Friday, June 29, 2007

What's more unusual?
Sharpen your pencils now!
It's time for a quiz...no, I'm not being lazy. Well, yeah, totally. What's the weirdest, most unusual or nonsensical thing in the above panels?

A. Batman plotting a course on a star chart. It makes sense in the context of a Brave and the Bold issue, but isn't this exactly the sort of thing that drives the movie people and Batman purists insane?

B. Apparently, the Guardians of the Universe think it takes one GL from earth to do the jobs of a lizard guy, a plant guy, and um, a rock guy, I guess. I'm probably being too hard on them, they're probably like the Exposition Guard or something, just doing their jobs. Anyway, if human Lanterns were so effective, earth wouldn't need like five of them, eh?

C. I'm not sure I've ever seen a caption box open with 'Aye' before. Who's narrating this, Conan?

D. How the hell...no, why the hell is Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, flying like that?
I've never felt so free!
It...it's like space yoga. Or, "In the Kirby issues, Thor ran like this!"

OK, that wasn't much of a quiz at all. Anyway, panels from Brave and the Bold #155, "Fugitive from Two Worlds!" Written by Bob Haney, art by Jim Aparo, and B&B could've gone for 400 issues all by those two and it wouldn't be enough. Hell, I only got to the fifth page before I had to blog this, so there might be more from this one. Pretty sure Batman sucker punches Hal at some point...

I had something else planned for today, but the pictures wouldn't load, and it's an opinion I am either going to get cold indifference or utter distain for. And I had something planned for next week, then remembered it was the Fourth next week. Now I have no idea what I'm doing, as usual. Read more!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Still musing on the Spider-Man movies. Let's take a look at Spidey's win/loss record for a second, shall we? Green Goblin...killed by his own glider. Oh-kay. How about Doc Ock: sacrifices self to save city, which only just now struck me as way out of character for the evil little toad. (Between these 80's Spidey issues, I'm re-reading Adam Troy-Castro's Revenge of the Sinister Six, where Ock is a complete bastard.)

(Possible Spider-Man 3 spoilers after the picture!)
Ock's beaten so badly, even his metal arms are tired.
If I remember, Venom was blown up by a Goblin bomb, and Sandman dried up and blew away. So aside from the outright shelacking Peter gave Harry, movie Spidey's track record is kind of piss poor. Sure, they still go in the win column, but when have we seen Spider-Man win a big fight outright? I would've much preferred, say, dropping a musical number somewhere (save 'em for the DVD, Raimi) and had Spidey simply punch Venom in the face until he cried symbiote tears or something.

It's weird: I've had Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man issues #75 and #79 forever, and while I know there's issues between them, and have even read them; in my mind #75 and #79 segue right up, one-two. After a brutal beating in #75, Doc Ock tries to get back at Spidey through the hospitalized Black Cat. (See? Bastard.)

Even though the Doctor puts up one of his best fights, it still ends in crushing embarrassment, as Spidey saves Doc Ock from being crushed. Looking back at it, though, I would've maybe had this issue first, then the more-climatic battle of #75, where Spidey 'disarms' Doc Ock. (Ugh. Saw that coming, and still couldn't avoid it.)
Count yourself lucky Spidey pulled off the metal ones, Ock.
Now, even taking into account Spidey being super-pissed over Ock nearly beating the Black Car to death, Spidey's damn lucky he didn't kill Ock. A lot of people that lose an arm, or two, probably die of shock. But four? It might be psychosomatic, but still. Also, how Spidey tore the metal there, on all four arms at the same time, instead of ripping divots out of Ock's torso, defies analysis.

But Spectacular #75 is the definitive Spidey/Ock beatdown for me, and it's a win with no asterisk, no lucky breaks, no backup or trickery or deus ex machina: Spidey gets pissed, things get broken. Hell yeah.

This panel reminded me of a joke about a bear and a hunter.  A wildly inappropriate joke.
This was right before the stretch were Doc Ock had been beaten so many times he finally had a nervous breakdown, and started to freeze up at the sight of Spider-Man. I'm missing some of those, or I may have just read friends' copies, but I think in his next appearance Octopus goes catatonic and drooly, then the next time he had enough foresight to program his arms to defend him as he went catatonic and drooly. Finally, Spidey was in a position where only Ock could defuse a bomb (or something) but had frozen. Spidey had to let himself take a beating from the arms until Ock regained his confidence, woke up, disarmed the bomb, and left a beaten Spider-Man to choke on it. Sometimes, just like with the heroes, the villains need to be broken down completely, so they can build back up again.

Panels from Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #75 and #79, both issues written by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Al Milgrom, inks by Jim Mooney. Read more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The first guy to yell "COBRA!" is so dead.
Yeah, who would have ever suspected the guy with an underwater base, and a sub, and named 'Octopus' would attack from the river?

Since I found multiple copies of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #75 in my basement, (one presumably being the one I bought in 1983, but no idea where the other came from), I took one to my work and put in in the little pile I have there. Which was lucky, since I was thinking about the movies and wondering, have we seen Spidey beat up a pile of goons on film?

The closest I can think of off the top of my head was the MIA preview (Spidey foils a heist and webs a helicopter between the WTC towers) or the muggers he stops before kissing MJ in the first one. But four or five muggers is too small for what I'm thinking of. I wanna see a scene like this issue: Spidey vs. an army (or two) of armed, preferrably costumed, thugs; leaping, webbing, punching, mouthing off. Like a modernized version of the last reel of Goldfinger, except with Spider-Man fighting at least one army.

The idea of Doctor Octopus as a criminal mastermind, someone who would have an organization, men, bases, uniforms...that's pretty much fallen by the wayside since this issue, even though it dates back to the Lee/Ditko issues. Maybe someone thought it was too Batman? (Crap, right before posting I noticed I had Lee/Kirby there. Proofreading is important, kids; unless you wanna waste a lot of time correcting mistakes and deleting comments pointing them out.)
Is Spidey's leg completely overextended there?  Or just drawn kinda crappily?  Eh, I still like this one.
And the Owl is second-string Kingpin, at best. If you want a mob boss type, but one that is easily kickable or that can be brought down at the end of the story, you use the Owl. Maybe if he still had the uniformed goons, he'd get some respect...no, I guess not. Plus, you really should give your men, I dunno, maybe guns instead of those rake/backscratcher things they have.

On further examination, this looks like my copy from 1983: I ticked off my checklist boxes for this issue, Star Wars #68, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #2, Marvel Team-Up #126 (I'm positive I got that from a friend or something, since I can't imagine being excited for a Luke Cage/Son of Satan team-up) and X-Men Special Edition #1, which reprinted Giant Sized X-Men #1. So, barring any DC purchases, I probably spent less than $5.20 on comics that month. Aside from the MTU issue, I still have all of them, so it was $5.20 well spent.

