Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #627

There was a time when people would say "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut!" But today, in Amazing Spider-Man #627, we find out that indeed "Something Can Stop the Juggernaut!"

In 1982 Roger Stern (Death of Superman) wrote a two issue Amazing Spider-Man adventure (issues #229 and #230) where the tiny bug of a superhero Spider-Man squared off against the unstoppable Juggernaut. There was something about the wise cracking hero who while small in stature would take on any villain no matter their power or might. Stern decided to pit the wall-crawler against one of the biggest and baddest guys in the Marvel universe to prove Spider-Man's courage. The short tale became an instant Spider-Man classic.

Over the years Spider-Man ran into the Marvel's mighty momentum man several times and managed to hold his own, but the statement "Nothing can stop the Juggernaut" remained true. You could only hope to redirect or contain him. But that was then.

28 years later Roger Stern has come back on board The Amazing Spider-Man buggie to write a follow up to his memorable tale. The new two part yarn tells you everything you need to know, "Something can stop the Juggernaut!" And just in case you were thinking stop would mean something other than "halt by force" (which in comics it always does), Lee Weeks and Dean White provide the reader with a cover displaying Juggernaut's cracked open helmet, busted face, and smoked head. Literally, Juggs got toasted.

The Amazing Spider-Man #627 is actually all build up for the final panel. The next issue is where we will actually learn the why and a little bit more about the who when it comes to the demolished carcass of Juggernaut Spidey finds. This issue simply lays out where Stern is going with the story. I am interested, but I would rather not have to buy an issue which is all build up. Ah, who am I kidding. I buy every Amazing Spider-Man issue anyway.

I won't go for the poor pun here and declare that Lee Weeks's art is...not strong in this comic of the day, but I am not impressed. An adventure with the Juggernaut in it needs a more over the top artist. Someone like a Chris Bachalo who uses exaggerated features to enhance the personality of a character would be great in this issue. Granted Chris Bachalo is one of my favorite artists anyway...but still! I do not think Weeks is write for these characters; however, his style is very basic and 80's like which does lend itself to throw back which this issue is trying to connect with via Roger Stern. Looking at the art more closely, one can see some basic boxiness which is in the art stylings of John Romita Jr., the 1982  Amazing Spider-Man artist.

I'll get the next book because I get every Amazing Spider-Man issue, but there damn well better be some destruction. I mean come on! The book has Juggernaut in it! He's the Juggernaut, bitch!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

World War Hulk #5 (of 5)

Recently I asked on the Marvel forums, "Who can stop the Sentry?" Currently, in Marvel's Siege event, the Sentry has become an uncontrollable evil force. He is tearing through gods and even destroying the gods sacred city Asgard, as if it was a Lego town. A battered Thor has attempted to take down the man with the power of apparently a lot of suns, but even Thor could not drop the Sentry. So to answer my post, which has almost 10,000 views and about 150 comments, I went to a Marvel event of only 3 years ago: World War Hulk.

As the title suggest, Hulk was the one character who could stand up to the power of the Sentry. In a town shattering battle the Hulk takes everything the Sentry can put out and manages to throw a final punch to the Sentry's dome to ground the golden child (sweet Eddie Murphy movie). World War Hulk #5 gives readers a battle which lets the old timers say, "That's more like it."

In Baseball, there are many impressive players these days whom are breaking the old time ball players' records left and right. Players like Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds and A-Rod have been putting up statistics which rival the old players'. The older generation has to step in and recognize the high numbers, but remind us that players from the late 1800's to the 1970's faced different odds and obsticles than today's players. They will contest that Babe Ruth, Pete Rose and Micky Mantle were the greatest of all time. There is a constant battle between eras that can never be proven, yet only argued.

World War Hulk #5 brings those eras of comic enthusiasts together. Purest and the elder comic book readers may have followed Hulk for many years and accepted that he is the strongest/most powerful, has always been the strongest, and will always be the strongest character. The Sentry character is just a fad. World War Hulk #5 is the old timer's Babe Ruth hitting 85 home runs in 2010 while eating a hot dog and beer before every ball game.

The comic of the day, World War Hulk #5, can give readers comfort that there are some truths still left in this world and one of them is that "Hulk Smash"...everyone.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sub-Mariner #4 (of 6, 2007 mini)

Sub-Mariner #4 - Comic of the DayThough Sub-Mariner #4 is very entertaining, Marko Djurdjevic's cover steals the show.

With Venom drawn very monstrously, his web-like symbiote restrains Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Venom's always exaggerated mouth is set to take a fatal bite out of the title hero as Venom's Tremors-like (sweet Kevin Bacon movie) tongue secures his prey. All Namor can do is stare into the abyss which is Venoms cavernous throat.

Djurdjevic captures the terror which Venom is supposed to convey in this modern classic comic book cover. Too often is Venom used as a campy villain. McFarlane intended for him to be terrorizing when he first broke on to the comic book landscape in Amazing Spider-Man: a fact Djurdjevic did not forget.

The comic of the day, Sub-Mariner #4 continues the search by Namor for his rogue splinter cell Atlantians who are terrorizing the surface world without Namor's consent. Namor is the ruler of Atlantis, and therefor responsible for what his kind does even when it is against his wishes. Such is the responsibility of a leader. Namor, as the cover suggests, tangles with Venom in Sub-Mariner #4. Entering this issue, Venom caught Namor by surprise and shot Namor with a gun designed to attack the oxygenated water in his body, thus rendering Namor less powerful. The Sub-Mariner is one of the strongest Marvel characters when at full strength, so even a strong and deadly Venom would have to weaken him to stand a chance in combat.

After Venom caught Namor off-guard Venom rips off a couple of Namor's wings on his ankles. Not only does this cause major pain it keeps the Atlantian from flying away. After too much talk by Venom (standard comic book villain narration) Namor regains strength and puts Venom down. There is an awesome set of panels where the Sub-Mariner decides to let Venom live but then rips his tongue out so the next time he is in battle with someone above his class he will not waste time with conversation. Namor leaves Venom in a pool of blood, originating from Venom's mouth, and a detached tongue to remember not to mess with the Sub-Mariner.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Identity Crisis #7

Touche Brad Meltzer.

After reading Identity Crisis #6 I am led to believe for a moment that a specific someone is to blame for the murder of Sue Dibny. Meltzer starts off the last issue to Identity Crisis by telling the reader they were close, but wrong. In actual time, meaning waiting a month to read the conclusion, a reader may go against their first reaction to the ending of issue #6. They may assume what Melter wants the reader to think but then say..."what about the scene with the noose?"

Also, while Batman was brought into the story he did not take on the role I assumed he would have in Identity Crisis #7. There are some classic Batman moments where you are unsure if he knows something or not, but beyond that his I was basically wrong with the conclusion I drew up in yesterday's post. Sometimes readers get caught up in the legend that is Batman, and we have to remember there have been times when even the great detective didn't know what was coming or what to do.

Besides the fact that Identity Crisis is a good old fashion mystery it also tells the tale of the modern hero. With technology the way it is and characters no longer black and white, we find these grey areas inwhich characters make harder choices than they had to 30 years ago. No longer is the big question, "Can I stop that out of control train?" The questions have become, "What do I do when the one I love or respect turns out to do something imorral?" Families are brought into the fold. No longer is the family just a gimick used by writers to show the contrasting style of a hero and their secret identity.

The comic of the day, Identity Crisis #7 concludes a tale which examines the hero's identity which is no longer defined as just a hero, but a person outside of the suit.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Identity Crisis #6

And then the twists.

