Friday, February 22, 2013

REVIEW: Before Watchmen

Review: Will Dubbeld

"DC Comics would only revisit these iconic characters if the creative vision of any proposed new stories matched the quality set by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons nearly 25 years ago, and our first discussion on any of this would naturally be with the creators themselves."-attributed to a statement made by Dan Didio and Jim Lee.

Before Watchmen: A Tragedy Told in Several Parts, and a One-Shot or Two. Because after 25-plus years, DC Comics suddenly realized there were SO MANY unanswered questions about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen.
Unanswered financial questions, questions about a shameless cash-in...
Cash-ins like Jim Lee 1:9,000 variant incentive San Diego Comic Con retailer exclusive Wizard World mail in 5 box tops from Wheaties and 1400 Marlboro Miles covers.

Before Watchmen: Moloch had 2 issues and seven covers. Seven! That's 3.5 covers per issue.

I couldn't begin to artfully craft a critique about these series, but I figure if DC couldn't artfully craft the actual books, why shouldn't I follow suit with some haphazard, slapdash writing of my own? Random points of interest/irritation follow.
Also, spoilers, but who cares?

Rorschach: Eating cold beans. Because it couldn't have been just a random touch in the original, fuck no! Brian Azzarello deemed that Rorschach prefers cold beans over other sustenance. Also, nothing of interest happened in this miniseries, which revolved around the vilification of clergy and Rorschach's doomsday ideals.

Minutemen: really disappointed in Darwyn Cooke. I could have gone my entire life without seeing a roughie sex scene betwixt Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis. And they have a mountain hideout like the JLA base from the 50s? Where was Snapper Carr during this miniseries?
And the hell was up with Comedian and his sinister revenge plot? Uncharacteristically Machiavellian of him...

Dr. Manhattan: you remember those sequences in Watchmen where Doc Manhattan would get all retrospective and nostalgic about his past and have some dreamy, existing-at-all-points-in-space-and-time-simultaneously flashback?

Imagine that, but lasting four issues and having no point.

Oh, and remember that sweet clockwork crystal palace thinger he made when he was on Mars? It seems young Mr. Osterman's father bought his son a table clock/astrolabe device when he was a lad.
Guess what it looked like?

Comedian: Why is Comedian playing grabass with JFK and Bobby Kennedy? Jackie put a hit out on Marilyn Monroe? Wasn't it intimated that Comedian killed JFK? And if I wanted to read a comic about a soldiers tribulations and trial during the horrors of The 'Nam, I'd read...
well, I'd read The 'Nam.
Not Full Metal Jacket starring The Comedian.

Of note: A Moloch miniseries? Really? Why? I hear a Dollar Bill one-shot is happening. I reiterate: why?
What's next, Before Watchmen: The Adventures of Magazine Stand Guy and That Black Kid? Or how about Before Watchmen: Hollis Mason's Dog: The Early Years?

Crimson Corsair: This backup is pretty well without merit. I feel bad saying so, because I usually like Len Wein's work, but it really is poorly approached. I find myself uninterested in it, failing to remember what the last installment was about, and wishing that they weren't trying so fucking hard to emulate the original formula by force-feeding us a Tales of the Black Freighter pastiche.

Ozymandias: So the giant psionic death-squid was a nod to an Outer Limits episode called 'The Architects of Fear', in which a think tank mutates a fella to look like an alien and the subsequent revelation is meant to stop the Cold War in the face of an extraterrestrial threat. The Ozymandias mini shows us that Adrian Veidt has realized he must save the world from nuclear war and he turns to science fiction books and television for inspiration. Including The Outer Limits, where he watches an episode featuring a group of scientists who "transform one of their own into a grotesque alien designed to frighten humanity into banding together..."



I want to kick DC Comics in the nuts.

Funny little anecdote here: when the original (or good, as it will be known) Watchmen was coming along, Len Wein ceased working on the book because he felt the ending was entirely aped from this Outer Limits episode, and Uncle Al refused to alter his script. Len Wein wrote the Ozymandias miniseries.In which he makes canon the fact that Veidt is inspired directly by the Outer Limits for his Squidplan.

