Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fun With Older Comics – Justice League #133 (1976)

Every once in a while I’ll pick up random older comics for fun because I like paging through and seeing how much things have changed since it’s initial printing. Today’s issue is Justice League of America #133, released way back when I was a boy of just over one year old :-) Click below to continue :

Title : Justice League of America #133
Release Year : 1976
Cover Price : $0.30
Story : Gerry Conway
Art : Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Cover : The cover features the Justice League, then consisting of Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Supergirl, Aquaman, Black Canary and Flash fighting Despero. The first thing that I notice is the 30-cent cover price. Those were the days. Next, there are speech bubbles on the cover as Despero taunts the league. This is something that you really don’t see much of anymore, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I saw it on a few older comics. This is also approved by the Comics Code Authority, in case you were wondering.

Interiors : The main story focuses on Superman being kidnapped by an alien race utilizing some sort of “Transport Beam”. Since the aliens can only transport one individual through the beam, and Superman may be sad that his friends aren’t with him, the aliens create some fake Justice Leaguers to fight alongside him against Despero. The fake League members are essentially actors playing the part but they look just like the other members of the JL.

The story is the reason that I love older comics. Replacing the Justice League with robots and actors from an alien world??? How ridiculously awesome is that? If you've been mired in modern comics for a while and pick up an older book, you almost have to switch modes completely. The comics that I grew up with were over the top and sometimes didn't make sense...but they didn't really have to. They were just comic books. It feels good to go back and read these, shutting off my concerns of where this fits into continuity or where they're leading with this. It's just plain fun to read. That's it.

Advertisements : Not a bad run of ads in this issue. I was disappointed in the lack of ads for firearms that were oh so popular in the days of my youth. I’d like to see them try to advertise rifles in modern comics.

1. 3 free baseball cards on specially marked boxes of Hostess Snack Cakes!
2. Special magic set offer from Charms! A $6.00 value for only $3.00!
3. One of my favorites. It depicts Batman holding a 45 album (think back to what one of those looks like) saying “Hey kids! Bob Kane, creator of Batman, has written a new song called “Have Faith in Me” recorded by Hank Leids and the “Bat-Group” Courage. Smash hit, yours directly from Batman for only $1.30!” Good stuff here people. I’m not sure what constitutes a Bat-Group or what connection they have to Batman. More than likely it was just Bob Kane trying to break into the music industry by exploiting his ready-made fanbase of comic readers. You also get a 4x5” autographed photo of Bob Kane himself in the Batmobile.
4. The old school Write-in Advertisements. This one has such great products as : Learn to Fly Model Rockets (with a sweet Space : 1999 ship…hey it’s 2009 and I don’t see those around anywhere. What a rip-off), Weight Lifting Equipment, 55 Red China Stamps, Learn Karate, 25 Live Seahorses for $2.99 and last but not least…Free Muscle Secrets!
5. Be A Locksmith! I wasn’t aware that locksmithery was such an in demand field back in the 70s that they recruited in comic books. Then again, I wasn’t yet 2 when this book was published so what did I know? You get a key machine, lock picks and tools to use while you train…or start a life of crime.
6. Make Extra Cash! Selling much wanted personalized metal Social Security Plates. I can’t seem to remember why people would need these but, according to the ad, they were much needed.

Back Cover : The back cover is an advertisement for Browning Bicycles in the form of the True Adventures of John Rakowski : Around the World Bicyclist. The ad is in comic form chronicling the travels of the aforementioned Mr. Rakowski and his super-cool Browning Bike. Also included at the bottom is a cut-out that you can mail in for their free catalog. Cutting things out of a comic???? This one is still intact so I may have to cut it out and send it in for my catalog…if this company even exists anymore. And a quick Google search suggests that it does not, so there it is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednesday – 9/30/2009

Mostly DC, two "other publishers" that a Marvel comic? Seems suspicious...Click below for more :

Amazing Spider-Man #607 – What?!?!? Spider-Man? No, this isn’t the beginning of the end of my DC has a J. Scott Campbell cover.

Blackest Night : Titans #2 - Probably, so far, the most interesting of the Blackest Night minis, and I'm not really a Titans fan.

Gotham City Sirens #4 - After the last issue of Streets of Gotham, Dini can do no least for a little while.

Green Lantern #46 – Blackest Night rolls on and brings us the conflict that we’ve been anticipating since the end of the Sinestro Corps War : Mongul VS Sinestro.

Justice Society of America #31 - Is Mr. Terrific dead??? Probably not, but nice cliffhanger last issue anyway.

Superman #692 - More of the adventures of The Guardian and Mon-El...oh, right...The Guardian. Mon-El can't be dead can he? Of course not, we saw him on solicits for the new Justice League.

Wonder Woman #36 - Gail Simone puts so much good stuff into each issue of Wonder Woman to atone for the filth and evil that she crams into each Secret Six issue. Not that I'm complaining, both books are very enjoyable :-)

Bomb Queen Vol. 6 #1 – Bomb Queen is back! Now Secret Six has a wicked stepsister in my monthly comic book pile. This title gets more and more harsh as each volume progresses so I’m curious as to what debauchery volume 6 will bring.

GI Joe : Cobra Special #1 - Following up on the events of the GI Joe : Cobra mini a few months back, will Chuckles get out of this situation alive?

Comic Book Reviews - 9/23/2009

I had to keep it light this week so I had to leave Supergirl and the final issue of Wednesday Comics in my box but I’ll have those picked up next week. Just two quick reviews this week.

What happened? Batwoman’s family tree grows a little bit, Destro becomes an exclusive “employee” of COBRA, Psycho Pirate pisses off Smallville, and Power Girl just cannot catch a break. Click below for more :

Pick of the Week :

Power Girl #5
Story by Justin Grey & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Amanda Conner

I was a little worried as to what the start of Power Girl’s second story arc would bring but the team of Conner, Palmiotti and Grey continue to show us why this is the most fun title in the DC Universe right now. I know that I’ve called Secret Six the most fun book for a while, but this is a different brand of fun. Secret Six is most decidedly “bad fun”, such as : “That was fun but now I really need a shower”. Power Girl is “good fun”, like : “smiles und sunshine” (that’s not a typo, but bonus points to those that get the Simpson’s reference).

