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#18 9/14/05 #4

The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

JSA #77
Indie Jones presents NIGHTMARE WORLD


Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Dave Farabee

One of these things is not like the other…
1989: “Who are you?!” “I’m Batman.”
1992: “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am BATMAN.”
2005: “Are you RETARDED or something? Who the hell do you THINK I am? I’m the goddamn BATMAN.”
If nothing else, that last unintentionally hilarious line from ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #2 serves notice that writer Frank Miller is staking out new territory once again. Over the decades, audiences have seen Batman the smiling crimebuster, Batman the Dark Knight detective, and Batman the hardass control freak…but I’m pretty sure ALL-STAR serves up the first Batman as manic eighth grader.

Historians, take note.

So alright, Miller’s exercising some of the same muscles he did in the controversial DARK KNIGHT STRIKES AGAIN. He’s become taken in recent years with returning a sense of outrageousness to superhero material, to playing the iconoclast and serving up sacred cows as White Castle burgers. That’s not inherently wrong, is it? Didn’t we all love him for doing this in the original DARK KNIGHT? And isn’t there something to be said for countering prevailing trends of realism with more anarchic beats?

I want to say, “Looks good on paper, buuuuuut…”

ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN 2 picks up right on the heels of the first issue, Batman having rescued a young Dick Grayson from a pack of corrupt cops by…uhh…driving through their cop car. And now our two heroes are speeding away from Gotham in the Batmobile, narrative captions dotting the panels with Batman’s terse situational assessments and exposition. It’s all straight from the SIN CITY school of beating the reader over the head with a hardboiled cadence:
Welcome to MY world, Dick Grayson. BATS and RATS and WARTS and all.
You poor boy.
You poor little bastard.
Welcome to hell.
Hell. Or the next best thing.
I can’t help but feel but Miller’s been around this same block so many times he’s worn a groove into the road, but he seems more self-aware this time. Perhaps damagingly so, as, for instance, he writes one scene where Grayson’s own narrative captions recognize Batman’s tough guy persona as a facade:
That’s not his real voice. It’s like he’s doing some lameass Clint Eastwood impersonation.
I had to laugh. What a way to undercut your lead character’s mystique! But the intent of the scene was clearly to establish the soon-to-be-Robin as a canny kid, capable of seeing through Batman’s R. Lee Ermey drill instructing and recognizing there’s a human underneath. Does the attempt at bringing some three-dimensionality to the characters work?

I say no, and not just because it’s almost breaking the fourth wall to comment on Batman sounding like Clint Eastwood (as he does in so many movies and cartoons). No, I just don’t think Miller can do subtle anymore, not even “comic book” subtle. Attempting it in mid-Mickey Spillane riff is as awkward a fit as Jim Lee’s art on the book, with its detailed, pretty linework meshing miserably with Miller’s consciously coarse approach to writing. With DK2, love it or hate it, at least Miller’s anarchic drawing style (what they call “bigfoot cartooning”) was a match for his words. And Jim Lee just can’t pull that off. He’s too slick, too traditional. He likes detail and cross-hatching and paying lip service to realism. It’s like consummate craftsman Frank Sinatra trying to belt out a punk tune.

And maybe not such a good punk tune at that.

