Friday Night Fights: KRAKADOOOOOOM!

Behold! Bahlactus rages unabated, and in the wake of his weekly fury, the ISB has no recourse but to unleash a conflict that dwarfs the infinite!! Tremble, ye mortals, for the streetwise devourer of worlds hath declared a bone-shattering battle of galactic proportions that once again rocks that which man doth call The Inter-Net!

So it is written… So it shall be done!!!










Mother Box struggles to contain the cosmic destruction of Friday Night Fights.

The Week In Ink: 5-17-07

Oh, All-Star Batman… Why you gotta hurt me so good?



That’s right, folks: A mere three hundred and sixty-four days since I reviewed the last issue, Frank Miller and Jim Lee have finally gotten it together long enough to produce another installment of their mind-bending All-Star Batman, and a kick to the face like that can only mean that it’s time once again for another round of the Internet’s Most Senses-Shattering Comics Reviews!

Here’s a list of what I bought yesterday (which astoundingly includes a few titles that were shipping a mere month after their last issue)…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!




All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #5: And now, the ISB Proudly Presents a selection of actual dialogue from All-Star Batman #5:

Wonder Woman: You bastard! You bastard. I hate your guts. I hate your guts. You make me sick. You make me sick.

Its called being paid by the word, folks.

Anyway, at this point, I think at this point, we can all pretty much agree that ASBAR is just awful, but the debate rages on as to whether or not it’s actually awful on purpose, and I honestly don’t know which side I’m on. I mean, this is a book where the first piece of dialogue is Wonder Woman saying “Out of my way, sperm bank,” and it just gets funnier from there. Seriously, every single page of this thing is a riot, from the scene where Miller just goes ahead and re-does a scene from Sin City with Dwight and Gail re-cast as Superman and Wonder Woman to the page where Batman responds to a thug asking “What?” by punching him so hard that a nearby woman immediately falls in love with him. See? It’s amazing.

And yet the whole thing’s played so straight by Miller and Jim Lee that it’s impossible to tell if it’s genius or madness, and the only thing I really know for sure is that it’s absolutely freakin’ hilarious. Intentional or not, it’s a hoot, and while I hate to support a “monthly” comic that only bothers to come out once a year, it’s worth $2.99 just to get a line like Superman’s stirring: “Damn you, Diana! Damn you and your Amazon arrogance!” Delightful!


Batman #665: Prophetic dreams, maniac cops and an impending battle with The Devil Himself next month aside, if there’s anything that belongs in the Black Casebook, it’s a story where Batman and Superman go back to 1776 and try to have each other convicted of witchcraft so that they can beat an evil karate genie. Just sayin’.


Catwoman #67: Over at his highly entertaining blog, writer Will Pfeifer referred to this issue of Catwoman as a humdinger that never lets up, and brother, he ain’t lyin’. I’ve mentioned before that this book has been pretty much flawless over the past year, but with the last few issues, it’s been all-out action with beautiful artwork by David Lopez, and it’s just an absolute joy to read. I mean really: It might just be me, but seeing a pair of Russian super-villains whose real names are Boris and Natasha is just something that never gets old, and when said super-villains are also being shot, blown up and kicked out of windows while Holly drops another uppercut on Blitzkrieg, it all adds up to one of the most solidly entertaining comics on the market today.


Conan #40: I think it’s been pretty well established here on the ISB that my love for Conan and his adventures is second to none, but believe me: I have never seen things go from life-threatening to slapstick quite as fast as they do in this issue, and it is fantastic. Tim Truman’s been doing a great job with the series ever since he took over, but with this one, it’s like he decided halfway through to replace his script with a series of phenomenally violent Looney Tunes gags–complete with Thoth Amon falling, Wile E. Coyote-esque, off a cliff and showing up none the worse for wear on the next page, already hatching a new scheme–and while that could easily go wrong, it’s great here, right down to the Prince and Wazir reacting to it at the end. I’m not sure if I want every issue to be like this, with the evil wizards of Stygia trying to brain Conan with Acme-brand anvils, but…

…Aw, who am I kidding? That’d be awesome.


Countdown #50: So last week, I said that a story about Jimmy Olsen going up against the Joker was “pretty much foolproof,” and if there’s one thing I should know from reviewing comics for the past couple of years, it’s that saying that sort of thing will almost invariably result in the storyline in question failing miserably. So there you have it, folks: Countdown #50 sucks, and it’s all my fault. I apologize.

