The Week In Ink: June 7, 2007

Right as I was sitting down to get on with this week’s reviews, I got a phone call from my friend Brandon, who was driving home from work and wanted to shoot the breeze about comics. Brandon, as you might recall, is probably the world’s only noted Scott Lobdell fan, and right about the time he finished a rapid fire sequence of questions regarding my thoughts on Thunderbolts, Annihilation, and the latest arc on She-Hulk, I mentioned that it might be easier if I had some sort of website that he could go to where I recorded my thoughts on those very comics!

Sometimes it’s amazing that I have any friends at all.



Oh well. You still love me, right, Internet?

Of course you do! And why? Because the ISB still stands as the home of the web’s Least Friendly comics review, done on time and with added violence for your reading pleasure. Here’s the tale of the tape this week…



…now touch gloves and come out swingin’!





Avengers: The Initiative #3: If there’s one thing we can learn from this issue that should come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever, it’s that Dan Slott can write a heck of an enjoyable Spider-Man, and considering the persistent rumors that he’s going to be the one to take over Amazing when Straczynski finally leaves (which seem to be supported pretty well by the fact that he went ahead and introduced new characters and plotlines in the FCBD special and is leaving his beloved She-Hulk for an opportunity too great to pass up), that’s pretty good news. Like I said, though, it’s not really that shocking, especially in light of how well this book’s coming together with a solid, character-driven issue that also features Dani Moonstar headlocking a bear.

And not just a bear… a Demon Bear.

It’s a great read from Slott, and Stefano Casselli’s pencils are sharp and full of energy, even though they are–as always–almost ruined in a lot of places by Daniele Rudoni’s coloring. I mean, really, there are some pages that are just fine–like the big reveal of the Scarlet Spiders–but I’m pretty sure that Komodo’s not supposed to have the same pale green skin tone she sports as a lizard when she’s in her human form. Just sayin’.


Black Summer #0: I wasn’t originally planning on picking this one up, but after I leafed through it in the store, I decided to go ahead and give Warren Ellis’s latest series a fair shot. Needless to say, it was good, but of course it’s going to be good. Ellis isn’t exactly a slouch when it comes to writing comics, and even the stuff that I don’t particularly care for–like Wolfskin or his current run on Thunderbolts–usually has enough great little moments to make it worth giving a read, so that was never really in doubt.

The question was whether or not it was going to be new. He mentions himself in an essay after the main story–an eight-pager accompanied by design sketches, hence the $0.99 cover price–that he’s dipped into politically edged super-hero work before, most notably in the pages of his ridiculously awesome run on Stormwatch and The Authority, the latter of which even has a story later on where its cast of tough-guy super-heroes depose the government and take over the country. The danger of falling into a repetitive story where another well-written hard-man who is completely different from, say, the Midnighter in that he wears a white Sgt. Pepper outfit instead of a black one is there, and with only eight pages of story to go on, it’s too early to tell if it’s going to go that route or dish up something we haven’t seen.

But like I said: It’s Warren Ellis, it’s good, it’s cheap, and this one at least didn’t ship with any variants, despite having been published by Avatar. There’s not much of a reason not to get it if you like Ellis, and as the record will show from the time I named Nextwave the best comic of the Willennium, I do.





Buffy the Vampire Slayer #4: With the exception of Fray and certain aspects of his portrayal of the Punisher, I’ve been enjoying pretty much everything Joss Whedon’s written for comics over the past few years, and yet it still feels weird to be this excited about any comic book version of a licensed television property.

But really, can you blame me? Even if I wasn’t already enjoying what was going on in this book–which, considering that it’s basically been one long sequence of pretty girls punching out demons for the past three months, is probably to be expected–this one includes a scene where Buffy uses her magical Iron Fist powers, and, well, that’s all I need to know to flip right out about something.

Really, though, it’s a fantastic read. This issue closes out the first story arc–or, if you want to stretch the television metaphor dangerously thin, the four-issue “season premiere”–and it is all-out action, but more importantly, it’s very well-done. Whedon’s dialogue, admittedly a love-it-or-hate-it aspect of his writing, is as sharp here as it ever was on the show, and when you throw in the highly underrated talents of Georges Jeanty and the ability to go as crazy as you darn well please with the special effects in comics, it makes for some highly entertaining stuff.


