This Week in Panels: Week 201

July 29th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

You said it, Spidey. But Sunday is Sunday, so let’s get to it.

My crew this week includes Gaijin Dan, Matlock and Space Jawa. I don’t have anything else to really add to this white noise of an intro, so here. The theme to Pacific Rim. Listen to it as you skim the rest… or as you hit a monster in the face with a battleship. Either way.

With that out of the way, panels away!

All-Star Western #22 (Matlock’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat

All-Star Western #22 (Gavin’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Moritat

Aquaman #22
Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier

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This Week in Panels: WEEK 200!

July 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Yikes! I never thought this would ever last this long. Started as an exercise in keeping me on some kind of deadline, This Week in Panels has been going strong for the last two hundo weeks. The idea is simple. Take the new comics me and my calvary have read over the week and chop them down until there’s one panel that best sums up the issue. It’s fun and people seem to like it, which is why it’s lasted so long.

My crew this time includes Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Matlock and Jody. Buddy Dickeye tried to toss me a panel for Avengers, but it kind of doesn’t work.

Yeah, Space Knights (sans Rom, the only one anyone cares about). Those are cool and all, but they have barely anything to do with anything. They’re in there for one panel and are never referenced. Still, I posted it here anyway because I didn’t want my first panel for ThWiP 200 to be whatever the hell that nightmare is in Animal Man.

No, seriously. What the fuck is this thing?!

Animal Man #22
Jeff Lemire, Steve Pugh and Francis Portela

Avengers #16
Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Stefano Caselli

Batman ’66 #3 (Gavin’s pick)
Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 5

July 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Evo 2013 has come and gone and while the bland Injustice: Gods Among Us tournament showcase probably poisoned the well for the game getting another high-profile appearance next year, it did at least show off a new trailer for Injustice DLC. Not only is John Stewart an available alternate skin for Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr voice acting included), but they’ve announced the first of the second set of DLC characters in Martian Manhunter.

So let’s take a look at the history of everyone’s second-favorite cookie monster.


Alias: J’onn J’onzz, John Jones, Fernus the Burning, Bloodwynd, Bronze Wraith and dozens of others
First Appearance: Detective Comics #225 (1955)
Powers: Super strength, speed, shape-shifting, telepathy, invisibility, laser vision, flight, intangibility
Other Media: Was a big player in the Justice League cartoon, showed up on some of the different Batman cartoons and starred in the terrible live-action Justice League pilot/movie.

Years ago, Patton Oswalt wrote a graphic novel called JLA: Welcome to the Working Week, where the main character – existing as Oswalt’s mouthpiece – referred to Martian Manhunter as the Bob Dylan to Superman’s Elvis Presley. When you’re a kid, you love the optimistic spitcurl, but when you get older, you start to appreciate the more serious giant brow. Martian Manhunter is a great foil for Superman, mainly different in that he was an adult when he made his exodus from his dying planet and that affects him differently.

The original origin was that J’onn J’onnz, a Martian lawman, was accidentally transported to Earth thanks to an experiment by Dr. Erdel. While Erdel would have been able to send him back, the shock of seeing this Martian caused him to have a heart attack and die. In the original continuity, Mars was still populated, so J’onn was driven by his quest to return. Back then, the idea of shipping a guy to Mars, even in a superhero world, was considered rather difficult. How novel.

J’onn used his shape-shifting abilities to take the identity of John Jones (get it?) and became a detective who would use his powers to give him the edge. His appearance as Martian Manhunter was meant to be a middle-ground version between Martian and human, being the best of both worlds. He joined the Justice League, used mainly as a stand-in for when the publishers felt Superman was being used way too much. For decades, J’onn was considered to be THE staple member of the Justice League. He appeared in nearly every incarnation of the team, which offset how little juice he had in carrying his own solo series, no matter how many times they tried.

