Hero Squared - Boom Studios (2005)


Keith Giffen and J.M DeMatteis team up with artist Joe Abraham to produce a funny, sometimes-touching story about a guy named Milo who meets an alternate-universe version of himself who has superpowers. Also, Milo's girlfriend's otherworld self is the vilest of villains.

This is a great intro issue and it should still be on the shelves. This is one of those "supporting indy comics" things that Jason Rodriguez was talking about. Not that I'm saying Giffen and DeMatteis are struggling kids just trying to get their books published but Boom Studios deserves our support for putting this out. Also, if this sells well, we could see lots of new cool stuff from Boom.

I like Abraham's art. He plays well with the Bwa-ha-ha boys and he handles the action scenes as well as the conversation scenes with style. There are a couple of points where things could be clearer but it holds together well.

I'm looking forward to issue #2.

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 - DC (2005)

I've really been enjoying the latest reboot of the Legion of Super-Heroes by Mark Waid.

Until now.

The tension between Cosmic Boy and Brainiac-5 has been building since issue 2 or 3 and I was looking forward to seeing it come to a head. Unfortunately, Waid squandered a really good opportunity. The big blowup, when it came, was formulaic and uninteresting. This is disappointing because Waid has defied conventional logic about the Legion up 'til this point. He's done some wonderfully inventive things with the Legionnaire's powers and origins. He's made them real characters with depth. I cared about these people.

With issue 8 he turns them all in to cocky assholes who spend the entire issue one-upping each other and fighting pointlessly. I like conflict among team members when it's done well. That's what we had. This big fight issue did not resolve the tension nor did it move the story forward in an interesting manner. Now we have a big mess on our hands. Waid's a good enough writer to get us out of the mess and I hope he does so.

It doesn't help that this issue has the worst art yet. Kevin Sharpe and Prentis Rollins are listed as "Guest Penciller" and "Guest Inker", respectively. Everyone is drawn with bulging neck muscles even though they've never had them before. Also, there's very little diferentiation between the male characters. I have subtitled the character roster page "Five Men - One Face".

The inking looks unfinished. It's like the kind of thing you'd see in a sketchbook or a concept drawing. In a finished product, it just looks sloppy. I hope Barry Kitson and Mick Gray are back on board for #9.

Grimjack: Killer Instinct #6 - IDW (2005)

This is the conclusion of the 6-issue miniseries by John Ostrander and Timothy Truman. It's got, by far, the best cover of the bunch. I enjoyed this story but by issue #4 it seemed as if it had been coasting on my sense of nostalgia. #5 atoned for these sins a bit and #6 brought everything to a satisfactory close so, all's well.

If you're not familiar with Grimjack, it's a title originally published by First Comics back in the 80s. IDW is publishing this new series. The main character, John Gaunt, lives in a city named Cynosure which is a patchwork of multiple dimensions some of which are unstable. As John puts it, "Guns work here, magic works there, swords work everywhere". It's a brutal, industrial dystopia. You know the type.

If you're a fan of Grimjack from back in the day, check this out. If you've never seen it, don't expect The Dark Night Returns. This is a melodamatic, sword-swinging, dirty mess of a tale and it's definitely worth picking up the trade when it comes out.

Indy Rampage

Jason Rodriguez, an editor for Hoarse and Buggy Productions explains why you should support independent comics.

More importantly, he points out the best way to support the indies:

There’s a popular misconception that supporting indy comics means never talking bad about them and buying everything ever made by every company and individual that scraped together some money to make a book. That’s wrong. That’s actually hurting indy comics. If you support everyone with a book, you’re saturating the market and making it more difficult for books of merit to break out of the crowd and actually start to make money. A lot of guys have just one shot and a great book and sometimes it’s tough to pick them out of all the noise.

Supporting indy comics means buying the small press books you like.

I've pointed out a few non-Marvel-or-DC titles I like but not as many as I'd like to. I'm going to bring more of those up in the future. I expect I'll pick up a few indy titles at Dragon*Con that I wouldn't have seen before and I'm headed to my FLCS today where I'll scout out some more.


Standards and Practices

My fellow comics bloggers have threatened to kick me out of the club if I don't attend to a couple of things ASAP:

First, I have not spent enough time on this blog bitching about Wizard magazine. I have passed on reports of their dastardly dealings re: HeroesCon but apparently that wasn't enough. So, here goes:

I'm done with Wizard. The few scraps of advance knowledge I've picked up from their "exclusive" news items have not been worth the pages and pages of filler and movie coverage I have to sift through. Wizard released a Special Movie Issue! a while back. Here's the cover of one of their "non-movie" issues:

Hey, kids!  It's Jennifer Garner!

