Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Look, over there...!

Since I'm currently struggling to write a couple pieces for something resembling your reading pleasure, I thought I'd post a shiny thing to distract you. Thanks to Ken at Ringwood for posting the original image, like, five years ago.

UPDATE: Instead of spending the day writing, I tried to make the image funnier. Hope it worked.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Me love you no time

Well, so much for lonely American geeks scoring with Japanese chicks. They've got plenty of weirdos who won't leave their computers over there they don't want.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Because There's Something Wrong with Me...

I just bought 25 of these on eBay. Twenty-five.

(That's a pin, in case you couldn't tell.)

Also, the vile influence of Johnny Bacardi caused me to buy all nine issues of Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eden's Thriller. Of my own accord I also purchased a Gladiator/Supreme crossover by Keith Giffen and Ed Benes, and the six-issue Cy-Gor mini-series by Rick Veitch and some guy named Joel Thomas. All 'cause I can't pass up Keith Giffen (PUNX, anyone?), and Rick Veitch is equally unpassupable... except I couldn't bring myself to give Todd MacFarlane money for this Spawn spin-off. Sorry, Rick. I did buy The One and Bratpack, though. Forgive me?

Only three days left in The Great Flash Sale. They're going Fast! Har har!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

This Week in Hitler Comics:

Man, the neo-nazis must be stoked there's finally a comic book cover where Hitler's not being socked in the jaw.

Does Antarctic Press publish anything sans Hitler or nazis? They're like the History Channel of comics over there. (And do people still get "stoked"?)

Monday, May 31, 2004

Plugs, self-serving and otherwise

Seems there's a retailer, Brave New World Comics by name, offering to sell folks AIT/PlanetLar books with free shipping should they be unable to find said books in their local store. Nice way to get the word out, and who doesn't like free shipping? Check the Delphi thread linked above, call 661-259-4745 or send an email to atom@bravenewworldcomics.com. I like Jim Krueger's Foot Soldiers a lot, and Matt Fraction & Kieron Dwyer's Last of the Independents ain't half bad. Sky Ape is just stupid, but you can read it just fine.

Now, personally, I don't have this problem. I do mail order with the fine Galaxy Comics, run by one Steven Huber and recently relocated to Virginia. Steven's good about getting me what I want, pretty much whenever I want it, so long as it's in stock somewhere on the planet. Isn't that what selling comics is all about? "I'm your pusherman," and all that.

This means, though, that I don't frequent my local shop as often as I should. Kind of rotten, I know, and the owners are great, don't get me wrong. I'm just not too hip to the Magic/Pokemon/random card game crowd. They have gotten a sizeable TPB/graphic novel selection as of late, and that's always good.

And now for the self-serving part: I'm selling crap on eBay again, pretty good crap this time. It's a sizeable chunk of Mark Waid's run on The Flash, issues 93-152, minus the stuff by Morrison and Millar. Sorry, it's just not in me to part with Grant Morrison stuff. But if you want the Waid stuff, with art by Mike Wieringo, Salvador Larroca, Pauls Ryan and Pelletier, and a few other guys, visit my beautiful eBay auctions page and love me with money.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

My Girlfriend Can Beat Up Your Girlfriend

DO THE CRUSHER, YOU TURKEYNECKS!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Monkey Time

I hate commercials, normally. They're typically vapid and vague, insulting your intelligence while making it hard to figure out just what the hell you're being sold. Is it a car? Life insurance? Lawn furniture? Weed killer? Feminine deoderant spray? That's why these Chips Ahoy commercials are so awesome, especially the one pictured to the right. But don't take my word for it. Click this here, watch it and download it, along with the others in the series. You'll need Shockwave for the page and Quicktime for the video downloads. Thanks to Loose Moose for making a worthwhile batch of commercials.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Learning to Back a Winner

I have a problem. It's eBay, but it's more specific than that. It's comics, but it's more specific than that. It's even more specific than buying comics on eBay. I've never bought more than, say, 20 comics at a time, in one lot. But I've always had a penchant for series that turn out short-lived, and they seem to get new life thanks to a marketplace like eBay. Sure, I'm surrounded by brilliant detritus already: Keith Giffen and Mike McKone's Vext, Dan Raspler and Dev Madan's Young Heroes in Love, Christopher Priest and Chriscross's Xero, and Priest and James Fry's Concrete Jungle #1 (quite likely the best first issue I've read of anything, ever, and also the only issue of the six-issue series published). But that's all stuff I bought as it came out.

