ComicsAlliance vs. The Gender-Swapped Super-Hero Calendar Girls



Girl Week rolls on, as Laura Hudson, David Uzumeri and I take a roundtable look at the sexy pin-up girl versions of some of our favorite male super-heroes, most of which are actually pretty well-done!

There’s some utter bizarreness in this one–I’ve seen “Iron Women” before, but this one has a bold new innovation that I could not believe–but one of the ones that didn’t make the cut was the fetching image above of “Halle Jordan,” which pretty much just looks like regular Hal Jordan with breasts. Seriously though, you know that as soon as the Guardians told Hal that his ring could do anything he could imagine, he was like “Aaaaaaaaaanything?” and then immediately went home to do this exact thing.

That’s what’s in my DC pitch, anyway.

Women In Comics!

One of the bigger pieces of news to come out of the Comics Blogger Internet this year was that after three years of aggregating posts, Ragnell and Kalinara have left When Fangirls Attack, and turned the reins over to a new crew.

That’s common knowledge, but what you might not know is that that before Rags rejected me for being, and I quote, “a hateful misogynist who serves only to give me something to loathe in this world,” I actually threw my hat in the ring to take WFA over myself. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t get it, as I already have my hands full with the ISB and the Action Age, and really, I have no interest in combing LiveJournal for Feminist critiques of West Coast Avengers. No, my interest lies solely with the domain name.

I mean really: “Women In Comics” is a name that could lend itself to a lot of things, and while my first thought was just to use it as a repository for commissioned fetish art–you know, the girls of the Legion barefoot, Red Sonja doing her taxes, Catwoman brushing her teeth, stuff like that–but the more I think about it, the more I think that a bunch of definitive profiles of female characters would be best.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’ll happen, but since I already had a few ready to go on the chance I got the job, I thought I’d share them on the ISB tonight. Enjoy!


This Is Phoenix


She’s died and come back to life like eight times because seriously, dudes fuckin’ love redheads. Take note, Irish girls: You are functionally immortal.


This Is Manhunter


She balances her career as an attorney and raising her son Ramsey with her activities as a ruthless vigilante, but her series was sadly canceled before she could face off against her opposite number, the MILF Hunter.


This Is Emma Frost, the White Queen

Her costume is basically a tube top and a pair of skin-tight low-rise vinyl pants, but it used to be just panties and a corset. Who says there’s no feminist progress in comics?


This Is Mary Jane Watson

She used to be Spider-Man’s wife, but in current continuity, she was just his live-in girlfriend for a while. Also in current continuity, nobody knows Spider-Man’s secret identity, not even the girl he used to live with, which makes Mary Jane Watson the dumbest human being alive.


This Is Psylocke

“Yo dogg I heard you like English accents, so we put a British girl in your Ninja so you can still be classy while you’re stabbin’ people with swords.”


This Is Wonder Woman

Despite what you may have heard, she has only ever been good like three times in seventy years. In the family of comics, she’s like the crazy grandmother that sometimes says really super racist stuff at Thanksgiving dinner, but she’s been around a while and nobody really knows what to do with her so you just have to put up with it.


This Is Tigra

She used to be a non-powered vigilante, but is now a sassy, bikini-clad catgirl who is currently pregnant with a litter of aliens. Believe it or not, she actually pre-dates the Internet and didn’t just originate in fan-fiction.


This Is Batgirl

You’re welcome.

The Week In Ink: August 10, 2008

You know, for someone who’s been paralyzed from the waist down for the past twenty years, Barbara Gordon sure is dealing out a lot of facekicks this week, both in costume…



…and out of it:



Thank heavens for time travel and flashback stories!

Anyway, now that I’ve once again skewed my Google hits towards people looking for “Batgirl out of costume,” it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Raucous Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…



…and here’s what I thought about ’em!








Criminal 2 #5: I realize that everything I’m about to say about Criminal has already been said in one form or another, but sometimes, it just bears repeating that this is a book everyone–everyone–ought to be reading.

Not just because it’s a fantastic comic book, although it’s easily one of the best books on the stands, and has been since it started, which, considering that it’s got one of the best creative teams in comics working on it, should probably be expected. After all, there’s a note on the back of this one reminding us that Ed Brubaker’s gotten the Eisner for Best Writer two years in a row, and while they have been known to hand those out to the occasional random issue of Justice League or whatever, Brubaker’s got more than enough talent to back his up. The stories he tells here are sharp and brutal, full of nasty people doing nasty things to each other in a world where daylight seems to have taken a permanent vacation.

And Sean Phillips… I never really know what to say about really good artists, since it’s easier for people to just take a look and see for themselves, but with Phillips, the appeal of his work on Criminal is easy to describe. He takes Brubaker’s scripts and draws them with a dark, heavy mood that’s almost dripping off the page in every desperate, broken-down face. He draws guys with gnarled fingers and paunches that sneer at each other in tight panels, and when an issue calls for its main character to look like he’s been held at gunpoint for a week, then by God, he looks like he’s been held at gunpoint for a week.