Countdown #47: And with this issue, it’s officially not worth it anymore. I know I was feeling optimistic about the book last month, given my curiosity over the Jimmy Olsen plot, but there’s only so much I can take, and even with Sean McKeever scripting it, this issue’s just terrible, and it largely boils down to Black Adam.

I was under the impression that we were going to be done with that guy for a while, what with the fact that there was an entire, thoroughly unreadable “event” book that apparently had the effect of robbing him of his powers for about three weeks. And to make matters worse, the entire climax of that piece of crap was that Captain Marvel changes his magic word from “Shazam” to something else. And yet, here he is, using the one word that we actually know it isn’t to give Mary Marvel a new mini-skirt. It’s a classic case of dropping the ball, and it’s one too many stupid mistakes that’ll have to be fixed somewhere else for my tastes.

And if that wasn’t enough to get me to drop this thing, then the misplaced apostrophe in the backup story sure as heck is. “Earth’s” is a possessive, folks, not a plural.

Thus, Countdown has been downgraded from “annoying and uninteresting” to “utterly worthless,” and you know what that means. Help me out here, Snoop Dogg:



Detective Comics #833: And on the flipside of the Paul Dini coin, we’ve got this one. A lot of folks–heck, me included–have made jokes about how this issue’s Zatanna story essentially amounts to Dini writing fan-fiction about his wife, the decidedly Zatanna-esque Misty Lee, but heck: If I was married to someone who could be credibly described as a real-life version of everyone’s favorite fishnetted sorceress, I’d probably be reminding you guys at every opportunity too.

I kid, of course: Dini’s take on Zatanna goes back to his excellent work on Batman: The Animated Series, which he stops just short of referencing in this issue, and I’ve been looking forwad to this one for a while. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if it was quite worth the wait. It’s not a bad issue, per se, even if Dini decided to go ahead and go the Jeph Loeb route of retconning a childhood meeting between Zatanna and Bruce Wayne in a flashback, which is never a good sign. It doesn’t work too badly here, though, but while I could just be worn down by my annoyance over the fill-in issues or the fact that someone standing right next to Batman pulls out a gun and shoots someone while Batman elects to stand there pulling the craziest face I’ve ever seen instead of, y’know, being Batman and stopping him, it left me pretty underwhelmed. Maybe it’s just me, and I’ll wonder what the heck I was thinking once I read the next issue, but there it is.


Invincible #42: Yes, it’s a dollar less than usual, and yes, it’s a perfect jumping-on point for new readers, but all that really matters is that this issue features a byline reading “Written by David Campbell.”

Damn you, Campbell. One day, revenge will be mine.


New Warriors #1: This is another one of those books that I wasn’t really expecting to pick up this week, mostly owing to the fact that Marvel’s been marketing it as a New Warriors title from the guy who wrote Underworld, and to put it charitably, Underworld is not very good.

Fortunately, New Warriors contains exactly zero instances of the word “lycan,” thus marking a drastic improvement in Kevin Grevioux’s writing right off the bat. Even better, the first issue’s actually pretty compelling, and with Paco Medina handling art chores, it’s not half bad to look at, either. I don’t have any sort of attachment to the New Warriors as a team–I don’t think I’d ever actually read an issue of the comic before last week–but Grevioux starts things off by using a couple of people that I do care about–Including Wind Dancer from DeFilippis and Weir’s late, lamented run on New X-Men, who I thought had been cast into limbo along with anybody else who made it out of that run without getting shot in the head–as the POV characters for a new team of anti-registration heroes. It’s a great start for a new series, and even though I went into it looking for a fight, I was left pretty impressed. Here’s hoping it holds up.


