Saturday, December 31, 2011

Justice League #4

Justice League #4 begins with some good old fashioned Teen Titans drama! Victor finds himself transformed into a super powered half-machine human (or half-human machine) and immediately blames his dad for saving his life. But who can blame him? His dad has yet to show an interest in him, only in super hero research. So when Victor finds his father has turned him into a Super Hero, how is Victor supposed to believe it's because his dad loves him and not because his dad wanted to change him into something that won't be allowed to play that stupid football game.

At least Victor doesn't have to remove his hand to attach his white noise cannon anymore!

The rest of issue #4 is just like the other issues except this time Aquaman has to prove himself to everybody. So to show Green Lantern what he can do that they can't, he makes a bunch of Great White Sharks breach and eat a bunch of parademons. And then Aquaman skewers one in the head with his trident. (By the way, why is his trident chained to the front of his belt?) So Aquaman just shows Green Lantern what he can do differently even though Green Lantern could have done all of that with his ring and left the poor sharks to live their own little lives instead of being manipulated into eating tainted Apokolyptic Genetically Engineered meat.

Oh, how do I know it's genetically engineered?!

Because Cyborg is going around assimilating data from anything he gets near and has discovered Darkseid's purpose by assimilating a Boom Cube!

So Cyborg ends up on the scene and the entire Justice League is now together! And then Darkseid appears!

I've never really understood what size Darkseid is? He looks kind of gigantic in the two page splash scene where he does something that causes a CHOOOM that makes the Justice League fall all over the place. I think Darkseid just raised his hands and caused an Earth Bounce.

So Cyborg discovers that the Parademons have arrived to set up a station that turns the local population into more parademons. So are the Parademons just innocent victims? Can they be turned back into the people they once were or does the, um, 'repurposing' cause death and then bring new life from the repurposed organics as Parademons? If the plan is to set up the station and create parademons, why is Darkseid arriving on the front lines of the first wave of attack? Is it because of the Super Friends? I mean, Justice League? He seemed to already know of their existence since he stuck a Boom Cube in cities where Super People lived. Maybe he's more interested in observing them!

If the Justice League defeats Darkseid in their first story line, what is left?! Isn't he the biggest, baddest, Villain of the Month there is?!

I guess I actually have to wait to find out now!

Justice League #3

JL #3 begins with Steve Trevor freaking out about Diana having escaped some government facility where he was keeping her out of trouble. Which makes me wonder: How much of our knowledge of the old DC Universe's history are we supposed to be relying on to understand what's going on in this new reboot? We've learned a tiny bit about what's happened in the time before this five years in the past moment. Flash and Green Lantern have apparently teamed up once to defeat Gorilla Grodd in Central City and have come to know each other fairly well. Batman has been active enough to become an Urban Legend that even people outside of Gotham City have heard about. Superman doesn't really seem to have any sort of past. He's squatting in an abandoned Daily Planet building and doesn't seem to have a secret identity. Wonder Woman, we find out in this issue, was brought back from Paradise Island by Steve Trevor after his test plane crash landed there. Oh, we also learn that Jim Lee is just another artist who draw children as if they're just tiny adults.

And is there going to be continuity between this title and all of the JL Members individual titles? At the end of the 52 maxiseries, the DC Universe had been broken up into 52 dimensions. So is each comic title supposed to be an individual dimension and thus have no relation to any other comic? Or should I believe that the comics grouped together in The New 52 #1 collection are supposed to be in the same universe? That would place Justice League, Justice League International, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Captain Atom, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Mr. Terrific and DC Universe Presents Deadman in the same Universe. If that isn't meant to mean anything, why are they grouped at all in The New 52 collected book?

I think I'll just take them all as individual universes for now. It seems the way DC wanted it by the end of 52. And it keeps continuity easy because continuity only exists within each title. But then how are they going to have Crossover events?!

I'm also now wondering where exactly is Metropolis and Gotham City located in this Universe's United States? Apparently the last couple of Universes never could quite pinpoint them in space. But here we already see that Gotham City and Metropolis are a plane's flight away from each other with Detroit lying somewhere along that path (since we see Green Lantern's plane fly over Victor Stone's football game). Gotham is probably still located on the Eastern Seaboard, probably in the New York City/New Jersey area. Metropolis is possibly in Kansas (most likely, historically) or possibly Iowa. Looking at a map of the United States, Green Lantern's flight pather over Detroit doesn't make any sense, so Green Lantern probably got lost along the way.

Where was I? Parademons have busted loose from all the Boom Cubes and are beginning to grab people and fly away. Victor Stone is burning to death. Wonder Woman is having a great time killing her modern day harpies. And the other guys are doing something somewhere as well. Probably seeing who can pee the furthest. Oh no, they're fighting Parademons as well!

So far, I'm really liking Flash! And Batman is a close second.

But Superman is really going to have to work on his witty banter if we're going to be friends. What does that even mean, Superman?! It would make sense if you were hitting them with a camera! But a truck?!

So the guys beat up on some Parademons some more and we see them flying over a big body of water. Maybe I need to rethink that thing about Metropolis being in Kansas. Especially since Wonder Woman suddenly shows up to join the fight and she had just been in Washington, D.C.! So either Gotham is in Minnesota or Green Lantern really got fucking lost.

Meanwhile, Vic Stone is in a lot of trouble.

He's going into cardiac arrest with his heart racing up his spinal cord? Or is it the cardiac arrest racing up his spinal cord? Oh, probably the energy that is devouring him! Of course, that's T.O. Morrow with the medical know how and we all know how crazy he's going to turn out to be! Don't we?! Just ask Dr. Magnus!

One thing I'm realizing now that I'm reading comics again is that I've retained a whole lot of useless comic book knowledge that had no outlet until now!

Back to saving Victor Stone. They apparently fill him with Nanites recovered from...well, Dr. Morrow never finishes his sentence so we don't really know yet what Cyborg is going to be made from. But he seems to have some kind of mind-link with Darkseid because of the Nanites. So they must be Apokolypsian!

Flip flop yet again back to the Parademon fight! Green Lantern actually says, "Out of the ocean," when they see some great monolith rise up. So Metropolis is definitely on the eastern seaboard. And Gotham, I believe, is always a port city. So it's definite now: Green Lantern sucks at navigation.

And then Aquaman arrives to save the day! He's looking pretty good here even in his lame orange and green outfit. Check out next issue (along with Aquaman #1) when we find out how Geoff Johns really feels about having to script Aquaman in a comic!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Justice League #2

This kind of actually happens!

So JL #1 promises us Batman vs Superman! Awesome! Oh oh! And look at the cover! Look at them fighting! OH MAN! This is going to be awesome! Here it comes!

That's it? We missed the majority of the fight during a one page check-in on what Barry Allen is doing?! So after checking in on Bary having an ethical crisis at work where he wants to investigate murders but nobody is being allowed to investigate murders until they find out who The Flash is but Barry isn't going to let them find out who The Flash is so Barry isn't going to be able to investigate murders, we get back to Batman vs Superman. It's a huge two page splash with lots of tear gas

swirling about, a sonic disruptor lying impotently on the ground, Tasers stuck in Superman's chest and Batman back on his heels with a respirator clutched in his

teeth. Man! There's been a lot of action going on while we were away! Stupid month break and check-in on Wally! I mean Barry!

So back to the fight! After Batman gets a lot of information from Superman's non-weaknesses by trying lots of tricks on him and Superman gets a lot of information about Batman's gadgets by allowing him to try them all on him (seriously? Like Superman couldn't have put a stop to it as soon as Batman started?), Superman and Batman almost end the fight through *gasp* talking when Green Lantern starts it all up again.

So they say pictures are worth a thousand words but these Jim Lee and Geoff Johns guys end up using TWO FULL PAGES to tell the reader that Superman is more powerful than Green Lantern's ring. In a comic book with 24 pages that costs $4! That's .32! And 8 words! Except the two page image has no words at all! Maybe I can eke some more words out of the image since I hate to let an old cliche go to waste. Let's see: Green Lantern shields himself from the ring shrapnel but let's Batman take it full in the face. So a few more words might be Green Lantern is selfish and self-obsessed. Or maybe he just can't think too quickly which is right in line with Batman's critique of him in Issue #1. Also, Batman can seemingly dodge machine gun fire from three helicopters but he is pelted by this shrapnel. Is he smart enough to know that he won't be hurt by the ring's shrapnel so he doesn't try very hard to dodge it? Or is this an example of Superman's strength causing the shrapnel to fly faster than bullets? Anyway, I think 1000 words would have given more value to my $4.

So more punching and kicking and not talking ensues. Except there is talking because Green Lantern calls up the Flash and asks him to get over to Metropolis to help out. This enables everybody to see The Flash fight Superman now! And we learn some more stuff! The Flash claims to never have been hit ever ever never ever! Truly! But then Superman hits him. Luckily just flicks him with his finger or else The Flash probably would have been splattered all over Metropolis. I think by this point we've also learned that Superman has a bit of a rage problem.

