COMICS WHAT THAT I READ THIS WEEK (April 21st, 2011)

Ok, quick shots this week!

HOT PURSUIT has just about the best name there is.

The Flash #10 

This was alright. Because it’s setting up Flashpoint and the current arc, there’s nothing especially fun like in the previous issues. No clue what Johns is trying to do with this Barry/ Carlie Cooper  Patty Spivot romance, but its not introduced all that well. Manapul’s art is pretty, of course.

Shave your face, Striker. You look like an embarassment.

Avengers Academy #12

Tom Raney is a FANTASTIC fit for this book. His art’s like a less cartoony/sketchy Todd Nauck, who I loved on Young Justice. The issue itself? Pretty good. Gage has been good about keeping character development moving over the last 12 issues. Last page was heartbreaking. Oh yeah, and Veil….yikes, man. Next issue’s promise of SUPERHERO PROM sounds like it’ll be a good time.

Alright, Lemire, lets see how you deal with this tie-in that does not interest me in the slightest.

Superboy #6

Red Robin giving Superboy crap for his initial “living in Hawaii with a fade” period made me chuckle. Marco Rudy’s filling in on art chores and everyone kind of looks like they’re in an A-ha video . The layout’s pretty good, but the figures are too rough for my tastes. Rudy does a great job at making the Superboy/Doomsday fight feel quick and kinetic, though. The sequence takes up the bulk of the issue and Lemire gives Superboy some great internal…I guess you’d call it narration. Pretty good for an editorially mandated tie-in!

Wait, isn't Abomination dead?

Best of the Week: Thunderbolts #156

Woman, what are you doing to that Man-Thing!

This is a real piece of dialogue. If you aren’t reading this book, you need to be reading this book. Parker writes the best Luke Cage around.

Satana-as-magic-wildcard definitely adds something to the book. The “Underbolts” B-team tryout bits were a real highlight (though if Parker actually puts Boomerang on the team then he will literally be writing Suicide Squad). Bonus points for “POLTERGEISTEN”. Oh, and Walker draws some more great layered sequences.

***********

I guess these reviews were shorter. Not by much though. Good week for comics, I wish my copy of the Abnett/Lanning “Legion of The Damned”/DC Comics 100 Page Spectacular hadn’t been misprinted! I’ll return it and try and snag it when they put out the corrected version I guess.

HIVE OF SCUM. LATER SKYHAGS!

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AND NOW…YOUR OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER OF THE WEEK (4/16/11)

…Maestro Dorn!

Hey look at that a cover for one of these things that has something to do with the character I'm referencing. A RARE TREAT.

From the Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes! 

An ingenious criminal mastermind and master puppeteer who plans each of his gang’s crimes in painstaking detail and then uses puppets to “enact [each] fantastic crime in miniature,” as a sort of rehearsal, so that his henchmen will know exactly what functions they are to perform during the commission of the actual crime. Maestro Dorn and his henchmen are captured by Batman and Robin in April 1952 (Det No 182: “The Human Puppets”).

So, essentially, this guy has a semi-practical, if incredibly boring, crime schtick. Got it. Someone should put him in Scarface and The Ventriliquist’s gang.

AN OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER. EVERY SATURDAY. THAT’S THE HIVE OF SCUM PROMISE.

Max

HIVE OF SCUM PRESENTS: Mark Millar & Ultimate Avengers 2: A Study In Awful.

Max: Hey, so usually Thursdays mean new comic reviews. But a host of factors kind of made that undoable this week, so instead I’ve decided I’m going to shake things up alittle.

I just read Ultimate Avengers Volume 2: Crime and Punishment. It’s bad. It’s REAL bad. And we’re going to talk about just how bad it is. Helping me do this is Internet Friend and known Twitterer, Chris Chance!

Chris: Yeah, this is basically….remember the Will Ferrell sketch where he’s satan and Garth Brooks is the regular dude who’s trying to sell his soul? Basically Ultimate Comics: Avengers is Will Ferrell. Mark Millar likes doing big dumb action comics for people that like big dumb action comics. I like big, dumb action comics. I freely admit to it. But the problem is that, instead of playing a crazy awesome demon guitar, Mark Millar is giving us a Fender. He doesn’t know the make or model, or how to even play it.

And at the end of the day, Jesus. Jeeeeesus. You get Ultimate Comics: Avengers 1 and 2.
That’s probably the most complicated metaphor I could use, but it’s really damn accurate.

Max: I dug it. The metaphor, I mean. Not this comic. Never this comic.

Chris: It’s pretty bad.

