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#26 11/16/05 #4

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

Comics Catchup: FABLES
Q & @ with James T Mitchel & Freddie Williams II of CHANCE OF A LIFETIME
Indie Jones presents…


Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Andrea DiVito
Publisher: Marvel
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

If you buy one comic this week…well, okay…buy ALL STAR SUPERMAN. But if you buy two, make sure the other one is Dan Slott’s THE THING. Remember all of those reviews you read about Slott’s SHE-HULK? How fun the title is on a consistent basis? How respectful it is of continuity without making you feel as if you need to do homework in order to enjoy it? How rich and full a single issue of the series is? Well, the same applies here in THE THING. Dan Slott’s THE THING is, simply put, what a Marvel comic should be.

Anyone who has read my reviews knows I’m a DC kind of guy. Although I am growing weary of the doom and gloom that is permeating that universe, I prefer it to the Marvel U simply because I enjoy the interconnectedness of the DCU. I like it that when something happens in one DC book, like a character dies or changes or evolves in one storyline, those changes have ramifications in other titles. Marvel doesn’t seem to share that respect for interconnectedness (the four letter word for it is continuity, folks). Their philosophy is that you shouldn’t have to buy the entire line to enjoy a story. And to a degree they have a point, but why write your entire line as if none of the other titles exist? I think there is a medium ground that could be reached. And to me, that medium ground is evident in THE THING #1.

Let me take you on a time trip. It’s in the early eighties. MTV just got off the ground. I’m playing with Star Wars and GI JOE figures on the faux grass carpet on the back porch and saving the rest of my pennies to run down to the Short Stop to twirl that squeaky magazine rack and pick up some comics and maybe some Purple Lava bubble gum. One of the first comics I picked up was MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE starring (you guessed it) the Thing. I believe the Thing was teamed up with Quasar and in the middle of a Project Pegasus adventure. I didn’t really care about that, I just liked all of the cool looking characters. The next time I saved my pennies, I run to the Short Stop, twirl the squeaky rack, no MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE, but on the cover of something called CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS is the Thing. Cool! So I buy that one and I’m introduced to scads of other cool looking heroes like Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. Next time. Save pennies. Go to Short Stop. Twirl squeaky rack. No CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS. But there’s a CAPTAIN AMERICA book and a SPIDER-MAN book, and Wolverine is on the cover of UNCANNY X-MEN (there was only one title at the time, do you believe it?). So I buy those. Pretty soon I’m buying four or five Marvel comics a month simply because the universe interconnected. It’s good marketing. And a Marvel Zombie was born.

And time trip.

I’ve recently completed my Marvel Zombie twelve step program: a cure administered by the likes of Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, Ron Zimmerman, and Chuck Austen. But for a long time, I bought a buttload of Marvel comics simply because one book connected to another in some way and I felt I was a part of something bigger than just the one story I was reading. After reading THE THING #1, I had that feeling of Marvel U. interconnectedness that I haven’t felt in quite a long time.

The story bounces from one of JMS’ more interesting additions to the Thing mythos, the fact that he has recently become rich beyond imagination. The once feared and hated man-monster is now truly the idol o’ millions, decorating tabloids and hobknobbing it up with the rest of the upper crust. In issue one, after making short work of Cauldron the Scalding Man with Black Goliath, the Thing finds himself at a frou frou party with the elite. The party is being held by the Thing’s new Hollywood star girlfriend, who has made enemies of her own in a Paris Hilton wannabe who wasn’t invited to said party. This being the Marvel U. I once knew and loved, the snubbed vixen goes to a supervillain to ruin the shindig. And this once again being the Marvel U. I once knew and loved, not only does the Thing show up for this party, but so do billionaires Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man), Kyle Richmond (AKA the dorky Nighthawk, not the cool black redux of the character from SUPREME POWER series), and “reformed” baddie Fred Schlessinger (AKA Constrictor). I love it that a fancy party is thrown and all of the billionaire superheroes show up. Of course, superheroism and villainy ensues, leading to a whopper of a reveal and cliffhanger ending.

Again, this is a full course meal of a book, starting out with a slugfest, establishing the Thing and his current status quo to new readers, introducing some new characters, and then diving back into the ring for more action. There’s enough here to satisfy those who have had problems with trade-pacing and slowly developed plots, but it’s dense enough to satisfy those who want more than two guys punching each other in the nuts.

The thing that stands out with this issue is that once again, Slott has come up with an interesting premise to reel in the reader to care about the Thing. He makes him a flawed character, similar to the way Slott portrayed She-Hulk in her series. Being one of the nouveaux-riche, the Thing has developed some tendencies that prove to be annoying to his friends who knew him before he hit the jackpot. Slott interjects comments from Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Mary Jane and others in the Marvel U. reacting to the Thing’s newly acquired habit of throwing his money around. This is the type of premise that could go any number of places and take the Thing all around the Marvel U. I can’t wait to see what Slott has planned for the character.

