Friday, 6 April 2007

Beware the Pants....

What's your greatest fear?

Being boiled in oil? Waking up in bathtub full of maggots? Death by spider-bites? Jennifer Lopez?

You fool, what you should be afraid of is an 80 foot alien dragon scooping you up and putting you in his gigantic purple pants!

I know what you're thinking - it could never happen to me!

Think again:Don't say I didn't warn you.

Beware the purple pants of Fin Fang Foom!

Those Unmistakable Underoos

Okay, I confess - I liked Identity Crisis! Stop laughing! Yeah the back. Stop laughing or get out! Don't make me come down there.

Anyway - I know the whole murder mystery side of it was a mess and the resolution made every sane man, woman and child go HUH?!, but I still liked it.

The league within the league, the mindwipes, the secrets, the intrigue, the children - won't somebody please think of the wait, scratch that last part, got carried away.

I really like the idea that to keep the DC superhero community from crashing down around all their ears the second string heroes have been having to get their hands dirty. Secretly doing things the iconic heroes wouldn't approve of for the good of them and their loved ones. It's a novel approach and it makes for an interesting story - or at least I thought so.

What really makes it work is that the iconic heroes like Superman & Wonder Woman (not so much Bats) are painted as iconic, and we see them through the somewhat awe-filled eyes of the second stringers like Green Arrow and Flash.

The best example of this is when they call Wonder Woman to interview Slipknot in prison. Check it out:
We don't even see Diana's face, all we see are the lasso and those star-spangled underoos. That's all we need to see. WW makes her prescense felt even without a single line of dialogue. It really works it's magic on you, you end up seeing her as Ollie does.

It's a great moment. It really makes the iconic heroes we know so well seem bigger than life again, the way they should (even if it does sully their names a little in the process).

Plus Green Arrow is great throughout the book. How can you not love Ollie though? He's got the little Robin Hood hat, the Errol Flynn beard, he cusses like a sailor...


Fine then.... you freaking robots.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

The thing I loved most about the 'Stealing Thunder' storyline that ran through JSA 32-37 was - - you thought I was gonna say the big gorilla henchmen didn't you?

Well, that's not what I was going to say Mr/Ms Smartypants, but now that you mention it I did love the gorilla henchmen. Let's face it anybody who knows comics knows that comics+gorillas = cool. We don't know why, we don't wanna know why.

Let's just take a moment to enjoy some monkey goodness:

Ahhh - now don't you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now that our tribute to the comic monkey god is done I can tell you what I was gonna say. The part of 'Stealing Thunder' I loved most was the parts told from Icicle's point of view.

For those that don't know the story starts with the Ultra-Humanite (big monkey villian who has traded his fuzzy monkey appearance for a bad haircut and a zoot suit - BOOOOO!) conning Jakeem Thunder into giving him power over his genie-buddy the Thunderbolt.

Old Humey uses it to turn Earth into his own monkey-controlled utopia where he has locked all the heroes up in a matrix style prison.

The story kicks off properly when Icicle (from the Injustice Gang) breaks out the Sandman and they escape into the city where they run into what's left of the JSA.

It's refreshing to see the JSA through the eyes of a villian. A real dirtbag who has been thrown into a situation he wants no part of, trapped into helping people he hates, all to return to a world where he's locked up. Makes what would be a hackneyed old plot devices like a villain controlled parrallel earth and mind controlled super-heroes all shiny and new!

In fine team-up tradition - we get a little scrapping:

Icicle's shining moment comes after everything is put back to normal (as we knew it would be). Sandman was so impressed by his performance against Humey that he shows up outside Icy's cell to offer him a place in the JSA - once he done his time.

Icicle in no uncertain terms tells him where to go - staying complete true to character and making us love this black heated bastard even more than we already do by this point:

I loved that. Made this third-rate Iceman knock-off into a three dimensional character that I wanted to see more of.

This storyline has all the stuff that JSA should have. Legacy heroes and their predecessors, great, goofy, cosmic situations that only comics can pull off (visiting Hourman's dead dad in his office out of time, a Green Lantern powered utopian city), a normally dopey villian made interesting and let's not forget the most important thing:


Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

Planetary/Batman is a great, if weird, superhero story brought to you by the cranky English super-hero-hating comics wiz Warren Ellis and the glorious art is by David Cassaday.

I love Warren Ellis. Bad Warren Ellis stories are hard to find. This is not one.

This is a fantastic, fun story built around the idea of having Batman accidently warped into the Planetary universe by an out of control meta-human named John Black who has the ability to fold reality.

