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I could make a tortured Woodrue Morgue joke but only I would think it’s funny.

§ August 24th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics § 7 Comments

So you Swamp Thing fans out there, of which there are at least one or two I’m pretty sure, should keep a lookout for this edition of the British Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue:

…that’s issue #169, and I normally just get a copy in that shop for a pull list customer, but of course once I saw what was being featured I had to get my mitts on one myself. I like the cover, which of course incorporates Steve Bissette’s cover from Swamp Thing #51. It’s a nice seven-page chunk of the mag in full color, featuring interviews with cocreator Len Wein, artist of the recent mini-series Kelley Jones, and writer of the back half of the New 52 series, Charles Soule. There’s a brief overview of Swampy’s history, and a review of the aforementioned mini. It’s a welome addition to the ol’ Swamp collection.

Checking with my distributor, it appears to be no longer available through them (and any other retailers checking there themselves should note they have a different cover attached to the item information for this issue). However, it appears you can mail order a physical copy from the official site for the magazine, or even get a digital copy, if that’s the way you swing.

And speaking of swinging…er, I mean, of Swamp Thing:

…there he is, palling around with his old chum John Constantine in the first issue (as opposed to the Rebirth one-shot that came out a month ago…thanks for making me have to explain the “two number ones” thing to every customer, DC) of The Hellblazer, which is different from the other Constantine series called Hellblazer in that there’s a “The” there in the title now.

Inside the comic, Swamp Thing needs John’s help with something-or-other, and the two trade quips and barbs and it kinda feels like the Good Old Days in case you read that previously-noted one-shot and didn’t care for it (as some of my customers expressed to me). There is an odd continuity thing, which…well, to catch you folks up:

1. Lab explodes, and Alec Holland’s burning body plunges into the swamp.

2. The chemicals Alec was working on merge with the swamp and with Alec’s body, and out pops Swamp Thing.

3. Swamp Thing believes he is Alec Holland, mutated by science gone awry.

4. It is revealed that isn’t the case, that Alec did in fact die in the explosion, and the plant elemental that arose used Alec’s memories as a template for itself.

5. That Swamp Thing hangs around for a long time, before eventually going away.

6. Alec is returned from the dead, and this time he actually is turned into Swamp Thing to replace the previous one.

As per what seems to exist in New 52/Rebirth continuity, that Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing still happened, and in one issue Actually-Is-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing meets Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing. What of the published stories is still in continuity is anyone’s guess, especially since a major thing that happened to a supporting character during the Alan Moore/Bissette/John Totleben era seems to Have Never Happened now.

In The Hellblazer #1, we get a discussion referring to a specific something that happened during the Not-Holland-Swampy’s tenure, with John chiding Current Alec-Swampy for it. Now it could be that maybe Alec-Swampy did a similar thing off-panel and this is the first we’re hearing about it, or that John somehow forgot these are two different Swamp Things, or that the previous Swamp Thing merged with the current Swamp Thing somehow and they’re basically the same being, or it’s a complicated Rebirth re-fiddling with the continuity thing, or this was all explained somewhere and I missed or forgot it because I don’t reread every issue multiple times anymore, or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.

Anyway, it’s just a very minor point in this issue and only some crazy person who’s been reading Swamp Thing for the better part of four decades and also has a blog would really bring it up.

I hope they do a year-long story about Superman having an ant head.

§ August 10th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 4 Comments

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So Flintstones #2 from DC’s strange Hanna-Barbera revamp project isn’t quite as peculiar as the initial installment, but it does firmly establish the milieu as some sort of terrifying nightmare world. It goes well beyond the humorous shrug of the various appliance-animals exclaiming “it’s a living!” to…well, worse things, frankly. That’s just a small portion of the overall theme of the issue, which is a critique of consumerist culture, with a little poking fun at religion mixed in, and overall I think I’m beginning to really like this series. The first issue caught me off guard, as I said at the time, but I think with the second issue I’m catching on to what they’re doing.


Superwoman squeezes a whole lot of storytelling into those 20 pages…many panels per page, lots of dialogue, along with an additional surprise character that I wasn’t quite sure I was expecting as a regular in this series. The title brings an additional permutation of the Superman franchise, which has been going in some unusual directions of late, and generally for the better. Like I said last week, I feel like this weird fiddling with the Super-books will all go away once the Rebirth event reaches its eventual conclusion, but in the meantime it’s nice to see them break out of their usual ruts. And I mean in a good well-thought-out way, not in the rushed-to-the-marketplace-New-52-retooling way.

