Archive for the 'guest articles' Category


Marvel’s Non-Battle Pope Comic: Paul II

June 4th, 2009 Posted by guest article

If you’re not up to speed, read the first part of James Howard’s review here! Unless you want to experience it Star Wars style. That’s cool too!

So Wojytla heads back and joins the official Polish delegation to Rome for Pope John XXIII’s Ecumenical Council, where he makes a speech before the assembly and spends his time soaking up the scene.

Africa, you know I love you, but stop listening to the fucking Vatican already. And don’t think for a second that the pair are placed next to one another here to imply a sense of colourblind kinship and equality before the Lord; one being a white bishop and one being a black bishop, they’re actually positioned there to spend the evening completely ruining my knights’ mobility.

Wojtyla is officially promoted to Archbishop of Cracow and gains all the perks of the position: new business cards, free jello, and a much, much larger hat.

Most people would look at this picture and take most interest in the apparent radioactive properties of the new headwear, but I’m more intrigued by the stubby sausage-like hand sneaking in behind the new Archbishop to swipe his old hat before the new one comes down. What if he wanted to stack them, like Duplo? Is that not allowed?

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Batman in Barcelona?

May 16th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I recently saw the solicit for Batman in Barcelona: Dragon’s Knight, the upcoming one-shot from DC.

When a string of bizarre murders hits Spain’s beautiful coastal city of Barcelona, The Dark Knight makes solving this crime his top priority. Full of international intrigue, high adventure and even higher stakes, BATMAN IN BARCELONA: DRAGON’S KNIGHT showcases The Caped Crusader in a different type of Gotham – but one no less dangerous!

Barcelona is like Gotham?  Because Gotham is an urban hellhole, plagued by every kind of crime, disease, corruption, poverty and natural disaster.  Has the Barcelona Tourist Bureau heard about this?

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Necessary Trade-Offs

September 18th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

The Big Three of DC, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, have always had a certain status in the DCU. Part of this comes from popularity, although admittedly Wonder Woman’s popularity has been low of late. Part of it comes from longevity. Everyone has memories of them. Most of it, though, comes from their iconic nature.

Superman is the one last hope of a dying race. He is sent to an unknown place where that hope is brilliantly realized, even if the sense of loss remains. He represents every parent’s wish for their child, and the responsibility that every child feels when it makes its way in the world.

Batman is the personification of solitary, relentless obsession.

The well known phrase used to describe Wonder Woman is ‘beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena’ but it sites entirely the wrong goddesses. Artemis is much more appropriate. The perpetual virgin and goddess of the hunt, Artemis was also the protector of newborn animals. This is what Wonder Woman evokes; purity, strength, ferocity, and the defense of the weak.

These three, and their situations, are archetypes that everyone recognizes and responds to.

Except that Superman is not Krypton’s last hope. Kryptonians hedged their bets by sending his cousin. And his other cousin. Also a dog. And a monkey. And a horse, in case the dog, monkey, and two cousins need a ride somewhere. There may also be a cat. But everyone loves cats, right?

Batman, the solitary night stalker, could be running a daycare center. Yes, the daycare center would get shut down by the state fairly soon, but until it did it would be full. No other hero has collected such a large number of sidekicks.

Wonder Woman has had crushes on various men for decades, and right now she’s aggressively pursuing Tom Tressor, I guess because his name sounds so much like Steve Trevor.

I can’t help but feel wistful for the icons, the perfect, immovable ideals that the originals represented. The Last Son Of Krypton has an emotional and aesthetic wallop that can’t be matched by three cousins and a petting zoo. The Dark Knight, the lone crusader who pits himself against every criminal in a vast, chaotic city is an extraordinarily spare and beautiful picture. That picture has gotten pretty crowded. And Wonder Woman? The virgin huntress? She’s wooing a man with a nectarine pit.

But if you take Supergirl and Powergirl out of the Superman mythos, you lose not only two fantastic characters, but the sweetness and the emphasis on family that is so great about the Superman books. The Batkids bring warmth and enthusiasm to the Batman mythos. And Wonder Woman is such a difficult character to relate to. Romantic love and all the failings and vulnerabilities that it brings out in a person gives readers a toe-hold, a way of understanding an immortal, invulnerable, an infinitely wise character.

