Avengers Classic #1 - Marvel (2007)

First off, check out the Art Adams cover. That is an awesome picture and it brings back many fond memories of my Avengers-reading career.

Now to the actual stories inside: I was disappointed. I've read the Avengers' Origin story many times so that was nothing new to me. It's interesting as a bit of history but as an origin story it's kinda lame. Even taking into account the state of comics writing at the time which had a different tone and aesthetic from what we're used to today, the actual reason for the formation of the team barely makes sense. The Defenders' origin was far more interesting and it's hard to beat the formation of the Fantastic Four.

The most interesting part is seeing the Hulk during his pre-GRAAH days. It's a reminder that a lot of Hulk's mythology came well after the creation of the character. Also, he's dressed as a clown for a few pages. Don't ask.

Jack Kirby's art would normally be worth the price of admission to me but his style hadn't yet been refined to what we think of as "Kirby!".

The two backup stories were the real disappointments. Dwayne McDuffie attempts a toungue-in-cheek tale of how the Avengers decided who their first chairman would be. It's not entertaining and Michael Avon Oeming's art doesn't help. The Hulk picks up the conference table at one point but I had to be told what he was doing two panels later. Oeming's paintings are nice but if the reader can't figure out what's going on maybe it's time to dial back the style and put a little more substance in there.

The next story has no visual problems at all. Kevin Maguire's art is the best thing about this issue. The writing by Stan Lee is OK but nothing to shell out four bucks for. Stan, looking like a Bwah-ha-ha-era Maxwell Lord, tells us the real origin story of the Avengers. It's cute and it's better than McDuffie's story but it still isn't particularly funny.

Summary: If you're already familiar with the Avengers' origin, save your money. Andy Schmidt and Mark Beazley's decision to go with humorous stories for this first issue was a poor one. There's a bit at the end where they talk about more character-driven backups in future issues. There's a great opportunity for some excellent comic-book tales here and I will keep my eyes open for future issues. The nature of the beast makes this title hit-or-miss, though, so I won't put it in my hold box. I'm glad for the reprints and I like the added value of the backup stories but I'm going to judge this one on a case-by-case basis.



Hellboy: Darkness Calls #3 of 6 - Dark Horse (2007)

This miniseries is halfway done and I can't wait to see what happens next. This issue introduces the main villain and it's all gonna be downhill from here for our big, red protagonist. This is not to say that the first two issues were all boring setup. They were awesome, action-packed setup. But what else would you expect from a Hellboy story?

Mike Mignola is writing the thing and Duncan Fegredo is drawing it. I was several pages into the first issue before I realized that Mignola wasn't doing the art. Fegredo nails the Hellboy style while throwing in a few touches of his own. A Hellboy story drawn in a radically different style would not be as effective. The art tells the story as much as the words do. More so in the case of Hellboy. The final piece of the Hellboy visual puzzle shows up in the form of Dave Stewart's distinctive colors.

So, Hellboy meets up with the minions of Baba Yaga who has agreed to lead a group of witches who really, really hate Hellboy. There are gods and nature spirits and weird mystical landscapes and all the other stuff (minus any other members of the BPRD) which makes a good Hellboy tale. If you like any of Hellboy's other incarnations, check this out. You'll be glad you did.

Speaking of checking things out, look at this page of Fegredo's "I can't believe it's not Mignola" art:

Friday Night Fights: Kang Gonna Knock You Out!

Continuing last week's theme of time travellers fighting themslves I present tonight's next bout:

Kang vs. Rama Tut!

click to embiggen

This fight is so awesome that it's tearing apart the very fabric of space and time!

In other news: All Hail Bahlactus! Sweet Christmas, it's time for round two!

Awesome Cover Friday Law-Enforcement Division

S.H.I.E.L.D. is awesome. The late-60s series Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is double awesome! Jim Steranko's covers for the series (not to mention the groundbreaking interior work) are so awesome there is no device known to man which can accurately measure the awesomeness.

No further commentary. These images speak for themselves:





Immortal Iron Fist #6 - Marvel (2007)

At the risk of overusing the sentence: This is what I read comics for!

This issue wraps up the first story arc which means that a trade should be right around the corner. If you haven't been reading Iron Fist up to this point wait for the trade and read it all at once. It'll be awesome. I mean it.

