Batman: The Wrath

Mark Millar’s Nemesis wasn’t the first time an evil version of Batman was explored. Batman: The Wrath collects the appearances of the Dark Knight’s villainous doppelgänger.

Our introduction to Wrath comes back in 1984′s Batman Special by writer Mike W. Barr and penciller Michael Golden.  Apparently the murder of the Waynes wasn’t the only thing that happened in Crime Alley on June 26. At the same time a young Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents dying at the hands of a criminal, another young boy at the other end of the street had a similar experience. His thief parents were killed in a shoot-out by Commissioner Gordon.

That boy grew up to be Wrath, the police killing super villain. He’s back in Gotham City to kill Gordon, and has discovered that Bruce Wayne is Batman. This story ends with a few more plot swerves and Wrath falling victim to his own ego and burning to death. Well, at least Gordon is safe and Batman’s secret is intact.

Well, it wasn’t as we learn in the second half of the book. A story arc in Batman Confidential tells the part two to this story, as a new and better trained Wrath has shown up. Not only is he tied to his predecessor, but he too has a history with Gordon. Eep. It’s up to Batman and Nightwing to get to the bottom of this.

Tony Bedard’s writing carries on the mystery aspects of the first story and its a great mystery. Rags Morales’ art is top-notch, as it echos Golden’s style perfectly. So many trades are ruined when there are different artists on the book, as the style clash can be jarring. This isn’t a problem here.

That said, this is definitely worth checking out. It’s a great mystery/detective story.

Jimmy Olsen’s Blues

Did you know that twenty years ago this Spin Doctor’s song was promoted as a single? Their debut album Pocketful of Kryptonite came out in 1991 and this was chosen to be the first single off of the album. It’s chock full of Superman references, vaguely telling the story of how Jimmy Olsen seems to be a little smitten with a certain Lois Lane. Listening to this song and this album brings back memories of middle school.

Hawk and Dove #5

It really bums me out that this series is getting canceled this summer, but I’m going to enjoy what’s left of this series. The fifth issue of Hawk and Dove finishes up the first story arc with a conclusion to their feud with the villainous Condor.

Obviously they succeed and Deadman survives; there is an issue six you know. But the best part of the story was the relationship between Hawk and Dove. Obviously, they don’t like each other that much. But they do care about each other. Dove gets mad at him when he suggests that being in a relationship with Deadman might not be the healthiest thing for her. We’ve all been in that situation where we’ve had to tell a friend that, or heard that from someone else.

The book ends with Hawk being right, well sort of. Deadman dumps Dove because he feels he’s a threat to her safety. Poor Dove.

As you know, I’ve really been enjoying this series. Sterling Gates’ story has been fun and Rob Liefeld’s art has been bombastic as ever. Next issue sees Liefeld taking complete control of the book, and we get a visit from Batman. Sounds like fun.

Oh, and check out Liefeld’s homage to the original Hawk and the Dove #5 cover by Gil Kane!

X-Sanction #1

I feel kind of sorry for the X-Sanction mini-series. The creative team of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness have nothing to do with it. Unfortunately for X-Sanction, it comes before and is a prequel of sorts to the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men mega-crossover. That said, it still looks like an interesting book.

I can sum up this issue pretty quickly. Cable has been informed that Hope, the last mutant born after M-Day (the time Scarlet Witch wished all the mutants away) and his ersatz daughter, will be killed at the hands of the Avengers. Obviously, he’s not going to let that happens so our time-travelling cyborg mutant has his sights set on them. This issue has him taking out Falcon and ends with him in a position to literally pull the trigger on Captain America.

You can’t help but have that feeling that you know what is going to happen by the end of the mini series. Cable is going to do something drastic that is only going to widen the rift between two sides. I think I’m going to wait till this is in a hardcover or trade paperback format to continue reading. That’s no fault of Loeb or McGuinness; I just have too much other stuff already in the reading pile at this point.

Web of Spider-Man Annual #6

Let’s talk about Web of Spider-Man Annual #6. I remember getting this back in 1990 at a Caldor promotional event where they had some sort of special appearance with a guy in a Spider-Man costume and this issues was the “gift” for showing up. The cover may show a battle between Spidey and Psycho-Man but the best part of this annual was the back up story!

That story features a day at the mall with Mary Jane and Aunt May which gets interrupted by a gang of terrorists taking them hostage.

