Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Special TUESDAY Challenge!

Who would win in a spelling bee?

Wally West or Kyle Rayner?

Monday, February 27, 2006

Comics I Love - Quantum and Woody

Speaking of funny (which I just was, with Ambush Bug), Quantum and Woody was a FUNNY book!

Christopher Priest was never as funny as he was on Quantum and Woody, but not only did he tell jokes, but he got us to really fall for these characters, hook, line and sinker.

We became engaged in the lives of these two characters, these misfits, these ex-best friends forced to live together for the rest of their lives.

Priest, along with artist MD Bright, created a great world, filled with interesting characters, and it was just a fun place to come by every month. In fact, the weakest issues of the title BY FAR were the issues later on, when the book tried to be serious for awhile.

The book worked best when it was satirical, but heartfelt, which it was for most of the books (sadly) short-lived run.

For awhile, though, Quantum & Woody was a bright light in a pretty dark period in comics.

The encapsulation issue I would pick would be #3, where they meet the goat, and where they do a horrible, horrible job in trying to solve a mystery. Still haven't laughed as much at a comic than I did at #1, though.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Comics I Love - Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming's Ambush Bug

Ambush Bug might have been one of the funniest comic books ever written, and it all came from a loser villain from a DC Comics Presents issue.

That loser villain, Ambush Bug, was soon turned into a recurring Superman character, and as he became wackier and wackier, he became less of a villain.

Ultimately, he was just put into his own title where Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming were allowed to do whatever the heck they wanted with him, and they did just that!!

They skewered genres, pop culture, you name it - they made fun of it, and it was FUNNY! Naturally, actually FUNNY!!

It didn't hurt that Giffen's art was quite good, as well, but that was not the key point - the key point was that it was FUNNY!!

If I had to pick one issue to encapsulate the run, I would pick their very last issue, The Ambush Bug Nothing Special, released in 1992, and it is interesting to see the guys take apart comics SEVEN years after their previous attempt. It is an intriguing tale, but, as I said before - FUNNY!!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Comics I Love - Byrne's Fantastic Four

The expectations were high for John Byrne when he took over Fantastic Four as the writer and artist, but he somehow managed to not only MEET them, but EXCEED them.

He did so by making Fantastic Four a title where, every month, in and out, you would have a rollicking adventure, and, not since the days of Kirby and Lee did you see the sheer amount of "What is going to happen next? Where is he going to take us NOW?" that took place in Byrne's Fantastic Four.

It did not hurt that Byrne might be at the peak of his artistic prowess at the time as well, effortless doing anything he wanted with the title, but at the same time, never wavering from an overall desire to tell a story - a good story.

Also, it was during his run that Byrne forcefully demonstrated his famous adage about how you have to do changes without ACTUALLY changing anything.

So he changed the FF's costume.

He changed Sue Richards' name.

He changed who Alicia Masters was involved with.

He changed the super-strong member of the FF.

But the stories always remained good, solid tales.

As for a single issue to encapsulate the run, I guess I'll go with Byrne's famous Doom story (since ignored by Ed Brubaker's Doom Year One) where Byrne reveals, quite cleverly, that Doom's scarring came from putting ON the mask, not the accident at college. Love that Doom issue.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Comics I Love - Stern's Spider-Man

What a lot of people forget, I think, is that Roger Stern did not begin writing Spider-Man with Amazing Spider-Man. No, he first worked on Spectacular Spider-Man on a number of issues, and they're quite excellent issues. Definitely recommended.

Of course, it does not compare to when he took over Amazing Spider-Man with John Romita Jr. on art.

Hooooo boy, now them's some comic books.

What really stands out for me is how little of the soap opera qualities that were present in Stern's run. You see, while Stern managed to have subplots for Peter, they were pretty low key stuff - but you would never know this, because Stern managed to keep the title so darned busy with action plots that you never NOTICED!!

However, at the same time, Stern also managed to keep a whole lot of humanity in the title, and in Spider-Man himself, which is marked by his most famous story, the Boy Who Collected Spider-Man, which is a manipulative as all hell story, with a dying boy who is Spider-Man's biggest fan sharing a moment with Spidey. Touching, heart-rendering, and so true to the character, it is a great story.

