Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And thanks for all the fish!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and so I thought that would make this an appropriate time to officially give thanks for all the many lovely things in this world of ours--most of which are comic-book related--that help make getting up in the morning a bit less odious than it might otherwise be...

I want to start with a big one that has absolutely nothing to do with comic-books at all, and that is my number one thing that I am thankful for...

Thank you, American people. Or, at least, about 53% of you...

On to comic-book-y goodness...

I am thankful for Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who are currently writing two sci-fi super-hero series for Marvel: Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Neither of these are outstandingly amazing works of literary genius, but what I love about both series it that they tend to be super-deluxe fun...

Nova is about Richard Rider, a normal Earth guy who was chosen to join the inter-galactic police force of Novas... which meant that he wears a funny bucket on his head and has some pretty cool powers. In this series, however, the Nova Corps. has been destroyed and Richard Rider is the last of the Novas... which means he's single-handedly responsible for the entire galaxy.

That's a big responsibility.

At first, the story focused on the interaction between Richard and the Worldmind--the collective intelligence/culture/history/other stuff--that now existed inside his helmet and constantly scolded him. Nova would race off to fight some inter-galactic evil and the Worldmind would point out that if Richard got killed the Worldmind would also be destroyed; its argument was that keeping the Worldmind preserved was a hell of a lot more important than saving a few lives.

Richard disagreed.

Hilarity ensued.

Then, about four issues into the series, Richard Rider got killed--sort of--and we had a replacement Nova, a Kree military commander. Then Richard came back, but had been infected by the alien techno-virus that was ravaging the Kree world and creating all sorts of problems across the universe. Just as that whole situation was being resolved, Richard got called to a planet that was being consumed by Galactus, leading to a big ol' fight against the Silver Surfer, who pretty much beat the crap out of Nova. They resolved their differences--sort of--but Nova was a bit slow getting off the planet and...

Anyway, the thing I love about this series is that the status quo is constantly changing and that Abnett and Lanning manage to make Nova seem like a heavy-hitter but also are able to continuously come up with big-scale challenges to keep him busy... this is no easy trick.

Their other series, Guardians of the Galaxy, is even better. The Guardians of the Galaxy are a real mixed bag of 'heroes' who were sort of coerced into coming together to fight inter-galactic badness... there's Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Starlord, Rocket Raccoon... and many more.

If this series has a flaw, it's that Abnett and Lanning sometimes try to tell too many stories at once... it's not always clear how--or if--the various plots tie together. That said, I much prefer a series with too much going on to a series with too little... and the writers make good use of humor to help keep things relatively light... Rocket Raccoon, in particular, makes this series worth reading. He's a raccoon with a laser-gun. How cool is that?

Very cool.

I'm super deluxe thankful for the current Thor series... which is bizarre, because I have zero interest in Thor as a character and I generally quite dislike J. Michael Straczynski's writing. A large part of the credit must go to artist Olivier Coipel, who is producing some of the most gorgeous artwork I have ever seen in a comic...

[That's Loki you see above, looking very creepy... he's a woman now. It's a long story.]

To my mind, Coipel's work on Thor is comparable to Totleban's art on Swamp Thing, back in the day, or the art from Promethea by J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray.

It's that good.

But, in all fairness, Straczynski is also largely responsible for the wonderful-ness that is the current Thor series. He's taking his time to tell a slow, epic story rich with intrigues and tragedy and grim forebodings... and he has completely revitalized Loki, who was generally a pretty dull villain before this storyline.

Good stuff.

Anyway, I'm running out of time, but here are a few other things I'm thankful for...

Keith Giffen's art... whenever and wherever it may appear...

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on Action Comics... I can't think of a run on a Superman title that I've enjoyed this much since... well, since waaay the hell back when Dan Jurgens, George Perez, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, and a couple of other folk were writing/drawing the three titles. And that, I believe, was in the late 1980s.

The thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man... I think all of the writers and artists are doing a phenomenal job on this title... and editor Steve Wacker deserves a huge kiss for putting it all together and for returning the letters page...

Jeff Parker's writing on Marvel Adventures: The Avengers and all of the works that it has inspired, including a lot of recent comics by Paul Tobin, which have been VERY fun...

And many, many others...

Anyway, this has gone on long enough... You need to get back to work and I need to get back to whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing...

I did briefly consider giving thanks for all the wonderful people in my life and blah-blah-blah, but then I decided that would be incredibly tedious for everyone involved. So, just let's assume that I'm thankful for all of those people and then let us speak about it never again...

So, from all of us here at Hoopla! (me) to all of you out there in readerland (that would be you and that one other guy who keeps accidentally winding up on this page because he can't figure out how to use his favorites function)...

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

- Paul

Thursday, October 23, 2008

On Superman

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

So, there's a ten-part interview with Grant Morrison being posted over at newsarama which is all about the recently completed All-Star Superman series he and Frank Quitely have been working on for the past few years. The whole interview is certainly worth reading, but I found this excerpt particularly lovely...

In the end, I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character, but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to, with our own special collections of valued stuff, our own super–pets, our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with.

Ah, Grant Morrison. There's plenty of his work that is not to my taste (Invisibles, Final Crisis, Batman: RIP, his four-issue Mr. Miracle and Bulleteer series), but when he's on, he's on.

My only other comment for this very brief Hoopla! is that the January 2009 solicitations have come out and I am underwhelmed.

I suspect that it's a January thing. I have noticed, over the years, that the Big Two Companies don't tend to have much to offer each January; presumably the thinking is that everyone just spent all their money on gifts and so sales are going to be down in any case. And, hey, that may be true... who knows?

But one thing that did catch my eye is this...

Jack Power and Franklin Richards take a wild trip through the timestream and end up face-to-face with a pre-teen Wolverine! But since young James Howlett is nothing at all like the hero he is destined to one day become, it'll be up to our time-tossed troublemakers to teach the once-and-future-Wolvie how to kick some butt! Plus...MINI MARVELS!32 PGS./All Ages ...$2.99

I have never purchased a Power Pack comic before, but I honestly don't think I can pass up a story about Power Pack teaching a young Wolverine how to fight. I just can't.

Does that make me a bad person?

- Paul

Friday, October 10, 2008

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #1

Here are some preview pages that have been posted for DC's Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade #1:


You can see them full-sized, as God intended, here.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating... DC's new all-ages line of comics is FUN!!! And super-cute!!!

- Paul

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Greatest Hits... almost

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

A while back, a 3-set anthology of Beatles songs was released that purported to contain their greatest hits, divided by musical period. I was disappointed to find, after I bought it, that these were largely "never before released" versions of their greatest hits... like the recording of "Strawberry Fields" where John Lennon starts coughing at one point, or the mix of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" where a helicopter happened to pass by while they were recording and it makes a sort of helicopter-y noise in the background. Or the early version of "Yellow Submarine" that doesn't have any instruments. And the submarine was only a canoe.

