Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Kiii-yaaa!!!

Hey, Iron Fist! What's it like to have master of kung fu Shang-Chi covering your back?

Panel from Master of Kung Fu King-Size Annual #1

Ah, a classic one-two courtesy of Marvel's resident fists of fury! Which really is just further proof that we could all use a little more kung fu in our lives.

Enter the intergalactic dragon known as ... Bahlactus!

Following a link? Read more of the Post here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Pull List (11-29-07): Back from the dead

So, how does a holiday last week mean late books this week? Who cares? Forget Black Friday, it's New Comics Wednesday (sorta) — to the list!

Doc Frankenstein #6: Dammit. I had already all but given up on Doc Frankenstein, in spite of it being a comic I enjoyed based on its sheer audacity and amazing bullet count. Check this out — that was a throw-away panel, for God's sake! And so far, the main story has been something to do with Frankenstein (he took his "dad's" name, so don't give me crap) fighting the surprisingly heavily armed Church and a redneck family of werewolves, which is at least five kinds of awesome.

But then, it just disappeared; no new issues, nothing new from Burlyman in general, nada. And after that, there was more nothing. Was it unreasonable to consign Doc Frankenstein to the list of "comics that just sorta stopped coming out?" I didn't think so. But now here it is, chagrined and puppy-eyed, with a cover that asks, "You want to know what happens ... right?"


The rest ...

Blue Beetle #21

Daredevil #102

Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters #3

Maybe ...

Dan Dare #1: I've gotten a little burned-out on Garth Ennis' s over-the-topiness, but I still consider myself a fan. If Ennis can keep it reined in, I think this could be pretty great.

Marvel Atlas #1: My common sense says "no," but my love of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe says, "Oh God, yes!"

Pumpkin Scissors Vol. 1: Ignoring the ridiculous name (I would have sworn it was a swoony romance manga set in a hair salon), a story about a special forces team fighting renegades in the post-war days of a shaky empire sounds kind of cool. But seriously ... Pumpkin Scissors?!?

Recommended ...

Captain America by Ed Brubaker Omnibus Vol. 1 (hardcover): I can't say enough good things about Brubaker's run on Captain America, a comic that he's turned into a neat little espionage story with tights. Smartly written and beautifully drawn, it's hard to imagine this wouldn't be worth the steep cover price.

What's on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WTF Wednesday: Next time, just take the ferry

Seriously, in the Silver and Bronze ages this sort of thing used to happen ALL THE TIME. After getting the upper hand earlier in #141, Bullseye (who else?) first saves Daredevil from drowning in the Hudson River only to then launch him toward New Jersey.

New Jersey. Man, Bullseye really is a jerk.

Panel from Daredevil #142
Marv Wolfman, writer; Bob Brown, pencils

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Note from the wilderness

Have left on unexpected trip STOP

Only dial-up available at present STOP

Will post when civilization is found STOP
(Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Night Fights: A hard-hitting editorial!

Hey, J. Jonah Jameson! How do you respond to rumors that the Daily Bugle is getting soft on Spider-Man?

And it's JJJ for the KO!

Bahlactus knows that's the truth.

Following a link? Read more of the Post here.

Why I hate The Sentry

As a character, The Sentry just doesn’t work.

First, he’s anchored down by being an obvious knock-off a certain other super-powered ubermensch. That’d be fine on the face of it (it’s not as if it hasn’t been done to death already), but here’s the problem — he's in the Marvel Universe.

Without getting into the whole discussion of the differences between the Marvel and DC universes, lets just stick to the fact that DC is filled with heroes with nearly god-like powers, while Marvel is filled with heroes that are more (for lack of a better word) human.

Which works for DC because it’s all leavened with a healthy helping of silly – the edge is taken off the “real-world” implications of having a bunch of super-powered yahoos tearing ass around the city fighting bad guys when there’s also, y’know, a secret society of talking gorillas or something.

But that’s never been what Marvel’s about. Marvel’s about heroes the reader can relate to, usually through characters who aren’t so powerful they don’t get the crap kicked out of them on a regular basis (seriously, it’s amazing there aren’t a bunch of punch-drunk heroes wandering around Manhattan), and who have some sort of angsty back-story that gives them a reliable Achilles’ Heel to tap into. If DC is a hyper, piƱata-smacking kid at a birthday party, Marvel is the two or three emo teens slouching around in the corner.

