Monday, December 29, 2008

Best American Comics (a multifaceted rant)

The Best American Comics 2007 edited by Chris Ware and Anne Elizabeth Moore
    Just read it and although there was much to like in this collection, there was little to love and I must admit I am deeply disappointed in Ware's selections. Despite his the-lady-doth-protest-too-much introduction, it's clear he was checking boxes and felt obliged to include the Crumbs and Spiegelman and Panter and Hernandez and Barry, etc. This was the sort of plan he used when editing the excellent McSweeney's #13 and it worked there because it was that sort of anthology. But this is supposed to be the Best American Comics of a 12-month stretch, not an education in the best living comics artists, thank you very much. And I refuse to believe that forty years later, R. Crumb is still the best thing we have going, year in and year out.

    That said, even though this years issue is edited by in-crowd certified member Lynda Barry, I'm still excited to pick it up. (Which I will next time I'm at Comic Relief as I'm pissed at BnN at the moment.)

    First, I have nothing against Lynda Barry. I'm not a big fan, but I can't dismiss her with a sneer as I can, say, a Crumb. Second, she selected a Batman comic for inclusion which makes her waaay more openminded than the last two editors. (To say nothing of the guts it took to profess love for Bil Keane in her intro --- as he may well be the uncoolest guy ever.)

    This is my next rant, by the way. DC refused permission to run the Batman. Why? What the heck? Their brains? Where are they?

    First of all, that's a kind of cachet superhero comics always seem to begging for; why then reject it?

    Second, it may bring in new readers hip to the comics thing but snooty to the major players.

    Third, why deny the highbrow a sense of balance? Or humility? Or any other good thing that might have come from it?

    So I'm pretty upset at DC right now. And reading this just makes me want to strangle them. Why are they trying to keep their artists in the ghetto? What are they afraid of? Another Image or something? I just don't get it. It's like they're trying to hide the fact that they publish good work.

    (Speaking of, Mr Fob, do you have Batman Year 100 so I can read it? Which reminds me, I want to read the new Joker novel as well, if you got it.)


    Anyway. Here's to hoping for great things.

    In the future.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Schulz's Youth


This volume collects every single-panel gag and illustration Charles Schulz did for Church of God publications: their youth magazine, a youth-activity program; a book on preschoolers and the church, and another magazine. Like Li'l Folks and It's Only a Game, one thing this collection serves to prove is that Schulz was merely adequate when it came to single panels --- not the genius he was with Peanuts. But it also shows that unlike, say, Hank Ketchum or others of his generation, he wasn't willing to push an idea longer than he had the juice to run it.

As a Schulz completist, I'm loving this book. And it's fun and delightful and all good blah blah blah. My main complaint is with the craftsmanship behind the book itself. Unlike the beautiful books Fantagraphics is making for The Complete Peanuts, the pages in this book are so thin that the images from the previous page are plain and, in one case, disrupt understanding. This is bad.

Most of the gags are church based, but not all. I've picked one of each for your pleasure.

Young Pillars

Young Pillars

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ultimate Poop-In-The-Face

I haven't been reading Ultimatum, but this pretty much sums up the situation around it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The invasion of comics into picture books, a test case: Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex


As I'm sure you've noticed, kids books --- traditionally shaped picture books --- are incorporating more traditional comics stylings lately. I checked this one out of the library and it was good for a laugh. Parts of the book are comics, parts are faux blogs, some Poe parody of varying goodness, all sorts of fun stuff. Here's an example of the comics (although they vary) snatched from Amazon because I'm too lazy to make a scan:

the Fiancee of Frankenstein

Adam Rex --- don't know a lot about him, but with this book and an image like that below (from his website) I know enough to know I want to know more. Best I can tell, he hasn't published any straight comics, but The True Meaning of Smekday sounds awfully good for the meantime.

Adam Rex's website

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Highlights from This Week's Episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold

I was feeling all bad for myself because I don't have Cartoon Network and so I couldn't see the cool new Batman team-up show, but then I found out I can buy the new episodes on for $1.89 each--more than the cost of buying the whole season on DVD a year from now, but less than the cost of upgrading to a bigger cable package.

Anyway, the highlights of this week's episode, "Attack of the Secret Santas":
  • Red Tornado, an android attempting to get into the Christmas spirit, buys Batman a mug that says "World's Greatest Detective." Ahhhhhhh.
  • At the end of the episode Red Tornado finally experiences that tingling sensation he hears is associated with feeling the Christmas spirit... and then he blows up.
  • The look of utter horror on the children's faces when Batman saves them by punching off the evil robot Santa's head. I would have enjoyed this even more if that same look of horror had not been on my own children's faces.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Witchblade Volume I
(out last January 2008)


One of the perks of being the faculty adviser for the Comic Book Club is getting read the donated comics as they come in in preparation for our upcoming sale / fundraiser. So I've gotten to read a couple interesting SLG titles (love SLG --- did you know they'll give you free stuff?), some crappy scifi and superhero stuff, an issue of the very silly (and gross) (and oversexed) Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, the second issue of the original Tick run (need to find a collection because I loved it) and, the sole "novel", last January's Witchblade collection.

I've been vaguely aware of Witchblade, but I knew nothing of it and, according to the writer's intro, this book is as "ground-floor [a] read as possible, wrapped around an end-of-the-world storyline." This is so.

But you know what? I'm looongsince tired of "end-of-the-world storyline"s --- I would much rather see a display of the title's alleged noir elements and police procedural stuff and the other things that are supposed to make Witchblade different.

Well, that and, of course, the fetishistic flowing metal armor. The appeal of which is obvious.

(Seriously, is anyone kidding themselves here?)

Little Replicant Witchblade

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Carol, comixized


Classical Comics is creating a collection of classic novels turned into graphic novels. This idea isn't new of course and has generally been done rather lousily. It was with a mix of trepidation and anticipation that I read this book and overall I was quite happy with it, starting with the cover: shiny black lines on a matte black background: very cool.

Christmas Carol comes in two formats, both with identical pictures, Original Text and Quick Text. The version I read was Original Text (it's the one with the cool cover and the one they sent me). The Big O (if you don't know me already from Thmusings, he's my five-year-old son) and I are rereading the original novel in a copiously illustrated version; I had considered reading this instead, but it hadn't arrived by the time I told him we'd start reading.

