Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Night Fights: The way superheroes go slumming

It's Friday and that means it's time to get violent! And in this round of Spacebooger-sponsored fisticuffs we've got ... hey, who is this guy?!

Think you know the identity of this hero-in-disguise? Give me your guess in the comments!

I also want to let everyone know that with the holidays nearly upon us, the Post will be going to low-, or no-, content mode until after Jan. 2. I hope to get a post in here and there, but I can't guarantee anything. In the meantime, thanks for reading, thanks for your patience, and — Happy Holidays!

Panel from ???
Marv Wolfman, writer; John Byrne, artist; Terry Austin, inker

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Pull List (12-17-08): Wait, I'm getting Sentry and Supergirl now?

Man! A minute ago it was 11 a.m. and now it's more than five hours later! Damn this "getting work done" (not that I blog from work ... because that would be wrong). I don't know where the time goes, but I do know it's time for the list!

Getting ...

Age of the Sentry #4 (of 6): In spite of my hatred for this character, it only took one issue to make me fall in love with this ode to Silver Age silliness. Nifty, appropriately cartoony art and breezy writing make this one of the most fun books currently on the stands and leaves me feeling like that guy from the Hotels[dot]com commercial: Aagh, it's working! They got me!

Cthulhu Tales #9: Fun fact: If a book has "Cthulhu" in the title, there's an 86 percent chance I'm going to want to buy it. It doesn't hurt that this series is fairly well-done as far as anthologies go; some stories wind up being duds here and there, but the quality stuff is consistent enough to make it worth picking up.

Fall Of Cthulhu: Godwar #4: Along with Cthulhu Tales, this horror comic is consistently good, and writer Michael Alan Nelson is bringing together all the pieces he's put in place for a story that's become suddenly tense and menacing. It's a fine homage to Lovecraft while remaining neatly original.

Manhunter #37: A new storyline begins with this issue — too bad the series ends with the next one.

Supergirl #36: Generally speaking, I try to avoid getting sucked into all the crossover, here's-your-checklist-complete-with-index, "event" books ... but an interesting story that's establishing a new status quo for the Superman family has grabbed me. I credit the coordination between writers Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Sterling Gates for producing separate chapters that read as one cohesive story.

Maybe ...

DCU Holiday Special 2008

Thor God-Sized #1

Wormwood Gentleman Corpse: Down The Pub (one-shot)

Trading up ...

(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

Conan the Cimmerian #6

Ex Machina #40

Fables #79

Recommended ...

Vagabond Vol 2 (VIZBIG Edition)

Welcome To Dingburg: A Zippy Collection

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another 2 cents for The Accountants

Rob Osborne, the creator behind 1000 Steps to World Domination and the much-lamented The Nearly Infamous Zango, has been kicking ass over at Zuda, but he could still use your support.

His eight-page entry is called The Accountants, and his tale of hit men in fuzzy animal costumes is one of the oddest and funniest things I've read in a long while. The sense of humor is combined with a real grasp of the absurd, and it's all wrapped around characters you actually want to know more about — it's just really good stuff about CPAs who'll put a C-A-P in your ass.

I've been a fan of Osborne's for a few years now, and he just keeps getting better with every new story he does. Go see for yourself and then cough up a vote for The Accountants — signing up takes less than five minutes, and it's a good way to show support for independent creators.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Why Badger is a master of communication

Imagine you find yourself on a planet completely unknown to you, a world where you can't tell friend from foe, or aid from threat. And imagine you came across an alien life form, a being that could potentially help you, maybe even keep you alive in your harsh new environment — and whom you've decided is named Larry. How would you handle such a delicate situation?

Now imagine you're the Badger.

Badger's not the only one having fun — take that, Prime Directive!

Following a link? Read more Great Caesar's Post here!

Panel from Nexus #8 Mike Baron, writer; Steve Rude, artist;
Eric Shanower, inker
; John Workman, letterer; Les Dorscheid, colorist

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Monkey's kung fu just got stronger

Those of you who are into the process of creating a comic, particularly scripting and plotting, should swing by John Rogers' blog Kung Fu Monkey and check out the posts by new contributor, Mark Waid.

As many of you probably already know, Rogers is the co-creator and writer behind the first few storylines for Blue Beetle. He's also the guy behind the just-premiered cable series Leverage, and is well known for sharing writing and process advice at his blog.

Now he's added Mark Waid (writer of Kingdom Come and editor-in-chief at BOOM! Studios) and Michael Alan Nelson (who writes BOOM's Fall of Cthulhu and Hexed, and a personal favorite) to the team, and it looks like it should be some good stuff. Waid already has a couple of posts up, the latest of which is a clean and simple primer on how comic book scripts should be approached.

If you're at all interested in writing your own comics, go give it a look.

