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Friday Flashbacks 01: Boysenberry Pie

June 12th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

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(from marvel’s x-men #8, words by scott lobdell, art by jim lee)

This is one of those scenes that stuck out to me when I was a kid. Going from a picnic to a fight to a pie in the face to a plot twist is classic X-Men. This was the beginning of a downtime issue, which is another X-Men staple. The team would play baseball, go to a bar, or sit around doing nothing after the end of a big arc. This issue ended the drama of Bishop joining the team and a Wolverine-centric story in Germany, and led into an X-Men/Ghost Rider crossover set in New Orleans, where they all went up against the Brood in the NOLA underground. In hindsight, it’s pretty ridiculous, but still fairly funny. Gambit tended to get all of the best lines and scenes in old X-Men books.

This was also back when the book had a strange tone. There was a lot of droll and self-conscious humor throughout the book, verging on actual meta-commentary. It’s nice to see and gave the book a fun, off-kilter kind of feel. I’m not even going to mention the “Gotta be da shoes” Gambit/Jubilee bit.

Well, maybe I will later. But not right now.

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Black History Month ’09 #25: Re-Definition

February 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Bishop had the strange position of being one of exactly two black X-Men when I was big into the comics. He was on the cover of the first issue of Uncanny X-Men I paid for with my own money (I remember this because it was behind the counter on a display as the first appearance of Bishop.) and he seemed pretty cool. Whilce Portacio made him look pretty mean and scary, and his power was, and is, dope.

But, he doesn’t work all the way for me. It isn’t that he’s inauthentic or not “black” enough or whatever– he’s from the future. It’s also not necessarily his origin or his underlying story. The X-Traitor stuff was fascinating, his ties to Gambit were interesting (the Boysenberry pie scene from X-Men is still one of my all-time favorites), and the hero worship he originally had for the X-Men was really very cool.

He just hasn’t clicked yet. He’s been through a few different variations. His original version is probably the most interesting to me, though the costume and hair left much to be desired. The idea of the X-Men living on into the future and inspiring people even then is, well, inspired. It’s a nice twist on the idea of a superheroic legacy, and Bishop being awestruck the first time he meets Storm or Cyclops was fun. There’s an unspoken undertone of authoritarianism to the whole works that adds a bit of sauce, too. After a while, he just turned into a generic X-Hero, but it was interesting while it lasted.

Bishop went through Age of Apocalypse and ended up with his mind turned inside out. He tripped from that into Onslaught and a series of increasingly uninteresting adventures that went from New York to the future to outer space and back again. When he landed, Claremont reinvented him as a bald detective guy, which could have been an interesting idea. Instead, it turned Bishop into a generic guy who makes deductions and sometimes fast-talks cops. District X was a series which threw Bishop into the midst of Mutant Town, New York, but it was similarly bland.

Messiah Complex added a new wrinkle to Bishop’s past. It explained that the dystopia he hails from was caused by a certain mutant baby. Messiah Complex was essentially a crossover that is at least in part about Bishop trying to kill a baby. This situation escalated in Cable’s solo series, where Bishop is chasing Cable and that baby through time.

While it’s actually kind of a gross-sounding hook on paper, I think it would have been way more interesting if Bishop were presented as at all sympathetic. If the baby actually did cause the death of millions, then Bishop is genuinely trying to do the right thing and you have a real dilemma. Instead, Bishop is eliminating entire eras in his attempt to pop the baby. It makes him pretty unlikeable, I think, on top of the whole “I need to kill this baby” thing.

Bishop’s a character that I want to like, but, like Nightwing, he’s never had a Frank Miller come along and turn him on his head and make him interesting. He’s run through a gauntlet of characterizations at this point, and none of them really seem to click. He’s always missing something. He needs a good hook and a good arc to make him worthwhile.

