Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your Murderbot is Shoddy and Unconvincing.

Really, Doctor Sados, couldn't you have tried a little harder? I mean, this is a crap robot at best, but to dress it in my colors and try to frame me? Bitch, please. I'm used to this sort of thing from Professor Misery or the Hateful Hun, but I really expected better of you. Is this the same criminal mastermind who invented the Terror Tricycle and the carnivorous Croco-rillas? You’ve lost your touch old man. Even Cappy, the Brooklyn Kid wasn’t fooled by your pathetic, half-assed frame job, and he’s easily the stupidest of my many, many sidekicks! Frankly, I'm disappointed, and I expect better next time.

Patriotically yours – Capt. Freedom

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

If You're Into Graphic Evil, Soak In This Picture:

Again With the Comics will almost certainly be on hiatus June 4th-10th, thanks to work, the drinking man's bane. Business travel plus remote location plus no laptop equals no blogging. I can, however, write and take notes, and the above panel is from one of the projects I'll be working on in plain 'ol pen and ink while I'm gone in search of Yukon gold.

Time permitting, I might fit in a couple more posts before I go, but no promises. Look for a return to regular service no later than June 13th. Wouldn't want to miss the 13th.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Black Casebook of the Batman

Thank you Thank you Thank you Grant Morrison for The Black Casebook. The mysterious tome, introduced in Batman #665, is a brilliant way to incorporate those wacky '50's Batman stories into continuity. Best of all, as far as I'm concerned, The Batman Creature is now officially IN CANON.

You read the mind-shattering tale of the Batman Creature here at Again With the Comics, but what other mad, reality-twisting tales lurk within the Black Casebook? Look and see, but beware...once seen, such images of inexplicable unreality cannot be unseen!

That's right! It all happened, and it's all in The Black Casebook.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Again With the Cranius

Again With the Comics thanks Mike Sterling for the "heads up" on Cranius. I have a ton of Swamp Thing comics, but I've never heard of this funky 'lil fella. Regular readers will be unsurprised to hear that Cranius is tailor-made for yours truly. He belongs in the Marvel Universe though. He could hang out with Arnim Zola! I'll be checking out this Un-Men series, I think.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cue the Next Outrage

Okay, so now that the furor over that Goddamn Mary Jane statue is dying down, the Internet is gonna need something else to complain about. Let's see, let's see...Ah! Here we go!

That's the cover to Heroes for Hire #13, and wow, it is all kinds of messed up. People squawk about Greg Land all the time, but I don't wanna know what kind of photo reference was used here. That "tentacle slime" on Black Cat is way too well drawn to be made up. In a word: EEEeeeewwwww. Still, this is the perfect storm of Internet umbrage: You got your women in jeopardy, your bondage, and your superhero tentacle porn, and all on one cover - it's like one stop shopping for apoplectic outrage! And unlike that Mary Jane statue, this is an affordable $2.99, a bargain for the discriminating pervert on a budget. See? Everybody wins!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Forgotten Failures of the Golden Age

The Golden Age of comics. These were comics' formative years, with each new month bringing a plethora of fantastic characters, all destined for greatness. Or maybe not. For every Superman or Captain America, there were fifty copycats, most of whom quickly vanished. Just like every other boom in comics, the initial success stories bred an army of cheap copies, and overnight, fly-by-night publishers popped up to cash in. The result, after the inevitable bust, were tons of forgotten superheroes, most of whom have since fallen into the public domain through disuse.

Let's go back now, back to a simpler, more innocent time, Back to the days of World War II and the early years of the comic book. Back to the days of flappers and Elvis, penny whistles and moon pies. Back to the days when a man could throw a tablecloth over his head, pull on a pair of fire-engine red trunks and go BUCK WILD on mysterious foreigners like our friend, THE HOOD:

While it's a truism in comics that everyone comes back eventually, who would ever want to bring back RAINBOW BOY? Here, the Chromatic Cadet is seen pulling the old "Grab the Tyrant/Miser from his throne/mansion and fly him down to the battlefield/tenement so he sees the horrors of war/poverty firsthand and renounces his evil/greedy ways" routine.