And speaking of the Marvel U., this book looks to be more like those old MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE’s than a THING solo book. In the first page, the Thing tells the reader that he doesn’t hang with the Fantastic Four all of the time, hinting that there’ll be team-up after team-up in this book and that’s okay by me.

The one thing that permeates every panel of this book is fun. The Thing is one of the most accessible and personable characters in the Marvel U. His attitude, his style, the way he looks (rendered with marvelous Perez-ian detail by Andrea DiVito), the way he speaks--all are some of the most distinguishable characteristics in modern graphic storytelling. I’m still a DCU fan, but with Marvel continuing to churn out fresh books like THE THING, this Marvel Zombie could once again rise from the grave.


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely/Jamie Grant
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

It’s really difficult to put into words the experience of reading ALL-STAR SUPERMAN Episode 1. The best I can come up with is that it was the nearest SUPERMAN comic-book equivalent to my experience watching the SUPERMAN movie for the first time.

Growing up with Superman in the ‘70s meant that the comics were mostly bland and uninspiring yet reliably entertaining. In the realm of TV, reruns of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN were quaint but distractingly lame as George Reeves in his padded costume leaped onto his trampoline and out the window to the same stock “whoooo-eeeeee-ooooossssshhhh” flying sounds or appearances on the even lamer SUPER FRIENDS cartoon.

How well I remember the months leading up to the premiere of the SUPERMAN movie with the tagline “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly.” The commercials and ads simply focused on images of clouds as seen through the eyes of someone flying through the sky and the iconic image of a gleaming silver Superman shield. I had my mom drop me off at the mall on the Saturday afternoon of the opening weekend. From that first shot of the comic book phasing into the “actual” Daily Planet spinning globe, I was absorbed into the film. Superman became real. When it was over, I walked right back out to the box office and bought a ticket for the next show and walked right back into the same theater and waited for it to start again.

I’ve never done that again with any other movie.

Well, similarly, the situation over the last 20 years has seen Superman, as a character, reach what must be a near zenith in public popularity. However, most of that popularity is outside the comic book field itself. There’s the LOIS & CLARK TV series, SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, SMALLVILLE, the iconic youth clothing styles emblazoned with the “S” shield, and endless licensed products from toys to toiletries, and more. But the comics? Sure, there are the hardcore Superman completist fans and occasional blips of excitement surrounding the character, but creative and editorial mediocrity and predictability has reigned supreme for decades. So, when something like ALL-STAR SUPERMAN comes out, well, I’ve likened it to a “religious” experience to some extent. But, however I phrase it, the point is that this was the best SUPERMAN comic I can remember reading and unless Morrison pulls a Meltzer on me, it will be the first SUPERMAN series I’ve bought on a “monthly” basis since….oh….the marriage of Clark and Lois. And by then, I’d been emotionally checked out on the comic books for awhile.

This comic is not perfect, but it affected me in deep ways. I did not like the infantile penis joke shoehorned in on page 6 and Frank Quitely still confounds me with the dichotomy of his illustrations. Overall, Quitely tells this story in a lyrically beautiful fashion. The first page recap of Superman’s origin was spectacular in its simplicity and the two-page spread of Superman gliding over the surface of the sun was sublimely beautiful. Yet, for all the beauty I see in his work, he draws the most persistently ugly faces on his characters. Somehow, Quitely injects Superman with a real sense of power and regality, but many times he was just…ugly.

However, his Metropolis was impressively retro-nouveau. Classic in look but just a couple of steps into the future. Quitely’s efforts at making Superman and Clark distinctive were superb. Where Superman stood with the posture of a king and bearing that speaks of confidence and power, his Clark was slumped with a wrinkled suit clumsily tripping his way through life. The reader, however, who can see the whole picture, sees that his clumsiness is many times a simple effort to continue protecting the people of his adopted world. For example, look to the scene where Clark “accidentally” bumps into the man in the crosswalk preventing the man from getting killed by falling debris.

Excellent artistry.

But, it’s not just the art that made this comic succeed so well. Morrison recognizes that one of the reasons why Superman is lesser than he could be in the modern DC universe is simply the fact that he really has become just one of many. No matter how much DC wants to “tell” everyone that he is the “Zeus” to their pantheon, there is no way to really make that stick when they keep him overly interconnected with everything that goes on in their line of books through guest appearances and/or references. When Superman was a true success in the comic industry he basically stayed within the bounds of his own books except for infrequent team-ups with Batman or regular appearances in a team book (ALL-STAR or JLA).

