Friday, 27 March 2009

Only A Mother Could Love: Marvel Knights - Punisher #1

At my favorite local comic shop when I go up to the counter with an armful of back issues to buy often the proprietor will comment on my "awful" taste in comics. He'll point out that I'm the only person he gets in the place that buys back issues of Power Man & Iron Fist, Thunderstrike, Deathstroke or even my beloved Guardians Of the Galaxy.

So in honour of my horrendous taste, I've decided to dedicate a regular post to talking about comics that only a mother, or the twisted freaks here at YouAreComic, could love.

Comics like the Marvel Knights Punisher revamp. You know, the one where they decided that the best way to shore up sales on the flagging Punisher franchise was to re-invent Frank Castle as a super-natural killing machine!

I can just picture how the meeting where that got decided went.

"Okay guys, we need to do something new and different with the Punisher, get those sales up."
"Well, we could kill him then re-incarnate him as a super-natural character like Morbius. Everybody likes Morbius."
"That's a great idea, we could give him some kooky glowing symbol on his forehead like Doctor Strange!"
"Yeah and a magic trenchcoat full of magic guns!"
"That's awesome, what else?"
"We could have him fight a giant, cybernetic Russian....with big fake boobs!"
"That's sick Ennis, get the hell out of my office."

Okay as premises go it's a pretty clunky one I know but hey, look how well the test pilot with the magic ring that makes giant, green boxing gloves does for himself. This is comic-books people you ain't a somebody until you've died and come back as a supernatural killing machine!

As far as Issue 1 goes. It's mostly setup but I kinda liked it. It takes the clunky dead Frank premise and spews out some interesting ideas. Like the idea that after his death the Punisher would pass into urban legend. Living on in the hopes of the most desperate and hopeless people in the city:
Hail Punny full of grace, lay my enemies to waste.

The alley where Frank 'died' becomes kind of a shrine and his symbol becomes a totem. Something the folks on the lowest rung of society can use to pray for a gun-toting saviour to come and blow away all their problems. It's a pretty cool concept that would've presented some interesting story options in the future.

The mystery behind Frank's return from the dead is also dangled tantilising in this issue. Even Frank doesn't quite know how he died, or, for that matter how he came back. Where did he get his mystical trenchcoat from which he can pull everything from mystical bunny rabbits to luminous flamethrowers? Where'd he get that funky little glowing symbol on his head? Is he dead? Alive? Undead? So many questions!

Although sometimes Frank looks more alive than others:
This proves nothing. Even dead men can't resist a crusty baguette.

I was a little dissapointed when we met the villain of the piece only to find that he looks kind of like a walking chicken goujon with face paint and bat wings. Not only that but it turns out his name is Oliver! What kind of demonic supervillan name is that? I bet Sattanish, Mephisto, Asmodeous and all the other cool kids from hell snicker at him behind his back. To make matters worse he obviously shops at the generic henchman store being that all his lackeys are just bald dudes with sunglasses and pig stickers. What's up with that?
I miss themed henchmen, remember Hee, Ho & Ha from the Batman TV show?

Aside from the fact that when he makes out with angels they burst into flames, Oliver is not a quality bad guy. Especially for a major Punisher revamp! Was Bushwhacker busy or something? Dude can turn into a freaking gun like Megatron for crying out loud.

Don't let Oliver get you down too much though. Writers Michael Golden & Tom Sniegoski saved one final twist to leave us hanging with.

No it's not the Daimon Hellstrom cameo. Although Daimon Hellstrom cameos are always appreciated. Ah Daimon, my love for you and your netharanium trident knows no bounds. He looks especially smug under the pencil of Bernie Wrightson which just adds to his awesomeness.

Anyway what was I saying, oh yes the final twist! Well it involves a dude named Gadriel.

See the half-dead angel that Oliver didn't make out with sends Frank to get the skinny about his re-incarnation from this posh, private-school-boy-looking dude, Gadriel. It turns out, as if you hadn't guessed already from his name, that he's an angel too. A little gentle persuasion later, he reveals his shocking link to Frank's past:
Gentle Persuasion Technique #1: The Brooklyn Handshake

As twists go that's pretty great. We're left hanging one page later with Gadriel staring down the barrel of Frank's luminous uzi wondering if he'll pull the trigger.

All in all once you get over the indignation of the whole 'dead Frank' angle it's a pretty enjoyable issue. It's one part hard-boiled Punisher action and one part supernatural engine of destruction wackiness. It got me coming back for the next issue.

It's not a decision I regret either because next issue Daimon Hellstrom graduates from cameo to fully fledged guest star!

Tridents and pentragrams ahoy people! Prepare thyself for awesome!

Friday, 20 March 2009

At The Annual Super Villan Cook-Off...

Sadly despite his enthusiasm Brother Grimm's Dryed Thespian Surprise failed to topple Doctor Doom's champion Latverian Peasant Pie for the grand prize.

Should've stuck to Martha's recipe BG.

(Today's culinary comedy was brought to you be Spider-Woman v1 #3, wherein we learn that Congressman James T. Wyatt sleeps with a forty five under his pillow, wears vomit-green jammies and refers to his secretary as a bumbling sycophant. Who votes for these people? It's no wonder the country is in the state it's in.)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Legion Love: Adventure Comics #862

I know it's a cliche for a comics blogger to say, but I love the Legion of Superheroes. It's not my fault though! Regular readers of YouAreComic will know that when it comes to comic-book wackiness I'm a grade A sucker. So it's hardcoded into my DNA that I'll like the Legion. I mean they're a group of teenage super-heroes in the 30th century inspired by the world's biggest boy scout to engage in Sex-Pistols-esque rebellion against the crusty old powers-that-be! Plus they have names like 'Bouncing Boy' and 'Karate Kid' for crying out loud!

