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This Week in Panels: Week 244

May 26th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Hey, look at that! A new header image. Thank YOU, Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover one-shot!

Like always, it’s me on lead vocals with Matlock on drums, Gaijin Dan on guitar and Space Jawa on triangle. Saga is back, which is fantastic. Plus Frankenstein’s showing up in more DC comics, which I guess is a good thing. Even if I haven’t heard much promise from Futures End. Matlock’s the one reading it, not me.

Speaking of stuff I haven’t read, Space Jawa brings in a lot of stuff from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary comic. In that Archie TMNT panel, Leonardo’s kind of a hypocrite.

It was a busy week for me otherwise. Over at Den of Geek US, I’ve written an article about how Charles Soule is the “great fixer” of Marvel and DC, I celebrated the return of CHIKARA Pro Wrestling with a look at the ten best CHIKARA storylines and I got to do my first ever phone interview with Joey Ansah, the guy behind Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.

On Sunday I took a trip to see the CHIKARA return show You Only Live Twice. One of the highlights included seeing the debut of “Smooth Sailing” Ashley Remington, who upon winning his match, handed his opponent a fruit basket. His opponent’s reaction went from angry to confused to, “Hey, all right!”

Now for the panel stuff.

All You Need Is Kill #15
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Amazing Spider-Man #2
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

Avengers World #6 (Gavin’s pick)
Nick Spencer and Marco Checcheto

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This Week in Panels: Week 243

May 20th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Heyo! Nice cornucopia of stuff this week, brought to you by myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Deadpool may be my comic of the week, although Afterlife with Archie is still — no pun intended — killing it. If anything, that comic has the best incentive to read it. Sure, we’re reading about the hopeful survival of our main cast, but we’re also waiting for the other shoe to drop on Reggie getting torn apart by the undead. Finally, giving the readers what they want!

The main Avengers book was pretty rad too. Instead of responding to mindwiping with paranoia and passive-aggressiveness, Captain America simply cuts to the chase and punches Tony Stark in his stupid fucking face. Batman, you can learn a thing or two from that man.

Action Comics #31
Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, Rafa Sandoval and Cameron Stewart

Afterlife with Archie #5
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla

All-New Ghost Rider #3 (Gavin’s pick)
Filipe Smith and Tradd Moore

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This Week in Panels: Week 242

May 13th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Gaijin Dan is off this week, meaning there’s not much going on in the black and white/right-to-left side of ThWiP stuff. Instead, it’s me and Matlock and Space Jawa. We all read She-Hulk, which I suppose should tell you something about the quality of that book.

I wrote stuff! The other day I did a review of Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a biographical graphic novel about the 8th Wonder of the World. Then I did a review for Ashes of CHIKARA, a movie released based on CHIKARA being “closed down” for eight months. One of them I really liked. The other, not so much.

And now on to the super late panels.

Amazing Spider-Man #1.1
Dan Slott and Ramon Perez

Aquaman and the Others #2
Dan Jurgens and Lan Medina

Batwing #31
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Eduardo Pansica

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This Week in Panels: Week 241

May 5th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to die! This week I have my usual crew of Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Matlock decided to panelize the hell out of Amazing Spider-Man #1, representing all the various stories within.

This week brought the disappointing ends of two minis in What If? Age of Ultron and Origin II. What If features the most pyrrhic victory that proceeds to negate the more enjoyable issues of the mini (ie. the second, third and fourth issues). Then Origin II is a straight-faced version of that scene from Beerfest. Great art and the first issue with the bear is still totally sweet, but the only interesting thing to come out of it is the reveal that Sabretooth has a sister out there.

The Hickman Avengers stuff was awesome, at least.

In other news, I wrote about the history of Street Fighter comics. Very proud of that one, as it gave me yet another excuse to talk about that hilariously bad Malibu series where Ken got scalped.

All You Need Is Kill #13
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Amazing Spider-Man #1
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

Amazing Spider-Man #1
Dan Slott, Christos Gage and Javier Rodriguez

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How Captain America Saved Agents of SHIELD

May 4th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

When it comes to comics, a major event story can completely ruin a less-important comic series. It can be derailed and refuse to ever rebuild itself, driving away readers and getting cancelled. When it comes to Agents of SHIELD, it’s kind of the opposite.

