Sunday, December 24, 2006


Although I have had a few free days this and last week I didn´t post much. My computer is on the fritz again which means I can´t burn any files on CD.

Of course this just had to happen when I finally decided to make some space and get rid of all old files. So now I have a lot of files on my computer and not much space left. I already tried everything from installing new drivers to deleting some non - essential files to setting the computer back to an earlier date. But like all problems with the computer I have no idea why it happened and most likely some day it will work again without any reason. I just hope I don´t loose all my pictures for this blog.

Now the other thing I did since my last post is catching up on my tv - series. I have watched the first two tapes of One Piece ( although almost all of the Navarrone adventure is missing ) all but two tapes of Naruto and the fourth season of 24. Which is just in time because next year RTL II is showing the fifth season. We got some DVDs to watch and yesterday we watched PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN - Dead man´s chest and FIREWALL. Today we watched MYTH with Jackie Chan and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III which was waaaay better than I have heard. Thank god I never pay much attention to movie critics. So now I have a little time for the big christmas post :

Happy holidays to all readers of TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN ! Christmas is just the best time to spread some comic goodness among the family and your loved ones. For me it has become a tradition to give only comics as christmas presents. And there are a lot of reasons for this.

First of all : Everyone loves comics. It´s a fact that while there are a lot of people who wouldn´t caught dead in a comicshop nobody wouldn´t read a comic if they had the chance. I never had the experience that somebody did not like comics. They just think they are too adult to read them. So if you give them a comic for christmas they could find out that there are comics that they could buy without feeling like a geek. Especially if it is a manga.

Reason number two : Most people don´t know very much about comics. Let´s face it. Your basic citizen doesn´t know the difference between WATCHMEN and YOUNGBLOOD. So it´s your job to get them the premium comic experience. Who knows, maybe they like it so much they ask you for more reading material. And you will have prevented that this person dies without ever having read one good comic in his life.

Reason number three : Ask the expert. Now I don´t know much about books. I have no idea who is hot on the bestseller list or who is the next Stephen King. I don´t know much about wine or ties or cigars. So I have no idea if what I buy would really be of top quality or just from the sweatshop in China. But what I DO know are comics. So I prefer to give a present where I really know that is is the best out there. And if they want more information or explanation I can give that too. I think that´s better than : " I have no idea. I just bought it in some shop. I hope it´s not total crap. " So pick your present in the category where you are the undisputed master. I mean, if they need to they can buy their socks, ties or cigars without you - and they will probably get better merchandise. So help them in getting what they don´t know they always wanted.

Reason number four : This will sound cheap but sometimes it is the best way to streamline your comic collection without loosing too much money. If you have a comic collection like mine there are a lot of comics that you bought but they weren´t as good as you thought. Now you can sell them again and lose a lot of money. Or you can give them away as a christmas present. I know, it sounds cheap but first of all : don´t take any old comic that you have already read a million times. The most important thing is that you take only comics that are in a premium condition. Secondly try to pick hardcovers over softcovers. There are surely a lot of items like this in your collection. If you are like me you will probably buy the new kingdom come trade even if you have all the individual issues because of the extra material. So if you have some redundacies in your collection you may already have some presents.

Or there are, like I said earlier, some comics in hardcover you paid good money for but which you only read ONE time and never looked at them again. Now, remember that even YOUNGBLOOD had fans so just because you don´t like it that doesn´t mean that somebody else will not like it and think it cool. Now before coming to the last point I just want to say that the best place to get comics for presents is at comic cons or comic fairs where you can get a lot of comics for half price or less. I always buy some comics to give away later and I always have four or five comics who I could give as presents. Because there are always people who pay you a surprise visit and I just love to see their faces when I can get them a christmas or birthday present in one or two minutes.

Now what comics to pick ? As a rule of thumb for non comic readers try to find a comic in a field of interest they already have and look for VERTIGO books or mangas first. Comicmuggels normally have a fear of superheroes and capes and they don´t think of mangas as comics. So try getting something else for the first time and when they have read the comic and trust your judgement you can go to the best part. Try to match their hobbies with you present like for crime fiction fans you can get 100 BULLETS or CASE CLOSED. If they have seen movies like Spider - Man, X - Men, V FOR VENDETTA, FROM HELL or SIN CITY and they have liked them get them the comics to show them that they are far better. With SIN CITY or HELLBOY it doesn´t really much matter which story you get but with X - Men or Spider - Man go for the best of the best like the DEATH OF PHOENIX storyline or KRAVEN´S LAST HUNT which has just come out again as a hardcover. If they like westerns you could go for DESPERADOS and if they liked PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN you could try CAZADOR from CROSSGEN. As an aside most comics of CrossGen had more female readers so if you are thinking about a present for a girl you might pick ROUTE 666 ( if she is a horror fan ) or MERIDIAN ( if she likes fantasy ) or SOJOURN ( if she liked LORD OF THE RINGS )with a female lead character. And if the person is a fan of tv shows like 24 or CSI or X - FILES they might not know that there is a comic to that show.

No comic reads for today. I hoped to be able to read some of the issues I saved for the holidays like SUPERMAN / BATMAN, EXILES or GREEN ARROW. But so far I had no luck. Anyway, best wishes to all and I hope I gave you some ideas for the next presents.

Merry Christmas !Fröhliche Weihnachten ! Feliz Navidad ! Bon Noel ! Happy Hannukah !

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    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Back to the mirror universe

    A while ago I posted about the ENTERPRISE episodes that took place in the mirror universe in a post called

  • vulcan booty and comic goodies

  • where I wrote about the hot women in the mirror universe in general and Tpol especially. Since I now found out how to post videos I wanted to post some I found the other week. The first one is about the two ENTERPRISE episodes including scenes from the hot catfight between Tpol and Hoshi.

    This second clip is about the hotness of the mirror universe babes from the first episode with Uhura through all following incarnations. I almost forgot the DS9 version. Makes you wonder what a SEVEN OF NINE mirror univers version would have looked like.

    Speaking of SEVEN OF NINE for me Jeri Ryan was the only reason I watched VOYAGER. If there was ever one reason to be assimilated by the borg is was to try to cyberdo it with SEVEN OF NINE. Sadly the producers of the show realized that she was too hot for television and tried to limit her sex appeal by changing her blue outfit to a darker brown that didn´t show her curves as good. Here is a clip with some highlights of SEVEN OF NINE from an otherwise lame tv series.

    But let´s not forget that this blog is mainly about comics and there is quite abacklog that I have to wade through. So let´s get right to it because I still have to do some christmas shopping. I mean if christmas was tomorrow I would have a present for everyone but I´m still looking for that special something.

    First of the comics I want to write about is STAN LEE MEETS DR. STRANGE one of four ( or was it five ) special one shots celebrating Marvel´s frontman by having him meets his creations. Even if I´m not sure if that is necessary or not any comic featuring Alan Davis is okay in my book. Especially if it is such wonderful art as in this one. Alan Davis is one of the few artists who despite incredible skills has not quite entered the superstar artist category despite decades of mindblowing artwork, not to mention his incredible writing skills. Like David Finch before NEW AVENGERS there still seems to be that ONE special project missing from Alan Davis career which might be the recently started FANTASTIC FOUR : THE END mini series. Hopefully !

    As much as I might whish for it Alan Davis is not the only artist in this issue which features three stories :

    The first one in which Stan gets to meet his creation ( come on that´s not spoiling - it says it right on the cover )written by Stan Lee himself is my favorite one although I found the story a little bit depressing. But you can´t argue with the Davis.

  • Stan Lee meets Dr.Strange

  • The second one written by Brian Michael Bendis and art by Mark Bagley is kind of a commentary about the criticism that Marvel has gotten over all the radical changes sweeping the Marvel Universe the last year. It seems a bit preachy at first but if you take a minute to think about it it does have a point. And we really don´t get to see the IMPOSSIBLE MAN as often as he deserves.

    After a two page sequence from MINI MARVELS ( one of the most funny and hilarious series from Marvel ) the last story is a reprint of MARVEL PREMIERE 3 written by Stan Lee with plot and pencils from Barry Windsor Smith as his best. The series MARVEL PREMIERE had really the broadest spectrum qualitywise which ranged from gems of the artform to really strange and experimental stuff. There also were some issues which contained comics that couldn´t get published anywhere else like the John Buscema drawn first issue of a SILVER SURFER series that was cancelled.

