Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think, that my annual trip to Comic-Con always leaves me about a month behind on comics? I don’t know what Brian’s excuse was, though. I think he was suffering from “exhaustion” for much of July, and only checked out of the hospital last week, looking remarkably younger than when he went in. As much as Brian and I like to think we’re the final word on comics, we realize that we’re more than likely probably not. That’s where you come in. Feel free to share your own recommendations or regrets in the comments section below! We want to hear from you! Now, on with the Load!
As we get closer and closer to losing Steph, I’m getting increasingly grouchy about the whole ordeal. I’d say I’m less than half a bottle of vodka away from declaring shenanigans on DC and the comics industry in general. Steph has come a long way in her short tenure as the Batgirl. Even I dismissed her at first as a Buffy rip-off and voted her least likely to endear herself to readers. Yet, here we are. I’m a card-carrying member of Team Steph, and I’m not alone. She doesn’t have much time left, and yet it feels like she still has so much to do. She has to bed Tim Drake, which is no easy task; kill Bruce Wayne; and push Oracle down the steepest hill in Gotham, a la Nellie Olsen-style. Let’s wrap this mutha up, Steph!
|Detective Comics #880|
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this issue or this story arc, except that it’s ridiculously fun to read out loud. I don’t know if I’m alone here, but sometimes I read my comics out loud, acting out all the parts. It helps, especially if I have a lot of books to read in one sitting. Anyway, I managed to crack myself up in the last issue, playing Jim Gordon, Jr. and his hapless family, friends and co-workers. This issue has some good Joker stuff, and some great Barbara, with the bitch dial turned up all the way to 11. Seriously, you have to try it. My female characters tend to all sound like variations of Scarlett O’Hara, so it can get pretty campy.
|Daken: Dark Wolverine #11|
I feel like I’ve dated guys like Daken. He’s impossibly handsome, intelligent and sexy, and yet still remains empty inside and unable to commit emotionally. I mean, it’s just a toothbrush, dude. I’m not moving in. Jesus. Anyway, to fill his empty hole, Daken has turned to Heat, which is the latest Hollywood designer drug. It counteracts his healing factor and actually lets him feel things. In the old days, his slow descent into drug-addled addiction would probably take several months, or longer. But this is 2011, and everyone has sh*t to do, so it’s only taken two issues for him to go from crime lord to some guy swinging a dead cat in an alley. Poor Daken. Why won’t you let someone love you?
|Deadman and the Flying Graysons #2|
Of all the possible love interests I’ve imagined for Dick over the years, I honestly never even considered Boston Brand. I love how they’re setting up a twist on the usual “Dick as ward to older man” scenario. First of all, he’s too old to be anyone’s ward, which makes him a prime candidate for a rom-com relationship with Deadman. Second, since there’s no Bruce in this universe, Dick actually has a chance to have a healthy relationship with another man. Finally, imagine the high-flying, death-defying sex Dick is going to have under the big top. And by “big top,” I mean Boston.
|Red Robin #25|
Speaking of sex among Bruce’s wards, Tim escapes the threat of bow-chicka-wow-wow with an actual woman, thanks to Cassie. Of all the dangers Tim has escaped over the years, he seems the most relieved to have escaped this one. I’m just sad that he was saved by lesbian gal-pal Cass, instead of Conner, which would have made for a much hotter and romantic rescue. Can’t you just image Conner swopping in, scooping Tim up in his arms and flying away, as an angry scantily-clad female assassin shook her fists in the distance.
Somehow, Supes walked all the way across America and all he got was a bad attitude. I’ve never walked across the country, but I have driven across several times, and I always find it to be an enlightening experience. Apparently, we’re not visiting the same rest stops along the way. Anyway, Supes is ready to throw in the towel/cape, and even goes so far as to tell Conner and Kara they should go undercover, too, when he is metaphorically rescued by a geek. This pleases me, in a way, since I am a geek and believe we have much to teach the world (and its superheroes). Still, I can’t help feeling this was a big cheat. It seems that Superman should have learned how important he was via some sort of action or story element, instead of through a long monologue by a stranger. I did find it kind of hot, though, when Supes stripped off his costume and Kara hid her eyes, while Conner pulled up a chair and popped some popcorn for the show. Is it incest if you check out your clone daddy dropping trou? I’m going to say no.
|Teen Titans #98|
Superboy Prime. In the last breaths of this series, I suppose he had to come back one more time. And he’s not alone. He’s brought along all the TT’s arch enemies, most of which I don’t remember or have never heard of. Still, it has a cool “Challenge of the Superfriends” vibe to it, so I’m willing to go along for whatever time we have left. Whatever hope I had for some sort of redemption for Prime is irrelevant now, of course, so I suppose this will be a final battle of some kind. At this point, I’m really hoping that Superman and Lex Luthor team up to save their boy and send Prime packing, preferably to some planet with a nice, red sun. More likely, he’ll end up killing Wonder Girl this time, and Conner will totally lose it and turn into Conner Prime and destroy the universe. That’s what I would do.
