Sunday, August 31, 2014


I know we all have our ideas of what would make great TV shows. The thing is, most of mine are really good ideas. Case in point: why do we not have a TV show, something like a pulp style series from the thirties or forties, with tons of sex and violence, on a pay cable network? Doesn't this seem like a no-brainer?

In my review of Wally Wood's CANNON the other day, I said, "...maybe it's my reptilian brain at work overriding good taste, but I've always enjoyed a story about a rugged man who kills with impunity and beds women with regularity." I cited the Bond films as an example of this genre. Another would be the Cinemax series BANSHEE. BANSHEE is somewhat acclaimed, and apparently quite successful. And it overflows with hard, brutal violence and softcore sex scenes. These are things people like to watch. Look to GAME OF THRONES for another example. Or BLACK SAILS, which quickly became a personal favorite during it's first season this past winter. I'm sure there are plenty more, but I don't watch a ton of pay cable shows.

My question, then, is: Why don't we have a series like the above, catered to grown man-children who love superheroes but who are old enough to enjoy explicit material? (And I unashamedly include myself in this demographic!) I don't want to watch such a series about Batman or Spider-Man. They're all-ages characters, not meant for strong language and overt sexual situations. Putting them into these sorts of situations is wrong. But if an outright fantasy series like GAME OF THRONES can capture the imaginations of millions of mainstream viewers, why couldn't a Batman-esque series?

Friday, August 29, 2014


I've apparently been a fan of Wally Wood for far longer than I realized. I admit that I've read very little of his output -- he did some Silver Age DAREDEVIL for Marvel, but that's probably about all I've looked at. However he was a mentor to many comic professionals I enjoy, such as Larry Hama and Bob Layton. And he co-created Power Girl with Gerry Conway over at DC, so we have him to thank for that fantastic costume. As many know, the legend goes that Wood incrementally increased the size of Power Girl's breasts from issue to issue until his editors told him to knock it off. I've never seen this story confirmed, and I've seen it disputed more than once -- plus the artwork itself does not support it -- but the simple fact that it persists and is considered something Wood might have done is enough to make me a fan.

Which brings us to CANNON. Sort of. First, an anecdote to set the stage -- I distinctly recall, when I was about eleven or twelve years old, flipping through a SALLY FORTH collection some degenerate had left lying around in easy reach at a local comic book shop. It was black and white, it appeared to be a comedy, and it featured a buxom blonde girl soldier who wound up naked or topless every other page. I thought it was awesome. But I forgot about it pretty quickly after that chance encounter. It was years later that I discovered SALLY FORTH was created by Wally Wood -- who I had learned about through the Power Girl connection in the interim. From there, I disovered CANNON.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Scripter: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Lost & Found: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Realizing that underworld informant "Nose" Norton may hold the key to their exposé on the Brand Corporation, Robbie Robertson, Ned Leeds, and Marla Madison convince Jonah Jameson to offer a $1500 cash reward to the first Daily Bugle employee to find the missing stool pigeon. Spurred to action by the reward, Peter Parker -- as Spider-Man -- combs the city for Norton.

Meanwhile, the Brand Corporation wants Norton silenced. Their own men are on the hunt as well, and they hire the South American terrorist called the Tarantula to kill him once he is uncovered. Brand finds Nose around the same time as Peter and Bugle reporter Ben Urich, who have decided to split the reward.

When the Tarantula arrives to kill Norton, Peter changes to Spider-Man and fights him off. But private investigators working for Brand arrive and gun Norton down, claiming he fired upon them first. After the Tarantula escapes, Spider-Man changes back to Peter and informs Ben that he has photos of the entire altercation.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Scripter: Roger Stern | Penciler: John Romita, Jr. | Inker: Jim Mooney
Letterer: Diana Albers | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Mr. Hyde challenges Spider-Man for his captive, the Cobra. Hyde proves too much for the web-slinger and eventually Spider-Man tosses Cobra to Hyde -- but not before coating Cobra's helmet in webbing, which sticks the two villains together when Hyde catches him. Hyde collapses several rooftop water towers and escapes with Cobra, while Spider-Man heads for Empire State University.

