Happy Herbieween!

On this day, it’s important that we all remember the true meaning of Halloween, as embodied by that stalwart of the season, Herbie Popnecker:

 

 

Monsters!

 

 

Costumes!

 

 

And as much candy as you can possibly stand!

 

 

Happy Herbieween, Everyone!

 

All images from Dark Horse’s indepsensible Herbie Archives.

Warrior Wisdom Fridays #7

Normally, wet let the instruction of the Ultimate Warrior stand on its own, but this week, we are compelled to remind our readers that these are actual things that were said in front of other people and then put on television.

 

 

As a service to our readership, each installment of Warrior Wisdom Fridays will provide an inspirational (and actual) quote from the Ultimate Warrior so that those who read it may take it to heart and reflect on how it may improve their lives. Installments of WWF should be accompanied by fifteen to twenty minutes of meditation and reflection, aided by soft music or strong herbal tea.

The Week In Ink: October 28, 2009

With Halloween fast approaching, it has fallen to Patsy Walker to show the most efficient and effective way of dealing with the living dead:

 

 

By rocking them with a kick to the face.

But let’s be honest: That’s probably something ISB readers already knew, so instead of elaborating on what scholars have referred to as The Billy Jack Method, it looks like it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Laughlinesque Comics Reviews!

Here’s what I picked up this week:

 

 

…and here’s what I thought about ‘em!

 


 

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #10: In this issue, by Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade‘s Landry Walker and Eric Jones, Batman is transformed by Hugo Strange into a giant kaiju monster and then fights the Atom, who has also grown giant-sized, which may cause him to explode.

The Diamond order code you want is AUG09 0192.

 

Dark Avengers: Ares #1: I’v ebeen looking forward to this one since it was solicited, owing largely to the fact that, starting with the Oeming/Foreman series and moving through appearances in Incredible Herc that are pretty much tailor-made for my particular tastes, Ares has steadily become one of those character sthat I really look forward to seeing. But even so, I honestly didn’t expect it to be this good.

Really though, it’s not too much of a surprise. I mean, I already knew that Kieron Gillen was an extremely talented writer, but a story about Marvel’s God of War training a hand-picked squad of Norman Osborn’s soldiers is about as different as you can get from Phonogram while still having a cover and two staples. And yet, he tackles it with the same sense of thrilling excitement that he brought to the table on his recent work on Beta Ray Bill, and much like he did with ol Spacehorse, it’s clear by page two that Gillen’s a guy who just flat-out gets Ares.

And not only that, but he even manages to lay it all out in a scene that’s not only clever and well-structured–complete with a bit of Herc‘s humor–but that never actually feels like a scene where a character has to spell out his motivations. “Subtlety” is the wrong word for it, but Gillen nails the character’s voice so well that a three-page speech in front of a Patton-esque American flag just feels natural. And it doesn’t hurt that Manuel Garcia, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington’s art has the right mix of grittiness and expressiveness to carry it all off, either.

It’s great fun, and the fact that Gillen’s pulled off cosmic battles and Earth-bound gods so well in such a short span of time gives me even higher hopes for his upcoming run on Thor.

 

Detective Comics #858: Okay, look: At this point, we’ve all talked about J.H. Williams III and how he’s consistently making ‘Tec the best looking book on the stands, and while it’s starting to feel like Greg Rucka’s getting the short end of the stick on the critical side of things, it pretty much has to be said:

Holy cats, J.H. Williams is awesome.

Not just because he’s a great artist, which I think is pretty self-evident at this point, but because of the way he’s able to switch things up. In the stories up to now, it’s been more a matter of panel layouts and Dave Stewart’s coloring–switching up the style based on whether the story’s following Kate or Batwoman–but in this one, it’s a completely different style. If it wasn’t for the credits, I would’ve sworn it was someone like Michael Lark doing the flashback sequences, but no, it’s Williams, pulling off the same trick he used on The Black Glove–where every character was drawn in the style of a different artist–but expanded for a whole issue.

