29 April 2005

The Uncanny O-Man: Top 5 Superheroes Who I'd Like To Make Me A Sandwich

And by Top 5, I mean the first 5 that came to mind...

5. Lobo. I want to eat of the Main Man's succulant pulled pork. [Omar looks to the left, looks to the right, feels a little dirty, but reminds himself that the Main Man knows his pork.]

4. Who better to roast up an all-American hot dog than Captain America? Course he'd have to serve up some tasty, greasy freedom fries, too. [Author's note: OMG! I'm totally sorry about that one. Guy made me do it. He hates the French despite his name and makes me make fun of those smelly sumbitzes as much as possible. Why, just the other day he was beating up a little French child with a distended duck yelling, "You white caucasoid piece of trash, go back to Europe where you belong. U-S-A! U-S-A!"] [Editor's note: Omar is a liar. I'm going to show him distended. That mofo has had it. U-S-A!]

3. Alfred Pennyworth. Okay, he may not be a superhero. He may not even be a sidekick. But I bet that a world class butler like Alfred makes a kick-@$$ grilled cheese.

2. Now, let me preface this one by saying that I'm simply being completely and totally open with you people. I mean, seriously. It's hard to be this brutally honest when you are talking about sandwich preferences. That said, I really, really, really want Animal Man to make me a burger.

1. Swamp Thing. Now this dude is gonna make you a sandwich. Fo shizzle, my bizzle. Every vegetable is at his disposal. You ever see that one issue where he gets it on with Abby and tells her to eat this tuber that makes her see visions? Imagine the sandwich this dude would make. It'd even be vegan! I probably wouldn't even gag when I ate it. That sandwich could even be macrobiotic!

27 April 2005

Comment: Living the Dream...Vicariously

While much of the ever-expanding Comics Blogiverse is made up of wannabe writers - Grant Morrison sycophants praising his every bowel movement, and frustrated hacks full of shallow anti-Marvel/DC snark being the two largest demographics - there's another, much more interesting subculture to be found: aspiring comics retailers.

As much as I'd love to one day see my name credited as writer on a Moon Knight mini-series, I don't actually have any aspirations or intent to pursue that particular fantasy. I do, however, entertain the thought of opening my own store one day. Quite often, really.

Recently, I've come across a couple of blogs chronicling the efforts of hopeful entrepeneurs working towards achieving their dreams of opening their own comic shops. In addition, Newsarama has been running a recurring series of interviews with a duo from Muncie, IN, following them from just prior to their grand opening to, most recently, a three-month checkup. In each case, their tales are both entertaining and educational, and in some ways, inspiring.

The owners of Alter Ego have been refreshingly honest in their Newsarama interviews, offering specifics on how they started the business and how it's doing in general and in relation to their business plan, while maintaining a high-level of optimism about their prospects for the future. Most interesting are the unguarded comments that reveal the fanboyish elements of their otherwise solid approach to their shop, as well as the feedback each article has received from Newsarama members, a few of whom are current/former retailers themselves.

Over at a Comic Riot! draws near, Jason Richards alternates between chronicling his plans for his store and his search for the right location, to ideas for his own line of comics and reviews and commentary on random issues of the day. His future store's admirable manifesto and brilliant addendum/rant are so on-point that, should I ever open my own store, I'll be stealing them!

Finally, the future Big Monkey Comics (aka Otherworlds) is the latest entrant, chronicling JackM's nascent attempt at opening his own store in Richmond, VA along with some HeroClix fanfic. First he has to relocate his family from DC, though!

The one thing each of these chronicles have in common, besides being consistently good reads, is their enthusiasm, each one of them seemingly being sincere fans of the form looking to open their own stores purely out of love with no illusions of getting rich in the process. Their passion and drive is inspiring, and potentially contagious.

Additionally, there's some great blogs out there run by established comics retailers, including a couple of my favorites: Brian Hibbs' Savage Critic and Mike Sterling's Progressive Ruin. For anyone entertaining the thought of opening their own comics shop, or those who find the process of doing so fascinating, all of these should be bookmarked in your browser and/or subscribed to via your RSS readers.

26 April 2005

Try Something Different: 4/27/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released tomorrow, 4/27/05, courtesy of ComicList. Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

What are you reading?

Following Cerebus #1 (AA), $3.95
Following Cerebus #2 (AA), $3.95

Strangehaven #17 (resolicited), $2.95

Strangers In Paradise #73, $2.95

Too Much Coffee Man Magazine #22, $4.95

Filler GN, $12.95

Centerfield One Shot, $3.50
Hickee Vol 3 #1, $2.95

15 Minutes #3, $3.95
Skaggy The Lost TPB, $16.95
Slave Labor Peepshow Vol 4 #3, AR
Slave Labor Peepshow Vol 4 #4, AR

Vampi Vicious Rampage Ltd Ed #2, $9.95
Vampi Vicious Rampage Reg Ed #2, $2.99
Vampirella Lives Dlx Gold HC, $19.95
Vampirella Nowheresville Dlx HC (AA), $19.95

Apocalypse Zero Vol 2 GN, $9.99
Baron Gong Battle Vol 2 GN, $9.99
Shriek Show Mark Of Shadow #1, $2.99

Heaven Sent #9, $2.99
Neotopia Pkt Manga Vol 1 TPB (AA), $9.99
Neotopia Pkt Manga Vol 2 TPB (AA), $9.99
Neotopia Pkt Manga Vol 3 TPB, $9.99
Ninja High School #127, $2.99

Myriad #1 (Of 6), $2.99

Betty & Veronica Digest #156, $2.39
Betty & Veronica #208, $2.19
Jugheads Double Digest #112, $3.59
Sabrina Vol 2 #66, $2.19

Alan Moores Hypothetical Lizard Tarot Cvr #1, $3.99
Brian Pulidos Belladonna Back From Dead Ed #3 Of(5), $5.99
Brian Pulidos Belladonna Prism Foil Cvr #1, $12.99
Brian Pulidos Belladonna Pure Rage Ed #2 Of(5), $5.99
Brian Pulidos Lady Death Swimsuit Art Nouveau Cvr 2005, $5.99
Brian Pulidos Unholy Haunted Cvr #1, $5.99
Brian Pulidos War Angel Book Of Death Bad Omen Cvr, $5.99
Lady Death 10th Anniv Ed Night Flight Cvr #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Best Under Fire Ed #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Daniels Song Prism Foil Cvr #1, $12.99
Stargate SG1 Pow Golden Armor Sketch Cvr #1 (Of 3), $15.99

Bart Simpson Comics #23, $2.99
Simpsons Classics #4, $3.99

Return Of Stickboy One Shot, $5.95

Classic Illustrated Story Of Jesus HC, $19.95
Classic Illustrated Ten Commandments HC, $19.95

Elvira #144, $2.50

Darkness Blue Tempest Ruby Red Foil Cvr #32 (AA), AR
Lady Death Leather & Lace 2005 Commemorative Cvr, $5.99
Robocop Wild Child Gold Foil Cvr #1, $5.99

Akira Vol 3 TPB, $24.95
Club 9 Vol 3 TPB (resolicited), $15.95
Disney Swinging Princess Figure Gacha Capsule Asst, AR
Disney Swinging Princess Figure Gacha Capsule Asst, AR
Michael Chabon Presents Adv O/T Escapist #6, $8.95
Nathan Never #3 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Nathan Never #6 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Star Wars Empire #30, $2.99
Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith #4, $2.99
Star Wars General Grievous #2 (Of 4), $2.99
Star Wars Republic #75, $2.99
Superman Vs Aliens #1 (Of 3)(AA), $4.95
Usagi Yojimbo #44 (AA), $2.99

Space Sheriff & Happy Space Boy #6, $2.50

D. E.
Red Sonja Cvr A #0, $0.25
Red Sonja Cvr B #0, $0.25
Red Sonja Ross Preview Sketch Cvr, AR

Blade Of Kumori #5, $2.95
Breakdown #6, $2.95
Darkstalkers Alan Wang Cvr B #5, $2.95
Darkstalkers Arn Cvr C Power Foil #5, AR
Darkstalkers Joe Vriens Cvr A #5, $2.95
GI Joe #42, $4.50

Lets Draw Manga Color TPB, $19.95

Village Under My Pillow GN, $9.95

Purgatori #1 Signed Ed, $25.00

Uncle Scrooge #341, $6.95
Walt Disneys Comics & Stories #656, $6.95

Lackluster World #2, $3.95

Bloodline Chronicles GN (resolicited), $13.95

Cal Mcdonald Supernatural Freak Machine #2 (Of 6), $3.99
Castlevania The Belmont Legacy #2 (Of 5), $3.99
Dampyr Devils Son #1, $7.99
Easy Way #1 (Of 4), $3.99
Eric Reds Containment #4 (Of 4), $3.99
Jon Sable Freelance Bloodline #1 (Of 6), $3.99
Karney #1 (Of 4), $3.99
Secret Skull TPB, $17.99

86 Voltz Dead Girl One Shot, $5.95
Battle Of The Planets Princess #6 (Of 6), $2.99
Hunter Killer Cvr A Silvestri #2, $2.99
Hunter Killer Cvr B Linsner #2, $2.99
Invincible #0, $0.50
Lullaby Wisdom Seeker #2 (Of 4), $2.95
PVP #16, $2.95
PVP Replay Sgn #1, $14.95
Pact #1 (Of 4), $2.99
Rising Stars Vol 3 Fire & Ash TPB, $19.99

Guilty GN, $9.95

Wapsi Square Vol 1 GN, $9.95

Jack Hagee Private Eye GN, $9.49
Kolchak Tales Of Night Stalker #6, $3.50

Cryptozoo Crew Mothman Con Ed, $2.95
Lucifers Garden Of Verses Vol 1 Devil On Fever Street GN (AA), $15.95

Embroideries GN, $16.95

Cavalcade of Boys Vol 1 TPB (Cold Cut Distribution,) $14.00
Cavalcade of Boys Vol 2 TPB (Cold Cut Distribution,) $14.00

