Saturday, September 16, 2006

Booster's back, baby!

War! What is it good for? (Absolutely nothin'!) Especially when Civil War wrecks havoc by burning Atlanta to the ground shuffling so many publication schedules that there's no Marvel Comics I wanna spend my dimes on this week, making it a light (but fun) purchase of two comics:

52 Week 1952 WEEK 19: This comic is fun. Hey, guess who's back? Dan Didio's worst nightmare, baby: Booster Gold! Well, sorta...Skeets is obviously intent on turning Booster's ancestor Daniel into the new BG, and there's a nifty "not everything you know is true" twist at the end which shows that Skeets has his (its?) own very definite agenda. Add to that a possible twist to the Supernova storyline that this little stuffed reader never even suspected and 52 is back on track throwing us mysteries that would have Ralph Dibny's nose a-twitching. I'm not entirely convinced about the suggestion of Supernova's secret in this issue (for one thing, I think his height has varied from issue to issue), but it's all done in a light-handed spirit that has me eager for the next issue. Plus, Starfire in Animal Man's shirt. She's still cute!

Escapists #3THE ESCAPISTS #3: This comic is fun. The Escapists both feels more fantastic and more realistic than most superhero comics (which it really isn't; it's really a comic about comics and the power of myth). Suspend your disbelief that the comic-within-the-comic becomes a massive smash hit (especially in this day and age) and you have one of the more charming adventure and love stories in the four-color format with a quirky elegance: bold, distinctive art by Steve Rolston and Jason Shawn Alexander (as I've said before, I love Philip Bond but this art team is jus' dandy), funny and realistic dialogue and a "da-da-da!" of a cliffhanger ending. (And yes, that Otis elevator hack is the real deal. If I could reach the buttons in an elevator, I'd try it myself.) Plus, the mildly politically-incorrect but still-funny Best Line of the Week: "Chief, my pencils are so tight, Katharine Hepburn could ink them." For all these reasons, and not simply because this little stuffed bull thinks Case Weaver is unbearably cute, THE ESCAPIST #3 is the most fun comic of the week!

What the Sam Scratch is goin' on here?!?

Archie's Pal Jughead #14
(Archie's Pal Jughead #14, October 1951)

Later, Jughead Jones was arraigned in Riverdale County Criminal Court and sentenced to five to ten years for involuntary manslaughter.

Also, even in the early fifties, Veronica dressed way trampier than Betty.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Man in the Iron Mask

Mighty AvengersSo, there I was, readin' the latest issue of Wizard...

I've lost you all already, haven't I?

...okay, I was reading a glossy periodical about superhero comics, which featured a special Wizard exclusive 7-page color preview of the upcoming, 2007 post-Civil War comic Mighty Avengers. Since apparently there's no comic book Marvel publishes that isn't worthy of being several comic books Marvel publishes, this is a spin-off and accompanying monthly title to New Avengers (which continues to be a disappointment to me merely for its ongoing lack of Mike Gambit and Purdey). Seriously, I don't imagine I'll be picking up Mighty Avengers, but I've got no ill will towards it, except for the probability that it'll keep Frank Cho away from the now-apparently once-yearly Liberty Meadows.

But what is an Avengers comic without a line-up of powerful iconic heroes mixed in with a handful of second-stringer fan favorites? Nothin', I tell you! Nothin'! And in the tradition of Cap's Kooky Quartet and that team where the Beast and Moondragon were the heavy hitters, the membership is made up of heroes likely to both please and cause severe shrugging across this land. When the call goes out for "Mighty Avengers Mightily Assemble!", answering the call will be the line-up of Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Wasp (yay!), Black Widow, Ares, Wonder Man (double yay!) and Iron Man.

One of these members surprised the stuffin' out of me. No, it's not Ares.

Says me: "What the Sam Scratch is Iron Man doin' on this team?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm a long-time Iron Fan. I was there for the dopey days when the Mandarin had a "M" on his chest. I remember the name of Tony Stark's yacht (Throatwarbler Mangrove). I read along when Tony was soused in rich, buttery, Kentucky bourbon, so fully proofed you could scratch and sniff the alcohol on the comics page. I read "Spores," for Pete's sake. But there's never been a darker time for our pal Tony than right now.

