The Only Review You Need This Week





That’s right, folks: This week saw the release of Jack Kirby’s OMAC in DC’s Omnibus format, and I’ve got to say: It’s absolutely gorgeous.

As you can tell from the cover above, it was designed along the same lines as Fourth World books, and while I would’ve liked to see a cover with OMAC hurling a dismembered sex doll at the reader–since, you know, that’s what’s on the cover to #1–the recolored version of the color to #6 just pops right out with the action that’s typical of the series.

Plus, just like the Fourth World books, the cover beneath the dust-jacket is a huge blowup of the original page:



As for the content… Well, I’ve made my feelings about OMAC pretty clear over the years, and while the Fourth World stories are probably his best work, it’s not much of a stretch to say that OMAC is my favorite Jack Kirby comic, and definitely one of my favorite series of all time. And while it has the same lightweight paper as the Fourth World books–which, incidentally, they avoided with the all-glossy, all-awesome Starman Omnibus–getting a vibrant, hardcover treatment of pages like this



…just makes me happy.

Still, despite the top-notch presentation, I’m sad to say that the OMAC Omnibus is still incomplete. The issues are all there–although the Starlin stories from Warlord and the DC Comics Presents issue are still uncollected in trade–but unfortunately, it lacks the text pieces that ran in the original series.

That might seem like a pretty small thing, but to be honest, the text piece in #1 is one of my favorite parts of the series, if only to see how precient Kirby really was:

You and I know darn well that we’re eating hamburgers and drinking milk shakes in a world where missiles are hunting missiles, where people are cruising 12,000 feet below the sea, and computers in Chicago are exchanging the time of day with computers in New York.

Any hatful of concepts today would flip out Captain Nemo and turn Dr. Frankenstein into a depressed catatonic.

Think about OMAC: If fantasy can become reality, what kind of man will it take to contend with the World That’s Coming?

Aside from the text piece in Devil Dinosaur–which, by the way, is included in that omnibus–where Kirby said that he was depicting historical fact right before the aliens showed up to fight the cavemen and super-dinosaurs, it’s probably my favorite thing he ever wrote.

So, as a service to you, the burgeoning OMAC fan, allow me to present the text piece from OMAC #1 in its entirety:


(Click to Brother-Eye size it)




Reviews for the rest of the week’s comics will be up tomorrow. Not only did pretty much EVERYTHING come out this week, but despite what you may have heard from Godless heathen Canadians, comics shipped a day late.

Unintended Consequences Revisited

Last week, commenter Jason asked if I was planning on doing anything to celebrate the one-year anniversary of, and while the thought had occurred to me, I really didn’t think it was all that necessary. After all, I already celebrate the ISB’s Awesomeversary every year on January 6. I even buy a cake every year, and when you get right down to it, that’s just weird.

Clearly, pastries aren’t necessary this time around, but a full year of the New ISB ought to get some kind of mention, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to go back over a classic. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Single Greatest Comic Book Of All Time:



Yeah, I know: Not only have I talked about this comic before, but I tend to talk about it–or at least one scene–at every available opportunity. Still, the last time I actually went into detail about Batman #425 was more than three years ago, and even that post lacked the benefit of a scanner.

So let me set the scene here: Imagine that you’re six years old, and in addition to various hair and polo shirt-related issues, you have a problem. You’re spending the Thanksgiving break at your grandparents’ house in Ohio, six hundred miles away from your NES, and those guys don’t even have cable. So with boredom setting in, you wander across the street to the convenience store with your dad to get some comics to kill the time, and you see that thing up there along with the previous issue.

Now at this point, I’d read a couple of comics before, and I knew a little about Batman from Superfriends and the ’66 TV show, but that did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the mind-blowing I was about to receive. This thing was like a match to the powderkeg that was my brain, and believe it or not, it wasn’t just about the car battery. But we’ll get to that in a second.

So here’s the plot:



Someone’s kidnapped Jim Gordon and sent a letter to Batman demanding that he show up with Robin in tow and no police. Why? Because in the last issue Robin fucking killed a guy.

Oh, relax: He was a total cokehead scumbag who slapped around his girlfriend until she committed suicide, but thanks to his father’s diplomatic immunity, Batman couldn’t bring him down legally. So at the end of the story, Batman shows up to Fellipe’s penthouse to find Robin on the balcony looking down at Fellipe, who just took a 20 story dive to the cement, we get one of the few true moments of Jason Todd being a total badass:



Did I mention I read this story of domestic violence, drug abuse and vigilante justice when I was six?