Watching the second presidential debate last night, I had much the same feeling. It was like a greatest hits anthology only less polished than the original versions. There was more stammering and mixing up of words. But, ultimately, it was just the two candidates repeating what they perceive to be their best lines, which we have already heard a bazillion times before.

The only thing I really learned from that hour and a half of my life, which would have been better spent playing with my cat or reading comics, is that McCain needs to stop saying "My friends..." so much. It's become annoying. He needs a new line. I don't know what it should be... maybe if he really needs to preface each and every sentence, he could vary it with a few other lines, like "Guys and gals..." or "My fellow mavericks..." or "Chimichanga - Watch me Now!!!"

And, for god's sake, next time don't forget to oil his joints before the debate.

Neither candidate impressed me, though. and Tom Brokaw simply sucked. You mean to tell me that of the twenty bazillion questions that were sent to him, those were the most original and provocative that he could find?

"My question for the senators is... this financial crisis... it's really bad. So, what are you going to actually do, if you are president, to deal with it?"

"My friends... my opponent wants to tax you. To tax you!!! And he told Palestine that he was going to bomb it. You don't do that, my friends. You simply don't."

"I... I just have to quick respond to what Senator McCain has said. I do not want to tax you. In fact, I want to give tax cuts to 95% of the middle class."

[One of these days, he really does need to tell us what that other 5% did to piss him off so much.]

"Our next question comes from aisle J... and it is... What will YOU do about the financial crisis, in the first two years of your presidency, if you are elected president?"

"My friends, I'll tell you what I won't do. I won't raise taxes on the working poor, like this one wants to. And here's his dark secret... here's what Senator Obama hasn't told you... he hates the U.S. economy and everyone in it. But, my friends, the American worker is the best damn worker in the world. The best exporter, the best importer... I love you guys. I really do. You're the best. I don't care what Obama says..."

"That... that just isn't true. Listen... my tax cut is going to HELP 95% of the middle class and small businesses. It looks to me like the wheels just fell off the Straight Talk Express at a busy intersection... and that intersection is today's financial crisis, which was caused by the Bush Administration, which starts with B which rhymes with P and that stands for McCain!!! Because Senator McCain has voted with President Bush 90% of the time. And he actually voted AGAINST investments in solar energy and wind power 26 times."

"My friends, that just isn't true. Barack Obama is like a jellyfish that you can't quite keep in an aquarium because it keeps slithering up the sides and threatening to bomb Pakistan and have dinner with terrorists with NO PRECONDITIONS. You don't do that. You don't do that. You don't have dinner with known terrorists who have called Israel a STINKING CORPSE. You simply don't do that, my friends."

"Okay, okay... settle down fellows. I'm going to use up a few precious minutes good-naturedly chiding you for going over the allotted time. I mean, I'm trying to do a good job here. I am. And I'm following the rules that you gave me. So, please, don't go over the allotted time. You're just making my job that much harder. And you make me feel sad inside. And now I'm going to ask this question, which came from the internet... "About this here financial crisis, what are YOU going to do about it if YOU are elected president?"


Who knew democracy could be this banal?

- Paul

Sunday, October 5, 2008


"Seriously, though... could I be any more adorable? Could I???"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

In which someone gets their little weenie snipped off...

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

I just finished watching the Iron Man movie; I gotta say, it was pretty darn good. That Robert Downey Jr. ... he makes a mighty fine Tony Stark.

Normally, I hate comic-book based movies... they tend to rely too heavily on that god-awful CGI animation that movie directors in Hollywood think looks really cool but which everyone else in the world has noticed looks incredibly fake... and, yes, they tend to be aimed at the lowest common denominator... much like John McCain's vice-presidential selection...

"Say it ain't so, Joe..."

She's a saucy little scamp, ain't she? Actually, since we're all living here on non sequiter island, let me quickly toss in a quote I just read from Ms. "I'm a hockey mom" Palin...

"Our opponent though is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin said of Obama, also calling him an embarrassment.

Yup... thats' the high-minded politics that I look to McCain and Palin for... I'm glad they're not indulging in those petty, mud-slinging tactics that the voters have all grown so weary of... after all, like John said, this is not the time for that ridiculous partisan posturing. Now is the time to really, uh, focus on the issues and... uh... lie. A lot.

Anyway... Iron Man. Very good movie. Very enjoyable. Yes, there is some CGI stuff toward the end, but it's relatively brief.

So, you may consider that a recommendation, my friend...


The past couple of nights my new roommate and fellow comic-book reviewer, Rocky the cat, has been keeping me up from about 8pm to 6am with an incessant meowing/yowling noise that seems to spring up from within him from the moment that the sun sets, lasting until it rises again...

Of course, I am sympathetic. He's a young cat, used to living on his own, and he wants to be outside, showing the ladies a good time...

Hey, I get it. I was young and feline too, once upon a time.

But... I didn't want him going out until we had the little fella "fixed" because I believe in responsible sex... and since I'm not actually having any sex at all right now, I'm acting out my need for responsible sex by preventing Rocky from fathering any kittens that I know he is neither financially nor emotionally prepared to care for...

Anyway, so I didn't get much sleep. At all. And then today, Rocky went on a little adventure...

snip. snip.

So, now he's very groggy and not in such a great mood, and I'm exhausted from lack of sleep, and we're both just kind of hanging out together, finding some small comfort in each other's company...

And yet, ironically, even as we commiserate over life's difficulties, I remain poignantly aware that we are each directly responsible for the misery and exhaustion that the other is experiencing...

Is this what it's like being married?

- Paul

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Character Find of 2008... Rocky!!!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

I've been a little busy lately, but now I have a friend who's going to help me with these comic-book reviews... so, without any further ado, allow me to introduce my new cat, Rocky!!!


Rocky and I are going to do some reviews together and I think you'll agree that, together, we are a force to be reckoned with... unto like a fist of iron!!!

The first comic I wanted to talk about was the single most enjoyable comic I've read in... well, in a very long time. I'm talking about Superman/Batman #51, which features the return of some hallucinations that Superman had in a previous story... only they're no longer hallucinations.

The whole thing is pretty damn funny, but the best part is the little Batman featured on the cover below...

He talks tough, just like the Batman we all know and love, but he's so cuuuute!!!

Rocky, what did you think of Superman/Batman #51?

>No tuna.<

I'm sorry...?

>No tuna. Two paws down.<

Yeah but, Rocky... that's not really fair. I mean, none of the comics that came out this month had tuna in them. Or were about tuna. At all.

>Two paws down.<

For what...?

>All of this month's comics. No tuna. Two paws down.<


>Two paws down comics! Give me some tuna.<

Yeah, but Rocky, this is a comic-book review column. People from around the world come here to find out which comics are recommended and which to stay away from... and, you know, there's general commentary about comic-books and...

>Two paws down.<


>Hoopla! No tuna! Two paws down!!!<

But, Rocky...

