Friday Night Fights: Girl-On-Girl Action!

For two skull-cracking weeks, the ISB has remained silent during Friday Night Fights.

For two bone-shattering rounds, I’ve been sidelined from the Internet’s most violent throwdowns.

But tonight, with Bahlactus throwing down the challenge with a cat-themed beatdown of epic proportions, I’m returning in the only way I know how: By throwing in pretty girls punching each other in the face! Believe it:

“Never stop punching.”

 

 

“Never… ever… ever stop. Until you’re sure–absolutely sure–she’s not getting up again.”

 

 

Wait for it…

 

OH, SNAP!

 

Beat that, FNFers!

The Week In Ink: 5-10-07

And now, further evidence to support my theory that The Immortal Iron Fist is a thing of purest beauty:

 

 

That, my friends, is Danny Rand kicking a HYDRA soldier through a pneumatic subway train while his comrades look on, and that’s not even the most awesome thing Matt Fraction wrote this week! But can any amount of kicking even begin to approach the radiant genius that was last week’s Dark Xena? There’s only one way to find out, folks, and that means it’s time for the Internet’s Most Two-Fisted Comics Reviews, right here on the ISB!

This, for the record, is what I bought yesterday…

 

 

…and this, just between you and me, is what I thought about it:

 


 

Comics

 

Countdown #51: Hot on the heels of 52 is DC’s new weekly epic, and considering that it’s got Paul Dini running the show and guys like Sean McKeever and Adam Beechen writing good chunks of it, I’ve had pretty high expectations ever since it was announced. Until yesterday, that is, when it hit the shelves and landed with a resounding thud.

Of course, that might not be entirely Dini’s fault here. I’ve got my suspicions that–without even a week to separate the two–the start of Countdown‘s receiving the brunt of the reader fatigue brought on by the shaky, nonsensical ending of 52 and the utter mess that was World War 3, and while using the 52 logo for the numbering was a very clever gag for the cover, it doesn’t make it any easier to differentiate. Add to that the fact that it’s a) a first issue that b) tries to lay the groundwork for four or five different plotlines featuring c) a bunch of characters that, with the exception of Darkseid, I don’t really care about–and I’m looking at you here, Duela Dent–and the odds are stacked against it from the outset. Beyond that, it’s not glaringly bad in any way, and with another issue thudding into the racks next week and the promise of stories involiving characters I actually do like, it’ll be easy to give it another chance. At this point, though, I’m really not holding out much hope.

Well, except for Jimmy Olsen vs. the Joker. Surely that’s pretty much foolproof, right?

 

Cover Girl #1: The more astute readers among you may recognize this one as being co-written by comics blogger and Friend of the ISB Kevin Church (alongside “Hollywood” Andrew Cosby), and while Kevin’s got a few of Boom!’s What Were They Thinking remix scripts under his belt, this one marks his debut as the scripter of a more serious title. So needless to say, I was really, really hoping to be able to tear it apart tonight, thus preserving my source for free advice on coding my notoriously cranky site layout.

The problem with that theory, though, is my commitment to a relative amount of honesty when it comes to my reviews, and aside from the fact that Rachel’s pants aren’t nearly as tiny in the interiors as they are on Rafael Albuquerque’s slick cover, there’s not a lot to have a problem with here. The story’s immediately engaging, following failing actor Alex Martin as he rescues a woman from a firey car accident and is promptly rewarded with fame, riches, and a few attempted murders. It’s zippy and well-paced for the most part, and Martin comes off as likeable right from the start as he vents his frustrations on an automated phone tree, and the only part I didn’t particularly care for was the last page, where Rachel Dodd–the “girl” of the title and Alex’s new bodyguard–shows up and the issue comes to an abrupt end, which is sort of a necessary evil when it comes to introducing a lead character as a last-page reveal. Of course, it pretty much makes up for it by also featuring this panel:

 

 

Now that’s how you hook ’em.

 

Gen13 #8: He’s taken out super-heroes, super-villains, and entire armies singlehandedly, but apparently, the Midnighter is utterly stymied by the whining of a petulant teenager.