However, to encapsulate the run, I think I would pick the other famous story from Stern's run, the fight with Juggernaut. Spidey not giving up until he defeated the Juggernaut gave way to many other stories, specifically the Firelord fight and the first Morlun fight (not the one where the dude eats Spidey's eyeball).

Such a classic issue, and John Romita Jr.'s art certainly did not hurt matters.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Comics I Love - Claremont and Smith's X-Men

After Byrne left the book, X-Men hit a bit of a lull, and you would not be a fool if you thought that the book would never reach the heights it reached under Claremont and Byrne, and, well, I that the book DIDN'T.


When Paul Smith joined the book, the title came pretty darn close.

I would put the storyline in Japan with Wolverine and Rogue up against any X-Men story ever written, with its mixture of great art, action, intrigue and more than a little bit of emotional wreckatude.

Paul Smith was on top of his game so much at this point in time, and he managed to spin these amazing designs and layouts - what a storyteller.

If I had to pick one issue to encapsulate the run, I would go with the last part of the Japan storyline. What a brutal issue.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Comics I Love - Byrne/Claremont's X-Men

Can anyone recall another classic creative team that began with one half of the team coming into the book in the middle of a storyline?

That was the rather unheralded beginning of the beautiful relationship of John Byrne and Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men.

By the time Byrne left the book a couple of years later, the two men had transformed the modern comic book, leaving a model that other creators would be aping for, well, the next 25 years.

To show what they've done, one need only look at the sheer amount of characters that were introduced during their run on the book. It is staggering.

Add to this list of characters is the very concept of telling alternate future storylines and the idea of killing off a MAJOR character (characters had died before, but never ones as important to a title as Phoenix) - and the influence of this is sooo widespread.

The issue I will pick to encapsulate their run is also their last issue - the Christmas issue with Kitty Pryde versus the alien.

I dunno if it actually encapsulates their run or not, but what can I say, it's my favorite issue of theirs.


I'll pick another one - I guess the issue where Wolverine is thought to be killed by the Hellfire Club. That was pretty darn cool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Comics I Love - Simonson's Thor

Has a creative run ever begun with such a definitive visual as Walt Simonson's debut on Thor?

An alien creature wielding Thor's hammer breaking the logo?!!?

You KNEW that you were in for something unique here!

And Walt Simonson sure did deliver, as his Thor run was unique, with new characters and foes to be fought, but most of all, what Simonson brought to the book was old fashioned storytelling, matched with his amazing artwork.

In the midst of it all, Simonson was able to tell a pretty long over-arching plot, with tons of little stories in between.

Amazing work.

The issue I would pick to encapsulate the run is no surprise to many - the classic issue where the Eradicator gives his life to save Thor and crew. What an amazing issue - what an amazing last stand.

Truly Airwolf.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Comics I Love: Frank Miller's Daredevil

They say you can't go home again, but Frank Miller has not only "gone home" again, he's done so TWICE, and both times were EXCELLENT!

Miller joined the Daredevil team with #158, as an artist, and he did an awesome job, but when he took over as the artist with #168, the book just took off.

Honestly, I think the book was actually better AFTER Elektra was killed off in #181. He was not on the book much longer after that, but his stories became more and more experimental. It really worked well, I thought.

And when he returned, for Born Again? I think there is a very good case to be made for Born Again being the best comic book storyline in a monthly comic ever. What an amazing comic book story.

And then, six years later, Miller returned AGAIN!

This time to do Man Without Fear, with John Romita Jr., and IT was excellent as well!!!

If I had to pick a particular issue to encapsulate Miller's Daredevil tenure, I would have to pick the issue that put a spotlight on Ben Urich. Nowadays, that type of story is just routine. Not so when Miller wrote it - it was fresh and new.

What a great run.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Comics I Love - Grant Morrison's JLA

JLA may very well be the dumbest comic book that Grant Morrison has ever written.

It is still awesome, though!