Just what have I acquired from eBay recently? Let's see...

  • Kid Eternity, by Ann Nocenti and Sean Phillips, all 16 issues.
  • Chronos, by John Francis Moore and Paul Guinan, 1-11 (all but #1,000,000)
  • Chase, by Dan Curtis Johnson, JH Williams III, and Mick Gray (still incomplete, damnation)
  • Man-Thing by JM DeMatteis and Liam Sharp, 1-7
  • The Minx, by Peter Milligan and Sean Phillips, all eight issues

    And just today... ah, today: Slingers 1-12, including all variants and the Wizard #0 issue, arrived in the mail. Why? Mostly because I love Chriscross's art. I don't really know anything about the series, other than it was one of Joe Harris's first big gigs, and Spider-Man went crazy for a little while, took on four new costumes and identities, and this is about the kids who take on those identities when Spidey sanes up. Okay, so it doesn't sound spectacular, but I'm a sucker for stories about kids who get powers and abilities thrown at 'em. Also, with shipping, it only cost six bucks.

    My name is Mark, and I love loser comics.

  • Sunday, May 23, 2004

    Totally Sunday

    Very lazy. Spent the week reading things like the new Firestorm, the latest Fabels trade (which will soon be on its way to Amelie — it's the first Fables-thing I actually got to read before her), the most recent issues of Wildcats 3.0, and trying to figure out just what the fuck's going on over at Marvel. There's a link between all these things, at least in my mind, and if I become coherent enough this week to suss it all out, I'll post about it.

    I also updated the sidebar, there. How 'bout it?

    Meanwhile, see if you like anything I've got for sale on eBay. More stuff might be going up this week. Whoo, buddy.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Mondo Monday Postamundo

    Welcome to the aftermath of my "Comics I Shouldn't Own" series. Look below for the entries, until I maybe get off my lazy ass and change my sidebar.

    I'd like to give some shouts out* to the folks that made last week's postings possible:

    First, to my brilliant, talented, tasty, crunchy Amelie, aka Bunky, who loves me enough to read my stupid crap ahead of time, and loves me enough to not tell me it sucks.

    And Ken Lowery of Ringwood Ragefuck for his links and comments and what not. And all the other people who left comments, here and elsewhere, who think this stuff was worth reading and that I'm actually going to do this with some sort of regularity. Suckers.

    And leave us not forget Larry Young and Brandon McKinney for their awfully damned neat Planet of the Capes graphic novel. Everyone really should own it, even me. Stay tuned to Ringwood Ragefuck for more planety, capey goodness.

    And thanks, of course, to the writers, artists, editors, and staff who had some hand in getting those shitty, shitty comics to press. None of this would have been possible without you guys!

    Now, start praying for my sake that I don't have the idiocy to read that copy of Sleepwalker I dug up. I hear it's "Sandman done right."


    *[seems more gramatically correct to me]

    Saturday, May 15, 2004

    Comics I Shouldn't Own, Part 5:

    Daredevil #305: "Under the Knife" and
    Daredevil #306: "Emergency Procedure"

    SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: THESE COMICS SUCK SO BAD. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW, DUDE. I'M SERIOUS. DON'T BE SURPRISED IF YOU READ THESE AND YOUR BRAIN FALLS OUT THROUGH YOUR ASS.

    Daredevil's been around awhile and seems to mean something different to everyone who writes him. For Stan Lee he was a blind swashbuckler just this side of Spider-Man. To Frank Miller he was a tormented Catholic in love with a woman who was his opposite number in every way — he a lawyer, she an assassin, blah blah blah grievous chest wound. Karl Kesel, in a brief but exceptional run, brought Matt back into the courtroom and livened him up a bit after dour runs by guys like J.M. DeMatteis and D.G. Chichester. And what's up with the initials, huh? The point is, if these last two are any indication, if Brian Bendis went by B.M. Bendis not only would his run suck, the nutsacks on his forum would have a field day with the initials "B.M."