    All in all a really good package.

    Next is the ASTRO CITY SPECIAL. The first issue of ASTRO CITY : THE DARK AGES BOOK TWO miniseries is out so it is about time that I post my comments on this oneshot. There is not much to say about Kurt Busiek´s writing on this series or Brent Anderson´s art or Alex Ross´fine covers that hasn´t beeen said more eloquently before. This superhero series that leaves the mainstream far behind is already known to you or you are missing out on one of the best books this artform has to offer. Now I´m not sure if the story in the book has anything to do with the current ongoing story. It features Samaritan and the villain Infidel, who was drawn by Alex Ross for the WIZARD special DARK BOOK that was all about supervillains. Thanks to clamoring fans who kept asking for his appearance Kurt Busiek penned this selfcontained story. Unlike other, more mainstream books the meeting of Samaritan and Infidel was not at all what I expected but entertaining nonetheless. We also get the whole backstory of Infidel via flashback sequences. What makes ASTRO CITY so special is that it knows pretty well which parts it has to show us and which we can fill out ourselves because we have already seen them a gazillion times in other comics. I know that is not the actual cover I posted but I couldn´t find it and it´s a nice picture, isn´t it ?

    So thank you WIZARD for this one.

  • Astro City Special

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    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Best. Wolverine. Ever.

    We all love Wolverine. And I don´t mean in that " hidden - in - the - closet - gay - way " that somebody on the internet implied to bash all Wolverinefans. No, just because you like Wolverine as a character doesn´t mean you are gay. Let´s be real : It´s just natural to like the guy. Unless you are a Gambit fan. If you are one of the fans of this phony, lying, deceiving, shallow impersonation and mockery of an X - Men you need to stop to read just now. He´s just a two - bit Longshot clone with no dimension and no conscience at all. If you can´t grasp the reality of this ( it really is totally obvious if you have read X - Men in the 80s when the cool and different Longshot disappeared from the team only to be replaced by this carboncopy Longshot - wannabe ) and realize the glory that is Wolverine you better stop reading right now. You don´t get it and you never will.

    No, I mean it. I have had many discussions with Gambitfans, online or during comic conventions and I know the result before we even start. I have heard all the arguments about why Gambit is " cool " and they are all lacking. No matter how you slice it there is no real point to this character. So let us just save ourselves hours of meaningless debating and agree that we disagree. No need to go through the three phases of Gambit defending : Fraternization, Worlddomination and Wolverine - bashing. In the first phase a Gambithugger will try to bring you to his side by pretending to like Wolverine and basically saying that he is just like you.....but that you have not realized that Gambit indeed is cool. The second phase happens when he suddenly realizes that he has failed in fooling you into believing that you are not so different from him. Now he switches tactics and will try to convince you that Gambit ( or like I like to call him : " Gambito " which is his name in the spanish translation because since the spanish are experts on " machismo " they know a wannabe when they see one ) is the best X - Men ever. The only mistake he will make is that he will use all the reasons why Gambit sucks as his arguments why he is so cool. Of course this will not win you over so he will resort to the last recourse that is left to him : Wolverine - bashing. If he can´t win you over he will now try to spoil Wolverine for you by trying to tarnish and belittle the character. Which is a futile exercise because Wolverine is just unbashable. But I realize that I´m already writing too much about Gambit and not enough about Logan. I am going to do a seperate post about why Gambit sucks and prove that he adds nothing to X - Men lore and nobody would notice if he never appeared in a comic again. Or maybe it will turn into a whole series of posts. Something like the " theme weeks " on Dave´s Longbox but my own version of it since I am not posting daily. Stay tuned for " We all hate Gambit - I just admit it ! " month next on this blog.

    Now were was I ? Right. Wolverine. I may have mentioned it in a previous post but when it was announced that the Wolverine series would start over with a new number one I was not really bursting with excitement. As a longtime comicreader with more than 20 years of experience I knew that relaunches and new editorial directions can be successful but they can also turn into a smoldering carcrash like the painful " Excorzist Punisher " we all tried to forget. There was one thing that was positive about the relaunch of the Wolverine series : with an artist - extraordinaire like Darick Robertson as regular artist I already knew the book would kick ass in the art departement. The really funny thing that happened when the announcement was made for me was how many comicfans were debating online if Darick Robertson would be able to pull off drawing Wolverine. Wasn´t he this " science - fiction - artist " who did Transmetropolitan ? Would he be able to pull off a "superhero book " like Wolverine ?

    First off : Wolverine is not really a superhero comic. If you really think about it it´s more of a western comic like Conan or a monster comic like Ghost Rider. Not only has he a dark and dangerous side which basically makes him a walking weapon of mass destruction, it also looks ten times scarier if he pops his claws in regular clothes than when he´s wearing spandex. Which is one of the reasons why he should wear plain clothes as often as possible.

    Secondly : Before drawing Transmetropolitan Darick Robertson worked on superhero comics like NEW WARRIORS and everybody was doubting this superhero - artist could pull off a science fiction book like Transmetropolitan. Interesting how deeply readers are imprinted with this whole labeling thing.

    And last : Seems that everybody has already forgotten that one of the " superhero " comics Darick did was indeed.....none other than Wolverine. So he did it once and already proved that he was able to pull it off.

    Okay, so I had no doubts about the artist. In fact as soon as I knew who would draw the series it already was on my pull list. I just was not sure if it would be on the same level storywise. The only thing I had read from the new writer ( if I remember correctly and am not confusing him with another writer....which may just be because I can´t even remember his name ) was that colossal BATMAN - NO MAN´S LAND fiasco I´m still getting nightmares from. But luckily all my doubts were unfounded. The new series turn out to be one of the best ever. From the gritty, real world feeling of the first storylines with Darick Robertson to the high espionage, blockbuster superhero ninja clan action of the John Romita Jr storylines ENEMY OF THE STATE and AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D it was all good. Even the Texeira issues were really entertaining even if the main part of the action happened in the new ORIGIN series. Yes, I tend to refer to runs on the artists side and not on the writers. That´s because as an artist myself I tend to remember the artists more and it´s usually the first thing I look for in a comic.

    It seems I never learn. When the new team of Humberto Ramos and Marc Guggenheim was announced I was thinking about taking the book of my pull list.

    Oh ye of little faith !

    Thank god I gave the book a chance because I would have missed one of the best Wolverine stories. Ever. If you really want to call yourself a Wolverine fan you just have to read this. Don´t mind the CIVIL WAR banner. You can read the whole thing without ever having read an issue of CIVIL WAR. Everything you need to know is in the Wolverine issues. Now you may have noticed that I commented on the first issue of this storyline but not on any of the subsequent issues. That´s because my comicshop skipped issue 43 which was the second issue of the storyline. Remember kids : if the gaps between issues are too long it may be because your comicshop didn´t get the latest issue. Now there are some comics were I just read ahead if I missed an issue but this was not one of them. So I wanted to wait till I got the missing issue all the while the new issues kept piling up ( alongside other series like SUPERMAN / BATMAN, EXILES or JUSTICE ) but it seemed I was waiting in vain since none of the online comicshops had the issue. Thankfully the CIVIL WAR hype was in full effect so that the issue was reprinted and I got a chance to continue reading. I just hope that the first issue of the run gets also reprinted since I am hesitant to read my signed copy.

    Okay, the issues I am going to write about are Wolverine 43 to 47 ( which you may have already guessed since if everything goes according to my plan the pics I have posted till this point are the covers to issues 43 to 47 - with one or two other ones inbetween ) and I don´t know if I am able to keep it all spoiler free. The preview pages I am going to post ARE indeed spoiling some things so from here on - consider yourself warned. I prefer to post links to previews but since they sometimes are put off the net again this is sometimes the only way to illustate my post which could get harder if it was all text with no pictures inbetween.