It’s up to the Punisher to save them, and with a little help from Aunt May he does just that. I’ll give you a small hint: there’s a fake heart attack involved.

There’s even a bit of fun trivia: this story is written by Gerry Conway and pencilled by Ross Andru. This is the same creative team that did Amazing Spider-Man #129–the first appearance of the Punisher!

The book has two other back-ups; one with Mary Jane on a trial jury and another about a baby getting the Captain Universe powers, but really everything in this book pales in comparison to the Aunt May/Punisher adventure. That alone makes this worth purchasing.

Did Darth Vader Appear In A Blondie Video?

When I was at the gym last night, they had this music video for Blondie’s “The Tide Is High” on. I’ve never seen it before and it left me with one question: WHAT WAS DARTH VADER DOING IN A BLONDIE VIDEO?

Seriously, there’s a stand in Darth Vader looking longingly at projections of Debbie Harry the whole time. What is up with that? And when Vader turns around, it looks like someone shoved his toaster in his face. What a weird video.

Avengers West Coast #60

So this was a weird issue. Avengers West Coast #60 was the pack in comic that comes with the Quicksilver and Wonder Man Marvel Universe action figure set. Reading it was like catching a movie after missing the first 35 minutes.

The issue starts with time traveling villain preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy–with no reason given. Just as you process that, the story jumps to the Avengers West Coast’s base in California which was damaged from a recent attack. They really don’t explain what had happened, but the point is made that everyone thinks that USAgent is a bit of a tool and that they want Hawkeye to take a more active leadership role in the team, which anyone can understand.

The story then jumps again to Asteroid M, where Magneto and Scarlet Witch are trying to get Quicksilver to join their latest evil family scheme, to which he says no. They battle, Quicksilver pulls the teleporting Inhuman dog Lockjaw out of his belt (apparently Pietro likes to carry this poor animal around at all times), and they all reappear at the West Coast compound. There’s fighting and the book ends with Immortus claiming Scarlet Witch as his bride. Wow.

Writers Roy Thomas and Dann Thomas seem to have written this issue in the story of what would be known as crash television in professional wrestling circles. For those of you who don’t know, that’s the style of writing a wrestling program where things are constantly happening in a jarring manner that was super popular in the late 1990s. This comic–even though it debuted way before the crash tv era in wrestling–is a perfect example of it.

I’m all confused now so I think I’ll take a nap.

Bane vs. Bane

Let’s talk about Bane for a little bit. The co-villain of Christopher Nolan’s next Batman film has been the topic of a lot of conversation because of, well, how incomprehensible in a conversation he is. I’m not going to worry about that.

Instead I’m going to talk about his appearance. As he appeared in the comics, Bane looks like a huge professional wrestler, wearing a lucha mask. Nolan’s take on the character isn’t necessarily the same,but there is a similarity in the mask design.

The two are based on creating the illusion of negative space through a contrasting light and dark color scheme. Both feature wide eyes. It makes sense to me now, even though I was initially bothered by the design.

You can view the latest trailer below, which has a whole lot of Bane in action.

So I Gave Blade Anime On G4 A Try…

Vampires and anime may not be my cup of tea, but the new Blade Anime series on G4 does an excellent job of doing something different. The vampire hunting Blade really is one of Marvel’s most successful characters, and this new show shows why.

Blade as a character works because not only does he have a simple back story/motivation (he is a half vampire out for vengeance due to vampires killing his mother), but he exists in the Marvel Universe independently. Blade’s corner of the universe is inhabited just by himself.

Getting back to the show, the animation is really well done for anime and its pretty action filled. If you’re looking for something with vampires and over the top martial arts in an animated format, this is the show for you.

Future episodes air Friday nights on G4 at 11 pm.

Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #14

Who better to write a comic about Spider-Man’s experiences as a professional wrestler than an actual one? 100 Bullets creator Brian Azzarello teamed up with Scott Levy (better known as wrestling veteran Raven) on Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #14.

Tangled Web was an anthology series that was about Spidey but didn’t necessarily feature the wall crawler. Remember how Spider-Man made his public debut winning money at a professional wrestling show? This issue tells the sad story of Crusher Hogan, the wrestler that lost $10,000 in a challenge against Spider-Man.

