Friday, August 31, 2012

Batman Inc. #3

Man! I’m so happy that Grant Morrison gets to ignore the new 52 reboot. I’d heard this was the “new 52 introduction of Matches Malone” but it really isn’t. The old Matches stories still happened; this is just the next chapter in Morrison’s Batman epic. Heck, if it wasn’t clear enough in the dialogue, the enormous web of Leviathan’s operatives makes it clear this book is just continuing along as it always has. Yee-haw!

This thing is so full of ideas; new villains, the Bat Cow, new super-heroic IDs, wonderful guest stars, wonderful cameos. I mean, this book is packed with value for your $2.99. Lumina Lux certainly has the look and the name to be a recurring interest for Batman, so I’m hoping she can sit around. And is that El Gaucho doing a Bueno Excelente impression from Hitman?

And it wouldn’t be a Grant Morrison comic without some insane villains doing some crazy things. We’ve got the Hangman, Goatboy, and some Punch-like Judge showing up by the end; who knows what’s next? Morrison’s wonderful conspiracy at the open of the book is great too. Leviathan has infested Gotham!

Chris Burnham’s work is a revelation. His use of sound effects on panel (“Scram” and “Clang” come to mind) is so much fun, it’s Steranko-ish. And as for Redbird, the design is great; it’s not easy to make Damian look so young AND so dangerous, but Burnham does it perfectly.

If DC is curious why their Batman books sell so well, the answer is simple; it’s not because of a rebooted continuity, it’s because of fantastic creative teams.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Captain America #635.1

Hmm. Marvel really seems to be enjoying this Atlanteans/Thule Society thing, don’t they? I first remember seeing it in Fear Itself, but I think it’s been pretty prominent since. Interesting.

Cullen Bunn does a nice job differentiating his WWII-era Cap from his modern one. Cap in the 40’s was a lot simpler. He’s out to inspire the troops, and he really over-thinks everything. We don’t get many internal monologues like this anymore, but they used to be the norm. I like that the flashback-era story has some flashback-era storytelling.

Man, jerk Namor is one of my favorite characters. He’s mean to everyone! Teammates, enemies, random people on the street, Namor has time to hate on them all. This issue has a strange group approach him on a membership drive, and Namor doesn’t exactly ace the interview. He’s surrounded by an obviously well-prepared and well-funded group, and he’s not impressed or cowed in the least. (Interesting that he didn’t join, though, isn’t it?)

As for this secret society, the Covenant, I don’t’ recognize most of the members. Ulysses Bloodstone has always been a stand-up guy, but the rest of these guys are mysteries to me. I do like the look of Murderous Lion and The Menace, though. I can only hope Menace’s name is “Dennis” under that mask!

Will Conrad’s art interests me. He used to be a Mike Deodato clone, but now he’s got a clean style of his own. I really like his facial expressions. Pretty sparse backgrounds, though, a little more detail would really clarify the jumps in time and location.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

X-Men Legacy #272

It’s a real bummer to me that Christos Gage is going to be moving off the Legacy title, and his last arc is a weird, alternate dimension story with no impact on the “real” Marvel U.

Gage has put some work in developing this world, its creatures, and its history, but it seems like the pages are just kind of taking up space. I’m sure that’s because Gage can’t really address the post-AvX status quo like some of the other Marvel creators are doing, he’s got to tread water until the crossover finishes. That means we have a well-written and likable lead off spinning her wheels. Too bad she couldn’t have been dumped in the Savage Land or with the Star Jammers instead. Heck, Gage could team Rogue up with Hercules and have them fight Black Tom Cassidy for a couple issues. Anything other than this exile!

Rafa Sandoval continues to do a solid job on pencils; he gets a lot more creepy-crawlies to do this issue. The horde of bugs is pretty creepy, especially with their helmets! What bugs wear helmets??? I’m not sure if the other side is supposed to be lion-men or more human-like with weird features. Again, I’m not sure that totally matters.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Invincible #94

Aw man, Kirkman is still tugging at my heartstrings with the lost romance of Monster Girl and Robot. I want to see it work out for those two! I finally have some hope, after this issue’s confession from Robot. We also have a possible reason for the difficulties between the two of them, and boy, it’s a doozy. I won’t ruin that last page, but it does shed some new light on Robot and MG’s issues.

Bulletproof as Invincible really doesn’t get much screen time in this one. He’s on maybe, three pages? It’s too bad, I’ve made my affection for the concept clear, and I hope we don’t get to Mark Grayson’s triumphant return too quickly. I’m now holding out hope that Mark comes back in issue 125 rather than the much more likely #100.

I am happy that the Guardians of the Globe are featured so prominently. I’m already planning on picking up their spin-off in the fall.

Cory Walker does the heavy lifting in this issue, with a lot more detail about Robot and MG’s time in the alien dimension. (He also gets to do one of the best cameos ever for Kirkman-creation Tech Jacket.) Walker is solid; he’s a good storyteller with lots of emotion on the page. But I love Ryan Ottley’s dynamic, cartoony pencils. I’m OK with a timeshare as long as Ottley keeps up with the “current” segments of the book.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Secret Avengers #30

Attention comic companies: When I’m flipping through books figuring out which one I just have to read first, I will ALWAYS choose the cover with Bi-Beast. Let’s just get that out of the way. (Bi-Beast doesn’t actually do anything in the issue, but man, he sure does look good on the Arthur Adams cover.)

Rick Remender really loves Hawkeye. Hawk is acting like his old self, cracking jokes, busting on the villains, and still bossing around his teammates. Without a doubt, this is the Hawkeye that I remember, and out of all the places the character is appearing these days, this is the “real” version as far as I’m concerned.

I like Remender’s choice to narrow the focus with a smaller team. Venom spends most of the issue fighting, and Ant-Man doesn’t really have a lot to do. This book stars Hawkeye and Valkyrie above all the others. (I also like the use of Hank Pym as the equipment man. He gets lots of respect even when he’s not on the page!) They have a fantastic chase sequence as they run down Taskmaster and Vengeance. I don’t remember Vengeance at all, but I love him in this. Spouting gibberish about pollution and inner corruption, he sure sets himself up for some Hawkeye-insults. Great.