When we last departed from our top-heavy heroine, she was finalizing a deal for a new apartment when a spaceship crashes nearby. What’s in this mysterious craft you ask? Trouble (notice the capital “T”).

Palmiotti and Grey, once again, bring a Superman-level hero down to Earth. When Power Girl rushes to the roof to change, she realizes that she forgot her boots and gloves back at her office. Oh well, the day must be saved and she’ll do it without the boots and gloves.

Conner’s use of facial expressions and posing adds immensely to the fun and I thoroughly enjoy the way Power Girl is portrayed in this title : fun, spunky, a little flaky, but tough as nails and brave as can be.

The Rest :

GI Joe #9
Story by Chuck Dixon
Art by SL Gallant

This issue follows two main stories. In the first part Destro is whisked away from South America by Baroness and her COBRA cronies in a sweet submarine before the Joes arrive. I love how you never really see the COBRA logo but you know exactly who is running the show. You also get an idea of just how vast the COBRA organization’s influence runs with their level of technology and secrecy.

In the second part, Snake Eyes and Mainframe arrive in the “All-American” town of Springfield where things are not as they seem. Those that have followed GI Joe know about Springfield and it’s function as a cover for COBRA’s operations. Behind the picket fences and soccer moms they begin to uncover something more sinister. More sinister than soccer moms? You betcha.

Being a Joe fan from way back, IDW and Chuck Dixon are doing this re-launch right by keeping enough of the classic GI Joe while updating it for the current times and new audiences. Things are being introduced very slowly and building up properly, although I have a feeling that we’ll finally meet Cobra Commander in next month’s issue #10.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Help Jason pick out a Marvel title. Diversification!

It's no secret that I am a born and bred DC Universe fan. About once a year, I feel like I'm missing out on decent titles in the Marvel Universe, but I can't always seem to get into a title. Last year was Fantastic Four and I was into it for like 3 issues then just lost interest.

I'm asking for your help, blog-reading public, and your recommendations for what my next Marvel experiment should be. The requirements are simple :

1. It needs to be published by Marvel. Well, duh.
2. It needs to be something that is easy to get up to speed on. I don't mind buying a few back issues but I don't want to have to get 4 trades to catch up.

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Impressions - 9/23/2009

It was a slow week and I had to leave Supergirl at the comic store to pick up next week due to a trade purchase. Click below for First Impressions :

Blackest Night : Superman #2 - BIG improvement over the first issue. Black Lantern Psycho Pirate is awesome.

Power Girl #5 - Someone is spying on Power Girl while she changes into costume. What? Like you wouldn't.

GI Joe #9 - I am thoroughly enjoying this series. We're nine issues in and COBRA doesn't exist in the eyes of the Joes and we've had a lot of Destro and Baroness. Excellent espionage and action writing from Chuck Dixon.

Detective Comics #857 - Nice twist at the end there. Now I have to go back and re-read this story arc because it was a bit confusing at times.

Reviews will hopefully be posted tonight since I'll be out of town this weekend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Advance Movie Review - Superman / Batman : Public Enemies

The much anticipated next installment of the DC Animated Universe is almost here and Clever Name Blog got an advance look at this action-packed movie. Click below for more :

Warning! If you haven’t read Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuiness’ Superman / Batman comics then there will be spoilers below.

I say again, possible spoilers if you haven’t read the comics.

Still with me? OK. Let’s start at the beginning. In the first sequence we get filled in on how Lex Luthor became President of the United States. If you were following the comics then this was no surprise to you, but the public in general may be surprised to find Luthor holding the top office. Apparently after an economic collapse, Luthor steeped in and gave everyone hope, building up popularity and….hey, this sounds like…nah. Moving on. I would have liked to have seen the first few pages of the comic as an opening where Bruce and Clark compare their very different evolutions into the world’s greatest heroes.

We get the first animated appearance of Power Girl in this movie. Allison Mack (Smallville) does a nice job of bringing that character into the mainstream with a spunky but tough attitude. It’s a shame she doesn’t have any experience being a spunky, tough blonde from anywhere else…..

The big news , of course, is the return of Clancy Brown (Lost) who is the iconic voice of Luthor, Tim Daly (Wings) as Superman and Kevin Conroy (Batman) as ummmm….Batman. These three provide the voices that we’ve grown used to over the past few years and it’s nice to see them back for this movie. Also returning is CCH Pounder (Warehouse 13 / Justice League) as the ever-scheming Amanda Waller.

Rounding out the cast we have John C. McGinley (Scrubs / Justice League) who I feel definitely needed more dialog. I have always seen Metallo as a taunting, boastful villain who would talk the whole time he’s handing you your ass. McGinley’s sarcastic tone would have been perfect for this (just substitute JD for Superman) but he has about 4 lines. Levar Burton (Star Trek / Reading Rainbow) also has few lines but is well cast as Black Lightning.

This is the best animation that I’ve seen of any DC Animated project so far, barring maybe New Frontier but I’m a bit biased towards Darwyn Cooke’s art anyway so that’s hard to top for me. They took Ed McGuiness’ uber-muscled style and toned it down a bit but still kept the edge that makes these heroes so iconic. Colors as usual are vivid and I can’t wait to see what the BluRay version looks like, but I’ll have to wait until release day for that :-)

Much of the original material’s great moments are here. The fight between Metallo, Superman and Batman (although the setup gets tweaked a bit), Bruce and Clark trading comments in the Gotham Sewer, and the fight between Superman & Batman and every DC super-villain (although it takes place in Metropolis and not Washington DC). The video takes some different routes to get places but for the most part it stays intact.

One major part that I missed was the whole “Superman from the future” part of the story. In the comic it’s a rather small part but I liked it and it does change the ending a bit from the comic.