    D.G. Chichester, though... this was my first exposure to Daredevil. I paid money for these two comics, as well as several around them. And attempting to read this terrible dialogue and captions filled with purple prose — "Life is horribly cheap in the big city... but someone's found a way of turning a profit by selling the parts wholesale. Inside, something tears loose at the tragedy of it all. Inside, something begins to twist and rage..." — makes me wonder why I haven't set fire to every Daredevil comic I've seen since, regardless of writer.

    The woman on the cover who looks like Judy Garland by way of ER starring Silver Sable is... jeezus, I don't even want to type this out. She's... gah... "Surgeon General." And what she does, see, she seduces guys in clubs using sub-Elimidate level dialogue, lures them back to bare apartments, and cuts out their organs to sell on the black market. And for this she gets called "Surgeon General"? I could see "Cutress," maybe, or perhaps "Transplantra" might have made more sense.

    DD finds one of her victims on a park bench, fights off some thugs, and takes the guy to the ER. Then he gets the bright idea to use Peter Parker, Spider-Man, as bait, since Transplantra likes the athletic types. Being married and not much of a jerk, Peter resists the idea, but eventually concedes, going to clubs, hitting on women who somehow don't notice his 1970s pornstar moustache, waiting for his Spider-Sense to kick in when Judy comes near. She does, and she and Peter Porner head for the roof. While Peter has his back turned, she goes behind the bar that's on the roof and changes into her scrubs, complete with knock-out gas tank on her back and a bandolier full of syringes and test tubes.

    And this is pretty much the problem, right here. Well, other than Daredevil just throwing Peter off the roof to "safety," and managing to get slashed and gassed by this woman after having spent years fighting things like huge groups of ninjas and his psycho hosebeast assassin girlfriend. No, the problem is, in superhero comics, you can't have a serial killer — or, as Doc Dorothy is called, a "serial attacker" — that just, y'know, kills people. You gotta dress up like an overachieving internist if you want to slash people in the MU. Even Batman, with his flamboyant rogue's gallery, has one just-plain-crazy serial killer, that Mr. Zsasz guy who cuts himself every time he offs somebody.

    Did I mention this woman's real name is "Angeline Kutter"?

    So, that's issue #305. What happens in #306? More running around and fighting, really. All with fabulous Scott McDaniel early 1990s art. It's a good indication of why he switched to a darker, more stylized form of art shortly hereafter: people with bad anatomy look better grimacing in the dark.

    Two things confuse me about these comics: 1) Just how the hell do Spider-Man's "spider-tracers" work? Those little red spider-shaped things? He picks up on 'em with his "spider-sense," but... does that mean there's something dangerous to him in there? Maybe a picture of him and Flash Thompson, ah... studying? And B) Why the fuck does it take TWO ISSUES for Spider-Man and Daredevil to stop what's basically a grumpy, stabby nurse? And they really don't do much of anything to stop her; she accidentally cuts her own wrist while attempting to rage on Daredevil with a scalpel and... that's it. She drops to her knees, asks what she's done, says she feels cold, and... it's over. All that after two issues, from two guys who've fought hordes of ninjas — ninjas, I might add, who carry swords much bigger than scalpels — and nutjobs in fright masks with exploding pumpkins.

    BONUS "WHAT ELSE WAS MARVEL PUBLISHING AT THIS TIME" TIDBIT: "Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book" by Evan Dorkin, that's what. Perhaps the only decent thing published by Marvel that whole year, it only lasted 12 issues. I have a complete run that I bought as they were published, and a near-complete back-up set that I got in the quarter bin a couple of years ago. This is the same shop I bought the Bill and Teds from initially, all those years ago, just with a different owner. So in a way I reunited them with their brothers. Slave Labor Graphics will be reprinting "Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book" in a couple of trade paperbacks sometime soon. I suggest you all keep an eye out.