Max: So I think the best way to do this is I’m going to throw an image here and we’re going to talk about it
Chris: That’s probably for the best.
Max: It should say something profound that the only way to review this book is to treat it like a psyche evaluation.

Max: For our readers who haven’t read the arc, here’s the important details courtesy of WIKIPEDIA:

Captain America goes undercover as a Russian crime lord in order to capture the Punisher. Instead of executing Castle, however, Nick Fury and the Black Widow secretly offer him a place on their new Avengers team. Meanwhile, War Machine is sent to South America to find a gangster who goes by the name Tyrone Cash. A former partner of Bruce Banner, Cash also possesses Hulk-like strength and invulnerability while retaining his intelligence. He is eventually blackmailed by War Machine to join the new Avengers team. After this team is fully assembled Nick Fury informs them of their current target, Ghost Rider. It is revealed that the Ghost Rider, as Johnny Blaze, made a pact with the demon Satan in seeking revenge on a biker gang, who killed Blaze and his girlfriend Roxanne Simpson as part of a satanic ritual in bartering their souls with Satan in exchange for wealth and power. The leader of the bikers Michael Blackthorne is the Vice-President, who made an executive order to the Avengers to stop the Ghost Rider from killing him.

Max: Whew. For a 6 issue story with no real character and long-form plot development, this thing is COMPLICATED.

Chris: Bear in mind that, before this, The story for Ultimate Comics: Avengers was literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. so, building on it was like chucking another adagio on the symphony. Okay, where do you want to start?

Max: Lets talk about Ultimate Punisher. Who is just kind of FASCINATING.
Chris: I kind of just wanted to give ‘Ol Frank a big hug, because what the hell was even going on there.
Max: I mean, I’ll give Millar credit in that he largely resembles the Punisher except for a line of dialogue that he utters in the last issue that just completely baffles me but more on that later.
Chris: Let’s talk about his costume, because man, there is a lot of ammo (PUN!) that that costume gives us.
Max: Oh yes. The Ultimate Avengers force The Punisher to be in their little Suicide Squad
but since they don’t want the public to know they’re working with a serial killer they put him in a faux Captain America get up. This isn’t a terribly idea except THEN YOU REALIZE THE COSTUME HAS A GIANT PUNISHER SKULL ON IT.
Chris: THAT was my favorite part of the entire goddamned thing.
Max: It makes absolutely no sense.
Chris: “We’re giving you a new costume so people can’t recognize you. BOOM. Here’s your giant trademark that’s been all over the news.” It’d be cool if he just like, spraypainted it on, but no, it was on there before. Someone thought about that shit. The crazy R&D department that Ultimate S.H.I.E.L.D. has which is basically Tony Stark’s David Bowie-esque brother. Seriously, look at that guy. Like he’s informing Bret of a party in space, which he’s late for.
Max: It actually would’ve been kinda interesting if they’d just put Castle in a regular Cap suit, literally making become something else. Alright, lets talk about TYRONE CASH aka BLACK HULK AKA YIKES HULK.
Chris: The First Hulk. Yeah, the ramifications of what Millar is trying to tell us about race are staggering.
Max: Tyrone Cash (which is a name that would’ve probably not even made it into a 70’s era issue of Power Man and Iron Fist, btw) teaches Bruce Banner everything he knows, tests out his experimental serum on himself, then becomes a literal gigantic black stereotype. Oh, and he’s got a cockney accent for some reason.
Chris: Well, he’s TOTALLY ENGLISH. Which, I’m really glad that a) Millar gets a chance to rip on the Black UK population, because he’s from there. I’m not really glad about that. At all.

Also, it implies that Bruce Banner stole the experimental serum and claimed it as his own in the original Ultimates.
Max: Millar’s retconning a story he himself wrote like 7 years ago. The mind boggles.
Chris: That’s not even the only time he does that in this story!
Max: Any time I ever hear someone say that the whole “Millar is racist” thing is overblown, I just want to show them pictures of this guy.
Chris: He’s just all “Yeah, I’m the hulk. I’m gonna rise to power.” “Power” meaning basically a rap video. Tyrone Cash lives in a perpetual rap video.
Max:  They really should’ve just called him “Tyrone Power“.
Chris: I’m really surprised that Millar didn’t go for the racist gold in the conflict between War Machine and Cash.
Max:  Yeah, lets talk about War Machine for a second. Having never read an Ultimate Iron Man I or II before, he comes off like a total blank slate that says enough to advance the plot. Why is this dude even here?
Chris: I can fill you in on Ultimate War Machine. Basically, at one point, his armor was a Mecedes M-Class convertible with thumping bass and it transformed into what you see here.