Okay, okay. "The Crossing" and Teen Tony. I was blanking it out of my mind, okay? But aside from that, there's never been a darker time for Tony than right now—his manipulations and machinations have pitted hero against hero, torn teams apart, forced friends to become enemies, and shuffled a publishing schedule so dramatically that there weren't even any Marvel comics in the stores this week when I walked in with my sackful of dimes. In other words, the more Civil War goes on, the more likely it looks that Tony Stark is moving beyond redemption, that he's going to take a major fall, that his oddly out-of-character but nevertheless current canon puppeteer status is going to bring him down low, preferably under the heel of a red boot with a metal shield pressed against his neck.

In other words, I don't see how Tony can continue to be a hero in the Marvel Universe for at least a while following Civil War. The interview with Brian Michael " know?" Bendis that accompanies the Wizard preview hints at that as well:
"Who says Tony lives after Civil War? Who says he hasn't bequeathed his armor to a new generation of hero? Who says it's not Cap in the armor?"
Interesting thought. Possibly misleading. But I don't think that's Tony. I don't think that's Cap. So who's behind the iron mask in Mighty Avengers? Let's take a look at the very little evidence we have so far. He's a bit of a wise-cracker:
Mighty Avengers
Not so much a madcap jokester, by any means. But that exchange suggests a lighter, more jokey Iron Man. Someone who's used to joking during battle? Non sequiturs galore? Perhaps toning it down a little bit from the usual trademark tomfoolery? Hmmm. How about this:
Mighty Avengers
New powers? Well, I'm not as up on recent Iron Man storylines as I should be, but certainly the repulsor ray technology is as ancient as Happy Hogan, and "full form" repulsor ray technology is something I think I've definitely seen before. So is it really new to Iron Man? I don't think so. But...might it be new to this Iron Man?

I'm going to guess now, and we won't find out for months, but you can bookmark this blog entry and check back in February 2007 to see if I'm anywhere close, or if you can laugh at me for being so gullible. Because I think that's a new hero in the Iron Man armor. I think we've seen this hero before, but not as Iron Man.

This isn't a spoiler warning, 'coz I'm just guessing. But stop reading now if you don't wanna see any guesses about this storyline.



... I think the new Iron Man is Peter Parker.

Here's what I think will happen at the end of Civil War: Tony Stark will be disgraced or in exile (I hope not dead!). He'll be either in hiding or on the run for a while. And Peter Parker, who recently gave up his secret identity, needs one. He knows how to work, move, and fight in Stark armor now. Whatever his feelings towards Tony at the end of the storyline, Stark has been a mentor, confidant and friend: the father figure Peter hasn't had since the death of Uncle Ben. I believe that however Civil War shakes out, Peter is going to feel he owes a debt to Tony Stark. And he will replace that by donning the red-and-gold, by redeeming the name of the Iron Avenger. He's a bit inexperienced at the power and intense strength of the armor, so it's a learning curve for him. Since he's keeping his ID as Iron Man secret (to protect the hopefully still-around Mary Jane and May), he's going to have to ramp down the wisecracks during battles. Despite his increased strength, he's more dependent on his teammates to aid him than ever before. What does this mean for the Spider-Man titles, you ask? My guess is...almost nothing. I don't think Marvel will try to replace Peter as Spider-Man. ("Again.") After Civil War, in my scenario, Pete's still Spider-Man too. Plenty of room to appear in umpteen Spidey titles monthly and still star in Mighty Avengers and Iron Man (if there is an Iron Man series after this). He's going to have to divide his life between the publicly known Spidey and the secret new Iron Man. And let's face it, doesn't the more complicated Peter Parker's life get, the more intriguing his adventures become?

I dunno. This is all an early guess based on a couple panels in a tiny preview. Next month we might see a preview of a post-Civil War cover featuring Spidey and Irony together. But until I've been proven wrong, I think it's an interesting and dramatic twist that—if it's only a finite storyline with a definite end in eventual sight—could be kinda fun. I've got some quibbles with Civil War but I'm actually enjoying the "Spider-Man: Unmasked" storylines and how Peter and Tony's friendship have led to this point. A little shake-up is good for what ails ya, and as I think history is proven, the toys don't necessarily need to be back in place by the time of next summer's movie, do they? (They never have yet, have they?)

But what do I know? I thought Monarch was Captain Atom.

Meet me back here in five or so months and let's find out, shall we?

(singing to myself as I wander away: "Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an Iron can...")

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Go West.

I worried a bit about the legal aspect of it, then I took a gander at all the copyrighted material that's remixed and up on YouTube and had a second think. If Messrs. Tennant and Lowe or the Brothers Warner say "See and Dee," I'll happily wipe it off YouTube.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Peter Parker Totally Rocks, Too!

That whole pamcake thing?