I kid, but there’s probably more truth to that than I’d like to admit, so I’ll be honest here: At this point, I’m just buying Gen13 because in theory, I should like it a lot. I like Gail Simone, and as I thoroughly chronicled back on ISB Classic, I really like Gen13, and I think that may actually be the problem here. Eight issues into the original run, the heavy-handed stories about growing up isolated and only having each other to turn to had pretty much been thrown by the wayside in favor of stories about fighting dinosaurs and pirates, and while those sorts of plotlines would’ve been a perfect match for the slapstick panache Simone used on Agent X–which had its share of well-done serious moments mixed in–she seems to want to go in a direction where everything’s really super serious and built around teenage rebellion rather than teenage fun.

Not that it doesn’t have the fun stuff in it, either, and in fact, this issue’s got the best gags of the run thus far, but I’m already using up a lot of my hope on Countdown, so holding out for Gen13 to get better in a story where it crosses over with Welcome to Tranquility–another one that I’m buying purely out of brand loyalty to Simone despite the fact that it leaves me pretty cold–might just be turning out to be more effort than it’s worth.

 

Immortal Iron Fist #5: So not to spoil anything, but in this issue, we find out that Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, has to battle the Immortal Warriors of the Seven Lost Cities while learning new techniques from a magical book made from the scale of a dragon that resonates with the power of his kung fu, and that means that essentially, this is the script to what would be the most awesome video game ever made… and I could not be happier with it.

Seriously, you might as well just throw in a handful of Magic Crystals and a kidnapped princess into that plot, but I could barely type that sentence for being so excited about it. And with good reason: Brubaker and Fraction know exactly what they’re doing with this thing, building up a mythology around the City of K’un L’un and spinning it out into its own awesome corner of the Marvel Universe, and they’re doing it in the most fun way possible. Even better, they’ve got David Aja drawing it, and if there was any more proof needed that he’s the perfect artist to capture the street-level intensity of an Iron Fist comic, then this issue’s double-page splash should pretty much seal the deal. Come on: A book of kung fu written on a dragon scale. That’s awesome.

 

Marvel Zombies: Dead Days #1: Quick show of hands: Was there anyone who read the solicitation that promised a “top-secret double gatefold” homage cover by Arthur Suydam and didn’t immediately know it was going to be X-Men #1? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Not a lot of famous double-gatefold covers out there. I just can’t for the life of me figure out why they bothered to keep it secret.

Anyway, for those of you who read last year’s smash-hit Marvel Zombies, but were left with questions that you felt needed answers, well, here they are, and as always, there’s nothing that quite defeats the purpose as thoroughly as explaining a joke for forty-eight pages. Don’t get me wrong: I thought Marvel Zombies was a riot, and it’s safe to say that I liked it as much as the next guy, assuming that the next guy isn’t one of those habitual point-missers complaning about how Wolverine shouldn’t have been turned into a zombie because of his healing factor, but the events leading up to the story are largely inconsequential, and, quite frankly, come off as really boring. To be fair, there are a couple of good jokes (“You saying you don’t want any of this Jarvis meat?” springs to mind), but on the whole, there’s not a whole heck of a lot in here that’s worth reading. Worse, it looks like the immensely talented Sean Philips knocked the art out in about fifteen minutes, which is fine with me since I’d rather have that guy turning out new issues of Criminal than squeezing the last few dollars out of a craze on its way out the door.

 

Nova #2:

As much as I loved the fast-paced deep-space adventure of the first issue of Nova, this one tops it, if only for the scene where Nova–who just led the armies of half the universe in a life-or-death conflict that saw the collapse of galaxy-spaning empires and the death of billions at the hands of an unstoppable horde–calls out Tony Stark–who just led the Sentry and Tigra in a mild sequence of fistfights that ended when Wonder Man accidentally put a hole in somebody’s wall–for being a total punk. It’s the sort of thing that I think we can all be excited about.