How can you not love the Legion.

That being said there is one thing that's 100 times better than even the Legion.

That my friends, is the Legion of Substitute Heroes!

Whoever came up with the idea of the Subs is a peerless genius of comic-book wackiness. Take every wacko with powers too wild, too crazy or just too damn dopey to get them on the team alongside luminaries such as 'Matter Eater Lad' and 'Shrinking Violet'. Band them together in a utterly useless but thoroughtly hysterical fighting force and watch the hijinks ensue.

It's a winning formula that never fails. So there was no way Adventure Comics #862 could do anything but kick ass.

I was already loving the Superman/Legion storyline Geoff Johns had going on, but when part five rolled around and he handed the limelight over to the Subs I crossed over into comc-book nirvana!

My favorite Sub of all time really gets a chance to shine in this issue. I am of course talking about the grandmaster of granite, the emporer of inertia, the one, the only - Stone Boy:
Up Yours Roy!

Finally an answer to the age old question. What can one man do against such mighty foes as Gold Boy (tee hee), Eyeful Ethel (tee hee hee) and Radiation Roy (BWAH HAH HAH!), when his only weapons are his power to turn into a statue and a stolen school bus!

If this scene does not cement Stone Boy's place as your favorite Legionaire of all time then clearly you have no soul. I mean c'mon when was the last time Cosmic Boy or Shadow Lass knocked a big honking dent in thier tin-plated enemies while sassing them with obscene hand gestures?

Now I know Stone Boy's non-vocal obscenities alone make this issue a must-buy but our buddy Geoff Johns decides to spoil us by having everyone's other favorite Sub, Chlorophyll Lad utter the best line in the book:
The ferns cry out for retribution, tee hee hee

Sure power-wise Chlorophyll Lad is just like a million other 'plant-guys' out there in comic-book land. What sets him apart from squares like Plantman and the Gardener is that CL thinks he can talk to plants...when actually he can't. Every fern he hears crying out for retribution is in fact just a little voice in his head. That is makes Chlorophyll Lad the clown prince of comic book wackiness! What super-team wouldn't be made better by a member who may be distracted in the heat of battle by a chatty ficus? I hope any would-be Avengers/Justice League writers out there are taking notes.

A few notable Subs are missing, like Infectious Lass and Porcupine Pete, but all those that do show up in this issue get their moment to shine. From Rainbow Girl clocking Eyeful Ethel to Fire Lad melting Gold Boy into mush, I ate up every second.

Of course nothing quite topped Stone Boy sticking it to Radiation Roy. I can't get enough of those guys, let's see some more:
Nyah! Nyah! Screw You Roy!

That's so great. I swear I laugh out loud every time I see that scene! C'mon DC make with a Stone Boy vs Radiation Roy limited series already! That would be awesome! You know I would buy it!

In all seriousness though, this issue was fantastic. The main non-Subs part of the issue is every bit as cool as the madness described above. The story thus far is that Earth-man, a bitter Legion reject, and his other jerkass Legion reject cronies have convinced the world that Superman's alien origin is a fraud and turned the people of Earth against all aliens. In the process they've made the Legion public enemy number one on Earth, and the Earth public enemy number one in the rest of the universe.

The action gets kicked into high gear at the end of this issue when the currently powerless Superman (due to some doohickey using the captured Sun Boy to turn the sun red) finally confronts Earth Man alone.

Being that Earth Man has the super-powers of all the Legionaires combined and Supes has all the powers of a bumbling, bespectacled Daily Planet reporter, you might imagine that this will be quite a one-sided battle.

You'd be wrong:
When Supes says 'let's take this outside' he's not fooling around

People tend to forget that before he was Superman Clark Kent came from Kansas, a land were toothless, beer-swilling, redneck hicks like to beat seven shades of shit out of one another in twice nightly bar-room brawls. A place where even little girls with pigtails will drop a goddamn house on your witchy ass if you tick them off. Earth-man is about to learn you can take the kryptonian out of Kansas but you can't take Kansas out of the kryptonian!

It's a killer cliff-hanger tp leave us hanging on, and believe me the conclusion issue does not dissapoint. Geoff Johns did a stupendous job on this storyline. If you haven't read it already you should definately go pick up the whole shebang - this issue is just the tip of the quality iceberg.

In other news, congratulations go to Radiation Roy who beat out previous title holders Paste Pot Pete and Ice Box Bob to be named 'Best Named Character of All Time'.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

A Life Lesson With Awesome Andy

Awww, why the long face pal?

It's because you can't get a date? Why not?

Girls don't like you because you're a seven foot android with funny-coloured skin and a huge mishappen head?

So what? That doesn't stop Awesome Andy!

What do you mean 'who the hell is Awesome Andy'?

Why Awesome Andy is the Mad Thinker's Awesome Android of course. He's awesome, but he's also a seven foot tall android with grey skin and a huge featureless head shaped like a cinder block. As you can see Andy doesn't have any problems making time with the ladies. Check it out:
Chicks Dig Awesome Andy

Of course it could be just because he's awesome.

(today's life lesson was brought to you by 2006's She-Hulk #9 wherein Shulkie get's hitched to her beau John Jameson shotgun style inspiring nine seperate spit-takes from a veritable who's who of Marvel Universe celebs from the Two-Gun Kid to the Wasp to old prune-face himself, J Jonah Jameson )

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Why Cyborg Superman Doesn't Do Panto...

He takes the 'He's Behind You' bit way too seriously

(today's dose of cybernetic brutality is courtesy of Adventures Of Superman #503 wherein Roxy Leech offers to show Superboy how to use his 'joystick' better. Instead he decides to go to Coast City and have Cyborg Superman hit him with his cybernetic fist, then with an uprooted tree then with a really big rock.)