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    Comics I Shouldn't Own, Part 4:

    Planet of the Capes GN

    I've been wary of AT Comics since Larry Young took over the company from his wife's father in the late 1990s. Thanks to my father's collection, which he started as a lad back before Nixon stomped Kennedy for the first of three times, I've read nearly every AT comic ever published. Even my grandfather read AT comics, but times being what they were, paper was needed for the war effort and not many of those comics survived the 1940s. I read these comics as a child, as did my father and his father, and me and pops have spent many evenings together reading the musty old four-color adventures of The Planet's Best Heroes.

    But Young — or, alternately, "Uncle Lar," as he obviously fancies himself a new Jim Shooter, the jubilant, friendly shill we knew and loved in decades past — swiftly ran AT Comics into the ground, turning it into his own vanity press for such drivel as "Astronauts in Trouble" and paranoid liberal claptrap from his friends like "Channel Zero." Sacrificed on this altar were the heroes featured in this "graphic novel" (fancy-pants words for "thick comic book"): Justice Hall, Strongman Schaff, Kastra, and granddaddy of 'em all — no pun intended! — Grand.

    Now, Young knows these heroes. I've seen pictures of him as a boy, dearly clasping a tattered and much-loved copy of Junior Grand #145. This has proven itself nothing more than a cynical tactic to fool fans into thinking he's one of us, and being myself a lifetime member in good standing of the Ravens of Justice fan club made his destruction of this company and its characters all the harder to watch.

    He knows these characters, all right. He knows them just enough to cause trouble.

    Justice Hall is, no doubt, the perfect choice; forgetting that Justice Brinks ever existed is the best thing anyone can do, in or out of the AT universe. I grew up with Justice Hall, and so did my father; the grief we felt at his replacement by the younger, hipper Brinks is unfathomable, and it pleased us both greatly to see Hall in this book. I still have my Junior Federalist Card I got upon entering middle school, as I'm sure most kids do. Getting to choose our favorite comics hero made it all the more fun, and I had known since preschool mine would be emblazoned with Justice Hall, just like my father's. (Grandpa had the Golden Age Grand on his, but we won't hold that against him!)

    Much as I love Justice Hall and all the Ravens before him, it's great to see Kastra, princess of an alien race, and Strongman Schaff again! Schaff had been in Action Team Comics in the 1960s for the briefest while, but was kicked off that team and spun off into his own book. Always a bit of a mystery, we knew he had ties to The Fez, as shown in this comic, but it was always kept mysterious, and only the barest clues were given as to his true origin. UNTIL NOW! In the only piece of brilliance in this book, Young connects Schaff and Kastra definitively, showing that it was The Fez who joined with Kastra's own father! (This whole scene is in glorious color, not the dull, splotchy black and white that AT switched to with Young's takeover. Hopefully this is a sign of better, more colorful things to come!) Kastra having been a fairly minor character left room for this fleshing out and connecting of origins, and I hope future writers — anyone but Young! John Byrne, maybe...? — play it up a little.

    But Grand... the First Hero and template for all heroes who followed, was left the same Grand we saw at the closing of the AT universe. Arrogant, mealy-mouthed, disgraceful, all attributes picked up in a terrible, disrespectful storyline from the mid-1990s that's best left not talked about. I'm sure you all heard about it, and I'm sure Young was the only one pleased by it. I read it. I didn't like it, but I read it, and kept reading in hopes things would turn around. Before that could happen, though, Young took over and AT stopped regular production of its superhero comics. At one point early in the story Grand is shown turning his back on a young fan seeking an autograph, something the Grand of my youth, and the youths of my father and grandfather, would never do. And later in the book, left trapped in a parallel universe, he allows a young man to fall to his death. The disaster on the dam is exciting, I admit, and I can't wait to see Kastra and Schaff swim to safety and follow up on the revelation of their shared origins.

    The fight between Justice Hall and Grand, however, is troubling, both violent — gory, even — and seemingly final. Grand, I'm sure, will come back; he always does. Justice Hall might have a harder time of it, but... well, this is a parallel world, isn't it? Who knows how many more there might be, and who might be found on those worlds?

    I don't think everyone's as dead as the back cover blurb would have us believe!

    BONUS AT UNIVERSE TRIVIA: The Justice Hall Broadway musical was in the planning stages for many years, but plans fell through when Nathan Lane got too chunky to convincingly play the hero on stage!