But that’s not really what’s important about this issue, and that, my friends, is the shocking return of Diamondhead, whose skull resembles a crystalline phallus and whose real name is–according to his first appearance, Arch Dyker. That’s enough to keep the Comics Blogger Internet going for months.

 

Phonogram #6: You heard it here first, folks: Phonogram is the best mini-series of the year. Admittedly, there’s still quite a bit of 2007 to get through–including a stretch that’ll see Fred Van Lente’s MODOK’s 11–but I honestly can’t imagine myself enjoying anything else quite like I’ve loved this comic, and this is the issue that made sure of it.

It’s not really about the music, either–although it certainly didn’t hurt that I’ve listened to and loved most of the stuff that Kieron Gillen references in the footnotes–but just the idea of a guy who has to literally fight to keep his own personality, even when he knows that his best years are behind him and that he’d probably be better off as someone else and that–to be honest–it’s not that great a personality to begin with just appeals to me on a basic level regardless of the context, and Gillen and McKelvie pull it off amazingly well. Add to that the fact that everybody gets the happy ending that they deserve, and you’ve got a book that I love every single part of.

Also, on a purely personal note, this issue actually marks the first time I’ve gotten one of Gillen’s references before it was explained, but really, when you toss out a reference to a song about kung fu movies that was used under the closing credits to Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx, I’m pretty much the exact target audience. And if that didn’t put my tastes in music-themed mystical adventures about introspection and self-identity into enough context to be highly dubious, then the next review probably will:

 

ISB BEST OF THE WEEK

 

Punisher War Journal #7: So the Punisher knocks out a freakin’ bull with a two-by-four in this issue, and that’s still not the best thing that happens.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Look, I’m a guy with pretty specific tastes, I know, and as much as I like to consider myself a thinking man’s comics reviewer (see above), I think it’s become painfully clear by this point that I am all about the visceral reaction that comes from well-deserved violence, so believe me when I say that Frank Castle infiltrating a gang of Neo-Nazis led by the Hatemonger with the promise to shoot him in the face probably skews a little bit more towards me than anyone who’s going to be reading this. I know this. But I would be flat-out lying to you if I said that this issue–which is done with all the glorious, over-the-top style that you’d have to expect from a story where the Punisher starts dressing up like Captain America–was not one of the most entertaining, fun, and downright exciting comics I have ever read. Right from the recap page that promises the “all-new, all-racist Hate-Monger” to a last panel that had me laughing from the sheer badass dialogue and wild-eyed sincerity from the Punisher.

Also–and I might have mentioned this–he knocks out a freakin’ bull with a two-by-four:

A NAZI Bull. Sweet Christmas, I love this comic.

 

RexLibris #8: It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned the world’s toughest librarian, but while we’re on the subject, I feel compelled to point out that this issue opens with Rex kicking zombie Nazis (or is that Nazi zombies?) right in the face with a gun in one hand and a machete in the other, and that’s one of the many reasons why it’s the best issue of the series thus far. It could be that I’m still on a high from Frank pulling an X-Treme Hemingway up there mixed with this issue’s all-action premise, but while Rex Libris has always been a book with a concept so high that its execution almost has to fall short, this issue hit its stride perfectly. It’s highly entertaining stuff, and if you get a chance to check it out, do so.

 

Tales of the Unexpected #8: A few months ago, I mentioned that the only thing that would qualify as unexpected in this book would be if anything had actually bothered to happen in the Spectre story, and while the basic logic behind that statement might be sound, it turns out that there was something even more surprising about this book. I’ve said it before, but my opinion of Brian Azzarello as a writer dropped sharply over the past couple of years thanks to a lack of interest in 100 Bullets and what I found to be pretty incomprehensible stories in the pages of Superman and Batman, so I wasn’t going into this thing with any hope to enjoy his story. Eight months later, and I’m hoping he gets a new ongoing out of this thing.

