen, Tim Sale, and Bill Sienkiewicz could have had some interesting style contrasts in the book. That’s what anniversaries are for, right?

I don’t know if Brian mentioned the price, but if you’re on the fence about buying this or waiting for the trade, I would wait on it. It’s five bucks for 31 pages of story, which isn’t a good deal. The pin-ups are okay, and we get a completely pointless map of the Batcave as well (really, DC?), but that’s quite a price tag for DC to put on this. I suppose they know what they’re doing – it’s not like comics are losing readers or anything, right? As part of Morrison’s ongoing epic, it will probably turn out to be a decent chapter. As a standalone comic, it doesn’t work too well. And it’s certainly not worth the fin you’ll drop on it.

(Oh, and should I be a history dick and point out that the Children’s Crusade didn’t actually exist? Too late – I just did!)

One totally Airwolf panel:

I'd be peeing in my pants a little if Dick said this to me, especially with that shit-eating grin on his face!

I'd be peeing in my pants a little if Dick said this to me, especially with that shit-eating grin on his face!

BoosterGold33Booster Gold #33 (“Past Imperfect!”) by Keith Giffen (plotter), J. M. DeMatteis (scripter), Chris Batista (penciller), Rich Perrotta (inker), Prentis Rollins (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I like how the cover of this issue is the exact opposite of issue #32. Good stuff!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy this issue, because although I enjoyed issue #32, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep going with it, especially if it was tying into Justice League: Generation Lost. But I figured I’d give it a few issues, and this isn’t a bad one. Giffen and DeMatteis doing something wildly crazy: They tie this book into JL: GL but they give us enough information so we understand what’s going on in that book without needing to read it and tell a good one-off story that links into the bigger series. I know, shocking. These guys might be able to teach writers a thing or two about writing comics.

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First of all, Brigadoom is a totally awesome character. I’m sure he’ll get slaughtered in the next big crossover!

Booster needs to figure out how to prove that Maxwell Lord exists, so he decides to go back into the past and find traces of his existence from then. He decides to go back to the JLI days and find some evidence from that time period, which gives Giffen and DeMatteis a convenient excuse to revisit that series. Of course, his plan doesn’t work, but it’s still a fun issue, as J’onn knows immediately that Booster isn’t the Booster from their time and Black Canary is pissed off at him for an interview he gave to a men’s magazine. It’s an interesting way for the creators to show how Booster has changed in the years since the Justice League. It even shows how he’s changed since the “Super Buddies” days of Formerly Known as the Justice League and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League!” While overall, the issue isn’t the greatest thing ever, it’s a decent read and it taps into nostalgia in a better way than a lot of comics do.

This is the second comic this week in which it appears the creators are speaking to the fans, as Booster flips out at Cyborg because he calls the JLI “screw-ups.” Unlike the idea of Hank Pym beating his wife, fans of the old JLI aren’t saying they’re “screw-ups” these days, so this probably isn’t directed at them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Booster’s rant was directed at DiDio and the other higher-ups at DC, who still wish that era of the Justice League hadn’t existed. Giffen and DeMatteis keep working for DC, so they obviously don’t have too much of an issue with the way those characters have been treated, but Booster’s rant still seems like them getting something off their chest rather than just something Booster would say. I mean, I can believe Booster saying it, but it also feels like there’s something more behind it. Either way, it was fun to read, because if anyone shouldn’t be calling others goofy, it’s Cyborg. I mean, look at that dude!

Finally, I have a question about the art. Not the actual drawing, but the way the art is presented on the page. There is a lot of white in the upper and lower borders of this book – it looks almost like a European comic that has been resized to fit an American periodical. It’s consistent throughout the book, too, although it does get more noticeable when Booster goes back in time. It’s oddly disconcerting, given that most regular comic books today don’t even have borders – the art just bleeds to the edge of the paper. Any theories on why Batista does this? Is it some kind of homage to older books? U-Decide!

I’m still taking this series as an issue-by-issue case. We’ll see what we get next issue and whether I’ll pick that up as well. The nice thing about this issue is you can get a good sense of what Giffen and DeMatteis are doing with the series.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Villains should always refer to themselves in the third person!

Villains should always refer to themselves in the third person!

Chew11Chew #11 (“Just Desserts Part 1 of 5″) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Steven Struble (color flatterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

After a month off, Chew returns and immediately, Layman and Guillory show why this comic is simply one of the best out there. The first page shows Tony and Amelia Mintz, the food critic who writes so well you think you’re tasting the food she’s describing, on a first date. Tony is holding his gun sheepishly and Amelia’s left side is covered with blood. You must know what happened to them!!!!! And so you’re hooked. Of course, the great thing is that our creators deliver.

Of course, they don’t get there in any conventional way, as we flashback 20,000 years and see sabretooth tigers attacking a mammoth, getting attacked by a man, and then killing the dude. What does this have to do with anything? Patience, grasshopper! Back in the present, Tony is adjusting to life under his suddenly amenable boss (we know why he’s friendly, but if you haven’t read the trade yet, I won’t give it away) while his partner gets strange telephone calls for Mason, Tony’s ex-partner. Yeah, I’m sure that won’t be important later on! Then they get a murder case that leads to a weird group of rich people who eat extremely endangered plants and animals, which Chu, of course, has to bust. Luckily Amelia has a ticket! It’s a date! And yes, it all goes pear-shaped. But that doesn’t mean Amelia doesn’t dig the Chu!

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Now, even though Layman must have written this script after seeing The Freshman one too many times, it’s still a good single issue that will, I’m sure, tie into the larger storyline. (True story: My wife and I love that movie. We often quote Frank Whaley after Tex Konig tells him that “Leo” and “Big Leo” are the same: “You’re synonymous.” Trust me, it’s funny. And even if you don’t think so, well, I’m not married to you, am I? This is why my wife and I are perfect for each other.)(That quote, by the way, isn’t on IMDb’s quote page for the movie. Fuck the heck?) We get the usual frenetic pace, good characterization, and of course, Guillory’s madcap art, with all the fun stuff thrown in (for some reason, you’re not allowed to wear berets at Amelia’s newspaper). It’s so much fun to read this comic but after you’ve read it, you can still open to any page and just marvel at the way Guillory puts it all together, from the facial expressions to the body language to the exploding heads. Fine, fine stuff, as usual.

I really can’t recommend this book enough. It’s funny, it’s violent, it’s interesting, it looks great, and it has great characters. What the hell else do you want from comics?

One totally Airwolf panel:

I just love the look on the cop's face!

I just love the look on the cop's face!