'Cause that's how they rolled back in tha GA, yo.

Surely, this star-spangled champion must be named Captain Glory, Major Flag or something equally stirring, right? Well, no. THE PUPPETEER doesn't use puppets to fight crime, he does nothing puppet-like himself, and he can’t control other people. No, this genius named himself after his day job as a puppet maker. There’s a reason Clark Kent doesn’t fight crime as “the Newspaper Reporter”, and why Bruce Wayne doesn’t wage his lonely war on crime as “the Millionaire Playboy” There’s also a reason that Superman and Batman are still around today, while the Puppeteer is completely, deservedly forgotten. Puppeteer also had an annoying talking raven sidekick inexplicably drawn to look like an eagle, but I guess we've already established this as a strip that just doesn't make much damn sense, haven't we?

All images were obtained from Pure Excitement Comics, packed with much Golden Age goodness.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

So Now I'm Ready to Be Pals, With the Hulk Trying to Kill Me and All...

Iron Man: Yeah, I always liked you guys, even when we were fighting and stuff. We can still be friends, right? Peter! You still hangin' cool, son? Whoa! ...Dude, don't even worry about that now. We need...We need to all fight as one, because the Hulk and the innocent bystanders, you know? Avengers Assemble! So yeah, let's just hang out here, and if the Hulk don't start none, there won't be none, right Luke? Yeah!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Marvel Zombies Masterworks?!?

No, not really. I wanted to post this ghastly reworking of a classic comics moment from Avengers #4, only zombiefied. This was meant for a humor post on ill-advised Marvel Zombies brand extensions, but after seeing that disgusting Zombie Spider Man wedding statue and insanely enough, Marvel Zombies fucking Minimates, I knew nothing I could make up could top the crazy shit Marvel actually does. So forget it.

Now, Where are my Marvel Zombie Minimate Bobblehead Limited Edition Holographic Pogs, damn it?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stretched Thin

Expect normal service to resume shortly, after a busy Mother's Day weekend. Until then, enjoy these swell Plastic Man splash pages, from me poisonal collection.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nexus: Space Opera is Coming!

A short post here, to remind you that Nexus: Space Opera (a.k.a. Nexus #99) is available to order from Previews (page 338). The newest Nexus series does double-duty as Nexus #99-103, and I'm gonna go ahead and recommend it sight unseen, because I'm currently re-reading my Nexus collection in anticipation of this new series, and Nexus has always been fantastic. Steve Rude is one of my favorite comic artists, and with writer Mike Baron, he's constructed a fascinating, complex character surrounded by a great supporting cast. Here's a more in-depth description. Nexus had to go the "series of mini-series" route several years ago when the ongoing series got cancelled, and Dark Horse became the publisher. Now, ten years later, Rude Dude productions is picking up where those left off, with Steve Rude self-pubbing. If you've ever been on the fence about Nexus, give it a try - I want to see this book succeed so I don't have to wait another ten years for Nexus #103. Nexus has been around for awhile, but after a ten-year hiatus, it looks like Baron and Rude will try to make this new-reader friendly while still advancing the plot. There was Free Comic Book Day giveaway to promote Nexus, and if you missed that, there's a preview of Nexus: Space Opera over at Steve Rude's ComicSpace page.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Praise for Marvel Adventures, a Rant, and a Proposal

I've really been enjoying these Marvel Adventures books lately. The new-reader friendly, all-ages imprint has been around for a few years now, and they've turned out some fun and funny stories in a simpler Marvel Universe with each book set in its most iconic state: Peter Parker is in High School, the Hulk is a simple minded brute, and so on. Everybody gets along fabulously, with the Hulk and Wolverine both in the Avengers. They're also rolling out MA: Iron Man and MA: Hulk titles later this year, so apparently they're not selling too bad. The writing has been pretty clever recently with M.O.D.Avengers, Ego, the Living Planet as a playa mackin' on planet Earth in Marvel Adventures: Avengers, and Stilt Man, Leap Frog, and Rocket Racer re-imagined as college nerds working for the Tinkerer in MA: Spider-Man. They also seem to come out much more reliably, and with arguably wider appeal than the "actual" Marvel monthlies.