    Like all CIVIL WAR tie - in the WOLVERINE story is part of a bigger picture but it works also without the main CIVIL WAR series for which I must thank Marvel because so far the whole event has lived up to all the hype. In issue 42 we saw how after the events in Stamford it seems that everyone is busy with their own agenda. The government is using this incident to finally force all superheroes to work for them, S.H.I.E.L.D is using the situation to solidify their power and getting rid of anyone who would oppose them, the media is putting all the blame on the only surviving ( well, one of the few surviving ) member of the NEW WARRIORS and the heroes themselves are busy picking sides. Seems like everybody is debating what to do or trying to stay neutral like the X - Men. Well, if you know ONE thing about Logan it´s that he´s not very good at things like staying neutral or not getting involved. Like Captain America he remembers world war II and knows that sometimes you don´t get to stand at the sidelines because sooner or later you will get involved. So while the rest of the X - Men are busy trying to stay under the radar of politicians and power players Logan does the thing nobody else seems to be interested in : getting the guy who really is responsible for the catastrophe in Stamford. But it turns out more difficult than Logan thought and the story quickly turns into a version of GET CARTER on acid.

    In issue 43 Wolverine is getting nearer to finding Nitro but it seems there is an obstacle in his way : namely Iron Man. The sellout. Tony has been tracking Logan to find Nitro and tries to bring him in without Logan. Because basically he fears that when everyone´s favorite canadian gets ahold of that scumbag he will do what he does best. Punch his ticket - permanently. Cause that seems like the right thing to do. Right ? Well, when the S.H.I.E.L.D striketeam and Wolverine try to apprehend Nitro they get a firsthand demonstration of his powers - everyone dies. Luckily if there is one thing Wolverine´s good at it´s getting better. But before Logan is again ready for action Nitro makes an important phone call. Seems that somebody is pulling strings behind the scenes and manipulating everyone to serve his own agenda. And just before we come back to Wolverine kicking ass we find out that Logan is not the only one who is after Nitro. Now it all turns into a race.

    Like in the first issue Marc Guggenheim just delivers the best dialogue in the series whenever characters are interacting. Not only does he nail Wolverine no matter if he is talking with somebody or delivering his inner monologue but he writes everybody as good as this. Additionally the longtime reader can easily see that he knows his continuity by little bits and comments he puts in the story without hitting the reader over the head with it or distracting from the story. I would really like to show a few examples of the dialogue but it´s just better if you read it in the issues and in the right context for the first time. Trust me.

    Mr. Guggenheim just knows his Wolverine. I can´t explain it any other way. This guy just has a real gift for channeling his inner Logan. ( Wow, I soo want this on a t - shirt. The cover to issue 42 and the words " channel your inner Logan " on it. That would be totally airwolf ! ) There are some writers who don´t understand machismo and some who don´t know how to write Wolverine. It´s a common belief that there is nothing complicated to writing him but if history has taught as anything it´s that it is not always a matter of what is done but also of who does it. I have read comics where Wolverine behaved totally out of character and was suddenly hitting on Spider - Man´s wife or where he cried like a little girl because Spidey bonked him on the nose. I have read comics where he behaved like a total asshole in addition to getting drunk but caved in when Captain America ripped him a new one ( I´m looking at you Mr. Bendis. ) although he is neither american nor does Logan gives a rat´s behind what Mr. Flagman says. He doesn´t even like the dude, man. So writing Wolverine is not as easy as it seems. And in this story we may just see the essential Wolverine. Because the writer just cuts down to the quintessence of what makes up this complicated and multilayered character and puts him under the microscope.

    Artwise I was a little concerned if somebody like Humberto Ramos could click with the book having a more cartoony style sometimes but from the first issue on you can see that he is delivering the best work of his career. And I´m not only saying this because I met him in Erlangen and he did a sketch of my favorite Speedster for me. There are a lot of artists out there who draw in a certain edgy, mangainfluenced style but most of them are just copiers or followers. Not that there is something inherently bad with copying. Most artists start this way and later evolve like Brian Hitch who at the beginning of his career was copying Alan Davis and has nowadays surpassed him popularitywise. But there are people who are influenced and there are people that are an influence. And Humberto Ramos is one of the guys being an influence.

    By the way, since we are on the subject of copying I just wanted to point out that it is a common mistake that Carlos Meglia is often labeled as an Humberto Ramos clone. Which is not true since Carlos Meglia has been drawing in that style for years while Humberto´s style just evolved into what it is today. So Mr. Meglia came before. Just check out his issues of CYBER SIX.

    The next issue opens up with Wolverine giving Nitro a taste of his own brand of justice - while he is buck naked. Yup, that´s right. The explosion in last issue of course fried all his clothes but that doesn´t stop him from laying down the law. In fact at the end of the issue he still hasn´t covered up. That is just so cool. Of course, this being an all ages comic and not part of the Marvel MAX line we don´t really get to see Wolverine´s dirty parts as they get covered up with shadows and leaves falling from trees but nevertheless it is still extremely cool and just nails his personality. Now while Logan tries to have fun the other people who are after Nitro appear and try to talk Logan into handing Nitro over to them. Now, even if Logan would be okay with handing a mass murderer over to a bunch of strangers he never met without any knowledge what they plan to do with him - there is just a little problem with that. Just before the strangers turned up Nitro was trying to make a deal with Logan and telling him the name of the person behind it all. So now it turns into one big brawl with everybody against everybody while Logan has to keep Nitro alive. And if it´s only to kill him himself. In the end of this issue we find out who these strange people are and another mutant guest star has his big entrance.

    Which brings us to issue 45. If you have seen the cover I posted above you already know who that mutant is : it´s Namor, Marvel´s first mutant. Now the atlanteans, and Namor especially, want to bring Nitro to atlantean justice because when he went off and killed almost all NEW WARRIORS he also killed a member of the atlantean royal family. I´m not going to say who that is. If you know your Marvel history and your New Warriors you know who I am talking about and if you haven´t figured out who that may be in spite of all the clues I just gave you I´m not going to spoil it now. So a big brawl between Wolverine and the atlanteans breaks out which ends with Namor and his subjects taking off with Nitro.

    By the way, the following preview pages are not in reading order so you can´t guess what happens in the issues. Thankfully Marvel posted them without dialogue so there are not that many spoiler on that front.

    So now the atlanteans have taken away Nitro to give him a taste of their own brand of justice.

    And the story could end just there. But Logan still doesn´t know who is behind it all and he has to get Nitro before atlantean justice leaves him in a condition where he is unable to talk. More than that, before Nitro was abducted Logan gave him his word he would protect him if he told him who was behind it all. Wolverine has always been a person who keeps his word no matter how painful that may get. Since he can´t breathe underwater he calls in Iron Man to talk to Namor and try to persuade him to hand Nitro over. Of course the conversation between the two turns into a confrontation - especially because it is not Tony in that Iron Man armor but Logan. The resolution to the whole dilemma is down very intelligent and Logan has to think about what he really wants. Does he just want to kill the guy ? Or does he want justice ? Is he willing to let Nitro off the hook to get the bigger bad guy ? Or is the only thing he is interested in keeping his word and his honor ?

    In issue 46 Wolverine starts to go after the REAL bad guy who was revealed at the end of issue 45 and he is none other than the CEO of.....Damage Control. Which is another reason why this story is just too cool for words. Every comic reader just loves Damage Control as well they should. The concept of Damage Control may just well be the only genuine sign of genious at the House of Ideas. Damage Control was so successful with fans that it lasted three whole miniseries even as the art was getting worse and worse. So any book that includes Damage Control, like in Carlos Pacheco´s sadly underrated Fantastic Four run, is okay in SUBZERO´s book. Anyway, the interesting part in this book begins when Wolverine realizes he can´t win this fight with the usual means because the bad guy is a company. An artificial person. And this is when Wolverine gets inventive.

  • Issue 46

  • Issue 47 has the big resolution which is the reason why I am not going to mention anything that happens in the issue. If you have read so far you already have a lot of spoilers but I´m not going to ruin the big finale. Let´s just say that there is a lot of action and leave it at that. Sadly issue 48 which is announced as a sort of epilogue is the last one from this creative team thus ending one of the best Wolverine stories ever. It was mentioned that there may be the possibility the team might return for another round with the old canucklehead. Like all internet rumors I´m going to believe it when I´m holding the issues in my hands. What I do know is that I just can´t wait to see where Humberto Ramos pops up next. And I´m definetly going to keep my eyes open for the next comic project from Mr. Guggenheim. I´m pretty sure that I´m not the only one who needs to remember this name.

    Wow. At times like these it´s just great to be a comic fan. So this comic falls into the " well worth the money " category and if you have skipped all the spoilerfilled comments about the single issues you really don´t need more information than this. If you have a chance, go and get the single issues. If not, get the trade.