>Two paws down!!! Two paws down!!! Dumb Hoopla! Two paws down!!!<

>Tuna!!! Two paws up!!!<

Hm. Well, I hope you will join me next week (or thereabouts) for an all-new Hoopla!, in which I'll be looking at a bunch of new comics and... um... and I want to thank Rocky for joining me for this very special Hoopla! column...

Thanks, Rocky.

>No problem, Paul.<

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Everybody's got something to hide except for me and the Monkees!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Man, what a great time to not be rich, huh? I don't have anything invested in anything at all, so this financial crisis is just passing me by...


Meanwhile, Robot-McCain has released this statement, making me feel much more secure about the future of our economy.

>Bleep! They have treated this economy like a casino. Bleep! They have the corruption and the access and the I tried to warn them but it is the old boy network, treated this economy like a casino. Bleep!<
Of course the one question that's on the minds of everyone on Wall Street right now is "How will the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America and the collapse of Lehman Brothers affect the Marvel and DC solicitations for December 2008?"

Well, the good news is that, thus far, they appear to have had no real effect on them. Just take a look...

See? There's the cover to The Age of the Sentry #4, looking just as pretty as a picture (which, in fact, it is... if you want to get all technical about it). No doom and gloom about stock prices here, my friend. Not a bit of it!

Read, and grow wise...





What happens when our hero takes a good long look in the mirror...and sees The Golden Age Sentry! PLUS, It's an invasion! No---not that kind of invasion; it's a British music invasion. But the dance party grinds to a sudden halt when the Crick-Hits are kidnapped, and it's all tunnels lead to Rome as the Golden Guardian of good teams up with the Blonde Phantom journeying deep within the Earth to do battle against a seemingly unstoppable army of monsters and their rather tyrannical leader, Marvel presents a story we just had to call--- "I Wanna Hold Your Band!"32 PGS./Rated A ...$2.99

Also coming out in December from Marvel is The Wonderful World of Oz (#1 of 8). This is a sort of strange pick for me... I have no inherent love of the World of Oz, but it's being written by Eric Shanower, who's won an Eisner for his comic, Age of Bronze, and the art is by Skottie Young, who has done a lot of art for Marvel that has always left me feeling that A) His art is pretty cool but, B) It doesn't go well with mainstream superhero stuff.

Let's see if I can utilize this here world wide web that the kids are always going on about to find a sample of his work for you, okay?

That's Kazar (Marvel's Tarzan rip-off... er, I mean homage...) hanging out with Deadpool.

This next one is one of my all-time pics of Iron Man...

If I saw that thing coming my way, I would surrender with great haste. Even if I wasn't doing anything wrong at all, I'd just go ahead and surrender.

And this next one is Deadpool with a very Sienkiewicz-esque Dr. Strange...

As a general rule, Young's interior art has been far less interesting than his cover work, but I'm hoping that illustrating The Wonderful World of Oz will give him the opportunity to really cut loose and do something innovative.

We shall see...

Meanwhile, if you and/or your kids have been enjoying Tiny Titans and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, there's a new title from DC you'll want to put on your pull list...

Written by Landry Walker
Art and cover by Eric Jones
Meet Linda Lee! She's the newest kid on the block - and the planet, too! Find out how an ordinary girl from Krypton became the most extraordinary girl on Earth in the pages of this brand new monthly series. And if you think life is tough as a hero, try being in the eighth grade.On sale December 3 * 32 pg, FC, $2.50 US

This new line of books for young kids has been pretty outstanding, thus far... so kudos to The Powers That Be for putting these together AND for keeping Dan Didio away from them...

Speaking of Dan Didio... a few months back I did a column pretending that Dan Didio had been brought in to edit the Archie Comics and he was going to make them all dark and gritty... well, apparently DC has bought the rights to the Archie super-heroes and they are going to start integrating them into the DC Universe.

Now, the good news is that no one actually cares about the Archie super-heroes... I know I read a few things with them, many years ago, and I think one of them was called the Fly? I don't know. But it seems like a strange move on DC's part...

But, then, what the hell do I know?

Not a damn thing, that's what.

Anyway, there's plenty more to say, and God knows I'm just the guy to say it, but I need to start preparing for tomorrow's class... I'm loving being a professor, but the prep work you have to do for classes can be a bit overwhelming... of course, compared to a REAL job, it's pretty minimal, so I guess I shouldn't complain...

Until next time, here's a little financial tip from me to you... Buy low and sell high. Right now, everything is low. So, don't sell. And stop calling up your bank and asking if your money is still there... it is. Individual accounts are insured up to $100,000. If you have more than that in your bank account, then you can send the surplus to me until this whole thing blows over. I've got plenty of room in my bank account...

It's like an echo chamber in there...

- Paul, echo-ey

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spanish Dream

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

I am so tired... it is amazing.

I went to bed at a normal hour last night (around midnight), but woke up at 2:30 all worried because I didn't feel completely ready to teach... today's lecture was on State Legislatures and up until a few days ago, I had no idea what those were, so I've had to do a LOT of research so that I can trick my students into thinking that I actually know something...

So, I woke up at 2:30am and I couldn't go back to sleep.. so, finally, I got up and read some more articles and planned my class some more.. and then, when I was finished with that, it still took me a long time to fall asleep... I think I finally fell asleep again a little after 5:00... and then my alarm woke me up at 6:30...

I was so unhappy to hear my alarm clock... I wanted to argue with it... to say, "Hey, you stupid alarm clock... I've only been sleeping for 90 minutes!!! Leave me alone!!! Go bother someone else!!!"

But instead I had to get up and get ready for the day...

Before waking up, though, I had a funny stress dream... I dreamed that I was in a Spanish class and we were all waiting for the teacher to show up, and then she finally did enter and she looked at me and said, "Paul, aren't you supposed to be teaching this class?"

And I was trying to act like I had everything under control.. so I told the class to open their books and I started trying to speak to them in Spanish... like, I tried to tell them "Open your books" in Spanish.. .but I don't actually know Spanish, so I couldn't do it... I said something like "Cerrar tus libros." But I wasn't sure if "cerrar" actually means "open" and the students were looking blankly at me, so I just said it again, impatiently, as if they were the stupid ones because they couldn't understand me. "CERRAR TUS LIBROS, estudiantes!"

And the students kept correcting my Spanish and then someone said, "Do you even know Spanish?" and I said, "Si. Of course I do. Si." But I couldn't think of any Spanish words other than "si." So I just kept saying that. "Si. Por su puesto, yo hablo espanol. Naturalmente."

Anyway, it wasn't a funny dream when I was dreaming it, but it seemed funny afterwards because of how the brain works...

Silly brain...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And this time it's personal...

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

So, it's been a while, yes?

The good news is that I think I am finally, after a couple of months of extreme wackiness, ready to return to the wonderful world of writing comic book reviews that are then read by approximately three people, maybe one and half of whom actually have any interest in comic books.

