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#51 3/7/07 #5

The Pull List (Click title to go directly to the review) BRAVE AND THE BOLD #1 CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 THE AUTHORITY #2 DYNAMO 5 SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL #2 Indie Jones Presents AMERICAN BORN CHINESE OGN Indie Jones presents STRANGERS IN PARADISE #88 Indie Jones presents… CHEAP SHOTS!


Writer: Mark Waid Artists: George Perez (pencils) and Bob Wiacek (inks) Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

"That's the most reckless card playing I've ever seen." - Bruce Wayne
"You should try it sometime." - Hal Jordan
"I wish Barry had lived to see you with money." - Bruce Wayne
I know this is a belated review, but so what? There was a day when we readers had to wait 5 freakin' months to read other fans' reviews in the various letters columns. Two weeks ago was a good week for comic fans who just dig good old-fashioned super-hero comics with classic characters portrayed "in" character, exquisite artwork, and nary a political POV or evidence of corporate mind-control to be seen.
BRAVE AND THE BOLD is a throwback to a different era when super-hero comics were quite a bit simpler. That does not mean simplistic. B&B is anything but simplistic. This is a team-up book deliberately reminiscent of the Silver Age team-up books such as the original BRAVE AND THE BOLD. B&B delivers a fantastic team-up story involving Batman and Green Lantern. What makes it so fantastic is that a genuine murder mystery is presented that fully and logically involves GL and Batman.
Oh BRAVE AND THE BOLD #1, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways:
(1) The friendship and true partnership between Hal Jordan and John Stewart.
(2) The genuine surprise image of Batman kneeling over a corpse in the Batcave.
(3) Batman performing actual detective work.
(4) Destructive aliens.
(5) Animated dinosaurs.
(6) "Batteries to power--turbines to speed."
(7) "Dick always swore that penny would come in handy someday."
(8) Bruce Wayne and Hal Jordan in Las Vegas.
(9) 13-panel page perfectly telling the visual narrative.
(10) Batman taken by surprise.
(11) Roulette.
(12) Ultimate knowledge.
(13) Ultimate power.
(14) Next issue: Green Lantern and Supergirl.
This may be the comic book Mark Waid was born to write. All characters were written with more respect to their classic characterization than they usually receive elsewhere. Batman, especially, was the "Dark Night Detective" and not the brooding militaristic misanthrope he so often is mischaracterized as. Waid did the tradition of B&B's original writer, Bob Haney, proud here.
George Perez, if possible, has challenged himself to up his game on this series. Which seems impossible, but I swear some of his work here was the best he's ever done. What an amazing talent and an amazing comic book from cover to cover. Even when I look for something to criticize, I can't find it.


Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Steve Epting Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Ambush Bug