Identity Crisis #6 is the second to last issue in the DC thriller murder mystery where we must uncover who killed Sue Dibney. Sue was the non-superhero wife to the Elongated Man. The story take many turns as the Justice League's past comes back to haunt them with memories of horrible decisions.

As displayed in the cover of issue #6, Batman does play a part in this "who done it" mystery. What would a murder case be without the world's greatest detective on the case? Batman, in fact, gets taken through the ringer a bit in this story. Seeing Batman involved in something he doesn't have control over is quite captivating. The best part of seeing Bats being messed with is knowing what is going to happen to the person behind the scenes. Every Batman reader knows when you mess with the best, you die like the rest...or at least get captured.

This story was released in 2004, but I am just now reading it. I am primarily a Marvel fan, but a dabble in DC. DC is often tasked with much harder work due to the fact that their two main heroes (Superman and Batman) have been around for so long. It becomes difficult to come up with something that hasn't been done yet, or to add to their origins and carve out a time in their lives when something noteworthy took place. Identity Crisis does a great job of bringing together many popular DC character's stories to tell an original thriller which adds to the universe's present and also their past. Just when you thought DC has told all of the stories worth telling they release a Batman: Year One, a Batman: The Long Halloween, a Blackest Night and now an Identity Crisis.

The comic of the day, Identity Crisis #6 starts to answer questions about the whos and possibly whys in the story. I have yet to read the final issue, but as soon as this post is through I will get right on it. So that would be now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daredevil King-Size Special #1

What ever happened to Eradin Maldonado?

Eradin was a co-worker and good friend of my mother, Eileen. To be more accurate, he was a co-worker of my mother, and a friend to my whole Gazzuolo family. Eradin was the fun family friend who had his act together. He moved from Cleveland to California for work, just as my family did (for my mother's career), and was number one on the honorary Gazzuolo list for many years.

Eradin was at the top of my list, in terms of family friends, because he talked to me and my sisters like we were adults. We talked about Cleveland sports, popular new music (he bought me my first CD ever...Cake: Fashion Nugget), movies, Seinfeld, and even comics. That's right, Eradin knew about comics. But not only did he know comics, Eradin was the owner of the coolest (though small) comic collection I had ever heard of.

One day when Eradin was helping his mother clean out her attic, Eradin stumbled upon some of his old comics. Like something out of a story book or a top story on Yahoo news, Eradin found old rare books including Amazing Spider-Man #1, the first appearance of Iron Man, and many more old gems. How awesome was his mother by the way?! She held onto those old books when so many other mothers would have tossed them years ago. Thank god for Eradin's mother!

Getting to the title issue... On one of my birthdays Eradin gave me one of his old books. He gave me the 1964 Daredevil King-Size Special #1. It isn't worth a ton in monetary value, but it is basically priceless to me because it was from my good friend Eradin. Eradin knew I enjoyed and appreciated comic books, so he gave me an old classic, which of course blew my mind. When I was young the thought of owning a book from the early 60's was unheard of. The aging of one year brought me this time capsule of cool. I still show it to my friends when they come over. I have it packaged and in a safe place, too. Gotta protect the goods.

I will probably hold onto this comic of the day, Daredevil King-Size Special #1 until I have a child and pass it on. To this day it remains one of my favorite comics.

With the memory of an amazing birthday gift in my head I say this to Eradin Maldonado (whom I haven't spoken to in many years): I've had many birthdays since you presented me with Daredevil King-Size Special have some catching up to do. Okay, okay... Hand over Amazing Spider-Man #1, and we'll call it even.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Secret Warriors #1

Secret Warriors #1 can best be summed up by the last line in it's introduction page:
"Nick Fury has returned...and he has a plan."
Nick Fury is the former Director of the international security organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate. He had gone into hiding several years ago for unknown reasons, but recently came out of hiding when he noticed the U.S. government and the world in general was going to shit and facing possible alien invasion. Fury is second to none when it comes to international secrets and intelligence. He has more street-cred than Fifty, has access to almost every high security agency, has more gadgets than the Inspector, can still throw down like he's playing craps and has the coolest eye-patch on the planet. He is motha fuck'n Nick Fury.

In Secret Warriors #1 Nick Fury sets in motion his "plans." Not even the reader can figure out Fury's plan of action when it comes to taking back his planet and setting world affairs in order. We meet his rag-tag team of low level super powered youngsters lead in the field by another former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill. She is young, but has instincts and skills way beyond her years. You may recognize her from the Invincible Iron Man where she has currently been aiding Tony Stark's recovery. But another story.

The group of super powered young adults are learning on the job in this issue how to fight together and carry out a successful mission. As that is going on Fury sneaks into the White House and let's the President know he has access to classified information and that he isn't taking orders anymore. He is doing his way from now on. Fury is basically letting the President know that he is respectful of the Presidents role, but he has been handling the tough world problems for more years than the President could vote. The issue then ends with the reveal of some pretty shocking information that even Fury didn't know: information that has been a secret for a long time.

Jonathan Hickman is showing that he can become a big boy in the Marvel field of Bendis, Fraction and Brubaker with his dramatically paced script and well dialoged characters. Secret Warriors #1 would have been a comic of the day much earlier in the year but I was so caught up in his story telling that I couldn't pick a specific issue. Finally, I just said heck with it and pulled up issue number one. A great beginning to an pleasing monthly read.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nemesis #1

The highly anticipated Mark Millar and Steve McNiven title, Nemesis #1, came out today. This duo combined forces on the Marvel Universe splitting Civil War and futuristic Wolverine western-like adventure Old Man Logan. Both story lines were highly successful, but more importantly exploded with original content and meticulously detailed art that makes every panel worthy of a frame.

Nemesis #1 is not quite there yet.

Nemesis #1 begins to tell the story of a super-criminal who is terrorizing the eastern world (Japan and such) and has decided to take his brand of highly destructive and violent crime to the United States. He sets his goals high as he attempts to call his shot (as the saying goes) and bring America to it's knees.

The story so far isn't amazing or even highly original. It is however, a little daring with it's amount of violence in the first issue which feels a little heavy for such a wide spread book by two stellar names in the industry. I appreciate Millar and McNiven's daring to go to that level. You can see Millar is refusing to fall into a role of simply making stories for the mainstream about mainstream characters. It is hard to see exactly where this book is going to lead but Millar has definitely earned himself at least a five issue run from my wallet.

Now to McNiven... I feel bad because I certainly hyped him up in the first paragraph, but his art isn't amazing in this issue. The fact that most of the action sequences in this issue involve inanimate objects may have added to the very average performance of McNiven in Nemesis #1. Honestly, this section of the post is hard to write because McNiven may be my favorite comic artist. His Civil War covers will remain some of my favorite works of art, not just comic art, ever. But Steve, you came off as just another good artist in this book. When Leinil Yu out does you on the cover of your own Granted, Yu's work on the Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk books was godly, but then again, that overall story was very entertaining thanks to Damon Lindelof.

My anticipation for Nemesis #1 makes it the comic of the day, but I need to see more out of this book in the future if it hopes to reach comic of the day status once more.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

World of Warcraft #1

Before there was the World of Warcraft, an online video game where users from all over can unite to battle each other or programed bad guys, there were just the basic Warcraft games. In the original Warcraft games users could choose between different races of characters from human to orc or even the undead. Spooky, I know. After Warcraft 3 came out there were modification games created based on the same basic map structure. The difference in game play was that you controlled one "hero" (a specific character with unique fighting and passive skills against other users online who also controlled a hero. The goal was to not just kill the other user's hero, but also their base inwhich they originated. This modification, or "mod", game came to be known as DOTA, Defense of the Ancients.