There is something thrilling about iconic characters, and plenty of wonderful stories have been told using that aspect of the Big Three. However, a lot of good comes from knocking those characters off the pedestal. Not only does it introduce new and different characters, but it adds richness and texture to characters who would have been only splash pages. There’s something to be said for being a human instead of a god.

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Five Artists Who Make Me Love Comics

August 26th, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Esther is a real life friend of mine who I regularly talk comics with. I’ve been bugging her to write something for me, ’cause I think she has a great POV, and I finally have proof that peer pressure and pestering works! She sent over a list of five things she likes about comics. Read on, and hopefully she’ll be back for more.

1. Rafael Albuquerque
The most recent example of Albuquerque’s art is in Superman/Batman #51. It’s an appropriate book for him, because Albuquerque is one of those always-underappreciated artists who can differentiate between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent without going directly for the glasses and the spit curl. Clark Kent has a sunny expression, a chin that could only work on Superman or John Travolta, and the thick neck of a guy who is always the most muscular person in the room. Bruce Wayne has a scowl that blots out daylight and permanent lines of concentration over his eyes. Albuquerque has a talent for using subtle differences in facial features and musculature to give each character a different face and a different body. Too often, in comics, the reader is unable to tell characters apart until the colorist gets to them. It’s something special to be able to make two of DC’s most similar looking heroes unique.

2. Kevin Maguire
No one can finish a book drawn by Kevin Maguire without checking the cover to find out who the artist is. No one who has read one book drawn by Kevin Maguire can fail to recognize his style if they see it again, even if it were only a doodle on a cocktail napkin. I can’t think of another artist who is that skilled and that willing to be so gloriously silly. Kevin Maguire’s characters have faces made out of putty with the kind of expressions you might see if you hit the pause button during a Jim Carrey movie or an old Warner Brothers cartoon. Take any mildly funny scene and Kevin Maguire’s art will put it over the top. What’s more, instead of limiting Maguire to comedy, this style makes tragic moments even more poignant, because character’s face twist with recognizable pain instead being stuck in a stock pose. A lot of people think Maguire’s style isn’t pretty, and often they’re right, but I’m glad there is an artist who will sacrifice prettiness in order to let the characters express as much emotion as they are supposed to feel.

3. Roger Robinson
Which isn’t to say that I can’t appreciate prettiness. Have you seen Robinson’s work in Gotham Knights? The man draws cheekbones that can cut glass. And I haven’t seen that many moodily lit abdominal muscles since the movie 300. All that, and he doesn’t sacrifice expression or context. His subjects are beautiful, but they are subjects in a story, not objects in a pin-up. That’s impressive.

4. Amanda Connor
The Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special really played to Amanda Conner’s strength, and not because of the subject matter. Playing to Amanda Conner’s strength means giving her a huge panel, the bigger the better, and filling it with people. Conner’s style is clean enough to keep the page from looking cluttered and she plans well enough to place little visual jokes that lead the reader from one part of the page to the next. Every character is looking, talking, or reacting to at least one other character. As a result, huge group scenes stop looking like a flat jumble of bodies and faces and become a number of little action panels, depending on which part of the page the reader is focusing on.

5. J.H. Williams III
A lot of artists have a style. J.H. Williams III has every style, including his own. In Batman #667-669 Williams draws a large group of characters, each of them penciled and shaded differently. And he’s not shy about throwing in pages that show a massive black fist superimposed over an exploding plane, or pages in which the panels form a huge pair of bat wings. Instead of distracting from the story, William’s art makes the arc into something both surreal and self-contained. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and something that should be shown to anyone who doesn’t consider comics ‘art.’

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Magnum Opus: Squadron Supreme

August 22nd, 2008 Posted by guest article

by Tobey Cook

What was originally going to be a piece in tribute to the late, great Mark Gruenwald last week quickly ballooned into something much more than what it was intended to be. So with that in mind, I bring you what I hope will be the first in a series I call Magnum Opus. What I’ll do here is spotlight a miniseries or trade that to me has a special place in my collection. This article’s highlighted miniseries will be Squadron Supreme, because it’s easily my personal favorite and has so many things it brought to the table as to changing the way comics had been written up to that point. It’s also the first major maxiseries I remember buying as it was coming out on the stands every month. It featured some decent art from Paul Ryan, John Buscema and one other artist during the 12-issue run.