Panels from Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #75, "Ferae Naturae (Wild Beasts)" Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Al Milgrom and Jim Mooney. Read more!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Well, maybe they'll turn up for the next Annihilation sequel.

Some of the teasers for Annihilation: Conquest promised the return of alien bad guys from 90's X-Men stories. It turns out to be the Borg...ow, cheap shot. No, it's the Phalanx, Marvel's mutant Borg. See the difference? They're OK bad guys, serviceable enough, I guess; but I was really really hoping for these guys:
Do you have a moment to talk about Godlessness? Would you like a pamphlet? Have you accepted that this is a cold, unfeeling universe and you have no personal savior whatsoever?
The Uncreated only appeared a couple of times, and Warren Ellis used bits of their characterization elsewhere in Stormwatch and Planetary, but I really liked them. Cranky godless aliens. Think Bizarro Jehovah's Witnesses: where Witnesses are devout, harmless, and won't eat you; the Uncreated think God is stupid, and so are you if you believe.
Feeling inferior over God waving his superiority in their creepy faces, the Uncreated managed to kill their creator, or 'God.' They expected thanks from a grateful universe, but were cheesed to find other people still praying. Eh, still less scary than Scientology.
Where's our parade, man? Where's our 'mission accomplished'?
Looking at them now, the Uncreated seem more like Jehovah's Witnesses than I would've thought: Both are steadfast evangelicals, both are kind of chatty about it, both are experimented on by the British government...As usual, my conclusions are a bit wobbly, but there you go. I imagined the Uncreated as being charming and friendly alien monsters unless you get them started on the God thing, then it's kind of a drone.

From Excalibur #90, written by Warren Ellis, art by (deep breath) Ken Lashey, David Williams, Carlos Pacheco, Larry Stroman, Tom Wegryn, Mike Miller, and Cam Smith. That's how you get a double-sized issue out on time! Pretty sure we're looking at Pacheco's work on the scans. Also in this issue: Kitty doing her best Buffy impersonation, and Peter Wisdom's 80's hair. Scary.

For some reason lost to my memory, I had three copies of this in a box, although that goes a ways towards explaining the giant pile of Overpower cards my Oldest was playing with yesterday. Read more!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Time for another pulse-pounding, heart-stopping, thrill-packed Gold Key Star Trek panel!
Wow.  It's the secret origin of slash!
Oh, there was no way that was going to look right, in any context. From Star Trek: The Enterprise Files Volume 3, from Gold Key circa 1977? I think last time I did one of these for Gold Key, I defended them. Yeah, not as much this time.

With summer here, I'm thinking about doing the Trek panels more often, especially since they're fish in a barrel. So, we'll have another one later, and I swear it's even worse. Read more!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Make your own crossover! (Not to scale.)
From the Youngest's collection.

Oh, thank goodness, a meme: Thanks to the Fortress Keeper of Fortress of Fortitude, 'cause I kinda needed a softball to wrap up this week!

First, I guess we have to post these rules before giving you the facts.
Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
At the end of the post, I'm supposed to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. (Good luck. Do I even know eight people anymore? I keep telling you, I'm as antisocial as a troll anymore.)
Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

All right, let's make with the facts:

1. I've never seen any of the Godfather movies. Don't really plan to, either: when am I gonna have like 10 uninterrupted hours to kill? I probably should watch it, the same way I watched Citizen Kane just to get the references.

2. Although I got pretty close to finishing my psych degree, I never graduated college. What I ever thought I would do with a psych degree is open to debate.

3. Even though we had met briefly, more than once, before; my first 'date' with my future wife was moving her into her new house. Turned out pretty well...

4. As a teenager, I worked two summers at a barbecue place, carrying a sandwich board sign, for eight hours a day. The job had less 'street cred' than wearing a Grimace suit at McDonald's, but it was free grub, great pay, and my legs are still monstrous.

5. My mom was a first grade teacher, and my dad retired as a school superintendent. However, he was principal of the junior high I went to. That was a fun three years...we get along a lot better now. When my parents retired, I took my wife and son on a walking tour of my hometown. That took 15 minutes...to be fair, it might've taken longer if I hadn't cleaned it up a bit.

6. I usually bike to work, partly because I'm too cheap to pay for gas, partly because I enjoy the exercise and feeling superior to drivers, and largely because I'm terrified of getting fat.

7. During college, I was the last remaining lease-signee of a house I rented with some friends. I ended up having 15 different roommates over two years, which I assure you is less due to me than to the flophouse nature of making rent. Ah, good times. Good, blurry, hazy, miserable, times.

8. I have a pretty good speaking voice, and at least once a day I answer the phone and someone thinks I'm a machine. Now if I could just beep on cue.

Thanks to the Keeper, and have a good rest of the weekend! If anyone wants to 'tag' themselves, hell, let me know. Read more!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm crushing your head!...Oh, geez, sorry, I thought I was further away there.
I'm your daddy now!
Last week I did finally watch Ghost Rider: not too bad, although I'm not a huge fan of the character.

I am a big Hellboy fan, though, so I got the new animated DVD, Blood and Iron. Poe Ghostal's review at MWC Toys (and heads-up over at OAFE) tipped me to the Best Buy Exclusive, which was on sale last week. Which means I probably should've done this earlier. Oh, well.

Even though the animated-style Hellboy has little bitty feet that aren't real stable without his stand (or propped up by his tail) I love this figure for one feature my other Hellboy figures lack: interchangeable Right Hands of Doom, including a fist that isn't clenched/shut tight. Which means I can finally set this up:
Probably an easier way to get this without cramming it in the scanner...no, that was the easiest way, yeah.
And a good excuse to re-read this novel, too. I liked the previous one, The Lost Army, but this one's better. Partly because I'm also a Thor fan, but also because it was a story that works better as a novel than it would've as a comic. I freely admit, after years of Marvel Thor comics, that's the version I'll always think of. Nevermind that it's not very accurate.
Of course, Sandman's costume doesn't look right to me either, but that's probably not just me.
So, I don't usually like other versions of Thor. This one predates the Marvel one by years, yet seems fake to me. (Of course, in the story it's a fake Thor anyway.) Pretty sure Erik Larsen had a version in Savage Dragon as well, but I just can't accept other versions. Hell, I'm not even sure about Thor's new costume...
Hammers for everyone!
If Mignola had drawn this as a comic, my eyes would expect the hammer to look like Mjolnir there. (It's spelled with two l's in the novel, which also looks weird to me, although that's probably more accurate as well.)