In a bar I frequent all too often, I know this older gentleman who often gets drunk and starts to make an idiot out of himself for the simple goal of gaining the room’s attention. He does this every time without fail. He slams a pint or a shot of Jaegermeister and shouts a witticism and the immediate crowd looks and laughs. Feeding off of this nubbin of attention, the guy vomits another witticism, this one only a slight variation of the last, and the crowd lets out a kind titter of recognition. Still not satisfied, the guy belts out another one and the crowd, in unison, raises their eyebrows, turns away and tries to ignore the awkward moment when the guy, too sure of his own wit, has overstayed his welcome and misread the initial attention as something like recognition of his own charm, yet, in reality, it’s something more akin to pity. Regulars recognize this show of desperation for attention immediately, and it doesn’t take long for the newbs in the bar to recognize it either.
If only comic book readers could be as shrewd…
To all of those who plopped out a shit kitten about the “death” of Captain America, I implore you to get a frikking grip. Anyone who believes Steve Rogers is dead and gone need to see me about some property I’d love to sell you out behind the ol’ @$$Hole HQ smack dab in between the Burning Knuckle Hooter Bar and Schleppy’s International House of Pig Innards (who knew Schleppy could cook?).
For those of you under a rock, Marvel moved back into the section marked “Been There, Done That” and had Cap perished by a sniper’s bullet in last week’s issue twenty-five. It was an “event” that made filler for the last few seconds of most of the TV news programs, causing stoic reporters to give false eulogies and commend Marvel for such “sophisticated” storytelling in funny books. I hear it also caused quite the bidding fervor on eBay and even a fellow @$$hole hocked his copy for just about fifty dollars.
I hear this and it really makes me kind of sick and sad. The Marvel hype machine revved into full gear and it appears that, once again, fandom ate it up. I worked in a comic book store during the “Death of Superman” fiasco and went through that similar, although somewhat larger, shit storm. There were news reporters. There were people in the store who had never set foot in one before. There were hopefuls shelling out big cash for this “surefire investment” only to find themselves disappointed when they came back victoriously a few months later to cash in on something that was barely worth the cover price. God how I loved to see their little hearts shatter.
Take a boot to the testes, non-collectors!
And my theory was then and still is that said hoof to the nads was one of the things that put the nail in the coffin of the comic book industry. And as a result, the comic book slump that was the nineties occurred, where sales were low, stories were shit, the market was oversaturated with spin-offs, knock-offs, and jack-offs, and the House of Ideas almost went homeless. People who bought into the hype realized that companies couldn’t be trusted with their heroes. It was all about selling the book and making the buck. Fans ceased to matter. Nothing that was said was ever set in stone. Superman returned faster than a speeding bullet and people outside of the comics industry, having felt cheated by what they thought of as the “last Superman story” crinkled their brows and left comic books behind, never to return. The hype backfired and while, sure, a fraction of new readers may have stuck around, the whole incident to this day leaves a bad taste in the mouths of anyone who was around to remember it.
The only saving grace for this round of over-hype from DC’s competitors is the fact that Marvel has their best writer penning the whole thing. If anyone can make this a good story, it’s Ed Brubaker. And despite the over-hype, this is a remarkably well-written and action packed issue that not only shows us why Cap is such an important character, but lays out an engrossing mystery for the reader to enjoy. It’s top notch storytelling from cover to cover and will most definitely be another Brubaker story arc to remember examining why the world needs Captain America. I loved the issue and for the first time in a long time, it looks as if the hype will live up to itself because the storyteller is just damn good.
But I can’t help but still feel rancor about the whole thing.
I mean, shelling out big bucks on eBay for a book that will just be reprinted in a mere two weeks? Reporters outside comic shops? Newbs in my store, in my way, clogging up the check out line, and talking about how “kewl” GHOST RIDER THE MOVIE was?
C’mon, people.
Those of you who want to read a good story, check this one out. It is definitely worth your time. Maybe this “event” will actually educate the populace proper how superhero comics can be sophisticated reading. Maybe some new long term readers will come from it.
But to you fly-by-night tool bags who bought the issue to pay for college or a new car/house/tummy tuck or think that this turn of events won’t be undone in a year…I’ve got a boot here with your taint written all over it. Marvel’s poundin’ Jaeger and at it again with the hype. You newbs may think it’s news, but this regular (although buying the comic) has seen it all before.


Writer: Grant Morrison Penciler: Gene Ha Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

