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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dollar Comic Review: Incredible Hulk #300

A few days ago, Kevin posted an excerpt from an interview with noted raconteur and Eightball creator Dan Clowes, who had this to say about the comics of his youth:

"I remember talking to my other friends who read superhero comics, and they liked them on such a different level than I did. They were like, 'Yeah, when Iron Man fights the guy, and punches him in the face, it’s so awesome!'"

He goes on to discuss how he was more attracted to the "pop iconography" of his comics, which is all well and good, but seriously? I am literally that guy he was talking about. Not in the sense that I was a childhood friend of the guy behind Ghost World, but in that I read Iron Man #200 today and subsequently used the word "awesome" to describe it like eight times.

Yes, as much as I fancy myself a font of legitimate comics criticism, we all know the truth: Comics With Punching are my religion.

And Bill Mantlo is my messiah.


"DAYS OF RAGE!"
October, 1984
Writer: Bill "The Thrill" Mantlo
Artists: Sal Buscema and Gerry Talaoc
Cover: Brett Blevins

The Plot
The Hulk goes on a rampage through New York. Seriously, that's it. Just the Hulk tearing up Manhattan for forty pages. It is beautiful and perfect in every way.

Okay, so there's slightly more to it than that. After screwing around with Dr. Strange, something that never works out well for anyone except Dr. Strange, Bruce Banner's personality is completely gone along with whatever slight hold it had to keep the Hulk from being a purely savage engine of destruction. Therefore, savagery and destruction ensue, leaving SHIELD, the National Guard, the Avengers, and pretty much anybody else who isn't off on another planet to stop him.

That doesn't exactly work out so well, to the tune of the Hulk punching anyone and everyone in the face, pounding the Vision into the ground like a nail, tearing up streets, and generally making me cackle with glee at every scene. Back in the day, the Hulk did this sort of thing all the time, stomping through small-town America and giving whatever Avengers were on call at the time--usually Iron Man--a sound thrashing in the process. It sort of gives you the idea that any city in the country was one flat tire away from being leveled by a monster in purple pants.

Which is why I love Marvel Comics.

Unfortunately, even the most awesome rampage can't last forever, and eventually Dr. Strange decides to get with the program and sends the Hulk to another dimension, thus assuring that everything works out okay.

Highlights
  • In one of my favorite comic book tricks, the title actually appears in the story, this time on a rooftop billboard advertising "DAYS OF RAGE!", which the Hulk uproots and uses to smack around a bunch of SHIELD jets.
  • The Hulk spends the entire issue punching through buildings, tearing up asphalt and smacking super-heroes around, and it's pretty much all Dr. Strange's fault. So what's he doing while the Hulk puts the innocent men of the New York National Guard in danger?

    Kickin' it on his stoop.

    I love that he's out there in his cape and all, just chillaxin'. "Huh? Oh, right, the mindless and unstoppable destructive monster. I'm right on top of that, Wong."
  • Throughout this entire book, the Hulk communicates solely in growls and captions by Mantlo explaining how he really hates words. If I could, I would gay marry this comic book.
  • Speaking of the National Guard, the story takes time off from the Hulk tossing around cars to show the call going out from Mayor Ed Koch, who has to explain the situation by saying "Yes, Governor, it's that serious!" Apparently, the Marvel Universe version of Mario Cuomo is a little slow on the uptake.
  • The National Guard's useless! The Human Torch can't even slow him down! Not even the Mighty Avengers can stop him! Who, I ask you, WHO can we send to battle the Hulk?!


POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.


    There are two things we can learn from this panel.

    1) Iron Fist is going to go fight the Hulk armed with nothing but his badass kung fu. That makes Iron Fist the baddest motherfucker alive.

    2) Luke Cage chooses to hang back and offer words of encouragement. That makes Luke much smarter than Iron Fist.

  • When the Avengers finally show up, they decide to hang back and let Starfox, The Creepiest Avenger, have a go at stopping the Hulk. His method of choice? "Overwhelming his anger in waves of... pleasure!" Thanks, Eros. Hulkgasms are exactly what we need. He is immediately punched the length of a page and not heard from again.
  • HAVE AT THEE! Eventually, the Avengers remember that they have Thor on their team, and clear out to make room for the giant sound effects that ensue. It is awesome. The Hulk grabs an adamantium staue of himself, and the sound from Mjolnir striking it is so loud that it deafens the Hulk, giving Dr. Strange a chance to show up and send him to another dimension. And it didn't even take Reed Richards being an asshole to do it, either.


