Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New links and a few other things

I just added a new link over on The Right that you might find fun.

Tabloia! is from Chris Wisnia, who loves comics, big monsters, the old WEEKLY WORLD NEWS and other cool stuff. From 'Dick Hammer' and 'Doris Danger' to 'Dr. DeBunko' and the weekly TABLOIA tabloid you will find a comic or tall-tale to your liking. Chris has contributions from such well known comic artists as Jill Thompson, Sergio Aragones, and Sam Keith, plus Silver Age greats like John Severin & Dick Ayers.

Not going to do regular comic reviews this week, as I'm trying to get caught up with work stuff before Friday. Donna and I will be in Brooklyn until next Wednesday (5/28) and I have a few reports that have to get done.

I do want to recommend that folks pick up the SECRET INVASION series and various tie-in stories from Marvel. Unlike DC's COUNTDOWN (which I liked better than some folks), the SI story involves an alien menace, but sticks closer to Earth. While heroes & villains were getting offed in the DC series you always had the feeling that things would eventually be worked out and with probably few long term effects. In SI you get a sense of real paranoia as the heroes don't know who to trust, which means the reader doesn't know either.

I have to give my thanks to Marvel editorial for giving the reader a 'what has gone before' page each issue. It allowed me to pick up several books which had not been reading, but not feel totally lost. The last issue of the just ended CAPTAIN MARVEL mini, latest issues of MS. MARVEL and NEW AVENGERS all tie in and really should be checked out. The second issue of the main SI book is really good and reveals that some but not apparently all of the heroes who were on the crashed Skrull ship are indeed Skrull's themselves. At least one hero we thought dead seems to be quite alive. I'm going to hold off on judging the SI: Fantastic Four series until the next issue. Lots of things are happening and I'm not familiar enough with the current FF continuity to be sure. On the other hand, I love when the Torch & Thing are the central focus of a story.

If you are not reading this series, at least pick up the main title as I don't think you'll be disappointed. Make Mine Marvel! (At least for now)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Popcorn for One: IRON MAN (with some spoilers)

A friend gave me some ‘free passes’ for the Edwards chain of movie theatres. I figured it was a good time to start using them, so I caught an early Friday afternoon showing of IRON MAN at the local theatre.

I’m sure if you are interested you have already caught the movie or are doing so this weekend. I don’t want to do a complete review, since there are plenty of those around if you are interested. There’s probably nothing I could add to what the professionals critics and other fans have to say. These are just a few comments about my general feelings on the film.

The movie opens with Tony Stark (played wonderfully by Robert Downey, Jr.) being caught in the ambush of American troops with whom he is traveling. The film then winds back to show us what occurred the previous 36 hours leading up to the assault. We get a feel for how Stark goes about his daily routines, seemingly not caring that his corporation is building weapons that could fall into the wrong hands. He’s an electronics genius who has used his abilities to build his father’s company into one of the largest of its kind. Despite his wealth and his playboy lifestyle, it is apparent that he is lonely, with few people with whom he feels totally comfortable.

The Tony Stark of the comics, at least until the recent events of ‘Civil War’, was very close to how Downey portrays him. Brilliant, flawed and only allowing himself a few close confidents. In the current Marvel Universe, he doesn’t even have that, but the Stark of the movie is a better person, at least by the films end.

The cast is very good, with some wonderful actors playing roles in what is after all a ‘super-hero’/action film. Not what you would expect from Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges, but all take their parts seriously without the scene chewing you often see actors doing in these sorts of films. Too many actors feel they can ham it up or just walk through these movie roles, which they seem to feel are beneath them. Than why take the role? Bills piling up?

Stan Lee, who co-created the character, has a nice cameo that made me laugh. If you stick around through the credits you’ll find Samuel L. Jackson showing up as another Marvel character, who hints that we might be seeing several other Marvel characters appearing along with Iron Man at some point. If you have read the Avengers comics you may either enjoy or being angered by the fact that Jarvis isn’t the Alfred-style butler we have become used to in the series. Also, an off-hand remark by Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes (played by Terrence Howard), Stark’s military liaison hints at yet another hero making an appearance in a future sequel.

Given the film’s success and comments already made by Downey, it probably won’t come as a surprise to see an IRON MAN franchise being announced shortly.

If you haven’t guessed by now I highly recommend the movie. Just stay through the credits for the fanboy moment!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Keeping track of all this, collectibles!

I have been using the online database, COMIC COLLECTOR LIVE for several months to try to keep track of my comics. Since it is free and constantly updated I have found it pretty decent, but with a few quirks.

If you've been around for a bit you'll remember that I used to utilize another free online database, but the owner of that site eventually gave up on it, leaving a lot of us with dated & uncorrectable files. Just the other day I found that someone else has taken over the site name and is now providing a similar free service. This time, however, they carry ads and you can buy & sell, just as CCL does.