Daytripper7Daytripper #7 (of 10) (“38″) by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (writers/artists), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The fascinating thing about Daytripper is that Moon and Bá appear to be building on each issue even though they still are making sure each issue is a standalone story. It’s very interesting. In this issue, for instance, Brás goes to look for Jorge, who disappeared years ago but who, we discover, continued to write postcards to his friend, just never mailing them. Even though the circumstances are different, this feels like the continuation of issue #6, which is a nifty way of tying these issues together. The twins have done this before with certain themes and ideas, and it’s a keen way of building an entire portrait of Brás’ life. This issue is a tiny bit disappointing just because the resolution comes out of nowhere, but it still ties in nicely with the way Brás lives his life and looks out for others. The last page sums it up a bit too succinctly, but it’s a minor misstep along the way, as this series just continues to impress. I know some people are waiting for the trade, but this is one series I think reads better as single issues. That’s just me, though, and I can’t really say why, because I don’t want to spoil anything.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Boy howdy, is it ever!

Boy howdy, is it ever!

Light3The Light #3 (of 5) (“Company”) by Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Brett Weldele (artist/letterer). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

Edmondson and Weldele continue their strange horror tale, as Coyle and Avery meet up with two brothers – Simon and Johnny – who give them a few answers about the weird infection, but not too many. We find out that some people who are infected don’t die right away but live on to infect others, and we also learn that animals are infected as well. That can’t be good. And bad things continue to happen.

There’s not really a lot to write about this issue. Edmondson does a nice job continuing to build the tension, and Weldele gives everything an eerie, foggy kind of vibe, even after the sun comes up. I’ve often mentioned that Weldele is an acquired taste, so I can understand if people don’t like his art, but I just love how impressionistic it is, sparse yet suggesting much more. And his infected people creep me the hell out, so that’s nice.

I was a bit puzzled by the geography in this book. Avery keeps saying they’re going to Portland, and Coyle mentions they got the hell out of Astoria when the “plague” hit. I can’t remember if Edmondson mentioned that they headed south from Astoria, because they end up in Corvallis, meaning they’re taking the really long way around from Astoria to Portland. I’m sure he did mention it, but as Avery keeps saying they’re going to Portland, I couldn’t figure out why they’re so far south. Oh well. Just something that nagged me.

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Anyway, this series continues to be intriguing. I certainly don’t blame you for waiting for the trade, because Edmondson is doling out information slowly and it will probably read better as a whole, but I do like the sense of impending doom we get from the single issues. It’s a nice trick.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Well, that's freaky

Well, that's freaky

Meta41Meta 4 #1 (of 5) (“Inverted Memories of Grey”) by Ted McKeever (writer/artist/letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image.

I was a bit wary about getting this, mainly because I’ve never been blown away by McKeever’s writing. He has good ideas, but his execution is sometimes lacking. But I figured, what the hell, and picked this up. Those kids don’t need to eat, right?

This is quite a good first issue, in that it’s mysterious without being too oblique. A man in an astronaut suit wakes up on the beach at Coney Island with no memory of who he is. He finds a woman in a public restroom, and her boyfriend thinks he’s about to take some liberties with her (he’s not, though). Said boyfriend is about to beat our hero to death when a person wearing a Santa Claus suit wanders in and shivs the dude in the neck. Then Santa takes off the suit to reveal that she’s a woman. Who speaks only in symbols, by the way. It’s a Ted McKeever book – you were expecting logic?!?!?

So while the story is on a slow burn, and I have no problem with that, it’s time to check out the art, which is where McKeever never has any problems. McKeever is another one of those artists who is probably an acquired taste, but as you may know, I like his art a lot, and this might be some of the best work I’ve seen from him. He still has all the “McKeever tics” we expect – asymmetrical bodies; weird, ugly faces – but what makes this book so stunning is that he’s softened his rigid pencils a bit, highlighting the strangeness of the characters more and also making the landscape in which they move a bit more realistic. McKeever has always worked in fantastical and heavily industrial milieux because his clunky style suited that perfectly (I write “clunky” in the nicest way possible). In this book, Coney Island is softened to the point where it looks almost dreamlike, while even the characters have a more “human” softness to them – McKeever’s characters often wear armor or other bulky clothing, again because of his style. It’s impressive what he can do with shading, which is where it appears a lot of the changes come from. If you’ve never been a fan of McKeever’s art … well, this book probably won’t make you one. But if you are a fan, this is even better than he usually is, and that’s pretty keen.

I don’t know what’s up with the police dispatcher whose words show up throughout the book, but I’m sure it’s just part of the mystery. I’m looking forward to seeing if McKeever can write solutions to the mysteries as well as he sets them up, but in the meantime, I’m happy to see another solo McKeever project, especially if it’s going to look this good.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yes, Santa is one mythical figure with whom you don't want to fuck

Yes, Santa is one mythical figure with whom you don't want to fuck

MurderofKingTut1The Murder of King Tut #1 (of 5) by Alexander Irvine (adapter/writer), Christopher Mitten (artist), Ron Randall (artist), Dom Regan (colorist), and Neil Uyetake (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

James Patterson’s name is all over the comic, but as he didn’t have anything to do with the actual comic (he co-wrote the book on which it’s based), I think I will stop referring to him now and just write about the actual comic. ‘Salright?

Well, this is a comic about the murder of King Tut. I know, shocking. I think I saw in the latest Previews that it was five issues; it might be six. Either way, the fact that Irvine doesn’t actually bring in Tutankhamun in this issue is odd. I don’t care; Irvine obviously has to set the scene, so we get the end of Amenhotep III’s life and the early years of his son, who took the name Akhenaten and decided to become monotheistic, pissing off the priests. I don’t mind that at all – it’s useful to know the context for Tut’s reign, but I hope it doesn’t feel rushed as we move along. We shall see.

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Irvine gives us the early machinations of Akhenaten moving toward the worship of one god (which, of course, took years, but it’s fine to telescope it) and how he tried to break free of the priests. Nobody comes out looking good in the conflict, which is refreshing, because it’s politics – very few people come out looking good in that arena. Meanwhile, we also see Howard Carter arrive in Egypt 30 years before he finds King Tut’s tomb, and it will be neat to see how Irvine develops that story thread. IDW wisely got two different artists to work on the book – Randall has a clean, old-fashioned style that works well in the “modern” day, while Mitten has been drawing deserts for years now on Wasteland and can do ancient Egypt in his sleep, presumably. His work has a wonderful sense of grandeur, and Regan’s colors are astonishing, as well – yes, there are a lot of browns, but the Egyptians themselves are brightly colored, reflecting their achievements in the ancient world.

This is a pretty cool start to the mini-series. I haven’t read the book (I’ve read one James Patterson book in my life – whoops, I wrote his name, didn’t I?), but that’s unimportant, I suppose. If it helps IDW sell a few more copies, coolio. Whatever makes my fix easier to get!

