Friday, December 29, 2006

Smashy, smashy!

I've pretty much decided to only review new comics if I feel like it, and concentrate on other stuff I feel like talking about. That said, here's some reviews of new comics!

(As always, click to enlarge pictures)

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #11
Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Stuart Immonen

And here's the "smashy, smashy" of this post's title. There's not much to talk about in this book, other than that it's incredibly enjoyable. The team is attacking the headquarters of the Beyond Corporation, and after they crash land in the bowels of the (flying) complex, they spend six full double-page spreads fighting an avalanche of wacky monsters. It's awesome. So I figured I would try to put up a picture of everything they fight. This might take a while. Here we go!:

Purple Communist gorillas!

Giant rock men!

Some kind of trolls (maybe Mole Man monsters?)!

Ball-jointed robots!

Laser-vision equipped Stephen Hawkings in Roman chariot wheelchairs!

Naked ninjas!

Midget Iron Men!

Rice farmers? I can't figure out what that disc is that the one on the left is crashing face-first into.

Elvis MODOKs!!!!!!!! That shoot hamburgers!

Blue (ghost?) pirates!

Cyclops dinosaurs!

Two-headed, four-armed samurai!

Demonic chimney sweeps! (I actually thought they were train engineers at first. Silly me!)


Wolverine monkeys! With foot-claws!

Including a giant Wolverine gorilla!

With some sort of banana bomb! Is this a reference that I'm missing? It seems familiar...

A Sentinel-style giant robot!

Sabretooth tigers with jet packs!

Red devil/luchadore-helmeted guys!

An unconscious Black Bolt clone! (or something; it's hard to tell)

Old-school googly-eyed aliens!

More aliens!

And finally...evil purple trees!

Whew, that's a lot of bad guys. Next issue is the big finale!

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #13
Written by Sean McKeever
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Rick Mays

I was wrong about this being Takeshi Miyazawa's last issue; the lettercolumn in this issue says he'll leave after #15. That's great; he'll be cherished as long as he's around. He's as good as always this issue, although the highlight is probably the Rick Mays-illustrated section in which Gwen Stacy relates to MJ what happened when she and Peter Parker were on a date. She's upset because lately, Peter has been making up lame excuses and running off suddenly. Huh, I wonder why he would be doing that? Anyway, as she tells Mary Jane, he did it again, and suddenly a fight broke out between Spider-Man and Sandman outside the window of the coffee shop. Since Gwen is the one telling the story, their dialogue goes like this:

Spider-Man: Hey, look at me! I'm Spider-Man! I'm cool!
Sandman: Yeah, whatever, loser.
Spider-Man: I'm gonna jump right through you, even though it's gross, 'cause I'm all awesome and stuff!
Spider-Man: Hey, Sandman, why do we keep fighting each other all the time?
Sandman: Endangering the lives of innocent people is funner than anything, duh!
Spidey: That's right! I forgot! LOL!

That was the highlight of the issue for me, but the rest of it was as good as always, with the typical teen romance and feelings and stuff. It's a great comic.

The Boys #6
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Darick Robertson

Also a very enjoyable comic. The first storyline comes to a close, as The Boys (is that an official team name?) take on the Teenage Kix. It starts with a large brawl, when the Kix confront The Boys after being blackmailed last issue. The predictable mayhem ensues, but something bad happens, and we get some commentary on superheroes death, touching on how the comics community deals with superhero death, and also about how the real-world media goes nuts covering celebrity deaths. At least, that's what I took from it. We'll see where the story goes from here. Oh, and I had no idea what the cover was supposed to be at first, but it turns out to be pretty funny after reading the book.

Jack of Fables #6
Written by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Art by Steve Lialoha

Another good issue, although Lialoha's fill-in art is not quite up to the quality of the regular artist, Andrew Pepoy. Jack and some other escapees from the Fable retirement home (Pecos Bill, John Henry, and Alice (out of Wonderland)) are in hiding, and he tells the story of how he became Jack Frost. It's a pretty funny story, containing Jack's usual trickery and assholery (by the way, is the "snow queen" Jack meets in this story the same one who was allied with the Adversary in the "Homelands" story arc? I'll have to look it up). Who knows how "accurate" Jack's telling of the story actually is. There's also a couple funny bits where Priscilla Page and Mr. Revise (the bad guys from the retirement home) break into the story to comment on it directly to the reader. A good comic. This is part one of the story, and I've read that it will be interrupted by the "Jack of Hearts/Jack goes to Las Vegas" story, which will last four issues before we get the conclusion of this story. That sounds kind of annoying, but we'll see what happens.

