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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mind-Bending Horror!

This might come as a shock to a few of you, but I'm not a fan of scary movies. I'm a pretty jumpy person by nature, so the shock and surprise of your average slasher flick just comes off as being a lazy scare tactic where I'm concerned.

Me, I prefer the existential dread of an H.P. Lovecraft story, with nameless and unstoppable horrors that the human mind can scarcely comprehend, let alone defeat, always lurking on the edges of darkness and sanity, forever shattering the minds of anyone who dares to learn the Truth.


That is, for the record, The Lyingest Cover In Marvel Comics History.

Not only does Killdozer not have jagged spikes on the end of the shovel or "angry eyebrows" covering its headlights, but it doesn't talk, nobody tries to shoot it with a pistol, and there is not a single woman in this comic book. Apparently, the House of Ideas thought that a piece of construction equipment posessed of a furious bloodlust wasn't enough of a high concept to sell the book without jazzing it up a bit.

Said jazzing is handled in the mildly magnificent Marvel manner by none other than Merry Gerry Conway and Dastardly Dick Ayers, in the comics adaptation of the smash-hit 1974 TV movie written by Theodore Sturgeon, the classic science fiction author who wrote those two really good episodes of Star Trek, both of which involve Spock going bat-shit insane and throwing around bowls of soup.

Unfortunately, they do not involve homicidal tractor hell-bent on revenge.

Our story opens in the fire of a nuclear holocaust obliterating a war between humans and sentient robots that happened a billion years ago, because really, how the hell else are you going to explain what happens next? A quick cut to "a day not long far from tomorrow," and we find a group of hardy construction workers led by Tom Jaeger--who is way more excited about construction work than any right-thinking person should be--essentially abandoned on an island with orders to build... something. The story's not too clear on that.

The only thing that matters is that it requires the use of The D-7, a huge bulldozer nicknamed "Daisy Etta" after the Jaeger-Meister mis-hears scrappy repairman Rivera referring to it as "De Siete." The D-7 does not seem to care for this nickname, and takes the first opportunity to jump up in the air and run Rivera over shortly after demolishing what appears to be an Aztec temple, which, of course, is where billion year-old robotic ghosts go to wait for diesel engines to possess.

Jaeger survives the initial rampge, but Killdozer, with the catlike agility of a six-ton block of metal mounted on tank treads and a cruising speed in excess of five miles per hour, manages to get away, leaving Jaeger to explain exactly what happened.

What follows is the most boring killing spree I have ever read, and despite the fact that in this situation "a magic murderous bulldozer did it!" is actually the most logical explanation for what happens, nobody believes Jaeger when he tells them this every three seconds, until poor Dennis gets turned into a twelve-foot square pancake.

Two murders and an unsuccessful attempt to bribe the magical killing machine later, and Jaeger manages to finally defeat killdozer in an epic battle that lasts all of six panels and essentially amounts to Jaeger and his pal Chub dropping a hair dryer into Killdozer's bathtub.

But hey, at least we've got that cover.

BONUS FEATURE: The Real-Life Killdozer!

From the Wikipedia entry for Killdozer:

"'Killdozer' has been used as a nickname for the armored bulldozer constructed by Marvin Heemeyer and used to demolish a significant portion of Granby, Colorado in the United States of America on June 4, 2004. There is no evidence that Heemeyer ever planned to name his creation, and no one was killed or injured in Heemeyer's rampage."

In 2004, Heemeyer was so angered by a zoning decision by a corrupt city government--which destroyed his business, ruined his property, and cost him $2500 in fines--that he spent six months constructing an armored, impenetrable bulldozer that withstood over 200 gunshots and three explosions, bursting through the walls of his muffler shop and going on a rampage that eventually resulted in the destruction of City Hall and Heemeyer's own suicide.

How the hell had I never heard of this before?

BONUS FEATURE: The Deal of the Century!