Defining Moment
Feast thine eyes, humans, upon Page One of this masterpiece:

HULK MAKES BABIES CRY.


How terrifying is a gamma-powered rampage? Mothers will abandon their infant children to be crushed by a stampede in their rush to escape its terror.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Like Old Yeller, But With Heat Vision

There's a lot been made recently of the last issue of Infinite Crisis, where Superboy-Prime goes on something of a head-punching spree, but really: Decapitating Pantha and bisecting Bushido is hardly what caught my eye in that issue as far as Acts of Tremendous Evil go. And it's not like that's what made Connor Kent so mad, either.

I mean... He kicked the guy's dog.

Now that's just low. And as we all know, when you kick somebody's dog, superpowers notwithstanding, it is on til the break of dawn.

But still, it's not like we shouldn't have seen this coming. Krypto's been around for a while now, and there's a dangerous precedent for this type of thing occurring, especially when Superboy's around.

Aww! Don't worry, Krypto... the ISB still loves you!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Amaze Your Friends! Terrify Your Enemies!

In addition to stories about Superman throwing shirtless men around and hiding under your bed, DC's recent Superman Chronicles also features a three-part series that ran in the original books on how to acquire Clark Kent's fantastic super-powers for yourself.

So tonight, as a public service to the readers of the ISB, I bring you this triptych, in the knowledge that you will use your new-found superpowers for awesome. They may seem a little odd, but once you realize that they were probably written by Jerry Siegel, the man responsible for Matter-Eater Lad and last night's other shenanigans, that's to be expected.

I'm seriously considering having "Be Moderate In Your Exertions" tattooed across my stomach in gothic font like Tupac's "Thug Life." It just speaks to me.

Seriously? If making a fist and jerking it back and forth gave you super-strength, I'd be the frigg'n Hulk by now.

WARNING: Attempting to develop your X-Ray Vision Power using a telephone pole and a pencil may result in rapid and grotesque hair loss.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Crank File, Part 2

Ever since I put together the FUTUREBOX, this year's 31st century answer to the Box of Punishment, I've been on a pretty serious Legion of Super-Heroes kick, even going so far as to borrow Ben's copy of the Legion Archives, volume 1.

And that's where I saw the craziest thing I've ever seen.

It's one of those things where you read it, read it again, and then have to go tell someone else about it before your head explodes, which is the sort of thing you're going to have to expect when you're reading a series predicated on a bunch of teenagers going back in time for the sole purpose of screwing with Superboy because they like him so much. And I feel it's only fair to warn you: it may very well blow your mind.

Let's get to it!

The story in question is called "The Fantastic Spy," and it comes from Adventure Comics #303, notable for being the first story to feature everyone's favorite Legionnaire, Matter-Eater Lad, who joins up and immediately heads off the collective "What the fuck?" of youngsters everywhere by explaining how he could actually be useful:

"Quick, guys! Make a break for it while I distract the guard by fellating this iron bar!"


I love how that panel's obviously directed straight at the reader, who's three seconds away from dropping this thing and picking up the nearest issue of Fantastic Four immediately upon reading a name as ridiculous as "Matter-Eater Lad." But it's not the craziest thing that happens in this issue by a long shot, and thus we press on.

It's been a rough couple of days for the Legion, what with Lightning Lad and Sun Boy getting injured in a Space Future Rocket Crash. Oh, and it's Thursday, and that means there's a traitor in the Legion! Matter Eater Lad, despite having a steady supply of ray-guns to snack on, is pretty bummed out, because he's the new kid and everyone suspects him, but they're all too polite to come right out and say it. And yet the problem remains: Someone's leaking information that only Legionnaires have access to, and that means it's time to take... drastic measures.


Yes, all of the fantastic technology of The Future at his disposal, and Cosmic Boy's big plan is to turn out the lights and sit in the dark.

