Sunday, December 31, 2006

Re-reading FLEX MENTALLO Part 4

This is the final part of a four-part look at the out-of-print 1996 Flex Mentallo miniseries from Vertigo by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.

In this issue, Flex Mentallo, Lt. Harry, the Hoaxer, and a mysterious moon-faced villain converge at the Legion of Legion headquarters where they learn the truth behind it all. A long time ago, there was an Earth with fantastic costumed superheroes. "The Absolute" threatened all reality, and the superheroes hatched a desperate last ditch plan. They bypassed the death of their reality by becoming fiction in our reality. They lived on, in a sense, as comic book characters. The "villain" of the piece turns out to be a teenaged Wallace Sage, repressing the heroes in his subconscious. Once he accepts the hero within himself, a trigger is activated that brings the lost heroes into our world, heralding a glorious new age.

The gathered heroes forge ahead with their mad plan. Godspeed, my teensy-weensy friends.

The apocalyptic end! This book was "Widescreen" before anyone coined the term.

More fun with Harry and the Hoaxer.

Heres a good scene: The Faculty X guys arranging the set dressing as Flex recovers from teleportation.

I also like the strange techo-organic sanctuary where the heroes take refuge. Creepy.

The big showdown, with a side of metacommentary.

And, without further comment, the last four pages:

Thus ends our look at Flex Mentallo, a forgotten classic.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely did some great work here, and it should be available. Until then, this series provides a glimpse at their work.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Let's All Get New Armor!

UPDATED! 1/16/07

Everyone loves new armor! Let's all get new armor!!

IRON MAN got new armor! It has TEATS, from which to suckle GIN!!

MOON KNIGHT got new armor! He's not worried about WOLVES anymore!!

BOOSTER GOLD got new armor! TWICE!!

THOR got new armor! I think he missed the point!!

CAPTAIN AMERICA got new armor! He's CHIMNEY-KICKIN' happy about it, too!

SPIDER-MAN got new armor! It's always best to hire a PROFESSIONAL to tile the bathroom floor!!

BATMAN got new armor!! ROBIN didn't - that's why he's DEAD!!

CATWOMAN got new armor! RADICAL!!

Later for YOU - I gotta go get me some NEW ARMOR!

with suggestions from "real" "live" Again With the Comics Readers!

I knew THE PUNISHER must have gotten new armor at some point! Thanks to Spenser Carnage for finding it! WICKED KEWL!!

And thanks to Gaeasoldier for reminding me about DAREDEVIL's new armor! BITCHIN'!!

Commentor P-TOR gives us this oddball choice: wacky "mystical" armor for Doctor Strange!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let the Thing Keep His Bling!

The ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing recently came into a financial windfall in Fantastic Four #328, instantly becoming one of the wealthiest men in the Marvel Universe. This was a very intriguing development, and we got a look at how the money affected Ben in his short-lived solo series, but nothing much was done with it in the main title. Ben has pretty much always lived on the Fantastic Four's dime, so I saw story potential in having Ben finance the then-financially-distressed quartet. A situation like that might have also provided an interesting new dynamic with Reed, but the book soon became embroiled in Civil War, and the money seemed forgotten. In the latest Fantastic Four #541, the government froze most of Ben's assets as a response to his migration to France to sit out the Civil War. I hope this isn't a backdoor way of stripping him of his wealth, because that would be a waste. I guess we'll see what, if anything, incoming FF scribe Dwayne McDuffie does with this plot thread.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Your mistletoe is no match for my TOW missle!

Merry X-mas from Again With the Comics and Santa Bot!

He knows when your are sleeping,
He knows when you're on the can,
He'll hunt you down and blast your ass from here to Pakistan.
You better not breathe, you better not move,
You're better off dead, I'm telling you, dude.
Santa Claus is gunning you down!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Snowed Under: An Again With the Comics Blizzard Report

So Colorado got a little snow yesterday...

Spent almost 3 hours yesterday pushing through a blizzard to pick up my wife from work and our kid from daycare. We all got home and safe eventually, but winter driving through all that snow is a bastard. This after an entirely nonproductive two hours at work. The MAN makes you drag your ass in, then he tells you to go home. Work? NOT SO GOOD.

My pal, Mike, got stranded at work last night. The good news is, he works at a comic book store, and he had rum, so he's just fine. The bad news is that the new comics are in, but I can't get to them! It's a comic reader's nightmare!

Gotta go. The snow shovel beckons!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

George Perez is nuts. Also fantastic.