Fanboy snark time: "Well, THAT certainly wasn't worth the wait." *insert random eye rollie icon or whatever*
But the thing of it is, how often is a comic that comes out five months after it's supposed to worth it? Pretty much never. The only recent exceptions I can think of are FELL and anytime we get an issue of PLANETARY, and with the Planetary line, they're solicited like that. It's not like with this book here where it's actually solicited in freaking October and comes out in March. Excitement can only take you so far, and since only one issue of this has come out and the Authority didn't even appear in it, well, you can't really expect much can you?
Okay, digression gone. How was this issue despite the giant ass hiatus?
Eh, not bad. What we pretty much have here is a little bit of Grant Morrison taking a chisel to the much fabled "fourth wall". What issue number one was trying to establish all those long months ago was that there was a world out there in the multiverse with none of the problems of the superbeing, because, well, they don't exist there. Issue two lets us in on a little more of the secret: apparently this world is ours. That's right, our lil' ol' Earth. No intergalactic despots, no armored tyrants, no Big Blue Boyscouts... just a dirty little place with its own fair share of problems without having to worry about men in tights plowing through its cities. It's definitely an intriguing little premise, not exactly anything that hasn't been toyed with before, but it still happens so sporadically it's always worth a peek at the take of whoever is deciding they need to go there.
And there's a lot of elements for Morrison to work with here. He's pulling an "everyman" angle with the inclusion of a submarine pilot by the name of Ken, the poor schlub who happens to become the Authority's informant on what our realm is like. Also, there's the team discovering that they are indeed fictional characters whose exploits are in the pages of comic books...sorry, I mean graphic novels, everywhere. And then of course you have the political climate we all find ourselves living daily and how this sits with a team that prides itself so much on making a difference, no matter what the cost or body count. Lots of balls being juggled, and it's definitely shaping up to be a bit of a ride as there's a genuine feeling of not knowing what's going to go on next. I'm definitely interested in seeing how this plays out, but even if this shipped monthly I dunno if it would exactly make giddy with anticipation for the next issue. That leaves whatever remaining enthusiasm I have for this stunted by the fact that it'll probably be another four months before we see a new issue... sigh......
Anyways, there's also some art chores to be talked about, and with all the delay you assume that these Gene Ha pencils are a guaranteed home run right? Well, no, not exactly. Oh, don't get me wrong, there's some absolutely amazing and brilliant splashes and panel work in here. There's a slightly bigger than a full page splash of The Engineer and a couple of her duplicates that has to be seen to believed, and there's a handful more like it ripe with detail and lush scenery. But it isn't all roses and candy. For one, in a good bit of places the facial work on the characters is actually very off looking. There's a lot of panels where the males tend to have noses that look like Steve Martin's in the film Roxanne, and in some of the far off shots some of the characters seem to be lacking facial features altogether. They might have just two thin lines to demark eye brows and of course the giant schnozzes. Plus, the coloring job occasionally muddles things up as much as it makes the good pages look that much better. Too much blur effect--it looks like everything is in a haze. And sometimes the characters stand out way too much from their backgrounds, making everything around the characters look too, I dunno, "digital" I guess would be the term. There's definitely more good than bad but, again, with such a sizeable delay, this should have been nothing short of perfect given what we've come to expect from the crew involved.
This is definitely not a bad book, not at all. It's got a nice hook, there's a lot of potential in the ideas Morrison is presenting, and the art can be downright jaw dropping at times. But it's all a little too uneven given the circumstances. This is supposed to be one of the flagship titles of this whole Wildstorm reboot, and it's not quite delivering, especially compared to other WS books like STORMWATCH PHD and WELCOME TO TRANQUILITY that are not only delivering high quality, but on a monthly (or close enough to it) basis. Expectations on this were already high based simply on those involved, but this is definitely a dropped ball. There's definitely a good chance this could turn into a touchdown, but right now it's being unexpectedly outclassed by its imprint peers.


Written by: Jay Faerber Illustrated by: Mahmud A. Asrar Published by: Image Cimics Reviewed by: superhero

File this book under the category, "Gee, I wish I'd thought of that."
DYNAMO 5 presents the adventures of what are essentially the children of Superman. Sure, sure, Superman in this story is pretty much presented as the uberhero known as Captain Dynamo but we can all spot a Superman stand in when we see one, right? In any case in DYNAMO 5 the world's greatest hero, Captain Dynamo, has passed on to the great beyond. Before he croaked, however, we discover that unfortunately Dynamo-baby couldn't really keep his, er, ahm, dynamo in his pants and is the father of five…count 'em…five illegitimate children. Yep, turns out that CD was actually a bit of a louse. And if spawning five kids and not helping to raise them wasn't bad enough it turns out that he was an adulterer as well. Turns out that Dynamo had married his own Lois Lane counterpart and had been cheating on her for years, the cad. So Lois, um, sorry…Maddie Warner (the Lois stand-in) decides that there's no better way to make up for her husband's indiscretions than to track down his bastard brood and get then to form a super team of their own.
Neat idea right? But not only is DYNAMO 5 a neat idea it's altogether a really good comic, as well. I can't tell you how many times I've enjoyed the idea for a book and it just hasn't lived up to its potential. Well, in this first issue DYNAMO 5 takes a concept that could have easily fallen flat on its face and runs with it.
Writer Faerber and artist Asrar do a great job of weaving the whole story together and making it believable in a comic book logic sort of way. Asrar in particular does a great job on the art chores, as does colorist Ron Riley. Asrar 's figure work and his storytelling abilities are top notch. I also have to give him credit for his character design here. For some reason I just really enjoyed the design of the DYNAMO 5 team's costumes. They harkened back to the original X-Men's synergistic uniforms but Asar and Riley made them pop with a uniqueness all their own. I usually don't go on about super hero outfits but for some reason the DYNAMO 5 team uniforms really worked for me. In any case DYNAMO 5 is a really great looking book all around. The pages are bright and vibrant and demand attention from any lover of super hero genre.
DYNAMO 5 is a book full of super hero adventure and an interesting cast of characters. In a way, DYNAMO 5 reminds me a lot of the Byrne FANTASTIC FOUR comic books I read as a kid. It's an altogether different super-hero universe that the big two are publishing today but it's one that's full of positive potential without engaging in too much unnecessary deconstruction of the genre. If anything I see DYNAMO 5 in the vein of Robert Kirkman's INVINCIBLE in that it's a super hero book that doesn't need to apologize for being what it is. Make sure to pick DYNAMO 5 up if you're a super hero fan. I think you'll be glad you did. As a matter of fact I'm a bit pissed at the creators of DYNAMO 5. As a comic fan who's trying to get away from weekly books another monthly pamphlet is the last thing I needed. But I'll be picking up DYNAMO 5 on a regular basis…it's that good.