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Black History Month 13: Wu-Wear- Garment Renaissance

February 13th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

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pictures taken from comics.org and GIS.
Fifth–hold on, turn the beat off
I had to turn the beat off for this
You talking ’bout you an eighties baby?
You thirty seven years old!
You was born in 1968!
And I open the Daily News…
How is the “King of New York” rockin’ sandals with jeans?
Open toe sandals, with chancletas, with jeans on
How is the “King of New York” rockin’ sandals with jeans when he 42 years old?
Back to business!

–Cam’ron, “Gotta Love It”

In those days, your whole ave was the spot
The scene locked with Lee patches, Cazal glasses
Suede Pumas and rumors of rap not lastin

–Buckshot, “Think Back”

Honest to goodness, man, it’s time for some real talk. Enough is enough! I guess no one gave Cheryl Lynn any love for this a while back, ’cause I’m probably gonna end up reiterating a bit.

Stop making black characters look bummy. Honest to goodness, man. There’s just no excuse for that to leave your house looking like you just woke up. Let me go down the list up top there.

Dashikis: It isn’t 1988 any more. Seriously though, I’m not trying to be a hater, and I’ll admit that a young David Brothers had a leather Africa medallion or two back in the day, but the height of all that was almost twenty years ago. I realize that Amazing Man (awful name) is trying to be all about black empowerment and Katrina and all that, but he’s leaving the house dressed like he got into a fight with a bedsheet. You could probably get away with a kufi, but that’s it. The dashiki is way, way out of date. If you aren’t from Africa, you probably shouldn’t be wearing one. Just FYI.

Mohawks: I shouldn’t even have to explain how stupid this looks, because you should already know. Storm rocking a mohawk? They used to call her Super-Perm in elementary school. How’s her hair stay up? She isn’t Grace Jones, man. Don’t go there ever again, seriously. It looks ridiculous.

Mullet and jheri curl/perm: Bishop looked ridiculous when he first appeared and he didn’t stop looking ridiculous until he shaved his head. What in the world possessed Lee/Portacio/whoever else to give him that look? I have never in my life seen that. He’d have been better off with a rat tail, or maybe an M cut into the side of his box fade on some Kid-n-Play tip. He works better as a bald head, anyway. Shut ‘em down.

Afros: My mom had an afro back when they were cool. That was a few years before I was born. I get that we need the old nostalgia blaxploitation thing… but c’mon. Afros are stopping points on the way to braids now. If you see a dude with a fro, his hair isn’t long enough for cornrows. This is also generally true for women. Do you know why this is? It is because afros are incredibly tough to take care of. My hair is short right now. A quick brush and I’m gravy. With an afro? You’re looking at twenty minutes in front of a mirror and hoping that you picked out the back of your head so that you don’t leave the house looking like you just woke up. Then you spend the rest of your day hoping that you didn’t dent your afro with the handles on the bus, by walking under that low hanging branch, or by doing anything ever, basically.

Jakeem Thunder: Oh man, we are gonna fight. You mean to tell me that a sixteen year old black kid from Keystone City, which is basically Detroit, who was a straight up latchkey kid is going to leave his house looking bummy? When he’s on a team with like four females?

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. You gotta be kidding.

First, Jakeem would not be coming with those smedium shirts and short jackets. He looks like an idiot. Where are the always fashionable Polo shirts? You buy jackets a size up if you’re wearing shirts that are a proper size.

And the backwards cap? Whoops look at me I’m Jakeem Thunder I live in 1996 also I wear K-Swiss and Saucony instead of Pumas or Timberlands.

No on the backwards cap. That’s not how anyone wears it any more. It’s all about the tilt. Example:

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If you’re going to wear a baseball cap (and you shouldn’t to begin with), you’ve got it facing forward and at an angle. It might be bent, it might not, but it isn’t gonna be so bent it’s broken. In reality, Jakeem would have either a fleet of hoodies or a skull cap. See below.

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See that? Shirt a proper length, white undershirt (or wifebeater) underneath but not showing under his sleeves, jeans crisp and properly fitted. Loose, but not ridiculously loose… I’m not feeling the glasses, but hey, do you. Find your look.