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    Comics I Shouldn't Own, Part 3:

    Deathstroke the Terminator #14:
    TOTAL CHAOS! Part 1 of Godpleasekillme

    Back in the early 1990s, when Marvel was still reeling from the loss of its most popular artists to the Image Emigration, DC Comics was... also publishing comics. Except, as mentioned earlier, I wasn't reading any of them. The one DC book that managed to break through my DC embargo around this time was Batman Vs. Predator, 'cause HOLY CRAP IT'S BATMAN VERSUS A PREDATOR. Pouty X-Men wannabes dressed in the height of 1970s fashion weren't going to cut it. This issue kicks off DC's stab at turning their Titans characters into a franchise, starting with what, by this time, was becoming standard operating procedure for the House of X: a convoluted crossover.

    Initially the Teen Titans were characters with no real identity of their own, mostly sidekicks ("Hey, aren't you that smooth, young boy that hangs out with Batman?" "I'm his fucking ward, damn it!" Wait a sec... Burt Ward... "his youthful ward Dick Grayson"... Sergeant York!). Eventually, though, as the years wore on and Marv Wolfman wrote more and more comics, others such as Starfire, Cyborg, Green Boy, and Cloak Mistress started showing up. They built up an impressive cast of supporting characters, including Deathstroke.

    Slade Wilson is Deathstroke the Terminator! Overbearing name, isn't it? And those flared boots? If I had to guess, I'd say he was designed by George Perez in the 1970s, along with a true favorite of mine, the Taskmaster, Man of Photographic Muscle Mystery!

    Deathstroke #14 opens with a page one splash of... a bunch of crap. The Team Titans are there, as is some Las Vegas drag queen in golden Thor headwings called Lord Chaos, the regular-type Titans, and Donna Troy with her husband, the red-headed cousin of Norm Abram from The New Yankee Workshop. It says a bunch of shit about time travel and someone stopping someone from something, but honestly, who cares? Isn't this a book about an assassin?

    We then see Dick Grayson aka Robin All Growed Up aka Nightwing sporting a fab goatee, wearing a natty brown suit, trying to look inconspicuous while standing next to a seven-foot-tall orange woman. To be fair, though, she's wearing sunglasses, so probably no one's going to recognize her, I bet.

    This orange woman is Starfire, an outer-space princess purported to be a supermodel in the world of the DCU. I call no-fucking-way on that. Jade, daughter of Alan Scott, sure; she just looks like a white chick who happens to be green, much like Tyra Banks or Beyonce Knowles with her new, whiter nose. Starfire, though, has eerie orange skin, long kinky hair, creepy cheeks, and those ghoulish, dead eyes. Maybe the general populace are more willing to accept orange space princesses than I suspect, but I doubt it.

    Garth Greenly aka Changeling aka Beast Boy aka Sweet Daddy Greenmullet remarks that he wants to see Wilson pay for killing his own son, some guy and I think former Teen Titan named Jericho, even though in real world time that happened, like, 12 years ago. Redstar, I think his name is, tells Greenjeans that Jerry was "possessed by supernatural forces beyond [their] control," and wanted to be killed "before he destroyed the world." Greenthumb thinks Slade should have found another way, even though Jericho captured and tortured Greenie himself. But Redstar knows Slade's anguish, having offed his own fiancee before she could destroy the world. Or the city. Or whatever. The point is, I've always figured if there were genuine superpowered people there'd be a hell of a lot more random destruction, but I don't expect everyone involved to be related, or even know two of the same people.

    Slade Wilson is wanted by the CIA! They put out an A.P.B. for him, though I didn't know the CIA acted so police-y; always thought that was more the FBI's gig, but whatever. They want him, and his powers — just think Captain America with a gaudier suit, and holy shit, huh? — are failing him. I guess they didn't fail him good enough, because this series ran for FIVE YEARS. Wilson, wrapped in a tattered blanket, steals a suit from a conventiently placed men's shop that isn't open in the middle of the day, which also happens to have a duffle bag that he stuffs his costume and gear in. The kids who stole Princess Peach's purse a few pages ago zoom by Wilson and steal his stolen duffle bag. The duffle bag, I should mention, has a comically large, orange sheath sticking out of it. Nightgoat and Her Royal Orangeness see Wilson manhandling a girl in cahoots with the skateboarding bag-snatcher, so Dickyboy rips off his suit and proceeds to get knocked on his ass TWICE by Slade, an old man with failing powers who spends the whole bout talking about how Grayson can never understand him. Lots of that in these kinds of stories, and also on teenage girls' LiveJournals. Slade catches up to the kids who stole his stuff, faces off with some goons who are hassling the kids, and puts his mask on, having ripped the stolen suit off during his fight with Nightwing. No subtext there, I'm sure. ("OMG thet jurk nytwing toe2ly tore mi nu soot........ hell neva undaztan mi!!!!111")