I'd also like to know how The Flash speaking while running at super speed works. Does the fight end and then you hear everything he said? Is his voice all doppler effected? Can you even hear his words over the sound of his body punching through air? It's so easy just to make quote bubbles!

Of course after all of these peacock displays of power (cock being the operative syllable), Batman stops the whole thing with a simple please! I guess Superman really is just a great big boyscout.

I appreciate that The Flash cleans up after the fight. Rarely do heroes take any responsibility over the damage they cause during their giant brouhahas.

And then back to My Dad Doesn't Care starring Victor Stone! Vic shows up at S.T.A.R labs where his dad is checking out a Boom Cube. And of course they don't recognize the kind of metal it's made from. Is there some idea in the fiction world that since different metal alloys exist, from electrum which occurs naturally to manmade brass, bronze, and steel, that the future will have discovered some super duper futuristic alloys? And even if they did, the scientists should still be able to tell what elements compose the metal and then say what elements the Boom Cube is made of and say that instead of saying "We don't knonw anything about the metal it's made of!" If they don't know what metal it is made of, my guess is that it's highly radioactive and unstable! Just like the relationship between Vic Stone and his dad Dr., um, um, Stone!

So Victor says blah blah blah football blah pro blah it's all I ever care about.

And Dr. Stone says blah blah blah football is a joke blah blah I don't respect my son blah blah.

And then a billion trillion Parademons explode out of the Boom Cubes! Surprise! And Victor Stone is burnt perty near to death! Surprise! I wonder if he'll live?!

Justice League #1

NON-SPOILERY AND BORING VERSION: It would have been nice if this comic started out with the Justice League already formed and filled in events throughout the series. It feels awkward having to see the heroes meet for the first time and, of course, fight each other a bit and have little power struggles between them. And I'm not entirely happy with the 'normals' versus 'supers' plot line. We've seen it in just about every X-Title ever and DC did a giant crossover way back when with the Manhunters story line. And I'm sure there have been more. It just seems like such an easy way to create conflict.

But it was a fun read. I just can't wait until the league is set up and they start working together. This really is not the Justice League yet. It was actually kind of like The Brave and the Bold! Maybe that's what Geoff Johns was going for in this one.

SPOILERY VERSION! But the comic is four months old so suck it up!

First off, there is no Justice League in Justice League #1. I think Geoff Johns should have started in the middle! Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you're writing an epic? But he starts at very nearly the very beginning. Actually, he starts five years before the beginning! The heroes don't know each other but they seem to have heard of each other.

Well, Batman probably knows all about the others already.

The comic starts out in Gotham where Batman is chasing a Parademon (it's revealed later in the comic) while Gotham City Police are chasing them both in helicopters and raining bullets down on them.

Why are they trying to kill Batman? It seems the entire world knows nothing about super heroes and they're suspicious and afraid of them. Really, Mr. Johns? Isn't that plot a little worn out? Later, during a conversation between Batman and Green Lantern, Batman reveals that the Parademon was seen setting up a bomb and setting fires with his mouth. So maybe the Gotham Police think Batman is in on it as well and they're trying to take out these dangerous super powered arsonists. But here's the real reason they're trying to kill Batman and the Parademon, from the mouths of the police themselves:

Popo #1: We have Batman in our sights. He's running after someone.

Popo #2: Man? Woman? What?

Popo #1: I can't tell. Face is covered.

Popo #2: Is it one of them?

Popo #1: The way they're leaping twenty feet at a time? I'd say yes.

Popo #2: Bring them both down!

I'm willing to bet this is fairly realistic police banter! "Hey, is it one of them?" "Yep, it's one of them!" "Get 'em!"

So the police are trying to kill Batman and an unknown person because they can leap far when Green Lantern shows up. Green Lantern is shocked that Batman is real. Batman knows all about Green Lantern and some sort of conflict he's been having with the air force.

Right from the start, we see that Batman is subtle and maintains secrecy. And he's always keeping tabs on everyone else. He's filing it all away and not giving anything back. So the Police open fire on Green Lantern as well and Batman just chalks it up to being Gotham.

Meanwhile, the parademon blows up the helicopters and gets away. Green Lantern lowers the helicopters safely to the ground by creating a bunch of giant green bats. Nice touch. Green Lantern also begins to question Batman about his powers. Of course, Batman gives nothing. But when Green Lantern says, "You're not just some guy in a bat costume, are you?" you can see a slight smile on Batman's face. And in the next panel, Batman has taken the ring off of Green Lantern's finger to examine it.

This is interesting because it isn't just showing Batman is a good thief. Batman noticed earlier that when the parademon screamed, it broke Green Lantern's concentration and his Riot Shield creations disappeared. So Batman finds a moment when Green Lantern is completely distracted by his incredulity that Batman is just a man, and he takes advantage of it. At a time when Green Lantern is about to play up the fact that Batman has no power, Batman shows he has all the power. It's a nice moment between the two. And you can see who has more experience already. Green Lantern feels really young and full of bravado. Probably newly ringed. Batman has been doing this for a long time already.

The Parademon yells, "For Darkseid!" before it blows itself up and we now know who the Villain of the Storyline is. Darkseid. Already?! Man, this Justice League is going to blow its wad early! Slow it down, buddy! Suck on them titties a little longer before you shove it in! Sheesh!

So Green Lantern and Batman discover a Boom Cube (as opposed to the old fashion, non-52 previous universe Boom Tubes!) and figure out it's alien. Green Lanterns ring doesn't know what it is so Darkseid must not have made any trouble in the universe until now or else the Guardians would know who he was and where the technology came from. But Green Lantern and Batman know an alien! And all aliens must know each other, right?! So it's off to Metropolis!

Before they get to Metropolis, we get to watch Vic Stone score 42 (FORTY TWO!) points in a high school football game. Then we get to see him be disappointed by his daddy. Awww. He's athletic and he has daddy issues! He'll make a terrific super hero once most of his flesh and bone has been burnt away in whatever accident Johns dreams up to turn this kid into Cyborg. It better be soon!

Where the fuck is the Justice League already? Shouldn't they have called this comic Soon To Be The Justice League?

So in Metropolis, they find Superman. Green Lantern talks some shit and Superman hears him with his super hearing and then blasts him with his eye lasers and then Superman asks Batman "What can you do?" because apparently every time two heroes meet up they have to pull out their dongs to compare. And the comic ends with "Next: Batman vs. Superman"! And since Batman doesn't know about Kryptonite yet, I'm putting my money on Superman!

52 at First Glance, Part Thirteen

49. Hawk and Dove
Writer: Sterling Gates
"Artist": Rob Liefeld

People are still giving Rob Liefeld work? How did this guy's art become the style of the early nineties (unless it was some other part of the nineties. Or perhaps the late eighties. You'll have to forgive me as my Super Power seems to be kicking in). I understand that companies will give him work. What I don't understand is people actually like his stuff which is why he gets work! Who are these people who like looking at distorted bodies and action scenes seen through a lens of retarded perspective? Maybe that's his Art Style, and a movement all its own: Retarded Perspectivism.

Maybe he can't be blamed for his style. Because I just noticed that he looks like a man who drew himself! Witness:

I guess I'd be drawing faces that most resembled the face I see in the mirror every day too if I drew stuff! (By the way, I do draw stuff: Pickle Boy Comics. Except that my face doesn't look like any of that stuff I drew. So maybe I made a hasty conclusion after too small a sampling of art.)

Oh yeah! Hawk and Dove! I wouldn't have picked up this title. Especially with this cover.

50. Blue Beetle
Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Ig Guara
Inks: Ruy Jose

I'm not familiar with this creative team nor am I familiar with this Blue Beetle. I don't think I would have been interested in picking up this non-Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle. The original may or may not have been killed by Maxwell Lord in some super duper crossover I never read. Unless it happened in 52 and I forgot about it. I just Googled it and it happened during Infinite Crisis which led up to 52. And something I've never read.

I know I'll be missing Ted Kord while I read this comic. Bwa ha ha!

By the way, here's the cover.

51. Legion Lost
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Pete Woods

I don't know much about Legion. I think Lobo started in Legion. And that's all I know! I certainly don't recognize anybody on the cover.

52. Legion of Super-Heroes
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Francis Portela

I also don't know much about the Legion of Super-Heroes. So much so that for a long time, I thought Legion and Legion of Super-Heroes were just two comics about the same team.

Maybe they are! That's how much I don't know!

The cover certainly doesn't mean anything to me and it wouldn't have made me interested.

It certainly doesn't look like there are a legion of them.