DC is just cranking out these direct to DVD / BluRay releases and they have been, for the most part, fantastic. This definitely ranks up there with Wonder Woman and Justice League : New Frontier and is a must-buy for any fan of Superman and Batman.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Video Game Review – Batman : Arkham Asylum (PS3)

Last week as I was meeting my wife after work, I stopped in at a Game Stop for the first time in ages to kill some time. I’m what you would call a “Lazy Gamer”. I pick up about 1 or 2 new games a year, usually after they drop seriously in price. I don’t typically feel the need to pick up games right away…except this time.

While standing there reading the case for Batman : Arkham Asylum my wife walked in and, knowing that I had a rough week, asked if I wanted a new toy. Absolutely :-)

Being a huge Batman fan, this game is just too much fun. It’s the closest thing to being Batman without getting off of your couch. The game starts off with a fairly lengthy sequence of walking along next to the guards as they wheel Joker into Arkham Asylum for the umpteenth time. During this scene something sounds familiar. Yes Bat-fans, that is the voice of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker, both reprising their brilliant voice roles from Batman the Animated Series and Justice League. Arleen Sorkin also reprises her voice work for Harley Quinn. Hearing Conroy and Hamill helps to sell the game as grounded in the Batman world that we’re used to.

The first level is like most games, a training ground used to teach you the basics. After that, the serious fun begins. The Free-Flow Combat System is very easy to use and makes the game more enjoyable. There’s not a lot of technical button combos to memorize, you just point Batman at a bad guy, hit the buttons and he kicks ass. You can use the Grappling Gun to evade enemies and move from level to level. Batarangs and explosives also enter the arsenal at your disposal with more slots for gadgets later in the game.

One big plus in this game is the ability to switch into Detective Mode at any time. This helps you identify enemies and their levels, clues, and secrets.

The first real big bad guy that you go up against is Scarecrow, and I have to say that this level scared the shit out of me. He infects you with his fear toxin right away and then it dives into insanity.

Game graphics are incredible and the character designs are excellent. Movement and scene transitions are pretty fluid and I haven’t experienced any sort of lag at all. There is also a Challenge Mode where you perform different scenarios while competing against the clock or your previous best time. These are very useful in honing your skills to improve gameplay. I’m only about 15% complete on the game right now but I am completely hooked. I just beat Bane which took a while to figure out, but I’m looking forward to what is coming next.

I would highly recommend this game to any Batman fan since you can role play a bit and utilize stealth, martial arts and gadgets to get the job done.

Looking Forward to Wednesday - 9/23/2009

A light week compared to some of the previous ones. 6 books coming out with one non-DC title! No, it's still not Marvel. There's just nothing that Marvel has going on right now that interests me. Although I am getting near my annual "Hey, maybe I'll try a Marvel title" time again, do who knows what it will be.

Since it is looking to be a slow week, there may be a certain variant cover from a certain super-heroine with the intials PG for a certain wife of mine who collects such things :-) Click below for this week's books.

Most Anticipated Book :

Power Girl #5 – This book came out of the gate kicking ass and has not stopped since. This issue marks the official start of the second story arc, after the fill-in issue last month which was excellent. Great stuff from Palmiotti, Grey and Conner.

The Rest :

Blackest Night : Superman #2 – Hopefully this one picks up a bit as Psycho Pirate Black Lantern shows up in Smallville. I’ve been a little disappointed in the Blackest Night tie-ins so far.

Detective Comics #857 – More of the most fantastic art in the Bat-titles. Decent story too, just a little weird.

Supergirl #45 – The stories in the Superman-family titles are flying by due to the crossover. I think I’ll be going back and re-reading a lot of these books shortly.

Wednesday Comics #12 – The end of the best weekly since 52.

G.I. Joe #9 – My favorite non-DC title since All Hail Megatron is winding down. Excellent re-imagining of the 80s classic.

Holding off on Superman : Secret Origin for a bit, maybe until the trade comes out. I have so many books right now that I think the 90th re-telling of Superman’s origin can wait a little while. My boycott of Justice League may be ending next month as the new team jumps on board. Can Mark Bagley and James Robinson restore my faith in the Justice League? We shall see.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Judging Books by the Cover - 9/10 & 9/16

A double-shot of covers for my double sized week. Without further Apu (oh, I've been zinged!)on to the covers :

Favorite Cover This Week (9/10):

Red Robin #4
Cover by Francis Manapul

Dynamic. This is an awesome shot of what is basically two brothers fighting each other. They just happen to be dressed like super-heroes. The other nice thing about this cover is that THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS IN THE BOOK!! Not exactly the way it is portrayed here, but Red Robin does essentially best Batman.

Runner-Up :

Secret Six #13
Cover by Daniel Lu Visi

Intensity. That’s the one word that describes this cover. Everyone on it is pissed off and they’re all staring right at you.

Least Favorite Cover :

Blackest Night : Batman #2
Cover by Andy Kubert

The art is decent, but the layout is very Ghostbusters. Also, what are those things crawling up towards them? Because most of them are not Black Lanterns. Did some random werewolf like things get in on the Blackest Night event?

Favorite Cover This Week (9/16):

Batman & Robin #4
Cover by Frank Quitely

The Fight Against Crime Grows Up! Batman and Robin check out a larger than life billboard (or possibly electronic ad) of Red Hood and Scarlet. It gives a great impending feeling that trouble is coming and it’s big. Do not let this fool you though, the interior art could not be more different.

Runner-Up :

All Hail Megatron #15 (Cover B)
Cover by Daniel Lu Visi

Perceptor as DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. Perceptor goes through a serious change in this issue and I love how this cover displays just how serious he is now after being “re-designed”.

Least Favorite Cover :

Blackest Night #3
Cover by Ivan Reis

This is a weird one. I don’t exactly dislike the cover here but what I do dislike is DC’s marketing of this issue. In every preview and solicit that I’ve seen for this issue, the cover that was shown was VanSciver’s Firestorm-centric cover. When I picked up my books, I hardly recognized the issue because there was a cover that I have never seen before. It’s not bad, just not the one I was looking for.