Give me two dollars immediately! I must have this power!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Badass Panels, Volume Seven: Daredevil #276

So here's how awesome the Ann Nocenti/John Romita Jr. run on Daredevil is: There's an issue where Daredevil spends twenty-two pages doing nothing but laying around in a park and fighting a murderous vacuum cleaner.

It happens during "Inferno," along with some other great moments, and it's great. And it's not just that I long to see super-heroes engaging in life-or-death struggles against household appliances either--although really, who doesn't? See, in what may be the only case of this happening ever, Nocenti and JR Jr. did some of their best work during company-wide crossovers.

And that's what brings us to tonight's subject, from a little thing you might have heard of called ACTS OF VENGEANCE!

Here's how it all goes down: Due to the evil machinations of Loki, a bunch of super-villains get together and decide to fight people that aren't their arch-enemies (leading to great stuff like Magneto taking on the Red Skull and leaving him buried alive), and Daredevil gets stuck with none other than Doctor Doom. This does not bode well.

And what bodes even worse is that Doom decides to show the Kingpin how to send an assassin after somebody, and delegates his task to ULTRON, THE GENOCIDAL ADAMANTIUM ROBOT, who, if you'll remember from all those times he smacks Thor and Iron Man around, tends to be just slightly out of Daredevil's league.

Even better, Doom decides that the only way to focus Ultron's tendencies to exterminate the Human Race onto one man is to merge all twelve of his previous personalities (including the relatively benevolent Ultron 12), thus creating a robot that's even crazier than normal, what with all the voices in his head and the engaging in robotic mysticism by buliding a sacred mound out of his own discarded heads.

Yes, dear reader, that is awesome.

Fortunately for Daredevil, kicking it in upstate New York for the duration of the story, he has some backup.

Unfortunately, said backup consists of two Inhumans and a woman in what may be the worst exercise outfit in the history of comics:

Meet Number Nine, a genetically modified "perfect woman" with the fashion sense of, well, a blind ninja acrobat, which I imagine is the foundation of her relationship with Daredevil. Her turn-ons include jogging, a good sense of humor, and having existential debates about the nature of freedom with schizophrenic robots. Turn-Offs: Being ritualistically murdered by same.

Ultron takes quite a liking to her when she stumbles on his meditations amidst a circle of Ultron-Heads mounted on stakes, and after smacking Gorgon and Karnak around for a little bit, grabs her and starts hiking up the ersatz mountain, all the while trading thoughts on philosophy and how he'll reach perfection once he gets to the top, at which time he can then go back to killing Daredevil.

Daredevil, meanwhile, does not intend to take this lightly, and decides that desperate times call for awesome measures:

Just so we're clear on this, that is a blind man driving a truck up a mountain of robot heads. Clearly, there can be but one outcome.

Needless to say, driving a truck into Ultron doesn't exactly cause as much damage as Daredevil would've liked, and neither do the combined attacks of Gorgon and Karnak, two of Attilan's mightiest warriors. Therefore, it all comes down to this.

But how, I ask you, how could Daredevil possibly stop a robot that has stood up to the mighty hammer of Thor himself?

Answer: In the most badass way possible.

Oh snap.

Wait for it...


Seriously, unless you're a professional shark wrangler, a blind ninja lawyer picking up a branch and hitting a genocidal robot so hard that his head gets knocked off is probably the toughest thing you'll see today.

More Panel-by-Panel Badassery:
| Volume One: Captain America #194 |
| Volume Two: Ode to Punching |
| Volume Three: The Question #2 |
| Volume Four: Impulse #3 |
| Volume Five: Batman Adventures #3 |
| Volume Six: Iron Man #200 |

Monday, May 29, 2006

Give Me Your Money, Cretins!

(Note: Do not really give me two dollars. I mean, you're more than welcome to if that's what you want, but I'm not going to reveal my awesome secrets.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Taking the Night Off

Yeah, I'm not doing one tonight. It is, after all, Memorial Day Weekend, and instead of spending my evening reading comics of questionable content, I'm going to take some time and reflect on those who fought and died to keep our country safe from the scourge of Nazi Frankenstein Monkeys. And I'm going to do it in the most patriotic way I can possibly think of:

By kicking back with a copy of Chuck Norris's two-fisted tale of a Civil War strike team laying down the law in the Old West, The Justice Riders.

