The Kryptonite Rumble!

If I’ve proven anything over the past few years at the ISB, it’s that I’m not willing to concede much, but I do occasionaly realize that my opinions are not the objectve standards by which everything is judged that I might like them to be.

That said, if you can see a cover where Silver Age Superman is squaring off to fight a gang of “The Toughest Kids in the World,” complete with Fonzie-style biker grear and grapefruit-sized chunks of Kryptonite and not think that it looks totally awesome

 

 

…then there’s a pretty good chance that we can never be friends.

Hitting stands in December of 1967, right at the height of Silver Age madness, Action Comics #357 is without question one of the craziest comics I have ever read, and considering that I’ve got a couple thousand pages worth of Bob Haney within ten feet of me right now, that’s saying something. It’s one of those rare issues that every time you think you’ve hit the height of crazy, you turn the page and it just gets crazier.

To start with, we have the main story, a Leo Dofrman/Wayne Boring classic that opens with what is clearly one of the greatest splash pages ever produced:

 

 

For those of you who can’t make it all out, here’s what’s awesome about this page:

1. Abraham Lincoln.

2. Nitro Knuckles

3. “The TNTeen Terror.”

4. This is all on one page.

The story is actually a continuation from the previous issue, where a man called The Annihilator was giving Superman some trouble thanks to his own “Nitro Knuckles,” an explosive punch that he got by drinking Kryptonian chemicals, because that’s how science was done back then. Superman is able to handle things, of course, but not before The Annihilator adopts a young thug-in-training called Pocketbook Pete.

Yes, Pocketbook Pete. The reason given for this name is that he’s a purse-snatcher of some renown, but still. In any case, Pete doses himself with the Kryptonian chemicals, and thus The Annihilator, Jr. is born!

 

 

In addition to co-opting the Americanized name of Luchador superstar El Hijo del Annihilatoro, The Annihilator Jr. quickly sets about taking over by threatening to blow up the entire world, which, while not exactly a sound plan of action, is pretty much what international politics were based around in 1967 anyway:

 

 

With The Annihilator Jr.’s powers strong enough to affect even Superman, President Johnson goes into hiding and pretty much abdicates the White House, spending his time hassling the Man of Steel into setting things right. The Annihilator, Senior, meanwhile, discovers that the Kryptonian chemicals have had the somewhat unforseen side-effect of damaging his heart, but when he tries to dose Junior with an antidote, the younger suspects treachery and throws the old man out.

Still, even an enterprising youngster with an H-Bomb punch can’t run the country by himself, so Pete decides it’s time to form a new cabinet with the members of his old delinquent motorcycle gang:

 

 

Creep, of course, is installed as Defense Secretary, and to be honest, this was where I was expecting The Annihilator, Jr.’s plan to fall apart. As it turns out, however, national defense is handled in pretty much exactly the same way as working the counter at McDonald’s:

 

 

As a quick sidenote: ICBMs? Okay. Bio-Warfare Missiles, Nerve-Gas, and Undersea Hydrogen Bombs?! Who was running this place in ’67, Ernst Stavro Blofeld?

In any case, as always happens with teenagers, boredom quickly wins out over any sense of self-preservation and The Annihilator, Jr. and his gang just cold start dropping atomic bombs all over the place. And that’s when the craziness starts, as we learn that in the event of nuclear armageddon, Superman’s job…

 

 

…is to rip up the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore and put them into orbit to keep them safe.

I love Silver Age Superman so much I can barely stand it.

While Superman’s slapping the Jefferson Memorial is safely in geosynchronous orbit, The Annihilator the Lesser’s bomber ends up crashing, and when Superman shows up to investigate, he finds himself in the ambush described on the cover, Creep and Specs having looted the government’s surprisingly huge (even for the Silver Age) supply of Kryptonite.

The reason? The Annihilator 2: Annihilate Harder’s powers have worn off and he wants Superman to go mix him up a new batch. The problem here is that the chemicals were Kryptonian, but Superman claims he can find them on other planets and gives his word to return them in exchange for not being murdered on Bikini Atoll by a bunch of high school dropouts.

In other words, Superman goes out like a punk.

