Awesome Cover Friday: In Darkest Night

I am a huge Green Lantern Corps fan. Not just the latest series but every incarnation of the Corps. Right now, I'm gonna go all Late Silver Age on you and focus on the Hal Jordan Green Lantern series. Can you handle it?!? Yeah, I'm pretty sure you can.


My primary criterion for an awesome cover is that it compels the viewer to open the comic book behind it. This one definitely does that for me. I mean, this is Hal Freakin' Jordan. A man for whom the basis of his power is that he can overcome great fear. And something is terrifying him. Dang. Who is this Lamplighter dude? Turns out he's a blind guy with a fancy cane that transmutes matter.


The art combines with the text to make this cover look hot, desolate, and bleak. Mission accomplished! I need a glass of water after seeing this one and I really want to find out what's going on. I'm a sucker for post-apocalypse-looking stuff, too so this one gets extra points.


Thank you Gil Kane! Narrow palette + sexy woman in the foreground + "I heard you died" = purchased comic.


If you needed further proof that Busiek and Ross's work on Astro City was inspired by Silver-Age covers, look no further. This is one of the most striking images to show up on the stands ever. The style is different from most covers and that gun in the foreground is chilling. How are they gonna get out of this one?


Wierd Ass Cover Wednesday, The Wonder Dog!

Rex The Wonder Dog is one of those characters DC writers love to bring up because he's part of the mainstream continuity. He showed up in Superboy and the Ravers (an appearance he's still trying to live down) and he attended the opening of Guy Gardner's restaurant. However, his beginnings are even weirder than his more modern appearances.

Most of Rex's covers feature him protecting his human friends from other animals. Here's an excellent example:


Rex is swinging from a vine and ninja kicking a mountain lion. Pretty cool, right?

Well, then things began to get weird:


Trust me, you do NOT want to know what his Indian name is.

But wait! There's More!


Let slip the dogs of war, indeed! I think the Russians tried this against the NAZIs.

And then we have this:


Rex fighting Barney during a nuclear holocaust. I'm gonna paint that on the side of my van.


Slouching Towards Dragon*Con!

I leave tomorrow for the wilds of Atlanta. I'll be at Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend and I'll attempt to blog from there but if previous years are any indication I won't be doing much of that. The usual Wednesday and Friday features will appear but after that there may not be much else on here until the middle of next week.

Peter David and Brian Stelfreeze will be there and I'm going to try to get some of their stuff signed. I'm also looking forward to seeing Ted Naifeh, David Mack and Eric Powell. Other than comics stuff I will be playing a LOT of games, gawking at celebrities, making poor dietary choices, and sleeping far too little.

If you're reading this and you will be at the con please either leave a comment letting me know you'll be there or email me at Vaklam AT Gmail DOT com.

See you on the other side!


New Comics!

I'm a bit behind on my comic-book reading right now so these are not the freshest of reviews. Although, I've got to say that as problems go, having a surplus of comics to read is one I will gladly accept. Click on the cover images to see bigger versions. Especially the Scarlet Witch cover. That thing is beautiful.

Immortal Iron Fist #8 - Marvel (2007)

If you've read my previous reviews of this title you know that I like it as much as it is possible for a human to like a comic book. Issue #8 is an excellent place to begin reading this series if you haven't seen any of the earlier issues. If you like martial arts, good writing, excellent art, cool characters, and, y'know, fun you will like Immortal Iron Fist. Fraction and Brubaker have further expanded the Iron Fist mythology by making K'un L'un one of the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven. Each city appears in the mortal plane on a different schedule but once every eighty-eight years the appearances converge and they celebrate with a kickass martial-arts tournament! Oh. My. God. That is the most awesome idea ever. The first fight (which will, of course, feature our hero) happens next issue while this one sets up the tournament beautifully.

Check out this post to see a couple of preview images Marvel released. The writers are thinking BIG with this story and I can't think of anyone better than David Aja to turn their ideas into pictures. When someone asks me what comics to read I mention this one first.