Mainly because Morrison avoids the trap that other writers have when they "turn their brains off" to write action-oriented stories.

Morrison, even with his brain "off" still manages to write creative, engaging action stories.

Probably the funnest part of the series was how we got to see Morrison himself fall in love with the characters AS he wrote them. Coming into the series, Morrison was not a big fan of some of the characters, but he quickly changed his tune about them, and it SHOWS.

It is hard to pick a particular issue, but if I had to pick one I guess I would pick JLA #3, where Batman discovers the White Martians.


Love this comic.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Comics I Love - Layton and Michelinie's Iron Man

What I would think is the main characteristic of Bob Layton and David Michelinie's Iron Man would be the sheer HEFT of the comics.

These were two guys who were not afraid to throw all their good ideas into the pot at once, and with Michelinie, they had a scripter talented enough to make the ideas work, cohesively.

Look at the alcholism storyline! Powerful stuff, and yet they managed to do it in a very short period of time, while later on, Denny O'Neill revisited the story for a long period of time.

The single issue I would point to, though, would probably be one of the Justin Hammer issues. Those were just PACKED with action.

Fun stuff.

Not the deepest of stories, but fun, action-oriented stories.

I loved it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Comics I Love - New Frontier

Darwyn Cooke's great New Frontier is like "comic book love" condensed into comic form.

It is Cooke's testamount to the 50s comics and how they led into the Silver Age.

There is so much appreciation and reverence in his handling of the characters, it really comes across so well.

And the art?!


Cooke's work is just so beautiful. Especially his covers, where he goes nuts using different art styles, influenced by popular painters of the time. Really gorgeous.

It is hard to pick a single best issue, but I guess I will have to cop to enjoying the climactic last issue.

Especially the "slow walk" scene.

I am such a fan of the slow walk...hehe.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Comics I Love - We3

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are not exactly breaking new ground with their series, We3.

They hit familiar tropes often and HARD.

However, when you have two creators at the top of their game, they can make the tropes work for them - and work they do here.







All of these themes are present throughout We3, which tells a simple story of three animals just trying to find the ephemeral "home."

The single issue that I would pick to spotlight would be #3, which is packed with moments filled with such emotion that it was just brutal at times.

Love this comic.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Comics I Love - Stern's Avengers

I've mentioned how much I dig Roger Stern's comics in the past, and I would definitely point to his Avengers run (especially the later issues with John Buscema and Tom Palmer) as a high point in his writing career.

The problem with picking one single issue as a highlight is that Stern's run was one of those runs where it was more of one loooong story.

However, if I had to pick one, I guess I would go with the first issue of the Avengers: Under Siege storyline. Stern had set up the plot so well (especially Hercules' distrust of the Wasp) that when it all fell into place, it was just amazing.

And, of course, John Buscema and Tom Palmer on the art. Need I say more?

LOVE this comic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Event - 14 Days of Comic Love

Here's the shtick - 14 comics that I love!

In no specific order...

1. Giffen & DeMatteis' Justice League

I was a really big fan of this run, but if I were to pick one single issue during the run that stands out the most for me, it would (surprisingly to some) be one of their later issues.

Justice League America #45, which featured Guy Gardner and Ice going on their second date.

The comedic tropes are familiar, yet they work so well that I just LOVE this comic book.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Monday Challenge - Make Him a Stranger No Longer

Today's challenge is - Come up with a new civilian identity for the Phantom Stranger!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Nagging Thoughts for 2/12

Isn't Captain Atom currently married to Plastique?

Shouldn't he have mentioned this in his Armageddon series...that he left a wife behind in the other universe?

General Eiling was a creep, but does anyone think it was a bit weird for him to become The General?

So, is the other Captain Atom (Monarch) out there still?

I wonder if Monarch would have become a popular villain if he was Captain Atom.

I wonder what Jurgens' reasons for turning Atom into Monarch were...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Who Is It? for 2/11

You know the drill! Who is it and what clue gave it away!

1. This artist has worked on comics for Topps.

2. This artist also has done long stretches for Marvel AND DC.

3. This artist drew X-Files for Topps.

4. This artist currently draws the Sunday edition of the Spider-Man comic strip.

5. This artist was the longtime penciller of Web of Spider-Man.

Who is it?