This is really one of the more adult DC titles, and I’m constantly amazed it doesn’t come with some sort of parental warning on the cover. So, it’s especially disconcerting, though in a fun sort of way, when the art is so deceptively cheerful. Travis Moore pencils this issue in a simpler animated-style and it’s all very gorgeous. He even turns sad, old Jericho into something of a teen heartthrob. But when the characters are fighting to the death and debating whether or not to resurrect their dead children, the cartoon look just feels wrong somehow. It makes me long to see Travis’s version of Roy’s best scenes. Whether hopped up on drugs or battling impotence, a cartoon version is bound to be more cheerful.
|Uncanny X-Men #541|
Thanks to the LGBTX-Men panel at Comic-Con this year, I have a newfound appreciation for Emma Frost. I used to just view her as a character who only existed because straight male artists wanted to draw her. Thanks to all my research, though, I’m now an Emma-phile (and even more annoyed by January Jones and her infuriatingly vacant performance in X-Men: First Class). That said, I love her attitude in this issue, especially when she tells the mayor: “It’s my psychic projection. If I want to have a throne, that’s entirely my prerogative.” By the end, though, it appears she’s going to need some rescuing. Hopefully, the X-ers will actually come to the rescue, and not just quietly turn and run the other way.
|Wonder Woman #613|
You know what’s really weird about this whole alternate timeline Wonder Woman storyline (not to be confused with the other alternate timeline Wonder Woman storyline that’s going on at the moment)? This could totally be viewed as a blueprint for the September relaunch. New costume, new origin, new chance for new readers to jump on board. So, looking at this experiment, the obvious question arises. Did it work? Does WW have more readers than ever before? Are people clamoring for the next issue? Are there a 100 fangirls (and fanboys) in re-designed WW costumes at Comic-Con? The main problem with this series, in my own humble opinion, is that while challenges and battles happened to Diana, she was never allowed to learn and grow. She was always told after the fact what the trials meant and how she developed as a character. Not very interesting and certainly not the way to make a reader, old or new, care about and invest in a character. I feel like I’ve spent an obnoxious amount of time ragging on this series, and for that, I apologize. I try not to be the snarky comic book guy everyone hates. And I still have tremendous amount of hope for the next relaunch/reimagining/reboot of our beloved Amazon. But, come on. They can do better than this.
|X-Men: Schism #2|
When did Scott get so skinny? Wolverine keeps calling him “slim,” and the artists keep drawing him and this slight, aging skeleton. Did I miss some major plot development, where Scott turned from a hunky, muscle-bound superhero into Doctor Venture? I have nothing against skinny boys, but Scott’s transformation is a little distracting. I don’t read all the X-titles, so if he’s battling some disease, I apologize for my insensitivity. If it’s just an artist trying to create a starker contrast between Scott and Logan, then cut it out. Emma shouldn’t be beefier than Cyclops. Unless Emma is being portrayed by a drag queen. In which case, go right ahead.
|Wonder Woman #613|
Hey, comics fans! Wanna know what makes me laugh about this cover? No, not the phallic-looking headdress the evil lady sports on her noggin, though that is rather humorous. What I really chuckle about is all the names listed on the far left-hand side. Seven people worked to get this mediocre issue out? Seven! Wow. That’s like when seven people work on a crappy pop song. What did these seven people contribute, besides two horrendous lines of lyrics and some up-tempo beats? Lame! I miss the days when a single writer, single artist and single inker worked on a comic book month in and month out and stuck to a clear tone and storyline. *Sigh* Those were the good old days of comics. That being said, only one issue left of this “run-away” hit relaunch and then on to the next relaunch! Yippee!
|Teen Titans #98|
You know what makes me laugh about this issue? Two characters reference how they “died” and came back. Hahaha. Isn’t that silly? Maybe one of the things that’s wrong with comics (aside from the many multiple creators on each book, of course) is the fact that everyone dies and comes back. EVERYbody. There used to be a time when at least ONE character from both Marvel and DC remained dead year after year, and you could always count on them staying dead. But now that’s gone, ‘cause both Bucky and Jason Todd roared back to life. These former “sacred cows” have shattered the dead glass ceiling, and pretty much everyone takes a dirt nap at one time or another and returns a few months later. Blah. I did enjoy the final shot of the various Superboys throughout the years. It’s nice to know all that history is gonna be wiped out next month. Right?