The meat of the issue is a chase scene – legions of cop cars in pursuit of the Batmobile. Among the more outrageous moments: the Batmobile sprouting wings and flying like one of those cheesy old M.A.S.K. toys from the ‘80s; the Batmobile’s computer “speaking” with Alfred’s British accent; the iconically stately Alfred recast as a studly Rhett Butler type, tearing off his shirt to bind Vicky Vale’s injures and holding her sensually in the rain like the cover to a bodice-ripper romance; and let’s not forget Batman’s newfound penchant for maniacal laughter! Just before the Batmobile sprouts wings and flies, Batman begins yucking it up like he’s channeling Blue Beetle’s “Bwa-ha-has” from beyond:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You’re gonna love this kid! Just watch, kiddo. This is gonna be great! HAH!
Did I mention that Batman incinerates a bunch of cops when the Batmobile’s engines make like a rocket? Yeah. At that point in the story, though, I really didn’t care. I’d already grown numb to the book’s “WE’RE NEW AND DIFFERENT, GODDAMN IT!” approach to rejuvenating Batman, so what did I care if Miller’d decided Gotham cops were now so vile that Batman would kill ‘em with a laugh and a smile? With execution so desperate, you stop worrying about what “fits” the character and whether it’s bold or not to take a page from the Golden Age when Batman used to kill. You just laugh or sneer or pine for BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Or maybe you try to figure out what DC was thinking in promoting the All-Star line early on as home to recognizable, iconic takes on DC’s greatest heroes; as following in the tradition of Alan Moore’s smart, neo-Silver Age Superman story, “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”

What were they, retarded or something?


Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciler: J.H. Williams III
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Three issues into this series, and now three reviews later, and I'm still really digging this book. One of the reasons that Warren Ellis has become one of my favorite comic book writers over the past few years is simple: The man does probably the best "off-beat" material you can find on the stands. Some of my favorite issues of TRANSMETROPOLITAIN were the ones that simply just had that series' protagonist, Spider Jerusalem, out and about in The City, commenting and reacting to those things around him and in the very dry and loathing tone, but with the odd bit of sick humor that Mr. Ellis tends to insert into his works. And this issue (well, okay, this series so far) definitely has a lot of that going for it.

Take this issue for example. Literally a third of the book is our title character, DESOLATION JONES, talking with a worn down "old" porn star about the porn industry and what it does to its starlets. That's it. Just a good seven pages or so of talking about the highs of the porn business when you get started: the quick and easy money, the cheap thrills and so on, and then the inevitable crash and burn of it all. Now obviously there has to be a little more to it. Halfway through the conversation we catch a glimpse of our Mr. Jones having these very weird and surreal "visions", so to speak, to give us a bit more insight into the world of DESOLATION JONES, but even then the conversation just has this shocking appeal to it, just the brutal honesty that goes with something you just didn't know that much about and now that you do you're just taken aback. It's just good stuff given the foulness of the subject matter doesn't make you feel awkward or anything. But chances are if you're reading this book and know who Warren Ellis is, you're prepared for the worst.

Obviously there is one draw back that tends to come with the odd off-beat issue, and that is that they usually do dick-all to develop ongoing storylines. And that's pretty much what we get here as well. We're three issues into this six-part storylines (I believe it's six parts anyway) and we still haven't really got any further than "Jones is looking for Hitler porn." We're catching good tidbits about our title character sure, but we haven't really gotten too much into any detail as to what these "Desolation Tests" that he endured exactly did to him, or turned him into. So far we've seen him have visions, and twice now (including this issue) he's beaten the unholy fuck out of some random bruisers in very cold, brutal, and efficient ways that we can pretty much assume come from some sort of abilities granted to him. Which could be anything, really. Superhuman reflexes, some sort of "Midnighter-esque" ability to see the weak spots of his opponents and fight accordingly... who knows? I am still highly interested in finding out though, and think Jones is a very intriguing character by nature. I just hope we continue to catch more bits of his history at a bit of a faster pace as this title goes on. Other than that I still give this book a very high recommendation.


Story & Script: Mark Sumerak
Story & Art: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Why is it that all of Marvel’s best books are more light-hearted and kid friendly? Could it be that all of the hemming and hawing about realism and deconstruction has finally worn itself out and the industry is taking a turn back to a simpler, more fun era? God, I hope so. I’m not the type of guy that is saying there isn’t a place for maturity in graphic storytelling, but I will be the first to say that alongside all of the Disassembling and Identity Crisis-ing, there still is a place for good old fashioned, super hero fun. Marvel is leading the pack these days with all age-friendly and light-hearted titles written by up-and-coming writers such as Brian K. Vaughan, Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, Sean McKeever, and the subjects of this review: Mark Sumerak, and Chris Eliopoulos.