There you go, buddy, you are up to speed. He fought Ultimate Captain America. And now he does this.
Max: Oh right, he was in the previous arc. Does this character have like…goals? Aspirations? I have NO IDEA WHAT HE’S DOING HERE other than being a Transformer.
Chris: Beepbeepbeepboop. He’s basically there to tell Cash that he’s a bad father. That’s his role. “You want to join our team? We won’t let these people down if you do! eh? eh?”
Max: Yeah this scene is like Goofus and Gallant but with awful racial stereotypes. Oh, and before I forget. War Machine using the trump card of “WE WILL TELL THE FAMILY YOU ABANDONED TO BECOME CRIME HULK THAT YOU DIDN’T DIE BOOM” is hilarious.
Chris: Would that EVEN matter at this point? Oh yeah, his wife will seek him out for child support payments. She won’t be successful, probably, but even so? His life is pretty great.
He obviously doesn’t give a damn, or he’d be back there doing things.
Max: Millar totally wanted this to be some big moment and it completely falls on its face. Because you can’t throw something like that in a story where everyone is just an enormous douchebag.
Chris: YES. because everyone in this story is just so insanely Douche-y. Do you want to move on to Hawkeye, because Hawkeye, brother. Hawkeye got problems.
Max: Haha yeah lets do that.
Chris: Ultimate Hawkeye is basically Bullseye.They gave him arrows, but it didn’t stick, so now he uses all sorts of “gun” with which to go on government funded suicidal killing sprees. So, they slapped him in a vagina-neck sweater, chucked him on a black ops team.
Max: With a woman who has the same codename as the person who murdered his family!
Chris: Oh yeah and he’s really goddamn cordial about it.  I want to focus on another high point in this series: When Hawkeye attempts to connect on a personal level with The Punisher.  And, well, it goes about as well as it probably could, when you mention someone’s main motivation for killing MILLIONS OF PEOPLE as being “not that bad” and giving him the old “I’m Here For You, Buddy”.
Max: This was like the one story element that really interested me and Millar just fumbles it. Hawkeye just WALKS up to the Punisher and starts talking about how they both have dead families.
Chris: “Hey, we’re waiting for this shit to go down. Allow me to get emotional on you for no good fucking reason”. They are literally out there waiting for Ghost Rider. Which, if that’s what Ultimate Hawkeye did ALL THE TIME, he’d be my favorite comic character ever. “I know we’re about to fight Doctor Doom, but, hey isn’t it weird that in Pushing Dasies, you never see the dude’s mom?”
Max: I would’ve done a complete 360 on this arc if the Ghost Rider thing was just a smokescreen and Millar was REALLY writing about a blossoming gay romance between The Punisher and Hawkeye.
Chris: That would be the best thing EVER.
Max: I think the problem with these comics is that they’re SO RIDICULOUS but Millar doesn’t go that extra bit to make it the comedy it was born to be.
Chris: That’s the catch 22 of it. He’s like 90% there on making the best mainstream parody comic of all time. I don’t know if he knows it, but if he does, that is GENIUS.
Max: There’s a definite air of parody here, I think. But its like Millar’s just putting out the stupidest, most pandering comic in existence.
Chris: Okay, let’s knock out the last bit of the team here.
Max:  Black Widow?
Chris: What purpose does Black Widow serve?
Max:  The team needed  a woman?
Chris: Ok, because I’m pretty sure Black Widow is there because Nick Fury likes complaining about his marriage. That seems to be all he does whenever she’s brought up.
Max:  Yep. Again, just a total blank slate that parrots Millar Talk.
Chris: “You don’t have to tell me how terrible she is, I married her!”. I just want Punisher to bust out “Yeah, why DID you marry her, Nick? she seems like a total bitch!”
Max: But that leads us to THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE STORYLINE.
Chris: YES.
Max: The dramatic moment where Black Widow reveals that Nick Fury slept with all of her friends and family FOR NO APPARENT REASON. Just to fuck with her.
Chris: I can’t even put a finger as to why it doesn’t work, but it just doesn’t. It doesn’t work and is completely off putting. In fact, I think it makes me care even less about Nick Fury.
Max: I think now is as good a time to talk about how fucking bizarrely sexist this whole exercise is.
Chris:  Well, beyond the entire women that aren’t even used on the team, there’s the thing I think you noticed. That women are basically things.
Max: Oh yeah. And Millar repeatedly has male characters call women “bitches” or “whores” in this arc. And then there’s the scene where Gregory Stark calls Carol Danvers dumb to her face and she just sits there and takes it!
Chris: “Yeah, it’s a pain to hear her make words. With her mouth. Let’s go somewhere else, Nick.”