But this is not the end of the craziness, as what comes next ramps things right up: Superman returns with the chemicals and The Annihilator Reloaded chugs ’em right down, as he will drink virtually anything anyone gives to him. And that’s why he promptly turns into a toddler.

 

 

But how could this be?! Superman promised to bring The Annihilator, Jr. the chemicals that turned him into the Human H-Bomb! Could it be that–>choke<--Superman lied?!

No. Of course not.

 

 

It was actually The Annihilator, Sr. who gave The Annihliator, Jr. the chemicals! And while Superman did bring them back from space, and they are the exact same chemicals, the fact that they’re not from Krypton means that drinking them will turn you into a baby.

Because that’s how science worked back then.

Action Report: HeroesCon 2008, Part Two

I went to this year’s HeroesCon with $150 in my pocket and a mission to buy one comic book. Specifically, this one:

 

 

I left with nine dollars and didn’t have it.

That’s right: Wild Dog Special #1, which, while I’ve read it, is the only part of the Wild Dog saga that I don’t actually own. Unfortunately, the only one I could find was $2.50, and seriously, there is no way I’m paying that much for it, especially since I passed up on getting it last year for two bucks flat. It’s the principle of the thing.

Admittedly, I probably could’ve found another one, but I was busy with other stuff. And what, exactly? Well, thanks for asking, rhetorical question!

Friday began with Team Hard Ones heading out from Chad’s place for the drive up to Charlotte, rocking out to the mixtape Jay made for the first issue. One thing about my friends: We are some mixtape-makin’ mofos. The Hard Ones has a grand total of six pages in the can, and we’ve got soundtracks for at least the first three story arcs. Suffice to say that when Chad says it became a singalong to “Mama Said Knock You Out,” he’s right.

Once we were at the con itself, I found Fraction to say hi–’cause, you know, we’re best friends until the end of time and space–and then spent the rest of the day bumming around the con, shaking hands and handing out ashcans.

In addition to the guys I talked about last night, I also got the chance to say hi to Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, the guys behind the great supernatural noir thriller, The Damned, and Rob Osborne, of The Nearly Infamous Zango. All three of those guys were not only really nice, but also took the time to thank me for writing good reviews about their comics, which I wouldn’t have done if their comics weren’t already, you know, really good. So that was pretty nice.

Also, at one point, a man dressed as Dashiell James pulled an ashcan out of a racing helmet and asked if I wanted to read about NASCAR Heroes, a question to which the only possible answer is “Of course!” Seriously, say what you want about the comic and how they are not very good, but that’s a sales pitch that’s hard to turn down.

After the show closed, though, the area around the Charlotte Convention Center went from hosting the industry’s most family-friendly convention to the scene of the kind of sweet-ass bacchanalia that you can only get from a crowd that’s really into the Justice League.

For my part, the evening started in the hotel room, where I mixed up a Wake-Up Call (Kahlua, Cream Liqueur, Vanilla Rum and a Starbucks Double-Shot) to recover from a long day of conventioneering and Dr. K pointed out that the actual name of that drink is something that ends in “-tini.” I told him that if I was going to make a Girl Drink, I should at least be allowed to give it a manlier name. It was then decided–and this took me, Dr. K, Chad, Trey and Jay–that by that rationale, a Strawberry Daquiri with extra whipped cream, cherries and a pineapple stick should be called a Cock Sword Machinegun Pickup Truck Volume 2: The Metal Years. Tell your friends!

After that, it was down to the bar in the hotel lobby, where I talked to Fraction about obscure Punisher characters and learned that Rick Remender (writer of Fear Agent) is probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. This, of course, led to gambling on the street, and that in turn led to… something that I cannot talk about. I will say this, though: You know how they say that the only things that happen after 2 AM are either legendary or horrible?

Sometimes, they’re both.

Also, at one point, Dr. K, Brandon and I walked up to Jann Jones–the DC editor in charge of their kids line and the upcoming Ambush Bug: Year None–to ask where our Showcase Presents: Sugar & Spike was. Well, that’s what Dr. K asked. My question, after she told us that it didn’t look likely, was “Well do you like money?”

But more on that in a second.

On Saturday, HeroesCon was packed, and after briefly krumping my way through an impromptu dance battle with Matt Wilson’s crew, I made time to hit up the DC Nation panel, which, with the exception of finding out that Matt Sturges was going to do a story about an outdated super-hero-themed mini-golf course in Blue Beetle, was just lousy.