Simply put, FRANKLIN RICHARDS: SON OF A GENIUS is the best idea to spring from the House of Ideas in a very long time. This new compilation features all four short stories that appeared in the back of the latest POWER PACK series and tacks on a brand new five-pager at the end. I was less than thrilled with the POWER PACK miniseries, but what kept me buying all of the issues were these back-up stories focusing on Franklin and his robot pal, H.E.R.B.I.E.

Sumerak and Eliopoulos lift from the comic strip CALVIN & HOBBES to put a familiar face into a new light. This new version of Franklin is an ornery little shit. And when your father is the smartest man in the Marvel Universe, there’s plenty of trouble to get into. That’s why Reed Richards designed H.E.R.B.I.E., an uptight robot nanny who follows Franklin around and tries to clean up the all messes that he makes. Imagine if C-3PO were assigned to watch over an ornery Han Solo as a child and you’ll get the picture. Whether he is shrinking himself to microscopic size and taking a journey into the nose of his unsuspecting father or cloning himself out of Jell-O in order to gather more candy for Halloween, the eternally four-and-a-half Franklin and his worrying robot nanny never fail to entertain. Sumerak and Eliopoulos are able to tap into a side of Franklin that has never been seen before, making the little tyke much more appealing than the saccharinated baby-in-peril we see on a regular basis in the ongoing FANTASTIC FOUR series. They expertly play Franklin’s childish hyperactivity against H.E.R.B.I.E.’s overly-maternal instinct programs with a banter and energy that exudes fun.

Sick of all of the rape, death, and betrayal? Tired of deconstruction and heavy-handed slo-mo storytelling? Want something different? Something that reminds you of why you started reading comics in the first place? Give FRANKLIN RICHARDS: SON OF A GENIUS a try. Sadly, there aren’t too many books like this on the shelves today. Support this book and there’ll be more like it.


Writer: Pedro Angosto
Artist: Carlos Rodriguez (pencils)/Albert Puig (inker)
Publisher: Big Bang Comics (by way of Image)
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

This was the most satisfying comic bought this week and read by this grizzled, grumpy old comic book fan. What a joy to read. Seems like Big Bang Comics may be the only place where I can find modern super-heroes who still feel like the type of characters I grew up with. The more that the Avengers sit around a argue incessantly over who gets to kill the Scarlet Witch, the more that the JLA sit around and argue incessantly over whether to lobotomize somebody, the more that I have to read stories about heroes executing villains, the more I have to read and see the particular sex habits of super-heroes, the more I gravitate to Big Bang and their stable of respectable heroes.

Sitting back this week and reading THE ROUND TABLE OF AMERICA: PERSONALITY CRISIS, I felt like I was being reintroduced to old friends that, in fact, I've had very little exposure to. However, I’ve always liked them and supported the whole concept behind the company. In the same week that I trudged through the depressing JLA: CRISIS OF CONSCIENCE comic, the one with Zatanna on the cover, the love and enthusiasm between the covers of RTA: PERSONALITY CRISIS put DC's comic to shame. These are heroes through and through who know how to function as a team and as friends.

For the uninformed out there, the analogs for the Round Table of America characters goes a little like this: Ulti-Man (Superman), Thunder Girl (Shazam!), Beacon (Green Lantern), Blitz (Flash), Ms. Merlin (Zatanna), Knight Watchman (Batman), and Hummingbird (Atom/Hawkman). Each of these heroes function as certain heroic archetypes and in PERSONALITY CRISIS they each find themselves face to face with a Jungian archetypal nemesis based on their own private fears and desires. Ulti-Man comes face-to-face with Ultragirl the concept that the world is all illusory. The villain behind this grand series of battles is, of course, the Living Archetype.

