Friday, December 09, 2005

Today's Magneto threat level stands at code orange.

X-MEN #112

From today's Yahoo News:

"Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at such a clip that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights in the next 50 years, scientists said Thursday."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Two! Two! Two weeks of comics in one!

Uh oh! I might have to turn in my comics blogging badge, because I didn't get a chance to review last week's fun comics at all. (I was busy traveling around upstate and central New York! Brrrrrr, it's cold, even if you happen to have been born in a natural leather jacket and have it on you at all times!) I know you fine Bully-fans have been patiently waiting and thinking: "I wonder what Bully thinks of this week's comics!" And I know no number of reasons why Ben Grimm rocks, delightful as they are, can satisfy that comics-reviewin' craving. So, let me roll up some of the comics from this week and the comics from last week into a big ball of comics fun (please note: comics were not actually rolled up into a ball).

GSI #2GIANT-SIZE INVADERS #2: This comic is fun. One of these days I'm gonna do a post (or two or three) on some of the often-overlooked past comics that John has let me read out of his collection that I think are the funnest of them all. Atari Force. Damage Control. The Shadow. And, let's not forget The Invaders. Marvel doesn't seem to have forgotten them, 'coz here they are again in a big glossy of five stories for a measly fifty dimes! I do hafta wonder: what inspired this nice repackage? It doesn't seem like The Invaders is one of Marvel's top properties. Maybe they are just aware so many of their fans are older and remember the original Invaders comic from the seventies. Not me! I'm new to the whole thing. And I still liked this a lot. There's a brand-new Invaders story by Roy Thomas (and who better to write a WWII adventure of Golden Age heroes than Rascally Roy?), plus four excellent reprints: the seventies Invaders #1-2 by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins (and I'll get to Mister Robbins in a minute) and two 1940s reprints: a Sub-Mariner story from All Winners Comics #1 and a Human Torch story from All Winners Comics #2. Why, that's three great ages of comics all in one book! My favorite of the stories, though, even after having read them before, is the Frank Robbins stories. I just love the look of Frank Robbins. His artwork is instantly recognizable and you'd never confuse his work with someone else's. I know he was never the most popular or acclaimed of artists but his work on Invaders and (even more obscure) the Man from Atlantis comic is dynamic, powerful, and even in this day and age of Image Comics-inspired artists, totally unique. All hail the Golden Age! All hail Mister Frank Robbins! All hail the Invaders!

Marvel Holiday Special One-ShotMARVEL HOLIDAY SPECIAL ONE-SHOT: This comic is fun. Yay! I sure do like Christmas comics! I like to read them all season long. I like to get a big mug of hot chocolate after I've been out sledding or making snowbulls and curl up on the floor next to the Christmas tree and read a big stack of Christmas comics. Each year we put them on the shelf with the Christmas books—they don't go stored away in a longbox where you can't get at 'em, oh no, no no no no no sirree! They stay out where we can get at them every year and I can read them again and again and again until they fall apart and have hot chocolate stains on them and I know all the words in every panel by heart. Well, here's another one! This is an anthology too: three Marvel Christmas stories. I liked the first one best: the Fantastic Four (with some Christmasy help from the Sub-Mariner!) try to track down the missing Mole Man. Art is by one of my very favorite current comics arts, Roger Langridge (who did the amazing Fred the Clown). John says it is a Citizen Kane parody but all I know is that this comic is as sweet as a candy kane! (Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!) Give Mister Langridge a reg'lar comic, Marvel! He'd make it the most fun of all! The second story takes us inside the New Avengers first holiday party. It is silly more often than it is funny but it does feature not only a nice sentimental Christmasy ending (inspiring speech by Captain America at no extra cost!) but also The Best Line of the Week: "I don't think he writes his name 'Wool Vereen.'" The last of the three stories was a little hokey: an illustrated poem about an old Captain Britain villain versus the FF on Christmas Eve. Happy endings abound even here! But I was least interested in this story because of the format and because I didn't even know who the villain was until the magic of Google showed me the way. Still! Good enough to put on the Christmas shelf!

