Ask Road Rage Venom

Dear Road Rage Venom,

Help! When I first got to college, my roommate was great, and while we still get along about half the time, the other half is a nightmare! She’s constantly complaining about how loud my music is, even when I’m wearing headphones while I study, and sometimes she’ll just go crazy and start yelling at me over the slightest thing. I may not be a perfect roomie, but I know I’m not doing anything that bad! Can you give me some advice on what to do before I divide the room down the middle like a bad sitcom?

–Up The Walls at UCLA




You CANNOT avoid us, PARKER! Have you forgotten that WE are immune to your pathetic “Spider-Sense?” We can strike at ANY TIME, from ANYWHERE, and keeping your turn signal on for EIGHT MILES will not spare you from our well-deserved VENGEANCE! Sooner or later, your Exit will come, Parker… And THEN you will be OURS!

Good Luck,
Road Rage Venom



Dear Road Rage Venom,

Lately, I’ve been noticing that one of the girls at work has been stopping by my desk to chat. Normally, I wouldn’t think anything of it, but her visits seem to have gotten more and more frequent lately, and even when we’re just talking about work, her smile lights up the cubicle. I’ve always been the shy type, but after seeing you help so many people, I knew you could do the same for me. So put it to me straight: Is she interested, or am I reading too much into office chit-chat?

–Lovestruck in Laramie



Did you REALLY think that this PITIFUL effort would stop me, Parker?! An eighty-car train inching along the tracks is hardly an impassable barrier, and the sharp agony of the its whistle is NOTHING compared to the burning HATRED we feel for you! The hate that comes from the way you HUMILIATED us when we were Eddie Brock, and rejected–WHAT?! It’s STOPPING?! We have been sitting here for SIX MINUTES ALREADY! But every SECOND that goes by only INCREASES our RAGE–BACKWARDS?!


Road Rage Venom



Dear Road Rage Venom,

Ever since I saw Old Yeller as a kid, I’ve always thought that a growing boy should have a dog. Well, fast forward a few decades, and my own son’s old enough that I think he could handle the responsibility of a pet. The only problem is what kind of dog we should get for him? He likes all kinds, and while my wife thinks a big dog like a German Shepherd would be too much and favors a smaller one, I’m not sure how much fun he’d have with a little puppy. Who’s right?

–Pet Lover in Peoria



Roadside Assistance? Yes, we have a–my member number? All right, it’s 221314. Yes. We are on the freeway just past Exit 27, and we have a flat tire.

…Yes. No, if we HAD a spare tire, we wouldn’t be CALLING for ASSISTANCE! Our VENGEANCE demands SWIFT and–NO! DO NOT PUT US ON HOLD AGAIN! Each SECOND you delay dispatching a tow truck takes Spider-Man further from our grasp! DO NOT–Hello? HELLO?!

Oh that’s it, you just made THE LIST. The world won’t miss another foolish phone operator anyway, especially one that sounds just… like…


Road Rage Venom


Road Rage Venom is a noted expert in both relationships and business whose weekly advice column appears in over seventy newspapers nationwide. His latest book, A FOUR-WAY STOP SIGN WILL ONLY DELAY THE INEVITABLE, PARKER!!!!!, is a nationwide bestseller from Harper Collins. He is not a real doctor.

The Week In Ink: June 27, 2007

When I posted a list of fifty things that I love about comics last night, a few readers were surprised that I didn’t actually list “kicks to the face” in there with the rest of it. The reason for this, of course, is that kicks to the face aren’t something that I love about comics.

They’re something that I love about life.



Incidentally, that thing where something happens and it’s so awesome that the sound effect is the panel? I love that.

But enough with the positivity! Tonight belongs to the Internet’s most bone-shattering comics reviews, and after last night’s lovefest, can there be anything left but the all-consuming bitterness and spite that comes from working in comics retail?! Read on, gentle reader! Read on!