I can't wait for Thor to get made into a movie, because I need a toy hammer of my own. Then, I think I'll fill it with nickels...

Oh, and definitely pick up Blood and Iron. It's got vampires, werewolves, and major mythological figures lining up to get asskicked by Hellboy; and a short bonus adaptation of Iron Shoes with the Simpsons Dan Castellaneta! Best Buy may still have some left with the figure, or Walmart had it packaged with a bonus digest comic. Rumor has it sales of this one will decide if the next one will be made, and while it looks like it will, you could help me out here...

Sandman panel reprinted in Adventure Comics #499, "The Villain from Valhalla!" By Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Read more!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dark Knight, Shining Knight, Atomic Knights, the Knight...I'm sure he's on here somewhere...

It's easier to recap someone's origin in one panel if you leave things like 'reincarnation of Hawkman' out.  Just sayin'.Further down the list of 'Knight' characters at DC comes the Silent Knight. Created by Robert Kanigher and Irv Novick, the Silent Knight first appeared in Brave and the Bold #1 in 1955; and was part of a stable of medieval adventurers including Robin Hood and the Viking Prince. While barely a footnote today, Hawkman fans may remember the Silent Knight as another past life of Carter Hall, which insures that he (and probably his girlfriend) died a bloody, pointless death. Yay!

That said, this story is damn funny.

Brian of Greystone is the meek, unassuming alter ego of the Silent Knight. As typical of the time, he's fighting for the girl, in direct competition with his own alter ego, like Superman or Green Lantern were back then. Object of his affection Lady Celia gently gives Brian the brushoff, so she can give the Silent Knight her scarf before the tournament.
Now, there's probably like two other guys in his country with his build, and one of them has Tourettes, so you can see why he has to zip the lip.
Of course, 'ruffians' meet Celia in the forest, to separate her from her jewels; and Brian arrives as the Silent Knight to save the day. Why is he the Silent Knight? Committment to a bit. Even wearing a full-face metal helmet, Brian was afraid his voice would be recognized if he spoke, which makes me imagine him as sounding like the Squeaky-Voiced Teen from the Simpsons.

True to his chivalrous code, the Knight sets aside his lance, since it would give him an 'unfair' advantage over the ruffians. Then he simply pummels them. Celia longs to hear the voice of her hero, which is kind of jumping to the conclusion that the Silent Knight can talk at all. Let me tell you about another unstoppable masked badass that never spoke; his name was Jason Voorhees.

It would explain why he keeps the mask on around you, Celia.

The couple makes their way to Camelot, where peasant and King Arthur alike put the smart money on the Silent Knight to take the tournament. But, a surprise awaits: sorceress Morgan le Fey, who arrives with a champion of her own. I would've sworn it was "Morgana" rather than Morgan, but that's just because I'm used to the Marvel version. This version seems if not less evil, more civil, and less slutty.
This is the weirdest Betty and Veronica ever.
As the tournament goes on, both the Silent Knight and Morgan's unnamed champion are plowing through their competition, until it comes down to them in the final match. Morgan boasts that S.K. is going down, prompting Celia to put the Knight's ass where her mouth is...wow, that's an unfortunate phrasing, but leave it: Celia bets the Knight's services on the match.

Unaware that he's on the verge of being traded like a carton of smokes, the Knight begins his joust, which goes remarkably badly, and he is unhorsed. Down to his sword, he struggles against Morgan's champion (who does not come off his horse, which is a bit unsporting) until the champion breaks the Knight's sword. Beaten, Silent Knight can only watch as the champion 'unmasks':
I...I was beat by two midgets in a suit?
Morgan may have won by sorcery, but she has won, and now the Silent Knight is hers, to do with as she will.
Seriously, throw in Reggie cockblocking Archie somehow and a Jughead cameo, and this'd be an Archie digest.
Still, Morgan's not going to be a bitch about it, or make the Knight do anything creepy and weird: he just has to run a few chores for her, in the middle of the night, several miles away: bringing back an apple. As usual, it's a golden apple guarded by a dragon, but the lady asked nicely. Although, now that I think of it, giving a sorceress like Morgan a golden apple is probably like selling plutonium to terrorists. Celia sees the Knight return and give Morgan the apple, and is pissed.

Morgan agrees to release the Knight from service, if he'll do just one more little thing: fish a necklace out of a lake. The lake is described as "half a league to the south," and I looked it up: a league was about 3 miles, which makes me wonder why no one else had found these things. The Knight seems pretty confident going into this one, considering he jumps into said lake, in the middle of the night, wearing his full suit of armor and helmet. How in the hell he can see out of that helmet underwater is a mystery, a bigger mystery than the giant sword-wielding hand sticking out of the lake.

Silent Knight duels with the hand, until it's struck by lightning...which, even though he threw his sword to knock the giant sword into the lightning (?), probably would've electrocuted a guy covered in metal in a lake in a thunderstorm. The Knight effortlessly picks up the necklace from the bottom of the lake, which is kind of impressive, since again, middle of the night, full armor, no lights, at least twenty feet down...that's not the fun part, though.

Returning to Camelot, our "tireless knight" no doubt soggy and reeking of ozone, the Knight gives Morgan the pearl necklace (please, no jokes), earning himself his freedom, a kiss on the helmet from Morgan (that's literal, no jokes there either), and upwards of six hours of nonstop verbal beatdown from Celia. Probably wishing he was the Deaf Knight right about now...
Oh, I've been there man.  I have been there...
I tried to tell my wife about this one while she was watching So You Think You Can Dance, and as expected, she said she wished I was the Silent Knight.

In other news, this might be the bulk of my posting for this week: the wife is getting better, the Oldest is well enough to demand Burger King since I brought home some of the Fantastic Four toys (pretty nice, all told), and the Youngest is craftily licking every piece of silverware in the house so I don't miss out on intestinal cramping. Thoughtful little guy...Youngest was sick on himself last night, so I'm hoping he's about put this one behind him.

I still have one more thing I'm hoping to finish tomorrow, but we'll see.