    Blah blah blah, Slade runs away, blah blah two pages of crap about Lord Chaos and the Team Titans (featuring an awesome Future-Nightwing wearing his yellow-accented disco suit BUT WITH SILVER SHOULDERPADS) blah blah blah Slade whines at his son's grave and then passes out in the sewer.

    in the midst of the blah blah we get two pages right out of the Chris Claremont book of What to Do with Broads in Comics: Donna Troy and her husband talk about her long career in stupid costumes, and she vows to give up heroing after the baby is born, leading me to assume she's pregnant and attempting to fight crime or whatever it was heroes did in the early 1990s. Tsk. That's not good for you or the fetus, Donna. They walk past a glassed-in cell (where the fuck do these people live, anyhow?) containing Redwing of the Team Titans — not to be confused with the Vanilla Titans Nightwing or Redstar, though being from the future she might somehow be their offspring. Ew. She tells Donna she can't have the baby, and guess why? "HE'LL DESTORY THE WORLD!" Yawn. Donna responds by falling on the floor with an ever-expanding stomach, probably to give birth next issue. And a SECOND Orange Space Princess shows up, in her old outfit with what on an action figure could only be called "Orange-Tits-Hang-Out Action!"

    This story continues in New Titans and the then-just-starting Team Titans. Man. Team Titans. When my girl and I met Phil Jimenez at an in-store appearance last summer, in addition to drawing a bad-ass King Mob headshot, he was practically apologetic about working on that book at all. I assured him it was okay, 'cause I hadn't read any of them. That seemed to come as a great relief to him.

    Too many characters. A book completely hijacked by a crossover. And angst for miles and miles and miles. Sure, the art's not as ugly as the Lee and Liefeld clones left behind at Marvel, but it's nothing exciting, either. DC was trying desperately to tap into the franchise appeal the X-Men then held for so many readers, but all they had to do it with were their house-style artists and characters that still dressed like ABBA was cool. Did I mention this series ran for SIXTY ISSUES?

    BONUS FUN FACT: If you think I read every word of this Marv Wolfman comic, please don't kid yourself. The best thing about this comic is the ad inside the back cover for "Martian Manhunter: American Secrets," because it reminds me how awesome Eduardo Barreto is.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004

    Comics I Shouldn't Own, Part 2:

    X-Force #26: Shadow on the Rock(!?)

    This comic practically makes me ashamed to have enjoyed Darko Macan and Igor Kordey's intelligent and snarky — if stupidly named — "Soldier X" series. If there's a (male) character that's been through more ridiculous, redundant, contradictory bullshit than Cable, I'll eat this comic. Oh, shit, Hawkman! Never mind.

    X-FORCE #26 COVER ROLE-CALL! REIGNFIRE! ROLLERGIRL! FOURARM! KNIFEY McSTICKERSON! None of whom show up until page 20! And that guy's real name, the one I called "Fourarm"? His name is... Forearm. God, fuck you, Rob Liefeld. I know you left this book 3 issues in, just like Jim Lee left X-Men and Todd MacFarlane left Spider-Man, the titles Marvel was nice (i.e. stupid) enough to create just for you guys, but fuck you for doing this to the world.

    Fabian Nicieza, though, he stuck around. And as affable a guy as Fabe is, he wrote some shitty comics "back in the day." Shitty, shitty comics that, no foolin', paid for a huge mansion in South America. And I'm sitting in my underwear making fun of crappy comics. You win this round, Fabian! BUT I'LL BE BACK!

    ... and I'm back.