Anyway, reading both simultaneously means I am hyperaware of the alterations in the text. Even though this is "Original Text", it obviously won't be identical. All the tags are gone, for instance. In fact, it wasn't until Marley's ghost appeared that I remembered something from the opening paragraphs that had been cut.

What I'm getting at is that the excisions are made so smoothly that if you weren't reading the original simultaneously, you would likely never know the difference.

(I can't say the same for the Quick Text, but based on the sample panels in the back of the book, I think it's been simplified into awkwardness.)

My main beef with the book is the art. The art is of high quality, make no mistake, but (and here comes the snob in me) it's just so typical. It looks like anything you might see from a major superhero publisher. It's "dynamic" but boring. The colors and inking look straight off the shelf. And I think the book deserves more.

Jacob Marley doesn't like it when you call him a humbug.

Given the (single ) sample panels from other Classical Comics books shown in the backpages, I think Jane Eyre and Frankenstein fared much better in the art department while Henry V and Macbeth got the shaft. And one last word on the art: sometimes is been totally pixelated and looks like crap. Not often, but sometimes. What's up with that?

(Incidentally, Shakespeare, in addition to Original Text and Quick Text, comes in Plain Text --- as long as Original, but modernized. The two panels I have to judge on suggest above average competence in the modernization, but, naturally, less poetic than the original. It also reminded me how bleeding much I hate Henry V.)

So! The adaptation is borderline excellent --- one of the finest novel adaptations into comic form I've ever read. Not nearly as good as the (as yet) untouchable City of Glass, but far above every other example I can think of at the moment.

Speaking as a teacher, I would love to have some class sets of a title or two from Classical Comics. It would be an interesting experiment to teach, say, Great Expectation as a comic. Most of the brainy stuff can be done with the Original Text version and the chance to look at the artistic nuts-N-bolts of the comic form would be mahvelous.

Knowing I might think that, Classical Comics offers teachers' guides for five of their titles. When I list all their currently available titles, I'll star those ones.

Speaking of teaching, these books have some handy essays and other miscellany tucked away in the back to supplement a teaching of the novel. A Christmas Carol comes with the following: a brief Dickens bio, a brief Dickens geneology, a Dickens-themed timeline, a primer on the Vicotrian era, an essay on Christmas in the Victorian era and a making-of for the comic (as well as ads for the books I've been mentioning).

All in all, a good read and, potentially, a nice tool. I'ld love to taste others and see if the quality remains high.

    Henry V*
    Jane Eyre*
    A Christmas Carol
    Great Expectations*
    The Tempest
    Romeo And Juliet
    The Canterville Ghost
    Richard III

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Brilliance or Madness?

My latest comics review column is up at IGMS.

I've been down on Marvel lately. Can you blame me? There's the mediocrity of X-Men (except for the Joss Whedon run) and the absolute abortion of Spider-Man and the rapidly overexposureness of the Avengers in Secret Invasion after more of the same in Civil War and World War Hulk. And the idiocy Runaways has turned into. And. But there are bright lights. Well, two. Thor is one.

The other is Avengers: The Initiative, which is the best junior team comic since Marv Wolfman and George Perez made short pants kind of cool. (Ben, why was it that when Wolfman finally replaced the short pants, he did it with a high collar and a plunging neckline? Huh? That's what I thought.)

The Special, or Annual or whatever, that just came out finally resolving the Hardball storyline was a nice old school thing. Though the Secret Invasion tie-ins with Initiative are better than the others, I was getting tired of Skrulls Skrulls Skrulls. The Special finally resolved the Hardball/Hydra/Komodo thing in a rather unexpected way... though I'm not sure that I really bought that Hardball could really turn bad at the end. What real reason was there, other than being pissed off at Komodo for betraying him?

So The Initiative rules. More on Thor later.

Horror at the Comic Shop



I was under the impression that this would be an ongoing, not a miniseries. I am very upset.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Plain Janes (2007)


The Plain JanesEverything that I complained about the last Minx book I read is remedied in this beautiful book.

First of all, every cliché in this book is shattered almost before it hits your eyes. Even the evil popular girl is a fully realized human character. And her humanity reflects well upon her father who is the book's closest thing to cardboard.

Then the story, although at times it almost tastes like a typical teen empowerment tale, never succumbs to the temptations of lameness. From the first page, we are somewhere new and real and striking.

Page one: a bomb goes off.
Page fifteen: a girl rejects popularity for the weird crowd.
Page twenty-three: boy in coma.
Page seventeen: math.

And meanwhile, the art is dropping hints so subtly you don't realize you've caught them until they matter.

The Plain Janes, MainJaneSo kudos to Jim Rugg whose art this is (and forgive me, but the protagonist's face is the loveliest bit of ink I've seen in some time), and kudos to Cecil Castellucci whose words are the genesis of this terrific terrific book. This gives me great hope for the Minx imprint. Also: want to read the sequel.

(DC: contact me here)

Re-Gifters (2007)


Re-Gifted is published by Minx, DC's "graphic novel imprint designed exclusively for teenage girls." When a (male) student saw me reading it today, he told me how great it was. He's a strikingly literate 15-year-old and so I was surprised. Because the first three quarters of this book pile on cliché after cliché --- this is the work of multiple-Eisner-nominee garnerers? (Then add to that the weirdly off Koreanisms [just off enough that they are wrong, but few so wrong so's to make them obviously not mere editing errors] and you've got something I can barely stomach.) Also, I have a problem with the book's manga-derived drawing mannerisms that prevent me from determining if the protagonist is 12 or 17 --- rather an important distinction. If the words solved this riddle, fine, but they don't. And that's not all! The class the above-mentioned kid is in is currently reading the Scottish play and we talk about the purpose of every single scene. But what purpose the breakfast scene in this book? Answer: none.

But, redemption!, this book pulls itself out of the morass in the final pages. How? With the unclever application of a couple more clichés. But these clichés replace the expected clichés and somehow the final result is quite charming. So bully for the creators. Way to go, guys. [Note: they are, in fact, guys. As are most of the creators of extant Minx titles.]

I have another Minx book in my queue just now, so we'll see where that one takes us.


Re-Gifters from Minx

Sunday, November 30, 2008

George Perez is My Friend

I've always enjoyed comics illustrated by George Perez, but I've never gone out of my way to seek them out until recently. After purchasing the Crisis on Infinite Earths trade paperback recently (and reading this 1985 classic in English for the first time), I decided it was time to beef up my Perez collection, so I bought the New Teen Titans Archives (which I'll be reviewing in the near future) and the four-volume collection of Perez's Wonder Woman. (Watch out, JLA/Avengers, I'm coming for you next.)