For my first treatment I decided to choose a book that I think has held up pretty well – Squadron Supreme. Each member of the team was loosely based on a character from DC Comics’ JLA. You had Hyperion as the Squadron’s Superman, Power Princess (Wonder Woman), Nighthawk (Batman), and even a Skrull analogue to Martian Manhunter in the Skrullian Skymaster! While the names of the characters weren’t exactly original, Mark Grunewald decided he wanted to use them to do something that hadn’t been done in comics before – what happens when the heroes decide they can fix the world’s problems?

The basic premise of the maxiseries is that the Squadron, having just recovered from a battle with the alien Overmind, returns to a world that is in ruins. Seeing that the only way to fix the world’s problems is to take matters into their own hands, Hyperion decides that they must find a way to repair the damage that’s been done. Despite the fact that the people mistrust and despise the Squadron, Hyperion comes up with Project Utopia, a way to, as he puts it – “abolish war and crime, eliminate poverty and hunger, establish equality among all people, clean up the environment, and cure disease.”

However, not everyone agrees with Hyperion’s plan. Nighthawk, one of the Squadron’s founding members, resigns in protest believing that the Squadron has no right to force people to bend to the Squadron’s will.

Tensions are further put to the test when the Squadron decides to use a behavior modification machine to ‘rehabilitate’ criminals, even going so far as to use it on some of their former enemies – Quagmire, Foxfire, Shape, Lamprey, and others. This proves to be the most controversial move the Squadron would make, and prompts Nighthawk to join up with the Squadron’s enemy Master Menace in order to find a way to reverse the behavior modification process.

There are so many moral dilemmas in this series – much more than any Marvel series at the time, and it proves the old theory about absolute power corrupting absolutely. A couple more highlights of the series are Squadron member Tom Thumb’s search for a cure for cancer and a brief foray by Nighthawk to the mainstream Marvel Universe to get help from Captain America and The Avengers (not coincidentally written by Mark Gruenwald and illustrated by Paul Ryan, the same art team) to stop the Squadron.

If you’re looking for a book that will give you a good, solid read, look no further. The first printing of it is a bit difficult to find unless you’re an avid EBay fanatic, but it’s been reprinted several times since then as it’s a pretty solid seller for Marvel. What’s so important about the first printing? Mark Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed with the printing ink.

That’s it for this installment of Magnum Opus. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to recommend a book for a future column, feel free to drop me a line in the comments below.

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Guest Article: A.o.D. Loves Iron Man Like Tony Loves the Women

May 8th, 2008 Posted by guest article

Gavok note: longtime reader and internet buddy A.o.D. sent a couple threatening emails to me and hermanos, wondering why we haven’t gotten around to reviewing the totally awesome Iron Man movie. I decided to ask him to write the review for us, since I thought he was the most qualified. After all, this guy knows more about Iron Man than I will likely ever know and has been a well of information for years. Not only has he read just about every good Iron Man story, but he’s willingly worked through the horrors of that whole Evil Tony Stark vs. Teenage Tony Stark fiasco and read every issue of Force Works. Poor guy. Point is, the guy knows his Iron Man, so it’s only fair that he gets to write this.

You’ve probably seen the movie by now. Every entertainment, comic (except 4th letter *ahem*), movie, and newspaper website has had a review up by now. Iron Man has raked in over one hundred million dollars domestically. It has in every essential sense proven itself to be a success. I am in no means going to contradict any of that. I am also not going to discuss the various plot points. All of this has been done ad nauseum. I will, however, sing some of the movie’s many praises.

Iron Man was a wonderful movie. When I first heard of the project, and the possibility of Nick Cage being involved, I was filled with a mixture of fear and excitement. Fear because I knew that Cage would have been absolutely terrible in the role, but excited because a long neglected Marvel character that I had a huge man crush for was going to be recognized. Bear in mind that this was before Civil War, Extremis, or even Tony Stark: Secretary of Defense. Iron Man was a small run book that had for decades been eclipsed by the likes of X-Books and Spider Man. To most comic fans, despite the fact that Iron Man was something of a big deal in Marvel continuity, he was just ‘that guy in the avengers’.