Omega Flight #3: You know, I honestly have no idea what happened here. Mike Oeming and Scott Kolins are the team behind Thor: Blood Oath, which was easily one of the most fun mini-series of the past few years, and yet this thing just sucks. I swear, it’s like it gets worse with every page, although that could just be me getting more and more annoyed at the fact that I’m reading a comic book with a crying super-hero on the cover, which, honestly, is something we never need to see again. Or maybe it’s the fact that we’re three issues into one fight with the Wrecking Crew, a gang of thugs that it took the Runaways all of four pages to deal with, with no end in sight. Or maybe that Canada’s premier super-team boasts exactly one (1) Canadian, unless you count the one who’s been tied up in a basement for the past two issues, or that Kollins’ pencils would look fantastic if it looked like they were inked, or if I had any idea what the point of this whole miserable exercise was. Needless to say, it’s dropped, but you know what?

This thing doesn’t even deserve a funny picture to go along with it.


Spider-Man Family #3: I’ve mentioned before that as someone who works in comics retail, I love the idea of Spider-Man Family, especially with it hitting the shelves right around the release of Spider-Man 3. It’s an easy solution for parents: Five bucks gets you a giant magazine that’s a lot more substantial than a three-dollar single issue, with a couple of all-new stories, a reprint or two, a Chris Giarrusso Mini-Marvels strip, and even some of that mildly ridiculous manga that the kids seem to like so much these days. What amazes me every month, though, is how much I end up liking it in practice, and this issue’s a perfect example of why.

Those of you who enjoy things that are totally awesome may remember Paul Tobin as the writer–along with ISB favorite Colleen Coover–of Banana Sunday, and he leads this month’s stuff with a kid friendly story where Sue Storm nearly bludgeons someone with a brick. No, really, it’s great, kids’ll love it. But the big news–for me, anyway–comes from Fred Van Lente and Leonard Kirk bringing us the return of the New Scorpion in a story where she battles the New Venom, who used to be the Old Scorpion, and while I may be the only one who thinks that’s totally rad, I love New Scorpion enough for everybody. Snag a copy at your local store and give it a shot. If you don’t like it, you can always give it to a kid… and heck, if you do like it, you can give it to a kid. The magic of reading is a gift beyond measure, chuckles.


Witchblade/Punisher #1: You know, folks, devotion is a funny thing. I, for instance, have devoted a significant portion of my time over the past couple of years to acquiring and reading as many Punisher comics as I possibly can, and even though I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to end well, my devotion to this task has led me to break a life-long streak of studiously avoiding anything involving Witchblade. Truly, it is the end of an era.

I hardly even need to mention it, but this thing? Yeah, not very good, even by Punisher standards. Heck, it’s not very good even by Punisher crossover standards, and that’s saying something. Witchblade’s transporting some Russian guy who’s going to turn state’s evidence, and rather than waiting for him to give his deposition and then killing him, Frank decides to hop a bus over to Top Cowville (or wherever Witchblade lives) and cap him on the way over. Witchblade, of course, has a problem with this, which…



Zzhuh?! Whuh? Oh, sorry, nodded off there for a second. You guys know where this is going anyway. Avoid, and be glad that you haven’t chosen the grim, perilous path of the Punisher fan. The challenges are great, friends, although to be fair, as we’ll find out next week, the rewards are magnificent.



And that’s the week! But before I take off, a quick announcment.

Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago, I directed your attention to my pal Chad Bowers, who’s currently competing in the Dimestore Publications “Small Press Idol” competition with his latest creation, Danger Ace, and the voting’s on to get through to the next round.

I’m mentioning it here because I think it’s awesome, and since you’re (theoretically) here to find out what I think about these comics I read every week, odds are you’ll think it’s awesome too. Their site can be a pain to navigate, and it might well be locked down by the time you read this to do the daily vote count, voting requires a relatively painless registration, but trust me, it’s worth the trouble. And why?

Because of this:



That, my friends, is Zombie King Kong, and on the next page, Danger Ace jumps out of an airplane and kicks him in the face. So head on over to Dimestore and check it out. If you voted last time, you already know the drill, but if you haven’t, there’s a 3-page preview PDF to download, and if you like what you see, register and vote “YES” for Danger Ace. And if you don’t, well, it’s zombie King Kong being kicked in the face. If you don’t like that, what the heck are you doing here?