    I have read many a Wolverine stories in my long and tumultuous comic reading career and the really good Wolverine stories have been not nearly enough.

    Attention : No Gambits were hurt in the making of this post. I just wish they were. Sigh.

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    Invincible punch !

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Gypsy ist Verwirrung !

    It´s been a few months since my last post and wouldn´t you know I just was reminded why : After writing the first three paragraphs of this post Mozilla Firefox has crashed without any hope. So I´m trying to write the rest of this post with internet explorer. This post has again taken on a life of it´s own but that´s how things go. Life is what happens while you are making other plans.

    Edit : It´s now one week later during which I was not able to finish this post. I hope I have more luck this time.

    Now it´s been ages since I wrote something and there is a huge pile of comics to write about. Last month me and my brother went to the COMIC ACTION in Essen thanks to the kind invitation of the guys from Schwarzer Turm. They had rented a place where we ( and a lot of other comic freaks ) could crash. Without that possibility we surely wouldn´t have gone to Essen because we couldn´t afford to pay for hotel rooms. On the first day we came a little late because like always my brother is not cabable of packing his stuff BEFORE we have to go anywhere. So we arrived two hours before closing time on the first day but we stayed till the last day and so we had plenty of time for hanging with the guys. And thanks to Robi and Co it was like one big comic book party. But more on that subject later.

    There are so many comics to write about that I have no idea where to begin so I´m going to zig zag from new comics to old ones and back. The first one is WILDCATS 1 by Grant Morrison and Jim Lee. I don´t remember if this is the third number one or the fourth. The first time I encountered the WILDCATS ( or better the WildC.A.T.S. ) was way back when comics were selling by the truckloads ( compared to now anyway ) and this new company called Image had just started. All the superstar artists from Marvel had left and were now trying to make their own comics and everybody knew they were not going to last longer than one year. Two years tops. The comics that came out were known for two things : mindblowing art with computer coloring and incredible gaps in publication. I remember seeing the first image of the team and thinking : Who is that bum with the stupid mask ? Who needs a guy with guns on a superhero team ? And what kind of a name is " Grifter " anyway ? He sucks.

    Yeah, that shows you how much I know - since Grifter a.k.a. Cole Cash is not only cooler than Wolverine but became my favorite team member from the first issue on. How can you not like a guy with a removable neck ? Or the next best thing. The comic had more action than X - Men and really hot babes like Vodoo and Zealot. Especially Zealot who was featured on a cover which showed her best ASSett.........or in other words - her butt ! You guys out there know which cover I´m speaking of. I tried to find a pic of the cover but no luck so far. Anyway that image made a huge impression on young the whole series. I stayed on the book till the first tour of duty of Travis Charest with stories by Alan Moore. From the following relaunches and cancellations I don´t remember that much. There was one relaunch with Travis Charest as an artist with fill-in issues by Carlos Meglia and Brian Hitch but soon afterwards Travis Charest left for good and so did I. There were one or two series that got good reviews but didn´t sell very well which in my opinion had something to do with the less than stellar art. And that was that.

    Now the series is back with a new number 1, a new creative team of Jim Lee and Grant Morrison and you may just be asking yourself if we really need a new volume of a comic that has failed time and again. Which by the way was what everyone was saying when Marv Wolfman and George Perez relaunched TEEN TITANS. So, isn´t Grant Morrison already writing like a dozen of books ? Do we really need Jim Lee on another book when he should be busy finishing the next issue of that fan favorite series DC ALL STARS - BATMAN AND ROBIN ? Come on, you know you can´t wait for the next issue.

    Is this book really necessary ?

    The answer for all this is - yeah ! Or better yet : Hell, yeah ! After reading the first issue I can say that we, as comic readers, really need this book. There is not much happening storywise in issue one which just serves to catch up the readers to where the old team members are now. Which for me is essential because I have no idea what happened in those other two series. So in this issue we see some old friends - and Grifter kicking some ass ! Man, he really kicks some ass. This series is already the best Wildcats series of all time because page 21 ( which is in fact the now already famous " Grifter kicking ass " page ) is completely in german ! I´m not joking. It´s just three ways of cool to read : " Grifter ist Verwirrung ! " in a Wildcats comic. So, it needs a little more hot babes ( Hey, Mr. Lee, how about another butt cover ? Hint, hint. ) but otherwise this series is off to a good start.

    Now the second part of this post is about the storyline A GAME OF CHANCE than ran through issues 22 to 25 of JLA CLASSIFIED and issues 14 to 16 of JSA CLASSIFIED. The story is by Steve Englehart with pencils by Tom Derenick, inks by Mark Farmer and covers by Mike Zeck who really does not enough comic book work these days. And before I say anything else I have to say it again : inks by Mark Farmer ! Because that´s the main reason I bought the book. Now Tom Derenick is a good artist but sometimes his work can suffer by unfortunate inks like in the last JLA story where he was inked by Dan Green, longtime X - Men inker. But in this case Mark Farmer manages to lift the art onto a new level. Tom´s art has never looked so good - at least as I can remember. And the artwork is really worthy of such excellent embellishment featuring such hot babes like Gypsy and Vixen stretching and strutting their stuff. Which reminds me that someone should tell DC that the name Vixen sounds like a german word for spanking the monkey. So maybe her name should be translated in the german version to something like " die Füchsin " .

    The story has been splitted between the two series because it is told in two parts. One tells a story from the past featuring the Detroit League and the other tells a story from the present involving members of the JSA and of the old Detroit League. Now you may be already crying out in pain : " Oh no, not the Detroit League ! Why DC, why ? " For me this was one of the first encounters with this particular version of the Justice League that most Justice League conoisseurs regard as the worst League ever. So maybe I was lucky to not have read something about them before and my mind was still untainted by them. And maybe I just missed the best JLA stories ever. But for me all the characters are new and intruiging and - cool. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. I only know the characters of Vixen and Vibe from the cartoon series Justice League Unlimited where they were really well written. Especially Vibe was featured in one issue of the comic to Justice League Unlimited and he was really muy macho.

    Before I go any further and spoil the hell out of this comic I have to ask one question : What is wrong with Steve Englehart ? During the entire story he´s dissing Gypsy and talking trash about gypsies. Either his whole family was eradicated by gypsies or they ate his favorite dog or......I don´t know what is going on ! I don´t like to think there are prejudiced comic writers but I just can´t help myself. There is a sneaking suspicion that this comic does not show gypsies in a good light. I mean, yes, the character of Gypsy is very heroic but there is an underlying voice that warns us about the evil of the gypsies. Like in issue JLA CLASSIFIED issue 23, page 16 when Gypsy says : " It´s a game of chance fat boy ! And a game of trickery ! You´ve got no chance against a gypsy ! " Now is it just me or does she basically say : " Gypsies are the world´s greatest cheaters. " ? Sure sounds like it.

    Or in JSA CLASSIFIED 14, page 16 : " A gypsy always has secrets....".

    Or JSA CLASSIFIED 15, page 16 : " The great thing about being a gypsy - everyone ignores you until it´s to - ".

    Or JSA CLASSIFIED 16, page 6 : " I need more energy to rouse Vixen. So I steal it ! It´s what Gypsies do ! ". Okay, I´m all for women rousing other women....especially when they have names like Vixen. But come on, man. Isn´t that enough already ? So gypsies are not only cheaters and always keeping secrets now they are also all thieves. Talk about stereotypes in comics. But enough about gypsies and how american comic book writers see them. Because apart from that it´s really a good read.

    No, really.

    Okay, here comes the spoiler part so anybody who has not read the issues and relies on my word just go and buy the issues. To all others : You´ve been warned. The first part of the story, being told in the four issues of JLA CLASSIFIED, takes place in the past when Jonn Jonzz takes the four new members Steel, Vibe, Gypsy and Vixen on a camping trip / training exercise into the woods. His plan : to secretly evaluate them while they run their training sessions by reading their minds. Sure sounds like the evil version of the martian but let´s not dwell on that. What nobody is counting on is that the old Royal Flush Gang becomes aware of this and plans to get their revenge on the JLA by killing them all. Which should be pretty easy since they are all new, untested members and apart from the Martian Manhunter they have no heavy hitters. Right ? Wrong. Things start to really get interesting when members of the Royal Flush Gang are killed, a forest fire breaks out that traps the Detroit League, a new Royal Flush Gang appears - taking on not only the old Royal Flush Gang but the Detroit League too, trying to kill them both. The story itself revolves around luck, chances and possibilities which makes sense with adversaries like the Royal Flush Gang. Too many times they are presented in comics as throwaway villains with a gimmick that just are good for being clobbered in three seconds. Here Steve Englehart shows what makes them so special and in the process manages not only to make them interesting but downright scary. I´m not so sure if the science involved in the story is based on real science or if it is just this comic book science that doesn´t work in the real world but it does not detract from the story.