Formerly Jungian psychiatrist Doctor Archeimedes E. Tipe, the Living Archetype uses a mystical wooden scepter that grants him the power to physically materialize archetypes. Here lies the endearing charm of Big Bang Comics, the illusion of 50 years worth of publishing history. When Thunder Girl's alter ego, Molly Wilson, searches the RTA's computer database to learn some background on the Living Archetype, we readers are given flashback glimpses into the RTA's past battles with the Living Archetype. Most likely these earlier stories have not yet been published but it doesn't matter. And they may never be published. But, it feels right. Reading a single RTA comic feels like you're joining a decades long history of continuity. But it's all just an inclusive game between the publishers and the readers. Personally, I'd love to get a chance to one day read a "reprint" of one of the adventures where the Living Archetype turned both the members of the RTA and the members of Earth B's Knights of Justice into toddlers -- by releasing their "inner child", natch.

This comic is a one-shot and I appreciated that. There was no "writing for the trade" here. There was no "set up" going on. There were no pages filled with a bunch of static heads talking. This comic had a beginning, a middle, and an end. It is plot driven but distinctive in its characterization. Similar to the style of many a Gardner Fox-scripted JLA comic in the 60s, the reader is treated to a plot based on actual science -- in this case, the studies and teachings by Carl Jung about universal archetypes and the theory of the collective consciousness. But more than that, Angosto also advances the personal stories as well by his choices as to what archetypes each hero faced and how each hero dealt with it. Thunder Girl was the standout in this comic where we see just a glimpse of the power potential within her as well as an idea of where her story will ultimately end. There was no sense of campy winking at the reader as so often happens when modern superheroes are approached with a retro feel. This is a comic that is not embarrassed about the fact that it is about superheroes. The artwork was also very polished and professional. Carlos Rodriguez is at least as good as the guy drawing the high profile mini-series DAY OF VENGEANGE right now (Justiano?). I got no real sense that he was specifically trying to "ape" another artist in his stylings (as is common with a lot of Big Bang comics). He stands out on his own as a fine artist and storyteller and I actually appreciated the fact that he just stayed true to himself here.

This was a great superhero comic. Search it out and buy it. And for some reason I now have the urge welling up within me to cry out MAKE MINE BIG BANG!


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Dave Farabee

If I had my druthers, I think I’d give Brian Bendis a single Marvel book to write, and the only thing he’d write in it would be vignettes. It’d be all these down-time, behind-the-scenes moments with superheroes just talking, woven in and around the plots of other writers. Luke Cage and Iron Fist would be seen cracking wise on a supervillain stakeout. There’d be a poignant phone call between Captain America and an aged World War II survivor. And, I dunno, maybe some pillow talk between Doctor Strange and Clea?

‘Cause that’s the stuff I like from Bendis. Don’t get me wrong: the man can plot, can spin a good yarn when he’s “on” – I just think he’s best with character vignettes.

Which is why I enjoyed this latest issue of THE PULSE. There’s a mystery brewing, with reporter Ben Urich investigating a very unusual Daredevil sighting, but it’s almost treated as a sub-plot. And what would normally be a sub-plot - series lead Jessica Jones getting together with some gal pals for coffee, and later trying to hook boyfriend Luke Cage up with a new ensemble – is easily the dominant sequence.

And it’s great.

