Raise Your Glass



The Chronicles of Solomon Stone #1 is finished!

The cover, 24 pages of story and the pinup are done and ready for the launch of the first eight-page chapter, next Wednesday, April 8! I don’t want to talk it up too much, but seriously, you guys? Matt Smith and Benjamin Birdie have done an absolutely amazing job with it, and I’m pretty sure that you’re all going to agree that it’s the pinnacle of American literature.

So as we count down the days ’til “Night Falls on the Cosmodrome,” why not relive the magic… again. Thrill to Solomon and Minxy’s first appearance in “Deadly Is the Hydra”, and chill to the intrigue of “One Stake… Medium Rare,” a story that impacts the Solomon Stoniverse to this very day!

Sadly, the novel cycle remains unpublished, but a bold new world awaits next Wednesday over at the Action Age. And that’s real.

The Week In Ink: March 25, 2009

And now, a graphical representation of how my week went. I’ll be played by the girl in the mask, and the role of Car Trouble will be played by the always lovely Cammy White:



Yes, my Daewoo finally died this week–owing largely to the fact that it was a Daewoo–completing a journey that began with “Uh, that’s a funny noise” and ended with me on the side of the road in one of South Carolina’s many fine swamps. But, cut to a few days and my first journey into the world of financing later, and I’ve got a new (used) car and everything seems okay.

But hey, it’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for the Internet’s Most Cripplingly Indebted Comics Reviews! Here’s what I got this week…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!



Batman: The Brave and the Bold #3: Some of you might recall that as much as I love the Brave and the Bold cartoon–and its promise of a forthcoming Batman/OMAC team-up, because I demanded it–the comic left me a little cold. As much as it attempted to capture the style of the show, right down to its animated-series-by-way-of-Dick-Sprang artwork, it was just missing something, and suffered by comparison to the old BATB team-ups that inspired the show. This one, however, had a cover where Batman was being sworn in as the President of the United States, and that’s not the kind of thing I’m capable of passing up.

And I’m glad I didn’t, because as clumsy as the first couple of issues were, this one’s a story right out of the Bob Haney/Jim Aparo playbook, with Batman standing in for the president and, because he’s Batman, doing a totally awesome job. Seriously, it’s got every goofy thing you could want, from hologram projectors to congressional fistfights. Heck, there’s even a scene set in Nova Scotia, and while I’d originally thought that was a fictional location like Gotham City or Thanagar, Rachelle informs that it’s actually quite real.

Who says you can’t learn anything from comics?





Daredevil #117: Okay, so first things first: This issue’s awesome, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark are doing a story about the Kingpin returning to New York (for what has got to be the third or fourth time) that spins out of the newly released Lady Bullseye arc, and like the rest of the run, the stories flow so organically from one to the next that it stands out as one of the few examples of genuine long-form storytelling in a market that’s increasingly built around pre-fab six-issue trades. That’s old news, and seriously, if you need me to tell you that Brubaker and Lark have been doing great things here, then hello and welcome to the wonderful world of comics. I’m Chris Sims, and I like Batman a lot.

The real story in this book comes on page three, where it’s revealed that Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn are actually low-level hoods in the Kingpin’s criminal empire. Sure, you might think it’s just Lark’s way of including a couple of famous fans, but those of us that are In The Know™ recognize this as the first step of laying the groundwork for Marvel’s merger with the Comedians of Comedy. I mean really, now that we’ve seen Posehn and Oswalt as part of the 616 underground, can Zach Galifianakis as Micah Synn be far behind? Folks, it is the role he was born to play.

Of course, that’s just speculation at this point, but sources on the inside have tipped me off to one thing that we know for sure: Maria Bamford as Typhoid Mary.

Think about it, won’t you?


GI Joe: Origins #2: With as much as I loved the first issue of Origins–going so far as to declare it hands-down the best of the three ongoing GI Joe titles, which admittedly isn’t saying all that much–this one was kind of a letdown. It’s not a bad comic, especially the bit with Heavy Duty and the bank robbers, but the sharp storytelling of #1’s been replaced by awkward flashbacks and an exposition about “The Snake-Man” that could’ve gone a lot smoother. Even Mike Hawthorne’s art seems rushed in this one, but if the first one was the top-notch Larry Hama of the Snake-Eyes Trilogy, then this one’s a little closer to the guy who wrote Ninja Force and that run on Batman.