The Brave and the Bold #6 - DC (2007)

Here's another comic book I recommend to people. Mark Waid and George Pérez are a dream team. Unlike the Iron Fist issue above, this is not a good jumping-on point for this series because it's the last installment of a universe-spanning story arc. Next issue, however, will start a new one so keep your eyes peeled. See what I did, there? There's a dude with a big eye for a head on the cover and I said...

Ahem. Sorry.

I will now talk about the series as a whole rather than this specific issue (which is excellent and wraps up the story very well):

The Brave and the Bold is a fun, well-crafted series created by two guys with planet-sized storehouses of comics knowledge and experience in their heads. My favorite part of the series is the interactions between the characters who are teaming up. For example, the Blue Beetle/Batman meeting was one of the funniest things I've ever read and it showed the differences and similarities between them economically. Waid is one of my favorite writers because he knows when to let the pictures do the talking and when to throw in the awesome dialogue. So, either pick up the trade which should be out soon or grab issue #7. Or, y'know, both.

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #1 - Archaia (2007)

Hooray, another Mouse Guard story! This one snuck up on me. I had heard that David Petersen was putting out another limited series but I didn't know what the release date was. So, this was a pleasant surprise. If you missed the first Mouse Guard story, it's a medieval tale of the brave mice who protect rodentkind with their blades and wits. This story involves two teams of mice who are traveling through deep snows and freezing winds to secure food and medicine for their home town. The characters are interesting and the story is full of adventure. Prior knowledge of the Mouse Guard universe is not necessary for enjoyment of this excellent tale. These mice are cool.

The Programme #2 - Wildstorm (2007)

The first issue of this series started off with a bang. The second issue has a couple of points where it drags the story to a screeching halt while it inserts infodumps and pontifications which is a shame because this is a hell of a story. The slow spots don't ruin the series, however. The art fits the writing and once this issue gets back on track it continues to flesh out one of the most interesting ideas I've run across in a long time.

In short: The Allies confiscated a fetus from a NAZI lab near the end of WWII. This fetus was going to be a super soldier for the Axis but the U.S. decided to keep him for their own use. One of the scientists thought that might not be such a good idea so he inadvertently assisted the super soldier in his escape. Now the government has tracked down the super soldier and wants him to fight this foreign badass who is screwing up stuff for them overseas. And there are explosions.

Dynamo 5 #6 - Image (2007)

This one continues to be fun and well done. The story by Jay Faerber about a bunch of people who discover that they are the kids of a philandering Superman-type hero is original and fun but it's Mahmud A. Asrar's art that really makes this book shine. Asrar has a dynamic style which is perfect for a book with this much action.

Speaking of action, this issue reveals yet another of Captain Dynamo's children and we get to see what she can do. We also get to see how Maddie, Capt. Dynamo's widow, handles herself in a crisis. An extreme crisis. It's not what I expected and I love it when a comic book surprises me.

Astonishing X-Men #22 - Marvel (2007)

Nice to see this one on the shelves again. I don't mind production delays as long as the product in question is as good as this. I'm not one of those people who thinks Joss Whedon can do no wrong but I do believe he doesn't do very much wrong. When John Cassaday draws the stuff Whedon writes my little geek heart grows three sizes. Whedon's X-Men are as cool as we'd all like to be and they say the things to the bad guys that we want to come up with when we get our mutant powers. He depicts the camaraderie and the conflicts amongst the X-Men with a skilled hand and he puts them in exciting situations where each of them gets to do what he or she does best. Even if that thing isn't very nice.

And that's all I want from an X-Book. See also: Peter David.

Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch #1 - Marvel (2007)

I've enjoyed each of the Mystic Arcana issues. The Black Knight issue was my favorite so far but this story was cool and a lot of fun to read. It's essentially an origin story, telling the tale of the day Wanda Maximoff discovered her powers and was almost invited to join a powerful coven of witches. There are demons, duplicitous fakirs, werewolves, Agatha Harkness and explosions. That's a recipe for a good story if I've ever seen one. As an added bonus, no one kills the Avengers.

