Friday, May 29, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: May 27

Batman ’66 #23 (DC Comics) This issue features two 10-page stories, both written by Convergence MVP Jeff Parker and both introducing comic book villains into the world of the Batman TV show.

Interestingly, Parker gives both Solomon Grundy and Clayface connections to TV show villains. The former is a former husband of Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, reanimated and renamed by Marsha’s aunt, a witch. The latter is False Face, whose true identity is revealed to be Basil Karlo (the first Clayface of the comics), and who then goes through the origin story of Matt Hagen (the second Clayface of the comics, although his look, powers and origin is now the default one for all Clayfaces in all media).

The first story is drawn by Brent Schoonover, and he does a pretty incredible job of drawing a dynamic, action-packed story in which Batman and Robin just happen to be wearing costumes that resemble those of the TV show (although these certainly fit better; I don’t think Adam West was ever as cut as Schoonover’s Batman). The second is drawn by Giancarlo Caracuzzo, and this story’s visuals suffer a bit in comparison. This may be due to simple familiarity, as Caracuzzo is a familiar presence in these pages, or it may be the more subdued, muddy, brown-drenched coloring as compared to the brighter, poppier coloring on the Schoonover’s story.

Convergence #8 (DC) Well, the climax and resolution of this is going to take a little time to process. And, I imagine, we'll need to see the stories that result in the future to entirely make sense of it, and exactly what changed, and how, in the ever-changing cosmology of the DC Universe.

I thought that Multiversity was a fine, final word on the nature of the DC Universe, one that took into account every single story ever told and all of the changes rendered to them, but then newcomer Jeff King and his co-writer Scott Lobdell of all people have come in to try and tinker once again with the nature of DC continuity/cosmological history, the scab the publisher refuses to stop picking at.

Where we left off last year, Zero Hour's practically omnipotent Parallax/Hal Jordan had evaporated evil wizard Deimos, releasing all of the time-traveller energy somehow being stored in Deimos, which somehow seemed to threaten  DC's Earth-0/New-52 Universe. So now all of the characters from the Converge-ed world of Telos are standing around, fretting.

Then Waverider (well, a Waverider; see Convergence: Booster Gold #2 for more), a Booster Gold (I think the one from Earth-0/The New 52), and a version of his sister arrive. Waverider releases Brainiac, who then puts everything back together as it was supposed to be, undoing somehow undoing all of the other previous reboots, including Crisis On Infinite Earths, with Flashpoint being the only cosmological rejiggering that still holds. I think.

There's a four-page spread showing The Multiverse "resetting, stabilizing," and while only 15 of the 52 worlds are revealed, the implication through the art seems to be that these are the worlds of the "old" Multiverse, but now in their Grant Morrison-conceived, Multiversity forms ("Each world has evolved, but they all still exist"). I'm...not entirely sure what this means for some of the worlds.

For example, Earth-4 shows ghostly images of the pre-Crisis Earth-4 characters posed behind a photo of the Earth, while the Multiversity: Pax Americana versions of the characters are colored more solidly, and are leaping from the front of the globe in action poses.

I'm most confused by what becomes of pre-Crisis Earths-1 and -2; based on the art, the former seems to have become the New 52-iverse/Earth-0, and the later the new Earth-2 (from the pages of Earth-2), although I suppose it's also worth mentioning that, as predicted, Telos itself is referred to as "New Earth-2," and is moved back into the same universe at the old new Earth-2...a planet which was gobbled up by Apokolips in Earth-2: World's End.

While this then seems to be a reconciliation of the old, pre-Crisis and/or post-Infinite Crisis/52 Multiverse with the new, post-Multiversity Multiverse, there are some lingering questions.

Which is why, DC, everyone hates you.

More curious still is that pre-Crisis Supergirl and The Flash Barry Allen, whose being granted foreknowledge of their need to sacrifice their lives in Crisis played major parts of their stories in Convergence: Adventures of Superman and Convergence: The Flash, go back to die in the Crisis, with a few other characters coming along to see if they can help. Parallax Hal Jordan, who says he's seeking redemption (not sure how that will work, as Jordan, Parallax and Jordan as Parallax play fairly big roles in the future of the DC Universe, from "Emerald Twilight" on).

Joining Jordan is Superman, the pre-Flashpoint version (meaning the one from roughly 1986 to 2001), and his wife Lois insists that she and their new baby (conceived and born during the time they were under one of Brainiac’s domes) go with him.

I don’t know how that all played out, obviously. Brainiac says they must prevent the collapse of the Multiverse and, later, that they did it…somehow. But given the fact that the post-Crisis Earth, the amalgated one that was the only DC Earth between 1986 and 2006 or so, doesn’t really exist any more, I suppose undoing COIE’s continuity smooshing doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. (Completely lost in the shuffle, however, are the original characters from Earth-2, the JSA characters, who…well, I’m not sure what happens to them now. It sure seems weird that pains were taken to assure us that Captain Carrot and Super-Chief still exist in the Multiverse, but the original Flash, Green Lantern, Wildcat and company are MIA).