I played DOTA a lot. I mean like at least once a day for about 2 years. A lot. You can imagine how stoked I was to pick up World of Warcraft #1 from the comic shop when the book based on the DOTA and Warcraft characters was being released. I bought the comic book, took it home and braced for impact.

Eh. It was alright. Going with the positive first, I will say that I enjoyed to see the different versions of characters and what class levels they maintained in the comic. The book takes place in Orc territory and follows a gladiator trainer named Rehgar, an Orc witch-doctor who resembles Strygwyr from DOTA. Rehgar comes across a human who has some fighting skill and amnesia whom Rehgar decides to take on as a gladiator. Through the gladiator story line you get to see some characters in fighting action right away. That aspect of the book was fun.

The problem with the book, for me, is that the story seems a little weak. Not horrible, but played out. I've seen the gladiator storyline several times, most recently in Planet Hulk. Also, while the art was not bad, it just wasn't the style I thought would best fit the world of Warcraft. The colors were vibrant and the characters were very anime-esk. I was looking for darker tones with more of an acrylic feel, not highly digitalized panels.

This comic of the day takes me back to a time of obsession and simpler times. World of Warcraft #1 takes me back to a time when I played..."for the trees!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Avengers #233

The cover of this comic is classic 80's sensationalizing at it's greatest. It pits the Avengers Up Against...The Barrier! I guess that sounds better than the Avengers Up Against...a Big Pink-Tinted Expanding Dome!

The Avengers #233 is a filler issue in an ongoing storyline of Hawkeye's healing injured leg. Yes, the stories were that good back in the 80's. Captain Marvel is flying into New York when all of a sudden she crashes into an impenetrable growing invisible wall. She-Hulk tries to hold the barrier back and Cap even lets green'n gorgeous stick his shield in the ground to wedge the growing barrier back, but alas, even that doesn't work. Thor tries tossing his hammer at the enlarging dome and it just goes through and falls to the ground, not leaving a hole or anything. The point is, this invisible sphere is ever expanding from it's origin point the Fantastic Four's Baxter Building. The team is away and Annihilus is releasing the growing "sphere of death!" Well, that's what I call it.

As I read about this sphere, I can not help but think of another famous sphere: Stephen King's hit novel Under the Dome. I am pretty sure he stole his idea from The Avengers #233. King is working with Marvel these days on some original and adapted scripts of his own (unless he stole those ideas too). Maybe he is working with them as a way to pay them back for his heinous thievery. By the way, what a story to rip-off. I can just see King flipping through old comic books now...

" Big pink-tinted expanding dome...wait a minute! I've got it!"

And that's how Stephen King came up with the story for Carrie. Oh yeah, and years later he wrote Under the Dome. The Avengers #233 earns it's status as the comic of the day since it was the obvious inspiration for the mega-novel Under the Dome.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spider-Man #1

The popular comic book website,, is currently promoting a fun and interactive comic/photo game. People are asked to take a picture with their first comic book and send it to their Facebook or Twitter page for $10. Yep. They are going to give $10 to everyone who submits a quality picture. Plus, will post their favorite creative photo entries on a Monday post. Interactive ideas such as this one can really bring in new browsers to their site and also create more solid relationships with their regular browsers. What a great idea!

Spider-Man Sunday - Spider-Man #1

Naturally, I started to think about what my first book was and I came to the conclusion that it was too long ago to remember the first one. I was thinking it could possibly have been my 1989 Ninja Turtle comic or it could have been my 1990 Spider-Man #1. Though the Turtle book was published first I am not sure if it was. I seem to recall issues of Spider-Man early on. The first time my father took me to a comic shop in Willowick, Ohio (in an alley store in between larger stores) I was able to get a comic or two. I believe one was Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man #1. I distinctively remember the cover declaring that it was the first issue and a collector's item. If people asked me if I collected comics and I only had this one issue I would reply, "Yes. The book says it is a collector's item and I do own it. Therefor, I must be a collector." Socrates had nothing on me.

For a moment I thought I was buying the first ever issue of Spider-Man. Of course I learned that this wasn't the main title and eventually started occasionally getting Amazing Spider-Man comics, but at the time I was 7. I was 7 and owned the first appearance of Spider-Man.

I believe the issue I have still contains a pin size hole in the middle of it. Unless you look hard at the cover, you will miss it. When I was young, and had a small collection of comic books, I got into a fight with my older sister, Michelle. I must have ruined a toy of hers or something because I remember her being so mad she took a pin to my comic books. I had just purchased the first Spawn issue, so this was some time after Spider-Man #1, but it was in the same small pile of books that was terrorized one tragic day in Willowick, Ohio.

After I was released from juvenile hall for attempted murder of my sister, I tended to my comics by strapping them into new bags and boards (the type with no pin-holes) and hoped their wounds would heal. Unfortunately, like mine from that day of devastation, the comic of the day's wound still exists.


On a cheerful side note! They did print like a gazillion copies of Spider-Man #1, with multiple variations of covers. All the same art. Different colors. No holes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Civil War Files

Civil War Files goes along with what I was talking about in the Heroes for Hire post. When you buy side issues that are supposed to go along with an event you usually end up getting burned. In this case I was burned, but in a different way than usual. Instead of buying a book that has a random story that tries to connect with the event this book is litterally what the title suggests: files.

The comic book is a series of files on characters in the Marvel universe. Their are pages of information on the Avengers as a group, Norman Osborne, Captain America, Luke Cage, Deadpool and so on. The files are written in paragraph form mostly by Tony Stark. They are basically his thorough reports on what he is up against and figures that may have a part in what is to come (at the time). There is an image of the character in the upper corners of the files and then just words. Did I buy a novel or a comic book?!

To be fair, the content in this issue is very strong. It almost acts as a recap of what is known of the characters to the point at which the comic book was written. For people getting back into comics at the point of Marvel's Civil War, and enjoy to read, then this book my be very useful. But again, I must stress you must enjoy reading. This is some War and Peace stuff here. It isn't a few thought and dialog balloons.

Civil War Files was a book I bought because of the hype around Civil War and the crazy character collage on this comic of the day cover. Steve McNiven, who also did the main Civil War covers, pumps out a comic book cover with a medley of iconic Marvel characters drawn in classic detailed McNiven style. McNiven can just draw a bundle of sticks on the ground on a comic cover and I would buy two copies of it. Granted, sticks are freak'n awesome, and I am sure anyone would buy comics with sticks on them...but you get the point. The man can draw. Thus, I own Civil War Files.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition

In honor of the new Predators trailer that just came out, staring Adrian Brody and Lawrence Fishburne, I have decided to pull my one amazing Predator book out, Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition. This trade paper back truly has it all. From the story, to the Kuberts, to the extra art splashes, this Batman/Predator collection shines as one of my favorite Batman adventures.

DC's graphic novel section on their website describes the plot of this tale best:
"In this intense and brutal epic, the world's greatest detective faces off against the greatest hunter in the universe. As the most powerful figures in Gotham are murdered one by one, Batman begins an investigation that ends with his being severely beaten by the Predator. Barely surviving his encounter, the Dark Knight suddenly becomes the alien hunter's ultimate prey. Now as the Predator tracks and baits the protector of Gotham, Batman must find a way to combine his amazing intellect and physical abilities to defeat an adversary that is every inch his equal and then some."
The creation team is lead by the legendary Dave Gibbons. Gibbons (artist of Watchmen) writes Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition. Though known for his art (he did create the cover art for this collection), Gibbons grasps the Dark Knight's tone perfectly and writes a rather enjoyable Alfred, as well. Anytime a writer can through Alfred in the mix with an old-time shot gun, they earn extra writers points on my posts. The art is handled by Andy Kubert. His Predator comes off as monstrous and powerful, while his overall panel work is quite overwhelming. He fills every panel, large and small, with a lot of detail. Andy doesn't just through in a bland background to speed along the penciling process, he creates scenes with layer and depth. Andy's brother Adam Kubert also worked on the Batman Versus Predator DC/Dark Horse cross over as the letterer and inker. Adam's inking on the crossover earned him an Eisner Award and when you see how his inking adds to his brother work especially by bringing out the shadowy feel of the world of Batman, you will understand the award is well deserved.