Max Fury’s Masters of Evil don’t seem to long for this world. He full on admits that he has no right to the name or membership, but that didn’t stop him. I’m a little bummed that this huge crew is going to break up so fast; there is a lot of potential here.

Matteo Scalera impresses me a lot more here than last month. He has a wonderful sequence where Hawkeye is being knocked off a roof and launches a bunker-buster arrow at Vengeance. It’s a tremendous action scene, and would look great in a movie. I don’t love the Taskmaster transformation, but that’s mainly because I love Scalera’s take on the classic suit, no need for a Serpent Crown version. (I’m sure it’s short term, though.)


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Green Lantern #12

Well, that was a tad anticlimactic. The second arc of the relaunched Green Lantern has been a bit scattered. Geoff Johns is trying to set up the big Third Army arc, put Black Hand back in rotation after Blackest Night, and resolve the mysteries of the Indigo Tribe. I think the succeeded on the first and last, but the Black Hand bit rings a bit hollow.

It’s hard to follow-up on a definitive story like Blackest Night, but Johns gives it a try. He spent last issue really ramping up the creepiness factor with the zombie family and spooky setting. Unfortunately, when Hal and Sinestro come zooming in and start blowing regular zombies away with their super-powered space weapons, the balance seems a bit off. I do like the way Johns wraps up the threat (with Sinestro blowing up his power battery) but that seems like it was just easier than hanging around torching zombies from the air. The threat is just a bit anticlimactic.

The art is pretty uneven too. Renato Guedes has been putting out some beautiful work recently, and he does so again on some of the pages of this comic. Jim Calafiore is a solid super-hero artist in his own right, and the book looks good on his pages too. However, the two tastes do not go well together. The artistic shifts are jarring and took me out of the book each time they switched.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wolverine & the X-Men #10-14

I decided to catch up on Jason Aaron’s X-book since I got those fancy digital codes, and boy, it looks like I’ve been missing out. I consider myself fairly well caught up on my Marvel minutiae, but Kid Gladiator, Toad as a janitor, Iceman putting the moves on Shadowcat? It’s like I’m a year behind or something! Heck, there’s even a new gal calling herself Warbird!

Not surprisingly, Aaron’s team is awesome. I absolutely love Kid Gladiator; arrogant powerhouses fit in comics better than anywhere else. Someone needs to get this kid talking to Namor. I think they’d clash nicely. Warbird is great too, and after her spotlight issue during AvX, she’s not at all what I’d pictured. A girly-girl in warrior’s clothing, she’s sad and cool at the same time.

Shadowcat as headmistress seems strange, but man, it’s pretty great watching her try to tiptoe around crazy Colossus while he’s powered up. Colossus has always been my favorite X-Man, but it’s hard to defend how nutso he is now. I hope the character is fixable after AvX. (I’m happy his hair is back, too.)

The regular artists seem to be Nick Bradshaw and Chris Bachalo. Bachalo is a known quantity, with is strange panel borders and love of scarves. He does a nice job with the book. But man, this Bradshaw guy is awesome. He’s got a mix o f Arthur Adams and J. Scott Campbell that just sings off the page. Combined with the vibrant color, this book looks fantastic.

I’m glad the creative team isn’t changing with Marvel NOW, cause I’m adding this to the sublist!


Friday, August 24, 2012

Avengers #29

So this is a joke, right? I mean, I’m as excited about Walt Simonson working on modern comics as the next guy, but this is the story? This is exactly the same content that appeared in Wolverine & the X-Men #12 with only a few changes in dialogue. That was two issues ago for that title, and we’re well beyond that status quo in the overall crossover. I can see how this might be a stronger chapter if you had never read that other issue, but I have, and this issue pales in comparison. Heck, the strongest part of the fight was the smack talk between Iceman and Beast, and that’s eliminated here.

Instead, this wraps up with a Professor X dues ex machina mind-blast. Another cop out ending that doesn’t really affect the ongoing AvX narrative.

Simonson does a nice job with what he has; his distinctive style works really well on Thor, Spider-Woman, and Captain America. He can’t save that Hawkeye costume, but at least Hawk looks like a hero.

I’m just kind of surprised this book is so recycled. Here's a hint: if you're intrigued by seeing the Avengers fight the X-Men as they try to take down Rachel Grey, buy Wolverine & the X-Men #12.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daredevil #17

Mark me down for a poster when Marvel makes the right move and blows up this cover. What a great shot.

What a joy it is to see Mike Allred work on Daredevil. If there is one thing that Waid has been emphasizing on this run, it’s been the fun that DD is having doing his job. In the old days, even the dark threats of attempted murder and blackmail couldn’t bring down Matt Murdock. Waid delivers a nice little gift to his guest artist, providing a bouncy, action-packed story that shows off the strengths of both the artists and the series.

Really, Daredevil sums up the reason I love this book so much, “For the first time in a long while, I like my life. I like who I am. I’m a winner. Just like my Dad.” Now that’s an upbeat hero I want to see more of! Comics aren’t complicated, people. Show a cool hero we can root for and some cool villains in costume, and that’s the recipe for success. Waid gets it!

It makes sense that Allred’s issue would be a flashback/done-in-one, because his style is so different than the regular pencilers for this series. That said, Allred is a perfect fit. I don’t remember Stilt-Man’s mask being a full-cover like this, but it looks good so I’m not complaining. Look at the way Allred shows DD’s acrobatics with those shadowy after-images! Scott McDaniel did that years ago on Nightwing, and I still love it now. Heck, even the freeze-frame acrobatics work; check out the panel where DD tosses his billy club to take out Foggy’s attacker. Wonderful!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Green Lantern Corps #12

I had every intention of dropping this book and moving on from the DCU, but when I saw the issue on the stands, I couldn’t do it. I love Peter Tomasi’s corner of the DCU too much. His handle on Guy Gardner and John Stewart make this one of the few places I’m still coming back to for my DC-style entertainment.

The battle with the Alpha Lanterns is over, and it’s pretty final. The concept as a whole was a bit of an odd one, the robot-lantern internal affairs. Well, we won’t be seeing them again anytime soon. It’s interesting, Green Man and Boodika were fairly well-established lanterns, and Varix certainly seemed like he had potential, but I think those days might be done.