I have absolutely no complaints about this issue. It is a satisfying end to the arc and it sets up the next storyline in a way that has me waiting breathlessly for #7. Orson Randall (the previous Iron Fist) achieves the redemption he's looking for and that Davos jerk challenges Danny Rand to fight in a tournament.

Let me repeat that.

A tournament!

I love the way Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker have expanded the Iron Fist mythology. They're hitting all the right notes for a kickass action comic and now they've set up a freakin' tournament. This is the platonic form of action comics. If you like kung-fu, gun-fu or any other kind of fu, this is the comic for you...fu.

See below for one of the two best comics pages to come out this year. Misty's line in panel four and Luke's pose in the last panel make this page alone worth the price of the issue. David Aja is at the top of his game with this title. His action scenes and character design really make this book.

Also: Attention Zeb Wells! This is the way to write Heroes for Hire!!

Click to embiggen slightly

(Thanks to IGN.com for the scan)

Separated at Birth: End of Civilization Style

Thanks to the internet's Mike Sterling for his latest End of Civilization post. As I was reading this one I noticed a couple of familiar faces. Separated at birth? You. Be. The. Judge.

Pop-up Vader and a Sleestak

Chubby-face Thor and one of those Horde dudes from Strikeforce: Morituri.


The Eight Questions of Blazing Death

Brian Hughes tagged me with the "Eight Facts" meme. Well played, Mr. Hughes. Well played.

Here are the rules:
- Each player starts with eight random facts about themselves.
- Those who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight facts and post these rules.
- At the end of the post, choose some people to get tagged and list their names.

1. I can't ride a bicycle. Never learned.

2. I have run completely around a sovereign nation. OK, it was The Vatican but it counts. I didn't mean to do it. A friend and I turned the wrong way out of the Sistine Chapel which we realized at the same time we discovered we only had a few minutes to get back to the tour bus.

3. I married exactly the right person. Melissa (that's her name up there in the upper right-hand corner) and I have been married for 12 years and we are deliriously happy. The fact that she's a bigger geek than I am is a major contributing factor.

4. My mom has been online longer than I have. Seriously. Her blog. goes back to 2002 and she was into the chat rooms and other stuff back when I was still in college (in the very early 90s) and didn't even have email.

5. I have a 'radio voice'. I would have a 'radio job' if I had jumped into that career early. At least once a month someone says to me, "Have you ever considered being on the radio?"

6. I kinda liked the Fantastic Four sequel.

7. I created a S.H.I.E.L.D. subsidiary team called S.W.O.R.D. when I was in Jr. High. Special Weapons and Operations Reinforcement Division. You're welcome.

8. I do not own a TV. I still watch some shows via DVD and download. I mean, I'm not a communist. However, we realized that we hadn't turned the TV on in months so we (almost literally) kicked it to the curb.

Bahlactus, Heidi, and Tom, I tag thee!

Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday: Weird Style!

It's about time I featured some weird-ass covers from comics with the word "Weird" in the title. I mean I did an Awesome Cover Friday installment about Weird Wonder Tales. Why haven't I done a weird-ass collection of Adventures Into Weird Worlds covers? Why indeed.

To be honest, these covers straddle the line between weird-ass and awesome. There's some pretty cool Eisenhower-era stuff going on there. What pushes them over the edge into weird-ass territory is the little sidebars. Check 'em out:


OK, I can see how a big dinosaur thing known as The Walking Death is pretty damn scary but I'm a little less terrified by "The Mad Thing" and "The Terrible Trees". It's like by the time these terrors got to the monster-name table they had run out of all the good ones. The guy right after them just got called "Lou".

Also, it's a good thing the couple on the cover didn't encounter the Running Death or even the Jogging Death because they would never have made it to that cave in time.


Again, the main image is pretty scary but the title leaves something to be desired. It's nothing compared to "The Iron Door", though. That title was so lame they had to put a skull and crossbones on it to make it seem scary. Ooh! Look out! This story is so terrifying that we had to put a "poison" symbol on it. And what's going on in that little picture. Is that a guy hanging from a noose? Is he levitating? Where's the damn door?


"The Thing That Waited" is a slightly lame title but I have to admit if that's what's waiting for me I'm plenty scared. I mostly wanted to post this cover because the alien looks an awful lot like another would-be world conqueror.


"L" to the "I" to the "N, K, Blog"

Dark Horse Month has begun over at The Comic Book Bin. Check out the intro and the first installment.