But again: Rucka’s working on this book too, and with the start of the new arc, he’s finally fleshing out Batwoman’s background, showing her to be more than just a bored socialite who used to date Renee Montoya, for whom things are also picking up in the face-kickingest co-feature we’ve yet seen from DC. It’s a welcome change, as the character’s been around for three years now, but the way that it’s been built up has done a lot to increase its impact.

It’s another issue of incredible creators collaborating to make incredible comics, and while that’s not exactly news, something this good always bears mentioning.

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

 

Fantastic Four #572: The old cliche about the Fantastic Four is that they’re not just a team, they’re a family. It’s a tenet about the team that’s been repeated ad infinitum over the past 40-some years, but like most things that stick around to reach cliche status, it’s also at the core of some really great stories, and this is one of them.

I’ve had the feeling since this arc started that there was a reason we were seeing a bunch of Reeds without a single Ben, Johnny or Sue–of the entire Council of Cross-Time Reeds, only “ours” actuallly has the FF’s 4 on his chest—and while it didn’t end up playing out quite the way I thought it would, it took the idea of asking what it would take to solve everything and built something incredibly enjoyable around it. Kicking off a run with what really amounts to a Reed Richards solo story seems like a pretty bold move, but the way Hickman and Eaglesham have executed it is so well done, with the character rooted it in the idea that even with countless versions of himself tooling around the Multiverse, “our” Reed stands apart from the others because for him, there’s no such thing as a Reed Richards solo story.

It’s a simple premise, but like I said, it’s one that’ flawlessly executed, with enough twisting and turning to keep it feeling fresh, and it’s quickly made FF one of the books that I’m looking forward to the most.

 

Invincible Presents Atom Eve & Rex Splode #1: I’ve been talking quite a bit about Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde over the past few weeks, mainly because their latest Hector Plasm collection is the textbook example of how a Halloween special should be done, but the fact is that those guys just make good comics together. With this one, they’re following up their origin for Atom Eve with a look at the Secret Origin of the recently deceased Rex Splode–another one of those wish-I’d-thought-of-that-name supporting cast members that Kirkman has stocked his books with–and the result is predictably entertaining.

Benito’s script keeps things rolling along with a great mix of comedy and action–including scenes I’m incredibly jelaous of that are set up like jokes, with the punchline being political assassination–and under Bill Crabtree’s bright, vivid colors, Nate’s art coming off as good here as it does on Hector. I’ve gotta say that as much as I liked what they ended up with for Atom Eve, this one’s off to an even more promising start.

 


 

And that, more or less, is the week. I’ll have a few more reviews–most notably my opinion on the start of the whole FrankenCastle story that’s running through Punisher on next week’s thrilling episode of Ajax, but until then, feel free to pepper me with any questions you have about this week’s titles, like whether “Old Man Logan” was as stupid as I thought it was going to be (yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing) in the comments section below.

Spooktoberfest Special: Riverdale After Dark

I’ve probably made this abundantly clear over the past few years here at the ISB, but I’ve got a lot of affection for Archie comics, and a particular fondness for the bizarre forays into the world of the supernatural. Those stories–which were often bizarre even without comparing them to the tame, setup-punchline stories the line’s mostly known for–were largely a product of the ’70s, when the first cracks in the Comics Code meant that everyone and their flame-headed stunt cyclist brother were adding touches of horror to their comics, but there’s a more recent example that somehow managed to be almost as odd.

I speak, of course, of Archie’s Weird Mysteries:

 

 

Hitting shelves in 2000 to accompany a short-lived animated series, (and currently being reprinted in Tales From Riverdale Digest, hands down the best of the Archie titles) Weird Mysteries was essentially 31 issues of Archie mashing up Scooby Doo and utterly shameless amounts of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. How shameless, you ask?

Well, in one issue you find out that Veronica is the Chosen One who has mystical vampire-killing powers called “The Ender.”

 

 

So, you know. There’s that.

