Tuesday, June 27, 2006

One Month Later

For a variety of reasons, I've been unable to get and read my comics from the LCS for the last month or so. For the same reasons, I've been unable to blog. If anybody is interested and doesn't already know, post a comment and I'll do a quick post explaining. However, since this is a comic blog and not one about my whiny personal life, here's the stuff you should have read in smaller doses over the last month.

Spoilers Ahead!

Action Comics #839 and Superman #653: These two issues are parts 6 & 7 of the excellent Busiek/Johns 8 parter Up, Up, And Away! If you aren’t reading this book and consider yourself a fan of DC, Superman or just super-heroes in general, you have no excuses. It has done a fabulous job of resetting Superman’s status quo (including some apparent changes to the New Krypton that must go along with the post-Crisis New Earth) and giving some hints as to how Clark has spent his year without powers. Better yet, we’re given an idea of what Lex has been up to in the last year and all his machinations finally come home to roost. There isn’t really any bad here unless and until DC starts claiming it was always their plan to return Superman to something more in line with the original Donner and Singer films. It might be true, but it’ll ring hollow in the face of all the crystalline Kryptonian tech and the shiny, 3-D S-Shield Supes is now sporting. Either way, I can’t wait to see how this arc wraps up.

Detective Comics #820: Overall I’ve really enjoyed Robinson’s OYL reset for the Dark Knight (of which this is part 7 of 8). This is going to sound like a dig, but the best word I can use to describe it is “serviceable.” It’s getting me where I need to go. Gordon is commissioner again, Batman is less of an asshat and Tim is actually working with him all the time. These are all good things.
The issue previous to this one was a total letdown as Harvey talked himself back into being Two Face and while that did make me worry for the last couple installments, I probably shouldn’t have. I have some general questions about the story (like why Batman would leave a recently stabilized Harvey in charge of meting out vigilante justice for a solid year), but most of them were probably mandated by editorial. Bottom line, I expected to just mark time until Morrison and Dini took over the Bat titles, but instead I’ve really enjoyed the ride.

Birds of Prey #98: BoP is the workhorse of my comic buy-pile. Some issues are beter than others, but there’s never a bad issue. This is one that feels a little on the worse side. I feared a deus ex machina once Prometheus took Shiva down in two panels last issue and there was something of one, but it was also one that had been foreshadowed in the lead-up to this issue. Really, the weakest part of this installment was Prometheus letting the Birds walk out once the Crime Doctor was dead. Maybe that would have happened if there was some sort of contract and he wasn’t being paid to kill the Birds, but he works for the Society now. I doubt that Talia and Deathstroke are going to be too amused to find out that he didn’t kill Oracle’s operatives when he had the chance.

I’m sorry to see Shiva go, she was a great addition to the book and I was really hoping that her status change would continue for longer. For instance, I’d like to see the Birds run into Batman or Green Arrow while Shiva was running with them as the Jade Canary. Shiva and Canary each getting “daughters” was a very nice touch of synchronicity, hopefully Simone will be around for a good long while to shepherd that new status quo. Unfortunately, with a young Asian girl who knows how to kick ass running around Babs, I can’t help but think of the mess that is Cassandra Cain. Ah well, none of that is Simone’s fault that I know of, I’ll try not to hold it against her going forward.

All-Star Superman #4: I have a bit of a crush on this book right now. The two months in-between issues seems interminable until you just about forget about how much you enjoyed the previous issue and then BAM! there’s a new issue in your pile. I recently read that Morrison described his All-Starniverse as the Pre-Crisis Superman with 20 years of continuity that we know nothing about. I love that, it shows through every issue of this book. Twenty more subjective years of Lois getting jerked around by Clark as he tries to protect his secret, twenty more subjective years of wacky stuff happening with bottled cities and long-dead alien father’s college roommates, twenty more subjective years of Jimmy being the coolest cat in the world because he hangs out with the Man of Steel.