One totally Airwolf panel:

You know, I can't pull off the headress and fake beard thing and sound bad-ass ... which is why, I guess, I'm not Pharoah

You know, I can't pull off the headress and fake beard thing and sound bad-ass ... which is why, I guess, I'm not Pharoah

PrinceofPower2Prince of Power #2 (of 4) (“Valhalla Blues”) by Greg Pak (writer), Fred van Lente (writer), Reilly Brown (penciler), Terry Pallot (inker), Val Staples (colorist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Every so often, I have to point out the sound effects in an issue of the Hercules saga (which I must call these various titles, as the keep changing the names of the actual books). So in this issue we get “Buzzzzzkillll,” “Krakabathroom” (for some reason; haven’t figured that out), “Svedish,” “Aamightywiind,” “Bringdathundah,” “Børk Børk Børk” (I admit, I laughed out loud when I saw those), and “Ikeaa,” among others. I know some people don’t think the sound effects in this book are funny, but that’s why I’m juvenile, I guess. They crack me the fuck up.

Vali Hafling continues his campaign against the gods, and Pak and van Lente do a nice job showing how efficient he is and also why he’s not going to succeed (with a final page that made me think – not say, think – “Hell yeah!”). The writers also do a nice job with Amadeus’ fight with Thor – as our hero points out, smacking someone around every few years does not make you his friend – Thor claims to be Herc’s friend, but how much did he really know about him? It’s a nice point in the middle of the big fight, and van Lente and Pak don’t let it get in the way of all the beating down that’s going down. Not unlike Giffen and DeMatteis, Pak and van Lente could teach others a thing or two about balancing big-time action with nice character work. Plus, it remains light-hearted and downright fun to read. Not a bad way to put a comic together, I’d reckon. And a footnote tells us that every comic with Thor in it is bound by law to point out that Midgard is Earth. The attention to goofy details like this make this a joyful comic to read, every time out.

I mentioned last time that Brown’s art made everyone look a bit pouty, and they still are. But overall, he does a fine job. I’m just wondering why Vali has a lightsaber – where’s George Lucas and his lawyers when we really need them? Brown makes it look cool, though. Actually, I can’t think of a time someone holding a lightsaber isn’t cool. Brown does a really nice job with the fight between Thor and Amadeus, too. It feels like things are moving fast, which is nice to see (because they probably are).

Next time out: Freaky Cat Goddesses! Whoo-hoo!!!!

One totally Airwolf panel:

See, it's funny 'cause he's outnumbered!

See, it's funny 'cause he's outnumbered!

SecretSix22Secret Six #22 (“Cats in the Cradle Part Four of Four”) by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

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Boy, Simone continues to put her characters and her audience through the wringer, doesn’t she? I love it, don’t get me wrong, but this is an intense book, certainly. I mean, we knew that Catman had gone around the bend, but in this issue, he leaves the bend behind and goes even further, and I have no idea if Simone is going to try to get him back. That’s what happens when you threaten his son! Especially as we’ve been seeing flashbacks to his childhood and how messed up it was. You may be put off by the violence in this book (and it’s intense), but what’s always been excellent about this book is how Simone sets up the violence and deals with it afterward. Blake knows he’s gone too far, but when he has to make a choice about what to do, he makes the right one, even if it devastates him and Cheshire. And his teammates know it’s too late for him, as well. It’s neat how Simone brings the story back to family even when she’s dealing with the other members of the team – Alice is freaking out because she thinks Scandal wants to steal her “boyfriend” – Rag Doll – but she’s really upset about something else that she didn’t want to face. It’s a nice counterpoint to what Blake is going through, and it of course features Rag Doll, so there’s that.

I’m not sure if this book is in any trouble or not – Simone has really torn up the team with this issue, and I imagine she has an idea of what’s going to happen now, but they’re still a mess. I’m still loving this book, and I’m very happy that DC is letting Simone go nuts with these characters, mainly because they aren’t the big guns. I saw that Simone mentioned that she can deal with the lack of nipples that I ranted about a few issues ago (or was it only last issue?) because DC lets her get away with so much, so that’s cool. Because, let’s face it, she gets away with a lot on this book. I just hope she can keep getting away with it for a long time.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Floyd's secret fear!!!!!

Floyd's secret fear!!!!!

S.H.I.E.L.D.2S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (“Newton’s Theory of Eternal Life”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Dustin Weaver (artist), Christina Strain (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I had a few problems with S.H.I.E.L.D. #1, but those problems stemmed from the stuff in the deeper past, not the stuff from 1953. As Hickman concentrates on that year this time out, I don’t have any problems with this issue. Easy-peasy, no?

Well, I also don’t have any problems with this issue because it’s so goddamned awesome. This is the kind of issue I’ve been hoping Hickman gives us ever since he arrived at Marvel. This takes all the weird superhero shit that comes from writing a book in the Marvel U. and adding in his weird sensibilities that made The Nightly News so very, very good. We even get a full text page in this issue, which some might find annoying, but I find awesome. Hickman gives us all sorts of weird stuff, from Leonid’s “origin” that Leonardo da Vinci pulls right out of his head to the battle between Leonid’s father and the Patriarchs Stark and Richards. And then we get the conversation between Leonid and Leonardo that sets up the conflict in the book. Yes, it’s a bit wacky and mysterious, but it all sounds so cool that I’m certainly willing to go along with Hickman, especially because I know he can pull this kind of stuff off, even if he hasn’t quite done it at Marvel yet (and even though he dropped the ball with the ending of The Nightly News a little, but that was because of other things, not necessarily because he can’t do a good ending). I’m still not totally buying into this fitting into the established Marvel Universe, but we’ll see where Hickman goes with that. This one issue, at least, focuses on the strange meeting of a man from 400 years in the past and a man of the present, and it rocks.

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Weaver has a lot to do with that, of course. I enjoyed his art in issue #1, and he gets even better in this one. There’s a creepy prologue with Nostradamus that can’t portend anything good. Leonid’s “origin” is two stunning full-page spreads that are really amazing. Weaver also gives us a tremendous fight scene between the Night Machine and Nathaniel Richards and Howard Stark, in which the panels spin around an axis and almost give us vertigo. The full page of Richards reaching for the thing inside Leonid’s father and not quite reaching it is breathtaking. This is truly a gorgeous comic, and if both Hickman and Weaver are hitting on these cylinders every time out, I’m perfectly happy to wait two months for each installment.

Hot damn, this is a great issue. Is it August yet?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Put some Bactine on it, and it should be fine!

Put some Bactine on it, and it should be fine!