It’s not hard to make a character look right. Khari Evans does it. Adrian Alphona did it. Before drawing people, at least check a fashion or pop culture magazine! Look at The Source or Vibe or XXL! Give us something up-to-date to relate to!

’cause man, cool kids don’t dress like Jakeem Thunder. Maybe they did ten years ago, but not now. It’s like Clinton Sparks says… Get familiar!

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Trick Daddy Dollars

July 24th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

One Person’s Legitimizing:

If the slaves in these books were black, would they be republished? If they were Asian, Native American, Latino? But they’re women, and we’re not supposed to raise a stink about these piddling little books that others wiser that we have judged unimportant. We’re supposed to put up and shut up–because we still haven’t had that liberation, and apparently people still think they can tell us what issues are supposed to be important, and what aren’t, and what “unimportant” things we’re legitimizing by daring to point out they are vile.

This is a really, really good point, because black people are at the point where there are no offen-

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-sive material being put out that denigrates the whole ra-
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ce or anything like that. I mean, we aren’t really portrayed as stereotypical pi-
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mps and hustlers and oversexed and whorish and only good for entertainment by the media at large or any-
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more, you kn-
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ow? Everything is gravy. Everything is positive. None of us grow up looking up to drug dealers or pimps or hustlers.

With a hat-tip to Cheryl Lynn, I just want to say that playing prole-ier than thou?

That’s a sucker’s game. It’s ugly and stupid and, if you’re serious about what you’re talking about, beneath you. It’s like trying to play upon, or even create, guilt and therefore curry favor.

Sorry. Pet peeves, right? We’ve all got issues. We even share some! Mine are important and yours are important, but that doesn’t mean that you get to use mine to bolster yours, because I don’t want to do that to you.

I’m trying not to make this post sound jerky, but I don’t think it’s working. I think it’s maybe the all-seeing starry eyes of Archbishop Don Magic Juan looking down on me.

Part, fellas.

Church.

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She Got That Good Hair: Top 5 3 Black Women!

January 12th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

(edit: T’Shan was not BP’s sister. Shuri is.)

To our readers from When Fangirls Attack!– welcome! Check out the post and don’t be afraid to leave a comment, okay? Onward.

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you,
Without a strong rhyme to step to.
Think of how many weak shows you slept through,
Time’s up! I’m sorry I kept you!

–Rakim

Man, this article is crazy late, isn’t it? Just, uh, six months or so.

It’s late for a number of reasons. I’ve been trying to ramp up my writing career, which means more time writing about games, less about comics. Did it work? Well, I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck, but talk to me in another six months.

The number one reason why it’s late, other than business and laziness, is that it is hard as crap to find good black female characters in recent comics. I mean, Monica Rambeau had a bit part in Black Panther and I’m not much for Nextwave’s portrayal of her, so she doesn’t really count. There was the great-granddaughter (grandniece?) of Jim Harper in Robinson’s Batman: Face-the-Face, but, uh, she had maybe nine panels of dialogue total, and that’s probably being generous. I’m not as familiar as I should be with Milestone’s work (beyond Static), so I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting any of those characters on this list. Bishop’s daughter in X-Men: The End has three strikes against her. 1) She’s Bishop’s daughter. 2) She’s in X-Men: The End. and 3) She’s Bishop’s daughter and is in X-Men: The End. Onyx is kind of cool, but I know exactly nothing about her and she got punked by Jason Todd so she’s out. Pantha, according to Wikipedia, is black, but, again, I know nothing about her. Thunder, from Outsiders? No thanks, hoss.

So… this is going to be a little different. It’s a top three because, frankly, there aren’t enough good black female characters out there. I’d include Glory Grant, ’cause she’s pretty awesome, but when’s the last time you saw her in a comic that wasn’t Civil War Frontline #10? (Nice guest spot, even if it was only a panel.) A better question– how many of you even remember who Glory Grant is? Monica Lynne is in the same situation. Charlotte Jones? Same deal.