Anyway, once the handy two-page recap’s out of the way, we find out that Batman recognizes the junkyard where they’re keeping Gordon from the one photograph–because, you know, he’s Batman–and thus he sets off to settle the score without telling Jason, who stows away Speed Racer style in the trunk of the Batmobile. And this is where it starts to get good.

Come to think of it, every story I’ve read about Batman going to a junkyard to save Robin is awesome. I mean, admittedly, there’s only two, but still. It’s nice to have a track record.

So Batman gets to the spot where Jose’s holding Gordon, and at this point, this issue totally turns into Die Hard In A Landfill, Starring Batman. And there is nothing about that that doesn’t sound awesome.

Really, though, you’ve got to wonder what the hell Jose was thinking here. Admittedly, he’s bereaved, but the guy’s a career diplomat and he’s trying to set a deathtrap for Batman. You’d think one of his pals would sit him down and explain that Batman wrestles a tiger while escaping a crushing wall trap before breakfast. But alas. Jose was… inconsolable.

So for the next nine pages, Batman just beats the living crap out of everybody he comes across, dispatching them with what I can only describe as cold enjoyment. And then this happens:



That’s it. That’s the moment. That’s where the ISB was born, although it wouldn’t actually show up for another seventeen years. You can draw a line straight to the comics I read today and everything makes sense: The way Batman casually looks around for something to use, the delight he takes in “getting improvisational,” the thug’s reaction and the grin Batman’s got in the shadow, the way the guy just crumples. You don’t hear a whole lot about Mark Bright, but man. That is a beautiful page.

But here’s the thing: The way I talk about the car battery and how much I love it, you’d think that was the climax of the fight scene, but it’s not: That’s the second guy. There’s nine more thugs before Batman even gets to Jose and his bodyguards.

So let’s see how it works out for them:



Ah, the ol’ make-em-shoot-each-other trick. What’s interesting about this one, though, is that Batman’s pulling off a six foot vertical leap. That’s like two feet higher than Jordan! What, did he spend a season with the Harlem Globetrotters when he was traveling the world to learn his Batman skills?

Of course he did. He’s Batman.




The dreaded Bat-Backhand, with Aparo Effect.




Oh man, this one is awesome. Three guys, all armed with Uzis, and Batman just takes them out like it’s nothing. I mean, that’s a right-left-right-left ya toothless. And then you say “Goddamn, he’s ruthless.”

In fact, I’m pretty sure I did say that. And that Ice Cube wrote that line about this comic.

But the most awesome thing about this one? Look closely and you’ll see that Batman has knocked out the third guy before the first one hits the ground.




Whoops! Dart in your neck!

And that’s all of them. After that, all that’s left is to confront Jose and his team of bodyguards. Of course, I should note that through this entire sequence, Batman is completely chilled out. Even when Jose’s got a gun in his face, his narration is “This won’t be easy at close range. I’ll probably end up taking a bullet or two.” It’s so matter of fact that Batman kicking the hell out of these guys is already a foregone conclusion.

Fortunately, taking a bullet isn’t necessary: Robin shows up to provide a distraction, Batman frees Gordon with a couple of Batarangs and takes out the bodyguards–who go down about as quick as you’d expect–and then, for some reason, Batman decides to climb up a stack of cars.

Why? I don’t know. He’s Batman. Just roll with it.




And you know what? Until I re-read it this week, I never realized that the sound of a stack of automobiles crashing down on a man is “KAR-TUNKK!!”

Truly, this is the comic that keeps on giving.


Special thanks to BitterAndrew for help with this one.

The Unmitigated Radness of the Londinium Larcenies

If you don’t like the 1966 Batman TV show, then guess what? You’re a moron.

A pretty harsh judgment, I know, but I’m pretty sure that if you ask my less-angry peers–or even my frequently more angry–the response is going to be the same: Batman is stone cold awesome, and that is a fact.

Because after all, this is the show that brought us the undeniable beauty that is Surf Jams Joker.



Surf Jams Joker, people. Seriously.

But that’s not what brings us here tonight. I’ve recently been re-watching the series–through Completely Legal Means, which is no mean feat since, with the exception of the movie, it continues to be shockingly unavailable on DVD–and the first episodes I went for were the ones I liked the most as a kid: A three-parter where Batman and Robin head across the pond to Merrie Olde England! Uh, I mean… Londinium!