But you could say all that about Brubaker and Phillips’ previous collaboration, the super-hero spy noir thriller Sleeper, too, and you’d be right. But what sets Criminal apart from Sleeper–and from most other comics in general–is that it’s not just a comic book, but an exploration of crime noir as a genre. With each issue, you’ve got the story itself–where Brubaker dusts off all the cliches, from the Girl You Loved Who Betrayed You But Then She Came Back And Damn It She Did It Again to the Guy Who Thought He Was Out But Got Pulled Back In and makes them sing–and then the equally fascinating essays by other writers–this issue’s features Manhunter’s Marc Andreyko and The Punisher’s Steven Grant–that examine other works of the genre, often dealing with the same tricks and influences that Brubaker’s bringing to the table in his scripts. It all adds up to something that’s enjoyable in more ways than even most great comics can manage, and at $3.50 a pop, it’s still one of the best values in comics.

If you haven’t jumped on it, then by all means grab the trades and enjoy, or do yourself a favor and see about tracking down the issues, since the essays haven’t been reprinted elsewhere. It’s well worth it.


The Damned: Prodigal Sons #3: And speaking of crime noir thrillers that Get It Right, we have the last issue of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s second series of The Damned, and once again, I’m at a point where I’m not sure what else I can say about it. After all, once you’ve said something so nice that they decide to slap it on the cover, where do you go from there?

Oh well, I’ll give it a shot anyway, because now that the series is over, I can confirm that as much as I liked the first series, Prodigal Sons blows it away in terms of sheer entertainment. Since its first issue, The Damned has been one of those rare books that manages to walk the line between two genres–supernatural horror and retro crime thriller–but with the addition of Eddie’s brother Morgan, they’ve thrown another chainsaw into their already impressive juggling act and added a strong dose of comedy. I’ve mentioned the slapstick aspect of the story before, with Morgan and a hapless gal hauling Eddie’s (potentially lethal) cadaver around with ensuing hijinx, and while it’s impressive enough that those scenes are actually really funny, it’s even more impressive that they don’t detract from the serious parts of the book. It’s a fantastic read, and while I was curious at the end of the last series, this one’s got me more than a little interested in what comes next.


The Goon #28: A few days ago, Mark Hale was reading the Goon out in public when someone asked him what it was about, and he responded by telling them that it was about a guy who “wears a hat and punches things.” And really, that’s as good a summary of anything as you’re likely to find.

And pretty accurate, too: After all, the Goon does wear a hat, and this issue’s pretty much built around a double-page spread where he punches a prostitute mule right in the face. But while it’s more than enough to get the casual reader interested–“A hat, you say? AND punching?”–it does leave out the fact that beneath all of that, Eric Powell’s steadily been building something deeper, underpinning his two-fisted comedy with bits of genuine tragedy, leading off with the scene where the Goon was told flat out that he could never, ever be happy in his life and just dragging him down further ever since. It’s a stealthy bit of complexity that Powell works with–and occasionally actively denies–but it’s there, and it’s great.

So, The Goon: Come for the mule-punching, stay for the emotional resonance. Or the other way around. Hell, I don’t care, so long as some mules get punched.


Invincible #52: You know, one of these days I’m eventually going to stop being shocked when I’m reading through an issue of Invincible and suddenly find myself staring at a panel where someone’s getting their guts punched out, because we’re getting to the point now where I can almost set my watch by it.

Now, before I get a bunch of comments from people chiming in to let me know that I don’t understand Invincible and that having a character’s internal organs ripped out of their torso in livid color on-panel is completely necessary for the advancement of the plot, I’d like to point out that unlike the last time this happened, I don’t actually have a problem with it. Before, it wasn’t just the violence that got to me–although it does make an otherwise fantastic teenage super-hero book tougher sale for kids looking to jump on an exciting, fun comic that’s a step up from stuff like Ultimate Spider-Man–but the fact that it seemed so completely unnecessary from a storytelling standpoint. Here, though, the shock value actually adds to something beyond itself, leading to the contrast of Mark’s horror and his brother’s completely dispassionate reaction.

It’s not something that I’d like to see in my comics on a regular basis, but since I remember talking about my disappointment in Invincible‘s last blood-soaked fight scene, I thought I’d point out an example of when it’s done right. Still, I can’t help but think that the fact that there’s a “last time” to be referenced so easily cheapens things a little, although I suppose there’s an equal possibility that the repetition’s made it into a recurring theme that’ll be strengthened with each instance and the characters’ reactions to it.

Or maybe it’s just a guy getting his brain punched out. That’s a possibility too.




Batman: The Black Glove HC: If you were reading the ISB when it was coming out, you might remember that I fllipped right out about the three-part Club of Heroes story that leads this volume, and you probably won’t be surprised when I flip out about it again now, because it is seriously my favorite Batman story of the last ten years.