Making the Ozymandias miniseries a six-issue backdrop for Len Wein to scream, "Fuck you, Al!" And flip him the bird after stewing on it since 1986.

Good job, Len. That'll teach him.

Silk Specter: I can't help but think that the Silk Specter miniseries was crafted with the sole purpose to serve as a device explaining the origin of Comedian's smiley face button.
Oh, and Sally Jupiter was in porn, apparently.

Because that's what these miniseries do. They try to one-up the dystopia crafted by Misters Moore and Gibbons, and in doing so simply serve to dirty the source material, to heap trash and grime on it. And not in that post-industrial, visceral, Nine Inch Nails sort of way. It's more like finding sex Polaroids of your aunt. I'm especially bemused by JMS' involvement in this, considering his sour attitude involving the final arc in Amazing Spider-Man and the editorial changes that befouled his original concept. I know the argument could be made that Alan Moore is doing the same thing in League of Extraordinary Gentleman or Lost Girls, writing about characters established in another authors work. The difference betwixt the two has as much to do with the spirit of the writing as the letter of it. Alan Moore isn't writing a definitive retelling of these characters so much as he's writing a tongue in cheek, non-canon, sometimes pornographic, alternate continuity. He isn't expecting the reader to forevermore believe that Alan Quartermain became a junkie or that Dorothy Gale maintained an incestuous relationship with her father in their respective source material.

Lost Girls is really weird and kind of banal, by the way.

Let me entertain another theoretical example, if I may. Several years after the conclusion of a popular DC Comic series, high-ups in the company decide there is a wealth of untold stories to be mined from the source material and before you know it, BAM! you get Preacher II: the Further Adventures of Jessie and Tulip. Brought to you by Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld.

To be fair, I could make reference to Marvel bleeding King Kirby's corpse dry, but Dynamite Entertainment beat them to it.

Also, drawing the line at 2.99 my finely chiseled ass. I know they advertised all titles at $2.99. Well, except certain special titles.

Or if the book sells well.

What's that? Suicide Squad is selling well? Better pop that baby up to 3.99 ASAP!
I understand that they're slicks with snazzy covers, but I'd rather have newsprint with a cheaper price tag and better writing, which is a pretty good metaphor for the whole debacle, I'd say. The original Watchmen was a simply presented pulp newsprint comic with a great story, artfully crafted.

Before Watchmen is a turd wrapped in a pretty package.

I can't fault the art. One thing I will say for this mess is the art is pretty damn good throughout, with the exception of them trying to cram the smiley face into every nook and cranny. It was clever when the smiley face was a feature on Mars because there actually is a rock formation that looks like that. However, bacon and eggs and car engines rarely, if ever look like smiley faces.

Amanda Connor is dead brilliant with her 60s counterculture Silk Spectre. Darwyn Cooke's Minutemen looks pulpy and Art Deco. Anything by any of the Kubert boys is always amazing, and Jae Lee lends an ethereal, art nouveau quality to Ozymandias.
Who, by the by, shares his bed with blokes as well as birds.

Because, y'know, Rorschach thought he maybe was gay in the original maxi series, and far be it from the writers of Before Watchmen to leave any stone unturned. And then picked up and thrown through your picture window...

And therein lies one of the biggest faults with these series. Any unanswered questions, mysteries, or sly references from the original series are answered or explained. Well, I for one liked the fact that what really happened to Hooded Justice was conjecture. I liked that the circumstances surrounding The Silhouettes death were hazy, and I certainly didn't need the origins of all the characters hand fed to me.

At the end of the day, who cares about the nuances that drove Nite Owl and Rorschach to become vigilantes? Who cares about Blake's details in Vietnam? I'm fairy certain these things were hinted at or subtlety explained in the source material. The Comedian guns down the woman pregnant with his child in Vietnam. That says enough. You really don't need a six issue miniseries explaining how fucked up of a man he is.