Be advised, the following section contains my opinions on The Industry™ and while I’m a reader and a retailer, I’ll be the first to admit that I only know, at best, a very small part of what goes on behind the scenes, and this is really just armchair quarterbacking. So, you know, grain of salt and all that, and feel free to skip it and come back after the next picture.

 

 

Now, I don’t have the hate for Dan DiDio that you see from outraged fans who need a figurehead on which to pin their frustration over having their fan-fiction invalidated, but there are a couple of things he said that bothered me.

The first was when he said–and these are as close to his words as I can remember–that the DC characters are “bulletproof”; Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman were here before anybody working there was and they’ll be there after they’re gone, and so their job–and this, I do remember–is to act as “stewards of these great characters.”

Now, the first part of that, I have no problem with whatsoever, but it’s the bit about stewardship that sets me off. If the characters are as bulletproof as he says–and they are–then they don’t need caretakers. They need someone who’s going to take them out to the back yard and blow them up with firecrackers.

Instead, it seems like DiDio and a lot of the creators at DC are overly concerned with doing the same thing that we’ve seen again and again and again in an effort to keep things just the way they were when they were kids, and while that’s a problem in the comics industry as a whole, it’s inescapable at DC.

And when they do get someone who wants to take their indestructible toys out and have some fun with them, they end up shooting themselves in the foot in an effort to squeeze every last bit of nostalgia–and, not coincidentally, money–from the characters. If they’ve got Grant Morrison writing Final Crisis and he wants to open it with the dirty, gangland style murder of the Martian Manhunter to illustrate a more brutal wave of super-villainy with a callous disregard for life, then why do we need an oversized one-shot by Peter Tomasi that’s all about what the Martian Manhunter was doing ten minutes before he was killed?

And Death of the New Gods, which was meant, according to DiDio, to be the “last great adventure” for the New Gods before they were reintroduced three weeks later… well, let’s just go to Grant Morrison’s interview in the latest Comic Foundry for this one, shall we?

“Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form… instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur.”

Another example: Infinite Crisis and Civil War. Don’t get me wrong, Civil War was not very good, but at least it’s a story, more or less. Infinite Crisis, on the other hand, is just a pointless, navel-gazing exercise in dragging things back because the average reader would rather have familiar mediocrity than forward momentum.

And that’s why you get the Groundhog Day that is the DCU. How many re-told origin stories have we gotten in the past year? How many are completely unnecessary because of books like Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn and Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood? I mean, he opened the panel by asking us about “Batman R.I.P.,” and asked us who we’d want to see in the costume if Batman actually died. But here’s the thing: We’ve already seen what happens when Dick Grayson becomes Batman. It was called Prodigal, it was written by Chuck Dixon, and–surprise!–it was not very good. We’ve also seen what happens when a darker, edgier character becomes Batman, which was called Knightfall, which we’d already seen the first time when it was called Blind Justice, and guess what? That ain’t so great either, and the first time around, it had the advantage of being fresh.

Then again, judging by the excited crowd response when he asked who wanted to see Jason Todd as Batman, I guess the public gets the comics they deserve.

So yeah, all that from five words. It’s decompression, folks!

Second problem with DiDio: The guy just doesn’t listen.

Now this one, I don’t even really blame him for, because I’m pretty sure that if I had to listen to people asking the same questions over and over at every convention, I’d shoot someone in the face. Seriously, you can ask any question you want to the guy who runs DC Comics. You can ask for Hitman trades, you can ask if there’s any progress on that Suicide Squad Showcase, whatever you want. And instead, we got “when’s Vampire Batman coming back?” and “What’s your favorite color lantern?”

Willickers.

To be fair, though, there were a few good questions, like the guy who asked if James Robinson’s Justice League was going to involve Jack Knight at all, but for a lot of the questions, he just skipped over pretty relevant parts to give a very dissatisfying answer. For example, one guy asked “What’s the status of Superboy?” Clearly–clearly–this guy is asking about the legal case that prevents DC from using the character, which is a shame because there are so many great stories that could use a reprint. DiDio’s response, in total: “Still dead.”

