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 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