So yeah, I’m a big ol’ Iron Man fanboy. There’s a lot about the character that speaks to me. The fact that he doesn’t always get it right, the fact that he is a deeply flawed, but moral human being. Or that he doesn’t see things in black or white and understands that the world is tinted in shades of grey. Then there’s also the fact that he looks like he enjoys what he does. Sure, there’s a sense of purpose and duty involved, but the metal pajamas he wears look like a hell of a lot of fun.

So I had a lot of expectation for the movie. Expectations that rose once I learned that Marvel was taking over the project and that Robert Downey, Jr. was going to play the lead. Not only did he look the part, but if anyone knew what it meant to be a hard living, self abusive playboy, surely it would be Downey. In that, Downey exceeded every expectation. He owned the part as thoroughly as Christopher Reeve owned his role in Superman. Simply put, I never want to see him replaced. He expertly captures the juxtaposition of Stark’s self destructive hedonism and genius fueled intense drive. Everything he does rings true.

Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, interestingly enough, had a far larger role than she traditionally has in the Iron Man comics. For most of her existence she was window dressing or a plot point. The movie does her far more justice. Although I wouldn’t characterize her as a strong female, she is clearly characterized as one of the three people who makes Tony’s life work.

Jim Rhodes played by Terrence Howard is blah blah blah blah blah.

Look, you’ve read this all before. If you’re reading this, you’re a comics fan and probably have already seen the movie. If not, what are you waiting for? Are you still pissed about Civil War? What the hell is wrong with you?! This movie is worth twice the price of admission, so go see it two times! It’s a freakin’ bargain! Just be thankful that at the very least we’re getting an encore performance in a couple of years with the promise of an Avengers movie down the road. Iron Man is what superhero movies should all aspire to be. Go freakin’ see it already.

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Guest Post: The Fourth World Is Not Enough

March 3rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

(I need a breather after the marathon that was Black History Month, so here’s a guest article for you from Steven “HitTheTargets” Bush. Of course, when I say “breather” I mean “I have to do some hardcore work on Pop Culture Shock.” Anyway, enjoy!)

As a general disclaimer, this is all speculation. It’s based on current events throughout DC universe, so you might be lost if you’re not familiar with things going on in the lead up to Final Crisis.

Thanks to Death of the New Gods we now know the reason for damn near everything that’s happened in the DC universe since the end of Identity Crisis. No, it wasn’t Maxwell Lord’s fault. No, it wasn’t Alexander Luthor’s handiwork. No, it was not even Great Darkseid’s doing. For you see, the intricate, Rube Goldberg-esque plots these fine fellows hatched were themselves all part of another entity’s subtle cosmic master plan. A white beachball with black splotches called The Source (Yes, that The Source) has taken credit for organizing everything done by everyone, including the ones who organized everything that everyone else did. A cunning plan not entirely unlike a Matroska doll that takes years to open and can’t be explained by DC’s editors because that’s what the internet is for. I’m here, on the internet, to explain what I believe to be going on with the birth of the Fifth World.

Here’s a quick primer for anyone not up to speed on the World that’s coming:

Who? The Source, aka The Voice, The Creator. It made everything, it is everything. Looks like a beachball. What? The Fifth World. The point of this article is to figure out what it is. When? May 2008. Countdown ends and the Final Crisis begins. In story terms, creating the Fourth World was hella tiring, and The Source just now woke up. Where? Earth, of all places. It’s been referenced as the birthplace of the Fifth World several times. Why? It’s a mulligan. The Fourth World is like a sequel without the original cast & crew, so The Source wants a do-over. How? Making Nth Worlds is basically what The Source does. So the question here is not how it does that, but how it does that right. In short, The Source needs its groove back.

Of course, the true architect of the Fifth World is Grant Morrison, with help from Geoff Johns & Dan Didio. The story of Final Crisis is the story of the Fifth World’s birth.

At this point, I should probably lay out everything we know about how the Fifth World will come to be. As mentioned, the problem is that while The Source can normally make Worlds no prob’, right now he isn’t one hundred percent. A long time ago The Source created the Old Gods, then they got uppity and slapped the black outta him (seriously, they zapped him and a black beachball popped out), so he killed ’em all and created the New Gods. But he was missing half of his essence, his being, and they just didn’t measure up. Now he wants to become whole and do it proper, but there’s one problem: the black ball fell through dimensions and the Crisis on Infinite Earths created some kinda… solid… dimension… thing. Um… Yeah… OK, how about this? It fell in a lake, and CoIE froze the lake. That works. So The Source does what we’d all do in that situation; it manipulates Alexander Luthor, Conner Kent, Rip Hunter, and Mr. Mind to create 52 unique universes, thereby thinning the ice or something like that. The Source is currently on the final step of its plan; harvesting the souls of the New Gods in order to power the merger itself and then to act as raw material in the creation of the new World.