Later, Hyde, in his guise as Dr. Calvin Zabo, brings Cobra to the latter's penthouse suite with the intention of killing him and taking his riches. But Spider-Man, having planted a tracer on the Cobra before handing him over, arrives to challenge Hyde. The wall-crawler's non-stop barrage of quips enrages Hyde to the point of irrationality, and Spider-Man manages to defeat him by hurling him from the penthouse to the street below. Hyde passes out, and Cobra surrenders to Spider-Man rather than go another round with the webbed wonder.

The Sub-Plots: Ned Leeds and Marla Madison put in a brief appearance as they wait for Spider-Man to deliver Cobra to the police, and Marla makes her dislike and mistrust for the web-slinger clear to Ned. When Lance Bannon shows up to snap photos of the captive Cobra and gets caught up in Hyde's rampage, Spider-Man saves him but Lance chastises the wall-crawler for not rescuing his camera as well.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


(...Plus a week.)

I'm a firm believer in acknowledging milestones, so I thought I'd mention that last weekend -- specifically August 16th -- marked this blog's first birthday.

When I began my ramblings last summer, I wasn't sure what form they would ultimately take, or even how long they'd last. I was armed with a bunch of posts I'd written about Captain Britain and little else. But within a month I'd started reading TRANSFORMERS: REGENERATION ONE, and soon enough something of a regular schedule materialized: long series posts on Mondays and Wednesdays, with "one shot" or shorter series posts on Fridays. Soon my Sundays began to fill up too, with whatever ramblings happened to be on my mind.

I eventually started mapping out my monthly schedule, and that soon became a yearly schedule. As it stands, as of today, I have a rough idea of what I'll write about on what weekdays, all the way through to the end of next January -- and I have posts already written and scheduled through November. But I like to keep my options open too, so Sundays will remain, with the exception of the regularly scheduled "Unboxing" feature and the occasional announcements, the spot where I will write about things more immediately: a review of a book I just got, or my opinion on some TV show or something else I recently encountered.

For those who care, the most viewed page or post on this site is X-MEN COLLECTED EDITIONS, with my review of the SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES soundtrack album in second place at half as many hits. And the Google search terms which have drawn the most eyes here, aside from the title of the blog, are "infinity gauntlet omnibus review" and, for some reason, "iron man #134 titanium man".

Anyway -- thanks to those who have stuck with me over the past year. It's been a lot of fun sharing my thoughts on some of my favorite comics, as well as several that I've never read before. I intend to keep doing it for as long as it's fun, and since I have quite a backlog of books to read, I'm hoping that will be a good long time.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Story/Art/Color/Lettering/Design: Chris Madden
Editor: Tom Waltz

As I noted in my review of DANGER GIRL: REVOLVER, I'm a big fan of Chris Madden's delightful artwork for that series. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I subsequently decided to take a look at Madden's creator-owned mini-series, JACK AVARICE IS THE COURIER, available in trade paperback from IDW. There's something to be said for a comic book professional who is capable of doing it all, as evidenced by the credits above. I've seen those who do most of it before, but coloring and/or lettering are usually left out of the full package. So regardless of the quality of the story, Madden should receive great kudos simply for being a quintuple-threat creator.

But the story is enjoyable too, if a bit derivative. We follow a young man named Jack Avarice as he becomes a "Courier" -- a member of a top-secret group of U.N. sanctioned super-spies. Every nation has one such operative, a person who can operate around the globe with complete immunity. It's an interesting premise, though I'm not sure such a thing makes much sense when you think about it. But in the world Madden has created, it's easy enough to swallow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Scripter: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Precinct Captain: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Cobra robs a police evidence locker of several gems from a jewel theft ring, the latest in a series of similar crimes. At his home, he makes plans to see his fence about them. Meanwhile, Jonah Jameson has assigned Ned Leeds to investigate the Brand Corporation. Ned and Dr. Marla Madison go to meet with Ned's contact, "Nose" Norton -- who just happens to be the Cobra's fence, as well.