The Alphas go out tough, tough. The half-dozen of them actually defeat the entire Green Lantern Corps; only through the defection of one member do the living lanterns even have a chance.

Clearly this is tying into the continued corruption of the Guardians, as they prepare for the “Third Army” or whatever, but it’s interesting seeing a fairly distinct chapter of GL history close. (I think the Alphas first showed up right before Final Crisis, right?)

Fernando Pasarin's visuals of the Alpha’s victory are simply fantastic. Dozens, maybe hundreds of lanterns with a green pole through their heads, with them all wriggling and struggling like fish on a line. Wow!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Avengers Academy #35

I really hope Marvel finds a place for Christos Gage in Marvel NOW. His mastery of old continuity and new stories is unparalleled. This issue features the current White Tiger lamenting advice from the original, X-23 recalling her time as a guided assassin, and characters from Young Avengers Dark Reign. Nobody else keeps up with all this stuff as well as Gage does.

Last time, the students split as half of them decided to side with the Alchemist, who wants to take the powers away from most of the Earth’s heroes. I was suspicious then, and it seems I was justified. Mettle, Hazmat, and even Striker can’t turn on their friends, and half the issue shows off these three making the tough choice to do the right thing. (Heck, it seems Striker was planning it all along. He just wanted his powers back. I do like him using his “acting” powers to get the new Enchantress to help out.)

The other group of students shows off some ingenuity and teamwork, with Julie Power taking on the leader role while Reptil struggles with the loss of his powers. I also dig seeing how the Clean Slate drug takes away powers. Finesse, for example, can’t add new abilities to her fighting arsenal, but any abilities she already had, she retains. Clean Slate’s targeted power removal would make for a pretty neat What If? story if Marvel was still doing them!

I’m thrilled to see Andrea DeVito back on art. He’s been a favorite of mine for years, and he and Gage always work well together. That closing panel with the return of Hazmat is fantastic. I also love his take on the trashy Big Zero.

Surely there’s a place for these characters (or at least this creative team) in Marvel NOW?


Monday, August 20, 2012

AvX #10

Ed Brubaker has handled a couple of the stronger chapters in AvX, and once again, he has some cool stuff to throw out there. After Colossus and Magik took each other out last issue, the Phoenix Five are down to two, the headliners Cyclops and Emma Frost. We’ve seen Emma being pretty bad over the past few months, but Scott Summers seemed to be doing a better job retaining his humanity. That’s just about gone now. Cyclops is enraged that the Avengers won’t give in, and he takes every opportunity to knock them around to prove his point.

I’m not sure how I feel that the Avengers are clearly the good guys now. I mean, this has become an Avengers story, where the X-Men have taken on the role of villain for the length of the series. There are some saving graces, like the fact that Magneto is now about to switch sides too, but it’s just weird that the X-Men are getting piled on like this. There is going to be a whole new reason to hate and fear them after AvX.

Iron Fist gets some time in the spotlight as the tries to take on Cyclops (to little effect). It also seems Scarlet Witch is about tapped out; she can’t stop Cyclops now, he’s got too much power. Hope attempts to channel both the Witch’s power and the abilities of the young dragon of K’un L’un, and that’s the only reason she’s’ able to pop Cyke out of there. Disappointingly, he’s just planning on going back to attack again, this time bringing Emma. No thinking or planning here.

This just feels like a middle chapter. I'm not sure we learned a lot more about any characters, or saw anything different than we've seen in any of the X-tie ins over the past few weeks. I'm ready for the climax!

Adam Kubert’s art is wonderful once again. I’d love to see him draw more characters for this. He makes the Thing’s FF costume look awesome, and I love his Scarlet Witch. It’s too bad Hope doesn’t have a more dynamic look.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Transformers: Chaos TPB

James Roberts, Mike Costa bring the ongoing series to a close, and they do it with a bang. It took awhile as the line lost its way, but I’m firmly back in the TF fold after reading this and Police Action. While Bumblebee, Prowl, and his crew are dealing with human problems on Earth, Optimus, Ratchet, Rodimus, Iron Hide, and Drift (blerg) are back home dealing with BIG problems.

I have to say the story is fairly confusing, and you know that’s the case when characters in the actual story need help understanding the plot. There is a scene where a bunch of Autobots (I think it’s the Technobots and some of the Headmasters) are puzzling out Galvatron’s master plan, while Arcee and Hardhead try to explain it to them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, to be honest, and the whole Chaos crossover as a whole is a failure. I mean, it hasn’t made sense from the start, so I think the creative team did the right thing in acknowledging the problems, then just barreling ahead.

Solid action. THAT’S how you can deal with a poor plot. With lots of smashing, shooting, and characterization. There are tons of ‘bots getting a moment in the sun here. We all know Optimus and his main crew (listed above) is going to get the spotlight, but Sunstreaker, Megatron, Cliffjumper (!), and Wheelie (!!) actually get moments! Devastator comes back, the familiar Decepticons make an appearance (it’s too brief, but at least I understand it.) It must have been pretty hard bringing the disparate storylines together, but Arcee and Hardhead do make a bit of a difference in the battle with Galvatron. Again, the greater plot is lacking, but the character moments make this thing work.

Livio Ramondelli has a nice, painted look. The battles are impressive at times (try to find Silverbolt leading the flying Autobots up into space against Cyclonus and the Sweeps). Powerglide, Cosmos, Tracks, it’s got every flying good guy on the roster and looks fantastic. Megatron’s new form is enormous and fun. Devastator is horrifying, bum leg and all. Now, the giant Chaos monster? Blah. I’m ignoring that bit.

I’m excited for the next stage of the IDW books. I want to see what happens to these characters. It’s nice when the plot is driving things along and enhancing the book, but to be honest, handle the characters well and consistently, and that’s enough.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Transformers: Police Action TPB

Now THIS is what I was looking for in my Transformers comics! I feel the IDW line really lost its way after All Hail Megatron. The books were just sort of flopping around. The relationship with Spike and the humans isn’t why anyone is picking up the book, I figure, and the Decepticons on the run aren’t an interesting enough threat. I actually didn’t buy any Transformer trades for quite awhile. Fortunately, Comixology had a big sale and I caught back up. (I’m not going to review Heart of Darkness or the Chaos prelude, both were fairly boring.)