You'd have to be Entertainment Weekly to be any more "movie" than that. What qualities could a "movie issue" possess that would make it any different from "as seen on Alias", up there?

I've become increasingly dissatisfied with the magazine since I began reading it regularly a couple of years ago. Once I realized that their ratings and hype don't represent comics fans in general and that they are decided upon by, like, eight guys who work for the magazine, I stopped caring about what they had to say.

Second, I've been told that I'm not using enough profanity. This is just a misdemeanor and not grounds for expulsion from the Comics blogosphere but I'm on thin ice already so:


Heroes Victorious!

Newsarama reports that the Wizard World/Heroes Con kerfuffle may be over:

Now, it’s looking like the weekend won’t be an either/or proposition for comic fans in the Southeast.

Newsarama has learned that WizardWorld has not made the deposit payment to the Cobb Galleria (where WizardWorld: Atlanta was slated to be held June 30th -July 2nd, 2006). Likewise, sources close to Wizard speaking to Newsarama report that the current thinking within the company is that it will officially cancel its planned Atlanta show for 2006, while eyeing debuting in Atlanta in 2007, ideally on a weekend with no other show in close proximity.

Thanks to Fanboy Rampage for bringing this to my attention.


Yet another reminder

To those who have seen this on my blog already, I apologize but I want to make sure people are aware of this:

Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak (which is an awesome podcast) is going on a 150-mile bike ride in September to raise money for MS research. Click here for more information and to make a pledge.

Please let others know about this. Post it in your own blog. Geeks unite!


Defenders #1 (2005)

Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire (the Fab Three who brought us the funny JLA back in the 80s & early 90s) are assaulting the Marvel Universe with a 5-issue Defenders miniseries.

This thing is funny! If you don't like this gang's sense of humor or if you have no sense of humor about The Defenders, stay away from this one. I am a hardcore Defenders fan and I don't see how you can not have a sense of humor about them.

I've been reading The Essential Defenders Vol. 1 collection and the first issue of this miniseries fits into the mold of the first few Defenders issues perfectly.

Which is to say, Defenders #1 is funny because Namor and the Hulk/Bruce Banner spend the whole time fighting with each other and the Defenders series from the 70s was funny for exactly the same reason. Giffen and DeMatteis also spend a great deal of time making fun of the way Dr. Strange talks. Again, this is straight out of old-school Defenders.

The writers did their homework. They obviously like The Defenders a lot and they also see the inherent humor in putting four über-powerful, egotistical beings together and forcing them to work together in order to save the world about once a month. It's like a superhero reality show where everybody is the "loudmouth who's gonna get kicked out" character.

I love Kevin Maguire's art but there are some parts of this issue where he out-Maguire's himself. Namor and the Silver Surfer look too stylized for my taste but it's not enough to put me off the comic. Maguire's facial expressions are still the best in the business and he has drawn the most amazing Dormammu I have ever seen. Ever. Maguire should be the only person allowed to draw the Lord of the Dark Dimension for the rest of time.

Even if you've never read The Defenders, this is worth picking up just for the laughs.

Klaus Janson + Marvel 4-Ever!

Newsarama announced that Klaus "The House"* Janson has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel. This is quite a coup for Marvel. They needed to do something after losing the Kubert brothers. (My apologies for the Newsarama link. I'm tired of looking at that picture of Kevin Smith, too.)

Janson is one of the best inkers in the business (see the Black Panther cover below) and his pencil work is awesome, too.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

So, cheers, Klaus!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

*No one calls him "The House" I'm just trying to start a movement.


Heroes vs. Wizards

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This editorial by Matt Fraction sums up the Starbucking practices of Wizard World.

A quote:

HeroesCon, an annual comics convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina for the last 24 years, has been threatened direly by WizardWorld who, having been made fully aware of the Heroes tradition and show dates, announced a new show to launch in Atlanta, Georgia, the same weekend. HeroesCon celebrates its 25th year in 2006. WizardWorld was appraised of that fact by HeroesCon founder Shelton Drum last year after their Philadelphia show.

I agree with Matt: This Sucks!

Fortunately a bunch of comic pros including Tony Harris, Greg Rucka, Mark Millar, Warren Ellis, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner Bryan Hitch, Scott Kurtz, and Art Adams also agree with him. They are going to Heroes Con instead of WW Atlanta. I'll be there, too.

Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #15 & #16 (2002)

It's Buy A Bunch of Discounted Crap week here at Noetic Concordance HQ!! This means I've bought some older comics and I'm going to go all Dave's Long Box on you and review some of the ones worth mention. I'll start with a couple of good ones:

One of the two Friendly Local Comic Shops I frequent has a whole other store for their 50-cent bins. I was over there the other day and I picked up Ultimate Marvel Team-Up issues 15 &16.