Eventually, J’onn was reunited with his people and went on to rule Mars. He was written out of comics for a while until being brought back into the Justice League fold. I seem to remember that he had to save Earth from his own people in the final adventure of the classic “Satellite-Era Justice League” (ie. the original version of the team that started in the 60’s and ended in the 80’s). There was a part where he challenged another Martian to a fight and while the narrative strictly said that they were both invisible during this fight, the artist drew them like normal anyway.

Things got pretty dark for Martian Manhunter around this time. He was on the outs with his race. He joined the infamously bad Justice League Detroit (otherwise known as Aquaman leading a team of angsty teenagers) and ended up becoming the leader towards the end, only to have a couple of the kids tragically die on his watch. Then after Crisis on Infinite Earths changed continuity, it also reshaped J’onn’s origin. J’onn’s insane brother unleashed a plague upon Mars that wiped out everyone but J’onn himself. Not only did Dr. Erdel’s machine pull him from space, but also from time. The destruction of Mars was thousands of years ago. Like Superman, he was the last of his kind… until they brought in guys who were also Martians down the line.

It picked up for J’onn, though. He had a big role in Justice League International, known for being the fun and funny era. He mainly played the straight man to jokey characters Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Thanks to Captain Marvel, he was also turned onto Oreo cookies (later renamed Chocos due to trademark) and became addicted. He also led his own Justice League side-team called Justice League: Task Force and nothing of note came from that other than the time he temporarily turned himself female.

Every now and then, J’onn and the Justice League would have to face the White Martians, a genetic offshoot who were more dedicated to war while the Green Martians were more peaceful. The most famous of these battles was the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Justice League run where a team of superheroes came to Earth to create a utopia while antagonizing the Justice League. Batman figured out that they were White Martians in disguise and easily defeated them thanks to their weakness of fire.

Fire is something all Martians fear, though it’s shown to be more of a psychological weakness than physiological. In other words, fire only hurts J’onn because he lets it. He briefly got together with a reformed fire-based villain named Scorch, who helped him get over his fear of fire. This turned out disastrous. We found out that eons ago, when the Martians were still primitive life forms, they were both bloodthirsty and virtually unstoppable. The Guardians of the Universe (Green Lantern’s bosses) were concerned with what this would mean if the Martians could evolve to figure out space flight. They intervened and subdued the entire race, injecting them all with a fear of fire as a way to keep them all in check.

No longer bound by this gigantic weakness, J’onn became corrupted by this savage, forgotten piece of his bloodline. He became a beast known as Fernus the Burning and showed that he was really the most powerful member of the League all along, as even Superman was helpless against him. Turned out Batman had a solution to this situation as well by siccing Plastic Man on him. Plastic Man’s immune to mind control and has a better grasp on shapeshifting, so he was able to help take down the mad Martian. J’onn and Fernus were separated from each other as two different identities in the end.

Nothing much happened with J’onn for a while. After Infinite Crisis, he got a new look that looked closer to his pure Martian form, mainly due to his pessimism towards humanity. This was for his new solo series which once again sold like shit and was canceled. J’onn was killed by Libra and the Secret Society of Supervillains in the story Final Crisis. Sweetly enough, Batman visited J’onn’s tomb and left a single Choco cookie.

J’onn returned from the grave during Blackest Night as one of the more unbeatable walking corpses. At the end of the story, he was one of the dozen characters fully resurrected. J’onn then starred in the series Brightest Day, where he was able to make Mars fertile again and ended up clashing with an insane Green Martian D’kay. J’onn had to kill D’kay and destroy the budding life on Mars, showing that in the end, Earth was his only true home.

With the New 52 reboot, J’onn had never joined the Justice League in the past but instead was part of Stormwatch, a cloak and dagger superhero organization. There, J’onn fought against evil from the shadows, but eventually left the team and removed all their memories of him being there in the first place. Since then, Martian Manhunter has been brought into the Justice League of America, the US government’s personal team meant to counter the regular Justice League if they ever get out of line. Martian Manhunter is there to deal with Superman.