So much so, in fact, that I just went back and re-read it between reviews, thus proving that my desire to see Batman be a total badass trumps my desire to finish up writing reviews and get some sleep any day of the week, which–again–is probably not going to come as a surprise to anyone. But the point stands. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Club of Heroes–a group of “International Batmen” from one appearance in the fifties that were themed to their particular country in the charming way that most non-American comic book characters were and are, an idea later recycled into an enjoyably terrible Green Arrow story–and seeing them done this well, with a locked room murder mystery writ large, was the high point of Grant Morrison’s run with the character so far.

Plus, what with the fact that it’s drawn by J.H. Williams, it’s far and away the best looking, with the same kind of innovative page layouts and different stylistic choices for each character that you’d expect from a guy with his talent. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the book–wherein Tony Daniel draws the adventures of the false Batmen and space-induced hallucinations–but it’s not bad, and heck, I’d pay the cover price just to see the Knight and Squire in action again.


High School Musical: Lasting Impressions GN: Oh snap, you guys, this thing right here is off the fuckin’ chain!

Okay, so get this: The East High Drama Class is doing a new play, right? And it’s about an impressionist painter who falls in love with this girl, which–OF COURSE–is totally the same plot as Twinkle Towne, but with more inexplicably elaborate sets, and so Troy and Gabriella both audition, but–buckle the fuck up, yo–Troy gets a part, and Gabriella DOESN’T! And to make things even worse, Sharpay gets the female lead, and you KNOW she’s going to be trying to drive a wedge between them! Plus, Ryan has to learn new choreography, and he gets inspired by watching breakdancers in a thematic callback to Coyote Ugly!!

And I’ll stop now, because I just realized that the jokes about my overenthusiasm for this would be lost on anyone who is not a) passingly familiar with High School Musical and b) a regular ISB reader, a narrow audience made up of exactly me.



And on that oddly self-referential note, I’m done here. As always, questions etc. can be left in the comments section, and really: If you haven’t read Gotham Central, there’s a hardcover now, and as long as you actually have eyes, you have no further excuse. So get on it!a


ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention this last night since I left it in the other room, but I also picked up the new collection of Rich Burlew’s Order of the StickWar and XPs–of which I am an unabashed fan. If you haven’t been reading it, the whole thing’s available for free online–because, you know, that’s how webcomics roll–but the trades also contain additional strips and bonus material. I don’t believe they’ve hit Diamond yet, but if your local shop carries any good amount of gaming stuff, they should be able to get it from one of the other distributors. Pick it up!

The Contra Hearings

In 1989, Lieutenant William “Mad Dog” Rizer was called before the Senate Military Investigations Committee to discuss his statements regarding the effectiveness of military operations in response to the Red Falcon invasion of the previous year. The following is a transcript of his testimony before Congress.

SENATOR JONATHAN PERKINS (R, TX): Please state your name for the record.

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM RIZER: Lieutenant Bill Rizer, United States Marine Corps. Codename “Mad Dog.”

SEN. PERKINS: Thank you, Lieutenant. And before we get started, I’d like to commend you for your actions during the conflict. Purple Heart, Medal of Honor… Says here you received the citation for valor almost thirty times, is that correct?

LT. RIZER: Yes sir.

SEN. PERKINS: Well I thank you, and your country thanks you for your service, Lieutenant.

LT. RIZER: It was an honor to serve, sir. I just wish things could’ve gone a little differently.

SENATOR ELIZABETH VAN HOUSEN (D, MA): Yes, about that. Would you care to outline your opinions for us?

LT. RIZER: To put it bluntly, Senator, we were simply not prepared for what we encountered over the course of the Red Falcon conflict.

SEN. VAN HOUSEN: And by “we,” you mean…?

LT. RIZER: Me and Lance–that is, Sgt. Bean.

SENATOR ARTHUR WEATHERTON (R, NM): With all due respect, Lieutenant, I fail to see how the failure to equip two Marines necessitates a Congressional investigation. Why haven’t we heard from the rest of the soldiers involved in the operation?

LT. RIZER: Because Lance and I were the total forces committed to the Red Falcon conflict, Senator.

SEN. WEATHERTON: … Oh. Carry on.

LT. RIZER: Right. Now, I know that at the time of our deployment, resources were already committed to providing support for the Bionic Commando project, but sending two men to fight an entire army of technologically advanced aliens… I can’t imagine that America needed to close the grapple-arm gap that badly. And our equipment was… well, it was sub-par.

SEN. VAN HOUSEN: It says in our files that you were not issued body armor, is that correct?

LT. RIZER: No ma’am, that’s a misprint.

SEN. VAN HOUSEN: So you were issued body armor?

LT. RIZER: No ma’am. We weren’t even issued shirts. But that wouldn’t have been such an issue if we hadn’t been given substandard weaponry.

