The Week In Ink: April 22, 2009

You know, if you make it all the way to the C in the word “attack”…



…how do you know you didn’t finish saying it?

Alas, there are some questions that even we at the ISB cannot answer. But enough with the metaphysics, because it’s Thursday night and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Capitalistic Comics Reviews!

Before those, however, it is time once again to feed the ever-grinding wheels of commerce! After taking a break last week, I’ve got another round of ISB Fundraiser Auctions:


Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v.1, by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

Absolute League of Extraordinary Gentlemen v.2, by those two guys again

Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez

Absolute DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke

The Absolute Authority, by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch

And, completing what some of you might be seeing as a pattern at this point, Absolute Planetary v.1 by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday

Also, the friend of mine who’s actually doing the grunt work for the auctions is selling a bunch of Mark Waid Flash, comics of which I wholeheartedly approve. So if that’s your speed (haw), show him some love too.


Okay, plug over! Now it’s down to business, so here’s what you could’ve bought this week if you weren’t giving me all of your money…



…and here’s what I thought of them!



Batman: The Brave and the Bold #4: So in this issue, Batman gets turned into a baby and then teams up with Sugar & Spike to fight Felix Faust.

Batman teams up with Sugar & Spike to fight Felix Faust.


They need to make an Eisner Award for Best Team-Up and then immediately give it to this book. And even better, that happens in the first two pages, and then is followed by Batman and Hercules Aquaman fighting dinosaurs and samurais and cavemen, so I think it’s safe to say that this may–MAY–be the best Batman team-up since the heyday of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo.


Ghost Rider #34: You know, for the past few years, I’ve been laboring under the impression that the only two people in the world who actually read all twelve issues of Marvel’s early-80s trucker epic U.S. 1 were me and John Byrne, and I was the only one who actually liked it. With this issue, however, that has all changed, as Jason Aaron and The Walking Dead‘s Tony Moore have brought back The Highwayman, U.S. 1’s archenemy who is an undead trucker who sold his soul to the Devil (or possibly aliens) for a super-powerful eighteen-wheeler called The Blackrig. It was genius in 1983, and I’ll be damned if it’s not genius today.

Of course, the fact that it’s taken this long for him to appear in the book about the motorcycle stunt rider who sold his soul to the Devil is a little surprising, but I suppose that’s another one you can chalk up for Aaron, whose mad, risk-taking genius has made Ghost Rider one of the books I’m looking forward to the most each month. Of course, I already knew that after last month’s references to Megadeth, Lone Wolf McQuade and Smokey and the Bandit, but it bears repeating that Aaron is taking full advantage of the opportunity he’s got with this title and transformed it into the bastard spawn of Evel Kneivel and The Evil Dead, and brother, it makes for some entertaining comics.





Incredible Hercules #128: Okay, look, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh my God, is he seriously going to talk about how much he loves Incredible Hercules again? We know, okay? Blah blah great book blah blah mythology and the Marvel universe blah blah compares favorably to Simonson blah blah shameless Amazon links blah. We get it. Change the effing record.” And I know. I don’t want to repeat myself any more than you want to read it over again.

But seriously, in this comic, Venom bites Herc’s fist, and so Herc punches the Sentry with Venom on his fist and the sound effect is “DUBBAPOW!” I love this crazy comic so much, you guys. So, so much.


DC Classics Library: Batman: The Annuals: You know, I’ve been pretty pleased with the DC Classics Library line thus far, both in the high-quality presentation and the stories they’re reprinting (like the truly goofy Kryptonite No More), but man, I am not looking forward to this. As much as I love Batman–and I’m pretty sure the record will show that I love Batman a lot–I’ll freely admit that the Silver Age was not his best era. Trapped between the two extremes of the Pulp Vigilante of the ’40s and the increasingly super-competent adventure hero of the ’70s, Silver Age Batman seems even stranger today than his contemporaries, and while the art’s often great (Dick Sprang! Shelly Moldoff!) the stories themselves can get rough, especially in concentrated doses. They lack the bizarre charm of the Silver Age Superman family and the outright mad genius of stuff like Metamorpho or The Metal Men that would come a few years later. Instead, they suffer from repeating plots that were dry and formulaic to begin with, and–oh shit does that say JUNGLE BATMAN?!



oh man you guys this thing is gonna rule so hard.


And that’s the week. Well, unless you want me to talk at length (again) about The Chronicles of Solomon Stone #1, my first full-length comic for the Action Age that is now available in its entirety to view online or download as a PDF or CBZ for free. And really, I think you’ve all heard that by now.

As always, any other questions on something I read or skipped out on this week (like Viking which I accidentally left at work but was amazing in format alone) can be left in the comments section below.

