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AICN COMICS REVIEWS MIGHTY AVENGERS! THE SPIRIT! And an Indie Jones you have to see to believe...!!!

#50 2/21 & 28/07 #5

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) New This Week: MIGHTY AVENGERS #1 New This Week: MARVEL ZOMBIES/ARMY OF DARKNESS #1 CIVIL WAR #7 THE SPIRIT #3 RUNAWAYS #24 X-FACTOR #16 FIRESTORM #33 BLACK PANTHER #25 Indie Jones presents LOCAL #8 Indie Jones presents STICKY CHEAP SHOTS!



Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Frank Cho Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Team books are a guilty pleasure of mine. Group a bunch of unlikely heroes together and force them to use teamwork to defeat a common foe too powerful for one hero to handle and I’m usually sold. Such is the case with THE MIGHTY AVENGERS. This is a comic that, despite the fact that it ties closely to CIVIL WAR, shows that you can make a good story out of elements of a not-so-good one. Although I’ve had issues with Brian Michael Bendis’ writing and the recent direction of the Marvel Universe has taken, I must admit that this is one very strong issue--one worthy of the MIGHTY tagline in the title.
This issue is very similar to the zero issue of the recent JLA relaunch in that it is a small group of heroes choosing who they want to be on the ultimate lineup of the world’s greatest heroes. Bendis does a great job of setting the stage and getting into Tony Stark’s head. And this surprises me, since Iron Man was one of the hardest heroes to relate to during the entire CIVIL WAR. Here, Bendis makes him relatable. You may not like the situation Iron Man has basically created for himself in this new Marvel Universe, but Bendis makes it so that he’s likable again. He’s a flawed Batman-like character who realizes that he’s got some control issues and is attempting to rectify them, but failing at every turn. This is the type of fallible hero that was absent in CIVIL WAR, yet present in this issue throughout.
I have to give props for Bendis’ use of thought bubbles too in this issue. Although using the thought bubbles makes for some awkward back-and-forthing in the dialog between Iron Man and Ms. Marvel, the newly appointed leader of the Avengers, I have to give the guy credit for trying to bring back the old comic book standby. It seems as if Bendis has been used to using captions for inner monologue and hasn’t gotten the hang of using them yet.
The structure of this issue was nice as well. Each new member of the team is highlighted and the reasoning about their inclusion is discussed in depth. I especially liked the reasoning behind the inclusion of Wonder Man and the Wasp. In fact, the line-up is pretty great and a much more traditional team than that other Avengers title. Although I’m pretty sick of the sappy Sentry at this point, the rest of the team has me looking forward to their adventures.
Frank Cho specializes in making women look hot. And he does so throughout this issue. His solid line work and shapely figures were never better. Sometimes it borders on cheesecake, but with vivid panels such as these, I can’t complain.
All in all, this is a mighty intro issue that has piqued my interest and rejuvenated my Marvel Jones after the energy sapping event that was CIVIL WAR. Bendis seems to be making the best of the mess the Marvel Universe has become. You may be like me and not liked how the Marvel Universe turned out at the end of CIVIL WAR, but I have to admit that, if this issue is any indication, there may yet be hope.



Writer: John Layman Artist: Fabiano Silva Neves Publisher: Marvel/ Dynamite Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Although, out of all of the EVIL DEAD movies, ARMY OF DARKNESS is my least favorite, I still can appreciate it for bringing the character of Ash to the forefront of geek culture. And although I try my damndest to read as many zombie comics as possible and love Kirkman’s WALKING DEAD series, I wasn’t a big fan of Kirkman’s MARVEL ZOMBIES. But I tried not to let that sway my opinion going into this crossover issue.
I have to give props to this book for diving right into the meat of the problem as Ash accidentally falls through a portal leading to the Marvel Universe. And not the regular Marvel Universe. It’s the zombified version as the Deadite plague from the EVIL DEAD movies cause the Avengers to turn into flesh eating ghouls. I really liked the interaction between Ash and the rest of the Avengers. And there’s a really fun scene where Ash inadvertently helps a member of the Wrecking Crew beat Daredevil. Writer John Layman “gets” Ash as he is more of a bumbling hero rather than your typical do-gooder, despite the square jaw.
Usually these crossovers follow the tired formula of the two heroes meeting and fighting, then they are forced to team up later on in the series. But this issue cuts to the chase, zombifies the entire Avengers team, and throws Ash into action to destroy them all in the first issue. I don’t know where this one is going because it seems as if all of the heroes are actually dead and not returning in this Elseworlds-type tale.
The art is equally fun with classic representations and pencilings of the super-heroes and accurate depictions of the carrier of the chainsaw and the boomstick. All in all, this is a fun read and worth your coin if you’re a fan of either the MARVEL ZOMBIES story or the EVIL DEAD movies. I had a blast and can’t wait till the next issue.