Ditto for my question, which was this time phrased as “I’ve got two questions: First, do you like money, and if so, where’s the Sugar & Spike Showcase?”, which got us called out by Jann Jones for asking her in the bar the night before. DiDio’s explanation–which no doubt resulted from residual confusion over being asked about the current status of Arrowette–was that they weren’t going to do one, because DC is very protective of the characters and they don’t want anyone else messing with Sheldon Mayer’s creations.

Well dude, neither do I! I don’t want new stuff, I want the old stuff in an affordable reprint! And if I’m the only one, then why the heck was there a guy on Aisle 800 selling the digests for sixteen bucks a pop?!

Like I said, I don’t hate the guy, and his answers are a hell of a lot better than the ones I’d be giving if I had to deal with people who wanted Spoiler to come back to life to be their magical imaginary girlfriend, but it all added up to a pretty frustrating hour.

Huh. Didn’t mean to go all crazy like that. Suffice to say that I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the best thing to come out of the DC Nation panel was this:

 

 

A sketch of ROM by Jay Potts, artist of The Hard Ones. And I know: I was surprised I didn’t have reference material either.

Also of note on Saturday was the fact that the Charlotte Convention Center was also hosting a car show sponsored by DUB Magazine. Dr. K’s got the skinny on that–right up to the report on confiscated firearms that Chad overheard, which was my favorite part–but I’ve got to say that I really regret not just buying a Cadillac, as I could’ve easily had some D’s thrown on that bitch.

Sunday was a lot more laid back–as it usually is–and so I’d set aside that day to go after sketches, talk to people and spend the last of my cash, and I’m glad to report that I was pretty successful on all three counts.

For the sketchbook, I was able to net an absolutely gorgeous One-Punch Goldberg (from Biff Bam Pow!) by the hilarious Evan Dorkin

 

 

…and a lot of other great ones, one of which may–may–have included OMAC riding Devil Dinosaur. Just sayin’.

I also got to talk with some of the guys from Oni Press, who were just amazingly friendly. I mean, I know I’ve said that before, but you’ve got to believe me: everyone was that nice.

They even went so far as to briefly introduce me to Chris Schweizer, who has a book called Crogan’s Vengeance that should be solicited in today’s Previews that looks like it’s going to be absolutely amazing. He also gave me a copy of his Smokers of the Marvel Universe print, which is now hanging in my office.

As for the shopping, well… I had to fill that Wild Dog shaped void in my heart somehow.

 

 

Highlights include both trades of Dr. McNinja–sadly unavailable from Diamond or Amazon–which I bought from inker Kent Archer and Freddie & Me by Mike Dawson, both of whom were nice enough to do sketches in the books. I also picked up a short stack of singles that will most likely find their way to the ISB before too long, including the issue of Josie and the Pussycats where Josie gets possessed by the Devil.

This, for those of you who were wondering, is probably the greatest comic book of all time.

So all in all–and despite the diatribe about DC that represents the most text I’ve written at one time since I dropped out of college–it was a great con and a great weekend.

 

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, this run of Punisher 2099 ain’t gonna read itself.

The Presidential Fury of Future Lincoln!

Long-time ISB readers might recall that while I like to consider myself more of a comics reader than anything else, there are a couple of things that I go after just for the joy of having them, and chief among those is my collection of comics with covers featuring America’s greatest leader, President Abraham Lincoln.

Imagine my good fortune, then, when I stumbled across this little gem purely by accident yesterday:

 

 

That, my friends, is a cover that asks us to accept a lot of things. Namely:

 

1. That the robot in question is accurate in both its reporting and its statement that this news is happening now

2. That it is indeed the year 2971, as evidenced by the yellow skies and the fact that Adam Strange is swinging by to fight with the Flash’s word balloon

3. That the Elongated Man was once a selling point

And perhaps most importantly…

4. That the MILFs of the future will have some dynamite legs.

 

Of course, there’s also the part where we’re to assume that it’s actually Lincoln and not just a sophisticated Robot Lincoln designed to preserve the Union during a futuristic Civil War, but–Spoiler Warning!–it’s really just a sophisticated Robot Lincoln designed to preserve the Union during a futuristic Civil War.

As for the why of all this madness, that can be summed up pretty well in about two words: Cary Bates.