Amazing as it is, this picture illustrates an unpleasant truth about both the Avengers and the Justice League of America: Far from being the "best of the best" in their respective universes, both teams will let ANY-DAMN-BODY join. Dozens of these super zeroes are simply not Avengers/JLA material, but over the decades, they've been added by writers wanting to "make their mark" on the team they're writing. That's how you end up with the likes of Deathcry, Rage, and Darkhawk as official Avengers, and G'nort, Yazz, and Bloodwynd as JLA. To compound the problem, various spin-off teams have popped up over the years, and apparently being a member of "Extreme Justice" earns you a JLA membership now, and crappy "Force Works" members like Moonraker get to be official Avengers. Now this picture, and indeed, the whole JLA/Avengers series was meant to include everyone who has ever been a member of either team, but that conceit really points out that for both teams, the bar for membership is set way, way too low.

What do you think, reader? What members of the Avengers and/or JLA baffle and confound you?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Another Favorite Returns: The Metal Men!

I'm glad to see a comeback for the Metal Men is in the works. The loveable bickering 'bots have pretty much completely disappeared from the DC Universe since the ill-advised '90s mini series that retconned their origin to explain that their human personalities were based on actual people, among them Doc Magnus' fiancee and brother, who had been critically injured in an accident and had their intellects and personalities (somehow) tranferred into blank robot shells. That development was apparently wiped out by the famous "Superboy retcon punch" in Infinite Crisis, and thank God for that. I actually don't mind the new looks for the robots. they look more robotic, and cartoonier, but that's not at all a bad thing. They could be bristling with guns and blades, so thankfully, someone "gets" the Metal Men's appeal. I also see that among Gold, Platinum, Mercury, Tin, Lead, and Iron, we now have Copper. From this sample page, she looks like she's filling the "tactical genius" role, so we'll see what she brings to the mix.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Fantastic Four Lineup.....SPOILERS!

UPDATED 12/15/06

Well, that was kinda cool. I had the scoop on this for about half a day, and got quite a few new visitors from it. Now the news is out everywhere, so I thought I'd talk about the new team.

by Dwayne McDuffie & Paul Pelletier
Cover by Michael Turner! In the aftermath of “Civil War” comes “Reconstruction,” the beginning of a stunning new era of fantastic adventure! With Reed and Sue taking a leave to work out their marital problems, it’s up to Ben and Johnny — and two new auxiliary team members — to carry on the fight!

So that's Storm and the Black Panther in the Fantastic Four for awhile, apparently. I'm sure Reed and Sue will be back soon enough, but until then, I'm definitely looking forward to this. McDuffie's a favorite, I've always enjoyed Pelletier's work, and I like seeing the FF shook up once in awhile.

Actually, I'm one of the few who are perfectly happy to see Storm and the Black Panther get married. I like Storm, but it doesn't seem like she had much to do in the ridiculously bloated X-men cast lately. I don't read many X-books, but wasn't she pretty much lost in the crowd? Now she's tied to the Panther, but at least it's something new for her.

The Panther is a natural to temporarily lead the team, as he debuted in Fantastic Four. I don't know how the two will fit Fantastic Four-ing in their busy royal schedule, but I'm sure they'll figure it out. Ask Spider-Man or Wolverine about time management in the Marvel U.

Johnny and Ben are still on board, I'm glad to see. I'm quite looking forward to seeing them work alongside T'challa and Ororo. Dwayne McDuffie, a new team, what's not to like?

That's all for now. Christmas crap beckons.

Review: The Spirit #1

The Spirit #1

Written and Illustrated by Darwyn Cooke

Published by DC Comics

Well, I must say, I was blown away by The Spirit #1. Understand, I really didn’t think it was such a great idea to try to revive the series at all. Will Eisner’s Spirit stories have become legendary, and with good reason, so I thought a revival would be tantamount to filming a new version of Casablanca. I was also leery of DC’s plans to have the series set in the modern day, as the noirish aspects of the series might get lost in a world of cell phones and cable TV. Darwyn Cooke is fast becoming a creator whose work I'll buy sight unseen, and in the Spirit #1, he put those fears to rest beyond my wildest expectations. Cooke’s Spirit works in a noir-drenched world that seamlessly integrates the modern world. Cooke wisely avoids copying Eisner’s style, but stays very close to the (ahem) spirit of the original stories. Also wisely, he keeps “perfect” characters like Dolan and Denny Colt very close to their original template, while updating problematic characters like Ebony White. The original Ebony had pretty much become unusable, due to his racially insulting appearance, but the new version actually looks like a human being. Ebony was always a much deeper and nobler character than his appearance indicated anyway, so this update is long overdue. Cooke also introduces several new characters this issue, including Ginger Coffee, a manic newswoman, and the Pill, a truly disgusting new crime boss. A fantastic job all around, the new Spirit really, surprisingly, works. Buy it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Season's Bleatings

Christmas continues to gobble up all spare time as we head into the final frantic weeks before the Red Devil's visit. Why do we (as a society) do this to ourselves? Stupid holiday. Enjoy this delightful page of a drunken fratboy Santa vomiting on orphans from Real Stuff, written by Dennis Eichhorn, drawn by Peter Bagge:

Charming. Only 14 days til Christmas is over!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

100th Post Super Spectacular! Starring MODOK, Doctor Mayavale, and...YOU!!