CIVIL WAR #7 (of 7)

Mark Miller: Writer Steve McNiven: Artist Marvel Comics: Publisher Vroom Socko: Veteran

I just want to say first off that there are a few things I liked quite a bit in the finale to CIVIL WAR. The fight between Cap and Iron Man was particularly visceral. The bit where Tony is laid out in all his control-freak glory, with Cap standing over him going, "In all the years to come, in your most private moments, I want you to remember my hand... at your throat. I want...You to remember..." Damnit, wait! Wait.
Sorry. That's from DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.
But I did like the jailbreak scene, with Cap leading the charge. And all the prison guards are wetting themselves, going, "He's too big..." Shit! Sorry, wrong book again. That's DKR still.
Well, there's the bit at the end, where the only holdouts remaining are the New Avengers, where Luke Cage says "Looks like we're criminals." And Spidey responds, "Sure we're criminals. We've always been cri-" FUCK!
Okay, other than a bunch of story concepts that are twenty years old, what does this issue bring? Not much besides gratuitous violence and enough cynicism to fill Loch Ness. Sure, Joey Q says that this is the sort of thing that'd happen in the real world, and he's close to being right. After all, in the real world there’s a whole lot of shitheels, yesmen, and arrogant bastards who are certain of nothing but their being right about everything, and there’s very few genuine, noble people who hold dignity and honor above all else. If that’s the real world, then that’s what the Marvel Universe has become, and I can't help but feel that we as readers and fans have lost more than we’ve gained by this change. It's to explain this?
You guys know the theory of the Uncanny Valley? How an artificial representation of a person becomes more relatable the more human it looks, until it hits a point that's so close, the only thing that stands out are the differences and it becomes something repulsive and uncomfortable to look at? That's what Marvel has become. It's a world smack dab at the bottom of that valley, with NBC's “Heroes” up on top of one side and Kirkman's INVINCIBLE on the other. It's a world that is ugly and bitter; a world that has taken characters older than I am and turned them into something so far removed from their original intent that they've become something monstrous.
I've been reading Marvel comics for as long as I've been a comic book reader. I'm one of the few who stuck through the 90's with them, even enjoying that period in places. I've happily spent more hours and more issues with these characters than I can count. But right now I'm a hair's breath away from turning my back on the Marvel Universe, never to return. To quote Alan Moore, "It's cold, and it's mean-spirited, and I don't like it here anymore."
I must admit though, what little interest I have left is based on the idea that Tony Stark and his Illuminati pals are planning on using their power to remake the country. (That's not from DKR, right?) It'll be somewhat interesting to watch these now compromised people try to change society for the better. Using their abilities to make life for the average shmuck a better place... And with Mar-Vell back, I bet they even make it a priority to find a cure for canc-


Writer/ Artist: Darwyn Cooke Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Baytor

There's nothing worse than comic creators who can't be bothered to get it right.
Really, is it so hard to go back and re-read Will Eisner's origin of The Spirit and remain faithful to it? Why do these creators insist on missing the point at every opportunity? My biggest fear is that many of today's readers will read this comic and think this is perfectly acceptable, just because it's so darn charming and well done.
Is this why we buy comics? Enjoyment?
Next they'll be trotting out the old one about "good stories", as if that's justification for character assassinations such as these. Well, I for one would rather be reading comics I hate featuring characters I know and love, then to be reading brilliant comics about characters I don't know anymore. The last thing the comic industry needs are "professionals" who stroke their egos by telling "good stories".
This issue of (dare I call it) Will Eisner's THE SPIRIT features a number of gross inaccuracies in The Spirit's origin. The most glaring is the presence of Ellen, who any real Spirit fan knows didn't meet The Spirit until his second adventure when she came into town engaged to another man…and she certainly didn't look like this, her beauty concealed behind unflattering glasses and pulled up hair. Or what about Ebony? Where's his trademark vocal stylings? And don't get me started on them updating the comic to the modern age, because that would make it easier for new fans to enjoy the book? What were they thinking trying to appeal to the micro-brained masses when there's a good 5,000 fans who breathlessly await the *real* adventures of The Spirit in his Archive collections? Is their money somehow less valuable than the tens of thousands of "fans" who purchase this travesty of a comic each month?
I can hear those sad boys now, defending this comic because of the fine visual style and quality writing. Sure, Cooke manages to breathe life into these characters and tell a rip-roaring good adventure. But the name on the front of the comic is THE SPIRIT and I only see a blue masked pretender within these pages. For heaven's sake, he's even seen carrying a gun.
I know, I know, Will Eisner also showed The Spirit carrying a gun in his earliest adventures, but he quickly realized that was a misstep and corrected his mistake; but it seem Darwyn "piss on it and make it mine" Cooke can't be bothered to make alterations to the story that would be in the true spirit of the character. No, he has to go about adding needless depth to nameless henchmen and putting Denny Colt in a windbreaker, because that's what the tragically hip kids want from their comics today.
Read the book if you must, but just don't pretend that this has anything to do with the *real* Spirit. The last thing we need is another character forever perverted by the selfish desires of so-called fans who want nothing but enjoyment from their comics.