I'm now inputting my collection into both databases and finding that they each have problems. The main one being that I appear to be the only person to have collected certain titles, so now have to go through the hassle of getting approval to place them into the site.
I have found CBDB has some titles that CCL doesn't have and vice versa, but in some cases only individual issues rather than an entire book's run. (For example, CBDB lists ULTRA KLUTZ but only four of the 31 issues, meaning that I have to input the remainder.) Also with CCL, you have to go through a 'voting' process where majority rule can actually disallow your input. In most cases, you have to have to provide a link to another database or company website to prove the title actually exists! I'll be trying to put some items into CBDB this weekend and let you know how difficult or easy that will be.
Quick update: if a title is a one-shot CBDB makes it hard to add unless the person who originally put it in the database listed it as a #1, since you have to place an issue number in the databox.
I plan on picking up my bi-weekly haul of stuff at Nuclear Comics tomorrow, along with some Silver Age bags. I have some older books that have been stored in the same bags since I purchased them. Eventually, I'm going to have to buy some regular/current bags & boards since I left what I had back in Brooklyn with Dan & Christina.
By the way, I'm going to be boarding at Michael's in San Diego along with Dan, who is flying out for the convention. It should be pretty interesting, as this is his first SD and I haven't been there since '96. I'm sure to rant more on all this between now and late July, so bear with me!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Four-Color Fiend: The Mighty New Avenging Skrulls

There might be a few things given away so we will start with


I’m not sure in which order they were published, since I picked them both up this past weekend, but I want to recommend both MIGHTY AVENGERS #12 and NEW AVENGERS #40. Given the stories I would recommend reading MA #12 first, as that will make the end of NA #40 even more of a shocker. Another thing is that even if you have not been reading previous issues these books were fairly easy to follow as they are more tightly woven into SECRET INVASION, so if you read the first issue of that title you’ll be just fine. Heck, neither of the Avenger teams really shows up except for few panels in either book this month.

MA shows us what Nick Fury has been doing since he last appeared. Here is a guy who just wanted to settle down after a life of action, but finds that events are happening which he cannot ignore. When he discovers that someone he trusts is not who they appeared to be he begins investigating. Using his own skills and some ‘borrowed’ S.H.I.E.L.D. tech, he uncovers the fact that there are Skrulls masquerading as humans and super-heroes. He turns to one of the few people he believes he can still count on, but the last page shows that he is still unsure about who may be a Skrull and who is still human. Fan sites are filled with folks guessing what the red & blue circled photos indicate.

In NA, we get a history of the Skrull Empire from the time that it was visited by a group of heroes more than a decade ago. Even then plans were being put in place that would lead to the invasion we see taking place in the current Marvel universe. We learn who some of the Skrulls leading this conspiracy are and why the Earth is such an important target. If you have been reading the SECRET INVASION series or other tie-ins you will be as shocked by the final page as I was.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote both of these books and as the driving force behind the SI event he was a perfect choice for these books, as they present just about all you need to know on background. Unlike at DC where you could ignore many of the COUNTDOWN spin-offs and still follow events, I think that I will be buying a number of these SI related issues, or at least skimming them at the shop to keep up with things.

I’m giving both these Three out of four stars.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Four Color Fiend: The DCU and off on a Tangent

I just want to talk about some of the comics I picked up this past weekend, but I don’t think I’m giving anything away. We’ll skip the Spoilers this time out, okay?

COUNTDOWN #1 wraps up a few plot points, but doesn’t put an end to everything. A group of heroes, including the ones we’ve been calling ‘Challengers’, plus Forager, confront the remaining Monitors. Basically, they warn them off from interfering with our universe (Earth-1). The Monitor designated Solomon is seen lurking in the background, so we can expect to be seeing him turn up at some future point. There are a couple of pages featuring Mary Damn Marvel (as she dubs herself in the last panel) and Black Adam. It would have been nice to simply see him twist her head off, but it appears that MDM will still be sulking about clad in her black mini for the time being. Sadly, I have to say I’m a bit disappointed in the series as a whole, although it did get me back into reading DC after a couple of years.

I don’t believe that I was the only fanboy to think that DC UNIVERSE #0 was going to be the bridge between COUNTDOWN & FINAL CRISIS. I was both right and wrong on this, which was a tad frustrating. What it actually turned out to be was a series of teasers for about a half dozen upcoming ‘events’ that will be taking place over the rest of the year.

Rather than one FINAL CRISIS, it looks like there will be three series which look to tie into each other. How much will remain to be seen, but I doubt I’ll be picking up all of them. WONDER WOMAN is going to be involved with yet another ‘War of the Gods’ type of thing, as Hercules decides that it takes males to properly undertake the mission for which WW was chosen/created. The final panel seems to indicate a 300-type group of Roman warriors about to conquer Themyscira. **Yawn** Meanwhile, GREEN LANTERN & Co. will be taking part in “Darkest Night” where the GL’s will confront the Black Lanterns. Rumor has it that a major ‘dead’ super-hero will return to lead this second group. I’ll have to look fast to see if the fanboys are right on this.