Don’t get me wrong – I love both universes, despite their flaws. But I think this is part of what is essentially wrong with The Sentry; he’s been shoe-horned into his Universe. He was OK in the original stand-alone story, a kind of What If? that was interesting in its bloated, heavy-handed, self-satisfied kind of way. But then Marvel tried to force the character down the throats of its readers, and not only that, it was seasoned with the idea that The Sentry is in some way essential to the MU.

And he’s not.

Add to that the fact Marvel probably went too far in giving Sentry its patented Feet of Clay brand cement shoes (the better to weigh your character down!), and you’ve got an almost all-powerful schizophrenic agoraphobic, a collection of neuroses with the power of a million exploding suns. A superhero who never. Does. Anything.

And readers, on whatever level, recognize that.

Nobody is invested in The Sentry, no matter how much Marvel wants to pretend otherwise. Nobody cares about his place in the Marvel Universe, because he really doesn’t have one at all. And due to how forced the character is on nearly every level, almost nobody likes The Sentry.

Including me.

So, what do you think of The Sentry?

Panel from World War Hulk #5

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scott Pilgrim in 'New York'

For those of us who haven't had a chance to get our mitts on the long-awaited and just-released Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, there's a full-color preview of the first few pages to check out at New York Magazine's site. Whether this will whet your appetite or lead to a full-on feeding frenzy I leave to your discretion.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WTF Wednesday: The King's taxes ... from space!

There was a reason Jack Kirby was called the King: Not only did he create some of the most enduring and iconic comic book characters in history, he could also make some of the craziest ideas look great.

Who else would you want to illustrate a story called, "The Mystery of the Tax Collector From Space!"?

So simple, and yet so perfect.

On a side note: Would you like to read the story this panel is taken from, in its entirety? This and other goodness can be found at the awesome Monster Blog, an archive and tribute to Kirby's creature comics. Go check it out and be prepared to do nothing else with the rest of your day.

Panel from Tales of Suspense #33
By Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
Image courtesy Monster Blog (thanks Philip!)

The Pull List: 11-14-07

Wow, what a week for comics! There is so much good stuff coming out this Wednesday that I'll probably squeal like a little girl when I hit the shop later this afternoon. Enough preamble — to the list!

World War Hulk #5: With this fifth and final issue, the entertainingly over-the-top "Hulk-beats-on-everyone" storyline wraps up, and I can only assume it will be as wonderfully ridiculous as the rest of the mini-series.

I haven't been reading the various tie-ins but I don't feel as if I've missed anything, so this has been a fairly satisfying little collection. And why wouldn't it be? The concept is hard to screw up (gladiator-Hulk comes back to Earth with his alien-warrior posse to vent his rage on the heroes he believes killed his new family and destroyed his adopted planet), especially if you keep to the tight storytelling demanded by the limited series. Add to that the raw, muscular power that comes across in what is some of John Romita, Jr.'s best work in years and you've got a comic that remembers what made us all love the Hulk in the first place — sheer, widespread destruction.

Also, I hope he beats the living CRAP out of the Sentry. I hate that guy.

The rest ...

All-Star Superman #9

Atomic Robo #2

Booster Gold #4
(Is this actually coming out this week? Every list I've looked at says "yes," the DC site says "not until Nov. 28.")

BPRD: Killing Ground #4

Thor #4

Maybe ...

The Atheist #4: I really liked this series when it first started — A BILLION YEARS AGO! Frankly, I don't know if I can work up the interest anymore.

Batman and The Outsiders #1: I just realized I don't have any Batman titles on my regular pull, which seems strange and wrong. The original Outsiders used to be a favorite, but I can't decide whether or not I can get into the new team. On the plus side: No Geo-Force.

Captain Marvel #1: Let's take a look at the solicitation copy ... "From the pages of 'Civil War ...'" Yeah, probably not, then.

Project DOA Vol. 1: A manga that sounds like a combination of pulp super-science and Indiana Jones-style globetrotting? It's just a good thing no one has figured out how to inject this stuff directly into the bloodstream. This looks like a lot of fun, and probably worth picking up.

Wonder Woman #14: So here's my dilemma. I'm a fan of Wonder Woman as a character, but I haven't been very interested in reading her solo adventures. No one seems to write her well and her characterization has been all over the place for years, making it hard to feel invested in the Amazon-princess-ambassador-superhero-spy. On the other hand — Gail Simone takes over with this issue.

Crap. I'm going to end up buying this, aren't I?

Recommended ...

If you've got the cash and anything resembling a human soul, you must pick up all of these books ... all of them.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (hardcover)

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock Vol. 1

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Where's my money, Deadshot?!?