Astonishing X-Men #19
Written by Joss Whedon
Art by John Cassaday

So, this is the beginning of Whedon and Cassaday's final X-Men arc, and it seems to be shaping up very well. After the disappointingly drawn-out "Danger" storyline (#7-12), the last six issues have been excellent. Great art, and some very good writing. Exciting stuff that feels like the book is doing more than just spinning its wheels. And this issue keeps the energy going, with some great character moments, and some good forward movement on the plot. I'm very excited to see where this is going. However, the real highlight for me on this issue is Cassaday's amazing art. He's really one of the very best artists in comics right now. Here's some good samples from the issue:

This is a sickbay of some kind on the Breakworld, which is wracked with war. An incredible level of detail.

Here's Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D., looking tired. I wanted to point out the shadows under her eyes. That detail really sells her character; rather than just being a hardass, she's actually working her ass off trying to save the world.

This is a great little exchange between Beast and Brand. Whedon writes very funny dialogue. But Cassaday's facial expressions really sell it. I love Beast's expressions in the upper right and lower left panels. And Scott's smirk in the lower right.

And here's another great Beast expression from later in the issue. I'm amazed at how well Cassaday can express emotion on his feline features. It's all in the eyes, with a little bit of eyebrows. Wow.

This is a great scene between Kitty and Colossus. Again with the facial expressions, and the dialogue is really good, drawing on the history between the characters, and also what Kitty's been through in the last few issues.

And finally, a good gag from when Colossus tries to tell a joke. I didn't include the final scene, which looks awesome; I didn't want to spoil the cliffhanger. Needless to say, I'm waiting eagerly for the next issue(s).
I also bought Wolfskin #2 and Crossing Midnight #2 this week, but didn't feel like commenting on them. Wolfskin ends next issue, and it's an enjoyably violent barbarian story. Crossing Midnight continued to be interesting; I was going to use this issue to decide if I want to continue getting the series, but it looks like I'll be doing the same thing next issue. In other words, it was interesting enough to get another issue and finish the first storyline, but not so great that I'm sure I want to subscribe to the series.
Huh, I guess I ended up commenting on those last two after all. Well, that's it for now!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Warning: scatological content ahead!

We have a kitten that's about two and a half months old. You can see him in the picture to the right, unless I've changed it by the time you're reading this. Here's another picture:

He likes comics too.

So here's a kitten story for those who are interested (either in cats or my humiliation): I had to be in the office by 6:00 today, so I crawled out of bed at 5:00, and I'm taking my morning piss. Buster comes in to the bathroom, and I think he was trying to jump up onto the toilet so he could jump onto the sink, but, of course, the lid was up, so he falls right into the bowl. While I'm still peeing. He jumps out and he's on the floor, all wet. I'm yelling for Sarah to come help, because I'm kind of in the middle of something. "Come get him! He's getting it all over the place!" We turn on the tub to wash him off (I had finished with my business by this point), and I'm holding a wet cat, trying to wash him. Sarah had just been reading a book about cats, so she runs to get the book and read how to give a cat a bath, while I'm frantically yelling at her to forget the book and come help, since I'm trying to keep a grip on him while he's thrashing around and clawing my arm up. We eventually got him washed, although we couldn't do much more than just rinse him off. It was a hell of a way to start the day.

Anyway, on to regular business:

New comics this week (Thursday, 12/28/06):
These Kazuo Koike/Goseki Kojima samurai comics are awesome. I'm still working my way through Lone Wolf and Cub, and I haven't come close to starting Samurai Executioner, so it will be a while before I get to Path of the Assassin. But I bet it's good.
I love me some 100 Bullets. I buy this series in trade format, so I'm looking forward to this. One thing I wanted to mention, but never have: I love the way the titles of the collections reference what number book they are in the series. 1: First Shot, Last Call. 2: Split Second Chance. 4: A Foregone Tomorrow. 5: The Counterfifth Detective. 6: Six Feet Under the Gun. 7: Samurai (Seven is implied). 8: The Hard Way (Eight is also implied). 9: Strychnine Lives. 10: Decayed (sounds like "Decade"). The only one missing is volume 3, Hang Up on the Hang Low. I haven't figured out how that references the number 3. Anyway, I'm excited to get this volume.
BOYS #6 (MR) $2.99
Finally we get to the sure-to-be-crazy Ennis action. I bet it'll be fun.
I did enjoy the first issue of this series. If this one is good, I'll add it to my pull list.
JACK OF FABLES #6 (MR) $2.99
The second storyline begins! Does Jack make it to Vegas this month? That should be fun.
This seemed like it came out fairly quickly. Or maybe I'm getting old and not realizing how fast time is flying. In this issue, everybody goes into outer spaaaaaace!
I keep meaning to pick up the first issue of this series. I'll probably notice this one on the rack (my comic shop puts signs by all the new books) and finally remember to get it. It better be good, after all the praise it's received.
I heard this was a pretty good book. It came out a few years ago, but apparently Marvel has the rights to reprint it now. I probably won't get it though; I don't think it's worth $20 to me.
Oh yeah, Nextwave will rock! Bummer that it's the second-to-last issue, but eventually there will be some limited series to follow this series. I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
Sweet! Is this Takeshi Miyazawa's last issue? (That's not the sweet part; I just like the comic).
Oh, man, I'm way behind on this manga. I only have volume 1-3. It's a hilarious series. I really need to get caught up. On a related note, I saw the live-action movie adaptation at Blockbuster the other day. I've heard it's very funny; I'll have to get it sometime.
DRAGON HEAD VOL 5 GN (OF 10) (MR)  $9.99
Man, here's another one I'm behind on. I only have the first two volumes. I have much money to spend, apparently.
LOVE & ROCKETS VOL 2 #18 (MR) $4.50
I should probably be buying this series, since I do like the Hernandezes, but I often pass it up. I just read Sloth, by Gilbert H., and it was pretty good.
I don't know what this is, but the title made me smile.
WOLFSKIN #2 (OF 3) (MR) $3.99
It sure took a while for this to come out. I liked the first issue, so I hope this one is good. I think I'll get the Vicious cover. Whatever. Stupid Avatar.
It looks like that's it. Some good stuff, but not too heavy a week. Hopefully the cat won't kill me before I get my new comics!