In retrospect, those might not be the words you were expecting, but still. Bates is, after all, the guy who brought us stories like the one where a 10 year-old Batman kicks the crap out of a grizzly bear. Sadly, that’s not a theme that he revisits here, but we do get an opening sequence featuring this:

 

 

Yes, as revealed by the “probing” of the Flash’s “time vibrator,” in the grim future of 2971, there is only war! Civil War in fact, as Earth-East and Earth-West struggle against each other for reasons that are never actually made clear. What we do know, however, is that the War has left Earth-West with “inadequate news coverage,” to the point where they’re recruiting from the twentieth century.

Specifically, they’re going for Iris West, who was born in the future and then sent to the past, but came back after Professor Zoom–you know what? Let’s just skip it. All you really need to know is that she’s the Flash’s girlfriend, and in order to fulfill a community service requirement left over from transporting electrified chemicals over the border, she’s volunteered to help set up a “picture news service.”

One quick hop on the Cosmic Treadmill later, she and the Flash arrive in the future to hear the grim news: President Lincoln has been assassinated. And even more amazing, nobody saw that one coming.

 

 

You’d think Barry Allen might be used to things like this, what with the fact that he himself is following in the footsteps of another guy who ran really fast and called himself “The Flash,” but the whole thing just blows his mind. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder how he deals with other repetitive aspects of his life.

“Incredible! The McRib was only available for a limited time! How can it be available again–a whole year later?!

Needless to say, he doesn’t bother to stick around for the thirty or so seconds that it’d take to explain what was going on, instead choosing to tear off across the country to investigate the murder and track down the responsible party: The 30th-Century Doppelganger of John Wilkes Booth!

Or, as he would become known to his contemporaries…

 

 

JOHN WILKES JETPACK!

 

Only the addition of Sarah Vowell could make that more awesome.

Unfortunately, the Flash’s zealous pursuit of justice in the name of the Union is not without the hazards that come from hasty crimefighting:

 

 

Just for future reference, things are usually referred to as things like “The Wild Region” because there’s something there that you really don’t want to run into. In Metropolis circa 1971, the problem was an overabundance of high-tech street-racing super-hippies.

In Earth-East, however, it’s more a problem of Stranger Danger:

 

 

Of course, the real issue here is the prevalent amount of powerful hallucinogens in the atmosphere–which coincidentally was a condition shared by the offices of DC Comics throughout the decade–and before long, Barry figures out a way to block out the evil of the spectral hands.

And I think it’s a solution from which we could all benefit:

 

 

And he does, finally revealing the trick that the readers probably assumed six pages ago in a sequence involving the search-result skewing image that can only be described as “Naked Robot Lincoln.

For those of you requiring further explanation, allow me: With the threat of a Civil War involving atomic weapons–very atomic weapons–looming over their heads, the hot-shot scientists of the 30th Century decided that the best course of action would be to look to the past for inspiration. Thus, in a move that pretty much confirms that it’s all downhill from here as far as world leaders go, they do what Walt Disney did a thousand years before: they make themselves a Cyborg Lincoln.

But sadly, thanks to a two-and-a-half-star laser-blast from Cyborg John Wilkes Booth, his term as President of the Future was cut short. OR WAS IT?!

For you see, while the Flash is caught up in The Worst Deathtrap Ever–a ball and chain that it takes him like three pages to figure out he can get out of by rotating the other way–Future Booth meets up with his sinister paymaster Bekor, the Ruthless Commander of Earth-East, who is not Ming the Merciless, but an incredible simulation.

By this point, though, Booth has outlived his usefulness, and after delivering the murder weapon to his boss–a plot point that’s about to be pretty relevant despite never being explained–he’s immediately shot, at which point things start to get way more awesome.

Because this is where Lincoln comes out of the laser gun and reassembles his atoms thanks to an anti-disintegration pocketwatch he’d been holding for just such an occasion.

Thus: Presidential Beatdowns, presented here in all their wondrous, democratic glory.

 

 

 

 

 

Man! Not since Benito Cereno’s Tales From the Bully Pulpit has there been an Abe-Related Beatdown that Union-preservingly thorough!

Chris vs. Previews: July 2007, Round One

Sweet Christmas, is it that time again already?!