SEN. WEATHERTON: Oh not this again. Wily Robotics is a perfectly fine arms man–

LT. RIZER: Senator, I’m sorry to interrupt, but that’s not the issue here. I’ve heard the stories of Wily Robotics being offered a no-bid contract for defense manufacturing just like everyone else, but it’s your job to determine the truth of that matter. It’s my job to present the facts as I see them, and I’ll tell your right now that the WR-88 was not suited to a combat action of this nature. It’s a single shot rifle, Senator. I’m not sure if you’ve ever served, but if you have, I’d be interested in hearing you explain to me how one man with a single-shot rifle is supposed to assault a fortress like this.



SEN. PERKINS: We were assured that advanced weapons were provided for you at various points.

LT. RIZER: Yeah, well, I don’t know who came up with the idea of loading guns into giant metal footballs and firing them out of a cannon on a Destroyer anchored a mile offshore, but it actually works out pretty poorly in practice. And even if it had worked, the guns themselves were… Well, they were no good. The assault rifle should’ve been standard equipment, and the laser…

[Lt. Rizer picks up a Wily Robotics LG-88 and pulls the trigger, causing a laser beam to inch out of the barrel for less than two feet.]

LT. RIZER: Senator, I was trained on a MARS Corporation Model 21, and the fact that this is the weapon that replaced it… It’s criminal. Simply criminal.

SEN. VAN HOUSEN: You say you also have issues with your training?

LT. RIZER: Yes ma’am.


LT. RIZER: I don’t place the blame for any failure in this area on the men who trained me. They are good soldiers to a man, and their training is the only reason I’m sitting here today. It’s a failure of intelligence on the part of brass if it’s anything. I was trained to face infantrymen, non-traditional enemy combatants… I was even taught how to take out an APC if the situation came up. But the things I saw in that jungle… Nobody ever told me how to fight stuff like that.

SEN. WEATHERTON: Can you be more specific?

LT. RIZER: Yes sir. In my time in the jungle, I was faced with Frankenstein squadrons. Giant half-lizard Road Warriors. Even Ground Vaginas.

SEN. VAN HOUSEN: Ground Vaginas?

LT. RIZER: Yes ma’am. Ground Vaginas.



LT. RIZER: With teeth. That’s… that’s how they got Lance. I tried to hold them off, but…

SEN. PERKINS: I think we’ve heard enough. We’ll break here. Thank you, Lieutenant.

LT. RIZER: Thank you, Senator.


Following Lt. Rizer’s testimony, Sgt. Lance “Scorpion” Bean was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Legislation was later passed ensuring that in any future conflicts, soldiers would at least be issued shoulder pads.

Flagrantly Unsafe For Work

Before we get started tonight, it’s probably worth noting that this one’s gonna be a little raw. In fact, the contents of tonight’s post should probably be considered Flagrantly Unsafe For Work, even for a website known for throwing a critical spotlight on the work of Jim Balent.

So seriously, if you read the ISB at your job or anything, it’s probably best to just wait ’til you get home for this one, and if you’re under… let’s just say 23, this one is totally not for you. No foolin’.

In the meantime, here’s another picture of Destro:



As for just what he’s approving of, well, see below.


Continue reading

Chris vs. Previews: January 2008, Round Two

Normally, I like to start off the second night of my stern, uncompromising look at Previews with one of my dubious “favorites” from the Apparel section, but over the past couple of months, there just hasn’t been anything there to catch my eye. Maybe it’s the result of a concerted effort to class up the ol’ Diamond Comics Warehouse, or maybe the deal to get distribution rights to those shirts where the wolf cries while howling at the moon that has Dale Earnhardt’s spectral face on the surface fell through.

Regardless, I’ve been taking it easy on the t-shirts for a while now. And then they had to go and bring us this:



Man oh man, that thing is a masterpiece. Because seriously, next to the dreaded tie-dye/dragon combination, there’s nothing that makes a worse t-shirt than actually drawing the abs. Genius!

And that’s just one of the fine products you might be missing out on if you skipped the back half of Previews! Now let’s see what other gems we can dig up from in there…





P.205 – Azumanga Daioh Omnibus Edition: Back when this was originally solicited, I mentioned that I’d picked up the first couple of volumes based entirely on the strength of Kiyohiko Azuma’s other work, Yotsuba&!, which is hands down one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve ever read. So enjoyable, in fact, that I wondered if it was that high standard that caused me to be pretty underwhelmed by Azumanga Daioh.

Then again, here’s a typical strip:



See that big empty space in the last panel? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure that’s where the punchline’s supposed to go, and in like three quarters of the strips, it’s mysteriously absent. Of course, I did end up picking up all four volumes and after Netflixing the run of DVDs, I’ll concede that it works a lot better in animation than it does on the page, but even with the impenetrable humor that runs through it (which I’ve got to assume is just a matter of it not translating well), it’s surprisingly addictive thanks to Azuma’s incredible knack for interesting characters and recurring gags that, seriously, take like four years to pay off.