A Rare Bit Fiends moment

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas!
I wanted to share a weird dream I had the other night, which I just realized must have been inspired by Rick Veitch's Abraxas and the Earthman, which I read over the weekend. I was near some sort of large harbor, and I spotted a couple of huge killer whales. Like 30 feet long. I was watching them, and then two equally large sharks came swimming in, and they all got into a big fight, with at least one of the whales being torn to pieces. It was pretty nasty. My memory of the dream is pretty fuzzy from that point, but I believe there was another man watching, and he jumped in to retrieve a piece of the whale. I was scared that he would get eaten by the sharks, but he managed to climb out carrying the whale's tail. I have no idea what he planned to do with it. How strange.
More content coming tonight, hopefully!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas comics ahoy!

Well, I was going to review some new comics, but I've been meaning to post about this one, and this is my last chance before Christmas. So here we go, for a special Yuletide look at:

Spider-Man's Tangled Web #21
by Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone

We begin our story with a text-piece (with illustrations; this is a comic) telling us that Peter Parker, having been sent from the Daily Bugle Christmas party to buy a present for J. Jonah Jameson's wife, stumbles across a group of schoolchildren who missed their train out of the city. So he brings them back to the party and heads out to do the shopping:

(as always, click on pictures to see a bigger version)

Gotta love that big Darwyn Cooke double-page spread. I couldn't even fit it all on my scanner. Meanwhile, back at the Bugle, Jonah's being driven crazy by rampaging kids:

What a meanie. But I bet he'll soften:

Pretty cute! Apparently, the kids are Japanese. Anyway, Peter shows up with some toys for this kids:

He looks like an Archie character here, doesn't he? He used JJ's money to buy toys, but forgot to buy the present for JJ's wife! So he's gotta head back out to the store. Meanwhile, at Fantastic Four headquarters:

Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Crystal, and Janet van Dyne (the Wasp) head out to do some shopping. However, two mysterious figures lurk outside the department store: a short man and what looks like a tall woman wearing a costume snowman head. They see a poster advertising an appearance by Spider-Man. The man says, "Well, my dear, I must admit I hadn't planned for the appearance of this wall-crawler, but I've come too far to turn back now." Uh oh, dastardly plans are afoot! They probably won't have to worry too much about Spider-Man, though:

It's Flash Thompson! When the bad guy gets inside, he exerts some kind of mind control over "Spider-Man":

Oh boy! Then they knock out and replace Santa, and this happens:

And the woman in the snowman mask turns out to be:

She and "Spider-Man" proceed to rob the place:

But Sue, Jan, and Crystal spring into action to stop them:

Gotta love the X-Statix toys. I want a L'il Vivisector. Anyway, while the battle is raging at Macy's, Jonah's back at the Bugle regaling the kiddies with stories about fighting the dastardly Spider-Man:

The kids stop him, telling him Spidey's a hero. But then he gets some news which gives him an idea:

Meanwhile, Peter's just showing up at the store, when he sees the chaos:

I guess he's been hanging out with Luke Cage. He checks out the recently-knocked-out "Spider-Man", discovering that it's Flash. Then he gets into costume and rushes into battle. Here's a great Rube Goldbergian fight scene against Medusa:

That's hilarious. The FF shows up to help just as Medusa is stopped. Spidey gets into a bit of an argument with the Thing:

Ouch! But he lands on top of an escaping Santa Claus, who is actually...

The Puppet-Master! What a meanie, trying to ruin Christmas! And Jonah's kind of mean too:

Aw, poor kids! But as we can see in another text page/illustration epilogue, he's still good at heart:

Plus, we also find out that his Christmas present to Peter was to fly Peter's wife Mary Jane into town for the holidays! He's not such a bad guy after all! We wrap up the story with a great splash page:

And that's all! Merry Christmas, everybody!

P.S. Can we get Darwyn Cooke to draw more Spider-Man or Fantastic Four stories? We need more of these fun stories in Marvel comics!