Okay, well, maybe not that bad–nowhere near it, actually–but still, not quite as good as I wanted it to be.


The Incredibles #1: This week, BOOM! Studios launched their kids’ imprint with a couple of licensed properties that, all in all, are some pretty good choices. This one, of course, is based on the incredibly enjoyable Pixar movie from a couple of years back, and while it does lose the voice of beloved author and NPR personality Sarah Vowell in its transition to the printed page, Mark Waid and Marcio Takara do their best to make up for it by throwing in a robot who rides a dinosaur on page one.

And that’s all you really need to know about it: There’s a robo that rides a dinosaur. I mean really, Waid’s been doing well-done super-hero comics for like twenty years, and he’s certainly on stranger to doing a book about a family of super-heroes that includes a strong guy, someone who stretches, and someone who can make invisible force-fields, so the characters are in pretty good hands here. Admittedly, Bob comes off as a little bit more of a blowhard than I recall from the film (though to be fair, it’s been a while since I’ve watched it) and I think he may have tipped his hand early on an upcoming reveal, but, well, there’s not a lot of pride in figuring out one of the twists in a kids’ comic, y’know? Takara’s also a nice surprise, managing to stay on-model without falling into a slavish attempt to recreate the CGI on the printed page. It’s fun stuff, and if you liked the movie–or especially, if you know any kids who did–pick it up and give it a read.


Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #55: So apparently, there is something called the “Project Fanboy Awards,” and Tarot won three of them, which I know because there’s a picture of Holly G.–the Mrs. of the Balent Household–on the inside front cover wearing nothing but said awards.


Anyway, let me repeat the relevant part here: Tarot won three awards, and not a single one of them was for Most Haunted Vagina. Instead, in addition to giving “Best Indy Villain” to a character who hasn’t been a villain in like eight years, the Internet voters behind Project Fanboy awarded Tarot both “Best Title” and “Best Indy Title.” Seriously. That actually happened. And one can only assume that it’s issues like this, wherein Tarot goes to the Witchity County Fair and divines the future by groping a naked woman with ouija board tattoos (with “Yes” and “No” on her breasts, naturally), that have convinced people that this is THE ABSOLUTE BEST THAT COMIC BOOKS HAVE TO OFFER.

Or if not the plot, then certainly the dialogue. Here’s a sample: ‘”I can sense the wisdom and grace from a mother witch as she caresses her secret lover disguised as a cat.” For the grammarians among you, it’s the secret lover that’s disguised as a cat, not the mother witch, although really, at this point does it matter? I think not, as Tarot has been recognized by you, the Internet users, as THE CURRENT PINNACLE OF THE COMIC BOOK ART FORM. SERIOUSLY. THERE WAS A VOTE. AND IT WON.

Me, I don’t make any judgments on the matter, but I will say that this issue’s got one definite mark in its favor, as it’s one of the issues where Jim Balent just draws a bunch of real-life people into the story to fill out the crowds. And that means that at last, he has shown us the coolest motherfucker on Planet Earth:



I swear, I am not even joking: That dude is radder than a BMX backflip. And that’s real.


Usagi Yojimbo #119: It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Usagi, mostly because I’d be saying the same stuff every time it came out. Stan Sakai is one of the true masters of his craft, and he brings a level of talent and dedication to the table that really leaves nothing else to be said. Still, every now and then it’s worth noting just how great that guy is, and in this issue’s a great example, not just for the way Sakai does action and drama, but how he’s able to effortlessly balance humor in there as well. It’s a difficult trick to pull off, but there’s a bit in this one where Usagi and Kiyoko are essentially playing Keep Away with a horde of zombie samurai, and despite the tension that Sakai’s been building over the past two issues, it’s hilarious. It’s a neat little trick that’s deceptively hard to pull off, but it’s one of his trademarks, and it’s one of many things about this book that makes it one of the best titles on the stands.



And that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments section below, but before I head out for the night, a special ISB Shout-Out to reader Tim Bishop. He knows why!

Action Age Update: Dan McDaid Gets Stoned!



I’ve been holding off on this for a while, but since it’s up on The Action Age tonight, I’m proud to annouce that Jersey Gods artist Dan McDaid is doing the pinup for The Chronicles of Solomon Stone #1, with colors by Tamas Jakab! “Night Falls on the Cosmodrome” will a three-chapter epic that starts on April 8, and McDaid’s pinup will be included as a bonus feature with Chapter 3!