These issues are parts one and two of the Spider-Man/Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu team-up. Stephen Strange may be the Master of the Mystic Arts but Shang-Chi is the Master of the Whupass Arts! He knows all the fighting styles that ever there were because his father (a really evil guy) had him trained to be the ultimate fighting machine. So, this Shang-Chi is the Ultimate ultimate fighting machine which makes him even more badass.

The story is simple and well-told by Brian Bendis. Bendis, as I have mentioned before, groks Peter Parker so his reactions to Shang-Chi are spot on and funny.

Artistically this story is an all-star jam session! The covers (see above for #15) were done by David Mack. The shining star, though, is Andy Lee who does these gorgeous brush-art interludes throughout the panels. They enhance the story and give it an exotic quality that really "brings the room together" as The Dude would put it.

The main interior art by Rick Mays and Jason Martin is good, especially in the action scenes, which for a tale about ass kickin' is vital. However, I wish that the numerous Asians and Asian-Americans in it had looked more, um, Asian.

Spider-Man and Shang-chi don't fight each other upon meeting which is a refreshing change. In fact, Shang-Chi doesn't really need Spidey's help at all. Webhead's appearance for the climactic altercation just helps the Master of Kung Fu get done faster than he would have normally. The action movie that follows Shang-Chi around is really cool and this Ultimate version of him is a welcome addition. I hope he shows up elsewhere in the Ultimate Universe.

If you can find these issues in your local funny-book emporium or at a con pick them up. They are completely self-contained within the two issues and are the best buck I've spent in a long time. You can also get them as part of the trade-paperback collection Ultimate Marvel Team-Up Vol. 3.



Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities #4

Writer, Cover Artist & Interior Colors: Eric Powell
Interior Artist: Kyle Hotz

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is a damn fine ending to a damn fine miniseries.


The story is engaging, funny, suspenseful, touching and exciting. All in four issues! A band of sideshow freaks personalities has hired Billy the Kid as a "Tactical Specialist" to assist them in retrieving an item of great value. Powell doesn't pull any punches with Billy's personality. He's an uncouth, belligerent jerk but he's a supernaturally good shot. The friction between Billy and the rest of the troupe works well. The ending wraps up the story in a very satisfying way. Hotz's art (+ Powell's colors ) is exactly the right combination of dark and garish for this twisted tale.

Fans of creepy circus stories and/or tales featuring Cthulian medical experiments won't be disappointed.

The Goon #13

Eric Powell writes and draws this comic.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is the second issue of The Goon I have ever read but it certainly won't be the last. This one's in my hold box, now. The Goon is (as his name might suggest) a tough guy who is not unfamiliar with the criminal element. Hell, he is the criminal element. The art is gorgeous, cartoonish and like nothing else in comics. Powell gives The Goon substance. He looks like he was slapped together with a trowel. I get the sense that he could jump off the page and smack me around if I give him any guff. I keep my mouth shut while reading The Goon.

Issue #13 finds The Goon in prison. There are a couple of panels which reference every well-known prison movie from the 40s through the 60s. Nice stuff. Things don't turn out as you'd expect them to (or if you've read a lot of this comic, maybe you did expect it) which makes for a funny story. The secondary characters are hilarious and the tough-guy interactions make me want to go rough some guys up.

I'm glad the earlier issues are out as trades. I'm gonna get 'em.

New Comics 7/23/05

Ultimate Spider-Man #80

Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Danny Rand and Moon Knight and Spider-Man all in the same comic at the same time. I can't wait to see Ultimate Iron Fist. He hasn't done anything yet but when he does you just know it's gonna be good! This storyline is going to rule. It will crack the internet in half! It will crush all other storylines with its might!


There, I'm better, now. This was a very good issue with a really nice, tense moment between The Kingpin and Spider-Man. It's the 2nd part of a storyline but you don't really need issue #79 to pick up what's going on. Brian Bendis is losing me on many of the other titles he's writing but US-M continues to be strong. Bendis groks Peter Parker and this title continues to be the one I anticipate the most every month except for Young Avengers.

House of M #4

This issue has my favorite art of the miniseries so far. Especially the first two pages. It does a great job of setting up the alternate-universe Genosha. There were some really confusing visuals throughout this issue and I don't know whether to blame the writer, Brian Bendis, or the artist, Olivier Coipel, for these weird layouts. I shouldn't have to re-read part of a comic book to figure out what's going on. I'm still not sure what happened in one of those sections. The story is getting better and it looks like something might actually happen in the next issue or two.