Tex The Lonesome Rider GN, $15.95

Mudpie #1, $4.99

Brom Poster #5 Vexatious (AA), $6.95
Brom Poster #6 Autumn (AA), $6.95
Dogwitch Poster #1 Violet Grimm (AA), $6.95

Atomika #1 Signed Edition, $24.99

Brodies Law #6 (Of 6), $2.95

The Norm Magazine #8, $4.95

Battle Vixens Vol 7 GN (Of 8), $9.99
Clamp No Kiseki Vol 1 Magazine Collectable (Of 12), $29.99
Girl Got Game Vol 9 GN (Of 10), $9.99
Gto Vol 24 GN (Of 25), $9.99
Heaven Above Heaven Vol 1 GN (Of 6), $9.99
Id Entity Vol 1 GN (Of 13), $9.99
Kare Kano Vol 15 GN (Of 18), $9.99
Lagoon Engine Vol 2 (Of 2) GN, $9.99
Liling Po Vol 2 GN (Of 7), $9.99
Model Vol 6 GN, $9.99
Queens Knight Vol 4 GN (Of 15), $9.99
Sgt Frog Vol 8 GN (Of 10), $9.99
Sorcerer Hunters Vol 2 GN New Ptg (Of 13), $9.99
Suikoden III Vol 6 GN (Of 7), $9.99
Tokyo Babylon Vol 7 GN (Of 7), $9.99
Vampire Game Vol 11 GN, $9.99

Baron The Cat Returns GN, $9.99
Case Closed Vol 5 GN, $9.95
Dr Slump Vol 1 TPB, $7.99
Hunter X Hunter Vol 2 TPB, $7.99
Kekkaishi Vol 1 GN, $9.99
Knights Of The Zodiac Vol 9 GN, $7.95
Mar Vol 1 GN, $7.99
Prince Of Tennis Vol 7 GN, $7.95
Rurouni Kenshin Vol 14 TPB, $7.95
Shaman King Vol 6 TPB, $7.95
Ultimate Muscle Vol 6 GN, $7.95
Whistle Vol 5 TPB, $7.99
Yu GI Oh Duelist Vol 4 TPB, $7.95

25 April 2005

ménage à trois: 4/20/05

[So many comics, so few good ones, only three make the cut each week. Quickie-style reviews, for better, or worse: 1 Minute=bad, 10 Minutes=good. Connections, if any at all, may be forced purely for the experience.]

It figures. A week after I change things up and decide to no longer require representatives of the Big Two for this column, they each throw me a Paul Jenkins curveball and buy themselves another week in the mix. Nevertheless, the pull list purge began as the once highly anticipated OMAC Project #1 got an in-store skim (solid, if uninspired story, picking up directly from Countdown) and, despite Greg Rucka being another of my favorite writers, it went right back on the shelf. I've recently come to realize that the icons of the comic book industry no longer interest me very much, even my most favorites like Batman. Not in the context of their current convoluted continuities, at least. As a writer myself, I want to read good stories, ideally combined with equally good art, but in the end, it's the story that wins me over. While I don't care where it fits, or doesn't fit, into the larger framework of a shared universe I'm only slighty invested in, I definitely don't want to read something that obviously came off the Editorial Plan Assembly Line, either.

Spider-Man is one icon I've always enjoyed much more in concept than in practice. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko came up with one of the best super-heroes ever and Sam Raimi pretty much nailed it in the movies, making the need for a monthly dose of the character never really moving forward terribly unappealing*. Paul Jenkins changed that for me when I first came across his Spectacular Spider-Man relaunch a couple of years back. There was something about his take on the characters, particularly Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego, that I found extremely appealing. Jenkins told good stories, deftly mixing the requisite extended arcs with the occasional character-driven standalone story. Up until the ill-conceived "Disassembled" arc, where Peter inexplicably develops organic web-shooters to match his cinematic counterpart, Jenkins had me hooked. When it was announced a few months later that the title was being cancelled, supposedly due to Jenkins' health, I was disappointed; even more so when it was derailed for a few months to wrap up the laughable "Sins Past" retcon that took place in the primary Amazing Spider-Man title. I was greatly looking forward to Jenkins' return with #27, and he doesn't disappoint, delivering a one-night only farewell that represents his talent at its peak, thankfully side-stepping continuity and having Peter visit Uncle Ben's grave for some soul-searching that would be cliché if it weren't handled so sincerely. There's no BIFF! POW! here, simply a well-told character piece that moves the overall story forward by adding depth to Peter's story. The flashback to a 1st grade Peter's involvement in a school play is priceless, the kind of thing Raimi should steal for the next movie lest he succumbs to sequelitis, effectively the same trap the comics themselves have fallen into. Jenkins goes out with class, and the Spider-Man franchise is simultaneously richer and poorer because of him: 8.5 Minutes

Meanwhile, over at DC, recent continuity developments have driven me from the majority of their Batman titles as the Dark Knight himself has become a mere plot element in their grand restructuring scheme. Gotham Central and Batgirl aside, I've accepted that my only hope for a good Batfix these days is going to be via continuity-light mini-series, and perhaps All-Star / Legends of the Dark Knight. Enter Paul Jenkins. Teamed with his The Sentry counterpart, Jae Lee, Jenkins tackles one of Batman's more compelling rogues, Two Face, in Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1. As overwrought and ultimately pointless as the original mini-series/hoax was, Jenkins did a pretty good job of making The Sentry's battle with himself interesting and, freed of some of the restraints that total retcon called for, I'd expect an even better story here. The first of six issues, this is, of course, mostly set up, but it's effective set up as the mystery of a rash of "unexplained spree killing" hits a section of Gotham City and Two Face, imprisoned at Arkham Asylum, is somehow involved. Lee illustrates a perfect Batman, imposing when he needs to be, sticking to the shadows otherwise, and June Chung's coloring is appropriately murky without being impenetrable. Jenkins, tackling another icon with seemingly no more interesting stories to be told, gets off to a fine start here: 8 Minutes

On the indie front, I tracked down a copy of Lesean Thomas' Cannon Busters #1, a title the Color Commentary guys at Buzzscope tipped me off about. Thomas' artwork screams Nintendo, all vibrant and cartoony, and the opening sequence recounting the history of the Five Kingdoms and the Cannon Busters is right out of the introductions to some of their better written fantasy games like Zelda and Car Battler Joe. That's a compliment, if you're wondering! From there, Thomas, with a scripting and editing assist from J. Torres, jumps into the story, briefly introducing a few key characters before having all hell break loose as war comes to the city of Gearbolt. As debut issues go, Thomas has wisely chosen to smack the reader upside the head, practically daring you to not pick up the next issue. The only flaw of note here is Stuart Ng's coloring, thanks to his low-contrast palette that makes much of an 8-page attack scene hard to follow as Thomas' fine-lined artwork gets blurry underneath it all. That aside, between the engaging characters and the impressive backstory of seemingly epic scale that is hinted at, this looks like it will be a keeper: 8.5 Minutes

* It's interesting that despite the mind-boggling success of the Spider-Man and X-Men movies, nearly $2.5 billion in combined worldwide box office, their respective ongoing comic books - more than 30 different titles in March directly associated with them, the vast majority among the Top 50 best-sellers - sell less than 1 million copies a month combined. 1991's X-Men #1 sold nearly 8 million copies alone!

24 April 2005

A Fanboy's Take: Superman Returns

Superman ReturnsThere was a nice article in Friday's USA Today revealing to the world its first look at Brandon Routh as Superman. The focus of the article is entirely on the re-visualization of the iconic costume.

Set for release in June 2006, Superman Returns has been said to follow in continuity with Superman 1 & 2, but dismisses the other two Superman films. The following is a plot summary I snatched from comingsoon.net:

"Following a mysterious absence of several years, the Man of Steel comes back to Earth in the epic action-adventure Superman Returns, a soaring new chapter in the saga of one of the world's most beloved superheroes. While an old enemy plots to render him powerless once and for all, Superman faces the heartbreaking realization that the woman he loves, Lois Lane, has moved on with her life. Or has she? Superman's bittersweet return challenges him to bridge the distance between them while finding a place in a society that has learned to survive without him. In an attempt to protect the world he loves from cataclysmic destruction, Superman embarks on an epic journey of redemption that takes him from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of outer space."
I've never been one to regularly buy a Superman comic book. I don't know exactly why, but in the comics Superman never did anything for me. I'm a Spider-Man, Batman type of guy when it comes to the comic book capes. In my opinion, Superman is most interesting when he is interacting with other heroes in a team environment.

I've only enjoyed the character of Superman in his numerous cartoon and live action incarnations, sans the Lois and Clark show that aired on ABC years ago. My hope is that Superman Returns will be to the comic book Superman, what Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was to the first Batman film.

As for the suit, I like the look. At first I was taken aback by the color palette, but it's already grown on me. In all likelihood, it's also an indication as to what type of characteristics we'll see from the big blue boy scout in next summer's film.

Til next time...

22 April 2005

Review: Top Shelf Roundup

A month or so ago, Top Shelf Productions was running a great sale on some of their backlist, with an assortment of graphic novels and comix for $1 and $3. [EDIT: The sale is apparently still on, here.] A mixed bag of titles, the vast majority of which I'd never heard of, I decided to randomly pick several that caught my eye and see whether or not any of them could match the subtle brilliance of Craig Thompson's Blankets, a highly acclaimed Top Shelf publication, which I finally read earlier this year. A rather lofty standard-bearer, for sure, but when your tagline is "Sophisticated Comics for the Modern Age," you've set the bar pretty high for yourself.