Okay, so let’s say black & white reunite, and The Source do the voodoo he do. Bang! Fresh squeezed Fifth World. What I think will happen here is basically that The Source will take the existing New Gods and raise them up as a new, complete mythology rather than just being superheroes from space. To elaborate, let’s look at the Greek gods as portrayed in the DCU. They’re home is cut off from access to all but the most powerful magicians, they each have power enough to rival high level beings like the Oans, and they never directly interact with mortals, instead sending out champions like Wonder Woman or Hercules. Yes, Granny Goodness did appear in the form of Athena and magically depower all the Amazons at the end of Amazons Attack, buy she did it with power stolen from the real deal. By contrast, the New Gods more closely resemble Marvel’s Greek gods. They live in another world but all it takes is a spaceship with inter-dimensional capabilities to get there, they’re powerful enough solo to match most Earthly powers but not any cosmic beings like Galactus, and Ares himself is a member of the Avengers. Boom tubes seem to float around Earth’s black market and the Guardians have Green Lanterns there just like any other space sector. Although he does have the Omega Effect, Darkseid is more or less even with Superman in a slugfest. Mr. Miracle, and Barda have a permanent home in the suburbia, and along with Orion have been JLA members.

If you regularly follow rumors in the comic book industry, superpeople ascending to an even higher existance may sound slightly familiar. There was at one time a rumor saying that Earth’s superheroes would be elevated to the level of gods, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman as the ruling trinity. And even though Earth is the birthplace of the Fifth World, common sense tells us the writers would never fuck with the status quo like that. But we know for sure Earth is more than involved, it’s where everything happens. My guess is the reason for this reinvention is to bring the Fourth World saga closer to home. If the new mythology is centered on Earth, writers and readers will be more interested in exploring it than if we stick it in some far off corner of space. I’ve heard a lot of mentions of “sides” of the DCU: the magic side, the space side, the political side, the criminal underworld. I think Final Crisis will be introducing a God side.

The best clue to the exact relationship of Earth and the Fifth World is in Morrison’s Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle. Shilo Norman drops into a black hole and winds up in a world where the New Gods possess human bodies. From what we’re shown, the gods of New Genesis are only dimly aware of this and live in squalor, although Shilo briefly “awakens” Metron. The Apokolipsian gods are still themselves, they just seem to be using humans as host bodies or avatars. I suspect this is a glimpse at the Fifth World. A higher plane centered around New Earth where the New Gods will reside, now as truly godlike beings. If they have reason to act on Earth, it’s in the form of living fictionsuits. The Gods of New Genesis are stuck here though, giving Dark Side free reign.

An interesting thing to note here is that the Mister Miracle issues of Seven Soldiers have very little to do with the Sheeda invasion. They’re there to prepare him for his role as the champion of New Genesis after the advent of the Fifth World and Darkseid’s triumph. Darkseid allows the Sheeda to attack in exchange for Aurakles, forcing Shilo to exchange himself for demi-god. That’s it. That’s his role as a Soldier; freeing Aurakles to let him fight the Sheeda. After doing that, Shilo is shot in the head and the very last page of the Seven Soldiers #1 shows his hands breaking out his grave, now in the art style used to represent the gods in their real, otherworldly form. In his role as New Genesis’s chosen one, Shilo is to truly reawaken the good Gods and prevent Darkseid from achieving total domination. In short, the book is a prelude to Final Crisis and only connects to the Sheeda story when Darkseid takes advantage of their presence in order to destroy Shilo, the one person who can threaten him.