I was interested in Agents of SHIELD when it was announced. The Marvel Avengersverse has always impressed me. The synergy and the quality have been great almost across the board. The movies have ranged from awesome to kind of bad but not unwatchable (Iron Man 2). These days it’s rather funny to watch Warner Bros. try to play catch up with the feeling that they’re going to trip over their own feet like a cinematic Goofus compared to Marvel’s Gallant. Meanwhile, Marvel has Netflix shows on the horizon for Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Movies coming up about talking space raccoons and Ultron. There’s a lot to be excited about as a comic fan.

Agents of SHIELD started pretty lukewarm and led to the overwhelming response of, “That was okay, I guess. I’ll give it another episode or two.” The characters were pretty flat, but at least we had Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. Not only did he add plenty of personality, but it brought in an interesting mystery of how he was back after being impaled to death by Loki back in Avengers. One thing the show did fantastically was troll the fans by shoving in as many hints as possible to play with everyone’s prediction that he was a Life Model Decoy while never intending it to be anything more than a red herring.

While there was the occasional good episode (the one where Simmons is infected with an electric virus), but the show lacked anything genuinely gripping. As it slogged on, the only thing it really had going for it was Bill Paxton joining the cast and the mystery of Coulson’s resurrection. Even that one started to lose its steam as it kept stretching out more and more.

People involved with the show would sidestep those criticisms and say that people didn’t like it because it wasn’t constantly dealing with Marvel movie stuff. To be fair, it did get annoying when the best way they could figure to do that was by having the characters say stuff like, “Blah blah blah gamma radiation blah blah blah Chitauri blah blah Extremis blah blah Super Soldiers.” It didn’t help when they hyped up one episode as being about the aftermath of Thor: The Dark World and all we got was a couple minutes of them literally cleaning up a mess before an Asgard-related plot that had nothing to do with the movie kicked in. It felt cheap.

I stopped watching right when they teased Lorelei for the following episode. I got tired of seeing them build on a wild goose chase of a plot that was in no way engaging. Who is the Clairvoyant?! I don’t really know, but I’m getting tired of caring. The show was spinning its wheels and there were only two reasons why I intended to come back to it later: Patton Oswalt was going to show up and to see the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I say that before even seeing Winter Soldier. While the trailers did a good job not explaining exactly what was going on, at least we knew that it was going to be Captain America vs. SHIELD and there was likely going to be some kind of major aftermath. Then the movie came out and made Agents of SHIELD must-watch for at least one episode because what the hell? The reemergence of Hydra was one thing, but the movie outright ended with SHIELD completely done away with. How can you do a show about SHIELD when a movie with a higher pay grade just told you that there is no SHIELD to do a show about?

And that’s the funny thing about the synergy here. Apparently Agents of SHIELD was spinning its wheels for months because they really were waiting for Winter Soldier to come out and let Hydra out of the bag. It’s like the movie was the go-ahead to move the plot forward and let the show be a good show. It wasn’t just a minor callback like the Thor episode. It completely changed the show and for the better. Bill Paxton’s John Garrett was revealed as an agent of Hydra. Nearly every lingering plot from the show, from the Clairvoyant to Centipede to Deathlok to Graviton, is really a Hydra plot. Which is pretty awesome in the sense that in the first episode, they did hint at it with a line about cutting off Centipede’s head and having another one sprout up.

Most importantly, Grant Ward – Bland McActionHero himself – is also an agent of Hydra and has been from the beginning. This whole time, he’s been playing a role, trying to build trust so he can turn on them out of loyalty to Garrett, doing stuff that can’t be redeemed, such as shooting cops and agents directly in the face. Since then, there have been some serious stakes, most notably when Skye figures it out and has to pretend she doesn’t know while being led around by a man who will likely have her killed when she’s no longer useful.

This all leads to a wonderful scene where Skye and Ward are at a diner and she angrily rants about Garrett betraying Ward while making it increasingly apparent that she’s aware that Ward is Hydra.