SpartaUSA4Sparta U. S. A. #4 (of 6) by David Lapham (writer), Johnny Timmons (artist), Darlene Royer (colorist), and Wes Abbott (letterer). $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, DC/Wildstorm.

This came out last week, but my shoppe got shorted on their order so they didn’t get it until this week. So there. I still think this will read better in a trade, because unlike Young Liars, for instance, Lapham isn’t telling this story so that each issue is a good whole – it’s definitely a tale in six parts, so while Lapham keeps building on what has come before, each issue isn’t really a strong single story. This book is certainly getting weirder, as Mr. Nevett pointed out with his “Guess the spoiler” game last week – the ending of this issue certainly takes the book in a bizarre direction, and there’s always the crazed woman with the ax (see below). We continue to get weird clues about Sparta and its place in the world, but I’m not terribly sure if Lapham is going to reveal all about it – I don’t think it’s necessary, actually, but it would be interesting to see what the world beyond Sparta is like. We shall see.

Anyway, we’re moving along nicely with this, and I’m looking forward to the final two issues. If there’s one thing we know about Lapham, it’s that we can’t predict anything about his books. So this should be a treat.

One totally Airwolf panel:

My motto is: Don't mess with the crazy lady holding an ax!

My motto is: Don't mess with the crazy lady holding an ax!

SpiderManFever3Spider-Man: Fever #3 (of 3) by Brendan McCarthy (writer/artist/colorist/letterer) and Steve Cook (digital fxer/letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I mentioned this last issue with regard to the tweaking of Spider-Man’s origin – it wouldn’t have much impact. I didn’t think McCarthy would make sure of it even before the series ended, as he doesn’t change it back, but he makes it so everyone else can ignore it. That’s fine – it was a silly tweaking, and really fit only this story. As I’ve been writing about this entire series, the story really doesn’t matter – this is a chance to see McCarthy go nuts with Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, and that’s what he does. Yes, I wish Marvel hadn’t charged four dollars for each issue, but for me, at least, it was worth it, because it’s so rare to see McCarthy doing American superhero comics (in fact, I don’t know if he’s ever done them). I figure the trade will feature this and another Spider-Man story that I may not want and cost fifteen bucks or so, so I guess I made out okay. Maybe I didn’t. It’s my money, after all.

So anyway, the story isn’t really the point, is it? Spidey and Strange fight the Arachnix and all’s well that ends well, and McCarthy has a lot of fun with it. This is pretty much unlike any superhero story you’re likely to see, and it’s fun to just sit there and look at all the weirdness that McCarthy packs into it. The dude who turned into a fly, the sentient dogs, the creepy spiders, the busty girl who just happens to be wandering around this dimension – it’s all there, and it’s all wacky. If you are waiting for the trade, I just need to warn you that the story is not terrible but it’s just a place to hang all the cool-ass art on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I did want to warn you. I just wish McCarthy would do a little bit more weird work for the Big Two. It would be fun to see!

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One totally Airwolf panel:

Honestly, any panel from this book could work

Honestly, any panel from this book could work

SuperFriends28Super Friends #28 (“Riddle Me This!”) by Sholly Fisch (writer), Dario Brizuela (artist), Steve Wands (letterer), and Heroic Age (colorist). $2.50, 19 pgs, FC, DC.

I’m rarely disappointed by the Johnny DC books, but I’m disappointed by this one. It’s much like the ones I like, with a couple of differences: Brizuela’s art, while in the same style of the other artists who usually work on these books, is a bit off – the characters are far too muscular, and it just doesn’t work. The ‘roided-up Riddler, for instance, just looks weird. But more than that, the story isn’t quite as fun as the usual Johnny DC books. Fisch seems to be trying too hard to get a lot in the book, and he overdoes a little. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that he’s trying hard to make it fun instead of just letting it be fun, and it shows. It’s as if he couldn’t be happy with the Riddler calling together a bunch of riddling type villains – Cluemaster, Signalman, Angle Man, Calculator, Puzzler – and matching them up against the Super Friends. He had to pile on more stuff, and while the resolution is nice because it doesn’t play out the way we would expect, it feels like it’s just too much and it loses some of the awesomeness we expect from these comics. I don’t know – it just lacked the spark we often get with these comics. It’s too bad, because a sentient Colossus of Rhodes sounds awesome, but it doesn’t work out that way. Too bad. I do like that cover, though.

One totally Airwolf panel:

At least Cluemaster has his priorities straight!

At least Cluemaster has his priorities straight!

Unwritten14The Unwritten #14 (“Dead Man’s Knock: Atrocities”) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (writer and artist), Chris Chuckry (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

The funniest page in this book is the first one. As we’re “reading” the new Tommy Taylor book and it’s not actually by Wilson Taylor, Carey decides to rip off several other books, especially Philip Pullman’s excellent Dark Materials trilogy. On the second page, his editor checks off all the books the author, whoever he is, has ripped off. It’s quite funny.

Anyway, Carey continues with the build-up to the book’s release, and everything is moving along nicely. Lizzie does something to try to contact Wilson but fails, but she does let some bad guys know where she is. That can’t be good. The creepy vampire guy – I forget his name – is still hanging around, setting Tom up for the kill. And then there’s Pullman, ready to do something terrible to Wilson. It’s a decent enough issue until Tom and Savoy rescue Lizzie from the bad guys, which is when it goes a bit sideways and becomes much more interesting. Who is the girl Lizzie appears obsessed with? Why does she have to “go home”? How cool is the final page?

After some middle issues that made me wonder if I should keep buying it, the book keeps getting stronger. It seems like Carey has found some footing, and it’s a nice blend of the literary stuff and the real-world stuff. Whenever we think the real world stuff is going to take over, Carey throws us some weird literary stuff and we’re off again! Carey seems to have struck a good balance with it. And Gross is excellent, of course.

There’s a lot to like about this comic, and I hope it’s doing okay. It doesn’t blow me away, even though I enjoy it, and I just like reading the little things that Carey is doing in each issue. The fact that he rips off other fantasy series. “The grid.” The way the vampire spies on Tom. Pullman’s casual cruelty. The way Tom and Savoy rescue Lizzie. It’s a nice book to check out.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Do Brits really say things are 'poo'?  That cracked me up

Do Brits really say things are 'poo'? That cracked me up

YoungAllies1bYoung Allies #1 (“Now, Not Tomorrow Part 1: No Turning Back”) by Sean McKeever (writer), David Baldeón (penciler), N. Bowling (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Well, what do we have here? Another Marvel team book? With only one good American white dude? Good god, Marvel, what the hell are you doing? This kind of shit will not stand!!!!!!!

