Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Thunder - Round 5: And The Wind Whispers "Hulk Smash!"



The Hulk has faced a wide variety of foes. Usually he can get by with his great strength alone, but occasionally he meets an opponent against whom he has to think his way to victory. Such is the case in tonight's featured fight from Incredible Hulk Annual#5 by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Sal Buscema, and Jack Abel. Synopsis: a mysterious enemy has unleashed five monsters (each of whom originally appeared in a Jack Kirby Atlas-era horror comic) against our green-skinned behemoth. For tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Thunder, we'll focus on the first opponent, a smoke creature named Diablo.




The Hulk, as usual, attempts to straight-up smash his opponent. But this foe doesn't smash so easily.




It looks like ol' Diabs is going to asphyxiate our Emerald Goliath. But he's about to learn not to count out Jade Jaws so easily.




Too late, Smoky!




Wow, the Hulk really smoked him!


Tonight's fight music is this windy wonder by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.




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Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Thunder - Round 4: What Wine Goes With Knuckle Sandwiches?





I had to miss last week's round of Friday Night Fights: Thunder due do a bout of stomach flu, so I'm back this week with both guns blazing. And since it's the week of Valentine's Day, I'm going with someone who's both a lover and a fighter, namely Bat Lash.


This round of western wine-related wildness comes courtesy of Showcase#76 by Sergio Aragones and Nick Cardy. Synopsis: Bat Lash stops in the town of Welcome to arrange to cook the pheasant he just killed. Trouble is, Welcome does not live up to its name, seeing as how it's just been overrun by an evil gang. Bat just wants to eat his meal and leave, but the gunmen, afraid he's a federal Marshall, keep trying to kill him, including this moment when he's trying to pick the right wine to go with the roast bird.





Spoiler: He never does get to enjoy that dinner.


Since tonight's fight involved a man and his wine, I thought this Def Leppard song would be appropriate fight music.





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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Accentuate The Positive: The Best Of Comics In 2014

One month gone into 2015 and I'm just now providing a very belated take on the best comics of 2015? Yes, I have become the Jim Lee of comics blogging. Having an infant and a two-year-old will do that to you. I'll probably have forgotten some key ones, but here's current take on my favorite comics of 2014:


Twilight Zone Annual: Takers - While it's not as well-written or well-drawn as my other entries here, I just have to include this story for the sheer schadenfreude of seeing a Paul Ryan analog being transported back to the Great Depression and eaten alive by cannabalistic poverty-stricken Depression-era Dust Bowl residents in a Shirley Jackson-esque lottery. Karma is sweet, even if it's fictional. And as icing on the cake, his name is "Galt Randall". I kid you not!


Sex Criminals - "The Lick-ed And The Divine". That almost catapulted the book into THE best of the year. Also, I want Chip Zdarsky to draw all contraception instructionals.


The Wicked + The Divine - Kieron Gillen's ruminations on mortality and celebrity + Jamie McKelvie's breathtaking artwork = WIN!


The Fuse - Murder mysteries in space. A thrilling combination.


Ms. Marvel - 2014 was the year of Kamala Khan. At a time when Muslim characters are considered by some to be a gimmick or a PR stunt, G. Willow Wilson gave us one who was a compelling and likeable person. And the Alphona art seals the deal.


Multiplicity: The Just - This comic was Kingdom Come if it had been written by Kieron Gillen. And that's a good thing.


Multiplicity: Thunderworld - This was definitely a Fawcett Captain Marvel story written by Grant Morrison, alright. And that's an extremely good thing.


Saga - This series won my "Best" award back in 2012 and it's still just as good now.


Grendel vs. The Shadow - How great was this Matt Wagner comic? Let's put it this way: Before reading it I had so little knowledge of Grendel that I didn't even know he was a bad guy, yet this miniseries hooked me instantly.


Black Canary And Zatanna: Bloodspell - The best way I can describe this fishnet-laden team-up is pure concentrated fun. And the Joe Quinones art is fantastic.


She-Hulk - I can't believe this is the same Charles Soule who wrote Superman/Wonder Woman, because he is fantastic here. And Javier Pina's art is an absolute delight.


Silver Surfer - She named the surfboard "Toomey"! As in "Toomey, my board"!


Sensation Comics - Not all news on the Wonder Woman front was bad this year. This anthology gave us wonderful takes on DC's most iconic heroine by creators who actually get her. Now why in the fresh hell can't we get that in the Nu52?


Grayson - It boggles my mind how a gem like this comic sprung from the steaming turd that was Forever Evil. But Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin make this concept work, even ably explaining how a hero whose identity has been exposed to the entire world can function as a secret agent. When done right, Dick Grayson can be one of the most uplifting characters in the DC Universe, and here Seeley and King do him very right, even out of costume. And he works extremely well in this spy motif.