Before Deadshot became one of the DC Universe's resident bad-asses, he was just another punk for Batman to whale on. In this case Floyd Lawton has earned the wrath of the Dark Knight by threatening his right-hand man Alfred and Alfred's newly discovered daughter, Julia.

Bad move, Floyd.

Panels from Batman #369

Batman shakes off the lucky hit, and proceeds to lead Deadshot on a classic game of cat-and-Bat. At this point in the character's history, Deadshot still had a thing for trick shots and this personality quirk saves Batman's bacon at least a couple of times — long enough for him to strike back ... with irony.

After Julia pulls a gun in an ill-conceived attempt at revenge, Batman uses a batarang to pull off his own trick shot, hitting Julia's gun and forcing her to squeeze off a shot — right into Deadshot!

And Batman's just getting started.

At least Deadshot is man enough to hang tough and ...

Damn! It is hard out here for a crime-fighter! After this Deadshot not only gave Batman the information he wanted, he also gave him $20.

We all know Bahlactus ain't no punk!

Following a link? Read more of the Post here.

The Ten Commandments of Crime

Life is apparently imitating comic book art — a Mafia Ten Commandments was uncovered during the bust of a Cosa Nostra crime boss, typed out in all-caps and written in code. Can the full Crime Bible be far behind?

According to the Associated Press:

"Police in Palermo said that the list opened with a preamble that said: 'I swear to be faithful to Cosa Nostra. Should I betray, my flesh will burn.' Under the category 'Rights and Duty' were the 10 entries, meant to be a sort of users' manual for the good mobster."

And what broken commandments will get you a flesh-burning? Ask, and the Interwebs will provide:

The Mafia Ten Commandments

1. No one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.

2. Never look at the wives of friends.

3. Never be seen with cops.

4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.

5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.

6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.

7. Wives must be treated with respect.

8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.

9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.

10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.

That "even if your wife is about to give birth" is pretty stern, but that's the Mafia for you.

Speaking of which, does this mean mobsters are comic book fans? And if some sort of real-life Crime Bible actually turns up — well, seriously, wouldn't that be AWESOME?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

WTF Wednesday: Yeah, Joker, thanks for the heads-up

Panel from DC Comics Presents #72
Paul Kupperberg, writer; Alex Saviuk, pencils; Dennis Jensen, inker

On the trail of Manhunter

Something just occurred to me: What happened to Manhunter?

It was not only one of my favorite, most reliably enjoyable titles, but it also had a strong enough fan-base that it was saved from cancellation twice. After the second near-death, DC announced the comic would be on hiatus while things were put in place for a nice, long run. And then there was nothing but silence.

Manhunter was supposed to be back in the racks in July of this year, but that has quietly come and gone. I know the Kate Spencer character has made guest appearances in other titles, but that's hardly the same thing. Is DC hoping a lengthy hiatus will let the title wither without a lot of fuss, or is this just the usual company scheduling snafu? If the company is still planning to relaunch Manhunter, this doesn't seem like the best marketing plan to follow. It's almost as if the title is being set up to fail.

Help me out here, Internets — what's up with Manhunter?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Night Fights: One hell of a beating!

My favorite holiday of the year has come and gone, but there's still enough of that Halloween spirit left to deliver the kind of pounding that will haunt your bruised and battered ass 'til Arbor Day!

Horror comics seem to be enjoying one of its periodic upswings lately and there are plenty of monstrous characters running around, but no one quite says "demon from hell" like Etrigan the Demon, that rhyming roughhouser from the Lower Depths. Sure, sometimes his meter could use a little work, but Etrigan's got a bigger problem; he gets bored really, really easily. And when Etrigan gets bored, someone's gonna get hurt.

In this case, Etrigan has decided that maybe taking over Hell will be a nice hobby. You know, something to do in his downtime. But before he can do that he needs to get the current rulers out of his way, so Etrigan uses the Crown of Horns to drop the hammer on the first two, then goes after Belial, the third and final demonic duke.

Since Belial's also his dad, Etrigan takes it easy on him.

Panels from The Demon #7

Looks like Etrigan's been hitting the gym and the thesaurus! His poetry is strong, but will he go for the Wu-Tang style points?

Yes! And it's still beating! Etrigan wins the crown and the ... er, hearts ... of the populace!

(Maybe he can use the prize money for some family therapy. Just sayin'.)

No one drops a rhyme like Bahlactus!

Following a link? Read more of the Post here.