It’s not Yotsuba&!–and really, what is?–but if you enjoy his work, it’s well worth checking out, especially since it’s so much cheaper than getting them all separately like I did. Oh, the folly of youth!


P.224 – Betty #173: You heard it here first, folks:





P.244 – The Godfather Chronicles #1: So, Mark Waid, of Kingdom Come fame, is going to be writing an adaptation of The Godfather for comics. I don’t really have a joke for that, but all things considered, I don’t think that’ll be a problem here.

Oh wait, here’s one, sent in by Mark Hale, age 29: “That’ll be great for people who don’t live anywhere near a video store or a tv with cable. Or a TV at all. Heck, you could probably stick a spoon in your mouth and catch a broadcast of The Godfather.”

Thanks, Mark! Your No-Prize is in the mail!


P.261 – Army of Darkness/Xena: Why Not? #1: For it is written that a weary world cried out for succor and the skies did open:



That’s right: John Layman, writer of Dark Xena–or as we know it around here, the single greatest work of fiction ever crafted by the hands of human beings, has once again come forth, to release what will surely become the basis of all civilization for millennia to come. In fact, I–

Wait, what?

[Green Light]John Layman ex-Wildstorm editor and writer for books such as “Stargate” and “Bay City Jive,” has been increasingly vocal about his dissatisfaction with publisher Dynamite, complaining to other comics professionals, as well as Marvel higher-ups, about lack of royalties on their “Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness” series. Apparently Layman was under the impression there would be further compensation from Dynamite if the book did well in the marketplace, and is now upset because no compensation appears forthcoming. I understand that Layman walked away from completing the fourth issue of the just announced “Army of Darkness/Xena” four-issue cross-over.

–Rich Johnston, Lying in the Gutters 1/07/08


I’m sorry… There… there are no words.




P.283 – Selfish Mr. Mermaid: Okay, here’s something that’ll cheer me up:



Okay, two questions here:

1. How can he be a mermaid when he, like Derek Zoolander, is clearly a mer-man, and..

2. Is Selfish Mr. Mermaid the greatest yaoi title ever, or the greatest title for anything ever? U-DECIDE!


Comic Book Comics #1: If you’ve ever found yourself reading through Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey’s Action Philosophers and thinking “You know, Kant and Wittgenstein are nice and all, but I wish they’d talk about guys that really matter, like Jack Kirby and Winsor McCay,” then have I got some good news for you.

Yes, the creators behind the most awesome educational comic since Ninjutsu: Secrets of the Invisible Art are reuniting to bring you the sordid true story of the origin of American comics, and if that sounds like anything less than the most awesome comic of the year, then check your car battery at the door, buster.


P.305 – The Ghost Whisperer: The Haunted #1: And now, the easiest joke I will ever make:

So in order to celebrate the launch of their new line of Star Trek comics, IDW’s releasing a book with four covers stapled onto one comic. Coincidentally, they’re also doing that with the Ghost Whisperer book, but that’s just because it was the only way they could fit Camryn Manheim in the picture.



P.326 – North World v.1 GN: Kevin sent me the link to Lars Brown’s North World webcomic last week, and while I didn’t get a chance to get more than about ten pages into it, those ten pages involved a guy talking to another guy about how weird it was that he always ended up fighting giant animals, and then going to fight a giant talking bear.

This book, therefore, pretty much sells itself. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that the bit that I read was clever and very sharply written, either. But seriously: Bearfighting. Get on it.


P.384 – Comic Foundry #2: Just a reminder here for those of you who skip the magazine section in an effort to avoid luminaries like Horrorhound and Girls & Corpses: International playboy/bon vivant Tim Leong took a break from being almost unbearably handsome to put out a second issue of my favorite comics magazine, which now includes a snappy redesign, full color, a cover story on ISB Favorite Matt Fraction, and still clocks in at a penny cheaper than Wizard. So do like the guy from The Legend of Zelda says and buy it already, will ya?!



Normally, this is where I’d go after the merchandise section, but since Sterling already got to all the good bits–and by good, I mean mind-shatteringly terrible–I thought I’d start the new year off with something different: The ISB’s first-ever look at…


Previews Adult


So turn down the lights… light a candle… and let’s do this thang.


P.1 – Initiation: Except for all those times that I claim to know what funny is, I don’t claim to know what funny is. But this?



This is hilarious. Between the positions of the “nametags” (especially Henry, because seriously, what the heck happened there, bro?), the fact that it’s from the charmingly named Class Comics and the so mind-shatteringly awful it’s brilliant tagline (“Getting through college doesn’t have to be hard… but it helps!”) this thing manages to surpass even all but the best of DMP’s lineup.