Morrison presents Superman as “the” hero of Earth ~ a hero so unique that Dr. Leo Quintum is working towards creating a new race of super-clones to take Superman’s place were he to die or be killed. This would be an absurd story option in the current DC universe because if Superman dies today, there are still 500 heroes to instantly step up and take his place. For ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, though, this is a classic Superman with all the elements that are familiar to the public at large with a modern tweak. He foreshadows Bizarro and Kandor, but he also introduces a new and interesting character in Dr. Quintum. In this single issue, he has ramped up Superman’s powers threefold, given him a new bioelectric power, and revealed that the same solar exposure (caused by Luthor’s sabotage) that tripled his powers is also killing him. Morrison begins his first Superman story with what could be the last. He dwells on what motivates the characters ~ mortality. Luthor, faced with the fact that he’s getting older but Superman is not, sets in motion a plan to finally kill Superman. Superman, faced with his own impending death, drops his cover and reveals his identity to Lois. These are big events and they’re just the beginning of the story.

Even more than just the analytical explanation for what was special about this comic, the bottom line is that it “felt” right. For the first time since I can remember in a comic, I felt like Superman was real ~ the same feeling I had when I saw the SUPERMAN movie for the first time. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN made Superman come alive for me again.


Writer: Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Pablo Raimondi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Like most comic book fans, if confronted with the task of making a list of my favorite super-villains, undoubtedly Dr. Doom would have his spot on the roster, and probably high up on said list too. I don't know what it is exactly about the character, the name, his nefarious machinations, or the shiny, shiny suit, but he just seems to ooze cool. But aside from the aesthetical reasons to dig the character, he is definitely one of the few villains out there to have a well developed and highly involving back story. And that's why this book exists. Ed Brubaker is one of the best exclusive talents Marvel has in their pool right now, and he's been called on to give readers the "definitive" back story on one of Marvel's most popular villains. And the result is a story that is very engaging read, showing one of the Marvel Universes most frightening and powerful villains being just that, but also showing a very tragic side to the character as well.

As most followers know, Victor Von Doom not only has a brilliant scientific mind that he uses to do that thing he does, but he also has some mystic origins to back up his power as well. Born and raised by a band of wandering gypsies, Victor's mother was a woman proficient in the Black Arts, a skill that would bring much misfortune to Victor and his clan. A ritual gone wrong that not only ended in the death of his mother, but led to the hunting of his clan for her misdeeds, and consequentially forced Victor at a very young age to show a great strength and ambition as he used these skills to keep his people alive. Using a storytelling style of a filmed biography, Brubaker shows Dr. Doom in a very candid light as he recalls all these events and more. He talks about said events with his mother, talks about one of his few friends and eventual love Valeria, and shows as he starts to develop not only his own talent for dark magic, but great scientific intellect as well. It really is a very interesting perspective on the character, and gives great insight into how a young boy who only wants to be happy and playful can turn into one of the most feared and powerful men in the universe.

Another huge positive for the book is the art. As far as I know I've never encountered Pablo Raimondi's art before, but it is very crisp and works very well for the book. Since the book is more emotionally driven, his art is perfect in regards to conveying that emotion with a very good range of facial ticks and expressions to drive home Victor as he progresses from innocent young boy to a very angry and determined teenager. Also, his backgrounds are very lush and give a very welcoming feel to contrast with the desperation the group of gypsies is entangled with.

Really, the only problem I can find with the story is in the way it's told. Like I said, this is "filmed" in the way of a video documentary, which has Von Doom doing the voiceover and routinely cuts to the present day and Victor's armored visage. It doesn't happen too often, but it's unnecessary and jarring when it happens. I can see it at the beginning, obviously, to let you know what's going on, but I just found it breaking the flow a bit. Other than that minor gripe, this is already shaping up to be not only one of the best Doom-centric stories I've read, but one of the better reads I've had all year.


Written By: Bob Harras
Penciled by: Marcos Martin
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: superhero

It really sucks when a good book goes the way of the dinosaur and make no mistake about it…BREACH was a good book.

The problem is that BREACH was just only good and was never really able to get itself up to being actually great If BREACH had given us more issues like this final issue then maybe it would have been able to find the greatness it needed to survive as an ongoing book. As it is, it’s ironic that it’s BREACH’s final issue that gives us a taste of what this book really could have been.