Max: Like, this is just accepted.. The whole thing creeps me out. Mainly because Marvel, atleast back a few years ago, was pitching this line as The Future of Marvel Comics.
Chris: Yeah, it was marketed as the beginning of a new era in readability.
Max: And what we’re getting here is characters just spouting offensive “cool” nonsense.
Chris: Oh yeah. The Ultimates is where everything broke down. EVERYTHING in the ultimate universe.
Max: I mean, Bendis has somehow made Ultimate Spider-Man remain readable but we’re talking about the kind of continuous creative decisions that caused formerly high-selling Fantastic Four and X-Men books to get cancelled. We should talk about Ghost Rider, I guess, since he’s like the star of this thing.
Chris: Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this depiction of Mephisto may have had a small anime influence. Just a teeeeeeeensy one.
Max: I didn’t realize until the third act of the story that the dude with anime hair was supposed to be the Devil and not Johnny Blaze. Its sloppy storytelling. And why is he sitting in airports, vaguely menacing children?
Chris: Yeah, good job on that one devil.
Max: I like how Millar takes the basic Ghost Rider origin and just kind of messes it up in ways that don’t make sense. So these satanist bikers kill Johnny Blaze’s girlfriend.He gives his soul to Velsing Satan or whatever. Satan brings back his girlfriend, gives her a new life without him, and makes him into his fire-headed errand boy. Ghost Rider goes around killing all the people responsible. And even after Satan tries to kill him with another Ghost Rider, Blaze is just like “Ah well, as long as you keep my girlfriend alive, I’m happy!”
Chris: Yeah, he’s all hippy skippy about just murdering people for the devil all of a sudden.
Max: Like, the whole point of Ghost Rider is the dude is this insane wildcard you can throw into a comic who just fucks up everyone. Making him kowtow to Beelzebub and accept his lot in life is just such weak writing.
Chris: But let’s be honest here. This entire arc is about absolutely no repercussions for any of these people.
Max: None at all!
Chris: You know what could happen? This entire story could go into a moebius loop and it would still all make a strange sort of sense. Just Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2 in perpetuity. Forever.
Max:  I hope the last page of the last issue of Millar’s last Ultimates comic is Nick Fury fucking Captain America’s old 1940’s girlfriend.
Chris: You know what? it’s actually shaping up to be exactly that. That’s what Ultimatium was.
Max: We find out that the whole Ultimates line is just the story of a Ultimate Nick Fury’s sex addiction.
Chris: “Hey, you know what? Nick Fury is a sex addict.” and the last issue of anything ever is basically an STD pamphlet. Inform yourselves about herpes. Here’s Tyron Cash to show you how.”
Max: If Ellis had written Ultimate Extinction a few years later, he would’ve picked up the ball on this and just had Fury fuck the Gah Lak Tus wave into submission. Chris, do you have any kind of closing remarks you want to share here?
Chris:  I think what I miss most about Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2 is that, dear god, it could have been so much better. It could have been a comic about Something. instead, what we got was a giant, violent, nonsensical episode of Seinfeld that made you feel sorry about the comics industry in general.
Max: Yeah. It kills me that like…Morrison or Bendis or Jason Aaron or whoever could’ve made something pretty cool and fun out this story. What we get here is something that I felt less intelligent having read.
Chris: It’s something that shouldn’t have been made. Like I said before, it’s almost as if Marvel wanted Lenil Yu to draw something. They didn’t care what it was, and neither did he. Mark Millar just decided to, I don’t know, participate by slamming a story together.
Max: This thing feels like a first draft that Millar threw together in an afternoon.
Chris: Ultimate Comics: Avengers 2: Hey. you want to know how much your money is worth? this. This is what you are paying at least 3 dollars for. Here’s a middle finger, spin on it.
Max: Alright, I want to thank you for helping me wrap my head around this, Chris. But before we go, lets talk about this one last panel.
Chris: I want to thank you for giving me a shot at explaining my severe hatred of this thing.
OH YES LET’S.
Max: Frank Castle. Delivering a zinger about how he voted for Sarah Palin. …What the fuck?
Chris: I don’t know why Millar decided to reference Palin here, but I think it adds the only depth this story has to offer. Which is a lot like driving a million miles in the wrong direction.
Max: It makes absolutely no sense. It’s a completely gratuitous, deliberately inflammatory reference to pop culture. In other words, it is the perfect encapsulation of Millar and this book.
I’m going to go drink and lie down now.
HIVE OF SCUM. WE MAKE THIS FOR YOU, FATHER-READER!

Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“Blasts From The Past – Part 1”)

I now own all of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES on DVD. Each week, I’m going to work my way through the series one episode at a time.  Dig?

Episode: “Blasts From The Past – Part 1″

ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER KIRBY HELL

What Happens: While messing around with a Kryptonian Phantom Zone generator with Prof. Hamilton, Superman discovers a surviving female Kryptonian trapped inside. Somethin’s up, though. Why’s she there in the first place, right?

Thoughts:

  • So this is the first time the Phantom Zone shows up in DC Animated continuity. I honestly can’t remember it showing up much outside of this two parter and its use on a Cadmus storyline JLU episode (Man, that arc was like non-stop Superman stuff, huh?)
  • Professor Hamilton just messing around with switches on an alien machine. What the hell school taught you that, Prof?
  • The Fortress of Solitude’s more and more built out and homey each time we cut to it. It’s practically a bachelor pad at this point.
  • So Superman just keeps Brainiac tech in his crib? I mean, its the only way he’s going to learn about his former planet I guess but I’m surprised they never followed up on the storytelling potential of this. Too similar to his next appearance, I guess?
  • Ron Perlman as Jax-Ur!

Is that like...supposed to be Krypton on his chest?

  • Interesting that they went with Jax-Ur and Mala as names for these characters since they resemble General Zod and Ursa rather closely. Jax-Ur makes some sense as that’s a pre-crisis Kryptonian Phantom Zone criminal, but Mala’s counterpart in the comics is…male.
  • THE DRAMATIC RETURN OF THE GOOFY LOOKING KRYPTONIAN COUNCIL!

Seriously what is UP with that?

  • I LOVE how Jor-El was basically this SCIENCE ACTION HERO back on Krypton. Dude steals a soldier’s helmet, wires it to take down everyone in like 5 seconds. Animated Jor-El’s the best.
  • A big part of using The Phantom Zone in your standard Superman story tends to involve raising the question of how ethical the whole thing is, this episode manages to keep that concern but without belaboring the point.
  • I’m really glad this is a two-parter, this would’ve really suffered otherwise. Way too much too cover and explain, I think.
  • Dig the “Mala’s eyes adjusting to sunlight” perspective shot.
  • I think one of the real strengths of this episode is how Mala is built up to be pretty likeable and sympathetic initially. The lighthearted “testing out her powers” montage, the affection for Superman, just the whole tone. But you still get the impression something’s off.
  • And then the other shoe drops and we realize how crazy she is.
  • “THE EX-CON FROM KRYP-TON”. These Angela Chen soundbites are always fantastically dumb.
  • Lex Luthor going all Glenn Beck. “THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE KRYPTONIAN BABIES AND MAKE US THEIR PETS!!”
  • Glad they build up Mala’s big freakout here. There’s lots of signs, but Superman rejecting her romantically really setting her off just makes sense.
  • Lois gets the best quips, doesn’t she?
  • Great cliffhanger.

Overall?

Just going off of the first half, this is one of the best episodes of the series. The two-parters really give this team time to put in some nuance and detail that you can’t do in a one shot episode.

NEXT EPISODE: BLASTS FROM THE PAST – PART 2. PERLMAN. PERLMAAAAAN.

AND NOW…YOUR OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER OF THE WEEK (4/9/11)

…Roland Daggett

Yes. Yessssss.

From the Batman Wikia:

Roland Daggett is an adversary of Batman. He made his debut appearance in Batman: The Animated Series as a corrupt and powerful businessman, voiced by Edward Asner. The president of Daggett Industries,a pharmaceutical company, he is depicted as being a large, physically imposing man with smoothed back reddish-brown hair and blue eyes…

…He is similar in personality and function to Lex Luthor. It should also be noted that his look (and overall demeanor) bears a striking similarity to Norman Osborn as he originally appeared (minus the “Osborn Cornrows”). He was originally intended to be Max ShreckChristopher Walken‘s character from Batman Returns, but it was decided instead to introduce a new character.

Alongside crime boss Rupert Thorne, Daggett is one of the main recurring antagonists of the series who isn’t a member of the Rogue’s Gallery, and is considered to be a possible forerunner to Batman Beyond villain Derek Powers.

Roland Daggett is FASCINATING to me, as a Batman character, for a couple of reasons.