Blue Beetle #16: Let’s talk for a minute about what makes a great comic. For the past few months–ever since it broke through the mild shakiness of the first story arcBlue Beetle has been one of the most consistently enjoyable comics that DC puts out. Rogers and Albuquerque have been doing a phenomenal job on it lately, fine-tuning the great cast of characters and putting together stories that are almost up to the standard set by the early issues of Impulse for sheer enjoyability, and this issue’s a perfect example why. It’s completely solid, from the arrival of Traci 13 to a sequence where Jaime Reyes comes off as one of the most likable characters in years. But really, is that what makes this thing great? No.

For that, just take a look at page two, where the title of the story is revealed to be “Total Eclipso: The Heart.” Oh, John Rogers! You complete me.


Criminal #7: What is it about the Dodge Charger that makes it the car of choice for jumping over things and outrunning cops?

Seriously, though: The last thing anyone should need at this point is for me to tell them that Criminal is awesome. Its two Eisner nominations aside, it’s a book by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, and as anyone who read Sleeper knows, those guys just don’t make bad comics. What is surprising though is how well-done their heist sequences are: The one in this issue involves a sniper rifle, a cocktail of crystal meth and valium, and a stolen ambulance that gets set on fire, and that’s just to get what they need to pull of the actual heist later in the story! It’s ridiculously exciting stuff that’s beautifully done in every way, from the covers all the way to the essays on film noir that close out every issue.



Immortal Iron Fist #6: This, for the record, is a comic book where one character says to another: “Less talking. More kicking.” How, I ask you, could it not be the best of the week?

This issue wraps up the first story arc of the new series, and for those of you who have been waiting for the trade to jump on, allow me to assure you: This is everything you have ever wanted from Iron Fist. Hell, it’s everything you never even knew that you wanted: A legacy that stretches back to the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay, a guy shooting chi-powered bullets from a pair of US Army .45s, and the Heroes for Hire reuniting to fight the armies of HYDRA!

To be fair, you probably did know you wanted that last one, but make no mistake: This book delivers, with each issue crammed as full as it can get with some of the most enjoyable action you’re going to get in comics, bar none. I’ve already gone on tonight about Ed Brubaker’s talents, and Matt Fraction’s body of work–which includes both a kung fu gorilla and a story where the Punisher fights Nazis–is spoken for pretty much every time I open my mouth, and they’re both knocking it out of the park on this one, with art to match. David Aja’s fight scenes are kinetic and frenzied, and Russ Heath’s flashback sequences are, well, drawn by Russ Heath. No further commentary should be necessary.

It is–and I’m saying this with no undue hyperbole–one of those comics that’s as close to being perfect as I can possibly imagine, and it’s something that you need to be reading. Heck, I even like Iron Fist’s new costume, and considering the amount of affection I’ve got for a good old-fashioned high collar, that’s saying something.

Incidentally, if you demand more Matt Fraction in your life–and really, who doesn’t?–ISB reader Jeff Brister has a brief interview with him up at his blog where he talks about, among other things, the next arc on Casanova. Brister refrains from just flipping right out about Iron Fist–a show of discipline which obviously continues to elude me–but it’s worth checking out anyway.


Legion of Monsters: Satana: Yeah, I know, I’m as surprised to see it here as you are, but let’s be honest: A man’s desire to see what Pamela Anderson would look like with red hair cannot be underestimated, and thus I have turned once again to the public service provided by Greg Land.

I’m kidding, of course. Aside from my brief interest in Brian Pulido’s mildly wretched Supernaturals last Halloween, Satana’s never really done much for me, and with a story so boring that I got two pages from the end and just decided to skip the rest, this issue didn’t really change that.

No, the real reason I picked this one up was to see the second feature: a story about N’Kantu the Living Mummy done by Jonathan Hickman, whose last issue of The Nightly News also dropped this week. I’ve really been enjoying Nightly News–especially given the fact that it’s Hickman’s first comics work–and I was really interested to see how he’d manage to work his distinct style in a story that, thematically speaking, was about as far from an indictment of biased journalism as you could possibly get. What surprised me when I actually read it today, though, was that if you take away the fact that he’s drawing mummies and skeletons, this story looks exactly like The Nightly News.