And yes, I know “Superman’s girlfriend gets super powers!? WHA–!?” ain’t exactly a new story, but neither was “Superman’s identity — REVEALED!?” but taking those old Silver-Agey one-off plots and turning them into The Status Quo (for at least a while) is still an appealing way of doing things, at least to me. Remember, I was into that whole Superman Red/Superman Blue thing before it was cool!


Darth Vader wraps up next issue, which kinda surprises me given that it’s been a success for Marvel (not that any of the Star Wars books haven’t been successes). However, it’s nice when it’s recognized that a series that comes to a natural conclusion (and will sell forever in collected book form) is preferred to an eternally-running series with diminishing returns. Or restarting with a new #1 immediately to boost up sales for another month or two. Not that we won’t see another Darth Vader mini-series at some point, I’m betting, but taking the first one off the shelves finally makes room for that Lobot: P.I. mini-series that I would totally write for free if Marvel is listening.

Anyway, this issue is like the total opposite of Superwoman in that it’s all big panels and light on dialogue, but for some reason I’m a little more forgiving of this in a Star Wars comic, probably because George Lucas has brainwashed me since I was a child. It’s mostly mindspace-type shenanigans, as Vader reflects on the incidents that made him who he is, so we’re getting a lot of Prequel Trilogy imagery mixed with the Big Guy as we’re familiar with him from the Real Trilogy, which is intrinsically interesting to the Star Wars nerd that I am. It’s not quite as shocking as the one appearance-of-sorts of Darth Vader in the Clone Wars cartoon series, but it’s neat to see nonetheless.


Okay, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but 1) no, despite the name it’s not a continuation of DC’s finest Batman title, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and 2) the multiple covers for this first issue reminds me of the multiple covers for the first issue of the somewhat similar Legends of the Dark Knight. At least this time they gave us actual drawings on each variant (well, except for the blank sketch cover)…I like that John Romita Jr. cover (pictured above) the best. A quick flip-through at least looks interesting, and I enjoyed Scott Snyder’s Bat-writing previously, so I’m reasonably sure I’ll enjoy this too.


Okay, fine, I read it instead of going to bed like a sane person. It’s a fun Batman comic, featuring our favorite Caped Crusader in some locations you don’t usually see Batman in. Plus, there’s the return of a character that I’ve always liked and that we’ll get to see more of (well, more or less…you’ll see what I mean) in the next issue. Don’t know if we need yet another Batman book, but so long as 1) they’re good, and 2) they’re taking different approaches to the franchise, I guess I’m okay with it, which I’m sure makes the folks at DC let out sighs of relief.

The whole “Superman” section of this post sort of got away from me here.

§ August 3rd, 2016 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

So I have to say I was pretty amused by this week’s preview booklet for DC’s “Young Animal” imprint. As you can see by the cover, it apes the look of DC’s Who’s Who series, down to including Who’s Who-style entries for some of the characters in the first few pages. The rest of the pages are filled with art samples from the forthcoming titles. Mostly I’m impressed by the “lo-fi” nature of the preview, a black and white digest-sized pamphlet that stands out in this age of full-color sampler comics and full-size first-look magazines, selling ideas, not production values. An interesting statement on the aesthetic of this line, I think.

What’s interesting about the Superman titles during DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, all things considered, people shouldn’t like them. This is about as convoluted a set-up as you can have for a Superman franchise, involving parallel universes and whatnot, and oh Superman and Lois have a son, too…but ultimately people are interested. It’s a combination of “here’s something sorta new with the character” and “this isn’t the New 52 version of Superman you didn’t like, but the one that’s been around since the 1980s Byrne revamp, more or less.” The hooks for the two series have been engaging (with Action focusing on the maybe-redemption arc for Lex Luthor and the mystery of the Other Clark Kent, and Superman focusing on the Supes/Lois/Jon family dynamic).

I generally prefer Action, and at first I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this week’s issue of Superman…there’s a whole lot of fighting with the Eradictor, and not a whole lot else…but it does provide the next step is Jon’s evolution as the Son of Superman, and that does leave me wanting to see more. Which, of course, I’ll eventually be getting in the forthcoming Super Sons book, co-starring Damian Wayne…which makes me wonder. Did DC’s relative success in giving Batman a biological son pave the way for DC doing the same for Superman? But then, a father/son dynamic has been present in the Batman comics for decades…it’s just now the son is actually his son, not a ward or an adoptee, so there’s not really any change in that dynamic.