Don’t get me wrong, BREACH was one of the better comics that came out in the past year or so. But the book had problems. One of which, besides the fact that it was generally a CAPTAIN ATOM knock- off, was the book’s pacing. The mystery behind the origin of the main protagonist dragged on too long throughout BREACH’s short, yet entertaining, run. For issue after issue the mystery of his powers, the origins of the inter-dimensional invaders, and the drama of his family not knowing that the main character had survived the incident which made him super-human dragged beyond the patience of this particular reader. See, the trick with a really compelling thriller/drama is being able to tie up loose ends within the plot just enough to give the reader some sense of satisfaction but, at the same time, hoodwinking readers by leaving other plotlines hanging or introducing completely new mysteries to intrigue fans. The TV drama THE X-FILES did this brilliantly for a while. Every time Scully and Mulder found answers there were just more questions revealed so that, for the better part of five years, fans were hooked until the show ultimately revealed itself to be the aimless sham that it was. The problem with BREACH was that it seemed like the author knew where he wanted it to go but just took too much of his time actually getting anywhere. None of the plot’s mysteries were ever fully revealed within the span of the first ten issues. The odds were already against this book, what with it being a completely “new” DC character, but to introduce a whole world of new elements to the DCU and not have a new hook every couple of issues to suck readers even further in might just have been the kiss of death for BREACH.

BREACH #11 really took the intrigue to a new level which, of course, is unfortunate since it’s the final issue. Obviously the writer of the book needed to wrap up as much as he could with the last couple of issues, but this one packs the punch that issues earlier in the run should have. It’s not that we get any particular answers to the mysteries I’ve mentioned, but there’s actually some movement within story threads that have been nagging this title since issue one. Not only that, but the lead character suffers a major tragedy which changes everything for him. It’s written is such a great way that I couldn’t help but be left with the desire to want to see what happens next. But since this is the last issue, there goes the hope to see any of that resolved. If only the writer of this book had given BREACH more hardcore emotional moments like the ones in this issue then maybe BREACH could have survived. As it is, I’ll have to be satisfied with what I got, a good story with a great ending…if you can even call it that because it’s more of a cliff hanger than anything else.

This mini-series ended up being a pretty compelling and actually quite sad story. When the trade collection comes out I’d highly recommend buying it. Sure, the payoff doesn’t answer everything, but in the infinite universe that is comic books, what book does? This miniseries ended up being more satisfying than most ongoing series out there. Heck, maybe what BREACH has taught me is that the good stuff doesn’t need to survive five hundred issues. Maybe eleven issues are more than enough when your story ends up being as good as BREACH was. Still, I do wish this book had been given more time to grow, but if this is how it has to end I’ll bid BREACH a fond farewell and try to remember it with the respect it deserves.

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Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: Mike McKone/Andy Lanning
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.
Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

~ Genesis 1:1-3 (NAB)

When on high the heaven had not been named,
Firm ground below had not been called by name,
When primordial Apsu (first-existing god representing order) their begetter,
And Mummu-Tiamat (wife of Apsu representing chaos and threat), she who bore them all,
Their waters mingled as a single body,
No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,
None of the gods had been brought into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies determined—
Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.

~ The Seven Tablets of Creation (Enuma Elish), Tablet 1:1-9

And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.
And the earth, after it was formed, was empty and desolate, because they had not formed anything but the earth; and darkness reigned upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.

~ Book of Abraham 4:1-3

A reading from the BOOK OF CHALLENGER

In the beginning, there was a void.
There was not light nor darkness;
There was not life nor death;
There was not truth or lie.
All was vast emptiness – a void.

Into the void appeared the dark, horned Entity who yearned to know truth.


A silent cry filled the emptiness and existence began.
The universe whirled and screamed.
Planets were created then immediately consumed by the flames of light that birthed them.
Life sprang forth only to be instantly crushed and destroyed.
The void had become chaos.
Existence without structure.
Function without form.
Struggle without balance.

What began as a thought imploded upon itself.

In despair, the Entity cried out once more;
This time for balance.
In the silence, the Other heard the cry.
A cry for balance;
A cry for knowledge.

The Other was flesh and blood.
The Other spake the Order of Nature’s Laws.
Life and struggle wrestling eternally with peace and entropy.

Where once was destruction and death came bursts of joy and life;
Punctuated by death and sadness.
Yin and yang.

Chaos was brought unto Order.
Understanding was achieved;
The Void became the Universe;
The Universe became self-aware;
The End was the Beginning;
The Beginning was the End.

Chapter 2
Time flashes forward.
A time of corporate indulgence;
Of bankrupted creativity without artistic expression;
Of arrogance unrestrained by editorial intrusion.

Reed Richards.
Knowledge is his existence.
Family is his heart.
Guilt-driven to distraction for what was but an accident.

Yet, no.

What was an accident is now paradoxically predestined and foreordained.
By Reed Richards himself.
Guilty no more.
Horror wrought upon Grimm with divine forethought.
Sickly satisfied Reed creates again.