Probably the saddest depiction of J’onn is in Kingdom Come, the dystopian future storyline. In order to give Superman vs. Captain Marvel more gravitas, J’onn had to be taken off the table. He appeared in one scene to aid Batman, depicted as a gibbering and mentally broken John Jones who could barely function after trying to open his mind to all of humanity. Poor guy.

One of the better Martian Manhunter stories is New Frontier, which exists as both a wonderful graphic novel and a pretty good animated film. When showing off his hybrid superhero appearance to a human friend, he was flatly told, “Real men wear pants.” And that’s a fair point because, really, what the hell is that outfit?

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This Week in Panels: Week 199

July 15th, 2013 Posted by Gavok


Yo. Welcome to This Week in Panels. Posted this later than I wanted to thanks to spending the entire day working/watching Evo/watching Money in the Bank. I’m tired.

My panel crew this week is made up of Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Jody, Space Jawa, Was Taters and the grand return of one David Brothers! Remember, next week is Week 200 and that’s when I’ll be doing This Character in Panels. I have a lot of great stuff so far and if you have anything you want represented, by all means send me a line. Deadline is July 21st.

Remember that it should be one panel (not a sequence or splash page) and try to have the issue number, writer and artist.

Meanwhile, after seeing Pacific Rim the other day, I ended up buying tickets for my first ever Kaiju Big Battel show this Saturday. This will be a few hours after my next improv performance, this time at the UCB Theater in Chelsea at 1:15. If you’re in the area, check it out.

Now roll that beautiful bean footage.

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search Part 2
Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

Batman #22 (Taters’ pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #22 (Gavin’s pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

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This Week in Panels: Week 198

July 7th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. The ThWiP wheels keep turning and it’s been a great week of stuff, especially because of Batman ’66 gracing our digital devices. Also, Venom has bitching art and Deadpool Kills Deadpool cleans off the stink that came from Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe… even if it killed off Golden-Age Deadpool from that comic one-shot that only I and four other people read from three years ago. Speaking of Deadpool comics that are no longer bad, Daniel Way is off Thunderbolts and it’s already much, much better and comprehensible.

My helpers this week are Gaijin Dan, Matlock, Space Jawa and Jody. Speaking of helpers, thanks to the many people who have already contributed to This Character in Panels. Keep it coming! The deadline is July 21st.

Adventures of Superman #10
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Wes Craig

Avengers #15
Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Stefano Caselli

Avengers AI #1
Sam Humphries and Andre Lima Araujo

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This Week in Panels: Week 197

June 30th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Getting closer and closer to the 200th week, it’s This Week in Panels! Got a lot of stuff for this entry, helped out by the likes of Gaijin Dan, Matlock, Was Taters, Space Jawa and Jody, so a big thank you to all of them. Unfortunately, nobody read Captain America this week of all weeks. Not that I expect Jody, since he’s of the Canadian persuasion.

This coming Saturday, I’m going to be performing improv at the UCB East theater in the East Village. So for anybody in New York with time and five bucks to spare, go check it out. Jokes will happen!

Age of Ultron #10AI
Mark Waid and Andre Lima Araujo

All-Star Western #21 (Matlock’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

All-Star Western #21 (Gavin’s pick)
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

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This Week in Panels: Week 196

June 23rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome! It’s time again for This Week in Panels. A good sprinkling of random stuff this week, brought to us by myself, Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and Jody. Jawa has another My Little Pony comic panel included, meaning like clockwork, someone in the comments will complain about it.

While Batman and _____ has become inadvertently hilarious after Robin’s death, this issue takes the cake. Not that it tops the time Batman cut apart Frankenstein to see if he can use the same technology to turn Damian into the patchwork undead, but it’s the timing. Snyder’s Batman has shown him out of control and mad at himself, but there’s a sense of grounded sympathy in there and Batman’s shown as trying to work through it. Morrison’s Batman Incorporated shows Batman dealing with his grief via going over-the-top ridiculous in his attacks on Talia. Not to mention, both of those comics are taking breaks from all of that. Batman is doing Year Zero while Incorporated did a one-off about the Japanese Batman.