“It’s got to be so hard, living a double life like that. Getting close to people only to turn on them. I don’t know how Garrett did it.”


“What about all that time he spent as your S.O.? Getting to know you? Being your mentor? Only to lie to your face. Betray you like that.”

“It was, um… difficult to accept. But thankfully that’s over.”

“Because you took care of him.”

“Can we not discuss this right now?”

“If you could have had one more moment before you shot him in the back of the head – so heroically – if he was sitting right here and you could say anything you want, what would you say?”


“Would you say he’s disgusting? Would you tell him he’s a disgusting, back-stabbing traitor? Or to rot in Hell?”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m just trying to have an honest conversation for once.”

Yeah, that rules. Also later, when she calls him out on being a Nazi serial killer.

While it doesn’t make up for most of the season being just kind of there, it does at least fix one moment from earlier that always irked me. In the first episode, Coulson injected Ward with a truth serum so that Skye could interview him and there’d be nothing to hide. It was one of the premiere’s highlights. A few episodes later, she teased Ward about it and he told her that the serum was fake. They were just playing her. When she asked Coulson about Ward’s claims, he just gave her a smirk and said that that was very interesting. At first I hated that because it rubbed away that clever scene from the first episode. Now I see it as playing into the plot because if it really was truth serum, Ward might have been made a lot earlier.

There are still two episodes left to go and who knows if we’re going to get a second season. I hope they do get it because once the editorial curtain was pulled away, Agents of SHIELD has become consistently good. That is one of Captain America’s greatest acts of superheroism. His own movie somehow made a mediocre show watchable.

By the way, I knew something was up with Ward when he threw away Fitz’s delicious sandwich that one time. Ruining sandwiches is something only a monster would do.

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This Week in Panels: Week 240

April 28th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Oh me, oh my, it’s This Week in Panels. I’m joined by Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa and we got panels for you. Again. Like the last 239 times.

Injustice is getting really good again, as it’s leading to a big war between Superman’s forces and the Green Lantern Corps. Obviously, we know who wins because it’s a prequel, but the fascinating question is how badly is it going to end? Who’s going to be left standing?

And in case you’re about to ask, yes, that is indeed Doom 2099.

All-New Invaders #4
James Robinson and Steve Pugh

All-Star Western #30 (Matlock’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Staz Johnson

All-Star Western #30 (Gavin’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Staz Johnson

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This Week in Panels: Week 239

April 21st, 2014 Posted by Gavok

It’s that thing where me and some guys take comics we read and cut them down into one panel that best explains the comic! Yeah! That thing! It’s me along with Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and smashpro.

For the first time in forever, we got a good issue of What If. Plus TWO enjoyable Cullen Bunn comics in one week. I’m as shocked as you are.

All You Need Is Kill #12
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Batman #30 (Gavin’s pick)
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Batman #30 (Matlock’s pick)
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

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This Week in Panels: Week 238

April 13th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to the 238th edition of This Week in Panels, the Deadpool Wedding Spectacular. The latest issue featured a bunch of backup stories by all sorts of writers from the character’s past, so I figured I’d give each one of them the ThWiP treatment for the hell of it.

My panel posse is made up of Gaijin Dan, Matlock and Space Jawa. Notably missing this week is Invincible, as I’ve finally decided to drop that series. I’m done with constant, “Oh man, how shocking is THIS?!” moments. It’s been a long time coming, but this week’s installment broke the camel’s back.

In other news, I’ve been trying DDP Yoga. It’s too early for results, but I’m definitely feeling it.

All-New Ghost Rider #2 (Gavin’s pick)
Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore

All-New Ghost Rider #2 (Matlock’s pick)
Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore

All-New Ultimates #1
Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

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WrestleMania XXX: The Feel-Good Story That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

April 12th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Last Sunday, WWE brought us their 30th WrestleMania, which as you can guess, is kind of a big deal. It turned out to be a blast, unlike much of the last five years. WrestleMania 24 is my favorite, but the only one since that hasn’t been below average was WrestleMania 26, which wasn’t exactly spectacular. This year’s actually felt like something to be excited about going in. The writers did a great job of building up nearly all the matches, from John Cena fighting Bray Wyatt to a battle royal where the winner won a giant Andre the Giant trophy. Hell, that match had better build than this year’s Royal Rumble!