It is, unfortunately, completely unrelated to the Chuck Dixon/J.H. Williams III Elseworlds one-shot of the same name, although to be fair, I'm only basing that on the fact that Hawkman hasn't shown up.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pop Quiz

The Events Depicted On This Cover Are:

a) Awesome.
b) Wicked awesome.
c) Totally awesome, especially considering that the giant monkey really is Superboy after being exposed to red kryptonite, but "Clark Kent" is actually Beppo the Frigg'n Super-Monkey turned into Superboy by the same.

Show your work.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sometimes There Are No Words

Prepare yourself.

It's about to get radical in here.

[I think it's only fair to note that that kid does a double backflip off of that skateboard in order to tell Sir Charles that Godzilla's tearing ass all over the financial district.]

And finally, the single greatest panel you will ever see...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Week In Ink: 5-24-06

Now that we've all head a break to catch our breath after my senses-shattering exposé of deep space trucking action as you like it, it's time to get on with the reviews of my comics purchases for the third week of May, 2006.


52: Week Three: Don't get me wrong: I hate Terra Man with the same kind of firey passion I hold for Man-Bat, but I was really hoping that Black Adam crushing people's skulls and rending them limb-from-limb was the kind of thing we were leaving behind as we left Infinite Crisis. And I say that as someone who loves a good limb-rending. Other than that, and the fact that I'm not sure where the dead body of Lex Luthor came from, the third issue of 52 stayed reasonably enjoyable despite a severe lack of the Question. Still, though, I imagine it's too much to ask for someone in the crowd of reporters to say "Hey wait a second, Lex... If you replace 'alternate dimension' with 'evil clone,' isn't this the exact same excuse you used that time you blew up Metropolis?"

Batman #653: Putting a guy with profound psychological problems who once beat Dick Grayson to within an inch of his life with a baseball bat in charge of protecting Gotham City seems to be working out about as well as everybody except Batman expected it to, and this issue left me pretty underwhelmed. Between the awkwardly formal quirks that slip into James Robinson's dialogue every now and then ("Have you the power" instead of "Do you have the power," for example) and the fact that I feel like I've read this story before--which I have, including a Bruce Timm Batman: Black & White story where Harvey gets cured and married, at which time things go spectacularly wrong and he ends up burning half his face off with a handful of hot coals--I just had a hard time enjoying it. Plus, and I'm sure this has been made abundantly clear over the last year and a half, I don't exactly have the patience for an issue where a guy talks to himself for twenty-two pages, no matter how many broken mirrors it involves.

Birds of Prey #94: Not only does Gail Simone seem to be having an absolute bang-up time writing Lady Shiva--the line where she talks about Cassandra Cain being "an achiever" is one of the best and funniest little character moments I've seen in quite some time--but she even does a great job of returning Prometheus to the status he never should've lost on his downfall to becoming just another plot device for a new villain to smack around to show what a badass he is. He is, after all, the Crooked Man from the Ghost Zone who took on the entire JLA, and as Oracle points out several times in this issue, that ain't no joke. It's the same kind of thing she shows with Black Canary taking on an entire army: it's pretty darn exciting stuff, and Paolo Siqueira's pencils continue to get sharper with each issue.

Blue Beetle #3: You know what's pretty high on the list of Bad Signs For Your New Comicâ„¢? Having a fill-in artist on the third issue. Admittedly, Cynthia Martin's pencils compliment Cully Hamner's work on the book pretty well and they're not at all bad, it's just reasonably worrisome, as is the fact that we're three months in and I'm still waiting for this book to hit its stride.

Catwoman #55: Will Pfeifer and David Lopez have obviously realized that the key to writing good comics is to have Wildcat jump off a building and start busting heads within the first seven pages, and if that little rule isn't written down somewhere, it should be. Anyway, the storyline's been highly entertaining so far, and the Film Freak's continuing to round out as a great nemesis for Holly, but honestly: Selina's baby's only like a week old, and already she's pawning him off on a nanny so she can go run around on rooftops, and that seems a little unnecessary. Seriously, lady: Stay home a while, catch some Baby Einstein videos or something.