A Trip to Downtown Books - 9/19/2009

In a now regular Saturday morning ritual, I drive downtown with Liz and as she goes to the Farmer's Market. I pop over three blocks and head into Downtown Books to scavenge for comics. Some decent finds this week in one of the 12 Markdown long-boxes as well as a healthy dose of "Buying Back My Childhood". Click below for the books :

Markdown Bin

Action Comics #812 (Turner Sketch Variant) : I already own the regular copy of this (start of the Godfall story) but the Michael Turner sketch variant cover for the second printing was too sweet to pass up for 80 cents.

Buying Back My Childhood

Dark Wolf Annual #1
Dark Wolf #1-4, 8 :
When I was just getting into comics I used to pick up this title called Dark Wolf from Malibu / Eternity Comics. I had a large painting that I did of the main character in my room because he was totally bad-ass looking. I honestly can't remember what the books were about beyond the main character but I remember loving them then and I enjoy picking up books that I used to have. I couldn't lose for 89 cents a piece.

Bought For the Cover

Fantastic Four #26 : Dr. Doom sits on his throne surrounded by the Fantastic Four (and a very chesty Sue Storm as Liz pointed out) sans Reed Richards. Doom is holding a golden chalice as if to say "Pimpin' ain't easy, bitches"

Suicide Squad #6 : Deadshot points his gun and Emchantress is targeted in the sight. I love Deadshot and usually pick up covers featuring him anyway, this one is sweet.

Wonder Woman #168 : Pretty much any Adam Hughes Wonder Woman cover is a definite buy for me and I didn't have this one yet. Shot from below and very dark as Wonder Woman grasps her sword causing her hand to bleed.

Gotham Knights #8 : Cover by Brian Bolland, another no-brainer. Catwoman and Batman are wrapped in a strange embrace as she has her whip around his neck and he seems to be chloroforming her. Looking into the issue it seems it's not Batman but Hugo Strange, still pretty cool though.

Comic Reviews Double-Shot (9/10 & 9/16) - Part 2

What happened the week of 9/16? The new Red Hood worries about how to word a press release, Mr. Szasz moves into his new lair, Ray Palmer explains the Black rings in plain layman’s terms (if you’re a Quantum Layman) and Perceptor is re-born hardcore.

Pick of the Week :

Batman : Streets of Gotham #4
Story by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen

I've said it before and I'll say it again : Dustin Nguyen rules this book. Paul Dini once again does a fantastic job crafting these stories but Nguyen's art just sells it. He combines a very cartoony style with dark shadows and violence in a way that I haven't seen in many other artists.

At the same time, Dini gives us an interesting story about a Real Estate heard what I said (or read what I wrote). The main character in this issue is a shady character known only as The Broker. Ever wonder where the villains get their sweet villain lairs from? This guy, that's where. Need a broken down old amusement park? A candy factory? A fully functioning abattoir? Call him. After playing some hardball with the Great White Shark over the transfer of a yacht, Broker has a super-creepy meeting with the wonderfully scary new and improved Mister Zsasz. What dose Zsasz have planned? You don't want to know. OK, maybe you do but it involves the aforementioned abattoir, adding four hundred seats for what seems like spectators, and kidnapped runaway kids in cages. Happy now? I told you that you didn't want to know.

This book simply had me smiling from beginning to end and I have re-read it at least 3 times. It's this factor that makes it my Pick of the Week for this week over Blackest Night #3, which is an awesome book but not nearly as much fun as Streets of Gotham has been.

The Rest :

Blackest Night #3
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis

Why wasn’t Blackest Night my pick of the week? It’s not that it’s not a good book, because it is. There were many important things revealed in this issue that keep the momentum going and the writing and art is incredible. It just seemed a bit formulaic in that we get our heart-wrenching death, our long-winded explanation of what the heroes think is happening, and then your “Oh shit!” moment when more villains appear.

I actually enjoyed the theory that Ray Palmer puts forth as to what the rings are doing, and how they are doing it. It makes sense in a fantastic comic book way. The shock value of the Black Lanterns has kind of worn off for me already, though. Hopefully there are some big surprises in store because we have 5 issues left and I’m already sort of tired of old heroes and villains rising up. The first issue was like “Holy shit, Elongated Man Black Lantern!!!!!” Now it’s like, “Wow, is that Max Lord? Seriously?”

There are also many scenes involving the Indigo Lanterns (Compassion) where they finally show up and speak and begin to show their true abilities, which include lengthy exposition. And did everyone catch that little piece of exposition that will make everyone who guessed it say “I told you so!!” The “white light of creation”, yup...a White Lantern is coming our way. Any bets as to who it will be? Paging Mr. Jordan......

Action Comics #881
Story by Greg Rucka & Sterling Gates
Art by Pere Perez

This issue mainly consists of people being pissed off at each other. Guardian is mad at Nightwing & Flamebird. Reactron is mad at General Lane. Flamebird is mad at Supergirl. Cat Grant is mad at Lois Lane and Squad K just plain hates all Kryptonians. Lots of conflict in a fairly action packed issue.

Ironically the cover title is the Hunt For Reactron : Part One, but no one is hunting Reactron while he sits in the depths of Project 7734 and recovers.

Batman & Robin #4
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Philip Tan

I'll get this out of the way first : I miss Frank Quitely's art already. (Queue Cinderella's "Don't Know What You Got 'Til It's Gone").

Quitely brought a certain style to the B&R title that really worked. Much of that credit must also go to colorist Alex Sinclair for his bright tones that lent a certain cheeriness to the new Batman. It's not that Philip Tan's art is bad, it just seems to be too much of a change too soon.