I suspect the thought was to give Superman a happy ending, in the same way that the “original” Superman, retroactively placed on Earth-2, was given a happy ending with his Lois by surviving the original Crisis. As for Parallax’s inclusion, perhaps they just needed a plausibly powerful character involved, and/or prehaps Final Night was undone, and he needed another form of redemption...?

Co-writers Jeff King and Scott Lobdell have seven artists working on their script: Pencil artists Carlo Pagulayan and Eduardo Pansica, inkers Jason Paz, Scott Hanna and Trevor Scott, and penciler/inkers Stephen Segovia and Ethan Van Sciver.

The art looks like the result of seven artists collaborating on about 30 pages or so. While the whole thing is inconsistent, on a page-by-page basis, most of it is fine, provided you don’t look too closely at it, particularly a two-page sequence in which Brainiac recounts the history of the changes to DC’s Multiverse and Van Sciver’s four-page sequence revealing this version of The Multiverse.

Soooo, is anyone ever going to explain the end of Flashpoint or not…?

Convergence: Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters #2 (DC) Writer Simon Oliver and artist John McCrea continue and conclude their tale of the heroes of Earth-X, who have had their struggle against the Nazis who won World War II interrupted by Brainiac’s dome and then Telos’ insistence that they fight “champions” from other cities.

The champions here are the super-murderborgs of Futures End, which present such a threat that the Freedom Fighters have to team up with their mortal enemies to repel them.

Oliver narrows the focus so tightly on Plastic Man that the Freedom Fighters are barely a presence, save for appearances in splash pages (The Ray gets three words of dialogue, Black Condor gets two, and Uncle Sam doesn’t appear or get mentioned at all, despite having been present last issue…I guess I’ll have to check to make sure he didn’t actually die; he was shown to have hyper-aged, but the restoration of everyone’s powers should have rejuvenated him).

Through Plastic’s narration, Oliver has the character tell his origin story, of their uneasy alliance with The Silver Ghost against the forces of Futures End, and of Plastic Man and The Ghost’s mission into the heart of Futures End-ville, while Phantom Lady leads the FF and the Nazi soldiers in a holding action against the murder-bots outside their New York City.

It’s a fine script by Oliver with a few funny bits, but there are lots of little continuity glitches, some regarding the title characters (I guess Phantom Lady’s super-power is to fire destructive energy beams from her hands now?), others regarding their opponents (no mention of Brother Eye, the identity of the hive-mind animating the cyborgs?) and others regarding the fluid, flexible “rules” of the Convergence city-vs.-city battles, which vary from book to book (Here the losing city is apparently hurled off the surface of the planet?).

The chief pleasure is probably John McCrea’s art, and I say that not simply because he's one of my favorite artists, but because this is a perfect venue for his particular talents. Plastic Man is an ideal superhero for McCrea to draw, given the way he excels at both representational art and the comically exaggerated, and he does a great job drawing a sexy Phantom Lady, the shredded costumes of the hard-fighting male heroes and the jagged, pointed, piles of knives and gears that are the killer robots.

I don’t know if a new volume of Plastic Man is one of the books DC is considering launching in the near-ish future, but, if they do, they’ve already found a great creative team (Same goes for a Hawkman or Shazam series, based on how strong those Convergence tie-ins were. Speaking of which…)

Convergence: Shazam #2 (DC) The two cities doing battle in this particular Convergence tie-in are the Fawcett City of Pre-Crisis Earth-S and the Gotham City of Gotham By Gaslight, here reimagined as a steampunk Gotham City.

Despite that, it’s still essentially a Captain Marvel solo story, with Victorian Batman simply providing a smart, somewhat formidable foe for Captain Marvel to encounter, briefly engage and then turn so they can join forces against the brand new Monster Society of Evil, here lead by Steam Punk Mister Atom (or is it?) and boasting a membership full of Victorian versions of Batman’s rogues gallery (dig Two-Face’s half-dandy, half-hobo look, and the hats on Killer Croc and Clayface!).

Writer Jeff Parker once again does a fantastic job of writing Captain Marvel and much of his extended family and impressive rogues gallery, here adding a Batman and some of his villains to the mix, even if they mainly function as providing local color.

Evan “Doc” Shaner designs and draws the living hell out of every character and every panel of this comic. Like the Tim Truman and Enrique Alcatena–drawn Hawkman, also written by Parker, this is one of those comics where you can occasionally stop reading to just stare at panels and admire the intricate line-work.

I’m not entirely sure about the ending, as it’s rather ambiguous if Gotham City and all its inhabitants are destroyed or not, just as it wasn’t entirely clear who was meant to be fighting who, or if this was a full-on city vs. city conflict.

But then, Mr. Tawky Tawny flies a fighter plane, so who cares?

Providence #1 (Avatar Press) Despite my aversion to $3.99 comics and the variant-mad books of Avatar's line, this is Alan Moore writing a long-form, 12-issue comic book series that the publisher is calling “the Watchmen of horror,” and even if it falls far short of that (as it will have to), if it’s just the From Hell of H.P. Lovecraft-brand horror or even the Ballad of Halo Jones or D.R. and Quinch of Lovecraftian horror, well, that’s still gonna prove well worth a read.