This collection is worth having for the creation team without a doubt, but honestly, I just like to see the fight scenes. When Predator treats Batman like just another human target he comes off as so bad-ass. But then Batman's planning and ability to adapt comes into play and he messes up the beast from the stars! The book really picks up pace as the story moves along and at the step back, put the book down, take a breath and then pick the book back up for more. When you get back into the book you will come across the art splashes of Batman and Predator on the final 10 pages, or so, by artist such as Joe Kubert and Mike Mignola. Because could look at some of those pieces daily, the story was fun and the Predator is always cool, Batman Versus Predator: The Collected Edition is the comic of the day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 (Vol.1)

In the 31st century things get wild. Staples of the Marvel Universe such as silver boards are replaced with extra-long red scarfs. Scarfs? Is that what we become?

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 takes place in the 31st century. It is about the title group combined with the force of the former Silver Surfer, now known as "The Keeper," trying to stop Galactus from devouring a Guardians home world. As I mentioned, the Silver Surfer has been stripped of his powers (and his board broken...gnarly wipe-out dude) by Galactus and has established his own inner powers to become...silver, once more! Oh and he has powers cosmic again. The Keeper (formerly Silver Surfer...I know, annoying), confronts Galactus in battle with the Guardians. Keeps makes himself as large as the Purple Planet Eater (awesome song, by the way) and wrestles him to victory. Rather than kill Galactus, Keeps joins him to help find ways to satisfy his hunger without destroying worlds with life on them.

Everyone is happy! The End.

Alright, there is more to this book than just the story. First of all, are you kidding me comic book printing press? I swear, the era this comic book came out (31st century) was the worst time for comic production machines in the history of comic production machines. Well, excluding the comic stapler 3000 which killed 5 men and a bird that got lost in the factory. There is always a bird lost in big factories... Where the hell are these birds' nests?

Anyway, a bunch of pages in this book, and many others, have those little holes in the bottom of the page where the pages have been fused together from being packed too tight or something. One used to flip the page and then the bottom would stay connected for a moment then make little rips. So frustrating! I wonder if the CGC takes those into consideration? Man, now my Detective Comics #27 is worthless! (Note I never used the phrase "pages stuck together" thus trying to avoid any masturbating to comics jokes. I only use Spidey comics for that... Awkward. Moving on!)

Beside little page welded rips, Guardians of the Galaxy #25 is also filled with so many editor notes. Asterisks every where! You have to read every book, with these characters in them, ever printed to understand the story without the editor's info boxes. I guess their info boxes are like a writer's parenthesis. Some time a writer uses a ton to convey their full array of thoughts (note my second paragraph and this actual note noting my second paragraph and this note). I guess I can let the endless side notes slide.

A comic of the day doesn't have to be noteworthy for it's content or it's sweet 90's marketing prism-cover; rather, it simply has to exist. And unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy #25 does.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dark Avengers #15

Dark Avengers is an odd comic book. It is a popular book because it deals with story lines and characters which have an impact on current events in the Marvel Universe. Yet the amount of actual story per book seems very limited at times.

I swear it is often the shortest book I read. There was one issue when Norman goes on television for an interview where there is a lot of dialog, but besides that... Many issues are filled with looks of wonder, enjoyment, or horror. Dark Avengers #15 is no different than most of the Dark Avengers books of late. There are whole pages of just reactions or movements. I feel like Dark Avengers drags stories out too long and would better be suited as a trade paper back purchase.

The actually characters such as Bullseye, the newer Venom, Daken and Norman Osborn are fun to follow along with, as well. They are at times so evil we root for them to get away with their debauchery just so that when they get caught or overrun by their good guy counterparts, it will be much sweeter to watch them fall. In Dark Avengers #15 we pick back up on the Dark Sentry line which has been filling the book lately. We are watching the fall of the Sentry and the rise of his dark side, the Void. Dark Avengers #15 acts as a flashback which catches Siege readers up on what was happening behind the scenes leading up to what is currently happening in Siege.

Dark Avengers has become a book showing you the intricacies of moments missed while the main Marvel story was unfolding. As The Mighty Avengers comic books were to Secret Invasion (showing you what was really happening with the Skrull infiltrators), so is Dark Avengers to Siege. Why is Sentry so lost and out of control? I think Dark Avengers #15 gives you an idea why.

Overall this comic of the day, Dark Avengers #15, is just okay. It reads super quick and gives a bit of insight into what is up with the Sentry, but to be honest there aren't a lot of Sentry fans out there right now. I'd say it's a good thing Dark Avengers is coming to end soon before the issues stop getting just accepted as okay and start getting completely hated.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fantastic Four #360

A comic book can be like a song. Once in a while a tune will be playing, maybe in the background, maybe in another room, maybe as someone's ring tone and you will instantly be taken back to where you were at what you were doing when you first fell in love with that music. I once spoke of the Foo Fighter's Color and the Shape album (one of my top 5 favorite albums of all time) and how hearing "Hey Johnny Park" will always remind me of Zelda Occarian of Time because of a night I was up playing the game and listening to the CD at the same time. I had just received both for Christmas, and they instantly became connected. When I hear "Hey Johnny Park" I will always think of good times playing a great video game.

Fantastic Four #360 acts as my "Hey Johnny Park" to my youth in general. I randomly owned this book when I was young and used to read it over and over and over. It was a simple story about an alien symbiote (the same alien type that bounded with Eddie Brock to become Venom) that came into contact with a gorilla. Ben Grimm, the Thing, fights the possessed gorilla and eventually is able to overcome it with the help of the Human Torch. I was way into Venom, as were most people around the time of this issue, and thought this issue was so interesting because it explored what it would be like for a different person or type of life form to be bounded with the symbiote. They would get strong, aggressive and black. (The symbiote was black. Not Luke Cage black. Alien organism black.)

I read Fantastic Four #360 so many times that it became the quintessential comic book of my youth. That is why what I am about to reveal about this comic of the day may blow your mind. I no longer own it.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Pride of Baghdad

Some of the most creative and inventive stories over the past decade have come from the mind and pen of Brian K. Vaughan. His Vertigo series, Y: The Last Man, and his Wildstorm Ex Machina, are both highly original ideas that cover a range of issues including racism, sexism, gender inequality and politics while still remaining true to life and great reads. That's the bottom line in the end: his books are great reads. They entertain and make you think all at once. The stories are like a Deadpool comic, but good...and entertaining.

Brian K. Vaughan is most notable for his work on Lost seasons 3 to 5 (the hard filler years), and his comic book X and Y series, but mixed in these notations of achievement should be mentioned his graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad. PoB had been a book I wanted for quite some time. It was that book you see at the shop that you always heard great things about but could never bring yourself to buy. When Christmas came along I knew it would be the perfect gift, but did not put it on my list for fear that several people may get me PoB. So I kept it close to my heart where only certain people would be able to find my interest in it. One such person discovered PoB in the back of my mind and deep in my heart. They reached in and retrieved it for me as a very special Valentine's Day present. Needless to say I was surprised and filled with excitement when I opened my comic of the day, Pride of Baghdad.

Spoiler Alert! Beyond this point details from the book are revealed!