I guess in the Superman franchise, Supergirl sort of filled the role of the mentored youngster, but that’s not really the same as “Superman has a child.” He’s not even really had any kind of established Robin-esque sidekick like Batman, despite Supergirl’s occasional guest appearances. So, while Batman having a son didn’t really affect the franchise, giving Superman a son does alter things from the established model quite a bit. (It strikes me, sometimes, how lonely Superman seems to be in the pre-Crisis days…going to the empty Kent home, keeping his double life secret from his friends, even separated from Kandor in either its shrunken city or on-an-interdimensional-planetoid forms.)

Anyway, this is just a lot of meandering about a current plot development that will likely go away in whatever big shakeup the whole “Rebirth” thing is eventually leading to. The current story of “Parallel Universe Superman” will probably be wrapped up sooner rather than later, and whatever permutations that make this Superman differ from the Official Licenseable Version will be sanded away. But in the meantime, the Superman books have made for intriguing reading, if only for exploring how flexible the franchise is after nearly eight decades of existence.

Some comic pages right out of history.

§ July 7th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments

Of course the first thing I thought of when I first heard about the then-forthcoming Flintstones revamp from DC Comics:


…was John Byrne’s “realistic” version of the family from Sensational She-Hulk #5 (1989), as seen here in this detail from the cover:


…and here’s a bit from inside that book:

Now, so far from DC’s Hanna-Barbera retoolings, we’ve had Future Quest (which everyone expected to be good), Scooby Apocalypse (which surprised people by being good as well), Wacky Raceland (bit of a misfire, but we’ll see how it goes), and now this, The Flintstones. I…I’m not quite sure what to make of it. My initial response to it I posted on Twitter, where I said it was “weird,” and I was asked “good weird or bad weird?” My reply was “weird weird.”

There’s stuff in here about Fred and Barney being veterans of “The Paleolithic Wars,” there’s Slate wanting to exploit Neanderthal workers, there’s the unpleasant fate of one of the characters shown in the modern day framing sequence…and that there even is a modern day framing sequence is a bit strange period. Tone shifts around quite a bit, from the expected dinosaur jokes to the poignant backstory for one of the cast. It’s definitely an interesting read…I didn’t know what to expect from writer Mark Russell on this, since I’d not read his work (though I understand Prez is good), but I’ve enjoyed Steve Pugh’s art in the past (on Grimjack and Hellblazer) and he did a fine job here, though trying to reconcile this version of the Flintstones cast with the permanently-embedded mental image we all have of the cartoons is quite the task.

Anyway, I’ll certainly be back for the second issue. It’s not often a comic catches me off guard like this, and that’s something I can very much appreciate. Don’t quite know if it’s good as such, but it has my attention.

So I was going to write about…

§ June 23rd, 2016 § Filed under star wars, this week's comics § 2 Comments

…the fact that the Force Awakens comic book adaptation is coming out now, long after the theatrical release and the home video release, theorizing as to why, etc., but it turns out the answer is apparently just “hey, it happened when it happened.”

On the Twittererers, @bensonmic let me know that Jordan D. White, one of the folks behind Marvel’s Star Wars funnybooks, indicated on his own Twitter and/or Tumblr that it just wasn’t something they were prioritizing. I went on the endless scroll through Mr. White’s Tumblr, not finding that particular post but certainly appreciating the man’s nearly endless patience for some of the fan interactions he was…enjoying. But anyway, the aforementioned @bensonmic later sent me the link to the actual post in question, put up last Christmas:

“The comic book adaptations of movies have not been as big of a thing since the advent of home video. Back when, getting a comic was one of the only ways to reexperience the story of the film when it was out of theatres. Now, you can own the film relatively soon after, so it’s less imperative to get the adaptation out right away. If we do one, we can take the time to do the comic as accurately and awesomely as we can.”