Working with artist Jacen Burrows, Moore starts us off in 1910 New York, introducing us to an ambitious young newspaperman with a secret…a secret that apparently kills his one-time lover. At this early point in the narrative, it’s a pretty straightforward period piece, with the only hints of anything Lovecraftian having to do with references to some macabre literature, some more to an occult text written by an Arab (not that text or that Arab, though) and a doctor who lives like Herbert West, re-animator.

If you happen to be as adverse to $4 comics as I am, it’s well worth noting that there’s definitely $4 worht of comics in this book: 26 pages of comics, 4-pages of a supplementary prose piece (the journal of the protagonist) and no ads.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meanwhile, at Robot 6...

I wrote about what I consider the five very best Convergence tie-ins at Robot 6 today. Please note that by best I mean best, not my favorite; there are a handful I liked better than some of those just because they featured favorite characters or favorite artists, but I was judging them on quality, not my affection for them.

If I didn't discuss you favorite, don't worry; I do plan to review every single Convergence series here at just might take me a while to get to it.

And hey, while at Robot 6, be sure to check out Tom Bondurant's column, as he discusses a timely question I posed on this blog last week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 5: The Omega Mutant

This volume collects Uncanny X-Men #26-31, and if it's not the climax of Brian Michael Bendis' run on the title and the X-Men franchise in general, it's at least a major turning point, as by the time the volume ends the two warring schools status quo has been altered into a more traditional one.

It picks up right where the previous volume ended: During the hologaphic delivery of Professor Charles Xavier's last will and testament, the late mutant leader revealed that he's been keeping the most powerful mutant of all-time secret from everyone, including that mutant himself, by regularly mind-wiping him so that he doesn't realize his vast, destructive powers over time and space. Of course, if Xavier's dead, then it falls to his former students to deal once and for all with one Matthew Malloy, the omega level mutant who just disintegrated several city blocks by freaking out a little.

After some more quibbling amongst themselves, eventually Storm, Wolverine, Rachel and Cyclops get on a plane to meet with Malloy, with Beast consulting ("And--And he's more than an omega level mutant. He's more powerful than any mutant signature we've ever seen before.") Malloy turns out to be more powerful than expected, having telepathic and telekinetic powers as well. When a SHIELD helicarrier carrying the X-Men get near him, he brings it down and teleports the X-Men back to their respective schools.

Meanwhile, the junior X-Men at the New Xavier School (i.e. Cyclops' team) start to question what on Earth they're training for exactly, and Tempus decides on her own radical course of action for dealing with Malloy.

So too does Cyclops. With Magik and, later, Magneto, he attempts to talk Malloy down, essentially trying to recruit him to his cause (looked at one way), although, to be fair, looked at Cyclops' way, Cyke does have a lot of experience dealing with out-of-control, reality-warping mutants who can barely control their own powers.

As for Tempus, she just goes back in time to tell the still-alive Professor X that he needs to come up with a better plan for dealing with Malloy.

It ultimately goes sideways in the present, with Scott, Magik, Emma Frost and, a few pages later, what looks like the rest of the X-Men all being killed by either SHIELD's attack on Malloy or Malloy's powers reacting to threats against him.

Luckily, Tempus and Professor X did find a work around, with Xavier preventing Malloy's parents from ever meeting, which thus prevented him from ever being born. Meditate on the ethics of that cosmic, retroactive pre-abortion!

With the timeline re-set–an awfully weird device for Bendis to employ, really, considering how much the idea that "time is broken" has played into his recent writing, from Age of Ultron to All-New X-Men–so that Malloy never existed, the reading of the will goes quite differently, and essentially a few issues of Uncanny never happened, so far as any of the characters involved save Tempus know. She lets Cyclops know what happened though, in the midst of telling him off and dropping out of his school. Which he then dissolves anyway, without consulting even his fellow teachers.

His last words (this trade) to the assembled X-Men kind of choked me up a little, to be honest, although otherwise Bendis' strongest writing in this particular volume has been in the jokes and clever exchanges department.

So where are we now? The Jean Grey School is the only X-Men school, meaning Cyclops' students and, presumably, his fellow teachers will be absorbed into Storm's school. Cyclops isn't exactly sure what he's going to do next, but he's had a lot to think about. Iceman is extremely angry with Cyclops, up to the point that he seems to be considering killing him. And Beast is in complete despair in terms of the X-Men's place in the world, as no one responded to his plea for help–although his plea was erased form the timeline by Tempus' actions, so maybe he's cool now.

Secret Wars has already started, and Bendis' X-Men run is coming to a close, so there's not much space left in the writer's story. If this wasn't the climax, then the next volume should be, and if it was, then the next volume will either be the conclusion or the denouement.


Look at these panels:
Kris Anka
I've talked at length about the lame way that Bendis uses swearing in his Marvel comics before, essentially writing in swear words just to censor them with grawlixes, so that anyone who has heard a swear word before (meaning anyone who can read) will be able to fill in the blanks, while Bendis and Marvel look juvenile, over-sensitive and just plain weird by swearing without swearing.

