Sunday, May 27, 2007

Man or Mouse, None Escape Doom!

I had to do it.

Conventional methods have not allowed me to capture/kill the mouse that craps on our counter top every night, so I have enlisted the aid of Victor Von Doom. I pray the price of his aid is not too steep, but whatever the cost THIS MOUSE MUST DIE.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


My oldest daughter loves this comic.
I have a million and six comics, and let me tell you, it's hard trying to find comics that I can read to her. She's four years old, for Chrissakes, I'm not going to read her Tarot or The Ultimates or even most Spider-Man comics.
"Well Ava, this bad man - he's called a sniper - shot Aunt May with a rifle - that's a gun with a long barrel - and now she's hurt so Spider-Man is upset and he wants to kill these guys here because he's so angry. Yes, I know. Spider-Man should use words when he's angry instead of hitting people." Yeah. I'm not going there.
99% of all super hero comics are off-limits to my daughter because I'd like her to think that there are better ways to solve her problems than by violence. It's sort of a shame because she really likes Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman - mostly because I describe them as "rescue heroes" who help people. I made her an unofficial comic book adaptation of the movie Superman Returns (left out the Kryptonite shiv part) which she really liked, but I've come to the conclusion that she's not ready for most comics.
Enter Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #12, by Jeff Parker and company. As part of the Marvel Adventures line, this comic is deliberately designed to be accessible to young readers, which means there are very few decapitations, old women getting shot, or bethonged asses.
Parker is the shit-hot writer responsible for the superb Agents of Atlas comic, and he's doing a great job with his Marvel Adventures books. Parker clearly gets the whole "comics oughta be fun" angle, and these books are fun, accessible, and... and... did I say fun yet? Well, they are.
In this issue, The Avengers (Cap, Hulk, Iron Man, Spidey, Storm, Wolverine, Giant Girl) have to deal with a rash of natural disasters on Earth caused by an approaching planetoid. It's not just any planetoid, it's Ego the Living Planet from the Fantastic Four! Yeah, the planet with the big face, that's the one.
Ego just noticed Earth from across the solar system and hey! Earth is pretty foxy! And she's not dancing with anyone! Ego sidles over to our planet and starts putting the moves on her/it.
"Hey, you dancin'?"

If Ego hangs around for much longer the natural disasters will kill loads of people, so The Avengers blast off in a custom Quinjet to deal with the problem. They need to make contact with the horny living planetoid and convince him to go hit on some unoccupied planet somewhere else. Not an easy task, since Ego is too vast to even notice the tiny little heroes. How are they going to communicate with it?

The answer, of course, is that The Avengers have to land on Ego and start tearing shit up in order to get its attention. Iron Man triggers some volcanoes, Storm uses her weather-control powers, and The Hulk... well, The Hulk just starts hitting stuff and giving Ego some straight talk.

"Earth just want to be friends!" Hulk yells.

Jeff Parker hits all the right notes with this comic. It's cute, it's self-aware in a metatextual way that will appeal to geeks, and it's funny as hell. Like a lot of well-done family entertainment, this comic has something for adults as well as kids, but it doesn't go overboard with pop-cultural references and sly asides (I'm looking at you, Shrek movies.)

Plus, Parker uses the Hulk as comic relief, which is never a bad idea. I'm a big fan of The Hulk, particularly when he's not taken too seriously. He's a big green caveman who smashes shit when he gets angry but likes puppies and stuff - what's not to like? In this comic, The Hulk is like a big destructive kid that The Avengers soothe by singing him songs and reading him stories. No, really. It's cute as hell. Plus, there's a little throw-away shot of The Hulk getting a rock dropped on his head that just cracks me up for some reason.

Between this issue and the comic where all The Avengers get MODOK'd, I think I have a new favorite Avengers title. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually digging Mighty Avengers right now, but I'm not going to read it to my daughter: "Well, this naked lady is really a robot who wants to kill everyone. No, Ava, I don't think she gets cold, she's an indestructible, murdering killing machine."

