Harder, Blinder, Faster, Deafer

Those of you who have been paying attention might recall that a few months ago, Benito Cereno–who received a PhD in Awesomeology from a highly accredited university–pointed out a solicitation for a book called Helen Killer, and I promptly declared that this–a story where Helen Keller is given a machine by Alexander Graham Bell that not only lets her see and hear, but gives her super-human strength and agility that she uses to protect President McKinley–was the single greatest premise I have ever seen.

And that’s why I was pretty excited when I was contacted about getting a review copy from the publisher.

Excited, and pretty curious. After all, as much as I love that premise, I’ve read enough comics to know that a fantastic idea doesn’t always make for a fantastic comic, especially when it involves taking a look at historical figures in what I think we can agree are pretty unusual circumstances.

For every Tales From the Bully Pulpit or Five Fists of Science, there are other projects that fall flat because they take themselves too seriously and try too hard to come off as grim and badass. So while I’ve been pretty outspoken in my support of the concept, I’ve been withholding judgment on the actual product.

Now, though, I can say it with certainty: Helen Killer is awesome.

The story’s presented as a serious affair, but there’s an underlying self-awareness that Andrew Kriesberg and JLD Rice bring to the table that showcases the fantastic goofiness of the project. I mean, for one thing, the review copy included an extended solicitation where you find out that Bell’s Omnicle also grants Helen the power to “see into men’s souls” (which is rad), and for another, this is a comic where Helen Keller has berserker rages.

I’ll repeat that, as it bears repeating: This is a comic where Helen Keller has berserker rages.



So awesome.

It all plays out in the first issue like a tribute to Man Without Fear, and when you find out that Kreisberg’s been a writer for Boston Legal and Justice League Unlimited, it starts to make sense that he’d come out with something that’s essentially Frank Miller’s The Miracle Worker. What’s shocking about it is that it all works, and as funny as it is to see the story hit those same beats, it feels like more of an homage than a parody, and it makes for some very entertaining comics.

As for the art, Rice is better than I ever would’ve expected, and considering that the centerpiece of the book is a six-page fight sequence, it’s all I can do to keep from just posting scenes from that and calling it a night.

Ah, what the heck. Here’s one:



And that’s the least of it. And yes: Leon Czolgosz does make an appearance.

So yeah, consider this a wholehearted endorsement from the ISB, and if the rest of the series can live up to the promise of the first issue, then this is unquestionably the first great mini-series of 2008. Ask for it by name, and tell ’em I sent you!

Pop Quiz

Tonight’s Subject: Great Moments In Sidekickery.

In 1967, Batman, Robin and Batgirl traveled to Londinium, where Robin was almost immediately set upon by a team of delinquent finishing school girls, who then held him hostage.

In their bedroom.



The rare African Death Bee is also involved.

Is this Awesome? Show your work.

The Next Great Literary Masterpiece

Normally, I stick to talking about comics here on the ISB, but while I’ll break to talk about movies or video games every now and then, only twice before has it been my honor and my privilege to draw your attention to the greatest prose works of the twenty-first century.

Tonight, another instant classic joins that august lineup, but unlike Chuck Norris’s Western masterwork The Justice Riders or the landmark pro wrestling/espionage epic Big Apple Takedown, this latest work of unrivaled genius comes not in the form of a novel, but rather an unfinished short story. And even more surprising?

It has arisen from the world of fan-fiction.

Crossover fan-fiction.

Sharp-eyed ISB readers might recall from my recent shameless boosterism that I’ve been playing through Rockstar Games’ Bully again, and while I was looking around for a fan-site I saw once that explained all the room trophies, I stumbled upon what is undoubtedly the greatest piece of short fiction ever written.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…



Yes: The Warriors.

You can click on the above picture to experience the magic for yourself, and really: I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. In two short chapters comprised of just over five hundred words, an author known only as “medayugiohman” has blown all other contemporary literature away, and there is nothing–nothing–I could add to make it better.

But that won’t stop me from pointing out a few of my favorite passages.

Take, for example, the introduction:


JIMMY!yelled young peter kowalski

Huh? what is it is someone giving you trouble?

no it’s the whole town there hurting.

Who is it?

Some gang i saw the back of there vests it said…The Warriors.


Right from the start, the author lets us know that we’re not dealing with your average story here. This is a story that, quite simply, doesn’t have time for things like description, setting, spacing at the end of sentences, attributing dialogue, or anything else the Ivory Tower of academia has declared as “necessary” to tell a story. No, this one hits the ground shouting and only stops for an ominous pause as Cleon and his crew are namechecked for the first time.

And then things just go nuts:


CHAPTER 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Has anyone in the history of the English Language ever had the balls to cap off a chapter break with eighteen exclamation points? I think not.

Suck it, Hemingway. Suck it hard.


(jimmy walks into the funhouse)

alright now you gotta fight.

(after fight)

pretty good now come to the docks and get ready to leave tomorrow.



One of the things you’ll notice right off the bat is that medayugiohman has taken a bold, minimalist approach to action sequences, which forces the reader to focus on his stark, Mametian dialogue. And it’s the right choice, too: Why waste time describing a thrilling, action-packed fight scene to your readers, when the one that plays out in their imaginations is no doubt superior to anything mere words–even those of a master like this one–could possibly capture?


hey jimmy why were you gone so long?asked petey.

initiation in a gang.Im leaving tomorrow.