Writer/Artist: Jeff Smith Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Prof. Challenger

"I don't need a babysitter, I'm Mary Marvel! See ya around, sucker! - Mary Marvel
Wow. I don't even think it's been an entire month since the first issue came out. Right? Time flies, I guess. I find it interesting that the poor cover design for this issue buried the actual title at the bottom of the cover but put "Jeff Smith" up in huge letters at the top. Smith is the star here, not The Big Red Cheese. And I understand that. My wife volunteers in Prof. Jr.'s middle school library once a week and she's mentioned that the BONE graphic novels are always going out as soon as they get reshelved. Smith is very very popular which means $$$$$$ in the eyes of Darth Didio and DC Comics.
But I'm more of a purist I guess. I like to fool myself that fans are attracted to the characters and not just to a popular name. Then again, I like to fool myself into thinking that voters are attracted to candidates like Barack Obama because of his "ideas" and his "accomplishments" and not just because he's a very attractive man with strong oratory skills. So what do I know? Anyway, once again, to the chagrin of the Talkbackers, I'm going to be giving a positive but mixed review to the second issue of JEFF SMITH--*cough*--I mean SHAZAM! THE MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL.
You know how I earlier characterized the cover design as "poor?" I say that because I did not even notice the comic book was on the stands until my third pass over the "New Releases." I may still not have noticed it if not for the hand-written note in front of it identifying it as a "recommended" selection from one of the store employees. That's a bad design when that happens. It's a clever image, but the color work on it makes it very easy for Cap and the title logo to literally just disappear if the casual browser is not actively searching for the issue.
The interior of the book, though, is also very important and, for me, this was much much better than the first issue (which I criticized for being an overly long retelling of Cap's origin). This time out, the origin is over with and the story gets going and I'm just loving Smith's characterization of Cap and Billy - especially his inclusion of the talking tiger, Mr. Talky Tawny. To me, Tawny is absolutely an essential character to any Captain Marvel series. He exemplifies everything magical and child-friendly about the entire Marvel Family. Smith does a beautiful job incorporating Tawny into this story that flows more like an illustrated children's book than your average comic book.
Humor abounds throughout the comic, most of it the quirky interactions between Billy, his sister Mary, and Tawny. Series editor Mike Carlin makes a brief cameo as circus ringmaster "The Great Carlini" who is promptly devoured in front of the audience by some more of Mr. Mind's evil talking alligators. And for some inexplicable reason, Dr. Sivana (who looks here like a hydrocephalic dwarf) is the nation's Attorney General and has recently formed the Department of Technology and Heartland Security. Funny stuff. And I'm sure he's in the employ of the evil alien, Mr. Mind.
Speaking of Mr. Mind, Smith is keeping the mystery of who and what Mr. Mind really is a secret to those readers who may be uninformed. As it stands now, Billy's attempt to reach the top of the Rock of Eternity (in the first issue) somehow opened a gateway allowing Mr. Mind to enter our universe and use his Monster Society of Evil to take over our world. Two brobdignagian robots have appeared on Mr. Mind's behalf, with one still to come, and then it will be time to destroy us all.
Now, all the while this fantastic stuff is going on, Smith finds opportunities to slow things down and focus on Billy and Mary: orphaned brother and sister who've never met each other until this issue. Some of it's truly poignant and touching, but Mary's brassy sassy mouth is a bit of a turn-off to me as a reader. You know, we all bring baggage into our reading, and sometimes it is preconceived notions of characters that we bring with us. I'm sure there were a lot of 30-to-40-somethings who went into the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fully prepared to hate it simply because Starbuck was a girl! In my case, I'm bringing in a preconception that's hard to get past that says Mary Marvel is supposed to be a poised, polite, and kind of sexy teenager in a modest skirt. A bratty, loud-mouthed little 5 year-old girl's a bit much of a change for me to take right now. But, like with Starbuck, I'm giving Smith some rope to see if this change can work for me because so much of what he's doing is so right that I want to see him succeed and fully win me over.
The bottom line is this is good stuff overall and I suspect that younger audiences who have no prior knowledge of the Marvel Family are going to thoroughly enjoy this story - especially once it's collected into a trade and hits the bookstores and libraries.