Writer: Brian K. Vaughan Penciler: Adrian Alphona Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

The "end of an era" (that no one bought in the first place apparently--bastards) and we're now faced with a new era on the horizon not featuring either of the creative team of Vaughan and Alphona that launched this title a good five years or so ago. So how does this end--with a bang, or a whimper? Well, how about a little of both?
See, the thing is, this whole final arc hasn't really seemed like a final arc, y'know? Yeah, there's been a great lot of tension behind the actions of Chase as he's made an agreement with the Gibborim to exchange an innocent soul for the life of his lost love Gert. But overall I've felt the drama has fallen a little flat as there hasn't been much foreboding, but more just an emphasis on Chase's actions as he's gone and kidnapped members of the Pride that replaced the original one to gain info on the Gibborim, and as he invaded the Runaways home base, the Hostel, in order to take away the means the rest of his teammates would need to stop him. The "heart" of the conflict doesn't really make its presence known until the physical conflict itself heats up. It's when Chase finally realizes that he doesn't have the constitution or qualifications to do what is necessary to bring back his love that things start to hang heavy.
The trademark sense of humor BKV used for this book is more than lively here as well though, which does bring back some levity as the mood finally does get appropriately dark. More referencing to Molly's run-in with Wolverine back at the beginning of this volume, and even a hilariously impromptu Fastball Special, break it all up in the middle and there's the usual bit of "pop cultural skewerings" that have made this book very much modern throughout its run. And an ending of sorts as we are left with things changed, but not really, and a slight shift in the status quo setting us up for the next creative team. Which, despite my reservations about the originators of this title leaving it, I honestly can't think of anyone who can handle this teams dynamic better than Joss Whedon. But uh, yeah, not too thrilled about that little appearance by a certain "almost fascist now turned director of the highest spy organization in the world" at the end point though. Yeah, sure, it definitely is a twist that will have a drastic effect on our group of misfits, but again, not every fucking thing needs to be a tie-in. Seriously.
But it was a great ride while it lasted, and this comic has made my geek reading over the past half decade all the more enjoyable. I remember being so disappointed back when the first volume of this book was winding down, I couldn't believe something so fun and off-the-wall energetic with such a great cast could possibly be staring down cancellation. But it bounced back, and we got another two great years out of it and I'm thankful with high hopes for the future. Come on, Joss freaking Whedon is going to write it? At least somebody believes in this title. Thanks again. Cheers...