Much credit goes to the dialogue, nearly always the highlight of a Bendis book, but even for Bendis it was exceptional this issue. Maybe because so much of it ties into parental worries (Jessica’s very preggers) and relatively recent poppa Bendis is just plugged into that whole parent/kid “scene.” Take the following exchange from Jessica’s visit to the Fantastic Four’s headquarters. Jessica’s just nearly been bowled over by the Thing, chasing after the Human Torch as usual, and Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards appears to give him a scolding…
Sue: Say you’re sorry, Ben.
Ben: I’m so sorry, I – who is this and why are they in our house?
Sue: This is Jessica Jones. My lunch date.
Ben: Why do I know that name?
Jessica: We met once.
Ben: Is it mine?
Sue: Ben!
Franklin Richards (Sue’s kid): Is there a real baby in there?
Jessica: There sure is.
Franklin: Is it a boy or a girl?
Jessica: It’s a girl.
Sue: Mommy had you in her belly when you were little.
Franklin: No way.
Jessica (to Franklin): You want to touch it?
Franklin: Is it coming out now?
Jessica: No, no. But you can feel it in my belly.
Franklin: No way!
He touches her belly.
Franklin: Whoa. Barf-a-roni!
Sue: Franklin.
Franklin (more serious now): You’re going to be someone’s mommy.
Jessica (sporting a rare, easy-going smile): Yeah, how about that?
It might seem prosaic, but these really are the moments you live for in a Bendis book. There’s a great gag with the Thing, there’s Franklin being dialogued like a real kid for maybe the first time in his life, and for the longtime Jessica Jones follower, the scene has a special poignancy because it’s one of those rare moments that occur for her where she’s just comfortable and at peace. And Bendis makes you care.

Reason #2 that scene and others hit their mark so well is that Jessica Jones co-creator Michael Gaydos is back drawing her again for the first time since ALIAS wrapped. Gaydos works a photo-reference style ala regular Bendis collaborator Alex Maleev, and shares with him a talent for capturing subtle facial nuances. But Gaydos is the original when it comes to Jessica Jones – fitting, as I believe she’s modeled on his own wife. Gaydos will never be topped for capturing Jones’ snark, her wry amusement, and those slightly wide features that other artists tend to idealize away. Truthfully, the very meandering PULSE has never captured the focus and intimacy that ALIAS had, but with Gaydos now on the art, there’s a sense that maybe, just maybe, the book might find its center. I’ll even forgive that weird, textural coloring that just appeared on the book, the stuff that makes me think someone just ran the art through a “water damage” filter in Photoshop.

If there’s one thing about the issue that makes me a little nervous, it’s the subplot about Urich and the return of a potentially silly Marvel character who superficially resembles Daredevil. Thing is, I’ve never read a story starring this character (I don’t want to blab the surprise for the few who’ll recognize him), but from what I’ve heard, he’s a hard-luck type who’s supposed to actually have some heart to him once you get past his funky appearance. And I’m a little wary that Bendis will just spoof him or off him tragically or somesuch, without even a little respect. And that’d be a shame. I like underdog and oddball heroes - your ROMs, your Novas, your Soviet Super Soldiers – and I’d hate for another to end up like Spider-Girl did in ALIAS.

Can’t knock points off a book for speculation, though, so I’m suggesting folks give this book a look-see as of this issue. And I haven’t even gone into the heartfelt exchange between Sue and Jessica about superhumans raising kids, or the deft comedic sequence where Luke Cage sits like a beaten man through the Wasp’s attempt to sell him on a new costume. It really is the exact kind of stuff I’d want Bendis doing all the time at Marvel in lieu of the straight-up superheroics (excepting maybe DAREDEVIL). And it’s effectively stand-alone, has an inspired artist, and heralds a new direction for the book free of the whole “Secret War” ball-and-chain.

One of those really nice surprises.

JSA #77

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Jim Fean
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

You want the short and simple version of my review of this book? Well then here you go: I'm sick of the tie-in BS, and I want my JSA back.

There ya go.

Month in and month out for almost god knows how long now and it seems like we've been getting nothing but tie-ins in this book. Now, I've been trying to keep a level head about me, and I will say now that some of these have legitimately been handled well, but for the most part all I'm seeing in this book for the past several months has been "Hey, here's some OMAC" or "Look, the Spectre has gone mad!" and so on and so on. And fine, yes, INFINITE CRISIS is looming and obviously change is a coming, but come on, last I checked there were several mini-series out there specifically created to prep us for all the oncoming madness... why does this book need to be hijacked to push these things as well?