Writer/Artist: Gene Luen Yang Publisher: First Second Books Reviewed by Humphrey Lee

One of my favorite things about comics, I think, are what you would call the "pleasant surprises" they tend to yield. Right now, we're in an industry dominated by style and hype, and marginal substance to go with it. You can't go to a new site or feed without seeing CIVIL WAR this, or WORLD WAR III that, or "Here comes Countdown!!" Whatever, I'm bored with it. It's all a flash in the pan. What I want is something like this, AMERICAN BORN CHINESE, a book that I knew very little about and pretty much picked up on a lark (and because I had Barnes & Nobles gift cards). I was walking by the shelves at the store looking for something new. Something different. Something that looked like it had a REAL story to tell, and I came upon this and remembered some smatterings of praise here and there between places like Brian Bendis' forum and the iFanboy podcast (a great show for those of you looking for another dose of weekly comics talk). And honestly, that's all it should take. Why should you have to be convinced by Wizard blowing their wad for 14 gushing pages about some big overblown event that really only serves the purpose of selling more Wizard adspace? The man on the street is where things should start, where the REAL opinions should matter. Not from some publication or website that pretty much owes their notoriety to the two companies that hold the most market share. Yes, I know I'm on a website right now getting on a soapbox about all this, but I'm no man's puppet and I'm just here trying to tell you of some great material.
That's how these things get started, right?
There. Rant over. On to the book.
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE is actually three stories in one, all with their own theme and message that come to an unexpected head at the end of this graphic novel. One story is that of fitting in, as one Jin Wang moves into a new school to find he's the only Chinese-American student there. Another is actually one of Chinese folklore, about the Monkey King that aspires to become a revered god. And lastly is a tale of Chin-Kee (props for the play on words), a blatant walking stereotype who has invaded the life of his cousin Danny and makes his social life hell. Like I said, from the outside, these things have really nothing to do with each other, except with some base themes and morals that branch into one another. Each also has a bit of a shared light-heartedness that envelops the work as a whole, but also different enough from story to story to break up any sort of pattern it might be following and keep each segment fresh. Gene Luen Yang does his best to subtly push the kinds of sterotypical jokes and gags you'd expect to see in a work dealing with such subject matter, but the brilliance of the Chin-Kee plotline is that he also gets to revel in them without feeling like he's overdoing it. Every story is loaded with enough laughs and poignant moments to fill a dozen other comics, and it all comes together with a great payoff that is unpredictable, but definitely does the job presenting an ending that absolutely works given the overall storytelling.
The art inside of ABC is actually kind of what you would expect after hearing about the kind of tone I talk about it going for and whatnot. Very simple lines, more cartoon work than anything, with the right dab of Asian influence with the overblown facial expressions and occasional "big eye" syndrome. But that's the point of the book. It's a celebration of both the American and Asian cultures, and infuses both of them into the work, both on the art and story front. But amidst the fantasy and over the top humor, there's also that smack of genuinity that brings it all back into focus.
AMERICAN BORN CHINESE is the pure definition of a "hidden treasure". Great storytelling and unexpected depth with a heart that can't be denied, but it's also terribly fun too. A great modern day parable with several pertinent morals and sentiments to it. This is definitely a work that deserves all the attention it gets and way beyond and has given me more enjoyment than 90% of all the comics I've read in this past year. Keep an eye out for it.