I entertained the possibility of putting Monet St Croix on her, at least partially because I really enjoy her character. But, that’d make this a top 4 and these lists are traditionally either top three, top five, or top multiple of five. Four is right out.

So, a top three. But, I’m telling you, I better see some awesome black females over the next year or I’m going to do something reprehensible! I mean, black females in comics are like black head coaches in the NCAA!

zing!
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Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl

December 30th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Sorry for being a week late. The holidays drained me faster than a three-way with Rogue and Parasite. …Please pretend I didn’t just say that.

THE BEYONDER

Secret Wars II #1 (1985)

We start out with another iffy entry. The Beyonder was present during the first Secret Wars. That’s obvious. It’s just that at no point did he actually appear. That didn’t happen until the horrifying sequel. We know him for his silly disco outfit, but that wasn’t what he originally showed up in.

I like it. We see him talking with the Molecule Man, who tries to explain things to him in a way that is admirably calm and casual. Molecule Man and Volcana send Beyonder on his way as he takes a more subtle form on his quest for experience. This form is of Molecule Man himself. He proceeds to turn a desk into apples, turns a fat television writer into a super-villain and then turns invisible and follows Captain America around for the hell of it.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 17

October 24th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Sorry about that. Real life schedule sort of held me back for a bit. But I’m getting back into the swing of things and we’re almost done with this. Just a reminder for the artist types reading this, I could use your help.

20) WHAT IF THE PUNISHER BECAME AN AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Issue: Volume 2, #57
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Mike Harris
Spider-Man death: No
Background: There’s no exact turning point here. Frank Castle has always been on the run of the law. Every once and a while, he gets caught. In this story, while in prison, Frank meets Nick Fury. Nick has kept an eye on Frank and wants him to lead a SHIELD strike force. No more going after the petty dealers. Now he’ll be going after the top drug lords with weaponry Frank’s never imagined using. With a choice between that or spending the rest of his life in prison, Frank makes the right decision.

Wouldn’t you know it, Frank Castle has never had so much fun. With his hand-picked troops behind him, Frank goes after high profile villains he never thought he’d ever get a chance to go up against. We see as he and his boys go after the Yellow Claw and bomb his drug crop into oblivion. He actually seems far less cynical now, feeling that he’s actually in a war he can win.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 13

September 22nd, 2006 Posted by Gavok

I mourn this image, not for the loss of Timothy Leary, but for the loss of Vaudeville Silver Surfer. You’d think that with Keith Giffen writing Annihilation, we’d see him make a comeback.

40) WHAT IF… STARRING SABRETOOTH: SCREAMS IN THE NIGHT!

Issue: Volume 2, #87
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Frank Teran
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Sabretooth was, for a time, a captive in the X-Mansion with Xavier hoping he could mentally fix what’s wrong with him. One time, when most of the team was out on a mission, a power failure in the mansion allowed Sabretooth to escape. He didn’t get too far, though. When he went after Jubilee, Bishop went up against him and knocked him out with a powerful blast. Our story here begins with Jubilee crying over the shredded-up body of Bishop. Uh oh.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 8

September 4th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Just so the other Marvel alternate universes don’t feel left out, here are some quick reviews for a couple of them.

Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe: Fun, if it’s one of your first Garth Ennis stories. If not, you’ll be rolling your eyes.
Earth X: Strangely, I haven’t read it yet. One day.
Marvel Ruins: Depressing, hard to look at and pointless. A lot like the Steel movie.
The Last Avengers Story: You know why Kingdom Come worked? It knew who the Big 3 of the Justice League were and centered it on them. A brief cameo by Captain America, a vague explanation of Thor’s death as a flashback aside and absolutely no mention of Iron Man fails this comic. For shame, Peter David. For shame. Nobody cares about Henry Pym but you.

Now let’s get to what you came here for.

65) WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER POSSESSED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET?

Issue: Volume 2, #49
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Scott Clark and Kevin West
Spider-Man death: Technically, yes
Background:Thanos had reached his goal and wielded the power of God himself through the Infinity Gauntlet. He fought the remainder of Earth’s greatest heroes with only a fraction of his full power, yet he still killed them off easily. The battle was all a plan by Adam Warlock in hopes to distract Thanos so the Silver Surfer could fly by and grab the Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand. He missed. Then a lot of stupid stuff happened. So if he did grab it, it would kind of have to make for a better story, right?

With a successful steal, the Silver Surfer stands before the depowered Thanos and Captain America. Adam Warlock (I keep trying to type “Adam Strange” when I bring him up) pops in to thank the Surfer and asks for the Gauntlet. The Silver Surfer refuses, as only the Silver Surfer can be trusted with such power. He takes the omnipotence, claiming it to be a burden that needs to be carried. First he undoes all of Thanos’ destruction. Earth is set back the way it was and all the heroes are resurrected. Terraxia is destroyed since she was never meant to exist.

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Lobo’s back’s back.

August 30th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Just a few quick bullets on what I’m thinking about in the world of comics right about now.

- This week’s 52 was good. Lobo’s reintroduction was great, and his origin, completely with pompadour, was a good look, too.

- I have a new issue of Kabuki to read. I’m positively giddy. I may wait until tomorrow to read the latest issue of the best non-monthly series ever.

- All-Star Superman, by The King of All-Comics and Frank Quitely, delivered. Lex Luthor’s eyebrow and sheer arrogance come through perfectly and hilariously.

- Mike Carey’s first issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four? Way better than Millar’s entire year, of which I read approximately the first three months. It’s that good.

- Black Panther’s World Tour has started up, and it’s going to be a doozy. Doom gets what’s coming two different ways. Next month is the Inhumans, I cannot wait for that.

- The Boys 02 is the second issue in a row to feature, er, doggy-style. Pun possibly intended. This is one of the most mean-spirited books I’ve read, but we get some good character insights in Billy Butcher and friends. I’m definitely interested, and Robertson’s art? It’s great.

- x-men 190 Have you guys seen Chris Bachalo’s cover to X-Men 190? It’s incredible. The scene it depicts happens a little different in the comics, but that’s water under the bridge. There’s precious little Rogue in this book, but her old costume is lovely and her new assertiveness fits a character who’s been a mainline X-Man for years now. She isn’t just “Sugah sugah mope mope mope.” She’s a fighter. Carey is doing a bang-up job on this series. This guy is remarkably good in the Marvel U. His Hellblazer was good, but Lucifer never grabbed me. His Marvel stuff, though… too good. Loving it.

- Mythos HulkMythos: Hulk by Paul Jenkins and Paolo Rivera is a four dollar bundle of joy. The Mythos series (right now just Hulk and X-Men) is a retelling of Marvel origins. They are updated for the modern era and boiled down to their essences. Rick Jones isn’t dared by friends to go onto the testing site, he’s an intern who isn’t paying attention. That sort of thing. They’re good stuff, and Rivera’s art is a treat. Highly recommended, and I hope they collect all of them into a handsome hardcover down the line.

- I read Wonder Woman 02. I’m done with the series. I realized that the moment I saw Wonder Woman start to do that stupid spinning thing from the TV show. No sir I do not like it. The Dodson’s art is great, as always, but Heinberg leaves me flat. Not quite Young Avengers flat, but flat. It wasn’t just the spinning what done it, either. It’s a book that seems to be trying very hard to get me to care, but does a poor job of closing the deal. Giganta is smart and tall… okay? Donna Troy is Wonder Woman and sucks at her job… okay? Wonder Woman is sneaking around and hiding… why bother? It’s weird. My favorite portrayals of Wonder Woman have been in the Morrison/Waid/Kelly JLA era. Doug Mahnke drew the absolute best WW ever. The wet hair look was way better than the usual comic book poofy hair. He drew her lean, but powerful, and his Angry Wonder Woman was something to behold. So, uh, now that I own the first 90 or so issues of JLA in trade form, I guess I’ll go read those when I want to read about Wondy.