But the real story here was the undercard match of Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H where the winner got to be in the main event triple threat for the title against Randy Orton and Batista, ending in Bryan’s climactic double victory. On the surface of fiction, it’s a well-written storyline that’s been building since August. Hell, it’s one of the best main event builds we’ve seen for WrestleMania in a long time. The thing is, the real story of how this came to be is far more intriguing than what’s going on in front of the camera. This has been something built up for years between the wrestlers involved, the fans and some guys who wouldn’t be competing at WrestleMania 30.

Let’s break it up and look at some of the important players:


One of the major problems with WWE in the past few years is their inability to make new names. Writing isn’t long-term enough and Vince McMahon – having final say on everything – changes his mind every other minute. Wrestlers who seem like they’re catching steam all of the sudden get sidelined due to either bad storytelling or the need to feed them to John Cena. Cena is a wonderful performer and all-around good guy, but seeing him stapled to the top of the program at the expense of guys who could use a major win or two is what turns a lot of people off.

The best example is Ryback, who was getting pushed right up the card as an unstoppable and super popular face monster. They put him into the main event scene and had him compete for the title against CM Punk a few times, but they got cold feet. Sure, Ryback probably wasn’t ready to be champ, but WWE put themselves in a bad position by bringing him up so high so fast. So they had him lose. A lot. It kind of hurt his credibility, but he still had some juice. Then they turned him against John Cena, which got a great reaction from the crowd. They couldn’t have that, so they made him go out of his way to be an evil coward all of the sudden. Even though his character had a ton of legit reasoning for why he hated Cena, it was swept under the rug by Cena yelling a lot and by the end of the feud, Cena won decisively and removed what was left of Ryback’s momentum.

Last Sunday, Ryback was performing in a tag team during the PPV’s pre-show.

Other notable names to suffer from the start-stop booking style include Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, Alberto Del Rio, the Miz, R-Truth, Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow, John Morrison and Drew McIntyre.


For a while, Randy Orton was the secondary, more intense John Cena. He wasn’t quite as popular, but he was still a major deal. Since at the time, WWE had split Raw and Smackdown into two sort of exclusive shows with their own top belts, that meant that they basically had their own “Cena” for each show. Edge was the top name on Smackdown, but he had to retire due to injury. At the following PPV, they had his best friend Christian face Edge’s previous challenger Alberto Del Rio for the vacated title. Christian won, which was well-deserved and seen by many hardcore wrestling fans as a long time coming.

They taped the next Smackdown two days later. In it, Orton, who had just joined the Smackdown roster, was granted an immediate title match against Christian and beat him. Yes, not only did Christian’s feel-good title reign last two whole days (five in terms of kayfabe, since the show aired on Friday instead of Tuesday), but we weren’t supposed to feel bad about it because Randy Orton! Yay! In turn, they eventually made Christian turn heel over this and get his ass handed to him for his troubles.

While Orton lacked the charisma of Cena, he at least was more likely to put people over, which made him more likeable at times. Then his star started to slowly fizzle over time and he was no longer really on Cena’s level. He was still fairly popular, but just kind of there. He won the big Money in the Bank PPV match that earned him a title shot whenever he wanted, which led to the events of Summerslam…

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This Week in Panels: Week 237

April 8th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Welcome back to another ThWiP. It’s a bit delayed because of my WrestleMania overload. In relation to WrestleMania XXX, I watched sixteen and a half hours of WWE television from Saturday night to Monday night. WWE Network can be addicting if you let it. Speaking of, I wrote an obituary for Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak after his big loss against Brock Lesnar the other night.

You know the drill. I have Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Matlock and a rare appearance by Was Taters. In the end, I read an excessive amount of comics this week. Highlights include Batman ’66, Moon Knight and Ultimate Spider-Man.

What If: Age of Ultron #1 is a hot mess.

All You Need Is Kill #10
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Aquaman and the Others #1
Dan Jurgens and Lan Medina

Batman ’66 #31
Jeff Parker and Jonathan Chase

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