The other good news is that I'm 97% finished with the whole dissertation thing... I need to revise one more sentence (seriously... that's what my Dissertation Chair told me in her email... "There's just one more sentence I think you need to revise...) and then that will be a done deal.

The other other good news is that I have purchased a computer that doesn't crash every five minutes, which means that I can work on Hoopla! from home... which will make it much easier for me to do this on a regular basis...

The other other other good news is that... hm. No, I don't suppose there is any other other other good news.


Well, no comic book reviews today, but I've got some coming up, I promise...

In the meantime, if you're looking to be a little bit horrified by what the future has in store for us, I strongly encourage you to check out this link...

See ya soon...

- Paul

Sunday, August 31, 2008

When you least expect it...

Hoopla! - The Return

Coming (relatively) soon...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 13: Comics I will not be buying

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Today I'm going to do something a little different and instead of talking about comics that I'm looking forward to buying, I'm gonna do a column about comics that I'm looking forward to not buying... comics that give off such a rank odor that the act of seeing them on the shelves and purposefully, deliberately, adamantly NOT buying them will give me a cheap thrill, the likes of which have not been seen since that one time that I'm not going to tell you about because it's a very naughty story.

First up: Legion of Super-Heroes #46. I was very excited when Jim Shooter returned to this title. He was one of the original writers of Legion of Super-Heroes back in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the idea of him returning to that series some 40 years later seemed potentially very cool.

Alas, it was not cool.

Through the magic of not being able to cancel my pre-orders, I ended up reading three of these things, and they were pretty awful. More than anything, it felt like a mish-mash of boring, "been there, done that" kinds of sub-plots without any core. For example, Lightning Lad is the new leader and so we keep seeing him walking around with six or seven floating telephones (it's set in the far future, so telephones hover around your face as you talk) and dealing with bureaucratic nonsense.

Not funny.

Supposed to be funny, but not funny.

And extra-especially not funny because the obvious question that comes to mind is, "Why doesn't the leader of the galaxy's most famous super-hero team hire a receptionist to deal with that stuff?"

Pretty much all of the sub-plots were like that. Princess Projectra is no longer a princess and so there were repeated scenes of people not using her title and saying, "After all, you're no longer a princess" and her getting really angry and punching them in the face.

Not funny. Not interesting.

Anyway, I particularly enjoyed the solicitation for the September issue of Legion of Super-Heroes because the text is as follows:


Written by Jim Shooter

Art and cover by Francis Manapul & Livesay

Chameleon’s hand is amputated! The menacing Intruder Planet is revealed as the source of the Alien Life-Eradicators! A longtime Legionnaire takes the first step down the path of darkness! Plus, the heartbreaking end of the oldest relationship in the history of the Legion! On sale September 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Okay, so first problem... "the menacing Intruder Planet is revealed as the source of the Alien Life-Eradicators."

Well, yes. It has been revealed. Right there in the solicitation text.

Next problem: The menacing Intruder Planet!!!

Um... no.

Next problem: The Alien Life-Eradicators!!!

Clearly, Jim Shooter is an idea-generating machine, the likes of which have not been seen since Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.

What's really amazing is that no one ever thought to use those awesome names before... The menacing Intruder Planet!!! The Alien Life-Eradicators!!!

Jim Shooter... stop! It's too much excitement...

Next Problem: The fact that Chameleon's hand gets amputated--and that that's considered a selling point of the issue--is bizarre and inappropriate, but then this is a DC comic and if there's one thing you can count on in a DC comic in the Dan Didio era, it's the maiming of characters.

Anyway, Chameleon is a shape-shifter, so does it actually matter if his hand gets amputated? Can't he just assume the shape of a thing that isn't missing a hand?

But my favorite stupid thing about this solicitation is that we're told that all this stuff is going to happen... we've got amputated hands and Alien Life-Eradicators and heartbreaking ends of old relationships... and then this is the cover they came up with to convey all this action and drama...

Ultra Boy is reading something while he drinks some coffee. Three poorly drawn characters, presumably evil, approach him.

And there's a muffin.

Speaking of the DC love of maiming characters, check out the solicitation for Green Lantern Corp #28...


Written by Peter J. Tomasi

Art by Luke Ross & Fabio Laguna

Cover by Rodolfo Migliari

As Kyle and Guy deal with personal issues on Oa, several Lanterns search for whoever’s been gruesomely removing the eyes of their relatives. Meanwhile, the Guardian known as Scar summons Lantern Saarek for a mission that will lead directly into The Blackest Night.On sale September 10 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Excuse me... could you say that again? I didn't quite hear you...

"...on Oa, several Lanterns search for whoever’s been gruesomely removing the eyes of their relatives."


Well, that sounds like a very... interesting idea for a story.

Nicely done, DC.

And, back to the subject of new characters with appallingly stupid names, we have this...


Written by Mark Sable

Art by Carlos Magno & Jonathan Glapion

Cover by Mike McKone

Meet The Phantom Limbs, an elite team of wounded soldiers saved by Cyborg's technology. The catch? The only way they can keep their new limbs is by killing for the mercenary Mr. Orr. Will Vic be able to save them from this Faustian bargain – or will they kill him first?On sale September 17 • 5 of 6, 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Ooh... the Phantom Limbs! And this is their very first appearance!!!

See what I'm saying here? DC comics. Amputated hands. The gruesome removal of eyeballs. A team of wounded soldiers who must kill in order to keep their new, artificial limbs.

It's almost like... a pattern, of some sort.

A hard to define... just barely on the periphery of my awareness kind of pattern...

So, there's that.

Oh, one more thing I thought looked kind of funny...


Written by Marv Wolfman

Art and cover by Phil Winslade

Supergirl and Raven team up to save San Francisco from a new super villain with deep roots in the DC Universe!On sale September 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Now, I'd be hard-pressed to think up a less intriguing team-up than Raven and Supergirl, and Marv Wolfman hasn't written a decent story since the mid to late 1980s, but my favorite thing about this is the cover... for sheer goofiness, it's hard to beat this...

I don't know why, exactly, but that floating head absolutely cracks me up. That and the fact that Supergirl is making the international symbol for "La-la-la-la-la-la!!! I can't hear you!!! I'm not listening!!! La-la-la-la-la-la!!!"


Marvel's solicitations for September aren't nearly as comical, with one glaring exception...

Written by Duane Swierczynski
The minute he saw the dame, Orson Randall knew he was in for a heap of hurt -- all in. But he wouldn’t be the hard-boiled hero he was if he didn’t go sniffing after trouble. Hero? Randall stopped the laugh in his throat. Drowned it in a slug of bourbon. Randall’s no hero. 1920s Los Angeles just ain’t the time or the place for a guy like that. Ain’t the time or place for the Immortal Iron Fist. Orson Randall’s just trying to figure the angle. And if he has to unload his .45s to do it, so much the better. Orson Randall’s just in it for the skirt. 48 PGS./Rated T+ ...$3.99

At first, I thought it was supposed to be funny. Y'know, sort of a satirical take on the old "film noir" kind of "pulp fiction"-y kind of thing.