Now again, I said some of these have been done very well. The three-parter that tied in with DAY OF VENGEANCE and also involved the ongoing JSA plotline of Black Adam's reign in Khandaq was nicely done. The events with Atom Smasher were riveting and touching, the action was energizing (though a bit over the top at times) but it all had a point, and did well to push along storylines that have been developing in this title over the past couple years and it used the Spectre as a focal point to do so. All well and good. This issue does none of that. In fact all it pretty much does is randomly insert Hal Jordan, let's us know of his ties to the JSA "family" via his being Airwave's cousin, and then takes us onto a journey where he, Airwave and Alan Scott run into Donna Troy in space on the outskirts of "New Cronus"....

I pause here because even though I just typed it, even I really don't know what it means...

All I know is that there's too much going on in DC these days, and sometimes it keeps coming crashing down on certain books. There was the whole "Sacrifice" debacle with the SUPERMAN titles and WONDER WOMAN, and we've got this book taking on some of the brunt because half the characters in it are off in space fighting an interplanetary war in RANN-THANAGAR, or fighting some giant mystical threat in DAY OF VENGEANCE, or out of commission because of said mystical threat. And now we've got DC's "Golden Boy" Hal Jordan just kinda showing up here for shits and giggles to lead into some random team up with Donna Troy of all people. It just really has no place here. And it's finally got to that point where I no longer look towards INFINITE CRISIS as this focal point of talent and the potential for an interesting future for DC. Now I just see it as something that makes half the mainline DC titles I get a month borderline unreadable. Right now I'm not worried about all the developments and possibilities INFINITE CRISIS can bring to the table. Right now I'm just concerned with it up and ending so I can actually see the characters I bought the book for and see it developing its own stories, not building up to the same thing twenty other titles already are.

I say "Bring on INFINITE CRISIS" and then end it so we can bring on back the JSA I actually know and enjoy.


Fabian Nicieza: Writer
Tom Grummett: Artist
Marvel Comics: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Clearly Brainwashed

This is one of the things I love about comics: remember seven or eight months ago, when Ambush Bug was bitching and moaning about how Purple Man was out and about in this book, but was safely locked up in New Avengers, and aren’t these stories happening at roughly the same time, and where was the editor during all this, and blah blah blah Daredevil… Or something to that effect.

Fabian Nicieza explains that discrepancy in this issue, and he does it in half a sentence. I love shit like that. In fact, this issue has pretty much everything I could want from a superhero comic. And no, I’m not talking about Spider-Woman’s naked ass. (Jeez, you review one porno comic…)

I’m talking about stuff like Atlas reconstructing his ionic form after exploding. I swear he and Wonder Man have done this half a dozen times between them.

I’m talking about using the Purple Man’s narration to mock everything from company-wide crossovers to the opening synopsis page.

I’m talking about every hero in New York being under the control of a madman, with most of them showing up on-panel. I was especially pleased to see my two favorite Fabian foils, Justice and Firestar. Marvel really should get Fabian writing these two in an ongoing again. At the very least, let him write them a wedding.

I’m talking about the elements that have become T-Bolts standards, yet never wear out their welcome. Things like the final page surprise, (and this one has a great one,) and the ever-changing appearance of the members. Although I have to wonder why Photon’s new look is a cross between Vance Astro and Starhawk from the Gurdians of the Galaxy.

But most of all, I’m talking about this being a book that is a solid issue, a perfect arc capstone, and manages to both conclude the plot threads from the first year while setting up new ones for the second year. There may be better written comics out there. There may even be more entertaining ones. But there’s no comic that’s a more efficient storyteller than this one.