Origin panel art from Trevor Von Eeden and Larry Mahlstedt, text by Mike Barr, from DC Blue Ribbon Digest #26, which also reprinted "The Sword in the Lake!" A title having absolutely nothing to do with Arthurian legend, oddly enough, written by Bob Kanigher, art by Irv Novick. Read more!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Captain Midlands there could be talking about anything: comics, comic movies, comic cons...
Anything except comic blogs, of course.  Seriously.
Flargh. The Oldest has also contracted the stomach flu, the ick, whatever it is the Wife and Youngest have already picked up. It would seem to be only a matter of time until I myself fall victim to this bug's pukey vileness; but I'm not worried. Thanks to exposure to Stephen King's masterwork the Stand at a young and impressionable age, I've spent years fighting colds and flus with every fiber of my being, as if any one of them could be the dreaded Captain Trips, and showing so much as a sniffle would seal my fate. Yes, I've devoted many a winter to training my immune system to fight off SARS, asian flu, bird flu...

Ooh, I'm jinxing myself something fierce now.

Today's panel is from Wisdom #4, "The Rudiments of Wisdom, part 4: Too Many Jacks" Written by Paul Cornell, pencilled by Manuel Garcia, inks by Mark Farmer. I've mentioned this series more than once, and just finally read the whole thing at once this evening, while I chewed on an okay cut of sirloin and the rest of the family had diet 7Up. It's a good read, and again I encourage you to pick up the trade. I have no links or evidence to back this up, but man, I think a lot of bloggers read this and liked it. Everyone that read it may have blogged about it. They're trying to tell you something.

Coincidentally, in light of the Heroes for Hire tentacle cover hoopla of late (no links 'cause I'm tired! You can find it!) the series does feature a bit of icky tentacle danger, and Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu. The tentacles don't go into hentai territory, though...

It would've been nice to have Trevor Hairsine on the whole series, but I'm okay with having the series done in a reasonable amount of time. (When sales didn't materialize, Hairsine was probably moved to other work...) Garcia does a very good job up to the tailend of the last issue, and I particularly didn't like the second to last page. Although, the last panel of that page may have been a homage to that particular character that I didn't recognize, in which case I'm ashamed of my ignorance. Although I didn't think that particular character was British. Although, I could be thinking of Kamandi.

Well, now you'll just have to read it yourself, and let me know. Read more!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Earth's Greatest Heroes...and Green Arrow, for some reason...
Oh, I like Green Arrow, but I also like giving him grief.
My Wife, the Youngest, and for good measure my parent's dog, have all been sick the last couple of days. I've cleaned up more vomit this weekend than a roller coaster operator on St. Patrick's day...

So, of course I'm running late on what I laughingly call 'content,' but I did get to read all of Justice today. It's not bad by any means, but it's not as essential as Kingdom Come or even as out there as Krueger and Ross and Braithwaite's previous collaboration, Earth X and it's sequels.

'Um, Arthur, that works for Power Girl, but on you...please don't.'
Still, I did enjoy it, even though not unlike Frank Miller, you can very clearly see the line where Alex Ross stopped reading new comics...tough break, Firestorm. Maybe some more on this later, but I gotta take care of the family, kay?

Panels today from Justice #8, Story by Jim Krueger and Alex Ross, script by Jim Krueger, art by Doug Braitwaite and Alex Ross. Read more!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Some people are more excited for the Fantastic Four movie than others.
Of course, by the time I post this, Electro very well could've gotten a medal. Thanks, Civil War!
Even though Rise of the Silver Surfer opens today, I doubt I'll even get to see it this week. Still, I'm looking forward to it, and have moderately high hopes; I liked the first movie regardless of what anyone says. Of course, I didn't think Daredevil was terrible either, and you've seen this blog, so you can draw your own conclusions about my taste.

Not to spoil Spider-Man 3, but I didn't like it as much as the previous two. Most of my complaints are probably typical: three villains is just two many, Mary Jane was kind of annoying this time, Peter was alternately a jerk or a crybaby. Also, while the plainclothes fight with Harry Osborn was great, I see we've reached the point in the series where Tobey Maguire is tired of wearing the mask the whole movie (yeah, I know Spidey's CGI or a stuntman 99% of the time) and has the clout to do something about it.

On my desk at work, I have the Unmasked Spider-Man Minimate--it came with Spider-Woman, and is subtitled Raft Escape or something, from the first storyarc of New Avengers. He comes with a little pseudo-cast, to commerate Spidey breaking his arm for two issues, and not mentioning it in any of his own books (that I know of) but it made me consider something. I think Bendis started the process in Ultimate Spider-Man, then imported it to the regular Marvel Universe: I'm positive I've seen Spidey unmasked or maskless more in the last couple of years, than in the twenty-plus years preceding. Maybe I'm giving too much credit, but it's almost like Bendis was laying the groundwork, like he knew any actor playing Spider-Man would eventually reach a point where he wants his face out there. Then, if you consider all the old issues where Spidey would make a mask out of webbing, scraps of costume, a paper bag, anything to keep his face covered; and the theory seems more plausible, doesn't it?

Well, maybe, maybe not. Anyway, have a good weekend: I think I might need to pick up the new Hellboy Animated (hopefully with the action figure) and comics tomorrow, and maybe Ghost Rider. Haven't seen it yet, but it has to be better than Man-Thing. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but Manny's one of my least favorite characters, yet I still rented that. My son wandered in about a quarter of the way in and watched part of it with me, then asked "Is Man-Thing even in this movie? All they've done is drive around the swamp!" Kids don't take that kind of crap, tell you what...

From Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #9, (maybe. Reprinted in Spider-Man: Doom with a View) "Doom with a View" Written by Sean McKeever, pencils by Mike Norton, inks by Norman Lee. I need to get more of the Target reprints of these. Read more!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

There's no foreshadowing in this title...or is there?
Another reminder that I need to pick up Adam Warren's Empowered.  Like yesterday.
I love this panel, not just because it underlines what a mouthbreathing slackwit Grunge is (albeit one with decent taste in movies) but that is a fair explanation for what passes for foreshadowing in most movies today. Anton Chekhov would be glad to know, if you see a harpoon gun in the first reel, you can rest damn assured somebody is getting harpooned before the credits roll. And I'm being generous: foreshadowing is now usually reduced to "Wow, who would've thought the girl who said she was afraid of dismemberment would end up chopped into giblets?" (Fun fact: I watch way too many crappy horror movies, always with the vain hope that they might not be crappy. Granted, a lot of them are mildly entertaining, they generally aim kind of low.)

That said, let's look a comic with some nice foreshadowing, that's also a bit of a cheat. See if you can guess the secret of "The Tangled Web" from Batman Adventures #17, written by Kelley Puckett, pencils by Mike Parobeck, inks by Rick Burchett.