I've also noted that the symbols in the grawlixes he uses don't generally match up, so that instead of using four symbols in a phrase like "Fuck you!" he'll use five or six, so it will look like "@#$%^ you!," leaving one wondering if there's a one symbol-to-one letter correlation and, if so, what weird-ass swearing his haracters are employing. If it's spelled "@#$%^ you!" is it not, in fact, "Fuck you!" but, let's see..."Bitch you!" or "Shits you!" or "Cocks you!" or...I don't know.

Anyway, the swear words that Wolverine and Cyclops use in the above passage would, most logically, be "shit." As in, "All our shit aside, Logan." But there aren't four symbols; there are seven. What swear word has seven letters?

"Asshole," of course. But it doesn't really fit, does it? "All our asshole aside, Logan. He lied to us." "Our asshole not aside."

No, it doesn't work. So I'm assuming the word they're using is "fuckery."

"Xavier lied to all of us. All our fuckery aside, Logan. He lied to us."

"Our fuckery not aside."

Yeah, that's perfect. That actually describes what occurs between the characters in X-Men comics pretty well: Fuckery.

Also, I really enjoyed Iceman's dig in that third panel.


Speaking of Iceman, he also gets my second favorite line in this book:
Chris Bachalo

Monday, May 25, 2015

This Memorial Day Every Day Is Like Wednesday would like to honor

the brave men and women of The Justice League who have made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives to keep their country and/or their world and/or their universe safe, secure and free.


1939-2009 2015











1965-1988 1997









1994-2009 2013


Sure, most of them picked their lives back up again later, but it's the thought that counts.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Marvel's August previews reviewed

By my count, Marvel plans to publish 79 comic book-format books this August, if you include the issues of books that will double-ship that month, like Guardains Team-Up and Star Wars: Lando. Of those 79 comics, 62 of them will be Secret Wars tie-in, including Secret Wars #6 and the various titles dealing with the events of Secret Wars, whether or not their solicitation ends with the words "SECRET WARS SERIES" or not (like Ms. Marvel and Magneto, for example).

That seems like an awful lot of comics, although, to be fair, the tie-ins seem set up in such a way that few if any of them are at all necessary to the plot of Secret Wars, and are instead more an exercise in in the creators from Marvel's surprisingly deep bench (plus some outsiders) taking a fairly unique opportunity to play with the characters and concepts of the Marvel Universe in ways they wouldn't normally be able to.

Most of the books look like they will be somewhere between mildly interesting and totally awesome, although I should also note that they are all $3.99 (or more) a pop–only Ms. Marvel and the two books based on Marvel cartoons are still at the once-standard $2.99 price point. Looking at these then fills me with anxiety then, as I'm really rather interested in reading a lot of them, but I'm not sure how I'll be able to do so.

Certainly many of the Secret Wars tie-in series will be long and distinct enough that they will almost certainly be collected on their own, like Thors, Weirdworld or Where Monsters Dwell. Those I can buy in trade or find easily at a library.

But what about something like, say, this month's Howard The Human, a one-shot? I'm assuming it will end up being collected with similar humorous one-shots, like this month's Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra, which I am not interested in reading. I suppose I could just borrow that eventual trade from the library and read the parts I want, but hoo boy, is that going to be hard to find, as by that point there should be dozens of books with the words "Secret Wars" somewhere in their title and, if past Marvel events are any indication, several books will have almost identical titles, and every library tends to catalog titles their own way.

I'm considering quitting my day job at a local library and applying for a job at a local comic shop, just so I can read all of these damn things for free while I'm "working" just to keep up.

I was also curious to see which books were not tying in to Secret Wars in any way, shape or form. Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers...most of Marvel's biggest and most reliable franchises are being sucked into Secret Wars completely, while the books shipping in August that have nothing to do with it include those on the fringes, like All-New Hawkeye, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and some Guardians of The Galaxy-related books.

Finally, if you've read through all of Marvel's August solicitations–which you can do here, you'll notice that, like DC Comics, they too will have a theme for their variant covers for the month (aside from "a lot," of course, which is their regular, ongoing theme for every month). Many of those solicitations include the words "MANGA ARTIST VARIANT COVER BY TBA."

Assuming TBA is an acronym for To Be Announced and not the name of a particular manga studio, then it would appear that Marvel plans to have manga artists draw a bunch of covers for their books that are shipping in three months, they just haven't lined-up which artists yet.

At least, I'm assuming from the phrasing that they will be hiring actual manga artists, rather than having American artists draw in manga style, otherwise I'm assuming it would say "MANGA VARIANT COVER BY TBA."

Anyway, because Secret Wars continues to so dominate Marvel's output, there's not a whole lot to say about this crop of books, other than "Huh, that looks weird," but let's take a look anyway, shall we...?