Written by Aaron Weisbrod
Art by Various Artists
Publisher: Funnel Cloud 9, Inc.
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Good horror is hard to come by. I’ve said before in this column that it is especially hard to convey horror in comics because the writer cannot control the timing with which the reader moves from panel to panel and it is a medium that only stimulates one of the five senses. That’s why horror is so easily created in film. The director can add frightening sound effects or music which aid in the slow build leading to the payoff scare. Those who choose to write horror in comics have this hurdle to leap and I have only read a few books that have actually accomplished this mammoth task of scaring me as a reader. Because of this, writers go a different route with horror comics. This route relies on the clever, O. Henry/ TWILIGHT ZONE/old EC Comics twist ending which comes as a visceral shock to the reader. Through clever writing, comics misdirect, mislead, and make one misinterpret events, leading the reader down one path, and then pulling the carpet out from under them in the last few panels. I like to call this the “shockeroo ending” and I think it is a worthy and equally effective substitution to the feelings one gets from cinema horror.

NIGHTMARE WORLD is an anthology series by Aaron Weisbrod. Those new to this site may not recognize the name, but Talkback veterans will remember Weisbrod as a former AICN Comics/GreyHaven reviewer. I’ve interacted with Aaron over the years in the TBs and when he dropped me a line in July to stop by his booth at this year’s WIZARDWORLD Chicago, I was glad to oblige. It appears Weisbrod has been quite busy since shedding his comic book reviewing duties. NIGHTMARE WORLD compiles thirteen of his short stories.

Like many anthologies, the quality of these stories varies. All of them employ the aforementioned “shockeroo ending” and some of them utilize the formula very well. My favorite stories turned horror conventions on its ear. A typical FRIDAY THE 13TH scenario is poked fun at. There’s a self-aware HITCHER-twist tale. The imaginary friend story is especially good as is the origin of the Chupacabra. Weisbrod exercises his funny bone with a Faustian rock god tale. Two of my favorites involve a confession in a diner and an especially wicked case of Stockholm Syndrome. All in all, it is a good mix of twists and turns. Weisbrod does a good job of misdirecting the reader to assume one thing, then shattering those expectations in the end. It all at once makes sense on a second read, but proves to be effective in its shock value. Like the stories themselves, the art varies too, ranging from amateurish to highly exceptional. I especially liked cartoony panels drawn by the Maduriera-esque Dan Boultwood, the sketchily detailed, Michael Lark-like images of Mark Matlock, and the delicate art by Kristen “Me Rekat” Perry.

I was also impressed with the tiny details throughout this anthology. Weisbrod titles each of his stories after rock songs, honoring Pearl Jam, Alice Cooper, Nine Inch Nails, AC/DC, and one of the best bands ever, Faith No More. To top it all off, Brian Pulido offers some words of encouragement in the intro and Weisbrod ends the book with some factoids about himself. All in all, this is a slick production from an online reviewer who made the leap to creating his own comics. I’m hoping to see more twists and scares from Weisbrod. He’s definitely off to a good start.

Remember, if you have an Indie book you’d like one of the @$$holes to take a look at, click on your favorite reviewer’s link and drop us an email.


At least if you're going to do a set-up comic, you should be sure and publish it as a #0 like does here with their preview of the OZ-WONDERLAND CHRONICLES. My only complaint about it is that I felt like I was essentially paying the full price of a comic book for little more than an advertisement. Content-wise, I like the concept of crossing Oz and Wonderland together for a series. I also kind of like the idea of presenting Alice and Dorothy as modern college girls. If nothing else it makes for nice cheesecake covers by Greg Horn. Unfortunately, it also makes Mrs. Challenger put the kibosh on any plans to buy this series for my 8 year-old daughter. Myself, I like the concept and I like the art. Not enough writing in the preview to have a real opinion about it, but nothing stuck out to me as being wrong (like say, a string of profanities from Jack Pumpkinhead or something.) Best of all is that the Oz and Wonderland characters shown in the preview look very much like their original book versions -- including Dorothy's silver slippers instead of those dang ruby slippers and especially the Wicked Witch with her eyepatch. - Prof