This trade moves along nicely. It focuses on Prowl and the other Earth-bound transformers as they try to investigate a few mysteries from earlier in the series. You see, Spike really hates the Transformers, and in a great scene, he actually states that he will never trust any of them, leaving Prowl looking like a fool for liking and trusting Spike. As always, the humans are the real bad guys. (Of course!) There’s a lot of procedure work as Prowl (and partner Streetwise) bomb around investigating who killed the Constructicon Scrapper earlier in the series. They also want to figure out who distributed all those Megatron bot-killer pistols earlier in the book too. Both masterminds have been choreographed well, so everything makes sense, and it leaves the Autobots in a position where I’m not sure they can stick around Earth much longer.

For those of you who just want to know which Transformers appear in Transformers: Police Action, here’s your list, starting with the most featured: Prowl, Bumblebee, Ultra Magnus, Jazz, Streetwise, the Protectobots, Brawl, and Swindle. (There are a few more cameos, including Seaspray and Windcharger, but that list is the main guys.)

I can’t emphasize enough how bored I was by the Transformers universe before this trade. Mike Costa and artist E.J. Su deserve a lot of credit for bringing me back on board.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Walking Dead #101

Hoo doggies! I think it’s time for Andrea to be put in charge, don’t you?

Man, Kirkman sure didn’t wait long to slap another moral quandary in front of our leads, did he? I really appreciate the pacing in this book, I mean, after last issue’s heart-wrenching death, it would be easy to sit around and mourn. But no, Rick is still tearing stuff up on the Hilltop, and burning rubber to get back home.

I love that Jesus is joining up with our crew, too. He’s clearly a huge bad a$$, and it makes Abraham’s death a few issues ago easier to take. There is only one spot for #2 tough guy in our cast, and with Tyreese and Abraham gone, Jesus clearly saw an opening. I hope he sticks around for awhile.

Kirkman also does a nice job with Sophia, Carl, and Maggie. They all react in realistic ways to the loss last month. I appreciate how quickly Maggie is able to get herself back under control and start making reasoned choices. I don’t think we’ll see her as much, but that’s OK. It’s nice having someone leave the cast without dying! And as for Carl, I finally have some hope that he’s not a junior sociopath after all. He shows a lot of understanding and emotion with Sophia.

One favor: Kirkman, please name dreadlock dude in the dialogue, please. I can’t remember his name, and he’s sticking around for at least a bit, right?

Charlie Adlard kicks it with the pencils again. One concern this time: am I supposed to recognize that guy at the end? Cause I don’t. That’s the problem with too many folks looking similar; and this guy has a burned face and I still can’t recognize him!

All this, and NO ZOMBIES! Amazing!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Daredevil Annual #1

I find that "#1" a bit suspect... I suppose it's correct for this volume of Daredevil. But man, there must be a lot of confusing Annuals out there.

Wow. Alan Davis sure draws one hulking Daredevil! The guy looks like a professional wrestler! I’m used to seeing the more slim, athletic take on the character, I kind of like this bulked up version. Davis does an absolutely wonderful job show DD’s acrobatics too. There are some wonderful panels where DD is swinging down the street or bouncing off rooftops. The best sequence of the issue is the one where DD realizes he’s being followed and tries to double back on his shadow. Great use of powers and it is a cool show of character too.

This issue is a bit easier to follow than the Fantastic Four Annual a few weeks ago. Plus, we get two of the more recognizable members of the ClanDestine. Cuckoo is a telepath and manipulator and Dominic, the acrobat. I’m not sure Dominic is actually named, though, so this would be a tough read for folks not familiar with the Clan already. But wow, anyone should be able to appreciate that Daredevil vs. Dominic fight. Two sets of super-senses make it one fantastic looking battle. I also love that Dominic’s super-sensitivity gives him a glass jaw. What a hilarious weakness.

I don’t know the Plastoid at all, but I’m happy to see Davis tying the plot into Daredevil’s past. That makes this feel like it is still a Daredevil story. I appreciate the simple nature of the Plastoid’s eventual defeat too. Sometimes, the comic book way is best!

It’s interesting that Davis seems to be working so hard to put his pet characters in the grey area of Marvel heroics. He’s doing a really good job. These folks do seem to have the greater good as a goal, but they are willing to do shady things to get there. It’s also nice seeing the mystery at the close of the issue. When Daredevil asks Dr. Strange if there really was a “ghost in the machine,” Strange answers that if the ClanDestine couldn’t tell how could he?

I’m enjoying this tour of the Marvel U and the return of the ClanDestine. Hopefully we’ll get Walter/Wallop (blue strong guy) and Sam (armor and blades lady) next time.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Comics on the Bubble: Avengers: Fear Itself

This run of comics is a fascinating exercise. For me, it’s proof that Bendis can write solid, super-hero action. Now, due to the jumping nature of the plot, he usually gets to dodge any resolution for the battles, but he actually choreographs some neat battles. I still can’t stand the way he writes Hawkeye, it just feels off, but some of his Avengers actually work. In fact, only after reading these issues do I feel like Protector isactually a legitimate member of the team. (I dropped the book at issue 6, and then picked up at 19, so he never did anything that I saw.) I also dislike the interview format as a bridge for the issues, it’s all too reality TV for me. But the actual fighting is pretty good. Top notch artists sure don’t hurt.
Issue 13: Chris Bachalo tries, but this is a talky book. Alan Davis’ cover is the best part. Keep, barely.

Issue 14: Red Hulk vs. Feared Up Thing, drawn by John Romita Jr. Can’t miss! Keep.

Issue 15: Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, and Protector vs. Feared Up Hulk! Not bad, even if that Avengers team doesn’t have a chance. Bachalo makes it pretty. Hawkeye and Spider-Woman just don’t make sense as a couple! Keep

Issue 16: Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter, Victoria Hand, and Maria Hill vs. Master Man and old Red Skull henchman. It’s a fun idea, and Romita Jr. draws a good Master Man. Keep

Issue 17: Romita Jr. handles the combined Avengers vs. Sin. I wish Romita Jr. had more panel time to draw old Iron Man armors. What we get here is just a tease. Keep

So this is a run I think I’ll hold on to. It’s all fighting, and mostly in costume. I’ll skip the video confessional bits on future readings, but top artists drawing people smashing is why I read comics!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Avenging Spider-Man #10

So these two issues are pretty much Marvel Team-Up. Captain Marvel (the former Ms. Marvel) has at least as big a role in this arc as Spidey. I’m not complaining at all, it’s just interesting. I like what happens when you put Spidey with some strong creators and a random hero and let them go.