Marvel’s most amazing heroes step into the spotlight in this all-action book packed with adventure, danger, drama…and fun! Black Widow seeks redemption for her past — in ways the Avengers wouldn’t approve! Carol Danvers takes on the legacy of Captain Marvel and lives her dream of traveling to the stars! Teenager Kamala Khan fights crime as Ms. Marvel — but is she ready for this dangerous new life? She-Hulk isn’t just a green powerhouse — her skills as an attorney will knock her opponents’ socks off! A mysterious woman wields the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, and claims the powers of the mighty Thor! And Squirrel Girl faces her greatest challenge yet: college! Whatever your tastes, there’s something here for everyone! Collecting BLACK WIDOW (2014) #1, CAPTAIN MARVEL (2014) #1, MS. MARVEL (2014) #1, SHE-HULK (2014) #1, THOR (2014) #1 and UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1.
136 PGS./Rated T+ …$14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9898-7

Well this looks kinda dumb. While I like those issues that are included that I've read a whole lot–Ms. Marvel #1 and She-Hulk #1–and the idea of a sort of sampler of comics starring Marvel heroines sounds solid in theory, I don't really see how this will fly.

Based on the page-count, price-point and the fact that it has an ISBN, I'm assuming this will be a trade paperback format book with a spine, something you'd find on the shelves of a book store or a library (and with the trades at a comic shop), rather than on a comic rack somewhere (They still have those here and there, right? I know I've seen comics racked with magazines at Barnes and Noble, at least).

But say you invest $15 in it, and you like a couple of the books, like perhaps you liked Ms. Marvel #1 and She-Hulk #1 as much as I did, enough to decide you want to follow those series. Well, then you'd by the first volume of those trades, and you'd be re-buying chapters you've already bought and owned (Unless you're just using your library to get trades, in which case never mind). If you're going to gamble $15 in the hopes of finding a series you'll like, why not just start with Ms. Marvel Vol. 1...? If you like somewhere between one and all of these issues, it's going to be something of a waste to buy this trade. And if you don't like any of them, well, that's also a waste. (A money-losing $3, comic book-format collection of three of those titles might have been a better bet).

There's an excellent chance that I have no idea what I'm talking about, of course. Maybe this will prove to be the American equivalent of those phonebook-sized manga anthology periodicals they put out in Japan, and everyone will buy the hell out of it.

I also kind of hate the name, and I'm not sure why they picked it. "A-Force" is, of course, the name of the all-lady Avengers team in one of the Secret Wars tie-ins. You've probably heard of it. It was in The New York Times and everything. It's a dumb name, even in the context of its own book, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the contents of this book, save for the fact that some of the characters appearing in this also appear in A-Force. Why you'd want to drag Secret Wars continuity baggage into a trade seemingly aimed at brand-new readers, however, I don't know. Perhaps Marvel thought the "A-Force" name would boost the marketability, given the media coverage of Secret Wars during the time the volume would be released. Even still, it has a built-in expiration date, as A-Force, like everything else tied to Secret Wars, is a temporary state of affairs.

That said, I'm afraid I can't think of a better name. It beats Girl Comics, I suppose.

Oh my, look at all the Cat-Beasts on Ian Bertram's cover for E Is For Extinction! Wait, I mean, Oh my stars and garters, look at all the Cat-Beasts on Ian Bertram's cover for E Is For Extinction! I just want to pet the hell out of everyone on that cover. Except for the one dude not covered in blue fur, of course. But maybe I'd tousle his hair.

• Spend a day with Howard, a private investigator and the only human living in city full of animals. But not, like, criminals and lowlifes. We’re talking elephants, apes, ducks and kitty cats. Catching a case, grinding a few gears, dodging some bullets and almost getting killed by an anthropomorchic monstrosity. It’s just another Monday for Howard the Human brought to you by Skottie Young (ROCKET RACCOON) and Jim Mahfood (MIAMI VICE REMIX).
32 PGS./ONE SHOT/Rated T+ …$3.99

Well, this is a funny title, although it seems like the kind of gag in which the title is the entire joke (kind of like the way headlines at The Onion are generally sufficient, and one need not read the article itself). That said, it's Young and Mahfood, so if there is more to the gag, it's a pretty sure bet those two can find it. If nothing else, you've got at least 20-pages of Mahfood drawing animals.

• Caleb has been captured by Clone Troopers Grey & Styles!
• Can he turn his back on his Jedi training completely?
• The final chapter of the secret origin of Star Wars Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99
Star Wars © Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for Star Wars are © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Oh, I have not.

I like this Ms. Marvel cover by the ever reliable Kris Anka. That is all.

40 PGS./ONE SHOT/Parental Guidance …$4.99

Well, I count about a half-dozen creators I really like, and two of my favorite newer Marvel characters on the cover, so this looks good. Now I wonder where it will end up being collected...

• After a series of brutal and mysterious murders, the Thors have finally brought in a suspect for questioning -- Loki!
• But how does one get the truth from the Prince of Lies?
• The Ultimate Thor is about to find out…
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

The problem with a police force composed entirely out of Thors is that they'll always be bringing Loki in for questioning, wont' they?

• The weirdness continues as Arkon finds himself trapped in the swamp of the Man-Things. Meanwhile, the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay marches with her army of Lava Men and gun-toting ogres toward Arkon’s home of Polemachus.
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

The only thing better than seeing the word "Man-Thing" pop up in Marvel solicitations may be seeing the word "Man-Things" pop up in Marvel solicitations.