Cobra arrives at the same time and sees Nose consorting with Ned, who he recognizes as a reporter from his last trial, and assumes Nose is selling him out. He jumps Nose, Ned, and Marla in an alleyway. Fortunately Spider-Man is in the area, having been informed (as Peter Parker) by Betty Leeds that Ned was headed to a bad part of town.

The web-slinger defends the Cobra's victims and makes short work of the wily villain, but as he heads away to turn Cobra over to the police, the pair is attacked by Cobra's ex-partner, Mr. Hyde.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Dream Analyst: Jim Shooter

The Plot: After leaving Madame Web to the paramedics, Spider-Man continues to battle Juggernaut across the city, even after running out of web fluid. He tosses girders and wrecking balls at his foe, drops a building on him, and even rams him with a gasoline truck, but every tactic fails. Juggernaut is finally subdued when Spider-Man covers the eye holes on his helmet and he walks into a deep bed of wet cement.

The wall-crawler realizes that his camera was accidentally turned on during the fight and races to the Daily Bugle, where he sells the photos to Joe Robertson, then he heads to the hospital to check on Madame Web.

Meanwhile, Black Tom Cassidy anxiously watches the Juggernaut's new tomb, praying for his friend to emerge unscathed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


So, what do we have this month? A little of this, a little of that, it seems. Two items from Marvel, two from DC, and, in a rare occurrence, something from Dark Horse!

Age always goes before beauty, so we'll glance at the DC offerings first. We have AME-COMI GIRLS VOLUME 2: RISE OF BRAINIAC. Readers may recall that I covered the first volume of this Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray alternate universe story back in March. It was enjoyable enough that I grabbed the second volume, and I plan to get to it at some point before year's end.

Also from DC is DC COMICS PRESENTS BATMAN ADVENTURES, a small collection reprinting a sparse few issues from the nineties BATMAN ADVENTURES series, which was based upon BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. This isn't quite a trade paperback, but it's not quite a comic book, either. It's squarebound with a light cardstock cover, not unlike the comics we used to call "Prestige Editions" when I was a youngster.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Written by Andy Hartnell | Art by Harvey Tolibao
Colored by
Romulo Fajardo | Cover Art by Dan Panosian
Lettered by Neil Uyetake | Edited by Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

Well, the title isn't misleading. THE CHASE is basically one big, four issue-long chase scene. Which doesn't sound like a great idea on paper, but is executed surprisingly well by Andy Hartnell and Harvey Tolibao. Tolibao's artwork did not impress me in the Sydney segments of TRINITY, but here he's much more palatable. I'm not sure how or why; the work is basically the same. Maybe it's simply because I'm not looking at his work alongside two far more appropriate artists this time. But whatever the reason, Tolibao does a very good job here. His Sydney still looks off due to the lack of blacks in her hair, and his Deuce looks like some bizarre manga character, but otherwise everyone else is on-model, the girls are quite sexy, and the action -- remember, this is an extended four-issue action sequence -- is beautifully choreographed and easy to follow.

The story takes place pretty much entirely in Shanghai, as the Danger Girls are in town to acquire a mysterious briefcase under orders from Deuce. But a one-eyed "Dragon Lady" assassin named Anastasia Kilbourne (a.k.a. "Asia", brilliantly designed by Tolibao, by the way) is after the case as well, and she has an army of heavily armed mercenaries with her. Asia gets to the case first, but Abbey manages to procure it. Following an issue-long fire truck chase through Shanghai, Abbey escapes onto a train. But Asia and her men pursue via helicopter, leading to a final showdown on the outskirts of Hong Kong.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Dream Analyst: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The crippled precognitive Madame Web dreams that a powerful being is coming for her. She calls Peter Parker and informs him that she will need Spider-Man to defend her. Meanwhile, a ship owned by Black Tom Cassidy enters New York Harbor. Juggernaut exits the ship to go capture Madame Web as part of Black Tom's latest scheme.