Checkmate #2: All of the thrilling spy action of the first issue, but this time in far less ridiculous outfits! Beyond my petty fashion concerns, there's a lot to like about this book, what with the return of Kobra. So far, it doesn't grab me quite the same way that Suicide Squad did, but the fact that it's written by Greg Rucka certainly invites another comparison: It's essentially Queen & Country, but without the alcoholism and... Well, that's it, really. Self-destructive relationships and cold-hearted government-sanctioned murder sprees are all present and accounted for. Except that it's in the DC Universe, which for me means only one thing: Count Vertigo.

Conan: Book of Thoth #3: I generally read all of my comics wednesday night, but I haven't been getting to Book of Thoth until the next day for the past three months. It's not that I don't like it--it is, in fact, my favorite Kelley Jones work to date--it's just that forty pages of Conan-related sorcery is a lot to get through at two in the morning.

Dardevil #83: It's old news by now that the Ed Brubaker/Michael Lark run on Daredevil has quickly become one of my favorite monthly books, but now that it's got the frigg'n Punisher locked up alongside Matt Murdock, the Kingpin, and Bullseye, it's hardly even a contest anymore. So instead of praising it ad infinitum, I'll just draw your attention to a moment that gave me an unspeakable amount of joy:

What could have possibly have possessed that guy to start running his mouth? Seriously: it's the Punisher. What the hell did that guy think was going to happen? Murdock's blind and he can see where this is headed.

Hawkgirl #52

Iron Man #8

JSA Classified #12: Quick! Turn to page five and try to tell me that Jade doesn't look like Whitney Houston from a few years ago when she was on TV saying she didn't do crack because crack is for poor people. I dare you. Such is the art of Paul Gulacy. Anyway, while I don't actually hold out hope for it ever actually happening, it would be nice if Vandal Savage could think about one of the dozens of times he fought Resurrection Man over the centuries while he was flashing back to his origin. I mean, yeah, it doesn't have a lot to do with One-Eyed Alan Scott or anything, but really. That's the dude's whole deal.

The Last Christmas #1: On the off chance that you've been using the ISB to inform your own purchasing decisions, you might want to go ahead and skip this one. After all, it's a well-known fact that I will buy any Christmas comic that is put in front of me, even in the dead heat of summer. And the fact that this one was co-written by one of my favorite stand-up comedians, Brian Posehn, makes it so minutely targeted towards me that I'm not sure who else would be picking it up. I do, however, feel that it's worth noting that if there's one thing I could possibly like more than a Christmas comic, it's a Christmas comic that advertises genre porn on the back cover. That's awesome.

Nextwave: Agents of Hate #5: FOR ONCE IT CAN TRULY BE SAID: THIS ONE HAS IT ALL! If you can think of any possible reason not to buy this joyous chunk of madness, then I will punch you in your stupid face, stupid. Heck, I might do it anyway, because after an issue that features broccoli monsters, rabid koalas, the death of Special Bear, the shocking secret of Monica Rambeau, Celestials acting like total jerks, Elsa Bloodstone striking a pose, and no fewer than four different laser beams, I'm full of the kind of energy that can only be released by violent acts of the purest savagery. Or savage acts of the purest violence. I don't have time for semantics. Oh, and the Crayon Butchery Variant? I bought two. Because I'm a man what loves his crayons.

Secret Six #1: I like the cover to this one quite a bit, but not as much as the negatived-up version that was was pictured in the solicitation, especially when it comes to the way that the title--which I also like a heck of a lot--was laid out between the images. I normally try to avoid falling into this trap (and often fail miserably), but I honestly don't think I'd mind seeing it as a second printing cover. Anyway, Villains United was my favorite of the "Countdown" miniseries, and so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this one, especially considering that between this and Green Lantern, third-rate Nightwing villains Double Dare are appearing in two titles this week, something that I never would've thought was possible. But most importantly, Gail Simone finally answers the age-old question: How do you deal with a sociopathic midget who can take over your mind?