One can't surf the comics blogiverse very long without running into a favorable reference to indie-fave, James Kochalka. While I snagged his American Elf opus at a nice discount, I still haven't read it yet, starting instead with his deeply discounted Magic Boy & The Robot Elf. Fame has its privileges apparently, as the cover flap's marketing blurb generously refers to this 10-year old effort as his "first (and highly ambitious) fever dream of a graphic novel," which my Marketing 101 Decoder Ring translates roughly as, "It's not really that good, but it's Kochalka, which means enough people will buy it to make it worth re-publishing." I've had fever dreams before and the majority were more coherent than this muddled tale of pathetic self-loathing and time travel. Summarizing the plot would be misleading, not to mention headache-inducing, as it would imply some semblance of internal logic and consistency that isn't there. For $3, no big deal, but if this is what I have to look forward to with American Elf, call me unsophisticated but I'm going to be pissed! {Both thumbs down.}

Keith Knight is another name I was vaguely familiar with, though much less so, as I simply remembered him from a jigsaw event that I'd wanted to check out a while back and missed. The K Chronicles: What a Long Strange Strip It's Been is the third collection of his weekly Salon.com comic strip. One-page, semi-autobiographical snippets of life - frequently socio-political and poignant; occasionally more sobering than funny - Knight is Aaron McGruder's less self-conscious sibling, but with more range. His humor is effortless and rarely didactic, and his stories frequently overwhelm his simple line art, at times literally taking over a panel or even an entire strip. If you like The Boondocks but think McGruder has an annoying tendency for giving in to unimaginative laziness, you'll love Knight's K Chronicles. {Heartily recommended.}

My biggest stretch was Marcus Mawil Witzel's Beach Safari, translated from German by Brian J. Conner, whose colorful cover featuring a topless surfer girl and a bespectacled rabbit caught my eye. Truthfully, there's little to translate as Mawil tells the majority of his story visually, and wonderfully so, with a minimal amount of dialogue or exposition, and what there is is more metaphorical than literal anyway. Our hero, the bunny, washes ashore on some unnamed beach and the first third of the story covers his trials and tribulations as he struggles to survive. Darkly comical, the almost total lack of dialogue leaves everything open to interpretation, so much so that the final two-thirds, when he runs into three young girls who befriend him, one particularly so, and the dialogue increases, its true meaning is hard to decipher. The bittersweet conclusion raises as many questions as it leaves unanswered, but the overall effect is both satisfying and thought-provoking. {Conditionally recommended.}

21 April 2005

INFO: Bravo's Ultimate Super Heroes, Villains & Vixens



Interviews include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Mike Myers, James Earl Jones, Kirsten Dunst, Hugh Jackman, Jessica Alba, Vivica A. Fox, Bryan Singer, Stan Lee, Mark Hamill and Lou Ferrigno

BURBANK, Calif. -- April 21, 2005 -- It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Bravo's three-part special "Ultimate Super Heroes, Ultimate Super Villains, Ultimate Super Vixens." The series premieres Thursday, May 26 (10-11 p.m. EST) and will air the same bat time, same bat channel for three consecutive nights.

Narrated by one of television's classic super heroes Adam West, who portrayed Batman in the hit TV series, Bravo's upcoming special celebrates the heroes, villains and vixens who have created powerful impressions on fans throughout the years. More than 50 experts, ranging from comic book creators to filmmakers and producers to the actors who brought these characters to life, were consulted for the formation of the super-powered top 20 countdown lists in each category.

The super heroes, super villains and super vixens were chosen from characters who have appeared in comic books, movies, television, and/or video games. All choices were based on the characters' longevity, their iconic pop-culture status, and their overall "cool factor." Comic buffs won't want to miss celebrities dishing on the ins and outs of their favorite characters, including Lou Ferrigno discussing The Hulk's relatable human side and Mark Hamill talking about his total commitment to creating the fantasy that surrounded "Star Wars."

With a combination of cutting edge graphics, film clips, celebrity and expert interviews, Bravo's "Ultimate Super Heroes" specials look at the popularity and longevity of each list topper. Exclusive interviews include actress Vivica A. Fox ("Batman and Robin, " Kill Bill: Vol. 1"), comic book writer Stan Lee ("X-Men," "Spider-Man," "Fantastic Four"), actor Hal Sparks ("Spiderman 2"), director Bryan Singer ("X-Men," "X-Men 2"), actor Bill Mumy ("Twilight Zone," "Babylon 5"), comic book writer Todd McFarlane ("Spawn"), actor Mark Hamill ("Star Wars"), actor Lou Ferrigno ("The Incredible Hulk") and Chairman/CEO Marvel Studios Avi Arad ("X-Men," "Daredevil," "Elektra").

"Ultimate Super Heroes, Ultimate Super Villains, Ultimate Super Vixens" is produced by Prometheus Entertainment and Fox Television Studios in association with Bravo.

Full press release here.

The Uncanny O-Man: 5 Superpowers I'd Want, Part II

5 Superpowers I'd Probaby Get Instead

5. The power to make flowers bloom: I'm so uber-masculine, I eat babies for breakfast. I eat kittens for lunch. And then, for dinner, I eat another plate of babies! I heard once that this power was actually bestowed upon a comic book character in Strikeforce: Morituri. HOTTT!!!

4. Powerful, unblockable, devastating, projectile vomit: No one could withstand my awesome attacks. Oh, wait, didn't someone in X-Force have this at some point? DOH!

3. A car that is fueled by my flatulence: Ok, not a power but a gadget. Traveling at the speed of air, leaving defeated villains in my... um... wake. So there was this kid in college. He gets sick one day and is on all these medications. He starts telling me his life story. How when he was little all the kids used to call him "Fart Boy." Now, you're wondering why they called him Fart Boy. Well, it seems that he loved cold cereal. LOVED it; would have three bowls before he left for school. The problem was that he was lactose intolerant. So by lunch, his entire abdomen was a pressure cooker of gastoronomical goodness. I told him that lactose intolerance is B.S. and that your body can learn to adjust. I told him that lactose is just like hot peppers, at first your body freaks, but then it adjusts. Man, maybe I am a supervillain.

2. The ability to annoy my opponents into submission: It is a power I am actively trying to develop. BWHAHAHAHAHA!!!

1. Narcolepsy: Last, but certainly not least, a power that I already possess. It all started in high school, senior year. After my least favorite class, I would always feel so bored and tired. Even though I then had Astronomy, which I enjoyed, once we were in the planatarium and the lights went out, I was out. (Yes, I had Astronomy as a science class. It was to justify the fact that we had a planatarium in our high school.)

20 April 2005

Try Something Different: 4/20/05

Support Independent Comics!

Independent comics (and manga) being released today, 4/20/05, courtesy of ComicList. Not all of these titles will actually arrive in all stores. If your LCBS offers a pre-ordering service, be sure to take advantage of it.

What are you reading?

Best Of The West #49, $6.95

Maburaho Manga Vol 1 TPB, $9.99

Gold Digger Vol 5 Pkt Manga TPB, $9.99
Vampirella Comics Magazine Burns Cvr #9, $9.95
Vampirella Comics Magazine Harris Cvr #9, $9.95

Gold Digger #63, $2.99
I Hunt Monsters Vol 2 #4, $2.99
Mangazine Vol 3 #64, $9.99
Ninja High School #126, $2.99

Betty #146, $2.19
Jughead And Friends Digest #1, $2.39
Pals N Gals Double Digest #93, $3.59
Sonic The Hedgehog #148, $2.19

Jenny Finn Doom #1, $6.99

Robocop Wild Child Catfight #1, $5.99
Stargate SG1 Fall Of Rome Carter Photo Cvr #3 (Of 3), $5.99

Simpsons Comics #105, $2.99

Tarot Witch Of The Black Rose Dlx Ed #31, $19.99
Tarot Witch Of The Black Rose Px Photo Sgn #31, $15.00

Erotic & Art #1 (AA), AR

Shaolin Cowboy Ltd Ed Print, $35.00

10th Muse #1 Randy Green Cvr (AA), $5.95

Caballo GN, $10.00
Small Hands GN, $10.00

American Splendor Bedtime Stories (AA), $3.95
Andrew Vachss Underground #3 (AA), $3.95
Andrew Vachss Underground #4 (AA), $3.95
BTVS #40 Little Monsters (1 Of 3) (AA), $2.99
BTVS #40 Little Monsters (1 Of 3) Photo Cvr (AA), $2.99
BTVS #44 Death Of Buffy (Part 2 Of 3) Photo Cvr (AA), $2.99
BTVS #60 A Stake To The Heart (Part 1 Of 4) Photo Cvr (AA), $2.99
BTVS Chaos Bleeds One Shot Photo Cvr (AA), $2.99
Billy The Kids Old Time Oddities #1 (Of 4), $2.99
Blade Of The Immortal #72 Beasts (Part 7 Of 7) (AA), $2.99
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Haunted #4 (Of 4) (AA), $2.99
Chronicles Of Conan Vol 7 Dweller In The Pool TPB, $15.95
Conan #15, $2.99
Creepy #2 (AA), $3.95
Dark Horse Presents #57 (AA), $3.50
Dead In The West #2 (AA), $3.95
Fierce TPB, $13.95
Flaming Carrot #26 (AA), $2.00
Goon DH Ed #2 (AA), $2.99
Goon DH Ed #2 (AA), $2.99
Grendel God & The Devil #7 (Of 10) (AA), $3.50
Hellboy Jr Halloween Special, $3.95
Martin Mystery #2 (Of 6) (AA), $4.95
Medal Of Honor #1 (AA), $2.50
Milkman Murders TPB, $12.95
Nathan Never #1 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Nathan Never #2 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Nathan Never #4 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Nathan Never #5 (Of 6)(AA), $4.95
Orion #1 (AA), $3.95
Star Wars Episode III Revenge Of The Sith #3, $2.99

Defex #6, $2.95
GI Joe #31 GI Joe Collectors Club Ed, $9.95
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol 1 #1 Wwpa Exclusive Ed, $9.95
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol II Cvr B #3, $2.95
GI Joe Master & Apprentice Vol II Udon Cvr A #3, $2.95
GI Joe Vs Transformers Vol 2 Convention Special, $9.95

Ps238 #11, $2.99

Underlords #3, $2.95

Second Stage Turbine Blade #1, $4.00

Hate Annual #5, $4.95
Jim #1-6 Pack (AA), $17.95

Donald Duck And Friends #327, $2.95
Mickey Mouse And Friends #276, $2.95

Bloodrayne Seeds Of Sin Graham Crackers Exclusive Cvr, $7.99
GI Joe #34 Graham Crackers Exclusive Cobra Foil Cvr, $14.99

