Hawk and Dove #6

I’ve really been making a dent in my “to read” pile. Hawk and Dove #6 is a one shot with the avatars of peace and war going on a vacation to lovely Gotham City.

They’ve been chasing the New 52-ized Blockbuster who has stolen the Amulet of Ra from the Smithsonian Institute, only to encounter and then team up with Batman and Robin. It’s part of what happens when you visit that city.

So the three birds and the bat team up to stop Blockbuster, who is working with this sorceress Necromancer to collect these mystical totems like the Amulet to get some sort of magical powers. Obviously, our heroes aren’t impressed. They save the day; Hawk and Dove are on their way back home to Washington DC.

The issue was written and drawn by Rob Liefeld and is suited to his strengths. It’s pretty much a full issue of fights and such. I did like the way he had Damien as Robin characterized as being pretty an ass. Stands up on its own decently.

Friday Fights #9: Bane vs. Captain America

This week we have two of the bigger stars of the comic book movies of this past summer in a battle for supremacy; can Captain America fight Bane.

The answer is a resounding yes. Bane may be super strong due to his Venom, but Cap has fought stronger. If he can deal with a rampaging Hulk, than Bane is cake. Not to mention, that Captain America is a way better fighter on his feet.

WINNER: Captain America

And I would go as far to say that Captain America would have never been defeated by Bane during the Knightfall story line. Obviously, Batman could defeat Bane. The villain’s only chance to win was his master plan of distracting him to exploit his vulnerability: Batman’s pride.

Batman didn’t ask for help and almost lost his life–and the city as a result. But Captain America is everyone’s favorite super hero for a reason and would have decided to call in favors for the betterment of everyone.


Phantom Stranger #0

September has been DC’s “zero month” as every title has been numbered #0, giving them a chance to flush out the origins of their characters in the New 52, as well as launch some new books. Their publisher Dan Didio gets to flex his writing muscles out on the new Phantom Stranger series.

It picks up with the DC Free Comic Book Day special, with the back story to the man who becomes the Phantom Stranger being punished by what seemed to be a mystical council.

So who is the man condemned to an eternity of wandering around? It’s Judas.

Yup that Judas.

Forced to wear Jesus’ cloak and a necklace made of the very coins he was given for his act of betrayal, Judas is now forced to wander the earth until he is able to make amends for what he has done. So this phantom stranger has been wandering around for nearly 2000 years.

Trying to make up for his past, Phantom Stranger attempts to help a detective-gone-rogue named Jim Corrigan rescue his girlfriend, who has been kidnapped by some mafia types. Unfortunately, Corrigan picked the wrong person to team up with and gets killed, getting turned into God’s force of wrath–the Spectre. So Judas is forced to keep wandering until he can redeem himself. Unfortunately for him, he’s doomed to betray everyone he encounters.

As a one-shot that establishes the new version of both Phantom Stranger and the Spectre, this book definitely succeeds. But as an ongoing, I really don’t have much interest in this. It kind of reminds me of a super hero version of My Name Is Earl but with religious overtones as Judas wanders the world trying to make things right but failing every time.

Batgirl #6

I didn’t read Batgirl #5 yet, but the sixth issue starts out with Bruce Wayne getting ready to clock Batgirl with a crowbar. That certainly got my attention.

Bruce was under the control of a new super villain called Gretel, whose use of mind control for lethal purposes and an obsession with killing powerful men is a huge problem. By Gotham City standards, you can’t get more manly or powerful than Bruce Wayne. So with some slick detective work and teaming up with Batman, our caped heroine is able to save the day.

If anyone needs more proof of why Gail Simone is a great writer, look no further. Gail uses a very simple, almost cliché plot of the hero preventing the murder of a public figure. But what she does with instead is uses it as a frame to contrast the two similar characters.