Story-wise, we're still in good shape here. A few new characters get introduced like the new Red Hood and his sidekick Scarlet, as well as a very creepy individual by the name of Oberon Sexton aka Gravedigger. Gotham is pretty messed up is a large man in a mask, red-tinted glasses and a top hat can just wander around a party at the Wayne Penthouse, and no one seems even curious about him. Gothamites are pretty jaded I guess.

So, the big mystery is : Who is the new Red Hood? I have four suspects. (Queue Dragnet theme music)

Suspect 1 : Jason Todd - Well, duh, who doesn't think it's Todd? The evidence for Jason being the mysterious Red Hood is all there. He's been the Red Hood before, he trends towards extremely violent vigilante justice, he's got it in for Batman (no matter who is behind the cowl) and we haven't seen much of him since Battle for the Cowl. Also, guns tend to be one of his prime choices for weaponry. Hatred for Batman? Uh, have you read any Batman comics in the last decade? I'd say the hate is there. Evidence against? Jason Todd does not speak in the fluid manner that this Red Hood seems to have adopted. He tends more towards angry shouting and hitting instead of worrying how a press release is worded. He's also a bit too obvious so it seems like they're making us think it's him (Batman does say "Jason?" the first time he runs into him).

Suspect 2 : Oberon Sexton aka Gravedigger - Taking a page from Hush, they could be introducing a new mystery character while introducing a new ancillary character only to have them end up being the same person. Kind of played out, but I can see it happening. Evidence for? He's an author, so that would fit his manner of speech and worrying about how the press perceives him. His wife was killed and he was scarred by criminals, so there is his motivation for the vigilante justice gig. Hatred for Batman? Not sure on this one, but it may be that Batman didn't stop his wife's murderer or something and he feels the need to exact vengeance on him. Evidence against? Might be another fake to throw us off, and he's too new to be a shocking revelation when Red Hood is unmasked.

Suspect 3 : The Joker - This is a total long-shot but let's check it out. We haven't seen what the Joker has been up t since Damian ran him off the road in R.I.P. Evidence for? Morrison spent a good bit of time in the infamous Joker prose issue laying out the idea that Joker can re-invent his personality constantly. Maybe this new persona is being used to mock Batman and the way he operates. Joker has been the Red Hood before, in fact it's part of one of his many origins. Evidence against? Joker doesn't seem to me to be the physical type and this Red Hood is very well trained. Like I said, long shot but worth considering.

Suspect 4 : Random 1940s Batshit Morrison Character - We've seen him do it before. Morrison could pull the guy who was in the background of an advertisement for sea monkeys in Batman #12 and turn him into the big bad here. Who knows what goes on in the mind of Morrison? Certainly not me.

Transformers : All Hail Megatron #15
Story by Nick Roche & Denton J. Tipton
Art by Nic Roche & Casey Coller

You know, for a 12 part mini-series this just won't stop. So far, the "extended" All Hail Megatron has been quite a disappointment compared to the phenomenal first dozen issues....but that ended here. One of my favorite moments in AHM involved Perceptor stepping up and showing off his skills as a tough as nails sniper in the fight against the Swarm on Cybertron. The second part of this issue explains exactly how he went from science geek to weapons guy, and it is really well done.

The first part of the issue deals with the re-birth of the beloved Kup, and it ain't all smiles and sunshine. You learn that the Autobots can be shady when they need to be and the return of Kup isn't handled strictly for his benefit. One of the Autobots is revealed as quite the schemer, and it's one of the original good guys.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Escape #5
Story by Ivan Brandon
Art by Cliff Richards

I was seriously about to give up on this title after last issue's "back to the beginning" ending but, like Nemesis, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I have a distinct feeling that this will read a lot better in one sitting and I will definitely be doing that after issue #6 releases. Nemesis begins to figure out what's going on and makes the situation work for him as he formulates a plan to escape from a prison he doesn't completely understand. Twisted visuals and disorienting dialog don't help with the reader's confusion but I'm hoping that it gets mostly explained in the end.

Comic Reviews Double-Shot (9/10 & 9/16) – Part 1

Due to some scheduling and financial issues, it’s been a while since I’ve been to the comic shop to hang out on a Wednesday afternoon. The store was packed with regulars and the conversation was, as usual, fun and at times heated. I picked up two weeks worth of books so I’m going to do the reviews in two parts (First the 9th, then the 16th).

What happened the week of 9/9? Dick Grayson has a family reunion, Salaak gives his equivalent to Mel Gibson’s speech from Braveheart, Dave Liszewski gets his testicles electrocuted (yeah, ouch is right), Tim Drake finds some ancient graffiti, Scandal Savage is just plain awesome in every way and Kryptonians VS Thanagarians begins.

Pick of the Week :

Secret Six #13
Story by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott

How can such things come from the mind of a nice person like Gail Simone? Secret Six is a heavy contender for my Title of the Year Pick (although it will be going up against All Hail Megatron so it has some serious competition). Each month the characters in Secret Six perform acts that are purely wrong and mostly for evil reasons but it is just so much damn fun.

Still stuck in the horrific prison being built on a remote island the team is split up and forced to chase each other down. One of the highlights of the issue comes as Scandal Savage is confronted by a team of about ten henchmen (henchpersons? don't recall seeing any women in the group, doesn't matter) in a hallway. The exchange goes like this :

Scandal : Thirty seconds, gentlemen.
Henchman 1 (pointing a gun at Scandal) : Thirty seconds for what, traitor?
Scandal : Thirty seconds to live, guard of slaves. Enough time to call a loved one or to pray, perhaps. Probably not both.
Henchman 2 : What are your orders, sir? What do we do???
Henchman 1 (pauses for a few panels then reaches for his cell phone) Belinda? Bee? It's me. I don't have much time, sweetheart. I wanted to tell you I love you.
Scandal (leaping into the crowd with blades out) : Time's up.

It's moments like this along with more twisted scenes like Ragdoll trying on an unconscious Wonder Woman's boots and tiara that add to the evil fun in this book. The art by Nicola Scott is nothing short of beautiful and action-packed. If you have any interest in villains or the darker side of things, please pick this book up and check it will not be disappointed.