Green Lantern Corps #15 - DC (2007)

Mogo is my favorite Green Lantern. Among hardcore GL fans that's probably like saying Peter Criss is your favorite KISS member but if that's how it's gotta be I'll accept it. So, this issue, which is pretty much the Battle For Mogo, is my favorite part of the Sinestro Corps crossover so far. The bad guys send an entire freakin' city after Mogo along with some creepy-ass children and some huge gravity bombs. The rest of the Corps has to deal with the scary, scary Sinestrites and their innovative use of "killing" technology. Weird, wild stuff.

A quick note about this crossover: This is the way it should be done. It's a self-contained story that only affects two titles. I like that. I don't have to chase down a bunch of stuff I wouldn't have bought in the first place and the story is exciting and well told. Good on ya, Sinestro-Corps creators!


Friday Night Festival of Fisticuffs!

The latest Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday featured America's Fighting Nemesis of Crime! Here he is meting out justice to some shifty carny! Next he's going after that no-good "Guess Your Weight" guy.

Thanks to the GCD for the picture.

Don't call it a comeback! Bahlactus has been here for eons!

Awesome Cover Friday: Jonah Hex Style!

Jonah Hex is a badass. He's one of my favorite badasses. More information about Jonah Hex can be found on the internet. For example, check out Dwayne, The Canoe Guy's blog. It's badass, too. I am really enjoying Palmiotti and Gray's current Jonah Hex series but all of the covers below are from Hex's earlier series which ran from 1977 to 1985 'cause that's how we roll, here at NC.


I love this cover because it sums up so much of the Hex ethos. Jonah gets beat-to-hell more than any comic character I can think of and he always finds a way to exact revenge. You do not want to taunt Jonah. Seriously, your last words should be something more profound than "What are you gonna do now, Hex?".


If you don't see the inherent awesomeness of a bounty hunter fighting a big cat there's nothing I can do for you.


This one is awesome simply for introducing the phrase "Blood Wedding" into the lexicon. You know that scene in Kill Bill? Yeah, it's gonna be like that. Except more.

Bonus Cover! Swedish Reprint #4!

Separately they are

Jonah Hex.

A Katana.

The Swedish Language.

Put them all together and they spell absolutely fantastic.


Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday: The Black Terror!

When I first read about The Black Terror in Alan Moore's Tom Strong I had no idea he originally appeared in his own title in the '40s. His secret identity was pharmacist Bob Benton. That's right, back then even pharmacists were badass. His sidekick was named Tim Roland but I'm gonna call him Li'l Terror.


The Black Terror and Tim don't let little things like Euclidian Geometry get in the way of fighting crime. Also, they hate planes.


See? They really hate planes.


Sometimes you've just gotta take the law into your own hands. Sometimes "Johnny Crossing Guard" isn't up to the task. Sometimes you've just gotta punch out a car in order to save a couple of kids who're probably too hepped up on the goofballs to look both ways.


The hiding behind the door while the bad guy shoots your bed thing is a pretty cool move. However, I'm not sure it's a good idea to put your name on the front door of your secret lair. And on your lamp. And your bedspread.

Man, I bet he sews his name into his underwear, too. And it's got a skull-and-bones pattern on it.

Bonus Cover! #27

Um, what the hell happened to the Terror's costume, there? Is that why he's mad at the cowboy? Did Tex mess up his pirate shirt?


A Public Service Announcement

The following public service announcement is brought to you by Comics Fairplay, a blog that's more metal than an armor convention.

Spiderman shooting a web:

Dr. Strange casting a spell:

The official Heavy Metal Sign:

It's easy to get these confused.

You're welcome.



Noetic Concordance is going to be low-content until I feel better. However the news that Kristen Bell is going to be on Heroes has given me the will to go on.

Also, added to the sidebar: Scans Daily.

Just so you know I'm still keepin' it real, here's a Ghosts cover that didn't make it into the latest Weird-Ass Cover collection:

This place is nice. High ceilings and beautiful--


Too bad we can't stay.


Rare Comic Drawings Found in Garage Sale

Art boards for the 1964 Avengers found in a garage sale. Check out this poorly-written article about it. More info if it surfaces.


Friday Night Fights with a Message!