Which of course makes complete sense. I even said the same thing on this site…guh, eleven years ago, which is a mindset I’m still in, and that’s why I’m always surprised when a new movie adaptation comes out. Mostly, it’s just Marvel adapting previous installments of their superhero films before the next film comes out (like the Captain America: Civil War Prelude from late 2015/early 2016, which adapted 2013’s Iron Man 3 and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

But still, the Force Awakens comic feels like bit of an anomaly, but hey, what do I know, it came out this Wednesday and it sold just fine, so clearly there’s an audience for it. And, um, I got it too, since I’m pretty much in the bag for all things Star Warsian (at least as it pertains to the characters I grew up with, and not, say, novels set 10,000 years before A New Hope and featuring Jedi Master Tu Ma’nee Apos’troph’ez versus Darth Menacingname). And even though I know it’s a five-parter, it felt like the film’s story was so compressed in the opening pages I briefly wondered if this adaptation was a one-shot.

I mean, yeah, it’s probably an entirely unnecessary comic, given that most of us interested enough in actually buying it almost certainly owns the film itself in the format of one’s choice. But there are some nice illustrative moments, and the adaptation of the script is fine, and let’s face it, if there wasn’t a comic book version of Episode VII, it would certainly be noticeable by its absence. “Star Wars movie comic” is just one of those constants of the industry, present whether you want it or not.

So now there are two different comics called Flash: Rebirth to go with the two different Flashpoint series.

§ June 8th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments



So this is the first Flash comic I’ve bought in…six years, I guess? Since the previous Flash: Rebirth and a couple of issues of the follow-up regular series, at least. I just decided, at that point, that I’ve read enough Flash comics, and was a bit put off that franchise anyway due to starting/relaunching/returning to the old numbering at about that time. Plus, having discarded Wally West (the previous Kid Flash, who had taken over his mentor’s mantle) and going back to Barry Allen as the Flash seemed very…retrograde, particularly after a couple of decades of Wally as the Flash and the then-deceased Barry as the ideal Wally always tried to live up to – a scenario that worked very well, I thought. Of course, all those botched re-relaunches killed whatever sales momentum the Flash franchise had, necessitating some desperate measures…in this case, bringing back the character who was one of the two big deaths from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

That said, there were a couple things here that at least got me to try out this new Flash: Rebirth #1. First, there was DC Universe: Rebirth, which brought back the old, pre-New 52 Wally West, stuck in the Speed Force and trying to find some touchstone to bring him back to Earth. The touching scene between him and his uncle Barry was quite effective, I thought, and I wanted to see more of that relationship, as well as where things were going to lead with the larger metaplot of “Just What Is The Deal with This New 52 Universe, Anyway?” And yes, we do get a little bit of both, though it doesn’t go much farther than what we’ve already seen in that Rebirth one-shot from a couple of weeks ago, but it is, at least partially, from Barry’s perspective. I don’t know if we’ll see much of said metaplot when the Flash series proper starts up, but it looks like it might continue over in a Teen Titans, based on what happens here.

Now I don’t know if my interest in the series will continue outside of this larger picture subplot stuff, but it at least got me to pick up an issue of The Flash again for the first time in forever. I see that the book, at least in part, reflects the TV show (or perhaps the other way around…again, haven’t read it in a while) in that Barry’s father is present in an advisory/support position, and that his situation (framed for the death of Barry’s mom) is also similar. Now, some of the groundwork for this way be in the original 2010 Rebirth mini, but man, I don’t remember now. Regardless, it’s a nice familiar touchstone for anyone coming to this title new who may only know the TV show, especially given the larger DC Universe Event hoohar that’s also thrown in.

Other new books:

Action Comics #957 – the old numbering is back, which is nice. But speaking of DC Universe Event Hoohar, the background to everything going on in this Superman book is a lot to take in. The New 52 Superman died, with the Superman from the pre-New 52 universe, who has been hiding out in the New 52 universe for years raising his son Jonathan with his wife Lois, taking his place, and I’m assuming the eventual payoff to this, once the other shoe from this Rebirth event drops, is some kind of “streamlining” of the DC Universe reality so that there’s always been just one Superman. In the meantime, as odd a set-up as that sounds, it actually all works in context, and it’s quite the interesting hook for Superman adventures, at least for the time being. It helps that Dan Jurgens, one of the main contributors to Superman over the last couple of decades, is on board as the writer. It feels like the old Superman (well, okay, the post-1986 John Byrne reboot Superman) versus the New 52 Universe, which is going to be the recurring theme as this all plays out, I guess.

Popeye #47 – still reprinting Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1950s. No idea how this reprint project has lasted so long, but I’m so glad it did.

Daredevil #8 – okay, I’m no Daredevil historian, but I’m pretty sure this issue does things (or rather, doesn’t do things) with his powers that haven’t been seen in a Daredevil comic before. Very clever.