Both Gretel and Batgirl are survivors of gun violence. Gretel was a journalism student investigating a mob boss and wound up being shot, just as Batgirl was shot by the Joker back in The Killing Joke (which thankfully is still part of canon in the New 52). 
What separates the two women is what happened afterwards. Gretel was left for dead and  recovered on her own, becoming extremely vengeful. Batgirl was fortunate enough to have not only the love and support of her father but of Batman as well. It’s a pretty touching story and that exists in the confines of a single issue.

Grifter #4

Everyone has been saying that the Grifter series has been pretty cool, and I was meaning to pick it up once Liefeld was on board. But I did manage to pick up Grifter #4 solely because of its Green Arrow connection.

The issue starts out pretty intensely; Grifter has crashed a car into the lobby of Q-Core (Oliver Quinn’s family business) trying to get some attention from someone, with a hostage. And as everyone knows, messing with the company owned/operated by a super hero only leads to violence.

What happens next in this issue is what really sold me on this whole series.

Scott Clark’s pencils are amazing, melded with a great three dimensional rendered background. It just makes the fight look that much more awesome, as Grifter and Green Arrow slug it out across the city of Seattle. It ends with the archer defeating him, but before he can be taken into custody he gets rescued by some chick on a motorcycle (who I assume plays a bigger role in the series).

But before all of this happens, Grifter tells Green Arrow that the only reason he set foot on the Q-Core campus was that the company had been infiltrated by Daemonites. This makes sense with the character Grifter, as the Daemonites play a role with the character going way back to the days when Wildstorm was still an independent publisher through Image Comics.

Nod to the past aside, this was a fairly good series. If only Green Arrow was as interesting on his own as he was in this. Unfortunately I’m not going to be sticking around, because he doesn’t stay in the series after the issue.

Deathstroke #10

I completely forgot about this. Deathstroke #10 is the second issue of writer/artist Rob Lifeld’s DC comics 1990s tribute series.

Lobo is loose and running wild; the opening scene of him at a diner would make any longtime Lobo fan smile. It’s silly; something that is needed for a character like this.

Deathstroke is investigating the prison that Lobo escaped from along with Zealot and the Omegas (who I think are the New 52-ized version of the Omega Men). After tussling with one of the aliens who had been serving as a warden at that jail, Deathstroke finds out that Lobo has been unleashed to kill off everyone on the planet Earth.

The final scene has Lobo off at some top secret alien crash site in Colorado where he uncloaks a massive spacecraft. One can only assume that its filled with all kinds of weaponry and such. Lobo also mutters something about a Sheba, which I can only assume is a love interest for the frag master.

I guess the next issue is going to be some sort of all action slugfest between Lobo and Deathstroke. I can’t think of anyone better suited to draw this kind of kinetic batle than Liefeld.

New Hugh Jackman As Wolverine Picture

July 26, 2013 cannot come out soon enough. Twentieth Century Fox released this official image of the next installment of the Wolverine spin-offs from their X-Men series of films. Hugh Jackman is back as everyone’s favorite Canadian bad-ass in next summer’s The Wolverine.

This sequel borrows a lot of its story from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine mini series from 1982, so expect lots of samurais, ninja and organized crime set in Japan. And for good measure, Silver Samurai and Viper are going to be thrown in.


Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #4

He better not be out of web fluid.

I usually don’t read the Ultimate books until they’re collected, so I went into Ultimate Comics Spider-Man knowing that Miles Morales is the new Ultimate Spider-Man. I wound up picking this up on a whim.

Peter Parker is dead, and some how poor Miles not only has spider-like powers but takes responsibility for his death. This is shown in a brief scene with him talking to Gwen Stacy and looking at Peter’s corpse.

After another encounter with Gwen outside of Peter’s funeral–not to mention urging from his best friend/prep school roommate–Miles has taken up the arachni-mantra of “with great power comes great responsibility.

Unfortunately, after some quick runs out as Spidey, he’s not only gotten the attention of the Daily Bugle but the book ends with Spider-Woman confronting him.

The book is a really smooth read. Sara Pichelli’s art is awesome; her line-work is thin and lightweight. Brian Bendis does a great job on the writing in this issue; you can pick it up and know everything that has gone on the past couple of issues. I really like how Miles is taking this responsibility seriously and that there is still a tie to Peter.