Freshmen #1

This is the comic that was co-created by Seth Green. It's OK. The premise: 14 college freshmen are housed in the science building. Something Happens and they all get superpowers based on what they were thinking or doing at that moment. The walking stereotypes students have only been introduced at this point and issue #2 will feature more information about their actual abilities. The art's good but the writing is really wooden in places. I'll see if they've worked the kinks out by next month.


Ultimate Fantastic Four #21

Here's my spoiler-free review:

I miss Warren Ellis on this title almost as much as I miss Adam Kubert

Now for the one with the spoilers:

The Art: This is an excellent visual team. Greg Land on pencils, Matt Ryan inking and Justin Ponsor (Or "Jutin" as his front-page credit would have it) doing a spectacular job on the colors. Each page has something really cool and shiny and well-rendered on it. I have no complaints about the art.

I do, however, have several complaints about the character design.

Sue has been restyled as an underwear model. Not that I have anything against underwear models but this interpretation goes far away from the previous looks for the character. I find Kubert's Invisible Woman to be much more attractive and far more human. I have trouble seeing past the cheesecake of Land's version. The eye candy is nice but it does nothing to give me any sense of the character.

Also, Land couldn't decide which "as seen on the hit show" hairstyle to give her so he changed it from panel to panel. She sports four different hairdos on page 20, alone. Or maybe that's one of her lesser known powers. She's got an invisible Flowbee!

The previous two artists (Kubert and Stuart Immonen) made Johnny look young and brash and, well, hotheaded. In UFF #21, Johnny looks like "Human Torch, 90210". He's too pretty and it doesn't work with the character. Both of the Storm siblings are well-drawn but something about them doesn't click with me. Reed and Ben look good.

The Writing: Mark Millar completely failed to piss me off in this issue. That's about the best he can do at this point. I went into this issue expecting to dislike it and I came out of it mildly interested in what's going to happen next. Nice work, Mark!

The opening scene looks cool but it doesn't stand up to multiple readings. The FF have chased some hackers into the past in order to stop them from killing the first thing to crawl out of the sea. "That's just the kind of wacky hijinks the FF were always getting into!" I have heard some people cry. No, it's not.

Let's think about this for a minute: You're a 1337 haXXor who has just broken into the system of a huge government-funded research group. Do you:

A) Steal the plans for a time machine, build it and threaten to kill the aforementioned amphibian unless the U.N. pays you a zillion dollars?
B) Steal the plans for a superbomb (hello! government-funded), build it and threaten a big city?
C) Siphon a bunch of that government funding into several accounts of your own thus setting you up for life?
D) Build the time machine, buy a sports almanac and bet on lots of sporting events throughout time.

If you chose "A" then you, too, are lame.
If you chose "D" then your name is Biff.

I have no problem with the time-travel as throwaway tech angle. I do have a problem with how weak this premise is. I know, I know, it's a comic book. Just a bit of fun. However, things like this knock me out of a story. I'm not the kind of guy who goes looking for things to nitpick but when they jump out at me like this they take my suspension of disbelief with them.

As the intro is wrapping up, Millar becomes a nominee for "Lamest use of the phrase Who let the dogs out?". There's an Eisner for that, right?

The actual story of the issue is pretty good. This is how Millar keeps getting me to buy stuff he writes. He doesn't totally suck. There's usually just enough to interest me and this issue is no exception. I like the idea of Ultimate Reed meeting Alternate Universe Reed. There are some nice moments (and only one stupid one) between them.

The ending I have mixed feelings about. First off: Ultimate Reed gets tricked into teleporting into the universe of the Zombie Fantastic Four! That's pretty cool. However, given some of the stuff I've seen Millar do in The Ultimates 2 and (ye gods!) The Authority this story could remain kinda cool or it could piss me off. With Millar and me it's a crapshoot.

We'll see.

By the way, here's a guy who pretty much disagrees with everything I just wrote. His review has a shot of the other, cooler cover.

Next up: Powell-a-palooza!


Podcasts Ahoy!

I'd like to bring your attention to a very good comics podcast. I Read Comics just posted its 4th episode and they're all good. It's run by Lene Taylor and she has covered some really interesting topics so far.

Check it out.

If you have a LiveJournal account you can add her site feed to your friends list and keep up with new episodes.

New Avengers #7 - Marvel (2005)

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This title started off strong. It had consistent, interesting characterizations, good art, funny one-liners and exciting action. New Avengers #7 has none of these things. Or, more accurately, not enough of them. It's like a sequel to a wildly successful movie. The studio tells the director, "Do all that stuff you did in the first movie! That was awesome!" and then the director can't capture the lightning again.