Of course, it’s not all Azzarello. Cliff Chiang’s art has been absolutely phenomenal in this thing, with gorgeous pages–including one last month that featured both OMAC and Jimmy Olsen, thus qualifying it as my favorite page ever–and some of the cleanest work in comics today. It’s astonishingly good stuff, and if it’ll help me get more of it, I’d just like to point out once again that right now, I’m paying $3.99 just to read the backup. I’d get a regular series in a heartbeat.

 


 

The Riverdale Experiment

Betty and Veronica Double Digest #151: For those of you who don’t remember from the brief hullaballoo when it was announced a few months back, this is the issue featuring debut of the “new look” Betty and Veronica, and while it does actually feature somebody getting kicked–which surprised the heck out of me, I assure you–I can’t say that I’m really that into it. The problem isn’t my attachment to the Dan DeCarlo/Stan Goldberg “house” style that the Archie books primarily use, though, it’s the opposite: I don’t think they went far enough.

I don’t mean to knock penciller Steven Butler or anything, but in going for “modern,” the story loses the distinctive character of the DeCarlo designs, but with nothing as visually interesting to replace them, whereas going in a more stylized direction, like Tania Del Rio’s manga-style Sabrina stories, would’ve probably had a better shot. Even Andrew Pepoy’s Katy Keene stories have more flair to them, and he’s essentially drawing a paper doll for eight pages. Of course, that’s just based off the first part, so maybe it’d be wise to hold out judgement until Archie and Jughead show up. This, if you’ll remember, is generally my standing policy for all aspects of life.

As for Melanie J. Morgan’s story, “Bad Boy Trouble,” it features Veronica, Betty, and Midge–tragically stranded somewhere between Emo and New Wave–encountering Nick St. Clair, the eponymous bad boy, who rides a motorcycle and–gasp!–sneaks into a movie without paying. The best part, though, is when Betty tells him that’s wrong, and he replies by telling her he’s done a lot worse in his time, giving the impression that he may in fact have shot a man in Midvale just to watch him die. Sadly, the story doesn’t involve Wendy Weatherbee or the Elevenaire (who makes his shocking return in this week’s Veronica, incidentally), and thus remains pretty uninteresting at the start.

 


 

And that’s the week, and now you know why I tend not to review my Archie books every week. As for the rest of you Jugheads, the usual deal applies: If you’ve got any questions about something I read, didn’t read, or just want to talk about how great Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Stormwatch PHD, or Y – The Last Man were this week–or if you suspect, like I do, that I’m missing a page of dialogue from Jack of Fables–feel free to leave a comment or hit me up at the email address in the sidebar.

Seriously, though: Wendy Weatherbee and the Elevenaire have got to get together.

Notes on the First Draft of Spider-Man 3, And Other Items of Interest

Spider-Gram for a J. Jonah Jameson?

 

 

If you haven’t already, head over to CRACKED.com and catch my latest effort as a contributing editor to America’s Only Humor Website, where I unearth Sony’s Notes on the First Draft of Spider-Man 3, in my first shot at the great series of articles originated by the hilarious Tim Kochenderfer.

My personal favorite:

P.59 –

While it is true that Kirsten will say anything we care to write down, a scene where Mary Jane turns to the camera and says “I, Kirsten Dunst, legally agree to have sex at least three times with Hollywood actor Ted Raimi” really doesn’t fit with the rest of the plot.

Incidentally, more information about Hollywood Actor Ted Raimi can be found in the pages of–you guessed it–Dark Xena.

 

Okay, now that the shameless self-promotion’s over, how about I turn the laser-like focus that is the ISB’s readership onto someone else for a change?

You guys like comics, right? I mean, that’s presumably why you’re here, so I think it’s a pretty safe assumption. And assuming you’re like me, you want more good comics, right? Well, right now, you’ve got a chance at getting just that.

 

 

My pal “Rad” Chad Bowers–whom longtime ISB readers may remember as the inspiration for my post on Superman and Batman’s Night Together–and artist Jerome Hinds have entered the Dimestore Productions “Small Press Idol” competition, and they’re looking to get some votes for the next round.