Wacky Raceland #1 – you got me, I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve enjoyed the Hanna Barbera revamps so far, so I’m willing to give this one a shot. A quick glance through the book shows a somewhat more extreme take than either Future Quest or Scooby Apocalypse, so I’m not entirely sure how this is going to go, but you certainly can’t fault that terrific Tommy Lee Edwards “Penelope Pitstop” cover, which the variant I decided to take:

Anyway, I have a feeling this comic is going to be the hardest sell of the new HB lot, but we’ll see.

In which I complain about spoilers before getting into spoilers.

§ May 25th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, this week's comics § 10 Comments

In regards to my previous post, pal Andrew had his own take on the decline of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and makes a cogent argument that it wasn’t necessarily Zero Hour what done the deed.

And hey, blogging brother Tim has also opened the floor to questions, so while you’re waiting for me to finish answering what you’ve asked me, why not pick Tim’s brain?

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOWING for DC Universe Rebirth #1 (like you don’t know ’em already) and…well, I don’t really spoil Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

So anyway, about this:

First, I’m not thrilled about full spoilers for this comic getting spread all over the place days before it’s even available for sale. Comics can be a hard enough sell already, without removing yet one more incentive for buying. “What shocking surprises await within? Well, read this website and find out…save yourself buying the comic.” Gee, thanks guys, not like I didn’t order a pile of these for my shelves.

There are a couple of things that keep this from being entirely disastrous, saleswise. It could be that said spoilers might encourage people to pick up the comic, in a “I gotta see this” kind of way. Not to mention, actually reading the comic is an entirely different experience from reading a list of plot points. And there’s the fact that it’s 80 pages of comics for $2.99, which is a swell deal, though I suppose the more critically-minded may be of the “the food was terrible, but such great portions!” opinion on the matter.

Plus, there’s the fact that, believe it or not (and as I’ve mentioned on my site before) some people going to comic shops aren’t plugged into every social network and comic website, and their engagement with comic news begins and ends with walking into the comic shop, looking at the rack and picking out their books, and walking out again. Oh, and reading them eventually, too, I guess.

Anyway, I enjoyed the comic, and hopefully my customers will, too. Oddly enough, it’s actually strangely touching at one point, when a character who’s returned from the pre-New 52 universe finally connects with one of the rebooted characters. It’s probably as emotionally affecting as it is because it’s not just that we’re seeing these two characters reuniting, but that the fictional universe we readers thought was washed away forever may have a chance at coming back. Yes, that’s a silly thing to get emotional over, but I’m not made of stone.

I know DC has tried to walk back, or at least refurbish, revamps/reboots before…Kingdom and “Hypertime” being the most notable line-wide attempt at doing so. That the New 52/Flashpoint reboot was so obviously a last-minute decision, with the cracks showing almost immediately, the overall story premise of “Rebirth” being a pushback against a timeline purposefully inflicted by unknown parties upon the DCU certainly brings all these shenanigans to an almost metatextual level. That these parties appear to be the characters from Watchmen, one of the sources of the “grim/realistic” superhero trend that “Rebirth” appears to be rebuffing…well, no danger of subtlety of theme here, I suppose.

And speaking of which…holy crap, they’re using the Watchmen characters in a DC Universe thing. And not in a dream sequence, either. My guess is the same as when “Before Watchmen” was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world — Watchmen TP sales are moribund, and this is a way of spurring interest in the book again. Or maybe someone figured, hey, what the hell, this will get everyone’s attention, and lo, they were right.

Yes, yes, I suppose I should be angry about the violation of the sanctity of a classic work, but I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. Partially because I’m amused by the idea of, I don’t know, Batman vs. Rorschach or something, and partially because I love seeing everyone else’s reaction to it. Anyway, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m sure I’m a bad person for thinking so.

Seriously, though, this whole “New 52 was an attack on the DCU” thing is a weird but interesting way of dealing with continuity issues, and would be quite clever if it were the planned outcome of the New 52 way back when, and not just a way to directly address a rushed reboot that didn’t quite take. This Rebirth one-shot is still an entertaining read for the continuity-minded superhero fan, a snapshot of where the DCU is now, what brought us here, what problems need to be resolved, and the sheer hilarious gall of bringing Watchmen into it. That’s gotta be worth your $2.99.

And you guys had to go and try to spoil this story for everyone, too! CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS

In which I admire Marvel’s restraint.