Really, this stuff is as bad a prequel as Prometheus. It's Star Wars: Episode 1 bad. It's Boondock Saints 2 bad. It's as bad as that one horrible thing you can think of, and its horrible brother. It's that sequel/prequel that's so bad it makes you like the original less because it feels like the source material is tainted by its very existence. It's almost entirely comprised of nods to the original, making it feel like the book is nudging you in the ribs every other page, saying "hey, hey, hey, remember how cool and innovative this was in the original? Do ya, huh?"
Yes. Yes I do remember, Before Watchmen. I remember how cool that was.
The first time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

REVIEW: Repossessed

Art: Jim Ringuet
Story: Jim Ringuet
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

“An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.” William Faulkner

Heebie Jeebies……This demon stuff gives me the willies…..seriously.


There are only two things that really freak me out.:
#1 Roller Coasters
#2 Demon Stuff

Thank God there aren’t any roller coasters hidden inside this comic.

Maybe it’s because I was raised in a moderately strict Christian household (and all that it implies), but who’s to say. My wife and I like to watch a lot of the “paranormal” television programs that you’ll find nowadays. I can watch the stuff about little green men, ghosts, and Bigfoot all day long. Throw in an episode about the pea soup hurling possessed and I’m out. I’ll turn the down stairs lights off; and channel my inner Barry Allen all the way up the stairs to the bedroom with 1000 legions of hell nipping at my heels. Just as I’m about to suffer unimaginable tortures, in a moment of glory I leap through the doorway ,and in one continuous motion jump towards the bed, slam the door, and slide under the covers. Occasionally my wife will be waiting, with a leg up of course. This ends up badly: Picture old school WWF, with Macho Man about to rain hell from above in the form of a elbow off the top rope down on the Hulkster’s bandana clad dome…….when all of a sudden……err, at the last possible second……against all odds…..showing amazing fortitude and his ability to read a script, the Hulkster lifts his massive leg towards the heavens and catches Macho Man square in the face. Then of course, it’s on. I go all Rick Flair and figure four her ass. I have to warn you though, she really hates when you do the Rick Flair dance, shimmy, Wooooo! You know what I’m talking about…….Woooooo! Whatch Ya Gonna Do?!?!

Wow…I apologize.

The comic. Right.

It was decent, or the first two issues were decent. If you’re into mercs hunting demons and repossessing the possessed, then you’re in. If you’re a huge Jim Ringuet fan then you’re in. I remember the book he worked on with Hickman, but other than that, Jim Ringuet remains much of a mystery really. I could Google him…but, I won’t. The art was much better in this book then the few pages of Transhuman that I can vaguely remember. The writing is acceptable too (besides the fact that the demon hunter thing has been done), but the dialogue in the first two issues is what has guaranteed me picking up the last two issues. That’s right, there are only four issues, but this is acceptable, we don’t need more! Woooooo! It’s fun, but only if it’s fleeting… shimmy shimmy WOOOOO!

REVIEW: Fantastic Four #4

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Matt Bagley
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

Matt Fraction is the best writer at Marvel right now. That's not just a Marvel Now pun, the man is talented, without question. When I heard about the Fantastic Four reboot he sounded like the perfect man to take up the mantle. And it's a huge responsibility. Historically, this book changed the superhero genre forever. Kirby introduced a groundbreaking new style in it's pages. Stan Lee changed the superhero by giving it a more human face, and it all started with the Fantastic Four. The first 58 issues of this book were a total game changer all around. Silver Surfer, Galactus, Dr. Doom, they're all in there. Matt Fraction understands this, and Bagley's artistic style fits with the title, giving the book a nice, nostalgic, throwback quality.

The reboot started with a really strong with issue one. The Thing and his run in with the Yancy Street gang gave me the warm fuzzies. And the YouTube video of them humiliating the "Dummy" was on point, as well as a symbol of Fraction taking the book into the future. To be honest, I'm not a Franklin or Valeria fan. One of my favorite parts of the first few issues of the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four is Sue Storm's love affair with King Namor. When they found Namor's picture under her pillow, it really helped set the tone for the book as the Father Knows Best superteam in the Marvel Universe. However, the new Fraction/Bagley FF happens to also retain this quality, even though the origin tale is slightly different. This is definitely a book that can be enjoyed by both children and adults, but probably more for adults, and here's why.

