Comics Ate My Brain

August 17, 2007

Friday Night Fights

Filed under: fantastic four, friday night fights, meme — Tom Bondurant @ 11:30 pm
I thought about combining this post with Thursday Night Thinking, because Reed uses the ol’ rubber noggin at the start of this sequence…

… but in the end, it’s still Clobberin’ Time!

The clobberin’ continues all night at the Bahlactus Building!

[From Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #4, September 2007. Written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Mike Wieringo, inked by Karl Kesel. Rest in peace, ‘Ringo.]

August 16, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking

Filed under: flash, meme, thursday night thinking — Tom Bondurant @ 1:21 pm
My Thursday Night Thinking and Friday Night Fights for this week spotlight the late Mike Wieringo.

Good thing Diamondrock wants something a little different this time. It’s not the typical THINKING! post, but it’s the first ‘Ringo scene that came to mind. After all, Older Wally does give Young Wally a lot to think about….

[From “Flashing Back,” Flash vol. 2 #0, October 1994. Written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Mike Wieringo, inked by Jose Marzan Jr.]

August 13, 2007

Goodbye, Ringo

Filed under: fantastic four, flash, meta, robin, superman — Tom Bondurant @ 11:27 pm
I didn’t know Mike Wieringo personally, but I felt like I did. My buddy Sam had met him years ago in the course of doing some prototype Tellos figures. Today, when Sam called me, I knew why even before I answered the phone.

So I didn’t know Mike Wieringo, but like Mike Parobeck, another comics artist who left this world too soon, I felt like I knew him through his work. Readers of this blog need look no further than last week’s Sunday Soliloquy, and its quiet study of Reed Richards, for a great example of Wieringo’s craftsmanship.

It’s all there: the attention to detail, the way the characters move, and the expressiveness of both Reed and Valeria. Wieringo has what some might call a “cartoony” style, but it’s hardly unrealistic. His objects have weight and his characters have life. There isn’t much action on those two pages, but that just goes to show how good ‘Ringo was at making them come alive.

Mike Wieringo worked on some of the Big Two’s most treasured properties, including the Flash, Robin the Boy Wonder, Superman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. He “got” the appeal of superheroes, I think, and translated that appeal perfectly onto the page. The best superhero artists make us forget about the genre’s constant struggle between “realism” and fantasy, and simply transport us into the worlds their pencils create. Mike Wieringo was a master at that. He never seemed to give less than his best, and in turn his best seemed effortless.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones. He brought a lot of joy to a lot of us.

August 12, 2007

Sunday Soliloquy

Filed under: justice league, sunday soliloquy — Tom Bondurant @ 5:25 pm
When Grant Morrison reintroduced the Key, he expanded the villain’s modus operandi along with his consciousness.

Morrison also gave the loquacious Key (he gets an even more expository monologue in the next issue) a nice sarcastic streak. For example, the Key calls the new Green Arrow an “ignorant junkfood MTV moron” … which isn’t really true, of course, but it’s still clever.

[From “Imaginary Stories,” JLA #8, August 1997. Written by Morrison, pencilled by Oscar Jimenez, inked by Chip Wallace.]

August 11, 2007

New comics 8/8/07

Filed under: batman, countdown, green lantern, justice league, star wars, weekly roundups — Tom Bondurant @ 3:16 pm
We begin with Countdown #38 (written by Paul Dini, Justin Gray, & Jimmy Palmiotti, pencilled by Jesus Saiz, inked by Palmiotti), which has a lot of action, several big names, and a couple of decent character scenes, and yet it’s undone by the little things.

The backbone of the issue is a cyber-fight between Oracle and the Calculator which has repercussions out in the real world. The JLA, JSA, and Freedom Fighters have to stop the various crashing planes and launching missiles, so there’s your action. In an unrelated story (or is it?!?), Mary Marvel and Zatanna fight off Slig, one of the Apokoliptian Deep Six, who nevertheless becomes the latest Fourth Worlder to get zapped away. Jimmy Olsen tries to join the Teen Titans, and Trickster and Piper convince the Question they’re not guilty of murdering Bart Allen. Oh, and Karate Kid is dying.

The problem is, Zatanna doesn’t use the full range of her powers, but Mary Marvel has some new ones. The runaway Rogues are apparently too dumb to be lying about the Flash’s death, but they still get away from the Question and Batwoman (who, admittedly, aren’t all that experienced as superheroes). Finally, the Jimmy scene doesn’t resolve anything: he doesn’t join the Titans, but he’s not dissuaded from superheroics; and the limit of his powers is something we readers probably figured out a few weeks ago. Art is good, though — Saiz is a fine storyteller.