So anyway, this is my first time reading George Perez's Wonder Woman--the first twenty-four issues collected here in Gods and Mortals, Challenge of the Gods, Beauty and the Beasts, and Destiny Calling--and I'm impressed. Besides the fact that the art is beautifully detailed, as anyone familiar with Perez would expect, the stories do some amazing things. After the universe-reshaping Crisis on Infinite Earths, Perez was charged with reinventing Wonder Woman from the ground up, as if this were her first appearance in comics, and the fact that this version of Princess Diana of Themyscira is more or less the version still being used twenty years later attests to his success. Here are some reasons why I think he succeeded:
  • Wonder Woman is not just a book about a strong woman, but rather a book about strong women. The opening chapter of the second volume, narrated by four female members of the supporting cast, highlights this strength. Perez and his scripter, Len Wein, bring us into the minds of such varied characters as army lieutenant Etta Candy (notable for being the only overweight woman in comics, ever), history professor Julia Kapatellis, and teenager Vanessa Kapatellis. And then, of course, there's the title character herself, her mother Queen Hippolyta, and an entire island of Amazon warriors.
  • Every great fantasy story needs a well-developed world, and much of these volumes is dedicated to creating exactly that. Not only do we see the history and culture of the Amazons developed in more depth than they had been in the previous forty-five years of publication, but the gods of Greek myth become a central part of this world, moving the stories in directions both new and completely natural to what had previously been part of Wonder Woman's mythos.
  • Speaking of those Greek gods, the mythic scale of these stories really hit in volume 2, Challenge of the Gods, wherein Wonder Woman is charged with completing a series of tasks in order to protect her people from the wrath of Zeus, who is pissed because she didn't want to be his consort. Everything about this story is something that could easily have been written by Homer, right up to the final task Diana completes, which is itself the completion of a well-established myth about another hero given impossible tasks by the gods.
  • Perez takes one of the least logical of superhero costumes and makes it make sense. Wonder Woman's battle armor has a history behind it and a purpose for its existence. And when she's not fighting she wears other clothes--not secret identity clothes, because she has no secret identity, but just the kind of clothes you'd expect an Amazon princess to wear for whatever the occasion, whether she's delivering a diplomatic address or hanging around the house.
  • Wonder Woman not only rejects Steve Trevor--the man previous versions of her had pined over for decades--as a romantic interest, but after a brief crush and a kiss from Superman, decides she's too good for him. Well, actually, he decides she's too good for him and she's too modest to phrase it that way, but it's pretty clear that's what's going on. She makes me want to stand up with Destiny's Child and sing "Independent Woman."

(Note the above page is written and illustrated by John Byrne in a crossover with Action Comics, but it's still George Perez's Wonder Woman.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nice Omega Level Powers, Sorry About Your Penis

I've always been the hardcore Spider-Man guy (well, until recently--that was a baaaad breakup) but I can't say the same about X-Men. When I read X-Men comics, I read Grant Morrison's run, Joss Whedon's run, Warren Ellis's new run, and the occasional "event" like Deadly Genesis or Messiah CompleX. I won't buy anything with an X on it unless it's popular. I'm like the kid who only listened to Green Day on the radio and pissed off all the other kids who really liked Green Day because he gave them a bad name--and then I went and cut off the bottom hem of my pants to look like a skater and told everyone that I was "totally sad for Kurt." And I tried to pretend I didn't still have my collection of pogs and slammers and I got the Official Marvel Swimsuit Edition for... ehm... dark purposes. (Your tour of the early 90s is now complete.)

Anyparts. I read Messiah CompleX and was impressed, but, man, meh, mewooooo... the only part of it that hadn't been done before was the reduction in mutant numbers, and that started in House of M. Well, Cable being an actually interesting character--that was new.

If you haven't read it, I'll save you 25$. SPOOOOYEEEOYYYYYEEELORRRRR

At the end Bishop betrays them and kills Professor X. When I was about eleven, there was some big question story thread about one of the X-Men betraying them shortly in the future Bishop came from. Jim Lee knew where that one was going, supposedly, before he jumped ship to make Dan Quayle an alien in WildCats. I think it became such a big deal that Marvel ended up making Professor X the traitor through Onslaught because everyone kept asking. Which made no sense. But this kind of did. Bishop actually went back in time to kill this kid. Thanks for resolving a plotline from 1991.

So then I got Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire. Yeah, so Billy Tan draws him a good space opera, and this had all the makings of one, and was using an X-Force character, Warpath, and I'm all about the X-Force love for some reason even though the early issues of that comic were so self-parodical you couldn't parody them. (The Fabian Nicieza/Greg Capullo run had potential until they had to bring Cable back, and then the John Francis Moore/Adam Pollina "road trip" story was great.) Plus they had Nightcrawler, who is totally underused lately in the trendy books. (Why did Morrison, Ellis and Whedon use Wolvy, Cyke, Colossus, Kitty and now Storm but not Nightcrawler? He's the best one!)


Okay, I like that Brubaker is giving the love to the fans who have been reading for a while and tying this into the earlier runs on the books. Except I didn't feel like I knew anything about Havok, Polaris, Rachel Grey or James Proudstar until I read the summaries at the end--and then all I knew was how they were before. The only character who changed a little bit in the course of this story was Vulcan, who Brubaker invented just a few issues ago in Deadly Genesis. Everyone else just kind of talks about stuff and does stuff and chases Vulcan around. Rachel Grey makes out with a Shi'ar. But it's all so very flat and had so much potential.

I actually fell asleep reading Uncanny #500.

X no longer marks the spot. Neither does Spider-Man. I'm feeling rather depressed about marvel.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Batman Ripped

(a mildly spoilerish review of Batman 681)

At first the end of Batman 681, the much-anticipated end of the six-part "Batman R.I.P.," felt too much like a cop out to me. Ever since the title of this story was revealed a year or two ago, the unanswered question has been whether Batman really will die. This issue leaves that question frustratingly unanswered.