She-Hulk #8: Yeah, I'm not saying that it's not a bold design that stands out on the shelf or anything, but I've got the sneaking suspicion that the Civil War cover layout is going to get real old, real quick. That said, Dan Slott turns out another highly enjoyable script where he makes a good go at reconciling She-Hulk's behavior in her own book with with her behavior in others, and even goes so far as to have her call Iron Man out on that time he mindwiped the world like I've been wanting someone to. And while I really enjoy the fun feel of Juan Bobillo's art, Paul Smith proves to be a great fit for pencils. Plus, the lettercolun this month is pretty darn funny.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #6: Oh. Snap. It's the secret origin of Mary Jane, and that's a phrase I never thought I'd be excited about, especially if I would've known it involves awesomely bad goth poetry. It's fun stuff, but while I wish Takeshi Miyazawa had done the whole issue, having Valentine De Landro come on for the flashback sequences makes sense, and it's got that pretty coloring from Christina Strain to help out any rough edges it might have. What really caught my eye, though, was--again--the lettercolumn, wherein Sean McKeever talks about why Mary Jane won't be involving stories about more "serious" teen issues and, more importantly, makes reference to "MJ Compound," which I can only assume is a secret government installation designed purely for making comics that appeal to both teenage girls and slackers in their mid-twenties.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #18: Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's reboot is almost entirely responsible for my recent interest in the Legion as chronicled here on the ISB, so we can all come together and agree that I'm a fan of the book and that--except for some weird faces that crop up in the way Adam DeKraker pencils over Kitson's layouts--this issue's no exception. But I would like to take the time to point out that this issue has a fantastic cover that's would be a hell of a lot better if it didn't have the name of a mid-80s Tony Danza sitcom plastered on it for no particular reason. Seriously, DC: That shit needs to stop.

Teen Titans #36: You know what? I think Geoff Johns did a good job with the Doom Patrol in this one. He's obviously going for the sinister, creepy feel of the Grant Morrison run, and sure enough, everything that happens in Dayton Manor, from the Chief berating a tiny Elasti-Girl and telling her that she has to do what he says or nobody will love her, to Beast Boy trying to keep the whole thing from falling apart comes off as genuinely creepy, threatening, and sad, and I ended up liking it a lot.

X-Factor #7

X-Statix #5: You know who I feel bad for? Venus Dee Milo. I mean really, you get to the afterlife and find out your boyfriend's spending eternity pining away for his ex while you don't even get to make an appearance? That's harsh. Fortunately, my sympathy for her plight is mitigated by the fact that this was one highly entertaining miniseries.

The Riverdale Experiment

Archie #566

Cheryl Blossom Triple Pack: And now, an ISB Handy Visual Guide to the phenomenally cheap three-issue mini-series where Cheryl Blossom has to go get a job so she can afford a new car:


Carl Barks' Greatest DuckTales Stories, Volume One: In case you missed it, this thing is a full-size trade for less than eleven bucks that not only has a bunch of Carl Barks stories that aren't currently available in any kind of affordable format, but at least two of them--"Back to the Klondie" and "Hound of the Whiskervilles"--tie in heavily to Don Rosa's amazing Life & Times of Scrooge McDuck. In the biz, we call this sort of thing "a must-have."

Cromartie High School v.6


Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness: Like you really needed me to tell you this. Unlike my usual M.O., I don't plan on sitting here explaining the hell out of why I like this book so much; I'll just say that there are a bunch of strips at the end by guest artists, and since I'm the kind of person who recognized one of my childhood idols, Howard Philips on sight, I'm clearly the kind of person Bryan Lee O'Malley is marketing to.

Scott Pilgrim: Easilly Ten Times Better Than The Best Howard and Nester Strips. And you can take that to the bank, son.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dollar Comic Super Spectacular: The Saga of U.S. 1, Part Two!