The truth intrudes.
Reed Richards is more than just knowledge and heart.
He is the I Am.
The impetus of creation.
Bringing order to the horned devil’s creation of chaos.

Reed Richards is no less than God.
God is Man and Man is God.

Odd that atheism should drive such a tale.
Proclaiming forth that there is no God;
Yet utterly confounded by the conundrum of creation;
And the imponderable beginning of the never begun.

Where has humility gone?
Respect replaced by meretricious hubris.
Blasphemy mocked and ramifications be damned.

Where are the editors?

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In life and in fiction.

Such a waste.

Such a waste.


Comics Catchup takes a few consecutive issues of a single comic and looks at it in depth. Occasionally, a book comes along that I enjoy immensely, but for one reason or another, I let issue after issue pile up in my “To Read” stack by my nightstand. The good part about that is that I get to enjoy numerous issues in a row which often leads to a different reading experience than reading the issues as they come out on a monthly basis.

FABLES #40-43

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Mark Buckingham & Steve Leialoha
Publisher: DC Vertigo
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

It wasn’t too long ago that I stayed away from all things non-superhero. It wasn’t until Garth Ennis knocked me on my @$$ with his PREACHER series that I really noticed that comics can be more than just guys in spandex punching other guys in spandex. Since then, I started paying attention to what DC’s alternative/mature reader’s line, Vertigo, had to offer. I got into SANDMAN late in the game, and by the time I started reading it, the series’ end was looming, so I never really got into that one. When PREACHER and SANDMAN came to an end, DC set out to find a replacement for these flagship titles. Two series sprang out of nowhere to fill those empty seats – Y: THE LAST MAN and the focus of this Catchup, FABLES.

FABLES takes the bedtime stories you grew up reading and places them in the modern world. Writer Bill Willingham picks these characters from their original incarnations, not the Disneyfied versions most of the public is aware of. And this is one of the most appealing aspects of this book. Willingham seems to have done his research. He knows the original fables. These stories weren’t sugar coated. They weren’t made to sell merchandise. They were precautionary tales before Disney got their grubby paws on them. Stories to frighten naughty children into behaving. But even a story that has been passed down through the years, permutated and sanitized through time and censorship, still has recognizable aspects of the original. Willingham injects enough personality into these characters that they are instantly recognizable to the viewer. I find myself laughing at this book often. Not because of the humor in the book (although that causes a chuckle as well), but because of the fact that these are characters I recognize from late night story time with my father or mother. This isn’t a writer getting his jollies by reimagining a foul version of childhood stories. Willingham respects the fact that these fables have been around for ages and seems to be using the original stories as a springboard for his own.

Aside from respect for the source material, character is a huge part of why I enjoy this series. Willingham has assembled a gigantic cast of characters--each distinct, each able to carry their own story arc. He’s built an expansive world in which these characters can function, survive, and get into trouble. From the sleazy Prince Charming to the underdog heroism of Boy Blue, from the nagging Beauty to her sheepish Beast, from the scamp-like nature of Pinocchio to the Napoleon Dynamite-ism of Flycatcher – every character in this book not only has a vast literary history, but one equally interesting formulated by Willingham himself.

The story so far is this: The Fables we grew up reading about are real and war is sweeping across their Homelands. A powerful being known as the Adversary and his armies have left death and oppression in their wake. Although the Fables fought hard, they were forced to flee their enchanted land and spill into the real world. In an enchanted borough in New York, the area known as Fabletown exists to shelter those who have survived the Adversary’s wrath. But adjusting to the real world is not easy. Although enchantments are in place, Fabletown is often in danger of being discovered by the Adversary’s evil forces and the Mundys (the Fable word for humans). The Fables who have human forms can interact with the humans, but the inhuman Fables are forced to live in seclusion. Since the very beginning, relations between the Fables have been delicate. Many of the Fables’ loved ones didn’t make it when they migrated out of the Homelands. Relations between the human-looking Fables and the inhuman-looking ones have been tense. And the day to day running of Fabletown is always in chaos.

This series started out with Old King Cole as Mayor of Fabletown, with Snow White acting as his right hand and Bigby Wolf (AKA The Big Bad Wolf) as the town’s Sheriff. These three characters were the focus of the bulk of the first 30 issues of this book. They took on Mundy spies, the rebellion of the Farm where the inhuman Fables live, and a full-on attack by the Adversary’s army. But a few issues back, Prince Charming decided that he could run things better as Mayor of Fabletown, staged an election, and with a little help from his enchanting charm, won. Now Prince Charming must become accustomed to this responsibility (something he is not accustomed to). Aiding him are Beauty, taking over for Snow White, and the Beast, filling the shoes of the Sheriff. Since the change of office, things have been spiraling out of control as Prince Charming realized how tough the job of Mayor of Fabletown really is.

