An Important Announcement For YOU, The Reader!

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, your regularly scheduled Week In Ink will be up tomorrow night, as the shipping delay means I either give myself some extra time to read the comics, or just post a bunch of reviews like: “Hey, this issue of Daredevil looks awesome” or “I remember when I got these Gunsmith Cats stories as single issues” or something.

Rest assured, though, you’ll be able to find out if Dark Xena matched the abject majesty of the first issue in a mere 24 hours.

But tonight, with nothing else on the schedule, I thought I might go ahead and make an announcement: Thanks to the inimitable Jim Shelley, friend of the ISB and head honcho of Flashback Comics, I’ll be heading up to Charlotte on June 15-17 for HeroesCon 2007!

Check it out, we’re right there in Indie Island under “Flashback Universe,” along with Jim, Chad “Danger Ace” Bowers, and Flashback artist Pierre Villeneuve! And what’s more, we’ll be there in the same general area as guys like Matt Fraction and Kyle Baker, which is pretty exciting.

As for just why Chad and I are going with Flashback, well, that’ll be pretty obvious in the next few months.

Anyway, if you make it out to the con and catch me in a sure-to-be-rare moment of sobriety, swing over and say hi, and you might just get to walk away with this:



Yes, the ISB 2007 Convention Special, and no, your eyes do not deceive you: Along with five suggestions for cheap comics to pick up at the con that I’ve never reviewed on the ISB, you’ll find a special two-page advertising section and an all-new chapter from my upcoming novel, The Chronicles of Solomon Stone: Book One: Enter: Solomon: Stone Me Deadly, featuring the super-sweet cover by EKN (above) and–buckle up, suckers–illustrations by Dave Campbell.

To paraphrase Snoop Dogg: Sims and Campbell together? Now you know you in trouble!

I’ll even have my crayons with me, and while I can’t imagine it actually being the case, I’ll be happy to draw you a picture of Iron Fist or something.

If any more information comes up, I’ll keep you posted. Now then, back to those comics…

Dimestore Merlin All Up In This MF

I’m not trying to pull off an entire week of Golden Age-themed content or anything, but even after going through the entire saga of Rockman and the Underground Pixies last night, I still find myself inexplicably drawn to this picture:



Yes, it’s the gentleman I’ve dubbed Dimestore Merlin, who is actually the unnamed King of Jugoslavia, who lets his daughter run around in Flash Gordon pants and a gold bra and then wonders why she keeps getting kidnapped by midgets. And maybe it’s the fact that he looks like Santa’s gay cousin, maybe it’s the little patch on his pajama top that sort of looks like Bully in a crown, but whatever it is, it’s enough to drive me to the brink of obsession.

So in honor of the comics being pushed back this week (and subsequently pushing back the Week in Ink to Friday, since I actually like to read the comics before I buy them), I’m offering it up as a special Tuesday edition of the ISB’s Monday Meme!

I mean, just look at the guy: He’s so expressive! That look on his face could be angered disappointment…



…or abject shock:



The possibilities, dear friends, are endless. Join me, won’t you?

Challenge of the Underground Pixies!

Oh what do we have here?



1. A barrel-chested hero in tiny pants and what appears to be a plastic racecar helmet from the dollar store, fighting to save…

2. A tied-up blonde in what appears to be a solid gold bra from the menace of…

3. A small army of communist midgets.

Conclusion: This Story Is Awesome.


Say hello to Rockman, folks, fresh from the pages of 1942’s USA Comics #3. According to the indefatigable Jess Nevins, this particular Rockman is not to be confused with his Japanese Counterpart, who would go on to far greater fame after saving the world from Dr. Wily’s sinister robot masters something like thirty-eight times.

This guy, on the other hand, was Stan Lee and Basil Wolverton’s “Underground Secret Agent” (here drawn by Charles Nicholas), which might seem like a redundant excuse for an acronym until you realize that, as the monarch of the subterranean kingdom of Abysmia, he’s an underground agent in a slightly more literal sense.

Man. Abysmia. The tourism board really dropped the ball one that one.