Finally, we have a few pages of Batman and The Joker talking, as the Clown Prince of Crime plays solitaire. Broad hints are dropped, but since I don’t read the current Batman titles I’m totally clueless. This it meant to tease BATMAN R.I.P., which some fans seem to have high hopes for but I’ll probably wait to read in trade. The most positive thing I can say about this book was that it only cost fifty cents.

I don’t appear to still have them in my collection, but I have fond memories of the DC published Tangent Comics in ‘98. The concept, similar to what Stan Lee did years later in his JUST IMAGINE titles, was to have various creative teams come up with different characters that had the names of some of DC’s well-known characters. Naturally, you had a SUPERMAN, BATMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN among them, as well as various individuals and groups that shared only a name with the DC stars. The books were collected in three trade paperbacks a couple of years ago and you can still find them.

The twelve-issue series, TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN brings back those characters and merges their universe with the current DCU. We discover that the Tangent Universe characters inhabit Earth-9 in current continuity. The mystic lantern carried by that world’s Green Lantern was brought to Earth-1 (showing up in 52 and other places) and is now held by the Justice League in their headquarters. The Tangent Flash has come here to retrieve it and to hopefully find her way home. Aided by Wally West and John Stewart of the JL she does return and the Leaguers discover that the Superman of this Earth has made himself absolute authority on everything, and is utterly ruthless in maintaining the stability of the world he rules.

Dan Jurgens does as nice job with the Tangent characters, making them totally different from their namesakes. He also gives the new readers enough information about the Tangent world so that you are not lost. From the second issue on his co-writer is Ron Marz, who isn’t one of my faves so I hope that it is Dan who remains the driving force. The first issue features artwork by Matt Clark and several others, while Jamal Igle does pencils on the second, with inks by Robin Riggs. I much preferred the artwork on the later issue and I’m glad to see that Igle & Riggs will be returning down the line. I’m recommending this series from what I have seen so far.

More reviews tomorrow on some Marvel tie-ins to SECRET INVASION.


I have moved some links around and added one over on the Right.

The latest is the Crime Library, from the good folks over at TruTV. Has lots of articles, photos and links to True Crime pages. If you are into that sort of thing, as I am, you might want to check it out.

I've moved the Free Comic Book Day link down, since it is over and placed one for the San Diego ComiCon at the top. I've changed my plans for that one a bit, but more on that as it gets closer. I'm still attending for the weekend, but may be staying at a friend's apartment, along with an acquaintance from Brooklyn.

I'm going to try and have some comic reviews up later today, for those who care about such things. :-)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Free Comic Book Day, Comics and Norbert!

For the second year in a row I’m working on Free Comic Book Day. As I told Kenny, over at Nuclear Comics & Skateshop, I think somebody in Library administration isn’t a comic fan. By the way, if you are reading this and not going out to your local shop to show support, shame on you!!

I stopped by Nuclear yesterday to pick up my regular pulls, but will be going back tomorrow for a bit to take advantage of Kenny’s annual sale. He’s promised to try and set a few FCBD items aside for me, so I might still get some freebies. I also want to pick up some TPBs and back issues, which are going for 20-50% off. Be nice to fill in some gaps from the few years I was not collecting and to catch up on a title or two. I’m sure I can find something or other in the $1.00 boxes he is going to have out.

When I have a chance I’ll have quick comments on the last issue of COUNTDOWN and DC UNIVERSE #0, which will lead into the next event. With SHADOWPACT coming to an end with #25 and all my other DC buys being mini-series, it looks like I’ll only be picking up JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA and BRAVE AND THE BOLD (depending on the new creative team) as regular series. I’ll see how I feel about FINAL CRISIS and its tie-ins this summer.

Having heard a good review from MadClan at of New Avengers #12, I decided to take a chance, and features Nick Fury, one of my favorite characters from way back. I hear that Mighty Avengers #40 is also worth a glance so maybe tomorrow I’ll pick up some more Marvel books. Hey, if COUNTDOWN could draw me back to the DCU, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Skrulls get me back into the Marvel universe, now that zombies aren’t around anymore!

My old pal, Vinnie Bartilucci has been carrying around Norbert for years to various comic conventions. He would approach artists and ask for a sketch to which the usual response was which of their current or past characters did Vinnie want them to draw. I was with him a few times and it was always funny to see their reaction when Vin would pull Norbert from out of his knapsack and plop it down in front of them. “I want you to draw him!” Priceless!!

You can learn about Norbert and see the wonderful drawings done by some of the best and well-known artists in the industry. When your sketchbook contains the likes of Eric Shanower, Moebius and the late Dave Cockrum each doing their interpretation of the little guy you have something special. You can see for yourself by clicking on the link in the headline, but I’ll be adding it to my regular links over on The Right. Also, if you really want to see something head over to YouTube and check out an animated version of Rick Geary’s Norbert. An international conspiracy, indeed!