So did the book live up to the hype? Definitely. Pride of Baghdad is a short true story about a small pride of lions who escape the Baghdad Zoo when the U.S. Military bombs the city in 2003. The actual events of the lions taking to the streets and running into a large malicious bear before their inevitable end is fictional, but their release and destruction is very true.

The release is the important aspect to the lions' adventure. It symbolizes how the U.S. Military "released" the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime. It was done in a quick and destructive fashion with no regard for what was being freed. The lions even mention that freedom must be earned to truly exist, or something to that nature. The short journey of the pride is a tale of caution. The four lions inevitable end shows us that even the best of ideas (freedom) can come to the worst of conclusions.

I would be lying if I put all of my enjoyment in the words of Vaughan. Artist Niko Henrichon pencils the story of his life in Pride of Baghdad. The lions look absolutely beautiful. In every positions and with every patch of fur Henrichon creates characters we literally feel purr and growl. His other animal drawing are also amazing including the panel when a giraffe's head gets hit with a missile and explodes: graphically brutal, yet displayed perfectly. The lion faces express so much emotion that one gets caught up in the story and forgets that these are animals speaking to each other. Henrichon creates art that adds gives Pride of Baghdad the "Cars" treatment.

In Pixar's "Cars", the movie is about a bunch of cars which talk to each other and are anthropomorphic (non human characters receiving human like characteristics). While I was first watching this movie I thought, "Am I going to be able to watch a whole movie with talking cars?" Five minutes later my answer was yes. At first all you notice are cars talking and it looking funny, but then the advanced art and story kicks in and you don't even notice the goofiness anymore. In this fashion, Niko Henrichon and Brian K Vaughan pull off a story which is serious without falling into a child-like "Lion King"-esk story.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #314

The media will sometimes latch onto things that appear to be a big deal in comic books, from time to time. When Superman died, when Spider-Man revealed he was Peter Parker and when Captain America died the media felt these were big stories the non-comic book reading public should know about. Recently, in The Amazing Spider-Man #624, Peter was fired. The news outlets learned about this and started broadcasting and writing about it everywhere. I assume the media outlets think it is big news because in real life the job market is tough and unemployment is very high. Casual readers of a news website may assume he was fired over budget cuts or the lack of money newspaper jobs bring in these day (Peter was a newspaper photographer), but Peter was actually fired for faking a picture he submitted in the paper (the same thing he caught Eddie Brock doing, which lead Brock to becoming Venom...but Peter's crop job was for different reasons).

As a comic reader (thus this blog, duh) I can not stand when the media reports on a comic book story point or event. It is often taken out of context and usually not that big of a deal. About a month ago websites were taking notice of Captain America #602 where some tea-party member thought some angry mob depicted in the comic book too closely resembled his ignorant mob. He got mad and wanted an apology. He missed what the mob represented (ignorance), and thus, made a big deal over nothing. But, since it was a big deal on twitter, many websites, and CNN during the day, Marvel apologized not wanting to lose readers. Without going to much into that indecent...I lost a lot of respect for Marvel that day. They did not back up one of the best writers, Ed Brubaker, who has single-handedly brought popular characters like Daredevil and Captain America back from the brink off no-man's land. The only reason anyone even noticed a mob scene is because they were reading with thanks to Brubaker. Shame on Marvel and Joe Q.

The above is why I would like the media to stay out of my comics. Pandering to the ignorant Archie readers is not what my publisher and writers do.

Spider-Man Sundays - The Amazing Spider-Man #314

I would like to now submit the above titled book The Amazing Spider-Man #314. In this issue Peter Parker and Mary Jane get evicted from their apartment on Christmas Eve. I bet the media back in the day of no internet didn't waste time with this moment in Spider-Man's life. "Oh my gosh! He got evicted!" Who cares. Heroes come and go. People get beat up, shot, stabbed and murdered all of the times in comic books. For a guy to get kicked out of his place seems very minor in the grand comic scheme of things. Back in the day: nothing. Today: "Obama to blame for fictional Peter Parker getting evicted."

The Amazing Spider-Man #314 is an excellent Christmas issue, politics and media aside. It is a classic in the Todd McFarlane run on The Amazing Spider-Man. It ends with a Merry Christmas message and includes the coolest looking version of Peter Parker to have ever been drawn. McFarlane makes him look very James Dean like, with a flip in his hair and a casual confidence to him. McFarlane's style is so recognizable and unique that his run on The Amazing Spider-Man series stands out as possible the greatest run on any ongoing. Yeah! I said it Kirby, Romita, and all you other hacks! It's all about the late 80's and early 90's!

The comic of the day captures a time when the media didn't capture it. Thank you for reminding me through your "Rebel Without a Cause", McFarlane.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wolverine '99 Annual

For the most part, I enjoy comic books with ongoing stories. Ongoing books like Captain America by Ed Brubaker have story lines that don't stop, rather they bleed into the next arch creating something more than a 5 issue adventure. Great ongoings create what the Germans call die unendliche geschichte, the never ending story. Yet, as much as I love those wacky German stories, I can also appreciate a good ol' fashion fun one-shot.

Wolverine '99 Annual is a very entertaining one-shot. The main adventure follows Wolverine and Deadpool as they battle with a werewolf. It isn't a famous Marvel werewolf or even a Wendigo, but a furry wolf of the were variety none the less. Deadpool is trying to kill the same person the werewolf is trying to kill, and Wolverine is trying to protect the person Deadpool and the werewolf are attacking. Eventually Deadpool resists killing the man because he finds there is no money in it. In the end: the man lives, Wolverine punches Deadpool straight in the mouth, and then Wolvie and Pools walk off with arms over eachother's shoulders declaring to go get a beer together. Harmless action always leads to a beer. Which leads us to the second adventure in Wolverine '99 Annual.

The second Wolverine story is written by Mark Andreyko with art by Massimiliano Frezzato and is titled "Beer Run." It takes place late at night when Captain America, Nick Fury, She Hulk, The Thing and Wolverine are playing cards. When Wolvie discovers Nick Fury drank the last beer (Cap only drinks ginger ale...classic Cap), Fury gives Wolverine his keys to go get some more. The keys, of course, are to a S.H.I.E.L.D. hoover car which Wolverine has a hard time flying/driving. When Logan gets the beer a kid runs by and snags it. Logan chases the kid but runs into a group of Hand ninjas and a Dragon they are worshiping. After an intense battle he finds the kid, grabs his beer, and heads home. Whe he get's back it's 3 a.m. and everyone is passed out tired and drunk. Wolverine then sits down and cracks a beer open by himself.

Not only is this comic of the day very playful, but Frezzato's art is uncolored in black and white giving the story a very outlandish feel. The adventure is a bit cartoony yet captures the essence of the bad luck guy just trying to keep to himself and get a beer character which Wolverine is. Wolverine '99 Annual is light-hearted and entertaining.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Immortal Iron Fist #8

Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction charged their glowing pen filled fists to co-scribe one of Marvel's best ongoing titles in the past 5 years, The Immortal Iron Fist. Revamping Marvel characters is nothing new to this pair of yarn spinners. Fraction's Invincible Iron Man recently won an Eisner Award and Ed Brubaker has written some of the best Daredevil and Captain America stories ever. It should come as no surprise that their run on The Immortal Iron Fist is as well done as it is.

The Immortal Iron Fist #8 starts Brubaker and Fraction's second full Iron Fist arch: "The 7 Capital Cities of Heaven". Danny Rand, Iron Fist, is introduced to the 7 other Heavenly City's Champions. He learns that there is a tournament conducted every so often to determine which city is held with the greatest esteem. This issue is mainly an introduction to the other fighters; however, it also begins to explore Wendel Rand's (Danny's father) discovery of the heavenly city of K'un L'un. With flashbacks woven into the story we are treated to character/family development along with the ongoing "Mortal Combat" style tourney introductions.