Over the years, I have seen many images of white men cooking in stew pots. And I have seen many images of dinosaurs hungrily eyeing human beings. But I don't think I've ever seen both things in the same image before. So way to go Frank Cho. This is, by the way, the cover for August's issue of Where Monsters Dwell, the Garth Ennis/Russell Braun series in which The Phantom Eagle fights dinosaurs.

Check out Pepe Larraz's cover for X-Men '92 #3, a series I hope against hope will continuing publishing until it reaches 100 issues, just because I will enjoy typing X-Men '92 #92 someday. Now I'm not generally a fan of Deadpool and his antics, but is that Deadpool inventing the selife decades early with a nunchuck-mounted Polaroid camera...? Okay, bravo Deadpool.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DC's August Previews Reviewed

The variant theme for this month–every month has a variant theme now, apparently–is another round of "Bombshells" variants. As you're likely aware, those are the covers in which various DC heroines were presented as WWII-era pin-up girls in various contexts (mostly having to do with advertising of some sort, like Mera advertising Atlantean tourism, or Wonder Woman-as-Rosie The Riveter on an inspirational, war effort-like poster). It's also the name of a line of those goofy little statues; I'm not sure which came first, the statues or the variants, but the latter certainly seemed rather popular (and often very cool; the A League of Their Own-style Batwoman may just be my favorite Batwoman costume ever).

So this month we get another bunch of Bombshell covers, this time including male heroes as well. I recall some complaining that there were no male Bombshell covers on the Internet the last time, and while I kind of rolled my eyes at the time–I suppose it was sexist, but then, they were evoking a sexist art form from a sexist time period–but DC apparently heard and responded to that criticism.

One could still quibble that most of the men aren't as unclothed as the women–and something tells me some of those who complained about the lack of male Bombshells last time will do so–but we do get a shirtless Aquaman, so hey, there's that (Kind of disappointed that we don't get a similarly exposed Nightwing, as Dick Grayson is the universally-acknowledted Sexiest Man Alive...In The DC Universe. Maybe if they do a month of People magazine-inspired covers).

More interesting still, DC is launching a Bombshells comic book series, which will apparently feature some sort of super-team consisting of various Bombshell designed characters. That's kind of exciting; I enjoyed the similar Ame-Comi Girls least for a few issues. I liked seeing those designs in a comic book, a medium I enjoy, rather than in a collectible statue, a medium I don't understand the appeal of. That particular series lost me after a half-dozen issues, as the story sort of meandered into medioctricty (the inconsistent, ever-changing art didn't help), but it was fun from a curiosity-sating point-of-view for a while. I assume this will be at least as good.

Other than that, DC seems to just be just keeping-on with their new, post-New 52,
"DC You" (they're not really calling it that, are they?) status quo. For the complete solicitations for the comics DC plans to publish in August, you can click here; otherwise, stick around here for my talking about 'em...

Okay, so here's Action Comics, where we see our first male "Bombshell," in the form of Superman, being held aloft by his sometimes cousin, Power Girl. As you can see, he's not showing as much flesh as some of the other female bombshells. On the other hand, OH MY GOD LOOK AT HIS MUSTACHE IT'S SO COOL!!!!

Superman's gone through like three or four different redesigns since September of 2011, but I think it's safe to say that this, this is the best of them all. Throw a short cape on Bombshell Superman, and let's have that guy start appearing on all the Superman books, huh?

(Say, did you guys read DC's FCBD offering? In it, we learned that Lois Lane revealed Superman's dual identity to the world, and, in order to disguise himself, he stopped wearing glasses and started wearing a hoodie with the hood up. Not exactly a master of disguise. But hey, what if he grew that fantastic mustache? Surely no one would recognize him then! It just makes so much sense for Superman to have an old-timey handlebar mustache in current continuity!)

Written by CULLEN BUNN
Art and cover by TREVOR McCARTHY
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Since his exile from Atlantis, Aquaman has been exhibiting strange new powers. Now learn the secret of these powers as the former king comes face-to-face with Poseidon! And as the Atlantis of old wages war on Earth, the forces behind Arthur and Mera’s estrangement are revealed! All is not what it seems...

Well, I don't like the looks of what appears to be a strange new direction for Aquaman, although, to be fair, I haven't seen much of it, just a few covers and the eight-page preview in the back of Convergence: Suicide Squad #2. It strikes me as pretty early for such a radical overhaul, and Cullen Bunn is the third writer on the series so far. Aquaman has had a relatively low turnover for a New 52 book, but that's simply because the bar being set low. Three writers in a little over three years is too many (By contrast, DC's best and best-selling New 52 book, Batman, has had exactly one writer; I haven't been too fond of Justice League, but it too sells really well and has had but one writer since the relaunch).

The one thing I do like about this new direction is that it seems to introduce a version of Garth/Tempest, in a blue costume and general design somewhat akin to that of the one he sports on Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go!. I like his old magical scar/tattoo better than this one though...