So when I see Batman’s still being an unbelievable super prick in Batman and Batgirl, I can’t help but think, “Oh yeah… Damian’s dead, isn’t he.”

Now panels.

Age of Ultron #10 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and various others

Age of Ultron #10 (Matlock’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and various others

Animal Man #21
Jeff Lemire, Steve Pugh and Francis Portela

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The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings: Part Seven

June 18th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

80) Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – SEBASTIAN

Tekken Tag 2 has a roster of nearly every Tekken character ever and when it came time for downloadable content, they tried to fill in every gap possible. That included including Sebastian, Lili’s elderly and loyal butler. Fittingly, he fights just like her.

His ending has a neat chiaroscuro style where it’s in black and white with only whiteness for the background. All we can see are the limo, Sebastian and Lili. Lili sits in silence, obviously too annoyed for words. Sebastian drives and offers to calm her down with some music. He turns on the radio and hears a ecstatic DJ.

“The results of the last tournament are in! No one expected that this wildcard would appear from out of nowhere to claim the top prize! Yes, we’re talking about Sebastian! Who could’ve imagined this would happen? But ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a new martial arts champion!”

Sebastian begins to panic as Lili remains silently pissed. Sebastian keeps changing the radio station, but on every station, people are excitedly talking about how he won the King of Iron Fist tournament and that he’s this amazing inspiration. Growing increasingly afraid, Sebastian starts attacking the radio itself.

The radio is turned off and they reach their destination. Sebastian lets Lili out and she takes a second to begrudgingly congratulate him on his win. Sebastian, relieved, thanks her.

79) Street Fighter Alpha 3 – GUILE

I touched on this last article, but one of the annoying things about the Street Fighter Alpha endings was how by being a prequel, it locks certain storytelling options. For instance, Chun-Li can defeat Bison, but then he’ll just get up and hospitalize her because he’s going to survive into Street Fighter II. The worst offender for all of this was Charlie. Charlie was known before this game as that guy who Guile had to avenge. That meant Charlie had to die.

Until the next game, where they’d bring him back because the last game no longer counted. And they’d kill him again.

The problem was that Charlie kept dying like a punk. In the first Alpha, he defeats Bison and gets on his walky-talky. This gives Bison the chance to get back up, pounce onto him and kill him. Then in Alpha 2, Charlie defeats Bison and gets gunned down by a military helicopter whose pilot was bought off by Shadaloo. Charlie falls off a cliff, presumably to his death. While X-Men vs. Street Fighter was never going to be canon, his ending is simply that he’s captured by Shadaloo and painfully tortured to death. The poor guy doesn’t even get to die with dignity.

(Yeah, yeah, I know that X-Men vs. Street Fighter one led to him becoming Shadow in the sequels, but that was retroactive context)

Guile’s storyline in Alpha 3 is that he’s sent to go find his good friend Charlie and bring him home from his mission because he’s too personally invested. There’s probably some unsaid political corruption in there too that Guile doesn’t know about. He finds Charlie and subdues him, but tells him that he still understands the importance of the mission and will help out, even if he isn’t the hero Charlie is. He defeats Bison, who slinks off to go recharge his batteries.

Guile and Charlie look around the Shadaloo base, find the room with the Psycho Drive and plant a whole bunch of bombs. Bison appears and badly wounds Charlie, laughing about how pets are worthless once they have their own free will. He flies at Guile to finish him off with the Psycho Crusher, but Charlie intercepts him.

Charlie orders him to leave before the place goes up. Guile escapes, seeing the Shadaloo base reduced to a mushroom cloud. From there, he and Chun-Li lament the loss of Charlie. Guile tries to believe that Charlie is still alive somewhere out there.