And with that, I’m done here. As always, any questions, concerns or comments about anything I read this week can be dropped into the comments section below. As for me, I’m gonna go read a few pages of Witchblade/Punisher and sleep ’til noon.

40 thoughts on “The Week In Ink: June 7, 2007

  1. Best part of the new Dynamo 5? When the young college-boy F.L.A.G. agent uses Occam’s Razor to tell the agent with 30 years experiance that its MORE likely that Dynamo (who has shapeshifting as 1 of his 5 powers) has returned from the dead then that a shapeshifter might be impersonating him…

    Even though part of this F.L.A.G. groups mission is to debrief the Dynamo 5 kids. One of whom is a shapeshifter…

    Yep college apparantly teaches you to misuse Occam’s Razor. Old Guy Agent should have shot his “boss” for the good of the nation. People that stupid shouldn’t be in leadership positions of spy agencies…

  2. It seems, Chris, you’ve proven my theory correct, and that for the right price you’ll pimp anybody’s stuff.

    Thanks for the Danger Ace shout out, and for your vote.

  3. Also I’m surprised F.E.A.R. Agent isn’t on your pull list. A drunken Bruce Campbell style pulp hero who fights aliens? Seems right up your alley…

  4. So much rage at Countdown’s grammar, and not a mention of Julia Carpenter’s “YOUR an ass” in Omega Flight? It was the final straw that convinced me to drop it.

  5. I’m very disappointed in you, Mr. Sims. A perfect opportunity to pimp one of the most underrated books on shelves, THE ALL-NEW ATOM, with your patented Kick of the Week spot, and you give it to some TV tie in? Sad, man. Just sad.

  6. Chris, I think you’re wrong about Black Adam.

    He lost his powers near the end of 52. You have to remember that up to Countdown, we have not only the last 52 issues and the first Countdown issues, but one whole year of the “One Year Later” issues.

    The timeline is: One Year (52) (somewhere near the end of it Black Adam lost his powers) – then One Year Later (the one year *after* 52 which was shown *simultaneously* with 52, and during that year somewhen Black Adam regained his powers, to be seen in the upcoming Black Adam miniseries) – and finally, after the “One Year later” year, starts Countdown, which is “now” and moves with the “now” in the DC multiverse. Therefore, from the moment Black Adam lost his powers up to what we saw in last week’s Countdown, one year plus a few weeks have passed.

    As to the return of “Shazam”, as the key to Adam’s powers, I can assume that Captain Marvel essentially hacked Teth Adam’s account with the Marvel powers and changed his password, so that Adam couldn’t access his ‘account’ any more. Down the line, during the “One Year Later” one year (duh!) period (in the Black Adam mini which will be released this summer), Black Adam manages to access his ‘account’ again by finding his changed password and proceeds to do the logical thing, which is to change his password to something easy to remember, which is the classic word “Shazam”. I think what we’ve seen so far still makes sense and I see no major plot/editorial error.

    I will now shut down my brain.

  7. I’ve been immensely enjoying Buffy – it feels like the TV show, which is just amazing to me that it can be captured in print. I love too that it allows them to do goofy and fun stuff like giant Dawn, which wouldn’t have worked out on TV.

    This issue bothered me quite a bit with the apparent mutilation of Willow, which, yes, to quote Monty Python “got better”, but I’m burnt out on Joss putting lesbians through the wringer and just general violence towards women in all of comics right now. And damn, for not showing anything, I found it disturbingly graphic.

  8. I think julian is trying for a “no-prize” with that explanation of why Black Adam is powered again.

    What I find interesting is watching Sims reviews shrink every week. Its reflective of the crap that is out there now.

  9. Julian’s right about the Black Adam timeline. I’m just not sure it *matters.*

    It’s been a year in-story; but it’s still only been five weeks or something for us. It’s bad storytelling to drop the Adam bomb on us again so soon; it creates the *feeling* in the reader that all that sound and fury didn’t signify a whole lot. We, or at least, I, needed Adam to be offstage for much longer to feel at all satisfied with the end of his 52 arc.