It’s got the same starkly contrasted, almost abstract pages, the same sans-serif lettering, heck, there’s even informative boxes that pop up to explain the Dynasties of Egypt like there are in his other book, and the end result is, well, interesting. I’m not reaching for something nice to say with that, either: It’s not at all the story that I expected, but in a lot of ways, Hickman makes it work. Either way, it’s definitely worth checking out, if only to see how different it is from the story that precedes it.


She-Hulk #19: It’s been a while since I’ve checked out any comic book message boards, so I’m not sure if the heated debate about Rick Burchett’s work on She-Hulk is still going on. If it is, though, this issue ought to set everything right once and for all, because under Cliff Rathburn’s inks and Andy Troy’s beautiful coloring, Burchett’s work has never looked better. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had my doubts about him in places–especially given how much I liked Juan Bobillo’s distinctive look for the series–but this issue is nothing short of fantastic, with his smooth, never a hair out of place Mallory Book facing off against an increasingly frazzled Jennifer Walters over the course of the issue. Just watch the way that he draws Mallory’s facial expressions and mannerisms, putting so much character into the way she stands in each panel, and you’ll understand why I like that guy so darn much. It’s gorgeous.

As for the writing, Dan Slott’s not exactly a slouch: The page where Ditto’s being hit in the face with long boxes for eight panels has one of the best sight gags I’ve seen in comics in a long while, and that last page is a hoot. Or quite possibly a squawk. You know what I mean.


World War Hulk: X-Men #1: You know what’s nice? Reading a comic where the kids from New X-Men show up and manage to all make it through 22 pages without getting killed. It’s a simple pleasure that’s become increasingly rare in the months since Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir got the boot in favor of turning the book into X-23 and her Bullet Magnet Sidekicks, The New X-Men.

…uh, sorry. That really has nothing to do with this particular series, and that’s why you’re reading these reviews for free on the Internet. But back to the point at hand: Christos Gage is on a roll, and has been for the past couple of years, with books that often slip under the radar despite being amazingly entertaining, like Union Jack and Stormwatch PHD. He has a gift for getting to the heart of a character and bringing it to the surface with just a few lines of dialogue, and he’s in rare form here, which is what pushes this thing from a book that doesn’t really have to be anything but a big, stupid super-hero punchout to a comic with a little more depth and enjoyment to it.

Well, that and the Hulk saying: “Xavier. You’re walking again. I can fix that.” That was freakin’ awesome.


X-Men: First Class #1: I really enjoyed the First Class mini-series, so when Marvel announced that they were following it up with an ongoing (hey, imagine that! An X-Men title selling well!), I was elated, and with good reason: With stuff like his dynamite run on Marvel Adventures: The Avengers and absolute masterpieces like Agents of Atlas, it’s rapidly becoming clear that Jeff Parker makes fun comics, and this one might just be the most fun of ’em all.

Just look at the art. Roger Cruz is absolutely perfect for the book: Stylized and incredibly expressive in a way that captures the colorful excitement that got so many of us hooked on comics in the first place. And the stories themselves are fantastic, too. Even though I’ve never been that big a fan of the original lineup, Parker makes the most of them with stories like this one, which sees Jean Grey shadowing the Invisible Woman on a typical day at work–which for her, means fighting (come on, let’s all say it together)…


Man. I will never get tired of that phrase. Anyway, it’s great, and I think it’s the best X-Men title on the stands.





Showcase Presents: Batman v.2: I probably won’t be getting around to reading this one for a while, since I’ve got an entire bookshelf full of Showcases and Essentials that I’ve yet to read, but flipping through it today, I did see that this volume contains Batman #186. And that, for those of you who might have forgotten, is the first and only appearance of Gagsworth A. Gagsworthy, The Joker’s Midget Sidekick.

Even stacked up alongside the Trial of the Bat-Witch and the Planetary Chance Machine, Gaggy’s right there in the running for the craziest damn thing I’ve ever seen, and probably has a lock on being the creepiest, so if that story’s a good representation of what goes on in this one, I’m willing to declare it the greatest trade paperback in the history of man.



And with that, you can file this week under Done, son. As always, if you’ve got any questions about anything I didn’t mention, or if you just want to talk about how much better Amazons Attack would be if Will Pfeifer and Pete Woods were doing the whole darn thing, feel free to leave a comment. As for me, I’ll be over here livin’ in a powder keg.