JLU #16JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #16: This comic is fun. And what's more fun than a Christmas comic?...Two Christmas comics! This week's JLU is the special holiday issue (and they even take time out to remind you the holiday is more than just Christmas: Atom-Smasher, who's Jewish, and Hawkgirl, who's completely from another planet, all get in the "holiday spirit" too!). The "junior members" of the JLU, under the leadership of Hawkgirl, try to stop a rampaging, unstoppable villain. And yet, at the end: happy sentimental Christmas story! (Sniff.) The JLU has many of the same elements of each issue: a hero doubts himself and becomes the one to make the big difference in the end, not only in the battle but in Learning a Very Important Lesson™. (And while we're at it, the whole story kinda reminds of a similar Marvel story in which a hero—Spidey? The Hulk? Daredevil?—fights to stop a villain who just wants to get home for the holidays. Anybody remember what story it is I'm thinkin' of? Anybody, Bully fans? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) A couple other minor quibbles: the reason Hawkgirl gets back in costume for just this issue is kinda contrived and doesn't serve any real purpose, and, great as that cover is (I love the animated Supergirl!), where's my favorite Leaguer: Stargirl? But hey! It's Christmas, this comic is fun, and I like it. In the end, isn't that all that matters?

Mister Miracle #2MISTER MIRACLE #2: This comic is fun. (But late! Don't make me wait for my Seven Soldiers fix, Johnny DC!) I've been enjoying the heck of of the Seven Soldiers comics, but I think the whole storyline, not only of each character but the crossover threads winding through each title, is really only going to be clear when I sit down and re-read the whole stack o' story after DC publishes Seven Soldiers Special #1 on April 5, 2006. (I can't wait!) Even so, I'm filled with awe and admiration for how many different genres Grant Morrison is working in through all these seven comics. Even though each of the characters is based on a previous incarnation, you have to say what he's doing here with them is startling, surprising, new-direction stuff that is still reverent (thank you, Vocabulary-Word-a-Day Calendar 2005) to what went before. There's no better example of that than Mister Miracle. You know I love the work of King Jack Kirby. Jack drew like I want superheroes to be: big and bold and bombastic and larger than life and twice as loud! Some of his creations are more popular than others, but some of the others are treated like sacred cows: even tho' Mister Jack is no longer with us, most times these characters get used it's like reading Jack Lite: sorta the same thing Jack would do, sorta the same larger-than-life in-your-face feel, sorta the same big bombastic storylines and events. Here's little stuffed me going out on a limb here: I think doing Jack Kirby comics almost exactly the way Jack Kirby did them can get boring after a while. I don't claim to know what Jack thought about others doing his characters and storylines, but everything I've read about him tells me that even if you were using his characters he didn't want you to copy his style—he wanted you to develop your own way of doing things, that that was where artists and creators were at their strongest. That's why I would like to think that Mister Miracle, which takes the New Gods characters and spins them in different dramatic directions than the oft-overused Orion and his Pals versus Darkseid in the Fire Pits of Apokalips. Kirby's characters here are weird, hidden, changed, different, and not just for the sake of Ultimizing or All-Starring them: some plot's going on that we (and Mister Miracle) aren't aware of yet. Are the Sheeda manipulating "Dark Side"? (Or vice versa?) Why would anyone have Doctor Dezard as a therapist? And why do "The Troops" look so familiar? Those are questions that make me turn the pages in this comic fast, eager to see what happens next, that make me wait impatiently and eagerly for the next issue, that cause me to declare that Grant Morrison is better at re-interpreting classic comics characters in ways that are both different and unique but don't make them unrecognizable (yeah, I'm lookin' at you, All Star Batman!), and that make me declare MISTER MIRACLE #2 the most fun comic of the week.