Web calls Peter at the Daily Bugle and informs him that Juggernaut is coming by sea. The web-slinger intercepts the villain but is unable to stop him from proceeding through Manhattan, crushing everything in his path. Spider-Man finally faces down the Juggernaut in Madame Web's home, but the unstoppable villain overcomes him and pulls Web from her life support machine. Web goes into convulsions and Juggernaut realizes she will be no use to him dead, so he discards her and departs.

As paramedics tend to Madame Web, Spider-Man vows to find the Juggernaut and make him pay for what he's done.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Est. 1951: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Spider-Man confronts Captain Jean DeWolff about a Daily Bugle article covering the previous night's fight at Phil Bradshaw's party, but which omits the Black Cat's participation. DeWolff says the police can't condone the activities of a fugitive, but Spider-Man informs her that the Cat wants to go straight.

Spidey then visits the Black Cat, who tries to get him to join her in stealing a valuable gem called "Quest's End", currently in the possession of a mobster named Galvagno, to use for their "nest egg". Spidey refuses and the Cat promises to drop the matter. But instead, later that night, she breaks into Galvagno's penthouse for the jewel. Spider-Man shows up to stop her, but the Cat instead attempts to implicate him in the crime, explaining that she can't live his life but hopes he can live hers.

Galvagno and his men show up and Spider-Man is injured saving the Black Cat. He pursues her to the docks where she intends to escape in a speedboat, but Spider-Man webs her up before she can. Preferring death over capture, the Cat jumps into the water. Spider-Man dives in as well, but is unable to find her. The police soon arrive and Captain DeWolff informs Spidey, too late, that she has procured a conditional offer of amnesty for the Black Cat from the district attorney's office.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Free lunch on Thursday,
courtesy of the Ninja Turtles.
I had hoped to have this up last weekend, but a week of catching up on work after a week-plus vacation kind of sucks the desire to write anything out of you. So, here I am -- a Comic-Con post-mortem, two weeks after it ended.

You know that sad, sort of "let down" feeling you get after something you looked forward to for a long time has come to an end? That's how I feel around this time pretty much every year. As I noted previously, Comic-Con has changed a lot since I started attending. This has been my big vacation every year, and while I did have a longer trip a few months ago in the form of a honeymoon, that didn't stop Comic-Con from being as huge a part of my summer as it's ever been.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Written by Andy Hartnell | Art by John Royle, Harvey Tolibao and Stephen Molnar
Additional Inks by Philip Moy | Colored by Romulo Fajardo
Lettered by Neil Uyetake | Edited by Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

TRINITY is a bit of an experiment for the DANGER GIRL series, though I would argue that it's not experimental enough. The advertised premise is that we get to see each of the core cast members -- Abbey, Sydney, and Sonya -- in a solo adventure, but this claim is only half true. The three girls are engaged in their own storylines when we first meet up with them, but the stories almost immediately intersect as part of one larger plot.

We first cover Abbey, on "vacation" in search of a priceless relic and at the mercy of her rival, Spencer Cross, making a return appearance following his debut in REVOLVER. Abbey manages an escape from Cross, but is captured by servants of a sultan named A'zeel Amahz, who wants Abbey to locate an ancient crown for him.

Following Abbey's kidnapping, Deuce contacts Sydney in London and sets her off on a search for her wayward teammate. But when Sydney is attacked immediately, she realizes someone is onto the rescue attempt and asks Deuce to warn Sonya.

Thus we join up with Sydney's sister in the Congo, also on her "day off", bounty hunting. She winds up working together with her quarry, a man named Dallas, to escape another group of the same mercenaries that pursued Sydney.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Jim Mooney
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Bob Sharen | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Orderly: Jim Shooter

The Plot: The Black Cat escapes from Mitchell State Hospital in upstate New York and returns to her life as a cat burglar. But she feels unfulfilled and pines for Spider-Man. She sends him a sky-written message, and he meets her at the site of their first encounter. There, the Cat tells Spidey that she will go straight for him, and as a show of good faith she gives him a priceless painting she stole from mob boss Phil Bradshaw, along with an invitation to meet again at a party thrown by Bradshaw the next night.