The more I've thought about it, though, I've realized it was probably the best way to end the story, by process of elimination. Here are the other ways it could have ended:
  • Batman is either physically or mentally incapacitated by Dr. Hurt and his Club of Villains, to be replaced by another man in the cowl, which would be lame because it was already done in 1992's "Knightfall."
  • Batman decides he needs to take a break after all this craziness and asks someone (probably Nightwing) to take over for him for a while, which would be lame because it was already done in 1995's "Prodigal."
  • Batman is killed in such a way that we see the body only to be inevitably brought back from the dead in some nonsensical sort of way because really, DC can't permanently kill Bruce Wayne, which would be super lame because it's already been done with Jason Todd in 1988's "Death in the Family" and 2004's "Under the Hood" (and with every other comics character that has ever "died").
So I guess I'm okay with the ambiguity. Let the other characters believe he's gone for a while--from some "R.I.P." tie-ins that apparently take place after this issue, I don't get the impression that any of them really believe he's dead either--and then we won't need Superboy Prime punching the walls of reality to explain his inevitable return.

What "Batman R.I.P." comes down to is Grant Morrison's version of "Knightfall." In "Knightfall" a previously unknown villain put together a master plan to break Batman and succeeded. Grant Morrison's Batman, though, never loses. Grant Morrison's Batman thinks of everything. You may think your master plan has broken him, but that's only because he wanted you to think so. Grant Morrison's Batman may not be so blatantly cocky as Frank Miller's Batman, who walks around proclaiming "I'm the goddam Batman" to anyone who'll listen, but you know he's at least thinking it.

You think you can break me? I'm the goddam Batman.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thyear in Review, part iii


Click now to check out Annie Poon's Me Good Me Bad. Although the first book doesn't arrive anywhere (it's only the first book after all), it's well worth the five bucks and hey --- how many comics do you read that were written and drawn by someone with a film in the New York MoMA's permanent collection? Feel that indie snob pride.

Two books from Marjane Satrapi passed my eyeballs this year, Embroideries (which made me fear what women may speak of when left unsupervised) and Chicken with Plums (of which I'm still not sure of my opinion). If you know Persepolis then you know she's worth reading and these two are excellent.

Thomas Ott is someone I've been interested in for a long time, but not until this year did I actually read something of his. The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 is a twisty timetravelly metaphysical loopdyloopy somethingerother and whatever I made of it, this much is certain: More Ott please.

Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell is a wordless tale that tastes like a morality tale but never really lets you know what its agenda is, so it can be appreciated as belonging to any agenda you like, or none at all. It that a merit or detractant? Sounds like a personality test to me.....

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon is another wordless wonder, but this one is more charming and more immediately friendly than any other that's been discussed in this series. It's a good safe choice if you're looking for a graphic novel for a doubter who doesn't want to be pandered to but isn't ready to accept greatness yet. Which sounds like damning with faint praise..... Not meant that way, I assure you, Ms Varon. You've a lovely book here.

Anyway, now I'm caught up sufficiently and no more of these balf-haked posts. Buy one of these books for a lonely friend and send me the residual.

Or something.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Madman Atomic Comics Volume 1


The cover of this book, in big letters, screams "EXISTENTIAL EXISTS!" I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's accurate.

This is one weird book.

For instance, my favorite part (artwise) is the section where Madman and his guide travel through dozens of artistic styles in the search for truth. One minute their in a Peanuts strip, then they look drawn by Herriman. Or Kirby! Or Tex Avery! Look, they're straight out of Popeye! No, Tintin! Lil Abner/Lulu/Nemo! Archie! Dr Seuss! Sendak! That one New Yorker guy! Prince Valiant! Groening! Crumb! And so on. It's a tour de force of comic history, but (on first read at least) distracting from the story at hand. Perhaps when I read this again it will mean more. Hard to say.

Madman through Comics History

If you've been following my relationship with Madman since I first wrote about him, you may well know that I've been anxiously awaiting his LDS-templesque marriage for some time. It arrived on the final page of this volume but in such a perplexing manner, I don't know how I feel about it. As Allred says himself in some afterwordy notes, I just don't know if it "is a happy ending, or a numbing tragedy". Curse you, Allred. I've a long ways to go before volume two arrives and I have a strict not-paying-for-single-issues policy. (Which, I might add, may well be vital to the health of my marriage.)

Madman's Wedding

One problem I met in this volume is the sudden appearance of the Atomics superhero team. Their backstories were not part of the Gargantuan and so their appearance here didn't fly. In part because they didn't behave like developed characters and I didn't know them from before (ie, they are not my friends). In fact, some of their lines are ludicrous, as if the author merely needed to give them all a speaking role as per union regulations, or he just had more characters on stage than he could handle at once. Perhaps this is part of the Atomics' manner of interaction, but I don't know them so I can't say.

Madman and the Atomics need better lines

I will say this: I appreciate ambition (of which plenty is on display here) and I trust Allred enough to keep reading. I trust that he will arrive somewhere after a full book with little but upheaval. I'm still willing to be impressed, my mind blown, but that experience is on pause until the next volume of Madman Atomic Comics comes out.

I will strive to be patient.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thyear in Review, part ii


One of my great shames is how little Eisner I've read. I'm working on remedying that (at the shameful rate of about one book every three years) and this year I read his autobiographical The Dreamer. It's a nearly autobiographical account of his early years in the comics business. It's short, sweet, a nice introduction if you need one.

My experience with the Allred's Madman Gargantua was quite different from Ben's. I don't have longstanding friends in comicdom and so I am always open to new ones and, now, Madman is one of my best friends. It took me some hundreds of pages to really figure him out, but once I did, it was delightful to hang out with him. Expect more Madman reviews from me in the months to come.

Who doesn't love Tony Millionaire? Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident is like a cross between the most vulgar Sock Monkey stuff and the kids' book. You get a sense of its madness but don't get inebriated just by turning the pages. It's been too long for me to compare it fairly to older Sock Monkey, but the insanity of Mr Millionaire is on glorious display in this cozy volume.

Tony Millionaire, to sea

Halo and Sprocket Volume 1: Welcome to Humanity by Kerry Cullen is the funniest book I've read this year. Hilarious. Brilliantly so. I want to drive to San Jose just to kiss SLG's toes for publishing this book (and to buy volume two). It's that good.

Halo and Sprocket

I'm making regular and honest attempts to read manga and learn to like it. I hate hate hate the difficulty in reading each in a zillion volumes to get one story, but the volume one I read this year that most made me want to give over my life to volume-searching was The Drifting Classroom's by Kazuo Umezu. I won't actually do that of course, but Umezu is now on my list and I'm anxious to find single volume stories of his. His diversity and weirdness both appeal to me and I want more more more. Something with a walking eyeball, perhaps.