A lot of those books have been falling further and further off schedule in the wake of Civil war and various creative delays. Amazing Spider-Man has fallen far off schedule recently, and somehow, I don't think handing Joe "Daredevil:Father" Quesada the pencilling reins is ideal course correction. Most of the main Marvel titles are nigh-unrecognizable now, the Initiative is up and may dig it, and I'm personally intrigued, but newbies are likely baffled. The Avengers are split down the middle, half of them government employees and the other half outlaws. Spider-Man has been exposed and who knows what's next for him, the Hulk is an invading alien warlord now, bent on revenge, Captain America is dead, and it looks like things are going to be shaken up for the foreseeable future. And I'm basically fine with all that, but I'm pretty sure its confusing as hell to the mom who just wants to get her kid an Iron Man comic, and gets Iron Man: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Lady Nipples because that's the "regular" Iron Man book, and the store's magazine-ordering guy has never heard of a Marvel Adventure Whatever comic.

Thus my modest proposal: Couldn't Marvel Adventures: Avengers just be the Avengers? The regular Avengers are New and Mighty now; they're not even using the adjective-less Avengers title. And since it's now Iron Man: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. , can't the upcoming Marvel Adventures: Iron Man just be Iron Man? Ideally, Marvel should be putting regular, monthly, accessible comics featuring Spider-Man, Hulk, etc, anyway, so why not ditch that cumbersome "Marvel Adventures" baggage and give the all-ages crowd monthly Spider-Man, Hulk, and Iron Man comics that they can comprehend? Seems like a good idea to me.

Monday, May 07, 2007

An Early look at the Iron Man Movie

This first look at Iron Man: the Movie was in Entertainment Weekly #933 this week, and I had to share. This is shaping up to be the next big Marvel blockbuster, and it looks like they've pulled out all the stops. That modern armor looks fantastic, and the prototype armor is great as well. Honestly, sometimes I can't believe I'm seeing this stuff. I'm not sure who the villain of the pic is supposed to be, but I've heard Mandarin, and recently Iron Monger/Obadiah Stane rumored. The Mandarin has always bored the crap outta me, but Stane could be interesting.

Of course, I know who I'd like to see on the big screen. Maybe in Iron Man II...

Friday, May 04, 2007

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?


"My word!" "Harrummphh!" "This is most irregular!"
There's nothing funnier than seeing a bunch of uptight aristocrats faced with a thoroughly inappropriate dinner guest, (Ref: Stooges, Three) but that's a decidedly underwhelming choice of monster on the cover above. In this day and age, slime covered swamp beasts have joined the moneyed elite, and the appearance of a muck-encrusted man-monster is no longer controversial among society's upper crust. The question falls to you, dear reader: Who's freaking out the squares?

As an example, here's old you-know-who up to his usual tricks:

Your turn. Go nuts!

Look who else is sitting down for dinner:

Siskoid invited a few long lost friends for a welcome back feast. Hope there's enough food!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Multiple Multiverse Meanderings

52 week 52: Well, that was a hoot. I have to admit, 52 was much, much better than I thought it would be. I plan to go back and re-read it all now, so I can’t comment on the specifics, I’m sure we’ll see lists of unanswered questions and inconsistencies, but it seems like all the major threads tied up pretty nicely. I’ll even take back some of my complaints about World War III, because at least it kept the least interesting of the initial concepts for 52-the events that caused the One Year Later changes–off in a separate series. Trying to include all of that would have made 52 much messier, and I’m glad it was dealt with elsewhere. What we got was a look at different aspects of life on New Earth post-Infinite Crisis, and a great story that elevated some damaged characters to star status topped with one final gift.

Yes, the best part of all this is, we got the multiverse back. I was around for the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I never did like the elimination of the parallel Earths. Twenty-one years ago, the concept was an albatross for DC, and they felt that the multiverse was too hard to explain, and that having one timeline would be for the best. To be fair, I think it did work to improve sales and increase readership, but the cracks started to show early, and there were plenty of ‘em. The problem of explaining the multiverse was quickly replaced by the problem of trying to explain how various pivotal stories could or could not have “happened”, and as characters like Hawkman and Wonder Woman were reintroduced as if they were new, the problems multiplied. Today is very different from then, though. As pop culture caught up with and embraced the comics, it’s probably fair to say that the concept of multiple earths has become more common in our entertainment, and even my 5-year old son understands that the animated, movie, and comic book Batman are three different stories, each with their own rules and timelines.