Hogan is a really sympathetic, down on his luck character. Against his (and his wife’s) better judgment, he still works for a small-time wrestling promoter out of a sense of loyalty. How loyal? He’s willing to mortgage his small house in an effort to bankroll a big show, highlighted by the main event of him putting up $10,000 in an open challenge to anyone in the audience.

By the end of the book you really empathize with Hogan and his attempt at saving the business. Unfortunately, the book ends with a young masked Peter Parker entering the ring and we know that what happens from that point.

Azzarello and Levy do a great job with making Hogan a sympathetic protagonist. He really wants to do right by everyone, and unfortunately we’re reminded that nice people don’t always finish first.

Booster Gold #5

One of the most powerful super hero comics I’ve read over the last few Booster Gold #5. Our time travelling hero goes back in time to the events of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, and no matter what Booster tries he can’t save Batgirl. So why is this a great story?

It’s because this is the moment where Booster Gold becomes a serious hero. He won’t accept failure and keeps going back in time to the moment where the Joker fires a crippling bullet through Batgirl’s spine. Ultimately Booster finds out that this event has to happen and that it’s an important part of the history of the universe. He must accept that there is nothing that he can do to fix this.

If you’ve read The Killing Joke, you know that the Joker taking pictures of the original event is an important part of the original story. A later issue of Booster Gold makes reference to his attempt to change history, as Batman (who has possession of the photos) reveals that he knows that Booster attempted to save Batgirl. Batman finally respects Booster.

Unfortunately, the events of Flashpoint and the New 52 rendered this all irrelevant, but its one hell of a story.

Walt Simonson On The Avengers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, so it won’t be this line up but this is still awesome. Marvel just announced that Walt Simonson will be penciling an arc on Brian Bendis’ Avengers this year.  The story takes place in the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men event, so I’m sure it is going to be chock full of classic Simonson characters.

“I’ve never really gotten to draw the Avengers. I’m excited to draw them. But really, I wanted to work with Brian. We’ve always said it would be fun to work together, but I’ve been at DC. Now I’m back on the freelance trail and called Brian up. I did not expect to be handed a whole story arc. And when Brian said ‘There are a lot of characters’ I didn’t really realize how many characters,” said Simonson.

“I have a lot of homework to do. There are a lot of characters I know and others I know but who have changed.”

This arc starts with Avengers #25 and runs for six issues. This Andrew WK song sums up exactly how I feel about this:

Let’s Draw Demolition!

Here Comes The Axe! Here Comes The Smash! Here Comes The Crush! Here Comes Demolition!

At my day job we’re getting ready to move to a new section of the building, and I uncovered this lunchtime sketch I did of one of my favorite wrestling tag teams/groups growing up, Demolition. It might be because of them I developed a fondness for the band KISS.

Axe gets ready to hit the Demolition Decapitation on poor HydraGrowing up, my parents did not like that I would watch wrestling, so I would have to sneak downstairs to watch it early in the morning. Needless to say, I never got the chance to see Demolition wrestle in their prime.

I did get to see them wrestle for Chikara Pro’s King of Trios weekend in 2008. They may have been the oldest wrestlers there, but they certainly still knew how to put on a fun match. I even got to chit-chat with them after the show, and Axe and Smash were super cool.

How awesome was their theme song? I’m sure you will have it stuck in your head all day.

What If The Justice League of America Were Professional Wrestlers?

Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance had an interesting post about what wrestlers best fill the roles of the members of the Justice League. While he was spot on that Dusty Rhodes would be the Superman of the group, I thought that there were some better choices to fill the roster.

The Batman would be Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The two are very similar, going into there line of work due to their family. They both have subterranean lairs under their ancestral homes; Hart being based in the family basement training facility known as the Dungeon and Batman’s Batcave under the Wayne Mansion. Both of them travelled the world, honing their craft. And really, Batman and “the Hitman” are known for their mastery of tactics (and execution) as well as their no-nonsense approach to everything.

The Undertaker would be the Martian Manhunter of the group. In both their respective genres, it is always stressed that their characters are other worldly. Even though they’re both very cold emotionally, fire causes them great deals of trouble–Undertaker’s evil brother Kane is known to light things on fire, and Manhunter is deathly afraid of it.

Trish Stratus and Wonder Woman are very similar; they respectively are the most successful woman wrestler and super hero, and that’s something you can’t argue.