The Buffy influence is strongest in the stories about Scarlet, who, as a teenage vampire sent to infiltrate Archie and his running crew, is not to be confused with Marvel’s ex-nun vigilante or GI Joe’s counter-intelligence specialist from the ATL. The same elements are all there, what with her being dispatched from a nearby cave to find the curio shop, Archie’s supernatural mentor, the ersatz Stephen Strange that is Dr. Beaumont, and she even turns good, then evil again, then good again.

What’s really notable about her, however, is that she may in fact be the worst disguise artist in comic book history:

 

 

That’s right, folks: Her plan is to put on a shocking pink wig and a “ninja style jumpsuit” so that she can blend in with people who already know who she is.

But that’s not the story I want to discuss tonight, as there’s one story from Weird Mysteries that, while it lacks the supernatural element that was common in the rest of the series, manages to be even creepier, mostly because it starts with Archie… scrapbooking:

 

 

Okay, look: Archie likes girls. That is pretty much the dude’s entire deal. But the fact that he carries around a three-ring binder full of photos and vital information about the entire female population of Riverdale High that he pines over while they’re bringing it on at cheer camp? That’s pushing it.

It does come in handy for Riverdale’s burgeoning Mad Scienitist population, however, as one of them decides to use Archie’s ill-gotten dossiers to create a robot with the best qualities of Betty and Veronica and then send her to date Archie to study the alleged SCIENCE! of horny teenagers. Thus, Lisi is born:

 

 

And suddenly, this is the story where Archie dates a sexbot.

I’ve got to say, though, that I really do like the art for it. There’s a sort of stripped-down (even by Archie standards) quality that blends the traditional Dan DeCarlo house style with something that’s clearly attempting to emulate the animated-series style of guys like Mike Parobeck and Bruce Timm, and it’s something I’d have liked to see applied to the whole line.

But that doesn’t really matter, because this is the story where Archie dates a sexbot.

 

 

Unfortunately for Archie, Lisi somehow manages to end up with Betty’s tendency to get clingy and Veronica’s tendency to be a hateful bitch, and Archie has to be free, baby, you know? But attempting to shut her down in the normal way doesn’t quite work, as Veronica’s personality has rooted itself in the mechanism, and is just too stubborn to die, and while they come tantalizingly close to doing a story where Ronnie’s negative traits mutate into a sentient technovirus and/or V.E.R.O.N.D.O.K.A. (Vicious, Extremely Rich Organism Neatly Designed Only for Killing Archie), they manage to overwrite her with Cheryl Blossom and sell her to a store to be used as a mannequin, which is also fairly creepy.

But not before she polishes Archie’s helmet.

 

 

Twice.

 

 

And on the cover.

 

 

One can only imagine what Archie wrote on Lisi’s scrapbook page.

The ComicsAlliance Halloween Costume Spooktacular!

 

 

Today over at ComicsAlliance, I’ve revived one of my favorite Spooktoberfest features from the ISB with a gallery of your favorite comic book characters decked out for Halloween, or at least in costumes other than their usual ones.

Out of the fifteen I’ve included, there are a couple recycled from the original post–because really, it’d be stupid to not include “Empowered as Sexy Librarian” at every opportunity–but there are also a few that didn’t make the final cut, like Mr. Morris as Captain Marvel above, and Rex Mantooth as a lesbian commando schoolgirl…

 

 

…as I figured referring to Rex’s pseudonym, “Becky Labia,” might be pushing it. In any case, enjoy, and hopefully some of you will take it upon yourselves to dress as Spider-Man dressed as a gorilla, for that is the best of all possible costumes.

The Worst of Netflix: Kinky Killers

 

 

This week on Heavy.com, I continue my Halloween sampling of one-star slasher flicks with an All-New Worst of Netflix: Kinky Killers!

Originally titled Polycarp and clearly retitled to attract viewers based on the strength of its two reasonably terrible sex scenes, Kinky Killers bills itself as a psychological thriller despite the fact that it doesn’t thrill so much as amble around trying desperately–and failing–to make its viewers care about serial murders until it suddenly turns into witches at the end. As you might expect, it is not very good, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m pretty confident that I’ll never find an actor more ill-suited to a sex scene. And yes: A picture is included in the article.

Enjoy!