Comicscape February 2, 2005 -


0 Comments | Add


Rate & Share:


Related Links:



Comicscape February 2, 2005

The "Ultimate" Column: What Gives You Hope for the Future

By Tony Whitt     February 02, 2005

© Cartoon Network

Well, folks, we've finally come to the end of a long journey or rather I have, as the main comics columnist for CINESCAPE. I hope you've enjoyed these columns as much as I've enjoyed writing them, and if you'd like to keep up with my future work, Google me sometime I'll still be there, somewhere.

Last week I listed the negative trends I've observed in comics in the time I've held this position, and I asked you to write in to tell me about all the things that have given you hope for the future of comics. Naturally, not everyone wrote in on this topic, so I figured I'd give the floor to you one last time, no matter what it was you wrote in about. Luckily, some people did address that question, such as the following...

Long-time reader and prolific writer-in-er (?) Tim Agen writes, "I am excited to devour more books like DEEP SLEEPER, HOPELESS SAVAGES, METABARONS, SPAGHETTI WESTERN, SUPERNATURALISTS, GIANT ROBOT WARRIORS, HAWAIIAN DICK, USAGI YOJIMBO, TRUE STORY:SWEAR TO GOD, THE WALKING DEAD, BLANKETS and on and on. You see, I always get excited when I remember that there's more to comics than superheroes (not that there's anything wrong with that)." Not at all! I agree with you totally about BLANKETS and the fact that the indie field seems to be expanding in new and exciting directions. Maybe now that I'm not doing this column every week, I'll have some more time to actually read more of this stuff...

Brian Compton is also looking forward to the future when he writes, "One of the best trends in comics is the fact that they are becoming more a part of the mainstream consciousness. Look at how many good movies have been recently made based on comic book properties. Yes, there have been some bad ones, but do any of them really sink to the level of the 80's CAPTAIN AMERICA movie, Dolph Lundgren's PUNISHER, or BATMAN AND ROBIN? Not even DAREDEVIL was as bad as any of those. And for every bad one you get some really good ones: The X-MEN franchise has so far been excellent, as has SPIDER-MAN. I have high hopes for this summer's BATMAN film as well. And every day, more books are being picked up for conversion to film or television, and by A-List Hollywood types. It's now o.k. to have a comic book movie on your resume. Even better, a lot of the actors and actresses either are comic fans and lobby to be in the movie, or get into the movie and start learning a lot about the characters' comic canon." This is a good point, Brian I didn't even mind CATWOMAN, to be honest. But LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN? Crap, crap, and more crap. (Yes, Don Murphy, I'm talking to you, so nyah.)

Brian continues: "Also, comics are getting big space in libraries around the country. My own library has a pretty good selection of OGN's and TPB's, and also has monthly issues (sometimes even before they're on the stands to buy). If only they'd not confine it to the young adult section and recognize that it is an adult art form too, though there are some books in the adult Art section. This is a great way to expose kids to comics and get them reading something fun, interesting, and sometimes educational. This also is another sign of the acceptance of comics as a viable form of art and literature." Damn, Brian, I wish my local libraries did that sort of thing but I live in New Orleans, and no one even reads books here, let alone comic books.

"Finally," Brian concludes, "the growth of the kid-friendly market is a good sign of comic acceptance. MARVEL AGE, the DC/CARTOON NETWORK tie-ins, and even the maintenance of the ARCHIE line give everyone in the family something to read. Again, it exposes people at a younger age to comics, and the younger you get them in, the better chance they'll stick around as adults.

"All in all, comics are slowly moving out of the basement and into the public light. This is a very good trend, in my humble opinion. Now all we have to do is get more good comics out there." Agreed while there are many good comics being produced now, and probably more serious comics writers than there ever were before, it's not going to mean diddly unless there are more truly excellent comics, especially truly excellent comics for kids. I'm heartened to see Marvel and DC taking that tack, especially now that Marvel has started producing MARVEL AGE books at a price kids can actually afford.

Brodie Williams writes a bit of a mixed letter, though I appreciate the way it starts: "Sorry to see you go. Although I've only responded two or three times, I've enjoyed your column. I wanted to let you know, as fan of the Legion, that I'm not going to continue buying this new book. I just don't care for what they've done. Kitson and Waid have made the Legion [into] EMPIRE. Same look. Same themes." Yeah, they do look remarkably alike, don't they? Though I doubt we're going to see any of the Legionnaires breaking anyone's neck as we did in EMPIRE - yet.

Brodie continues: "I agree with you on NEW FRONTIER and half agree with you on IDENTITY CRISIS. I have to admit I get hooked into the original mini-series from time to time. Right now I'm reading the ADAM STRANGE series. Pascal's art is amazing, but the story is just ok. IC had great art and interesting characterizations, but the hype made the finale a let down.

"As for hope in comics in general, I've really enjoyed Dark Horse's STAR WARS line, both EMPIRE and REPUBLIC. I'm also a fan of the JSA. The writing, art, and characterizations are fun. I love the Golden Age characters and the new ones as well." Thanks, Brodie. I wonder how many other people also find it hopeful that DC in particular is plumbing the rich depths of its own history and producing some really decent new stories with those characters and situations? It's not a new thing, of course - I've recently been reading SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE and have been truly impressed, though not by the artwork but DC is doing some interesting things in that area.

Eric Solomont writes, "I have a different opinion regarding story arcs, which you noted as a negative thing. Because of the market glutting, which you rightly categorized as bad, it is tough to keep up with all of the books. Also, the cost of so many books makes it prohibitive to collect all the comics that I used to. Because of these story arcs I am able to jump in and out of books without feeling like I am missing anything. As an example, I had not purchased FLASH in a while. I started purchasing again with the "Ignition" story arc. I did not feel like I had to go back and buy previous issues, and after the arc was over I stopped buying flash again and switched to GREEN LANTERN for the final arc prior to the *Sigh* reboot.

"I find that I can keep up a little bit with most of the stories without breaking my piggy bank. Of course the comic book companies probably don't want to hear how easy they are making it for me to switch away from their titles." You have a point there, Eric. I'd just be concerned about the standalone story going the way of the dinosaurs, and luckily that doesn't seem to be happening.

Eric also informs us of the following little-known tidbit: "Also, regarding the 'Mutants, Mutants, Mutants' topic... You're right on. In the past, Congress passed legislation to limit Marvel Comics to no more then one X-Men-related title in any two week period. Unfortunately President Bush, having gotten considerable kickbacks from Marvel, vetoed it." Ah, so that's it...and here I thought conservatives would argue for less comics rather than more... (By the way, those of you taking offense at this joke right now: grow a sense of humor, already!)

Mark Sehestedt has some bones to pick with my column from last week and seems to agree with Eric on at least one point: "I might quibble with a few of the details in your column (I thought WANTED was a rather uninspired, drawn-out tale of gratuitous violence that came to nothing in the end, and I thought the JLA/AVENGERS thing was just geeky silliness), but that's simply a matter of personal taste. To each his own.

"All of your points - too many reboots and retreads, story arcs and trade paperbacks, the glutting of the market, mutant overload, 'special' issues, style over substance - are essentially correct. The only one I'd outright disagree with you on is story arcs and trade paperbacks. I like - no, I love and in every way prefer - long storylines that play out over 5, 10, 12, or 20 issues. It allows for real character development and gives the author enough room to unfold a real plot. But again, to each his own.

"But in the end, considering all your points, I have to say my honest reaction is: So what?

"It essentially boils down to the fact that the comics industry has become just like any other 'industry,' be it television, movies, fiction, music, video games, or whatever. Comics have joined their ranks in that 99% of everything to come out of it is crap. That's true of TV. It's true of movies. And it's true of comics.

"But you know? I can't help but think that's always been the case. We tend to remember the 'good ol' days,' but that has more to do with nostalgia than reality. Look through the comics of 10 or 20 years ago. There was just as much crap then as now. In fact, I'd even venture to say there was a lot more. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that comics now are better than they ever have been.

"Why? The writing has finally grown up. Some issues are better than others, but Bendis has yet to disappoint me in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. J.M. Straczynski's SUPREME POWER may end up being one of the best comics storylines ever done. I've certainly been riveted so far. Rucka's recent run on WOLVERINE kinda fizzled out toward the end, but his early- to mid-run on the book was the best take on the character I've ever seen. The same was true of Brubaker's run on CATWOMAN - a character I'd never really cared for before. And you know, I've never really jumped on the whole Joss Whedon bandwagon, but his run on ASTONISHING X-MEN so far has made me love the X-Men again -something I thought I'd never do after the debacle that was Morrison's run.

"Yes, there's still a lot of crap on the shelves of your local comics store. In fact, most of the stuff on the shelves is crap. Don't buy it. Just because Nelly is on the radio and Britney on TV doesn't mean you can't change the channel. There's still good stuff out there, and in the world of comics, the good stuff is better than it's ever been. Take heart!" Oh, I never said there wasn't good stuff out there, Mark, nor did I mean to imply that the good stuff wasn't better than anything that ever came before. And of course the comics industry is just like every other, and the trends I've noted happen there, as well. That doesn't stop movie critics from noting such trends there like me, they need something to write about. And one other thing: you may get to choose what you buy and don't buy, but in a job like this, you don't always have that choice. To some degree you have to slog through the crap as well as enjoy the good stuff, whether you write about it or not. So if it seems like I was being overly negative and not seeing the flowers for the manure, it's because I've had to tread in a lot of manure while working for CINESCAPE. Doesn't mean the flowers aren't there, of course.

Turning to more specific responses about the trends I wrote about in last week's column, David Turner writes, "One thing that riles me is that when a reboot is done, there seems to be a need to add a 'fresh'. Take ALPHA FLIGHT for instance (please!). Rather than keep the old roster, new characters replace them. Some may argue that since a book has been out of the spotlight, it needs new blood. Sometimes the original characters have aged even though their counterparts with regular titles have not. It has happened in the big two, where the book is similar in name only. Don't get me wrong, some premises need to be re-thought, but most times the former stories are treated as a joke." Luckily, that's not always the case the aforementioned ADAM STRANGE miniseries, for instance, could easily have been taken in a jokey direction since the original premise now strikes us as so 1953...but it hasn't been. That's because Andy Diggle was obviously putting some thought into what he's doing something I suspect Scott Lobdell hasn't done a lick of on ALPHA FLIGHT. (Yes, this is called "burning your bridges", ladies and gents...)

Robert Macy writes, "I enjoyed your latest Comicscape article about disgusting trends in the business and thought I'd throw in a comment about your complaint concerning the overabundance and over-exposure of mutants. I recently noticed on Comic Book Resource a claim by someone from Marvel that they are planning on a second Mutant Massacre to thin out the universe from every other person on Earth being a mutant to the 'rare special individuals' feel that once existed. Granted this likely won't remove Wolverine from the five super-teams he currently resides on - and it will undoubtedly be the product of yet another 'Special Event!!!' - but it's still good news out of Marvel that I think is long overdue. It is definitely time to cull the herd." You mean culling the herd of mutants and not people that write about mutants, right, Robert? 'Cuz I'd be happy either way... Still, this is good news seems like everybody and his damn brother is a mutant in the Marvel Universe these days, so while I'm usually against genocide, in this case I say bring it on! (Excuse me a moment while I go take a pill...I'm obviously enjoying the freedom a bit too much...)

Ah, that's better. Now...Greg Burgas has a very specific problem with something I wrote: "Please tell me you are not saying that WANTED is better than LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN II. Sure, LoEG II isn't as good as the first one, but it's freakin' WAR AND PEACE compared to the piece of excrement that is WANTED. I don't think I've ever been as insulted by a comic book, and I read IDENTITY CRISIS. I can't even discuss WANTED without bile rising in my throat. It's beautiful to look at, but so were Nazi ceremonies. Millar wants to be a rock star and spit on his audience, but he doesn't realize he's a comic book writer. He's a good writer, but WANTED was crap.

"In case you haven't figured it out, I didn't like it. Thanks!" And thank you, Greg! Thing is, I don't disagree with you, but the point I was making last week was about hype and the relative quality of a book compared to its hype, specifically its advance press. Based on the advance press for LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN II, it should have been WAR AND PEACE, whereas WANTED's initial press was a bit more subdued (at least initially), making it (for me, anyway) a much more enjoyable read (at least initially) than I expected it to be. And how could you be more insulted by anything than you were by IDENTITY CRISIS? (You can see me smiling in that sentence, right?)

Brian Short, who has never written before now, rounds out our responses with this letter: "First off, I want to commend you on the good work you have done on this column. I read it every week, and I have to admit that the only reason I am actually writing my responses - instead of just thinking them quietly to myself - is that this will be your last column. So thanks for helping me through my Wednesdays."

"Now I'd like to answer some of the cynicism that seems to have infected your view of the comics industry." (Oh, thought that was "cynical"? Good thing you didn't catch me on a bad day... TBW) I want to answer some of your concerns first, before highlighting my own thoughts on current trends, etc. Without further ado:

Reboots, Reloads: I went to the Cartoon Art museum last weekend (655 Mission Street in San Francisco) and one of the exhibits was an eight page story by Crumb called something like 'Where is the great music our grandparents used to listen to? (It's dead.)' Crumb portrays modern music as something tainted by an obsession with novelty and corrupted by the link between business/music and fame. Industries have a vested interest in creating brand meaning (more on this later regarding the comics industry), getting popular opinion behind a band so they are seen as popular and people, seeing them as popular, purchase their records. You see similar things happening with the Barnes and Noble-ization of the publishing industry (there was an article in last March's BELIEVER which articulates this a lot better than I can, but I don't have a link or anything).

"Crumb discusses how musicians used to pass songs along verbally; about how you would learn a piece from a teacher, and the manner in which you played it was how you expressed your individuality. Does this sound familiar?

"The Ultimate line is accessible, and I am sure that is one of the reasons that they started it, along with giving readers a comic that seems to fit closer to the movie storylines than the original comics do. But it is also an opportunity for great (in my opinion) writers to reinvent characters and stories that we love. The purpose is not solely to make a buck (although that is in there, also), but also to give writers with strong voices the opportunity to infuse some old songs with their own individuality. And the measure of all this is, of course, whether the stories work. This is a very individual thing, and people's feelings will vary from title to title, from story to story, from issue to issue. My opinion is that ULTIMATE SPIDER-MANand the ULTIMATESare great. ULTIMATE NIGHTMAREis one of the most exciting comics I've read in a long time." I think I may have included the Ultimates line under the "Glutting the Market" rubric, Brian, but that doesn't mean I don't agree with you here these titles are exciting and interesting. I just don't see the point of having too many imprints if they're not all as exciting and interesting.

Brian continues: "And what about other reboots, startovers? What about SUPREME POWER? What about Ennis' relaunch of PUNISHER in MAX? Do we have any reason to say no to these stories merely because we've heard this song before? Are you going to complain about X-Men: Reload, when one of the titles we got out of it is ASTONISHING X-MEN which, according to your own informal polling, was one of the best comics of the year? Are you going to complain about Cap and Iron Man when Brubaker and Ellis are on the job? Do we have any reason to scoff at DC's proposed All-Star titles when the talent that is creating them is so flipping spectacularly awesome (fan boy phrasing, sorry)?"

To answer your questions (except for the very first one) in order...deep breath: I never said all relaunches were bad; I don't read PUNISHER; no, but as I said, not all relaunches are bad; yes, because not all the books that came out of it are as good as ASTONISHING X-MEN, and we could have gotten that book without a revamp of the entire line of X-Men titles; no, but I will complain about the pervasive attitude in the comics industry that says that such titles need a complete kick back to issue number one every time they're reimagined; and no, but that's another thing entirely, isn't it? (Whew! And you say this is the first time you've written in?)

But wait, there's more from Brian: "I think, sometimes, when (comic) writers are doing good work, they are trying to infuse their ideas into something that at least feels timeless, that feels bigger than they are. I see no reason to exclude the titles mentioned above from this distinction." And nor do I which is why I didn't, really.

Brian goes on, though he does so by attributing some feelings to me that aren't exactly accurate ("whinging", indeed): "Trade Paperbacks: This is an old gripe, an old, bitter, silly complaint that I feel like I never quite understand what it is the person is whinging about, precisely. Is it the fact that the stories being written are longer, that they take longer to read and have more ups, downs, twists and turns than they did before? Is it that there is now a separation between the collector's market and the reader's market? Is it that things have changed and are changing still, and these rants about the trade paperback format are a natural outcome of the friction that these paradigm shifts produce?

"BABYLON 5 and LORD OF THE RINGS (wow, I'm really nerding it up now) took risks with how long a piece they could subject audiences too (although Ezra Pound was into this before it was cool). I have yet to hear a cogent argument stating that this increased sophistication does in fact mark the death of anything tangibly valuable. The medium is embracing more complicated, more detailed, in a number of cases more cinematic storytelling. Don't get me wrong: I fell in love with comics while they were one issue stories, too. But I don't see anything wrong with having multiple-issue story arcs. I think it gives the writers and artists more scenes to work with." And I would be fine with it, too, Brian, if we always had story arcs that were as sophisticated as the ones you've mentioned. Long stories are good, but only when they're good stories to begin with. The problem with the current market is that everything must be a story arc, which leads some writers to pump up a tepid story and extend it unnaturally over the course of several issues, when it really hardly deserved one to begin with. Some writers naturally plan their stories over a course of several issues, whereas others may feel the need to expand on it just to fill up the trade paperback they know has to be released. And that's the other part of the issue these damned things have to be released now. Not a bad thing, if the story between those covers is worth having in a bound format but who in their right mind is really going to buy "Bruce Wayne: Murderer" and think they've gotten a decent bargain?

But Brian has a good point about other objections to such collections when he writes, "Some people, and this is not directed at you specifically but at certain readers, get upset when a comic book does not give them the exact same feeling that they got reading it twenty years ago when they were thirteen, reading the same comic (same title in most cases, anyway). If the comic doesn't change in a way that is precisely complementary to their own maturing sensibilities, then they get annoyed and rant at length about their annoyance on any number of internet message boards.

To these people, I say, 'Grow up.' If you want intelligently written, adult (not like that) comic writing, read Jeffrey Brown or Craig Thompson or Paul Hornschemeier or James Kochalka. And I am not saying superhero comics are worthless. I love comics. But they appeal to a certain perpetually adolescent mindset. TRANSMETROPOLITAN and PREACHER, for example, despite being Vertigo, appeal mostly (I think) to the culture-hating, mischief-loving fourteen year old who lives inside all of us (all of us who are over fourteen years old, anyway). And I love these comics. I think they are masterpieces. But reading superhero comics exclusively is kind of like only watching thin man comedies, or only listening to math rock. Eventually, it will warp your sensibilities...The question, in the end, is does it work? And in a lot of cases, sadly or happily, it does.

"Glutting of the Market/Too Many Mutants/Foil Cover Syndrome: One hundred percent agreed. These tactics lower the bar. You can see both DC and Marvel trying to simultaneously de-Image (by getting good writers) and re-Image (a return to variant covers and myriad titles/mini series for characters/teams that are already overexposed). Put out good stories or don't put out anything.

"Style over substance: 'I've also heard at least three comics creators bemoan the fact that, for as many good writers as there are in the industry today (Bendis, Straczynski, David, Milligan, Simone, Johns, and so forth), there are others who still crank out any old crap without reflecting on whether it's a truly decent story or not.'

"Ummm...............what the hell are you talking about?

"It is a testament to the companies involved that we have so many talented writers working in the comics industry (I might add Whedon, Ennis, Ellis, BKV, Brubaker, Morrison etc. to your list in terms of main streamers). Not every single title has a writer who doesn't write brain-fryingly good dialogue and mind-warpingly tight plots. Do you even remember what it was like ten years ago?" Actually, Brian, I do which is why I'm surprised a piece of crap like X-FORCE came back for even the brief moment that it did. But I think you may be missing the point. Read that very sentence you quoted again: "for as many good writers as there are in the industry, there are other who still crank out any old crap..." In other words, for every Straczynski, there's a Zimmerman; for every Bendis, there's a Lobdell. Besides, how can three comics creators be wrong? (See the smile in that sentence.)

But I do agree with you about this: "The problem, now, as far as I'm concerned, is the brand meaning that is created by these names. Comics written by these heavyweights sell like hotcakes, and titles with lesser known (but just as talented) creative teams don't get the marketing attention and, because of that, fall by the wayside.

"What you do see is a lot of these monster talents, many with their roots in the world of independent comics, working with a lot of newcomer/not as famous artists and getting them not only attention, but in some cases much needed paychecks. You have the McSweeney's phenomenon, where someone with a glut of acclaim uses their position to get gigs for people they respect and want to expose people to.

"While the paradigm isn't perfect (note the paragraph about less marketed titles), there are a lot of great stories being told. That, in the end, makes everything worth it." Well, maybe not everything, Brian. I mean, really...ALPHA FLIGHT?

And (finally!) Brian concludes, "There are parts of this letter, I realize, that are a little (or more than a little) combative. But the point is not to say you are right and I am wrong, or the reverse, or whatever. The point is that this is a dialogue between friends who love comics. And that's what it's always been about, right?"

Yes, it has, Brian, and that's the way I've tried to approach it for the last few years now. Don't worry about those "combative" parts of your letter, though - they were nothing compared to some of the more "combative" missives I've been on the receiving end of (you didn't make fun of my dead kitty or my sexuality, for instance), and I hope I've answered some of your objections in the same spirit you posed them. But, since all good things must come to an end...

Normally at this point, I'd be telling you to send any comments you have about this column to me via the web site contact address, but that address will cease working for me this week. (Besides, where am I going to publish your comments if you do send 'em, anyway?) However, if you do want to stay in touch with me and I will finally have the time to actually respond to your letters, I hope! - send your mail directly to me here. If you want to welcome Kurt Amacker, the new columnist, aboard, send those well wishes to him via the web site contact address here. So, without further delay, let's do this thing one...more...freakin'....time!


No idea what's going in this week's JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #6 ($2.25), but I'm sure your kids will enjoy it. If not, get the ungrateful little bastards a copy of LOONEY TUNES #123 ($2.25). That'll shut 'em up, by god.

Among your other options is to buy them MARVEL AGE: SPIDER-MAN #20 ($2.25), in which Peter and the Human Torch fight over...ick! A girl! Cooties! Or you could buy them the RUNAWAYS VOL 3: GOOD DIE YOUNG digest trade paperback for $7.99, but only if they're good, and only if they're not too young.

You may think you already own this - but no! The BIZARRO WORLD hardcover, priced at $29.95, is a completely new collection. But, just to confuse you further, they've already re-released the softcover of the last one. There's bound to be someone who doesn't know what the hell's going on...

The writer of the movie HOUSE PARTY is writing BLACK PANTHER #1 and something called the "Ribic Variant" (for her pleasure?), and it's being touted as being "exciting...for the hip hop faithful." You gotta be f**king kidding me... Anyway, both versions are for $2.99. There's also the BLACK PANTHER BY JACK KIRBY VOL 1 trade paperback for $19.99, if you want to see how a non-hip hop dead white guy did it. Lord have mercy.

Matt Murdock is brought in to defend an alleged teenaged murderer - the murder is alleged, by the way, not the fact that he's a teenager - in DAREDEVIL: REDEMPTION #1 (OF 6, $2.99).

From Dark Horse this week comes BMW FILMS: THE HIRE #2 (Of 6, $2.99); the excellent CONCRETE: THE HUMAN DILEMMA #2 (OF 6, $3.50); and the MEGATOKYO VOL 3 trade paperback for $9.95. So many comics, so few Green Stamps...

It's another random vigilante, aided and abetted by another big name DC guest star (this time it's Green Arrow - who else fits in so well with morally ambiguous vigilante types these days?) in DEADSHOT #3 (OF 5, $2.95).

It seems silly to list DETECTIVE COMICS #803 in the "B" position just because it's a Bat-book, so guess what - it's my last column, and I'm not going to do it! Bwah-ha-ha! ...Oh, yeah, it's $2.95.

Ronnie Raymond might be back in FIRESTORM #10 ($2.50) - or it might be just an elaborate bait-and-switch designed to get you to buy the book. A bait-and-switch? From a major comics company? The hell you say.

If you couldn't get enough of the Hulk and the Thing smashing each other's brains out - and obviously Marvel thinks you can't, since they treat every new battle between these guys like it's the Thor-Superman rematch - then the HULK AND THING: HARD KNOCKS trade paperback is available for $13.99. Lucky you.