52 at First Glance, Part Twelve

45. Blackhawks
Writer: Mike Costa
Pencils: Graham Nolan
Inks: Ken Lashley

I looked at a list of all the new titles for 52 when I first decided to get a few more titles besides Suicide Squad. Blackhawks wasn't even a blip of a blip of a possibility. The whole idea of the Blackhawks never really excited me much. It seems like, possibly (I'm ignorant of mostly the whole thing), they're kind of a Suicide Squad Military Deal but without super powers. But looking at the cover of the comic has me curious. It looks sort of like G.I. Joe. But made up of figures that your mom bought for you for Christmas from K-mart that were just G.I. Joe knock-offs.

It's very possibly that if I had seen this comic with this cover, I'd have picked it up out of pure curiosity.

46. Men of War
Writer?: Ivan Brandon
Writer?: Tom Derenick
Pencils?: Jonathan Vankin
Inks?: Phil Winslade

Same deal as Blackhawks. I wasn't interested when reading the list of titles. But the cover has sort of a silhouette of an army guy with his dog tags that say ROCK. So I'm pretty sure I would have picked this up. I've generally been a fan of one shot Sgt. Rock and Easy Company stories. I don't really have any expectations for this title. Is it going to be too serious? Who knows?! I'll know!

47. Teen Titans
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Brett Booth
Inks: Norm Rapmund

I've got a long history of reading the Teen Titans so why wouldn't I give their new title a shot? The members on the cover look to possibly be Wonder Girl, Superboy, Flying Robin Guy, Dark Vortex Girl, Sort of Impulse Looking Shape Changing Grow Boy, and Arachnalass!

My prediction is a lot of drama! TEEN TITANS LETS GO!

48. Static Shock
Writer?: Scott McDaniel
Writer?: John Rozum
Pencils?: Jonathan Glapion
Inks?: LeBeau Underwood

The only thing I know about Static Shock is that he had a cartoon. I never watched it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

52 at First Glance, Part Eleven

41. Deathstroke
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Art Thibert

Deathstroke is another favorite of mine so I'm glad to see he got his own title. Checking out the cover, it looks sufficiently bad-ass enough. Also, it looks like Simon Bisley did the cover. So I turned a few pages in to see the splash page but there wasn't one. So even though I might glance at spoilers, I dug through to the final pages to find the credits and, lo and behold, Simon Bisley did the cover.

I don't know the people crewing this ship but I'm aboard! Whoo whoo! Unless that's a train noise.

42. Suicide Squad
Writer: Adam Glass
Pencils: Federico Dallocchio
Inks: Ransom Getty

That guys name is really Ransom Getty?! Nice.

I may have mentioned it before but pretty much the whole reason I'm reading 52 and back into comics is because of this title. I'm not really sure why the cover doesn't feature Deadshot more prominently since he's the big star of the team. Although it features the new and improved Harley Quinn, punk rocky style, so I'm guessing that is going to attract all the new kids who just want to see sexy girls in skimpy clothes with crazy personalities.

43. O.M.A.C.
Writer: Dan DiDio
Pencils: Keith Giffen
Inks: Scott Koblish

I would never have picked up this title. I vaguely remember OMAC in an issue of DC Presents way back when. I believe it stands for One Man Army Corps? Possibly something else but very similar to that. I know Dan DiDio from somewhere but I'm currently too lazy to Google it. Maybe he did Blue Beetle or Booster Gold or something. But Keith Giffen is a hero of mine! Yay!

When I was buying a buttload of comics at my alternate comic shop, the guy ringing them up stopped at O.M.A.C. and said, "I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying this title." That, right there, is the reason I'm doing this experiment. I'm hoping to find some really interesting and unexpected stories.

The cover just shows a big guy smashing stuff. It looks like Giffen did the art for the cover but I'm not going to check. I trust my abilities!

44. All-Star Western
Writer: Justin Gray
Pencils: Jimmy Palmiotti
Inks: Moritat

I like westerns and I like Jonah Hex. So I would have picked this up as soon as I saw him looking all gritty in front of a Welcome to Gotham sign on the cover of issue one.

I never saw the Jonah Hex movie. Just thought I'd throw that out there so nobody thinks I love Jonah Hex because of the movie. I don't know if it was good or bad! But since it's based on a comic book, it's probably bad. Hollywood sucks at translating comics to film.

So this is another comic I'd have purchased even though I don't know any of the creative team.

52 at First Glance, Part Ten

37. Demon Knights
Writer: Paul Cornell
Pencils: Diogenes Neves
Inks: Oclair Albert

I like The Demon. I liked the Demon when Ennis was writing it and Val Semeiks was drawing it. (By the way, I just Googled Semeiks to make sure I spelled the name right and I did! How come my brain remembers something like that but I can't remember the names of my friends' children?) I even liked The Demon when Jack Kirby was doing it. I wasn't alive for that but I bought and read them years later. The point I'm trying to make is this: I would have picked up this comic even if Judd Winnick were writing it. Umm, maybe.

The cover shows The Demon all by himself slashing nothing with a sword. So where are all of his knights?

38. Stormwatch
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda

Too bad Paul Cornell's name wasn't Warren Ellis. Except that was already done and I can still go back and read that if I want. This is another one of those comics that I'd have picked up anyway because Ellis did such a great job of creating this world and these characters. Another big plus is seeing Martian Manhunter on the cover along with Apollo and Midnighter.

I can't help but feeling that this comic is going to have to continually out do itself month after month with bigger and badder and more universe impending doomy things to deal with. Especially since it's taking place alongside Justice League with all of its heavy hitters.

If Justice League is taking care of the big threats then I expect Stormwatch to be dealing with somehow even bigger threats than that! I can't wait to see what crazy crap they come up with in this comic.

39. Grifter
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Pencils: Cafu
Inks: Jason Gorder

I don't know anything about Grifter or his creative team.

The cover shows Grifter with a gun in each hand falling out of a window while blasting away at some ghostlike things. Grifter looks like a refugee from Image Comics. Possibly a stowaway from Marvel.

Hunh. I just google image searched to find out who he might look like and noticed that Grifter was an Image Comic hero! So! There you go. I know my comics!

I wouldn't have picked up this title if I wasn't doing this buy them all thing.

40. Voodoo
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Sami Basri

The cover of Voodoo shows the face of a woman. She is either in ecstasy or dying. She's chewing seductively (or near-deathily) on her left lizard hand. I have no idea what this comic is about and the cover isn't actually helping. I'm not really too curious about her lizard hand. Or why she might be having an orgasm right there on the cover of the book.

Hmm, when I say it that way, maybe this does look like a good comic! I can't wait!

52 at First Glance, Part Nine

33. Animal Man
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Pencils: Travel Foreman
Inks: Dan Green

First off, the big surprise: I don't recognize anybody in the Animal Man creative team.

Before Grant Morrison came in and revamped him, I think I only ever knew who he was because of DC's Who's Who comic, a sort of encyclopedia of all of their characters.

See? There he is! Right over Aquaman's right shoulder! He didn't seem like much but I guess DC acquired the property and wanted to squeeze some money out of him. So Grant Morrison turned him into something interesting.

It was never Animal Man's powers that made him interesting, though. So I'll see how Jeff Lemire handles Buddy Baker. I hope it's as entertaining as how Morrison, Milligan, and Delano dealt with him.

34. Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli

This is one of those WTF titles. The cover shows a mohawked Frankenstein with some kind of chain gun thing in one hand and a sword in the other. Behind him are a Japanese schoolgirl with a pistol and a four-armed green alien chick with guns. They seem to be fighting some creature that's outside the cover but it has claws and a tentacle.

This comic looks awesome!

35. I, Vampire
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Sometime last year, my friend Ken was telling me I should watch True Blood. And I told him I'm never again reading or watching or listening to anything that has to do with Vampires. About a week after that, I went to go see Concrete Blonde on their Bloodletting 20 Years Later Reunion. So I blew that one right out of the gate. And now I'm going to read a Vampire comic book! I think. I mean, it has Vampire in the title. And the I part of that makes it seem like the narrator or main character is probably a Vampire. But I don't know anything about it.

The cover has a nearly naked woman and a half naked man with wings standing back to back. So I'm guessing that the era of Vampires are Sexy isn't quite over. I bet this comic makes me feel like a twelve year old school girl with her first crush! Eeeee!

36. Resurrection Man
Writer: Dan Abnett
Pencils: Andy Lanning
Inks: Fernando Dagnino

I don't know anything about this character or the creative team.

Is this anything like Deadman? Is Deadman jealous of Resurrection Man? Are they rivals? I wonder if there is an Insurrection Man! Or an Erection Man! For Your Protection Man?

The cover shows a white haired scowly fellow scrabbling out of a grave. Are these the new Horror Titles for DC? I'm getting scared! In a sexy way! Probably how you'd feel if a hot naked vampire lady were draining your blood. You'd be all, "Hee hee hee. *giggle gurgle gurgle die*"

52 at First Glance, Part Eight

29. Green Lantern: New Guardians
Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham
Inks: BATT

I guess a robot is doing inks for this comic. That seems cool.