Well, maybe not all my fault. I mean, I’m not the one who thought that Jimmy Olsen knowing Jason Todd and Dick Grayson’s (and therefore Batman’s) secret identities was a good idea, nor did I suggest that Jim Calafiore completely forget how to draw during the Mary Marvel sequences, and I certainly didn’t tell anyone to just redo a couple of pages from Justice League of America. And now that I think of it, I didn’t sit down and write a script where Jimmy Olsen–a journalist–isn’t able to figure out that Duela Dent isn’t really the Joker’s daughter, or that included a darn near incomprehensible scene with the Rogues, so maybe I’m not to blame after all. One thing doesn’t change, though: It is not very good.

I’m doing my best to hold out for the first month just to see the full rotation of writers for this thing, but with two full issues of absolutely nothing worth reading, I can’t see myself sticking it out for the full year, even if I do still want that t-shirt.



Satan’s Sodomy Baby: You know, what can you really say about Satan’s Sodomy Baby that isn’t summed up right there in the title of the book?

How about this: It might well be the single funniest thing that Eric Powell has produced in his entire career, and as the cover suggests, it is astonishingly offensive. Of course, coming from a creator that responded to winning an Eisner Award by including a scene that saw “a simpleton playing in his own filth” in The Goon, it should come as no surprise that the story just gets funnier and funnier as Powell pushes the envelope in a story of the Devil’s back-door lovin’, the grim consequences that result, and the Goon’s quest to put that sucker right back where it goes.

It’s the kind of book that you imagine Powell could barely draw from laughing at the punchline on every single page, and I don’t blame him. I’ve read the thing cover to cover three times already today, and there are still panels that I burst out laughing when I see. It’s fantastic, and if you missed ordering it from your shop–what with it only being solicited in the pages of Previews Adult–I’d advise you to do whatever you can to get a copy. It’s awesome, and that’s as much as I can possibly say without spoiling the jokes.


The Ultimates 2 #13: You know, nothing says “Suck it, All-Star Batman” quite like an eight-page gatefold of super-heroes fighting an army of trolls on the White House lawn. Yes, it’s the last bone-shattering installment of The Ultimates from Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, and despite the fact that those guys missed the perfect opportunity for the return of Ultimate Volstagg, it pretty much confirms my theory that today’s Mark Millar is at his best when there is no possible chance of people acting out of character in his stories. This is, of course, aided by the fact that everyone pretty much acts the same in this book, but the point stands: When it comes to big, stupid fights where things get blown up and nothing really has to make sense, there really aren’t a lot of people who do it bigger, stupider or better than those guys. It’s nothing but fun, from a story that allows Thor to kill Loki four or five times before it sticks to a scene where Scarlet Witch makes a date with an Ultron robot, and even though it never freakin’ comes out, I’m sad to see it go. Not sad enough to, y’know, jump on the Jeph Loeb run or anything, but still.


X-Men First Class Special #1: Between Official Handbook pages for the original X-Men, the shocking return of Bernard the Poet, and a class trip to Monster Island, it can finally be said: Truly, this one has it all. Of course, the real gems of this issue–which sees Jeff Parker writing yet another solid, highly entertaining kid-friendly comic with a team that I don’t particularly care for otherwise–are the three short gag strips that Parker does with Colleen Coover. She’s one of my favorite artists, and seeing her drawing a story where Jean Grey throws cars around with her mind so that she can harness the power of cuteness for good, instead of evil is almost everything that I want to see from a comic about the original X-Men. It’s great stuff, and with First Class set to return as an ongoing series next month, there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to.





The Plain Janes: As long-time readers of the ISB will probably already know, I’ve been as excited about DC’s Minx line as is humanly possible for someone who falls squarely into the diametric opposite of the target audience can be ever since it was first announced. Long-time readers will probably also be familiar with my love of Degrassi, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and pretty ponies, so this probably wasn’t too shocking, but that’s beside the point: With the release of The Plain Janes, Minx has officially launched, and after reading through it today, I’m still pretty darn excited about the whole thing.