Writer: Peter David Penciler: Pablo Raimondi Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Here's a little something about me when it comes to characters in comic books: I really don't have allegiance to anyone. Sure, there's some characters I'd prefer to read. If a good Batman story falls in my lap that tends to get my fanboy juices going, and I'm of the personal opinion that John Constantine is the best and most layered character to set foot into a established universe. But all I really care about is the story at the end of the day, and a good writer should be able to make me care about any character. They all have the potential to be interesting, it's just a matter for the right writer to bring that potential to actuality (well, except for Supergirl--fuck that boring piece of jailbait). But where was Animal Man before Grant Morrison got his hands on him? How about The Question who just wandered around a bit before Denny O'Neil pulled out a short but legendary series about him back in the day? Any character has the potential for a great story, or a multitude of them--sometimes you just need the right circumstances.
Peter David makes me believe in X-FACTOR. This ragtag little bunch of no-names and non-players in the Marvel Universe, and I tune in every month with so much enthusiasm to see what is going on in their lives simply because PAD is taking us on a journey with them. You don't know where it's going to take us, but it's really such a great ride you don't care. Take this current story arc for example. To recap, a few years ago Jamie Madrox released some of his duplicates "into the wild", I guess you could say. The basic purpose of this was he wanted them to go out and learn about the world at large; law, business, religion, etc. Last issue that led into a confrontation with Hydra and SHIELD that was equal parts hilarious and disturbing for their own reasons, but now Jamie's out in the quiet outskirts to reabsorb an aspect of him that became a minister...but things don't go as smoothly as he'd hoped. In the time he's been gone the minister dupe has made a life for himself: wife and kid, nice little house and church out in the wilderness, he's living the peace and quiet Jamie always wanted for himself. So that leaves him with one brutal question: how far is Jamie willing to go to reclaim that small piece of him, that little missing part of his soul? It's a damned hard question, but so riveting to watch unfold. Right on the tail of our little @$$ie awards, I can easily say I think Madrox is already the frontrunner to become my "Best Character" for next year's batch of these.
And Jamie's not the only one with a dilemma on his hands; Monet and Siryn have got themselves in a giant pot of boiling water overseas. Arrested for trying to stop a hate riot targeted at a small crowd of hiding mutants, both M and Theresa are led to jail where they're incarcerated by the authorities, leaving the mutants defenseless and to eventually get slaughtered by the rioters, something that doesn't sit well with our jet setting heroines, leading Monet to do the unthinkable. Add in the twist of the sole survivor of the hospice massacre running away from the country with M and Siryn, and now a mysterious hooded figure with glowing eyes trailing them the entire way and then actually lending them an unbeknownst helping hand, this book has more ongoing plotlines and plot twists going for it than an episode of “General Hospital”, which is why it's such an exciting read month and month out.
Another thing that has really helped this book continue that momentum has been the consistent inclusion of Pablo Raimondi's art. It's nice to have a regular after a period of three or four months where it seemed like we were getting a new artist each month. But it also helps that his art is just damn good. Honestly, after his work on the MADROX mini-series with PAD I dunno why he wasn't the regular to begin with. Whenever I think of Madrox's character, it's his penciled version that I see. And his art just creates the perfect atmosphere for the comic. Soft lines give the characters just the right amount of genuine emotion, but there's enough ink on the pages to make the panels properly moody. And, oh look, an artist that puts backgrounds in 90% of his panels. How novel. It's just great work and does so much to enhance already great storytelling.
Right now, this is hands down my favorite Marvel title, which is saying a lot considering the company is putting out at least a handful of A grade comics right now, in spite of the FUBAR that is CIVIL WAR and all its mediocre tie-ins and spin offs (which is why each and every day I thank the Lord Kirby for Ed Brubaker's existence). But this book has so much going for it, and doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Never would I have imagined that a book beginning with an "X-" in front of it would be the benchmark of quality I hold that company to, but to be honest, that little suffix has nothing to do with anything. This is great storytelling, and a genuine care for characters and a wonderful cast of them. This is how you do superhero comics.


Writer: Dwayne McDuffie Artist: Dan Jurgens & Ken Lashley Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Squashua

Firestorm used to bore me, but that was before they put a new writer on it. Now it's back in my queue. Dwayne McDuffie has Firestorm hit New God Orion out of the park (literally) with this issue. Exciting, entertaining, and with the sort of witty banter I'd expect, it's way too damn bad this book is about to be cancelled.
The thing is, there was no way I could justify telling you to read those older issues just to save the series for a new writer. That would have made no sense. Fortunately, according to all the convention reports, there are signs of "big things" in the future for Firestorm. And from the look of things, it seems like a natural progression to have Firestorm, whatever the heck he is (elemental, meta-human, what-have-you), enter the world of the New Gods. And hanging out with Mister Miracle, despite the odd Seven Soldiers continuity gaffs ("52"), is a visual delight. All we need now is a Flash guest-appearance to complete the red-gold trifecta. Even the "I only appear in this series" character Gehenna makes good use of her onscreen appearances.
Definitely pick up this issue, likely along with the rest of the tale, and help play this series offstage. From this excellent debut, I don't anticipate failure, but I'll keep you posted if an unexpected dog is dropped on us in a future issue.