First off, the cover: Luke Cage appears in this issue. Unnamed ninja haXXor on the far right of the cover does not. This is obviously another case of THE MAN tryin' to keep a brother down. Oh, sure, a black man can get his ass kicked all over a comic book (see below) but he's not gonna get his picture up where it belongs. I guess if he had a rack like Spider-Woman's, there, he'd be front and center. Also, the ostensible title character of this story arc, The Sentry, is shoved way over to the left. hmph!

Bendis is usually good at cute dialogue. His characters often say quirky, self-aware things that neatly sum themselves up. In this issue, he comes off as trying too hard. For example, there's a meeting of the (not so) Secret Masters of the Marvel Universe: Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt (or "Blackus Boltus" or whatever his real, lame name is), Namor and Tony Stark. This scene (in which the art is atrocious) exists solely for Bendis to get these characters to interact with each other in their own typical fashions.

It doesn't work.

These are all strong, well-known personalities and Bendis falls back on the stereotypes. Unfortunately, he doesn't even use the stereotypes well. There is one almost-funny moment with Reed Richards during this scene but the placement of the panels on those two pages wrecks the pacing.

Speaking of wrecking, The Wrecker shows up in this issue and engages most of the New Avengers in the most boring fight scene ever. I'll sum it up for you:

Wrecker: I have the power of a GOD!

The New Avengers: Shut up! You're stupid! New Avengers, New Assemble!!

Wrecker: #@%$ you! I #@%$ed up the #@%$ing Avengers and #@%$ed up #@%$ing Thor personally! #@%$, #@%$, #@%$!!!!!!!

The New Avengers: Ooof! Argh! All this getting thrown around a subdivision sure does make us angry!

Wrecker: Don't you know who I am? Respect my crowbar!

The New Avengers: Oof! Argh!

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So this Al Cowlings of the supervillain set gets his magic crowbar* back and spends seven pages knocking each of the New Avengers several blocks away one at a time. He gets to do this because the assembled superheroes come at him like extras in an old kung-fu movie instead of using anything resembling tactics. Not to get all comics geek on this but Luke Cage, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman have all fought in teams before and each of them has years of super-powered combat experience. They know the power of tactics and they have been portrayed in earlier issues of this very comic as able and willing to effectively team up on someone. They played this one stupid because Bendis didn't want the fight to be over yet. The worst part is that The Wrecker defeats the heroes by using the same damn move over and over.

After the crappy fight (with more bad art, by the way) we get four pages of "Oooo, isn't this thing with The Sentry mysterious?" which could have been done in one or two. The last two panels of this issue are straight out of the Bad Star Trek Episode Playbook.

Neither of the attempted cliffhangers makes me want to pick up the next issue. Maybe I won't.

*"Magic Crowbar" Insert euphemism here.


Mnemovore #4 - Vertigo (2005)

Here's the cover:

It tells you pretty much all you need to know about this comic.

Here's my spoiler-free review:


OK, that's not so much a review as a reaction. Here's my review with minor spoilers.

The miniseries has been realy creepy up to this point. With #4 it becomes full-on scary. If you haven't read the first three issues you're probably better off waiting for the trade since there are only two issues left in the story.

By the way, Mnemovore gets the Noetic Concordance Trade Paperback Seal of Approval because, so far, there hasn't been a single issue which has been just padding. The writers (Hans Rodionoff and Ray Fawkes) are pacing it appropriately along with scaring the hell out of me. I'm not going to have dreams about Mnemovore or anything, this is more of the "freaked out" kind of scared.

The series deals with memory, information and what happens when our access to those things goes away. The creepy, tentacled thing on the cover is some sort of monster which feeds on the memories of humans. Whenever it feeds on the stuff in your mind you don't get it back. Rodionoff and Fawkes explore different reactions to the alien feedings through the few people who are affected differently from most everyone else. These people aren't any better off.

The scariest element of this story, to me, is the recurring theme of the important people in the main character's life not remembering her. Just as she's getting pieces of her life back into place, parts of it begin detaching themselves from her. This sense of being isolated from people even when you're with them is conveyed masterfully by Mike Huddleston's art. He uses a dark palette along with a fluctuating level of detail depending on the needs of the scene.

If you like creepy, well-told stories and don't mind not having all of the information about the plot right off the bat, pick up Mnemovore when the trade comes out. Maybe it'll have some spooky extras.


Seven Soldiers Commentary

This post about Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers megaminiseries from I am NOT the Beastmaster is what my posts want to be when they grow up.


House of M: Now with spoilers!