Their project’s called Danger Ace, and as Chad says, it’s a pulp action story of secret identities, Ernest Hemingway, and Zombie King Kong, and that’s just where it gets started. Seriously, I’ve known the guy for years, and if you give him half a chance, he will make some comics you want to read.

So give him half a chance, won’t you? All you have to do is hit up their forum, check it out, and if you like what you see, drop a simple reply with the word “YES.” You do have to register before you can vote, but as someone who threw his vote in the ring last night, I can assure you that it’s a pretty painless process.

And if you don’t like it, well, no harm done, and you’ve still got cheap jokes about Venom to fall back on. So get on it!

Chris vs. Previews: May, 2007, Round Two

I covered the major publishers in last night’s post, and while I think we can all agree that it was a Herculean effort on my part, that still leaves around four hundred pages of stuff to get through in tonight’s post, including this little gem from page 524:

 

Zounds! A Bomé figure that’s actually fully clothed! What other mysterious wonders lay in wait from the indy publishers and merchandise sections? Find out now!

 


 

Comics & Graphic Novels

 

P.239: Avatar Press, Inc.:
A few weeks back, Warren Ellis sent an email out on the Bad Signal where he offered to answer any three questions that “any comics website” cared to ask about his new retro-futurist mad science wingding, and while I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my opportunity to generate some relatively exclusive content for the ISB, I really should’ve jumped on and asked:

1. Does the K in “Doktor Sleepless” stand for “Kicks People In The Face?”

2. If so, will he kick them with an expert marriage of force, mass, and acceleration that each kick in and of itself will be an experiment of brutality so awesome that we learn new things about the universe from their perfect beauty?

3. Um, do you remember that part in NextWave where Devil Dinosaur tries to drink the champagne, but he can’t? That was awesome.

 

P. 268: Dynamite Entertainment:
Normally, this is where I’d call D.E. out on the fact that they’re soliciting nine comics this month with twenty-eight covers between them, but, well, how can I stay mad at the people who publish Dark Xena? Oh D.E., you are a delight!

P.298: Express Publications:

 

 

Parody Press Comics returns, setting their satirical sights on NBC’s tremendously popular TV show, Heroes! Meet Cheerleader Klair Bendit, Mohinder Night Shalaman, Internet Weathergirl Sniki Sanders, meek office-worker Hewoe Chaka-Khana, and the mixed-up Pastrami Brothers, as they go on a quest to save the world and find out the source of their crazy powers! This hilarious book is offere with two collectible first-issue covers–a “good Hewoes” version and a “bad Hewoes” version–shipped in a 50/50 ratio. Make sure this comic is on your list!

 

That sound you just heard? The deafening silence, shattered by your own choking sobs? That was the death of joy.

 

P.304: Fantagraphics Books:

CRACKED Editor Jay Pinkerton and I have an ongoing debate over whether Michael Kupperman or Evan Dorkin is the funniest man in comics, and while it’s a pretty moot point since they’re both pretty amazing, you can gather your own evidence here with the re-offer of Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle #1 and 2. They are fantastic.

 

P.331: Oni Press:

Two years after the first one hit shelves, it looks like we’re finally getting the second installment of Sharknife, and that is awesome. Corey Lewis somehow managed to boil video games and comics down to their purest form (which, as we all know at the ISB is fighting), crammed it into a universe where people have to get jacked up on stimulatnts to follow a game of International Kickball, and made a comic so fun that I’ve been looking forward to the second installment since about fifteen minutes after the first part hit the shelves. So that one’s a given.

What really caught my eye here, though, was Apocalipstix, by Ray Fawkes and the totally awesome Cameron Stewart, which looks to be something along the lines of Josie and the Pussycats meets The Road Warrior. And really, there’s nothing about that sentence that I don’t think is awesome.

 

P.353: Tokyopop:

Let’s be honest here, folks: Despite the fact that I can barely contain my excitement about the new volume of Yotsuba&! solicited back on p.217, I generally skip over the major manga publishers, and except for picking up DramaCon, Steady Beat, and Mail Order Ninja on a lark (and enjoying them), there’s not a lot that I’ve really wanted from Tokyopop in a long while.