Not that this creator was entirely random. Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing the new Captain Marvel series. She clearly has a strong voice down for Captain Marvel. The new Cap is confident, bossy, and very obsessed with flying. All of those things make sense; it’s just taking me a moment to get used to it. All the recent history with Ms. M was always about her trying to live up to heroic potential, so seeing her so confident in the role is a bit of a switch.

I don’t actually think that Captain Marvel and Spidey make that good of a team-up. However, Carol Danvers and Peter Parker is a pretty good match. I enjoy the banter and the chemistry the two have when they are out of costume. I think having a bit stronger of a villain might have made a difference in the costumed sections; it’s just a little too timely having an “Occupy” based antagonist. I really like her dialogue; it’s just a bit silly. That said, I'm always down for new evil corporations in the Marvel U. I hope to see National Federal Bank up to no good in other titles.

Terry Dodson handles the art, and of course, does a great job. Robyn Hood has a nice design, and I’d actually like to see more of a flying, growing, robot. That’s a new power-set I don’t think we’ve seen before. Now that I’ve seen a great artist handle it, I’ve decided I’m not a fan of the new Captain Marvel suit. The constantly spiky hair is odd. The suit itself is still a tad generic looking. And I loved Ms. Marvel’s mask, so losing that bums me out too.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Batman & Robin #12

I appreciate that after all that buildup, all those plans, and underlings, and complicated plots, Terminus just walks out in a suit of armor and fights Batman. I mean, re-branding the Bat and scaring the city, trying to psyche out the cops, that’s all well and good. But when it comes down to it, someone got to punch Batman in the face, and Terminus is willing to do the dirty work himself.

The big selling point on this issue is the bat-armor. I love the whole sequence where Batman decides it’s time to armor-up. He slides into some crazy chute under the Batmobile, and pops out the other side wearing a nice update of his Predator-fighting armor. (I know Batman wears armor for lots of things, but to me, I always go back to that sweet battle against the Predators in the 90’s.) It’s just a street fight after that.

The Damian vs. the Robins sub-plot gets wrapped up sort of quickly. Nightwing opts out, and just tosses Damian one of his battle staves, so there is no need for Damian to go get a trophy. It doesn’t seem like that should work on a psycho like Damian, but maybe it will. It’s also weird seeing Red Hood, Red Robin, Damian, and Nightwing all teaming up again. They reference it on-page, too, but these guys just teamed up a month ago to take on the Talons. I mean, they’re practically Gotham’s super-team at this point!

Patrick Gleason does a great job on that armor. I love the glowing effects, and the actual punching with Terminus looks wonderful. The backgrounds are routinely full of Robins beating up Peter Tomasi’s new rogues’ gallery, so there is a lot to look at. I did have a hard time discerning what was happening when the whole crowd got tased (I thought it was foam or something), but that’s a small complaint. In fact, the panel where Bats pops all the armor off is almost as good as the sequence where he puts it on.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fatale TPB 1: Death Chases Me

I think I’m suffering from unreasonably high expectations. I liked this book a lot, it’s great, but I’d been hearing rave reviews for months, Brubaker’s other work ranks as some of my favorite comics ever. I think what threw me was the line of “a noir with Lovecraftian monsters.” Now, that’s entirely accurate, but I was expecting a bit more monster and a bit less noir, at least to start off with. By the end of the book, I think the series is in a place where it will deliver more visceral thrills in addition to the solid characters and criminal atmosphere.

The titular fatale is Josephine, a beauty with some weird powers. It seems she can dominate men’s minds in more than a physical way, somehow domineering their thoughts to make them fall for her. She’s also immortal, explaining how the story is unfolding in two times simultaneously. In the past, she’s Josephine, enthralling reporter Hank Raines and getting him mixed up with crooked cops and criminals whose bosses are from FAR out of town. Raines’ life gets very exciting with Josephine, very steamy. The problem is he forgets about his pregnant wife when his new lady comes into his life. You have to pity the guy as his life spirals out of control.

In the present, Nicolas Lash is Raines’ godson, and he meets “Jo” while attending Raines’ funeral. Jo isn’t the only immortal; the baddies that are hunting Jo in the past are there in the present too, bald headed, sunglass-wearing thugs who don’t seem to fit in. There’s definitely a “low man in yellow coats” vibe to them (for you Dark Tower readers) and that’s a good thing.

The supporting characters are brilliant, and even the outmatched crooked cops have redeeming qualities. The art is wonderful, with Jo shining out from every page she’s on, and the subtle callouts to her beauty like all eyes on panel watching her only inflate her sense of importance. Sean Phillips is an old pro at this stuff, now, his action is perfectly choreographed and the settings are characters on their own. There’s a realism to even the Lovecraftian pieces that gives the monsters the same sense of grime as the criminals who populate most of the book.

(Side note: I was reading this on the plane, but after a page of bloody, beheaded bodies and a panel with Jo hooking up then getting dressed, I figured it might not be best for people reading over my shoulder!)


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Avengers Academy #34

Is Christos Gage having to wrap things up? I sort of get that impression as he finally brings the Alchemist back, and sort of reveals the villain’s end-game strategy.

There is no doubting that Gage is back plotting his own material. As soon as the focus returns to the students and their missing members, the momentum immediately picks up. The book hasn’t been this strong in a few months, as AvX and other crossovers dominated the storyline. I’m glad the focus seems to be back.

The Alchemist is out to change the world, all right. He has created an airborne version of the SPIN tech from the Avengers: Initiative title and he plans to release it into the atmosphere to remove the powers of the super-human population. Then he’ll gradually give powers back to those he feels can use their powers “properly.” I love it. Classic villain talk from a kid who always sounds reasonable, even when he’s attacking other kids. I loved Jocasta’s reaction; I guess robots are gullible too.