I'm not going to review House of M so much as ruin the last page of the third issue for those of you who haven't read it. Before I do that, though, I do have a couple of comments:

This is an 8-issue miniseries which, so far, looks like it should have been planned for 4 - 6. I thought that six issues was the ideal size for a trade. If this is so, why didn't they solicit six issues? That way, Bendis could have written the events of the first two issues into a single issue. House of M #3 has all of the marks of a second issue. All of the setup has been done and now the action starts.

I have no problem with an entire issue in which "nothing happens" as long as that nothing is interesting and well-written. I don't need constant action and fight scenes but I do like to get to the meat of the story before all the exposition becomes tedious.

Now for the "spoiler":

Hawkeye shows up at the end of issue #3. That's cool and all but it's not really a big deal. Gwen Stacy appears in the first issue and she's dead in the "real world", too. Mutants are running the world and we're supposed to be amazed that Clint Barton shows up after being dead for about five minutes in comics time? Not really.

Having said all that, there is some cool stuff in House of M and I'm a sucker for "Elseworlds" stories but I'm not really impressed with what's going on so far. I had to restrain myself from calling this post "House of Meh". Oops, I guess my restraint is "Just OK".

Oh, Meltzer, how I stab at thee

Afraid of the Light has some new content up. It's good stuff. I think I agree with Chuck that Brad Meltzer did what he did on Identity Crisis because he's too much of a fan rather than not enough of one.

I will soon rant briefly about Identity Crisis but first, I'll show the cover to issue #7 which is one of my favorite comic covers of all time.

See, even I can find something nice to say about Identity Crisis

Now, on to the rant:

I don't like Meltzer's writing on Identity Crisis but my reasons are different from those of a lot of his other detractors I've seen. I don't have a problem with the darker direction he took the characters in (though I don't think IC was dark, per se). I don't have a problem with the premise behind the series or any of the deaths of Z-list characters at the hands of double-Z-listers.

I don't like Meltzer's writing on IC because it's lazy. He took the easy way out that so many writers of novels, etc. have taken before him. He wanted us to hate Dr. Light so he made him a rapist. Yawn. That action had no reason to be there other than to elicit a reaction from the readers. None. Nothing in Light's background suggested that he would do such a thing and even within the scene the rape made no sense.

Meltzer could have done the work to make us hate Dr. Light in so many other ways but he opted for the shortcut. I wasn't disgusted by the rape just because it was a rape (though that was a big part of it). I was disgusted by it because it was tacked on. It came out of nowhere and such a brutal act must have a better reason to exist in a story than this one did.

Next up: Why bringing back dead characters in an Alternate Universe story isn't much of a surprise.


Ocean and Matador: Two Future Trades Which Have Pleased Me

Ocean #6

A great ending to a good series.

Expect to see Nathan Kane in a future installment of The Badass Files. I had to read one section twice to make sure I understood what was happening with the action but none of it was as bad as the "BUMP" incident from an earlier issue where the cause of a certain effect was not explained until the following page.

Chris Sprouse's art is good and Kane does what Warren Ellis characters often do: He kills lots of bad guys by being smarter and more ruthless than they are. The supporting characters are awesome, too. I'd like to see a screenplay by Ellis but knowing what I do about Hollywood it'd get watered down by all the committees who'd get their hands on it.

Matador #3

Wow. Oh wow!

Young Avengers is full of what I read superhero comics for. Matador is what I read "mature" comics for. This is a damn good story, well-told. Brian Stelfreeze's art gains momentum with each issue. When I go back and look at individual panels I say, "Damn! That there's a fine piece of art" because I become a cowboy when faced with aesthetically-pleasing things, apparently. However, it's not the kind of awesome art that distracts me from the story. It's the kind of awesome art that tells the story.

Speaking of the story, Devin Grayson is a purty good writer, yeehaw! Dang, I've gotta stop that. Anyway, Grayson is doing a great job with the writing. I think one of the reasons Stelfreeze's art works so well with the story is that he's got a story credit on this miniseries so he's got more of a connection to it.

And now it's time for the Noetic Concordance Trade Paperback Rant

The threes of you who read this blog regularly know that I have a deep loathing for anything which has been put through the business end of the procrustean bed of the six-issue trade. Matador may continue to live because, so far, it looks like it's actually a six-issue story. Unlike House of M (which I'll get to in a future reveiw) Matador is moving along at a pace that matches the number of issues it has left. (See also: Ocean)


Ultimate Spider-Man #79

The Writing: This one doesn't have a lot of action and it spends too many panels recapping events from the previous issue but it's still a good one. This is the first issue of a new future trade-paperback collection so the recap will be necessary for those who come into the series at this point. Bendis did a pretty good job of adding some new material to the bit but, as I said above, it could have been done in fewer panels.