The Rest :

Blackest Night : Batman #2
Story by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ardian Syaf

Some ex-Batman villains show up as Black Lanterns and Red Robin shows up to help out. Other than that, the entire issue consists of Batman and Robin wielding flamethrowers while Jim and Barbara Gordon hold off dead criminals at Gotham Police HQ. Kind of what you would expect from this title but it's honestly not the most exciting Blackest Night tie-in.

Superman : World of New Krypton #7
Story by James Robinson & Greg Rucka
Art by Pete Woods

While still possibly the weakest of the Superman-family books, this is still not a bad way for Superman to spend his time away from his home in his own title and Action Comics. As Kal assumes control of New Krypton's military following Zod's assassination attempt, the Kryptonians hatch a plan to take one of Jupiter's moons for themselves. What? Jupiter has like 57 moons....seriously, no one on Jupiter will even notice.

While Operation : Callisto is underway, a new threat pops in on the Kryptonians soaring on wings of Nth Metal. Kal and his team fly out to meet this new threat near Mars and now have to stop a moon from crashing into New Krypton. If it's not one thing it's another, right?

This has been a decent title and I'm already 7 issues in (this is a 12 issue series, right?) so I'm in for the long haul now. Lately it's been treading a bit of water but hopefully it will ramp up to an impressive conclusion and the return of Superman to Earth.

Green Lantern Corps #40
Story by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason

Blackest Night tie-ins have been wearing a bit thin for me recently. It's not the main story, which I'm totally digging, but the tie-ins all seem to just have the same formula.

The biggest highlight of this issue was the Corps realizing that the Guardians are gone which causes the Alpha Lanterns (who I've never really liked) to step up and assume control. No, no, no....Saalak ain't havin' that. He drops some Guardian Law knowledge on their glowing asses and steps up to lead the Corps in a speech worthy of a military commander. I have a feeling that the Alpha Lanterns are not going to let this drop though, and that their direct connection to the Book of Oa is going to be a bad thing pretty soon now that the Black Corps controls the Guardians.

Red Robin #4
Story by Chris Yost
Art by Ramon Bachs

I would consider Red Robin to be the World Of New Krypton of the Bat-titles. By this I mean that it is the weakest of the group of books, but by no means a bad title. If things got tight it would probably be high on the drop list but happily, that's not the case right now.

Tim continues his re-branding as Red Robin and his search for Bruce Wayne. Right now he's about the only person, besides his new bestest pal Ra's al Ghul, who believes that Bruce isn't technically dead. Towards the end he gets his first official validation of that belief as a plot piece from Final Crisis shows up. Decent story, even if the art isn't much to write home about.

Part Two (9/16) coming shortly!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Impressions Double-Shot (9/9 & 9/16)

A total of 14 books came home on Wednesday (half of which were from last week). Click below for First Impressions :

9/9/09 Releases

Kick-Ass #7 – “I got Kevlar down to my Underoos, dickhead.” Gotta love Hit-Girl.

Red Robin #4 – Please, please, please DC, you need to keep Tim Drake in this role for a while. And finally something from Final Crisis ties in….still doesn’t make sense, but it’s there :-)

Blackest Night : Batman #2 – Damian in an armory, that’s one place I would keep that kid far, far away from.

Green Lantern Corps #40 – When did Salaak become such a bad-ass?

Secret Six #13 – Consistently DC’s best book right now. If you’re a fan of villains, you should be reading this. The scene where Scandal gives the henchmen 30 seconds to pray or call their loved ones before slaughtering them is brilliant.

Superman : World of New Krypton #7 – So… Kryptonians have to wear oxygen masks in space or not? Just curious because it seems kind if inconsistent.. In the beginning of the issue, Superman flies from Earth to New Krypton without one, then at the end he needs one?

9/16/09 Releases

Blackest Night #3 – OK, I’ve been reading comics for waaaaaay too long when I can read these lines of dialog : “The ring has the same porous structure as bones or dark matter : the unseen skeletal structure of the universe. It’s laced with microscopic wormholes that are channeling some kind of energy to who knows where…who knows why.” …and think to myself : Of course, this makes perfect sense.

Batman & Robin #4 – Why do I get the feeling that Jason Todd is not under the new Red Hood?

Transformers : All Hail Megtron #15 – Two great stories after the last lackluster issue. There is some sinister stuff going on in the ranks of the Autobots that I hope they get into in the new ongoing Transformers series

Batman : Streets of Gotham #4 – I’m loving the new take on Mr. Zsasz, and who ever thought that a real estate broker could be an interesting character??

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Next DC Animated Movie - Crime Syndicate!

Posted at Ain't It Cool News earlier, some stills have been released for the next DC Animated film, Justice League : Crisis on Two Earths. Click below for more :

Here's the link to the article :

Ain't It Cool News

Thoughts? my first reaction is that the claim of "original" is not entirely true as this sounds to be heavily pulled from Grant Morrison's JLA : Earth 2 story, which I enojyed thoroughly despite Frank Quitely's stubby art. In the book, a good version of Luthor comes over from an alternate Earth to recruit the Justice League to fight the Crime Syndicate, a group of evil versions of our heroes. Those evil counterparts include Ultra-Man (Superman), Owlman (Batman), Superwoman (Wonder Woman), Power Ring (Green Lantern) and Johnny Quick (Flash). Owlman is pictured below.

I would like them to keep the standard Justice League voice cast to keep some consistency through these movies but this voice cast sounds decent. There will be a feature about this on the upcoming Superman / Batman : Public Enemies movie being released at the end of this month.

So, what does everyone think?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Comics This Week

Due to a double-whammy of scheduling and monetary issues, I was unable to pick anything up this week. Check back this coming Wednesday for the start of a double week extravaganza :-) Also coming soon : Fun With Older Comics.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Judging Books by the Cover - 9/2/2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done this feature but here we go with a look at this week’s comic book covers. Only 5 books this week so not a lot to choose from, but at least 2 stood out. These are chosen from books that I actually purchased, so I’m sure that there are other covers out there that could have made the grade. On to the covers :

Favorite Cover This Week :

The Last Resort #2
Cover by Darwyn Cooke

There are two artists whose cover work I have trouble passing up, no matter what the book is. One of those is J. Scott Campbell, the other is the fantastic simplicity of Darwyn Cooke. How he can render a scene of horror such as a plane crash with a flight attendant flying through the air next to charred bodies (and body parts) and make it so super-cool is a testament to his talent. Cooke’s cartoony colors and ultra-clean style is in direct contrast to the interior artwork which is brutal and messy, but in a good way.

I’m actually enjoying this title so the Darwyn Cooke cover is a nice bonus, but I do hope that he continues providing the covers for this book.

Runner-Up :

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! #5
Cover by KAKO

What the hell is that one the cover?? That, my friends, is a 26-dimension hyper griffin. You heard what I said. I like this cover because it showcases just one of the insane aspects of this book. You almost have to pick it up just to see what is going on inside which, if I remember correctly, is the purpose of cover art in the first place.

Least Favorite Cover :

Batman #690
Cover by Tony Daniel

Although I am a fan of Tony Daniel’s work, this cover is just basically Generic Batman Cover #73 as he is about to punch Clayface (who actually doesn’t look like Clayface but something out of Resident Evil). The image is fine other than that, it’s just that the layout is so blah.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trailer Talk – Boondock Saints II : All Saints Day

Kicking off the newest feature here at Clever Name Blog, I’ll review the trailer for the sequel to the 1999 cult classic Boondock Saints. How does it measure up? Click below to find out :

Boondock Saints II : All Saints Day
Directed by Troy Duffy
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, Billy Connoly, Julie Benz
Release : November 1, 2009

I am a fanatic for movie trailers. I’m always at the theater super early to watch a movie so I can catch the trailers, and I’m always checking them out online. Movie trailers are tough because you want to get people interested but not give away too much. You also don’t want to be misleading and promise something that won’t really happen.

Here’s the trailer :

So what really happens here?

There are many callbacks to the first film : the execution style of the twins, the hand tattoos and the two pennies that they left on the victim’s eyes at one of the crime scenes. The trailer is narrated by Billy Connoly and I won’t ruin the first movie yet if you haven’t seen it, but if you have then you know who he is.

Cue the rock music and quick cuts. More horsing around by the twins and…is that the girl from Dexter? Yes it is. I guess Willem Dafoe’s character isn’t going to be in the sequel because they introduce Benz as “His protégé”. Did Dafoe’s character die in the first one? Can’t really seem to recall. Anyway…they actually use the line “Let’s do some gratuitous violence” in the trailer. Ugh.

More quick cuts and different music lead us through some slow motion gunfight scenes. It looks as though they’re adding a new man to the team, another brother perhaps? This makes me think of Poochie or Roy being added to the Simpsons as a sign of it going downhill. I’m also wondering what the timeline is for this because Norman Reedus looks significantly older here, although it has been a decade since the first movie.

When it’s all over I feel that Boondock Saints did not need a sequel whatsoever. This may end up influencing my opinion of this movie no matter how good it may or may not be. The first movie was really good and ended well. Story over...done. I'm also not against straight action movies. I love Shoot 'Em Up and The Transporter for what they are, but this just doesn't grab me.

To wrap up, I often ask myself a couple of questions after watching a movie trailer :

Does the trailer make me want to rush out and see this movie? No. Not really.

Will I see this movie in theaters? Possibly, but probably not right away

First Impressions 9/2/2009

Only 5 books this week makes for a quick read. Click below for First Impressions.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! #5 – 26 dimension hyper-griffin? Check. High-powered Topaz NASER? Check. Cellular Micro-fission? Check. My favorite over-the-top comic mini-series? CHECK :-)

Batman #690 – Not bad at all. But, it begs the question : Why has no one thought of that before Two-Face???

Supergirl Annual #1 – Origin of Superwoman was pretty cool, the other story..not as much.

Last Resort #2 – I’m on board for this for the foreseeable future. Check it out if you like zombie stuff.

Warner announces Lobo Movie? PG-13????

Variety reports that Guy Ritchie has been signed to direct a film adaptation of DC Comics' super-violent Lobo character. What do I think? Click below for more.

First, here's the link to the full article :

Lobo Film Information

The only thing that interests me in this article is the fact that Guy Ritchie is attached. Two of his previous films (Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) are among my favorite movies out there, and if anyone can pull together the ridiculousness of the Lobo character, it's Ritchie. Good job on the director WB.

The character description souds dead on. "In the film, he is a seven-foot tall, blue-skinned, indestructible and heavily muscled anti-hero who drives a pimped out motorcycle, and lands on Earth in search of four fugitives who are bent on wreaking havoc." We're still on track here as this is an accurate description for those that don't know him.

Now here's where we start going off track : "Lobo teams with a small town teenaged girl to stop the creatures." Why, why, why, why, why, why???? Why must there be a teenaged girl sidekick? Is Miley Cyrus or whatever new popular little future drug-addled teen star that important to the film? Come on, Warner.

Next is the point that really kills me : "WB is aiming for a PG-13 rating" . Seriously? Did anyone at Warner read a Lobo comic?? He killed everyone on his home planet.....for fun! That's why he's the last of the Czarnians!!

Obviously things can change during the creation of a film, but I have exactly zero interest in seeing a Lobo movie unless it has an R rating. I am so sick of dumbed-down comic adaptations for mass market release and I'm tired of companies pandering to the family-crowd. I understand that this particular demographic spends lots of money at the theater, and the 13 year old that's being forced to go to the theater while his parents take little sis to see a Disney movie needs something to watch, but it just doesn't fit this character at all.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against developing family films and I'm not against families (I happen to be a member of at least one), what I am against is movie studios trying to shoehorn a character who is defined by his violence, mock-swearing and all around brutal homicidal behavior into a PG-13 rating.