When we last left Ulysses Solomon Archer and his CB Skull, he'd just taken his super-truck on a cross-country race against a zeppelin painted like a shark and piloted by Baron Von Blimp, narrowly defeating him after a swordfight amidst a cargo of poultry.

And now, in Part Two of my death-defying drive to the last issue of U.S. 1--The Greatest Comic Book Series of All Time--things start to get crazy.

Yes, believe it or not, the Great Chicken Race was a story too big for Milgrom & Co. to wrap up in one issue, and in #5, U.S. and Retread have to complete the second leg of their journey against the unexpected competition of Taryn Down The Highway herself, who, despite being one of the book's major characters, is fairly incidental to the plot.

What, you may be asking yourself, could possibly steal the focus from U.S. and Taryn puttin' the hammer down in a flat-out race to secure a lucrative trucking contract?


Yes, in retribution for Retread disconnecting her distributor lines to give U.S. a jumpstart on the contract, Taryn sends them on a fake detour, because apparently the store was out of birdseed and ACME brand wrecking balls that day. The Terrifying Labrynth Of Doom, however, wasn't her doing at all.

It was built by aliens for the purpose of testing U.S.'s driving skills.

Aliens who need uncooked chicken parts to power their warp drive.

Aliens... who speak trucker lingo.

If you are not freaking out at this point, buster, see yourself to the door. I've got seven more issues of pure madness to get through and I don't have time for shenanigans!

Fortunately for the sanity of all concerned, the next issue's a pretty standard story where U.S. and Wide-Load Annie take on Iron Mike, King of the Bike, a member of the "Heaven's Devils" motorcycle gang, who I'm almost certain fought Firestorm once. Regardless, he's dealt with pretty handily and never seen again, paving the way for the second half of U.S. 1.

Which, as it turns out, is a lot like the first half. Not only does U.S. fight the exact same villains from the first half, but he even runs into them in the same order. But this time, there's even more crazy.

Midnight makes her swash-buckling return in #7, an issue narrated in its enrity by U.S.'s truck, which refers to itself at least once as an inanimate object during the course of the story. It's slightly disconcerting, especially when Poppa Wheelie and Retread start poking around under its hood and casting aspersions on its gender identity.

But that's beside the point. In between the rig's thought balloons complaining about how it never gets any credit, Midnight manages to hypnotize a good chunk of the book's supporting cast and have them drag U.S. out to the truck stop's parking lot so she can work her whip-related mojo on him. But in a shocking turn of events, the signal from the whip reacts violently with the secret remote control to U.S. 1, and... wait for it...

U.S. Archer gets the ability to control his truck through the metal plate in his head.

From here on out, brother, it's non-stop insanity as U.S. 1 chases Midnight out into the desert and blows her up with anti-aircraft missiles. Or so it seems. See, in the next issue, Mary McGrill, whose secret crush on U.S. is mentioned in literally every issue, finally gets tired of Taryn O'Connell tarting around in her daisy dukes and reveals that Taryn is actually Midnight!

But then Midnight shows up and fights Taryn, and since the cast of the book only includes two (2) attractive young ladies, it's revealed that Midnight is actually (and I mean it this time) Mary McGrill, who was completely unaware of her villainous double-life as she was hypnotized by her own whip. Taryn doesn't take these baseless accusations well, and so she and Midnight step out to the parking lot to settle things the only way they can:


But alas, before Midnight can rip off Taryn's halter top, only to realize that fighting won't solve this problem nearly as effectively as making out with her (an idea that, if I know the internet, will already be explored in three pieces of fan-fiction before I finish typing this sentence) it's time for Baron Von Blimp to make his return.

And this time, he's brought friends.

And by "friends," I mean AIR-NAZIS!

Pretty soon it's just one big slugfest: truckers are fighting Nazis, Taryn's fighting Mary, U.S. is fighting the dastardly and mysterious Highwayman, and the punching doesn't stop until the aliens show up to break it all up and give everybody their origin story.