    So who cares ?

    Each of the four issues is told from the point of view of one of the new Detroit League members allowing them to take center stage and especially Vibe manages to win over the reader in just a few pages. He´s cool, he´s macho, he´s funny and if you have him - who needs the rest of the Jay - El - Ay ? On the other hand....a gang can always use numbers. It also gives a quick orign story of the four newbies which makes sense for all the readers who are not so familiar with JLA me. What I especially liked about the story was that it not only manages to spotlight the different characters and make them cool ( yes, even Aquaman ) but it doesn´t shy away from gritty or really gruesome elements - like when Aquaman has to cover himself in the blood of the slain Royal Flush Gang members to stay alive.

    The second part in JSA CLASSIFIED takes place in the present and features Vixen, Gypsy, Star- Girl and a few members of the JSA. Somehow the main villain from the JLA storyline has kidnapped the members of the JSA, making them fight against each other and Star - Girl, Vixen and Gypsy are out to rescue them. And Gypsy and Vixen are also there to get even with him. But of course nothing goes as planned and they end up in a world of trouble. Now before finishing the post I have to say I´m not sure about Gypsy´s powers because I have not read that many comics with her. There was one story of the Giffen League were Despero killed her parents but she didn´t use her powers that much. So her power level in these new stories seem kind of retconned to make her more of a A - level hero but maybe she was always this powerful. All things considered this is a storyline where your money is well spent and you get a lot of fun, excitemnet and entertainment for your buck. Good story, good art - what more do you need ?

    Did I mention that Wildcat beats the crap out of his JSA teammates in hardcore steelcage action ? Now if that doesn´t make you buy the comic......nothing will.

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    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Out of blue comes green

    I´m not reading GREEN LANTERN. When the series started I was excited ( as with any series that has Carlos Pacheco on art chores ) but the first issues were not what I expected from the return of Hal Jordan. The stories were just not outer spacey enough for me so when Carlos Pacheco left the series with the number 8 it was also time for me to ditch the series. Especially after I saw the brokeback Batman cover for issue 9. You know which one I mean. " Ooh, Batman, our lips are so close. "

    Now I always was a fan of the whole Green Lantern mythos. Especially in the first golden age issues when the green lanterns didn´t know who the guardians were or where their home planet was. That added a nice touch of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE to the series when they just got their mission orders from their batteries. The whole idea of an interplanetary policelike force to bring order to the universe just spoke to me. I mean how can you not like a series that gave us everything from a green lantern that was a planet to a green lantern that was a chipmunk - who later ended as roadkill in the GREEN LANTERN : MOSAIC series. Which by the way is the best Green Lantern series ever. If you are a Green Lantern fan you just have to get the series. You can probably find the issues in dollar bins since despite it´s greatness there are not that many outspoken fans of it. So get the issues before there is an article in Wizard about it and the prices start to soar.

    Reading Green Lantern began for me with Hal Jordan. In the beginnings of my comic voyage Green Lantern was a member of the Justice League and his name was Hal Jordan. He was friends with the Flash, Barry Allen, and his ring didn´t work on anything yellow. I always speculated that it was because the guardians, being the mischievious little cheapscates they are, outsourced the green lantern ring production to Taiwan. So the people down there built in an impurity against their skin color - not because they wanted to take over the world. But if the guardians refused to pay them then they were powerless if the guardians could just use the power rings against them. Yes, you read it here first. The whole impurity against yellow was because the guardians are such moneygrubbers.

    Coming back to the first issues of Green Lantern I read, most of the art was done by Joe Staton and Neal Adams. Of course it was as the german translation as Grüne Leuchte from Ehapa that I was introduced to the character. There was an earlier series that published the golden age issues under the name Grüne Laterne ( which was a far better translation of the name ) from the Williams Verlag but at that time I was much more interested in the adventures of the Marvel heroes like Spider - Man, Avengers or the Fantastic Four. But Green Lantern got his own series from Ehapa and I grabbed all issues I could get. During that time I was very interested in Science Fiction and devouring anything I could get my hands on, it didn´t matter if it was the Mark Brandis series from the library or those little poket books ( about the size of a matchbox ) from Pelikan that cost one Deutschmark. So Green Lantern was ( almost ) the best concept in comics : superheroes in space ! There is only one series that has a better premise and that is the Legion of Super - Heroes. Teenage superheroes in space - in the future ! You just can´t top that.

    I read most of the Green Lantern series when DC started with a new number one back in the good old days, when Pat Broderick was doing the art and Guy Gardner and Gnort were members of the corps. But I stopped reading after the whole Parallax / Kyle Rayner debacle. I can say it outright : I never liked Kyle Rayner and I never will. If you grew up with such green lantern pros like Hal Jordan or John Stewart it´s just impossible to enjoy the exploits of such a blundering fool like Kyle Rayner. And it was not that Kyle Rayner had to start from scratch, that I could have accepted. It was that he never evolved, he never learned and he never understood what it means to be a green lantern. He. Just. Didn´t. Get. It.

    There he was, the last and only green lantern left who was now not only in charge for space sector 2814 but for the whole freakin universe. But instead of patroling outer space he spend most of his time on earth. Never mind all the alien civilizations being wiped out by intergalactic supervillains. Just wait till they come to earth. And he never trained or learned to use his ring better. Never asked Guy or John or some of the other Green Lanterns for some tips on ringslinging. No Sir, why ask anybody for advice ? He was always more interested in doing fancy designed stuff than focusing on the task at hand. I mean I can understand it if it´s more interesting for the artist this way. But being an artist ( which by the way is the worst dayjob for superheroes and the least imaginative ) Kyle should know the first principle of design : keep it simple. The best designs are always the most simple. Another thing that bugged me was the fact that Sandman had to tell Kyle Rayner that he had a wish ring on his finger. Well, duh, what did Kyle think he was wearing ? Something form a Cracker Jack box ? But let´s not turn this post into an episode of " I hate Kyle " - that could be a post all of it´s own. Let´s just agree that Kyle was the worst green lantern ever and leave it at that.

    Now, in all my discussions with Kyle activists the main argument was always that I didn´t like Kyle Rayner because I grew up with Hal Jordan as a green lantern and therefore he was my favorite green lantern. The only reason I hated Kyle was because of Nostalgia. That´s the biggest piece of bull§#!+ I ever heard. Because while I DID grow up reading the adventures of Hal Jordan he´s not my favorite green lantern. Because there is only one true green lantern : Guy Gardner. The best there is. The best there was. And the best there ever will be. Part of the best incarnation of the League of all times and just one of the most interesting characters in comics. Because no matter if you loved him or hated him he was always honest. If he was an asshole he was an outspoken asshole. You knew which side he was on. So, no, sorry to disappoint all you Kylehuggers out there but the whole nostalgia argument just doesn´t count. The simple reason I hate Kyle is that next to lanterns like Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner Kyle just doesn´t make the cut. One of the things I always joked about was the fact that when Guy or Hal used their power ring it was like a cross between the Encyclopedia Galactica and an universal translator. But Kyle never used it that way. So I always said that one day Kyle would say a question out loud ( more to himself ) and the ring would answer.

    Kyle : Ring, why didn´t you speak to me before ? I sure could have used your help.

    Ring : You never asked.

    Sounds stupid ? Yes, that´s what I thought till this scene appeared in Green Lantern : Reborn. Seems I was not the only one who had Kyle pegged for an idiot. Speaking of the reborn mini series, the best about this series was that all the fans of Kyle Rayner got a taste of their own medicine. After years of hearing the same arguments why Kyle Rayner was the greatest green lantern ever it was just very satisfying to see that it was not so funny when they had to part with the green lantern THEY had grown to love. Enough of all the " Oh, you big bore. You just don´t like new things. " or " You just don´t want to evolve. You have to be open for change. " or " You have to be more tolerant. Hal Jordan is a thing of the past and we just have to embrace the new lantern. " Now it was more along the lines of " You killed Kyle Rayner ! You bastards ! " or " I want my old lantern back. " Now that´s Schadenfreude for you.