I don't recognize the team for this comic and I have no idea where they would be going with a story entitled The New Guardians. But the cover really intrigues me with seven different aliens (one of them looking to be, possibly, Kyle Rayner?) fighting over seven different colored Rings.

I can't speculate on this comic. But I'm definitely hopeful and intrigued. Looks like fun.

30. Red Lanterns
Writer: Peter Milligan
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Rob Hunter

I have no idea what a Red Lantern is or what it does. Were these guys introduced in Blackest Night, a comic I never read or haven't the slightest clue as to what happened in it? I don't recognize anyone on the cover except that one demon looking Harley Quinnesque female from the cover of The New Guardians.

What this comic is about doesn't matter at all. Peter Milligan is writing it and therefore I'm reading it. He won me over with his run on Shade the Changing Man. He also created Rogan Gosh. He took a run at Animal Man. He wrote The Extremists. X-Force. And, of course, Enigma.

Can I stop this discussion for a second to relate a story about Enigma? Thanks. A friend of mine, Soy Rakelson (name changed to protect the innocent), began reading Enigma when it came out. And he raved and raved and raved about it. Fantastic. Amazing. Genius! And then, nearly at the end of the comic, it is revealed that the narrator? main character? (I forget how the story is told) is gay. BOOM. Comic sucks. Stopped reading with only a few issues left. Worst story ever. He was used and betrayed. Soy Rakelson, you homophobic moron.

Okay, back to Peter Milligan. Genius! And I saw as I was getting back into comics that he's had a long and fruitful run on Hellblazer! So I'll be picking up those as well in the next few months.

31. Justice League Dark
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Mikel Janin

After that last entry, do I need to comment on this one? Milligan! I'm there!

But more than that, this comic deals with all the magic characters in the DC Universe. Which would also be the only reason I'd need to pick it up. The cover shows, as far as I can tell, Shade the Changing Man (AWESOME), Deadman (YES), Specter (as a female? Cool! Is this something I missed or is this brand new? Whatever! COOL), possibly John Constantine (TERRIFIC!) and two other magic females that I don't recognize. I'm assuming one is Zatanna.

More super high hopes for this comic.

32. Swamp Thing
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Yanick Paquette

One of the great mystical characters in the DC Universe. I don't know Scott Snyder (maybe I should?) or Yanick Paquette but I'd read this no matter who decided to write/draw it.

I still think of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing as THE comic to change the face of what American comics could be and the stories they could tell. Sure, that doesn't mean Swamp Thing was revolutionary! Alan Moore was. But I can't help but think that Swamp Thing, as a character, has always been able to tell really strange and amazing tales by dint of being the strange creature it is (I think of John Constantine and Shade the Changing Man the same way. Fuck, throw Animal Man in there as well. And speaking of Animal Man...he'll start off next post!).

The cover just looks like every single cover of The Swamp Thing I've ever seen.

52 at First Glance, Part Seven

25. Birds of Prey
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Jesus Saiz

I remember Birds of Prey but never read it. I realize I know Gail Simone now because she was just taking over this comic about the time I was getting out of buying monthly comics. I probably would have read this at the time but I was really busy following writers and/or specific super heroes and I wasn't following Oracle at all. I had read Killing Joke when it came out (and have the first printing) and was pretty blown away by what Joker did to Barbara Gordon out of costume. To me, it was a wonderful story to see what can happen to a super hero who keeps their identity secret to protect their loved ones and yet never think that their loved ones who might be in prominent positions (Commissioner Gordon) could be the cause of harm to them while in their secret identity. So Barbara Gordon who is entirely capable as Batgirl suddenly finds herself crippled by the Joker not because she was trying to stop him but because he came to hurt her father and she was just an innocent bystander.

So this comic is easy to pick up at this point and I'm hoping for a really fun ride. Also, a big plus: Katana!

26. Red Hood and the Outlaws
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort

I don't know anything about the team working on this title. I also don't know anything about the title characters. So let me look at the cover and see if that helps.

Hmm. From the cover, it looks like it stars Speedy, Starfire, and whoever this Red Hood guy is. So for some reason, Starfire and Speedy are outlaws? And should I know who this titular Red Hood should be?

I probably would have picked this one up out of curiosity. Also Starfire. I know enough Titans history that I'd like to see what DC is going to do with one of their biggest members.

Also: when searching Google for Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, I got a lot of Starfire in bikini shots. Is that the selling point of this comic? Is that Starfire's super power? Giant bosoms and thong bikinis?


27. Green Lantern
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Christian Alamy

I always loved Green Lantern in the Super Friends cartoon. I also love Sinestro. I enjoyed the random things they came up with to fight each other using their rings. Although it always seemed like Sinestro should win every time since Green Lantern's ring had that flaw that wouldn't let it affect anything yellow. And, um, Sinestro's ring made things out of yellow light. What was I missing here? Shouldn't Sinestro have just destroyed Green Lantern every time? Or did Sinestro always end up matched up against someone who could defeat him while Green Lantern ended up taking on Black Manta or Solomon Grundy?

I probably would have picked this comic up since I like Green Lantern but more specifically, I like a bunch of Green Lanterns in the Green Lantern Corps. And this comic should tie in with that whole Mythos.

Plus, the cover is Sinestro as Green Lantern! Awesome! Umm. Unless that is that Abin Sur guy or whatever that makes Hal Jordan Green Lantern. Not Awesome and I was tricked!

28. Green Lantern Corps
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Scott Hanna

I picked up this comic as soon as I saw it. So I guess I would have picked it up anyway! The art team I don't recognize except for that Peter Editor guy again. But the cover. Come on! The cover: Guy Gardner. John Stewart. Kilowog. And possibly, just possibly between Guy and John, G'nort. Although I don't think so. But still! Possibly!

Definite awesomeness. Please don't disappoint! John Ostrander's Mosaic starring John Stewart is one of my all time favorite comics. So I'm pleased to see him on the cover of this. And Guy Gardner. Everyone's favorite little angry Green Lantern. Right? Come on? Right?!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

52 at First Glance, Part Six

21. Batgirl
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Ardian Syaf
Inks: Vicente Cifuentes

I think after Robin, Batgirl is the only hero smiling so far on the cover of their comic book. Cyborg has a near grin going but he doesn't have the look of pure enjoyment that is on the face of Batgirl here. Is she, like Robin, too young to realize Super Hero Justice is dangerous? Especially in Gotham City?

It doesn't matter much to me. The look of cheerful exuberance on her face is all I'd need to pick this up. How does a young girl get her kicks in a dark, dusky place like Gotham on a Friday night? Beat up bad guys!

Gail Simone is back and I've heard good things.

22. Batwing
Writer: Judd Winnick
Artist: Ben Oliver

Batwing? What the fuck is a Batwing? Is this some guy who is trying to emulate Batman and Nightwing? Was this Judd Winnick's idea or did he just get handed this bowl of shit oatmeal?

Hey, maybe it's good stuff! That's why I'm giving it a chance. But if I wasn't picking up every title, this one would never even get a chance. Even if the name Batwing could evoke the slightest bit of curiousity (it doesn't), the name Judd Winnick in the writer spot would kill this for me. I just can't take this guy seriously. I can only picture him on Real World San Francisco explaining his comic about the guy flushing an eggplant down the toilet and why that is funny.

Judd: "It's funny because after he does it, this other guys says, 'Again?'! See? Again at the end makes it funny!"

My friends and I took that wisdom to heart and still yell again at things to make them funny. Like when a friend gets date raped or a sibling gets mauled by a pit bull.

The cover tells me that Batwing apparently lives in Egypt and soars with helicopters.

23. Catwoman
Writer: Judd Winnick
Artist: Guillem March

I find Catwoman interesting. Has her romance with Batman been played out or is that going to be what this comic is about. Again! I can't wait to find out!

Because it's Catwoman, I probably would have picked this up and only noticed after I got to the splash page that Judd Winnick was writing it. And then I would have felt betrayed somehow.

The cover has Catwoman lounging on the edge of a building with her hat, boots and bra discarded off to the side. Okay, it's not her bra. It's her goggles. But it sure looks like her bra and I'm pretty sure anybody not giving these covers much thought assumes it is a bra. Especially since her tight outfit is zipped way down with her boobs hanging out. She's also sprinkling some kind of sex powder onto her bosom. Perhaps it's Bat Pheromones.