I say "Mortal Combat" style because the 7 different fighters all have a unique fighting style. There is the basic Iron Fist with the power of his inner energy, or "chi" if you will...and you will. We see a sumo-like fighter, a woman with fans and spider attacks, a green fog-like character and so on. The characters are quite fun presentation wise, as well. Which brings me to David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth.

Aja draws the most amazing Immortal Iron Fist issues, giving his art both simplicity and grit. Without over detailing or exaggerating figures, he uses a slightly broken line style of art which creates a rugged interpretation of Iron Fist so real the chi radiates from the pages. Hollingsworth's limited and muted color pallet fits Aja's work so well that seeing Iron Fist in other books will come off as cheap. "That's how they drew and colored him...? They would." Instant snobbery after being treated to the Aja/Hollingsworth Iron Fist.

The Immortal Iron Fist #8 is my comic of the day because it is the first individual issue of Iron Fist I ever bought. I started with The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story (issues #1-6) hard cover and then continued on with the monthlies. Unfortunately, I can not reminisce with the hardcover because I loaned it to a friend and can not remember which friend I loaned it to. Please, if you are that friend, return it to me. If you never tell me so that you can keep it for yourself I would understand. The book is that good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Action Comics #711

How people take care of comic books has changed over the years. Kids used to just through them in a pile or use them as paper flooring for their bet mice. They didn't bag and board them like grown men do now. Comic books have proven to be quite the collectibles with the likes of Action Comics #1 selling for one million dollars and Detective Comics #27 selling for just over that. Naturally, with comics being proven commodities buyers now purchase the comics to be bagged and boarded up right after the books are read. And this brings us to my copy of Action Comics #711.

My buddy, Sean Plunket, sold me a bin of his comic books. He had most of them bagged and boarded, but some of them were just bagged. When I brought the comics home I realized I was one board short. One comic was going to have to just get by with a bag...or so you may think. Thankfully, yours truly had noticed an empty action figure case in his closet. There on the floor was the back to a Shatterstar (with dual sword slashing action) action figure. The backing was surprisingly the same size as a comic board so I simply used that bit of cardboard to support Action Comics #711. I know...I'm a genius.

Sifting through my first bin of books for a comic of the day I found Action Comics #711 with the Shatterstar backing still in place. After all of these years I never changed out Action Comics #711 protection because if you read Action Comics #711 once you had read it enough, thus, never coming back to it. The issue is pits Clark against one of his old teenage rivals who discovered he was Superman. The rival Kenny, became a super villain and tried to fight Clark one on one only to lose the fight and his life. And the Queen hit plays on..."another one bites the dust..."

Finally replacing the board I can't help but hold onto the old Shatterstar packaging. The journey it took to be in my hands once again after all of these years is quite amazing. In the case of today's entry: it isn't about the comic, it's about the journey...oh, and Shatterstar.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

X-Men Second Coming Prepare #1

Every once in a while, when Marvel is coming out with an event that will shape several of their titles, they release a free "catch you up" comic book that helps explain the events leading up to the big event. I believe there was: an Inhumans "catch you up" comic book before the War of Kings mini series, a Daredevil Saga "catch you up" Ed Brubaker issue, a Moon Knight Saga "catch you up" comic and a Marvel: Your Universe Saga issue released in 2008 designed to...catch you up with (then) current events.

I think these free comic releases are a great idea. These issues take away that excuse from consumers that we all use of not knowing what is going on in the storyline, thus, they will pass because they do not want to have to pick up all the past trade paper backs. The "catch you up"s explain the origins of the issues that will be at the forefront of the upcoming event. Rather than having to spend a bunch of money on old books (or taking the time to read the most recent Wikipedia updates), Marvel will give you the back issues in a nutshell for free. You can't beat that! It's laid right up front on the counter at the comic shop. As you pay for your established pull-list titles you glance down and notice a free give-away. "What the heck."

All caught up, and now a bit intrigued (because all they show you in the "catch you up" issues are the main points, not the slow moments in the story...naturally), you go out and buy the upcoming event issues. Who knows, you may end up buying some of the "suggested readings" titles recommended in the free "catch you up", as well. Marvel marketing rolls right along...

X-Men Second Coming Prepare is no different from the other event preparation books. It starts out with a bit of new content written just for the prep book to act as a sneak peak. Next we are treated to some sneak peek art work, a chronologically ordered new reader's guide, and then a section to catch you up on the Phoenix and Jean Grey situation. By adding the Phoenix and Jean Grey section this free give-away hints at what the story is likely about. X-Men Second Coming Prepare is the comic of the day because it is an effective marketing tool and probably got me to want to at least pick up the first issue.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Moon Knight #47 (Vol. 2)

Many characters have been made as partial knock offs to DC's Batman. DC's own Green Arrow was a wealthy single man who did not process super-powers and eventually even claimed a young side kick much like Batman's Robin. In Marvel, Tony Stark's single rich man persona seemed very much like Batman's Bruce Wayne side, but Batman's look and vigilante style of justice can most recognizably be found in Marvel's Moon Knight.

Moon Knight is Mark Spector, an ex-Marine, C.I.A. agent and mercenary. While in Egypt he was killed by an ex partner of his and then brought back to life by the Egyptian god of vengeance, Khonshu. Spector dresses in the garb of Khonshu and fights evil doers, often brutally beating them. Like Batman, Moon Knight sports a cape and uses gadgetry to take down enemies. He has a flying aircraft and at one point had a side kicked named "Midnight." He also has a large amount of money and keeps a secret identity. Basically, Marvel assumed if they made his origin, intentions, and the color of his costume the complete opposite, no one would see the similarities.

In Moon Knight #47, Moon Knight thinks he hasn't long before he is to die (he received a deadly virus in battle). He secretly watches some normal citizens to see who he will offer the mantle of Moon Knight to when he passes away. One "normal" person he watches is Peter Parker. Unaware of his true identity as Spider-Man he offers Pete the gig. Peter lets Moony down easy saying he has school, a job, and a hot wife to look after. Depressed Moon Knight makes his way back to his Bat-Cave...I mean Moon Cave, and soon discovers...he's cured! Hooray random ending which isn't even explained!

Oh, the issue doesn't end there folks. The teaser for the next issue tells us a prisoner is on the loose and he is looking for trouble. In a very odd turn of events, the random villain who escapes looks just like Whiplash! With the Iron Man 2 movie coming out soon, and Whiplash being a main foe, this knock off is quite a surprise. Marvel was really feeling that electrical whip thing even back in the 90's. Everyone with lasers and guns look out! He's got...a whip?

Moon Knight #47 is my comic of the day because it is filled with so much character rip off and like the violent unapologetic Moon Knight, it does'n give a fuck.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What If... #54 (Death's Head I Had Lived)

Alright, enough of last weeks love fest. As Cosmo Kramer would say, "Who wants to have some fun?!" Ever since I reviewed Death's Head II #4 I have been all about Marvel's metal bounty-hunter. I read his Wikipedia entries and everything! I purchased the complete mini series (issues #1 through #4) and while searching through my What If... comics a couple of days ago I discovered I purchased What If... #54, What If Death's Head I Had Lived?

What If... #54 shows an alternate tale of which splits off from normal continuity just before Minion (Death's Head II) cuts off the original Death Head's head. In What If... #54, Death's Head teleports away just before the finishing blow is struck. After that Death's Head II goes on to kill Reed Richards unlike in the real story where Reed Richards' life is spared for helping the assimilated original Death's Head's consciousness to break through and become Minion (that part is a bit, the old guy takes over the new guy's body.) After Death's Head II kills Richards, Baron Strucker V get's the jump on him and magical mergers with him.