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So we have Gravity, a good solid white guy, joined by a Hispanic dude, a Hispanic chick, and two other chicks. Wait, there are more chicks than dudes on this team? FUCKING HELL, MARVEL!!!!!!!! I just don’t know what to do. Now I know how every single oppressed minority has ever felt like. EVER. Man, it sucks to be oppressed. POWER TO THE PEOPLE, MARVEL!!!!! This will not stand!!!!!!

But hey, let’s check out this politically correct monstrosity. Unlike in Avengers Academy, the Young Allies aren’t actually a team in this first issue – they just happen to come together when the excellently-named Bastards of Evil show up in New York tearing shit up. I assume part of these first few issues will be how McKeever makes them a team – I do hope there’s not a scene of them all putting their hands in and shouting “JUSTICE!!!!!!” unless it’s to mock that kind of scene. McKeever begins with the brand-new character, Toro (well, brand new in this “universe” – I guess he showed up in the “Heroes Reborn” universe back in the day, but it seems like he’s new here), and his “secret origin” – I’ll get back to Toro in a minute. He does a nice job showing us the friendship between Nomad and Araña, which has been previously established, and he brings Gravity and Firestar in rather naturally. The book is a bit wordy in the beginning (I don’t mind, as it’s good wordiness), and then the Bastards show up, and we get a good look at everyone’s powers. I love that the Bastards are actually the children of Marvel villains – that works pretty well – and although McKeever gets a bit annoying with the introductions (this really does read like an old-school comic, with everyone announcing their names and even their powers as they fight), it’s okay. We need to know who these people are, after all. I’m not the biggest fan of Baldeón’s art – his faces, in particular, are a bit too full moon-shaped for me – but he nails the action very well (and someone should tell Sotomayor that Angelica’s hair isn’t brown). This turns into a very exciting comic in the second half, and it was working pretty well in the first half, too.

Well, except for Toro. I don’t mind the fact that he’s an illegal immigrant – I’ve read enough by McKeever that I think he’ll probably handle that decently – but I think McKeever screws up by showing us his “origin” as the first thing in the book. If he was just hanging out by the Statue of Liberty and suddenly “bulled out” (which, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same ring as “Hulked out,” but that’s what happens – he changes from a kid into a minotaur), it would have been better, I think. There would have been some more mystery to him. The way the book begins, it’s a bit confusing. Benito is turned into a killer by some oppressive regime, and then he remembers that they dragged him away from his sister to create him and so he escapes. But we only know that because it’s in the back matter of the book – we can infer that he escaped, but it’s not really clear. I assume McKeever will fill in how he got to New York as a matter of course, but it’s a weird way to begin the book. We expect him to be a bad guy, even though he might have “rebelled” against his programming – it’s still something that was embedded in him from an early age. So when he’s not really the bad guy in this issue, it feels a bit off, especially because he doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear. He seems too confident for an illegal immigrant, if that makes sense. It’s just a bit strange. Oh well.

I certainly enjoyed this comic, and McKeever does a fine job ending on a horrifying cliffhanger, not because it’s gory or anything, but because of the symbolism. I like how McKeever and Gage give us two different kinds of first issues, and they both work fairly well. If we get this kind of stuff from the Heroic Age, I’m glad Marvel pulled their heads out of their asses and got on with it. They’re both $3.99, so it’s hard to really say you should get one over the other. If you like talking, get Avengers Academy. If you like characters beating on each other, get this one! It’s easy!

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One totally Airwolf panel:

I'm totally with the dad

I'm totally with the dad

Power Out by Nathan Schreiber (writer/artist). $9.95, 82 pgs, BW, Canal Press.

Gah! Book One! Doesn’t anyone write self-contained stuff anymore?!?!?!? Still, this looks danged cool.

Tumor by Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer), Noel Tuazon (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), and Jimmy Betancourt (letterer). $14.95, 239 pgs, BW, Archaia.

Hot diggity, I’ve been looking forward to this book for a year. Finally it’s here! Fialkov and Tuazon wouldn’t let me down after so long a wait, would they? WOULD THEY?!?!?!?

Hey, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to television, but Glee finished its season this week and it’s become one of the best shows on network television. (I have to separate network television from cable TV, because network stuff still has too many restrictions on it. Justified and Treme, for instance, are both better than Glee, and those are just off the top of my head. But that’s the way it is on the networks.) Yes, it gets a lot of hype, but that’s because of the musical numbers, and while those are entertaining, it’s the parts in between the music that has really gotten much, much better (after they ditched the wife and the idiotic phantom pregnancy story). It does a very good job addressing several issues intelligently and without condescension, and it’s often damned funny. This week’s season finale was nice because although I knew what was going to happen, it was keen the way it was handled. I guess FOX is showing the entire season this summer, so if you’ve missed it, give it a look. It’s surprising how the creators don’t allow it to become too stereotypical or corny – yes, the kids begin as stereotypes, but they’ve grown very well over the course of the season. Plus, Heather Morris is a hottie. Yeah, I can admit when I’m shallow. But she gets all the funny lines!

Moving on, how about we take a look at The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle But Which Often Gets Reset, A Vexing Dilemma):

1. “One Step Closer” – Asia (1982) “And though we never even met, no talking needs to be done”
2. “I Thought You Were My Boyfriend” – Magnetic Fields (2004) “Should I freak out, should I seek out someone I could keep?”
3. “Rock Rock (‘Til You Drop)” – Def Leppard (1983) “‘Cause your mama don’t mind what your mama don’t see”
4. “Fugitive” – Indigo Girls (1994) “I was aching with freedom and kissing the damned”
5. “St. Teresa” – Joan Osborne (1995) “She bold as the street light, dark and sweet as hash”
6. “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” – Smashing Pumpkins (1995) “Can you fake it, for just one more show”
7. “A Question Mark” – Elliott Smith (1998) “Panic called you out and took you in”
8. “See You” – Foo Fighters (1997) “I’m gettin further from myself”
9. “The Colorful Ones” – Liquid Jesus (1991) “And you ask yourself how many more times must a man fight for painted freedom”
10. “Square Go” – Fish (2007) “I don’t exist, I never have”

What’s that over there? It’s totally random lyrics!

“There are two things missing from my life
Love and money
If I could steal them maybe I’d be happy
Gimme bread I’ll want no more
But give me cake and I’ll want cream
And if I scream
It’s ’cause I want to”

Be sure to watch some of the World Cup! Those 1-0 games really get your blood pumping!


Has diversity in team books ever been that much of a hot button issue? Even the shitacular Titans book has only one white guy on the team.

I always figured it came down to non-white characters being able to hold their own solo star ongoings, of which there is only 1 DC character at the moment who fits that bill (And Azrael is probably going to be canceled within a few months) and not a single Marvel character who can claim the same (Unless Daken counts ) .