30 Days Of Night Bloodsuckers Tales #7, $3.99
Legend Of Grimjack Vol 2 TPB, $19.99
Little Book Of Horror Frankenstein HC, $15.99
Metal Gear Solid #8, $3.99

Cholly & Flytrap #3 (Of 4), $5.95
Detonator #3, $2.50
Four Letter Worlds GN, $12.95
Invincible #22, $2.95
Iron Ghost #1 (Of 6), $2.95
Savage Dragon #121, $2.95
Savage Dragon Vol 10 Endgame HC, $49.95
Small Gods #8, $2.95
Spawn #145 (resolicited), $2.50
Walking Dead #18, $2.95

Knights Of The Dinner Table #102, $3.99

Chip Wilde #1, $2.99

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21, $2.95

Moonstone Monsters Zombies #1, $2.95

Boneyard Vol 4 TPB, $9.95
Ordinary Victories GN, $15.95

Little Star #2, $2.99
Lost At Sea New Ed GN, $11.95
Sharknife Vol 1 GN, $9.95

Pervert Club Digest Vol 1 TPB (resolicited), $12.99

Atomika #2, $2.99
Beowulf #1, $2.99
The Grimoire #2, $2.99

Animage Mar 2005, $11.99
Animedia Mar 2005, $8.99
Cowboy Bebop The Wind Illus, $55.99
Dengeki Animaga #16, $24.99
Dengeki Gs Mag Mar 2005, $12.99
Figure King Encyclopedia #85, $18.99
Fullmetal Alchemist Manga #7, $7.99
Fullmetal Alchemist Manga #8, $7.99
Fullmetal Alchemist Off Fan Bk #5, $9.99
Hobby Japan Apr 2005, $12.99
Hyper Hobby Mar 2005, $14.99
Kuro No Ga Nanae Kurono Illus HC, $58.99
Megami Mag Mar 2005, $14.99
Microman Style, $37.99
Model Graphix Apr 2005, $15.99
Newtype Mar 2005, $11.99
Pretty Cure Visual Fan Bk, $39.99
Quanto Mag Mar 2005, $9.99
Replicant #18, $23.99
Robot #1, $35.99
Steamboy Film Comic, $37.99
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle Manga #8, $8.99
Uchusen Mag Mar 2005, $18.99
Xxxholic Manga #5, $10.99

Blade Of Heaven Vol 2 GN (Of 15), $9.99
Boys Be Vol 4 GN (Of 20), $9.99
Cross Vol 3 GN (Of 5), $9.99
Dragon Hunter Vol 12 GN (Of 18), $9.99
Dragon Knights Vol 19 GN (Of 22), $9.99
Dragon Voice Vol 4 GN, $9.99
Et Cetera Vol 5 GN (Of 9), $9.99
Gundam Seed Astray R Vol 2 GN (Of 4), $9.99
Hands Off Vol 3 GN, $9.99
Lament Of The Lamb Vol 6 GN (Of 7), $9.99
Lupin III Worlds Most Wanted Vol 5 GN (Of 17), $9.99
Shaolin Sisters Reborn Vol 1 GN (Of 4), $9.99
Snow Drop Vol 9 GN (Of 12), $9.99
Threads Of Time Vol 5 GN (Of 11), $9.99
Tramps Like Us Vol 5 GN, $9.99
Van Von Hunter Vol 1 GN (Of 3), $9.99
Warriors Of Tao Vol 4 GN (Of 4), $9.99

Art Of Paul Gulacy Print Ltd Ed, $40.00
Art Of Paul Gulacy Print Reg Ed, $20.00
Brunner Raiders Of Lost Egg Print Ltd Ed, $40.00
Brunner Raiders Of Lost Egg Print Reg Ed, $20.00
Grand Master Drawings Of J Allen St John SC, $24.95

Shonen Jump Vol 3 May 2005 #5, $4.99

18 April 2005

ménage à trois: 4/13/05

[One Marvel, one DC, both published the previous Wednesday, plus a random indie from whenever I feel like it, each reviewed quickie-style: 1 Minute=bad, 10 Minutes=good. Connections, if any at all, may be forced purely for the experience.]

As several current story arcs come to their drawn-out conclusions over the next couple of months, I'll be drastically paring down the Big Two portion of my pull list in anticipation of buying a house sometime this summer. As such, my weekly "ménage à trois" will either be scrapped or altered to reflect my scaled-back, indie-heavy list. It's like I've [again] outgrown the worlds of Marvel and DC, where almost everything looks and reads the same, and almost every comic is boringly predictable. Maybe it's the inevitable effect of the move towards aping Hollywood's summer blockbuster model, relying on hype and The. Event. That. Will. Change. Everything.™ corporate crossovers instead of strong, organic storytelling? Whatever the case, for the fifth time in my comic book reading life, I'm ready to move on, only this time, there's a whole other world of comics for me to move on to so I don't have to walk away completely. That said, I think this just became the final "ménage à trois" to require a Big Two presence.

One comic definitely getting cut from my list is JSA, a pleasant enough title that offers no terribly compelling reason to keep reading it. With #72, Geoff Johns concludes his entertaining time travel yarn pairing the past and present JSA teams with some high-octane fisticuffs on the White House of 1951's front lawn. Steeped in continuity, if you're not an old school DC fan it's a pretty superficial conclusion to a pretty superficial arc with the usual hiccups that come with time travel, particularly the knowledge that nothing's ever really at stake in such stories - inasmuch as anything is ever truly at stake in the superhero world, C-listers excepted - a point Johns hammers home on the final page. While he does manage to work in his usual touches of characterization here and there, and Don Kramer and Keith Champagne do a nice job making the battle royale look interesting, in the end, for anyone other than long-time fans, it feels like they're all going through the motions, perhaps holding the line until DC's big events of the Summer and Fall allow them to move forward. For the most part, they'll be moving on without me: 6 Minutes

The Black Panther is a comic that's on the fence as far as my pull list goes, one I want to continue to support and enjoy (and yes, collect, as the Black Panther is one of the characters I follow) but that needs to really show me something good with its first arc. Unlike JSA, Reginald Hudlin is delivering something a little different from the Big Two norm with this comic, treading ground few mainstream Marvel titles would dare despite their ostensibly being set in the real world. In #3, continuing his opening "Who is the Black Panther?" arc, Hudlin deftly establishes the Panther's home country of Wakanda's place in the global picture, contrasting its social and political development with that of the capitalist western world, and does so in a way that tops his ignorant General of the first issue, much to the chagrin of some readers. The complaints I've read about his "anti-Western propaganda" seem to ignore both reality and his swipe at some African countries' willingness to conspire against their neighbors for their own gain, a point slavery apologists are often quick to highlight. While Wakanda may represent a pie-in-the-sky socialist utopia, Hudlin's depiction of how other countries might view such a country, especially an African one, is spot on. (Hell, how many times have our own politicians said the terrorists hate America because of "our freedom?") Simultaneously continuing his Year One retcon of T'Challa's origins, while unfolding Klaw's plans for revenge, the art team of John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson continue to deliver the visual goods. The Rhino, in particular - "...fought the Hulk and walked away. God help us all if he had a brain." - gets a great introduction, while Dean White's coloring adjusts perfectly for the mulitple locales Hudlin visits. This one's a keeper: 8 Minutes

A couple of months ago, I didn't have a single comic book from Image on my pull list, much less my radar. Something changed recently, though, because suddenly they seem to be cranking out some of my favorite titles, including the latest, in partnership with Desperado Publishing, The Atheist. A black-and-white thriller with a tinge of horror, Phil Hester and John McCrea have fashioned a taut debut issue that effectively sets the stage for both an intriguing storyline and an engaging lead character. Antoine Sharpe, dubbed "the Atheist" by his government handlers, is kind of what the lead character in the TV show Medium might be like if played by Samuel Jackson. And the premise of the show was flipped. Kind of. Instead of relying on easy pop culture reference points, though, Hester does an excellent job of telling his own story, showing Sharpe in action and firmly establishing not only the character, but the overall premise as well: dead people are inexplicably, and seemingly randomly, taking over the bodies of the living. "I see. Reincarnated people." McCrea does a great job of laying out what is predominantly well-written, well-paced exposition and setup, effectively using shadows, facial expressions and body language to develop the cast of characters, major and minor, without ever falling into the talking head trap. It's for comics like this one that I'll be happily cutting back on the Big Two's spandex set: 10 Minutes

17 April 2005

Adopt A Comic: Elk's Run / Fade From Grace Winners

Well, it was like pulling teeth, but we've got two winners of our first (and last?) Adopt a Comic contest.

Shane Bailey:

I've actually been looking for Elk's Run #1 to try it out.

Ok here we go. I shop at Borderlands Comics and Games in Jacksonville, FL. I think the zip code is 32211 but I'm not sure. They don't stock a lot of indie or small press books at all. I think they think Dark Horse and Image count as small press. They will order things for customers if the customer asks for it, so what people in Jacksonville need to do is spread the word about the good small press books. I've reached some through my site, but we can reach others. Start a fanzine. Leave comics in waiting rooms. Be creative. Talk about your favorite books while in the stores. Some of the buzz will probably wear off on the retailers if they hear customers mentioning certain books all the time. I know that's worked in the past, especially in getting the store to carry manga. Support your store and most likely they'll support you. It's their job after all.
And Erech Overaker:

Well hell, since nobody is posting. And I can never get tired of saying good things about my LCS (formerly rather). Zanadus in Downtown Seattle (98101 I beleive), in all my travels it's the best shop I have ever been to. I've been shopping there since I was like 13 (gonna be 30 this summer), and Perry the owner has always pushed Indie books right next to the big stuff. In fact, I have never had to special order anything because they almost always have a book I want, no matter how obscure. They keep old indie stuff near the checkout counter, strategically I am sure, so as you wait in line you get a big eyeball of it all, being especially good to local creators - big and small. The best part though, is the fact they have two women GASP! working there who are very friendly, extremely knowledgable, and who quite frankly don't alienate newcomers through the door, like so many "Comic Book Guy" types I have seen at other stores. It really gives the impression that yes, comics are for anyone, and might even be cool. Without a doubt, BEST SHOP EVER. The End.