Writer: Reginald Hudlin Artist: Koi Turnbull Publisher: Marvel Reviewer: Jinxo

Wow. It’s kinda hard to find a character in the Marvel Universe today who doesn’t suck in some way. Iron Man? Fascist manipulative wiener. Captain America? Good guy but apparently being an idealist instead of a realist makes you a douchebag. Plus he threw in the towel at the crucial moment of the CIVIL WAR. And according to Donald Trump on “The Apprentice”, being a quitter is a hanging offense. Spider-Man? Well, good guy, but his decision to reveal his identity was such a bad one that it’s embarrassingly stupid. X-Men? Sat it all out. So they’re smart, but, well, wusses. How did they end up out of a fight over civil liberties for super heroes? That’s their thing!
But one guy--actually one Marvel power couple--came out of all the mess looking pretty good. Black Panther and Storm were maybe the only two to come out of it unsullied. But then again, it makes sense. Panther is the king, and in the words of Monty Python you can tell the king because he’s the guy without shit all over him.
Panther’s one of the few characters to really come out looking cool from this CIVIL WAR. He took great personal and political risks he didn’t have to just to support people he believed in based on his strong personal convictions, Storm his equal partner the whole time. So they kick the crap out of Sue and Reed Richards as a couple too.
I just wish Part Three of the BLACK PANTHER/CIVIL WAR crossover could have held up as well as the man himself. It just doesn’t hold up quite as well as the previous issues. And the problem comes down to more stupidity on how Marvel has handled this CIVIL WAR event. The main rule of the series seems to be that if something important happens in the main CIVIL WAR series it can’t be shown in any of the crossover stories, leading to much tap-dancing around important story beats in those other books. In most cases it has been handled well. You see the heroes head off to the big battle and then we cut to them returning going, “Wow, that was some battle!” And on with the story! Want to read what happened, head over to the CIVIL WAR book.
But this issue of BLACK PANTHER handles the problem so badly that the book becomes pointless. They start with a great concept: make the book about Storm, Goddess of Weather, throwing down with the twisted clone of Thor, God of Thunder. Great! Only problem is that Mecha-Thor’s fate is clearly spelled out in the final issue of CIVIL WAR and it doesn’t involve Storm. That means from the start the plot in BLACK PANTHER can’t go anywhere. If BLACK PANTHER was released first then you might at least think it could go somewhere and then be inspired to go read CIVIL WAR to see what happened. Only BLACK PANTHER came out after the last issue of CIVIL WAR, so going in you KNOW it will go nowhere.
And then how they handle the cut around is just plain bad. Storm and Mecha-Thor throw down and then, oops, Thor gets a new dance partner and we get to watch Storm and Sue Storm watching the final fight off panel, chatting like girlfriends just hanging out together at the mall. Only they aren’t hanging at the mall. They are in the middle of what is supposed to be an epic battle to decide the soul of the Marvel Universe. So why am I getting a tension-free comedy moment? It’s the exact same tactic that Kevin Smith used in “Dogma” for the big battle with the Golgotha Shit Monster. And in that case Kevin Smith admitted he did it because he had no idea how to stage a fight scene and so went for the comedy of the reaction shots. He couldn’t do an action scene. What’s Marvel’s excuse for a throwaway scene at a crucial moment?
But, hey, what else could they do? Can’t show the final big battle. Well then, I’d say they shouldn’t have started a fight they couldn’t finish. Or they should have found a real way to work around that problem. How about this: this is evil Thor. He has killed before. In that very issue of BLACK PANTHER they reestablish he is potentially an insane killer. How about he actually gets the better of Storm? How about he is on the verge of crushing her with his hammer Mjorn? Storm is fading in and out as the hammer is about to fall and then, bam, Thor’s final opponent saves the day with a flying tackle. Storm blacks out and then comes to after the fact, as curious about what happened as we are. Okay, it makes Storm more the damsel in distress, but it’s better than showing her as someone who would stop for chit chat with a gal pal and watch a fight while the most important battle of the war is still going on around her. “Help! We need more fighters over here!!!” “Sorry, I have ringside seats to the best fight since Wrestlmania! Woo hoo! Be there in a minute!!!”
This issue aside, Black Panther and Storm are the two characters who I actually have some curiosity about post-war. Almost every other hero I have a bad taste in my mouth for right now. These two I still care about. And with no gihugiant crossover event to get in the way, hopefully there won’t be any “can’t show that bit” problems to interfere with their stories in the future. I’m also very curious to see how these two will play as members of The Fantastic Four.


Writer: Brian Wood Penciler: Ryan Kelly Publisher: ONI PRESS Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Getting right to the point to start this off, I'll start with a personal note: I know fuck all about relationships. Sure, it's nice to have someone in your life, someone you care about, someone that "completes" you and all that jibbajabba. But I also like my space... god do I like my space. But at the end of the day, sometimes you need something or someone to fill that space. We all can't go off and live in a void, it'll drive you fucking mad. I know, I've stared that abyss down quite a few times in my day, and it's not as pretty as those special effects were in that James Cameron classic (man I love that movie. That Ed Harris is so dreamy.... errr... anyways). But then you're left asking yourself, what kind of person do I want to be with? What is my ideal mate? What qualities should they have to define themselves, and to mesh properly with mine? And so on and so forth. But here's the rub: just because you think certain characteristics are exactly what you want (and maybe even need ) in a mate, doesn't mean that it really is so. And that's a stark revelation to our lead gal Megan here in this issue of LOCAL.
Our girl has been making her rounds again, this time winding up in the Windy City, Chicago. She's 26 now, waitressing at a quaint little joint, and occasionally schtupping a grungy but kinda cute coworker of hers. It's not a great life, but it's not a bad one either, and therein lies the rub. We all want better. We all know the grass is greener on the other side, we just can't always leap the fence to get over there. But Megan has an opportunity before her; a very handsome, very charming and gentlemanly admirer of hers at the diner who is infatuated with her, and she's more than reciprocating herself.
Sometimes we just get sick of the norm. Not a day goes by that I don't take a minute to take account of everything and ask myself "Is this it?" Is this all that's there's going to be? How can I make things better and will I grab onto the moment that will make them so? And this issue is all about that moment smacking Megan right in her face. This book revels in life, and it's absolutely brilliant to behold. All the little things that make the days that much more bearable, or even enjoyable. The nuance, the emotion, the quirky things we do and the people around us do to keep us sane. That's what LOCAL is, and that's why it works. Brian Wood has a great ability to make all these things seem unique and fresh, even though we live them out every damn day. We pull for our protagonist Megan because that's who we are. This book just packs so much raw emotion into it, it can be just as brutal a read as it can be an uplifting one. And that's why every issue has impressed me thus far, and this one is no exception. This is just good comics.
And just as this is "good comics" from a writing perspective, this is just damn good comics from a visual one. I've probably said it here once before, but if I haven't I'll say it again--Ryan Kelly is probably the most underrated artist out there today. Every panel of this book is just a spectacle. So much detail, so much atmosphere, and the perfect dolloping of black ink to make it all work without getting too heavy. This book is all about the emotion, and without an artist who can properly convey that emotion, then your book has no heart and soul. Kelly is this book's heart and soul and thank god for it.
This book is why I love comics, because they can be anything they want. They can be "gods" dressed up in spandex fighting over skyscrapers for the fate of the planet, they can be renegade preachers chasing after God, or they can be something that could quite literally be going on in the apartment next to yours. There's no reason for the medium to limit itself to one kind of genre, but alas that's how things work. But that's why a book like this stands out so much more, because it dares to be genuine, and fuck you if you don't care. This is just good comics. Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and easily accessible. This is always a surefire return on investment for my three bucks any time it comes out, and it could be for you too.