But this comic? I can read it to my kid, and for that I thank Jeff Parker. The only problem is, like The Hulk, my daughter wants me to read it over and over and over...

Happy Second Anniversary, Bully!

Happy (belated) 2nd Bloggiversary to Bully, the cute lil' stuffed bull who writes Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!, one of my favorite blogs ever. Go check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What did I miss?

Since I was immersed in Hell Week at work, I missed out on all the fun stuff kids were talking about in the Great Comics Blogosphere.
Mainly it seems like a lot of people freaked out about the Mary Jane statue (I'm not calling it a frickin' comiquette - that's not even a word. I don't capitalize the word realtor, either.) and what it implies about gender politics in the comics world.

Here's what I learned: it's one thing to have a cheesecake statue, but you're playing with fire when you accesorize it in such a way that it makes the cheesecake statue seem subservient to Dudes. The other thing I learned: you can't dictate what people can and can't be offended by. Everybody gets to decide what their own personal Bullshit Threshold is, and they can bitch about it as much as they want.

Having said all that, Andrew over at Armagideontime brought something to my attention: the equally wacky gender politics of the Big Barda statue (pictured above) The 3rd greatest female ass-kicker* in the DC Universe* gets reduced to holding her husband Mr. Miracle's cloak? Nuh-uh! Notice I'm not bitching about her red bikini or the fact that she has no legs - I just don't think Barda should be holding Scott's cloak like a good wife. She should be holding a severed parademon head!

What else? AICN had a sneak look at John Rambo, the long awaited (by me) fourth Rambo film, which was promptly uploaded to YouTube. It starts off all solemn and shit, and then about halfway through somebody hits the big red ULTRAVIOLENCE button and things go crazy:

Several geek friends of mine were turned off by the level of violence in the preview, particularly the jeep driver who goes Death Star when Rambo shoots him at whisper-close range. I think the preview could have done with some tighter editing, more Rambo music, and a more explosive ending, but I'm perversely excited to see it. I'm waiting for somebody to re-mix that preview as a slasher film, though.

Is Dr. Strange gay? Photon Torpedoes and Neilalien weigh in on the "controversy" with a resounding "hell, no!" And they can prove it, too. OK, the Photon Torpedoes post is old, but it's still real to me, damn it! Anybody who has read the Dr. Strange graphic novel Shamballa, where he splits into duplicates of himself to have a mystical orgy, will agree: Dr. Strange likes the ladies. Just because he dresses like a Cimmerian pimp doesn't mean he's gay. I would add that of all the Marvel heroes, the well-travelled and philosophical Master of the Mystic Arts would have a philosophical attitude about human sexuality that transcends fickle societal norms, but clearly he digs chicks.

*I rank the greatest female ass-kickers in the DC Universe as follows: Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Big Barda, Black Canary, Huntress, Catwoman, etc. Supergirl is way at the bottom of the pack, sorry, because the current DCU version of the character sucks.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hell Week

Why you no post, David Campbell?

I am going through Hell Week here at work and can barely spare time to go poo, let alone do any blogging. Soon this week will be nothing but a foggy nightmare, a bitter memory, but for now this is The Week They Asked Too Much of Me And Nearly Broke My Soul. I will be able to resume my normal blogging duties after this corporate hazing has ended. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

PREDATOR #2 Dark Horse Comics, 1989

"I'm meaner than a motheruckin' hyena chasin' antelope"
-Ice Cube "The Predator"

I enjoyed this 4-part series, Dark Horse Comics’ first foray into the world of licensed Predator comics. Sure, in the years since the Predator concept has sort of worn out its welcome – did anybody ask for books like Witchblade /Darkness /Alien /Predator and Predator vs Shaq? - but back in the Eighties, a Predator comic book was practically guaranteed fun.

Written by Mark Verheiden with burly art by Chris Warner, Predator was a comic book sequel to the 1987 Arnold Shwarzenegger film that actually beat the film sequel (Predator 2) to market.

Predator matches the macho swagger of the Arnold film and cranks up the tough one-liners and action all the way to the proverbial “11” on the dial. The movie had one Predator? This comic has mass Predators. The movie blew up a jungle? This one blows up city blocks. The movie had Arnold? Well, this comic has Arnold’s tougher bigger brother.