Of course, every now and then something catches my eye:

 

 

That, my friends, is a solicitation for a comic where the main character fights everything. Normally, that’d be enough to get me on, but my Previews Order already boasts two hardcovers worth of Jack Kirby and a full notebook page of other stuff, so I’m still on the fence. And that means that for the first time ever, I’m leaving my comics buying habits up to you!

Should I Buy Bombos vs. Everything?
U-DECIDE!

Just leave a vote in the comments, but keep in mind that if I get it, I’m gonna have to write about it.

P.368: Top Shelf Productions:

And now, a glimpse at the thought process that brings you Jeffrey Brown’s The Incredible Change-Bots: “Hey, you know what would make the Transformers better? If they stood around coughing and whining about all the girls they have sex with!”

P.374 – Viper Comics:

Again, I don’t really have a joke for this one, but considering that I love The MiddleMan and yet completely missed the solicitation for v.3 on my first flip-through, I thought I’d point it out for everyone. I mean, c’mon Josh Howard, I know ad space in Previews ain’t cheap, but wasn’t it popular enough to get a better space than the inside corner opposite a full-page ad for some blue dude with a compound bow?
 


 

Apparel

This month, the Apparel section isn’t the non-stop barrel of laughs (or “laffs,” as I like to call them), but mixed in amongst painfully unfunny Clerks II merchandise modeled by Greg From Accounting’s sister and a Batman shirt with a bunch of skulls (which apparently represent all those people that Batman doesn’t kill, or something) comes the funniest thing in the entire catalog:

 

 

“Still celebrates the American spirit.” Just… Just wow.

Also, for those of you who thought the “Jimmy Olsen Must Die!” t-shirt made it look a little too much like Jimmy was peeking out from the wearer’s pants, then allow me to introduce you to a shirt that didn’t bother to think that little problem through at all:

 

 

Never before has Darkseid’s helmet design been so terribly, terribly inappropriate.

 


 

And that is the kind of joke I like to close on. If anything stuck out to you this month, or if you just want to advise me to give Bombos vs. Everything a shot, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I’m gonna try to find a pair of pants that has the lower half of Jimmy Olsen’s face on it.

Uh, I mean… Oh forget it.

Chris vs. Previews: May 2007, Round One

A new month brings many things, and along with the relaunch of the ISB–which I plan on continuing to reference in the introductions to every post I write for the next six months or so–the flipping of the calendar can mean only one thing: The New Previews Catalog.

 

 

That’s right, folks: Strap yourselves in for another two-day thrill ride as the ISB takes on another six hundred pages of stuff you don’t need, yet really, really want! Tonight, it’s me up against the major publishers, and it all starts now!

 


 

Dark Horse Comics

P.45 – Empowered v.2: It goes without saying that I’m ordering this thing, but I’ve got to say, I’m pretty surprised that it’s coming out. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that I’m surprised Dark Horse would publish it or anything–since getting the phenomenal Adam Warren to do two hundred pages of a hot super-heroine with low self-esteem and a perpetually shredded skin-tight costume getting tied up and having sex is pretty much a license to print money–it’s just that I’m surprised that it’s coming out so soon after the first one. Admittedly, “soon” in this context means “around six months,” but as someone with a jones for Warren’s Dirty Pair like a heroin addict on his third day of rehab, I’m used to waiting around a little longer for my fix.

 

P.49 – Kotobukiya Star Wars Episode III Jedi Moe Howard Vinyl Model Kit:

“Why for two cents, I’d turn to the Dark Side!”

“Oh yeah? Here’s your two cents!”

“Well I raised my price!”

“WHY I OUGHTTA…”

 

DC Comics

P.71 – All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #6: From the solicitation copy from this, the second or third time this book’s been solicited:

Plus, Black Canary isn’t the only one of Gotham’s fairer sex to be aroused into action by the Dark Knight’s war on crime!”