Seriously, who else wears a vest like that?

The temperature dropped like mad beats here in Austin last night, going from a high of 79 degrees to a low of 34, forcing people to give their flip-flops a rest and put on a coat instead.

This morning I saw someone wearing a fur vest, and since she was tall and thin and wearing all black under it, the first thing I thought of was this:

I think I might read too many comics.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Pull List (12-10-08): Finally, some Action for G.I. Robot

Thanks to a cold I've been fighting for the past few days, I haven't exactly been updating as much as I'd normally want. Sorry 'bout that. But I'm ratcheting things up and carpet-bombing The Ick with the strongest over-the-counter, knock-you-on-your-ass pharmaceuticals Walgreen's provides, so hopefully things will get back to normal soon.

In the meantime, here's a bare-bones look at what I'm planning to pick up this week:

Getting ...

Action Comics #872: I'll admit it — that "New Krypton" storyline hooked me, and it's an interesting look at what makes Kal-El a Superman, and not just a super-powered jerk like those Kandorians. Plus, the Creature Commandos!

Booster Gold #15: It hasn't had the same sense of fun as it did under original writer Geoff Johns, but it's still been fun enough to stick with. This will be the first issue written by Dan Jurgens, so we'll see what direction the title takes.

Final Crisis #5 (of 7): I'm a fan of Grant Morrison, and this story has been so high-concept so far that I can't wait to see how he winds it up. Morrison's stuff can be both challenging and frustrating, but I'm choosing to trust that — it'll all make sense in the end (please make sense in the end, Grant Morrison).

Maybe ...

Phonogram 2: The Singles Club #1 (of 7): I really enjoyed the first Phonogram limited series, but I thought it worked best in trade format. Will the stand-alone story format of The Singles Club make a difference? I probably won't be able to resist the first issue, and then I'll decide whether to pick up the monthly or wait for the trade.

Trading up ...
(Titles I either am, or will be, picking up in trade)

100 Bullets #98

Blade of the Immortal Vol. 20: Demon's Lair (manga)

The Brave and The Bold Vol. 1: Lords of Luck (trade paperback)

BPRD: War on Frogs #2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Legacy (hardcover)

Recommended ...

Herbie Archives Vol. 2 (hardcover)

Friday, December 5, 2008

But does HYDRA have a dental plan?

So I was sitting at my desk, facing a growing stack of work that needs to be taken care of before the holidays, and I thought: Which subversive group bent on world domination is better, A.I.M. or HYDRA?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that living in the Marvel Universe gives would-be fascists, anarchists and other various nut-jobs three main options in gainful employment. And I'm talking about the full-on, global conspiracy, sleeper-agents-everywhere type of organization; gangs and groups with one specific enemy in mind don't count. I'm looking for an association with vision, man. Here are the choices:

HYDRA: HYDRA has been causing trouble in the Marvel U since the end of World War II, and was founded by fugitives from the Nazi German and Imperial Japanese governments. These guys are such bad news that S.H.I.E.L.D. was created specifically to deal with the threat they posed. Thanks to that, they have a serious hate-on for Nick Fury and Captain America, but have really mixed it up with pretty much every hero to put on spandex. Also, they have an awesome motto and a kick-ass logo! Check it out:

That Madame Hydra's not bad, either. But the breakout agent would have to be Bob, a HYDRA field operative who was kidnapped by Deadpool and then just kept hanging out.

HYDRA has credibly threatened to destroy the world or major world cities countless times, and are always a sure sign of trouble. Plus, do you know what HYDRA stands for? Nothing. It's not an acronym at all — HYDRA is just so damn evil that it always spells its name in all caps.

A.I.M.: A.I.M., on the other hand, does stand for something — Advanced Idea Mechanics — which may be the coolest and nerdiest name for a terrorist group ever. It makes sense, since A.I.M. is a splinter group that was originally the technological arm of HYDRA. Cut off from HYDRA, A.I.M. nonetheless survived on its own and went on to become the most evil R&D department ever with the goal of overthrowing the world's governments with SCIENCE! Some of its achievements include the reality-altering Cosmic Cube, the Super-Adaptoid android, and best of all, MODOK. When the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing went online it worked perfectly, killing the leader of A.I.M. and taking over the group itself. Sadly, the A.I.M. agents are little harder to take seriously thanks to their beekeeper uniforms.

But there's always one guy who can make even the silliest clothes work, and in this case that would be Karl, the most laid-back covert operative in history.

Karl is like one of those cool guys who is so relaxed you're amazed anything gets done, but Karl is Taking Care of Business. Karl's the kind of guy I want to work with, especially if things are getting conquery.

