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 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