Oh yeah, and how about that Ant Lucia variant cover? There's some Bombshell beefcake to go with the cheesecake!

On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Tech genius Luke Fox has brought his startup to Burnside, and he seems to be hiring all of Barbara’s friends…but not her! Unfortunately, someone else is setting up shop in Burnside as well…the mysterious Velvet Tiger!

Velvet Tiger?! If you were to ask me to name a Batgirl villain–not a Batman villain that Batgirl sometimes fights, or an Oracle villain–Velvet Tiger would be both the first and last name I would be able to think of. So I'm pretty excited to see her appearing in Batgirl, especially since I anticipate it being a pretty cool design, based on, um, everything Stewart and Tarr have designed and drawn for this book so far.

Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
In the start of a new epic, a new villain stalks Gotham City. Will Batman be able to uncover the mystery of Mr. Bloom?

Now that's a Batman villain! He's got a striking, intriguing look which, when paired with his name, makes it so I can't wait to find out exactly what his whole deal is.

BATMAN ‘66 #26
Written by JEFF PARKER
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E • DIGITAL FIRST
Can it be? Is Louie the Lilac really pushing up daisies? Batman’s investigation of the criminal’s apparent demise leads him to the abandoned Isley Nursery. But it’s a floral trap that awaits the Dynamic Duo as they encounter a new villainess, the one and only Poison Ivy!

In a month devoted to special variant covers featuring sexy drawings, regular old Batman '66 cover artist Mike Allred delivers the month's sexiest drawing. I'm pretty sure I've said this a few times before–probably 25 times before, based on the issue number–but DC reeeaaaalllly needs to get Allred to draw an entire issue of Batman '66 some day. Preferably one starring Batgirl.

Written by PAUL POPE
Art and cover by PAUL POPE
On sale OCTOBER 14 • 240 pg, FC, 7.0625” x 10.875”, $29.99 US
Visionary writer/artist Paul Pope presents a futuristic mystery of epic proportions! In Gotham City, 2039, a federal agent is murdered, and a contingent of Washington’s top agents is hot on the trail of the Batman, long thought gone, but now the suspect in the murder. This new collection of the 4-issue miniseries includes never before published sketch material!

If you like comics, Batman and/or Paul Pople–and I have good reason to believe you like at least one of those things–than you're going to want to read this. If, for some reason you haven't, it looks like DC is offering a nice, big, "deluxe" version for you to purchase late this summer (although you can find trades of it in your library right this second). Years after reading it for the first time, I'm not super-clear on all of the individual aspects of the plot, which seemed very post-9/11 (to the point that I'm curious about how it might have aged), but what I remember most clearly are 1.) The contents of Batman's utility belt laid-out and explained, which I found interesting and exciting (as it handicapped Pope from the easy cheat of having Batman pull-out whatever the hell the writer wanted at any given point), 2.) Batman eating (something one hardly ever sees), 3.) Batman's fake vampire teeth, which took the whole theatrical, dressing-like-a-bat-to-scare-criminals thing to a logical, hilarious extreme and 4.) How goddam awesome that folded-up Bat-cycle in a tarp looked; it was like a giant, mechanical bat hanging upside down (I'm pretty sure a much weaker version of that showed up in a Batman comic within the last few months).

Anyway, this is awesome.

On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Someone is murdering ghosts, a supernatural crime so impossible to solve that John Constantine is forced to return to London and seek help from the one person he hates more than any other; a magician above reproach, a darling of London high society, and a friend to superheroes everywhere. She is Georgiana Snow…the HECKBLAZER!

I really like the first nine words of this solicitation, especially the first four.

Cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 12 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST
The ultra-popular statues from DC Collectibles come to life in their own ongoing comic book series! Learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.

So here's the aforementioned Bombshells comic. Based on the cover, and the similar Ame-Comi Girls series, I assume this will be some kind of super-team book, but reading the solicitation closely, perhaps it will be more of an anthology series.

Whichever, I'll be interested in checking it out. I am particularly amused by the thought that DC chose this particular creative team based solely on the fact that they both have the same first name.

This variant cover for Deathstroke is a good example of one that elicits an increasingly common reaction from me: Why couldn't the interior of the book reflect the infinitely more interesting variant cover than the story of the regular cover?

Despite having died and had her consciousness somehow downloaded into a Red Tornado android, Lois Lane is apparently returning to her old job as a reporter on the new Earth-2, which I'm assuming is going to be Telos, terraformed into something more Earth-like after the events of Convergences (If that is the case, I wonder if it will stay in the universe of Earth-0, where Telos is headed, return to whatever universe Telos was housed in, or if it will return to the universe Earth-2 is from?).

I was all set to make a comment about how ridiculously tight her business attire is, but then I remembered she has been completely naked, without so much as a cape to cover her shoulders and back, since she came online.

Art and cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
Bombshells Variant cover by ANT LUCIA
On sale AUGUST 26 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Barry Allen is a man divided, forced to either help his father remain on the run from the law, or bring him to justice. As Barry grapples with that impossible choice, The Flash becomes a target of the Folded Man, a mysterious deadly new villain to Central City who’s hell-bent on tearing The Flash apart—literally!