And givin’ off sparks.

You Know What I Love?

As some of you may have noticed, the ol’ meme where you list fifty things you love about comics is making the rounds again. In the time I’ve been doing the ISB, I’ve seen this one come around at least twice–I actually think Sterling has a list that goes up to around four thousand or something–but I’ve always held back.

I do, after all, tend to talk about that stuff on a daily basis, so my thinking’s always been that if you really want to hear about fifty things I love about comics, hang around for a month or so and I’ll probably get ’em all.

Still, it’s always nice to have it all in once place.



Fifty Things I Love About Comics


1. The pure, unmatched beauty that is this page:




3. Mr. Fantastic hooking Thor’s hammer up to Iron Man’s armor and powers up his Time Sled so that they can all team up with Galactus to fight the Black Celestial.

4. A tank haunted by the ghost of a Confederate general that fights Nazis, occasionally doing so with a gorilla.

5. Batman keeps a Dalek in his basement, just in case.



6. Clobberin’ Time.

7. Jimmy Olsen, who was a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and had an International Fan Club, based solely on the fact that he hung out with Superman sometimes.

8. All Things MODOK.

9. Karl:



11. Nick Fury’s Rocket Powered Motorcycle.

12. Batman, the Punisher, and Darkhawk all have perfect records when fighting against bears.

13. The Warriors Three.

14. Well, mostly Volstagg, but still.

15. “Don’t be silly, I’m the most powerful man in Metropolis.” “Not anymore.”




17. Bill Mantlo on Marvel Two-In-One.

18. Kevin Maguire on Justice League International.

19. Bob Haney on some unidentifiable mix of jive-talk-inducing chemicals.

20. Kirby Dots (or Kirby Krackle, both of which would be fantastic names for delicious candy).

21. Spidey Super Stories:



22. Batroc Ze Leapair!

23. The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge.

24. “OKAY! I had to fight a dude to get with her! I fought a crazy seven-foot-tall purple-suited dude! And I had to fight 96 guys to get to him, too! He was flying and shooting lightning bolts from his eyes and he could make people do whatever he said automatically! He was totally awesome! And I kicked him so far he saw the curvature of the Earth!!

25. “No rest for the wicked awesome.”

26. “You dare to beg for mercy? You–who have none in your wretched heart? You–who have caused death and grief and suffering–with no pity save for yourself? You are vermin, Jock Parker! You are human slime! I’ll waste no hell-fire on the likes of you! No…I’ll send you into death’s icy embrace–WITH MY OWN BARE HANDS!

27. “I have heard the word… and it is battle.”

28. Balder the Brave.

29. The greatest team in comics history: Section 8.

30. Every Single Thing About This Panel:



31. Power Man.

32. Iron Fist.

33. Power Man and Iron Fist.

34. The Suicide Squad.

35. Slam Bradley.

36. In Avengers #1, the Hulk disguises himself as a robot clown who can juggle elephants. Because apparently, robot clowns that could juggle elephants were common enough in 1963 that nobody would stop to think that maybe that was actually the Hulk.

37. The Ever-Constant Citizens of Riverdale, USA.

38. The Planetary Chance Machine.

39. The Legion of Substitute Heroes.




41. Firestorm and his infinitely terrible rogues gallery.

42. “And towering above all… CONAN!

43. The Spirit and his nigh-constant head injuries.

44. The Cowboy Wally Show.

45. Ambush Bug’s political affiliation:



46. OMAC #2, Pages 2 and 3.

47. “Look Out, Alpha! The Wrecking Crew’s Gonna @#%$ You Up!”

48. Watchmen #5.

49. Count Dante.

50. The fact that Thor can’t lift it, the Hulk can’t lift it, but by God, when Aunt May’s life is on the line Spider-Man Can!



And a heck of a lot more besides.

Pop Quiz

Which of the following panels from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #85 resulted in the most terrifying nightmares for the children of the mid-60s?





Or B:



Show your work.



BONUS FEATURE: Jimmy Olsen is Effing Metal