The dynamic between Miles and his roommate Ganke comes across as realistic; it’s a true portrayal of how awkward teens interact with each other. I’m not that old that I forget what that’s like.

Anyway, I really like the direction that Ultimate Comics Spider-Man seems to be going from this issue and it’s been added to my reading radar.

CBLDF’s Liberty Comics

What happens when you get an all-star group of comics creators including Darwyn Cooke, Garth Ennis and Mark Millar together for a fundraiser book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund?

You wind up with Liberty Comics special from 2008. It also sports a really cool Thor cover from Walt Simonson.

Anyway, the CBLDF is a non-profit group that provides resources for the comic books industry for issues that deal with freedom of speech and censorship. So that is the natural theme for this one shot.

There’s everything from Ennis and Darick Robertson’s cast from The Boys, to a short story set in Ed Brubaker’s Criminal anthology.

But what makes this is the “Tales of Comic Book Censorship!” features by the legendary Sergio Aragones, where he talks with comics scribe Mark Evanier about First Amendment issues that the industry faces.

It’s pretty much a fundraising tool, but there’s some well done shorts in it. I recommend it for anyone concerned about free speech issues or super fans of the creators involved.

I Would Be Smiling If I Was Thanos

Thanks to the Avengers movie this summer, a lot of characters are doing pretty well for themselves. Hulk has been rejuvenated as a film franchise; Black Widow has generated enough attention to warrant getting her own movie. But the biggest star to come out of the Avengers had under a minute of screen time: I’m talking about Thanos.

Marvel Films head honcho Kevin Feige has said that the purple death worshiper from Jupiter’s moon of Titan will not only be in Avengers 2 but in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie as well.

The last time I remember Thanos being this popular was during the whole Infinity Gauntlet era of the early 1990s. It may have been almost twenty years since he’s been relevant, but a film series will do that for you.

Friday Fights #8: Juggernaut vs. Superman

A couple of years back, Kanye West re-popularized the phrase “no one man should have all that power” from Spike Lee’s Malcom X film. This week’s battle features two extremely powerful combatants: Superman and the Juggernaut.

As amazingly strong and indestructible as Superman is, Juggernaut is more powerful. Juggernaut can level mountains and throw skyscrapers around; Superman cannot.

And don’t forget that nothing stops the Juggernaut. Remember…he’s the Juggernaut, bitch

Superman does have a few tricks up his sleeve cape.

He can fly, he’s fast. Not to mention, he has heat vision and can freeze things with his breath. Those can only help him hold back or distract Juggernaut.

I imagine this fight would be very similar to the whole “Death of Superman” battle with Doomsday, where Superman fought and fought and fought until both he and the monster were completely incapacitated. WINNER: It will wind up a draw and everything around them will be destroyed. So I would say the real winner would be the clean up crews, as they have guaranteed work for months.

Stormwatch Volume1: The Dark Side

Stormwatch: Volume 1 is one of those reboots that just works perfectly. It takes the core concept of the original Wildstorm series (a group of super powered beings appointed to deal with problems before they happened), but changes it just enough to make it different.

Writer Paul Cornell takes a core group of Wildstorm characters ( Jack Hawksmoor, Midnighter, Apollo, The Engineer and Jenny Quantum), and teams them up with DCU mainstay Martian Manhunter plus a bunch of new characters. Stormwatch has been a clandestine organization protecting the planet since the dark ages.

The first six issues are used to set up the groups’ status quo, with them fighting off an alien invasion that looks to be seen again in later issues. At the same time, new character Harry Tanner bonds with an alien parasite who warns him of an oncoming  cataclysmic event that he has to prepare for.

If Tanner going rogue wasn’t difficult enough, he’s also a master swordsman who also happens to have a mutant power that makes him a master liar. The main theme of the story is set; there is definitely something horrible about to happen, and Tanner is going to bring it about much quicker than expected.