I'll try to keep this brief: Outer Space needs truckers. Therefore, a bunch of aliens monitor CB broadcasts and come down to find one totally honest and totally fearless trucker (!) to haul their stuff across the galaxy, but instead of getting U.S. like they intended, they accidentally contact his brother Jeff, outfitting him with futuristic technology so he can train himself, which he then uses to fake his own death and equip an army of henchmen composed of roughly two people.

That's right, surprising absolutely nobody, the Highwayman turns out to be U.S.'s brother Jeff, who's jealous of his brother's accomplishments and mad about having to work to put him through college only to have U.S. return with adesire to be a trucker, so he wants to go off into space on his own. There's a lot about how Jeff doesn't understand the real meaning of trucking, and how the open road represents freedom, but seriously? All you need to know is this:

The aliens decide to pick who gets to go to space by having a race around the world in flying big rigs that shoot missiles at each other.

And it's all drawn by Steve Ditko.

Not that you really need me to tell you, but U.S. wins and gets taken out in space along with Poppa, Wide-Load, and Mary McGrill, who start up an intergalactic truck stop. And presumably, everything works out okay.

BONUS FEATURE: U.S. 1 Returns!

In 1989's The Sensational She-Hulk #6 and 7, John Byrne did the unthinkable--or at least the unthinkably awesome--and brought back the cast of U.S. 1 for a rip-roaring adventure in Outer Spaaaace that sees Taryn O'Connell and Razorback hijacking a space shuttle, inadvertenly kidnapping She-Hulk, and heading off to help U.S. Archer wage a cosmic battle against XEMNU THE TITAN

That's right. U.S. 1 and Xemnu the Titan. Your collection wants these issues, sport.

BONUS FEATURE: Subtext? You Want Subtext?!

And of course...

More of the Best Comics Ever

| Blue Blazes! Metamorpho Takes on The Thunderer! |
| The Crank File: The Brave and the Bold #81 |
| The Crank File: Adventure Comics #303 |
| Cool It, Laddio! The Mind-Blowing Saga of Ding Dong Daddy! |

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dollar Comic Super Spectacular: The Saga of U.S. 1, Part One!

Attention, ISB Readers! You may now return from the edge of your seats, for I have finally discovered the single greatest comic book series ever published. Twelve issues so monumentally mind-shattering that it's going to take two days to get through it all, using enough boldface type to bankrupt a small country.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

U.S. 1

At this point, you may well be asking yourself whether I've gone completely out of my mind, but I'm going to be totally serious here for a second: In U.S. 1 #3, a trucker who can communicate over CB Radio through a metal plate in his head has a swordfight to the death on a zeppelin full of live chickens.

I defy you to find anything outside of the time Metamorpho shot laser beams out of a guitar at a two-foot tall galactic conqueror that even approaches that level of awesome.

Now then, let's kick it into high gear! Written by Affable Al Milgrom with pencils by Herb Trimpe, Frank Springer, and even Swingin' Steve Ditko, U.S. 1 is a masterpiece of the comics form screaming down the highway from 1983. Released just in time to capitalize on the fame generated by Jerry Reed's tour-de-force in Smokey and the Bandit 3, it only lasted twelve issues, despite storylines that featured such diverse themes as trucking, fighting at truck stops, and alien spacecraft powered by uncooked chicken legs.

Seriously, Milgrom passes "tongue-in-cheek" by page three, and from then on out, the entire series is so ridiculously aware of its own ridiculous premise that there are editor's notes criticizing the puns in the dialogue. It's beautiful.

The story follows the exploits of one Ulysses Solomon Archer, who, in the mighty Marvel style, was orphaned along with his brother (I swear) Jefferson Hercules when their parents--a pair of truckers whom I can only assume were named Belerophon and Ariadne--died in a car crash, leaving them in the care of their godparents, retired drag-racer and truck stop owner Poppa Wheelie, and his heavyset wife who sports Princess Leia's hairstyle and may or may not have been a member of the Howling Commandos, Wide Load Annie.

Yeah, I know. You'd think she'd pick a less insulting handle.