P.5 – Young Lusty Sluts: On the off-chance that you’re wondering, allow me to assure you that I generally just look through to see if there’s a new issue of the best porn comic ever, Colleen Coover’s Small Favors (there’s not, but the uncollected #8, the color special, is offered again). Still, occasionally something’ll catch my eye, and a title like “Young Lusty Sluts” is one that’s gonna jump out at you.

As it turns out, though, Young Lusty Sluts is not a porn comic at all, but a collection of lurid pulp novel covers that actually looks really entertaning and comes pretty highly recommended if you’re into that sort of thing. And really, who doesn’t have room on their bookshelf for Young Lusty Sluts?

Also, on the off chance that you just got here from searching the web for “Young Lusty Sluts,” I’m sorry to disappoint and I don’t usually go for skewing my Google hits, but Kevin bet me that I wouldn’t use the words “Young Lusty Sluts” seven times in this post, so, well, my apologies.

Young Lusty Sluts.


P.8 – Love Is Like A Hurricane: Good heavens!



I’ve been reading comics for twenty years, and that’s the unhappiest young man I have ever seen.



That’s it! And now that a good portion of the folks who read the ISB from work have sworn me off for nearly getting them fired–and come on, you can’t say I didn’t warn you–I think it’s time to call it an evening. As always, if there was anything that caught your eye in Previews this month, feel free to leave a comment.

Especially if you can explain why Suicide Girls Magazine has taken two years to come out. Seriously, it can’t possibly be that complicated to put together.

The Week In Ink: September 26, 2007

Taken as a percentage of the whole, I’m pretty sure that there were more kicks to the face in this week’s comics than at any point since Deadly Hands of Kung Fu was cancelled. I mean really, the boot-to-face content in this week’s Batman titles alone could probably keep me going for the next month, but in a week that saw two issues of Immortal Iron Fist shipping, I’m pretty sure we’ve set a new standard here.



Yes, my friends, that is Danny Rand getting kicked in the face so hard that it not only creates an explosion, but turns the background into the Rising Sun. Truly, these are wonderful times to be alive.

But before we get on with the rest of the Internet’s Most Rolicking Comics Reviews for this week…



…you might’ve noticed the allegedly hilarious video game-themed ad currently taking up space in the sidebar, which means that yet another round of ISB auctions have hit eBay. This week, in an effort to cut back on my collection and fund the complex process involving both reading comics and scanning panels I find interesting, I’m selling off a set of Batman: Year One (Batman #404-407), my copy of Ed Brubaker’s Batman: The Man Who Laughs, and six series worth of Dark Horse Gunsmith Cats issues, which allows you to fulfill your daily recommended requirement of Bat-themed origin stories and exploding cars. If that sounds like something you like, and you live in the good ol’ USA, cruise over there and have a look before they end on Sunday.

and then seriously, give me your money



Of course, even with that out of the way, the looming spectre of capitalism still remains. Here’s the Free Market Sectors that got my hard-earned scratch this week…



…And here’s what I thought about ’em!





All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder #7: So is it just me, or has anybody else out there started setting the dialogue in this book to music and reading it like the world’s most awesome musical? I think it might just be the chorus-like “Oh no, Oh Christ, Not Him, We’re Screwed!” of the opening page, but “I’m the Batman / Goddamn Batman” lends itself to Ride of the Valyries so readily that I can’t imagine it’s not intentional.

Anyway, there are those among us who would endeavor to convince you that ASBAR is the greatest comic book ever printed, and while I still believe that title properly rests within the gilded pages of Dark Xena, I can’t deny that it’s amazingly entertaining. It’s gotten to the point where I just pick it up and start cold reading it aloud whenever a new issue ships, and if you’ve never tried that, give it a whirl. I defy you to get through more than three caption boxes of Black Canary’s narration and/or any reference from Cranky Old Man Frank Miller to “texting” without tears streaming down your face. Can’t be done.

Anyway, as far as the requisite “plot” summary portion of the review, here goes: In this issue, the Goddamn Batman beats the crap out of a bunch of guys, which sets such a fire in Black Canary’s Irish loins that the only reaction she can think of is to wrap her legs around Batman and dry hump him in the middle of a thunderstorm. And then they argue about whether the word “Batmobile” is, and I’m quoting here, “queer.” And really, if DC’s marketing department had any sense whatsoever, those two sentences would’ve been the solicitation copy.

I love you, All-Star Batman.


Annihilation: Conquest – StarLord: Despite the fact that it focuses largely on an anthropomorphic raccoon rather than lesbian space-dragons, StarLord remains the best of the Annihilation books. BEHOLD! Such is the power of Mantlo!

Seriously, though, Giffen, Green and Co. have been doing a fantastic job on this one, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite mini-series of the year thanks to a sharp, action-packed script, fantastic art, and the fact that it’s a book where one of the Micronauts teams up with a giant Kirby-created tree-monster for a suicide mission to save the Kree. And besides, who would’ve thought Mantis would be able to pull off the fetching Rocketeer Jacket/Hula Skirt/World War I Stirrup Boots combo so well?