But I don't think it's supposed to be funny.

I think maybe... just maybe... it's supposed to sound cool.

Hero? Randall stopped the laugh in his throat. Drowned it in a slug of bourbon. Randall’s no hero.

Ain’t the time or place for the Immortal Iron Fist. Orson Randall’s just trying to figure the angle. And if he has to unload his .45s to do it, so much the better.

Orson Randall’s just in it for the skirt.

And, my personal favorite...

The minute he saw the dame, Orson Randall knew he was in for a heap of hurt -- all in.

What does that even mean??? "All in." Is that some new thing that the kids say?


Anyway, enough of my wise-guy shenanigans... I need to get back to work on my dissertation... all in.

Until next time, here's hoping that the menacing Intruder Planet doesn't intrude on you and your footloose and fancy free ways...

Paul, all in

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 12: In which my teeth hurt. A lot.

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

It's been a while, huh? Before we get started on the comic-book goodness, let me tell you what I've been up to the past few weeks...

1) My girlfriend, Mie, moved to New Jersey

2) I've been working on my dissertation



5) Oh, yeah... today I went to the dentist and now that the novacaine has worn off, my teeth feel like someone dug deep into my gum tissues with a metal pick and scraped at the roots of my teeth for a couple of hours.

Which, in fact, is precisely what's happened. So, I guess that's a good sign, huh?

Also, in a somewhat humorous oversight, I've realized that although I'm scheduled to defend my dissertation on July 24, I'm actually required to finish my dissertation 15 days before defending it. So, whereas I thought that I had about a month to finish it, I actually have about two weeks.



Anyway, enough about me... let's talk comics, shall we...?

First of all, I wanted to post this link from Newsarama. You may recall me attempting to calculate, about a month ago, how much it would cost to read all the parts of Secret Invasion. Well, someone's actually done a much better job of it than my half-assed attempt, and it's pretty entertaining, in its way. Apparently, to purchase all of the official tie-ins, cross-overs, and related limited series would cost $316.98.

So, start saving.

Final Crisis, which is DC's big summer event, would only cost you $115.14 according to the calculations done in that Newsarama article, but I think they overlooked a few things in figuring that out. Like, for example, Countdown to Final Crisis, the 52-issue story that was supposed to be the prequel.

In all fairness, the guy who wrote the article notes that he left out stuff like that... so I guess it's not really an oversight, per se... he just didn't want to get into all the prelude-y stuff.

For what it's worth, although I have no intention of purchasing even half the Secret Invasion tie-ins and stuff, I am enjoying the actual limited series quite a lot, and also the Avengers tie-ins. I also picked up the first issue of Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four, because it was one of the "less than a dollar" comics offered by mailordercomics.com for that month and, I've gotta say, it was far more enjoyable than the regular, ongoing Fantastic Four title, which I complained about last month. Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four is not the stuff of genius... it's not the comic that's going to revolutionize comic-book writing... but it is a lot of fun. And that aint all bad...

Final Crisis, on the other hand, I'm not so enamored of. I found the first issue rather self-important and dull. There was no single character that seemed to be important to the story... they're all just sort of there to narrate the HUGE AND SIGNIFICANT EVENTS that are occurring.

Maybe that will change as it goes along?

Then again, maybe I won't keep reading long enough to find out.

Here's the cover for issue #4, due out in September...

So, is it me or does this cover sort of look like Darkseid is going to a boxing match?

Every time I look at it, I have that same thought.

There was a really funny interview with Grant Morrison, by the way, in which he was asked why there was such a huge disconnect between the conclusion of Countdown to Final Crisis and the beginning of Final Crisis, the story that Countdown was supposed to be counting down to...

Example: Countdown to Final Crisis ends with the deaths of all the New Gods. This was also shown in Jim Starlin's recent "Death of the New Gods" limited series (I'm not sure that's the actual title, but it was something like that).

And yet, Final Crisis #1 opens with one of the New Gods being murdered and it's a big mystery. So, obviously, they weren't all dead. In fact, it appears that none of them are dead, despite the fact that they were all killed off one month earlier.

Grant Morrison basically says that the people who were responsible for Countdown to Final Crisis ****ed up and there was nothing he could do about it because he'd already written his story by the time that the year-long prelude to his story was finished.

Silly DC comics...

So, here's something that I'm genuinely looking forward to... issues 1 and 2 of Marvel Apes, both due to come out in September.

Here's the solicitation text:

MARVEL APES #1 & 2 (of 4)
Written by KARL KESEL
Pencils by RAMON BACHS
Flingin' feces, True Believer-- the entire Marvel Universe has gone APE! Just when he thinks life can't get any worse or weirder, Marty Blank - a.k.a. that lovable loser, the Gibbon -- finds himself and the brilliant-and-beautiful Dr. Fiona Fitzhugh transported to a world where monkeys rule and humans don't exist! SEE the spectacular simian city of Monkhattan! MEET the hominoid heroes and villains - SPIDER-MONKEY! DOC OOK! IRON MANDRILL! SIMIAN TORCH! THE APE-VENGERS! And more! THRILL to the return of Speedball! CONTAINS No-Ads, as we are thrilled to present you backup tales exploring the Apeiverse! LEARN the dark secret of the primate planet! WORRY that the fate of the entire universe is in the hands of the Gibbon! Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story - just the most not-to-be-missed mini-series of the season! If you only buy one (well, two) comics this month about super-powered, intelligent apes-in-capes, it must be MARVEL APES! 40 PGS.(each)/ Rated T+ ...$3.99 (each)

See... and that's why I love Marvel.

I don't want people to think I'm picking on DC, though, so here's something lovely that they're publishing in September...

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III
Featuring spectacular art by J.H. Williams III (PROMETHEA)! Jonah Hex joins a posse hunting a gang of murderous outlaws, but when the guns fall silent, Hex finds himself faced with a peculiar proposition, as a marshal named Roth and his pretty young wife invite Hex for the strangest dinner of his life. On sale September 3 o 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Man... what is the deal with Jonah Hex??? A couple of months ago, there was a solicitation for an upcoming issue with art by Darwyn Cooke, and now they've got J.H. Williams III doing an issue???

I don't understand it, but I like it... I like it a lot.


Well, I'm going to have to cut this shorter than I'd planned because my gums are beginning to throb with pain... I have this little mini-pack of Advil that the dentist gave me as I was leaving, but it's in one of those metal-ish packages that you're supposed to somehow open with your fingers but which, in reality, cannot be opened by hand unless you happen to be Edward Scissorshand.

Which I do not.

So, I'm forced to choose between continuing this column or going home and getting a frickin' frackin' scissors and opening the frickin' frackin' package and taking the Advil before all the nerve-endings in my mouth explode...

On that happy note, here's hoping that your girlfriend hasn't left you to move to New Jersey, that you haven't suddenly lost two vital weeks of dissertation-writing time, and that your gums haven't recently been slashed open.