The story opens in a jungle, as Batman jumps out of the trees at a masked, uniformed soldier, shouting the man's name as he comes at him. Batman hits the guy so hard, he wakes up on a plane, extradited to Gotham and arrested by Commissioner Gordon. And that's the second page!
'This...is not a chawade. We need total fwighting cwoncentration.'
In a large temple, a small army of the uniformed men are addressed by another, who critiques their collective incompetence. Luckily, he says their mission has been postponed a week, so they all have time to practice their killing, marksmanship, general evil, etc.

Afterwards, hidden in the trees, Batman, disguised in the soldier's uniform and mask, radios Alfred to update him and bring the readers up to speed. Ra's al Ghul has set up a major operation, in his ongoing quest to save the environment by wiping out most of humanity. Batman doesn't know what the big plan is this time, and is also suspicious that Ra's has delayed his plan.

And Batman should be suspicious: Ra's stresses to the base commander that everyone be informed of the delay. The commander did, but wonders why the delay, since he doesn't even know the target. Ra's assures him its fine, and they prepare for the Batman. Afterwards, Ra's berates his scientist lackey Asquith, who was responsible for the delay when he failed to take into account a local African holiday: his Bedouin guards took the week off.
And the rental on this Snake-Eyes costume is due back!
As the week passes and Ra's heads for Africa, Batman still can't find anything at the base. Ra's checks Asquith's preparations at the African desert base, the Bedouin guards finally on the clock. R'as notices one guard's sword, and chats with him:
There's no shame in eying another man's sword...wait, that came out weird.
Finally, the gray soldiers go into action, attacking another base and fighting their way to a control room. Then, the leader uses a radio-doohickey, to set off Batman's radio, exposing him:
If this had been Batgirl in disguise, the costume pop there would've been creepy, right?
Luckily, the control room has a direct video line to Ra's al Ghul, who apologizes to Batman for luring him in with this diversion, but he needed to keep Bats out of his hair while he got down to business. Namely, setting off via satellite, a chain of explosives planted in the Antarctic polar regions, in order to flood large parts of the world, deafening millions with the harsh laughter of Al Gore proven right. Oh, and the drowning and stuff.

(Aside: R'as works great as a Batman character, but when you throw the assorted other superheroes of the DC universe, it doesn't seem as great, does it? I mean, if Batman dropped the ball and R'as flooded the world, Superman could still fix it, right? Unless R'as has a great plan for that...)

R'as knows Batman won't join him--if Talia can't get Bats to join, he sure as hell isn't going to be able to do it. But, he won't kill Batman, saying the new world will need him. Yeah, like to try R'as for genocide, apparently. But there's a flaw in R'as' ointment, or a run in his stockings, or whatever:
Crap. Crap! CRAP!
Robin's probably wearing a padded uniform, to make himself look a little more like the larger Batman. But the comic gets a little cheat here that wouldn't have worked on the cartoon series: when 'Batman' called Alfred, his voice would've been recognizable as Robin's. So, this works as a comic, but might not have in another medium. Unless the writer throws in a voice modulator or something. Aside from the size difference, though, I can imagine Bruce and Dick being pretty good at disguising their voices, and the voice actors may be good enough to fool most viewers as well.

Back to the story: Batman orders the goons there and surrounding Robin to throw down their guns. Robin starts beating the soldiers--no real reason, I suppose, just to keep his hand in--and Bats explains his disguise is more authentic than you might have guessed: "Ali-Yasa wasn't El-Shaitan's only student. He wasn't the best, either." With R'as as a hostage, he moves towards the plane, leaving Asquith to try to detonate the explosives. Batman, not being a moron, had already sabotaged that, blowing up the satellite...but leaving a ton of explosives in Antarctica. Hmm.

R'as signals his men to rush Batman, who isn't harsh enough to slit R'as' throat. As his matching Ubus attack, the Bedouins aren't as much help:
Well, you paid in advance, so...bye!
I love stories where otherwise generic henchmen opt out of taking their beating.

R'as escapes in his jet, and goes over the postgame with his base commander, who offers his life for failing, getting his ass kicked by Robin, to make R'as feel better, etc. R'as is big enough to admit he got played (or maybe this is a kids' book, and R'as can't exactly have his man strung up by his intestines here) but wonders if Batman thinks about the people he saved, or the world that could have been.

It's not strictly speaking a cheat, but the scene where 'Batman' is revealed, by tearing open the front of his uniform, does seem a little odd to me. Granted, I'm old, and thus used to scenes of Batman taking off a latex mask, a hat, a space helmet; and having his full Bat-cowl underneath. I also concede, it would've been an extra step, and looked dumb as hell, if he had been unmasked as Batman under that Snake Eyes-style mask, then unmasked again as Robin.

There's a little box of mostly animated style DC Comics in my basement, including most of my Parobeck Batman's. My son knows that one as the 'good box.' And he's right.

Grunge and Roxy panel from Gen 13 Bootleg #10, "Grunge: The Movie, part 3" Story and art by Adam Warren, and if you have even a passing interest in Hong Kong action movies (or even just movies, since a helluva lot of it fits) you deserve this. Get it now. Read more!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hey, it's our first recipe here!
Actually, I've made this, and it's not half-bad.
Even though he's probably better known for his Iron Man or Valiant work, I was a huge fan of Bob Layton for his Hercules. He pretty much took the character for himself for a number of years there.

In 1982, after the success of Contest of Champions, Marvel debuted two more new limited series: Wolverine with Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and Hercules. Hercules and Layton went on for another limited series, a graphic novel, um, a few issues of Marvel Comics Presents and this five-page bit from Marvel Tales #197. And Wolverine went on to...Yeah, we all know which one went on to bigger and better things; but still, I have to wonder how comics would be different today if Hercules had outsold Wolvie...comics would be more fun, doubtless.

It's also the only comic I've seen before or since with Galactus laughing, and that makes the whole thing priceless.

It's funny, but I think I've bought this issue like three separate times. Sometimes Marvel Tales would reprint books with shorter page counts, and have to fill up space, usually with Spider-Ham stories around this time. Still, I remember there were some oddballs in there, like short X-Men stories and this one.

Anyway, should have a longer post later this week. For some reason, I ended up preparing a bunch of Batman, or Batman-related, stuff all at once, so I'm trying to break it up some. I think I also might have to try to make a dinner that doesn't come out of a box now, though. Read more!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This could be the most difficult case of my career.
You might have to be a super-sleuth to figure out who some of these guys are.
Eleven crimes, huh? Let's see:

Batman: Juvenile endangerment, excessive force complaints.
Batgirl: Trademark infringement...how old is Robin?
Martian Manhunter: Impersonating a police officer, violation of immigration statutes.
Human Target: Unregistered firearms, identity theft. Lots of counts of identity theft.
Roy Raymond, TV Detective: Smoking in a public place, violation of FCC anti-smoking, anti-profanity statutes.
Captain Compass, Nautical Detective: Impersonating a naval officer.
Good lord, was this Comics Code approved? If the heroes are guilty of at least eleven crimes, what are the bad guys doing? Oh...Batman meant "11 Crimes committed" inside this issue. Oopsie. And that's why I never went into law, law enforcement, any fields that require attention to detail...