Created by writer Mark Waid in 1999, back when the star of The Flash was a mysterious character in a black costume and Waid was stoking speculation as to who was under the mask as a strong-selling point, The Folded Man comes from a particularly unusual vintage to be reintroduced post-Flashpoint. He's so young a character, and so associated with a particular creator, that this is one of those instances where I actually feel kind of funny about other creators using him.

Like, they're only 43 issues into this new volume of The Flash; did they really run out of all the other villain to use, and all the new villains of their own they want to create? (Did they use The Turtle yet? They should use The Turtle.)

Hey, that's not Green Arrow on the Bombshell variant for Green Arrow #43, it's Black Canary! And now she has her own book, so shouldn't be be on a variant cover for Black Canary...?

Regardless, this is a particularly nice offering by Ant Lucia (Did you know I have a sister named Lucia? Which makes her my nieces' Aunt Lucia?).

Because of the text, though, whenever I look at it, all I can think of is this extremely weird bit from the extremely weird Batman: The Brave and The Bold cartoon.

Okay, that's pretty cool. Bravo, Ant Lucia.

I like how all three of these superheroines (only one of whom is actually on the Justice League) are wearing versions of uniforms from different branches of the military.

You know, it's really too bad that Mera's become such a horrible character, as she would actually fit in okay with the Justice League, with her and Aquaman kinda sorta replacing the old Satellite Era Hawkman and Hawkgirl as the team's married couple. (Or wait, was Hawkgirl just an ally, because of some clause in the JLA charter about no duplication of powers? Which was bullshit, considering the overlap in Superman and Martian Manhunters' power-sets. Maybe I'm just thinking of Hawkman and Hawkgirl from the Alex Ross fantasy version of the Satellite Era League...(

Written by GARTH ENNIS
On sale AUGUST 12 • 32 pg, FC, 3 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
All of Sixpack’s problems are solved when J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter, volunteers for the team—ready to blaze into battle with the heroes of Section Eight. But as news spreads across the DC Universe, can our hero’s good luck really last? Can Bueno Excellente defeat an unexpected rival for the hand of his lady love? What is J’onn J’onzz thinking? And what’s that smell?

And speaking of J'onn J'onnz...! You know, I don't even think Section Eight is the worst superhero team J'onn's ever been on. I mean, he was on the Justice League Task Force during the '90s...

(Kidding! I loved and still love JLTF! Even if there were some of the worst DC Universe costumes prior to The New 52 on that team, and the L-Ron-in-Despero never really made much sense to me).

I wonder if I'll ever get used to the new shape of Martian Manhunter's head...

No lie: I love Zoot Suit Sinestro. Imagine how much cooler the Sinestro Corps would be if they all wore matching yellow zoot suits.

On sale SEPTEMBER 2 • 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US
In these stories from SUICIDE SQUAD #1-8 and SECRET ORIGINS #14, the team must take down the evil Jihad before it can attack the U.S. Then, the Squad is sent into Russia to extract a famous dissident—but can they get out alive?

Good news? DC is finally printing a collection of the fan-favorite, critically-acclaimed Suicide Squad series by John Ostrander and company. Bad news? It's another printing of the one volume they've already printed. Hopefully this just means they're getting ready to start collecting the whole damn thing, as I have to assume there's going to be more interest in Suicide Squad comics in the next year or so than there has been in a long, long time, and well, it wouldn't hurt to have the good stuff available as well.

I had a friend tell me a friend of hers was interested in reading some Suicide Squad comics based solely on the announcement of the film, and wanted some recommendations for good Suicide Squad comics, since she'd heard the New 52 stuff was all pretty terrible (It is!). Trial By Fire was about all I could come up with.

And now it's time for my monthly making fun of the Teen Titans' costumes! So, just for the sake of comparing and contrasting, here are the variant cover and the regular cover for August's issue of Teen Titan, the former of which features Raven in a radically designed version of her costume...which still looks much closer in visuals and spirit to her original costume, and the costume she's worn in the two cartoons in which she's played a prominent role.

Can you even find raven on the "regular" cover? Do you think you'd be able to if you didn't know that her costume looked like she was wearing a suit of icicles already, and you only knew her from watching Teen Titans and Teen Titans go?

And hey, speaking of Teen Titans Go!, here's TTG's Dan Hipp's cover for the comic book-based on the cartoon-based on the comic books!

This too is a good example of the weakness of the New 52 costume designs. Hipp manages to draw them all pretty well, and to make them "fit" in his style and the world of this version of the Teen Titans, but man, compare those ultra-busy, line-filled costumes to the smoother, less-fussy costumes of the Titans in the foreground.

Also, where's your mustaches Diana? Don't use that old "But I'm a woman!" excuse. Starfire and Raven aren't letting a little thing like "being female" stopping them from sporting awesome mustaches.


Hey, this is the second time I've talked at some length about mustaches in this post. Maybe that will be the theme for the next round of variants: Mustaches.

No, better to wait for No-Shave November, when they can do mustaches and beards...