|X-Men: Schism #2|
Now, here’s a comic I’m actually enjoying! I’m not sure if it’s because I love seeing Rogue front and center on the cover and lifting a massive robo-structure like she used to do in her Ms. Marvel-stolen-powers-days, or seeing Rogue going all Cannonball on another robot inside the book, or having Kitty Pryde rub her Jewishness in the face of a Jew-hater (take that, jerk!), or just the fact that there’s a new evil-kid version of the Hellfire Club running around—stupid kids, aren’t they all evil? Maybe it’s all the above? I’m sure it helps that the last issue also had a near-nude Wolverine running around, which is always a good thing for us hirsute-man-lovers. Above all else, I suppose I’m just mildly excited to see the X-Men split up and create clear teams again. I miss the old days of a core X-Men team, and I’m hopeful this Schism will see the return to more teammate development and character interactions on a more personal level! Bring on the drama!
|Uncanny X-Force #12|
Escandalo! Psylocke locks lips with the boring Fantomex! Ohhhh, what will Warren (aka Angel) have to say about this? Chances are he won’t find out about it until months later at a very inopportune moment, which I will LOVE! This is just the kind of interpersonal interactions I’m missing in the main X-Book. Teammates hooking up, fighting, emotional strife, heroic battles where you get to know each character a little better and actually care if they get hurt and killed. Good stuff! Not that getting killed really matters anymore, because the cast of this book have all “died” at one point or another. Seriously, each and every one has died in the course of their comic career. Too bad Fantomex didn’t just stay dead, ‘cause he’s just really dumb. Am I right? Anyone? Anyone? Don’t be shy, peeps. Hop on the anti-Fantomex train; there’s wine and cheese being served in the main cabin!
|Amazing Spider-Man #666|
Oh uh, I’m pretty sure this is Satan’s comic. It bears his mark. I was weary of picking it up, I didn’t want to support the evil guy down below, but I couldn’t resist this prelude to the Spider-Island event. Spider-Island sounds so fun! I want to go! Although, after reading the book, I’m feeling slightly less enthused. Granted, I’m not a huge Spider-Man fan in general, and I haven’t read a solo Spider-Title in years, but now I can see why. I just didn’t much care for anything going on in this book. And to be fair, there was a lot going on, like: Aunt May moving to Boston; Spidey having a new girlfriend with an “issue;” Spider-Man at his job where he creates science stuff; an appearance by the new Venom; the all-white-after-Labor-Day FF; poker; the new Madame Web sparring with Spidey; and some big, furry green guy fondling this monster-spider creature. *Whew!* That’s a lot of story in such a short comic. Yet, none of it really spoke to me, or engaged me. I felt my mind wandering off more than once. Maybe I need to get over myself and just enjoy the spider-ness of it all, but I just can’t get into it, Peter Parker. Sorry, dude. Good luck with that whole Island thing you’ve got coming up!
|The Li’L Depressed Boy #5|
After finding out he wasn’t actually dating the girl he thought he was dating in the last dramatic issue, the Li’L Depressed Boy (also known as LDB to his cool friends) does what anyone with a broken heart would do: he goes on a road trip! Road trips are the best way to get over life’s biggest probs. Where else can you get away from your emotional issues while having plenty of time to think and talk through your baggage with a captive audience? Plus, there’s lots of bad junk food to eat along the way, and junk food always heals the soul. It’s a proven fact. Just try not to get arrested like LDB’s driver!
|50 Girls 50 #1|
I love comics featuring strong, sexy women! So I read this with much excitement. Sadly, it wasn’t all that great. The space-faring story was just so-so; nothing all that fresh, new or exciting happened in the first issue. Nothing to make me want to salivate for the next issue. While I like the fact that the ladies are smart and capable of saving themselves from an alien planet with people-eating-giant-insects, there was a lot of exploitative nudity. A lot. Like pages of bare butts and near full areola shots. Yeah, not really for me. Too bad, too, ‘cause I love me some lady-starring comics!
Now this was a fun comic. It’s like a kids’ comic that’s also kinda naughty and off-color! So it’s right up my alley. I love that it’s fairly light in plot; these Goblins (called Gobs) get tossed out of a bar and decide to create their own bar in the hallowed out body of a dead giant! That’s pretty much it. But what makes the story so fun are all the witty barbs, bathroom humor and cute, cute, cute art. I loved it!
I’m not sure why I picked this comic up; I supposed I just liked the cover of the first issue. Something about young, disenfranchised youth speaks to me. Maybe now that I’m all old and “corporate,” I like to imagine what my life would be like if I was a confused, uncertain teen, living a carefree life (getting old kinda sucks, people!). And this tale of an young woman struggling to make ends meet, while going to art school and being a part-time thief who killed her own mother (or so she says), who has a complicated love-life, and finds out that she has a guardian angel, totally speaks to me. The craziest thing that happens to me in my 9-5 work-life is when I stay up until 11:00PM on a work night to watch the horrible A-List: New York! I think I need to get out more.