Well, the truth may actually be that this is a story built around putting Batman in a position where he can fight leather-clad femme fatale Jakita Wagner.

Warren doesn't let us down:
Is that a fold-out, sword-sized Batarang in your utility belt or you just happy to see me?

You'd think that this moment of fanboy frenzy would be the pinnacle but things just get better! Black's powers flare up and the sword-swinging Bats disappears only to be replaced by a very different but decidedly familiar Batman.

Forget bat-swords - this is how real men do business:
Holy Burgess Meredith Batman

That pesky Mr Black's reality folding powers also treat us to some Frank Millar Batman:

and even Bob Kane's original gun-toting Batman:

Warren doesn't skimp. Chances are your favorite Batman incarnation shows up in this story. Those that don't come packing Bat-Villian-Repellent may not fare so good but it's all in good fun.

John Cassaday apes the styles of the greats with ease and the tone changes as each Batman arrives on the scene. From the bright, campy technicolour of the Adam West Bats to the moody greys and browns of Frank Millar's Dark Knight. The switches might be jarring in a lesser artists hands but Cassaday makes it flow smooth and easy.

I loved this book and it turned me on to what a great series Planetary was.

My only complaint with this and, in fact, with all modern Batman books is:
Why Batman doesn't dance anymore?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

The Colour Purple

Daredevil 154. Boy I loved that issue when I was a kid I must've reread it a thousand times. It's got it all - a hero in peril, a damsel in distress, four (that's right count 'em four) 'major' supervillians (yes, I considered the Jester a major supervillian in my youth so sue me) and a pair of purple fetishists.

In this issue Dardevil awakens to find he's been captured by Zebediah Killgrave aka The Purple Man. Hey stop sniggering, the Purple Man is a dangerous villian, his awesome power is not be taken lightly!!

Old Purp has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at DD in this issue:

*GASP* He has dropped DD into the yard at Ryker's Island Prison!

*GASP* All the crazy, blood-thirsty inmates are under his command!

*GASP* He has DD's current beau Heather Glenn in his thrall holding a gun to her own head!

*GASP* He has recruited Mr Hyde, Cobra, Gladiator and the Jester to kill DD!

*GASP* He knows DD's secret identity!

*GASP* He says really mean things to him!

It's a classic 70s superhero throwdown (brilliantly drawn by the great Gene Colan)as DD battles Glad and the boys, kicking asses and taking names. Purp's plans really go down the drain when fellow purple fetishist and sometime hero Paladin shows up and shoots him.

With everything lost Purp runs for the watchtower with DD in pusuit. He's too arrogant to admit defeat so he attempts to use the Watchtower's flashlight to blind his foe only to discover:

*GASP* It has no effect. It isn't an act like Killgrave assumed.


Killgrave's reaction is a classic moment:

He of course goes over the wall and down to the rocks below.

That moment really got me where I lived when I was a kid. The villian undone by his superior attitude to the feeble blind lawyer. *Mwah* Pure brilliance. Isn't that what Daredevil comics are all about.

If it ain't it oughta be!

Monday, 2 April 2007

With Great Power Comes A Great Big Ulcer

Peter Parker must have one hell of a big ulcer huh?

I mean talk about stress. That guy carries the worry of the world on his shoulders. He must go through Pepto Bismol by the case!

We - the fans, sick puppies that we all are, we love it. Most of the best character moments Peter Parker has ever had have come from his neurotic sense of responsiblity and it's stomach acid churning consequences.

Take for example, one of my favorite ulcer moments, from ASM 363. Pete's having problems ending the rampage of Venom's cute & cuddly offspring Carnage. Having nowhere else to turn Pete recruits everyone's favorite symbiotic deadbeat dad to help bring the little tyke back in line. Of course Venom won't help unless Pete swears to let him go free when all is said and done.

Needless to say - Pete no like! Bad medicine!

To prevent more deaths (for which his twisted conscience will blame him) Pete reluctantly agrees. Once Carnage has been thoroughly spanked, going against every ounce of his Spider-decency (that's gotta be some kind of superpower, right?), Pete double crosses Venom and turns him in with the help of Mr Fantastic and his patented sonic disruptor gun.

Breaking your word to an alien encrusted psychopath who wants to eat your liver. To you and I that's just good common sense. To Peter Parker it's ulcerific.

Drink in the ulcer-iducing agony:

Click it to make it big & readable

Yummy. That's the good stuff.

PS: God bless JJJ for being the heel you love to love.