There's another Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday coming up tomorrow. Until then, check out the weird-assery of Dave Campbell and/or Brian Hughes.

Also, I saw the Fantastic Four sequel last night and it didn't entirely suck. I think I made the right move in not seeing the first one at all.


A Mess O' Reviews

World War Hulk #1 - Marvel (2007)

Lot's of smashing. Lots of yelling. Hulk vs. Black Bolt followed by Hulk vs. Iron Man. If you came here for explosions and fighting you're in the right place. Hulk's Warbound are cool. I'm already tired of Amadeus Cho. This one stays in my hold box.

Incredible Hulk #107 & Invincible Iron Man #19 - Marvel (2007)

I'm listing these together because they're effectively the SAME DAMN COMIC! Of the two, the Hulk issue has more story in it. The Iron Man issue tries to make Tony seem heroic again but it's too little too late. They're gonna have to reboot the entire character to make him something I want to read again. Too bad the Ultimate version isn't any better. Anyway, I'll pick up the next issue of Hulk but if it's just going to show us stuff that happened in WWH I'll save my money.

The Brave and the Bold #4 - DC (2007)

I was actually surprised to discover that this series is only up to issue 4. The first three issues had so much story crammed into them that I figured we were up to at least #6. The interactions between Supergirl and Lobo are worth the price of admission. We learn more about the maguffin everyone's chasing and we are left with a hell of a setup for next issue's Legion of Super-Heroes appearance. Also, George Pérez drawing Lobo! Out-freaking-standing! This is what I read comics for.

Black Summer #0 - Avatar (2007)

Warren Ellis has come up with a very good story about a superhero who kills the president and then says, "I've got fucking superpowers. Come and get me." The characters are good and the story is off to a great start. Unfortunately, I can't stand Juan Jose Ryp's art. There's no depth to it and there are these distracting, squiggly lines everywhere. I'll flip through issue #1 when it comes out but Ryp's art is what kept me from reading past the second issue of Wolfskin.

Dynamo 5 #4 - Image (2007)

This comic is about five people who discover that their real father is a superhero who just died. This makes for a bummer of a Fathers Day. The characters with adoptive fathers have just as awkward a time as the ones who grew up in orphanages. Jay Faerber and Mahmud A. Asrar turn in another excellent issue. This one is low key and well told.

Stormwatch Post Human Division #8 - Wildstorm (2007)

This one's another low-key issue. The PHD crew get some downtime in the form of a visit to Skywatch. The exposition is well done which makes this issue a good jumping-on point if you haven't read any of the previous issues. The character interactions are fun to read and each character gets a chance to shine. The PHD team are a bunch of badasses and this issue shows us why along with delving further into Stormwatch history. Also, the cliffhanger at the end has me waiting breathlessly for issue #9.

The Tick's 20th Anniversary Special Edition - New England Comics Press (2007)

The various installments in this Tick lovefest range from hilarious to incomprehensible. This is to be expected when over 30 creators are involved in a project. There are more hits than misses, though. If you are a fan of The Tick in any of his incarnations, check this out. The sweet cover by Simon Bisley is worth the price.


Friday Night Fights: Timelord Style!

Bahlactus put out the call. Here's my answer!

And now, it's Doctor vs. Doctor in an all-out, no-holds-barred grudge match!

Bahlactus don't need no stinkin' Grandfather Paradox!

Awesome Cover Friday goes to Astro City!

Astro City is Kurt Busiek's playground where he gets to tell all the stories he's ever wanted to. Sometimes it's a post-modern critique of comics tropes. Other times it's a beautifully-illustrated love letter to what makes comic books cool. Either way, it's always a great read. Alex Ross's covers are wonderful to look at. Here are some of the most awesome:

#3 (1996 series)

Sometimes it's the simple things that grab me. This prosaic image tells me what the issue is about while raising so many questions I want to see what's going on inside. Well played, cover. Well played.


Here's another one which raises all the proper questions. What's going on here? Why does that old dude have all that money. Is he Richie Rich as an old man? What's with that clock? How much does this issue cost?

The look of joy on the guy's face is one of the best things I've ever seen on a cover.

#3 (1995 series)

Holy Crap! Do. Not. Fuck. With. This. Dude.

