Superman #7-8: Superman vs. Helspont

SUPERMAN-7

Aliens Attack!

As much as Rob Liefeld and the rest of the Image Comics gang made a mark on my comics reading during the early 1990s, but so did Superman. Between my brother and I, we had every issue of the four Superman monthly series till right around the Death of Superman era. So needless to say, a comic book story having Superman face off against Helspont would get my attention, but with art by Dan Jurgens (who was THE Superman artist during that period but in my mind) this was definitely something I had to check out.

The story is two-fold. Superman has to deal with being abducted and harassed by Helspont. This evil Daemomite seems to have been elevated to big time player in the New 52, between this and all of his exposure in other books.

Helspont is trying to appeal to Superman in attempt to join forces; having the last Kryptonian on his side would make his plans for domination much easier.The villain also brings the point up that eventually mankind will betray him, as they fear his power and the threat of his rule. And this leads to a moral debate between the two, with Superman turning down the offer as he loves the people of Earth. I guess it shows that for all the differences between the past and the modern DC universe, Superman is still the same, costume changes be damned. The humanity that Ma and Pa Kent taught him really shaped his values. Superman’s life is destined to walk among the humans, helping them when he has to because he’s the only person who can help them.

As Superman is fighting for his freedom, there are some subplots going on with Clark Kent’s coworker friends at the Daily Planet. He was supposed to pick up Lois Lane’s sister Lucy at the airport, but the whole Helspont ordeal had him preoccupied. At the same time, Jimmy Olsen is moving into Clark’s apartment on a temporary basis, as his place is filled with bedbugs.

What you had in these two issues was a Superman that I was really familiar with. Jurgens knows how to draw and write a Superman comic book. So does his co-writer Keith Giffen, as he certainly knows how to write compelling super heroes outside of their costumes; see his JLI/E/A stuff for example. The result is a Superman that is still very new, but completely familiar at the same time.

Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos #1-6: Marvel’s Monster Mash

This was going to be my Halloween post, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for me.  Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos is a fun look at SHIELD’s very own monster squad. Written by Keith Giffen, this mini series gives a look on how longtime agent Clay Quartermain gets to take over running the  Paranormal Containment Unit.

Needless to say with it being a Giffen book, there’s a certain humor to it. Clay sees this assignment of being kind of beneath him, leading monsters from Marvel’s modern and Atlas eras alike to defend the planet from super natural attacks.

The main conflict in this comes as a result of yet another incarnation of Merlin the Wizard re-appearing in England, turning the British Isle into something out of Lord of the Rings. It’s up to the Howling Commandos to get their act together and save the island (and the world) from falling under Merlin’s medieval rule. Along the way there’s a lot of wackiness, especially the undercover mission between Lilith and Vampire By Night, and a really cool plot storm involving Hellstorm (a character which I’ve always thought needed more exposure).

Usually I don’t enjoy supernatural themed books, but Giffen’s great sense of comedic timing was enough to get me through it. Howling Commandos is a pretty light story and I would recommend picking it up if you can get it on the cheap.

If there was anything to complain about this book was the art. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like the art, but for whatever reason the penciller switched between Derec Aucoin and Mike Norton every other issue to the point that reading it from issue to issue was a little jarring.

The Lobo ParaMilitary Christmas!

I bet this is one Christmas special you might not know about. The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas tells a holiday story Lobo story. Adapted from a comic by Keith Giffen, this adaptation was made by Scott Leberecht for the American Film Institutes’s direct studies program.

The film is very straight forward, if not a little grisly, with Lobo being hired by the Easter Bunny to take out Santa Claus, allowing the rabbit to take the spot as most beloved holiday figure. Does Lobo succeed in taking out Jolly Saint Nick? Watch the video to find out.

Editor's note: Not recommended to actually do this.

Do you know who played Lobo in this short? None other than Andrew Bryniarski, who played the role of Leatherface in the early 2000s remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas may not be everyone’s cup of tea during Christmastime, but it had a certain element of fun to it. This is the antidote to the sickness that comes from watching too many cutesy animals.

Green Arrow #4

It’s hard out there for a pimp Quinn. Green Arrow #4 is the first post-JT Krul issue of the series, and JLI mastermind Keith Giffen is manning the writer’s chair. It’s a quick read; Blood Rose, the evil assassin woman from the last issue, is out to kill Ollie.

She’s teamed up with some local gangs–who were surgically implanted with incendiary devices–not with any success, and takes it upon herself to assassinate him. Ollie survives and we still don’t know what’s going on.

As a first issue, Giffen succeeds in getting the readers attention. A lot happens, but everything makes sense. And again, Dan Jurgens’ art is still awesome. Can’t wait for next month!

The Baltimore Comic Con That Was…

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Galactus prowls the streets of Baltimore at the 2011 Baltimroe Comic Con (Photo courtesy Scotto Bear)

Well, Baltimore Comic Con 2011 has come and gone, and with that so has my summer vacation. So how was this year’s show?

 
Definitely lots of fun. The girlfriend and I went on Sunday and had a blast. I’ve been going to this show since 2004 and I think this might be the busiest one. That was propably due to the Stan Lee’s appearances. But I’d like to think that it was due to people liking comics. It was a very lady and family friendly comic show, which is alway a good thing.
 
The highlight of the show for me was getting to chit-chat with Louise Simonson and the Justice League International team of Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, who were all super nice. Not to mention, all the fun I had meeting Dennis Kitchen and a bunch of other cool people in the artist alley section. I picked up two awesome sketches which I’ll post later and show my haul of goodies that I picked up!
 