The explanation for why the Dark Side rules and the good gods are powerless is found in the lead up to Final Crisis. That’s right, Countdown. It may not be very good, but its raison d’etre is to foreshadow the events in Final Crisis while reflecting goings-on in the DC universe as a whole. Every subplot is connected to Apokolips (Even Piper & Trickster somehow) For reasons unknown, Jimmy Olsen is acting as a soul-catcher, of sorts, and has within him the gods killed in Death of the New Gods. Since these god-souls are essential to The Source’s goals, Jimmy manifests convenient superpowers whenever his life is in danger. Meanwhile, Darkseid plans to unleash a biological weapon on Earth, I surmise specifically to get at Jimmy, in what will be called the Great Disaster. Here’s the tricky bit: The weapon doesn’t exist yet. Darkseid has manipulated Karate Kid into visiting Brother Eye, and given Eye some New God tech to bring the whole gang to Apokolips. There he will combine the Kid’s virus with the Soul Fire Serum. The Source is countering this by sending the Challengers of the Beyond after Ray Palmer, who knows how to stop said virus, and then sending that group to Apokolips. I can’t be sure exactly what happens next, but presumably the state of the New Genesis gods post-Fifth World is a result of the mutated virus’s ability to fatally expand consciousness and Ray’s cure, which would only be partially effective against the new strain.

Assuming any of this is right, it’ll be awhile before we really get to see it. Final Crisis begins in May and runs for seven oversized issues. Like Infinite Crisis’ introduction of New Earth and 52’s debut of the new Multiverse, FC will probably only show the barebones of the Fifth World, letting other writers expand and explore the new mythology. Morrison did use a pantheon scheme in his Justice League and I’d imagine that sort of thing would make a comeback in a major way in a story about actual Gods, so perhaps we’ll see who’s who among the New New Gods. The possibilities beyond that are wide open, as you’d expect not only from Grant Morrison, but also from a true life mythology. I look forward to these new story opportunities giving rise to Legends.

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Black History Month 12: The Wall

February 12th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

art from dc comics’s suicide squad
(Guest article ahoy! My buddy Pedro from Funnybook Babylon wanted to talk about one of the single best black characters in comics, and who am I to say no? I’ll take a few more guest articles if anyone has any good ones in mind. Throw me an email. Thanks to Pedro for the guest article!)

Before that Christmas, just like my older sister, I was into Marvel Comics. She used to blow her cash on X-Men, and the moment I got an allowance, I would save my daily dollar to get Uncanny X-Men and whatever Spider-Man I could get my hands on. This growing pile was supplemented by those 3 for $1 bags of comics that never had any DC issues. It was when someone gave me a near complete collection of Giffen/De Matteis Justice League comics that I was introduced, along with many other things, to the Wall.

The big crossover during this time was Invasion. The forces of earth–human, hero, and villain alike–allied together to stop the alien attackers. And in charge of villainous forces, which was made up of some of the nastiest guys I had seen, was a Black woman?!

I had to pause and rewind that panel. Not only was this Amanda Waller character black and female, but she was the toughest person among an entire room of politicians, soldiers, villains, and heroes. Shit, Ronald Reagan, who was in nearly a quarter of these Giffen League comics, was in awe and a bit frightened of her. This was something even my 7th grade knowledge of history knew was crazy. You could tell that she was assigned to work with the villains because she was the only person tough enough to keep them in line. They were afraid to cross her because she seemed to have the resolve and determination to make them pay.

Thankfully, the pile o’ comics contained a Doom Patrol vs. Suicide Squad issue, which featured more Waller action. In this book, I saw the Wall at what she does best, politically outmanuvering everyone else in the room in search of what was best for the American people.

With the right words, she could do more damage than Superman’s heat vision, escape situations that would tax Mr. Miracle and his motherbox, and save the day better than Wonder Woman could. Sure, she was ruthless, did things that only benefitted United States, and worked with the worst of the worst.

And yet, I couldn’t help loving her as she did it all, because she was so different than everyone else I had read before.

No one else in comics is physically depicted the way Waller is. Very few heavyset characters, especially female ones, are portrayed in non comical roles, and the few that are taken seriously are explained as being secretly muscular. Waller seems to avoid needing to justify her weight either way, because she is too dangerous to not take seriously. The skills that make her so dangerous are unrelated to hey body type.

What makes everyone fearful of her is that she didn’t receive a magic wishing ring or powers from a bolt of lightning. Instead, she worked herself up from nothing, which has made every one of her accomplishments defined by what she is willing to do. It’s this drive to do better that also makes her a symphatetic character to me.