The Hand: The group known as The Hand is a little different from the first two, putting a lot more emphasis on honor, demon-worship and old-school swordplay. Essentially a super-yakuza, The Hand are both a league of assassins and organized crime outfit with roots in the 16th century. It's also more of a cult than a cartel, with a membership made up of occult ninjas who turn to dust when they're dealt mortal wounds. One thing they do share with HYDRA and A.I.M. is a tendency to fight en masse ... bad news for Daredevil, Iron Fist and mostly any hero who's ever taken a karate lesson. Their red uniforms are pretty standard, but still impressive when there are suddenly a bunch of crimson ninja swarming over rooftops.

The Hand is especially fond of suppressing individuality, but there's still one mercenary who rises above the rest. Kirigi is super-strong, an expert in all sorts of ninja weaponry and kind of a zombie who was raised from the dead.


You can see my dilemma. Still, I don't think I have the flexibility for the acrobatics of The Hand, or the fashion sense to pull off the A.I.M. uniform. Besides, I'm a sucker for a solid history and a catchy jingle, so I think I'd find myself leaning toward the boys in green and yellow.

So which nutty, would-be world dominators would you hook up with? There's a survey in the right-hand column, and I'd like to hear your reasons in the comments.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Comics in the Wild: Archie and the gang go to college

When I go home to El Paso for a visit, I tend to spend a fair amount of time in the garage. I've never known the family garage to be anything but crowded with cardboard boxes, random furniture and stacks of half-assembled things that long ago outlived their usefulness.

I've contributed to the mess in the past by leaving behind a couple of boxes and a trunk filled with what I now recognize as being mostly just a bunch of crap. Still, it doesn't keep me from scrounging, looking for some half-remembered book or toy, and sometimes I come across something I'd completely forgotten about.

That's the case with this March 1989 issue of Nova Quarterly.

Back then I was starting my sophomore year at the University of Texas at El Paso, and somehow got my hands on a copy of the alumni magazine (I was already working at the school paper, so it was probably floating around). As I might have mentioned once or twice, I've been a fan of comics for a long time, and this is the only copy of the alumni magazine I've ever saved.

So how did Archie and the gang end up sweating it out in the West Texas desert? It turned out that Tom Moore, who wrote and drew Archie off and on from 1953 to 1988, had attended UTEP back in the day and had been called back into duty for a cover to go along with the profile on him featured inside.

After a little Internet poking (not as dirty as it sounds!), I found out that Moore is still working — doing freelance work and teaching computer graphic art at the El Paso Community College — and living in the Lower Valley area, which is the same neighborhood I'm from!

For those of you who might not be steeped in UTEP lore, here's some translation of what's going on in this cover:

• UTEP, of course, is the University of Texas at El Paso; is there any other university whose abbreviated name can be pronounced as a single word? Seriously, I'm curious.

• Betty may, just may, be drunk.

• "... my last trip to Bhutan!" The buildings on the UTEP campus are designed to look like Bhutanese architecture. The story goes that the wife of a past university president saw an article on Bhutan in an issue of National Geographic and was so taken with it she suggested the new campus be built in the same style. It's the only campus in the nation with this type of architecture.

• Archie's wearing a sweatshirt sporting the image of UTEP's mascot, Paydirt Pete (UTEP is home to the Miners). By the way, if the weather is warm enough for Veronica to wear a skirt, it's too damn hot in El Paso for a sweatshirt. Archie is about to combust.

• The Comics Code of the West is a neat touch; El Paso is as far west as you can go in Texas.

• Because, yes, it actually does get hot enough for the sun to radiate squiggly black lines.

• Just for the record: I'm totally a Betty man. Even if she does dress like Mork.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Like 'A Christmas Carol,' but with Hulks

So I get back from my trip and come across this:

"The holiday season is here and what better way to celebrate it than with the Incredible Hulk and Rampaging Rulk? Marvel is proud to unveil both Hulk #9 Santa Hulk Variant covers, illustrated by superstar artist Ed McGuinness, so you can celebrate with the stars of 2008’s hottest ongoing series! Written by Eisner-Winning, Emmy-Winning scribe Jeph Loeb and with art by superstars Frank Cho and Art Adams, including 50/50 variant covers from each artist, you get two incredible stories—one starring Rulk and another starring… WENDIHULK!? (or is it HULKDIGO!?)"

Congratulations, Marvel: I officially want to punch you in the balls. I know you've been calling the Red Hulk "Rulk," but you're actually planning to go with that? Seriously? I don't necessarily expect high literature from my Hulk comics, but "Rulk?!" (I just noticed the stocking — argh!)

And is it just me, or does it seem as if we're reaching a tipping point on the variant covers thing? Have we learned nothing? Am I going to end up on a beach shaking my fist at a giant statue of Ripclaw?!

... Hulkdigo ... eesh ...