Friday, February 10, 2006

What's Yer Fav'rit...

Ultimate Universe ongoing?

Ultimate Spider-Man

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Ultimate X-Men

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Ultimate Fantastic Four

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

What 2/8 Books Did You Have No Snark For?

What books from this comic week were positively snark-free for you this week?

For me, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #2 is numero uno on the list. You folks really have to try this book out. I think someone described it as "Far Side as a comic book," and that's the best description I can think of.

Action Philosophers was good, too. No snark there!

How about you folks?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First Cover Appearances - The Classic Defenders!!

Here is our latest trek through comic history...the first cover appearances of the classic Defenders team of Dr. Strange, Sub-Mariner, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Nighthawk and Hellcat!!

First off, we have Namor, who got a cover appearance soon after his first appearance...

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Second is, surprisingly enough, Hellcat, who made her first cover appearance in Patsy Walker #1, only a few months after her first appearance in Miss America Magazine #2!

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Next is the Incredible Hulk, who wasted no time, as he appeared on the cover of his first appearance!

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Next we have Doctor Strange, who had to wait 8 issues before he BARELY snuck on to a cover of Strange Tales!

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The Silver Surfer only waited an issue to show up on Fantastic Four's covers...

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Vakyrie is a tricky one...do we count the issue Enchantress impersonated her? Or the issue that she gave Valkyrie's powers to someone else? I say thee nay! I say this is her first cover appearance!

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Finally, we have Nighthawk, who debuted in Avengers, but strangely enough did not appear on a comic COVER until this issue of Daredevil!

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Ta da!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Top Five Supergirls

These are who I think are the top five Supergirls!!

5. Current

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I am not a fan of the current Supergirl.

4. Cir-El

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I was not a fan of Cir-El.

Notice how this is the best cover shot of her?

It appears that I was not the only non-fan out there.

3. Linda Danvers

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I think there were a number of good stories for this version of Supergirl.

2. Matrix

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I, however, enjoyed the more innocent Matrix creature.

1. Classic

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But who can beat the original?!?!

No one, I say!

But what about YOU folks?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday Challenge - K%llg%re

Okay...here's the challenge - explain to me how his name is pronounced.

I never quite understood.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Nagging Thoughts for 2/5

I am pretty sure you cannot call yourself a covert action team if you include covert in your team name, right?

Did the Wildcats CALL themselves the Wildcats? I never was sure about that.

How did Warblade die exactly?

How did he come back?

Or was it Zealot who died?

Anyone remember exactly what happened between the end of WildC.A.Ts and the beginning of Wildcats?

Why Wildcats? Anyone ever explain the choice of name?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Who Is It? for 2/4

You know the drill...who is it and what clue gave it away?

1. This character has magical powers.

2. This character is currently deceased.

3. This character was a member of a team - almost all the team members are currently deceased.

4. This character is Hispanic.

5. This character was infected with HIV by a villain, although it did not result in his death.

Who is it?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who's Yer Fav'rit...

movie Catwoman?

Lee Meriwether...

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Michelle Pfeiffer....

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or Halle Berry?

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cover Challenge for 2/2!

I love shtick.

Okay, here's the challenge!!!

Find me covers of comic books where the action depicted on the cover happens IN the comic almost exactly as it is depicted on the cover.

Here is an example..

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Let's see some examples!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cover Debuts for 2/1

Today's slice of history is the first cover appearances of the "Formerly Known as the Justice League" members! Namely Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Captain Atom, Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Mary Marvel, Maxwell Lord and L-Ron.


First cover appearance is Mary Marvel...

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Next is Elongated Man...

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Next is Captain Atom...

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Then came Guy Gardner...

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Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, was next...

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Fire (as Green Flame) came next...

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Sue Dibny was around for over 20 years before she finally made a cover appearance...

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Booster Gold made his debut next...

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Maxwell Lord make his cover debut next...

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Finally, L-Ron makes the last cover appearance...

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Ta da!