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall made me glad I gave Bill Willingham's baby another chance. It wasn't great but it wasn't unworthy of the Fabels hype either. It makes me hope that there is true excellence in here somewhere, if only I keep looking. Any suggestions on which Fables volume to read next?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Best. Cliffhanger. Ever.

From Justice Society of America Kingdom Come Special: Magog #1, backup story by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins

Thyear in Review, part i


I haven't done much since joining this blog because I haven't finished reading much (in my approved area of expertise) since joining. Mostly, comicswise, I've been reading DC stuff I borrowed from Ben. But as I do finish things, I will be reporting on them.

In the meantime, I will present you with a three-part report on the best indie stuff I've read this year (although there is one Vertigo title included). Not all of it was new this year (if you expect me to only report on what's cutting edge, you'll need to get Fantagraphics and SLG and so forth to start sending me stuff for free. I'll be happy to pick it up at Comic Relief if that's more convenient for you guys.)

This issue we'll start with a look at a kids' collection edited by that legendary comix pair Spiegelman and Mouly:

Strange Stories for Strange Kids edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly
    This collection wasn't as slambang awesome as I expected, but overall it was pretty good and some of the pieces were excellent. It's a good gift to introduce kids into comics other than Superman and Garfield. (Although, if they much read Garfield, please wean them to this as soon as possible. Incredibly, a book will soon be published. Sort of makes you rethink everything you ever thought about Jim Davis, doesn't it?)

Barnaby by Crockett Johnson
    Strange Stories included the opening to Johnson's newspaper comic Barnaby. It's a testament to how much newspaper comics have changed over the years that I can't even imagine how this strip was published back then. But however it fit in the holes left by advertising, it's wonderful and brilliant and it's highly upsetting that Barnaby is out of print. I hope Fantagraphics, which is doing such marvelous work with Krazy Kat and Dick Tracy and even Dennis the Menace for heaven's sake will pick up Barnaby soon and give us the tale of a young boy and his chainsmoking fairy godfather in beautiful hardcover.

    Barnaby excerpt

Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz
    Speaking of Fantagraphics's volumes of newspaper comics, we can't forget their greatest service, the reprinting of every Peanuts ever. Holy crap these books are beautiful and fun and sometimes even moving and yes you should buy them all for your personal library even given our current economy. No question.

The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories by Nicholas Gurewitch
    It's borderline impossible to give justice to the broad expanse of PBF wickedness, so click this one and browse some more:

    Perry Bible Fellowship

Before we go this time, let's look at some comics best known for winning some serious award in the field of lit for the under-18 crowd.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
    This book reads more like watching a movie, and it's alternations between single-spread images and prose is unlike anything else I've read. It's bound to be an important part of the discourse on what comics is and where it's headed, so read it now and don't be left out.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
    This is a new addition to my basic recommendations for all people trying comics on for the first time. This book is astonishing and pulls stunts only comics can pull. Read.

I know these are just bitesized blurbs, but if you're looking for good reads, these will meet your needs. Expect more year-in-review from me soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I've Got a Horse in My Pants, and I'm Not Afraid to Use It.

I thought Sir Apropos of Nothing would be a good bet. Peter David, adapting one of his own books into a comic, yes? Peter David, the funny guy who writes X-Factor, wrote Hulk and an eearlier X-Factor and the only sadly forgotten 2099 comic, Spider-Man 2099? But it ended up being kind of boring. Except for the joke at the end about Stephen King's Dark Tower. Pete, you're slipping.

So I just re-read Grant Morrison's X-Men run. I like how when you read a Grant Morrison run on a superhero, you go from "that's so cool" to "that's... uh..." to "WTF is happening in this damn comic?" to "The alien brain rays have made me a man now, and I must father three-armed progeny."

This video probably explains it all.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ultimate Iron Man

I wrote this a while ago for my comics column and didn't post it because it looked too much like nepotism. It's a review of Ultimate Iron Man by Orson Scott Card. Before I post it, though, I want to clarify for all the people who have asked that just because I work for the Orson, I don't agree with him on everything. For starters, Iraq, gay marriage, taste in music, and the true purpose of the goatee. (I say it's a sign of secret allegiance to Satan.)

Ultimate Iron Man

Besides the bladder-bursting special scene, Iron Man turned out to be a surprisingly good superhero movie. I put it up with the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, just below the holiness that is Batman Begins. Our good Chris Bellamy has covered the film in glorious style, so check out his review and let me give the nerd history. (There will be an exam later.)
Iron Man the 60s comic began with Tony Stark the weapons designer, trapped by the Viet Cong and forced to build a bomb. Instead, he built a suit of armor that would keep his shrapnel-laced heart alive. A wizened scientist helped him; someone who had gotten on the wrong side of Charlie. In the end, the old scientist did a kamikaze style attack to buy Tony some time before the armor came online, giving him the motivation he needed to continue fighting evil when his buddy died. If you saw the movie, you know it follows this tactic almost exclusively, replacing the Viet Cong with an Al-Qaeda/Taliban type group.
From then on, Tony’s heart is his Kryptonite and his billionaire playboy lifestyle a way to finance the many suits of armor. In the comics, his alcoholism has also dogged him, and recently, his tendency to run the superhero community like a President with unlimited vetoes.
Ultimate Iron Man is a very, very different take on the hero. It’s so different it’s amazing that it ends up in a similar place, but at the same time, it’s more than worth the read for a fan of the movie. In Ultimate Iron Man, Tony is born an Iron Man as the result of an experimental illness that infected his mother, and tries to survive life as a childhood genius on the run from the law. From the beginning, he is trying to take back the company that has been stolen from his father.
The childhood genius angle should come as no surprise, as the comic is written by a certain Orson Scott Card. You may have heard of him. (Yes, this is the hand that feeds me, and it tastes like chocolate.)
Since Scott prefers that his peons refer to him as Mighty Card, I’ll accede to his royal wishes. His Cardness begins the story with Howard Stark, Tony’s father. Howard has invited a rather attractive young geneticist to help with his latest project: liquid armor. Together they watch as the blue liquid is poured all over a test subject, who then gets smacked so hard with a baseball bat that it breaks. The subject is unharmed. Liquid armor, Howard explains later, is obviously useful stuff, but it eats into people’s skin after the first few minutes. The geneticist has come to help build better bodies to wear the armor—bodies that will regrow the skin that has been eaten away.
At the same time, Howard Stark’s ex-wife is scheming with his arch-rival, Zebediah Stane (father of Obidiah, Jeff Bridges the Dude in the film) to take over the company. While they plan their takeover, the now pregnant geneticist, having become Howard’s new wife, gets bitten by a test subject and infected by the virus she designed to regenerate body cells eaten by the armor.
The virus causes her body to regenerate to the point of killing her. All at once, she dies, the child is born, and the company is bought out.
Tony, the child, is freakishly smart due to the effects of the virus on his growing brain, and in constant pain as well. The only way to save the baby from the pain is by covering him in the blue stuff.
Howard, the father, takes his son and his technology and runs, constantly moving away from his company, which has now been turned against him. Eventually he seems to get the upper hand back when Stane is convicted, but a few more twists remain, especially since this series serves only as a prologue. Most twisty of all, Tony decides that his skin is not enough, and begins building himself an iron suit.
Although this is a comic with some convoluted twists and turns, the Card keeps the dialogue minimal, contributing only to the story and barely giving us time to breathe. I was surprised. From someone who makes a living telling stories only with words, the dialogue in Ultimate Iron Man is sparse. Sometimes it’s too sparse, as in the paragraphs where the black characters seem to be carrying on an entirely different conversation with Tony about race from the one they were having moments before. In those moments, I wish I had some of His Orsonness’ exposition about what the characters are thinking. But most of the time it’s a refreshingly quick read in a medium where writers rely heavily on dialogue.
There are some poignant moments that follow Card’s tradition of self-deprecating humor, like when Howard’s wife, just before dying, weeps at his assertation that he will never find another woman like her. “Idiots who get infected with a virus they designed themselves are a dime a dozen.”
The art is also a mixture of bad and good points. Most of the book is drawn by Andy Kubert, who brings a hulking dynamism to the characters, both good and bad, and whose perspectives are always brilliant, like in the scene where the blue-coated man flies toward the camera headfirst, baseball bat shattering in the background. Some of his details are a bit too sketchy or exaggerated, especially with the extreme close-ups he favors. But almost every shot is a risky, forced-perspective lurch, from claustrophobic facial shots to twisting around an expansive fight scene, giving one the feeling that the series is constantly switching between epic to personal.
The art takes a downturn with the change to Mark Bagley, who is traditionally a good artist for light, cartoony books, and good when inked by someone who gets his clean, bright style. Unfortunately, this is not a light cartoony book, and inker Danny Miki makes Bagley’s work look much too dirty. However, they do manage a brilliant moment where Tony takes his first drink and realizes the inborn pain of his physical life can be washed away… with alcohol. And thus begins life as a billionaire playboy boozehound.
His Royal Orsonness has a sequel series running now, with the very talented Pasqual Ferry, and I intend to pick it up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Madman is Not My Friend

A couple weeks ago, Theric graciously lent me his Madman Gargantua, collecting all of Mike Allred's pre-Image Madman comics. I'd heard many good things about Allred and Madman over the years, so I was curious to check it out. I've read a little over half of the 850-page collection now and I must say, it's very good stuff. The charactes are zany, the stories are wacky, and the art is delightfully retro. And I won't comment on Allred's propensity for drawing the title character with a rather largish bulge.

So why is Madman not my friend? Here's the deal: Between gift certificates and a recent birthday, in the past couple weeks I've acquired a dozen or so trade paperback collections of DC superhero comics, which are now sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. Madman Gargantua is gargantuan. 850 pages. And these are not pages with a panel or two of pretty superhero poses and a couple lines of dialogue. Allred's stories are packed with action, dialogue, and inner monologues pondering the nature of the universe. It's taking me a very long time to read this collection.

Meanwhile, those trades, collecting recent unread adventures of my superhero friends as well as not-so-recent adventures that I missed the first time around and will fill in the gaps in my encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe, and other adventures I've read before but am anxious to revisit just for the fun of it, call to me from the shelf. And I find myself resenting Madman for keeping me away from them. Which has led me to a realization: I don't read comics because I appreciate the literary qualities of the artform; I read comics because the stories in them are about familiar people and places that have been part of my life for sixteen years now. Heck, probably half of what I read is crap, as far as literary qualities go, but I read and enjoy it anway.

So I've decided to break my rarely-broken rule of finishing one book before moving on to the next, so as not to ruin my Madman experience with the anticipation of other things I'd rather be reading right now. I'll catch up on Batman and Superman and the Justice League, then get back to Madman when I can appreciate him for what he is: a fascinating piece of comics art and storytelling, but not my friend.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The snob treads on DC toes

Kate SpencerManhunter Vol. 1: Street Justice by Marc Andreyko et al
    After a four year hiatus, I am back to borrowing comic books from Ben (thank for moving to California, buddy). And although I liked this first one okay, I realized (rerealized?) what it is I dislike so much about "normal" serialized comics. By being constrained to such a specific length, the storytelling tends to suffer. And then this collection just ends at a spot that makes the whole book feel like a prologue. What's up with that? A twelve-dollar-and-ninety-nine-cent prologue?

    The thing is, there's nothing I disliked about this book. It's really just the nature of its form that gets under my skin. (Which is why I nover subscribe for or purchase single issues.)

    That said, I'll probably borrow further Manhunter volumes from Ben (if he'll let me after this review). I just wish we could leave the Dickens Method behind in comics. You know: for me, personally. Because what I want obviously matters more than what the people who actually pay for these things want. Obviously.

Thinking of Astonishing X-Men today

Could Wolverine really survive reentry? I mean, seriously.

In Days of Future Past, he was killed by a simple shot from a Sentinel. Reentry must have burned all his flesh off.

How could his bone marrow get through the adamantium? Is there any organic material left? Space germs?

Help me out here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Twice Struck

I went into my comics shop this week and the owner handed me the comics he'd pulled for me and I bought them. Then I got home and realized he'd sold me a comic that he'd already sold me last week. My wife thought it was funny that the comic I now own two copies of happened to be this one:

(And by the way, I do read comics besides The Flash. I'll blog about something non-Flash next time.)

Yes Folks

I'm doing my Sunstone presentation tomorrow. So This I Believe: Spider-Man needs to be married. Forever.

I'm actually feeling like I need to go back to trade paperbacks. Every handful of comics I come home from the store with is a story I haven't read for a month. Except Secret Invasion, in which case I am like, "oh, big fight scenes again."

Runaways. Can you say "lowered expectations?" Chase has become a big dumb jock and the story actually revolves around a homicidal radio jockey. What. The. Crap. This used to be Marvel's best book.

Thor continues to rule, in all its incarnations. I forget the name of the Alan Davis one-shot from this month, but it was great fun.

Spider-Man still needs to be married.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Smallville: Live Coverage!

-Wow. Of all the comics characters who I've imagined looking sexy in a live action shower scene, I never imagined that Doomsday would be one of them.

-I was skeptical when I read about the new characters this season--Tess Mercer as a cross between Miss Tessmacher and Mercy Graves, and Davis Blume as a human version of Doomsday--but I have to admit I'm really liking both of them. And not just because Davis looks good naked. They're interesting characters played by decent actors, and they just might be what saves this series when just about everyone proclaimed it dead.

-Hm. I don't know how I feel about a Jimmy/Chloe/Davis triangle. It might work better if I liked Jimmy, like, at all. As it is, I just want Chloe to call off the wedding and go make little Doomsday babies.

-Ooh, Clark is totally the Patriot Act and Chloe is the privacy-defending librarian. Go librarians!

-Commercial breaks go by faster when I'm blogging.

-Is Feist the oficial spokesperson (sangsperson?) of iPod now or is that someone else? It sounds like Feist to me and I'm too lazy to look it up. I bet all the other artists are jealous.

-I don't think Lori Loughlin should ever be anyone besides Aunt Becky. Believing her as anyone else is about as ridiculous as believing Greg from Dharma and Greg as some FBI dude.

-Okay, this commercial break is lasting forever.

-If I'm lucky, maybe Doomsday will kill Jimmy tonight. Naked. Doomsday, that is, not Jimmy. Definitely not Jimmy.

-Nope, I'm not that lucky.

-"Do you believe we still call these phones?" Yes I do and I find your commercial incredibly annoying.

-Ohhhh, the Patriot Act and the American Library Association make up.

-Foreshadowing has never been subtle on this show. But then, foreshadowing is kind of the whole premise of the show.

-I predict that at some point during this season, Clark will start wearing a mask to protect his identity, then realize the mask makes people distrust him, then decide to find another way to protect his identity.

-I used to stress about how this show will ever make sense as the backstory to the Superman story we all know and love, but I've decided I'm okay with it being a thing of its own. Maybe in this version he never becomes Superman--he's just Clark in a red jacket for the rest of his life. Maybe he becomes Superman and Lex and Lois and everyone immediately figure out who he is. Maybe they all have amnesia. I don't care. I'm enjoying it for what it is.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Green Lantern and Flash:

Working together, hand in hand, to protect gay marriage.

Because if both of their deaths couldn't keep them apart, what makes you think a line added to California's constitution will?

What You're Missing...

...if you're not reading Tiny Titans.

The Amazing Theric


Ben invited me to this blog to be the resident indie snob. I think I'm up for the task. After all, how many of you chose the weird comix out of the Northwest on Free Comic Book Day last year? And how many of you took Tiny Titans? Or that crappy X-Men one?

Yeah. That's what I thought.


Full disclosure: I took all three. And liked two of them. And I also took a whole lot of other stuff too, not all of which was good and not all of which was bad.

Breaking Your Marvel Cherry

Okay, here goes the first official Marvel post... when I haven't written my October column yet. Heh. Uh, what the hell.

Spider-Man's marriage.

I read the first few issues of Brand New Day despite the way One More Day was a total insult to the fans. I wanted to give Dan Slott a chance, and I know that chucking the marriage was Joe Quesada's idea in the first place anyway. But Brand Buy Me was pretty vapid. Spider-Man, according to the dictates of the editors, did not grow as a person or as a character at all, especially not compared the to the paces he'd been through with revealing his identity, getting his marriage back together, and having Aunt May find out his secret.

But still, I'm pissed about One More Day. Spidey's comics have sold just fine for twenty years with the marriage, and lots of writers have made it work. Those who can't are just lazy.

I'm pretty partial to the marriage. I started reading Spidey comics in 1989, one year after he got married. Except for Ultimate Spider-Man, my comic Spidey has always been married. (And no, I didn't read the Ben Reilly issues. I wanted to read about Peter Parker. Peter freaking Parker!) I always liked the Spider-Marriage. In its early years, it really grew and provided some fertile story ideas. Admittedly, some writers did better with it than others.

One of the better marriage storylines (unfortunately buried in an atrocious Spidey story) is in Erik Larsen's "Revenge of the Sinister Six" arc from No Adjective Spider-Man Volume One #18-23. (Man. Comics have really crappy ways of keeping track of what's what.)

MJ gets a part in the new "Arnold Schwarzenheimer" movie, but she has to do nude scenes. She's okay with it, but Peter, of course, is not. At first he's reasonable. "I don't like the idea of you sharing your nakedness with the rest of the world. We have little enough privacy as it is, with you getting recognized on the street." Later he flips out. "I can't believe you took the part! Aunt May will see you naked! J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson will see you naked!"

MJ, in counter, says "It's the 90s, Peter" (snort) and gives a jab at Peter's old high school damage by saying, "You know, sometimes you can be a real square!"

This story really works pretty heavily on the square-takes-himself-too-seriously-and-needs-someone-to-make-him-laugh side of Spidey versus the party-girl-who-needs-a-rock-of-steadfastness-MJ. In one of the truly dated, but still relevant scenes, Peter is shaving while MJ puts a CD on in her spanking new CD played. (This was 1993, in case you're wondering.)

Peter: "Couldn't you put on something more soothing, like maybe a recording of a buzz saw cutting through sheet metal?"

MJ: "You don't like Guns N' Roses? You don't like anything recorded in the last ten years."

Peter: "Sure I do. Billy Joel. Nick Lowe. Dave Edmunds. Elton John."

MJ: "Exactly my point. You don't like anything new or cutting edge."

Peter: "They're cutting edge!"

MJ: "What do you think of Hammer, Extreme, Prince or INXS?"

Peter: "Not much. You forgot your favorite, the Fine Young Cannibals."

MJ: "They're passe."

Peter: "I thought as much."

Okay, it's TOTALLY CHEESY. But replace it with some modern music references (MJ likes the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, My Chemical Romance, Pete likes... well, the same things) and you see how the whole thing works.