The Astounding Wolf-Man #3: Some of you may recall that when the last issue of Wolf-Man hit the shelves back in July, it was a decidedly cranky Chris Sims who reviewed it and found himself highly disappointed by the crazy over-the-top violence with which Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard closed out the story. Two months, later, and I’ve got to admit that I’m still just picking it up out of the hope that it’ll be as good as some of Kirkman’s other work, rather than devolving into yet another book that replaces actual plot points with full-color eviscerations.

Beyond that, though, it’s just not grabbing me. The fact of the matter is that I just don’t have the love of horror-type characters that Kirkman seems to have, and even with Howard’s fun, stylized artwork and dynamic action scenes, I can honestly say that if I didn’t have a hefty employee discount from working at a comic book store, I wouldn’t be picking it up at all, even with the promise of a vampire and a werewolf driving around in a sports car with a wolf painted on it.

I’d probably buy the trade if they were Tokyo Drifting, though. And that’s real.


Avengers: The Initiative #6: From Wikipedia:

It has been noted that Steve Harmon has no genitalia in his Slapstick form, much to his disappointment.

Okay, look: I don’t know where this bit of information was brought up as a plot point, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to know where this information was brought up as a plot point. All I’m saying is, that explains a lot about Slapstick’s barely-contained hostility.





Batman #669: It’s probably been made abundantly clear over the past week here on the ISB, but I’ve read a lot of comics about Batman in my time, and that said, “Club of Heroes” is hands-down my favorite Batman story in the past five years.

I’ve gone over the reasons why as each issue came out, but for those of you just joining us, here’s the short version: I’ve been wanting to read more about the Knight and Squire ever since Grant Morrison’s flat-out awesome arc in JLA Classified, and their return alongside Man-of-Bats, El Gaucho and the rest of the Club of Heroes has been even better than I could’ve asked for.

For me, this is the perfect Batman: A direct descendant of the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams version that’s equal parts globe-trotting adventurer and calculating detective, and it’s just taken to the next level by the fact that this story features six guys like that, all playing their part in a battle of wits against a criminal mastermind. And really, that’s what I love the most: Even the seeming throwaway characters like the Legionary still serve as reminders that–however briefly–they used to hang out with Batman, and are therefore a force to be reckoned with. They’re z-listers under pressure who come off like pros, and it makes for some of the most exciting scenes I’ve read all year.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the book’s beautiful, either. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the chances of getting three straight issues with art by J.H. Williams III, but they shipped on time every month and were absolutely gorgeous throughout, from the different styles he used for each character to his customary dynamic page layouts that just look phenomenal underneath Dave Stewart’s coloring.

Also, Batman puts on a jetpack to chase down a mad billionaire in a luchadore mask. So really, no further explanation should be necessary.


Blue Beetle #19: It wasn’t that long ago that I mentioned that while I really enjoyed Blue Beetle, I wasn’t sure if it would ever quite measure up to Impulse, the gold standard of teenage super-heroics in the DC Universe. With this issue, though, I think it might have actually hit that high point.

Me, I thought writer John Rogers had peaked with Total Eclipso: The Heart a couple months ago, but it just goes to show you that things can always get a little better.

Anyway, I realize that I mention this virtually every month, but if you’re not reading Blue Beetle, you’re really missing out on one of the best books on the stands, and this one stands out as one of the best of the series so far. A lot of it has to do with how much happens in each issue: With this one, you not only get Jaime Reyes–who has quickly become the most likeable super-hero in comics–and his running crew facing down Giganta, but you get the Peacemaker (in his all-new fresh-for-2007 x-treme tattooed iteration that works out a lot better than it sounds), a long-awaited and genuinely touching advancement of the sub-plot with La Dama, and a cameo by Traci Thirteen, of Architecture and Mortality fame.

It’s a lot crammed into 22 pages, but what makes it great is how well Rogers, Giffen and Baldeon are able to pull it off. Everything about it’s done great, and the end result is one of the most fun, purely enjoyable comics you can buy. And you should be buying it.


Green Arrow: Year One #5: You know, it occurs to me that if this book had kept to its original bi-weekly update schedule, it would’ve been over and done with long before its principal character was stabbed through the neck on his honeymoon, and while I’m no marketing wizard, I’ve got to think that would’ve been a better idea than waiting until after. To be fair, I have no idea why it was pushed back, but at least a couple of people at the store yesterday were wondering aloud why they were even bothering to pick the book up, and I’m pretty sure that translates into other folks who didn’t.

As for me, well, I know exactly why I’m still picking it up: Because to my knowledge, Andy Diggle and Jock just don’t make bad comics together. It’s a handy rule of thumb that started with their amazingly underrated run on The Losers, and Ollie Queen’s almost assuredly brief absence from the land of the living isn’t going to change that one bit. Instead, their take on the first arrow-slinging adventure of everyone’s favorite left-wing vigilante continues to be a highly enjoyable action comic that does its work a lot better than it had to.