24. Nightwing
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: J.P. Mayer

I don't recognize the team on this comic. But I do recognize Nightwing! I followed his adventures for a long time way back when he just didn't know how to commit to Starfire and then she finally left him to marry some Tamarand Prince and then maybe I lost interest because I wasn't reading romance books, Mr. Perez Wolfman! I wanted to see fighting! Yeah, I was young. Also, I liked reading the romance bits and the character interactions and the long stretches of dialogue. That sounds like it was sarcastic after adding the third bit but I really liked all that stuff.

I would have checked out Nightwing for awhile and let it prove itself.

I'm voting Nightwing's cover as the most retarded cover of the New 52.

52 at First Glance, Part Five

17. Detective Comics
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Ryan Winn

Another Batman title and how could I not choose to get on the ground floor of Detective Comics? More Batman! Maybe too much Batman. Because there are still more to come.

I don't recognize the writer or artist.

The cover shows Batman beating the Joker to a pulp amongst a bunch of doll heads! Exciting! I also forgot to mention the Batman cover which I should now mention and you should pretend you read it in the post about Batman. It shows Batman beating up a bunch of his crazy ass familiar foes. See? That works! It'll bring in the readers! Are you listening to me, Flash Cover Artist? Idiot!

18. Batwoman
Writer: J.H. Williams III
Artist: W. Haden Blackman

This title is pretty fancy judging by all those initials and capital 'I's in the art teams names! The cover art is also all misty and surreal. It's kind of like a boudoir photo taken by a fat military housewife as a secret, special gift for the neighbor she's been fucking while her man is on tour. Including the half-eaten fish still on the floor. Maybe that makes Batwoman interesting?

I might be more interested in Batwoman if I knew anything about her. I think possibly she made her debut in 52 (the series that started this mess!) but I can't remember for sure. I already told you what I remember about 52 and I promised I wouldn't spoil the Skeets thing!

I probably would have passed this title sitting alone at the bottom shelf and walked over to the counter to pick up Batgirl instead.

19. Batman: The Dark Knight
Artist Writer: David Finch
Pencils: Paul Jenkins
Inks: Richard Friend

Definitely looking forward to this title. This may be the title that plays up the villains a little more than the other titles. At least in Legends of the Dark Knight, it felt that way. So I'm kind of expecting some great showdowns in this thing.

Plus, isn't that David Finch guy kind of famous somehow? He makes like, movies or something? Is this another one of those Kevin Smither gimmicks?!

The cover shows Batman parasailing through Gotham City. Weird!

20. Batman and Robin
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Patrick Gleason
Inks: Mick Gray

So I finally did use Google because I knew the name Peter J. Tomasi but I couldn't place what comic he might have written that I had read. Well, it looks like he didn't write any of them. But he was the editor on a lot of titles I read. Lobo. Hitman. Demon. He was listed under Dan Raspler, another name I would have recognized and had to look up. So ha ha on you, editors! Nobody remembers what you do!

Robin might not be the favorite of a lot of people but I would not have passed up the opportunity to see what another writer does with this relationship. And the cover says it all. Batman in the dark. Grim. Low down. Hiding. Subtle. Robin flying above him. Cape unfurled. Fully bathed in light. Smile on his lips. One serving justice at any cost. The other playing with his brooding friend.

This always seemed like a team-up that would have never existed but for comic silliness and early writers (even Bob Kane!) not fully understanding what and who Batman really was. I guess what he could and would become. But Batman took his name and look to be a symbol of fear. Or am I retconning even that?

How come Batman allows this kid to fight crime with him when Batman knows exactly how insane and psychotic the enemies he faces are? What does Batman see in this kid? What does Batman NEED from Robin? That's what I'm always looking for.

My cynical side says Batman is just using the kid to attract dangerous attention away from him.
"Alfred, you know what I could really use? A loud kid in a bright shiny outfit to draw fire away from me!"
"I'll get right on that, sir."

52 at First Glance, Part Four

13. Superman
Writer: George Perez
Artist: Jesus Merino (Sorry for not inserting accents on both Perez and Jesus, guys! Lazy!)

I said what I needed to say about Superman in the Action Comics blurb. So now I'm just left to wonder: why so many Super Comics? DC's 52 has Superman, Action Comics, Superboy, Supergirl, and Justice League. Only Batman and his clones have more comics dedicated to him. Is it because 52 comics were just too many to fill with heroes or villains that comic fans would be interested in? I'm not sure any of the titles actually follow villains. Is Catwoman really a villain? Or a noble thief? Suicide Squad's cast is mainly villains but they're being forced to do government black ops work. I think that Grifter guy who looks like an orphaned Image character might be a villain but I don't know anything about him. I'm surprised they didn't make one of their titles a Lobo title. Or is he dead? Or did he fall out of favor with the fan boys when he became the punching bag of the DC Universe because every writer wanted to prove that their hero was so good they could defeat the one guy in the DC Universe who couldn't lose? And so he got his ass kicked in many different ways across nearly every DC title.

So. I probably wouldn't have picked up Superman. Perhaps I would have tried it since George Perez is writing it and I have fond memories of his run on The Teen Titans way back when. And the cover has Superman seemingly destroying the Daily Planet, so that means big changes in the works, right? So maybe. Maybe I would have picked this up.

14. Superboy
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils: R.B. Silva
Inks: Rob Lean

Don't recognize the writer. Don't recognize the artists. Don't give a fuck about Superboy.

I can't even begin to explain what is going on on the cover.

15. Supergirl
Writer: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Pencils: Mahmud Asrar
Inks: Dan Green

Why does Supergirl need two writers? Oh, is that a riddle? Um, is the answer because one writer alone can't make her interesting? Is it because she's like a writing desk?

I don't know the team of people working on this book but I'd pick up this book just because of a long-time curiousity about Supergirl. And even though the cover is just her floating in space, she has a certain contemplative trepidation that makes me wonder what she's up to. Maybe she just has to pee and it's a long way to the next space rest stop.

16. Batman
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capulio
Inks: Jonathan Glapion

I don't know the team working on this comic either. But I'll always give a new Batman title a decent shot. I remember in the eighties (unless it was the early nineties. Super power activate!) when Legends of the Dark Knight first began that I had to pick it up. I always liked Batman, probably for a lot of the same reasons a lot of other people like Batman. But also for the reasons that I grew up watching reruns of the television show on Channel 36 in the Bay Area. And no matter how silly things might have gotten, Batman's villains were always odd and memorable. And Detective Comics and the Batman title were well into the multiple hundreds by the time I was reading comics so that was a turn off to me.

Which is why DC probably keeps doing these restarts! Because of jerks like me who refuse to start reading a long running title! Except in special occasions like when a favorite writer takes over or the comic is called John Constantine, Hellblazer.

So Batman would have been on my reading list even if I hadn't decided to make the whole list my reading list. Way to go, killer!

52 at First Glance, Part Three

9. The Savage Hawkman
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Artist: Philip Tan

I don't know the writer or artist. I'm not sure I've ever read any comic that featured Hawkman. I remember him in the Justice Society of America. He was like the gruff old man who just wanted to beat everything up. Unless that was all of them. I also had the action figure. It had a pretty sweet mace. Yeah, I said sweet.

Another cover with simply the hero prominently displayed flying out of the comic from some center point wormhole.

I wouldn't have picked this one up. Even with the cover telling me that this isn't the old Hawkman! This is the Savage Hawkman! And you remember how gruff he was before! Well, look out!

Forget it!

10. Mister Terrific
Writer: Eric Wallace
Pencils: Gianluca Gugliotta
Inks: Wayne Faucher

I don't know the writer or the artists. Hell, I don't even know the character! I mean, I recognize him. And I knew he was black even though he didn't call himself Black Mister Terrific for some reason.

I really have no idea where he came from. I think I should know and I just forgot. But that doesn't make me want to read the book any better. "Oh yeah, I read all about him and BORING, forget it all!" Perhaps I only know of him from the 52 Trade Paperback. But I don't remember much of that either except the one thing that would be such a major spoiler that I won't mention it! Oh, and that Infinity, Inc. comes back but under the control of Lex Corp.

I wouldn't have picked up this title. The cover shows some guy dancing in a night club or something.

11. DC Universe Presents Deadman
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Bernard Chang

Is this comic going to be about Deadman? Or is it going to be a bunch of short stories featuring different DC characters? I'm not really very clear on that part. But no matter which one it is, I would have picked up this comic. I like Deadman. I like just about any Magick or Supernatural character in the DC Universe. And if it's only a few issues of Deadman and then they move on to someone else, that's pretty cool also. Heck, with Deadman, they can just have him control every Character they spotlight. Hmm, maybe that's the point!

I don't recognize the writer or the artist.

12. Action Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Rags Morales
Inks: Rick Byrant

Normally, I wouldn't bother with a Superman title. Unless it was Superman teaming up with a random person each month like the old DC Presents. Hey, that's kind of like that Deadman title! Maybe Deadman is going to partner up with different people each month?