So the multiverse is back, and we’re jubilant over the return of something that probably shouldn’t have been taken from us in the first place. Of course, when hostages are returned, it’s unseemly to complain about the time and cost of freeing them. It leads me to wonder though: Were the last twenty-one years a waste? For all the continuity troubles that CoIE caused, DC had only just recently finished ironing out most of the problems caused by that event, only to turn around and render all that work unnecessary. Or so it seems. Was all of John Byrne’s work rewriting the Superman legend in vain? Were all the Legion reboots for naught? I’ll argue no, for the post-CoIE landscape did allow for the molding of a singular, all-inclusive DCU, one that folded in all DC’s character acquisitions and their classic characters. It also allowed for a legacy-centric DCU, with a JLA that formed from the JSA, and a rich tapestry of character dynasties that never would have happened had the Earth 1/Earth 2 JLA/JSA division stood.

Now, many Earths that became one have become many again, albeit with some retooling. Costume designs hint that these are not the same infinite earths that disappeared 21 years ago, allowing for many, many possibilities, but with a bit more structure. Fans can now have their cake (charming classic Captain Marvel) and eat it too (Trials of Shazam), and if someone wants to do a Vic Sage Question series, they can, and it “counts”.

The only caution I would extend (like they're gonna ask me) is not to get too anxious to catalog everything. Half-a dozen or so Earths introduced is enough, and there's no need to rush in there and close off all possibilities. I do hope that the DC Animated Universe is one of the 52 Earths though-that would be great.

Whatever the case, color me tickled pink to see the DC multiverse back in action!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Insane Dollar Store Spider-Man Coloring Book

Okay, if you thought Again With the Comics was insipid before, get set for a whole new low: tonight the object of scorn will be played by a children's coloring book. As the father of a five-year old, I see lots of toys, storybooks, clothing, coloring books, and other kid's merchandise emblazoned with Spider-Man, Batman, and other Marvel and DC characters. I hate to say it, but Marvel's licensed product is almost always a notch or five below DC's in terms of quality, durability and the artwork used. The worst of the worst Marvel products show up in dollar stores, where these Spider-Man toys probably ended up, and where we got this coloring book.

That said? this thing is fat-packed with insanity. About half of the 200 pages looks like it was drunkenly traced from comic book panels, with badly-drawn, over muscled Spidey, his villains, and activities. With so many pages to fill, the rest gets kinda weird.

I guess you have to give the coloring book hacker-outer some credit for creativity. He could have stuck in some more pictures of Spider-Man jumping around, but he opted instead to include pictures of people wearing various items of Spider-Man apparel, like this happy fellow:

Others, like this young lady, look suspiciously like they had their genesis in a Sears catalog:

I love this page. It is my favorite, on account of its sheer lunacy:
I mean...what the Hell is that?!? Hydro-Man looks altogether too happy to be getting a personalized photo of Aunt May. And...and who's giving him the photo? Is Aunt May targeted for death...or sweet, sweet hydro-lovin'? I am confused and frightened.


A few other pages are devoted to a series of mundane everyday items...with a Spider-Man on it! Like the lone arcade game...with a Spider-Man on it! A teddy bear sitting at the base of a tree...with a Spider-Man on it! And what child doesn't want to color a hand reaching for a key chain...with a Spider-Man on it!?

See, now they're just rippin' off other coloring books. Look out Life on the Farm Coloring've just been Spidey-fied!

There are several pages of regular bystander types being frightened by Spider-Man and/or spiders, including this one that may explain J. Jonah Jameson's aversion to Spider-Man:

Again, WTF, coloring book people? It's a bucolic Spider-Man still-life.

Strange and mystifying stuff. Further proof, if any were needed, that entrusting your child's education to a Dollar Store Spider-Man Coloring Book is not a good idea.