Cover by Jim Aparo, DC Blue Ribbon Digest #30. Not the best digest ever, but the Jason Bard and Human Target stories aren't bad--Frank Robbins and Carmine Infantino. Read more!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I didn't set out for "Iron Man was always a dick" to be my most-used tag, but here we are.
Sonuva!
Taking a little time for housekeeping here today. Possibly in the literal sense, since I really have to pick up some of these comics before my wife kills me in my sleep. But for here, I've added some more blogs to the sidebar, and I've been going back and adding labels to old posts. So, if there's a post that was interesting for you, I may have written about it or a related topic before somewhere. Or not, who knows.

This is as good a time as any to mention: I really do read an assload of blogs, even though I don't comment very often lately. Still, if you have a comic blog, or know one I should be reading, let me know.

Today's panel is from the last issue of Werewolf by Night, #43, "Terrible Threat of the Tri-Animan!" Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Perlin. Not the best issue of the run, but it's one of the few that tie in with the larger Marvel Universe. And yeah, there's Iron Man protecting Jack Russell's secret identity, because that's how he used to roll. Read more!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

(Completely) Off-topic: The Paris "Problem"

Boy, the nice thing about writing something about Paris Hilton is that you don't have to rehash anything: whether you want to know or not, you've been exposed to it. I certainly have, but then again my wife is a fan of the Hilton/Anna Nicole Smith/US Magazine set, and I catch it in passing. So, don't get the feeling I care a terrible amount about Paris Hilton, but her re-arrest Friday got me thinking.

Particularly, because too many people seemed to be taking too much joy in it. And not a "see, you can't buy your way out of trouble" laugh of the just; more like a "spoiled white bitch is gonna get what's coming to her" cruelty. (Incidentally, despite the Reverend Sharpton elbowing his way onto the air with this issue, I don't think this is a race issue, it's a cash issue. A simple distinction.) And anyone laughing at Paris crying in the back of a cop car after being released and then told, nope, sorry, get back in there: speaking as someone who has spent a night or two under um, police supervision; getting out feels great, but going right back would feel even worse than going in the first time.

So, now her jail time could go either way: if she had gotten out now, it would have given the impression (whether it was or wasn't) of preferential treatment. If Paris serves her 45 days in their entirety, well, most people in that situation would have served 10 or so, since the prisons need the room for violent offenders, and she gets punished for being Paris Hilton. (Many probably agree with that, but really, isn't being Paris it's own punishment?)

What I don't see, is why the police or the courts--and forgive me for not knowing off the top of my head who the ultimate responsibility for Paris--treat her like a problem, and not as an asset.

Despite whatever you may think of Paris Hilton, she gets attention. And has money. I know the safe bet is to treat her like any other lawbreaker and throw her in a cell. Which is not only disruptive in terms of protecting her (if anything happens to Paris in prison, I suspect you might as well change the name of the town to Los Hilton, because her family will fricking own the joint.) and paparazzi and news crews and so forth; it's also a waste.

So, put Paris, and her symbiotic media entourage, to work for you. The city of Los Angeles has problems, and put Paris on a work release program at these problems. Show Paris, and by extension America, the worst neighborhoods, the understaffed hospitals and programs, the trash-covered highways. (Please note that I don't live anywhere near L.A. and have no idea specifically what urban problems need fixing there. Pretty sure it's not a short list, though.) Put her in a troublespot, have her put in her community service time in fixing it, and see it on Entertainment Tonight that evening, along with a plea for more aid from the viewers. Use Paris to show everyone where the city needs help. Hell, do a good enough job with it, and she might even help out financially herself or through her family.

Of course, like all my grandiose ideas, there's probably a few problems with this: it might be financially prohibitive just moving Paris around. If the camera crews, reporters, and hangers-on were disruptive outside the jail, how bad are they going to be at a hospital or road crew? By showing the problems, L.A. and the city government would as much as admit the city isn't perfect, which could be hard for them, even though it obviously isn't. And then, some judge or other authority is going to have to have the stones to put such a project in motion in the first place. Considering they would have their neck on the line for a gamble that might not pay off right away, that's the most unlikely outcome of all. Read more!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Can even Mr. Miracle and Big Barda escape...sexism?
Why from Dave's? Why not?
With all the fuss lately about busts and comicquettes or whatever damn thing; I saw this over at Dave's Long Box (and elsewhere, but I saw it there last and it was the easiest place to get the picture!) and thought about it a bit.

Is Big Barda holding her husband Mister Miracle's cape as an act of subservience? Not bloody likely. Scott Free is secure in his masculinity and 100% on board with having a wife that can crush a Sherman tank until it can fit in a Coleman cooler. Besides, he has a midget manservent to do his ironing and so forth.

What's the point in beating Mr. Miracle, if you can't pants him and tie him up?All right, is Barda holding his cape in a bit a showmanship, as Scott either begins or ends another daring escape? That would make more sense, but no! There's another reason, another sinister, creepy reason that none before had even dared to think of. Or occurred to think of. Anyway, sinister, creepy, Scott Free's terrible secret: He's a never nude, like Tobias F√ľnke on Arrested Development. The shame!
Do not touch Scott's costume. Seriously.
You know, Batman's right there, Scott. He probably has something on him to help you out. Like a massive sedative.

