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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 8 December 2010

If miracles have been so rare since the appearance of Christianity, the blame rests not on Christianity but on Christians. (Mircea Eliade, from The Myth of the Eternal Return)

It's all emotional and shit! He's a manly man! That shore is purty! Three-Deeee! That can't be pleasant 'Why am I wearing this ridiculous outfit?!?!?!?' he screams If only Superboy had looked at the cover of his own comic! Does Thor look like he's in the mood to be dogpiled? All superheroes should wear ties! Too much Bat-grooviness! Gulacy gets to draw nekkid wimmins!

Booster Gold #39 (“Letting Go!”) by Keith Giffen (writer), J. M. DeMatteis (writer), Chris Batista (penciller), Rich Perrotta (inker), Hi-Fi (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

Giffen and DeMatteis bring their storyline about Booster trying to reconnect with Ted Kord in the past to an end, as Booster finally comes to terms with his friend’s death. This is why Giffen and DeMatteis are good writers and why it’s unfortunate that many comic book writers’ only sense of history is dredging up old characters to kill them off – this isn’t an overly sappy issue, just a story of a man who was convinced he could somehow bring his friend back to life and refused to face reality, so when it finally hits him, it hits him hard. Like their entire run so far, this issue has far less impact if you didn’t read the creators’ Justice League run. Even the other issues, while steeped in nostalgia, have been stories a layperson could enjoy – this issue is almost completely about Booster’s feelings about Ted, which were established two decades ago. Giffen and DeMatteis don’t traffic too much in dull sentimentality – a little, but not much – but they do show a person who needs to let go, and finally manages to. This is the kind of issue that depresses me, not because of why you think it does. You see, this issue reminds me of a time when you could buy more comics because of the price (no, I’m not going to rant about comic book prices, but it’s true that if you had ten dollars, you could once buy twice as many comics as you can today), so you could keep track of what was going on more in both the Marvel and DC universes. The only reason I know about these two men and their friendship is because it was confined to a specific title (or a very small group of titles), so it was easy to follow. In an issue below, that’s more of a problem (although Johns does a decent job recapping). I’m woefully unaware of the main storylines in the DC and Marvel universes these days, because I’m not that interested anymore, but also because it’s too much money to keep up. It’s also difficult, with the changes in writers and the fracturing of titles, to build a relationship like the one Michael and Ted had. I’m not as bummed out about it as I’m making it out to be, because it’s just a nostalgic tugging – we all get nostalgic occasionally, and it’s usually a fleeting sadness before we move on. But when a solid comic like this takes its time to examine a foundation that, even though all the crises and zero hours and reboots of the DCU recently, hasn’t changed, it makes me a bit nostalgic. But that’s just me.

Anyway, I’m impressed that Giffen and DeMatteis have started developing the character of Rani over this run. Given the way Danny D. looks askance at “their” characters, how long after they leave the book will Rani survive? Only the Grand Poobah knows for sure!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Putting children in danger never gets old!

Days Missing: Kestus #2 (of 5) (“The Burning of Alexandria”/”The First Fold Part Two”) by Phil Hester (writer), Trevor Roth (writer, “The First Fold”), David Marquez (artist), Digikore Studios (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.95, 24 pgs, FC, Archaia/Roddenberry.

Hester takes the Steward to Alexandria in 48 BC, where he … does something. He doesn’t prevent the burning of the world’s most famous library, but presumably Hester is implying that had he not shown up, not only the books but the people in charge of the library would have burned as well, depriving the world not only the knowledge stored in the volumes but the people who could pass along the knowledge after the destruction of the library. Mainly, as this book is about the Steward meeting his lady friend, Kestus, at different points in history, this is a chance for them to catch up, as Kestus, who’s immortal but can’t fold time, continues to set herself up as a supernatural being (a goddess in issue #1, an oracle in this one). The fact that she lives forever but can’t be with the Steward makes her capricious, because she really has no reason to be kind. So the series will, presumably, show how the Steward changes her, but not enough. That’s just a prediction!

The Steward does his job, making an impression on a young Jewish slave named Judith, who’s smarter than pretty much everyone else at the library even though everyone ignores her because, well, she’s young, Jewish, female, and a slave. The library might burn, but the knowledge survives thanks to the Steward and people like Judith. Hester is telling concurrent stories in this series so far – the Steward, who in the first series was rescuing humanity from their excesses, is shepherding knowledge in this one while flirting with Kestus. He’s multi-tasking! It will be interesting to see how Hester brings these two themes together, if indeed he does.

This continues to be an intriguing series. Give it a look!

One totally Airwolf panel:

He did tell them to put their cigarettes out!

Fables #100. “Single Combat” by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Andrew Pepoy (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer); “Pinocchio’s Army” by Buckingham (writer) and Willingham (illustrator); “The Fables Paper Puppet Theatre” by Buckingham (writer/artist), Dan Green (inker), Loughridge (colorist), and Klein (letterer); “The Perils of Thumbelina” by Willingham (writer) and Chrissie Zullo (artist); “Celebrity Burning Questions” by Willingham (writer), Dave Johnson (artist), Adam Hughes (artist), Kate McElroy (artist), J. H. Williams III (artist), and Dave Stewart (colorist); “A Thing With Those Mice” by Willingham (writer) and Joao Ruas (artist); “Escape to Wolf Manor” (board game) by Willingham (writer) and Buckingham (artist). $9.99, 104 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

There’s no reason for this issue of Fables to be so giant-sized except that it’s, you know, the 100th issue. I’m not sure, but I think it’s only the second Vertigo series to reach triple digits, so that’s certainly something to celebrate. But issue #98-99 felt a bit like treading water as Willingham and Buckingham geared up for this one, and it could have easily been smaller and told the same story spread out over two or even three issues. I suppose Willingham didn’t want to deal with the aftermath in issue #101, but I don’t know. I certainly don’t mind spending ten (!) dollars for this, because it’s an amazing package with some very groovy extras, I’m just pointing out that the actual story didn’t need to be confined to one issue. Oh well.

This issue is, of course, the confrontation between Frau Totenkinder and the Dark Man, which has been building for a while. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a very well done fight – Frau Totenkinder – Bellflower as she’s now called – uses clever magic to keep the Dark Man off-balance, while he can’t find anything that she’s afraid of, and as fear is his main weapon, he keeps finding himself losing. It’s amazingly drawn by Buckingham, too, and it looks a lot more like painted art than a usual issue – Loughridge outdid himself on this issue. Willingham intercuts the fight with scenes back at the farm, as Beauty goes into labor and eventually gives birth. This is a crucial part of the series, as Nurse Spratt (who could, of course, eat no lean) reveals herself even more as a hateful woman, and Snow White gives her an unfortunate life lesson (which sounds familiar – is it from an earlier issue of Fables, or did Willingham rip it off from somewhere?). So even though the fight is the centerpiece, Willingham continues to introduce new plot elements – Nurse Spratt and her bad feelings, the new baby, even the prose story about Geppetto that Buckingham writes – I assume the ending will play an important part going forward. I was a bit amused by the baby – again, without giving it away, it seems like the Beast, at least, might suspect something about the baby.

There’s a lot of cool back-up stuff, as well. Buckingham’s prose story isn’t great, but it does introduce an important element to the story. “The Perils of Thumbelina” is a cute little story with groovy art by Zullo. The questions are submitted by a few celebrities who read Fables, including this “terminally hot” one, and they’re clever little diversions. (What does it mean to be “terminally hot”? Does it mean she will be hot forever? Or does it mean she’s so hot she will kill you with her hotness? The mind reels!) It’s mostly a showcase for artists, and while Adam Hughes’ pin-up is, unfortunately, a little weak, Dave Johnson, Kate McElroy, and J. H. Williams III all knock theirs out of the park. I dig the fact that, if DC is going to charge so much for this, they make it feel worth it, from the content to the binding (it’s square-bound, not stapled, so it feels like a trade paperback).

Of course, because I’m far too familiar with what Kelly Thompson likes in her comic books, I chuckled when I reached page 45, where Bellflower says, “I finally found a good man and we’ve decided to go far, far away together.” Oh, I imagined the steam coming from Kelly’s ears! That kooky Bill Willingham, taking one of his better female characters and stating that all she wants out of life is a man! She repeats herself later, just to stick the knife further into poor Ms. Thompson’s brain. Here’s the reason why it didn’t bother me, though (beside the fact that I’m a man and think that all women just need a good man in their lives and absolutely nothing else!) – she’s a character who, from what we know about her, spent her salad days eating children. She makes the point that she never got a chance to have a romance, and now she does, especially as it’s Ozma’s turn to be in charge. I don’t know if Willingham, being a conservative, has anything against same sex relationships, but would it have been okay if Bellflower went off with a woman? It’s not the “man” part that’s relevant, it’s that she’s spent her life, first selfishly and alone, then in the service of others. She deserves a break! Plus, the way Willingham has developed these characters over the course of 100 issues, it’s not a “female” thing here – it’s a Totenkinder/Bellflower thing. Each character makes choices, it seems to me, based on their own personalities, and ever since Totenkinder absconded to figure out to fight the Dark Man, she’s been heading toward a final confrontation. After that, what’s left for her? She gave everything she had, so why shouldn’t she be a bit selfish? Anyway, that’s my take. I’m very curious to see what Kelly has to say about it.

I know a lot of people read Fables in trade, but I still enjoy the single issues, because it’s impressive that Willingham just keeps coming up with new things to write about. He seems to have things set for a while now, so I’m keen to keep reading!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah! Finesse is for wusses! Or Canadians!

Flash #7 (“What Goes Around, Comes Around”) by Geoff Johns (writer), Scott Kolins (artist), Brian Buccellato (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

In the weekly vote for what comics I should buy, Uncle Scrooge got the most votes, but I could not find a copy, even at the bigger, more corporate comic book store in Mesa which usually orders at least one of almost everything. So I went to the next one with the most votes, which was Flash #7. Our very own Sydneysider, FunkyGreenJerusalem (who ought to be offended by this issue because of something in the art, as I’ll point out below), has been banging the drum for the new series (among others, but he’s the most strident), so while I’ve never been a fan of Geoff Johns, I figured I could give this a look.

Well, I can say that Johns almost completely suppresses his bloodlust (“almost” because in one panel, someone gets decapitated by a boomerang) as he tells the secret origin of Captain Boomerang. This is a bit troublesome, because while Johns wants to tell a relatively serious story, he keeps doing a couple of things: using dull clichés (wait, his father isn’t really his father?) and trying to incorporate DC history, which is, to be blunt, convoluted. Johns does a decent job reconciling all the various incarnations of Captain Boomerang, as he explains why he was such a dick during the Suicide Squad years (besides the fact that he’s, you know, a villain) but always watched the backs of the other Flash bad guys (calling themselves the “Rogues” seems like the group of heroes in a certain classic book calling themselves the “Watchmen” – i.e., stupid). But because things are so convoluted in DC history, we get references to old Flash comics, Suicide Squad (which has never been reprinted – yet – and therefore might be unfamiliar to readers), Identity Crisis, Blackest Night, and now Birds of Prey, maybe? Harkness mentions Dove, and isn’t she in Birds of Prey these days? Or is this something to do with Brightest Day, as that’s above the title on the cover? I don’t know, but it lessens the emotional impact of Boomerang’s origin and interaction with Reverse Flash because Johns is drawing on so many sources. Boomerang’s own upbringing is so riddled with clichés that it’s difficult to care about him based on that, so Johns is relying on what we know about him to add to his character. Johns doesn’t want us to care about Harkness, not really, but he does want to make him more relatable, and he doesn’t, not based on what’s in this particular issue. It’s not a terrible issue from a writing standpoint, and Johns does get the point across that even for the “Rogues,” Harkness is kind of a dick, but if you’ve ever read a comic with Captain Boomerang, you know he’s a dick. Even Brad Meltzer (shudder) made him a dick you could relate to (before he, you know, killed him), which Johns really doesn’t do here. It’s a straight-forward story that doesn’t screw anything up too badly but doesn’t really inspire me to go read more comics by Geoff Johns.

However, I can say that Scott Kolins’ art is terrible. Seriously, I like Scott Kolins quite a bit, and I have no idea what’s going on in this issue – it doesn’t even look like anything I’ve seen by Kolins before. Where’s the crazy energy, the crisp lines, the almost 3-D figures? Is Buccellato deliberately softening his lines and muting the colors (I don’t know who usually colors Kolins, but his art is often bright and shiny, ready to pop off the page) to make the look consistent with what Manupul has been doing on the book? If so, why? This is obviously a one-off issue after the completion of an arc to give the main artist a break, and even if Kolins is drawing the next issue, the first arc is obviously completed, so a trade will have the first six issues with Manupul’s art. I get that if you’re in the middle of an arc and the artist needs some help, you might want to try to make the fill-in art as consistent as possible, but this is a different circumstance, and there’s no reason to dampen Kolins’ strengths as an artist to make the look consistent. If you’re going to do that, get an artist whose look is more like Manupul. Kolins has been around long enough that you should know what you’re getting with him, so just live with it. If he’s experimenting with a new style, that’s a whole different animal, and I wish he would stop, because this is just dull and boring linework. Harkness, in particular, looks absolutely ridiculous every single time his face is in a panel (which is a lot, obviously) – Kolins might not be the best with faces, but with his usual style, everything is slightly ridiculous, so the faces don’t look too out of place. With this style, which is a bit more “realistic,” Boomerang’s face looks idiotic. The best part of the book is when Reverse Flash gets out, because Kolins does a really nice job with his manic energy. Finally, he draws two different vehicles in Australia with the driver on the left. I would think that of all the cultural references that you might miss when you’re drawing things in countries you may not have visited, putting the drivers on the right in Australia would be one of the easier ones to remember. And this got past, presumably, Johns and the two editors, Adam Schlagman and Eddie Berganza. Oh well.

So I wasn’t too impressed with Flash #7. Maybe the first six issues were a hell of a lot better, but this one just isn’t that interesting. Too bad. I’d really like to like a Geoff Johns comic that isn’t Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., I really would!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Considering the DCU, that's not much of a threat, is it?

Northlanders #35 (“The Girl in the Ice Part 1 of 2″) by Brian Wood (writer), Becky Cloonan (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Holy crap, that’s an awesome cover. That might be numero uno on my list when I get around to it. We shall see!

After a disappointing arc, Wood hunkers down and begins a story about an old man in Iceland who discovers the body of a girl in the frozen lake where he fishes. Just like William Petersen, he begins to investigate! He believes that the girl’s murder (he puzzles out that it has to be murder) is somehow politically motivated, perhaps taking place at the order of the ruling Icelandic family, the Sturlungar. As a backdrop to all of this, the chieftain, Sturla (who was a chieftain and a famous writer), is calling on all his vassals to fulfill their obligations as the clans prepare for war with Haakon, the king of Norway (who eventually brought Iceland under his control, but not until 20 years after this story takes place). So the soldiers need to quarter two men in Jon’s cabin to keep watch. Jon delays them for a night, but he knows they suspect that he has found the body. So the second issue promises to be some kind of race as Jon tries to figure out what happened to the girl while keeping Sturla’s men in the dark. It’s all exciting!

Wood does a good job building the tension throughout the issue even though nothing violent occurs – it’s mostly innuendo on the part of the soldiers and Jon interpreting their subtext. But it’s still very well done. Cloonan, not surprisingly, is tremendous – she nails the weatherbeaten faces of the men perfectly, and her female corpse haunts Jon nicely, both with her beauty and the mystery of what happened to her. Cloonan’s precise attention to detail has to carry the story because there’s not a lot of action, and she does a wonderful job both with the people and with the landscape, which is vast, forbidding, and stark, offering no place to hide. It’s impressive how she can make something so wide-open feel claustrophobic, but because the weather traps the men in small huts, she manages.

We’ll see how Wood finishes this brief arc up, but I’m hopeful that he’s back on track after the weirdness that ended the previous story. Either way, I’ll be there!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Jon sure is bad-ass!

Starborn #1 by Chris Roberson (writer), Khary Randolph (artist), Mitch Gerads (colorist), and Ed Dukeshire (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

Chip Mosher, who’s built like a linebacker, is not someone you want to cross. The dude is as mean as a snake, I tells ya! Okay, that’s not true – whenever I’ve communicated with him, he’s been swell, and it was cool to meet him last summer. He loves promoting Boom! comics, which, given that he’s the company’s Marketing Director, is probably a good thing. As some of us have mentioned in the past, he sends us .pdfs of very, very many Boom! releases, which is awfully nice of him. Of course, we don’t often review them, and my reason, at least, is that I just don’t have time, nor do I like reading .pdfs. I just don’t! Plus, I buy enough Boom! comics that I feel I do my part to get their name out there. Boom! has been releasing these Stan Lee-inspired books over the past few weeks, and Mosher teased me in an e-mail that I hadn’t reviewed the most recent one – The Traveler, by Mark Waid and Chad Hardin. I just wasn’t interested in it, though. However, I saw Starborn on the table this week, and the premise sounded pretty keen – a writer creates a fantasy world that turns out to be real – and Khary Randolph’s art was very cool, so I picked it up. Perhaps it will keep Chip’s hit squads away from me for a month or two!

Starborn is a good comic, as well, so there’s that. Roberson introduces Ben Warner, an office drone who’s written a fantasy/sci-fi novel about humans fighting against a hive mind collective that was once human, long ago. Of course, the hive mind wants to assimilate all humans, which kind of sucks. Roberson cleverly puts Ben in a similar situation in an office building, where being a drone gets you riches and women! Okay, maybe not, but it allows you to keep your job. Then Ben tells us that when he got a critique of his manuscript, he was told it was close to the work of an older author whose books he had never heard of. Somehow, however, his manuscript is remarkably similar to the older stuff, only told from a different point of view. Then, of course, people in his office turn into drones themselves and attack him, and he’s rescued by a girl he grew up with who has just reappeared in his life. Isn’t that always the way?

Roberson does a nice job with Ben, who’s just some dude trying to get out of a dead-end job and ends up leaping off a building as it explodes. He’s a bit of a doofus, but he’s a good character to reel us in, because so many of us are doofuses. Roberson adds some humor, too – Ben is so confident about his manuscript that when it gets rejected, he’s stymied (even though anyone who’s ever written anything for publication knows what it is to get a rejection letter – I have a whole file of them!). Tara, his dream girl (and of course he never made a move on her), is an intriguing character, too, because she’s far more than she seems, and it makes the reader wonder if it’s really the girl he grew up with and even then she was something different or if someone is impersonating her to get Ben on her side. Randolph’s crisp, angular art is extremely dynamic, and he does a nice job contrasting the novel world, where the art looks a tiny bit softer and Gerads’ colors far more lush, with the “real” world, where the lines are bit more crisp and the coloring more muted. It works well and it’s impressive when the drones enter the “real” world, because the two styles blend a bit. This seems like a book that needs an energetic art style, and Randolph certainly has that.

I skimmed the first few “Stan Lee” comics from Boom! and didn’t think they were for me, even though I tend to like Paul Cornell and Mark Waid. The books didn’t seem to interesting, and I’m not in love with Javier Pina or Chad Hardin. This book, however, has a really good hook, a nifty script, and wildly fun art. What’s not to like?

One totally Airwolf panel:

Arrrgghhh! It's the perfect metaphorical representation of life in a cube farm!

Superboy #2 (“Smallville Attacks! Part Two”) by Jeff Lemire (writer), Pier Gallo (artist), Jamie Grant (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Pretend you’re Kelly Thompson for a minute. We all do this at some point during our days, right? Wait, is it only me? Whoops. (Tom, of course, often dresses like Kelly, but that’s a whole other thing we don’t need to get into right now.) Anyway, pretend you’re Ms. Thompson. You’ve just sat down in your skin-tight catsuit to read your comics (if we’ve learned anything about chicks from Kelly’s podcast, it’s that they always do everything while wearing catsuits, as Kelly herself confirms!). You’re sipping on a strawberry-banana daiquiri (remember, chicks don’t drink manly alcohol like beer, so no Yuengling Black and Tan for Ms. Thompson!). You’re using your boyfriend as an ottoman, because he’s just lucky to have you, damn it! You pick up the latest issue of Superboy by Mr. Lemire and Mr. Gallo. Nothing but wholesome, all-American action in this one, right? You read the first page, then turn to page two, where you are confronted by this:

You sputter out your beverage all over your catsuit (your boyfriend dutifully cleans it up, because he’s lucky to have you, damn it!), but you don’t give up right away. I mean, what’s one wedgie between friends, right? So you read on. You turn another page and see this:

You do an even more violent spit-take. Presumably you then throw down the comic, pick up the pliers, and begin to take out your frustrations on the nearest male person. Oh dear. Perhaps we should leave the scene …

I really did chuckle when I read those first few pages. It’s one of those ridiculous things that, thanks to the always-vigilant Ms. Thompson, I see a lot more when I read comics. I don’t get as grumpy about it as she does, because I’m a mouth-breathing man, but I have started to wonder more about artistic choices and why on earth Ivy would go out without, you know, picking that wedgie. Plus, I really do fear that she might pop out of that sucker at any moment! I mean, she wouldn’t care, being Ivy and all, but what would the DC censors say then?!?!?!? Oh, the horror of a green nipple!

This is a better issue than #1, and it makes me curious about the rest of the arc, so I’m definitely on board. Ivy convinces Conner that she wants to find out what’s happening with the plants as much as he does, and he foolishly believes her. Come on, Conner – she’s a villain! Don’t trust the villain! Plus, as we know, popular culture at large teaches us to never trust the woman, so she’s doubly suspicious! Of course she betrays him, but the overall story is still pretty neat – there’s a weird machine with weird markings on it, there are creepy alien Amish farmers (well, I suppose they just look Amish, but how cool would it be if the Amish actually were aliens and had come to Earth to reject their alien technology that way?), and there’s Simon Valentine, who’s quickly become the best character in the book (see below). Gallo’s art is still impressive if you don’t mind the cheesecake, and Lemire does a good job moving everything along. I don’t love an alien invasion plot (which I assumed was the case from the first credits page, which gave the name of the story arc), but as I always say, it’s how it’s done and not just the plot itself that matters. Lemire has made the first two issues work pretty well (especially this issue), so I’ll stick around for a while.

I just hope the discipline doesn’t get out of hand!!!!!

One totally Airwolf panel:

It's the 'patent pending' that makes it Airwolf!

Thor: The Mighty Sad Because You Didn’t Buy His Book Avenger #7 (“Robot”) by Roger Langridge (writer), Chris Samnee (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, Marvel.

In Previews a few months ago, this issue was solicited. In the catalogue, Craig Rousseau is listed as the artist. Yet Chris Samnee draws this issue. I don’t mind at all – I like Rousseau well enough, but I really dig Samnee – but I wonder what happened. Was it a mistake to list Rousseau as the artist? Was Samnee going to draw this issue all along? Or did they have Rousseau lined up before the cancellation hammer came down and once it did, Samnee decided to push through a few all-nighters fueled by nothing but Red Bull and sexy photos of Bella Abzug to finish this so that the entire run would have a unified look? Only Chris Samnee knows for sure, but as he only speaks Esperanto, not too many people can understand him! Oh dear.

Meanwhile, the collection the first four issues came out this week as well. Langridge writes on his blog that if it sells well, there’s a possibility that Joey Q. will deign to allow he and Samnee to finish his grand 12-issue arc with a four-issue mini-series down the line a bit. (Langridge, presumably, had to approach Joey Q.’s throne – made from skulls of creators who displeased him – while bowing the entire way and had to wait until Mr. Q. was done with his meal of baby seal cutlets and Komodo dragon brains, but at least he got an audience and escaped with his life if not necessarily all of his fingers.) So go buy the trade if you’ve been waiting! It’s a wonderful series, full of everything that made you fall in love with comics in the first place! Buy one for your mom for Christmas! Buy one for that grumpy dude down the street who’s always letting his dog poop on your lawn, and maybe it will remind him of a time when his heart wasn’t a black lump! Buy one for John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, and watch as their partisan shells crack and they realize that what’s really important in this world is Thor (and steamy bipartisan canoodling, because this issue will inspire that, too)! Buy one as a wedding present for Prince William and his foxy fiancée, Kate Middleton! Buy one for Brian Wood so he can see what a real Viking comic looks like (oh, I’m kidding, Mr. Wood)! Thor: The Mighty Avenger just might be the book that unites the world in peace and harmony! Can you take the chance that it’s not?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Oh, yeah, this issue. It’s good. In a much more minor “Don’t trust the woman” trope, Jane Foster keeps Thor from finding out what’s going on in the town by, well, seducing him. Oh, Thor – you must resist her womanly wiles when bad guys are abroad! Oh, who am I kidding – who cares if the town gets destroyed? Thor got lucky! Whoo-hoo!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, small-town policemen - you're so incompetent!

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2 (“Live Fast, Die Young”) by Nick Spencer (writer), CAFU (penciller), Bit (inker), ChrisCross (artist), Santiago Arcas (colorist), Brad Anderson (colorist), and Steve Wands (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

Art-wise, something feels off about this issue. I know it’s two different artists drawing different parts of the book (CAFU handles the part that takes place in the present, while ChrisCross draws the “secret origin” of Lightning, which is a good bulk of the book), but here’s what’s weird: Henry Cosgei doesn’t look like the same person in the two different sections. Obviously, he’s going to look different because of the styles of the artist, but the two artists draw him with a different hairline, which bugs me (and probably only me) and even a totally different facial structure. I kind of wish they had at least tried to make him similar, because it’s kind of annoying that the only reason I know, visually, that it’s the same person is because he’s the only black person in the comic.

It’s still a pretty good issue, as Colleen and Toby take the team on their first mission and bicker a lot (Colleen doesn’t like Toby). We also see Henry Cosgei and how he ends up working for the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents, and it’s a pretty good bit of manipulation by the group, because while technically the recruits are volunteers (as Colleen manages to say with a straight face), it’s clear they’re put in a position where they really have no other place to go. Spencer’s prose in the flashback sections is a little overwrought, but it does set up a phenomenal sequence at the end where we see what happens when the agents use their power. It’s creepy and scary, but it works really well. So while not a lot happens in this issue, it’s effective in getting the reader into the situation that these agents have to deal with. It’s pretty keen.

This is the second straight issue that’s 30 pages, which is weird. This week we had what I assume is the new DC format, as Booster Gold is 20 pages for $2.99 (and, weirdly, does feel a bit shorter even though Giffen and DeMatteis know how to use their page space very well), the old standard 22-page, $2.99 comic (Flash and Superboy), and this one. I certainly don’t mind if every issue is $3.99 if it’s 30 pages long, but how long is DC planning on doing this? I didn’t bat an eye when they did it for the first issue, because it’s a first issue. It’s a little more unusual to see it in issue #2. I haven’t checked to see what subsequent issues are like (and I don’t trust their page counts, because they count advertisements as pages, and I don’t). It’s just a bit weird.

This is shaping into a pretty good series. As I wrote last time around, Spencer does beginnings very well, but I don’t know enough about his writing to know if his endings work. I suppose we’ll see soon enough!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Colleen is totally Airwolf!

The Batman Chronicles volume 10 by various 1940s creators. $14.99, 168 pgs, FC, DC.

This is about the time the Batman comics were starting to get a little goofy. I noticed there’s a time traveler from the future in one of these stories. So, yeah. Goofy.

S.C.I-Spy by Doug Moench (writer) and Paul Gulacy (artist). $16.99, 130 pgs, FC, Image.

I’ve read plenty of Moench/Gulacy comics, so I’m fairly confident I’ll like this one even though I haven’t read any of their science fiction collaborations. Still, it’s weird seeing Gulacy drawing naked women. I’m so used to seeing him almost draw naked women, so the fact that he’s unrestrained in this is a bit strange.

I didn’t get Welcome to Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave this week because of the weather problems. Oh well – I’ll get it next week!

What’s over there? Why, it’s The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Fire Woman”The Cult (1989) “My heart’s a ball of burning flame”1
2. “Tiki 4″Fish (2001) “Too weak for the angels to hear”
3. “Higher Ground”Red Hot Chili Peppers (1989) “I’m so darn glad He let me try it again”
4. “Creatures of Habit”Knots and Crosses (1990) “I reach out my empty hands but all I touch is air”
5. “Gold” – Prince (1995) “What’s the use of being young if you ain’t gonna get old?”2
6. “Hey, Hey Helen”ABBA (1975) “So you’re free at last and beginning to forget the past”
7. “Rastabilly” – Dead Milkmen (1985) “My baby’s got a forehead and all the chicken you can eat”3
8. “Trial Before Pilate” – Barry Dennen, Bob Bingham, Ted Neeley (from Jesus Christ Superstar) (1971) “We both have truths – are mine the same as yours?”4
9. “Somewhere Else”Marillion (2007) “Escaped to the car, drove to a bar somewhere”
10. “Streetlife Serenader”Billy Joel (1974) “Midnight masqueraders, shopping center heroes”

1 My wife and I have a long-running joke about how to write a Cult song: Lots of “fire,” “woman,” “shotgun,” “baby baby baby baby baby,” and “shake, shake, shake it.” Stir, and repeat! You’ve written a Cult song! Congratulations!
2 As far as Prince anthems go, this is far better than “Purple Rain” (and I like “Purple Rain”). It’s weird to consider that it’s far less popular, based only on musical tastes in 1984 as opposed to 1995. At least, I think it’s weird.
3 “Yeah, somebody kicked my dog Mavis and I’m gonna find out just who the hell it is.”
4 I know every single lyric in that musical, because it’s awesome.

I forgot to have some last week, but not this week! It’s the return of totally random lyrics!

“Do you wanna be the pillow
Where I lay my head
Do you wanna be the feathers
Lying in my bed
Do you wanna be the cover
Of a magazine
Create a scene”

Dang, that’s easy. Even Bill Reed might know these lyrics!

38 Comments

Ah. I agree that is not much of a threat in the DCU. But then again, nor is it much of a threat in the Marvel U or the Image U.

(no, I’m not going to rant about comic book prices, but it’s true that if you had ten dollars, you could once buy twice as many comics as you can today)

When I started buying comics, I could have bought 28 new comics for ten dollars.

I could have bought 14 and had change, and I’m only 31… I’d actually be pretty happy if comics only cost twice as much as they did when I was 15

I have to confess I found the Northlanders panel a bit short on Total Airwolf-iness (though, admittedly, my grasp of the whole Airwolf concept is shaky at best).

Still, it got me wondering if there’s a comic out there that is entirely devoid of a Totally Airwolf panel. Time to dig up some Rob Liefield books maybe …

Tanzim: Too true!

John: Occasionally, a comic does not have one singular Airwolf panel, you’re right. There are some cool sequences in Northlanders, for instance, but not one panel that leaps off the page and hits you in the face. So yes, some comics are devoid of Airwolf panels – Northlanders is one of them! The context is that the soldiers are harassing Jon about members of another clan being in the area, and Jon is sick of their “family squabbles,” as he puts it. He just wants to eat his damned breakfast! But to get all that, I would have had to post four panels, and that just wouldn’t work! Sometimes, I just put up a panel that might not grab your with its awesomeness, but I just like.

Just so u know, Greg, there hasn’t been a single death that I can recall in FLASH 1-6 (except for the shot of a dead body that kicked off the arc, but I don’t think that’s what u would count anyway) and they really were fanastic issues. I hate u picked up this “ok” issue when we needed one to surprise u!

Yeah, I was a bit disappointed, because I’ve been hearing so many good things about the first six issues. Maybe I’ll get the trade!

Wow, I’m 31 and when I was 15, most comics were about 1.75-1.95 each, so I could only get about 5 for 10 bucks. So, many comics are around 2x as much as when I started reading.

And I don’t even wanna think about how Tom dresses up as Kelly, but I believe it, man.

Those Superboy panels are kind of gross. When did Poison Ivy get turned green anyway? I don’t remember it happening, she was just suddenly green in all of her appearances. Was it a Loeb thing?

The funny thing is I’m only 40. I say “only” because it wouldn’t be that much different if I were 80. In the 1940s comics went for about 10 cents, in the 1960s they were still only 12 cents, and by the time I started buying comics in the late 1970s, they’d risen to a whopping 35 cents.

@Greg: The dissertation like volume of thoughts I have on Fables #100 is not suitable for a comments section. Suffice to say that despite liking some bits quite a bit I was massively disappointed with the the writing/ideas on multiple levels – one of which is the one you mention – i.e. the marrying off of Totenkinder during her own battle…one she’s been preparing for, for about 6 months worth of books.

As for Superboy, yeah, I’m out. I didn’t like the first issue (which I bought for the gorgeous Albuquerque cover) but thought it ended on an interesting note, so that combined with the gorgeous Phil Noto cover convinced me to give it another try. But the terrible plotting and writing, combined with the ridiculous art has me running. That’s definitely my last issue. Then again, the whole super pets thing annoys the shit out of me…so maybe the book never would have been a good fit no matter what they did.

I did like those awesome psychedelic looking parasite frogs though.

The irony is that Poison Ivy is one of those characters that I can easily accept would walk around comics basically naked thanks to her powers, predilections, personality, and rejection of all things not natural (like, you know, clothes)…but in the context of comics and the women currently in comics as a whole she just looks like one more ridiculously clothed (barely) hot superhero/supervillian. Plus, putting her in a glorified bathing suit (again, barely) is not exactly holding to “who I think she is” so it just reads as another excuse to have a chick in a bathing suit. Boring. Frustrating. And yeah…where’s the nearest man so I can pull off his important bits!?!?!

Seems to me that Poison Ivy’s character makes more sense if the “clothes” she is wearing are made up entirely of leaves, etc. Her actually getting herself some green bikinis/lingerie is somehow sillier than the power to talk to and control plants. Besides, wouldn’t all the dirty, perverted men (like me!) like it more if she’s wearing a bunch of leaves that don’t qualify as clothes, and make it easier for her to become “accidentally” naked?

I don’t know if you mentioned it already, but why didn’t you buy Widowmaker? I haven’t read it yet, but Jim McCann did an amazing job on Hawkeye & Mockingbird.

Hellblazer is the one you were thinking of, but 100 bullets also made it to #100. (Swamp thing went Vertigo at #133, so doesn’t exactly count.)

Dude: I flipped through it, and it just didn’t look interesting. I like Lopez’s art quite a bit, but it seemed like the tone was much more superheroey than espionagey, and I just wasn’t feeling it. On a more personal level, I’m offended that Marvel cancelled a $2.99 ongoing, then continued the story in a mini-series that costs $3.99 an issue. That annoys me. Finally, with Marvel and DC mini-series, I’m taking a much more “wait for the trade” attitude, so if I keep checking it out and if I hear good things about it, that’s what I’ll do.

Ethan: Yes, that does seem more logical. LOGIC HAS NO PLACE IN SUPERHERO COMICS!!!!!!!!

Jeff: D’oh! I forgot about 100 Bullets, mainly because I have it in trades and don’t think of it single issues. And I wasn’t counting Swamp Thing, for the reason you mentioned.

I really hope kolins uses his usual, more kinetic style for his professor zoom issue. I don’t get why he’s changed his art to this all of a sudden.

I totally didn’t know the lyrics, but I could go for a Black & Tan. (And living in PA, I can buy one or six or 24 whenever I want! Suck it, Burgas!)

I feel bad for waiting for the trade for The Mighty Avenger– and then not ordering the trade when offered. (I ordered the Sixth Gun TP instead, so don’t get too angry.) Four issues and a couple of reprints I have three times over already? Bah.

I’ll have to check out my awesome free PDF of Starborn. I thought Traveler #1 was pretty solid, but that series is clearly going to work better in trade.

Greg, you linking a pic of Kelly T. objectifying a man by using him as an ottoman in the same section where you criticize the Superboy comic for objectifying women…was that intentional or unintentional irony? I thought it was funny. For the record, I have no problem with Kelly’s pictures OR the Poison Ivy pictures, I just find it weird that one gender’s objectification was called out but the other wasn’t. If a guy posted a pic of himself using his girlfriend as an Ottoman I think people would react way differently. I still remember the uproar people had of that pic of Mary Jane washing Spider-Man’s costume.

@T. Well, it definitely was a joke. And was intentional hyperbole to poke fun at the whole situation.

However, my more serious answer on this is the same as it always is…Context.

I doubt the uproar over the Mary Jane statue would have existed (or have been a 10th as loud perhaps) if the objectification and roles of women in comics were on the whole not so problematic.

funkygreenjerusalem

December 10, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Just a few weeks after I say you are too harsh on DC, you’re reading them the most!
Huzzah!

I guess you’re waiting for the trade – or just not interested – but you should make a point of reading Knight & Squire #3, Greg.
It was so funny.
Cornell said he was aiming for the feel of an episode of The Goodies, and he got there.

I think everyone should also check out Dan Slott’s Spider-Man.
I tried out the first two issues of the new format, and it was pretty damn fun.
Humberto Ramos is doing his best art in years – possibly of his career.

Our very own Sydneysider, FunkyGreenJerusalem (who ought to be offended by this issue because of something in the art, as I’ll point out below),

I didn’t even notice.
That was so far removed from actually looking or feeling like Australia, I didn’t even bother treating it like it was.
I mean, postal vans don’t look like that either.
I’m not even sure why he’s called Digger – that’s not a birth name, and he wouldn’t have gotten it as a nickname, as it’s a slang term given to, and used by, Aussie and NZ soldiers.

Also, odd that his so Australian he says bloody, blimey, mate and g’day at every turn, but then uses an American slang ‘pops’ when talking to his father.

has been banging the drum for the new series (among others, but he’s the most strident), so while I’ve never been a fan of Geoff Johns, I figured I could give this a look.

Sorry!
This issue wasn’t as good as the other six were, and I’m now hesitant to recommend the trade collecting them, as I felt the story as a whole didn’t quite hold together.
All the chapters were exciting, and all good, but it just didn’t quite gel, so it wouldn’t seem half as good as it did coming out month by month.
On the other hand, Manapul’s art forgives almost all sins!

(calling themselves the “Rogues” seems like the group of heroes in a certain classic book calling themselves the “Watchmen” – i.e., stupid).

But you could really say that about every single super team.

I just wish the Rogues would go back to how they were in #1 – where it’s mentioned Weather Wizard kept making it rain out football games just to be a jerk.

But because things are so convoluted in DC history, we get references to old Flash comics, Suicide Squad (which has never been reprinted – yet – and therefore might be unfamiliar to readers), Identity Crisis, Blackest Night, and now Birds of Prey, maybe?

I’m not following you here – it’s a history of the character, so they touched on stuff he has done – how is it convoluted?
You’d wouldn’t be lost at all if you knew nothing about Suicide Squad, and I didn’t even realize IC was referenced, as I didn’t know that’s where he died (which I figured out once you mentioned it).

Although, it may be worth pointing out – Boomerang has been throughout the first six issues of the Flash, focusing on him readjusting after Blackest Night, and dealing with the tie ins to Brightest Day – the white Lantern has told him he needs to throw a boomerang at Dove – so some of that isn’t as crammed in as it may appear.

Superboy:

This is a better issue than #1, and it makes me curious about the rest of the arc, so I’m definitely on board.

I actually liked #1 better, but this was still pretty good.
Was a little let down Gallo didn’t try any crazy layouts this week.

I was looking for that panel you posted using google earlier – because Parasite Frogs was awesome – and you kinda don’t want to goolge ‘parasite frogs’.
Just gets you a bunch of mutated frogs.
Thunder agents:

Spencer’s prose in the flashback sections is a little overwrought, but it does set up a phenomenal sequence at the end where we see what happens when the agents use their power.

I wasn’t enjoying the issue at all until we got that sequence when he started running.
That was a great sequence.

Those lyrics are from the song “Still…You Turn Me On” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer from their Brain Salad Surgery album. I know this because I like classic Prog, and I’m older than God.

There are times when Poison Ivy is wearing clothes that appear to be made of leaves. I think. It probably was around the time of HUSH that she became green, but it could have been sooner, I dunno. It “makes sense.”

Tom’s passed out in front of his computer with that pic of Kelly in a catsuit on his screen. It’s sad, really.

I’ve heard that the term “brain salad surgery” is very dirty in British slang. Can anyone confirm?

And off Funky’s comment, if you don’t check out Dan Slott’s Spider-Man, he’ll tell you to fuck yourself and then go bang your mom. And Rich Johnston will film it all. :)

FGJ: I’ve been making a very conscious effort to buy DC and Marvel mini-series in trade, so I’m waiting on Knight and Squire. If any issue gets the most votes when I ask for the votes, I’ll buy it, but not on my own.

If Boomerang has been in each issue, that’s fine, I guess. The brief mentions of his history in this issue skim the surface of the series, ignoring some of the bigger nuances in his characterization, so that’s why I thought it might make less sense if someone hadn’t read those. I could be wrong, of course, and readers might skim right over those.

Johnny B.: I don’t know if you have to be older than God to remember ELP, do you?

Greg: Probably not, but it helps! Especially if we’re talking first-hand…

Kolins has been experimenting with that tonal style for a little while now, hasn’t he?

I’m not sure when he started (maybe around the time he took over Magog?), but his pages in Batman #700 were definitely in that style.

I really miss Kollin’s old style. The new one works fine in the intros for Legacies, but not for anything else.

You’ll recover from your nostalgia when Geoff Johns or someone brings Ted Kord back to life. It’s pretty much inevitable.

Ian: Yeah, Kolins’s work in Batman #700 was like this, but I thought he was trying to fit the other art styles (and the lines were still crisp). When he took over for Jock in Detective I thought his art was still like his old stuff, and I didn’t read Magog. So it’s been some time since I’ve seen him draw a complete issue.

Kolins is using the same style over in Justice Society of America right now.

Steer clear of Johns’ Flash. I got suckered in by the beautiful artwork, but the first six issues are filled with headache-inducing time travel plots that don’t hold up to logic and he’s also decided to retcon Barry Allen’s origin. Now he’s a cop ’cause his mom was murdered. It’s a shame ’cause I really wanted to like that book. But, frankly, I soured on Johns a long time ago. And whenever I decide to give him another chance (Blackest Night, Flash) I’m disappointed.

So Kelly Thompson doesn’t like Superboy? Yet another reason to buy it!

funkygreenjerusalem

December 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

FGJ: I’ve been making a very conscious effort to buy DC and Marvel mini-series in trade, so I’m waiting on Knight and Squire. If any issue gets the most votes when I ask for the votes, I’ll buy it, but not on my own.

Fair enough – only last year I broke my own strict ‘trades only’ policy for every type of comic, so I understand having set rules (it’s fun to break them though!)

Heck, just lie to your brain, and tell it #3 is a one shot.
Then you can tease Chad because you as an American, are more in-synch with a particular type of British humour than he is as a Canadian.

f Boomerang has been in each issue, that’s fine, I guess. The brief mentions of his history in this issue skim the surface of the series, ignoring some of the bigger nuances in his characterization, so that’s why I thought it might make less sense if someone hadn’t read those. I could be wrong, of course, and readers might skim right over those.

Well, his death and resurrection have been covered a fair bit, as well as his relationship with the Rogues (maybe they wear the name ironically? Or maybe Weather Wizard doesn’t see anything wrong with the name Rogues cause he’s got a crap taste in names?).

The annoying thing for me, is I thought we’d be getting a look at his new powers to generate black energy boomerangs – which would have moved things along a bit more – as really, the whole origin bit didn’t really add that much to the story, just the Zoom bit – and I certainly wasn’t asking questions about how he grew up for the last six issues.

Kelly T:

But the terrible plotting and writing, combined with the ridiculous art has me running.

Any detail you could go into on those?

Just seems to be quite removed from most people’s opinions, without saying why.

For instance, why terrible plotting?
Lemire has given us a villain to be taken down each issue, whilst setting up the next villain, and a larger looming threat.
There’s not been as much time for kissing various blonde haired girls, like in the Johns run – seriously, Connor has a type – but I think Lemire is just trying to break away from his usual slower stories.

As for the art – I honestly have no problem with it, but if you do think he’s skeevy, remember, he’s Italian.
He’s showing a lot of restraint in his Ivy.

Brian:

he’s also decided to retcon Barry Allen’s origin. Now he’s a cop ’cause his mom was murdered.

He kinda retconned it in Rebirth.
Zoom went back in time and killed his mother – which is why Barry now has conflicting memories.
From the way the arc ended with the ‘Barry as a cop’ subplot, I dare say Flashpoint will involve Barry travelling back to save his mother and ‘fix’ other mistakes in time.

@FGJ: Well, while keeping in mind that I’ve never really read Superboy before and thus am perhaps out of synch with the way it usually/should/people expect it to sound/be….

On the plotting front I found it really unbelievable that Superboy would just outright believe Ivy considering her past and his dialogue suggesting that he was never going to believe it – “yeah right! save it Ivy!”- and then he just decides with some slight nudging that he will believe her instead a panel later? Seems awfully convenient and ill-considered. His strength is gone and drained when convenient then returns when convenient. Despite a variety of superpowers including super speed he can’t stop Ivy from ripping tubes out of a man’s chest as he just stands there right next to him. While I try to have a healthy suspension of disbelief when I read comics, that many convenient plotting moments in 20 pages kind of makes my head spin. Additionally, while I’m all for great sidekicks, the sidekick here (Simon) is far more effective and interesting than Superboy (and in fact saves the day)…which doesn’t make me very interested in a book called SUPERBOY…but makes me think I should be reading SIMON instead.

The writing? I guess it’s just personal taste (and again, maybe it’s a traditional style of Superboy and I’m just not familiar/fond of it) but i found it woefully over the top and overly earnest.

Kolins’ art in Batman 700 was the stuff at the end of the Quitely section, right? That didn’t really “fit in” with the rest. It might have fit in with a Frazier Irving bit, but between Quitely and Andy Kubert, it was definitely different. Not that that’s necessarily bad.

While I don’t know if I like the art from what you show above, I’d rather see an artist stretch and try something new, even if it doesn’t end up looking right, than someone who just stagnates. You won’t get a Sienkiewicz every time, but better to try and fail, I think.

My dad once fell asleep during a synthesizer solo at an ELP show.

Y’know what’s weird? Now that Dan mentions about his dad falling asleep at an ELP show, I’m pretty sure it was an ELP show that my mom fell asleep during. I think from what she said, the “chemical aids” in the air didn’t help.

And years later, when mom took my sister and me to see Yes, my sister fell asleep during that.

That prog rock! The cure for insomnia.

“Come out ye Black and Tans
Come out and fight me like a man
Tell your wife how you won medals down in Flanders
And tell her how the IRA
Made you run like hell away
From the green and lovely lanes of Killashandra”

Oh, that wasn’t the song lyrics being discussed? Nevermind, the Black and Tans reference threw me off. You’re talking about the delicious drink, not the brutal British paramilitary group…

Gotta love the Wolfetones though. That’s a song to break noses with your forehead to!

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