That’s where we find ourselves with this issue. Jimmy Olsen is leading essentially a dream life with the coolest best friend, the hottest girl his age and the baddest ass job in the world for the biggest metropolitan newspaper ever. The good news is he’s about to be P.R.O.J.E.C.T. manager for a day. The bad news is he’s been cursed with bad luck by the Queen of the Gypsies. Naturally hijinks ensue and Morrison does an amazing job of showing why Superman would hang out with a kid who wears bow ties, which isn’t something that always made sense to me. This series has been absolute magic and this issue was no different. How else but magic could you explain me actually wishing I was Jimmy Olsen?

Wonder Woman #1: Okay, at this point you’ve read it, heard about it or don’t care. Bottom line, I’ve never given two shakes about Wonder Woman. I always thought the spy days sounded interesting, and now I may get to see for myself. I like Donna as Wonder Woman, I like the new Wonder Woman outfit, I liked what was done with the villains and I love to see Diana in a white version of Mrs. Peel’s catsuit.

But I’ll say this. If Heinberg runs me off this book with ridiculous and over the top melodrama (I’m looking at you, Young Avengers) or if issue three isn’t out by September…2008 (I’m looking at you AGAIN, Young Avengers), then I will be royally pissed off.

Casanova #1: I like Matt Fraction’s work. I’m not obsessive about it; when he wrote something in the universe of 30 Days of Midnight, I didn’t get it because I didn’t like the original book. But I did love the ever-loving hell out of Last of the Independents and I’m still anxiously awaiting Big Hat (pay attention, Matt! I still remember it even if nobody else does!). I’m very likely to add a Marvel book to my pull list with his Punisher. So, I dig his stuff. I dug Casanova VERY much.
I can’t explain the plot, but that’s okay because the plot is totally meaningless. It’s a bunch of influences thrown together into the pot that is Fraction’s brain and brought to a boil. The art is damn fine as well. You could do a lot worse for two thin greenbacks. Go buy this…in fact, buy it instead of Fell. I want to support the format, but I’ve heard about all I need to from Warren Ellis.

Astonishing X-Men #15: There’s been some talk in the blogalaxy that Whedon is relying to heavily on the nostalgia of the old Claremont/Byrne days and is trying to recreate some Golden Age of the X-Men with this book. I think that, whether we like it or not, nostalgia has become a big part of our comics and we need to decide if that’s what we want or not. If I can get quality writing like this each month, then I’m in like Flynn. The last time the X-Men were worth reading (aside from Morrison’s New X-Men run) was back in those days, so a writer could do a lot worse than looking back at them and emulating or making reference to that era. I also, however, give Whedon mad props for having the huevos to build on the stuff Morrison did. Since every other writer has broken their back to undo that stuff, its extra gravy for Whedon to embrace it and combine it with the classic stuff. I’m not blind to some of the problems of this series, but neither can I focus on those problems when I’m getting such an enjoyable read.

Green Lantern Corps #1: This comic isn’t bad by any stretch, but it did fail to rock my socks in any significant way. When I think of a book devoted to the Corps, I think of a book like JLA: 100% Spectacle, 0% Characterization. I’m not really interested in getting to know a bunch of Lanterns, what makes them tick, what they fear and why it keeps cropping up. I’m not really interested in watching Kilowog be the understanding father figure and Guy being the disreputable uncle. Wait, I lied, I am interested in that. But I need it in a MUCH broader context than some backwater planet that’s having a civil war…I have Marvel’s entire line for that. The GLC as a police force, sure. The GLs as cops or troubleshooters, sure. But for crying out loud, make the trouble they shoot big enough to get the attention of the Guardians of the Galaxy! Anything smaller is just Green Lantern of Sector XYZ doing their day to day stuff. I don’t really care about GL of Sector XYZ, I have Hal and his book for those kind of stories. I enjoyed this read, but it isn’t what I was expecting or what I want from a GLC book. It gets a few more issues, but I need it to get above a Tales of the Jedi setup.

Godland #11: I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t do anything other than love this homage to Jack Kirby. There are some things about it that grate on friends of mine, but I’m willing to accept those things as part of the overall tone of the book. I’ve enjoyed every issue and #11 was no exception. This series is highly recommended. However, nearly a year into the book, and its still just more and more madness piled on top of itself. Something somewhere needs to be resolved and it would be nice if it were done inside the first year’s worth of issues.