Issue four is a Valentine's Day issue. Anyone steeped in the history of the Fantastic Four will have at least a little appreciation for a 21 page love letter to Sue Richards. But as the fourth issue of what's supposed to be a complete reboot, it comes up pretty short. Kids unfamiliar with the title's origins will be bored to tears. Although it also works as a setup issue, with five promising to have way more action, the stakes so far are not very high. The story is slow...really slow. The premise of the current arc is not without merit, it could have porterhouse stakes, but so far the other title "FF" is running away with the ballgame. I'm going to keep reading, but this book needs to kick into high gear quick because I'm starting to get the yawns.

And don't get me wrong, I know that it's next to impossible to follow in the footsteps of the great Jack Kirby, but the art has been hills and valleys through four issues as well. The landscapes are near perfect, beautiful, rich and detailed; they help to set the tone well. But either Bagley is really inept at drawing people, or suffers from extreme laziness in almost every panel. I'm going with the latter on this one. The distorted figures that seem to permeate almost every background are weak. Bagley can do better than heads that are boxes with dots. You will find these distracting, pedestrian Lego people everywhere, and they all scream: "Fuck it."

I need to throw in a quick caveat before making my next point. Keep in mind that I live in Asia, and that all of my anthologies are at my sister's house in Indianapolis. This makes research hard. But I remember one of the early issues when they first see the Black Panther. I think it is somewhere in the fifties but I can't remember. Anyway, there is a Wakanda temple scene in that issue that completely blew my mind grapes. It is a great example of the meticulous detail that Kirby put into his art. The only comic artist that can top Kirby is Chris Ware in that department; and that is really saying something. The new Fantastic Four is going to need that kind of commitment in order for this run to be remembered as one of the greats.

And although I am thoroughly delighted by Fraction's homage to the original Fantastic Four creative team, he really needs to pick up the pace with the story. I might be the only one out there that hated Hickman on the book, because I felt that the story became really muddled and convoluted after awhile. Fraction's has much more potential in my opinion, but cannot be overly simplistic and still succeed. The stakes were really high during the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four years, and they need to be just as high in order to make this new incantation work. I'm not feeling thoroughly engaged in the plot after four issues, and that's a huge problem.

This could be a great book, but it's too early to tell. The only issue where I felt like I really got my money's worth was issue one, and they have steadily declined in quality since, with four being the worst one yet. However, I'm going to stick around for at least a couple more. The story really seems to be building towards something, and I pray to the ghost of Kirby that it starts to pop off in issue five. The world of comics, and especially superheroes, needs a strong Fantastic Four title. Marvel put Fraction and Bagley in the driver's seat, and while I'm anxious to see where they take us in the near future, the present, unfortunately, is a pretty dull one.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Another Seven Questions with Ryan Browne

Interview by William R. Davis Jr.

Welcome back to another Seven Questions. One of the great things about writing for the HCB is that we often get to do interviews with some of the best and the brightest in the business. This week is an extra special treat for myself though. Awhile back my pull list was a little thin and I spent part of my afternoon cruising through the racks at my local comic shop. I saw issue one of God Hates Astronauts on the shelf and the rest is history. I've read a lot of comics over the years, and God Hates Astronauts is in my top five all-time favorites, hands down. Any fanboy knows that picking just one is impossible. Ryan Browne is one of the most hilarious, edgy, and innovative creators in the game right now. Today he's here to talk about God Hates Astronauts: The Completely Complete Edition, and we at the HCB could not be happier.

1) What do you love about God Hates Astronauts?