Everything Sue Richards knows about making pamcakes, she learned from May Parker:
May Parker's Wheatcakes

Whether buttermilk or wheat, they're the thing you love to eat. I think I'll have some right now! Pamcakes!

Ben Grimm Totally Rocks! Reason #13: Pancakes are involved.

I haven't done one of these in a while. So, without further ado:

Why does Ben Grimm totally rock?

13. Not only is he polite and considerate of those cooking for him, he also enjoys one of the finest foods ever created in this mortal world: pamcakes!:

Ben Grimm #13
Panels from Fantastic Four #67 (October 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Long before another hero who totally rocks sunk his big choppers into pamcakes, Ben Grimm was chowing down and keeping up his amazing strength through the mighty alchemy of golden hotcakes, rich creamery butter and pure Vermont maple syrup. May we all have such high regard for the power of nature's perfect food: the pamcake. And now you know...another reason why Ben Grimm totally rocks.

Want to know more reasons Ben Grimm totally rocks? Here ya go, true believer!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Seven and Seven and Seven.

1. I bought seven comics this past week.
2. I’m going to review them all, swiftly.
3. But in a very specific special way.
4. Each comic’ll be reviewed in seven lines.
5. Each line will have exactly seven words.
6. I’ll probably miscount at some odd point.
7. It’s harder counting to seven on hooves.

JLU #251. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #25: This comic’s fun.
2. Blue Devil? Who doesn’t like him? Commies!
3. Doctor Fate’s in this story too. Cool!
4. But as usual, it falls into a cliché.
5. Somebody has to learn a life lesson.
6. Why’s that? Just because it’s for kids?
7. Still, more fun than Justice League #1.

Detective #8231. DETECTIVE #823: This comic is sorta fun.
2. This one’s not as good as #822.
3. Isn’t Poison Ivy dead? Gotham Knights #65?
4. Really embarrassing cheesecake art is kinda creepy.
5. It looks a bit like tentacle rape.
6. (Not that I know what that is.)
7. Still, I like Batman better than pre-Crisis.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #121. FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #12: This is fun.
2. Dueling Mysterios cause big trouble for Spidey.
3. Plus Flash actually acts heroic for once.
4. “You want acting, go get Tobey Maguire.”
5. ”I should’ve dressed up like a bat.”

6. (Silly, but best lines of the week!)

7. Creepy, spooky cliffhanger! I'll buy number thirteen!

American Splendor #11. AMERICAN SPLENDOR #1: This comic is fun.
2. John usually won’t let me read Vertigo.
3. He made an exception for Harvey Pekar.
4. It’s got both funny and sad slice-of-life stories.
5. Harvey’s cranky but he tells great tales.
6. Excellent black and white art throughout, too.
7. Hey, my copy’s signed by Dean Haspiel!

52 Week 181. 52 WEEK 18: This comic is fun.
2. But I still have a few complaints.
3. Please stop writing Montoya as a caricature!
4. Why would an ex-cop be so self-destructive?
5. Surely she’s had to shoot people before.
6. But it’s nice seeing stories come together.
7. And Booster’s funeral? Sad. Guy didn’t come?

Battler Britton #31. BATTLER BRITTON #3: This comic is fun.
2. Solid hearty war comics! A good thing.
3. Ennis proves he can write PG, too.
4. War is hell. Even up in planes.
5. This reminds me of Kubert war comics.
6. Solid art and action; I’m enjoying this.
7. Plus, I learned what “pranged” means: destroyed.

Agents of Atlas #21. AGENTS OF ATLAS #2: This comic? Fun!
2. A comic with a talking gorilla? Yes!!
3. Good solid mystery, excellent recap of #1.
4. The most fun comic of the week.
5. But gosh, Venus! Put some clothes on.
6. If I could blush, I probably would.
7. (Black and white and red all over.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

More fun from the world of book publishing.

From the Booklist review of Brad Meltzer's new thriller novel, The Book of Fate:
From his first novel, The Tenth Justice (1997), through his sixth, Identity Crisis (2005), Meltzer has served up exciting thrillers that take readers behind the scenes of American politics. The pattern doesn't change this time. Like the television series The West Wing, Meltzer's novels focus on the political people the public never sees and tells the stories we never hear.
So, Booklist, what you're saying is...?:

Cause and effect in the exciting world of publishing.

A couple interestingly-juxtaposed news items on Book Standard:


JLA #56

Remember the 2,996.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What's Distracting Patricia?


Confused? Befuddled? Flummoxed? Check it out here.

Ten of a Kind: Animals on Wheels. Faster! Faster!

(More Ten of a Kind here.)