Minion's (Death's Head II) creator recruits the upgraded survived original Death's Head to stop the powered up Minion. Death's Head recruits the rest of the Fantastic Four, Namor, Luke Cage, War Machine and Captain America to take down the evil Minion. Minion proceeds to slaughter the heroes. He tosses Cap's shield to decapitate Namor, stabs through War Machine's eye holes, incinerates the Human Torch, uses the Invisible Woman's expanding shield to implode Luke Cage and the Thing and just basically over powers Cap. The panels become a fast pace bloody mess of a cool way.

Finally, when the original suped-up Death's Head steps in he goes toe to toe with Minion just before Reed Richards consciousness steps in for a moment to give Death's Head an instant to cut Minions head off. Death's Head lives in this What If... comic of the day, and many superheroes still die. This comic book is action packed once the premise of What If... is laid out. In reality, I wish the original would have won in the end. I really liked that guy. He looked cool, talked slick, always picked me first on his kick-ball team...just a cool guy. At least in this one adventure, Death's Head I got to cut the head off of Death's Head II. It's all about the original recipe.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #545

The Amazing Spider-Man #545 will remain in Spider-Man lore as the issue which divided many web-slinger fans from their heart. It did not quite have that effect on me, but it did show me that love for a character (or person) you thought you knew can be taken away. Love is sometimes all we have to give, and in Peter Parker and Mary Jane's case, it was all they had to give to save a life.

Spider-Man Sunday -  The Amazing Spider-Man #545

Save a life with your love. That is the offer the Devil (Mephisto) gave to the married Parkers. Their love was so pure that for God to not have it in his realm, the Devil would grant life to Peter's elderly aunt May. In truth, the love for Peter's aunt May was also present when the deal with the Devil was made, but the real desire to grant May life was the idea of responsibility and sacrifice. Both intentions are noble, and yet not always fair.

In this comic of the day, Mary Jane brings up the question of selfishness. Is it wrong to let someone go even if they were close to passing on, anyway? Peter points out the causes were not natural and so yes, it is wrong to not take that responsibility. The selfish choice of letting her go may eat away at them and turn into an arguing point down the road...always looming over them like a cloud they choose to see light through, even at night. In our own lives our clouds are produced by other forms of precipitation, such as lying or bad relationship decisions. Couples, like Peter and Mary, may be able to get past these issues, but they never go away. Whether the sky bares darkness in front of you or in the rear view mirror, it is still there. How we deal with the shade is where real love comes into play.

Fortunately, there is always more to the story in an ongoing comic book series. In Amazing Spider-Man, Mephisto takes away Mary Jane's and Peter's marriage, but He did not exactly take away their fates. Comic readers assume that eventually Marvel will bring the two characters back together. Fans hated the wash-out job Marvel did when they basically changed their most popular icon's history and started almost anew. The erasing of the incident (choosing May's life over their marriage) could be good for the fictional couple. For their lives to never have touched such a choice may clear their horizons and bring forth a bright shining "Brand New Day." In real life a brand new day is out there, too. Horizons may never be blue as far as the eye can see, but a love filled with rainy days is still love. It just has more umbrellas.

Is a long term plan in the mix which will bring the two lovers to embrace once more? I say there is a chance. A good man and a good woman with history together always have a chance at love. I believe love is still in the just hasn't been written yet.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What If? Civil War

It seems as if I keep contradicting myself. Several times I have claimed to not care for alternate universe stories, yet here I am again talking about another alternate universe story. To further refine my stance: the What if...? comic books are an exception since they are alternate universe stories contained in one issue. The stories do not carry on in ongoing titles or from issue to issue. They are one and done tales of possibilities; thus, I can like them.

In What if? Civil War, a writing team lead by Ed Brubaker confronts what the Civil War event would have been like if Tony Stark (Iron Man for you non comic or movie or pop culture or basic knowledge that children know types) had died before the events leading up to the Super Human Registration Act. Also, a second possibility of Captain America and Iron man finding common ground based on genuine honesty is explored. Basically, we learn if Tony was never involved then things would have been much worse. More superheroes would have died and the government would rule by way of an aggressive hammer. If Tony had lived, and been very honest of his intentions to Cap, things would have gone very well. Goliath would not have been slain by a cloned Thor, and the Avengers would be the great team of heroes it was always meant to be.

The alternative universe time lines are shown, as always, by a Watcher. The Watcher shares the stories with a distraught Tony Stark at Captain America's grave. When Tony hears the news that there was a way for peace, and for Cap to still be alive he becomes more grief-ridden than ever before. He could have saved his friend's life. Bummer.

The wrap around cover on What if? Civil War is done by Marko Djurdjevic and looks amazing. The cover was a large factor for me buying this comic of the day. I also wondered at what point in the Civil War story this "What if..." would split from reality and show what could have been. I find that often the "What If..." adventures do not live up to my expectations. With that said, they are still kind of cool. But I think there is a simple way to make them better...

Choose Your Own Adventure comics! You can fit several tales into one issue and readers can find out how things may have happened if they made the hard decisions. The comics could be larger issues or possibly even trade paper backs. Either way, I may be on to something.

Hint: Do not choose the door down the hall to the left on page 11. It's a trap door sending you down a shoot to a pit filled with liquid adamantium that hardens when a person falls into it. Your story is over and you've been Han Soloed in adamantium. Unfortunately, before you die, no one says, "I love you."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Y: The Last Man / Unmanned TPB

When explaining to my uncle the plot of Y: The Last Man, he was quick to the assertion that it was the same thing as the movie "The Omega Man" based on the "I Am Legend" novel. I recently watched "The Omega Man", starring Charlton Heston... "The Omega Man" and Y: The Last Man are nothing like alike. In fact, "The Omega Man" is quite embarrassing.

Y: The Last Man starts off with the story line "Unmanned." A certain event happens which causes every male human and animal to die on earth, except one man and his pet monkey. The males all die in an instant without any warning causing world wide destruction. Airplanes crash from the sky, roads around the world are devastated with car wrecks, and most of the world's governments are decimated. Apparently, men run this place we call Earth. Who knew?

Many women are also killed in the male D-Day. If women were on the roads or on planes or in anyother situation where a male was in control of transportation (submarines?), they were killed by approximation. Yorick Brown (the man) and Ampersand (the monkey) go on living without exposing themselves to the surviving women for fear of what they will do to him. There are women gangs which cut off the breast, and women trash collectors who scour the cities for dead male bodies to sell as currency. The governments are askew with battles over who is in charge. One great scene in "Unmanned" comes when the republican wives storm the White House wanting to take their dead husband's seats. If you though Republicans were crazy now, just wait till they go all vagina.

Brian K. Vaughan sculpts a wonderful "what if..." tale through many gender issues. He addresses ideas of how women would or could act if men were gone. They, like men, can take all shapes and sizes of character. Some have leader qualities, some are followers, and some are just bad-ass with a shotgun. My favorite part about Y: The Last Man are the false stereotypes of women that are addressed. Vaughan even goes after the stereotypes that seam like they are good like not being aggressive and working out disputes.

This Vertigo published comic of the day reads like a real-life adventure and addresses gender stereotypes like no comic before it. Too often comics are total sausage-fests these days. Y: The Last Man "Unmanned"...not so much.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guy Gardner #16

I don't know what the heck is going on in this 1994 Guy Gardner issue. Guy Gardner #16 starts out with Guy being angry that his recent exploits were not the lead story in the newspaper. He then goes to see an old buddy no-name superhero who ends up attacking Guy because he thinks he has gone bad. Guy gets Wonder Woman and her truth retrieving rope to let the misguided hero know that Guy is not bad after all. The issue ends with a random villain/mercenary getting orders for his target, Guy Gardner.