That I can do anything I want. My only rule of GHA is that everything within the universe is taken with utmost seriousness by the characters. The fact that no one will ever acknowledges how absolutely insane and nonsensical everything in the world is makes it a lot of fun to just go crazy. I also love that it is just an outlet for any stupid joke I might come up with. The book is really just to make myself laugh, the most joy I get from it is several years down the line when I rediscover some little joke that I have completely forgotten. That's awesome.

2) What makes the "Completely Complete" edition of GHA so complete?

It has everything worth printing, all together in one place. It's a 180 page hardcover book that features the entire God Hates Astronauts story that was on the web, re-lettered and color tweaked, a ton of pin-ups from artists like Ryan Stegman, Tom Fowler, Chris Burnham, Mike Norton, Rebekah Isaacs, Ethan Nicolle, Nick Pitarra and a ton other awesome people. It features 36 pages of brand new origin stories written by me and drawn by guest artists such as Tim Seeley, Tradd Moore, Tom Scioli, Jenny Frison, Chris Mitten, C.P. Wilson 3, Kyle Strahm, Hilary Barta and a ton others. And it has the two GHA Universe 24 hour comics that I have created. It's a pretty damn sweet package.

3) Is this the end of The Power Persons Five, or are you bringing back God Hates Astronauts for another run? Could there possibly be an Anti-Mugger spinoff book in the works?

If I can find a way to make money on GHA (Come on' Kickstarter!) I will certainly continue the story. Perhaps the next book will be the Completely Completer Edition? There certainly are about a million more stories that I have in my head, it's just a question of finding a readership and some money so I can spend the proper amount of time on creating them. Certainly the next time we see the Anti-Mugger he will not be in the form that we know and love. A lot of bad things are probably going to happen to that dude.

4) Tell us more about this Kickstarter project. How can GHA fans get involved?

What I need from everyone is to help spread the word. That's how GHA has survived up until this point is from fans spreading the word. The best part of my Kickstarter campaign is that the 180 page hardcover is completely finished. All I need is the funds to print it and then it's going to press. I wanted to cut down on the turnover time from when a project is funded until the rewards are actually received. I'm not into the whole, "Give me money and then in three years, when I finish drawing it, you might get a book." I think that could be a huge downfall for Kickstarter so I'm "completely" trying to avoid that.

There are a ton of really fun new incentives on the Kickstarter for people who like GHA. I also wanted to make sure that fans who have the single issues or who have read it all on the web would have a ton of new material to look forwards to, thus making buying the book worthwhile.

5) What are you reading these days? Who in the world of comics influences your work the most?

Currently I read a handful of Image books like "The Manhattan Projects," "Saga," "Hoax Hunters," and "Revival." The only super hero stuff I still buy and read is Daredevil. I also really like what Francesco is doing on "Black Beetle"... that guy's awesome! Honestly, there isn't anything coming out today that really inspires me idea-wise since humor is all but dead in comics—which is total bull shot— but some of the art out there is just fantastic. Fiona Staples makes me want to color something every time I look at her work. Recently I've just been really inspired by following artists on Instagram, and following their process shots. What a cool tool to experience art in the making!

6) Any other projects in the works that Ryan Browne fans need to be in the know about? If there are some new projects in the works, will Carl Winslow or Montel Williams be making an appearance?

Well I'm drawing a couple of fill-in issues of "The Manhattan Projects" so Nick Pitarra can get some sleep for once. The first issue I'm doing comes out next month and the other is number 15 which will come out at some point. After that I am taking over the art duties on "Bedlam" with Nick Spencer. That will start with issue 7 in May. No Carl Winslow in Manhattan Projects, but keen eyed viewers will catch some other Ryan Browne references. As far as sliding him into "Bedlam"... there sure are a lot of cops in that book, aren't there?

7) I live in South Korea and am currently having some major God Hates Astronauts related life issues. All three of my GHA shot glasses broke during soju parties, and a girl who spilled Guinness all over her shirt "borrowed" my GHA t-shirt and wore it home. It's highly likely that I will never see it again. How can our readers get that God Hates Astronauts swag online, and do you ship internationally?