The fractured class splits even further when the Alchemist makes his ultimatum. He’s got a few of the ladies from the Young Masters of Evil already, and Veil sided with him a few months ago. Striker, Mettle, and Hazmat also feel forced to side with him, although I really don’t see that sticking. White Tiger, X-23, Finesse (surprisingly!), and Reptil (of course) are going to do all they can to stop the plan. I love it; Reptil is so darn reliable in always choosing the right thing. He’s a fun character.

I’m glad Tom Grummett is back on art. He’s not the flashiest artist, but he’s been reliable for a long time, and no one draws costumes better. I will admit he draws adults better than kids; his Jocasta is the best-looking character in the book. I did enjoy this take on Big Zero, Enchantress, and Coat of Arms from the Young Masters, especially Big Zero.


Friday, August 10, 2012

X-Men Legacy #271

Yeah. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m pretty sure that’s the bustiest I’ve ever seen Rogue. Yowza!

Well now, this is pretty far gone from the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover. I can appreciate it as a character piece, but I can’t imagine we are ever going to see anything about this alien world ever again. Christos Gage is in a weird position here; he’s got to keep going with a narrative set up in a crossover that he’s not allowed to finish. It makes sense he’d use this chance to spend time with Rogue, the series lead, but man, this is odd.

I love Rogue, but I’m not sure this is the type of story she works best in. It’s a neat twist that she opens the issue with Ms. Marvel’s power set (was I the only one hoping the powers would be permanent?), but by the close, her powers are gone. It’s a neat set up, but man, this whole issue is world-building for a place I’m confident we will never see again. Even bouncing Rogue to an alien planet or the Savage Land would make a bit more sense than some weird fantasy planet. This just feels like a diversion at a time when big stuff is happening in other books.

Rafa Sandoval has a neat take on Rogue’s skunk stripe. Maybe I just didn’t notice, and more artists are doing it, but Sandoval draws the whole front third of Rogue’s hair as white. She’s also got a pretty kicking new hairstyle that shows it off nicely. I did have a hard time discerning between her hair and her scarf, though, it seems like they were interchangeably dangling between panels.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Captain America #635

Well, now isn’t this a nice, refreshing reminder of what comics can do? Cullen Bunn is quickly becoming a go-to guy for Marvel, filling in on a ton of books. I can see why. He’s picked up this Cap team-up title and made it a delightful trip through the possibilities of the Marvel U.

This issue wraps things up quickly. It sort of has to, since this is a three part story featuring a whole lot of characters. Most of the legwork was set up in the last few issues, so Stark is able to resolve the overarching virus plotline with the help of his robot-hornets from a few issues ago. Likewise, Cap figures out he’s running out of pages and mops the floor with Batroc and his Brigade. (I maintain that I love Bunn’s new Machete. She’s a big ball of rage and she’s fun to watch.)

I will admit to being totally puzzled by the closing pages. I guess there might be some new villain organization out there, but I’m not sure I understand them. Was that base sitting in a field of destroyed Marvel tech? Did I see a helicarrier?

Barry Kitson’s art is a bit tighter this month. I will say that I don’t care for his take on Iron Man’s current armor. The eyes are too big and weird, and the blue light-up doesn’t totally work for me either. I’m looking forward to the gold and black armor of Marvel NOW. And that new MODOK. I get it, he's creepier and more threatening. But he's not MODOK.

I do appreciate that this story is pretty much all-ages. It reminds me of the super-hero comics I loved as a kid. Next month, Black Widow, right? Sounds good to me!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Marvel NOW!

What is Marvel NOW?

Since all my nerd friends are asking me the same questions, I’m going to post what I know here on the blog. Marvel NOW is a creative re-shuffle taking place after Avengers vs. X-Men. It is NOT a reboot. It is NOT the New 52. Yes, many books will have new #1's, but the history is intact. It seems a whole bunch of Marvel creators were wrapping up runs at the same time, so Marvel is making this a big jumping-on event.

Marvel claims they will not be raising prices for this, but many of the titles involved are already at $3.99 now, of course, that includes the digital download code (instant trade program, I say).

A lot of books will be continuing without changes or reshuffles, that includes successful titles like Secret Avengers and Daredevil, or new launches like Captain Marvel and Hawkeye. Some books will be rebranded with the numbering intact, for example, (Red) Hulk will be re-titled as Red She-Hulk.

Here are a few of the creative teams we know about so far. (I'll update as new interviews come out.)

Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender and John Cassaday. This is the launch book for the line, a combination team of Avengers and X-Men. The cover features Thor, Cap, Wolverine, Scarlet Witch, Rogue, and Havok. And they are fighting the Red Skull after he travels to the present from WWII to destroy mutants! I’m in!

Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. This looks like a winner too, with Aaron telling stories in three different eras of Thor’s life. In the past as a Viking god, in the present as an Avenger, and in the future as king of a decaying Asgard. Again, sold!

Iron Man by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land. I love Gillen’s early talk about Iron Man as a Grail Knight; it sounds like we’re getting lots of different armors going all over the world. I liked Fraction’s take on Stark the CEO, but I’m ready for some action. I actually think Land’s style will work well on this book too. Sold.

All-New X-Men by Bendis and Stuart Immonen features the original five X-Men arriving in the present of the Marvel U. It seems like a neat idea, to the originals, the current status quo would be like a post-apocalyptic future! Can you imagine what Angel will think of his future self??? I’m interested, but a tad undecided at the moment.

Avengers by Jonathan Hickman with various artists. It sounds like this is going to be a big cast, with up to 18 folks on the Avengers at once. I’m expecting the movie crew, plus Black Panther after Hickman powered him up in Fantastic Four recently. I’ve also heard rumors about Shang Chi, the Master of Kun-Fu. I do hope this is more Fantastic Four Hickman than Secret Avengers Hickman. But I'm in.

Indestructible Hulk by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu. Well, Waid says he's following the formula he used with Daredevil. More heroic lead, new villains like Attuma, Psycho-Man, and more. So how could we possibly pass this up?

Captain America by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr. Easy sell, I'm in.

New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman with various artists. Most likely a "yes" for me.

Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley. I love Bagley's FF. Sold.

FF by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred. That’s a bit of guess work, the promos haven’t confirmed this title will be FF, but the creative team is a lock. I buy all Allred's mainstream work. Sold.