The Chronicles of Solomon Stone, Chapter Three: Showdown at Murdermuerte!

The face-melting final chapter of TCOSS #1 is here!



Click the image above to head over to the Action Age for the entire 24-page first issue of Solomon Stone, plus the letter column, plus not one but TWO pin-ups by Doctor Who writer/Jersey Gods artist Dan McDaid plus a downloadable PDF and CBZ of the entire comic!

With this, the first full-length comic that I’ve made for myself is done–just in time for me to start hyping the next one–and as goofy as it might be, I feel a real sense of accomplishment. Obviously, I want to thank Matthew Allen Smith (who has the unlettered pages up on his DeviantArt page, in case you some how get tired of my genius prose) and Benjamin Birdie for making it happen, but a hearty thank you goes out to anybody who responded, twittered, facebooked or linked to it as well.

As I’m sure you’ll all agree, you have been part of the greatest comics reading experience of the new Willennium.

And for those of you who crave still more Action Age, I did a two-part interview with Lady Unpleasantries over at The International Society of Super-Villains that may just have a glimpse into the future of Sol and a few of my other projects.

Enjoy, won’t you?

Hold the Garlic

Long-time ISB readers may have noticed that despite my intense, unwavering devotion to Herbie, I’ve never really bothered to review a full issue the way I have with a lot of my other favorites, like the Legion or Jimmy Olsen. This is because Herbie Popnecker is damn near incomprehensible.

Richard Hughes and Ogden Whitney’s stories don’t so much follow a linear narrative as the mad patterns of a fever dream and as a result, they make even Bob Haney’s craziest–which would be the one where Metamorpho defeats a two foot-tall galactic conqueror by using a guitar that shoots laser beams–seem completely logical by comparison.

Tonight, however, I’m going to make the attempt with what might just be the least-crazy Herbie story of all: Herbie #20’s “Pass a Piece of Pizza, Please,” handily reprinted in the new Herbie Archives v.3. And for those of you keeping score at home, yes:



…this is the one where Dracula throws Herbie into an oven.

The whole thing gets started, as pretty much every Herbie story does, with Herbie sleeping while his dad–who is completely unaware of Herbie’s lollipop-fueled exploits into psychedelia–hassles him about being a little fat nothing. This is quickly forgotten, though, as the scene shifts to The Unknown, a vaguely spooky realm that starred in ACG’s also vaguely spooky anthology of the same name. I’ve actually never read an issue of The Unknown, but if it’s anything like the horror anthologies of the Silver Age that I have read, I’ve got to imagine that its constant appearances in Herbie were Hughes’ way of taking the piss out of a book that took itself way too seriously.

Anyway, this time around, the allegedly supernatural powers that be have decided to send a goodwill ambassador to Earth, and thus: Dracula.



Initially reticent, Drac’s lured into the job by promises of blood banks, the Bloody Mary and “full-blooded” American Girls, but finds all his attempts at getting his suck on to be ill-fated at best. But in a shocking twist, while he fails to capture a morbidly obese man who makes a surprising dodge, Dracula does manage to sink his teeth into a delicious New York-style pie.



And so, Dracula’s reign of terror begins, as he lays siege to every pizza shop in America, hoarding pizza (and, one assumes, wings and crazy bread) and generally ruining everyone’s Monday Night Raw experience for the forseeable future. Obviously, this aggression cannot stand, and once Herbie learns about the crisis via a lollipop that broadcasts television signals directly into his brain (yes, really), he’s off to battle Dracula in his guise as the Fat Fury…



…with somewhat lackluster results.



That’s right: Dracula manages to Hansel-and-Gretel the Fat Fury, and makes his getaway, but not before leaving a critical clue in what is without question my favorite panel in the entire story:



I just love that Dracula not only writes himself a note, but addresses it formally and signs it at the bottom. Truly, the art of writing letters is undead.

Once the clue has been deciphered–Dracula and his crew of flunkies are hanging out at a wax museum–the chase continues in a sequence of events that involves Herbie dressing up like a horse and getting launched from a trebuchet to Dracula’s cloud castle.

Once he’s there, it’s time for Round Two, which in this case means that we get to see one of Dracula’s rarely seen mystical abilities–which is also shared by his flunkies, a witch and… I don’t know, a hunchback maybe? Some green dude–Lightning From His Hands!



Of course, this (much like the comet that Drac summons from space a few panels later) means virtuallly nothing to Herbie, who not only catches the lightning bolts, but straight up stabs Dracula in the ass with them, because that is just how Herbie Popnecker rolls.

And so, the day is once again saved, and while Dracula surrenders and begs to be sent back to the Unknown, Herbie instead forces him to make up for his crimes:




Because Herbie Popnecker. That’s why.