Boo! Halloween Stories Vol. 2: Murder Ballad - Last year a few Twitter compatriots and comic creators came together, under the guidance of Jon Morris, to give us Boo! Halloween Stories Vol. 1. Among them were the team of Ken Lowery and Shawn McGuan, who gave us a From-Dusk-Til-Dawn-esque romp featuring brother-sister musicians June and Johnny Valentine. This year, both gentlemen dramatically stepped up their game with this stunning prequel story. Lowery shifts the tone 180 degrees for a jarringly serious and thoughtful story tinged with fascinating musical folklore. McGuan, for his part, gives us a fuller sense of his true artistic range than in last year's tale. Observe:





Astro City - Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have been outdoing themselves since they relaunched. But the best story was this year's "Wish I May" which told the story of teen villain Simon Says and his archenemy Starbright. This one straight up moved me to tears.




But the best of 2014 had to be:


Daredevil - Mark Waid's run on the Man Without Fear's comic has been one of my top five favorite comics since it began in 2011. His first volume of DD, the latter portion illustrated by Chris Samnee, consistent wowed me issue after issue. However, when he began his second volume this past year, Waid has managed to up his game on this character even further. He started by choosing to take Matt Murdock out of his New York comfort zone and send him to California. Waid clearly researches the hell out of every issue he writes. This is apparent not only in his take on Matt's struggles in his new surroundings, but also his analyses of the effects of postpartum depression (and when have you seen a comic tackle postpartum depression of all things?) and general depression itself are brilliant. Waid really puts Matt through his paces, presenting him and the reader with fascinating and puzzling dilemmas and showing us Matt's process as he comes up with the ingenious solutions necessary to extricate himself from them. Best of all, he makes Matt's morality and strength of character shine throughout the series. This has been a virtually perfect comic series.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Thunder - Round 2: Colossal Clobbering!



Since my last round of Friday Night Fights: Thunder involved the Atom, a little guy, I thought I'd swing to the opposite extreme this week with a big guy, courtesy of Legion Of Super-Heroes#301, written by Paul Levitz and illustrated by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt.


Synopsis: An enemy ship has just blown up the Legion's cruiser and is now moving in for the kill on a seemingly helpless Colossal Boy.




BIG mistake!


Tonight's fight music is this larger-than-life song by Wolfmother.




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Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Thunder - Round 1: Calculate This!



Welcome to the first round of our host Spacebooger's latest bout, Friday Night Fights: Thunder. Tonight's round of mathematical mayhem comes from the backup story in Detective Comics#463, written by Bob Rozakis and drawn by Mike Grell and Terry Austin, which features the debut of the Calculator. Before he went on to become Oracle's evil counterpart, ol' Calc used to dress up like this:




His M.O. was to steal things on the day they would be worth the most valuable. Here, he attempts to steal the life of Ray Palmer's old friend Professor Richard Bagley on the day he's announcing his greatest invention, the Quake-Breaker, a device designed to channel the power of earthquakes for constructive use. This leads to a showdown with the Atom. Unfortunately, in the course of the battle, Bagley is swallowed up by a chasm caused by the sudden appearance of a freak earthquake and dies, thereby making Calculator's theft a success.


Needless to say, the World's Smallest Superhero is PISSED.








Our button-pushing Big Bad would go on to face Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman, and finally Batman throughout the course of this six-issue arc. After being defeated by each Justice Leaguer, he would push a special button which would "inoculate" him against being defeated by that same foe ever again. Because....magic science, I guess? (Rozakis could match his fellow Bobs Kanigher and Haney in Bronze Age wackiness and then some.) Anyway, other than the bad fashion sense,  I never got why this period Calculator was thought of as lame in the more modern stories, because his abilities here were pretty baller.


For tonight's fight music, since I've already used Kraftwerk in the past, I'm going with this "number" by Regina Spektor.





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Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Phantom Punch - Prize Fight: Phantom Fist!



Welcome to tonight's special Friday Night Fights: Phantom Punch Prize Fight. Our host Spacebooger has one special rule: The fight should feature an unseen assailant.


Fortunately, I have something that fits the bill: A specual jungle jam-up from Namor: The Sub Mariner#15 by John Byrne. Synopsis: Namor discovers a mysterious disease has been making the citizens of his home city of Atlantis sick. He tracks the source of the problem back to the Savage Land and goes there to investigate himself. Unfortunately for our Sub Mariner, he is being stalked by an unseen threat. 









And now the mysterious stalker's fist starts glowing. Could he be....?





And Namor is down for the count! But who is his unseen assailant?


Could it be.....


Iron Fist?





(Well, yes and no, actually. He has the appearance of Iron Fist, but he's actually a disguised Super Skrull.)


Tonight's fight music is by Coheed and Cambria.




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Friday, January 02, 2015

Friday Night Fights: Ghost - Round 12: Martial Arts Schooling!




For the final round of Friday Night Fights: Ghost, I offer special piece of advice:




When Black Canary comes into your martial arts studio and says she knows judo?




Believe her!


Denny O'Neil and Alex Toth deliver this and other sage advice in Adventure Comics#418.


Tonight's fight music is a special bird song by Annie Lennox (remixed by Utah Saints).




For more special advice, click here. And don't forget to vote!