All told, I enjoy Glee, but “intelligent” is not a word I would ever use to describe its handling of “issues.”

I’ve been waiting to be a minority my entire life, so I’m cool with Young Allies and Avengers Academy.

That Meta 4 book sounds really good. I’ll have to check it out even though McKeever’s art isn’t my cup of tea.

Greg, I might be The european guy that doesn’t like football (yes, it’s football, don’t argue), but I still think it kicks the shit out of baseball! :-)

Yes, we Brits often say “Poo” meaning crap, sh*t, etc. It can be used in the same way – either as an exclamation or as in “dog sh*t” = “dog poo”…

Young Allies? Avengers Academy? The hell with those titles!! I miss Runaways! :(

I thought Avengers Academy was far stronger than Young Allies. The latter book was a bit of a mess really, though it does follow a sort of tradition of the young Marvel heroes team coming together in the midst of a battle, like the New Warriors. Some definitely weird structural issues.

My wife watches Glee while I sit next to her on the couch. The only thing I’ve really noticed that irks me about the show is that every episode is about the gay kid and his football-jock sorta-friend. Did the jock do something insensitive this episode? Oh, no! Maybe by the end of the episode, he’ll make up for it! Hey, look at that, he did. The cycle of sexual tolerance moves like a diagnosis on House: starts out FUBAR, but gets miraculously fixed in one of the final scenes. Every freakin’ week. There are something like 20 kids in the club, right? Can we PLEASE focus on the larger cast? The Canadians have mastered it with Degrassi!

Though the Canadians are probably intensely jealous that Glee has Sue Sylvester. She’s worth the price of admission alone.

Sue Sylvester is great…as Canuck, I am jealous, but not as jealous as I am of the Gulf of Mexican Oil.

My “favorite” part of Avengers Academy was Veil complaining about being flat chested, which was true, when compared to most other Marvel females. Otherwise, solid start.

(and I wonder why Dum Dum Dugan is pretending to be the Mad Hatter)

Daniel drew Mad Hatter like Dum Dum Dugan because that’s what the Silver Age Mad Hatter looked like.

See (although this is from 1987 — definitely post Silver Age):


Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

June 11, 2010 at 6:42 am

To add, the Mad Hatter most of us are now familiar with — the clean-shaven mind-controlling Jervis Tetch version — was not seen between 1948’s Batman #49 and 1980’s Detective Comics #510. And in his debut, he didn’t even use mind control, but was instead a theme villain with no origin or real name whose crimes revolved around wearing different hats and robing their associated professions.

In 1956, a mustached, red-haired Hatter who used and stole gimmicked hats debuted, and this Hatter made regular appearances, as well as turning up (played by David Wayne) on the 60s Batman tv show. No reference was made to the earlier Hatter, and this version turned up a few more times, even appearing semi-regularly as late as the mid-1970s. This Hatter was named Jervis Tetch, and used hi-tech gadgets in hats over the course of his crimes. Like the 1948 character, he tended to wear different hats as well.

In 1980, Gerry Conway decided to use the version of the Hatter from 1948, and gave him a computer capable of reading and erasing minds. Weirdly, Conway had this Hatter claim to be the “real” Jervis Tetch, and hint that he’d killed the 60s version, whom he called an “impostor” even though the Tetch name had debuted with the Silver Age mustachioed version! In Detective Comics #526, this clean-shaven Hatter uses his now-trademark mind-controlling hats for the first time, and they henceforth become his gimmick.

Th 1960s Hatter returned in a Mike Barr/Alan Davis story in the 1980s, not so dead after all, but was reduced to occasional cameos thereafter. Batman #700 is his first speaking role in a story in decades.

Weirdly, the mind-control version of the Hatter has never received an origin story in the comics, unlike practically every other Batman villain.

I didn’t know all that about the Hatter, Omar, but I did know that Alan Davis drew him looking like that. He just looks a lot more like Dugan than he does the one in the television series, unless I’m completely misremembering that one. Which is entirely possible.

Honestly, the comments about the JLI seem more directed at those fans who only know about the team either through a second-hand summary or through the “Formerly Known as” minis (which while good, also make it a point to caricature the members to absurdity.)

Are you trade waiting JL:GL? I know you got issue 1, and didn’t hate it, but you haven’t mentioned it since.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 11, 2010 at 7:24 am

Rant, much?

I’m checking out Meta-4, ‘cuz I haven’t had my McKeever fix for years. When the heck is he ever going to do a follow-up to Metropol A.D.? On an seemingly semi-unrelated matter, wasn’t there a Meta-4 book from First Comics?

As for Deadshot’s secret fear, I guess he hasn’t seen Kill Bill vol. 2. Which showcased the most kick-ass tear-my-hair-off eye-popping girl-fight of all time. ;-)

Secret Six continues to make me shout “Oh my dear lord” out loud while reading, and my wife constantly says, “I don’t want to know, do i?” No honey, you really, really don’t.

Cats in the Cradle is just a phenomenally disturbing story of nasty people having nasty things done to them, and it cuts to the core because, as you pointed out, it focuses on family and how those connections we make with the ones we love can be simply devastating at times. The series is such a villain book, in that we get to see the flip side to all of those uplifting superhero stories where Superman draws on memories of his father’s kind words, or Batman reflects on his relationship with Alfred and Dick Grayson. This book is just brutal, and I love every panel of it.

“should I be a history dick and point out that the Children’s Crusade didn’t actually exist?”

But it exists in DC continuity! At least in Vertigo continuity when that was at its most DCU-derived shared-universe-ish.

I seriously laughed out loud at “Børk Børk Børk.”

Thok: Yeah, I just couldn’t make the commitment to JL: GL. I did like issue #1, but it didn’t blow me away to the point where I wanted to keep getting it, and Bennett’s art on issue #2 wasn’t bad, but nothing special. I may see how they collect it and give it a look, but I just didn’t want to keep picking it up every other week.

Out of idle curiosity, does Gravity still have the girlfriend he had in his miniseries?

So why do the Avengers have an academy? It sounds like a very un-Avengers sort of thing to me. Much more of an X-Men thing, obviously. It sounds like it could be good, though. If I have the money next time I go to town, I might get it. Young Allies doesn’t sound as good, but it’s the one with Firestar and Arana, and I really like them.
Is that Arana in the picture? She has a Venom suit? When did that happen?

I didn’t know all that about the Hatter, Omar, but I did know that Alan Davis drew him looking like that. He just looks a lot more like Dugan than he does the one in the television series, unless I’m completely misremembering that one. Which is entirely possible.