X-Men Legacy by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat. This looks like a relaunch of X-Men Legacy, but not one is positive right now. This will probably be a pass for me.

Deadpool by comedians Brian Posehn and Gerry Dugan, with art by Walking Dead’s Tony Moore. This one could have crossover appeal. I'm undecided, leaning "no." I'm a bit Deadpool'ed out.

I’m taking the opportunity to jump back in to Marvel’s books full-time. My pull-list hasn’t looked like this since I was 13.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Daredevil #16

Hoo boy, as if this title needed to win me over any more. Mark Waid was already delivering the most exciting, innovative super-hero title on the stands, and then he goes and features one of my favorite characters. That’s right, when it’s time to re-set DD’s hypersenses; it’s time to walk around in ol’ Hornhead’s skull. And Hank Pym is the man for the job.

Waid uses this set-up as a chance to parallel the extremely difficult lives these two heroes have led. It’s pretty strange, seeing the names and faces juxtaposed between the two heroes, but it’s a neat effect. And man, does Chris Samnee sell the inner-ear action, with Pym hauling around an EMP gun, blasting away at the nanobots planted a few issues ago. In fact, I need to see if I can buy one of these pages, I need one on my comic cave wall! I’m sure this isn’t a relationship we’ll see again soon. Pym and DD don’t cross paths much, but man; it sure would be neat seeing these two sad-sacks hang out!

As for the secret in Matt Murdock’s desk, it’s a creepy one. I’m not sure if I believe Murdock or not when he protests his innocence, and that’s why it is so believable that Foggy Nelson is booting Matt from the practice. It’s another great twist that leaves Murdock’s life in shambles. After getting a beating for two issues then losing his job, can Daredevil hold on to his sanity? (I hope so!)

Again, Samnee’s art is just gorgeous. His Tony Stark has a casual look that just cracks me up, and he actually makes Dr. Strange’s boring costume seem OK. I can’t wait to see Samnee take on more costumed characters.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Hawkeye #1

Why is it that whenever someone starts up a new Hawkeye series, it’s always about Hawkeye the “normal” guy? Fabian Nicieza did it in the 90’s, and Matt Fraction is doing it again here. Now, it’s not that either guy did a bad job telling the story of a normal joe, but I vastly prefer Jim McCann’s take, with Hawkeye and Mockingbird taking on costumed villains in a true Avengers spin-off. I’m not saying I want a generic super-hero book like Hawkeye’s few one-shots in the 90’s, but I want some super-action!

This series is focusing on Hawkeye in his off-duty life. He lives in an apartment building in New York in an area where he is rarely recognized. It lets him keep a hand in a “normal” life. The problem is that he’s got normal problems to go with it. In this case, it’s a hilarious Russian gangster trying to push the tenants out of Hawk’s building. Is that a thing? Russians using “bro” this much? I mean, I find it hilarious, and it is a fast way to establish a new character, I’m just curious. Is it for real?

I had read that Kate Bishop, the Hawkeye from Young Avengers would be in the title, but no sign of her so far. In fact, it seems Hawkeye is getting a dog, so this may end up as some kind of Hawkeye Family title! (I’m fine with that, remember how much I loved Hawkeye & Mockingbird a year ago?)

David Aja’s art is as gorgeous as ever. Each page evokes mood and atmosphere in a tangible way. The tracksuit goons look tremendous; in fact, this whole book looks like an HBO series it’s so well drawn. Aja is the newest artists to fail at making Hawkeye’s current costume look cool, though. Seeing the real costume on the letters page just drives home how awful this current design is. I can’t understand why everyone is so ashamed of making Hawk look like a super-hero?

I will be back for the second issue, but I do not love the book yet. Perhaps if I re-level my expectations that this is a crime book, I’ll enjoy the next issue more. I went in to this one hoping for a super-title and got a strong crime adventure instead. Next month I’ll know what to expect.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

B.P.R.D.: Being Human TPB

There’s got to be a common theme in my reviews these days, and it’s that I seem to be enjoying these creator-produced books more than the corporate ones. Not overall, but in general. BPRD continues to be one of the strongest titles on the stands, with stories that thrill and frighten, with art that grabs hold of your imagination and doesn’t let go.

This book in particular has a stacked deck. Written by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, and John Arcudi, a list that includes two of my favorites. The Dead Remembered by Mignola and Allie is a neat glimpse into Liz Sherman’s first days with the BPRD. I worry a little about the timeline, she’s already a teenager in the 70’s, but that’s a small issue. I like seeing her interact with more of the normal world. And seeing the Professor interact with some of his friends is a nice touch too. Karl Moline excels with the younger characters, but his art isn’t scary. I don’t get lost in a panic reading even the spookiest scenes.

Now Guy Davis, his stuff scares the hell out of me. The short story Casualties by Mignola and Allie is horrifying in just 8 pages. That is one scary werewolf! And the panel where he looms out of the darkness? I want to own that page!

My affection for Richard Corben’s artwork is well documented. The guy draws horror, emotion, action, he can do everything. His Hellboy is iconic, and his work with Roger makes me miss the big guy even more. Corben’s work promises a few things: hulking dudes, overly endowed women (but not exploitative), and dynamic action. Being Human delivers.

I feel like I’ve read The Ectoplasmic Man before, but I loved it once again. Johann Strauss is a hard character to really root for, but his heart is in the right place. I love that his melancholy at his ghost-state is overcome by his thirst for justice. And it doesn’t hurt that Ben Stenbeck’s style is distinctly Guy Davis-y at numerous points in that story.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Batwoman: Hydrology HC

So it looks like Batwoman is another of the lucky characters that gets to ignore the reboot, right? She still had her relationship with Renee Montoya, I assume Montoya was never the Question, though, right? Did Question exist in the new 52? These are the pointless questions that keep me from buying the new 52 titles. This is another pick-up from my local library. (So far, they are pretty light on the new 52 trades!)

I can recognize the inherent skill in JH Williams’ work. It’s absolutely beautiful. The pages where BW’s cape forms the panels, the weird way he makes the water warp the page layout; it’s just gorgeous stuff. Now, is the action and storytelling always clear? Not always, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay for art this challenging and impressive. Amy Reeder’s panels aren’t as revolutionary, she seems to get all the “real life” stuff, but her art is clear and the emotions come through strongly. The art in this package is fantastic.