To be fair, reading any random issue in an ongoing title would be very confusing. The main things I don't understand is why Guy Gardner has a yellow ring. I thought he was a Green Lantern with a green ring. Yellow rings are for chicks. Green rings are much manlier or in this case...guylier. From a brief letter to the writer in the back of the comic which some ongoing titles have, a reader mentions the ring is Sinestro's old ring. How the...? Ah, never mind. Another thing I do not understand is Guy's white t-shirt. It looks painted on. Besides myself, no man is that ripped. Seeing every muscle through Guy's shirt is ridiculous. How uncomfortable that must be for him. It would be cutting off circulation everywhere. A slow tight and white death.

Guy Gardner #16 may see like a random issue to own but what the common comic book follower may not know about this comic of the day, is that Guy Gardner #16 is the last Guy Gardner issue in this series. The next issue begins the new title, Guy Gardner: Warrior. Basically, I'm owning a classic.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wolverine: Weapon X #11

Jason Aaron wrote Wolverine: Weapon X #11, and the "Tomorrow Dies Today" story arch, for me. Aaron crept into my room, went through my books, my journal, and underwear draw to come up with this arch.

Okay, to be fair, Wolverine: Weapon X #11 and this arch have a lot for comic book fans to enjoy. Let's go through them quickly...I have a "Dexter" episode to get to.

First off, as you can tell by the cover (which happens to be the main reason I picked up this comic book), Deathlok makes an appearance in the issue. For some reason I have always enjoyed the Deathlok character. What's not to like? Visually he has a unique half grotesque/half sleek design, and he is literally a killing machine. Partially human and mostly machine, Deathlok has been around since the 70's. In fact, I have his first appearance in Astonishing Tales #25 where he is constructed from a dieing Colonel Luther Manning in a distant future. He is built to demolish whomever he is programed to terminate. In later appearances Deathlok is created from other people for military means, as well. Aaron uses Deathlok in multiple ways (hint), yet all geared towards killing.

The other characters in this book are the obvious Wolverine and the everywhere man of the moment (just behind Deadpool), Captain America. The two long time friends, and at time partners, get together for a night out on the world (thanks to the Quin Jet chauffeuring Night Crawler) hitting up pubs and bars till their healing factors and super-serums can't function properly anymore. What's more fun than that? A couple of the oldest humanoid Marvel characters, fan favorites no less, just going out to get shitty... all kinds of awesome. Their night ends with a brawl at a bar (standard Logan), but the story concludes when Logan bumps into a woman ranting about killing machines from the future. The machines are killing specific people on a list, and who is next on that list leaves readers wanting the next book right away.

Besides the enjoyable read, the art was spot on, too. Ron Garney handles Deathlok with brilliance finding the balance between the mechanical design and human feel. Plus, he doesn't go over the top with the ugly when it comes to part of Deathlok's face. Some artists make that mistake. Not Garney. I also appreciated Jason Keith's coloring, which fits Garney's style with relative ease. His red tones in Deathlok's armor plate are handled beautifully in the various lighting situations Deathlok is exposed to.

Overall the comic of the day has to be Wolverine: Weapon X #11 because as soon as I finished it I had to write about it (that and it is Wolverine'll catch on!. It's like when you are watching a sporting event at home and something awesome happens in the game. You have to tell someone even if they have no clue what you are talking about. When that glee is trapped inside it can turn to sadness quite quickly. Deep. Deep. (Other poets begin to snap their fingers in acceptance around me.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

The story of a wooden boy who has the ability to lie, grow a longer wooden-stake nose, break it off, and then kill an undead blood-sucker with worth any amount of money. Luckily today's comic of the day was only $10.95.

The story was written by Dan Jensen and illustrated by Dusty Higgins. The book is smaller than a conventional comic in height and width, yet is still a graphic novel length of read. The art is all black and white except for the cover...which is black, white, and red. The intro art (which retells the classic tale) is bloody simplistic yet charming. It captures the quick-paced fun tone of the book in a brief 3 page sequence.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer picks up on the fable of Pinocchio after the conventional tale, but before he turns into a real boy. He remains splintered and string-less with a knack for vampire slaying. There is a bit of romance, a lot of action, and plenty of puns. I love puns.

Overall the story is good. I wanted it to be the best thing I've read in a while but it's no Old Man Logan (Mark Millar & Steve McNiven). The fast pace story doesn't leave a ton of time to get to know the characters very well, but it does allow for a story that delivers many scenes one expects from a book about a vampire killing puppet.

I have always understood that a book focusing on a unique story idea, or even gimmick, does not have to have the best art. The art should be fun and make for quick visual recognition, but it should not take away from the story or tone. Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer has art that sinks-up with the level of story and takes nothing away from the adventure. It is clear, the characters have distinct designs, and the backgrounds are not overly detailed. The art actually reminds me of a basic Mike Mignola style. Not quite to his creative ends, but the hint of his style is there.

On a scale from "1" to "destruction of night walkers", I would have to give Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer a B...adass +. The plus indicates that the book is a great shelf or coffee table book to share with friends when they stop by.

Fun to read. Awesome to own.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Death's Head II #1 (Part 1 of 4)

My journey has been completed. A couple of weeks ago I was browsing ebay for some comic book sets I had wanted to complete and I came across a great deal for the entire Death's Head II mini-series. I paid about $5.75 for the comic books (which are in in VF+ to NM condition) and shipping. How could I pass that deal up?

Today, I received the bagged and boarded issues with great enjoyment. First, I flipped through the issues just looking at their covers. The covers alone help tell the basic plot of the story. Plus, they brought back a feeling of strange anger.

I was always oddly upset that the original Death's Head was killed. Right there on the cover you learn of Death Head's fate, and as you read on in the story you witness how easily he is dispatched. In Death's Head II #1, the mechanical creature known as Minion (Death's Head II) kills many different creatures and fighters to assimilate their skills, and thus, become the greatest fighting being this side of the year 2020AD. Death's Head stumbles upon Minion killing a mark which Death's Head (being a bounty hunter) hoped to kill for a hefty reward. Death's Head seeks out Minion and fights him with less than positive results...he gets in a couple of shots, but for the most part is torn apart.

The killing off of a popular Marvel character (maybe the most popular Marvel UK character) was quite surprising. Plus, it was done without much of a battle. I really feel like Marvel disrespected Death Head's fans, yet at the same time respect Marvel for creating a huge moment without much fanfare. These fighters get into battles all of the time and just take for granted that they are going to live forever. If you are willing to kill, you better be willing to die.

The death of the second coolest bounty hunter of all time (1. Boba Fett 2. Death's Head 3. Dog) makes Death's Head II #1 the comic of the day. Looking at the cover again it seems fitting that a character named Death's Head would die in the hand of his killer with nothing but his head and death.

February Comic of the Day Recap

Month two was definitely a little harder. You may have noticed my posts getting later in the day. I wouldn't write as many the day before, rather I waited until I got back from work (yes, I have a full time job) and wrote my posts then. Seeing as I do not just review comic books, I am not always writing about a book that is new or fresh in reader's minds. Often, I need to re-read the individual issues to understand what it is I am going to comment about. This is another reason the posts go up later in the day. I actually put thought into these things, even though it may appear otherwise.

In March I hope to make more posts about DC and independent comics of the day. I collect mainly Marvel so naturally my posts will reflect my collection, but I think keeping the readings and my thoughts on them outside my comfort zone may produce some interesting thoughts and articles.

Some of February's highlights included the following posts: