Monday, November 26, 2007

The trouble with solicitations

Once again it´s time for my comments on the new solicitations and once again I´m late. This time not only because of my usual problems with the internet since we changed the provider but also because of the solicitations themselves.

The websites where I usually get the pics of the new solicitaions from had some major problems. Especially the Marvel stuff took some time. At first almost none of the pics were loading and than it took forever. I even had to go to other websites to get them all. In the end it took me almost one week and I had to check five times for redundant pics. So I want to apologize in advance if some of the pics are in a low resolution or bad quality.

As for the pic to start this post off : that´s the exact feeling if you have to go cold turkey on your comic reading like me. I guess it´s now four weeks without any new stuff to read. Thank god that the comic fair in Stuttgart is at the first of December. I just hope that I can scrounge up some money till then.

So without further introduction let´s get to the noteworthy stuff of this months solicitations :

All Star Batman and Robin the boy wonder 9

One of the reasons why I enjoy reading this comic so much is that it pisses off so many comic fans. Having Frank Miller and Jim Lee going wild is really only half the fun. The other half is watching everybody freak out all over the message boards and on the various comicblogs.

So far not much has happened in the series which would leave the creative team with 12 more issues to fill but who knows how that will work out now that Neal Adams was announced.

All I can say is : Hail to the goddamn Batman !

Batman 674

Seems like the Batman has a new nemesis : Tim Taylor. This issue kicks off the new storyarc INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES 101 - HOME IMPROVEMENT EDITON in which Batman goes up against the Toolmaster a.k.a. Tim Taylor and Heidi competes against Catwoman in a wet t - shirt contest while.......well, that WOULD be cool but I guess that´s not what happens in this issue. Would be cool, though.

Nightwing One Year Later Trade

Keeping with the bat - motif I have to mention this trade. Or better I have to warn the comicreading populace of this trade. From all the One Year Later stuff I´ve read so far this is the worst I have read yet. And not only is it the worst One Year Later I´ve read so far it is also the worst Nightwing story ever. Coupled with really apalling artwork ( that is going to grace the pages of Supergirl none too soon if I´m not mistaken ) this tale about the Red Hood posing as a massmurdering Nightwing is so bad it´s hard to describe.

Red Hood as a character has less than zero interest and the rest of the supporting cast isn´t fleshed out much more either. His new love interest has less personality than a milk carton and the villains are rather annoying than scary.

The One Year Later comics were supposed to bring new readers to the various titles but all this trade manages is to scare people away from Nightwing. If you want to do yourself a favour skip this trade and start reading Nightwing with the issues written by Marv Wolfman. You will thank me for it later.

Oh, and before you think there´s nothing positive to say about this trade : nice cover.

Showcase presents : Batman and the Outsiders 1

Last of the bat - related comics this month is the resolicitation of this SHOWCASE volume presenting what I hope is only the first in a series of trades representing the fabulous BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS series.

I can´t say it enough : I whish DC would be publishing more stuff by comicartist extraordinaire Jim Aparo. This month they re - offer this trade so if you haven´t bought your copy yet here is your second chance to get one. I still have to buy my copy since at the moment I´m a bit low on cash and I also already have most of the stuff included in this volume. But I would really love to read all the issues in the original version since a lot of it was reprinted in Germany in pocket books ( see my COVERSTORY posts for more about german pocket books ) which means a lot of the original text was edited out.

Showcase presents : The Phantom Stranger 2

Speaking of Jim Aparo and Showcase in general : sometimes it DOES seem like somebody at DC IS reading this comicblog. Which shouldn´t surprise anybody since not only is it Germany´s best comicblog but where else can you find reviews of comics in America, Germany and Spain ?

No really, first the SAGA OF THE SUPERSONS trade and now this. So DC finally put out the second volume of Phantom Stranger stories by the incomparable Jim Aparo. The first volume is so far the only Showcase I own and judging by the fact that the stuff that is included in the second volume is also brandnew to me it´s a safe bet that I will buy this one.

The first volume is one of the jewels of my comic collection but maybe this will be number two. DC is on the right way.

Brave and the Bold 10

Superman and some knight on the cover ? Aquaman and the Teen Titans ? What the f - word ? I don´t care. You can´t go wrong with George Perez doing the art. So far all the issues have been pure comic book gold because it´s just fun to read them. True, I was a little disappointed by the issue featuring Wonder Woman and Power Girl since it was not the wet t- shirt / micro bikini / put them on the glass isssue I hoped for but let´s be realistic for a moment. Despite everybody saying that comics nowadays are made mostly for men they are most definitely not. All in all it was a good issue with mummies and another example that not everybody likes Wonder Woman. And this issue will be no exception either....I mean how can you go wrong with medivial Superman ? Sure, it´s not as cool as evil doppelganger cyborg Superman but it´s a close second. Or third ?

Booster Gold 0

I swear each month they try to get on my pull list. First they but the original Batgirl on the cover ( you know, the one who was older and taller than Robin and who was retconned all over ), then Blue Beetle and now this. Just how many Blue Beetles are there ? Guess I have to look for some Booster Gold issues at the comic fair in Stuttgart. If there are any comic dealers with US books. Last time there were very few so - who knows ?

Blue Beetle 24

Speaking of Blue Beetle it seems luck has run out on DC´s newest teen superhero. Guess pretty soon he will have more in common with Ted Kord than he thought. If you are not reading Blue Beetle ( which in my opinion is one of the best books Dc is putting out at the moment )than you better start long as there still is a Blue Beetle. Oy.

Teen Titans 56

Okay, it´s official now. February 2008 is BLUE BEETLE MONTH at DC. Just on how many books is he ? Is he now with the Teen Titans or what ?

I wouldn´t know since the last issue I have read was issue 50 and I haven´t seen hide nor hide of anohter issue ever since. I guess only time and my new comic dealer will tell.

Justice Society of America 13

Now my text to this cover would most definitely be : " Sorry, old guy, but this outfit is copyrighted . "

In this issue we have Superman paying the JSA a visit to check on Kingdom Come Superman. I´m anxious to find out how this will unfold now that Power Girl knows she comes from a parallel universe that had " the real " Superman. Whose side will she be on ? And will the two Supermen only exchange words ? Or will there be fists flying ? One can only hope. I also hope we will find out more about if the DC universe follows the path of Kingdom Come since the article in WIZARD which was SUPPOSED to reveal something in that direction did no such thing and basically told the readers what they already knew. Talk about false advertising.

By the way, once again beautiful cover by Alex Ross.

Superman Man of Steel - Trade 6

Ah, yes. The days when Superman was written good and gods were drawing the books. Cosmic epics and cosmos - shattering sagas that revolutionarized the Superman mythos. If you ever wanted to dive into an eara when Superman stories really mattered and the different books didn´t contradict each other don´t look no further. Even though I have some of these issues I have bought all previous issues because not only do they contain the issues between the John Byrne issues I´m missing but they present the comics in a far better quality than my old issues.

Weekly comics seem like some big experiment and a novel idea right now but back then Superman was a weekly comic book - although from week to week it was called ACTION COMICS, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, SUPERMAN and later on MAN OF STEEL. You didn´t have to worry about the reading order because they were all numbered ( I´m sure that would have helped a lot with CIVIL WAR ) and each book had it´s own brilliant creative teams. The artists were such modern masters like John Byrne, Kerry Gamill, Jerry Ordway or Bob McLeod who modern readers seem to have forgotten.

I know what you want to say : But SUBZERO didn´t readers have to read ALL the Superman books to understand the stories ? Didn´t they have to spend a lot of money ? No, my dear comic aficionados. Back in the day comics were written with enough recap to bring new readers up to speed. What is now frowned upon as unnecessary baggage was used in those days to bring new readers to the title. They really left no child behind. And believe me, when I was starting reading american comics that was extremely important since it was extremely difficult to find the issues. So it could be years till you found some consecutive issues so it was extremely important that you somehow got the information about what happened between issues.

Ah yes, those were the days.

The Spirit 15

I would say that by the time this issue comes out the Spirit will be eradicated from my pull list.....but it has never been on my pull list to begin with. As happens ( or better : happened ) ever so often with my old comic shop instead of putting this book on my pull list with issue one they only ordered issue one. So since the second issue I had to go to other comic shops to get the issues. Which now is a blessing since I´m going to take a look at the actual issue in a comic shop since Paul Smith is only doing the cover. Looking at this cover with the Spirit in the sewer ( did I mention that nothing´s cooler in comics than sewers ? ) it reminds me of the first stroyarc of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE penned by Mr. Smith himself. That´s one comic series that ended too soon and whose demise will be mourned forever.

And with that we end today´s look at the solicitations. Tomorrow we will hopefully come to the second part where we take a look at all the new stuff from Marvel and beyond.

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  • Monday, November 19, 2007

    X - Statix : x - plotation x - travaganza

    It´s been 2 weeks since my last post and it has been a really stressful time. Aside from the usual things that take up your time like all the stuff with the unemployment office and the things to sort out with my new comic shop I found a website with art from one of my favorite artists.

    As is typical for me I spent the better part of a week downloading the pics one picture at a time till I found out that I could also download whole batches via rapidshare. Or just download it in ZIP - format. Figures.

    Anyway, I have now downloaded all the stuff but I still have to sort it all out to put all the Zatanna pictures in one folder, all the Power Girl pictures in one folder, all the Wonder Woman pictures in one folder and so on.

    To top it all off I´m not certain if I can use any of the pics on my blog. Not only because 99,9 % would rate as " not safe for work " or outright " adults only " ( which seeing as 99,9 % of comic readers are older than 18 should not be a problem ) but also because I don´t want to rip the guy off. So I´m not sure if any of this artwork will pop up in future episodes of comicbabe battle. I still have to sort through 3000 pics so it will take a little while before I can use any of them anyway.

    But back to X - Statix.

    In my last post I wanted to write a bit about the members of X - Statix since so far I only mentioned Deadgirl. I think I should talk a bit about the other team members and the series which of course will lead to a few spoilers. If my last two posts have already piqued your curiosity than you can leave it at that and pick up the trades or go through the dollar bins.

    If you want to know more then you can read on.......but be warned oh faithful one that you are on a path that is paved with numerous spoilers. Beware.

    I can´t say too much for the first incarnation of the new team. Not only because I started reading when the second round up took over but also because most of them get killed off in the first issue like I already mentioned. So the team members of X - Statix for me were :

    Guy Smith a.k.a. Orphan a.k.a. Mr. Sensitive

    Like his name says Guy is supersensitive which means he has to wear a specially designed suit to protect his body because the slightest breeze feels like a thousand razorblades on his skin. And his personality is also very sensitive. After the un - x - pected demise of almost the whole team he is one of the new additions to the team ( if I remember correctly ) and he becomes team leader.

    Guy functions as the moral compass of the team because he seems to be the only one who has a clear sense of what´s wrong and what´s right. Which doesn´t mean that he always acts like a hero or does the right thing. But he does it more ofthen than the other team members who may know what they should be doing but mostly just don´t care. Or do the wrong thing because that´s good for their image. But Guy tries to be the hero, make the tough choices and do what has to be done. Sometimes he has to dupe his fellow teammates to support him by playing with their fears or wants and sometimes he outright lies to them. But since anybody of the team lies almost constantly I´m not sure if that´s a bad thing or just Guy trying to fit in. I mean, is it such bad thing to lie to somebody if you only want him to do what´s right ? You just know he will feel better afterwards.

    Naturally there are instances where the team can´t be lied, coerced or bribed into doing the right thing. And that´s when Guy uses his position of team leader to just order them to do it. Which leads to all sorts of friction and back stabbing but which good opera can live without those elements ? And isn´t any good comic book just a superhero opera ?

    One of the members of the team who´s constantly trying to substitute Guy as team leader is Tyke Alistair a.k.a the Anarchist

    As one of the two surviving members of the first round up he feels he should be the team leader. So of course he´s pissed that they made another one the leader. Because there´s only one reason why they didn´t make him team leader : because he´s black. Yes, Sir. Can´t have the brother as the team leader.

    With Tyke it´s always a black or white thing and he plays the race card quite a lot in the series. But since I have no x - perience in that field I can´t really argue about it. Tyke was adopted by a white couple and because he tried to blend in he tried if he can´t wash his blackness off. Which not only lead to him becoming a hygiene fanatic like Mr. Monk always washing his hands in times of stress but also to a deeprooted fear of not being black enough. Of course these fears really start to fester when the Spike is trying to become a member who´s just " more ghetto " than the Anarchist. And just when the finger of death has pointed at Tyke. There´s a second brother on the team and then it´s " Better don´t start reading any long novels. "

    By the way I know that white guys are not really white and black guys are not really black. Especially Guy Smith ( what a brilliant name by the way ) who´s more violett. But since this is a comic book that works with absolutes I think it´s fitting to use the terms black and white.

    Also I´m not a big fan of this new kind of thought control that´s so popular now called political correctness. For once I think that the basic ideas of " politic " and " correct " are such strong opposites that you can´t use them both in a sentence. What´s that political correctness ? Is that the same as an honest politician ?

    Second I think at 40 years I´m not only old enough to know what´s correct and what´s not. I also don´t need anybody telling me what I´m allowed to say - or more correctly - to think.

    Thirdly I don´t think that all this political correctness does anything more than sugarcoat the truth. Like if the news use terms like collateral damage or such. They don´t change the facts they just sound better. I don´t think I really need that. Some people may say that political correctness is a good thing but to me words like " afro american " sound more racial than just saying " black ". Because what people will be saying is " afro american " but what they will be thinking is " black " or even " the n - word ".

    Wow. I didn´t want to get on my soapbox but I just had to mention that.

    Of course Tyke is not just a bunch of stereotypes but it´s always an issue with him. Should it be an issue ? No, not in an ideal world. But since X - Statix doesn´t take place in an ideal world all that stuff was included which in my opinion is one of the strengths of the series. It´s in big part a mirror of the society and the times the members of X - Statix live in.

    But the problem is that like in the old saying of Nietsche where you can´t fight monsters without becoming a monster yourself there is always the danger of a book like X - Statix becoming x - actly what it´s rebelling against. If in fact it is rebelling and not reveling in it, in all the filth and glamour and hype and death. One of the things that I didn´t like very much was the announcements that they would include Lady Di in the book who comes back from the dead.

    What was even worse than the whole idea is that they went back when they suddenly realized that maybe that could lead to negative reactions and angry protesters with torches and pitch forks. Yeah, right, like they couldn´t have know that desecrating her wouldn´t have people around the world up in arms. As you can see by the revised covers they just changed her hair colour and made her a pop princess instead of a princess.

    Not only didn´t they have the decency to leave the dead alone but when push came to shove they didn´t even have the balls to go through with it. They caved in ! I always say if you are an a$$hole than at least be honest with it. In the end they got the publicity and it´s not like reading the book you don´t realize who she´s supposed to be. To my eyes that´s cheating. But that´s also a part of the book.

    Eddie ( Edith ) Constance Sawyer a.k.a. U - Go Girl

    The other team member that survived of the " old " X - Force " is Eddie the team´s teleporter who gets romantical involved with Guy Smith. Which of course doesn´t mean she won´t try to ( like Isnogood would say ) become team leader instead of the team leader.

    She´s his first love interest in the book and even if she´s an emotional wreck and a drug addict she´s one of the characters I liked very quickly. Maybe it´s got something to do with the fact that she couldn´t bring herself to kill Guy to become team leader in the first issue I read.

    Anyway the friction between her and Guy leads to all sorts of funny stuff like in the storyline where they have let themselves be rescued by the CIA to smooth things over with them ( Guy made one of those tough choices I mentioned earlier and the team suffered because of it and the CIA was pissed ) and U - Go girl stands up for her guy. Not only does she bully the CIA guy to treat Guy with a little more respect but she also insists that he has to be the team leader on this mission.

    And when Guy talks to her because he admires that she chose to let him be the team leader instead of herself.....what she was always working for....her only comment is : " What ? Do you really think I´m that crazy that I´m going to lead the team on the only mission we plan to loose ? " That´s like instant reality check right there.

    Myles Alfred a.k.a. Vivisector

    Now is it just me or does Myles Alfred sound a lot like Mike Allred ? Not that I want to say that Mike Allred has the mutant ability to transform into a kind of werewolf. It would be cool, wouldn´t it ? No, that´s not where I´m going. I´m just saying it can´t be pure coincidence that the team´s literate art guy has a name that sounds like the artist on the book. Like it can´t be pure coincidence that the billionaire owner of the team who´s a scheming machiavellian SOB looks x - actly like Rob Liefeld.

    Apart from that he´s always playing the gay factor together with team member Phat Boy.

    Billy Bob a.k.a. Phat Boy

    In X - Statix he´s always the Blue Beetle to Vivisectors Booster Gold.

    Always ready to cash in the quick fame and ready to do anything to get more coverage on the tabloids. Which mostly means changing his sexual orientation at the drop of a hat. I don´t recall how often the two were gay / not gay / normal ? / bisexual / whatever. On one side it´s a clear storytelling device to keep the readers in suspense. On the other side it´s a clear parody of the times we live in that such things as sexual orientation are still the source for so much x - citement. And speaking of storytelling devices : last ( and in my eyes the least ) member of our cast is Doop ( no other known aliases )

    This weird green blob is nothing more than a storytelling device. In the book he acts as the teams chronical catching everything on tape but since he always talks in " doop speak " and his interactions with the team are mostly for comic relief he has no real impact on the story. In fact the book would work without Doop ever appearing in it. Later on there is a storyline where he is the catalyst for a confrontaion with the Avengers ( which is when the book crosses from the satirical to the absurd ) but you can just substitute Doop for whatever Mac Guffin you want since the whole story is just a glorified whacko version of Contest of the Champions.

    And if you haven´t guessed right now - I don´t like Doop. If you are like me and just hate it when they put kryptonian in the Superman / Batman books without translating them then you will just looove " Doop Speak ". I mean, what am I ? Eight years old ? I don´t need a special decoder ring to decipher the hidden messages of Buck Rogers and if the comic writer just doesn´t want me to read the book - hey, that´s okay too. Why not write the book in suaheli, hindu, arab or swedish ? Although I might understand that a little. It´s easier for someone who knows german and english to understand phrases like " Nu snap ick waroom da geen doer is. " ( which I got from an issue of VERGELDERS my brother bought in Spain ) than get behind the meaning of Doop´s hidden messages.

    I really thought I could wrap up this whole X - Statix theme with this post but again I got sidetracked and it´s time to leave the rest for part four. I really wanted to get on with it since I´m rereading my comic collection like wildfire and wanted to post something about the other books like INVINCIBLE and ASTRO CITY. But that will have to wait.

    Two things before I end this post :

    I wanted to include two links for all who want to read more about X - Statix. The first one is a link to the complete chronology of the team with fully detailed description of the team members ( although they don´t include all the aliases but I already did that ) and what happens in which issue. The second one is a link where you can find reviews of all the issues of X - Statix ( I´m not sure if you can also find reviews of all the X - Force issues ) but there could be spoilers.  edit : second link is dead

    Lastly I wanted to include some pictures of sexbomb Jennifer Ellison.

    Back when I was doing the Comicbabe Battle part of Black Cat I included a pic of the lovely Jen as a possible real live version of Felicia Hardy.

    Sadly she didn´t look much like the Black Cat in that photo but I think you can see more of a likeness in these where she is rollerblading.

    Jennifer has a fantastic bikini figure ( Va - va - va - voom ! )

    and she looks great in black no matter if it´s a black leather combo

     or black lingerie. She just looks gorgeous in anything.

    And of course she can look like a real wildcat if she wants

    although she can also look like the cat that just ate the bird.

    I mean, who wouldn´t follow hardbody Jennifer upstairs

    for a bit of one on one action ? You can count me in anytime, Jen !

    In a lot of her pictures she looks like she´s just come out of bed but is ready to get back into it right away. Like : What are you waiting for ?

    What´s also totally hot about Jen is that while she has a pretty big bust - and a perfectly rounded one - she also has a killer midsection.

    There are a many pictures I could add - and I had to restrain myself not to post them all - but I think I got my point across that she would be perfect for the role of Marvel´s hormone overloading cat burglar The Black Cat.

    Now since I edited the post I would normally add a video about X - Statix or Jennifer Ellison at the end of the post but since either my laptop or YouTube are currently on the fritz I have to leave that to a later date.
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