Cornell wrote this with a lot of science fiction/mystery elements, which is what you would expect from someone who is best known as a writer for the Doctor Who television series. Art on the series is handled by Miguel Sepulveda adequately.

I think one of the reasons why i was able to get on board with this so well is due to my lack of long-term connection with the characters. Don’t get me wrong; I’m familiar with all the primaries, but it felt like I was reading something fresh and different.

The one thing I wonder about is if Midnighter and Apollo are married (or at least romantically involved) in this continuity. I guess we’ll find that out at some point.

Justice League: Volume 1: Origin

Justice League of America in 2011 by Jim Lee

Remember when Jim Lee took was at the helm of Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” era? The first six issues of Justice League felt just like that, except this time Geoff Johns is writing and plotting alongside.

Justice League: Volume 1 tells the story of how the Justice League assembled joined together for the very first time. It’s five years in the past with the heroes still fairly new at their super hero career. Unfortunately, they wind up fighting. Pretty much the first two issues are some sort of fight between Green Lantern, Superman and Batman, as they fight what turns out to be the Parademons from Apokolips.

It’s up to those three–plus Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (who is super pals with Green Lantern since its the Barry Allen version) and the newly debuting Cyborg to team up to stop Darkseid from destroying the planet. This is a lot more serious than the original Justice League of America, who formed fighting what was essentially an enormous alien starfish.

The story is really formulaic; it ends with them saving the planet and everyone vowing to be there to protect the planet. Unfortunately for them, the public doesn’t really trust the super powered beings running around (much like in the Marvel Universe) and there is going to be a secret government agency following them.

Although the plot was very formulaic, it accomplished everything it needed to. The story reminded me a lot of Independence Day. Jim Lee’s art looks great as always. It was decent. If you are looking for something revolutionary and groundbreaking, this book isn’t for you. But if your looking for regular super hero adventures, this does the trick.

Mighty Fine Agent Coulson of SHIELD Shirts!

It’s no secret that the break-out characters of the Marvel Avengers franchise was SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson. He stole every scene he was in through six movies. Even though he might be dead (but alive in comics continuity), Coulson is still popular.

Marvel and Mighty Fine have a line of Coulson inspired t-shirts! You can view all five shirts in the line here. My favorite is the one pictured, which lovingly pays tribute to Jim Steranko’s cover for Nick Fury: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4.


My 2012 Wrestling Observer Hall Of Fame Ballot

If you don’t like professional wrestling, you might want to take a break. Every year, the Wrestling Observer (the New York Times of the wrestling world) has its annual Hall of Fame issue, where WO founder Dave Meltzer surveys people in the wrestling industry, as well as journalists, historians and writers for their choices. If I was given a ballot, how would I vote?

The criteria are simple; candidates have to be 35 or older and judged on the criteria of how good they were as a performer, how much of a box office success they were and their impact. You can pick up to ten candidates; to be successfully nominated, a candidate has to receive at least 60% of the votes in that category. If you want to see who already is included, check here. Anyway, for my choices

Gene & Ole Anderson, The Masked Assassins (Jody Hamilton & Tom Renesto), Johnny Barend, Red Bastien, Pepper Gomez, Dick Hutton, Hans Schmidt, Kinji Shibuya, Wilbur Snyder, John Tolos, Enrique Torres, Kurt & Karl Von Brauner w/Saul Weingeroff, Tim “Mr. Wrestling” Woods

Batista, John Cena, Edge, Owen Hart, Curt Hennig, Ivan Koloff, Brock Lesnar, Fabulous Moolah, Pedro Morales, Dick Murdoch, Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson), Buddy Rose, Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy Snuka, Sting, Mr. Wrestling II

Sting was the face of WCW, the second largest promotion in the United States for almost a decade, and he was at the top when the company was the biggest. There’s two people synonymous with that company: him and Ric Flair.

Slaughter was a pretty big draw in his pre-WWF career, and although it may have cost him his WWF career at the time getting associated with the GI Joe toy line made him a superstar. Hart and Hennig get my vote, as growing up I really enjoyed how awesome they were and stuck out at the time.