This one is unofficially titled "Peter Parker No More" which gets points for riffing on the old-school plotlines.

The art: It's Bagley. He's done 79 issues of this book and they have all looked good. His style fits Bendis's writing and works perfectly with the story. His character design on Silvermane is a little weird but (for reasons which become apparent in the first few pages) we won't have to worry about that anymore. His design on Hammerhead is spot on. Nice work.

The Bad Guys: The various crime lords of Spider-Man's New York always interested me and I'm glad Bendis is spending some time developing them.

The Badass: Now for the thing that would have made me buy this issue even if I hadn't already bought all the ones leading up to this (or, more accurately, been given most of them by a generous benefactor): Ultimate Moon Knight!

Sorry if I spoiled that one for you. I knew about it well in advance from various ads and other releases so it's not like Marvel was trying to keep that a secret.

As I mentioned before, Moon Knight is El Badasso Grande. I'm interested to see if Ultimate Moon Knight keeps the faith. So far, he's off to a good start. The cover of #80 is lookin' a-pretty nice so I'm hopeful.

The Cape.  It Mocks Me

Besides, Bendis hasn't let me down (on this title) yet.


Dial FF for Fantastic Four

Dial B for Blog is one of my favorite blogs of any kind out there. It's always entertaining and informative but with this article about the Origins of the Fantastic Four (that's the comic, not the team) Dial B outdoes itself. It is one of the finest pieces of comics writing I've ever seen.

Check the Back Issues section in the sidebar for the earlier installments of this series.

A reminder

Since my original mention of this has dropped off the front page, I'm reposting it:

Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak (which is an awesome podcast) is going on a 150-mile bike ride in September to raise money for MS research. Click here for more information and to make a pledge.

Please let others know about this. Post it in your own blog. Geeks unite!


Billy the Kid's Old Timey Oddities #3

This is awesome. The first issue was quite good even though I had a few problems with the art. With this third issue, the art (by Kyle Hotz) has really grown on me. It does a great job of portraying Eric Powell's writing and the creepy stuff in this issue is damned creepy.

Billy and the rest of the freakshow he's been hired to travel with ride into a village in search of a jewel which is in the possession of Dr. Frankenstein. Yes, that Dr. Frankenstein. Powell's characterization of Frankenstein is excellent and Hotz draws him and his hideous creations spectacularly. Powell's colors are lurid and they look great on top of Hotz's pencils and inks.

Another reason I like this mini-series is that it's four issues long. This is exactly the number of issues that the story is going to require. I am sick and tired of six-issue series or story arcs which are only that long because that's what fits into a good-sized trade. This series would work well as a trade but I am so glad to see that Powell didn't try to stretch it into a shape it couldn't hold.


Sweet Christmas!

THE PULSE: What did you enjoy the most about working on this character?

LEN WEIN: Getting to work with the wonderful George Tuska, before Vinnie Colletta got his hands on the pencils and ruined them.

From this interview with three of the writers featured in the new Essential Luke Cage tome.


OK, anybody reading this probably also reads Fanboy Rampage and/or Newsarama so you already know this but for those of you who haven't heard, yet:

There's a Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center coming!

My favorite part by Randolph Hoppe:

"Our first program is to build an exhaustive, collaborative online Jack Kirby 'Catalogue Raisonné'," reports Hoppe, referring to the term for a book of "all the works" by an individual artist.

For those of you not familiar with Jolly Jack, check out this bio or this collection of stuff he drew.

Here's one of my favorites:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Is that Mjölnir in your pocket?

Normally, this sort of thing would be handled by Scipio but he doesn't like the Marvel. Therefore, Noetic Concordance is proud to present:

Homoerotic Lines From Classic Comics

"Give 'em a taste of your Joy-Stick, Thor -- before they can jump us!"
--Goliath from Sub-Mariner #35

Image hosted by Photobucket.com


The Badass Files #1: Moon Knight

Moon Knight is one of the baddest asses in the entire Marvel Universe. In fact, with a rating of .92 Waynes*, he is one of the baddest in any universe.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Being a badass is not just a matter of skill or strength, it's a matter of attitude and Moon Knight is all about the attitude. That's a ladder suspended from a helicopter that he's kicking that guy from. That kind of thing really makes a statement about your stance on crime.

His only real superpower is that his strength increases dramatically when moonlight hits him. The Badass Code doesn't let such things as being weaker when the sun is up hinder you, though, so Moon Knight fights bad things wherever and whenever he sees them. Badass.