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This Week in Panels: Week 195

June 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to Scott Snyder in Panels, considering we’ve got six of those and four of them in a row to start. My peeps are Gaijin Dan, Jody, Was Taters, Space Jawa and Matlock. Matlock gives me a panel for Injustice: Gods Among Us that goes against my “no final page” clause, but it’s Injustice (meaning who cares?) and it’s a great panel.

I did make sure to enforce my “splash pages don’t equal panels” clause, which is a shame, as Venom features a page where Flash Thompson uses his symbiote on a car. Yes, there is a Venom-Mobile with teeth and a license plate that says “AGENT VENOM”. It’s beautiful.

To think that in the last couple years, Marvel’s been able to take all of worst parts of Spider-lore and make them work. Kaine, the Other, Carnage and now the idea of a spider-based car. Maybe soon we’ll see Lady Ock do something impressive.

American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell
Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #21 (Jody’s pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #21 (Taters’ pick)
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 4

June 13th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

While E3 is mostly remembered for the shellacking Sony is giving to Microsoft (oh my God!), they’ve also shown off the fourth DLC character for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Then Conan O’Brien got to feature the reveal on his show, making it official. This will be the last character for the season pass, but there are strong hints that we’ll be getting more in the future. Martian Manhunter, definitely.


Alias: Dru-Zod
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (1961)
Powers: You know all that crap Superman does? He does that.
Other media: Other than his obvious movie appearances, he’s sort-of-but-not-quite appeared in the cartoons, Smallville and was in both a novel the Last Days of Krypton and a choose-your-own adventure book I remember owning when I was 8

I can’t think of a comic character who owes more to an actor’s portrayal than General Zod. It’s not like all the other memorable villain portrayals like Lex Luthor, Bane and Joker. If it wasn’t for Terence Stamp, not a single person would give a damn about Zod except for writers who love tossing in obscure supervillains that only the hardcore have heard of before.

Zod appeared in the early days of the Silver Age where he looked like M. Bison dressed in green while forgetting to wear pants. He was charged with trying to take over Krypton with his army of Bizarro soldiers and got sentenced to 40 years in the Phantom Zone, the dimensional prison of no escape (except when someone escapes). Superboy found out about that and released Zod once his time was up. Zod tried to take over Earth a handful of times and constantly got tossed back into the Phantom Zone. Since he was a soldier, he had an edge over Superman and was one of the few Silver Age characters who was stronger than the Man of Steel.

Superman II came out in 1980 and led to more appearances by Zod. Nothing memorable to mention, really. The Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot kicked in and DC practically took Zod off the table. With continuity made simple, there were some ground rules to Post-Crisis DC. For one, Superman had to be the ONLY Kryptonian. He was the Last Son of Krypton. That was his thing! So of course, within two years of this change, writer John Byrne decided to introduce Zod and Supergirl. Luckily, he had an out. They were from an alternate universe! …Except DC mandated that there could be no more alternate universes. That was the problem that got them into having to write Crisis in the first place. Byrne instead claimed they were from a “pocket dimension”. How that makes it right, I have no idea.

In this “pocket dimension”, Zod’s basic storyline still happened, only he killed Superboy with the help of his lieutenants Quex-Ul (essentially Non) and Faora (essentially Ursa) and annihilated much of the planet. Superman was asked to help out and defeated the three via exposing them to gold kryptonite, which permanently removed their powers. Zod warned Superman that they’d get their powers back, find out where he lived and kill his planet. Superman decided he had a point and killed the three with green kryptonite just to be sure. Then he moped around for a while because of it. Also, Supergirl came back with him, but she was manmade, so it didn’t step on the “no Kryptonians” edict.

DC Comics tried so, so hard to make Zod relevant again over the years. After all, he was the villain from the last good Superman movie. They had to make him a big deal in the comics. They came up with certain weird ideas. Or should I say other weird ideas.

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