First off, clearly you need to get your life together. Second off, luckily for you, I do ship internationally. The GHA Kickstarter features three different T-Shirt designs for your torso to be wrapped in. After the hardcover comes out, I'm going to make an official store to order swag from... currently I just have a few issues up on ETSY. Keep your eyes peeled!

We want to thank Ryan Browne for taking time to talk with us about his new project. Go to Kickstarter ( and get in on the action right away. I know for a fact that all three HCB writers will be right behind you. It's hitting the web on Monday. You know what to do.


Thursday, February 14, 2013


Writers: Stjepan Šejić and Ron Marz
Art: Stjepan Šejić
Review: Will Dubbeld

I'd like to preface the piece by thanking Stjepan and Ron for the opportunity to take a look at Ravine prior to its street date. A week or so ago Ron was asking for volunteers via Twitter to preview and review the book, and soon the Hammond Comics Blog was the proud owner of an advance digital copy.

It dawned on me that Ron had written some of the first Silver Surfer and Green Lantern books I'd read, years ago, and really cemented my respect for those characters. I still look back fondly on Emerald Twilight and The Herald Ordeal...

I was admittedly, and unfortunately, less familiar with Stjepans work, having caught some of his art for Darkness and Witchblade I was impressed, but not following those particular titles at the time. His art would very soon blow me away, however.

Ravine is fantasy epic, telling the tale of a land in conflict and the unlikely heroes that must take up arms against heavy odds and oppose primordial evil and villainy. Themes such as these have been present in myth and fantasy storytelling from Jason and the Argonauts to Star Wars (the good movies, you guys know which ones...) and are artfully applied here.

The books prologue begins with an epic battle betwixt two armies and sets the stage for the story to come. Nebezial Asheri, a fallen king reborn as a monster after the death of his queen, leads an army against his daughter and her fiancée Azriel. Asheri's daughter is slain in the conflict and he vows to bring her and his queen back to life. Desperate, world-shaking spells are cast and cleaves a ravine in the battlefield for which the comic is named.

Flash forward to present day and a man named Stein who's on that tried and true adventure to a dragon lair and untold wealth. Intertwined with Stein's tale is segments detailing a young dragon rider named Lynn and the tribulations of the kingdoms beset by rampaging dragons and unknown foes bringing what very likely is the tide of war.

Much sword and sorcery abound, with a dash of political intrigue reminiscent of Game of Thrones. The book lets you in on the history and myth of the world without cramming exposition down your throat, which was a pleasant change from a lot of comics brimming with thought balloons and block text force feeding you information. One bit of history was told via flashback, another through the pages of a history book, and nuances like these enhance the immersive experience for the reader. You can really tell that this was a labor of love for the authors and their efforts were not wasted. The writing is not as dense or as heavy-handed as Tolkien, but is just as proficient at world building and character development with fewer pages to work with. Fans of IDWs dearly departed Dungeons and Dragons comic will appreciate Ravine, albeit it's a more serious book. Despite that, you'll probably still get a twitch to grab your 20-sided dice and slay monsters after reading.

One of the biggest surprises of the book was the size. I didn't do any homework beforehand and expected Ravine to be a 32 page monthly book. Imagine my surprise at receiving a 163 page PDF! As the book sucked me in, imagine my further surprise as the bottom of page 130 bid me adieu with "continued..."

I'd gone from thinking Ravine was a monthly book, to thinking it was a self contained graphic novel, to thinking Ron Marz and Stjepan Šejić had played a cruel trick on me.

The last 30 pages are brilliant, I was pleased to discover. Comprising of appendices, Ravine ends with informative glossaries, a cast of characters and who's who biographies, a prose bit, treatises on dragons and magic, and a small gazetteer of one of the cities. I think these detailed appendices may have been one of my favorite parts of the book due to my love of flavor text.

Stjepan Šejić's art IS. PHENOMENAL. I can't type enough exclamation points to stress that fact.


Lavish is not a term I usually throw around, but this book is lavishly illustrated. From the crackling of spells, highly detailed weapons and armor, slavering hordes of aberrant Lovecraftian dragons, to a many-eyed god that lives under a mountain, straight out of R.E. Howard, every page of this book jumps out at you. There were even a few half- page pieces and two-page spreads that very nearly made me "squee!" with delight.