Now, not to nitpick here or anything–because Lord knows that nobody ever does that on the comics blogger internet–but I’m pretty sure the word you’re looking for is “roused.” I mean, “aroused” makes it sound like Frank Miller just writes about a bunch of who–

… Huh. Maybe that was the right word.

 

P.80 – DC/Top Cow: Crossover Classics TP: Okay, now I know they’re using the wrong words: There is no way anybody would apply the word “classic” to JLA/Cyberforce on purpose.

P.107: Alan Moore: The Complete WildC.A.T.S TP: No joke for this one (unless you count the fact that a friend of mine’s been two issues short of having this run for about a year and a half now); I just wanted to mention that Alan Moore’s WildC.A.T.S is a heck of a lot of fun and well worth thirty bucks. I mean, it’s worth fifteen just to find out that Grifter has a brother named “Max Cash.”

P.133: Happy-Ass New Frontier Action Figures:

 

Image Comics

P.140: Jack Kirby’s Silver Star HC: I’ll level with you, folks: My actual interest in sitting down to meet Morgan Miller: Homo Geneticus! is virtually nil, but there’s no way I could pass up something that advertises itself as having “explosive action and ham-fisted romance” while still justifying my purchase of Jack Kirby’s Galactic Bounty Hunters.

 

P.147 – The Bakers: Babies & Kittens HC: For those of you who have ever wondered what Family Circus would be like if it was, y’know, actually good instead of a mind-shattering glimpse into a world of madness and tedium, I can highly recommend the work of America’s Greatest Living Cartoonist, Kyle Baker.

P.165 – The Walking Dead #41: And now, to commemorate this month’s winner of the Economy Of Language Award, the ISB proudly presents the full text of this issue’s solicitation:

Death surrounds them.

 

P.179 – Madam Mirage #3: The 25-cent preview for Madame Mirage actually comes out later this week at finer and less-reputable comic book stores everywhere, and while I’m still holding out hopes for something that approaches the sheer joy of Dark Xena–the new Road Houseian standard by which all other comics must be judged–I’ve got to say: Any comic that promises a story that “radically changes the direction of the series and everything you think you know” about the main character before the first issue comes out is probably the most awesome thing ever, one way or the other.

 

Marvel Comics

P.20-24: Annihilation: Conquest Mini-Series: I managed to avoid Annihilation entirely, but I’ve been enjoying Nova enough to want to check it out, especially with Christos Gage (of Stormwatch PHD and the incredibly fun Union Jack) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (of The Middleman) writing two of them.

Heck, I was even on the fence about Keith Giffen’s Star Lord mini-series, even though I don’t usually like his “cosmic” style stuff. And then they threw in… this guy:

 

And that’s when I knew it was on ’til the break of dawn.

P.37 – Immortal Iron Fist #7:

 

 

It’s probably worth assuming that I’m the only person who saw this cover and thought of Iron Fist’s floating skull rolling a saving throw on a giant spectral d20, right? Right.

 

P.59 – The Champions #1: Despite the fact that Marvel’s run into a bit of a snag over the fact that they don’t actually own the name “The Champions” anymore, a revival of the team that made its name fighting giant super-strong retarded hobos and a Nazi made of bees by Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson that sounds like the spiritual successor to Milligan and Allred’s X-Statix? Yeah, that’s about as close to a dream-come-true comic as I’m ever going to get, unless you count…

 

 

P.66 – MODOK’s 11 #1: So yeah. Marvel’s pretty much just putting ’em out for me now.

P.87 – Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death #1: When DBPro editor Sean J. Jordan first mentioned this series in the comments section of my Annotated Anita Blake #6, I misread the title as Anita Blake: FIST OF DEATH and immediately assumed that it would be everyone’s favorite pigment-challenged resurrectionist duking it out with the undead on the mean streets of Chinatown, but I think it’s safe to say that’s not what’s going to happen.

Sean, call me. We can work something out here.

 


 

And that’s it for the major publishers! Of course, there’s other stuff too, so if you’re wondering what I thought of Pajama Thor and a huge freakin’ hardcover of Devil Dinosaur, feel free to ask.