If you were to ask her why she goes to the extremes that she does, she would tell you that someone with the resolve has to go out there and do the awful things to keep the world safe. The closing episode of the Justice League cartoon series features a moment with an older Waller at the end of her life. She’s unapologetic and at peace with her decisions, prepared to face whatever punishments await her in the afterlife. That nails her perfectly.

When Waller is done right, she’s one of the most complicated and nuanced characters in all of comics. She’s neither villain or hero and does very little to benefit herself. Shit, one time in the cartoon, Brainiac showed up out of nowhere. What did Waller do, did she run away? No, she whipped out her gun and helped the same heroes that she had been working against all series long fight this common threat. Sometimes a character like her can be too much for the simpleness that people want in their superhero comics, but to me, comics are in a better place because of characters like her.

The world honestly can never have enough Amanda Waller.

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The Hulk Hogan Manga: Hulkster, I Choose You, Brother!

May 25th, 2007 Posted by guest article

Gavok note: We have a special guest appearance by SDShamshel, who reviews the bad wrestling comic I won’t read for the simple fact that I can’t read it. Enjoy.

Japanese comics have always had a strong relationship with the world of professional wrestling. In its heyday, Kinnikuman was read by every young boy, and both Tiger Mask and Juushin Liger started off as manga characters before their personas were adopted for real-world squared circles. However, as great and exciting as those wrestlers may be, this article is about something greater.

Yes, that’s right. It’s Hulk Hogan THE MANGA. Published by “Special Volume Ace Five Comics,” Pro Wrestler Superstar Biographies: Hulk Hogan tracks Hogan’s life from the beginning of his career to his time in Vince McMahon, Sr.’s World Wide Wrestling Federation. The comic utilizes an interesting version of kayfabe (the wrestling term for “the fourth wall”), with events in Hogan’s life both inside and outside of the ring depicted with the utmost seriousness one expects from biographical comics about pro wrestlers.

As the comic begins, we find Hulk Hogan as the lead guitarist for a band. He flashes back to a time where as he was watching a match, a man approached him and suggested that Hogan become a wrestler. A mustache-less Hogan decided against it, and even tried to instead become a professional boxer. However, after the concert, as he’s watching a televised match between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki, Hogan’s life changes forever.

Read the rest of this entry �

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Reader Review: Supermarket 1 and 2!

April 20th, 2006 Posted by guest article

Reader Review by Nez, send in yours to!

“A hip, Warhol-ish journey through a cynical man/superman world as told by a jaded mafia princess, caught in the conflict between yuppie gas guzzlers, and hot lead”
That’s probably a fair example of what all the ‘big boy’ reviews are saying about SUPERMARKET (IDW), the latest showing from veteran comic-noir writer Brian Wood, and indie artist Kristian Donaldson. After reading issues #1 and #2, I’d almost be inclined to agree… almost. Don’t get me wrong, I’d recommend it to anyone, as it’s a terrific read. I just have a completely different take on it. Or do I?  
All vague banter aside, I committed to reading issue #1 after it was literally thrown at me. In a nutshell, SUPERMARKET is about one Pella Suzuki, (half Swede, half Japanese, go figure) a well–off (albeit extremely liberal) teenager who moonlights at a 24-7 convenience store as A) “It’s interesting”, and B) “Making her own money gives her a moral high ground over her parents”. Quickie-mart job aside, the hippie-teenage-rebellion crap is put on ice when “IT” happens. “IT” as it turns out is the brutal murder of both her parents. The situation worsens when after being directed to a secret family safehouse, Pella finds it being ransacked by Yakuza goons. To top things off, her credit cards have been shut down, leading her to believe that her parents were somehow involved in bad things. 
So far, SUPERMARKET (also a street term for the sprawl) has entertained me to say the least. Donaldson’s art is tight, yet grimy enough to get the job done. I would almost acquiesce to “hip” or “Warhol-ish”, if they didn’t sound so gosh darn retarded. Wood’s story moves at a pace that keeps you interested, without rushing things, and the unfolding details of this not-so-classic whodunit keep you wanting more. Between Yakuza chases to the revelation that her mother belonged to a Mafioso comprised of Swedish Adult Film Stars, SUPERMARKET delivers. So yeah, hip, mod, Warhol-ish, whatever, I guess I more or less agree with the ‘big boys’… Just don’t ask me to admit it. 

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