First off,

Character highlights:

  • Infects Catwoman with a near fatal disease, almost unleashes it on the city so his company can make money off of the cure.
  • Inadvertently turns Matt Hagen into Clayface.

The Norman Osborn influence is so pronounced its borderline copyright infringement. Which sounds like a negative but the episodes Daggett appears in (Feat of Clay, Batgirl Returns, etc) are some of the best episodes of the series. He’s a fun bad guy to watch.

And really, having Batman face off against a recurring foe that served as a kind of “evil Bruce Wayne” figure who doesn’t physically engage Batman so much as create problems with his influence is a cool concept. The antagonism here between Daggett and Batman could almost be seen as a prototype take on the later Luthor/Superman stuff by Timm and co.

Anyway, yeah. Good stuff. Surprising that the character hasn’t made it into any other Batman outlets beyond the animated series, sorta like Carl Grissom.

AN OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER. EVERY SATURDAY. THAT’S THE HIVE OF SCUM PROMISE.

Max

COMICS WHAT THAT I READ THIS WEEK (April 7th, 2011)

You guys are lucky. I got on-going car drama and was hoping I could go drive an hour and picked up my fixed car. I was going to post, you know, google photo filler. But alas, my car needs another day in the shop. My loss = your gain.

Let’s get it on.

This whole "journey into hell" arc has had some metal-ass covers

Secret Six #32

This book, man….

This was…a mixed bag, to say the least.

Pros: Simone is tying up some lingering plot points from previous stories, including the Knockout plot that’s been in the background since before this book even launched. There’s some decent character work going on here. I don’t normally praise Jim Calafiore’s art too much but the background skull motif in the issue looked real cool.

Cons: …That said, Calafiore’s faces still bug me and the book’s one big action sequence is a big ol’ mess. I’m having a hard time having any kind of emotional investment in the book and I’m not exactly sure why? Eh. This book’s status in my in box is probably going to come down to next issue, I think. Which is a shame because this book started out VERY strong.

Also, the erm…kidnapping/murder/potential rape subplot with Scandal’s girlfriend is just…ugh. Really unappealing to me.

I'm two for two on the variant covers for this book and I'm not even *trying* to pick them up. I prefer 'em to the standard covers, though.

Annihilators #2

Main story: I can’t stress enough how happy I am that this is, for all intents and purposes, a brand new Rom, Space Knight story that (because of legal stuff) doesn’t actually feature Rom himself. Abnett and Lanning have a knack for taking unutilized older Marvel concepts that’d have been sitting around collecting dust and doing something new and fun with them, this is just another example of it.

Tan Eng Huat’s a good fit for this book artwise. Nothing overly stylized, just solid, easy on the eyes pencil work.

The real fun of this book is watching a group of Marvel’s heavy hitting space guys just ruin some bad guys, though I liked Silver Surfer’s Holmesian detective work at the end. Excited about where this book is headed.

Back up: Rocket Raccoon and Groot team up with underground talking animal resistance movement to fight evil wooden clowns. Comics! This has been a fun, wildly unpredictable story thus far and I’m happy to have it keep going that route.

Yeah. So that's going on.

Best of the Week?! Brightest Day #23

(MASSIVE SPOILERS, FOLKS. I suggest you skip on down if you haven’t read the issue)

****

****

****

Holy shit, Swamp Thing’s back in the DC universe officially. And Brightest Day was secretly all about him THIS ENTIRE TIME? I’ve gotta give Johns and Tomasi credit, didn’t see this coming. I knew about the reveal from earlier today but the splash page he comes back in is, uh, impressive. Reinventing Hawkman/Hawkwoman, Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman as different Earth elementals is a really neat concept and I kind of hope it sticks around for alittle bit.  At the very least, some terrific redesigns.

The issue itself? Pretty brief but I’m salivating at the possibilities this issue sets up. God damn. SWAMP THING, you guys. The center point of a big DC event. What a world. Last issue ought to be interesting. I hope to God they get a good creative team on the inevitable Swamp Thing mini.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Heroes For Hire #5

First of all, this comic is called “Slay Misty For me”. That’s hilarious.

This was a great conclusion to the first arc. I especially liked how Misty’s signature “Are you for hire, this is Control” bit becomes a plot device instead of just a stylistic flourish/The Warriors reference. Not as much to the issue as some of the prior ones but Abnett and Lanning are writing two real knockout books right now and this issued cinched that.

***********

Marvel’s like undisputedly got the best team books in comics going right now, I’m impressed.