Otherwise, be here tonight as I hit the rest of the catalog and brave the grim and cheerless realm known as… “The Apparel Section!” DO YOU DARE MISS IT?!

The Deadly Precision Of… The Olsen Thrust!

You know, the ISB’s been here at the new site for a few days now, and while things finally seem to be settling down with WordPress and the new design, it just doesn’t quite seem like “home” yet. I don’t know why, but it feels like I’m missing something…

Something… awesome.

Oh, right: Jimmy Olsen stabbing people with a sword while riding a horse.

For the record, that all happens in Otto Binder and Curt Swan’s “Jimmy Olsen, The Boy Swordsman” from Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #108, which also includes a Brewster’s Millions-esque tale wherein everyone’s favorite cub reporter has to spend a million bucks in order to get another million from an eccentric miser and, as you might expect, spends the whole time dressed like a red-headed Thurston Howell.

This one, however, opens up with Jimmy in a museum that apparently lets anyone with a signal watch waltz in and start pawing the merchandise, which is how he ends up accidentally preventing a robbery by slashing a would-be crook’s belt. The fact that he nearly kills a man while swinging a three hundred year-old rapier in a crowded room doesn’t stop anybody from applauding his quick thinking, which probably sent the wrong message to the kids of the Silver Age, but hey, look on the bright side: Jimmy’s got a new hobby!

Through a series of amazing coincidences–which, really, is how everything happened back in Metropolis in 1968–Jimmy impresses Lois and Perry to the point wher ethey introduce him to a visitor from Valdania, “the tiny kingdom where Swordsmanship has never died out.”

At this point, you can probably see where this is going.

Jimmy ends up heading out to Valdania, one of twenty-six Silver Age monarchies whose citizens have steadfastly refused to adopt modern technology to make for a more interesting story, where he hooks up with Prime Minister Kandu and performs a few sword tricks for the king, which is right about the time the sotry takes a sharp left into crazytown.

See, while he’s performing, the notorious criminal swordsman known as “The Ace of Swords” busts onto the scene, completely bypassing the King’s security guards depsite the fact that he’s wearing a purple jerkin and an orange hat with a big white feather, waving his sword around, and threatening to assassinate the king.

So Jimmy kills him.

Under normal circumstances, a hero killing someone in the Silver Age DC Universe was a pretty grim situation, usually resulting in exile from Earth or being drummed out of the Legion or something. For Jimmy, though, the thrill of taking another man’s life is instantly addictive, and with some encouraging words from Kandu, he agrees to hunt down and murder the enemies of the kingdom for money.

What follows is the Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen equivalent of that scene in Tombstone where Kurt Russel and his moustache go on a rampage, but with more windmills and slightly less Sam Elliot. Jimmy takes out “Black Blade” and “Flashing Saber,” which results in the King rewarding Jimmy with the entire treasury and sending him off to the airport.

But then, surprising… well, nobody, it turns out that the whole thing was a sham cooked up by Kandu to steal the country’s money. So let’s check the ol’ scorecard here. This Sinister Master Plan required Kandu to..

  1. Travel to America from a country that doesn’t believe in modern technology, like, you know, airplanes.
  2. Locate a suitably gullible patsy who was under the impression that he had natural talent for swordplay.
  3. Stage the deaths of three notorious outlaws.
  4. Convince the king to reward said patsy with the entire treasury.
  5. And finally…

  6. Team up with outlaws to murder said patsy, who will hopefully not be the best friend of someone who can fly and shoot death rays from his eyes.

Clearly, there is no other possible way that Kandu, the Prime Minster of Valdania, could’ve gained access to his country’s wealth.

Needless to say, Superman ends up showing up to save Jimmy from being skewered, everything works out okay, and Jimmy vows to give up swordplay. But he’ll always remember that it’s the Olsen Thrust… that really drives you insay-ay-ay-ane.

That joke sent in by Mark Hale, age 29! Let’s give him a big hand, everybody!