Collaborators: Dale Lazarov, Steve MacIsaac Publisher: Bruno Gmunder Verlag Totally NOT GAY: Squashua

I'm hanging around the talkbacks a month or so ago, and I see a short discussion about me. Nothing special like last week’s “Squashua, you are a complete douche”-a-thon, just stuff like, "That Squashua, I can't believe he…" and "Squashua' says he’s blah-blah-blah…" It was not long after that one particular Talkbacker chimed in with, " Squashua isn't a he; she's a SHE."
Turns out that, during an even earlier Talkback, there was a debate about sexuality and in one post I eluded that I was male and later jokingly posted that I was a lesbian, which would translate to mean, "in a man's body". Ha-ha. I graduate Junior High next year.
I corrected the astonished Talkbacker who, now that I think about it, may have previously masturbated to thoughts of a sexy female @$$hole named Squashua writing hot comic reviews in her lingerie while her mouse hand explored Azeroth. Possibly my earlier She-Hulk love note to Dan Slott threw him. I’m sorry to have dashed your hopes, unnamed Talkbacker.
So it was a bit of an additional hit to my sexuality when, that very day, I received an emailed request to review a hardcover of stylish hardcore male pornography in comic form. "Alright,” I thought initially, “stylish hardcore comic pornography for males; that's right up my alley."
No. No, Squashua. No.
He meant hardcore MALE pornography. That's right up an alleyway you don't travel – riding the chocolate choo-choo express to poo-ville.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just sayin'.
So, as this becomes yet another episode of “Noob Squashua reveals @$$hole secrets,” I check with the other @$$es and they inform me that I can turn down any review I want. It’s not like I have to read anything or accept any offer, especially if I feel uncomfortable. But that’s the thing, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. I'm no stranger to porn, heck I used to have an Empornium account before I forgot my password; none of this shit is going to shock me. I check with the little lady to make sure she knows we might receive a brown-paper package of non-hetero mail (see what I did there?), and she's cool with it. Heck, she'll take a look too. So I agree to do the review. I figure I'll eventually pass the copy along to a very nice gay couple we know.
I receive the book in the M-A-I-L about a week later. A shrink-wrapped hardcover depicting two classic "bear" men embracing. For those of you who do not know, "bear" is a term used to describe "husky" men, which I learned when being referred to as such by previously mentioned nice gay couple. Pretty much every naked man in this book is drawn as a "bear". Just FYI.
I peel off the shrink-wrap and out fall a couple of pamphlets advertising other books, one of which depicts a large black man with a gigantic banana-hammock. It's not that I was looking; it's that his penis was the size of his entire body. HIS ENTIRE BODY.
This did not bode well.
I crack open the book and start reading. After the first couple pages of a man fantasizing and then being joined by his male lover, I realize there are no word balloons. In fact, a few page-flips reveals no lettering at all. It’s just like the classic Larry Hama silent issue of GI JOE, only with more anal sex.
And boy-howdy, is there anal sex. Look, I’ve only been told I’m hung so maybe I don’t know any better, but these guys... their penises are just... so enormous. They're gigantic. Ginormous. And when they ejaculate, it's like all over the page – everywhere; almost goofy porn-star proportions.
Now yes, there is the expected anal and oral sex in this book, and it’s my solemn duty to inform you that they’re semi-responsible. Every scene involves a condom, which is a big plus, but what I mean by semi-responsible is that after the first sex scene, they skeet all over the bedroom. And all over each other. For a couple panels. And even ON a couple panels. Then one of the guys licks/eats the other guy's stuff. If sex-ed taught me one thing, it’s that you still can contract diseases from swallowing jizz. Kind of defeats the purpose of the condom, but what the fuck; here I am nitpicking gay line-art pornography.
Speaking of which, according to these pictures, did you know the recipient's penis just lies there on his stomach? I wondered what they do with that; figured it'd flop around or they'd tape it down or someone would hold onto it or something. The more you know.
So you ask; is it all just butt-sex, or is there more to it?
Well, yes.
Sticky is a tale told in three chapters, bookended by our two bear-friends having relations. The first story is about one catching the other unawares and two rascals having a very "naughty" afternoon in the bedroom. With anal sex. The second story is framed through the television as a guest on a Jerry Springer-esque show comes out to disastrous results, but subsequently pulls the heartstrings of an onlooker. Plus anal sex. The final tale is the most visually satisfying: an all male Halloween party. See if you can spot Bert and Ernie in the crowd. Plus, there’s sex with the involvement of anuses.
The stories themselves are lighthearted enough, and then punctuated with ass-poundingly hardcore sex scenes. If reading well-inked male bear-types having sex in various positions is your thing, this book is definitely for you. I’ve passed it on to my homosexual friends and I’m told they’re successfully using it as a bathroom reader. Me? I prefer live-action amateur ladies in their twenties; now if only I can get my Empornium account re-activated.