Marvel Apes, you can't get here soon enough....

- Paul

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 11: Good Things to Come - Marvel Comics!!!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

You know, ever since I posted that last column, talking about the August 2008 solicitations for DC Comics, my mail box has been stuffed full of letters, all wanting to know the same thing...

What about the Marvel Comics??? Will there be Skrulls??? Will there be lots and lots of Skrulls??? Will it light up the whole world...?

Well, now, just calm yourself down, li'l feller... there'll be Skrulls! Heck, yeah, there'll be Skrulls... Skrulls enough for you, your friends, your family, and even enough for ol' Mrs. Wilson who lives down the road...

Skrull limited series! Skrull crossovers! Skrull t-shirts and Skrull coffee mugs! Skrulls enough to fill all your Skrully needs!!!

But that's not all...


[In case you're wondering, that's 21 different titles tying into the big Skrull storyline in August... at about 3 bucks a pop, that's roughly 63 dollars for August... if, y'know, you wanna follow the Skrull storyline in its total awesome-nality-ness...]

And while we're talking about the Skrulls... incidentally... and just so none of you go running around and accusing me of xenophobia... I'd just like to point out that I did, in fact, purchase and read Secret Invasion #1, as well as the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers tie-ins that came out in April, and I actually quite enjoyed them all...

So, let's just be careful about that rumor-mongering, yeah...?

But, as I was saying... not everything is about the Skrulls, y'know. There's some other stuff coming out in August of interest...

"Such as...?" you ask, in that taunting, mocking tone that absolutely makes me want to slug you...

Well, lemme tell ya...

August is still summer, right? Yeah? COOL! Then we’re hittin’ ya up with two ALL-NEW Spidey stories from times when he wasn’t Secretly Invading or Branding New Days. First, Spidey teams up with Falcon to handle an outbreak of futuristic weaponry showing up in Harlem, and then MARY JANE takes center stage as she teams up with She-Hulk, Hellcat, Marvel Girl and some other lovely ladies to take on The Enchantress, in this one-shot!48 PGS./Rated A …$3.99

Why is this of interest? Well, I'll give you four reasons...

1) Keith Giffen
2) Paul Tobin
3) Rick Burchett (He's actually sort of hit-or-miss... used to love his art, but his work on She-Hulk was just plain lame...)
4) Colleen Coover

And then there's this...

Written by TERRY MOORE
At long, long, long, looooooooooooooooong last, SHE’S BACK!Mary Jane Watson, in her very own adventures! Superstar writer Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, upcoming RUNAWAYS) supplies story (and covers!) and artist Craig Rousseau (The Perhapanauts) brings his best for this all-new mini.It’s the beginning of a new high school year. MJ finally feels like she’s got her life in order. Good friends, good classes, good relationship with a certain Wall-Crawler…but is there someone behind the scenes that’s got it in for our rambunctious redhead?
32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99

Okay, so... why-oh-why am I recommending something called Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane?

Is it because I'm a total dweeb?
Sure, there's that... but it's also because it's being written by Terry Moore.

I don't know if it'll be great... I don't even know if it'll be good... but, at the very least, it oughtta be interesting...

The FF's emergency exploration of the worlds of fiction continues as they burst through the covers of Ivanhoe and start to gather an army against the onrushing darkness. And the surprise villain behind this whole weird collision is revealed! (Warning: do not keep True Story too close to your other comic books. It may freak them out.)
32 PGS./Rated A …$2.99

I talked about this limited series quite a lot last month, so I'll just say this... Ivanhoe meets Fantastic Four.

Guaranteed Hollywood summer blockbuster...

Written by JEFF PARKER
Penciled by IG GUARA
Marvel: Okay, 27 is your final Avengers issue- we're expecting something special.
Parker: Oh don't you worry, it will be. Heh.
Marvel: Really? Great! Who's in it?
Parker: Um... the guy with the thing- trust me, it's going to RAWK.
Marvel: You don't know what the story is yet, do you.
Parker: -think my phone's running out of juice-zzzz-can barely hear you--- bwip*
32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99

Now that's what I call a solicitation...

Written by PAUL TOBIN
Penciled by ALVIN LEE
Iron Man, Hulk and Spidey rocket into space to stop a potentially devastating meteor shower from reaching Earth, but are surprised to find the meteors are actually Meteor Men, a group of intergalactic frat boys engaging in their most awesomely favorite extreme sport: Planet-Bombing. After negotiations (Could the Hulk quit hitting us, please?) the Meteor Men agree not to bombard Earth IF the heroes show them an equally good time on a variety of other planets, and other extreme sports. Will our heroes survive Albernathean Rhino Riding? How about Kree Karaoke? Or the galaxy’s most dangerous extreme sport, Black Hole Bungee Jumping?
32 PGS./All Ages …$2.99

I'm going to be seriously disappointed if there isn't really Kree Karaoke in that comic...

Written by TERRY MOORE
Pencils & Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS
Come see the beginning of a whole new Runaways! Comics legend Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo) and super-star artist Humberto Ramos (X-MEN, WOLVERINE, SPIDER-MAN) run back to Los Angeles with your favorite teen heroes. But it’s not the same city they left so long ago. The Runaways try to stay off the radar, but the sins of their parents won’t make that possible…
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

Again with the Terry Moore...

So, I really have no idea if this new Runaways series is going to be any good or not... it could go either way. I will say this... the recent storyline by Whedon has been unbearable. I mean, no, it's not really that bad of a story... God knows we've all read worse... but the sheer mediocrity of the writing and the art combined with the erratic scheduling has really sucked the fun and excitement out of this series...

The biggest question mark here is going to be the art by Ramos... you can tell by the cover that he's going for a pretty radically different look than the previous artists... and I'm just not sure how well it's going to work. But, hey, I'll give it a shot...

NYX: NO WAY HOME #1 (of 6)
There’s no place like home—just ask young mutant KIDEN NIXON. She’s survived the hard streets of Manhattan, and she’s built a home—and a family—for herself, with her friends TATIANA, BOBBY SOUL and his LI’L BRO. But with fewer than 200 mutants left on the planet, Kiden’s become a target—and when somebody strikes at one of her friends, Kiden’s going to find out just how much farther she can fall! Don’t miss the breathtaking return of this beloved series, by NEW YORK TIMES best-selling writer MARJORIE LIU (the DIRK & STEELE SERIES) with stunning art by KALMAN ANDRASOFSZKY! Plus—a special behind-the-scenes gallery!
40 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

Wow. This looks... powerful.

Ha! No, I'm just kidding... I don't actually know anything at all about Marjorie Liu or Kalman Andravsky... er... Kalman A., and maybe they're both brilliant and maybe... just maybe... I will live to regret my flippant dismissal of their fine new limited series, but here's what I do know...

Bobby Soul is a really, really stupid name.

I mean, seriously... that's right out of those 1970's "socially relevant" Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics by O'Neil and Adams...