I totally stole this image from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund website but it's got The Spirit punching the crap out of someone! Speaking of the CBLDF, the Gordon Lee trial has been delayed yet again and they still need your help. Click here to donate.

In other news: Bahlactus is gonna hit you so hard that alternate versions of you will feel it.


Awesome Cover Friday: Prince of Power Edition!

There were two Hercules limited series (1982 and 1984) which both took place in the 24th century. They were full of action, adventure, and humor and they produced some of the best covers ever.

#1 - First Series

This is the image which springs to my mind whenever I think of Hercules. Look at him! He's standing on an asteroid facing off against a bunch of guys in space armor and a couple of starships! And he's got a mace!

#4 - First Series

The first series started off with Hercules pissing off Zeus and being exiled to fly around the universe in Apollo's chariot which is a great image. He fratboys his way from system to system and ends up saving a world from being eaten by Galactus. The best part of the story is the part where Hercules tries to get the Big G drunk. It doesn't work but the Eater of Worlds is so amused that he spares the planet.

Oh, and get this: The planet is inhabited by a race of snail-like guys who are the best distillers in the universe. And it's called Ciegrim-7! Anyway, whatever Galactus is doing to Hercules has got to really hurt.

#4 - Second Series

The second series ended with Zeus going batshit crazy and killing all the other gods. Hercules stood alone against him and it was one of the coolest scenes ever. Since it came out thirteen years ago, I feel safe in spoiling the story.

It was all a test by Zeus. The gods were going to another plane of existence and he was testing Herc's mettle. Hercules decided to stay on this plane in order to father a new race of gods. Not bad.


The Most Amazing Picture In The World

photo by Alan Light

Will Eisner. Jack Kirby.

I wonder what they're talking about?

From Alan Light's set of pictures from the 1982 San Diego Comic Con, via Mike Sterling

Man, Comics Award Shows Are Rough

Hank Ketcham presents the severed head of Sergio Aragonés to Shel Dorf.

photo by Alan Light

From Alan Light's set of pictures from the 1982 San Diego Comic Con, via Mike Sterling

You WILL Believe in Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday

Ghosts was a DC title from the '70s about, you guessed it, ghosts! Sometimes the definition of "ghost" was a little loose but for the most part the tales of the restless undead were genuinely creepy. The covers were typical of the time. Check 'em out:


OK, this guy is now the Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday mascot. It was gonna be Jimmy Olsen but this one is the champ!


Yes, but he'll never play the piano again.


Holy crap! How cool is this? In the afterlife this dude gets to exact revenge upon his murderers with HIS OWN CORPSE!!!!!



Also, I misread the text at the bottom as "Best of Satan" which would be a pretty good name for one of those DC Showcase reprints.


That Comic Book Database Sure Is Grand

I've got a bunch of reviews on the way but they won't be ready until some time Tuesday afternoon.

However, I wanted to mention a long overdue addition to the sidebar. The Grand Comic Book Database is exactly what it says it is. Wednesdays and Fridays would not be the same around here without the GCD. Check them out and donate if you can.


Friday Night Fights: Rorschach vs. Some Dude's Hand

(click to embiggen)

Sometimes it's the little things that win a fight, like breaking a dude's fingers one by one.

Now the guy can never do double metal hands. That's what you get for messing with Rorschach.

Bahlactus is here to chew gum and kick ass. And he just ran out of gum.

When Awesome Cover Friday Throws Its Mighty Shield!

I was never a huge Captain America fan. I was more of a Spider-Man guy. The stories with Nomad were cool and I really liked the Scourge saga but mostly I would pick up any issue whose cover caught my eye. Here are a few.


OK, sure. It's no Gorilla/Shark High Five but it's still pretty hard to beat an image of M.O.D.O.K. out of his chair being jumped on by Death Adder and Ol' Winghead. I almost feel sorry for the little, big-headed guy.


Speaking of Nomad, here he is! With a gun! And Madame Hydra! And...Hot Air Balloons?!?

OK. Maybe they were going for a Steranko-Meets-The-Prisoner thing. Anyway, this cover is awesome and it promises a story that's, like, twice as awesome.