To be fair, he also orders Chamelon Boy to turn into a girl for extra secrecy.

"Change into a girl, now!!"


You know, I'm not sure that a purse is really the safest way to transport a Doomsday Bomb, no matter how many ersatz wives you bring along, but hey: We are as cavemen to the children of the future.

Anyway, the plan fizzles despite the double-secret super-precautions of sitting in the dark and cross-dressing, and the helmets they put on to block telepathic eavesdropping pretty much just make them look like Schultz from Hogan's Heroes, so they lose custody of a purse-sized Doomsday Bomb and Meglaro, The Giant Yellow Space-Fetus That Lives In a Bubble.

Nope, still not the crazy part. But it's coming, brother. It's coming.

Thanks to some quick deduction and a Clever Ruse™, Brainiac 5's able to determine that Matter-Eater Lad isn't the traitor--and in fact, there's not really a traitor at all! No, the security leak in the Legion is actually...

Brace yourselves:

A LITTLE MAN WITH A RADIO THAT LIVES INSIDE SUN BOY'S ANKLE.



Holy crap! That's... That's...

It is beautiful and terrible.

I love it... and despair.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Few Things You May Not Know About Superman

No matter how tough you think you are, Superman is fully prepared at all times to give you the severest thrashing of your life.

Said thrashing may or may not include being thrown headfirst into a barrel of tar.

Superman will occasionally demand that you fight to the death for his amusement. It's best to just go along with it, unless you want to end up in a barrel of tar. Just sayin'.

Superman does not appreciate your paltry skills at cooking.

Superman has been known to throw shirtless men around locker rooms. That's just how he rolls.

There is a strong possibility that Superman is under your bed right now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Week In Ink, 2-22-06

The next time someone calls the store and insists that "a collector" would be interested in a beat-up copy of Venom: Lethal Protector they found whilst tearing down a house, this is what I'm going to say:

I imagine it'll be quite liberating.




Comics

All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #2: Dear Marvel: In the future, if you're going to put out a handbook and you have a character that used to be on X-Force but is now in Nextwave, try to use the beautiful Stuart Immonen art you have for the profile, as it is not utter shit like the Rob Liefeld art you used for Boom-Boom. I mean, I realize it's just frigg'n Boom-Boom, but still. You sent the man another check, and I thought we had moved past that phase.

Astonishing X-Men #13: You know, it's weird. I never even thought I'd want to see a comic book where Wolverine fights a roomful of children in the dark, but now that I have, I never want to read a comic without it again.

Captain America #15: Don't get me wrong: I like this book an awful lot, but to call it the Best Series of 2005 seems like just another stunning example of the pure insanity that flows like wine from the pages of Wizard magazine. Especially with how long it took the Winter Soldier story to wrap up. So let's see what 2005's best comic has to offer this week. Ah, a hot teenage girl getting slapped around by a guy in a skull mask. Delightful! (No, seriously, it really is a pretty good issue.)

Invincible Script Book #1: I've got a soft spot for comic book scripts, although I'm reasonably certain that the only scriptbook I've made it all the way through was the one for the first six issues of Greg Rucka's Queen & Country. Still, I find them pretty fascinating, and getting the scripts to the first six issues of Invincible for four bucks is not the sort of offer I'm willing to pass up. Plus, it's always nice to go through and find out which writers mix up words like "bawling" and "balling," which--in the proper context--can be hilarious.

JLA Classified #17

Legion of Super-Heroes #15: I'm always a little wary when it comes to a fill-in issue, but even beyond the fact that this one has Tyroc And His Thighs right there on the cover, this issue also features Karate Kid fighting Super-Gorilla Grodd, which means it's more awesome than 90% of the things in the known universe. Plus, that letter column's great.

Mouse Guard #1: Being as I'm not exactly a fan of your Brian Jacques and the like, I initially passed this one up when I saw it in Previews. That was, of course, before the entire Comics Blogger Internet stood up as one being and flipped out about it, so I figured it might be a good idea of I got it, just to keep up. I'm very glad I did, since it turned out to be every bit as good as everyone was hoping. It's a little light on story and it reads quick, but it's utterly charming and highly enjoyable, with absolutely gorgeous art.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #3: I haven't kept my love of this series a secret by any stretch of the imagination, but when Chad asked me just what about it I liked so much, I found I couldn't exactly put it into words. Between that and my all-consuming obsession with Degrassi, I'm willing to entertain the possibility that I may actually be a teenage girl.