Good comics week. Brightest Day gets the Best of the Week nod, mainly because NEW AND EXCITING THINGS with one of my favorite characters. I’m not going to say it was the best written book of the week, but certainly the biggest WOW factor.

HIVE OF SCUM. I SERIOUSLY CAN’T BELIEVE HOW EASILY BRIGHTEST DAY HAS WON ME OVER.

-Max

AND NOW…YOUR OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER OF THE WEEK (4/2/11

…Rufus Lane

I want to know more about this Mr. Wimble fella, actually.

From The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes:

The leader of a gang of criminals who are captured by Batman and Robin in February-March 1949 with the aid of some elderly show-business people from the local old troupers home (Batman No .51/2: “The Stars Of Yesterday”)

I’m not sure who comes off worse here: Batman, for needing the help of the elderly to take down this guy or Lane for the sheer embarrassment of losing like this. I enjoy that the entry acts like retirement homes for old song and dance men are a normal everyday thing. That isn’t a thing, right?

AN OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER. EVERY SATURDAY. THAT’S THE HIVE OF SCUM PROMISE.

Max

 

Episode By Episode: SUPERMAN: TAS (“Two’s A Crowd”)

I’ll be honest. I’m alittle buzzed. I just got back from bar trivia. In other words, I’m in the perfect mood to watch some 90’s Superman animation. Lets bust a move.

I now own all of SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES on DVD. Each week, I’m going to work my way through the series one episode at a time.  Dig?

Episode: “Two’s A Crowd”

Even Parasites Get The Blues

What Happens: Rogue scientist Earl Garver threatens Metropolis with a radioactive bomb and is left unconscious via severe concussion following a stand-off with Superman. The bomb’s location still unknown, Professor Hamilton suggets they use the Parasite, last seen here, to probe the scientist’s mind. No possible downsides to this plan!

Shh. Shhh.

Thoughts:

  • I love, love, love that this episode opens with Dan Turpin and co. firing on this house with laser guns and SWAT shields.
  • The set piece of a normal house decked-out in Super-Science weapons is well done, reminds me of the gauntlet Luthor puts him through in Superman: The Movie.
  • Sawyer, put on some pants. Everyone, act like you’re posing for a lame album cover!

HRUMPH

  • I dig how this episode utilizes Parasite in a way beyond something like a prison escape or something like that. The good guys desperately need his help and it just kind of goes to shit from there.
  • Hamilton’s whole idea of using a super villain to solve their problem (along with a bunch of stuff in the series finale) arguably goes a long way to explaining his heel turn  over in Justice League Unlimited (JLU’s Cadmus sure did like using super criminals for stuff).
  • So Parasite’s awake, I guess. But we already knew that from the bug touching thing at the end of his first appearance.
  • Parasite refusing to help them unless they give him cable TV is perfect, I love how Parasite’s plans are never “take over the world” or anything, just simple pleasures for a simple guy.
  • Parasite’s “feedback” scream is unnerving as hellllll.
  • Hey so fun fact: Earl Garver is voiced by Brian “Original Hannibal Lecter” Cox. Consistently amazed by the voice talent on the Timm DC Animated stuff.
  • I was going to cry foul on Superman using the special underwater suit but then I remembered this Superman needs to breathe periodically (also, probably doesn’t hurt that you can make an action figure out of it)

STAR labs whole budget goes toward making Superman little mission suits, I guess

  • Teaming up Parasite with a character like Garver whose charisma and intellect act as a counterpoint to his…unmotivated brute strength is a fantastic way to raise the stakes by giving Supes a physical threat that can plan.
  • The concept of introducing a scientist consciousness into Parasite actually predates this in the comics (Google: “Torval Freeman”), I’m not sure if this is intentional or just a happy coincidence. Circumstances aren’t identical, atleast.
  • The difference in the movements of Parasite-with-Garver’s consciousness (very acrobatic, playful almost) is a great touch.
  • Superman not being strong enough to fly out, just kind of super-jumping from ledge to ledge is, again, another great touch.
  • Kind of weird that they gave Parasite the TV after all that but, hey, whatever.

Overall?

I say this alot, but good episode! It’s kind of cool but strange just how many of these Superman episodes are low action and plot-heavy. Obviously not a bad thing, though.

Next Episode: THE PROMETHEON (One of the more memorable episodes from my younger years! Space gollum!)

 

AND NOW…YOUR OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER OF THE WEEK (3/26/11)

….Carlo

What the hell am I looking at here?