    Cable got his ass handed to him by Magneto last issue, so this — according to the credits box — "X-FORCE IN YOUR BRAIN JAM" (tasty, tasty brain jam*) recounts his recovery, replete with bickering between the members of X-Force. And, making sure everyone knows this is a book based on Rob Liefeld characters, exactly one panel of Cable's three-page-long recovery features Cable with an awesome gay-rodeo moustache.

    The intervening pages concern themselves with Cable blaming himself for fucking these kids up, blaming himself for picking emotionally unstable kids for his team, and basically whining about hopping through time and never stopping to get to know anyone. And these are the kids he stops to fraternize with?

    X-FORCE ROLE-CALL! WARPATH! SIRYN! SHATTERSTAR! FERAL! BOOMER! RICTOR! CANNONBALL! SUNSPOT! CUBBY!

    [Editor's note: all these characters have powers. Just assume their powers relate retardedly close to their names, and you'll be Rob Liefeld. I mean... fine. You'll be fine.]

    Native American Warpath likes Irish Siryn, who's a secret-drunk who hits on long-braid-sporting alien-type Shatterstar, who likes nobody 'cause he's too busy being aloof and asexual, trying to "perfect his body" for no good reason. That makes catgirl Feral feel like a dumbass for swooning over him from afar. White girl Boomer, who changed her name from Boom-Boom because that was too stupid, likes white boy Cannonball, who's just found out he's immortal. That keeps him from getting too close, though vaguely Hispanic Rictor — whose real last name is... Richter — has no problem laying a big kiss on her. Cannonball is busy being both immortal and southern, speaking in a labored drawl where I = "Ah" and "y'all" is used when anyone who really uses it would just say "you." Oh, and Sunspot is from South America. It's your typical soap-operatic 1990s X-Men book, a typical "team slows down and argues after a big event" issue.

    Some of the team then leave for Asia to tell a former teammate that Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik, aka sister of X-Man Colossus, aka dead girl, is dead. I think she got better three or four times in the intervening years, though her brother now is very much dead. And then, with four pages to go — dunt dunt daaaaah! — a mysterious figure assaults a prison!

    Reignfire, in the X-traditional end-of-the-issue-villain-cameo appearance (See also: Apocalypse; Mr. Sinister), shows up to break out of jail former Mutant Liberation Front members Rollergirl, Fourarm, Knifey McStickerson, and, not pictured on the cover, Wildside, who is... wild. And also savage. And he's got the tall white hair to prove it! In the middle of a whole page of dialogue, Reignfire namedrops Stryfe, former leader of the MLF and clone of X-Force leader Cable. Really. This page of dialogue is kicked off by Wildside asking Reignfire who he is. Reignfire responds: "I AM THE STORM ON THE HORIZON. I AM THE SWELTERING TEMPEST WAITING TO ERUPT. I AM REIGNFIRE." Then I punch Fabian Nicieza in the nuts, and the issue is over.

    I'm pretty sure by the time X-Force #26 rolled around the world was, like, SO over X-Force. They should've shitcanned it as soon as Liefeld left, or at least played it off as a 12-issue limited series. Peter Milligan still could have created the ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT X-FORCE. It just would've been met with a plaintive "Hey, wasn't that a Rob Liefeld thing in the early 90s?" Just where all Liefeld creations should have been left. "Forearm." Fuck.

    * [The judges also would have accepted:
    "You got X-Force in my brain jam!"
    "You got brain jam in my X-Force!"] back

    BONUS INADVERTENTLY QUEER BULLPEN BULLETINS "ON SALE THIS WEEK" BLURB:

    PUNISHER #83:
    Frank's in jail and New York is in flames!

    That's... some mighty fine grimacing and sweating you've got going on there, Frank. C'mon, give us a little grunt.

    Monday, May 10, 2004

    Comics I Shouldn't Own, Part 1:

    Venom: Nights of Vengeance #3

    I'd like to state up front that I didn't pay for this comic. At some point in high school a friend of mine gave me a big pile of comics — I assume bought for cheap — because... I read comics. Now, you don't give someone who watches movies just any old video cassette you find laying around, so the "here's a pile of random-ass comics, 'cause you read comics" gift always baffles me. In some spirit or another, then, I rescued the aforementioned mouldering old comics (one entry down) and found along with them a stash of, uhm... less-than-inspiring mid-1990s Marvel Comics.