WHAT!you cant leave ill be picked on an…

Dont worry i asked them and they said you could come.

Um…okay but what about russell he’ll probably destroy this pla…

he can come to.

okay then.

(the next day)

(russells dressed as a pirate and petey is in his bunny suit becausehe was in a hurry and didnt have time to put on his other clothes)

alright i kinda lied the boats gonna be here around 11pm tonight

oh so im in a bunny suit for nuthin.



It’s in this section that I’ve found the only “problem” I’ve seen in the entire story, which is of course the idea of Petey showing up to depart in his bunny costume. To me, it seems like it would take longer to put on one’s Halloween costume rather than regular clothes, and I’m a little surprised that the author went with an odd visual gag (which, admittedly, still works beautifully in text) when the rest of his prose is so cerebral.

But perhaps I’m second-guessing it. With the story still unfinished, the possibility remains that Petey’s odd behavior (or perhaps… deception?) will be explored in the future.

For now though, it remains, like all great literature, open to interpretation in a way that hearkens back to James Joyce’s watershed Transformers / Jem and the Holograms crossover, Synergys Wake.

Experience the magic for yourself, won’t you?

Celebrating International RGAHSA Day 2007

…And we’re back, and what better way to return from a week of being able to catch up on sleep and video games than with an earnest, heartfelt discussion of a man and his super-powered Communist primates?

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen:



It’s The Red Ghost And His Super-Apes!


It’s not that I really need an excuse to talk about these guys–what with the fact that a cosmonaut and his Marxist test monkeys getting super-powers from space is like the fifth best character concept in history–but this particular discussion actually comes from a conversation I was having with my pal Chad.

As you may already know, bad simians of all kinds hold a particular interest for Chad, which led him to delcare that today, August 18, should be International Red Ghost And His Super Apes Day, and I wholeheartedly agree. Even without the benefit of being focused on a commie who–and this is going to be so awesome that I have to italicize it–battles the Fantastic Four with cosmic-powered space-apes, there’s really no better way to celebrate the birthday of our own Kevin Church. After all, he was able to overcome the handicaps of being a communist ape himself to achieve his own brand of Internet Fame in a story that can inspire us all.

So for tonight’s inaugural edition of International RGAHSA day, I bring you something awesome:



For those of you who have never read the absolutely phenomenal Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series, allow me to assure you: It has everything you love about Spider-Man, everything you love about the Human Torch, everything you love about Dan Slott’s scripts, and pretty much everything you ought to love about Ty Templeton’s art. And this is the best issue of the series.

Each issue takes place at a certain point in the charaters’ history, and this one–opening with Spidey complaining to a recently-killed Gwen Stacy about recent run-ins with the Punisher and Luke Cage–fits in squarely around 1974, just in time for Amazing Spider-Man #130’s debut of the single greatest piece of super-hero paraphernalia since Stardust’s various lasers: The Spider-Mobile.

Because really–and I am totally serious about this–there is only one thing better than seeing Spider-Man rolling around Manhattan in a color-coordinated dune buggy. But we’ll get to that in a second.

All you really need to know for this issue is that Reed Richards has (surprise!) invented a crazy machine that changes gravity in a localized area around an object, and while he is completely ignorant of the radical wall-crawling dune buggy applications, the Red Ghost has decided to steal it for the further glory of the Soviet Union.

Let’s pause here and take one more look at that guy, shall we?



Man. A long-sleeved red vest with no shirt, blue gloves, a studded leather belt, a mini-skirt, and capped off by a head of hair reminiscent of Hulk Hogan, circa 1999. The only way the Red Ghost’s outfit could be better is if he was Zardoz.

Anyway, before he can get his filthy communist paws on Mr. Fantastic’s Anti-Gravity Ray, however, Spidey and the Torch decide that it would be a good idea to add it to the car’s engine:



They were wrong. That is an awesome idea. If only because of what it leads to.

Realizing that his original plan of replacing the Gravity Localizer with a shape-shifted cosmic baboon was doomed to failure despite critical levels of radness, the Red Ghost (and his Super-Apes) track down the heroes, at which time something happens that may actually be the most awesome thing ever:



Spider-Man Gets Carjacked By Super-Powered Communist Space Monkeys


Just being able to type that sentence has brought tears of joy to my eyes. But it actually gets better, because really: When your car gets stolen by a gang of Soviet primates and their sinister middle-aged master, there’s only one way to fight back:

The Delicious Taste and Real Fruit Filling of Mostess Fruit Pies



So, to review: Fruit pies, monkeys from space, the creeping scourge of cosmic communism, Zardoz, and a red and blue dune buggy that can do donuts on the side of a skyscraper. I’m no scientist*, but I’m pretty sure that makes this a good contender for the title of Best Comic Ever, and it’s only made better thanks to the Red Ghost and His Super-Apes.

Join us in our appreciation, won’t you?



*: Surprise!

Thanos! The Ultimate Nihilist!

Your Spidey Super Stories Moment of Joy for this week:




But alas…


(Click for a larger, somehow more awesome image)


Here’s something you might not know about Thanos: Sometimes, he rolls around in a helicopter with his own name painted on the side.


All panels from Spidey Super Stories #39, which concludes with Thanos being taken into custody by two uniformed policemen in what is the most beautiful denoument ever written.