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.


I really enjoyed this issue, it worked on a lot of levels. One, I actually enjoyed that it was a somewhat heartfelt goodbye to a pretty cheesy villain, and a kind of tribute to the world of the underappreciated D-level/throwaway villains of yesteryore. Two, it was also funny, because it skewers those same lame ass villains that probably should never existed. Plus, come on, the bits with the Doombot were hilarious. And three, I think The Fractor here might be my new hero for doing the one thing I've waited to see in a comic for at least a decade...kill the fucking Shocker!! And thank god for that. Seriously, fuck that character. Gay power, gay costume, no relevancy whatsofuckingever. This was a really damn entertaining book, and I'm definitely sticking around for a while now. Hell, I might even go buy a second copy of this for double the Shocker exploding fun! I just wish Deodato was doing more than just a fill in on this. – Humphrey

POWERS #23 Marvel ICON

Cunt cunt cunt classy Chi-town ganglands flashback cunt cunt tits cunt cunt deeper look into history cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt vagina cunt cunt cunt avatar of evil cunt cunt cunt cunt hamhanded abuse diminishes impact cunt cunt shit cunt addiction is a nasty habit cunt fuck cunt cunt cunt big reveal not to be missed cunt cunt cunt cunt Oeming delivers the usual cunt excellence cunt poop cunt incredible visuals cunt cunt relationship never the same cunt again cunt cunt tang cunt clearly one of the best cunt issues ever cunt cunt near monkey cunt fap proportions cunt piss cunt don't take no shit off of nobody cunt cunt burma shave. - Squashua


So we're on our third issue now of IRON FIST, and I'm happy to say things are still moving along relatively smoothly. We're finally getting an evil, villainous face to put to some of the deeds behind the badness coming our protagonist’s way that has been gathering for the first couple issues. Plus getting some background on the mysterious Orson Randall who also contains the power of the Iron Fist inside him. But I'll tell you what bothers me about this book. It's not anything to do with the direct storyline going on here (though, okay, if I had one true gripe with this so far it would be that I think the plot is unfolding a little too slowly, but that's it--honest) but it's the goddamn looming cloud of CIVIL WAR. There's a part where Danny is internal monologuing, and he's talking about how now he has to worry about SHIELD being on his back and forcing him to work in the shadows. And I can't help but think, doesn't SHIELD already know he is who he is, and since he's, uh, head of one of the richest corporations in the world, it's not exactly like he's hard to find. Can't they just go in and arrest him for not being registered? And then I can't help but think how fucking stupid that is, and how now it's stuck in my head the entire goddamn time I'm just trying to read a freaking IRON FIST comic!!! Fuck you Marvel. You really just couldn't let things be could you? Arseholes. Whatever. It's still a great comic in spite of. Go, buy, enjoy. Cheers... – Humphrey


Another issue abounds, and the plot thickens some more. I like a lot of the nuance going on in this, and the depth being brought to some of these characters. We're getting more glimpses into the past of former JLAer Fire, and how things could be that she's got it in her to become the assassin she has. And the main plot going on in this, that of Amanda "The Wall" Waller using her power within Checkmate to run her own agenda with her new pocket Suicide Squad, is the real deal. The political intrigue is still in full flow, the characters are fleshing themselves out, and there's even a bit of somewhat obscured continuity going on here with the reintroduction of Bane and how it conflicts with the fact that the old Judomaster's son (who died at Bane's hands in the pages of INFINITE CRISIS) is a member of our resident super secret organization. There's a lot of balls being juggled here, but Rucka and Co. are still turning out a really damn good (if underappreciated) product here. – Humphrey