Of course, if watching Bruce and Ben battle it out again isn't your thrill, try Image's offerings this week, which include MORA #1 ($2.95); the
PVP RELOADED VOL 2 trade paperback for $11.95; the QUIXOTE NOVEL for $9.95; and the SMALL GODS VOL 1: KILLING GRIN trade paperback for $9.95. Gotta be better than all that alliteration.

Why on Earth (or not, as the case may be) would half of the JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE really need to be on an undercover intergalactic drug op in #8 (OF 12, $2.50)? It's not like the intergalactic equivalent of the UN is going to impose sanctions if they're open about it, is it?

Since Spidey's already teamed up with Wolverine in the new MARVEL TEAM-UP, issue #5 ($2.25) sees him teaming up with someone completely different - X-23. Almighty God, is there no release from the madness? Oh, yeah, I'm leaving, so of course there is. Duh.

Not quite sure what's happening in NEW AVENGERS #3, but it's also available in a special "Coipel Variant" (not to be confused with the ever-popular "Ribic Variant"), and both are for $2.25. Fun, fun, fun.

Superman's in THE QUESTION #4 (OF 6, $2.95) - but, considering the Question's in Metropolis, that's hardly a revelation of the same earth-shattering quality as, say, that one moment in THE CRYING GAME.

She's bold, she's beautiful, and she's had all her naughty bits covered up. Welcome to Bush's America, gents. It's SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL #1 (OF 7) for $3.50 - titillation not included.

From the Universe of 2000 AD comes Dan Abnett's SINSTER DEXTER: MURDER 101 trade paperback for $19.95. Sure, it may be weird, but it's Abnett. That's gotta count for something, even if it's "foreign".

The Avengers (presumably the New Avengers, but they'll be the old ones again by this point) and the Fantastic Five(!) guest-star in SPIDER-GIRL #83 ($2.99). All that, and the black costume's back! Whoo hoo!

Find out exactly what little Clark Kent did that made his Pa wish he could beat his invulnerable ass in SUPERMAN: STRENGTH #2 (OF 3, $5.95).

Hoo boy... Hyperion just found out how much he's been manipulated by the Powers That Be all this time in SUPREME POWER #15 ($2.99). JMS is so in trouble...!

Is undead superhero Damien Cross truly "dead and lovin' it"? You decide - pick up the latest issue of TOE TAGS FEATURING GEORGE ROMERO #5 ($2.95) and find out!

The Ultimate Hobgoblin makes his début in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #72 ($2.25). Sorry, but I won't be happy until we see an Ultimate Vulture.

The HELLBLAZER Fest continues over at Vertigo this week with the re-releases of the HELLBLAZER: FREEZES OVER trade paperback for $14.95 and the HELLBLAZER: RAKE AT THE GATES OF HELL trade paperback for $19.95, and the release of the JOHN CONSTANTINE HELLBLAZER SPECIAL: PAPA MIDNITE #1 (OF 5, $2.95). Buy what you can - cancel at any time. There's also the BOOKS OF MAGICK LIFE DURING WARTIME BOOK 1 trade paperback for $9.95, the SEAGUY trade paperback for $9.95, and SWAMP THING #12 ($2.95), if you're interested, but with a HELLBLAZER movie coming out, why would you be?

The heady mix of romance and superpowers continues in Wildstorm's
INTIMATES #4 ($2.95), while RAZOR'S EDGE: WARBLADE #4 ($2.95) has no romance at all. Nope. Not a damn bit.

And it wouldn't be a proper COMICSCAPE column without an absolute ton of X-Titles to round everything out, so here we go - deep breath: there's the ESSENTIAL X-MEN VOL 4 trade paperback for $14.95; EXCALIBUR #9 ($2.99); EXILES #59 (#2.99); UNCANNY X-MEN #455 ($2.25); the UNCANNY X-MEN NEW AGE VOL 2: CRUELEST CUT trade paperback for $12.99; X-MEN/FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (OF 5, $3.50); X-MEN - PHOENIX: ENDSONG #2 (OF 5, $2.99); andX-MEN UNLIMITED #7 ($2.99). And if you wanna know what's in 'em, read 'em. Who am I, your mother? Well, yeah, but not anymore...!

Good night, folks! Enjoy the buffet and god bless!

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think by e-mailing us

Comicscape is our weekly Comics


Be the first to add a comment to this article!


You must be logged in to leave a comment. Please click here to login.