JLA #118

God bless Geoff Johns and Allan Heinberg. They've taken the elements that I most vehemently disliked about IDENTITY CRISIS and made them... I won't say good, but they're now more palatable. With Superman acting as a moral compass and Zatanna standing up for herself, this arc has me more interested in INFINITE CRISIS than anything else I've seen yet. Even ignoring that, and aside from an appearance from that godawful new Supergirl, this is a just plain great story in and of itself. - Vroom


Viper's new series by Javier Grillo-Marxauch (writer/producer of television's LOST, among others) picks up the pace in issue two. Issue #1 was a fun little diversion but #2 is even better. Wendy Watson gets her crash course into some of the details about the secret organization the Middleman works for. The banter between MM and Wendy is hilarious. Ida, the robotic secretary with the crabby personality, cracked me up. Once again, the glorious black and white art is an old-school joy to behold. Lots of fun comicbook references throughout the story and most importantly the next issue's story will involve our mysterious banana-eating villain in a story entitled "The Experimental Simian Identity" which means....MONKEYS!!!! Nothing better in comics than monkeys. Just ask the late Julius Schwartz. - Prof

100 BULLETS #64

Here's what you need to know about this issue: Jack is back and meaner than ever, and so is Agent Graves and he's one intimidating son of a bitch. What we get here is a showdown between these two bastards when Graves hunts down Jack and gives him a little poking and prodding. The context of their little "confrontation" rates from subtle to bone-crunchingly brutal and back again as tensions mount higher and we get a load more of what Jackie boy is made out of. It's a roller coaster and you're definitely in for a ride. It's visceral, it's psychological, it has pretty pictures... it's 100 BULLETS. Go, buy, read. Now. - Humphrey


Different penciller this issue but it looks like Alvaro Lopez was able to use his inks to help give the artwork a consistent look. This is an utterly heartbreaking story. I just "knew" how it was going to end (there really was no other possibility) but I kept hoping as I read it that the inevitable was not going to happen. Definitely one of the best single-issue stories this year by any publisher. Crap. It still bothers me while I'm writing this. Really powerful stuff by Bob Harras. Sad to see such a quality series on the chopping block. Damn. - Prof


So far, I’ve really been liking Palmiotti and Grey’s take on the Winged Wonder and his estranged mate, Hawkgirl. They’ve done a good job at telling a heartfelt tale of loss and redemption surrounded by some pretty brutal violence. It compliments the Conan-of-the-skies fighting for his own humanity theme that was started when Geoff Johns was on the series. Before this issue, my one complaint was that the villains just weren’t that interesting, with their over the top dialog and cartoony powers which are waaaay too much like the villains of more popular heroes: one villainess turns men into animal-like slaves (like WONDER WOMAN’s Circe), one is just a raging man-beast (like BATMAN’s Killer Croc), one fancies himself a cowboy (like SUPERMAN’s Terra Man or NIGHTWING’s Stallion), and the main baddie, The Fadeaway Man comes off as a wannabe Shade from the STARMAN series. But Palmiotti and Grey get the Hawks right and that’s what’s important to me. As far as this issue goes, though, I won’t spoil it here, but I think these creators went the easy route resolving the Golden Eagle/Hawkman predicament. Look for an absolute mace-whuppin’ when the Hawks clash in the next issue. - Bug


This mini-series is clearly the best of the bunch when it comes to these INFINITE CRISIS preludes. It is intelligent, intense, emotional and complicated. It logically draws in some of the most underused characters in DC's space-oriented corner of the universe. Adam Strange is the epitome of the cornball episodic space opera comics of the 60s, yet just this past year he and his bad ass headlined an awesome top-selling miniseries and now he functions as the glue that holds this current mini-series together. But even more than that is that the art in this book just totally knocks my socks off -- especially the inks by Marc Campos (who I've praised before). There are two pages in this thing where someone else did the inks and the difference was startling. Campos puts more work into a single panel than I normally see in a modern inker's work on a whole page. COMICBOOK INKING 101 should be taught by Marc Campos. - Prof

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