I’ve mentioned some of the more awesome aspects of the episode and its hand in my adolescence before, but what surprised me here was that unlike a lot of stuff that I’ve gone back to after my childhood, it was even better the second time.

Probably because I get all the sex jokes now.

Anyway, the whole thing gets started with a series of daring robberies in fogbound Londinium, including the theft of Her Majesty’s Priceless Snuffboxes, that end with the culprits getting away in a man-made fog. Clearly, this is the sort of problem that the conventional law enforcement of 1968 was ill-equipped to deal with, and so venerable Ireland Yard puts in the call to Gotham City, request the aid of Batman, and before long, the cast is on its way to the Olde Country.


Actual Quote: “What a pleasant surprise to find you and young Dick among our fellow passengers!”


Incidentally, despite Comsisioner Gordon’s reference to others, this appears to be the sum total of the ship’s passengers. And yet, they still can’t figure out Batman’s secret identity. No wonder they needed a super-hero.

Once the Dynamic Duo are across the sea and ashore–and sequestered in a rented manor house that happens to have its owns subterranean lair, complete with skeleton–it’s time to investigate our Special Guest Villains for the evening: Lord Marmaduke Ffogg and Lady Penelope Peasoup, of Ffogg Place, Ffoggshire.



Slightly of note is the fact that Lady Penelope is played (awesomely) by Glynis Johns, who’s probably better known for her role as Winifred Banks, the neglectful suffragette mother from Mary Poppins.

Of far more interest to a young Chris Sims, however, was the fact that Fogg Place doubles as a “posh girls’ finishing school,” in which the young ladies are actually trained as delinquent shopliftresses under the leadership of the blonde, accented, and be-miniskirted Lady Prudence:



Further explanation on that point should not be necessary. What matters, though, is that after about three minutes of Burt Ward’s overtly masculine charm, Prudence breaks down and reveals the whole sordid story behind Lord Ffogg’s school of shoplifting, while Batman’s elsewhere, having elected to take a tour of the school’s Judo studio and rare African Death Bee hive.

That’s right, folks: Delinquent martial artist schoolgirls and their deadly bees are a major plot point in the show I used to watch for at least an hour every day after school. Is it any wonder I turned out this way?

Anyway, after a minor altercation with the Ffoggs’ domestic help, wherein Batgirl makes her first butler-kicking appearance of the saga, Batman starts to suspect that Lord Ffogg might have a hand in the robberies. The truth, however, is even more terrifying, as the enemy is revealed at last to be…



Who else? Hippies!

Thus, one hippie-thrashing later, Batman emerges to find that Robin has been set upon and kidnapped by the Ffogg School Shoplifting Crew–who are consistently and slightly creepily referred to by the narrator as “the pretty little student bodies“–and while I know this is a bad thing to say this far into a post, this is where things start to get interesting.

Why? Because this is where we get our pretty much mandatory scene of Batgirl in bondage.



Okay, okay, hold on a second. Before you go running off to report me to When Fangirls Attack for being creepier than I actually am, allow me to point out that in and of itself, this isn’t the part that’s so interesting. Especially since, you know, that sort of thing happened to Babs pretty much every day back in the ’60s. No, it’s actually what it leads to that’s so awesome.

So here’s how it goes down: As you might expect, Batman eventually shows up to save the day, and while Robin’s dealing with the twin perils of death by bee-sting and collar-ruffled seduction…



…Batman sneaks into the dungeon to rescue Batgirl, and gives us the greatest fifteen seconds in televison history. This one’s going to work better if you actually see it for yourselves, so feel free to hit play and queue it up to 2:45 to witness the majesty.



For those of you who don’t want to watch, I’ll explain: In order to free Batgirl, Batman whips out his handy bat-file, gives her what is probably the most hilarious sex face of all time, and then essentially just starts fucking the shit out of the chain until the camera cuts away a few seconds later. Special Bonus: Watch closely as Yvonne Craig struggles to contain her laughter, then responds with a comedically seductive look of her own.

Truly, it is a beautiful thing.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it: Robin reveals that allowing himself to be stung by the African Death Bee was all part of his master plan to get back to the student bodies’ dorm room and gives them a stern dressing-down that causes them to change their ways, and eventually he, Batgirl and Batman punch enough people so that everything works out okay.

Thus, we all learn a valuable lesson: Batman and Robin are stone cold pimps.

And that’s real.