The story, as you might expect from the title, revolves around a girl named Jane who moves to a small town from her big-city home in the wake of an undefined terrorist attack, leaving behind her old friends, her old personality, and a comatose artist whose sketchbook inspires her to join up with three girls at her new school–Jane, Jayne, and Polly-Jane–to form an “art girl gang” called PLAIN that secretly creates art in the new town. It’s a plot that borders on farcical in a lot of places with how unabashedly goofy it gets, but it’s engaging and might well be the definition of “charming.” Probably owing a lot to the fact that she’s a novelist, Castellucci relies a lot on Main Jane’s first-person narration, and does a pretty fantastic job of giving a her an immediately likeable voice that drives the story, and Jim Rugg’s art is great, even with a distinct lack of ninjas, which he used to great artistic effect in the awesome Street Angel. It reads quick, but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts, and with it being the title I was least excited about, it bodes well for the rest of the line.


Showcase Presents the Flash v.1: ATTENTION, CITIZENS:


Barry Allen’s Head is Freakin’ Huge.


That is all.



And that’s the week. Yeah yeah, I know, I only reviewed half of the titles on my list, but hey: Chronicling the devastating adventures of the Bat-Witch takes it out of a guy. Besides, if you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about what a great hardcover Mouse Guard turned into or debate the merits of Giant Girl’s new costume, feel free to leave a comment or shoot an email to the address at the right.

As for me, I’ll be trying to figure out why wind resistance didn’t just snap Barry’s neck the first time he got up to sixty. I mean really.

Bat-Witch 2: Electric Boogaloo

I knew when I set out a few days ago to review World’s Finest #186 that it was going to present something of a dilemma. After all, as much as it was physically impossible for me not to post something as mind-bendingly awesome as S for Shakespeare, it’s just the first installment of a tantalizing two-parter, and without the following issue, it’s just not complete, which caused no small amount of wailing from my outspoken readership.

But tonight, wail no longer, friends! Thanks to the herculean efforts of ISB reader Julio Dvulture and the always-stalwart Shane Bailey, I have secured a copy, and while I can barely believe what I’m about to type, it may actually be crazier than the last one.



For those of you whose brains have been melted by the sheer Kanigherian madness of our last installment, I’ll recap: In an effort to find out who made a bust of Revolutionary War hero “Mad” Anthony Wayne–who surprised the heck out of me by being an actual person–in a Batman mask, Batman (his descendant) and Superman took a quick trip to the eighteenth century, where Superman:

1. Got in a fight with Anthony Wayne and his horse.
2. Said the single greatest sentence in comic book history.
3. Made a bunch of superstitious townsfolk think a sea-serpent had freed an accused witch.
4. Framed Batman for witchery.


5. Acted like a total jerk to Benjamin Franklin.

All caught up? Good. Let’s get on with it.

The story picks up the next day, and with Batman just about to be burned alive as punishment for his foul consort with the Man-Goat, Ben Franklin shows back up to make one last effort at getting the caped crusader a pardon:



Let this be a lesson to you from the Founding Fathers: We can’t go on together with superstitious minds.

Of course, this is Silver Age Superman we’re talking about, and if you think that a little thing like the pleading of the architects of modern democracy’ll stop him from having his best friend burned at the stake for witchcraft, then check your Bottle City at the door on the way out, buster. That’s just not how Kal-El rolls.



Why exactly Batman’s alleged demons would set themselves on fire, we may never know, but really: That’s the least of our problems here.

It’s at this point in the story that Batman–who has inexplicably forgotten that he’s fucking Batman and generally gets out of deathtraps more complex than a sheepshank around a log four times before breakfast–finally remembers that he can lie, and gives us what might be the second best panel ever:



That is literally all it takes to turn the town against Superman, thus setting a record for the most easily influenced townsfolk that would stand until the advent of the Springfield Monorail. Batman is freed from the stake, Superman takes off to join up with the British and crush the Continental Army once and for all, and we get a fantastic chapter break.



What follows is pretty much what you’d expect, given the circumstances. Superman joins up with General Henley and the British forces to track Mad Anthony down, and considering that he can fly and has X-Ray vision, it’s not long before he drags Wayne back to encampment, lays down his pimp hand



…and then declares that Batman and Mad Anthony must fight each other to the death with their bare hands.

Normally this would be a cause for concern, what with the damage to the space-time continuum that would result from Batman killing his own ancestor, but in keeping with this issue’s theme of showing Batman at his most inept, he is immediately put face-down into the mud by Mad Anthony’s use of the “20th Century fighting tactics” of karate and judo. This is, as I’m sure you all expect at this point, never explained.

Before he can finish the job, though, Tony’s interrupted byt he arrival of his own sidekick, Robby, who (of course!) bears an uncanny resemblance to Robin and fights the British with his slingshot, which gives Batman the idea to hand over a chunk of Kryptonite hes been carrying around for the entire time and tell him to shoot Superman in the head with it. Robby does, and this is where things start to get crazy.