Writer: Terry Moore Artist: Terry Moore Publisher: Abstract Studios Reviewer: Jinxo

STRANGERS IN PARADISE has been around for quite awhile but is quickly drawing to a close. I really have enjoyed the book. The art is great. The characters look like they could be people from the real world. Terry Moore can draw facial expressions with emotions that leap off the page. So often I find myself going back after reading the book just to look again at key drawings.
While I will miss this comic it may be time for it to end. The central story has always bounced between two primary plot elements. First is the love triangle: good pure David loves bad girl Katchoo, Katchoo is gay and loves Francine, Francine loves Katchoo but is straight and can’t reciprocate. As the series has gone on they have all bounced around, trying to make their relationships work (Katchoo tries to make it work with David, Francine tries to make it work with Katchoo…). Only at this point they’ve gone round and round the same track so many times it is getting a bit familiar.
The second continuing plot element is Katchoo’s ties to mafia level organized crime. She just wants to settle down and live a normal life, but like a cute lesbian Michael Corleone, they keep pulling her back in and disrupting her life. This too is getting a little too old. I think every supporting character has at some point been revealed to actually be a spy of some sort keeping an eye on Katchoo, Francine, David or all three. It is time for Katchoo to get a happy ending of some sort and be left alone.
With the end so close, things are being drawn to a close. The mob stuff seems to be mostly over with. Way way back it was revealed in a flash forward that David would die before the end of the story. After a couple of fakeouts over the years, sadly, David finally did die.
Most of this issue is standard stuff. Not bad but mostly setting the stage for the end. Having discovered that her friend Casey was in fact yet another spy placed in her life, Katchoo took off with David’s ashes to put him to rest. Francine has decided she does belong with Katchoo (for real this time!) and takes off after her to make her move. Again, most of this plays well enough although some of it does again tread familiar ground. The key scene with Katchoo and Francine feels similar to many past scenes between the two of them. Not bad--just familiar.
But there is one scene that, for me, makes this issue special. It throws something actually really new into the mix for the book.
Let me back way, way up. The very first plot that started up STRANGERS IN PARADISE had Francine dating a dope named Freddie Femur while Katchoo pined away for her. Francine and Freddie had dated for quite awhile with Francine refusing to consummate the relationship. In the end Freddie crumbles. Just as Francine is about to sleep with him, she catches Freddie banging his secretary. Katchoo then makes sure Freddie is punished for betraying her friend. From that point on Freddie has been the book’s resident schmuck. He reminds me of the dopey red headed doctor currently on ER. He’s a doofus and while sometimes ya hate him, he’s not irredeemably bad. He’s just… a doofus. And as time has gone on, hey, I’ve felt for the guy. For example, he started out so hated for cheating on Francine. Rightly so. But he did try to stay true to her. He did wait and wait. That doesn’t okay the cheating but still, give the guy points for trying. I mean, Ultimate Spider-Man is pulling the same move right now and nobody’s stoning him!
Anyway, as the book has gone on I’ve often hoped they give the poor schmuck a moment to shine, a chance to be something more. There was even a plot with a guy running around attacking women where I thought Freddie might come through. He was involved in the plot and I thought, this will be it! This guy is so horrible that even Freddie Femur will have to stand up, say this is wrong, and try to help stop this guy. Didn’t happen. Why? I think because a doofus character like Freddie fills a very specific purpose and letting a character like that evolve often means losing the ability to use them in the same way. For example, Hotlips on MASH. Once Hotlips became “one of the gang” the show could no longer use her as the comic bad guy. Maybe the only guy to pull off letting a character grow AND stay the same is Joss Whedon. Somehow he managed to let Cordelia Chase become a concerned hero and remain a spoiled self centered brat.
Back to Freddie, I think Terry Moore did not want to lose Freddie as a comedy jerk and so never let him grow out of that role.
Until now. With the series wrapping up anyway, Freddie gets his chance in a nice little scene. Casey, you know, the spy? Well she came into the story way back as Freddie’s wife. Turns out she was sent in as a spy, marrying Freddie as a ploy to get close to Katchoo and company. Only she actually became friends with everyone. Having been revealed as a spy, those friendships seem to have crumbled. Issue #88 finds Casey packing it in, feeling that everyone hates her and that her life is in ruins. Now if anyone should be angry you would think it would be Freddie. His whole marriage to Casey was a lie! He’s more of a fool than anyone… again! And if anyone is going to fly off the cuff and say something wrong and hurtful… probably Freddie. But instead we get a Freddie who sees his ex-wife in some real pain and is actually there for her. Nothing in it for him, no angles being worked. He cheers her up, he tells her not to lose hope. His doofus side is still in play but in more of a charming way. Maybe it sounds stupid but I was so happy to see this scene. Finally Freddie gets to be more than a joke. Not only that but in a comic where most things are feeling a bit “been there/done that” this was something that felt brand spanking new. A really nice surprise. The panels to go look at again in this issue? Casey’s pained and sad expression at the beginning of this scene (third panel in you can really feel her pain) contrasted with the last panel of the scene with Casey finally smiling. A very specific smile. Looking at that panel you can see it is the smile of someone who has been hurting for who the sun has just broken through. Not a gleefully happy smile but a smile that says, “Things are still bad, I’ve still got pain, but I’m gonna be okay.” How he puts that into an expression I don’t know.
The scene, the expressions… all little things but amazingly well done. Little things that are actually big little things.
It is time for SIP to draw to a close but I will miss those little moments. Every month they were such a nice surprise.