But back to the Superman title. He just never struck me as interesting because he can do so much. But if Grant Morrison is writing it, I'll be reading it. I recognize the name Rags Morales but I can't remember what he's done. Perhaps that was just the name of an old friend's pit bull.

The cover of Action Comics is possibly the first one with some actual action taking place! Unless Mister Terrific's dance party counts. This one has Superman flying through the sky leading a team of angry police into battle! Or the police are angry at him for exposing their horrible corruption and improper use of broom handles.

52 at First Glance, Part Two

5. The Flash
Writer: Francis Manapul
Artist: Brian Buccellato

I don't recognize the artist or the writer and the cover isn't anything even close to special. Look! It's The Flash running right at me!

The Flash never interested me much. Although he does seem to be behind all of the big problems in DC Continuity! You know, I don't think I've ever seen The Flash and Ambush Bug in the same place! Hmm.

With this cover, I never would have picked up The Flash. What interests me in The Flash is his Rogue's Gallery of villains. He's got some of the best and I'd name them here if that wouldn't contradict what I just said. Grodd? Captain Boomerang? Captain Cold? Mirror Master? Pretty lame bunch. Except they're some of the most entertainingly written villains. At least as I remember it! Plus, I once threw a Captain Cold themed costume party. I was Captain Cold and the house was my, um, Cold Lair? Lair of Ice?

6. Captain Atom
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Freddie Williams II

I don't recognize the writer or the artist! Captain Atom is too military for me. See? He's a captain! I think he was some sort of military pilot or something as well. Like Hal Jordan! Unless I'm thinking of Hal Jordan.

I remember Captain Atom was in one of the Justice Leagues. I remember Captain Atom ended up in prehistoric times with some major cross-over villain. Was that villain The Anti-Monitor? Was Captain Atom a big player in Crisis? Man, why don't I just Google this crap!

Anyway, I would not have normally picked this up. And not with the cover of his big face and he seems to be doing something nuclear and I think he has a mohawk. Nuklon?

I'm starting to think the editors just told the cover artists for all the issues #1s to "Highlight the heroes!" and that was all the direction they received.

7. The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Yildiray Cinar

I used to like Firestorm in the cartoons. That's because if a guy could make anything he wanted with his imagination, I liked him. I liked the randomness of him. Batman could be counted on for this as well since he always had some weird Bat-something to get him out of a fix. Like Bat-lube. No. Seriously.

But I hated that he was some young kid who merged with his professor and his professor just basically lost himself in the process. Oh boy! He gets to think at Firestorm and give him advice but he can't do anything else. Meanwhile, he's probably got dishes to do at home and his cat is hungry and who's going to take his sweater vests to the dry cleaner?

The cover of Fury of Firestorm seems to show three Firestorms. And the comic is subtitled the Nuclear Men instead of, I think, the old title of Nuclear Man. So there's a twist right there! I probably would have skipped this title as well.

I've seen the name Gail Simone. I believe she may have been starting out right about when I quit reading comics. I could be super wrong about that. Maybe that's my super power! Placing things incorrectly in historical context! But she made Batgirl hip or groovy or something. Unless it was Catgirl. Or Robgirl.

I don't know the artists.

8. Green Arrow
Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Dan Jurgens
Inks: George Perez

I read some Green Arrow when Kevin Smith was writing it. Okay, yeah. DC lured me in with that trick. Big deal! I'm only human! Unless that history thing is a real power and then I'm only super human!

I believe Green Arrow is anti-corporate. He is green! So he must fight for the environment. Plus he uses arrows. That's environmentally friendly. So I'm going to guess that this Green Arrow is totally corporate! And they hire him to infiltrate places like Greenpeace and, um, Greenpeace at Sea!

I don't know the writer.

It seems weird to me that they have Dan Jurgens being inked by George Perez. DC's contracts must state that each writer or artist or writer/artist must work on so many titles each month. So Dan is off writing JLI and drawing Green Arrow while George is writing Superman and inking Green Arrow. And maybe other stuff.

Also, who knew George Perez was still alive? And while bagging my comics, I noticed Keith Giffen replaces Jurgens on a later episode. Yay!

I probably would have skipped Green Arrow.

52 at First Glance

Here are my first thoughts about DC's new titles after just looking at the title/cover, artist, and writer. Although I have actually read a few of the comics (Suicide Squad 1-4, Justice League 1-4, Justice League International 1, Aquaman 1, Wonder Woman 1, Flash 1, and Captain Atom 1), I'll try to remember what I was expecting when I first encountered the title and crew.

I'll do these four or five in a post.

1. Justice League
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams (I might get some of the pencillers and inkers mixed up since I'm only looking at the inside flap of The New 52 Trade with all the #1s. I'm just assuming they list penciller first and inker second).

I might have picked this up, at least for a few issues, if I was being discriminating about my comic book picks. I find it interesting to have a team with all the heavy hitters just to see what kind of challenging situations they get them into. How can anything go wrong when you've got Superman and Flash together? Both of these guys seem like the kind of hero that only villains with something to prove as well as daddy issues go up against. And of course, Green Lantern backing them up with anything he can think of, Wonder Woman in a battle frenzy and Batman looking on grimly, they can't lose! I'm not sure why they stuck Cyborg on this team.

I think I'll miss Martian Manhunter being on the team (I see him over there in Stormwatch). He always brought some heart and vulnerability to the group. They just don't seem like a family without him.

I'm not a big fan of Geoff Johns or Jim Lee. Jim Lee's characters always look too, too...I don't know what. Posed? Determined?

As for the cover, I'd just like to say: Nice placement on Green Lantern's Gun. And what are they all exploding out of? (Since I already read the first few, I'm gonna guess a Boom Cube!) Only Cyborg looks happy.

2. Justice League International
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Aaron Lopresti
Inks: Matt Ryan

I have high expectations for this one. Didn't Jurgens do JLE? (I guess I could spend the same amount of time as it took to write this to just Google that answer) It's basically the same squad from the 80s minus Blue Beetle who I think died? He died, right? At the hands of Maxwell Lord, maybe?

I don't recognize the artists. As I get further into these comics, most of my posts will be 'I don't recognize the writer/penciller/inker.'

The cover is another big splash page with all the heroes coming out of some hole at the center of the page. They all look slightly miffed except for Godiva. Ugh. Godiva.

3. Aquaman
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado

Not a huge fan of Aquaman. I sort of pretended to be into him during his four issue fifteen minutes of not being a douchebag fame back in the eighties but mainly because everyone had a copy of that mini-series. I don't even remember if I read it.

I also didn't care when he ran around with long hair and a beard and lost his hand.

(And since I've already read issue one of this, let me say: finally interested!)

The cover looks like Aquaman is angry at the reader and trying to stab him. Which very well could be what they were going for since everyone knows Aquaman is a joke. You know, I'm even slightly embarrassed saying that because everybody knows it so well already! I feel like I should be hip and cool and write some giant paper about how everyone is wrong and Aquaman is a true hero and worthy of his own title instead of a guy who plays with fish. Yeah, yeah! He's super strong and resilient on land due to living in the ocean depths or something. I think a great first issue would be Aquaman coming up to the surface and he explodes due to his internal pressure pressing outward against his skin.

4. Wonder Woman
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

Except for learning new things about my changing body while watching Linda Carter on television, I never really got anything out of Wonder Woman. But I also never really tried. Sometimes I'd pick up an issue and glance through if she was fighting an interesting villain. But I never bought the comic.

So now Brian Azzarello is writing it and I'm excited. Should that have ended in an exclamation point since I was excited? Maybe I'm too tired to be that excited. I'm looking forward to seeing what Azzarello does with the Amazon. As long as Wonder Woman doesn't find an attache case in the first issue.

I've never heard of Cliff Chiang. But remember! I've been away from comics, for the most part, for about 8 years. So a lot of artists and writers will be new to me.

The cover shows, scientifically, how Wonder Woman can block every single bullet or arrow or cream pie thrown at her.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm Back into Comics

I first started reading comic books seriously in 7th Grade. Before that, I was reading Elfquest in the giant collected color volumes. I didn't know that Elfquest came out regularly in Black and White chapters at the time. Daniel Something in my 6th grade class told me it was released that way but I didn't believe him. And then between the Third Color Volume, Escape to Elf Witch Mountain, and the Fourth Color Volume, North To Alaska, the Elfquest Roleplaying Game was released. I bought it and ripped it open on the ride home and quickly had several key plot points spoiled for the Fourth Volume because the Manuals were using images from the Black and White Comics.

Well, damn. I managed to get myself to a comic book shop. Brian's Books on Calabazas in Santa Clara or maybe Sunnyvale CA. A whole store dedicated to comic books as opposed to a well-read stack in a rack at the local convenience store? It was interesting. But I was there for one thing. Elfquest. Which I guess I picked up. And eventually picked up all of the Black and White issues.