The layout was excellent, albeit frustrating to read in digital format. This is more a personal preference however, as I would rather read physical print than scroll through an Adobe file and I'll likely buy a copy of Ravine once released to John Q.

It's rare to find a really good fantasy comic on the market these days, but Ravine may soon change that. The Dungeons and Dragons comic was a bit too cheeky for purists, Battlechasers too juvenile, Tellos too tragically short-lived, and the disinterest in the genre has driven even the Pinis to self-produced webcomics. What Stjepan Šejić (am I pronouncing that right?) and Ron Marz have created has the potential to be a game changer for fantasy comics and, although it may not be for the capes and tights crowd, I'd recommend it to any reader.

Ravine, Vol 1, is due out on February 27th from Image Comics for the affordable price of $14.99 USD.

*price and release date taken from the Image Comics website

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

REVIEW: Daredevil no. 22

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Chris Samnee
Review: Will Dubbeld

...because screw you guys, I liked the Daredevil movie.

Okay, now that I've lost 3/4 of the readers, let us continue.

I'm not gonna blow smoke and tout my love of Daredevil dates back to the days of Frank Miller's run. None of that, "I was there when Bullseye killed Elektra, man!"

Because I wasn't. I was like two years old when that happened. I think my first Daredevil books were from the 'Last Rites' arc, where Kingpin's uppance had come (the first time...). The only other Daredevil I'd read up to that point was from the Inferno crossover, back in the days when a crossover happened it affected other books. It was awesome, and you should go buy it right now. Number 265. Go.

Interest in Ol' Hornhead waned in the chromium and die-cut 90s, but Bendis and Brubaker lured me back. After brushing up on Frank Miller's run I got back into the ring and was ready to go a few rounds with Matt Murdock.

Civil Wars and Secret Invasions and Houses of M seem to leave Daredevil relatively unmolested in his own gritty corner of the Marvel Universe, and for that I am thankful. With the exception of the GAWDAWFUL Shadowlands story arc, Daredevil is a good refuge for readers seeking sanctuary from mega-events and proves time and time again that a blind guy in red tights beating up ninjas does the soul good.

Daredevil's current series is scripted by Mark Waid, who has written just about everything at some point, and he's done a phenomenal job of grounding the character and sweeping under the rug some of the weaker plot points from previous arcs. This particular issue features Daredevil meeting up with Spider-Man, the Superior version, not the Friendly Neighborhood version. Those of you out of the loop on Spider-Man's current status quo should read Cody "Madman" Miller's latest review. It'll help.

It seems Daredevils current ladyfriend thinks him a menace and has entreated Spider-Man to bring him in. As a side note, another endearing trait of Daredevil is that he is an irredeemable, skirt chasing p***y hound, and this always (always!) leads him astray.

In any case, Daredevil and Spidey mix it up for a few pages, and in that tried and true cliche trope are forced to put aside their differences and combat a common foe. The foe being Stilt-Mans latest incarnation. I've no idea why, but I've always liked Stilt-Man. Probably because he (and sometimes she) is such a heel, and modern writers realize that and usually inject some humor into any story they write with the character in it. Even the one where Punisher blew his legs off with a rocket launcher.

After besting Stilt-Man, Spidey and DD part friends and Daredevil bounds off to make amends with his partner, Foggy. Another Daredevil theme is he seems to lose his license to practice law and alienates himself from Foggy every few years. I expect Bullseye to pop in and kill one of his girlfriends in an issue or two, just so the cycle completes itself.

Hornhead spends his last $20 on a peace offering and has an emotional heart-to-heart with his homeboy Foggy and the issue ends with a bomb dropping plot point.

Not a literal bomb, mind you, although Daredevil does seem to get his brownstone law office and/or studio apartment blown up every few years as well.