At this point in "Mile High Tombstone!" (from Brave and the Bold #138, written by Bob Haney, art by Jim Aparo) Batman and Mister Miracle have been captured by French acrobat, escape artist, "human rodent," and "human tennis ball" Cosimo. (Miracle calls Cosimo those last two.) Think Batroc the Leaper minus the mustache and less flash...and what does that leave you? Yeah, nothing. Cosimo is like an evil, embittered Cirque de Soleil refugee...yet another redundant phrasing there, sorry.
Soon to be #1 on Google for 'Pantsless Mister Miracle.' I'm sure.
Miracle is drawn on later pages as wearing a diaper-like set of trunks, so Cosimo didn't strip him buck naked before throwing him in the net. (And what about Batman? I don't think Cosimo even took his utility belt, but Batman seems like he's waiting to see where this goes.) I don't know if it would matter either way, though; because I reckon Scott has...secreted multiple escape tools on his person. Probably hidden in his hair, or under fake skin, or swallowed. Where did you think? But Bat's and Scott's escape is profoundly disappointing:
Oh, not even! French citizens, send DC your protests now!
Like most Brave and Bold villains, Cosimo was one use only, and gets blown up only 12 pages into the story. The rest of the story is spent outsmarting Kraken, the crime supercomputer, and escaping the deathtrap island Trond-hag. I'm not going to say it defies belief, but Mr. Miracle's instant helium balloon escape isn't even the most unbelievable thing in the issue.
Hey, I think I downloaded that! It's from Batman's second rap CD, but bit of the second album jinx there.
So, now that you know Scott Free's unfortunate...condition...you can see the secret meaning of the Barda bust. I think, knowing the whole story, we can all agree there is nothing exploitative or sexist about. Nope. Not at all... Read more!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Seriously, if the Federal Government nukes you, it should be kind of a pass for crimes later...
I'm not saying become Captain Hitler or anything, but, geez, live a little.
I was flipping through this issue, and remembered reading the first issue of Captain Atom, and his arrival from 1968 in the present, 1987. (Wikipedia says 1986!) Colonel Nathaniel Adam, covered in alien metal and almost terminally confused, is staggered to hear John Wayne is dead. Oh, and Adam's wife, too.

I like the good Captain, but it isn't really fair to cram him into an already crowded superhero universe like DC did. What can Captain Atom do that Superman, Martian Manhunter, Captain Marvel, Firestorm, etc, can not? I dunno, shoot indeterminate ray beams? Irradiate stuff? Blow up real good, ala Kingdom Come? It's pretty sad, but like Red Tornado, seemingly exploding every third guest appearence is probably what he's best known for; that or 'yeah, the guy Dr. Manhattan was based on. Dr. Manhattan's cool.'

Captain Atom's default characterization of 'government tool' doesn't help his case, either; as seen in both Superman/Batman and Justice League Unlimited. It's especially puzzling since it makes no goddamn sense at all, yet he keeps coming back to it. He was framed, convicted of treason, used as a lab rat, blown up by an atom bomb, then blackmailed some more. You know, if you kick a dog enough times, don't be surprised when he turns into Monarch and enslaves humanity.

I can understand writers wanting to have a right-wing, conservative, by-the-book character; especially as a counterpoint to Green Arrow's radical leftism or Superman's boy scout humanism. Fine. But it's time to make that voice someone else's. I don't see Captain Atom as someone who would have a lot of trust left for authority figures. Hell, he's been burned by three separate presidents! LBJ's administration promised him a pardon in 1698, but Reagan (or, more likely generals under him) refused to acknowledge it in 1986 or whenever. Then his general abuse under President Luthor. I swear, Luthor drove Captain Atom to suicide, or Canada, I don't recall. The one with the Composite Superman Robot...god, my eye twitches every time I think about that one.

Probably my favorite Captain Atom moment of recent memory: here. Come back soon, Brandon!

From JLA Incarnations #6, "Authority" Written by John Ostrander, pencils by Eric Battle, inks by Keith Champagne and Ray Kryssing. Short one today, because there's more Batman-related tomfoolery tomorrow, including possibly the end of comic book sexism. Maybe. All right, don't bet the farm on it... Read more!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They aren't called 'Batarangs' because he wants you to have one...

A while ago, I was making fun of DC phasing out Batman: Gotham Knights. Well, they did the same for the longer-running Legends of the Dark Knight as well. The book had run it's course, though: what was originally intended as a showcase book, featuring work from creators like Grant Morrison, Matt Wagner, Howard Chaykin, Mike Mignola, and others; came limping along for the finish line with newer, untested writers and artists.

There's a place for new creators, or at least there used to be: fill-ins, annuals, back-up features. Now they get to finish old series that are being put out to pasture, like this, the second-to-last issue: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #213, "Otaku" Written by Matt Wayne, art by Steven Cummings.

The story opens with a montage of Batman action, as an unseen narrator explains how they only "deal in the rarest pieces. High quality artifacts, left behind at the scene." The scene shifts to a showroom of recovered Bat-items, including a cowl and cape. The seller names a price of ten million, but the nerdy-yet-crazy Otaku of the title says that's too much, which frightens the seller. You can tell he's frightened, because he sweats like a nervous Charlie Brown. At some points in the story, Cummings goes really cartoony. Not quite superdeformed style, but getting there.
'Roll out the red carpet'? Well, that's presumptuous.
The scene abruptly shifts to a Red Robin...no, not enough crap on the walls. Still, shift to a really well-lit bar-restaurant. Looks nicer than most of the places I go, really. Per the captioning, Batman is there disguised as "the guy who won't shut up," which is clever; and is chatting up Fairchild of Gen 13 fame. What? It's a super-strong, over six foot redhead in a green outfit, what am I supposed to think? Batman explains she's Maureen Brenner, aka Aiko, superpowered muscle for the Tokyo mob, then stops her from wacking a loose-lipped mob wannabe.
'Paaang!' doesn't need any embellishment from me.
Another jarring scene change, and Batman and Commissioner Gordon are at the Bat-showroom, which is now stripped bare except for the seller's corpse. The medical examiner, who looks very cartoony again, points out skin cells with Thai/Yakuza tattoo ink, and also says the victim was killed with a batarang.

Back at the Batcave, Batman puts about ten minutes worth of detective work into this and comes up with a name of a hero-fetishist Yakuza. Jetting over to Tokyo, he investigates as Bruce Wayne, quickly proving that if you throw around enough cash, no fetish is out of reach. This is pretty much doing for cosplay what that CSI episode did for furries, isn't it?
His Bat-sense goes off when he gets to the superhero cosplay cafe, and he knows Hara, the Otaku, is there. Sure enough, Hara's wearing the stitched-together cowl, and his glasses over it, as "Justice Super-Cosplay Society" begins. Yay! Complete with little stuffed sidekick toys! Fun! And drugged-up sidekicks. Um...
Sorry, no shots of Bruce's rear in that costume...
Disguised as Green Lantern (in Kyle's newer costume, which I'm sure he'd appreciate) Bruce 'raises a stink' and socks Hara in the face. He then has to take a few shots from Aiko, until he can kill the lights, free the drugged girls, and change into Batman.
Mighty Giant!  If a girl wore that suspenders costume, it would be exploitative and crass...but still look better then it does on him.
Who would've thought a schoolgirl's uniform would be the better choice of outfits?