Titans – Someone explain this image to me. Is this from the new issue of Teen Titans? I found it linked off SomethingAwful’s BSS forum and it… bleh. Johns, what are you doing, man? That first row, save for Aquagirl and Speedy is worthless, and I like Speedy despite Judd Winick’s handling of her. The second row has Beast Boy and Offspring and they’re cool, but the rest of that row is worthless, too. I realize I’m prejudging here, but Little Barda is too much. DC just needs to leave the Fourth World alone. Give it to Morrison and a good artist and just keep it out of anyone else’s hands. It’s cool to see Mas y Menos and Captain Marvel Jr, but again, the rest of the characters? Bleh. On the bottom row, I think that the two Daughters are interesting ideas, if pushing the gimmick a bit, and I like Ravager, and that leaves Osiris. If Osiris turns out to be Isis’s brother, he’s got the most poorly thought-out code name ever. It takes a lot for me to read Titans. Introducing a bunch of no-names and go-nowheres isn’t really drawing me in. The series hasn’t really grabbed me since Titans Tomorrow, to be quite honest. Maybe it’ll pick up, but I basically have read Teen Titans for two years of my life. I can do without it. It’s turned into the JSA, in that it’s a book about a team full of characters who should be guest-stars at best.

- To be quite fair, Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men is boring me, too. Ha ha, Wolverine, yes, but the rest of the book is cute references up the wazoo and SHOCK REVEALS. It’s very pretty, but I’m not even remotely interested in the story. It feels like it’s treading water, with Neat Callback Scene (Kitty Pryde in the sewer last issue made me roll my eyes hard) to Neat Action scene with no meat inbetween.

- Just to complete the custom combo, I found Serenity boring and Firefly decent to middling at best.

- Cameron Stewart is awesome. You all know this, yes? His upcoming book about Vietnam looks like the bee’s knees. However! He and his Royal Academy of Illustration and Design cronies are having a draw-off, and Harley Quinn was the pick for today. Harl is probably my favorite bat-villain, so go check it out. I kind of like Cam’s, since it’s classic Bruce Timm style, but all of them are good. Go look!

- Oh man, I’m totally going to pitch DC Joker Loves Harley Quinn and do it in the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane style, but with more mayhem. Yes.

- Here’s an interview with Georges Jeanty, artist of The American Way. He’s a great talent, and TAW is totally a sleeper hit. It gets better and better. It’s telling a great tale of superheroics in the 1960s and actually deals realistically with race. I’m loving it, and 4l member Thomas Wilde likes it, too. He doesn’t like anything but Barb Wire, Vampirella, and other bad comics, so him liking a good book is astonishing. I’m kidding! He doesn’t actually like any of those books. However, if he doesn’t write for the blog, I’ll tell everyone that he does and then kill him while he sits in shame.

- I’ve gotten a buttload of trades over the past couple weeks. X-Men: The Coming of Bishop, Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student, Starman: Sins of the Father, X-Men: Golgotha, some JLA v3 trades, Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness, Spider-Man: The Assasin Nation Plot, The Punisher/Wolverine: African Saga (Carl Potts and Jim Lee! Whatever happened to Carl Potts?), and Monster volumes 3 and 4. Also Absolute Kingdom Come, though I don’t like Alex Ross’s art very much at all, but I love extra content in hardcover comics. I sometimes fear that I have bad taste in comics, but I love them too much to quit.

- So, summing up: Comics are great right now, Wonder Woman’s series is blah, Teen Titans is blah, but comics are still great, the internet is awesome, and I’ve got bad taste in comics. This ended up a lot longer than expected. It was supposed to be a short post!

- Peace!

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