(Deep Breath) So what does everyone else think?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Looking Forward to Wednes...ummm..this afternoon :-) - 9/2/09

Finally caught up on my posts and it's a very slow week this week for me as far as releases. 5 books in total, one of which is Wednesday Comics which I've taken to storing up for a few weeks and reading all at once. Click below for the books :

Batman #690 - I don't know, but I'm not nearly as excited about the main Batman title right now as I am for Batman & Robin or even Streets of Gotham. Hopefully things change up when Tony Daniel comes back on board. I know he wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I liked his work.

Final Crisis Aftermath : Run! #5 (of6) - My monthly dose of ridiculous violence, explosions and scantilly clad women...all in one convenient book.

Last Resort #2 - Based on the first issue, the second one is coming home with me this week. Darwyn Cooke cover as a bonus, too.

Supergirl Annual #1 - Sterling Gates has done a phenomenal job with revamping this formerly lagging title.

Wednesday Comics #9 - Like I said before, I tend to hold onto these and read them a few at a time. Like when I'm bored at work on a Friday night, perhaps this coming Friday night :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Comic Book Reviews 8/26/2009

A total of 11 books came home with me this week and most of them were pretty damn good, unfortunately I only have time for 4 quick reviews. Posting schedules should be back on track for this week as I should be able to get comics on Wednesday.

What happened? Robin has some great one-liners and a new idea for renaming the Dynamic Duo, Mirabai verbally bitch-slaps Metallo, Dr. Fate has a little bit of the first-time jitters but comes out OK, the world of Flash : Rebirth is bathed in yellow and red, Black Lantern Hawk is kind of a jerk, Nemesis turns down a shower with Wonder Woman and is considered by most comic fans to be a very stupid man, dancing lesbians in tuxedos upset socialites, Riddler hijacks the Gotham City Sirens book, Jimmy Olsen’s new contact has a lot of ‘splaining to do and last but certainly not least, you wouldn’t like Sinestro when he’s angry…Sinestro Smash!!!!! Want more? Click below :


Green Lantern #45
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke

It’s amazing that in a book titled Green Lantern, that there are literally 5 panels in the entire book that feature one of the Earth GLs. This issue hops around the universe and shows exactly what I’ve been waiting to see: How are the other corps handling the Black Lanterns? The answer is very simple. Not well.

The planet of Xanshi rises from the dead…you heard me right, the planet not it’s former citizens. I’m curious to see if this will be the Black Lantern’s version of Mogo or Ranx, a mobile base to launch attacks from. The scenes between Carol Ferris and Sinestro are very well written. Sinestro treats Carol to his own version of “He’s Just Not That Into You” starring a giant yellow Hal Jordan construct. We also learn that Sinestro has some heart…but it makes him extraordinarily angry. Poor damaged broken Sinestro.

Checking in with the Blue Corps, they’re not fairing much better because during the attack from the orange camp a bunch of Black Rings are ominously hanging overhead with a status of “Awaiting Death”. One of the best scenes goes to Larfleeze (aka Agent Orange) as his past victims suddenly appear as resurrected Black Lanterns and being by himself suddenly doesn’t seem like such a good idea. His simple response of “Yuh-oh” is perfect. Yuh-oh is right, my friend. You. Are. Screeeeeewwwwed. To quote from the brilliant (and short-lived) Sifl & Olly Show: “You’ve got some serious-ass Black Lantern problems” Hmmmm….is Precious Roy still alive? Because he would make a sweet Black Lantern. “This is Precious Roy. Buy my power ring cleaner! Suckers!!!”


Blackest Night : Titans #1
Story by JT Krul
Art by Ed Benes

Since I’m not a regular Titans reader, I enjoyed this exposition and background heavy first issue, although long time readers might find it a bit tedious.

Featuring the new Hawk and Dove (and lots of Hawk’s ass thanks to Ed Benes) as well as Beast Boy, the issue quickly sets up who lost whom and then Bam! they’re there in all their Black Lantern glory.

I am really curious as to why the black rings can’t resurrect Don Hall (former Dove) and why the current Dove doesn’t register on the Black Lanterns Emo-Vision.

Batman & Robin #3
Story by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely

Professor Pyg…you so crazy. Yeah, this guy is seriously messed up. Besides wearing the pig mask and turning people into Dollatrons, he dances to disco music (from his pink iPod), nearly gives Robin a lap dance and takes orders from a weird modern art installation.

Throughout the issue we see the seeds being planted for future storylines, including the upcoming Revenge of the Red Hood (which I’m not completely sure is Jason Todd). It also focuses heavily on the relationships between two teams : Batman and Gordon and Dick and Damian.

This run made me actually enjoy Frank Quitely’s art in a big way. His detail and layouts fit this story perfectly and, believe it or not, I’m a little sad to see him go so soon. Morrison does a great job while toning down his usual craziness (which is still insane for most people) while tying in some items from previous Morrison Bat-tales.

Lastly, and I just saw this, if you turn the cover upside down some ar saying that it looks rather like the famous “Joker emerging from the chemical bath” scene in Killing Joke. Here’s a link : BATMAN & ROBIN COVER

Yeah, I can see it, and it’s too close to be unintentional. Could this Red Hood actually be the Joker or is the Domino Killer actually the Joker?? We shall see. Great stuff :-)

Flash : Rebirth #4
Story by Geoff Johns
Art by Ethan VanSciver

This issue was the first honest-to-God page turner of this entire series. The pace rockets past that of previous issues and does not take time to breath even for the iconic final page.

VanSciver’s rendering of the Speed Forcein this issue is amazing and Johns’ explanation of the mysterious Force is impressive. Some old-school Flash enthusiasts might have issue with the new explanation but Johns handles it well. Some fantastic scenes throughout, especially Jay Garrick Super-Speed Pimp-Slapping Professor Zoom in a huge panel. Wally really steps up in a big way as well, and proves why he should remain the Flash in the DC Universe…the main Flash anyway.