One of the most endearing aspects of the book was the relationship between Bigby Wolf and Snow White. Like a fairy tale version of David Addison and Maddie Hayes from MOONLIGHTING, the verbal swordplay and sexual tension between these two characters was something truly special. But after a witch used her spells to enchant them into sleeping together and Snow White became pregnant, Bigby turned tail and disappeared, while Snow White took a hiatus to take care of her brood of wolf-children. When Willingham decided to shift gears and put this couple into the background for a while, a red flag flew up for me and I thought I’d begin to grow weary of this book. But Willingham has gone to great lengths to make this a true ensemble book. After reading about characters such as Boy Blue, Beauty and the Beast, Mowgli, and Jack of Fables, I found that I wasn’t missing the odd pairing of damsel and wolf-man at all. I’m sure Willingham has more tales with Bigby and Snow, but after 30-some issues, I guess they deserve a break.

One of the things that may be overlooked with all of the recognizable characters is the fact that this book has some pretty savvy political themes. The hectic day-to-day job of running a city is delved into in depth. Prince Charming’s political coup was especially well handled, reflecting current political scandals.

It wasn’t until I read the books in this Catchup that I noticed how politics played a role in this massive story. Issues #40 and 41 are the last two chapters of the “Homelands” arc. Boy Blue has stolen enchanted weapons and has cut a bloody path through the Homelands to take on the Adversary on his own. This arc followed Blue as he made his way up the political ladder to do battle with the Adversary himself. In issue #40, the true identity of the Adversary and how he came to be is revealed. Once the identity of the Adversary was revealed, Boy Blue took advantage of the clichéd tendency of villains to reveal their plans when they think that they have the hero under their thumb and convinced him to recant how he came into power. It is a story of literal figurehead leaders and overthrowing governments seen through the lens of a fictional universe, but reminiscent of how governments are overturned in the real world.

Although the big reveal was a bit of a letdown for me, I’m glad that the trite nature of the “secret bad guy” motif has finally been exposed so Willingham can continue to tell his stories. This book didn’t hinge on the identity of the Adversary. The characters and stories are too powerful for that.

Now that the Adversary and his plans have been revealed in issues #40 and 41, Willingham plows into a brand new storyline. “Arabian Knights (And Days)” is a four part arc. Having conquered all of the European Fable Realms, the Adversary and his army are invading the Arabian Fables’ Realm. This is yet another arc filled with textured politics which could be ripped from today’s headlines. Culture clash is the conflict of this arc, where Sinbad and the rest of the Arabian Knights Fables arrive in Fabletown as refugees. After a humorous greeting which lacks the pomp that the Royal Arabian Fables are used to, Sinbad and the rest find themselves less than impressed with the American Fabletown. Issues #42 & 43 focuses on the difference between these two groups of fables. King Cole is called back to act as liaison between the two parties, using his political experience to smooth over talks between the brash Sinbad and the aloof Prince Charming. Shades of foreign talks between our own President and other world leaders come to mind as Prince Charming makes one political blunder after another.

Adding to an already appealing story and cast is the stellar art of Mark Buckingham. He not only fills every panel with gorgeous figures, backgrounds, and angles, but his art spills into the alleys between the pages and panels. Every character has a border of his or her own which surrounds the page that focuses on that character. This makes for an especially rich read. You automatically know which point of view the page is referring to by the decorations and images surrounding the page. From page one to the last, this is a richly elegant looking book.

Last week, issue #43 hit the stands. It’s mid-arc and may not be the perfect jumping on point for this series, but this gives those of you who haven’t read FABLES a chance to give it a taste in either back issue or trade form. DC is pretty quick with the trades, so check out the first of them. The continued tales of the Fables never fails to entertain. By the time you wade through the previous arcs, you’ll be all caught up and ready for more like I am.


James T Mitchel: Writer
Freddie Williams II: Artist
Cellar Door: Publisher
Vroom Socko: Doing a Chance Interview

Cellar Door Publishing’s sophomore effort at first seems like the usual superhero “real world” origin story. I know, I know, everybody seems to be doing one these days. But this one is different. No, really. You see, Jack Lewis actually manages to have some fun as a superhero. You remember fun, right? Not only that, but when this guy throws down with a supervillain… man, the pillars of heaven shake. What I really enjoyed, however, is that even with all his superpowers, there are some fights Jack just can’t and doesn’t win.