Sgt. Slaughter


George Gordienko, Gran Hamada, Volk Han, Masahiko Kimura, Seiji Sakaguchi, Kensuke Sasaki, Mike & Ben Sharpe, Kiyoshi Tamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi

Sasaki was a huge draw in the 1990s. Hamada was the first Japanese worker to really incorporate lucha style into his work. This Japanese/Mexican fusion spread like wildfire; it’s the basis of modern American independent wrestling.


Perro Aguayo Jr., Atlantis, Cien Caras, Karloff Lagarde, Blue Panther, L.A. Park, Huracan Ramirez, Vampiro, Villano III, Dr. Wagner Jr., Dr. Wagner Sr.

L.A. Park was a star in Mexico. And even though he was pretty much a lower level guy in WCW during his big United States run, he was more popular due to his charisma than anyone anticipated. He came back to Mexico and picked up right where he left off, and having an awesome feud with the man who took his place as La Parka.

Vampiro was a mega-star in the 1990s and was huge. After his stint in WCW, he went back and is still tearing it up.


Big Daddy, Henri DeGlane, Horst Hoffman, Mick McManus, Kendo Nagasaki, Jackie Pallo, Rollerball Mark Rocco, Johnny Saint

Spyros Arion, Carlos Colon, Domenic DeNucci, Mark Lewin, Mario Milano

Carlos Colon was the biggest star in Puerto Rico/the Caribbean ever. You can’t argue that.

Lou Albano, Bill Apter, Jim Crockett Jr., Gary Hart, Jerry Jarrett, Gorilla Monsoon, Dr. Alfonso Morales, Don Owen, Jesse Ventura

Apter was the editor of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and about a million other wrestling magazines from the mid 1970s-1990s. Before the internet, the Apter mags were the way to learn about wrestling. Every kid in my generation would check these out at grocery store newsstands.

So those are my picks. Who would you vote for?

Green Lantern #0

It’s not that I stay away from the big event/publicized comics because I’m an elitist or anything. Unfortunately, a lot of these don’t involve characters that I’m really into or books. So being that I’m not that big of a fan of Geoff Johns or that big into the Green Lanterns anymore, why did I purchase Green Lantern #0?

Well, as much as I try not to, I like being part of the in-crowd and no what’s going on. And this is being pushed like a big deal, I didn’t want to be left out. That, and I’ve really been enjoying Doug Mahnke’s art of late.

What I liked about this is how different Simon Baz’s back story is. He’s grown up as a Muslim during an unfortunately Islamaphobic time period. As an adult, his life is pretty crappy; he’s laid off from the auto industry. Then one night, things get crazy. While on what is a pretty regular heist, he gets framed as a terrorist, driving around in a cargo van filled with explosives. And making matters, worse a Green Lantern ring has selected him to be the new host. Baz does what anyone in a comic book would do in that situation; run for his life. What he doesn’t realize is that the United States military and intelligence communities are after him, as well as the Justice League.

This isn’t the most original plot (low-level criminal is framed for doing something much worse and is on the run to prove themselves innocent and later become a hero) but it’s really well executed. Other than his costume, the only thing I’m bothered by is why he carries a handgun, but as the panel above shows, his Green Lantern ring might not be that powerful and he felt he needed some extra protection.

Friday Fights #7: Rorschach vs. the Question

This week’s Friday Fights combatants are almost splitting images of each other. What would happen when the Watchmen’s resident psychotic loner meets up with DC/Charlton’s favorite conspiracy theorist the Question?

If you are wondering why these characters are so similar, it’s because Rorschach is based on Steve Ditko’s the Question from back in the Charlton Comics days. In 1983, DC Comics wound up purchasing the smaller publisher. Alan Moore’s original pitch for what would become Watchmen was a story set in the Charlton universe, but DC had other plans. And that was to integrate the characters into the DC Universe after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Moore kept the same storyline/theme, and the characters became analogues of their Charlton counterparts.