The Thing #4

Wonder Woman #226: I like the Greg Rucka Wonder Woman run a heck of a lot, but I'm not exactly sure why they didn't just go ahead and end this book last month. It would've been a nice round number at 225 and it certainly read like a last issue, but instead we have this, a wholly unnecessary story about how Superman and Wonder Woman are pals with a suspicious amount of references to this classic of Western Literature:

That story, incidentally, features Clara Kent and her coworkers Jenny Olsen and Louis Lane, and is utterly beautiful in every way. Especially the way that they just went ahead and put Wonder Woman's costume on a guy and then decided "No, you know what? That's a little too gay. Better color in the legs." And yet they left the male Black Canary's outfit alone...




Trades

Superman Chronicles v.1: I really like the idea of DC's line of "Chronicles" trades in theory, but it seems to fall apart in practice. The whole point of it, after all, is to get--just like it says on the cover--every Superman story in exact chronological order on the cheap, which would be a great idea if they were actually going to do it. The first volume of the Batman Chronicles came out last year and unless I've completely missed it, Volume 2 has yet to be even solicited. It's worth picking up though, as it will teach you the valuable lesson that Golden Age Superman Does Not Fuck Around. I mean, there's a panel in here where he gives some ne'er-do-wells, and I quote, "the thrashing of their lives" before they "flee from the man of steel's fury." That's gold.




Media

Ultimate Avengers DVD: I watched this last night, and to say the least, it could've been a lot better. The actual fight with the Hulk at the end is pretty awesome when they finally get to it, and any scene with Thor is well worth it, but the rest of the movie just felt like they took out everything edgy and cool from Mark Millar's original scripts and turned it into a pretty decent episode of GI Joe, complete with standard-issue Cobra laser cannons. It's no Justice League. Still, if this is what it takes to get a direct-to-video animated movie where Spider-Man fights Swarm for an hour, I would buy a thousand.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Crank File: Brave and the Bold #81

As a general rule, I'm not someone who likes to apply the laws of science to the world of comic books, a process that inevitably tramples every ounce of fun out of them like grapes at an old-fashioned winery. Sometimes it's enough to just shrug and accept what's happening instead of trying to figure out just why Superman shoots a little version of himself out of his hands sometimes or how Metamorpho's guitar rocks out with the power of laser beams. But sometimes, it's too much even for me.

Ben has a theory that these kind of moments are the result of a pure and gleeful contempt for the audience on the part of Golden and Silver Age comics creators, and while I can't say I totally agree with him, he did formulate said theory while reading through the Golden Age Flash Archives, where radioactive hard water allows a guy to run fast and strip gangsters at super-speed, so I've got to admit he's got a point.

Which is why I've decided to throw the power of the ISB into spotlighting these, the Bat-Shit Craziest Moments of the Silver Age.

I've recently been reading through DC's totally awesome and absolutely gorgeous Batman by Neal Adams hardcovers, which are rife--RIFE, I say!--with this sort of thing, like the time in World's Finest where Batman and Superman have a friendly battle of wits that involves a glass cage full of poison gas and a hidden, punch-activated atomic bomb, but for the moment that blows them all away, we turn tonight to The Brave and the Bold #81:

Yes, springing forth from the mind of my personal hero Bob Haney comes Carl Bork, years before he'd turn into a monster and hang out with an underage pickpocket in the pages of The Power Company.

See, Carl just got back from a trip around the world, only to be immediately run over by a truck. That's just how Gotham City rolls, baby. Anyway, he's surprised to learn that he's unharmed and, naturally assuming he's become invulnerable, robs a diner and walks away, shrugging off a cop's bullets, which ricochet harmlessly with sound effects like "BEEONG!" and "SPRANG!" He puts together a gang by letting them hit him with two-by-fours until they're suitably impressed, and then hands Batman his ass in a fistfight.