Jack In The Box is my favorite Astro City character and he appears to be one of Busiek's favorites, too. The character design is outstanding. I mean, look at him!! Also, he's just a very cool hero. He's a toymaker who uses his inventions to kick serious ass. He's like FAO Schwarzenegger!

-=Special Bonus Cover! #11=-

If you like Jack In The Box this is the cover for you! Check out that little dude with the knives! Man!


Left On Mission #1 & #2 - Boom! Studios (2007)

Not David Boreanaz!

I am a big fan of Boom! Studios' Fall of Cthulhu. I, therefore, had high hopes for their subsequent offerings. Unfortunately, the next couple of titles they released just weren't my cup of tea. Left On Mission on the other hand is exactly what I was hoping it would be and more.

At first I was dubious. The progatonist, Agent Eric Westfall, is called out of retirement to stop a former colleague who has gone rogue. I know, I know, but Chip Mosher makes it work! The story is tight and the characterizations are handled so well that we know a lot about the main character as well as this woman he's been reactivated in order to hunt down.

I waited until the second issue was out before writing this review because I wanted to see how some of the initial story elements played out. If you enjoy issue #1 you'll like the follow-up even more. Mosher's writing and Francesco Francavilla's art are top-notch and they play off of each other perfectly. The action scenes have a cinematic feel to them which is vital in a story like this. I can't go into detail about the story without blowing a couple of surprises. I will say that if you like stories set in exotic locales which have healthy doses of violence and intrigue, Left On Mission should be in your hold box. It's a five-issue limited series and I will look for future work by both Mosher and Francavilla once it's over.

Speaking of the art, check out this page from the second issue. It takes place in a club in Ibiza and our hero is not having a good night:

Gordon Lee Trial Date Set – CBLDF Needs Your Help!

Copied from Warren Ellis's latest BAD SIGNAL -- Spread the word!

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund urgently needs your help. This August, the long-running case of Georgia v. Gordon Lee will finally go to trial, with court costs expected to hit $20,000.

For nearly three years the Fund has defended Georgia retailer Gordon Lee, seeing him through multiple arraignments and procedures, and racking up $80,000 in legal bills. The charges stem from a Halloween 2004 incident in which Lee handed out, among other free comics, an anthology featuring an excerpt from the critically acclaimed graphic novel The Salon. The segment depicted a historically accurate meeting between 20th Century art icons Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, the latter depicted in the nude. It was a harmless sequence, no more explicit than the nudity displayed in the award winning Watchmen. Yet because the title found its way into the hands of a minor, Floyd County prosecutors hit Lee with two felony counts and five misdemeanors. The Fund eventually knocked out most of the charges, but must now defeat the two remaining misdemeanor counts of Distribution of Harmful to Minors Material, each carrying a penalty of up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.

The case is slated to go to trial the week of August 13. We urgently need your support in order to wage the best defense possible against these remaining charges, and that means raising the $20,000 that the trial is expected to cost. Here’s how you can help:

Make A Monetary Donation: Every dollar counts, so please visit cbldf.org and make a tax-deductible contribution today. As a thank-you for making a donation of $30 or more, the Fund will give you a brand new t-shirt displaying the text of the First Amendment in the shape of an American flag. Show your commitment to free speech, and your support for this very important case.

Join The CBLDF: Now is the time to join or renew your membership in the Fund. Your member dollars provide the baseline of support that we need to perform our casework, and defend your right to buy whatever comics you wish. If you join now with a basic membership of $25 you will receive a CBLDF Member Card, featuring new Groo art by the one-and-only Sergio Aragones, as well as a subscription to our news publication Busted!, and special admission to CBLDF events across the country. If you join at a level of $100 or more, you will also receive one of the new First Amendment t-shirts.

Donate Original Art & Collectibles: With summer conventions upon us, the Fund needs original art, high-grade comics, and other collectible items to make the most of our summer auctions. Please e-mail cbldf1@gmail.com for more information about how to donate to our auctions, or with a description of your intended donation. If your donation is accepted for our summer auctions, you will receive a letter of acknowledgment and a 2007 membership. To ensure that your donation is received safely, please do not send physical items until accepted by the CBLDF.

With Gordon Lee's freedom in the balance, the CBLDF needs everyone who values Free Expression in comic books to do his or her part to support this very important case. Please visit cbldf.org and make your contribution today.

Other Donations: cbldf1@gmail.com


Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday: Blue Beetle's Kickin' it Old School!