Star Wars: Rebellion #9 (written by Brandon Badeaux & Rob Williams, drawn by Michel Lacombe) was an entertaining chapter of the latest arc, with lots of action and plot movement. Using characters who aren’t “untouchable” members of the main cast only reinforces the anything-goes feel. Art is quite good — expressive, but faithful to the SW details that the license commands. Some of the character moments are a bit familiar, but again, it’s Star Wars.

Speaking of character development, it turns out (in JLA Classified #41, written by Peter Milligan, drawn by Carlos D’Anda) that Kid Amazo’s incorporated more of the Justice League than just their powers. Again, I think there are a few interesting nature-vs.-nurture and free-will questions floating around this story, and the end of the story is rather disquieting for the JLA’s own solidarity. However, it’s somewhere in between a philosophy treatise acted out by the Justice League, and a Justice League story rooted in philosophical principles. It’s probably closer to the latter. Not bad, but not as great as I originally hoped.

Green Lantern #22 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ivan Reis, inked by Oclair Albert) is a big fight on Qward between Hal and Kyle and their attendant GL and SC colleagues. An interlude involving the Cyborg Superman and the Anti-Monitor is very Vader-and-Palpatine, which can’t be a coincidence. Reis and Albert do a great job at organizing the chaos, creating a comic which invites the reader to slow down and look at the detail while simultaneously pushing the action forward. Everything looks bleak, but in a good way.

Finally, as you might have expected, I enjoyed Batman #667 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by J.H. Williams III) the most this week. I can’t say enough about Williams’ design: panels are shaped like black gloves, the first page dissolves into bats, and a hero falls under a painting of past glory. The “Batmen Of Many Nations” is perfect for Morrison’s multiple-choice examinations of superheroics, and he doesn’t disappoint here. It’s perhaps the best part of his Batman tenure so far, which is saying a lot.

So just as an appendix, here’s a picture of the original Club, cribbed from my trusty Michael Fleisher Batman Encyclopedia, along with its rundown of the original members.

England has the Knight and the Squire, secretly the Earl of Wordenshire and his young son Cyril, who, clad in knightly raiment, roar into action astride their motorized “war horses” whenever the tolling of the bell in a nearby rectory warns them that their services are urgently needed (BM No. 62/2, Dec/Jan ’50-’51: “The Batman Of England!”),

Batman counterparts in other countries include the Legionary of Italy, the Musketeer of France, the Ranger of Australia, and the Gaucho of South America (Det. No. 215, Jan ’55: “The Batmen Of All Nations!”). And in the Western United States, in the region inhabited by the Sioux, Chief Man-Of-The-Bats and his young son Little Raven battle crime and injustice among the Sioux much as Batman and Robin battle crime in Gotham City (BM No. 86/3, Sep ’54: “Batman — Indian Chief!”).

Although Batman has given advice and encouragement to all these crime-fighters, some he has actually trained himself from scratch, such as Northern Europe’s Wingman (BM No. 65/1, Jun/Jul ’51: “A Partner for Batman!”) and Latin America’s Bat-Hombre (BM No. 56/1, Dec/Jan ’49-’50: “Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride!”). Bat-Hombre cauased Batman grave disappointment, however, when he turned out to be a member of an outlaw band….

(Fleisher, pp. 75-76.)

So there you go. There’s a Batman in the 31st Century (but not the Legion’s 31st) and on the distant planet Zur-En-Arrh; and Batman-related figures throughout history: a caveman (Tiger Man), an ancient Babylonian (Zorn — I am not making that one up), the 17th Century American colonist Jeremy Coe, and the 18th Century’s Abel “Captain Lightfoot” Adams. I don’t expect Morrison to use all of these, but at this point, who knows?

August 10, 2007

Friday Night Fights

Filed under: friday night fights, meme, nexus — Tom Bondurant @ 11:55 pm
Nexus is beaten, bruised, and bloodied by a goon who works for Clausius the slaver — until the goon’s power source switches sides:

Bahlactus doesn’t run!

[From “Aye, Clausius,” Nexus vol. 2 #2 (1983), reprinted in Nexus Archives Volume One. Written by Mike Baron, drawn by Steve Rude.]

August 9, 2007

Thursday Night Thinking

Filed under: green lantern, meme, thursday night thinking — Tom Bondurant @ 11:51 pm
Hal’s all emo because he stopped a robber, but destroyed the stolen cash…

… Or did he…?