Shawn Michaels would be the flash of the group, as both characters rely on their quickness to overcome larger and more powerful opponents.

Christian by far is the Aquaman of the group. How so? Aside from both of them being blonde and foreigners (Canada and Atlantis), neither of them are given the chance to live up to their full potential and are always delegated to second tier status. they both have their loyal fans who are always eager to say otherwise.

Finally, we have “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Hal Jordan. Both of them fall into the rogue hero archetype. They may be smart mouthed, but they have the toughness to back it up.

Hey Ho Let’s Go with Dee Dee Ramone

Dee Dee RamoneThe good folks over at Socky and Jamie hooked me up with this most excellent Christmas present: Dee Dee Ramone from Funko’s Pop Rocks line. This likeness of the long time Ramones bass player is super cool, and super cute.

Dee Dee RamoneThe detailing on this vinyl toy is great, even down to Dee Dee’s trademark sailor shirt, shoulder chain and white bass guitar.

Not only is Dee Dee Ramone a punk rock pioneer, but he also recorded one of the best rap songs of all time under the alias Dee Dee King. If you don’t wind up having “Funky Man’ stuck in your head, then there’s something wrong with you.
Dee Dee Ramone rides literate ducks into battleHow cool is Dee Dee? He even looks awesome riding on a giant rubber duckie! Most other rock stars would be self conscious, but not our Dee Dee. Check out the official website to learn more about the life and legacy of Dee Dee Ramone.

Justice League International #5

Dan Jurgens and Aaron Lopresti’s Justice League International #5 finishes their first story arc without a bang, and I mean that in a literal sense since the JLI was able to put aside their individual pettiness and stopped alien invader Perraxus from destroying the Earth.

Along the way there’s lots of arguing, in fighting and a whole lot of self doubting on the part of Godiva, but they survive. The book ends with a panel showing the JLI surviving on a television monitor, with someone saying that they’ll have to go to their fallback plan on killing the heroes.

What I do like about this book is Jurgens’ take on the characters. None of them are impressed or in awe of Batman, which is an overdone cliché in a lot of super hero team comics. They treat him just like any other hero. I also like the relationship between Booster Gold and Guy Gardner; Guy is always antagonizing Booster (who isn’t as inept as the original JLI).If I could change the book, I would probably make the team a little smaller just to allow more characterization and depth. At time it seems like Fire and Vixen are just there. Anyway, this first arc was pretty solid and I wonder where they’re taking this “kill the JLI” subplot.

Green Arrow #5

Green Arrow as a series confuses me. Oliver Quinn is one of the coolest characters in the DC pantheon. That said, this book could be better.

Arrow is still fighting the team of Midas and Blood Rose around his Q-Core office building. This issue its the gloopy gloppy Midas, who we really don’t know much more about. Apparently he is some sort of evil version of Swamp Thing. Ollie seemingly kills him, shoving an arrow through his head. They also introduced a new addition to Ollie’s professional life, as he now has to report to a fetching young woman named Adrien who has the power to override his corporate decisions. The book ends with Blood Rose having him in checkmate, with a gun drawn at his head.

I think what disappoints me about this book is that the story is not engaging. The reader doesn’t feel attached to Green Arrow, his villains aren’t very compelling, and the whole “hostile takeover of your business because your preoccupied with super hero stuff” has been done so many times.

Well let’s think about the positives. Dan Jurgens’ art is always great. And Ann Nocenti is taking over the writing on this book, which I’m excited for. Green Arrow has the potential to be a really good book; it just needs to get back on track. I would say this series is on the ropes.

Someone Flipped The Switch On Poor Death Row Marv!

Death Row MarvPoor Marv. Not only did he bite it in the electric chair in the Sin City comics, but even his action figure winds up that way as seen in this one from McFarle Toys in 1999.

This action figure is without a doubt the creepiest one I own. Marv is strapped to the electric chair and there is a switch you flip to fry him, for lack of a better word. Inbetween the shaking and eyes glowing Marv speaks his final words: “That the best you can do, you pansies?”

The grim nature of this action figure caused controversy with many parents groups and anti-death penalty groups who objected to how graphic it was. That wasn’t the last time that Marv got killed for our enjoyment; Mickey Rourke reenacted this scene in the movie version of Sin City.

Anyway, this picture is of my Marv. I took it a while ago and only recently figured out what to do with it. Enjoy!