And he is totally not fucking around:

That guy is gonna kill him some Predators.

I won’t go into the details of the plot, but in this issue Arnold’s Big Brother goes down to the sweltering Central American jungle where Lil’ Bro fought the first Predator. For those communists who haven’t seen the film, a Predator is an intergalactic big game hunter who visits our planet and others in order to hunt dangerous game – us. The alien hunters only go after worthy prey like Arnold, Batman, and Shaquille O’Neal – if you’re a big wuss the Predators won’t even bother with you.

(An aside – in the Predator movies they make a big deal about how the aliens only visit during heat waves because they don’t enjoy being cold. Yet the film Aliens vs Predator takes place in the Arctic Circle and the Predators don’t get so much as a scarf to keep them warm. Whattup with that?)

Anyway, Arnold’s Big Brother is the world’s toughest cop and he’s come to sweltering Central America to kick some Predator ass. It took Arnold and company a whole movie to kill their Predator, but Arnold’s Big Brother kills his alien dead in like, three pages. What do they feed those Shaeffer boys anyway?

While Arnold’s Big Brother terminates his Predator relatively quickly, it’s not easy. He gets pummeled quite a bit early in the fight, but not badly enough that he can't spit one-liners from his bloodied lips:

Arnold's Big Brother does a little rope-a-dope move on his opponent, taking some brutal hits so he can get close enough to, yes, smash a salt container into the Predator's eye! Yowch!

Man, thank God he brought a salt shaker with him in the depths of the humid jungle! If he had been packing some cinnamon or paprika he would have been totally screwed.

Verheiden's script strikes the right balance between violent adolescent fantasy and... um... violent adolescent fantasy, and Chris Warner's art on this book is solid and his pages are well designed. Warner also drew a Terminator series for Dark Horse that was equally good, art-wise. He's one of those guys that draws everybody in the comic as hulking brutes, which works really well when your comic is populated by hulking brutes. I think his stuff is keen.

Dark Horse's Predator comic - four issues of macho action that doesn't take itself too seriously. It's worth checking out, if only to compare it to the flood of lesser-quality licensed books that followed in its wake.

Bring salt.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

SUPERMAN #8 DC Comics, 1987

WARNING: This post has an average of 1 terrible joke for every 75 words. I have marked the terrible jokes in red for easy identification.
There was a time during the glorious mid-Eighties when writer/artist John Byrne was both writing and artisting Superman and Action Comics (featuring Superman) every month. And brother, that is a shitload of artisting.
Byrne had help with master inkers like Karl Kesel and Dick Giordano, but it's pretty impressive. Byrne did 22 issues of Superman and 16 issues of Action Comics at the same time for like, two years, whilst living in seclusion in a vast private suite atop the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. He lived off room service and Latino hookers and would randomly fire his shotgun into the air off his balcony and scream profanity through a megaphone at pedestrians walking on The Strip far below. Byrne was muy loco, but his famous Vegas Exile period is legendary for the gonzo quality he brought to Superman comics.
What the hell am I going on about? John Byrne is going to sue my ass now.
Let's talk about the comic itself and how great it is. This is the eighth issue of Byrne's relaunched Superman book, which was made possible by Byrne's successful re-booting of the Superman universe with his Man o' Steel mini-series. Oh, sorry - Man of Steel is the correct title. Man o' Steel is that comic about the Irish steelworker. This book was written and pencilled by Byrne, with finished inks by Karl Kesel, who rules. Kesel and Terry Austin may be my favorite Byrne inkers. As I type that I realize how geeky it is to have a favorite John Byrne inker.
This comic starts right off with a beefy shirtless Clark Kent ripping a tree from the Earth in order to make a post fence for his old high school crush Lana Lang (who recently married a guy named Phil Addingdong; her married name is Lana Lang-Addingdong.) We get a full-page shot of beefcake Clark Kent. BEEFCAKE!