I would have blogged more about the event, but a combination of my camera crapping out and my laptop going fhqwhgads (Homestar Runner reference), I would have more of my trip to share with you.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#1 Justice League International

We’ve done it. We’ve gotten to one of my–if not the favorite–things in comics, the Justice League International. So how did a group of B and C list super heroes capture my heart?

Writers Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis gave this motley crew such great personalities. Just look at some of them. Booster Gold was a greedy, scheming George Costanza type, but had the looks and self confidence to make it work. His best friend Blue Beetle was always cracking jokes, but secretly had low seelf esteem in regards to his appearance.
Fire was a Brazillian sex pot and her best friend Ice was a bit socially conservative.
Guy Gardner was the prototypical dumb jock and was stuck with an idiot would-be sidekick in G’nort. Power Girl and Black Canary were super feminists. Elongated Man and his wife Sue were the obnoxious cute couple. Maxwell Lord was like Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny, but more of a tool. And these were just the primary characters.

The best part of this book was how they were able to intertwine the JLI’s personal lives and problems equally with the crime fighting and world saving stories. The book may have been silly at times, but you would always be more interested in what was going on between the characters then what diabolical scheme they were stopping.

You remember the time that Booster and Beetle tried to open a vacation resort on the living island Kooey Koeey Kooey. You remember Guy’s awkward first date with Ice. Or when Batman finally had enough and punched Guy out. Just fun stuff.

I thin that’s why many readers, and myself personally, had such a hard time with the whole mid 2000s DC, where it seemed that JLI characters were being killed left and right. Sue Dibny’s death was the plot device in Identity Crisis (and later on Elongated Man got killed off). Maxwell Lord turned uber-villain and murdered Blue Beetle. Rocket Red bit the dust in OMAC Project. Saying the last decade was rough is an understatement. It sucks seeing your favorite characters getting knocked off left and right.

But I’m really excited for the fall, with a new book featuring JLI coming after Flashpoint. It’s written by Dan Jurgens, who not only worked on JLI back in the day but also created Booster Gold. I can’t wait!

30 Things I Like About Comics—#14 Lobo

If VH1’s series I Love The 1990s had a comic book edition, you would have to devote a whole episode to Lobo, the intergalactic bounty hunter extraordinaire. But before he was the cigar chomping fragmaster, he was actualy quite boring.

Lobo first debuted in Roger Slifer and Keith Giffen’s Omega Men #3 as just your average bountyhunter alien type way back in 1983. He sporadically appeared for a while until Giffen brought back a revamped Lobo in Justice League International.

Thanks to stuff like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen being both critically and commercially succesful, there was a rush to make super heroes more dark and gritty throughout the late 1980s/early 1990s. For that time period, Wolverine and the Punisher were the poster children of that type of hero. There were countless knock offs of the brooding and violent hero, and the new Lobo would become an over-the-top parody.

 “I came up with him as an indictment of the Punisher, Wolverine hero prototype and somehow he caught on as the high violence poster boy. Go figure.”

Keith Giffen in a Newsarama biography

The new Lobo was still a bounty hunter, but he was super foul-mouthed and violent to the point of absurdity. He’s the last of his race the Czarnians–he killed them all in a science fair experiment gone horribly wrong. Lobo was ridiculous; everything he did was exaggerated. Lobo mania gripped the comic book world in the 1990s, as he went on to have several series and miniseries, mostly written by Giffen and Alan Grant, with art by Simon Bisley.

Here are some of the highlights of his appearances in comics:

Lobocop- just what you would expect, a Robocop Parody.

Paramilitary Christmas Special- the Easter bunny has hired Lobo to take out Santa Claus once and for all.

Infanticide- His bastard daughter puts together an army to kill him.

Lobo’s Back- After being killed, neither Heaven nor Hell want him in their respective realms, reincarnating him in different forms. Eventually he is granted immortality if he never comes back again.

Unamerican Gladiators- Lobo participates in an uber-deadly game show.

All of the Lobo books are violent, dark comedies akin to a more slapstic Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez. If you enjoyed Machete, these are comics for you. Up until last year, director Guy Ritchie was attached to bringing the “Main Man” to the big screen. But there is much more to Lobo than just being a bad-ass hitman.

Past the surface, Lobo does have some complex character traits. Most obvious is his love of animals, like his pet dog Dawg and the herds of Space Dolphins he protects. When he found out that Aquaman was friendly to dolphins, that was enough reason for him to want to be friends.Yes, Lobo is a big burly tough guy who loves animals.

He also has so many great nicknames and expressions, many that I have adapted into everyday use, including:

  • Frag (verb): to mess something up. See also fragging, fragged, frag! fraggin
  • Feetal Gizz (noun): ????; sometimes used an interjection.
  • Bastich (noun): a portmanteu of bastard and bitch.
  • The Main Man (noun): Lobo’s declaration of his universal superiority.
  • The ‘Bo (noun): short for Lobo
  • Master Frag (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the master of frag.
  • Mister Machete (noun): Lobo’s declaration of his penchance for using knives.
  • Scourge o’ the Cosmos (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the universe’s most hated person.
  • The Ultimate Bastich (noun): Lobo’s declaration of him being the universe’s biggest bastard and/or bitch.

Lobo also has a strong love/hate relationship with Superman. Obviously, Superman detest Lobo for being so violent. Lobo thinks that Supes is a wimp. But somehow, they can coexist from time to time and its always an epic story. In the Superman and Justice League cartoons, they really explored this, culminating in an episode with Lobo taking an injured (and assumed dead) Superman’s spot in the Justice League, as he felt he was the only one as physically strong and gifted as Supes.

That’s Lobo, ladies and gentlemen. If you like dark comedy and absurd cartoonish violence, this is your book.