He is also apparently drawn towards dread supernatural occurrences but I'd call that a "series of bad days" rather than a superpower.

How much of a badass is Moon Knight? His real name is Marc Spector. That's a badass name! He could just show up at a bank robbery and say "I'm Marc Spector; knock it off!" and the bad guys would throw down their guns and run. Not only is his name badass, he was a mercenary before becoming a superhero. Say no more!

Moon Knight is such a badass that only badass bad guys are worthy to oppose him. For example, Arsenal:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Notice that the aptly-named Arsenal is literally wearing a pile of ordnance. Our boy Moon Knight has a freakin' bow and arrow! Is he cowed by the superior firepower? No, he's a badass! Let's look at the cover of the following issue to see how that altercation turned out:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Only the living evil of Bushman...Could unite Moon Knight and Arsenal

Yeah, that's right, Arsenal: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


*The Official Unit of the Badass Scale


Make mine Mogo!

In Darkest Night

I was really excited to hear that a new start-from-scratch Green Lantern monthly series was coming. However, I have read the first two issues and it's not grabbing me. It's neither the writer nor the artist, I now realize, it's actually that I don't really like Hal Jordan stories. That surprised me. I thought I was a big Hal fan. Turns out I'm a big Green Lantern Corps fan. Now that I realize that, I can stop buying the GL monthly and wait for a Tales of the GLC monthly.

Speaking of Hal Jordan, I now see what all the fuss about Kyle Rayner was. He was a much more interesting and better-developed character than Jordan. I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other but, if pressed, I would put myself in the camp that wishes Jordan had stayed dead. The story of his flipping out, killing everything and then redeeming himself through sacrifice is watered down now that he's back. On top of that, it doesn't look like they're doing anything interesting with his return. I'm glad there's a book on the shelves for the Hal fans but I'm not gonna read it anymore. I am, however, encouraged by the reformation of the Corps.

Back to the Corps: I like the GLC because it allows a really broad range of stories to be told. You can put a bunch of them together and explore the differences between their approaches. You can send one off on a solo mission where he or she (or it) has to be really smart and clever to get out of some situation. You can go completely batshit wacky and bring in Ch'p or Mogo.

I also like the sector assignments and the pseudo-military trappings of the organization. I'm a sucker for the whole intergalactic police force thing.

This is not to say that the GL monthly can't become a great comic and if that happens I'll pick it up again. For now, I'll wait for Tomar-Re or Katma Tui to show back up.

Again with the Defenders

I'm less than a third of the way through Essential Defenders vol. 1 and it's a blast, so far. I just hit this cover from Marvel Feature #3 which was, technically, the 2nd issue of the Defenders as they came to be known:

Hulk should not have taken left turn at Albuquerque

Dang! That guy's scary!

OK, he looks like an arctic version of this guy
Those hijinks are ensuing all over the place

but check out what he's saying:

"And now that the Defenders are dead I shall steal--Earth's Children"

Yikes! What's he gonna do with all those kids? How are they going to fit on that rocket?

This is Roy-Thomas, Silver-Age, twelve-sandwich-eatin' comics!


Young Avengers, Young Assemble!!

Let's talk about Young Avengers for a moment. I am just one of the many people who picked this up out of curiosity and I was not just pleasantly surprised, I was blown away! First off, check out this promo:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I saw this and said, "Wow. That looks like it could be stupid on an epic scale." But a small voice in my head murmured, "It could be kinda cool." Boy am I glad I listened to that voice. This thing rocks! Young Avengers has all of the elements I read superhero comics for.

The characters are engaging, the art is excellent - especially the action scenes, the relationships between the heroes and (more importantly) between the heroes and the villains are three-dimensional, stuff blows up, I could go on and on about what's good about this title.

Allan Heinberg, a TV writer best known for his work on The O.C. is doing an above-and-beyond-the-call job on this. The writing is tight and the story is compelling. This is the only comic book out right now that makes me want the next issue to be in my hands as soon as I'm done reading the current one.

Heinberg is one of those "celebrity" comic book writers who has come in from another medium who understands that comics are visual. He doesn't waste words (and valuable page space) by having characters say what the reader can clearly see in the panel. Each character has his or her own distinct voice and their actions all make sense within those characterizations rather than serving the plot. Nothing turns me off of a story more quickly than watching characters make decisions for no reason other than to put them where the plot needs them to be.

Heinberg also knows how to keep me turning the pages. He's doling out the information about the main characters with an eyedropper and it works! Each issue reveals a tiny bit about one or more of the characters just as it raises more questions about them. This is a very, very cool comic book. The trade paperback compiling the first 6 issues will be out in either August or September. If you like superhero stories, get it.