Anyway: This mind-boggling adventure opens up in “Jugoslavia,” one of those minor European monarchies where people dress like there’s a Rennaisance Faire all year long that were pretty common in the Marvel Universe right on up through the ’80s, where the sentry standing guard outside Princess Alecia’s room is suddenly clubbed from behind by a pair of “pixies,” presumably raiding the surface world for women at the sinister command of Frank Black:



Exactly how a pair of Keebler Elves manage to club a palace guard whose head is about four feet out of their reach, we may never know, but within three panels, they’ve got the Princess tied up, gagged, and kidnapped.

The pixies, it seems, are nothing if not efficient.

Say, it sure would be nice if there was someone around to provide some exposition for this odd turn of events. Dimestore Merlin, you want to field this one?



Thanks, DM. That clears everything right up.

Before long, Rockman and his Crash Helmet show up, and after being informed that the pixies are causing no end of trouble, decides to hop into his vaguely vibratoresque “Mole Ship” and go settle their hash, because that’s what they damn well did back in the day.


Down, ever down. For adventure.. and pleasure.


Princess Alecia, meanwhile, has been dragged on what one can only imagine was a pretty long walk down to the underground city of the pixies, where she’s confronted with your standard-issue golden age villain, a guy who looks like a cross between Marvin the Martian and Ming the Merciless, is never actually given a name, and is only remarkable for having the tiniest pants in the entire story.

And given what we’ve already seen from both Rockman and the Princess, that’s no mean feat:



Of course, as you might expect, Rockman and a crew of his brown-singleted countrymen show up just before the Queenly Crown gets placed and proceed to hand out a liberal dose of beatings, which is made infinitely more hilarious by the fact that it looks like they’re kicking the crap out of a gang of Marxist hobbits.




Ah, the Golden Age: When you couldn’t go six pages without somebody getting spanked.

Great Moments in Comic Book History, Volume Five

Thanks to the hours I’ve spent reading through Michael Fleisher’s exhaustively researched Batman Encyclopedia (the indispensable resource containing the information that, yes, Batman and Ben Franklin have met each other on more than one occasion), my interest in Batman’s Golden Age adventures has been rekindled lately.

Not that it was ever gone, what with the fact that it’s an era primarily characterized by Batman beating criminals with other criminals, but while flipping through an issue where a crackpot scientist uses a series of tubes to transport Batman and Robin into a book of fairy tales, I saw something that might be even better.

Ladies and gentlemen…






Oh Golden Age Batman! Is there anything you won’t fight?



BONUS FEATURE: Someone’s At The Door


Ask Road Rage Venom

Dear Road Rage Venom,

Lately, my boyfriend’s been really distant, and when he left his cell phone in my car, I noticed that he stored the numbers of a lot of people that I didn’t know. When I asked, he said they were just friends, but I have my doubts. How do I know if he’s cheating on me?

–Worried in Wilmington




Do you think high gas prices can stop me, Parker?! Thanks to a fuel-efficient import, it’s little more than an amusing FAILURE! We are coming for you, Parker, and not even rush hour traffic on the one-ten is going to stop us from our REVENGE!

Road Rage Venom



Dear Road Rage Venom,

I’ve finally gotten to the point in my career where I feel like I should become a homeowner, but with all the recent craziness in the housing market, I could use some advice. What’s a good fixed-rate APR to try for when I’m looking for a loan?

–Tired of Renting in Renton



Do you REMEMBER, Parker?! Remember how you humiliated us?! REJECTED us?! Our hatred gives us strength, Spider-Man, and this time your friends in the Fantastic Four won’t be around to STOP us! What?! A TOLL ROAD?!


Road Rage Venom



Dear Road Rage Venom,

I’m sick of being a doormat! It’s not that I don’t like my friends, but I feel like I’ve been letting them push me around: I always have to drive people when we go out, and they’re always coming over to my place without calling! How can I be more aggressive about what I want without losing them as friends?

–Timid in Topeka




Our exit is RIGHT THERE, you maniac, and you’re driving TWENTY MILES UNDER THE LIMIT! We have had our turn signal on for thirty seconds, and you are SORELY testing our patience! Revenge will be ours, Parker… Revenge will be ours.

Best of Luck,
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, WE’RE COMING FOR YOU IN OUR VAN, PARKER!!!!, is a nationwide bestseller from Harper Collins. He is not a real doctor.