    Back to Green Lantern, the comic, I had thrown it from my pull list. But the other day I went to Stuttgart to pick up my mother at the airport and missed her because I was too late. Since I had already paid the train ticket to Stuttgart I went to my emergency comic shop in Esslingen so that it would not be a total waste of time and money. And there I stumbled upon issues 12 and 13 of Green Lantern containing part 3 and 4 of REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS. So after I got a look at the fabulous art by Ivan Reis I went down to the catacombs where I found issues 10 and 11 ( together with some issues of Supergirl & the Legion of Super - Heroes ) and bought them right away.

    Sadly, the story was not what I expected, namely some green lanterns going after Hal Jordan to make him pay for all the green lanterns he killed when he became Parallax and torturing him for days before executing him publicly. But the story is almost as good as that ( and who knows - they may still do it ). Now before I start with the story I want to say a few words about the artist Ivan Reis. What´s wrong with DC ? Why isn´t he a superstar ? He draws like a mean son of a bitch but he is just one of the many artists at DC. They need to promote this guy better. He could be the next Neal Adams. Because I have seen art from this guy, first on Lady Death and later on series like Action Comics and Rann / Thanagar War but his art never looked as good as in these issues. One of the reasons for that is the inker who takes over the inking chores with issue 11 : Oclair Albert. I don´t know who this guy is, I never heard of him but from now on he better ink all of Ivan Reis works. And if DC knows what is good for them they will put himon all books done by Ivan Reis. Because there are some dream teams of pencilers and inkers that are just greater than the sum of their parts : John Buscema and Tom Palmer, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer or Jim Lee and Scott Williams. And now Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert. While the art in isue 10 looks really good from issue 11 on it just is cool beyond words. From metal to clothing to textures Oclair Albert does it all easily and with a love for details that boggles the mind. It looks like a cross between Carlos Pacheco and Neal Adams combining the best of both artists.

    Before I go off on an endless art rant I want to say a few words about the story. If you haven´t read issue 10 to 13 of Green Lantern you should not read what follows now because there will be some spoilers in it. Just skip the rest ot this post and buy the isssues. Now, REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS takes place ONE YEAR LATER as we find Hal Jordan at odds with the Rocket Reds because of a violation of russian airspace and mainly introduces us to the new status quo of the " one year later " world. Things get really interesting when at the end of issue 10 a spaceship crashlands during a ceremony for Hal Jordan and two of his fellow pilots who are about to be awarded the P.O.W. medal for something that happend during 52. The ships only passenger : Tomar Tu, green lantern of space sector 2813.

    One of the green lanterns Hal Jordan killed. Or so we thought.

    Going through my back isues of Green Lantern I found out that Tomar Tu, and the other supposedly dead lanterns appeared on the last page of issue 3. Which would have been a shocker if my brain somehow registered that all these lanterns were supposed to be dead. But since the story where Hal Jordan killed them all off happened so long ago I just didn´t remember.

    Anyway, when it turns out that Tomar Tu hasn´t come to earth to seek Hal´s help, which they deduct when he begins screaming : " I will kill Hal Jordan ! ", Hal of course wants to find out if any of the other lanterns he thought dead may be alive again. So he asks the guardians if he can go look for them - of course the guardians say no. And of course he goes anyway and even takes Guy Gardner with him who kind of volunteers for the mission. Is it just me or is Hal like the guardian´s bitch ? He´s always like : " Come on, let me do this. " and they are always like : " Shut up, bitch. Know your place. " This guy just never learns. Hal, you always do what you want anyway. Just stop asking the blue guys and think about Nike´s motto : just do it.

    Now I don´t want to spoil more of the story but if you check out the pics I posted you already know who the villain is so what the heck.....just some things I wanted to mention.

    One of the best elements of the story : Guy Gardner. Geoff Johns seems to channel his inner Guy because this is the best Guy Gardner I´ve read in a long time. From him calling the guardians " smurf " to the moment where he only follows Hal´s orders to get power Girl´s home number this is just Gardner gold.

    Maybe DC should put on certain comics not only the ONE YEAR LATER symbol but also a POLITICAL CORRECTNESS sign. I mean what happened to the women in the green lantern corps ? Boodikka used to have boobs that could rival Power Girl´s power girls. Now she´s not even in the regular superheroine size area. And why was Arisia´s origin changed ? Seems that DC thought that her old origin where she was a thirteen year old girl who used her power ring to change her body to the body of a full grown woman was too dangerous for today´s comic readers and made Hal into too much of a womanizer - I mean more than him changing girlfriends like other people shirts. Since all kids just imitate anything they see or read DC didn´t want to come off as promoting adultery since Hal used to stick it to Arisia. So now her " new " origin is that thirteen years on her homeplanet are like two - hundred and forty years on earth. So now Hal did it with some really old bat who obviously took advantage of him and the adultery is the other way around. It seems that´s now more accectable for society. Hip hip hooray !

    And what´s with the flying green lantern emblem ? I don´t know if this is a new thing but this green emblem just hovering a few inches above his chest ( or the chest of other green lanterns ) just looks stupid. And it serves no purpose whatsoever. Is this supposed to be like a cop´s badge ? Why not just put a big sign saying " Hi ! I´m a Green Lantern. " on the chest ? Dude, if you haven´t figured out who the guy in the green suit is you deserve being arrested.

    Speaking of arresting people : whish I knew who is responsible for the atrocious covers for the issues. I mean I remember a time when the sole purpose of the covers was to sell the comic. But recently more and more comics have come out with worse art on the covers then inside the comic. It should be the other way around. That´s also the main reason why in this case I did not post the covers but rather the interior art. This may spoil a thing or two for you but I already warned you and at least you can see the penciled versions and the inked and colored pages. It was one hell of a job to find some art from the issues but I think it was worth it.

    To end on a positive note : any comic with Evil Cyborg Superman is a good comic. It is not very often that a villain from one hero´s rogue gallery can be successfully be integrated into another hero´s super villains. But it worked pretty well with Hank Henshaw a.k.a. Evil Cyborg Superman who became one of Hal´s top villains when he detroyed his hometown Coast City. It also helps that this guy is even more indestructable than the Terminator and crazy as a bat. And of course he just wants to help people - by killing everyone so they don´t have to suffer any more pain. Who ever thought that such a great villain would emerge from a cheap Fantastic Four rip off story that DC ran in the pages of a Superman comic ?

    So this story has it all : a really cool Guy Gardner, some green lanterns who haven´t forgotten who killed a lot of the corps, various interesting subplots like the Global Guardian´s membership drive or the yellow ring seeking members for the Sinestro Corps, underage lanterns suddenly turning into hundreds of years old women, more manhunters than you can shake a stick at and Evil Cyborg Superman. REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS is the best green lantern story I have read in a long time. If you suffered through GREEN LANTERN : REBORN you should definitely check out this book. It´s worth it for the art alone and definitely a read well worth your money.

    Knife to the eye !

    Saturday, September 09, 2006


    When I was a little boy there was this comic magazine in Germany called MV Comics which introduced me for the first time to the 31st century, home of the Legion of Super - Heroes. MV Comics was an anthology, which was a very common concept in my youth but which has almost completely disappeared now. Like the magazine KOBRA which featured the comics IRON CLAW, THE EYE OF ZOLTAN, TRIGAN and THE SPIDER there were different series in MV Comics. In general it contained one funny series - for the most part Archie comics, one frankobelgican comic like Asterix, Umpah - Pah, Isnogood, Lucky Luke, etc, etc.....and one superhero comic. Either from Marvel which meant Daredevil, Spider - Man, Fantastic Four and the likes. Or a DC series like Superman, Batman or.....the Legion of Super - Heroes.

    Now for me this was the first time I saw these kids which was around the same time I became aware of Spider - Man. Nowadays comic historians are making a big deal about how Spider - Man was the first teenaged superhero who was his own person and not a sidekick and not just a younger version of an existing character like Superboy was just a younger version of Superman. Seems that everybody has forgotten that long before Peter Parker came along there were some teenaged superheroes. In fact there were so many of them they called them the Legion.