Welcome, dear Again With the Comics reader. You are in the ballroom of an elegant New York hotel. You’ve been flown out on an all-expenses 3-day trip to attend the Again With the Comics 100th Post Super Spectacular! You look around the lobby and see many familiar faces: there are some Mindless Ones, there’s the Batman Creature…there’s Ravage 2099, there’s crazy old Hal Jordan, and hey! There’s the Silver Age, googly-fingered Beetle! He’s your favorite!

Better get on the elevator! The show’s about to start! The 100th post at Again With the Comics is about to go live on the 20th floor. This is the most elegant hotel you’ve ever been in, with a huge, gilded elevator. You’re the first one in, followed by none other than MODOK himself. He’s huge, and he alone takes up most of the elevator.

MODOK: What are YOU staring at, Fool ?!? (THUNDERS) Make way for the undisputed MASTER of MENTALITY!! Make way for MODOK!!!

YOU: (cringe, wet self.)

MODOK: AAAWWW! Nasty!! What the Hell? I was just givin’ you the business! Now it’s going to smell like pee in here!

You notice that the elevator door hasn’t closed yet. It’s being held open by four green hands, connected to long, ropy lime-green arms. While MODOK blocks most of your view, you can see the top of a frizzy, snow-white Afro. Doctor Mayavale is trying to squeeze onto the MODOK-stuffed elevator.

Doctor Mayavale: Unhand that lad/young woman, you Karmic disaster!

MODOK: Mayavale! Long time, no see, you crazy motherf####r!

The door closes. You press the “20” button and the elevator begins it’s ascent. Minutes ago, the cab seemed so spacious, so lavish. Now it’s a coffin, almost taken up entirely with the giant, pulsating, gin-sweat dampened cranium of the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. Also apparently a Mental Organism Designed for Drinking Lots and Not So Much Showering. The tiny remaining space on either side is taken up with You on one side and Doctor Mayavale on the other.

Doctor Mayavale: So, what have you heard about this 100th Post Gala, my friends? As many lives as I’ve lived….as many roads as I have traveled…

MODOK: Yeah, shut up, okay? I’ve got the worst headache. A head my size, you can’t imagine. I could NOT miss this though. I heard that there’s gonna be a "Greatest DC Super Gorillas vs. Best Marvel Silver Age Supervillains" feature, followed by a flyover by the Blue Angels!

Doctor Mayavale: Indeed, my old friend. I heard the 100th post would present an in-depth analysis of “The Weirdo Wedding of Jimmy Olsen” from Jimmy Olsen#100 followed by a retrospective of the many Armors of Iron Man.

YOU: I heard…


The elevator shudders to a halt. For a moment, all is quiet.


Doctor Mayavale: My friend! Calm yourself... the elevator appears to have broken down!

MODOK: Cram it, hippie! Don’t you hear all the LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE? The 100th Post! It’s beginning…! MOVE, stupid elevator!

Doctor Mayavale: My dear friend, I am simply suggesting that if we are to be stuck on this elevator, perhaps we can share our own reflections of the last six months and 99 posts of Again With the Comics…Indeed, six months is an eternity in a cosmic space monastery and…

MODOK: Sounds like a clip show to me. And six months? Is that what passes for an achievement these days? Why not “commemorate” K-Fed while we’re at it?

Doctor Mayavale: You must strive for inner peace, my good sir! Only thus can you learn the mystery within! Um… Anyway, I’ll start: Remember all the times Again With the Comics has discussed Marvel’s Civil War?

SFX: (harp glissando)

Spider-Man Speculation

New Avengers #21 Reaction

Spider-Man: Widower?

SFX: (harp glissando)

MODOK: Yes, and what about the time I shared my most intimate erotic fantasies with our readers?

SFX: (harp glissando)

The Sensual MODOK!