REDEYE 1.6 Engine Comics

The reason why we restarted Indie Jones after legendary @$$hole Lizzybeth decided to move on to other projects was to bring light to comics that usually are overshadowed by the constant over hype and oversaturation of the Big Two. It was a way for the Holes to spotlight the little guys: the creators who print their books out of their basements and through secret excursions to office copy machines. While we try to cover as much indie material as possible in this column, there are far too many books out there to mention all of them. Engine Comics publishes a magazine called REDEYE which sports the most comprehensive list of descriptions, reviews, interviews, and news articles that I have ever seen. As I flipped through the pages, I found books that I knew about and was happy that they were getting coverage, as well as books that I had never seen or heard of before. This magazine is a must have for those whose taste in comics lay outside of the mainstream. Issue 1.6 has a really great interview with cartoonist Tom Gauld and an introspective talk with Steve Yeowell, along with many others. It also has an extended preview of a new graphic novel called REGARDS FROM SERBIA by Aleksandar Zograf, that looks to be both beautifully rendered and poignantly written about a firsthand look at the war in Serbia and how 9-11 was perceived in that country. If you’ve got the Indie Jones, you’ve got to be picking up REDEYE. - Ambush Bug


Frazer Irving seems to be one cool dude. If you’re like me, you couldn’t get enough of Irving’s IRON MAN: THE INEVITABLE and SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION THE WITCH BOY. Irving has a style that creeps me the fuck out and I love it. This trade shows us Yanks where Irving got his start. The highlight of the book was an extended bad trip called STORMING HEAVEN in which a scientist takes some LSD and becomes a mystical guru, ushering in a new age of drugs and dementia. A LOVE LIKE BLOOD is another great story that proves that the concept of werewolves vs. vampires can indeed be done in an interesting manner. And this book even has a few precautionary tales as an alien instructs us all not to fornicate, do drugs, or listen to rock and roll music. All of that and a few tiny back-ups tieing into SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and this trade had me interested from cover to cover. Irving’s ghostly characters and trippy colorings are top notch throughout. He’s got a sense of the bizarre that I don’t really see in today’s comics. The Introduction, written by Irving, gives insight to the behind the scenes stuff that went on while Irving was creating these memorable images. Irving is a superstar in the making. Seek out this trade and see some of his earliest stuff. It’s well worth it. - Ambush Bug


While I don't believe that this is the strongest entry in the series, SUPER REAL VS. THE COMIC INDUSTRY continues to engage in the same wackiness that has become a hallmark of the series. This special is different in that it pretty much pits the team against characters who embody the comic book clichés that tend to dominate the industry. Each chapter is illustrated by a different artist with creator Jason Martin doing the writing chores. It's a light read to be sure but there's enough fun in it to keep SUPER REAL fans happy as well as amuse potentially new readers. - superhero

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.