    At the time I discovered the Legion I was much into it because it had all the things we all just knew the future would have : time travel, 147 different kinds if ice cream, bases on the moon and mars and flight belts. Because that´s the nice thing about the future : every generation has it´s own version. And every version reflects the curent state of science, music and pop culture. Which is the reason why in the original star trek future there are hotter space chicks than in the later versions and why they have hotter outfits ( miniskirts rule !). They were just sexually liberated at that time and the current future is dominated by sexual oppression due to political correctness. But thankfully if thousand of science fiction stories have one thing in common it´s the fact that nobody knows for sure if you can change the future or not. So there is still hope.

    But back to the legion. Team books were always the most successful kind of superhero comics. I mean what´s better than one superhero or a team up of two or three heroes ? A whole team of heroes. And the only thing better than a whole team of heroes ? A whole legion of heroes. The intruiging thing with the legion was that besides being superheroes they also were teenagers and had all the problems non superpowered heroes had - only worse. Like dating. I mean it can be nervewrecking to go on a blind date with a girl. But imagine if that girl can read your mind or punch you through a wall if she doesn´t like you. That´s a whole new level of pressure. And of course there were always friendships and jealousies flying high. Who had the better superpower ? Who had the bigger secret ? How to tell your girl that it´s not her fault but yours ? Because you really like her but you just can´t tell her the reason why you always have to dash off.

    Because it was really difficult to have relationships with non - superpowered teens most legionnaires dated within the legion. I mean, why try to have some meaningful relationship with that normal chick ( who just wants to expose your secret identity anyway ) if you can date a Supergirl ? You can fight crime together or avert disasters, you can go on patrol together or take a stroll through the meteor shower. If you have problems on the job because you accidently killed a small crook by letting a space cruiser fall on him you had somebody to talk about it. And let me tell you, monitor duty gets much more exciting with hot chicks.

    I guess that´s one of the reasons why in the Justice League of America they always have monitor duty alone. Less distractions. Because it´s not easy to tell Superman that you just kind of missed the big alert about the exploding volcano because you were checking out Wonder Woman´s cleavage. Or just wanted to check if the camera you installed in the women´s quarters just when Power Girl was taking a shower ( purely for security reasons ) is functioning properly and the only monitor you could hook it up to was the big plasma screen. You know, I always kind of wondered what really went up there with the boys and girls. Because if you have guys like Plastic Man or the Flash together with such fine centerfold material like Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Fire and all the other JLA babes there is just so much potential for stories. But that´s stuff for another post or my own JLA story when I can write about the day Robin was substituting Batman on monitor duty and Power Girl found out the real reason why he is called " the boy wonder " by all the girls.

    I don´t remember all the details about the legion couples but if my memory is correct Timber Wolf was with Light Lass, Brainiac 5 had a crush on Supergirl, Duo Girl ( formerly Trio Girl ) was with Baloon Boy, Phantom Girl was with Ultraboy and there was a love triangle with Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmoboy. But the topic of the legion couples became more interesting later when Mike Grell was doing the series for obvious reasons.

    Now as a young teenager I never wondered about the fact that in the future all the heroes were teenagers. I just took it as a given. Maybe there was a hidden message but I just don´t know which one it is supposed to be. Most of the adults seemed to be in the Science Police which was always in some kind of opposition, sometimes outright villains, sometimes just doing evil things although only wanting the best for the kids ( something that adults always do no matter which time you´re from ), sometimes beings friendly competition for the legion and sometimes just ineffectual or stupid. Or the adults were the villains which to my younger self made total sense. I don´t know if there was ever an explanation to what happened that all the adults gave up on the idea of superheroes.

    Somehow I lost track of the heroes of the 31st century and did not encounter them again till the german Ehapa Verlag printed their adventures in various comic books, extra issues and the Superbände ( which were magazine sized comics with 48 to 64 pages ) especially the Mike Grell issues. Man, that guy was just taking off and the hot women alone were worth the price of admission. Not only could Mike draw the female figure very well, they had the hottest costumes in Legion history with little clothing, a lot of cleavage and in general resembling more the itsy bitsy swimsuits of now ( combinig the best of spandex, shoe laces, exposed belly buttons and hip huggers ) which left a huge impression on little SUBZERO when he had just hit puberty. I very much doubt you could put them in those costumes now. But the costumes of the guys also got updated with a disco spin on it. At that time the costumes of the Legion of Super Heroes were the most modern costumes of comicdom. Not just DC or DC and Marvel. The most up to date costumes in general.

    Almost no capes ( except for Mon El and Superboy for the boys but that´s just the kryptonian thing. Some of the girls still had capes like Shadow Lass, Supergirl or Princess Projectra but most webt without ), they featured really futuristic designs and interesting patterns like the new costume for Star Boy. At that time DC was leading the way in superhero costumes. Everything was hip, the stories became more interesting with politics and science that reflected current trends and the legion members becoming more personality. Old members were updated and new members like Tyroc were introduced. Sadly they gave him a superpower that made him so powerful they had to get rid of him. But apart from that it was a really exciting time to be reading the legion. That´s when I became a really huge fan with the stories, the characters and mostly with the girls. Like I said I was a fan from the first stories I read because the concept combined so many things I really liked : science fiction, superheroes, the three musketeers, the federation of star trek ( here called the united planets ) or King Arthur and the round table.

    Now the first volume of the legion had it´s fans but it was not very successful commercially which must have been the reason that it took a long time before the legion got their own book. Because when I was researching the pictures for this post I couldn´t find most of the covers I remembered because they didn´t have their own series. Luckily I found one website that had a lot of the pictures and so I found out that at first the legion appeared in Action Comics ( at that time there were more anthology type series around ), then in Adventure Comics, then in Superboy, then in Superboy and the Legion of Super - Heroes and finally in their own magazine. One of the reasons why the legion was not as successful as it could have been was the fact that it´s greatest strength was also it´s greatest weakness : the sheer volume of it´s cast. It took a very good writer to show the individual traits of the characters and to give each member his own five minutes of glory. And very often writers focussed more on the " hot " members with lots of power instead of the ones with only one power. So that you knew very much about a few members and not so much about the rest.

    Another problem was that one of their members came from the past : namely Superboy. Since the legion was founded because of Superboy you couldn´t just kick him out but there was always the problem that he could learn little details that had the possibility to alter the time stream and thus erasing the future of the legion. Such little details as the death of Superboy´s parents or the moment of Supergirl´s or Superman´s death. Maybe that´s one of the reasons why the science police was not very thrilled about all the legions time - travelling. Thank god they later came up with a machine that erased any dangerous informations from Superboy´s brain like the cure for cancer or future terrorist attacks. So they had already invented the mind wipe long before IDENTITY CRISIS. Although since it took place in the future maybe it was inspired by it and more an after effect. Who would have thought that the story by Brad Meltzer would have such far reaching consequences ?

    Now I have to take a little break to comment on this cover. I mean, what´s wrong with this picture ? Not that Superboy is counting the money before he saves the child. And not the fact that Superboy takes mones to save somebody. But why is his speech ballon square ? Is it because he´s kryptonian ? And what´s up with that old dude having to pay Superboy in the first place ? Dude, you can catch the kid on your own. He´s not that heavy. If you just stand up you´re almost touching him. Man, those adults of the future sure are lazy. No wonder all the superheroes are teenagers.

    Even if there was some hokey or weird stuff in the earlier comics there is one thing that has not changed over the years : the idea and the spirit of the legion that there is strenght - not only in numbers - but also in diversity and that a society can grow through the differences of different races and different cultures. The general idea was that everyone can be special. On his homeplanet Winath Garth Ranzz is just like everyone else - but on another planet he suddenly becomes Lightning Lad. And that´s the case with almost every member of the legion. On one side they wanted to be different from the other people on their home planet but on the other side they joined the legion to belong to a group of kindred spirits. You could say that they achieved equality through diversity. They were all the same because everyone was different.