Both the art and storytelling have been extraordinary in the book, with Waid embracing the lighter, (sigh) devil may care attitude that DD possesses whilst balancing the grittier aspects of the character. Chris Samnee is on art detail, and both he and Paulo Rivera have lent an almost pop art look to the book. The style is not for everyone, especially those married to the more traditional four-color superhero style, but it works for Daredevil. One aspect I've really latched onto is how the art team has done a phenomenal job of illustrating Daredevil's radar sense. The cover of issue 12 is a good example of the techniques used.

I had some nitpicky, fanboy gripes about the brief melee Daredevil had with Spider-Man, but nothing I can't save for a comic forum. The largest actual complaint I had about the book was the aforementioned peace offering DD gives to his buddy Foggy. Y'know, the one I mentioned he spent his last $20 on?

A bacon and Limburger cheesecake.

Apparently Franklin 'Foggy' Nelson is a fucking ninja turtle.

After he chows down on a peanut butter-pistachio-bubblegum fudge pizza with the other turtles he has a bacon and Limburger cheesecake for dessert.

Totally tubular, dudes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

REVIEW: The Superior Spider-Man issues # 1&2; Amazing Spider-Man #700; Avenging Spider-Man 15.1

Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Color: Edgar Delgado
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

Well, before we even utter the word “Superior,” let’s talk “Amazing”, Amazing Spider-Man #700 to be exact. For those of you that have been on some other planet or living under the proverbial rock, #700 was the last issue of the series we call Amazing. The issue was a giant monster of a book, not only in the drastic (or desperate) ways it altered the spider's webs but in girth also, tipping the scales at 100 pages, give or take a half million.

In 700, we see the exit of Peter Parker and Otto Octavius’s conscience in Peter’s body. I’ll save you the details. The second printing is on the shelf this week, so if you haven’t ponied up the cash for this one, do so and find out for yourself. Be sure to check out Jim DeMatteis’s short in the ass end. The story is Peter as an old man interacting with his great grandson. I might as well throw Avenging Spider-Man 15.1 into this home brew as well.

In 15.1, Otto settles into Peter’s life. The first thing Otto does is head to the lab and upgrades the Spidey tech and uniform with some cool new goodies such as…….buy it!

When I first caught wind of the madness that is the “goings on” in the Spidey Universe I cringed a little. As I’m sure any Spider-Man fan who is old enough to bear the scars of the infamous clone saga did. Sigh. And I got a little pissed off too. I read something about how Dan Slott was getting death threats over his part in this. I even heard rumors that a terminator bot was sent back in time to terminate him somewhere right before “Spider Island,” but D.C. foiled the plot like they did their covers in the 90’s. So……Superior here we go.

In issue one, we go from Otto visiting his own grave straight into the action. Enter Boomerang, Speed, Demon, Shocker, Living Brain, Beetle, and the new Sinister Six. Get it. Otto fighting as a hero against a Spidey villain super team (well not so super) that he founded. The last page of issue #1 finds Otto standing over Boomerang to deliver a death blow when a ghostly hand grabs his arm…….pan out and it happens. Peter Parker as a ghost…..yeah, really I did not make that up. I understand Marvel had to give themselves a way out of this, but come on this is the best they have? I mean either do it or don’t.

In issue two, the highlights include: Spidey and JJJ making friends? Otto perusing a renewed relationship with MJ. Otto breaking up with MJ. And Toomes. That’s right, the Vulture’s lackeys show up. I’ve always been a fan of the Vulture no matter the version.

So I don’t know. I guess it’s not that bad. I’m not so mad anymore. I’ll miss the witty banter and all that, but at least Slott isn’t writing Otto Spider-Man just like Peter Spider-Man, or Kaine Spider-Man for that matter. The book should get really interesting if done properly and not drawn out...if we survive this and there is no hint not even a whisper of a clone then we win. It could be worse. My finger is on the trigger to cut the title from my pull list at a moment’s notice. It will have joined a large and growing list of Marvel’s books no longer welcome in my folder (Hawkeye and Morbius not included). Marvel consider yourself warned. It can be worse…it can.