The story? Well, it’s slow, and violent. Those are probably the best two words to describe it. The hook-handed guy who seems to be the main bad guy only makes one (albeit vicious) appearance and I don’t understand how he ties into the greater plot. Judging by the costumes, the Medusa group is at war with those silly animal men from previous Batwoman stories, but how Mr. Hook fits in I’m unclear on. The weeping woman is a great visual, but I’m pretty confused on how she fits in too.

I am happy to see Director Bones show up with Cameron Chase again. So did Bones serve as part of Infinity Inc? Did Chase meet Booster Gold and Firehawk in her own series? Why do I keep asking these questions with no answers?

This is another example of the new 52’s age leveling too. There’s a fairly intense scene that alternates between a hookup and an evisceration, so yeah, won’t be showing my daughters this one!

Maybe I should just turn off my brain and enjoy the art for book?


Friday, August 3, 2012

G.I. Joe Real American Hero TPB 4

Goodness gracious, do I love Larry Hama’s GI Joe comics. He continues playing new variations on his greatest hits. This issue features a handful of missions featuring different characters in different settings. If you have a favorite character or type of story, rest assured that Hama will get there. What a wonderful trip.

This trade has the following storylines.

Flint, Roadblock, and Lady Jaye (with Recondo, Wild Bill, and Lift Ticket) are sent on a mission to grab Cobra flunky Darklon. This is classic GI Joe action, the blend of military and heroic action fans love.

Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Billy take on the new threat of the Blue Ninjas. It’s tough bringing in believable foes for the Joe ninjas, but these guys work. They’re cyborgs with cutting edge tech, and each time they go up against our heroes, the outcome actually feels a bit in doubt!

In a flashback, we see Sneak Peek (who faked his death back in Special Missions) explaining to Dusty and Chuckles how he discovered Darklon’s secret bunker. I don't remember Darklon, but he's got that Hama-villain swagger, so he works well in the role.

Hama always gives a throwaway character piece, and here it’s Steeler, Cover Girl, Wild Card, and Cross Country in a Mauler teaming up with the Oktober Guard to battle a legion of Hiss tanks. Tank battles like this seem like fun (to contrast with Garth Ennis’ Battlefields: The Tankies, which I read the same day.) These vehicle-based missions are another staple of Hama's original run; I'm glad to see he's still doing them. They work just as well now as they did in the past. How long till we get the SEALS doing something cool?

Shannon Gallant and Ron Wagner sure seem to be enjoying themselves. Every costume looks like it came out of an action figure package. The consistency in weaponry is nice too, great attention to detail.

I get so much joy seeing Hama write the same way he always has. I’ll keep saying it as long as it’s true; you can go home again.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Captain America & #634

I love this cover so much; it’s been my work wallpaper for months. Simply fantastic!

Anyway, comics like this make me think about my hobby in general. I know when I pick up a comic book that Captain America is going to win. So is Iron Man. Put them together? Yeah, their opponent is going to end up stomped by the end of the narrative. BUT, the reason I read is to see “will it be a good fight?” Too often, writers think that the expansive history of a comic universe is just a shortcut to some good costumes. Show the villains standing in a crowd, not doing anything, then have a couple pages of them getting slapped around by the protagonist. I mean, its fun playing spot the villain, but there has to be some meat to make that work.

Cullen Bunn gets it. Batroc ze Lepair and his Brigade are the featured bads in this story, and they act like they deserve the spotlight. Batroc has been amped up in recent years, but he takes on Cap and IM two or three times this issue and Cap simply can’t beat him! It’s great! Not that Cap loses anything, but that the villain actually seems competent! I also absolutely love the way the new Machete is just an angry dialogue machine. She is talking violent smack from page one till the end. It’s just a joy to see villains doing their job well. (Especially pros like Batroc’s Brigade.)

And Bunn has a neat idea to make the story work, too. Iron Man’s armor is on the fritz, so he’s got a sweet new set built from a weapon-convention showroom. So we’ve got original powers with a new look. To make things even more interesting, each power only works once or twice before burning out. Suddenly, Iron Man and Cap are at the same power level. All this, plus a great new mastermind. Great stuff.

I wish the art was a tad tighter. Barry Kitson’s pages look great (as always), but he’s getting a lot of help from Jay Leisten. It’s always a bad sign when you can go through a book and see which pages Kitson spent more time on. Batroc looks good in every panel he shows up in, while Iron Man and Cap don’t look quite as impressive when they go maskless. When in uniform? Cap looks good; it’s just odd seeing how Kitson’s time was spent on this one!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

X-Men Legacy #270

I enjoy this comic, but I won’t be crushed when it is cancelled for the Marvel NOW push. I really dig Christos Gage’s take on Rogue, it’s just that too often the story in this title is just on the periphery of the “real” story taking place in another title. Once again, this issue is an Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, with the main focus on Rogue and Ms. Marvel.

Gage doesn’t skimp on the interpersonal interaction, though. We get to see how Magik is treating her Avenger prisoners, and it looks horrific. Rogue can barely even play along with her Phoenix Five teammate, and Magik is barely out the door when Rogue starts trying to bust Ms. M out. Most of the action takes place inside Rogue’s psyche as she attempts to absorb the powers and look of one of Magik’s pet demons, but of course, demons know a little bit about possession.

Rogue and Ms. Marvel have a brief moment to bond, but it’s short-lived. Magik returns and Rogue’s got no chance against her. Looking at it, it seems that Rogue would have been better off trying to get more moderate X-Men involved. She’s absolutely right when she says that Iceman wouldn’t go along with this. Magneto? Maybe. Rogue clearly thinks more of him than I do.

I’m a tad worried because it looks like the next issue features Rogue trapped in some alien dimension, further cut off from the main conflicts and storylines. On the one hand, I’m pleased that her story could actually lead to some real repercussions, but I’m annoyed that Rogue is being shunted off the board in AvX.

David Baldeon’s work is fine, but Mark Brooks’ covers are a lot to live up to. I’m amazed Baldeon can draw gross things like the leech-headed Rogue and lamprey-like demons and maintain his cartoony look. But he does it!