PS I know I can't win because I'm not currently in Seattle, but I still wanted to give em props.
For their winning entries, Shane and Erech will each receive, for FREE, copies of Elk's Run #1 and Fade From Grace #1. Many thanks to the others who submitted entries, and to those who linked to the contest. I'd encourage you all to ask your local retailers about both of these comics as they're some of the best stuff being published right now. Add them to your pull lists, give a copy to your friends, preach about them on messageboards and your own blogs!!! Comics don't have to suck, but the good ones need all the support they can get.

Shane and Erech, hit me at glecharles at gmail dot com with your mailing info and I'll get these out to you sometime this week. Congrats!

16 April 2005

Retailer Spotlight: Richmond Comix

A few weeks back, we took a trip south to visit my mother in Virginia, and I decided to hit Diamond's Comic Shop Locator to see what the four-color world was like outside of New York City. Punching in the zip code of her suburban Richmond town, I was surprised to see only three shops pop up, none in Richmond itself. I input a few more zip codes for Richmond proper and parts due north, and still came up with the same three shops. Odd, I thought, but Virginia is a bit of a conservative state - to this NYer, at least - so I wasn't completely surprised.

With a couple of hours to spare, I decided to hit the two closest shops - Richmond Comix and The Time Capsule - both more than 10 miles from my mother's house and even further from Richmond itself. I took my wife with me to get a non-comics fan's perspective, too.

Interestingly, Richmond Comix didn't have a profile listing with Diamond, while The Time Capsule did, leading me to believe the former would be a small, Big Two-only hole in the wall. In fact, it was the other way around. While both shops had gaming tournaments running when we visited, there was a distinct difference between them, the starkest being Time Capsule's cramped, musty, disorganized location with comics indelicately stuffed into racks and longboxes, and a minimal selection of indies, mostly limited to Image titles. There was also a back room that looked like the owner probably lived there during his off-hours. Both my wife and I were skeeved and after one quick lap of the store, we headed out.

What was originally intended to be an article comparing a couple of LCBS' in Virginia instead became a spotlight to recognize a really good shop that hit all the right notes. Fortunately, we'd visited Richmond Comix first, and could judge it objectively without the taint of the other shop boosting our first impressions.

First thing we noticed when we walked into Richmond Comix was that it was bright and clean. There also wasn't a single Greg Horn, et al, T&A poster hanging anywhere, something my wife particularly appreciated. Even though there were three or four long tables full of HeroClix gamers in the middle of the store, there was plenty of room to browse and no feeling of intruding on someone's clubhouse. On the first wall as you enter, to the right, is six-foot high wire shelving with a ton of All Ages comics, everything from DC and Archie to other titles I didn't recognize. On the other side of the store, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and a solid collection of indies lined the shelves. Towards the back, on the right, was DC and its imprints, along with the New and Last Week's Releases.

At the counter, located two-thirds of the way back on the left, next to the rack of indie comics, was the owner, Frank Miller, a friendly-type who waited until we reached him to ask if we needed help, and nicely left us alone when we said we were just browsing. After a full lap around, we returned to the indie rack to get a better look at what they stocked, and I was impressed to see a full run (less the Free Comic Book Day first issue) of The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, as well as 4 out of the 5 issues of Street Angel - not stuffed in back issue boxes, but ON THE RACKS! - both titles I'd been interested in checking out. I snatched them up and took them to the counter to pay, and Miller engaged us in some friendly conversation, and even offered to seek out a copy of The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty #1 that he was sure he had in storage somewhere. He also recommended AdHouse's Project: Superior as something I might be interested in. I love contextual recommendations, especially those with sincere praise as opposed to a recitation of the solicitation copy, and if I didn't already own it, he'd have convinced me to pick it up. Leaving the shop, even my wife - who hates going into Midtown Comics because it's so overwhelming - had positive things to say about it, saying she'd feel comfortable browsing there.

When we returned home, I emailed Miller for an interview, and thus was born Comic Book Commentary's first Retailer Spotlight.

Comic Book Commentary: How long has Richmond Comix been in business? Are you the original owner?
Frank Miller: We started the business (actually a corporation with 3 stockholders) in 1987, so I am coming up on 20 years in 2007.

CBC: Retail in general is a tough business, specialty retail that much more so. Why a comic book store? What's your origin story?
Miller: I learned to read in the 50's with Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics & Stories. I have collected and read comics during most parts of my life. When a couple of friends wanted to open a skateboard shop back in the 1980's, they were looking for another kind of business to share a retail space, and it just kinda happened.

CBC: What's the best part of running a comic book store? The worst?
Miller: The customers, for the most part, are the best part of my job. I see quite a few people every week, and they become an extended family. The old Eagles line....."knows all his customers by name"....the store is a friendly place where customers strike up conversations as a spontaneous thing...almost like the old days when people were actually trying to get along with each other. For the worst....partly the folks who still insist on speculating on new comics.....my philosophy has always been that new comics are for reading primarily.. If you bag 'em and they become valuable, all the better, but, first and foremost, READ THE BOOKS!!

CBC: How many employees do you have?
Miller: This becomes an answer to the previous question also. My daughter works with me on weekends, but mostly, it's me. I have one person, my friend, KC Carlson, to whom I will always be in debt...he has worked with me on "new comic day" for quite some time, now --gets a great discount on his books for helping, of course-- but, I do not think that I could have kept my sanity without him. Plus, as a former editor with DC Comics, KC is a wonderful source of information on those hard to answer comic questions.

CBC: Do you offer pull lists, and if so, how many do you have?
Miller: I have about 110 subscribers. I stopped giving a cash discount (one of the worst things ever created in a comic book store!!) years ago, and went to a reward system...i.e. a credit for every $50 spent in the store.

CBC: What's typically your Top 5 best-selling comic books? Most popular Trades? Manga?
Miller: At least 2 of the top five usually have an "X" in the title, but, at the current time my top five are Astonishing X-Men, Superman/Batman, New Avengers, Green Lantern: Rebirth (this line was Identity Crisis last year!!) and Superman (until the Jim Lee run ends). I stock lots of trades...right now the Sin City TP's are doing quite well, but more and more customers are (dare I say this?) waiting for Trades for lots of comics.....Marvel, especially, has gained quite a presence, as they release the Trade a week after a mini-series or story arc has finished. The Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men TP's are a great example of this. Before Marvel's agressive program began, I would sell the same number of issues of Ultimate Spider-Man as I do now, but now I also sell ten or so volumes of each Trade. Manga is not a big item for me....I order preorders from Previews and a few other items, but, overall, not the "big thing" that it is in other stores.

CBC: I really liked how the first rack of comics you see when you enter the store is a healthy mix of all ages titles from various publishers. What's your customer mix like? Old/young, Male/female, etc.
Miller: Yep....that's my "Kid Section" at the front of the store. I try to order any books out of Previews that are suitable for the younger readers....trying to develop the steady group of parents who bring in their "under 10" kids, and can find a comic for them. The Classics Illustrated Jr. reprints that are coming out now are a great example, plus all of the kid-friendly DC books that have come out for a long time. Marvel is just now realizing the benefit of marketing comics to the young kids; you have to read comics as a kid in order to appreciate them as an adult. I see more of a variety in comic customers these days...the movies are doing their job, in that respect, and are drawing more ladies, and more folks in their thirties and forties into stores.

CBC: Cynical NYer that I am, I was also impressed to see that you had a pretty solid selection of indies, something sorely lacking at another shop I visited in your area. Generally speaking, are your customers receptive to them? Which are your most popular titles?
Miller: Indies are essential to the existence of comics and comic book stores. I am in awe of the big city stores that can sell 100 copies of Eightball or Black Hole. I try to carry lots of indie companies, including Slave Labor, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, Alternative Comics, and many, many others. My personal favorite is Adhouse Books, located right here in Richmond. Check out their Project: Superior, an anthology just out!!

CBC: How do you determine which titles you order? Besides Previews, where do you find out about comics buried in the back of the catalog?
Miller: Ah....another answer to an earlier question. One of the worst things about the job is Previews....a rather daunting monthly chore, for me, akin to shaving....you have to do it, but it's a real pain!! After 18 years of working with the book, I still find neither ryhme nor reason in trying to figure out the thing. I read lots of indies, so I try to order in terms of what I would want to pick up. Other than that, I try to reflect MY demographic and customer. What I would purchase may not work in Denver or Sarasota.

CBC: Are you participating in Free Comic Book Day this year? At what level? For you, is it primarily about exposing existing readers to different comics, or bringing in new readers? What kind of marketing are you doing to get the word out?
Miller: The best thing to happen to comic book stores.....ever!! As a gold level sponsor, I have ordered an extra (1,000) books this year to donate to 2 different Middle School programs in the area. Quite a bit of my advertising budget goes into FCBD. Last year, the store had a record number of people come thru the doors, and I hope that this year is even better. FCBD brings in past customers, current customers, and, most importantly, guys and gals and KIDS who have never been in a comic store, or, who may have had a bad experience in a darkly lit dungeon of a store. Props to my friend, Eric Hanson, who, once again, will bring his "Free Sketches For Kids" sign to the store and draw until his right hand gets numb.

CBC: What other kinds of events do you host? Creator appearances, gaming, etc? What's the most popular?
Miller: Another facet of the comic business, to me, is having a secondary source of revenue, in this, the, uh, thriving comic industry. I support the gaming side of the business. I have regular groups that meet for Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Heroclix, Vs System, WWE Raw Deal, and Pirates of The Spanish Main. And there will be a demo crew for each of these games in the store on May 7th, for FCBD!! Stuff to give away to folks who take the "demo"...something for them to remember the week after the event. I run tournaments and host leagues, so Friday thru Sunday is becoming a busier time than Wednesdays in most weeks. I try to have creator appearances, drawing on local talent....costs a lot of money to fly someone in from NY or CA, so the budget does not allow for a lot of that sort of thing. Another advantage to running a store in one of the marquee cities....