    And it didn´t matter which superpower you had. Sometimes it´s not Superboy or Cosmoboy who saves the galaxy, no, sometimes it´s the guy with the most insignificant power like Ferro Lad or Shrinking Violet. Which by the way had far cooler german names. I know, there are some german readers who get the shakes when they read names like WINZWANDA ( Shrinking Violet ), EISENGESICHT ( Iron Face which was Ferro Lad ) or WALDWOLF ( Timber Wolf ) but they sometimes sound more natural to me. The german names were a science all to it´s own and to this day I still don´t know why Lightning Lad was Blitzjunge but Starboy remained Starboy in german. Maybe the -boy thing was more common once Superboy became more popular. Even Karate Kid was called Karate Boy in Germany which is the reason why he never had to suffer any Ralph Macchio jokes here.

    Now there were some crazy ideas in the book but I have to confess that a lot of these things made the legion cool in my book because they were just so off the wall. I mean if teenagers decide the leader of the team through a rotationary sistem why not go all the way ? Case in point : the impropability machine, which was a modell of the planets of the star system and with the push of a button began to rotate. The legionnaire who was the first to get hit on the head by a ricochetting planet became the new leader. Democracy in it´s most essential form.

    Or the Legion of Substitute Heroes. There were regular auditions held ( and this was long before boybands like Take That or televised casting shows like star search ) for the membership in the legion - which probably was another point why I liked the stories. Which teenager doesn´t know the fear of failing a test ? Well, there were many who failed - like Polar Boy. Now it is still a mystery to me why Bouncing Boy was admitted to the legion but Polar Boy was rejected. One of the big injustices of the space time continuum. But unlike many others Polar Boy was not one to give up on his dream that easily after the first try. Together with a crew of other rejected teenaged heroes who got flight belts ( which much later got changed to flight rings even if it´s still a mystery to me how you can fly with only a ring instead of a belt ) as consolidation prizes he founded the Legion of Substitute Heroes to tackle the threats that were beneath the legion or to battle on if the legion should ever fall. Now the question remains if it is really such a bright idea to hand out flight belts as consolidation prizes to rejected teenagers with super powers. Most of them would get tanked and just crash into buildings or space ships. Or maybe that´s their way of dealing with overpopulation and how they keep the genepool clean.But seriously, what always fascinated me about the legion are those crazy ideas and weird stories. And I honestly believe if I ever had the chance to write a story it would rather be a story about the Legion of Substitute Heroes than the normal legion. Because there is much more potential in those outsiders that can´t even get the proper respect from their fellow superheroes. And one thing would be a must : the main character of the story would have to be Arm Fall Off Boy. Yes, that´s right, a superhero whose only ability is to let his arms fall off his body and reattach them at will. Like a lizard that loses his tail to escape ( which would be far to graphic and painfull so they went for the arms in this case ) he can seperate his arms at times of peril - or whenever he wants to. When I first read about this character there was only one thought in my mind : this has to be the coolest superpower of all the comics I have read in my whole life. Ever. I mean, there are just 1001 ways how to use this ( which could become a seperate post ).

    After a long period of legion deprivation due to the great comic drought in Germany I only rediscovered the Legion of Superheroes two years before the megacrossover ZERO HOUR. My brother had started to read the series and was thinking about dropping it because they wanted to reboot the whole history with ZERO HOUR so I bought the last big storline from him and put the new series on my pull list. The series was written by Keith Giffen and later on by Tom and Mary Bierbaum. My brother had begun to read the series while Jason Pearson was doing the art and when the team changed and Stuart Immomen came on board things got really interesting.

    The teenagers had become adults but after a few months ZERO HOUR was looming on the horizon so they put out the lights and began preparing for the relaunch. I don´t know how successful the series had been but there were some problems with the basic story to begin with. When the first crisis was over there was no longer a Superboy who was a member of the legion and who later would become Superman. Because in MAN OF STEEL John Byrne changed the history of Superman and he got his superpowers as an adult. It was then explained that the time trapper ( an old legion villain ) had created his own future universe and that whenever Superboy, who was now a Superboy of an alternate earth, thought he was travelling to the future he was only transported to the time trappers patented future simulacrum now commonly known as " I can´t believe it´s not the 31st century ".

    When I began to read this new series there were two teams. One with older versions of the heroes who apparently just had survived some big war or catastrophe. They were the originals who had become adults. And another team they apparently found during their last adventure that consisted of clones of them. Who were younger versions. The team with the adults was starring in LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES and the team with the teenagers was starring in LEGIONNAIRES. From the latter one I didn´t read many issues, I think I only have two, one of them the issue Adam Hughes did who was providing covers for the series. The series I did read was Legion of Super - Heroes and I began when they were fighting against Mordru and had to hide their identity with new superhero identities. There were some old members and some new ones, one in peticular that I instantly liked : XS aka Jenni Ognats who after ZERO HOUR became Bart Allen´s cousin and one of my favorite characters.

    Sadly just when I was enjoing the series they had to wrap everything up which they did by destroying the universe the time trapper had built ( who was revealed to be a fellow legionnaire ) and they just pushed the reset button. Makes my head hurt. There are only a few things that were positive in the case of the crossover : one being the new STARMAN series the other the reboot of the legion. Much as I had loved the series before this one was even better. With two series ( Legion of Super - Heroes and Legionnaries ) every month DC created one of the big comic - epics of modern times. With art by Lee Moder and Jeff Moy ( later to be joined by Alan Davis on the covers ) the series modernized the story of the legion and built it up from day one. Sadly I never got the last few issues and subsequentially missed LEGION LOST which was one of the best stories ever written about the Legion of Superheroes according to it´s readers and comic critics. Which must be the reason why it was never collected in a trade paperback. I rejoined the Legion with the german monsterband from PANINI comics that costs 20 EUROs and contains the first 14 issues of the new series that followed the LEGION LOST storyline. This comic should be in every comic collection.

    Now the reason for this whole post is that I finally have gotten around to read the two trades of the new Legion series I bought before Erlangen containing the first 13 issues - which is the first big story arc. The series written by Mark Waid with artwork by Barry Kitson is the Legion story after the new crisis. This is not the first collaboration of these two artists who have already worked on series like JLA : YEAR ONE, EMPIRE or THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. So they already know their strenghts and it shows in this collection. The story is not so much a reboot of the whole legion canon as a re - imagening. Which is a wise decision in my opinion because they don´t have to fill in all the backstory of how they got their powers and formed the legion and stuff. There are enough versions of these stories and we as the reader get to pick the one we like best. And the artists can focus on telling their story.

    Which begins in a 31st century that has seen the last of war, the last of conflict and knows only peace. Everything is secure and peaceful and quiet. And utterly dull. People don´t interact, they prefer not to meet in person and if they have to meet they prefer to talk to a video screen rather than to another human being. A fact that is nicely illustrated by a scene with two coworkers who are in the same room and although they are only one meter apart they keep talking to their screen rather than to each other. Now to keep everything so peaceful all the teenagers are constantly observed by the public service system which gets enforced by the science police ( which have always been the anthanagonists of the legion like the hall monitors of the future ). Of course there are some teenagers who rebel against the system by joining a new movement : the Legion of Superheroes who cannot be detected by the public service system when they don their legion flight rings.

    By turning a superhero team into a teenage revolution Mark Waid manages to keep the idea of the legion fresh and reader friendly for all the readers who never read a legion comic before. You don´t have to know anything to enjoy this series. Because really, names like Lightning Lad, Invisible Kid or Chamaleon are just self - explainatory, aren´t they. And there are enough inside gags and new twists for older legion fans to enjoy. Like Colossal Boy who calls himself Micro Lad because he comes from a race of giants.

    His superpower ?

    The ability to shrink down to our size.

    And that´s just one of the many cool ideas and changes of this series. If you ever wanted to check the legion out this is your chance to do it without the usual baggage. The series has good characterisation, interesting characters, internal fights between Cosmoboy and Brainiac 5 who both think they are best qualified to lead, romance, tragedy and triumphs. There is a big conspiration going on to throw the whole galaxy into death and devastation but naturally the adilts prefer to close their eyes and ignore the youth. How the legion manages to win - or not - is a story you should find out for yourself.

    I for one enjoyed the series so far and I´m going to look for the following issues. If you make the same decision just remember that after the ONE YEAR LATER jump the title of the series was changed ( for obvious reasons ) to SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. As for the trades, they are okay and include the covers ( often the big negative on collections ) , some sketches and introductions. Not too over the top but a nice package.

    I hope you liked this longer post and that it makes up a little for the lack of post of the last few weeks.

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