SHE-HULK #16 Marvel Comics

Just when I thought I was out... od I loved this issue. Besides the standard She-Hulk slugfest, there's some laughs both with and at continuity, an absolutely beautiful Star Wars reference, a hint of what's to come in World War Hulk, and Mallory Book coming into her own as an independent character rather than a foil for the rest of the cast (the last two pages with Mallory feature some of the best character work Slott's done to date.) As long as this title sticks around with this writer attached, there's going to be at least one Marvel book I'll continue to buy. - Vroom


Dammit, I keep on trying to drop this series, but they keep on pulling me back in. I’m living a Pacino cliché! Yet this issue is a nice little horror story featuring one member of the JSA fit for horror stories. Dr. Mid-Nite happens upon a bunch of wannabe vampires and ends up confronting what looks like the real thing. It’s science against superstition in this well paced (thanks to new to me writer, J.T. Krul) and surprisingly well drawn (thanks to new to me artist, Alex Sanchez) issue. As of this month, I was declaring JSA CLASSIFIED one of those books I would glance through in the store and pick up only when the book looked to be good, but one turned out to be a good looking and nicely written surprise of a horror issue. - Bug

DAREDEVIL #94 Marvel Comics

Honestly, other than the very cool and retro John Romita cover, I have to say this Milla-centric issue was a bit of a disappointment to me. Actually, I'll go as far to say as boring. See, I know why this issue exists: Matt Murdock's life has been in shambles for a while now, and while we focus on him personally throughout, we sometimes forget about the loved ones caught in the middle. So it makes since now that Milla and Matt are back together we take the time to see the kind of emotional rollercoaster her life has gone on parallel to Matt's. But, the thing is, this issue comes off almost as cliche in the world of comics. How many times have we seen Mary Jane waiting at home like the good wife for her hubby, but eventually getting fed up with the thought of Peter being dead in the streets to the point where it drives her to tears? Well, that's pretty much what this story comes down to. Milla loves Matt, Matt loves Milla though he probably still loves Karen Page more, and that plus seeing him in life threatening danger so often forces her to leave. But at the end of the day she loves him enough to come back to him and enjoy the time they have together. Sure, it's poignant and the art is great and it's all properly moody and emotional, but it's also a little derivative. I'm not gonna lose any sleep over it, cause it was only this one issue and served its purpose well, but eh, them's the breaks I guess. - Humphrey


If Marvel had a brain in its collective headpans they’d “Black Snake Moan” Jeff Parker to a radiator in the Marvel offices and never unchain him. After checking out AGENTS OF ATLAS and digging the hell out of it, I found myself listening to fellow @$$hole Dan Grendell and picking up Parker’s MARVEL ADVENTURES: THE AVENGERS and I have found that THIS is the Avengers comic I have been missing. Every issue is filled with fun without insulting my intelligence or disrespecting these classic characters. Plus every issue I’ve read so far has made me laugh out loud. This issue, for instance, has the Avengers crash a Ren Fair only to be met with jeers and complaints that they have mistaken the fair for a Hero Con. Funny stuff. Marvel, buy the chain and go to it. Don’t let Parker go anywhere. - Bug


So, okay, it got a little predictable at the end, but this was still a great mini-series. Not really gonna go into any detail as I don't want to spoil any surprises that may be left, but this is just a little push to buy the trade for those of you who didn't buy this in issues. This was a fun ride. Vaughan did what I thought was the impossible these days and pulled out a very enjoyable Doc Strange story that wasn't just a retelling of his origin for the ten dozenth time. He made him properly snotty, but pulled in some British dry wit that, okay, doesn't really make sense for the character but is really perfect for him. The co-stars in his servant Wong and the ever apparent these days Night Nurse were a great combo to push the book as well. And Marcos Martin's art was lights out good. Said it before, said it again, it's very Ditko-esque in the handling of the character of Dr. Strange, but with a very modern esthetic so it never feels like he's just aping that legendary creator. Fun, poignant, a joy to look at--definitely buy this trade when it's out. One of the best mini's of the past year, and that's saying a lot given the competition. - Humphrey

CORRECTION: The nominee for Biggest Indie Surprise, FALLING SKY, was linked incorrectly in last week’s here 3rd ANNUAL @$$IE AWARDS Column. Here’s the proper link to that excellent comic; a truly worthwhile read.

Check out the @$$oles’ ComicSpace AICN Comics page here for an archive and more @$$y goodness.

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