    I also think it’s bad storytelling to spoil the password that Adam had to find at the end of his quest, and also that it’s a bad password– “I’m sorry” is just too likely to have come out of Teth-Adam’s mouth sometime that was well shy of real repentance.

    I’ll switch the metaphor– I doubt that Adam got to reset his password once he was in the account. I think Billy just put a one-time block on– “you won’t be able to use Shazam until you’ve once said ‘I’m sorry.'”

  10. Before my eye caught the logo I thought that kid was in the middle of tagging Iron Man on behalf of the nWo. ‘Cause when you’re nWo, you’re nWo 4 LIFE!

  11. “I’m sorry” was the phrase? I would think that it would take real repentence to make the magic work again. I guess I’ll read the story in the store to get the scoop.

    I still think that the day is coming soon that I will come to this blog and that Chris will ony review books published before 1986 with a few modern books thrown in.

  12. It’s been a year in-story; but it’s still only been five weeks or something for us. It’s bad storytelling to drop the Adam bomb on us again so soon; it creates the *feeling* in the reader that all that sound and fury didn’t signify a whole lot. We, or at least, I, needed Adam to be offstage for much longer to feel at all satisfied with the end of his 52 arc.

    Yeah, I agree. It’s sloppy to just have Black Adam “back” that fast, especially with the fact he was delegated to Magneto-like-post-HoM (ugh) status after 52. Then again, “Xorn” gave Magneto his powers back pretty fast too… so maybe both EICs need a tuna upside the head.

  13. Chris – You’ve mentioned before that the Max Punisher is a hard book to review, and with good reason. It’s very formulaic, but hey, Coca-Cola rules the world because it follows a formula.

    But really, man… The Maxification of Lady Punisher? That’s… That’s fucked up.

  14. Chris, I think you’re wrong about Black Adam.

    He lost his powers near the end of 52. You have to remember that up to Countdown, we have not only the last 52 issues and the first Countdown issues, but one whole year of the “One Year Later” issues.

    Yeah, except that neither the OYL books nor Countdown are taking place in “real time,” like 52 did. The OYL stuff has taken, in “continuity” like a month–maybe two at the outset–which is still a pretty ridiculously short time for Black Adam to not have his powers, considering the ridiculous mess they went through getting him to that point.

    Also, Captain Marvel specifically states that he’s changed Black Adam’s magic word, not that he put a child safety lock on it or something. And if it was just as easy as going in and changing it back, then why didn’t Captain Marvel Junior, who couldn’t even say his own name without being struck by lightning, ever go in and change his?

    And yes, I know it’ll be revealed in the Black Adam mini-series, and that you can hammer it enough to that it kinda-but-not-really makes sense, but you know what? I don’t particularly want to read a Black Adam mini-series, and it’s not my job to force it to make sense. It’s Paul Dini and Sean McKeever’s job, and they didn’t do it.

    What I find interesting is watching Sims reviews shrink every week. Its reflective of the crap that is out there now.

    The reviews are short so that I can actually get a couple hours of sleep on Thursday nights. Heck, I like most of the comics I read–I wouldn’t read ’em if I didn’t–but there’s only so many times I can tell you guys that Jack of Fables is good or that Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane makes me giggle like a schoolgirl before we all get bored of hearing it.

    And besides, SMLMJ never printed my letter. Jerks.

  15. I was going to post about TANA, but Zach Adams beat me to it. I reread the issue, notice the part where Ryan kicks one of Ray Palmer’s schlub adversaries in the helmet, and I thought, “This is making ISB for sure.” Guess I was wrong.

    While I’m thinking about it…who are the Atom Rogues? One of them looks like Thinker, but I’m guessing that isn’t the case.

    As for Countdown…I’m waiting until I hit the conventions, where I can pick it up for 50 cents. It’s a lot fewer headaches that way. Right now, I’d be mad if they killed Kyle Rayner, since I’m one of those who hopped onboard the GL bandwagon in the mid-90s, and I like Kyle a helluva lot more than Hal.