Fortunately, Barry Allen's in town to check out the Gotham City Forensics Lab, and Batman's able to enlist his help to track down the mysterious source of Bork's power, which turns out to be--of course!--a wooden statue carved by natives of an island he was shipwrecked on. Alas, Barry is immediately conked on the head by a rock (the bane of a surprising number of founding Justice Leaguers), and loses a life-size magical wooden statue, leaving it to be scooped up by a shady yachtsman:

"Gets mighty lonely out here, my wooden friend..." Yeah. That certainly won't be used for unwholesome purposes.

The Flash eventually recovers the statue and tries unsuccessfully to break it by smashing it against rocks and shooting it with futuristic laser beams, spending his time in the lab while Batman is distracting Bork by getting punched, thus proving who exactly is "the bold" around here.

This is about where it starts to get crazy.

Unable to destroy the statue by conventional means, the Flash decides to pick it up and run to the heart of the sun.

Yeah, you heard me. Run to the heart of the sun. And how does he accomplish this feat? Easy.

A giant, conveniently-located ramp. This one's in Central City, I presume for just such an occasion.

Here's where we run into a bit of a snag in Barry's master plan: Even assuming that he's traveling at lightspeed, he's looking at a seventeen-minute round trip, which--giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming a relatively normal breathing rate, means he's dragging five and a half cubic feet of air in his slipstream alongside the statue. And that's before we factor in the Flash's apparent immunity to explosive decompression and the fact that he travels through the sun, which, as you may have heard, is awfully hot. And fairly bright.

These problems, of course, are circumvented by vibrating his molecules, and he runs back to Earth--from the far side of the Sun, mind you--by skipping off a string of asteroids, and the statue, along with Bork's invulnerability, is toast.

Hope you like sandwiches, Bork.

KNUCKLE SANDWICHES!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Much Like Mr. Weatherbee, You Are Now Freaking Out

From Wikipedia:
"In the context of BDSM, bondage involves people being tied up or otherwise restrained for pleasure. Bondage is usually, but not always, a sexual practice. The paraphilia of being sexually aroused by bondage is sometimes known as vincilagnia.

Studies in the U.S. have shown that about a half of all men find the idea of bondage to be erotic; many women do as well. As with any study of sexual thoughts and behavior, the available studies are not well controlled and the best studies are now out of date."


From Jughead With Archie Digest #84:



Discuss.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Purely Theoretical Adventures of Abraham Lincoln

As you may have noticed if you were able to hit the snooze alarm this morning, today's President's Day, and while you've got forty-three heads of state to honor or revile at your option, we all know the real reason we're here:

That's right, the Great Emancipator himself, Abraham Lincoln. He's my favorite president, and not just for his accomplishments while in office, the fascinating drama surrounding his assassination, or even his victories as Illinois State Wrestling Champion. No, my interest in Lincoln goes far beyond what you might call "facts."

I consider myself something of an amateur historian, after all, and over the past few years working down at the Wiz, I've been able to put together a sketchy biography of Lincoln's hidden years, chronicling the time between when he faked his death with the aid of a time-traveling Ben Franklin and his re-emergence as one of the five pilots of The Presitron.

That stuff you learn about in your fancy schools is all well and good, after all, but really: My Lincoln arm-wrestled Scalphunter to the death:



Ventured into depths of space:



Embarked on a crusade of vigilante justice that only the Batman could stop...



...and apparently had his head stolen by what appears to be two guys on flying helicopter motorcycles decorated with skulls and some kind of... flying squirrel-man?

You know what? I have absolutely no idea what's supposed to be going on in this one:

Looks like a heck of an adventure, though.

I've written volumes on the subject, but unfortunately, the major publishers don't seem to think that DC Comics of the '70s and '80s are "entirely historically accurate," or whatever. I think we all know those ivory tower academics are just afraid of the truth.




BONUS FEATURE


In honor of President's Day...

Art by the inimitable Kyle Baker, from the book Undercover Genie. Purchase it immediately, cretins!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

War Journal: The Lost Entries

(Click for a larger image)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Just So You Know






People from the future are jerks.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Luke Cage: A Life In Stereotype

Not too long ago, Morgan Freeman made the comment that the idea of Black History Month is "ridiculous," and I can't say I blame him. The whole idea is to highlight a section of history that might otherwise go undiscussed, but a lot of times it comes off more as a confinement of something that should just be a part of everything else.