You’re not buying it, are you? You’re thinking this is the sort of thing you’ve seen a thousand times. And if James Mitchel and Freddie Williams were here, you’d tell them so, saying something like:

Oh God, this is just another "Average Joe gets superpowers" story, isn't it?

James Mitchel: What? Did you read the book? You were supposed to read the book before the interview! Kidding. But seriously, what separates our book from an "Average Joe gets superpowers" story is that we wanted our main character to feel as real and human as possible, despite the fact that he gained super powers. Freddie and I really focused on creating a main character, a man named Jack Lewis, that had all the same problems and complications that we have all experienced. We did this so we could see what superpowers would do to a normal man….what parts of his personality would change, and what would stay the same? Would he become a better man, or would his new powers corrupt him? How I chose to approach this is by having the story narrated by a very old and wheel chair bound Jack, after he has lost those superpowers. “Chance of a Lifetime” is Jack talking about the “golden age” of his youth when he was a super hero. And the first thing we learn about Jack is that he yearns for nothing more than to have those superpowers again.

Freddie Williams: I think when anyone reads the book, it will be pretty evident right off the bat, that "Chance of a Lifetime" isn't just the same old "guy gets powers" sort of book. What makes "Chance of a Lifetime" so different is the story James has written. It’s full of emotional content, which is pretty atypical for superhero books, but he does it really well, and that is what drives the characters.

Based on that, which is the more important fight in this book: Jack versus the Kaiser or Jack versus his brother?

FW: Wow, great question! To me, it would have to be the fight (or shall I say battle) with Kaiser. Though the fight with his brother is hugely important, in the fight with Kaiser, Jack is incredibly outclassed. After Jack (the American) gains his powers, he assumes everything in his life will be easy, but in his experience with Kaiser, Jack learns that there are no easy answers. Those powers make him extremely strong, and fast, but in the end his greatest weapons are his own human spirit, the memories of his son, and his strong moral base (that and a red hot piece of jagged metal). Jack learns hope, and that life is worth fighting for.

JM: While the fight with Kaiser is vital to Jack discovering his own inner strength, I think the fight with Jack’s brother more defines and is important in our main character’s life. I see the struggle with his brother as what helped to keep Jack human, in spite of his amazing powers. Their struggle keeps Jack involved in all the annoying conflicts that keep each of us grounded in reality. Jack’s brother is the embodiment of all the hardships in Jack’s life... his brother is the reason for the dissolution of his marriage, and his brother is the barrier between Jack and his own son, Jason. That’s how Jack sees his brother, as an obstacle. And once Jack gets comfortable using his powers to make the world a better place, he thinks why shouldn’t I use my powers to remove that one hurdle in my own brother? But Jack discovers that whoever or whatever gave him his powers did not mean for them to be used for Jack’s own personal gratification. The powers were given so Jack could fulfill a promise he made…a promise to make the world a better place.

Trust the writer to say the emotional conflict and the artist to say the physical conflict. Speaking of the artist, that fight was one of the more impressive ones I've seen in years. Freddie Williams, where have you been hiding your bad self?

FW: Wow, thanks that’s quite a compliment! I haven’t been hiding intentionally; I’ve been trying to find my way out of the woods of obscurity. :) From my perspective, I haven't been doing anything different; just drawing my fat hands off for a few years now. It’s been hard for me to get anything published up until recently. I’ve still kept at it though. So the difference is that I’m finally getting some opportunities to get some work in print. In fact, just recently I was lucky enough to get a gig going at DC.

I’m really glad you liked the fight between Kaiser and the American, James and I wanted to give the fight as large of a scope as we could, so we brainstormed the idea of it going into “double page spread mode”, trying for a widescreen effect. I was wishing I had about 100 pages to portray the battle, because each impact of theirs should be as hard as a shot from the deck cannon of a battleship, or worse! So even if one of them were to parry (or block) a strike from the other, there should be massive amounts of collateral damage inflicted, just because of the kinetic force radiating out from the impact, so it would have been appropriate to have a huge panel, each time they collide. Both James and I are Marvel RPG geeks from way back, and it helped to think of things on that sort of power scale with these two hugely powered figures.

I made a deliberate effort to approach the fights in PROJECT EON, and LONEBOW with a different (weaker) mindset than with CHANCE, even though it looks cooler to have buildings collapsing from a strike, or glass flying everywhere, it would be inappropriate for that sort of thing to have happened in those other books.

JM: I’m glad I was not the only one amazed by Freddie’s work on this book. He is an amazing artist and storyteller. He brought so many amazing ideas, and so much realism to the whole book and it especially shows in the beautifully rendered fights with Kaiser.

This book ends with a promo for a book two of CHANCE OF A LIFETIME. Considering that this issue is self-contained, what do you see as the future of this title? How much do you plan to play with this concept? Is book two going to be another all in one story, or do you see this as having enough legs for an ongoing?