Spider-Man returns the painting to NYPD Captain Jean DeWolff and gets wind from her that the party may be raided by the police. The web-slinger meets the Black Cat at the party in a Jawa costume and a fight breaks out. Spider-Man and the Cat defeat Bradshaw's goons, and Bradshaw himself is arrested by DeWolff and her men. Afterward, the Cat reiterates her desire to go straight, and she and Spider-Man share a rooftop kiss.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Writer: Roger Stern | Artists: John Romita, Jr. & Bob Wiacek
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein | Editor: Tom DeFalco
Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Shortly before dawn in the Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan, two FBI agents have responded to a note from the serial murderer named Foolkiller, only to be disintegrates by their prey. That same evening, on the Empire State University campus, Peter Parker spies Foolkiller sneaking into the registrar's office and pursues as Spider-Man. The wall-crawler saves the registrar from death, but Foolkiller escapes.

The next day, following a visit to the Daily Bugle, Peter returns to ESU and speaks with his student, Greg Salinger, about the "fools" working in the campus mail room. Moments later, when Debra Whitman tells Peter that Greg called her a fool earlier that day, Peter realizes that Greg must be Foolkiller. He changes to Spider-Man and races to the mail room just in time to save the workers there from Foolkiller's wrath.

Foolkiller makes a run for it, but when he encounters a vagrant who informs him that only a fool would go up against Spider-Man, he turns his gun on himself. Spidey arrives and stops Foolkiller from committing suicide, then unmasks the maniac as Greg Salinger.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I originally stated that, since I covered this series once already last year, I wouldn't do so again. But since it's a quick, light read, I decided to give it another go. My reaction this time was much the same as before -- it's an entertaining story, but the interaction between the Joes and Danger Girls feels a little too "fan-fiction"-ish. And my opinion that Hartnell and Royle should work on a straight adaptation of the G.I. JOE cartoon series, with no DANGER GIRL crossover element involved, remains the same.

Now, a reprint my original review, mildly revised and slightly spruced up to better fit in with my previous DANGER GIRL posts:

Written by Andy Hartnell | Penciled by John Royle | Inked by Philip Moy
Layout Assist by Jeff Moy | Colored by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Lettered by Neil Uyetake | Edited by John Barber & Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl created by J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

DANGER GIRL/G.I. JOE is very strongly based on the G.I. JOE cartoon series of the eighties, right down to taking place over five "episodes" as did those original Joe mini-series. The plot initially follows the G.I. Joe team, who have found some vintage World War II era German experimental missiles, which are promptly stolen by Cobra. Scarlett and Flint are captured as well, by Abbey, working undercover within the Cobra organization. Meanwhile, the president (here a woman rather than the man seen in BACK IN BLACK) orders the Joes off of operational duty due to their loss of the missiles. But Lady Jaye, Cover Girl, and Jinx disobey the letter of the order by recruiting the aid of the rest of the Danger Girl team, who Cover Girl has heard of thanks to a shared plane flight with Johnny Barracuda sometime back. The Danger Girls, Deuce, and Johnny arrive and unmask "Madame President" as Zarana, attempting to keep the Joes' heads in the sand with her falsified orders.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Story: Andy Hartnell | Art: Chris Madden
Colors: Jeremy Cox | Letters: Neil Uyetake | Edits: Scott Dunbier
Danger Girl Created By J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell

DANGER GIRL took some time off following 2007's BODY SHOTS, eventually returning to the printed page in 2011's DANGER GIRL AND THE ARMY OF DARKNESS, published by Dynamite Entertainment. But as noted previously, that story will not be covered here. Instead we jump ahead one more year to 2012, and the first DANGER GIRL story published by their new home, IDW -- DANGER GIRL: REVOLVER.

I'm not certain why this series is called REVOLVER. No one in the story uses a revolver. To my recollection, the word "revolver" is not uttered so much as a single time. So, as with BODY SHOTS, we have another series whose name seems a complete nonsequiter. But on the plus side, that's pretty much the only thing wrong with the series. REVOLVER is fun and fast-paced, evoking memories of the original DANGER GIRL series in the best possible ways. The Indiana Jones influence is more evident than in years, and the story is also perhaps the most plot-packed series since those original seven issues, as well.