Anyway. Back to seriously reading comics. Not girly comics like Elfquest! But manly comics where well-muscled men ran around in tight fighting tights! And women ran around in almost nothing at all! My friend, Aaron Crawford, who sat across the table from me in Science told me about some thing DC was doing. Some enormous, crazy thing. Some disaster called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Now, when I watched the Super Friends, I (and probably most everyone else) especially loved it when they ran episodes with the Legion of Doom. Because now you got to see all of the Super Friends in one episode! And all of the villains as well! So Crisis on Infinite Earths featured ALL the comic heroes by DC ever? And the villains too?

This was too good to be true. So I picked up some issues at the local 7-11. But they didn't have all of the issues! I remembered Brian's Books and that was that. I was immersed.

Those days were pretty weird. It seems hardly believable that a comic book shop could exist. I remember walking in to the shop and Brian would always be behind the counter, reading or doing who knows what. He was cordial but didn't really say much unless you engaged him. And he was an adult and I was shy and, well, I didn't talk to him as nearly as much as I now think I should have. Especially since his store was always empty!

So I began reading comic books. This was probably 1983 when I started. Twelve years old. With limited funds, I decided that the Marvel Universe sucked eggs and stuck with DC. I'm pretty sure this is how every child coming into comics chose a side. Whichever company's comic he first fell in love with, that was the company he would support. Shoot, if I had the cash, I would have given equal time to both universes.

I remember my friend Philip Newby reading the Wolverine/Kitty Pryde comic which, even though it was Marvel, looked interesting.

But even as a DC reader, I could only read so many titles. So I read Blue Devil. And I read Teen Titans. I read The Outsiders. Soon my favorites were Keith Giffen's Justice League and John Ostrander's Suicide Squad. I still hold these titles up as shining examples of what Super Hero comics should be.

Of course, I eventually began reading things like Doom Patrol and Shade the Changing Man and Sandman. I discovered Cerebus around the time Sim was writing the chapter called Flight.

Some time in the late 90s, I began following writers instead of titles. Warren Ellis. Mark Millar. Alan Moore. Garth Ennis. And some time after 2000, many of my favorite writers headed over to Marvel. So I did as well. Finally, I was reading a little something from both companies.

But comics started to feel too expensive for too little payoff. I was beginning to lose track each month of what the storyline from the previous month was. Perhaps I was reading too many! Whatever actually happened, I always felt that I would stop reading comics when Cerebus ended.

Which is what I did. Except I didn't completely stop. I would still pick up trade paperbacks from time to time. I kept up with Bill Willingham's Fables and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. I also intended (still do, so intend?) to eventually finish up, through trade paperbacks, Azzarello's 100 Bullets, and Warren Ellis's Planetary. I'm sure there are more.

But I stopped collecting monthly comics. Until this year. While in Phoenix, my cousin Jay and I went all over town searching for RPG game shops. We also found a few comic shops which we killed some time in. And I found 52.

Now, I'd already read the 4 trade paperbacks of 52. But I didn't realize DC was going to do what they did. Release 52 #1 issues and begin 52 regular comics titles. And I may have just let it go past me except one of the issues they began again was Suicide Squad. And it looked cool.

I picked up the four issues of Suicide Squad when I got back to Portland and enjoyed them. And I got to thinking. Maybe I'd enjoy more titles! So I made a short list from the list of 52 titles inside Suicide Squad #1. But as I walked to my old comic book store the next day to pick these up, I started to think about how I always wanted to read the entire line of comics that a company puts out. I could keep track of all of their super heroes and their exploits! And 52 was telling me right there how many that was! And they all came out each month with the next exact same number! How easy would this be to do? Read them all, Jeff! Read them all!

And so, that's what I'm going to do. As an adult who owns his own business and can afford it, I'm going to do it. Read all 52 titles. Of course, I have to buy them first. And most of them are already on issue 4!

So time once again to get back in comic hunting mode. I forgot how much I liked the routine.

Next post will be about the different titles in 52. Which ones I'm really looking forward to. Which ones I normally wouldn't even give a second glance. And which ones I have no idea what the hell they're about!

And in subsequent posts about my return to comics, I'll discuss the comics themselves. I think this will also help me to remember what is going on in each storyline as the months go by. So, warning now, these will definitely involve spoilers!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dwarf Lover Director's Cut: Grummok's Plan, Ep. 2

Grummok's Plan

With the publishing of Grummok's Plan, the web comic had actually begun. The Beginning was a series of short moments published on NA!P in conjunction with the storyline developing in the Exploits of a Dwarf Lover Blog. Grummok's Plan really began the adventure.

Grummok and the Kobolds come from the 3rd Edition D&D Monster Manual as do all of the other characters. In the last post, I stated that some may have come from the Player's Handbook but I was wrong. The reason Brennan was a female elf instead of a male elf is because there was only a female elf in the MM. If I'd had the Player's Handbook at the time the comic was started, Brennan would have begun as the male figure he later chooses for himself and a large part of the storyline would have been different.

Duke Suetir's character is from the MM entry, Shield Guardian.

Okay, back to Grummok. The throne, cage, and stalagmites (unless they're stalactites!) are all scanned from Elquest Book Three. Incidentally, here is why I can never remember how to differentiate stalactites and stalagmites. Way back in ancient times, there was a Frank and Ernest Sunday comic in which they discuss ways to remember which is which. So one of them says something like, "The ones hanging from the ceiling are stalactites because they stick tight!" And the other guy says something like, "I thought those were stalagmites because they might fall!" So, fuck you Frank and Ernest for messing with my head. (Also stuck in my memory from that comic was this rule: "I before E except after C or when sounded like Aye as in neighbor or weigh. Except for a few weird exceptions." Or something like that.

Okay, back to Grummok! Venger is from the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon. The idea of a series of villains each trapped and needing the help of the next villain was the main thrust of the plot I'd decided on. This along with the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo idea that would allow me to take the adventurers through a baker's dozen of Old School Dungeons and Dragons Modules.

Even though they adventure in D&D Modules and many references are to D&D, the characters and the game they are playing is actually Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. This is because that game was much more fun and open ended with fewer rules to pay attention to. So it's the game my friends and I played the most. But I still loved the idea of the D&D Module, especially the old school ones that didn't really have much plot to them. Warhammer modules (the ones that did exist) generally were railroad story lines that I didn't find very interesting.

On page two, Venger thinks back to what I like to think of as Season Four of the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon. Venger has managed to kill Hank, Bobby, and Uni. And Sheila and Diane make out. Which is something that apparently dozens of artists at Deviantart really wanted to happen.

The arrow piercing Uni was scanned from a Green Arrow comic book. I'm not sure where the axe is from that is taking off Hank's head. I really like Dungeon Master's broken look on this page as he watches the kids he pulled in to his world to help get killed one by one. What did he think was going to happen? If not their deaths, by Season Six they would have been either hating Dungeon Master for only ever giving them each one magick item for the whole campaign or they'd be total munchkins and Dungeon Master would be actively trying to kill them himself.

Being that Grummok is an orc and this is the characters' first adventure, it all takes place in B2, Keep on the Borderlands. More on that in subsequent Director's Cuts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dwarf Lover Director's Cut: The Beginning

The first episode of Dwarf Lover.

The Beginning

A title which points to the fact that I had no idea where I was going with this thing. I knew I wanted it to be complex. I wanted it to be epic in scale. So epic that I had no actual plans for finishing it. And seeing as how it took 10 years to actually get to the end of the 2nd Chapter of, probably, 13 Chapters, it doesn't look too good for the finishing thing.

But I did take a six year long hiatus where I worked on other projects. But at the beginning of this year, I really felt like revisiting the comic. I felt like, at least, getting these poor losers out of the Tomb of Horrors. And that'll be happening in less than a month. So, yay?

Back to The Beginning. The comic first appeared on my (our: Me and two long-time friends from high school) website, No Apologies! Press. No Apologies! was a chaotic jumble of anything that came to our minds. It was a nice place for a writer who cared more about the initial ideas of a project than the long term project itself. A place for lazy people with lots of creativity. It was wonderful!

Dwarf Lover began as a blog by our fictional friend, Chris Davenport. Yes, yes. He is fictional. Sorry to spoil the illusion for any Chris Davenport groupies. Except his image wasn't fictional and I think I should apologize to the real life person Chris was. His name may have been Cyrus. Or Cyril. Or something like that. He may have gone to Santa Cruz University. I used to have a link to his school webpage but that has been lost in time and multiple computer changes. His image got a little bit of fame over the years. He appeared on Mulletsgalore in its heyday. He appeared on How Fresh is This Guy. He also appeared in a Maxim Guide to the Web pull-out I still own (so proud!) featuring the How Fresh site and that page I just linked to.