Ever wonder what would happen if all those Phantom Zone criminals got loose on Earth and they weren't directed by comedy director Richard Lester? Holy crap! Next issue better be on time. - Prof.


See, now this is what I needed more of in this series. Oh, it started off all right. Midnighter "hired" to go kill Hitler, some bloodshed and "man out of time" humor ensues, but the middle of this story was so unnecessary, I honestly don't even remember what happened in issues three and four. But this is a nice turnaround. The story ends not necessarily predictably as there's a couple little twists on the predicament that our leather clad "hero" has found himself in, but ultimately the story resolves itself in pretty much a more violent version of what you've come to expect from these kinds of comic book stories over the years. But it's the overall execution of it that makes it work. Just the right amount of violence, and black humor with just a hint of sentimentality that all flows really smoothly. On the whole, the story arc turned out well based on the strength of the first couple issues and this finale, and of course, the wonderful Chris Sprouse art that graced most of its pages, but it had its fair share of problems that I wouldn't overly recommend it. But it was enough that I'm on to try another arc, and especially the Brian K. Vaughan penned fill in. Try at your discretion. - Humphrey


One of my fellow @$$holes sent me an email that said he hoped I'd include a line about how "Meltzer sure can overwrite the fuck outta a comic." My problem is, I can't tell whether that's a compliment or a criticism. If it's a criticism, then I've just gotta say he's wrong...or I'm just a big fat sucker. If it's a compliment, I can go along with it because it was way overwritten, but damn! That was simply the most intense comic I've read in a long, long time and I was totally into it. I hated the cannibalism thing. I'm not sure why that's becoming a recurring theme with "Hulk"-like characters, but the final chapter in THE TORNADO'S PATH totally jerked my tears. It's amazing what love can do. Oh yeah, and Ed Benes may officially be crowned today as the KING of Drawing Women's Butts! Bow before Benes -- The @$$-King!! - Prof.

FANTASTIC FOUR #543 Marvel Comics

This issue serves double duty. It is both the 45th Anniversary issue of the Fantastic Four and the transition from CIVIL WAR into the new team roster for the FF. The negative: the main story is sort of a “best of” recap of the FF’s history with little real meat which then leads to the introduction of the FF’s new members. Transitioning and recap doesn’t equal pulse pounding action. The positive: the way the FF’s career recap is littered with details from all points in their history to me reads as McDuffie telling the audience he knows this group and, hopefully, will do right by them. Also, with all the CIVIL WAR ugliness, the backup stories in this issue felt refreshing. A toss back to lighter times where Stan Lee and the folks at Marvel might actually wander into a story, when The Human Torch would throw down with Spider-Man not because of some deep political disagreement but simply because Spider-Man just pissed him the hell off and it would be a cool ass battle. – Jinxo


- The last line of this crazy comic book says "The inconvenient truth is--you can't have the Freedom Fighters without Uncle Sam!" That's not inconvenient, but it is the truth. I went back this week and read the entire 8-issue series back to back and I'm going to say this really is the most fun DC series of the past year. Gonzo gets his comeuppance. Father Time's involvement in this whole scheme is explained. But mainly we get to see the most eclectic collection of new super-heroes with a legacy ever. Daniel Acuna has produced great art and character designs throughout the series. I can't recommend it highly enough. This UNCLE SAM series steps heavily into the political arena, but it's so smart and clever that it never seems like political preaching and there seem to be no bounds the writers won't dare to cross. In an in-continuity series to actually assassinate an elected president, replace him with an alien robot, and in the closing battle destroy the Washington Monument? There are no boundaries. Only complaint is that somebody needed to point out to the writers that once Gonzo was taken down, the Vice President of America would not become the "acting" President until a special election. There is no Constitutional provision for a special election. The Constitution already provides a method of succession if the President-Elect was assassinated - even if he was subsequently replaced by an alien robot. As soon as the deception was brought to light, the Veep would be immediately sworn in as President to fulfill the term. - Prof.

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