She is so staring at his ass.
And could Superman be more arrogant? "I know, Lana! Sometimes I trip on how awesome I am, too." Talk about a God complex.
The kick-ass thing about this panel is - and we'll zoom in here - Clark Kent's monogram belt buckle. That is fucking awesome - putting your initials on your belt buckle. Do people do that? Is that like a thing that I'm not aware of? Do people in rural Kansas rock the monogram buckles? Or maybe Clark Kent is just a big Calvin Klein fan.
You know, as I was zooming in on Superman's crotch in Photoshop I noticed what I thought was a coloring mistake at first. See that whitish piece of earth or rubble near Clark's bathing suit area? Looks like somebody spaced out and didn't color that particular spot, right? Or is it??? Look closer, doesn't that sort of look like a tiny head? A tiny Metamorpho head maybe??? Tell me I'm wrong!
The only explanation I can come up with is that Metamorpho is hiding in Clark's pants, possibly as methane gas. For what reason? Ask John Byrne. Yes, ask John Byrne why Metamorpho is floating around Superman's groinal area!
Anyway, this comic really concerns Superman's encounter with four color blind heroes from the 30th Century, members of the Legion of Super Heroes. I say color blind because holy cats, have you seen their outfits? Somebody needs to do an extreme makeover on those kids ASAP. Are they from the future or Planet Hideous?
The Legionaires mistake Superman for Superboy, who used to be a member of their group back when their comic was called Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. You see, for some reason Superboy has gone bad and has turned against his comrades. Sure, Superboy was bad in the Inifinte Crisis mini-series, but even back in 1987 Superboy was a little bastard. At least in these comics he doesn't punch anyone's heads off. (And I say that like it's a bad thing.)

Since this is a comic book, Superman and the Legionaires (Braniac, Blokk, Sun Boy, and Skunklad) fight for a few pages before they realize it was all a big mix-up. Being generous of spirit, Superman doesn't mock the ugly ass outfits the teen heroes from the future are wearing, and they get around to telling Superman the reason why they're here: Bad Superboy. Superman is all "WTF?" because he was never called Superboy; he began his super career as an adult and what kind of drugs are you damn kids on in the 30th Century anyway?
And here's where John Byrne launches into a several issue explanation of how Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes fits into regular DC Universe continuity in light of the fact that in this re-booted Superman timeline he was never the Boy of Steel at all. He wasn't even the Tween of Steel. Byrne retells the Silver Age story where Superboy joins the Legion and almost manages to make it not seem incredibly corny, and then neatly summarizes the whole concept of Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes, including a fantastic panel of the whole goddamn team.

That is one small planet they're running on. That was my favorite era of the Legion. As much as I make fun of their outfits, I have to admit that is what the Legion should look like - a big Seventies disco future fashion show.

I'm not going to bother explaining how Byrne untangles the Legion history and fits it into the new Superman continuity - that's what Wikipedia and the fine folks at Legion Abstract are for. There was a point where I kind of gave up trying to follow the convolutions of Legion history, with all the Time Trapper and Zero Hour craziness. The Legion is simultaneously blessed and cursed with a rich, complex mythos and a huge cast. It can be rewarding for long time fans and comic history geeks, but I think the various Legion series have been largely impenetrable and forbidding to new readers. I call this devotion to the future history of the DC Universe Legionaire's Disease*, and I think it's why so many Legion series get cancelled.

OK, let's wrap this up. Superman #8 had great art, beefcake Clark Kent and his belt buckle, a hidden Metamorpho, hideous costumes, pages of continuity wonkery, Bad Superboy, and a nice big shot of the Disco Legion. Man, John Byrne was on fire during the Vegas Exile period!

*Actually, I don't. I just needed to fit a terrible joke in there.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Darf? I have a triple tall nonfat latte for Darf."

Here's a few panels from the original Marvel adaptation of Star Wars that I stole from the Artist Formerly Known As Harvey Jerkwater. Darth Vader levitates himself a nonfat latte before he uses his force powers on a mouthy Imperial flag officer.
Because Darth Vader will choke an admiral.