Hee, hee, hee! I defy you not to be a little happier after viewing this cover. Look at it! Wacky hijinks! Giant typewriter! A bouncing dude! What, are you made of stone?

OK, fine! Nighthawk's foes are attacking him with (from left to right) exploding swatches, blasts of nauseating gas called "mink stink", and an inflatable suit. Sorry to bring out the big guns but you forced my hand.


Yeah, this one's kind of a downer but it's easily my favorite Captain America cover for the design alone. The expression on his face and the way he's blending into the background as if to show how diminished he is by the situation upgrades this cover from "good" to "awesome".


Relatively New Comics!

Stuff I bought!
Wrote a post about it.
Like to read it?
Here it goes!

(click cover images to embiggen)

The Programme #1 - Wildstorm (2007)

Wow! This miniseries is off to a hell of a start.

The story and art both remind me of Winter Men. This is an excellent intro issue. Peter Milligan fleshes out the setting as much as it needs to be and he lays out the stakes the characters will be playing for right there on page 6.

This title is crammed full of mystery, intrigue, and massive explosions. The story is cool but it's C.P. Smith's art that really sells it. The layouts are dynamic, the images evoke the right mood, and the colors by Johnny Rench make each panel jump off the page. Also, even though the main action takes place "today", there's a heavy dose of WWII thrown in and that always gets extra points from me.

X-Factor #22 - Marvel (2007)

Last month I said that X-Factor #20 was the best issue yet. It's a good thing I threw that "yet" qualifier in there because this one is even besterer! Peter David really gets these characters and I get the sense that he is having a blast writing about them. We get some great character moments, some more cool stuff is revealed about the Marvel Universe, and Rahne gets laid. What's not to love?

The A-story where Siryn and Monet attempt to rescue a couple of kids who have been brainwashed by their parents into singing truly awful anti-mutant songs is entertaining and creepy and introduces a couple of badass mercenaries to the title. There is no comic which can not be improved by the addition of badass mercs. Yes, even Sugar and Spike.

Pablo Raimondi's art is excellent, especially his facial expressions, but with this title it's the story which shines brightest. The Endandered Species short at the end was even awesome.

World War Hulk #3 - Marvel (2007)

Not much to say about this. You know what to expect. There's lots of Hulk, lots of smashing, and lots of property damage. People who have been able to calm the Hulk down before discover that he's not really in the mood just now and Hulk's Warbound finally get to do some really cool stuff.

I have discovered that unlike the Sinestro Corps event, I don't have to buy all the tie-in issues to keep up with the story. So, I'm only buying this main title and Gamma Corps right now. I said that you know what to expect from this title but that's not entirely true. The final page surprised and amused me. I can't wait to see what happens next.


Weird-Ass Cover Wednesday Goes To The Movies!

The announcement about Ocean being optioned got me thinking about how every comic currently in print is apparently headed for development. There was a time when it worked the other way around. Dell Comics was a licensed-property publishing machine back in the day. If a movie was remotely popular Dell put out a comic based on it. The operative phrase is "based on" because like many of todays "comic-inspired" films these comics were often similar to their source material in title only.

#175 Die, Monster, Die!

No, this isn't German for "The, Monster, The" but that's about the only thing that could add to the wonder that is the source material. It stars Boris Karloff and is based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out Of Space. I love the cover text: "ASTOUNDING! STRANGE! WEIRD!" pasted over an image which, while cool, is not particularly any of those things.

#725 Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

You may have seen this one on Mystery Science Theater 3000 which should tell you most of what you need to know about it. Martians kidnap Santa Claus and get their asses kicked. The End.

It's one of the most fucked-up movies I've ever seen and the fact that Dell made a comic out of it is both the scariest and neatest thing ever.

#743 Ski Party

"Crazy Fun And Adventure Of Ski Guys And Gals GONE WILD!"

Huh? Was this translated into and then back from Japanese? Let Us Make With Glorious Time On The Slopes!

#828 The Three Stooges Meet Hercules

The Three Stooges

A Time Machine


*snif* That's just beautiful, man.

Thou art no Shemp!