§ February 18th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments


The transition from self-contained gag-oriented issues to ongoing occasionally humorous soap opera seems to have been generally a successful one as far as sales go, at least at my shop. However, the comic now sells almost exclusively to adults, whereas the classic version…well, also sold almost exclusively to adults, just in lesser numbers. One thing I’ve noticed over the decades is, despite having dedicated sections of children’s comics with plenty of younger clientele in two different stores, the regular monthly (or so) Archie comics have gradually become harder sells to actual kids. That’s not to say I never had any younger customers for Archie, but they were few and far between. I think I first realized there was a problem during one of my regular bulk comic sales to a local library, when my contact person at said library requested I send them no Archie comics. “They just don’t circulate,” she lamented. Quite the change from my long-ago librarian days, when we had subscriptions to multiple Archie titles.

None of this applies to the Archie digests, which I can still sell to kids just fine. And I certainly don’t mean to criticize these New Look Archie comics, which I think are pretty good. Just…well, like Marvel and DC, Archie had to age with its audience in order to keep up their sales. It’s a tough market, and with decades-old characters as your primary product, you’ve got to do what you can to keep them viable.


I know the writer on this comic takes a lot grief and inspires some significant eye-rolling, usually for good reason, and I can’t say there wasn’t any of that going on in just this series alone. But, there were some interesting takes on Young Clark Kent here and there that you certainly wouldn’t find in the classic Silver Age Superboy stories, and I think this functions just fine as an alternate version of Superman’s younger years. No idea if this is intended as “canon” or not, which hardly matters nowadays since superhero canon lifespans are generally measured in the months between reboots/relaunches.

This particular issue has Journalism Student Clark meeting several future friends and enemies in the context of “exclusive interviews,” showing Clark different takes on growing into a hero, as well as what he will face when he finally does become one himself…leading into a final confrontation that, while in hindsight certainly should have seen coming, genuinely caught me off guard with its intensity. That’s hard to do to a guy who’s read about a million Superman comics. And it’s all beautifully illustrated with Jae Lee’s strong but delicate linework…boy, Lee’s work just continues to impress me. This issue was probably the best of the run so far.


The Star Wars line continues to do well, even as the new movie nears the end of its theatrical run. It’s nice that there hasn’t been an oversaturation just yet…three ongoing series and a rotating fourth spot for minis seems to be working out just fine. Given their sales, I’m honestly surprised Marvel hasn’t canned its lower-selling superhero titles and filled their slots with Ugnaught Adventures and Lobot, P.I. and another dozen-or-so titles any of which I would happily write, but I am glad that Marvel…Marvel…for once let the goose live to continue laying golden eggs. …Okay, none of this specifically addresses the book pictured above, which kicks off a new storyline based around a Rebel prison, which at least gives us a new location in the Star Warsian universe, unlike some sequels I could name. Leinil Yu joins up as penciller, continuing the current tradition of swell artists on this series. It all looks and feels like good old fashioned Star Wars adventure, which may not be cutting edge groundbreaking comics, but it’s entertaining all the same.


C’mon, it’s a new Love and Rockets. You don’t need me to sell you on this. Just get it already. (And yeah, it’s not technically “this week’s comics,” since it came out last week. It’s my site, I’ll do what I want.)

Seriously. Just call him “Captain Shazam.” That would be okay.

§ November 12th, 2015 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments

This was fun while it lasted…Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and pals using the “Justice League” concept to pull together whatever characters they felt like for a couple of issues of wild adventure, before moving on to the next grouping of heroes. This last storyline, mixing up DC’s WWI and WWII characters with modern superheroes, was a hoot, and totally summed up by a line of dialogue on the two-page spread featuring all the characters charging into action: “This is pretty freaking cool.” Unfortunately the series is a victim of Too Many Justice Leagues, and something had to go. Too bad, this book had really turned around and was beginning to pick up readers again.

Speaking of Justice Leagues, the premiere New 52 title is in the midst of its Darkseid storyline, and here are a whole bunch of one-shots featuring our heroes in the midst of having become “New Gods” themselves. Actually more fun than it sounds, and these one-shots are probably better at presenting the changes in these characters than the main JL comic itself. This one in particular, featuring Shazam, is completely bonkers, as Shazam has been cut off from the gods that originally provided his powers and is introduced to the new pantheon of beings supplying his current abilities. It’s a bunch of craziness, and while the abrasive personality of this New 52 version of Billy Batson certainly grates, the story just powers along from god to god, each of whom are just kind of jerky to Billy, and it’s pretty amazing. Also, I still hate that he’s called “Shazam” now…I understand why, but I don’t have to like it.