These two blank faced heroes have an extremely similar tale-of-the-tape. Neither is a trained fighter; they’ve picked up a lot of on the job training. The both of them aren’t what you would consider a superb athlete, but both would buy into the “cross fit” phase. They don’t have too much in the line of weaponry; just what they’ve been given by allies over the years. They even have similar day-jobs; Rorschach is a private investigator and the Question is an investigative reporter.

WINNER: Rorschach. The masked man from the Watchmen would win this battle, as he’s much more of a sociopath than the Question. He’s a lot crazier, and willing to use whatever he can get his hands on . But if he ever encountered Ditko’s even more intense version of the Question, the super extreme Mr. A it would be a world of hurt…

Thomas Jane Made A Punisher Fan Film

Thomas Jane’s 2004 The Punisher is probably the most criminally underrated super hero films.Borrowing a lot of its tone and plot from the Garth Ennis Punisher stories, it was dark, gritty and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the next Punisher film was a complete reboot without Jane playing the role of the gun-toting vigilante.

This summer, Jane teamed up with movie producer Adi Shankar for the short “Dirty Laundry.” Debuting at Comic-Con, this was an amazingly well done fan film that shows a particularly violent day in the life of Frank Castle. It’s a gory love letter to the character.

It really makes me want to see another Punisher movie with Jane done like this. Although that doesn’t really seem like a possibility at this time, at least we’ve all learned how we can use a bottle of Jack Daniels as a weapon.

Animal Man #1-6

Picking up this collected volume of the new Animal Man series, I knew two things about the character: Grant Morrison’s run is considered a classic and I really enjoyed the way the character was portrayed during the whole 52 series.

I really enjoyed being able to pick this up completely fresh; I had no preconceived notions about the character or knew to expect. Jeff Lemire has put together a very well written series, but one that didn’t resonate with me. I can sum it up as a really good book that I don’t want to read.

What does that even mean?

Animal Man kind of goes too into the supernatural/horror genre for my tastes. It reintroduces the Baker family, with their patriarch Buddy getting used to and enjoying not being an active super hero. Unfortunately, things get really bad very quickly as it turns out that his young daughter Maxine will some day be the avatar of the cosmic force called the Red–essentially what makes up the essence of life in animals. Extensions of the Rot–the essence of death and decay–want to kill Maxine, therefore throwing off the balance between life and death in their favor.

With this new dilemma, it’s up to Buddy to save his family from all kinds of zombies and other really gross things, disturbingly thought up by artist Travel Foreman. His art looks nightmarish, which really fits this story well.

This is a really well done book that I appreciate, but isn’t really my genre. But it you like stuff like The Living Dead or more heady horror, definitely check this out.

New Thunderbolts with Red Hulk, Punisher, Deadpool and Elektra! Count Me In!

Marvel has just made an announcement that I can’t wait for:  the new Thunderbolts series. Traditionally, the team has been about a team of villains or other nefarious types having to put aside their own scheming for the greater good–whether they’ve decided to do this on their own or have been forced. This new version takes the concept in a different decision.

In an interview over on Newsarama with new writer Daniel Way, the team basically operates under the direction of Red Hulk (who before he became gamma powered was the long time military leader/Hulk hunter General “Thunderbolt” Ross of the US Army) to work off the grid. Way put it this way in that interview:

This team of Thunderbolts exists to cut out that infection, wherever it is found. They do not recognize boundaries or borders, be they moral, political or geographical. They can and will strike anyone, at any time, without warning. They are the consequence of evil deeds, pure and simple.

So this team basically operates on their own. I’ve been a super fan of Red Hulk as a character, as well as the current incarnation of Venom. The only character I’m not too hot on is Deadpool due to him being kind of overexposed the last five years or so. But that is counteracted by having Punisher and Elektra on board, and both of them have kind of being pushed to the back of Marvel’s hierarchy in this period.

And to top it all off long time Garth Ennis Preacher/Punisher penciller Steve Dillon handling the art on this book, this is going to be nothing but awesome. I guess this will be added to my pull list.