Eternals #1: Apparently Dan Didio isn’t interested in getting the money I would spend on the Fourth World, so I’m forced to spend that money elsewhere (see above as well as this entry). If you’ve read the early Eternals stuff, you can see that Kirby was in a very Chariot of the Gods mood back then (Gaiman even references that book), but the Eternals were unfortunately integrated into the Marvel Universe proper. Because of this, they’ve never really took off, they just don’t fit in the grander scheme that is the MU. Gaiman is apparently going to try and reimagine them back in and make it work this time. I enjoyed this first issue, but I’m willing to chock that up to being willing to give just about anything that’s moving a Kirbyverse forward. For six issues of Gaiman’s great writing, Kirby’s great concepts and Romita Jr.’s great art, I’m all in.

Liberty Meadows #37: I really shouldn’t have bought this. It is, after all, two freakin’ years late. Seriously, two years. But the fact is that the book is really funny and my wife loves it. We all know Cho now, he’s a very good artist. He’s got a sense of humor in strip form. Liberty Meadows is good comics and I’m stuck buying it even if it comes out every Centennial. It is my own personal shame.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Avengers Dream Team #3

Iron Man

Money, technology, a ridiculous level of firepower and the guts to wield all of it while tanked on bathtub gin…that’s Tony Stark, the invincible Iron Man! As Tony Stark, Tony is a multibillionaire, the owner of a multinational company and an inventor of military grade technology of world renown. As Iron Man, he’s his own bodyguard (one of the lamer secret identities, in my opinion, even if it does explain why they’re always near the same place at roughly the same time) and a human being wrapped in enough ordinance to take on a couple of Balkan nations without breaking a sweat. What Thor is up close, Iron Man does at distance and if it comes to a technological problem, Tony’ll have it fixed and patched into his armor before the Mad Thinker gets off his coffee break. Sure he’s wildly promiscuous and a dipso, but I think that just adds a little unpredictability, and who doesn’t want that when you’re fighting Dr. Doom or Ultron?

I used to like Iron Man quite a bit, but over the years my love affair with ol' Shellhead has gone the way of the dodo; while I'd be hard pressed to pinpoint at what time I started to drift away from the Iron Avenger's fan club, but I know what might best sum it up: the aformentioned issue of Busiek's run, when Cap tries to get Tony to break Morgan's control but Tony is too caught up in being a high-and-mighty knight to be able to do so. That inherent snobbery which has pervaded his characterization over recent years has made me distance myself from Mr. Stark.


Yup, that's right: instead of an alcoholic snob, I instead opt for a mentally disturbed wife-beater. Who says I don't make bold choices? I think one of the reasons I like Hank Pym as a character is that he does have all of these obstacles to overcome, and has successfully regained the trust and respect of those he once let down (Chuck Austen's horribly out-of-chracter run aside); after all, the infamous "wife-beating" aspect of Earth 616 Hank (as opposed to the rabid jackass Ultimate Hank) took place when the man was on the brink of a nervous breakdown. He's repented, atoned, reformed, and healed: as John Astin said on many an episode of Night Court, Hank's "feeling much better now." Out of all of Pym's many aliases, the one which I've always enjoyed the most is Yellowjacket, which has always struck me as the most interesting variation, both visually and in terms of abilities. Plus, I'm sure it doesn't hurt that this was the identity he was using when I first started reading the series.

I love the Yellowjacket outfit, Hank had a real look going there. He's also a scientific genius, so I can't argue against that since that's a selling point of Iron Man as well. But COME ON, as Yellowjacket he's essentially the Wasp without the hotness! Sure, he's done bad and made good and that's a major theme of the Avengers (they have a lot of ex-villains in the ranks, no wonder the MU USA wants to register them), so there's something metatextual there. I'm thinking this might come down to a pick of Yellowjacket because he makes for interesting reading while I would replace him with the Wasp because she's more interesting to look at. I don't think this qualifies as shallow so much as good marketing. Think of the covers, man!