JM: We plan to continue the concept from the first book by having the powers that Jack possessed transferred to another man. Book two will be another self-contained story, but it will have some ties to the first book. My main concern for a sequel is to bring something different story wise. I do not want to repeat the plot, and any characterization from the first book. I really want the second person that gains the powers to react very differently than Jack. It’s my hope that the only thing that will carry over from the first book will be the sense of wonder.

FW: Yeah, book 2: James has some great ideas all laid out for that book. We have discussed this new guy (the star of book 2) surviving and having these powers right up until the modern day, in fact he makes cameo in MUTATION #3 (along with a bunch of other Chimaera Studio characters). As far as an ongoing with the new hero, I’d never say never, but that’s not the plan as it stands right now.

So what else are you guys working on, either separately or together? What sort of work would you want to do in the future?

FW: Well, I still have 2 more One-shots, LONEBOW and PROJECT EON, from Speakeasy comics coming out this year (2005).

Currently, I am drawing flashback stories in Image Comics' NOBLE CAUSES (and have been since issue 13). Also, I'm getting my feet wet over at DC, I have been lucky enough to finish the last 2 issues of the new SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE miniseries. Also, I'm illustrating a fill-in issue of AQUAMAN (issue 39)... hoping that this work from DC will keep snowballing, working for DC is a lifelong dream come true!

I'd love to work with James Mitchel in the future, though in a way we haven't stopped working together, we chat probably 3-4 times a week, and we're always giving each other feedback on whatever the other is working on.

JM: Coming up, Freddie and I worked on an eight page story for Cellar Door Publishing’s anthology benefit book for the West Memphis Three defense fund called, LOSS OF INNOCENCE. I am currently co-writing, with George Singley, SUPER-CRAZY TNT BLAST! over at Speakeasy comics. I am also about ready to start pitching a sci-fi/film noir story I wrote...I’m working with a fantastic artist, named Terence Chang, on the project and the pages he has done so far are amazing! In the future I hope to continue working in comics on as many different genres as I can, and I would love to work with Freddie as much as possible.

Thanks to James Mitchel and Freddie Williams for taking the time to talk to us. To take a look at a preview of CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, and even order your own copy, just head on over to

BOOM! Studios

BOOM! Studios continues to impress me with its entertaining line of comics. This week, Keith Giffen finishes up his introductory miniseries centering on relationships, love, capes, alternate realities, and complete world-destruction. I’ve been enjoying this miniseries in that it illustrates the differences between men and women and their views on relationships and the way they look at everyday life. It’s “He Said, She Said” in spandex and body armor. Both the hero and his ex-girlfriend/arch-nemesis have views that are vastly different and they’re not afraid to destroy the world around them as they battle it out. After successfully destroying their own alternate reality, Valor (the “hero” of the book) and his ex, Caliginous (great name for a baddie), venture into this plane to stop the same thing happening to this reality. Who is the bad guy and who is the good guy in this situation varies from whose perspective is being told at the moment. Is Valor just a “think first and ask questions later” dunderhead who destroyed the universe? Or was Caliginous just being a vengeful witch? It looks as if it was their relationship that really put the kibosh on their world. Meanwhile, this reality’s versions of these characters are having problems of their own. This series ends with foreboding vibes and leads into the HERO SQUARED ongoing series due out next year. It’s an extremely insightful allegory on relationships and the battle of the sexes. And it’s pretty funny to boot. - Ambush Bug


DIVISION SHADOW is one of those comics that this Indie Jones section is made for. It’s written by Patrick Meaney with art from three different artists. Each artist tells his own story that will interconnect as the series proceeds. The production values of this book may be crude (my copy was stapled off-center and some of the pages were longer than others), but that added to the preciousness of the book. This is an ambitious story involving politics, death, and conspiracy. Meaney seems to have big ideas and, for the most part, I was entertained by this book. Don’t expect Marvel or DC level looks here, folks, but from books like this one spring the high-profile creators of tomorrow. You can pick this one up on Meaney’s website. - Ambush Bug

Self Published

This story involves a tortured young lady who lives in the world of mirrors. She’s haunted by ghosts of her dead father and demons. There’s a priest who sports classic Damion Hellstorm devil hair horns and plenty of bloodshed. Although the plot may be a bit light, this story is rooted in urban legend and I have to admit I found myself enjoying the carnage when Mary lets loose on her hapless victims. The “crazy eye” effect Mary gets during her berserker rages is especially effective. Fans of Pulido’s EVIL ERNIE and LADY DEATH may want to take notice of this series. - Ambush Bug

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.

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