CBC: What's on YOUR pull list?
Miller: Right now, at the top of my list, Powers, Fallen Angel, Fables, Y: The Last Man, Usagi Yojimbo (best storytelling in comics, Stan!!), Planetary, Black Panther, Astonishing X-Men, Plastic Man and Gotham Central.

Richmond Comix is Richmond, Virginia's best source for comics (new and old), Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and HeroClix. It is located in the Ivymount Square shopping center in Midlothian, VA, just south of Richmond, 6 miles west of Powhite Parkway.

15 April 2005

Tomboy's Take: Redemption Found at the TeenyTinyCon!

It's not always all about the swag, but it is about what you bring home with you.

Last Sunday, I went to the Phoenix Cactus Comicon 2005. It was small. I remember walking into Wizard World back in 1997 when there was only one Wizard World and being overwhelmed by its enormity. That's about how underwhelmed I was by the PCC05, but I'd expected it. I had a rare day off, the weather was beautiful, I had loads of work and fun stuff to choose from, and I was still pretty darn disenchanted with today's comics.

So I went for Marv.

For six bucks, I got to wander around 50 tables filled with boxes of tired-looking books. I got the most out of the indie tables (reviews to follow soon); the guys there were excited to talk about their work and supportive of my projects when they found out I was testing the self-publishing waters, too. I attended the con's only two panel discussions. "Comics in Arizona" featured Brian Pulido and Marie Croall, who lamented that comics have crashed hard over the past few years. She said the industry was failing, and despite my personal disappointments as a formal hardcore fangirl, my heart sank when she said that. I also attended the "Teen Titans GO" panel with Todd Nauck and Marv Wolfman. I met Steve Rude and bought the first five issues of his The Moth (review to follow), wandered around the tables some more, picked up free swag (a Wonder Woman button, a Willy Wonka movie poster, a copy of MAD Magazine, random local comic books), ate food that was thankfully a bit cheaper than at larger cons, and watched the line ebb and flow around the Teen Titans creative team. The con only ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and I didn't want to leave until I'd said "hello" to Marv.

Imagine--it's 1998, I'm hanging on to Marvel's X-Men books for dear life, hoping the ship won't sink, afraid that I'll sink with it. I try to fill my sail with Cliffhanger books ... talk about a dead wind. My buddy Dan (because everybody who likes comics has a comic book buddy named Dan) throws me a life preserver: 50 issues of The New Teen Titans by the Marv Wolfman/George Perez creative team. Wow. The dialogue is great. The stories are great. The art is great. And they met their deadlines.

Flash forward: At about 2:30, I get in line behind four guys waiting to see Todd Nauck, who I admit I know nothing about save for what he revealed in the panel discussion. I'm kinda perturbed that more fan boys aren't accosting Marv the way they do at bigger cons, but this younger crowd is more into manga and anime, and they don't seem to recognize creators unless their costumed creations are posing around their tables.

Todd's drawing art on demand for $15 a board, and I decide to have him draw a picture for me. I'm thinking of what to have him draw and looking cross-eyed at the guy in front of me who's got a dozen comic books, a stack of promotional posters, and two custom drawings for Todd to spit out. Before he leaves, he grabs two freebie ashcans out of their shrinking pile for Todd to sign. I know he's gonna sell all that stuff for profit, but Todd just grins at him good-naturedly. When my turn hits, I hunker down in front of Todd and tell him I have a special request, trying not to sound like a total cheesy cheddar-head. Flicking my head in Marv's direction where he's talking with his wife, I say, "I want you to draw him because he's one of my heroes."

Todd lit up.

"You want me to draw Marv?!"
"Can you?"
"Yeah!!! But ... we have to ask him. I mean, I'd feel more comfortable."
After convincing Marv that I really didn't want a caricature of him in Robin's mask or under Raven's cloak, Todd got to doing a more complicated sketch than the Spider-Man and Robin drawings he'd been spitting out. Afterwards, I had Marv sign it. I think his wife was a little gushy because I'd thrown Marv so many props while Todd was drawing and she insisted that I sit next to Marv so she could take our picture. For personal gratification, I asked Marv one question: "How many books were you writing while you were writing the Titans?"

"Well ... four or five, but then I took on editorial responsibilities so I could only write two or three."
"A month?!"
"Sure! Why?"
"Because ... why can't people do that now? Nobody does that! Good for you."
Yeah--cheesy, I know, but really--you should've seen the guy puff up with pride. He thrust his hand out for me to shake and grinned all big at me. He loves his job, even now.

What the hell is a comic convention for if it isn't to convene with the one person out there who could possibly renew your faith in a failing industry?

14 April 2005

The Uncanny O-Man: 5 Superpowers I'd Want

5. Flight - Hey, it's for the environment and not because it always seems to get Superman's girls all hot and bothered. "Oh, Superman, I'm in the air! Do me!"

4. Telekinesis - I had a superpower once. It was called "slacker force." I used it in college. "Omar," you ask, "how did you use slacker force?" I'm so glad you asked. Basically, if I was sitting on, say, a couch watching television and there was a can of ... soda that was on the far end of the coffee table, I'd raise up my arm and open my hand. Eventually, someone would walk along, see me reaching for said can, pick it up, and hand it to me. I was a mighty being.

3. Invisibility - Granted, this power should never be given to lonely people. [Insert: "Awww!"] Nonetheless, I'd love to, say, avoid some ex-girlfriends on the fly. I'd also rob banks. Many, many banks. But I'm no supervillian. I'd take from the rich and give to the poor... poor like me. I'd also use the money to fund my never-ending war on crime. I wouldn't do anything perverted at all. Really. I wouldn't.

2. Superspeed - I am totally sick of just missing subway doors as they close. Seriously, it's a conspiracy to drive me ape$4!+. This one time I was on the New York City subway known as the G train. G stands for Ghost because it comes so infrequently it's like seeing a ghost. Anyways, so I'm sitting there on the G train and I transfer to the L train. L train is for Loser hipsters that live in Williamsburg. Anyways, I've gotten off the G train and transfered to the L train. It's like 3am. Trains like the L and G run very infrequently at 3am so to be able to transfer is just short of miraculous. We're talking rising on the third day, doing a jig, and going up to heaven type miraculous. They are idling in the station for some reason. Suddenly this old, old, old dude runs down the stairs barrelling at the G train. Now, he's no normal-looking old guy. He's kinda weird. Picture an ugly Gandalf complete with walking stick and green khaki shorts... not to mention the Crocodile Dundee hat. The bell rings, the doors close. He shrieks. When I say shriek, I mean high-pitched approaching the sound a gerbil being shot by a BB gun shriek. So, Gandalf shrieks because the G train doors shut, and it could be an hour before the next one appears. Gandalf then realizes there's an L train across the way so he starts running at the L train his white beard flapping to his side like a scarf. The L train bell rings; the doors close. Gandalf hits the doors running and shrieks again. At this point, Gandalf is losing his marbles. He's shrieking and hitting the doors. Then, mystically, the G train doors across the platform open. Gandalf shrieks yet again and starts running at the G train doors across the platform; thing is is that the second he starts moving the G train bell rings and the doors start to shut. The doors close just in time for him to get there. As Gandalf gets to the doors the L train doors open, their bell rings, and the doors begin to shut. Gandalf, of course, is too busy shrieking and running to think this through. This event replays itself four or five more times. Finally, the L train conducter lets Gandalf board the train, and Gandalf is sitting in my car. Over the intercom we hear the conductor's voice: "Attention passengers. We are umm... suffering from a malfunction in our door mechanisms. We will um... be moving shortly."

1. Telepathy - I'd pick up girls. For real. I wouldn't use my powers to brainwash them or anything, and I wouldn't lie. But I would figure out what I should highlight about myself. For example, I would figure out if she likes poets or computer guys more. Oh, I'd also figure out if she wants a guy who makes a lot of cash 'cause I'm not one of them and don't feel like pretending. I'd also use telepathy to mess with people that are annoying me. "So is this like the time you peed your pants in Mrs. Wall's first grade class and everyone laughed at you including Gina who you had a crush on?" That's just for starters. Imagine my kill shot.

Join us next week for Part II: 5 Superpowers I'd Probaby Get Instead

13 April 2005

ménage à trois: 4/6/05

[One Marvel, one DC, both published the previous Wednesday, plus a random indie from whenever I feel like it, each reviewed quickie-style: 1 Minute=bad, 10 Minutes=good. Connections, if any at all, may be forced purely for the experience.]

At this point, distracted by the passage of time, the filing of a pile of back issues and the arrival of some interesting Moonstone product, I've pretty much forgotten about most of the new comics I bought last week! Fortunately, I'd already set aside my threesome for the week and now offer them up, even quicker than usual.

Power Pack #1 is an "All Ages" comic done right. Screw all the cynical, Comic Book Guy, "I read Miller's Dark Knight when I was six years old!" crap on the internet, Marc Sumerak nails this one to the wall, matching the fun and energy of the best Nickelodeon cartoons while capturing the spirit of the original Power Pack series I grew up with. Gurihiru's art is as influenced by manga as it is by traditional animation and is a visual treat. The Franklin Richards backup story is a delightful bonus, making this issue a rare perfect read: 10 Minutes

Beyond his costume, I was never a big fan of the original Firestorm, so when they relaunched him as young black teenager a year ago, I ignored my usual policy of supporting minority lead characters and took a pass. Artist Jamal Igle, whom I met a couple of weeks ago at the Big Apple Con, convinced me to give it a try, though, and so Firestorm #12 made it into my stack for the week. Despite the fact that the issue is the midpoint of a three-part arc, it gets everything right, with a fast-paced story that delivers just enough exposition and a humanizing interlude to get a sense of what's going on, while delivering a fun cliffhanger ending that likely means more to long-time fans of the original character than it did to a newbie like me. There's been a lot of terroristfanboy chatter about this title online, typical complaints about it not being "the real Firestorm," and I'm guessing DC listened as the "real" Firestorm makes a significant appearance here, despite his death in Identity Crisis. I don't know if it's indicative of the previous issues, but for this one, I'd say Jamal made a good call: 8 Minutes

From the DEMO school of double the hype for half the content, Dead@17: Revolution #4 brings Josh Howard's Buffy the Reincarnated Demon Slayer tale to an overwrought, melodramatic end. Beyond the great covers and overall design, which I've lauded previously, I just don't get the big deal about this comic. I didn't hate it, but I barely liked it, which, in my opinion, is much worse. Maybe it reads better with the two previous arcs taken in one full dose? Don't know, and not particularly inspired to find out: 5 Minutes

10 April 2005

Adopt A Comic: Elk's Run #1 UPDATE

Comics...you can't give the damn things away!