From The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes:

A vaudeville mind-reader who turns to crime when he discovers that the delicate brain surgery he underwent following an automobile accident actually endowed him with the miraculous ability to read minds. At one point, Carl reads Batman’s mind and learns his secret identity, but is shot and killed by Pete Jorgen, one of his intended robbery victims, before he can reveal the secret to anyone else (Det No. 70 Dec ’42: “The Man Who Could Read Minds!”.)

We’re about two for two here on one-time Batman villains who are also the victims of prior intense head trauma. Who’s this Pete Jorgen fellow? Sounds like a real tough customer. Guy will not be robbed by vaudeville scum.

AN OBSCURE BATMAN CHARACTER. EVERY SATURDAY. THAT’S THE HIVE OF SCUM PROMISE.

Max

COMICS WHAT THAT I READ THIS WEEK (March 24th, 2011)

New Comics Day, the most wonderful day of the week that isn’t Friday, Saturday or to a lesser extent Sunday, has come and gone. Lets talk about them?

Pretty.

Daredevil Reborn #3 (of 4)

The Jock covers for this book have been gorgeous, this month’s in particular. This was an ok issue. Diggle’s Daredevil stuff has been really hot or cold with me and this mini’s just been alright. The bit with Murdock not being able to drive with a windshield in was a highlight for me, too many writers forget little things like that. Honestly though, I’m more or less just counting the days until Waid/Martin’s soon to be fantastic Daredevil run starts up.

TWILIGHT. IDOL.

Power Man and Iron Fist #3 (of 5)

Fred Van Lente is cramming as much deliberately silly shit into this book and I’m loving the hell out of it. An emotionless villain called POKERFACE quotes “The Gambler”, of all things. This issue does a nice job of balancing a couple of plot threads through the bigger “silent criminal auction” concept. AThe death trap that this issue centers on is well thought out and keeps things rolling. Van Lente’s rarely disappointed me as a writer and this is shaping up to be one of his best. And I will pay him $10 American Dollars to get rid of that god awful white and gold Iron Fist suit (Though the solicits for his appearance in Iron Man 2.0 seem to indicate it’ll be gone soon).

Time Diamond Gangsters

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5 (and 6)

Jason Aaron writes a helluva Mojo, though that makes a fair amount of sense, really.

God, I love this mini. Bedazzling and “DARK PHOENIX WOLVERINE” as plot-points. This whole thing is just so weird and spot-on funny that I never want it to end. I’ve said it before, someone needs to put Aaron on a monthly Spider-Man book and fast.

Really nice use of PERSPECTIVE on this cover, right?

BEST OF THE WEEK: Batman, Incorporated #4

God bless the weird as hell Morrison Bat-book shipping schedule. After nothing for what felt like a while, we get two issues of Batman, Inc within two weeks of each other!

Props to Morrison for working in a multi-generational Batwoman team up into the issue while keeping the main El Gaucho thread chugging. I don’t think anyone’s really used the Kathy Kane Batwoman to much effect post-crisis and Morrison just effortlessly makes you want to know more about her.

I hadn’t seen any of Chris Burham’s work prior to this issue but he just NAILS those flashback sequences. A nice mix between Quietly and Cameron Stewart’s styles in many respects.

The big thing about this issue that stuck with me is how the mood of this issue alternates between dark and light in a way that it reasonably shouldn’t. The flashback sequences introduce some boldly weird history and I’m not sure anyone BUT Morrison could pull it off, but he does. The Silver-age Batgirl/Batwoman elements of the mythos have kind of been treated as a blemish that everyone wants to ignore, but what Morrison does is acknowledge how weird and ill-fitting it is (see Robin’s “It makes it all dumb instead of special. Like it doesn’t matter anymore”) and puts that to work for the story he’s telling. It’s things like this that really just hammer home the fact that Morrison’s the best writer in comics these days.

And, holy shit, the DIALOGUE in this thing is just wonderful. “YOU! SHUT UP OR I WILL PUNCH YOU OUT!”, etc.

I guess it’s not much of a surprise that I thought this is maybe the best Batman issue Morrison’s done thus far. Hard to say if it’s better than Batman, Inc #1, though the last page is an INCREDIBLE piece of payoff.

*****

Yeah. That was a positively Chris Sims-ian Batman review, huh? Seriously though, go buy that comic, tear out that last page, and frame it.

What a great stack of books, weeks like this are why I love comics. Except for Daredevil, which was just “decent”, these are comics by three writers at the top of their game. And the art’s nothing to scoff at either.

HIVE OF SCUM. THESE THINGS I TAKE JOY FROM ARE LIKE STRANGE OYSTERS THE OUTSIDE WORLD WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.

– Max