This issue: Green Arrow and Green Lantern must face the grim underbelly of the ghettoes in the tale we simply had to call:

"Bobby Soul Don't Live Here No More!"

And Li'l Bro?

Li'l Bro?????

"Sweet Christmas!!! It's Li'l Bro!!!"

So, here's the math on that...

Bobby Soul + Li'l Bro + "She's survived the hard streets of Manhatten" + mutant angst = six issues of solid Turd

That's what I know about that...


And on that lovely note, I bid you farewell with this very special message to that group of Democrat women who have publicly vowed to NOT vote for Barack Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination... which he already has, by the way...

It's all fine and well that you would like for there to be a female president... it's ridiculous that there hasn't been one up until now and I can well understand your frustration...


McCain??? Supreme Court nominations???

I'm just saying...

- Paul

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 10: Good Things to Come -- DC Comics!!!

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

This column is going to take a look at some of the DC solicitations for August of 2008 and, who knows, maybe it will actually be followed by another column looking at Marvel solicitations.

But I'm not promising that.

I'm not promising A DARN THING!!!

So... please do bear that in mind...


Written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson

Art by Rafael Albuequerque

The Man of Steel and the Dark Knight are shocked to discover little versions of themselves fighting a threat in Metropolis. But where did these tiny heroes come from? As Superman and Batman search for answers, things get worse with the arrival of the Li’l League!On sale August 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99

I've been thoroughly enjoying Superman/Batman ever since Michael Green and Mike Johnson started writing it... which, I realize, makes me the only person in the entire universe reading it.

Or, at least, I'm the only one willing to admit to it...

But, anyhow, it's been a very fun series and issue #51 looks to be more of the same... I mean, the Li'l League??? How is that not going to be awesome???

The above is the cover to Green Lantern Corps, which I do not buy. And I will not pick up this issue, either. But, hey, it's a cool cover... isn't it?

And speaking of neat covers to comics that I'm not actually interested in reading, the above is a cool Alex Ross cover for Superman #679.

Written by James Robinson
Art by Renato Guedes & José Wilson Magalháes
Cover by Alex Ross
Two supermen: One, a man of yore, the other, the Man of Tomorrow! Atlas and Superman continue their all-out war, with Metropolis as the prize. But for all his power, Superman seems unable to defeat this titan of myth. With our hero down for the count, it will take another, unexpected hero to save the day.Guest-starring Supergirl and – someone else!On sale August 27 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

There was a time when James Robinson's name on a comic was pretty much a guarantee that it was gonna rock, but those days are long past. I seem to have this hazy, vague recollection of purchasing numerous post-Starman James Robinson comics, one after another, that really sucked and thinking, "What the hell happened to this guy? When did he forget how to write?"

I don't recall which comics these were, but I think this really did happen. It was not a dream, a hoax, or an imaginary story.

So, for that reason, even though Alex Ross has been making very pretty covers for Robinson's new run on Superman, I ain't buying. Not, at least, until I read some positive reviews that convince me otherwise...

This... on the other hand... this looks good to me.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank & Jon Sibal
“Brainiac” part 3 of 5! The frightening storyline that sets the stage for the SUPERMAN event of 2008 continues. Against everyone’s advice, Superman has journeyed to the deepest reaches of space to initiate contact with an alien being he thought he knew: Brainiac. But after learning about the truth behind Brainiac’s existence and his plans for Earth, Superman may regret his decision.On sale August 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99

I've really been enjoying Johns and Frank on Action Comics, thus far, and the upcoming Braniac storyline looks to be VERY cool...

And that...? That's a goat.

It may look familiar to some of you. Perhaps you have seen that goat before? In a dream, perhaps? Or staring at you through your bedroom window?

Who knows?

It's that kind of goat... the kind that leaves you wondering...


Written by Sholly Fisch

Art by Dario Brizuela

You’re invited to a special day: The Challenge of The Super Friends! Thrill as our heroes design special traps for each other at a charity event. Chill as those traps are sabotaged by the Key! How will they escape? On sale August 20 • 32 pg, FC, $2.25

I know, I know... it's the Super Friends. But doesn't that sound like a neat premise for a comic? I only wish Justice League of America was doing fun stories like that instead of this incessant crap about Red Tornado's robot body being possessed and/or stolen by Amazo and even stupid-er stories about Vixen's stupid animal powers not working properly.


And, seriously, which cover looks better to you... the above one with the Super Friends caught in a cage, or this...


And then, finally, there's this...

Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art and cover by Steve Rolston
“Auspicious . . . an unusually strong graphic novel – rich in visuals and observations.”— Publishers Weekly on Tamaki’s Skim
A borrowed diary, a double life and identity issues fuel a teenager’s quest to find herself before she cracks and commits social suicide. Watch Emi go from dull, suburban babysitter to eclectic urban art star compliments of one crazy summer! October 1 • 5.25” x 8” • 176 pg, FC, B&W, $9.99 US

Does anyone remember the brand name DC had for these little black and white graphic novels for teens? I can't think of it, offhand, and for some odd reason it isn't mentioned anywhere in the solicitation, but anyway, I'm assuming this is one of those...

Anyway, I really enjoy Steve Rolston's art and... and, so there.

Oddly, it seems to be coming out in October... which makes it a peculiar choice for the August 2008 solicitations. But, hey... what do I know???

Well, that's all for now... there are a few other DC books I'll be getting in August, including Booster Gold, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, Ambush Bug, Justice Society of America, and Green Lantern, but they didn't have particularly interesting covers, so... so there it is.

Incidentally, I just want everyone to know that I just got a new haircut today and I'm very pleased with it. I'm in a sharing mood, and that's something that I wanted to share with all of you.

- Paul, a sharing guy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 9: Mack Daddy Grimm???

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

Well, it's been a long while and you can be sure that I've been thinking of y'all... thinking warm, fuzzy thoughts...

But warm, fuzzy thoughts don't pay the rent, buster...

Although, come to think of it... nothing I do pays the rent...

Hm. How am I going to pay the rent this month?

Oh, well... that's a problem for June 1... right now, we're smack dab in the middle of May 2008 and THAT means it's time for some comic-book reviews...



Pencils & Cover by STUART IMMONEN

This was kind of a usual, no big changes to the status quo kind of story... some very funny moments, as when Peter Parker reveals his burnt baby to the class...

(that could actually sound very strange if you haven't read the actual story, I suppose...)

Still not entirely used to Immonen's art... I mean, there are times when it totally works for me, but then there are other times when I miss Mark Bagley... Hey, the guy illustrated over a hundred issues of this thing... it's going to take a while to get used to someone else's interpretation...

Y'know, I've been reading a lot of articles about BIG CHANGES COMING TO THE ULTIMATE UNIVERSE... But, I must confess, I'm not that interested. The Ultimate Universe doesn't need big changes... it doesn't need a huge crossover that reveals that everything you thought you knew was wrong... all it really needs is some good writers and some artists telling some good stories.