And really, if you're still a racist in two thousand and six, then no amount of elementary school reports on the many uses of peanuts is going to change it. You're beyond help.

That's why I think we should get rid of it, replacing it instead with a little thing I like to call Black Spring Break History Month: four weeks of study and discourse on 1998's forgotten classic of film. And its sequel. Because apparently... there was a sequel.

But until that glorious day when director Marlon Parry is hailed as the genius he truly is, I'll just have to work with what I'm given. Which brings me, in a ridiculously roundabout sort of way, to Luke Cage. Because what better way to examine Black History in comics than a look back at the history of the character with the uncanny ability to embody a stereotype whenever he appears.

Scott has this theory that Luke Cage is just one of those guys that we all know who runs out every few years, finding out what the kids these days are into, deciding everything he's done up to this point is stupid and reinventing himself in accordance with the new trends. That makes him seem like more of an affable dope than a self-renewing stereotype, especially when Brian Bendis is trying to write "street." Let's take a look:

Feast thine eyes on Hero For Hire #1, Luke's first appearance, kickin' it blaxploitation style as he uses the Man's own dastardly experiments to get over in the world of ex-con superheroics. Oddly enough, this one's going to end up being the least offensive version of Luke Cage, although there was that cringe-worthy time that Iron Man suggested he refer to himself as "The Ace of Spades."

Jesus, Tony. Just how drunk were you?

Anyway, Luke stuck with this basic look--which inexplicably included a tiara--for a while during his partnership with Marvel's other '70s genre hero and fan of the high-collar, Iron Fist, even sporting the look during the high point of his career, this panel from Power Man and Iron Fist #75:



Then came the '90s, and CAGE, the series where Luke decided to forego his yellow pirate shirt in favor of a leather jacket and metal shin-guards. He also started dropping the Flava Flav-esque "BOYEE" into his conversation with alarming regularity:

Yes, Cage. Yes it is.

(For the record, the story that panel is from involves the Punisher getting cut up by Jigsaw and having new skin grafted to his face by a former med student turned heroin-addict prostitute, which has the result of turning him black for three issues until a story called, and I'm totally serious here, "Fade to White." That, friends, is deserving of its own post.)

That revamp didn't stick either, leading to his appearance in Alias, where Brian Bendis re-established him as an anal sex enthusiast, which subsequently became his most defining characteristic in the past five years. Then came Brian Azzarello's version a few months later, where he hangs out in Harlem strip clubs demanding "a couple hunny" for his services and sporting a costume of sunglasses, gold chains, and headphones that he presumably uses to listen to the "rap" music that the kids like so much. Charming!

Apparently, that's what it takes to get a spot on the Avengers these days, because all he really does otherwise is hang out saying things like "Damn, Girl!" whenever Spider-Woman walks by, and dropping my favorite of Bendis's attempts at slang, "Man, if we wouldn'ta shown up in his face, he'd be wearing a Hydra robe and doin' the robot."

Yep. The Robot. That's what's hot on the streets, all right.

The whole thing adds up to make the current iteration of Cage the most grotesquely stereotypical we've ever had, even without cribbing lines from Public Enemy. And yet, the only person who seems to notice is Robert Kirkman's Invincible:

Maybe it'd be a little bit better if Luke's super-hero costume didn't look like it was cribbed directly from Ali G's closet. Booyakasha!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Week in Ink, 2-15-06

Before we get started with the rundown of this week's comics, I'd like to take a moment to hip you guys to what may be the second-best movie summary that cable television has ever provided us:

WALKER: TEXAS RANGER - Chuck Norris, Clarence Gilyard - "Wedding Bells"
Walker and Alex must evade assassins before getting married; guests Joan Jett and Tom Bosley.

That's right. Chuck Norris can't even get married without having to stop in the middle of the ceremony to drop a roundhouse kick on the woman that sang "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Unfortunately, it came on opposite an episode of Degrassi where Emma's pregnant mom, Spike, was held hostage by Emma's birth father, who was brain damaged into retardation from taking acid and jumping off a bridge like ten years ago.

There is nothing that cool in this week's comics.