Yes, the inexorable march of time continues, and with the dawn of this most patriotic of all months, there’s an entirely new Previews catalog for your ordering pleasure!

 

 

Yeah yeah, you all know the drill by now: Tonight, the major publishers go under the theoretical magnifying glass of the ISB as I attempt to inform your purchases by making fun of things three months before they come out! Let’s get to it!

 


 

Dark Horse Comics

 

P.22 – The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1: I already covered this one in last month’s CVP when it was solicited the first time–which, when you get right down to it, is a little disconcerting–but even putting everything I said last month aside, this thing really does look like a lot of fun. I mean, come on:

 

 

A team of super-powered schoolchildren fighting Zombie Robot Gustave Eiffel? I honestly don’t care what happens in the rest of the book at this point, because that is awesome.

 

P.34 – Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1: It’s recently come to my attention that when I did my list of 50 Things I Love About Comics last week, I left out #10, a mistake that I’d like to rectify right here:

10. Lobster Johnson, pictured here with Janos Prohaska and our sixteenth president:

 

 

DC Comics

P.74 – Countdown Presents The Search For Ray Palmer: Wildstorm #1: Earlier today, Sugarbear’s Pal Dorian pointed out an interview on Newsarama where the much-beleaguered Ron Marz promoted this series, saying (with emphasis added): “Certainly the Wildstorm Universe is not a mirror image of the DC universe. As far as we know, there are no analogous versions of Midnighter or Apollo.”

Really, Ron? Really? You can’t think of anybody those two might be analogs for? Anyone? Anyone at all? Really?

 

P. 74 – Supergirl #21: With the news that Tony Bedard and Renato Guedes were the new team for Supergirl for the next few issues–marking the first time that book’s had somebody that I thought had any idea what the heck was going on with it–I’ve been interested in seeing what was going to happen with the title. And as it turns out, “what happens” appears to be…

 

 

Supergirl hitting Karate Kid with a car engine. So yeah: Buyin’ it.

 

P. 76-77: The Black Canary Wedding Planner/JLA Wedding Special #1: I’ll be honest with you, guys: I have little to no interest in Black Canary and Green Arrow getting married. That said, I’m actually really looking forward to these, thanks to the presence of Degrassi’s J. Torres and new JLA writer (and ISB favorite) Dwayne McDuffie, who very, very rarely disappoint. Sadly, the same cannot be said for…

P.78 – The Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special #1: …Judd Winick, who pretty much disappoints every time he opens up a word processor. Thus, I plan to avoid this one pretty studiously, and the same goes for the upcoming ongoing series, even though it features the absolutely beautiful art of Cliff Chiang. As for the wedding itself, the usual suspects are already debating over whether Black Canary getting married is a crime against the Sisterhood or not, and since I’m always right, I thought that I’d take this opportunity to settle things once and for all:

Black Canary getting married is not misogynistic.

Black Canary having sex with Green Arrow in a filthy dumpster after he cheated on her, however, was pretty damn Ludacris.

 

 

P.80 – Infinity, Inc. #1: Oh man! Pete Milligan writing a book about young super-heroes who have more power and fame than they can handle, dealing with the problems that accompany life in the public eye and the constant pressure of having to save the world? That sounds gr–HEY WAIT A MINUTE!

 

P.81 – Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #1: One of the biggest problems I have with writing these little chats we have every month is that a lot of the stuff I want to talk about is stuff that I’m actually honest-to-God excited about, and don’t really have jokes for. So, pardon me for a minute while I indulge in a little pure boosterism: I may just be misremembering here, but I’m pretty sure that when Dan DiDio announced this thing at HeroesCon, the news was met with a standing ovation, a guitar solo, and an eagle soaring int o perch majestically on his outstretched arm. And with good reason: Suicide Squad is, without question, right up there with Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and Walt Simonson’s Thor as one of the best comics of the ’80s–and it’s still not out in trade, by the way–so this one’s gota lot of promise. Sure, John Ostrander’s gotten older, and he’s recently turned in some pretty awful stuff in the form of the “Grotesk” fill-in on Batman and his issue of World War III, but that guy has sixty damn near perfect issues the Squad to balance things out, and even though I can’t stop thinking that maybe it’s time for a guy like Greg Rucka to take things over (which he’s pretty much done in Checkmate), I know he’s got it in him to do some wonderful things with the characters. Here’s hoping!