Once he takes the shot to the forehead, Superman stumbles around for a second wondering where he is, then singlehandedly defeats the entire British army in one panel, reuintes with Batman, and finally–FINALLY–explains just what the hell has been going on here:


(Click for a larger, more legible, and yet
completely incomprehensible version


Oh, right. An afreet. Well that makes perfect–what?!


(Again with the clicking)


Sorry, Batman, but that does not explain everything. But if you’ll allow me, I think I might be able to clear things up here. So, why do Superman and Batman go back in time to the Revolutionary War, where Superman frames Batman for witchcraft so that he can save him from being posessed by a genie that also knows karate?

Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.

This Summer…

The Zombie Pope

Nazi Werewolves

Eight Million Tons of Dynamite

And the Half-Vampire Private Eye Out To Settle Their Hash!



The Chronicles of Solomon Stone: Book One:
Enter: Solomon: Stone Me Deadly

Wrecking Your Face… Soon!

The Monday Meme: Grumpus Loves Betty

This may not come as a surprise to anyone, but I own a lot of comics.

It’s a pretty obvious fact that I’ve become acutely aware of over the past few days, since I’ve been moving my collection around into a new set of boxes, but what surprised me even more than the fact that I’ve got an entire run of John Ostrander’s Martian Manhunter series that I’ve never read a single issue of was the sheer amount of Archie books that I’ve got. Admittedly, I’ve been buying the entire line for more than a year now, but still: There’s a ton of ’em.

It stuck out to me so much that I decided–as any right-minded person would–to take a picture of myself holding a bunch of them and scowling and, for reasons that were obvious at the time, send it to a bunch of my pals:



Incidentally, if it looks like I never sleep, it’s because… well, probably because I’m up late writing about the Bat-Witch or something every night.

Kevin Church was the first to respond with an image that provided tonight’s title:



Next up, Mark Hale casts aspersions on the motivating force behind my Riverdalean obsessions:



Then Dave Lartigue decided to throw in a little of the urban flava that we’ve come to expect from the ISB:



The possibilities are endless. Join us, won’t you?

Trial of the Bat-Witch!

Every now and then, I’ll run across a story that I am convinced is The Craziest Thing Ever Published.

It happened when I read the issue of Metamorpho where he fights off a two-foot tall galactic conqueror by using a guitar that shoots laser beams; it happened when I read about the little man with a radio that lived in Sun Boy’s ankle and spied on the Legion; and it happened–of course–in the story that brought us both Bizarro Computo and Hate Face. And each time, I found something that was even more nuts to fixate on for a few weeks.

But this time? I don’t know if anything’ll ever top this:



Why is Superman hanging with a bunch of Puritans and accusing Batman of consort with the Author of All Lies? Because Bob Kanigher. That’s why.

Yes, springing from the pen of madness itself with pencils by the late, great Ross Andru is 1969’s World’s Finest #186, wherein Kanigher apparently read The Crucible and decided that it just didn’t have enough super-heroes, a theory that a sixteen year-old Christopher J. Sims would later pose in Ms. McDonald’s 10th grade English class. Unfortunately, this one’s actually a two-parter that ends in WF #187, which I couldn’t find, but I think there’s enough here to be getting on with.

The whole thing gets started at–where else?–Stately Wayne Manor, where we find Bruce Wayne brushing up on his family history with a volume about Revolutionary War hero “Mad” Anthony Wayne, a choice of recreation that, by the sheer coincidence that made up a good three quarters of the storytelling back in the ’60s, is going to be important in about three pages.

In fact, no sooner has he finished reminiscing aloud about his famous Redcoat-hating ancestor than Commissioner Gordon gives him a ring on the hotline, asking him to guard a priceless bust that’s just been donated by an anonymous collector, because apparently, crime had been completely eradicated by this point in history. Of course, due to the fact that the businesses of Gotham City are staffed entirely by incompetent maroons, his services are rendered unnecessary when the curator drops the bust–which has been covered in a sheet and never seen by anyone, including the museum staff, before it went on public display–and shatters it into a million pieces.

Clearly, this is a job for Superman.