Seriously, though, entries for one of the two FREE copies of Elk's Run #1 (sold out, BTW, for all you collector-types) have been less than overwhelming. And it's not for lack of traffic because the original announcement itself has been viewed more than 100 times, not to mention the couple of hundred views when it was still on the main page.

The fu--?

It's a FREE COMIC BOOK, PEOPLE! And a GOOD one, at that!! Come on, dammit!!!

So, with only five days left in the contest, I've decided to sweeten the pot a little bit. In addition to a FREE copy of Elk's Run #1, I'm adding a FREE copy of Fade From Grace #1 to the offer. Fade... (which I reviewed a while back, here) is another great indie not enough people are reading, making this a FREE 2-for-1 that only the lazy and cynical will pass up.

How can you, motivated and optimistic comic fan that you are, give these TWO excellent comic books a deserving home without spending a dime? Pretty simple, really; you just have to speak up:

1) Leave a comment here* about your local comic book retailer (or, if you're stuck in a direct market No Man's Land, your favorite e-retailer) and what kind of indie selection they offer. If it's great, give 'em props and give us details. If it's lacking, explain why you think that is and what indie publishers might be able to do about it. In either case, include your zip code, which I will check with Diamond Comics Distributors to see what retailers, if any, are in your area. Zip Code is required for valid entry, and must match the shipping address for winning entries.


2) Leave a comment here* about your favorite indie comic book currently being published and why more people should be reading it. Be persuasive, but concise. Save the long-winded reviews for your own site! Due to their prime visibility in the front of Previews, comics published by Image, Dark Horse and DC/Marvel's various imprints are NOT considered indies for the sake of this contest.

The contest will close and TWO winners will be selected at Noon EST, April 15th. Ideally, there will be one winner from each category, but not necessarily. The best two entries, as judged by me, will win. Individuals may submit an entry for both categories, but no more than one for each. Winning comics will be shipped FREE via First Class mail.

NOTE: If you're reading this on the LiveJournal feed, please go to the main site to leave your comment entry.

* Comments left in the original announcement still qualify for the contest. New entries may be submitted by commenting on either announcement, or via email to glecharles at gmail dot com.

08 April 2005

PSA: Comic Books, Porn Stars & Kids?

What do comic books and porn stars have in common? I mean, besides an overlapping fanbase of sexually frustrated momma's boys?

At the Big Apple Con last weekend, I had to do an about-face or two while strolling the aisles with my 4-year old son so as to avoid a scantily-clad "model" selling soft-core pictures of herself to drooling fanboys while her pimp manager stood by her side moderating the situation. Apparently, compared to the bigger conventions where actual porn stars are hawking their wares alongside comic book publishers and artists, this was a pretty tame moment.

Now, I'm far from prudish but there's a time and place for everything, and with the industry desperately needing to tap into a younger audience, I question the wisdom of this.

The "Separation of Non-Comic Book Pornography from Comic Book Related Booths at Conventions Petition" to Wizard Entertainment Group, the leading convention producer in the industry, was created by Concerned Comic Book Creators & Fans and written by Ty Gorton, and is a call not for the elimination of porn from comic book conventions, but rather a clear separation of their booths from comic book-related booths, not unlike the adult section of a video store or the Mature-labeled comics at your LCBS.

The petition is hosted at www.PetitionOnline.com as a public service, and can be found here.

07 April 2005

CBC Team-Up: Countdown to Power Pack's Sea of Red

Comic Book Commentary's Dynamic Duo, Editor Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and The Sidekick Stephen Maher, team up to take on a clutch of recent comics, fighting for truth, justice and a decent read for three bucks! In this issue, they take on Marvel Team-Up #7, Firestorm #12, Power Pack #1, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #2, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Batman #638 and Sea of Red #1.

Stephen Maher: So, did you get to read the books?
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez: Yeah. Mixed bag.
Maher: Yeah. Sorry about Moon Knight. Bwahahahaha!
Gonzalez: Bleh. As bland as Kirkman made it sound. At the same time, the issue itself was kind of fun, in a throwback kind of way.
Maher: "Frenchie will be back with another plane in a few minutes." WTF?
Gonzalez: LOL! And Spidey's Batman comment was...cute?
Maher: Yeah. Twas. Question? Is Marvel Team-Up part of the Marvel Age Imprint?
Gonzalez: No. It's part of the main MU. Oh, and it's not Marvel Age anymore. It's now Marvel Adventures. Even the kiddies aren't immune to the relaunch bug.
Maher: Marvel Age isn't an appealing title to kids. Adventures works. Big up Marvel. Boo-Yah-Kaa-Shot!
Gonzalez: Have I just been out of the loop for a while or has Spider-Man always been this annoying? Kirkman kinda goes overboard with the quips.
Maher: Don't know if Kirkman is a rookie but writing for Spidey is harder than it looks.
Gonzalez: Yeah, it felt very surface. Kirkman's got a couple of big hits at Image, Invincible and Walking Dead. Haven't read either of them, but they have pretty good reps. Moon Knight felt a bit off, too. Dude's a hardcore former mercenary, not just another snarky 20-something in spandex.
Maher: Are you kidding me?! I knew Marvel Trip-Up was gonna be garbage from that opening. Terminus, Sunfire...page 2 "I love you, my love. I love you."
Gonzalez: Titannus. Which, not to be a dick, but it sounds too much like "tight anus."
Maher: Or "Tit and Ass."
Gonzalez: LOL! Apparently he's part of the larger story being told in MTU. Haven't read the previous issues so I have no idea if he's really that corny or if we just caught him at a bad moment. Give Kirkman credit for making the Ringmaster entertaining, though.
Maher: Yeah, that's true. The bazooka made of pigeons was pretty inventive.
Gonzalez: Blowing up Spidey's webbing was cool. Wonder which Spidey this is, though. The new organic webbing or old-school web shooters version? Cause if it's the organic Spidey, he should be dead.
Maher: Let's get into that please. Correction - Let's NOT!
Gonzalez: The webbing? Or continuity?
Maher: The webbing.
Gonzalez: You know, I don't have a problem with it personally. Makes sense, but the execution was weak. I think that [Disassembled] storyline is what made Jenkins quit Spectacular.
Maher: Continuity...last I remember, Ringmaster was dead.
Gonzalez: Ringmaster's dead. So's Jason Todd. Apparently only Uncle Ben and Bucky stay dead!
Maher: So's Ben Reilly...or is he?
Gonzalez: Ben Reilly?
Maher: Nevermind! Wait! What if the Red Hood was Bucky? He snuck into the DC Universe when Liefeld was doing the Captain America revamp.
Gonzalez: Liefeld was on Cap?
Maher: Oh man...you don't want to know. Post Age of Apocalypse.
Gonzalez: I was at the Big Apple Con this weekend flipping through longboxes and was appalled by some of the covers I saw from Marvel through the 90s. Ghastly! Glad I missed it all.
Maher: You didn't miss much.

Gonzalez: The Red Hood is Thomas Wayne.
Maher: What's a Thomas Wayne? Bruce's half-brother? I can see Daddy Wayne being a playa.
Gonzalez: His father.
Maher: His father?! That's it I quit.
Gonzalez: The whole Death and the Maidens mini was about Bruce taking some drug from Ra's Al Ghul that allowed him to speak with his dead parents. The Red Hood is Thomas Wayne...and he's pissed!
Maher: I hope you're right...
Gonzalez: I can't stand what Winnick is doing over there on Batman.
Maher: See I disagree, I like Winnick. His stuff is fun. I picked up Outsiders #22.
Gonzalez: When Outsiders relaunched, I flipped through it and something about it didn't work for me, and I was a fan back in the day. Went with Johns’ Teen Titans instead.
Maher: Could you catch me up on Firestorm.
Gonzalez: Firestorm? Don't know yet. Met Jamal Igle, the new artist, at the Con this weekend and he convinced me to give it a shot. The new Firestorm's a black kid, Jason Rusch, and the fanboys apparently don't like him. Sales suck; new artist; new writer as of #14. I love an underdog, though.
Maher: Has Firestorm ever been a fan fave though?
Gonzalez: Firestorm's like a Hawkeye, I think. Small, devoted fanbase. Not enough to sustain a monthly, but enough to kill it.
Maher: I mean the whole concept from back on the cartoon. A teenager and the old dude sharing the same body - it's just wrong.
Gonzalez: Yeah, I always loved the costume and the powers, couldn't care less about the character. That's most superheroes, though, to be honest.
Maher: And he's called Firestorm, but what's his powers? He doesn't shoot fireballs... That's confusing.
Gonzalez: IIRC, he manipulates matter. That's the whole molecule logo on his chest, I think.
Maher: But why the fire? Damnit, why?!
Gonzalez: Um... 'cause he's a hothead? Dunno!
Maher: I did like the art in the Firestorm book though...read it after Trip-Up. After Trip-Up, it looked damn good.
Gonzalez: Trip-up?
Maher: Team-Up. Made Dominique Dawes look like Rosario Dawson. If you know what I mean.
Gonzalez: Wait, I thought Firestorm wasn't on your list? I didn't read it yet! (flipping through real fast...) Okay, dude missing the hand threw me for a second. Tis nice looking, though. The art on MTU left me kind of cold. Think it's that digital coloring. When it works, it's purty. But when it doesn't...
Maher: True... It overcompensates.
Maher: The segment with the dude missing his hand (Jason's father) is pretty good. Nice fly on the wall type stuff.
Gonzalez: Isn't Dan Jolley the writer that gave the world Booster Gold?
Maher: I think so.
Gonzalez: Hmmm...
Maher: (researching)
Gonzalez: So they've brought Ronnie Raymond back somehow and combined him with the black kid. Guess the fanboys won. Have to give it a proper read-through. Maybe it'll be DC's entry in this week's threesome for me?
Maher: Booster Gold was created by Dan Jurgens.
Gonzalez: Ah, Jurgens. Jolley was the recent Micronauts then? From Devil's Due. Guy can't catch a break! What'd you think of the new Power Pack?