But Tales Designed to Thrizzle comes close.

(For the record? The best cable movie summary is the one for The Street Fighter, which, according to my pal Dr. K, was a simple: "Sonny Chiba punches, kicks, and gouges eyes.")




Comics

Batgirl #73: The cover blurb to this one says "The End of Batgirl," and brother, they ain't kiddin'. I've been reading this book since #1, and while it's not the ending I would've picked for the book, or for the character, it's definitely interesting and well-done, and I actually said "Oh shit!" out loud while reading it. It throws the rest of the series into a new light, and I'm keenly interested in what's going to happen next, so Gabrych and Mhan have certainly done their job on that front.

Batman: Year 100 #1: After the OMAC story in his issue of Solo, Paul Pope could pretty much draw whatever he wanted, slap six bucks on the cover, and be virtually assured that I'd pay for it. Which is pretty much what happened. Not that it's bad; it's actually thoroughly enjoyable. The story suffers from having way too much "Was that Batman? I think that was Batman! But Batman doesn't exist!", to the tune of something like every five pages, and the concept of a police force divided into sports teams that compete against each other for busts was an idea that I loved, and wanted to see explored more thoroughly. It's a solid first issue, especially art-wise, and I'm looking forward to the next.

Birds of Prey #91: Fill-In Issues: The Marshmallows of Comics.

Conan #25: Nice to see that nipples actually made it to the cover this time. Unfortunately, they belong to our loincloth-clad Cimmerian hero and not his comely wench-du-jour. Regardless, this book is top-notch every month, right down to the "next issue" box that hypes upcoming issues by Eric Powell and Mike Mignola. Still, it's going to be rough seeing Kurt Busiek go, even if that does mean he'll be kicking ass on Action Comics with Carlos Pacheco.

Daredevil #82: Thanks to a suspcicious lack of church-basement-devil-babies and the new team of Brubaker and Lark, Daredevil's back on my pull list starting with this issue. I liked it quite a bit, and although I get the feeling that a lot of people are going to be jumping off with the departure of Brian "Ol' Cut 'n' Paste" Bendis, but I think the ones who stick around are going to enjoy issues with the same sort of gritty tone, but with things actually happening. This issue, for instance, has a gang fight in prison, Ben Urich getting a stern talking-to from Foggy Nelson, a shock ending that was spoiled by solicitaitons, and--hey, look!--Dakota North!

That's just how she rolls.

The Goon #16: You know, every now and then at work, I'll run across a copy of Valiant's Eternal Warrior #35, which has an extra cover thrown on with an advisory informing the readers that the actual cover is totally intense and for mature audiences only. It never fails that I forget what it is and take a peek, only to be greeted a picture of a severed arm that manages to be, despite the outer cover's warning, incredibly tame. The whole cover's done in shades of red, so you can't really tell if there's any blood, and the arm's clad in a jacket and gloves, so the most violent thing implied by the picture is ripped leather. And yet here we are a mere decade later and this issue of the Goon has a bloody, gouged-out eye-socket right on the cover, and nobody bats a... well, you know. And that's why Eric Powell keeps getting Eisners.

JSA Classified #9: You know, there's just something about two old men punching the bejeezus out of each other that just warms the cockles of my heart.

Justice #4: Hey, imagine that! An Alex Ross comic where Superman comes off as a whiny little bitch! WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Yeah, I'm apparently still buying it, despite the fact that I only end up enjoying about half of every issue--in this case, any panel where Black Manta's wearing his fly turtleneck-and-seashell-medallion combo. Dude's a heartbreaker. Anyway, paying three fifty to enjoy half of a book every two months isn't exactly a good thing for me to be doing, and yet here we are, reading about Green Arrow's condoms. It's perilously close to the chopping block.

The Losers #32: Hot damn! This series has been great since it hit the stands almost three years back, but for sheer ridiculous, over the top, badass action movie fun, it does not get better than this last issue. Andy Diggle and Jock are at the top of their game on this one in every panel, but the three full-page shots in this issue pretty much encapsulate what's great about this book, including the most bad-ass moment Aisha's had in the entire series, and my favorite last page since the last Mike Carey issue of Hellblazer. It's glorious.