At the end, MJ tries to talk the producers into scrapping the nude scenes. As she does so, it becomes clear that they want her for her body, not her acting ability. She goes back to talk to Peter about it, and while he mentions his latest escapade taking down Dr. Octopus (again, this is a pretty atrocious Spider-Man story, but it's worth your dime for the Pete & MJ story) she tells him about how humiliated she felt in front of them.

Good stuff. This is long, sorry.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm Spencer, the Marvel guy on this blog. Together, the Fobster and I will spout our opinions about comics until geek comes out of your screen and rubs you down.

I also have a comics column here. I'm doing this blog partially because I can't write in the column about current issues of comics, only reprints and graphic novels, since there' s a big delay between writing the columns and having them published.

Geoff's Revenge

I imagine that writing serial characters who don't belong to you can be challenging. You put your heart and soul into a character, then you move on to another book and some hack comes along and screws with your baby.

Geoff Johns hasn't had to deal with this problem all that much. He's been writing for DC for about ten years now, and he has a tendency to stick with a character for a long time. He introduced Stargirl Courtney Whitmore in her shortlived series in 1999 and has been writing her in JSA and then Justice Society of America since then. He brought Hal Jordan back to life in 2004 and looks to be writing the character for the foreseeable future. He had a solid five-year run on The Flash, remarkable in how well-received it became, considering that the title was still in the shadow of Mark Waid's then-recent run that had lasted even longer. Johns's run certainly did justice to the character of Wally West, but it's even more memorable for the way he redefined the Flash's rogues gallery. He put a lot into establishing who these characters were, what motivated them, and what rules they lived by.

And then other writers came along and screwed with his babies. The Rogues did all sorts of things Geoff Johns would never write them doing, most notably teaming up with kid psychopath Inertia to kill the then-current Flash, Bart Allen--a character who, ironically, had been made unrecognizable to creator Mark Waid when Geoff Johns recast him as Kid Flash in Teen Titans; Waid has stated that he's since made peace with Johns over this fact. Johns is not so forgiving.

Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, while just as enjoyable as every other Johns-penned story I've read, is fairly transparent in its metatextual motivations. This is Johns coming back to his Rogues and undoing the harm other writers have done to them. The premise of the story is that the Rogues are pissed off over the crappy year they've had (among other things, they spent a while on a prison planet) and they regret having broken their number one rule: Never kill a Flash. Because the Johns-written Rogues would never have done this, it's made clear that the person responsible for the murder is Inertia, that somehow he talked them into doing something they wouldn't normally do. In other words, Inertia is the two-dimensional effigy representing all the writers who have blasphemed Johns's sacred Rogues. And like any good effigy, Inertia gets the burning he deserves. The moment I saw Inertia's smoking corpse was when I realized what a vengeful bastard Geoff Johns is. You do NOT mess with his characters.

The cherry on this sundae of writer's revenge actually came before Inertia's death. In his final moments, Inertia puts an end to two of Johns's original contributions to the Flash mythos: first he blows up Weather Wizard's baby, introduced in one of Johns's earlier stories, and then he reverts Johns-created villain Zoom back into a wheelchair-bound Hunter Zolomon. As if Johns, having learned not to trust other writers to treat his characters well, is simply taking his toys out of the sandbox and going home.

I'm not sure that last bit was necessary, though. It seems Johns has concluded that if you want a job done right you'd better do it yourself, and has decided to come back to The Flash, after all. As much as I distrust the idea of bringing Barry Allen back, you can count on me buying Rebirth. Spiteful or not, Geoff Johns writes good stories. At the end of the day, that's all I care about.

Friday, October 3, 2008

As it turns out

Smallville is actually pretty good this season. Go figure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Return of Bart Allen

Lately Geoff Johns has been dropping some pretty obvious hints that Bart Allen will soon return to the land of the living (most recently here). I'm fairly confident that lightning rod in Legion of Three Worlds will have a part in bringing the kid back. I figured before it happens I ought to make public my theory on how Bart should return. This is, at least, how I would do it were I Geoff Johns.

The problem with Bart's death, of course, is that no one cared because the character we all knew and loved had been gone for at least a year, since Kid Flash had disappeared into the Speed Force during Infinite Crisis and returned as a powerless--and rather boring--adult. I didn't bother to read the Flash relaunch with Bart as the protagonist but I did later read it in trade and I see why no one really latched onto the idea of Bart as the Flash. This adult Bart had nothing to do with the character writers like Mark Waid, Peter David, and Geoff Johns had made so likable.

So when I learned that Bart had been murdered by Inertia, a teenaged clone of Bart, it occurred to me: what if this character we'd been reading about (or not) for the past year really wasn't Bart? Suppose at some point in the future, Inertia grows up a bit, realizes what a hero Bart was, and what a tragic mistake he made by murdering him. So to atone, he hops on a cosmic treadmill (why have them if you're not going to use them?) and pops back in time to the point when Bart disappeared with Superboy Prime during Infinite Crisis. He gives Bart--at this point still the teenage Kid Flash--a shove, pushing him into the future, and takes his place. For it to work, Inertia would have to convince himself he really is Bart, which would be a nice nod, I think, to the "Return of Barry Allen" storyline in which Professor Zoom believed he was Barry Allen. Adult Inertia-as-Bart, then, is the star of the shortlived Flash: Fastest Man Alive and the one who is killed by his younger self. Kid Flash shows up in the present with no idea a couple years have passed and voila! four years of poor storytelling choices undone.

Now, with Zoom trying to teach Inertia to be a hero in Rogues' Revenge, I'm wondering if Geoff Johns really does have something like this planned. Which is why I felt the need to put my theory out there now, even though no one who might possibly care will read this--if this is how things go I want the adolescent satisfaction of saying "Hey! I called it first!"

Welcome to Fob Comics

Hi, I'm Ben. I like comics. Superhero comics, that is. Mostly DC. I started in 1992 with Batman, then the Justice League and the Teen Titans, then Superman and the Flash and Green Lantern and Wonder Woman and Hawkman and everyone else from Damage to the Ray to Impulse to Blue Beetle.

The Friends Of Ben--FOB or just Fob--started out as a writing critique group and has since become my personal trademark, at least online. I have a long-running personal blog, the Fobcave, where I keep in touch with the friends I've made in real life and online. I figure this blog, Fob Comics, will be the place where I keep in touch with my imaginary friends--the comic book characters that have been part of my life since I was twelve years old. If these same characters are friends of yours too, I hope you'll hop on and enjoy the ride.