He looked pretty close to me. I guess mileage varies… when I saw it I instantly grinned and thought Hot damn, that’s the Adam West-era Hatter! But that is probably because that show is much closer to my heart than it is most Bat-fans.

Actually I just filed it under Grant Morrison”s Batman riffing on the Adam West era, period. Which i find vastly preferably to his “riffing on the late 50s aliens and SF Batman” stuff. And speaking of riffing on the groovy age of Batman, I have yet to see anyone comment on his quiet re-introduction of the Batpoles in the Batcave pinup in this very issue, but that got an even bigger grin from me than the Hatter being played by a drawing of David Wayne.

I used to tell comics fans who bitched about the Adam West show, “Look at the first season of that show again. Trade the day scenes for night, imagine the Bat-costume as being scarier, the dialogue delivered straight instead of arch and camp, and the props looking less cheesy, and you’d have a damned accurate translation of comics-to-screen.” What tickles me about the current Dick-and-Damien Batman stories is that this is the exact approach they’re taking: It’s 60s Batman… but scary. I’m really enjoying that, and I hope it continues to be the mandate for a while.

The best sound effect in the Prince Of Power was “shakashakashakkhan”

@Greg: Intersting take. I haven’t seen the ’60s Batman in years. I might have to rewatch it with those thoughts in mind.

Re: GLEE… I still can’t decide if I actually like it, but I keep watching it for some reason. It’s just different enough from everything else on TV to fascinate me. Also, that principal guy is pretty effing funny.

There was, sez Wikipedia, an impostor Mad Hatter, whom we see in this issue.

I like Glee. It’s entertaining enough most of the time, but sometimes they pull out a bit that has me rolling on the floor. I haven’t seen the finale yet (it’s Tivoed). The previous episode, however, gave us the Unwed Mothership Connection, which was great.

Tom – I think Faith was supposed to be a follow-up to Metropol. I haven’t read all of Metropol (and what I’ve read I haven’t read in years), but I have a vague recollection of reading McKeever saying that.

Industrial Gothic (a book I bought based on the cover, not knowing anything about McKeever) was enough to turn me into a fan. Yeah, his writing can be wonky, but I’ll suffer through the occasional bad dialogue to get that McKeever style.

I hope that you are being sarcastic about the white guy comments. For an entertainment culture nearly totally focussed on whites (and especially white males), less white males is hardly an appropriate concern. Do I need to list the top-tier superheroes and their races (and gender)?

I’m happy that I live in a state where whites are no longer the majority, and I also don’t have any reason to live in fear of minorities as well….

i thought that we weren’t supposed to comment on comic prices anymore……

I dislike Glee because it isn’t very good, but I /hate/ it for completely irrational reasons.

I’m not seeing any of the intelligence and the musical numbers aren’t very good. Basically it’s a medley of cliches wrapped up in a pretty package, with admittedly decent dialogue. It never seems to really try to be funny, which confuses me because it seems like it wants to be a comedy.

Good to know that at least one person is watching Treme, though! If that show is ever cancelled, I will have to rip out some throats.

TonyJazz: Fret not. I was being VERY sarcastic.

Lord Paradise: Treme got picked up for a second season, at least. So that’s good news!

[…] Comics (as in actual issues not a collected novel) link – Greg Burgas tells you what he bought this week as well as reviewing two comics that I almost broke m…. […]

Other Greg: Thanks for that picture. Yeah, that’s what he looked like. I think the TV Hatter is a LOT creepier than Daniel’s version. The one in the comic looks far too normal!

60s Batman is the smartest TV show ever.

The McCarthy Spidey/Strange series better not be collected with some crap I don’t want!

Greg: Hey, thanks for the super-favorable Avengers Academy review! I think it’s by far the best of Marvel’s “Heroic Age” books so far. But unfortunately, I know it’s also by far the lowest-ordered of the new Avengers titles at my local comics shop (because it doesn’t have any “big name” Avengers in it), so I’m worried it won’t last long unless word gets out about it. I really think Gage knocked it out of the park in developing mostly new characters (and great second-stringers like Justice and Quicksilver) in such a way that they were almost instantly likable (or at least interesting). The twist at the end was nice as well.

Regarding Justice League: Generation Lost, this week’s issue #3 was a big improvement in that Winick didn’t make any heinous usage errors like saying “in LIEU of your current ‘difficulties'” instead of “in LIGHT” of them (Winick seems to like that expression but not know what it means) or that “the universe SOUGHT FIT to send [someone] back.” In all seriousness, though, I am enjoying the book. I just wish the dialogue were better (like it would be if, say a certain Mr. DeMatteis were scripting it).


June 11, 2010 at 3:44 pm

For the record, it’s not the fans who are constantly bringing up the Hanky Pym domestic abuse.

It’s the writers, and everybody on the forums chimes in with their opinions. New fans think it’s his only feature; old fans know that it’s been done to death.

All credit belongs to Mark Millar and Brian Bendis. Guys like Kurt Busiek, Dan Slott and, thankfully, Christos Gage know better.

I thought Batman #700 was one of the weakest issues in Morrison’s run so far. (And by “run,” I’m talking “Batman” and “Batman and Robin,” of course.) The coloring on the Scott Kolins pages was no good. No good at all.

I liked SHIELD better. And Avengers Academy. And Captain America. And Iron Man Noir. And Punishermax. And Tom Strong.

Because I am smart like that.

“Finesse, Mettle, Hazmat, Reptil, Veil, and Striker.”

It’s official. All of the good superhero names have been used up.

I’m begging for the Scarlet Witch to scream “No more team books!”


That description of Young Allies sounds exactly like the very definition of why I quit reading X-Men lo those many years ago. As much as I loved the first couple of years of Uncanny X-Men, I think Chris Claremont is to blame for everything that is wrong with comic books today.

We didn’t have enough super-teams already? We needed more? And every other issue will introduce a new team of super-villains for them to fight, right?

“Chair-Leg! Litter-Box! Coaxial! Paper-Cut! Aspirin! Netflix! To me, my X-Men!”


Re Avengers Academy: I think Striker is a white guy. I base this on two bits of evidence: 1) His skin is slightly lighter and “pinker” than Hazmat’s is in the one panel where you see her without her helmet on (it’s especially noticeable in the character bio at the end of the issue) and 2) He’s the team douchebag. The team douchebag is always the white guy. (Yeah, Finesse is kind of a jerk too, but she basically has Asperger’s syndrome, so it’s okay).

And pretty much every time a new writer takes over the Avengers, one of the first things they do is have the characters dredge up Hank Pym’s scandals, no matter how “resolved” the issue was by the end of the last guy’s run, so I read Quicksilver’s comment as literally referring to the Avengers themselves but meta-textually commenting on the writers who put those words in the characters’ mouths.