SFX: (harp glissando)

Doctor Mayavale: Sweet Robot Vishnu! All my experiences and all my lives have never prepared me for that! My dear, dear old friend…you wrong me again as you have so many times in the past!! I have never seen anything that has filled me with such existential revulsion! Wait! There was that one other time…

SFX: (harp glissando)

The Existential Horror of Lana Lang: Insect Queen

SFX: (harp glissando)

MODOK: What about the time Again With the Comics showed us what Venom is going to look like in Spider-Man 3? What a scoop!

SFX: (harp glissando)

SFX: (harp glissando)

Doctor Mayavale: Truly, a fine moment! Of course, this year has had it’s share of tragedies as well, such as the death of Stilt-Man!

SFX: (harp glissando)

SFX: (harp glissando)

MODOK: (moans) I hear fireworks! I’m sure those are fireworks! (waving his stubby little arms frantically) I want out! Hey!! Remember that time the microbrain Hughes got all worked up about a movie that’s probably never going to happen? Or his obsession with the freakin’ BEETLE of all things!

SFX: (harp glissando)

Doom Patrol Movie?

The Beetle!

SFX: (harp glissando)

Doctor Mayavale: Or his obsession with a certain other third-rate Marvel punching bag!

SFX: (harp glissando)

MODOK’s 11

Ultimate MODOK?

MODOK Meets Archie

SFX: (harp glissando)

MODOK: YOU SON OF A BITCH!! I’ll kill you!!!

MODOK blasts Mayavale with a mind bolt, but Mayavale prattles on. You realize then that you’ll never leave this elevator. These two maniacs will kill each other and you with them. The big party is over and you missed the whole thing. The big 100th post was nothing more than a glorified clip show. You’re wet, terrified, and smelly, and you’re about to die, as the tortured elevator cable finally snaps.

Thanks for reading Again With the Comics, you poor doomed bastard!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Character Obscura: Hellcat

Admittedly, Hellcat isn't that obscure. Hellcat was the costumed identity of Patsy Walker, a long running teen humor series that ran in the 1950s at Marvel. When Patsy grew up, she married her high school sweetheart, Buzz Baxter, who promptly joined the Air Force. Patsy followed her husband from assignment to assignment, until he was posted as a guard at a Brand Industries facility that also employed Henry McCoy, the X-Men’s Beast. McCoy was working undercover to find a cure for his then-new “furry Beast” condition, but Walker found him out. Bored with her life, and with her marriage on the rocks, she tried to blackmail McCoy into helping her become a superhero. Eventually, she found the Hellcat costume, and began her career by helping the Avengers with their search for the Serpent Crown. She later joined the Defenders and was a key member for years before leaving with Daimon Hellstrom, whom she married.

Really, no one should have to be told that it’s a bad idea to marry the Son of Satan, but Patsy did, and when he went all dark and gothy, she went all mad and suicide-y. Whoever thinks Hellcat and suicide are a good mix oughtta have their head examined! She was eventually rescued from Hell by the Avengers, and soon resumed her hero career. I’ve always liked Hellcat, and really didn’t like seeing her dragged around as she was for a few years there. I’m glad she’s back. She’s the rare Marvel heroine that has no ties to any male counterpart, having acquired the Cat costume that Greer Nelson abandoned when she became Tigra.

FUN FACT: Patsy’s husband, Buzz, went on to become her rabid archenemy, Mad Dog!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas hates Again With the Comics

Christmas is bad. Dorian knows the score.

Valuable bitching-about-old-comics time has been lost to the yearly time-and-money vacuum that is "Christmas". Bah, humbug to Christmas, sir! Humbug indeed!

I've been hanging lights, addressing envelopes, and picking out gifts, but what about the comics? Won't somebody please think of the comics!?

In lieu of actual content, enjoy this evil, evil Dan Clowes comic from Eightball #14:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Feelin' Froggy?

A matter of grave, grave importance has come to my attention, and I felt the need to address it immediately. For future reference:

LEAP FROG was a small-time solo crook named Vinnie Patilio who fought Daredevil and various other Superheroes before retiring from crime:

Frog-Man (Francois LeBlanc) was one of the Ani-Men, a gang of animal themed crooks who also fought Daredevil:
This makes Daredevil perhaps the only Superhero with two frog-themed villains. In your face, Batman! Note that Frog-Man has a yellow tunic and gloves while Leap Frog is solid green. Frog-Man has antennae, while Leap Frog has boot springs. Also, according to the internet, Frog-Man (LeBlanc) is dead. Probably "croaked" from shame. HAHAHA!

Furthering the confusion, Leap Frog's son, Eugene, has since donned the Leap Frog suit and occasionally acts as a c-list superhero named...FROG-MAN:

I hope that cleared things up.

(Custom Frog Man action figure created by Joe Acevedo.)