Immortal Iron Fist #9 & Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1: If someone had told me two years ago that there would come a day when I could walk into a comic book store and leave with fifty-eight pages ofIron fist in all-out all-new martial arts mayhem in the mighty Marvel manner, I would have fallen to my knees and wept tears of purest, manliest joy.

My friends, that day has come. Subtlety is a thing I’m rarely accused of, but I really cannot overstate my love of this comic book. Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are easily two of my favorite guys working in comics today, and David Aja does an amazing job bringing their crazy, fast-paced fight scenes to life in the regular title as Danny Rand faces the first round of the tournament of the Immortal Weapons. See? I just got to type the phrase “tournament of the Immortal Weapons,” and if you can do that and not think there’s something totally awesome going on, then there’s a good chance you’re reading this website by accident.

As for the Annual, it goes without saying at this point that it’s awesome, especially in the way that it fits right after #9 as Danny ditches K’un-L’un to find out more about the awesome life of his predecessor, Orson Randall. Admittedly, I really wouldn’t have picked Howard Chaykin to draw this thing–given that I don’t often picture Iron Fist rolling around in high-cut paisley slacks–but he pulls it off better than anything I’ve seen him draw for Marvel lately, and Dan Brereton is just perfect for the flashback scenes. Brereton’s one of those guys that I’ve always liked a lot in theory, having never actually read that much that he’s worked on, but he does an amazing job with the pulp-action style of the Lightning Lords, the Bride of Nine Spiders, and–of course–the Harem Harlots of Harlem. It’s great, fun stuff, and if you made it all the way to this sentence without rushing out to buy it after “Harem Harlots of Harlem,” then for God’s sake, ge ton it. We don’t have all day here.


Justice League of America #13: The opening chapter to Dwayne McDuffie’s debut art on Justice League of America–which was actually printed in the JLA Wedding Special, for those of you who weren’t paying attention when I flipped right out about it two weeks ago–got me pretty excited about the idea that the Justice League was actually going to be a good comic book where things actually happened that did not solely revolve around Red Tornado crying, and on that front, McDuffie has delivered.

Story-wise, this book is awesome–and, not coincidentally, contains exactly zero references to GeoForce–with some great character moments and a setup that looks like it’s building to the big Justice League vs. Everybody fight that should’ve been in Infinite Crisis instead of the double-page spread of pretty clipart that we actually got. Admittedly, I don’t particularly care for the sub-plot of Vixen leeching other super-heroes’ powers rather than just using her own, but all things considered, that’s a pretty small part of what’s going on in this issue.

The downside, however, comes from the art, especially when it’s contrasted with the great job Mike McKone did on the Wedding Special. Joe Benitez comes off in a lot of places like a second-rate J. Scott Campbell, and considering that Campbell himself is a second-rate version of himself at this point, that’s not a great place to be. To be fair, it’s nothing that breaks the story–outside of some pretty rough panels of Black Canary that I’m guessing were based on a RealDoll–but a book like Justice League really ought to have a top-tier art team, especially now that it’s actually got a good writer working on it.


The Order #3: As I mentioned before, this is not the first time that the Champions–because really, they’ll always be the Champions to me–have battled an unstoppable army of super-strong mutated hobos in the streets of Los Angeles. That honor, of course, belongs to a Chris Claremont epic from the pages of The Champions #3. Having read them both, however, I can say with some certainty that Fraction and Kitson’s version is by far the best.

And not just beacause they’re battling hobos that are also zombies, either, but because it’s the strongest issue yet of what’s turning into a really enjoyable series. This time out, the focus is on “Calamity” James Wa, who joined the Order with a chip on his shoulder that turns into a pretty unexpected plot twist at the end, and brings the book’s already obvious comparison to Pete Miligan and Mike Allred’s X-Statix into sharp focus. And really, as anybody who read those stories’ll tell you, that’s not a bad thing. Instead, it helps the book to strike a good balance between the craziness of cybernetic bums and the more serious plot threads of the characters themselves, and it makes for a great read.


The Spirit #10: Here’s a fact that I desperately hope you guys are unaware of: This week’s issue of Genus, the comics industry’s most stalwart bastion of furry porn, has an homage cover to the iconic splash page of the first appearance of P’Gell. Only with animal-people about to have sex.

Needless to say, Darwyn Cooke’s version of The Spirit is significantly easier to take without a stiff drink and a handful of quaaludes.



And it’s probably best that I stop there, lest I run the risk of following that up with an an actual review of Tarot (surprise! It’s bad!) and permanently destroying my google hits. Anyway, as always, if you have any questions about something I read or skipped over, or if you just want to talk about whether X-Men: First Class is seriously the best X-Men book since the Dark Phoenix Saga (answer: Yes), feel free to drop a line in the comments section below.

Oh, and one more thing: That Metal Men Showcase? Trust me on this one: You’re gonna want to buy that.