Manhunter #19: Kate Spencer finishes up her throwdown with Clint Eastwood her father in this one, but all I want to know is: Would it have killed you to throw Kirk DePaul in there at the end?

New Avengers #16: I've got to admit, this issue was as close to actual entertainment as this book's gotten yet, especially the President's line about Captain America, which I thought was genuinely pretty good. Although really, all I could think while reading through it was "Look out, Alpha Flight! Brian Bendis is Gonna &@#! You Up!" The big winner for this issue, though, was the return of Kickers Motherf#!@ing Inc in the backup story, which turned out to be a highly enjoyable tale of football in hell. I can't believe it even as I type it, but I'm actually kinda excited about the New Universe.

Noble Causes #17: I was never a big fan of Jay Faerber--and I'm still not--but I'm reasonably convinced that Noble Causes was the reason he was put on this planet. It's always sharp, the characters are unfailingly interesting, and the current storyline that pits the Nobles against their opposite numbers, the Blackthornes, has been the best one since a pigtailed Zephyr Noble essentially seduced the devil. It's great stuff, and if you're not reading it, give it a shot. Also, I'm not too proud to admit that I like it a lot when this happens:

The dude knows how to sell comics, that's for sure.

Red Sonja #6: The first story-arc comes to a close, and it's... well, it's Conan with breasts. I know it, you know it, Mikes Oeming and Carey know it, and artist Mel Rubi knows it, perhaps most of all. It's why we're here. Best not to dwell on it.

Runaways #13: There are really only two things you should know about this issue's standalone story that focuses on Molly Hayes, aka Bruiser, aka Princess Powerful: 1) She takes the concept of a sock fulla quarters to a whole new level, and 2) you should read it. There are some people who don't like Runaways. They are not your friends, and when the Revolution comes, they'll be first against the wall.


Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #2: Aside from the fact that it has absolutely gorgeous Joe Kubert art, I'm a little shaky on the story in this one, revolving as it does around a character with one of the worst hair choices in the history of comics. But on the other hand, just look at Bulldozer and his puppy! Awwww!

She-Hulk #5: I really wish Mike Mayhew was doing the covers for this book. I don't know, just something about Greg Horn's that I don't care for, especially when he has to draw anything that isn't a hot lady, like, say, a horse that isn't absolutely terrifying. I certainly won't be getting any sleep soon. Regardless, this is a great issue, with one of the best Awesome Andy jokes Slott's done yet. It's Boston Legal with gamma rays, True Believer.

Supermarket #1: In the grim and perilous world of the future, there shall arise a great beast, capable of laying waste to all who oppose it. It shall have an all-consuming hunger for Brian Wood comics, and--fortunately--we'll have plenty. Dude's a machine. I am, of course, pretty excited about this, as Wood has yet to disappoint since I decided to give his work a fair shake last year. The first issue of Supermarket has me hooked, especially with Kristian's art and the stylized color scheme, and the idea of a thriller told through the eyes of someone obsessed with commercial interaction is a pretty fascinating approach to the genre.

Tales Designed to Thrizzle #2: I didn't sign up for this one, but Tug ordered me one anyway, figuring it'd be something I'd like. I owe Tug big time. This series of short, snappy absurdist strips by Michael Kupperman blew me away, and it's unquestionably the best comic I read all week. I thought about scanning a few of the best gags for tonight's review, but there was literally something on every single page that I thought was worth it. Don't let the $4.50 price tag stop you from buying it, kiddo: It's a bargain at twice the price.

X-Men: Deadly Genesis #4: Huh. "The Third Summers Brother." Now there's a phrase I didn't think I was ever going to need to hear again.

X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl #2: You know, I don't think I'm ever going to want to see another body made of meat products in my comics, but aside from that...




Trades:

Essential Moon Knight v.1: If you need just one reason to pick this one up, I believe I can provide it. Included is a story from Moon Knight Special Edition, originally appearing in Hulk magazine, where Moon Knight takes on one of my pal Scott's favorite villains: The Hatchetman. See, not only is he a guy who wears a crazy mask with a white face and green hair who roves around shirtless murdering nurses, but as Scott says, he's an axe murderer who uses a hatchet, which takes longer and is more painful. Now THAT'S genius.