Aiko and Mighty Giant are apparently the all-purpose superpowered muscle that seems to show up a lot at DC these days, and they deliver a pretty stout slapping to Batman. Hara shows off his stolen Batarang, "Dipped in paralyzing venom," and asks Bats if he knows what "Jintai Hakuseijutsu" is. Bats knows, it's human taxidermy, and dryly notes, "It's true. Some guests got to keep their costumes." Not a bad line there.

Of course, things go south pretty quickly for Hara after that: the Batarang intended for Batman ends up in Mighty Giant's back, and Batman tasers down Aiko. From a standing start, Batman punches Hara (down what looks like a flight of stairs, only for him to land in the cosplay room) and notes Hara's Yakuza bosses should have their invitations and be there shortly: having a comic-reading otaku is one thing, but apparently there's no room for a "deviant" in the Japanese mob. No offense to Japan, but don't you have to do something beyond the pale to be considered an unacceptable pervert there? Or is it that being a deviant isn't the problem, being a loud and noticeable deviant is?

'You tell me, Alfred, I don't make you wear that uniform...'
Batman leaves, knowing Aiko heard him, and lets Aiko take care of Hara. Now that seemed a little out of character, for Batman to turn his back on a probable murder. Maybe he just hates fanboys. And the story closes with a little banter with Alfred and Bruce.

There are some ups and some downs to this story: for longtime Batman fans, the plot probably seems pretty close to the Batman: the Animated Series episode "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy." That one was based on "The Cape and Cowl Deathtrap!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, art by Walt Simonson, in Detective Comics #450, reprinted in the Art of Walt Simonson.
Simonson doesn't draw as good of a smiling Batman as Alan Davis, but close.
But for me, the story seems a lot closer to the opening arc of John Ostrander and Doug Rice's Manhunter, the Mark Shaw version. Japan and the mask angle figure into that one quite a bit, although that's a four issue story with a little more meat to it. OK, that one's a personal favorite, so maybe not a fair comparison. And it's not fair for me to expect the writer or editor to have read every damn comic...

What I'm trying to remember, and I want to say this is from a fairly recent issue of Detective Comics, maybe even from "Face the Face," but aren't Batarangs tagged to give off a homing signal? Gah, I've been struggling to remember if I actually have this issue, or just read it or saw the preview or something; but Robin and Batman check out a display of Batarangs left all over Gotham--on rooftops, buried, embedded in walls, perps, etc. (I'm sure someone like Killer Croc or Bane probably has a couple lodged in them somewhere.)

Wherever this is from, it's a more recent development, and might be considered important. When Nightwing gave Batwoman a 'real' batarang in 52, I suspected it was a ploy for Batman to keep tabs on her; as it turned out, I guess it was Jason Todd taking a swing for the fences...Admittedly, passing yourself off as Nightwing because it gets more chicks than the 'Red Hood' makes sense, and is the only explanation I have for any of that.

Of course, they could just say the Otaku is what gave Batman the idea... Read more!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quarter book roundup!
Even if I had paid full price for this one, these two panels would've been worth the whole issue.  As it is, I bought two.
I think I see why I don't do this very often. Typing up the list alone was a pain in the rump, then the random comments on the ones needing commenting on pro or con, then a chunk of the list mysteriously disappeared when I took the dogs out. And more possibly tomorrow, if I'm lucky.
Marvel Spotlight: Civil War Aftermath (An ad. Totally missable.)
Ms. Marvel #13
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season Eight) #1 (I watched the show when it was on, and this was a solid read. I might not buy it every month, but I'll probably at least read it when it's done.)
X-Factor #17 (Probably the best book I should be buying here.)
Punisher Xmas one-shot
Justice League Unlimited #28
Blade #4
Infinite Holiday Special (Four Christmas issues in a row. It doesn't help that it's been like 90 degrees here lately, but while none were terrible, none were holiday classics either.)
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #212-213 (#213 has a very stylized Walt Simonson cover, I'll be blogging this one later)
Punisher War Journal #2
Robin #156
Wonder Woman #5 (This and the Robin above? After school specials. Good, but that's what they were.)
Spirit #2 (Darwyn Cooke draws the hell out of it, but I just have never really gotten on board with the Spirit, possibly because he never seems like the main character.)
Flash #11
Supergirl #13 (Not one of the worst issues, but the build-up of Powerboy is just to make his heel turn "surprising.")
If only I could travel back in time, and make that my yearbook photo.  Sigh.Uncanny X-Men #481
Agent X #5 (art by Udon)
Fell #8 (I had these last three already. While Fell is probably better, I make no bones about my love for Agent X. If you don't have the Gail Simone or Evan Dorkin issues, be sad now.)
Son of M #6
Spider-Man: Reign #2
Agent of Atlas #5
Star Trek: TNG The Space Between #2-3
Fantastic Four: The End #4-5 (And now a smattering of random limited series issues. The Trek issues were good, FF: The End made me want to buy the last issue, but the Agent of Atlas issue made me want the whole series.)
Superman #659
X-Men/Power Pack #4
Spider-Man/Power Pack #3 (I like these a surprising amount, since I never liked Power Pack in their heyday, but Marc Sumerak writes the hell out of them, and Gurihiru has been great on the main stories. But Chris Giarrusso's back-up features make this one, as you can see in the panel above. I heard his World War Hulk piece was the MVP of that issue too...)
Family Guy: Peter Griffin's Guide to Parenting (If you're a fan of the show, it's not terrible, but $6.95? Bullplop.)
Frontline #10 (Wake me when we get to the issue where Speedball/Penance/Whippingboy has to break Squirrel Girl's heart, it would make more sense.)
Catwoman #62, 64 (Not bad, despite the copout of Helena's father. Oh, it is a copout.)
Conan #37
Ultimate Power #2 (Honestly, not as terrible as I was expecting, but when does it end?)
Mighty Avengers #2 (Ditto. Bendis and Cho.)I have to wonder how many times Jan's lost her eyebrows over the years.
Detective Comics #828
Ultimate X-Men #77
Astonishing X-Men #19-20 (Feels like more should be happening, somehow, even without the extended wait between issues.)
Green Lantern #17 (I think I'd have preferred a full issue of a cracked-out Batman tearing around with a yellow power ring, but not bad.)
World War III #1-4 (I read something by Mark Waid on Kingdom Come, how it wasn't a story about every little superhero footsoldier, it was a Superman story. I thought that was dumb, since I was more interested in some of the footsoldiers. I was wrong, Mark, I was wrong.)
52 weeks 34, 37, 45, 50 (What are...the weeks I'd skip any given year of school? Ah, my Karnak needs work.)

And that's the lot. I'm all about the quantity here. Read more!