My first exposure to Blue Beetle was during the Giffen/DeMatteis run on Justice League. So, my image of the character looks a lot like this:

I thought he was pretty cool but I didn't learn until much later that he was one of the characters who had been brought over to DC from Charlton Comics and had been created in 1939. The original Blue Beetle of that era was featured on some truly weird-ass covers. I know making fun of golden-age comics is like shooting fish in a barrel but check these out!


What the hell is happening in this picture? Who is Black Lace shooting at? Is she standing in front of a picture of Blue Beetle crashing through a window? Why does the picture frame (or window frame or whatever) end at her arm? Is murder really her business or is it more of a hobby?


OK, let me get this straight. Blue Beetle is punching the hell out of a giant cop who is floating on an orange cloud while children dance on him. Thanks. Just checking.




I'm having trouble processing this one. It's like I just had the whole internet downloaded into my brain at once. I mean once you've read the phrase "orang-a-tang murders" what else is there to say? It's terrific!


Holy Linkblogging, Batman!

Slice Of Scifi has posted a picture of the Batcycle from the upcoming Batman film:

Yep. Here's some more information from the LA Times.

Um, did you know about the James Bond newspaper strips? I didn't until I read this awesome set of articles about them on MI6.

1UP.com and HyperComics.com Seek Next Big Comic Book Artist for the First-Ever '1UP.com Comic Book Creator Contest'

The Oregonian has an article about Mercury Studios that I think is pretty cool.

Back From The Con

And boy are my arms tired. Along with the rest of me.

Hypericon was a blast! Since I'm the gaming director I mostly did gaming stuff but I did get to be on a comics panel. The name of the panel was "Comics Greatest Moments (To Me)" and we discussed the things that got us into comics as well as the things that have kept us reading them. Comic geeks can't discuss comics without bitching about them, too so there was plenty of that, as well. It was a lot of fun.

A few of the things I mentioned were Watchmen, the aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pretty much everything First Comics put out, Byrne's Fantastic Four, Marvel's Essentials line, and the Byrne/Claremont X-Men.

My fellow panelists threw out things such as Astro City, The Dark Knight Returns, the Dark Phoenix saga, and everything by Roy Thomas.

I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out but it was a really fun conversation.

How about you? What are your favorites?


Reviewing the Reviewers & Hypericon

Dann Gire from the Chicago Daily Herald reviewed the Fantastic Four sequel and you'll never guess what his headline is. Are you ready? Wait for it...

Fantastic Bore!!!!

Man, Oscar Wilde's got nothing on this guy!

And with that I'm off to Hypericon!

I may not have any updates until next Monday or Tuesday. Have fun and I'll rap at ya soon.

Happy Flag Day!

Happy Flag Smasher Day!

Wait, that can't be right. Let's try again:

Happy Flagg Day!

No? Man, I'll never get this right.



I can't quit staring at the OuijaNet image Jeffrey Rowland created. I mean, dude, check it out:

You can buy the damn thing on a shirt or a mousepad. I can't guarantee that it'll smite your enemies or bring you riches but who knows?

Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday: Dagwood Addendum!

The Comics Curmudgeon has plenty to say about Blondie but he sticks to the daily newspaper strip. I ran across a couple of Blondie comic book covers which must be shared.

This picture gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Long-Distance Service".

Also, I note that the issue above was approved by the comics code while the one below was not. Perhaps violence against appliances was too much for them.

I don't even know where to start with the wonder that is this cover. I can't pick a favorite element. From the crazy TV parts strewn about like the innards of some vanquished eldritch beast to Dagwood's maniacal rictus to the freaking hand axe he's wielding! It brings a tear to my eye.

Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday: Jungle Style!

Not only does Tharn have to deal with a tiger and spear-throwing marauders from the past, SOMEBODY STOLE HIS DAMN PANTS!!



The Worlds Greatest Linkblogging

Yeah, like the Onion AV Club needs me to tell people about them. However, I couldn't resist linking to 10 Wonderfully Weird Moments From Fantastic Four Comics.

More evidence that the Fantastic Four Sequel might not suck.

One of my favorite artists, Patrick McEvoy, just left me a comment with a couple of pieces of great news. His art will grace the covers of Fall of Cthulhu 6 - 10. WooHoo!! He's also doing a new series from Archaia Studios called Starkweather: Immortal. Issue #1 will be out at the end of this month.