(Click for a larger image)


The way I see it, there are essentially two possibilities here: A), that whomever sculpted said bust went through the trouble of carving out an exact duplicate of Anthony Wayne’s head, then (somehow) made a Batman mask out of marble and managed to fit it over; or B), which will seem far more likely after the next few pages, that Superman’s just messing with Batman. Either way, the fact that Superman shows Gotham’s museum-going public that Batman looks an awful lot like Bruce Wayne underneath his mask is never brought up again.

Needless to say, this sparks Batman’s curiosity, so after Superman whips up a couple of Colonial outfits out of Wayne Manor’s drapes–no, really–it’s off on a trip through the Time Barrier to Colonial New England, which somehow manages to be slightly less historically accurate than, say, Colonial Williamsburg. No sooner have they landed, however, then they are immediately mistaken for British spies–probably because Batman’s drapes were made of a soft lavender, when everybody knows that earth tones were in during the summer of ’75–and attacked by “Mad” Anthony himself:



The World’s Greatest Detective, ladies and gentlemen.

Oh, and then Batman fights a horse:



During the scuffle, Anthony “Ol’ Stabby” Wayne manages to rip Superman’s Colonial outfit, and gets the idea from Superman’s red cape that he’s fighting a couple of redcoats, which leads Our Heroes to the completely logical conclusion that they’ll be far more inconspicuous if they just wander around in their super-hero outfits. The side effect of all this?

The Single Greatest Panel Of All Time:


I’m going to play Hamlet! See? S For Shakespeare!


Sadly, all copies of the Eighth Folio version of Hamlet, which included Laertes seeking vengeance as “a Bat-Man,” were lost to the ages.

The townspeople are pretty easy to convince, but to be fair, they’re a little distracted by the fact that they’ve got a witch trial going on, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that they’re actually living almost a full century after the famous Salem witch trials, but hey, they’ve got a long way to go before they get TV, and there’s got to be something to kill the time, right?

The lady in question–as is so often the case with this sort of thing–is actually completely innocent of witchcraft, a fact Batman is able to instantly determine from the evidence of her astonishing hotness.



Rather than let Sylvia–the soaking wet blonde in the previous image–die, Superman leaps into action faster than the eye can see, biting through the dunking stool in the hopes that the superstitious townsfolk will leap–however illogically–to the conclusion that she was freed by an underwater serpent. Seriously. That’s his plan. And amazingly, it works, although it doesn’t quite solve the problem of keeping a woman tied to a plank of wood underwater from drowning.

No, that’s the kind of thing that requires a Batman, and once he drags her to the shore and unties her, she rewards him with some good ol’ fashioned 18th Century makeouts, thus proving that every romance novel cover I have ever seen is 100% Accurate. Superman finds his attempts to get on some of that, however, totally shot down:



That is just how Batman rolls.

Superman doesn’t take this sort of thing lying down though, and while Batman’s off making time with Sylvia in a tavern, Supes sets out to have his best friend convicted of witchcraft and burned at the stake. How? By dyeing his costume and flying around on a broom and using Super-Ventriloquism to make it look like a black cat was talking to him, thus reminding us all that when it comes to Silver-Age Dicketry, nobody does it better than the Last Son of Krypton.



The townspeople immediately find Batman guilty and sentence him to be burned at the stake at noon the next day. Thus, Batman is left in the stocks to contemplate his impending death, and since he apparently forgot that he’s fucking Batman and could free himself from an 18th century pillory in less time than it takes me to make a sandwich, things are looking pretty grim for the Caped Crusader.

Is there anyone–anyone–who could help?!



Yes, Benjamin Franklin shows up, and hits on the brilliant idea of freeing Batman from the stocks by tying a kite to the lock and waiting for lightning to strike it. One can assume that after failing that, he would’ve attempted to spring Bats by burning him out with a pot-bellied stove, focusing light through a pair of bifocals, or banging a couple of French broads.

It doesn’t quite work out that way, though, and with Superman around to stop the lightning from reaching the lock, Franklin’s forced to call it a night and go back to founding the Post Office, leaving Batman to be burned at the stake in the next exciting issue.

But like I said, I don’t have that one, and after having my mind irrevocably shattered by the first appearance of the Batman/Ben Franklin team, I can only assume that everything works out okay. If I had to hazard a guess, though, I’d say that it involves a deception resulting in Anthony Wayne being mistaken for Batman, an appearance by Kryptonite that somehow pre-dates the explosion of Krypton, and the stunning revelation that Batman was making out with his own great great grandmother about five paragraphs ago.

Time Travel, folks: Never A Good Idea.