THINKING saves the day!

(How now, blue Diamondrock cow?)

[From “Yellow Is A Dirty Little Color,” the backup story in The Flash #224, November-December 1973. Written by Denny O’Neil, drawn by Dick Giordano.]

August 8, 2007

A small question

Filed under: atom, questions — Tom Bondurant @ 6:47 pm
This has been bugging me for a while: how long will The All-New Atom keep “All-New” in its title?

The cynic in me notes that the title isn’t selling all that well (just under 17,000 in June), so the issue may be moot before too long.

Still, though … issue 25? Issue 50?

August 5, 2007

Sunday Soliloquy

Filed under: fantastic four, sunday soliloquy — Tom Bondurant @ 6:30 pm
Here’s the emotional climax to the first issue of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s excellent (sorry, plok!) run on Fantastic Four. The idea behind Reed’s speech came from editor Tom Brevoort, and Waid and ‘Ringo dramatized it very well.

(You’ll have to click to enlarge the pages, I’m afraid — this was in the Marvel Age Of Lower-Case Lettering!)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my allergies are acting up — why else would I be sniffling so…?

[From “Inside Out,” Fantastic Four vol. 2 #60 (vol. 1 #489), October 2002. Written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Mike Wieringo, inked by Karl Kesel.]

August 4, 2007

New comics 7/25/07 and 8/1/07

Someday soon I’ll get caught up. July was ka-razy all around, not just with San Diego.

Anyway, let’s begin with the comics I read in between a thousand other things happening the day before the plane took off….


Batman #666 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Andy Kubert, inked by Jesse Delperdang) is the third DC comic to reach that infamous number, and I’m pretty sure it’s the one which takes the most inspiration from said number. Future Batman Damien Wayne fights the last of the Black Casebook’s faux Batmen in a story rich with metatextual meaning. Kubert and Delperdang are especially good at depicting the hellish future Gotham and the evil, red-goggled Batman who thinks he’s going to destroy it. For a while I’ve been convinced that Morrison’s run is dedicated to exploring what it means to “be” Batman, mostly by looking at how others (Damien, the evil pretenders, the upcoming Club of Heroes) take on the role. I’m not quite ready to say it’s of a piece with Seven Soldiers‘ examination of different types of superheroes, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. I may have to get the collections, if only to read the stories in a big chunk, without these months of delays and fill-ins separating them.

It also seems to me that All-Star Batman & Robin (#6 written by Frank Miller, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams) is meant to be seen in a similar “nature of the superhero” light. This issue’s set pieces involve rookie heroes Black Canary and Batgirl, and Batman musing about “all these wannabes.” It’s still not anywhere near a plot; but honestly, the book’s erratic schedule may actually be working in its favor: if it comes out so infrequently, why not spend the $2.99?

Sinestro fights Soranik Natu in Green Lantern Corps #14 (written by Dave Gibbons, pencilled by Patrick Gleason and Angel Unzueta, inked by Prentis Rollins), and basically, both of them win the battle in different ways. I’ve called “Sinestro Corps” a big excuse for fighting (not that that’s a bad thing), but what’s great about this issue is the way in which it plays with the reader’s expectations. It’s unlikely that Sinestro, bad as he is, will be “allowed” to kill Dr. Natu, beloved as she is; but it’s more unlikely that Natu, a rookie GL, could hold her own against the No. 1 Renegade. The issue’s solution is pretty clever.

Just like that, the Jodi Picoult Era is over, as J. Torres writes and Paco Diaz draws Wonder Woman #11, another brick in the Amazons Attack wall. Diana heads back to Themyscira to protect it from a nuclear strike, and finds the wreckage of Greg Rucka’s excellent “politicizing” of the Greek pantheon. Much of the rest of the issue shows us various Justice Leaguers and Justice Socialites fighting the invaders. It’s better than a Picoult issue, but it’s hardly the best the book’s been. Three more issues of this — one WW, two AA — right?

Is it too late to put Kurt Busiek in the Countdown rotation? He’s done a fine job with Jimmy’s involvement, even though Superman #665 (pencilled by Rick Leonardi, inked by Ande Parks) isn’t part of the main story. This particular issue shows us Jimmy’s “origin,” coming from homeless newsboy to Planet photographer and Superman’s Pal. I’ve liked Leonardi’s work for a long time, probably going back twenty years, so he’s good as always, and Parks’ lines are thick enough to give his figures the appropriate weight. The story’s fun too, in case I didn’t make that clear.