  16. All this ire over a typo, and yet I find this: Fortnately, New Warriors contains exactly zero instances of the word “lycan,”

  17. …because of course we pay for the ISB. And also, because of the fixed nature of blogging, Sims can’t just go back and re-edit the code.

  18. I would have bet money on the facekick from Atom #12 being kick of the week. Damn!

    And that Hulk panel looks more like the one shot from Army of Darkness, with Ash and the skeletons.

    And yeah, Black Summer had some variants. But the main story was only eight pages? Really? Huh. I didn’t even notice. Hurrah for super-compression!

  19. I actually agree about the blowage of Countdown: I’m done with it too.

    But, because I cannot resist geekage about comics plotlines, a thought.

    I’m thinking that’s NOT BLACK ADAM. It’s Eclipso. The whole thing is a trick designed to make Mary Marvel flip to the villains. So she’ll be tested, she’ll do some modestly naughty things, she’ll come to the Moment of the Supreme Test or whatever and say, NOES! I wants to be good. And voila! she will be Dini-verified as “interesting” because she is no longer merely charismatic and nice.

    Also, I know it’s gotten lots of hate already, but that cover completely skeeves me out. I’d rather read *six* stories with Hal Jordan dousing his crotch in ice water around Supergirl than see a cover with Mary Marvel getting lightning-bolted on her breasts.

  20. Regarding Black Adam’s “shazam” password,
    I don’t think that’s actually Black Adam. I know the Countdown has been pretty lousy but I’m going to give the writers the benefit of the doubt on this one. Even if Black Adam found the password, how would he be able to change it. From my understanding of 52 only Capt Marvel had administrative abilities to do that. I’m guessing that we’ll find out it was someone else (a la Felix Faust as Dr Fate) who has given Mary these powers that will inevitably have some corrupting power on her. If this is the case then the question is why was she dumb enough to think that that was really Black Adam when she would know that Shazam wasn’t the password.

  21. I bought four copies of Black Summer (to pass out to friends- spread the word with cheap comics!), and I only saw the variant. Go figure.

    Is anyone else as disappointed as I was that Black Adam’s new magic word wasn’t something like Madakcalb? Or Kimota?

  22. Hey Chris, are you still doing that monthly review of the previews? that was good stuff.

    Maybe I’m just stupid, but I’m having trouble spotting the mistake in this sentence:
    Fortnately, New Warriors contains exactly zero instances of the word “lycan,”

  23. Yeah. I’m planning on getting to this month’s Previews tomorrow night, actually. I’ve just been trying to knock out a bunch of other stuff while I’m at it.

  24. Spencer, the commenters are assuming that Chis meant to write “Fortunately,” i.e. “It’s a good thing,” rather than “Fortnately,” i.e. in a manner resembling Fort Nate, a heavily defended White Plains bungalow that served as a home to Cable in the early ’90s X-titles.

    But there, my darlings, we enter the murky waters of authorial intentionality.

  25. see, that’s why they should have had american eagle on the cover. he only cries when you litter.

    and i don’t care what anyone says. archie/witchblade was AWESOME.

  26. So, Shazam’s magic words are completely analagous to RSA-encrypted passwords and secure system administration protocols?

    Well, that doesn’t sound like any fun at all!!

  27. You missed the biggest gaffe in Avengers: The Initiative #3.

    Shocker and Boomerang are tech-based, so the black ops team was using the massively expensive power-canceling darts on people who have NO POWERS!

  28. I actually saw that, but there’s no mention of it actually affecting their power, so you can at least write it off as just loading up a gun with the darts and shooting it at whoever they find.

    Admittedly, that’s a phenomenal waste of money, considering that the price per dart is listed in the millions, but, well, it is the government.

  29. Countdown is really a failure because almost none of it makes any sense to me – I feel like I have to possess intricate DCU information to make heads and tails of what is going on and I could get by easily in 52 without that. I definitely felt like I was missing some stuff in 52 but could still easily parse the story – here it’s just incoherent. The karate kid stuff is annoying – the Rogues is boring -and whether or not that is Black Adam – it’s way too soon to see more of him. I am BA burned out from 52. Bye bye to Countdown.