ISB readers will no doubt recall that I’m a huge fan of McDaid’s work–not to mention the guy himself, ’cause he’s a prince–and with his permission, I’ve put up a few of the preliminary sketches that he discarded in favor of the final piece for your viewing pleasure. Just click the image above and check ’em out!

Which means that yes: the actual pinup is going to be more awesome than the World’s Greatest Half-Vampire Private Detective Skateboard Champion with a crossbow that is on fire. Believe it.

Any Excess of What is Required or Suitable, As a Result of Zeal or Misjudgement

Long-time ISB readers may recall that my love of comics is only slightly greater than my love of video games. In fact, if I’d chosen a slightly different crappy retail job a few years ago, I might be spending my time making jokes about Flashman or The Many Emotions of Navi (well, two emotions: “Hey!” and “Listen!”) instead of the beloved four-color comedy that I’ve ended up with. Point being, I love video games, and lately a lot of that love has been directed at one in particular:



House of the Dead: Overkill!


Now, I’ve always been a fan of light-gun games and rail shooters, going back to a childhood of afternoons spent at Aladdin’s Castle in the mall, pumping quarters into Lethal Enforcers, despite the inevitable, poorly modulated end-of-level demotion back to PATROLMAN. By the way, quick Protip for anyone involved in a bank robbery where guys stand up one-by-one and are cut down by a guy moving robotically through the bank, accompanied by a constant voice telling him to reload: Don’t Stand Up. You’ll save us both a lot of trouble.

Anyway, if you really want to get into it, I guess it started–as all things do–with Duck Hunt, although unlike Lethal Enforcers, that was a game that was just as fun if you turned the console off and just pretended you were shooting Televipers or something. But still, there was just something about the tactile experience of holding a gun rather than just a controller, and over the years, it made me a fan of Lucky & Wild, Area 51 (especially after I found out about the Super-Secret Kron Hunter Mode from, I believe, an actual issue of GamePro), Time Crisis, Virtua Cop, Ninja Assault, Police 911 (which, owing to the motion sensor that actually detects how you’re standing or ducking behind objects, is the only game I’ve actually been sore from playing), and of course, House of the Dead.

The latter appealed to me not just because it was a game about blowing away zombies chunk by glowing green chunk, but also because of its hilarious tendency to take itself way too seriously. I mean really, have you played House of the Dead 2? It is trying so hard to be genuinely scary in a game that involves a fifteen foot-tall knight with a battleaxe and a glowing weak point the size of a Volkswagen that it’s just adorable.

Needless to say, this is not a problem in Overkill, which is the only game for the Wii that includes the line “I’m gonna rip your motherfuckin’ balls off!”



So let’s get this out of the way here: Did you guys see Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse: Planet Terror? Because the guys who made Overkill sure as hell did, and they liked it so much that they decided to just go ahead and make the unlicensed video game adaptation of it. Seriously, they put the “aged film” filter on it, the cutscenes are done up like ’70s shlock horror trailers, there’s even a “Missing Reel” gag. Heck, the whole thing starts out with an actual live action stripping sequence. It is downright shameless.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m a sucker for a ’70s style aesthetic, and while Overkill wanders off into being a pastiche of a pastiche, it hits the right notes, and the end result is something that’s actually funny because it’s meant to be, bundled in with a game that’s hours of mindless, ultraviolent fun. Or maybe not entirely mindless: The fact that your hits-in-a-row counter goes away at 30 and gets replaced with a waving American Flag? That’s actually pretty clever. And hilarious.

As for the game itself, well, it’s about as deep as a kiddie pool. I mean, it’s a rail shooter. There is literally nothing more to it than pointing and shooting. There’s a nominal attempt at adding depth by letting you unlock and choose between more powerful weapons as the game progresses–and by adding in features like Extra Zombies Mutants and a harder, extended (tee hee) “Director’s Cut” mode–but I’m pretty sure those are just there to make sure the game lives up to the “Overkill” tag. I had a friend over and we decided to see what would happen if we both chose the Assault Rifle and just held down the buttons so that we were never not shooting.

We won.


But again, that’s part of the fun, just tearing through armies of the undead from the comfort of your own living room. And as something to fill the hours between beating The Lost and Damned and the arrival of Chinatown Wars, it definitely did its job. If you’ve got a Wii, check it out.

Otherwise… Well, Detective Washington may have some choice words for you later.