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Know, I Know, But "Loyal Book Apes" Just Doesn't Have the Same Ring to It . . .

I am currently three weeks behind in my comic reading, due to my recent move screwing up the delivery of my comics,which is a tad frustrating. So far I've managed to stay spoiler-free for 52; not so for Civil War. Darn you, Sci-Fi Wire and your too descriptive headlines!

I'm hoping that by next week Bubblegum Tate and I can get things back on track and regale you with something other than increasingly non-controversial wish lists.

Until then, please enjoy a few testimonials for my alternate-universe publishing company, Infinite Monkey Press. Who knows, maybe someday I'll be able to import some of the titles across the vibrational barrier . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Avengers Dream Team #2


When it comes to raw power in the Marvel Universe, you can’t top the Mighty Thor. He’s so powerful he’d probably be able to hang in the DC Universe. There isn’t much to Thor other than being a raging powerhouse. Well, he does have the hammer and the hammer gives him the ability to fly, travel across dimensions (although usually only home to Asgard), hit people at great distances and spin it as a shield to deflect just about any attack thrown at him. Combine all that power, that weapon and the fact that Thor isn’t creative enough to know when to quit and you’ve got the “brick” of the Avengers.

I object to Thor solely on the basis that all of the "thee"s and "thou"s give me a headache.

Remember that scene in Busiek's run that I mentioned last time? Well, our boy Wendell Vaughn was right there with Monica in the "I Heart Avengers" club. Plus, there's the cosmic-level powers and that whole "protector of the universe" thing. Oddly enough, I never really read Avengers while Quasar was a member; however, I was a huge fan of his solo series, and it's been a bummer that he's been moved to the background of the Marvel Universe since its cancellation. It would do my heart good to see Quasar back in the big leagues again; I've had great fear that Marvel might use the Annihilation "event" as an excuse to knock Wendell off.
If they did, I can only hope that it would be Kid Reaper who came to collect.

I'll give you Ye Olde Queen's Englishe gets really annoying from Thor, especially becuse he's a VIKING. STOOPID. I blame Stan for that side of things (not my precious King, no sir!). Let's replace Thor with... BETA RAY BILL!!!

Quasar is a good pick! I think in the MU someone who's operating on a "cosmic" scale is a very good idea. I mean, Thor sort of kicks out the jams on a higher plane, but he's not much for gathering intel which means he only knows what Odin wants him to know. Quasar has got his cosmic gauntleted finger on the pulse of the universe. Considering how often all roads lead to Earth in the MU, that makes good sense. Wow, where's the controversy? Is this just a goofy love fest where we disagree but admire eachother's intentions and forethought? LAME. Let's find something to argue about.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Avengers Dream Team #1

All right, I know that in our dream list introduction I said that we were going to also include an alternate member picked from the ranks of characters who've never held membership, but unfortunatley your good friend Cap'n Neurotic has been lax in his JLA Dream Team duties.

Lo siento.

However, Tate and I had both made quite a bit of headway on our Avengers discussions back when we first started working on our dream team ideas, so rather than leaving our reader(s?) hanging, I figured we'd save the alternates for later, and dive right into our ideas for the best line-up of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Captain America

Cap is the leader of the Avengers. That’s not a fact, it is an ontological statement describing who he IS. Nobody is more qualified to lead the Avengers based on combat experience, tactical and strategic know-how or ability to inspire. When Cap says that you’ve got to get it done, nobody asks how, they just follow him to the job. On top of this, he’s an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, a gymnast and carries an indestructible shield that keeps him alive and in the thick giving orders where lesser mortals might be turned into red, white and blue paste.

Blah blah blah contrarian blah blah can't really argue blah blah blah and now my pick.

Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau)

I could mention her wide range of powers, or her many years on the team, or her stints as leader, but my choice of Captain Marvel (can't bring myself to call her Photon, let alone Pulsar) can be traced back to possibly my favorite moment of Kurt Busiek's run on The Avengers: the scene when Captain America and Hawkeye try to snap their ensorceled teammates out of Morgan le Fey's spell by appealing to their inner pride in being Avengers. A depressingly small number of them responded to the call, but Monica was chief among them. That's one of the things I looked for when picking my team: someone whose identity is tied so tightly with the team. Maybe it's the whole "living together in a mansion" thing, but to me, the Avengers were always closer to being a family than the Justice League, and it's that close-knit behavior which I most associate with them. Of course, that's not the only criteria, otherwise Captain America and Hawkeye both would have made the cut. I also tend to have empathy for those characters who have no outlet other than the team book: Cap and Hawkeye have ranged far and wide, but outside of Avengers, Monica has been sorely lacking in exposure for far too long, although Nextwave (which I have yet to read) might remedy that.

I own that issue of Avengers, awesome stuff. I can see why you'd use that as a criteria. With the JLA, theyr'e pretty much solo acts that come together for the biggest problems, but the Avengers are family and you want someone who is really committed to the fam if you're going to do a season of Real Word New York of the Marvel Universe. Which is essentially what the Avengers are. Several heroes, picked to live in a mansion, given a goofy job and then watched to see what happens when they stop being polite and start getting real.

I'd be curious to know now if Nextwave has sated your craving for Monica. I find the book hilarious, but I also have no emotional attachment to previous incarnations of the characters (those that existed before).

Bottom line, I can't really argue against this choice because she's acquitted herself as an Avenger well in the past but, once again, I find myself making some picks based on the awe they inspire. And Captain Marvel does not inspire my awe.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Justice League Dream Team #7

Mister Miracle

I’m a total freak for the Fourth World, so this one won’t come as a huge shock to those that know me. However, why Scott over Orion or Barda? I needed someone who knew there way around technology. Mister Miracle has the greatest relationship with a Mother Box EVER and while he might not be a genius of technology, she IS! Just get Mother Box near the techno-problem, and she’ll start solve it quicker than you can say “Hightfather’s PJs.” How many times do the villains put the heroes in some elaborate death trap? Once in a while, one might answer. If you were in a diabolical death trap, would you rather have Superman or the guy who escaped from Apokolips when he was barely out of his teens? Scott Free all the way, man! Plus, if the JLA were ever in a real pinch for firepower, Scott just has to call his wife and ask her to help out. In case you didn’t know, Scott Free is married to Big Barda, onetime leader of Darkseid’s Female Furies. We’re talking about a woman who beat down the Wonder Woman of the 853rd century (“She might last a week or two on the firepit crust-colonies of Armagetto,” Barda says after knocking Wonder Woman through most of the Watchtower, “but she lacks discipline.”)!

Mister Miracle rounds out this team and makes it the perfect Justice League of America.

I know this flies in the face of all of Tate's Kriby-love (I suspect he was tempted to have an All New Gods JLA), but I never have liked the idea of having any of the Fourth World characters in the League; I think I've always felt that the New Gods were a bit too, I don't know, cosmic to be involved with the League. Yes, Scott and Barda worked well in Giffen's League due to the comedic tone, and the inclusion of the New Gods during Morrison's run fit in with the escalating threat of his run, but on the whole, I shy away from the idea. So, who is my 7th? Let me tell you, I've gone back and forth on this a lot, and after a heated round of einey-meeny-miney-moe, I've settled on:

Captain Atom

I realize that my League is a bit testosterone heavy, and I was this close to choosing Black Canary, but something made me go with the good Captain instead. I think Captain Atom is one of those characters who hasn't fared so well over the years outside of his own title; in his previous tenures in the League he was often portrayed as bumbling, intolerant, and kind of unlikable hot-head. A lot of that came from him being the straight man in Giffen's JLE, and a lot came from the horror story that was Extreme Justice (the less said about that the better). I guess I'd just like a chance for Nate to finally step forward and show his potential as a leader without all of the artificial obstacles being thrown in his way.

The Fourth World is pretty cosmic, this is true. But Scott and Barda are about as down-to-earth as you can get in the DCU. They live here...and in suburbia. Plus, they're really great characters. It isn't like I wanted Lightray in the League or anything. That would be totally weak.