Yeah, I know who wrote it. It was still…not too bad. The story of young Clark Kent adjusting to his powers is a good idea, though the true horror of a super-powered child has been explored in alarming fashion already. If you liked that bit in Man of Steel with Clark’s burgeoning powers overwhelming him at school, here comes seven issues of it. The frequent “anime faces” take some getting used to, and some of the plot contrivances are a tad eye-rolling (Clark’s flight in front of witnesses explained away as a “gas pocket” exploding), but overall it’s a pleasant enough read. I do like the introduction of the concept that some other citizens of Smallville just by necessity know about Clark’s abilities, and hopefully we’ll see how that plays out over future issues.

I meant to say something about the first volume of The Bus from some time back, reprinting that most enigmatic and surreal of strips about an older gentleman, a bus, and the occasional confluence of the two, that I primarily remember from old Heavy Metal mags. Well, here’s volume two, with new strips about those very same things, still done with the most exacting linework, and the most bizarre circumstances therein. I haven’t done more than flip through it yet, but it looks like The Bus hasn’t lost any bit of what made it so special since it originally ceased running in the ’80s.

This cover is perfection. I would read the comic this cover is presenting, but of course it’s just a variant. Too bad.

Eventually we’ll get a one-shot starring the three-eyed fish, and I will read that like my life depended on it.

§ September 7th, 2015 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, this week's comics § 3 Comments

So I put out my bafflement on the Twitters yesterday afternoon, wondering why this comic was still being polybagged enough though the content was hardly warranting it. Yes, previously there was the childbirth issue, and the all-violence issue, but to the best of my recollection there’s nothing in issues yet to be reprinted that require that plastic protection from prying eyes.

As I discussed this with pals, it occurred to me that Miracleman is still branded under the Marvel imprint, and still has a “MATURE READERS” slug on the cover. That’s probably “why the polybag,” as opposed to Marvel’s other much more adult-y type titles like Powers, which are published under separate imprints like “Icon.” Like I said, I don’t think there’s anything particularly parent-shocking coming up, unless Gaiman and Buckingham have an “ALL-NUDE SPECIAL!” planned once they start doing new stories again.

And speaking of which, I’m sure somebody’s glad they can start crediting the actual writer now, since Alan Moore didn’t want his name attached to the previous reprints. Should make it easier to market once those new stories do start showing up. …Man, new Miracleman stories. Hard to believe they’re so close now. Big news for those of us who’ve been waiting decades for this to continue.

The thing I keep hearing is “the new creative team of Daredevil is going to have a hard time following that,” and yes, the Waid/Samnee/etc. run was a good’un. It got me to read Daredevil for the first time in a long time, probably since…the Kevin Smith run, I think? I know, I know, everyone’s all “ACK! KEVIN SMITH!” now but those were pretty good, too. But back to my original point…yes, the new creative team is going to have a rough go winning folks over, but this is Charles Soule writing the new series. Soule, who seems to impress with nearly everything he writes. Who is also a lawyer. Who excels at writing lawyerin’-type stories, as seen in She-Hulk. And seeing as how Daredevil’s day job is “lawyer,” I think everything’s going to be just fine.

I could have sworn this was a four-issue series, but nope, there’s a number 5 on that cover, so I guess I read all five issues and, um, it was fine, I guess. It’s the only Secret Wars tie-in I followed, what with it following up on Peter David’s plotlines from his initial run on Incredible Hulk (and the previous Future Imperfect mini with George Perez). Even if the book felt stretched a little thin (hence my surprise that it was a five-issue series), it was still fun to revisit the characters. There were a couple of clever twists along the way, but even if the ending was of a type we’ve seen often enough before, it did manage to strongly underscore the inherent tragedy and, well, patheticness (shut up, it’s a word) of the Hulk character, especially in this series’s role as the Maestro.

Just wanted to mention again that I love these character-specific Simpsons one-shots. Bongo could almost literally do these forever, what with The Simpsons having one of the most amazing supporting casts in television history. (Maybe they could…NAH.)

These one-shots usually have some kind of gimmick insert, like stickers and such. I hope the eventual Ned Flanders one-shot has a Jack Chick-esque tract stapled inside.

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