As for the main book, Countdown #40 (written by Paul Dini and Tony Bedard, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Manuel Garcia, inked by Mark McKenna) focuses on three scenes: Donna et al. fighting yet another group of “natives,” Holly questioning the shelter’s priorities, and the Pied Piper and Trickster hooking up with the Penguin. It also checks in with Jimmy and Mary Marvel. The “Ray Palmer” story is getting a little tedious, as is the Holly story, and the Jimmy story is getting better coverage in the Superman titles as of late, so that leaves Mary Marvel and the Rogues to salvage the issue, and Mary’s scene is a little too short. Garcia and McKenna provide decent art — nothing groundbreaking; kind of in the Brad Walker/Eddy Barrows range.


Thankfully, Countdown #39 (written by Dini and Sean McKeever, pencilled by Jim Calafiore, inked by Jay Leisten) starts off much better, as Karate Kid and the last of Triplicate Girl break into Oracle’s office. Holly meets Athena — but is it the same Athena who was mad at Wonder Woman last week? — and the Suicide Squad comes after Piper and Trickster. Art is fine; I thought Calafiore was a good fill-in artist back in the Peter David days of Aquaman, and he’s better here than he has been on the series. Maybe it’s the inks. I liked this issue more than I did the last one, and it may well be because Countdown (unlike 52) does action pretty well. The talky Monitor backup (by Dan Jurgens) even goes a long way towards explaining the nature of the threat, which is nice considering that we’re at the one-quarter mark.

Speaking of threats to the multiverse, wasn’t She-Hulk #20 (pencilled by Rick Burchett, inked by Cliff Rathburn) not only Dan Slott’s last issue, but also some kind of panacea for Marvel continuity at large? Generally, though, it’s a quick and dirty wrap-up to Slott’s years with Shulkie, including the by-now-familiar “here are the stories I would have done if I had the time” teases. It’s not entirely successful — or, maybe I should say it would have been more successful had I read the Jen-as-judge issues from the last part of Slott’s first series. Anyway, it’s not bad. Slott hasn’t had much room to do his own stuff for a while, with all the crossovers the book’s been part of the past few months, so I guess this is one last example of the unadulterated book.

Fantastic Four #548 (written by Dwayne McDuffie, pencilled by Paul Pelletier, inked by Rick Magyar) kicks off the full FF’s (Reed and Sue included) battle with the Frightful Four, so it’s good clean superhero combat. Much the same is on display in Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #4 (written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Mike Wieringo, inked by Wayne von Grawbadger). Both are highly recommended for all your FF needs.

Welcome To Tranquility #9 (written by Gail Simone, drawn by Neil Googe) brings the Devil, more zombies, and Freefall (right? with the purple hair) to town. The main story’s fine, but the backup (pencilled by Leandro Fernandez, inked by Francisco Paronzini) is quite good. It explains, in the best EC tradition, why the Coyote Kid has such a mad-on for zombies. I still enjoy the series, although I don’t think it’ll be around much longer.

More spooky goings-on abound in Detective Comics #835 (written by John Rozum, drawn by Tom Mandrake), as the Scarecrow decides to use puh-sychology on his victims instead of that old crutch, fear-gas. The notion that Batman could be pushed To The Edge (TM) even by the Scarecrow’s gruesome new tactics is a bit hard to accept, and Mandrake’s art isn’t for everyone, but overall it’s fairly effective.

Nightwing #135 (written by Marv Wolfman, pencilled by Jon Bosco, inked by Alex Silva) presents exposition via interrogation, as Vigilante facilitates Dick’s flashbacks to how he busted Metal Eddie back in the day. It’s about how you’d expect, considering that most of the information has already been provided in previous chapters, but it’s good nonetheless. Bosco’s figures are a bit clunky, and Silva uses a lot of blacks, and overall they’re in that same “DC house style” mode. It’s about time for this story to end, though.

Remember what I said about Busiek’s fine Jimmy Olsen story in last week’s Superman? It applies just as much, if not more, to this week’s Action Comics #853 (pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Livesay). Jimmy, as his superheroic alter ego Mr. Action, tries to help Superman take out the Kryptonite Man. Extra points for the special last-page appearance.

Finally, this week’s other “Countdown doesn’t make everything suck” entry is (All-New) Atom #14 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Trevor Scott). Atom, Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and Bob The Monitor go to “Heaven,” find Blue Beetle, and fight all manner of dead bad guys. The Internet is already buzzing over the new catchphrase, “Stupid jetpack Hitler!” It’s a fun issue, but it does kinda feel like treading water. The fun wins out, though.

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