Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Only sorta about comics (but not really)

The other day my wife and I were telling a co-worker about our hometown, and somehow the conversation ended up on Jay J. Armes, a former city council member and WORLD-FAMOUS PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR!

Since I grew up with Armes as a regular part of the landscape, it was easy to forget how much pure awesome this guy is packed with; I don't remember him being much of a councilman, but check out this resume:

Blew off both of his hands with dynamite when he was 12, later replacing them with gripping steel hooks!

Last name: Armes!

Rescued Christian-son-of-Marlon Brando from kidnappers!

Has a specially made prosthetic housing a .22 magnum!

Played a deranged sniper called The Hookman on Hawaii Five-O!

Has his own action figure!

Runs his own international PI business!

Has a movie in development with Stan Lee's company, Pow Entertainment! (there's your comicy content)

OK, honestly, I don't know what's going on with that development deal since it was first announced in January 2005 and I haven't been able to dig up anything more recent, but I hereby officially support this film. According to some sources, Scott Lobdell (more comicness!) has already written a first draft of the script.

And it's called "Hooked" for God's sake. This, kids, is Stan the Man's special genius.

If nothing else, looking all this up helped endear him to me all over again (he would genuinely seem like a nice guy when you ran into him around town). His huge plot of land, only a couple of miles from where I lived, was legendary in my neighborhood. I didn't grow up in a well-off area, so a mysterious compound surrounded by a tall golden fence featuring gates emblazoned with a huge "J.J." and crossed guns had an effect. Plus, he was known to have jungle cats that prowled the property after dark.

Holy crap ... I think I just overdosed on kick-assery.

I hope the movie does get made someday. At the very least, I'd love to see a Human Target-style comic come out of this - after all, the guy's practically OMAC! He's even got a similar affection for wacky head decor.

How could you lose?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Pull-list: 3-14-07

Wow, it looks like a short week for the Post. Luckily for me, this week's all about quality, not quablah-blah-blah! Let's go!

52 #45: Funny how things turn around, isn't it? Not funny-ha-ha, more like funny oh-my-God-am-I-stepping-on-intestines? For the most part, I'm still enjoying 52, but I don't think I'd say it's as much fun as it had been in the first two-thirds of its run. The storyline has taken a much darker turn in the last few issues, and the transition has been a little jarring. Overall it continues to be a solid story, and honestly there hasn't been anything in the plot that doesn't make at least some kind of sense, but shouldn't readers get a little more warning before you start slapping them around? Then again, you can bet Black Adam's gonna snap and that bastard's crazy.

B.P.R.D.: Garden of Souls #1 (of 5): Mike Mignola long ago set a high bar for himself and his collaborators with the world of Hellboy, and that bar keeps inching up. Subtle horror-action stories stay true to the background while still building on it, and at the same time weave in almost invisible plot lines between stories to keep everything tied together. Top it off with well-chosen art and you've got a modern classic that continues to build on it's own mythology. Don't believe me? Blasphemer! Why don't you check out the preview, you dirty non-believer. Dirty, dirty ... um ... sorry, what were we talking about?

The Damned #5: Hands-down, this has been one of my favorite mini-series of the last 12 months or so; if there is a god - or a devil - there'll be more of The Damned after it wraps things up with this final issue. I've mentioned before how much I've enjoyed this series, and it's a gift that keeps on giving. A nice little noir mystery is wrapped up in a world of demon gangsters, an undying flunky anti-hero and an ex-girlfriend who's now the moll of a mob boss (you decide which is the most dangerous). And did I mention that the art is awesome? 'Cause it is.

Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse #6: Huh ... the list is certainly heavy on the supernatural this week, ain't it? Can I help it if there's been a nice little rise in quality horror-based comics? Can I?!? The answer is yes, by buying the good stuff like Wormwood and encouraging everyone out there to fork it over, too. Look at this preview. There's great, tongue-in-rotting-cheek characters, a fun story with an undercurrent of menace, and beautifully unique artwork that gets better with every issue - seriously, how can you resist pit-fighting leprechauns? Or a demon-worm occupying the corpse of a little girl? You can't, so just stop trying.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Favorite Panel Friday: Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil

Let's just get something out of the way - Jeff Smith gets it.

His retelling - and reinvention - of the Captain Marvel origin is so much fun it makes me want to put on a thunderbolt T-shirt, wrap a towel around my neck and run around the house yelling, "Shazam! Shazam!"

Smith has packed a lot of story into just the first two issues of his four-issue mini-series, Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil, and enough pitch-perfect character moments to make me depressed with the fact it's not a regular series. Attention DC: If you're really looking for that fabled "gateway" comic that will appeal to a broad range of fans and bring in new readers at the same time, guess what? You've already got it.

That panel up there proves it. That's just a taste of what amounts to Captain Marvel smacking around mouthy alligator-men for ... let's see ... one, two ... five pages! Stupid, stupid alligator-men!

Plus there's some wonderful moments with Dr. Sivana (of course he works for the government); the newly found, pain-in-the-butt little sister Mary Marvel; and a giant robot threatening to "remove all trace of human civilization." How cool is that?

And it's even given us a new quote to throw around. I know I'm just waiting for the chance to yell out, "We've lost! Quick! Eat the children!"

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #2: Jeff Smith, writer/artist

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Wait - what?!?


Seriously, if you haven't read any other comic book blogs or news sites, or read the New York Daily News, or turned on the TV or radio - well, dig yourself a hole and stay in it if you don't want to know about this earlier than you might've planned.

No, really. Don't do it. It's in the headline and everything.

I'll talk about this at a later date, but right now I can't even talk about what I might talk about without spoiling Captain America #25.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Pull-list: 3-7-07

Hey, look! It's our old pal, The Pull-list! Let's grab a mocha-frappa-something and get reacquainted, whad'ya say?

52 #44: So … Sobek, huh? I’ve been enjoying 52 so far, and I’ve got to admit the steadily darkening tone has me curious about what’s next. Still, I was prepared for the death of the Question, and I dug the burned-out detective shtick of Ralph Dibney, but the whole talking-croc-eating-a-young-hero thing caught me off-guard. I’m still not even sure how I feel about the way the scene was handled (“vaguely disappointed” comes to mind), but I do know I’m curious to see how this whole “World War” business 52 has been building toward finally turns out. I just hope they remember that less really can be more.

Borrowed Time #2: Remember the first installment of Borrowed Time? Me too, but just barely since Volume 1 came out in May 2006. But in spite of taking almost a year between chapters, this title made enough of an impact with clean, moody art and a subtly spooky plot that I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off. I’ll have to re-read Volume 1 so I can remember what’s going on first, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we don’t have to wait another year for Volume 3.

Captain America #25: Well! Look at Marvel trying to be cute with its “classified information.” Feh! It just means no picture for you, Captain America! Actually, Cap can get away with the Web site blackout because this has consistently been one of the publisher’s better titles, with a storyline that’s affected by the Civil War storyline but isn’t bogged down by it. It seems pretty obvious that Brubaker had a story to tell before that bloated “event” kicked off, and he hasn’t let it keep him from telling a lean and muscular espionage yarn. Holy crap, did I just say “yarn?”

Fall of Cthulhu #0: The titles coming out of Boom! Studios have been kind of hit-or-miss for me, often suffering from what seem like strong starts out of the gate only to end up sort of meandering over to a shiny hot dog stand instead of crossing the finish. But man, they really hit it when it comes to the Cthulhu Mythos, so you’d better believe I’m ready for this regular series. The Cthulhu Tales one-shots got me hooked, and now I’ll get to mainline my Mythos on a regular basis.

Manhunter #29: Fighting its way back from imminent death not once but twice, maybe Manhunter will now find the audience it deserves. Great characterization and a richly human hero made the title a favorite of mine from the beginning, but for some reason it’s struggled to find the numbers needed to keep the publishers from poking it with the cancellation stick. Supposedly the title is back for good, so make sure you put this on your montly must-get list now that you’ve got another chance.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil #2 (of 4): Whenever a character gets the “reimagining” treatment, it almost never turns out too well. Someone always ends up EXTREME! Maybe with some shiny new armor. EXTREME!! And a troubled past. EXTREME!!!! Writer and artist Jeff Smith doesn’t do any of this, and gets his retelling of the Captain Marvel origin damn near perfect. All the familiar background elements are there, but Smith makes them his own and even manages to add to the Marvel mythology in ways that make sense. If there isn’t more to come after this four-parter ends, then there is no Wizard Shazam.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #8 (of 8): Speaking of extreme makeovers, Uncle Sam is a grittier version of ye old Freedom Fighters (am I the only one who still digs on the All-Star Squadron?), but a fairly solid plot and interesting characterization has kept me hooked all the way to the end. The art tends to get distracting, but also pays off with plenty of iconic images; to be honest, if another artist ever takes over these Freedom Fighters, it’ll probably look weird to me now.

And maybe …

Dynamo 5 #1

Jefferey Brown’s Feeble Attempts #1

Strongarm #1

Monday, March 5, 2007

Aaand in three, two ...

Sorry about the lack of posts lately - I could throw a lot of excuses at you, but instead I'll just say that regular posting will pick up again starting tomorrow. Almost certainly. Maybe.

Stop looking at me like that.