    This guy here, this is Vengeance. You know Ghost Rider, right? Kind of looks like this guy here? You can think of Vengeance as Carnage to Ghost Rider's Venom — a "kewl" version of an established character created to hep up a series. And that's all I really know about Vengeance. Take Ghost Rider, add horns and tusks, bigger spikes, bones instead of chains, and, if this issue is any indication, make him talk like a dipshit tough guy, though that may have more to do with Howard Mackie than the character himself. Except I'm pretty sure Mackie wrote the Ghost Rider series and probably "created" Vengeance, so... dipshit tough guy. Fire horns tusks spikes bones.

    And Venom. Poor Venom. Once the coolest cat on the block, a spit-dripping, brain-eating, Mary Jane Watson-Parker-frightening psychopath, reduced to the role of limp-dick anti-hero, saving hoo-mans and protecting bums who live underground in the ruins of the 1910 San Francisco earthquake. That happened in the Venom: Lethal Protector (Lethal Protector!?) mini-series that I threw away some years back. This issue stands as the sole survivor of my "Venom" collection, part of a series of mini-series that began with Lethal Protector and ended probably way too fucking late. (... the fuck is a "Lethal Protector," anyhow? I imagine it's like a pimp, only he doesn't take quite so much of your money, and he may or may not bitchslap you or eat your brains.)

    And if you're Howard Mackie and people won't pay you for sex, what better way to make money than to team up a neutered psychopathic villain and a Ghost Rider rip-off? In 1994, no better way at all.

    As the cover states, they are being "HUNTED!" by robot guys from space called "STALKERS." As opposed to being "STALKED" by robot guys from space called "HUNTERS" or Franklin. Venom, I sussed out, agreed to be HUNTED by robot space guys so they'd spare the lives of two chicks, Beck and Elizabeth, whom I shall henceforth call Elizabeck. Elizabeck are trapped in a UFO under a mountain. I guess the STALKERS put them there, but it doesn't seem so hard for Sean Knight, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., to save them with nothing but a handgun. After shooting a robot space octopus, the ship begins to assimilate them the same way I assume they assimilated the humans that used to be under the Warlock-from-New-Mutants-looking STALKERS. One of these STALKERS, I should mention, is fat, and his name is Kass. Oh, ho, Mackie, you clever bastard. I totally see what you did there.

    So these STALKERS, I guess, hunt things, need organic hosts to do so, and when one dies the others suck up his "life-force" or something. The Double-V Krew spend this comic beating on them, destroying two of them, which is OK, as Venom points out they're not human anymore, so he can punch them to death. But destroying them only makes the remaining hunter stronger, so it's not really OK at all!!! What's a hero to do!? Fuck if I know. This is the only issue I have.

    I've seen complaints that comics today are cynical, but to me there's nothing more cynical than pumping out Venom mini-series one after another with an obvious disregard for quality because you know dumbass fanboys and speculators will snap it up. The worst part is, this probably sold better than most of the current Top 100. The art is... well, I love Ron Lim, don't get me wrong. He wrapped up Infinity Gauntlet beautifully, not to mention the gorgeous art on Thanos Quest; I'm pleased as anything to see him return to the character on the monthly series as it's obviously close to his heart. This, though, is complete ass, a real "paycheck comic," as Christopher Priest calls 'em. But most of Marvel at this time was paycheck comics. It's a shame, because, uhm... well, it's on nice paper and has a nice cardstock cover. Too bad it's all dipshit-tough-guy-Ghost-Rider-rip-off dude, Venom calling himself "we" like the Queen of Fucking England, and Elizabeck as the interchangeable female victims. "Oh, who's crazier, Eddie Brock with his brain-eating and scaring Spider-Man's wife, or us for trusting him?" Go to hell, Elizabeck. And take this shitty comic with you.

    BONUS "VENOM IS A HUGE VAGINA" QUOTE: "Surrounded by drug smugglers! We hate people who sell the poison that takes the lives of so many innocent children!"