 

P.85 – Showcase Presents the Metal Men v.1: Just a reminder: these stories are awesome.

 

P.97 – JLA/Hitman #1: I’ll probably be writing this exact sentence again when the book actually comes out, but to me, Hitman eclipses even Welcome Back Frank as Garth Ennis’s finest work. Not to get too into it, but I feel like Ennis relies on ultraviolent shock value and profanity–both things that I certainly enjoy–way too much, so when those easy outs were taken away by Hitman’s very nature as a DC Universe comic, he did some of his absolute best character work with Tommy Monaghan and his great supporting cast. Which, really, is just a longwinded way of saying that there’s a good chance that this’ll be seriously awesome.

 

P. 110 – Presents v.1: Man, I’ve been getting way too much sleep lately. Anybody got something that’s guaranteed to give me some truly horrific nightmares?

 

 

Ah! Thanks, CMX!

 

Image Comics

P. 146 – The Mice Templar #1: When I first heard about Mice Templar, I–like a lot of people, I imagine–immediately assumed that it was a completely shameless attempt to capitalize on the success of last year’s awesome Mouse Guard by David Petersen, and I’ve got to say that I was pretty surprised. I’ve met Mike Oeming at conventions a couple of times, and while that’s really no good way to gauge someone’s morality, he was certainly a lot friendlier than I expect from most seedy con-men. Needless to say, I was really glad when the whole thing turned out to be–according to all involved parties–a big misunderstanding that turned into Petersen and Oeming saying very nice things about each other in various interviews.

The other upside to that is that now I feel like I can actually look at it without the looming spectre of guilt, and I’ve got to say, it looks nice. I’ve always been a fan of Oeming’s art, and if nothing else, the work he’s doing here is very pretty, and looks to be well worth checking out.

Image Comics

P. 154 – Suburban Glamour #1: At this point, you guys all know my feelings about Phonogram, so anything I say about artist Jamie McKelvie’s new series would be suspect at best. So, in an effort to help you guys make your own purchasing decisions for once, I’d just like to point out these two panels from the ad:

 

 

That man draws pretty pictures, and that’s a fact, Jack.

 

Marvel Comics

 

P.10 – Amazing Spider-Man #544: As should be painfullly obvious by this point, there’s really nothing I’d like more than to write comics professionally one day. Sadly, my actual “talent” for loud, mildly obnoxious criticism means that I routinely and invariably shoot myself in the foot in these efforts with smartass remarks about the people who actually are making the comics. Case in point: This cover by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada:

 

 

That can’t be the final version, right? I mean, even putting aside the art itself, the lettering is horrible, and it all combines into one of the worst laid-out covers I’ve seen in… well, ever. Now about that Woodgod proposal I’ve got…

 

P. 55 – New Avengers/Transformers #3: I’ve given my share of grief to this book and its erstwhile readers in the past–mostly based on the fact that it could only be more ridiculous if Snake Eyes and Cheetara showed up to help fight Baron Zemo or whatever–but allow me, if I may, to blow your mind for a second:

Why is this book not about The Marvel Megamorphs?

 

 

Transforming Robots teaming up with Marvel Super-Heroes? Stupid.

Transforming Robots teaming up with Marvel Super-Heroes That Are Themselves Also Transforming Robots? GENIUS!

 

P.61 – The Order #3: From the solicitation copy:

They’re half zombie! Half hobo! ALL TERROR! The ZOBOS run roughshod on Rodeo drive! Celebutantes and debutards beware–botox is like ketchup to these flesh-eating, homeless weirdos, and they find your waxed and tanned skin DELICIOUS!

True Fact #1: This is not the first time the Champions have fought super-strong hobo monsters.

True Fact #2: That is awesome.

 


 

And that–with the exception of an issue of Wolverine where he duct-tapes some swords to his hands (no, really) and Essential Punisher v.2, which I’ll be buying despite the fact that I already own everything it reprints, takes care of the majors. But don’t put down that order form just yet! Tomorrow night, it’s the small press and the merch, with a harrowing journey through the land of terror that is the apparel section!

If you miss it, your friends will hate you!