Rounding out the cast, we have Retread, whose name I never fail to read as "Retard," a shady drifter whose defining characteristic is his inability to hold down a job, and a pair of ladies that complete the requisite love triangle for our hero. Betty in this case is portrayed by Mary McGrill, described as (and I quote) "the sweetest little waitress who ever had her bottom pinched by a trucker;" while this evening's Veronica stand-in is Taryn O'Connell, coloquially known as "Taryn Down The Highway" or "The redhead in the halter top."

Anyway, turns out U.S. is an electronics genius who goes to college on a scholarhsip, graduates with honors, played quarterback on the football team, and returns to Poppa and Wide Load's truck stop just in time to be riding shotgun with his brother when Jeff's run off the road and hauled off by demons in the service of the mysterious Highwayman. U.S. manages to escape with a completely crushed skull, which is then rebuilt out of an experimental alloy, giving him the ability to intercept CB Radio signals when he touches one of his fillings with his tongue.

Yes. That actually does qualify as a super-power. Although really, up until the seventh issue or so, he mostly just uses it to headbutt people.

As you might expect by this point, U.S. immediately swears vengeance on the Highwayman and uses his scientific knowledge and the apparently bottomless profits generated by a seedy truck stop to build the most ridiculously tricked out truck since David Hasselhoff's evil twin, David-Hasselhoff-With-A-Moustache, stole the plans to KITT and built Goliath. And thus... U.S. 1 is born!

What follows can only be described as a rip-roaring series of transit-based adventures, featuring villains that are so radical that they threaten to blow your mind.

First up, in U.S. 1 #2...

And Her Hypno-Whip!

Because in the world of U.S. 1, we don't have time for women with whips that don't also take over your mind. Unfortunately, U.S. is able to handily defeat her by chewing on tinfoil, and if you don't think that leads to a joke about Midnight's plans being "foiled," you haven't been paying attention, buster.

The next issue, "The Rhyme of the Ancient Highwayman," focuses on U.S.'s nemesis and the mastermind behind pretty much everything that happens in the entire run, but sadly, it was never turned into an Iron Maiden song. In it, we find out that the Highwayman is rumored to be an old trucker who, in an effort to keep up with the fast-paced world of trucking in the early 80s, traveled the world in search of a way to gain youth and power. After being turned down by The Frigg'n Ancient One, of Dr. Strange fame, he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for sorcerouos abilities and an unbeatable eighteen-wheeler known only as The Blackrig.

It's also revealed that the world of trucking is apparently a lawless and savage one, as evidenced by the fact that the Highwayman sends like six semi-trucks armed with grenade launchers and a fully-armed war-blimp.

Ah yes. The eternal battle of Blimp vs. Truck. There is no more philosophical debate in the history of mankind, and it's not something that Al Milgrom is going to shy away from.

Not when he could introduce a character like Baron Von Blimp, a stout teutonic aviator who challenges U.S. 1 to a race across the country, with the prize being a lucrative contract from "The Great Chicken Colonel" and his "finger-lickin' chickens." Because Ulysses Solomon Archer has got to get paid.

Not surprisingly, it is the most totally sweet Zeppelin/Truck race in the history of mankind, thanks in no small part to the fact that it involves this panel:

Tomorrow on the ISB!

The Terrifying Secret of Midnight and her Hypno-Whip!

The Highwayman Revealed!

Girl-On-Girl Oil Wrestling!

And The Ending You Never Expected!


Monday, May 22, 2006

Mine Are Never That Cool

Tug found this little moment of Pure Comics Joy back on Free Comic Book Day, and it may well be the best cover blurb I've seen all year:

The Fortune Cookie Says: DEATH!

That is pure poetry. And hey, check it out: Flip to page three and...

...it actually does! And it's even personalized! And yet, Shang Chi does in fact survive this entire issue, even going so far as to kick a man in the face with both feet while hovering parallel to the ground.

But really, I once got one saying I was never bitter or petty, so I'm pretty sure you just can't trust those things.