That's it.

That's all anyone really expects from the Ultimate Universe. And that was the key to its success for so long... all the comics published within its little sub-universe were good.

Kind of ingenious, really...

But, Ultimate Spider-Man is the only title that's really kept that going... I think there's pretty much universal recognition that Ultimate X-Men has sucked for years... and bringing in Ultimate Apocalypse, Ultimate Cable, Ultimate Mr. Sinister, and Ultimate Arms-Fall-Off Lad didn't help...

Yeah, so, anyway, not interested in that big ORIGINS OF ULTIMATE UNIVERSE thing they've got coming up... I honestly don't care about the origins of the Ultimate Universe. I just want to see Spider-Man make with the funnies while he swings around fighting crime and having soap opera-esque problem emerge in his personal life...

That's all.

Written by ZEB WELLS
Pencils & Cover by CHRIS BACHALO

Speaking of Spider-Man... and I was... this three-part story by Wells and Bachalo rocked my world!!!
This is the best art I've seen from Bachalo in a long, long time... and the story is funny, action-packed, has moment of well done drama (the homeless guy who gives back Spider-Man's winter coat, the reveal at the end of issue 2, etc.)... all in all, a perfect little comic-book story.

I know a lot of readers insisted that they were going to drop Amazing Spider-Man because they were so angry at the end of whatever that storyline was called... the thing where Peter Parker and Mary Jane made a deal with Mephisto that if he would re-set their continuity so that they were never married, they'd get a sales boost and no one would ever mention it again... but anyway, yes, that thing sucked, but this thing is something different, so I don't really understand how hating the one equals not buying the other.

I know, I know... it's the principle of the thing.

But, here's the problem with THAT....

For one thing, it's completely different writers, different artists, a different editor...

And, really, if you want to "punish" comic-book companies for putting out terrible storylines, then by all means let's stop buying all Superman-related titles because of that horrible Superman Red/Superman Blue thing they did ten years back... the resolution to that was completely unsatisfying... and if you're going to complain about retroactively f#cking up the continuity, you better not be purchasing any X-Men comics... or need I remind you of the whole "Jean Grey wasn't really Jean Grey when she died, she was actually in a cocoon at the bottom of the ocean" thing...?

So, yeah... just don't even start with me.

Good comics is good comics... and Amazing Spider-Man is, at this moment in time, good comics!!!

So there.

And that?

That, my friend, is a goat.

And yes, he's looking at you... Got a problem with that?




This is it: Marvel's rag-tag group of sci-fi heroes vs. Ultron – in a double-sized finale! The surviving warriors face-off on the battlefield, with the fate of the entire Kree Empire – and perhaps the Earth itself – at stake! Who will fall? Who will rise to become a legend? It's an extra helping of adventure, humor, drama and eye-candy that IGN.com calls "one of the best event books of the year."48 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Yeah... this ended up being not so great, really...

I like these same writers on Nova and I'm looking forward to their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series... and there were certainly moments that were very entertaining (pretty much any page with Groot)... but overall...


Too much sturm and drang, too little Groot.


Written by MARK MILLAR

Pencils & Cover by BRYAN HITCH

Man, that's one butt-ugly cover, isn't it?

You'd think... or, at least, I would think... that Millar and Hitch on Fantastic Four would be a good thing... a "oh my god that's gonna be awesome" kind of thing.

I mean, Mark Millar did a year's worth of stories on Ultimate Fantastic Four, which is practically the same damn book, and it was great... four action-packed, fun, wacky stories...

And Bryan Hitch???

Don't even get me started...

But, surprisingly, this really isn't very good. This is the third issue to come out and I was just sort of being patient through the first two... I was thinking, "Okay, they haven't quite found their rhythm yet, but when they do... Hoo-boy!!!"

And yes, I really do think things like "Hoo-boy!!!"

At any rate...

There are a lot of problems with this run, but I think the main one is that it doesn't feel like a Fantastic Four story... and that's a problem, because this is the Fantastic Four.

Example: Ben Grimm hooks up with a school-teacher in the first issue... his character is very smooth with the ladies, very much a... oh, what do the kids say?... oh, yeah... he's a mack daddy.

Well, that's not Ben Grimm. Ben Grimm spent a bazillion years dating a blind woman because he's so hideous that people, upon first seeing him, think he's a monster.

That's why he's called The Thing and not The Attractive, Well-Adjusted Orange Guy...

So, sure, you don't have to show him moping around all the time, because that does get tedious, but you can't suddenly having him comfortably flirting with attractive women... it doesn't work.

Example #2: Showing us, in the third issue, that Johnny Storm had sex with that super-villain. Y'know... it's not like I care. I'm definitely not in the camp of people who thinks that such things are inherently inappropriate for comics... but, at the same time, this is a comic that is allegedly for kids. It's the Fantastic Four. And Johnny Storm meets this woman, fights her for a few pages, and the next scene they're in bed together, it's the next morning, and we get to see her ridiculous "sexy" underwear that only women in comic-books actually wear...

I don't know... it just doesn't seem like The Fantastic Four is really the place for that... it's just not... appropriate. Or interesting.

But the single most annoying thing about this comic is the storyline... so, here's the deal... an ex-girlfriend of Reed Richards shows up and tells him that she needs his help... it turns out that she and her rich, scientist husband have joined a group called THE TRUST... and THE TRUST has discovered that, due to environmental damage, the Earth will be uninhabitable in about ten years, so they've found a way to get into some pocket universe or something and they are rebuilding the Earth and the moon...

Okay, so that's stupid. What do you stand on while you build the Earth? And how does the gravity of that work? And if there's no sun yet, because they haven't built it, how does the.. and the... and the...

So, that's stupid.

Then, because nothing's happened yet of any interest, the robot thing that's supposed to be in charge of security--it's called CAP--on this new world goes nuts and starts killing everyone... not so original, but whatever... but here's the REALLY stupid thing... so, S.H.I.E.L.D. sends their top 40 super-heroes... Storm and Wolverine and Hercules, etc. ... and we see that the robot has defeated all of them as the Fanstastic Four arrive.

Now, how does that work, exactly? It was build by the ex-girlfriend and her husband and their friend, but somehow it's powerful enough to defeat forty super-heroes? And there's no way to... y'know... shut it off?

Anyway, it's stupid to even talk about it because it's such a stupid story...

Stupid, stupid, stupid...

So, uh, that's my review.

And now, before I go, here are some good things coming up...

That is a cover for Jonah Hex #33.

I know, I know... who cares?

But, get this... the art for this one issue is by Darwyn Cooke.

Jonah Hex #33... I'm just sayin'...

Ambush Bug?

Ambush Bug.


Written by Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming

Art by Giffen & Al Milgrom

Ambush Bug.

Keith Giffen.

Ambush Bug.

And, finally...


All coming your way in July 2008.

And now, I must go do that thing that I do...

- Paul