While I can certainly understand wanting Captain Atom in the League for both firepower and to give him a shot at being a likable guy (Extreme Justice was quite the load of baggage for him), I'm surprised to see him mentioned as leader. You can see from earlier that I assumed Hawkman would be the leader of Todd's JLA and I stand by that pick. Maybe Captain Atom would be a good second in command, but with Katar around I can't see him wearing the big shoes at the Big Show, Nate's tenure as leader in the JLE notwithstanding.

Wow...the most non-argument argument ever. On to the Alternates!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Justice League Dream Team #6

Zatanna (fishnets)

Sweet Christmas, I LOVE Zatanna. She’s like that soulful and talented artsy chick that is super hot but has no idea how hot she is. On top of that, being half homo magi, she wields an amazing level of mystical might. Also, as the daughter of Zatarra, she has access to decades of spells, research and lore at her fingertips. The kicker is, due to her great relationship with her father, she’s already studied and knows most of it! On a final note, my League needs someone who can pull off fishnets without looking like a Rocky Horror reject and, as much as I love the Black Canary, Zatanna leads the League in hotness.

All right, something we disagree on!

Sort of.

I mean, yes, Zatanna is one of my picks. Out of the small number of magic users who have graced the League over the years, Zee is the only one whose presence automatically screams "Justice League!" to me; the first issue of Justice League of America I can remember buying for myself was a Zatanna-centred storyline. I mourned her departure from the League during the Justice League Detroit days, not only because it removed one of my favorite characters from the book, but also because the storyline itself was SO horrendous. But I digress.

So, if I agree on picking Zatanna, where is my quibble with Tate. That's easy: the fishnets.

That's right: I hate Fishnet Zatanna.

Chalk it up to my contrarian nature, if you must, since practically every fanboy out there seems smitten by them, but I've never been able to get 100% behind the stage magician look as a costume for Zee. Sexy? Definitely. Heroic? Eh.

Me, I prefer my Zatanna in something a bit more super-hero-y

Skipping why we all love Zatanna (and we ALL do, every single last one of us), we'll go right to the Great Fishnet Controversy. I agree that Zatanna needs a super-hero outfit, but I maintain that the stage magician's outfit is much better than her other one. From the List of Bad Things, you can see that I want to get at least a suggestion of what a character is able to do from their costume and/or name. That's the most classic trait of the super-hero outfit and one of the major things that distinguished the super-hero from the pulp hero. Skin tight outfits with snazzy colors, chest emblems and capes all scream super-hero in a generic way, but the stage magician outfit literally tells Zatanna's origin (the short version anyway) as you look at her...up and down...very, very slowly. As soon as you see her, you know how she fights crime and what her day job is. AND SHE'S FREAKIN' SMOKIN' HOT IN IT! See the offering below and we'll let the fans decide.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Maybe the "K" Should Stand for "Konstantly Behind Schedule"

The Legion of Wordy Bastages have been busy combatting the forces of evil recently*, which is why we have been lax in our posting of anything outside of wish lists this week. I can't speak for Tate, but I know that my situation is calming down, so I hope to finally get around to reviewing X-Men: Last Stand before it hits DVD, and maybe a few comics here and there as well.

But the real reason I'm posting is to comment on two pieces of news that caught my attention this evening.

The first one, which I'm sure will get tons of comic blogosphere attention, is the news that Manhunter has been given an additional 5 issue commitment: there was much rejoicing in Cap'n Neurotic's new household at that news. Who knows, maybe the Cameron Chase curse is, if not broken, at least weakening.

The other bit of news that got me excited was that the upcoming Starlin-penned mini Mystery in Space will feature not only former L.E.G.I.O.N. member Captain Comet, but also one of my favorite Starlin creations . . .

Yes, that's right, it's the return of The Weird!

Who the heck is The Weird, you're probably asking? That's a very good question, and one which I plan to explore more soon, after I dig the issues out of storage and re-read them.

My one question now is exactly how The Weird is still in operation, since, at the end of the mini, I'm pretty sure he exploded.

My guess?

Superboy punched something**.

*I don't care what anyone else says, "having to move" and "dealing with shoddy Internet connections" are too evil!
**So, what's the over/under on when that joke gets stale?