Chris Davenport was partly based on Doom Bunny from No Apologies! Press. Partly, because it might be mostly in my head! But I seem to remember Doom Bunny playing Dwarves (or Dwarfs?) an awful lot because they little tanks. Perhaps that was our friend Roy I'm remembering too. Anyway, Dwarf Lover and the man who needed to defend Dwarfs at all cost, was born.

I'm not sure where the Dwarf Lover blog became a comic. Maybe I thought it would be easy to do. "Oh, I just scan a few pictures and it'll take no time at all!"

Even for the simple style of the comic in its early days, that was completely wrong. Just photoshopping the scans into useable pictures is tedious. Everything about the process is tedious. But I love seeing the scenes come together. And I still have a lot of story to tell.

So, about The Beginning. Probably not a lot to tell. I thought I would make it sort of Noirific. That didn't really keep but I revisit the Dwarf Narration every now and again. And make a point later on to show that Kohk is actually keeping a journal of his travels.

The initial scene is comprised of characters scanned from the 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. I think. This must have been back in 2000 or 2001 when I started. The window is from Dave Sim's Cerebus, as is the mug and the table. The table I colored myself in Photoshop! Amazing! The characters that aren't from the Players Handbook are from the Monster Manual, same edition.

The story basically retells what was going on in Chris Davenport's Blog at the time. He and deranged elf fan, Larry Pressfield (Upright from NA!P), had begun a war of words between the two clans. I decided that was spiraling out of control and a summit of some kind was needed. A summit that was being role-played.

Looking back on this comic, I like the set-up. The collage art is actually pretty decent for just getting started. I think I'd had some practice with some other NA!P features by then. And my favorite line still calls for a shirt or mug or mousepad: "Go fist a dryad!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Attribution, Sprite Comics and Collage

I often wonder while making Dwarf Lover whether or not I should be making mention of every place I take a picture or every artist I can find that created the pieces I'm using. I imagine at some point I'll go through the comics one by one and try to remember all of the sources. Sort of like a director's cut except over here instead of over there with the comic.

And since I'm on the topic of using other art to create a comic, I thought I'd define Dwarf Lover as I see it. It often gets called a Sprite Comic which is both a neutral general term to describe a comic that doesn't use original art (usually a sprite comic because it uses the graphics from a video game) and in a derogatory sense because, well, the comic doesn't use original art.

Dwarf Lover, as you may have noticed, does not use original art. Well, not true. It generally doesn't use original art. My art is peppered through the comic where needed but this comic, The Journal of Kohk Korunch, is completely my work. Except for the initial hand.

But Dwarf Lover is also not a Sprite Comic. It's more of a collage. It takes images of every kind from many sources. The web, comics, gaming manuals, video games, movies. And the majority of the scenes and characters have been painstakingly reworked. All of the major characters have been pulled apart, torn limb from limb, and rebuilt so that I can move their parts around and put them in whatever poses I choose. Most of the backgrounds need to be turned into a blank and each individual set piece pulled out so that I can manipulate it to my will.

It takes a lot of work to put together an action scene in Dwarf Lover.

In the beginning, I wrote a lot of 'talking heads' episodes because it seemed easier. It was also boring. So I began writing the comic without thinking about the effort each page would take in Photoshop. I found I liked this best of all. Sometimes I wouldn't notice how difficult a page would be to shop until I started the actual work. But often, I'll write a page and just shake my head, thinking, "How in the world am I going to put THAT together?" And then I do it.

But since it still isn't my original art, it will always be looked down upon by the jerkier nerds on the internet. If people can look past that aspect and realize what I'm doing is art in and of itself (yes, art can have dick jokes), they might be pleasantly surprised at the story taking place on this obscure little place on the web.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dwarf Lover: Ineption

This episode of Dwarf Lover, Ineption, was conceived and planned out long before I ever saw that South Park episode with Inception and Freddy Krueger. But I guess that's what happens when you take six years to finish a story arc and other writers finish a story every week of their stupid lives! Of course the story didn't have the inception bit when it was first planned. But I thought the spinning top was a nice way to introduce the dream aspect.

One of the things that fit so nicely when I brought Freddy Krueger into the story way back in The Journal of Kohk Korunch was that I knew there was a section in the Tomb much later where the party would be forced into a sleeping state. And that Freddy would be dealt with at that time.

Of course, he's only sort of half dealt with after this episode.

By the way, this is the first big encounter with one of the 13 Ghosts of the Chest of S'kubi Du! So anybody out there trying to guess who all 13 Ghosts are, well, um, now you only have to guess 12! Or 11 since you can be pretty sure Acererak is one of them also.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Graphic Adventure Games from the Eighties 101

As I play these old graphic adventure games, I'm trying to learn something from each one that might help me along in the next. So these are a few things the games I've played have taught me.

1. Alien Research Center: A relatively simple game which I thought I was going to win on my first attempt. Getting from beginning to end was fairly simple although one exit from one room remained blocked to me. After realizing I still had more things to find, I attempted to pass the pool blocking my way with no luck. It turned out there was a half-corroded floor in one room that you needed to kick to open up more of the ship. Thing I learned: When a Wall, Floor, or Ceiling has a special note, mark it for later. You may have to try a whole bunch of verbs useless in the rest of the game on the wall or floor or ceiling to continue on your quest.

2. Master of the Universe in Terraquake (unless it's really Super Adventure!): This game had a lot of Red Herrings which made me waste a lot of time. But it is possible to realize specific areas of a map that you don't need to fiddle with. But Terraquake's Red Herrings were mainly there to distract the player from the dead end under Snake Mountain with a wall that didn't have anything interesting about it at all. Of course, that was where a secret door was! Thing I learned: When a Wall, Floor, or Ceiling has no special note, you're fucked. You may have to try examining every wall and floor and ceiling in every location until you find one that says more than "Looks like an ordinary wall to me."

3. Frankie Crashed on Jupiter: Saying Fuck replaced the Drop All command in this game. But it did so by moving your entire inventory into the room you are currently in. This had the advantage of things that would normally break when you dropped them individually to not break! Very handy, indeed. Thing I learned: Saying Fuck can be very useful.

4. The Very Big Cave Adventure: If you say Fuck in this game, the female narrator breaks your arm and ends your game. But if you say Shit, you are transported to the Swear Box where you must Wash Mouth to leave. When you leave, you end up near the Wellie House where your treasure is stored. This can be very useful when you don't want to cross the entire cave to put some treasure away. But what is more, one of the major puzzles in the game (possibly the only real puzzle in the game!) can be avoided by swearing! In Gotham, you have to steal two treasures while That Man is in the bathroom. But you just don't have enough time! But you can steal both treasures and swear before going back to the heart of Gotham! You still need to get a ride back from That Man if you want his utility belt. But that's no problem! If you head back to Gotham, everything is reset! You can help That Man foil the Jester again and this time just hang out until That Man is done in the can. Game Won! Things I learned: When programmers try to get cute, they often fuck up the shit in their game.

5. Aztec Tomb Revisited: This game was a big fat programming turd. How it ever made it onto shelves is a mystery. But the worst part of the game is that the instructions outright lie to you. They tell you to look at rooms and examine things. But early on, you need to look at things while examine does nothing. Oh, what a clever ploy! Fuck you, Brandon James. I will never forget your name, Brandon James. Things I learned: Brandon James is a dick who can't program worth shit.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Very Big Cave Adventure

Those must have been some really heady times, those halcyon days of the eighties. When you could write an adventure game and it would be published no matter how poorly thought out it was. Where people were in such need of computer entertainment that they would shell out 8 Pounds for a less than funny parody of the Grandfather of all text games.

Oh, to be a kid back then! When you could write a game where all of the action took place on the surface of Jupiter and nobody seemed to care. When you could insult the player constantly because they can't quite guess the verb to solve the nonsensical puzzle you placed in the first few moves of a game to make the game seem to last longer. When mazes were standard fare and the only thing standing in the way of someone figuring out all of your puzzles in a couple of hours.

"See, what I did here, was I made most of the map available. And you can see there are six main puzzles that the player needs to solve to move on. But! The player can't solve any of these puzzles until he finds all the correct items at the end of this dastardly maze I made where no direction ever takes you to the same place twice and there is only a 1 in 100 chance of finding the correct route!"

Oh, such beauty! Such innocence! No wonder I long to go back and replay all of these horrible, horrible games! Their allure is just too, too sweet.

Click on The Very Big Cave Adventure for my latest review.
Click on The Very Big Cave Adventure for my latest Walkstory.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Places & Predators

Places & Predators is the name of my website. I thought maybe I would list updates here with some notes on each project. I'm hoping that Blogger has better spam protection than the P&P Forum I'm currently using. Registration for the forum now needs authentication by me since at least one spammer per day was logging on. Usually, the same spammer but with a different name. He kept using a email address and tacking two random capital letters onto he end of all of his random names.