Maher: I really liked it.
Gonzalez: Yeah, Power Pack was fun. All Ages without being insulting.
Maher: Yes! I liked the opening with the school report.
Gonzalez: Yeah, that was a clever bit of recap. Pretty true to the spirit of the original, too, I thought.
Maher: Yeah. Think it would go over new readers' heads? The intro? Particularly the kiddies?
Gonzalez: It's hard to say. I think it works, but what do I know from an 8-year old's tastes? For all I know, they want the sex and violence they get in their video games! I loved that it was nicely paced and told a complete story.
Maher: Totally and the tag line. "With Kate Power comes Great Responsibility!" Lovely.
Gonzalez: That was adorable! And the Franklin Richards short? Very cute.
Maher: Oh yeah, I forgot about that. That was a treat!
Gonzalez: The return of H.E.R.B.I.E.!
Maher: I never would have picked up this book. But everyone who loved superhero books should. It's a crowd pleaser and it's not like you're committing for 4 issues.
Gonzalez: Yep, yep. It's exactly what most of us claim we miss.
Maher: Speaking of committing... Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. You still onboard? I remember after issue 1 we were both on the fence. The first issue was a great intro –-
Gonzalez: I'm...intrigued. And that's saying a lot 'cause I don't want to like anything Azzarello writes.
Maher: –- but didn't really say anything in terms of plot. This issue gave us about an inch. I'm intrigued, too.
Gonzalez: Most of this issue was more character development, elaborating on stuff already made clear last issue. But it did introduce the weird woman in the tank...and set up the meeting between Lex and Bruce. One thing that's not clear is the "when" of it all.
Maher: True. I feel myself rooting for Lex yet knowing (HOPING) by series end he does something so despicable that I hate him. Do you remember John Byrne's Superman revamp?
Gonzalez: I remember not liking it. I wasn't a big fan of Byrne's writing back then, and was outgrowing his art.
Maher: Byrne had a story where Lex goes into a diner outside of Metropolis and tries to offer a waitress the opportunity to leave her lousy existence and come with him to Metropolis. This all-too-good-to-be-true offer that she spends the entire issue churning in her head. Lex says, "I'll give you 5 minutes to make your decision. I'll be waiting in my limo outside." He leaves in 3.
Gonzalez: Ha! Nice. I can see that Lex in this series.
Maher: That's what I'm hoping to see here. Only beautifully rendered.
Gonzalez: Yeah, I really like Bermejo's art.
Maher: Yeah Bermejo - his art makes me think Blade Runner for some reason.
Gonzalez: Yeah, there's a cold, futuristic feel to it. As opposed to Kolins' simply cold feel. Bermejo'd be kickass on a Moon Knight series!
Maher: Shut up, dude!
Gonzalez: LOL!
Maher: Just the covers maybe. So we're in for one more issue?
Gonzalez: Sea of Red, no? Oh, wait, you meant Lex?
Maher: Yeah, Lex. (But I read Sea of Red.)
Gonzalez: Yes. I'll be there for the next one.
Maher: Well, that's 3 out of 5. Guess we're all in!
Gonzalez: Yep. Suckers!

Maher: Speaking of... How much were they trying to sell Countdown to Infinite Crisis at your shop?
Gonzalez: $1. Why?
Maher: My shop was selling it for $5. Is that not insane?
Gonzalez: No way! Are they crazy? It's because of the sell-out announcement, I bet. There will be on the second printing, which I think is going to be $1.95.
Maher: Was there some kind of variant cover I didn't know about? Maybe the $5 issue has a better story. That'd be nice!
Gonzalez: Dude...$5 and I might have taken it up to DC's offices personally to ask for my money back!
Maher: The $5 issue has Nightwing instead of Blue Beetle? Ok, maybe not Nightwing. Batman's suffered enough.
Gonzalez: Jason Todd. "Look guys. He is dead. Winnick was just fooling!"
Maher: It's not Winnick's fault. Loeb started it with Hush.
Gonzalez: I'd have paid $10 for it to be Jeph Loeb in Batman's arms!
Maher: LOL! That's mean. Funny as hell though.
Gonzalez: Though in Loeb's limited defense, even he said it was more interesting for it to seem like it was Jason than for it to actually be him. He was unusually restrained in an article about Winnick's take. I've been mad at Loeb since that ridiculous Supergirl arc in Superman/Batman. That and the Pamela Anderson body double for Lana Lang in Smallville's season opener.
Maher: I'm glad it's not Jason Todd. We all need to move on.
Gonzalez: In Countdown or in Batman?
Maher: Jason Todd. It's like Terry Schiavo. He's been gone a long time no matter the parents (or writers) are trying to tell you.
Gonzalez: D’oh! We just lost our Republican readers!
Maher: I voted for Bush... On TRL. I love Glycerine.
Gonzalez: You're a dope!
Maher: Was it me, or was the choice of Blue Beetle as narrator in Countdown a big FU to fanboys? Blue Beetle was like the DC Universe's fanboy, and they said, you're a loser. Nobody likes you.
Gonzalez: It was lazy, IMO. At least in Identity Crisis, they made Elongated Man seem relevant before ripping his life to shreds. They treated Blue Beetle like a total idiot. Yeah, kind of like they treat the fanboys!
Maher: Not even the girl in the wheelchair likes you!
Gonzalez: And how he was awkward around women. You're right!
Maher: Elongated Man has had some decent stories in the past. James Robinson did a particularly good take on him during his Starman run.
Gonzalez: That's on my "To Read One Day" list.
Maher: Highly recommended.
Gonzalez: What's really weird about Countdown is that it had the opposite effect on me than was intended. I was jazzed about the four mini-series coming out after it before I read it. Not so much afterwards. Even OMAC, with Batman and Rucka, feels tainted now.
Maher: I didn't know much about the mini-series so I had the reverse feeling. "Oh well, at least they'll be some good minis coming out."
Gonzalez: I spend too much time on the internet. It's totally removed the element of surprise from comics for me. Big events don't work anymore if you're on the internet.
Maher: That's why I don't talk to you much. You come with a spoiler warning!
Gonzalez: Very true. SPOILER: Infinite Crisis and House of M are going to mostly suck!
Maher: Damn it, Guy! You just saved me like $50! What are you trying to do?!
Gonzalez: Sad thing is, I'll probably end up buying most of it anyway. My dumb ass bought every single issue of the "War Games" crossover. I'M the problem with the comics industry!
Maher: Yah, you're sustaining it. Joe Quesada just called to say thanks. "Tell Guy, thanks for dinner tonight."
Gonzalez: Fuck you, Quesada! Where's my Moon Knight series?
Maher: "Oh I'm sorry. I was wearing the synopsis as a bib for my lobster dinner." I do a terrible Quesada imitiation.
Gonzalez: Not so terrible. He's a bit of a tool. Completely misunderstands Stan Lee's persona back in the day, IMO. He's more of a Jim Shooter. I'm slowly weaning myself off of the Big Two each month. Trying to get them down to half my monthly hit combined.

Maher: Let's move on to Sea of Red.
Gonzalez: Sea of Red, aka the ledger books of most indie publishers!
Maher: Hahaha! I thought it was an annual report,
Gonzalez: A random pick for me. Saw it on the internet! Pirates and vampires? I'm curious...
Maher: Much better read than an annual report. Aaargh! I'm Pirate Steve!
Gonzalez: I don't know. I think Enron had some entertaining annual reports... But yeah, this was fun. Some of the pirate talk was a little corny, though.
Maher: There was an Enron pictorial in Playboy. Shredders are hot! But yeah, pirate talk was goofy. I miss Dwyer's art.
Gonzalez: I know the name, can't recall anything he did, though. Loved the random monkey at the dinner table. Monkeys rock!
Maher: Yes, monkeys do rock. Way back, his run on Captain America. Glad he's still around. This made me want to re-read the shipwreck story in Watchmen. Nothing wrong with that.
Gonzalez: Ah, Watchmen. A moment of silence for the past...
Gonzalez: ...
Maher: ...
Gonzalez: Okay.
Maher: Well that just about covers this week. I mean there's a lot of books we didn't cover.
Gonzalez: I've had worse weeks. This one goes down as a solid for me.
Maher: Yeah...not too shabby
Gonzalez: We can't cover everything. Besides, I think we lost most people back around Power Pack!
Maher: I liked the hype of last week though.
Gonzalez: Yeah. If nothing else, DC got people excited. Which isn't a bad thing.
Maher: True. So, in conclusion, GO BUY POWER PACK!
Gonzalez: Word!
Maher: You won't hate it I promise. OK, maybe not promise...
Gonzalez: Promises are tough in the comic book world. There's people out there that buy every Lady Death variant published.
Maher: The art may not be for everybody.
Gonzalez: Meh. Manga and anime's here to stay. Deal with it!
Maher: Think of Power Pack as the storyboard for the new Power Pack Cartoon on Cartoon Network.
Gonzalez: It's a comic I'd happily give my own kids. And I would totally watch a Power Pack cartoon!
Maher: Yeah! It'd be like Spidey and his Amazing Friends. With a Lizzie McGuire intro song! YEAH!
Gonzalez: Lizzie McGuire? On that note...
Maher: Alright, I have to go play X-Men Legends now. Until next time?
Gonzalez: Same Bat channel...?