Re Prince of Power: My favotie sound effect: “Krrrozzzoverr” when Thor and Cho first clash.

Re Young Allies: The last time Firestar appeared before this issue, she was mostly bald from her recent bout of cancer. I think her hair is brown out of uniform and red in uniform because she changes wigs when she changes clothes.

My one problem with the issue (which, coincidentally, relates to Gravity being the one white guy, though I totally got that you were kidding about that) is that between constantly referring to Gravity as a Midwesterner and mentioning that he’s from Wisconsin and him being the one who suggests maybe heroes should execute villains, I’m afraid they’re going to turn him into “Captain Red State,” representative of all the well-meaning but ign’ant folks in flyover country (Wisconsin is actually a Blue State, but I don’t expect writers to actually differntiate between Midwestern states any more than I expect them to realize that not every window in Paris overlooks the Eiffel Tower, or that torch and pitchfork wielding mobs are largely extinct in Eastern Europe, call me cynical).

@ The Mutt

I actually think “Mettle” is a decent name for a guy made out of metal who’s trying to prove himself. And “Hazmat” isn’t bad either. “Reptil” is Spanish for “reptile” so I’m pretty sure we’re racists if we criticize the name (kidding). And I submit that the only way in which “Finesse” or “Veil” are worse than “Storm,” “Cyborg,” “Raven,” “Jade,” “the Beast,” “the Vision,” “Karma” or lots of other “old school” character names is that you’ve had years to get used to the latter group (and probably heard them for the first time when you were young enough to not really think too much about whether they were good names or not).

“Striker,” on the other hand, I agree with. It’s generic without a hope of being iconic. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen at least two other characters with the same name in the past, which doesn’t speak well to its memorability.


Fair enough. The main appeal for JL:GL for me is the character moments (Max has done a very good job at hurting the protagonists in fairly personal ways while spilling a minimal amount of blood), and I have less of a problem with 6/10-7/10 art or dialogue then some.

@The Mutt: Just wait until I start writing stories about the Staller. To be fair, there’s a reason my forum avatar is the Spot, the patron saint of “We’ve run out of interesting names to use”.

“Chair-Leg! Litter-Box! Coaxial! Paper-Cut! Aspirin! Netflix! To me, my X-Men!”

I’d read it.


I think The Vision marks the line where superhero names started to go south.

Here is the test I use:

“Who are you?”

“I’m ( insert name here)!”

There were plenty of lousy names before The Vision. The Legion had some stupid names before they finally realised they didn’t all have to include Boy, Girl, Lad, Lass, or Kid. I don’t know when Matter-Eater Lad debuted, but I’m certain Triplicate Girl was pre-Vision. But I’ve seen lists of Golden Age heroes, and I know there were some lousy names from very early on. All three Lieutenent Marvels had dumb names, I think.

@Mary Warner

You got me there, but I would submit that the Legion doesn’t count in this debate. Everything about that comic was ridiculous. (In the good way.)

But those names weren’t chosen because there were no better ones available. Even Legion writers renamed those characters.

But I think my test stands.

“I’m Lightning Lad!”

“I’m Saturn Girl!”

“I’m Cosmic Boy!”

I’d be scared.

“I’m Finesse!”

Oh, would you like to do my hair?

“I’m Mettle!”

What, metal?

“No. Mettle.”

Like I said.

“No, Mettle! Tee tee el ee!”

Oh, like test my mettle?

“Yes! Exactly!”

Sorry, but I was too busy killing all these folks to figure that out.

Of course, since “The Vision” as a character name dates back to 1940, one could argue that we’ve been out of good superhero names for a long, long time.


Yeah, yeah. Now you’re just fucking with me.


But seriously. Can anybody think of a cool superhero name that hasn’t been used?

Lord Paradise

June 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

Is there a character named “the Philosophe?”

He could have a butler named Android Freud and a sidekick named Young Jung.

I think for people who are actually clever, there will always be a new way to look at things that provides a font of new names.

Travis Pelkie

June 13, 2010 at 1:14 am

I got Avengers Academy, and was less than impressed. I had wanted to see what the big twist was, and, well… That wasn’t really that interesting. (as a twist, I should say. For some reason it seemed obvious for the title, but it could be just me. I do think that it provides an interesting set up for the series. But as twists go, it’s no Thunderbolts or Fight Club)
I think I can say this without spoiling anything, do the Avengers not learn not to be lying about their motives? These kids have already been used by Osborn, why don’t they learn? (and I’m with you, why were ANY of the superheroes or government officials fooled by Osborn? Wasn’t it known that he was the Green Goblin?)

I did find the old “oh, without your glasses you’re hot” bit funny, as I personally found Veil hotter in the beginning, with the glasses and all. Of course, my girlfriend has red hair and glasses, so…

To riff off your talk about AA being 3.99 — Meta 4 (which I also bought but haven’t read yet) was actually 3.99, not 3.50 like you have here. I know it was solicited at 3.50, but when I checked the Diamond site I saw it was 3.99. Disappointing, but I loves me some McKeever, so I’m getting it anyway.

Interesting if Faith was a followup to Metropol — actually, I think I remember reading that Faith featured characters from other McKeever books. I’m waiting until I have a chance to read all the McKeever library books to start Meta 4.

Maybe you or another reader know, Greg, but I know that originally there were supposed to be 4 books in the Image McKeever library (I read it on CBR!) but there’s only been the 3, and I don’t think there are plans for the 4th. I assume the fourth should have been Plastic Forks, so why it didn’t get done is odd, since both Metropol and Plastic Forks were originally Marvel/Epic books. I assume it’s a rights issue, but since both books came from the same publisher originally, I wonder why the contracts were different.

I also want to see Vertigo collect the McKeever stuff like Faith, Industrial Gothic, and Junk Culture. Hell, you could probably do all his Vertigo “creator owned” stuff like that (don’t know if I’m forgetting anything) in one volume. DC, I’ll buy it, I spent 100 bucks on the 3 Image books.

Travis: Yeah, you’re right about Meta 4 – whoops! I don’t know what the deal is with Image’s McKeever stuff. I never saw the plans for a fourth book, so while I also assume it was supposed to be Plastic Forks, I don’t know anything else. Sorry!

I’m surprised DC hasn’t put together a big hunk of McKeever’s work, either. I doubt it would sell very well, but I bet it would sell a bit, and they’ve collected low-selling stuff in the past. It’s the vagaries of publishing!

I’d say “Glee” hasn’t lived up to the promise of the witty pilot. It’s been fair to middling–mainly because of the soapy subplots that tend to dominate.

But the finale rocked. It may have been the best episode of the season.

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