Commentary by Carroll…THE BOYS.

January 28, 2007

NEW UPDATE: The Boys is now at Dynamite Entertainment. The Beat has a great interview with Garth Ennis about the whole ordeal.

UPDATE: As expected, the ever entertaining Rich Johnston has provided even more information on the cancellation of The Boys. He certainly ruined my prediction of the book going to Marvel:

So which home for “The Boys”? What about Marvel? Garth Ennis has a good history with their MAX line (though Darick’s has been quite unfortunate). And the Icon line might also suit a creator owned property and has similarly few issues with extreme content. However, part of DC’s agreeing to readily release the creator-owned book, is that it not move to Marvel. DC also wouldn’t be happy with Darick Robertson, under an exclusive DC agreement, working for Marvel either.
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I’m putting off an Obscure Back Issue of the Week for a day or so, but in the meantime I want to put in my two-cents about the situation with The Boys, which has quickly become one my favorite comics.

If your not up on the latest news, or are too lazy to click through the above links, then I’ll give you a quick run down. The Boys is a really fun, gruesome, and all around entertaining comic by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan). The basic premise is that most superheroes are jerks and idiots and there needs to be a small covert team of people that can take these jerks-with-capes down if need be. But, as per usual, Ennis writes this book like he wants to make your parents and little sister cry, and DC/Wildstorm just couldn’t take it anymore, so they gave it the ol’ ax as of issue six. The trade paperback, collecting the first six issues, has also been canned.

Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed to read of the cancellation, since I felt the book was was just out of the gate and still had a lot to show us.

Okay, so let’s get to the point here.

I think DC/Wildstorm made a really big mistake on their part. Yeah, there were some parts of the book that would push anyone’s buttons taste-wise, but it was billed as a mature reader’s book and never tried to be anything else. It wasn’t pornographic, and I honestly thought that I had seen some worse things in previous DC-published books, such as Preacher and Transmet. Heck, even the mothership published Superboy punching another person’s head off, and that book wasn’t even marked “mature.” The sales on The Boys were fairly strong, hovering around 25 – 30K a month, and considering Wildstorm’s relaunch was pretty much a bust, they stand to lose a good selling comic, i.e. a good chunk of money.

DC/Wildstorm are at least taking the high road and releasing the rights back to Ennis and Robertson, so we will see more Boys, but we just have to wait, which sucks. Whoever picks up the rights (and I’m now putting my money on Marvel/Max /Icon after Joe Quesada’s latest comments – towards the bottom) is sure to have a modest hit at the very least, especially after all the press the book has received based on the news of the cancellation.

I believe this will be good for The Boys is the long run, but will end up being a point of embarrassment/regret on the part of DC/Wildstorm. Here’s to hoping they get the new issues and trade out sooner than later.


New Comics Shipping Wednesday, January 31.

January 28, 2007

Adventures of Spawn #1 Director’s Cut
Ai Yori Aoshi vol. 15 GN
American Virgin #11
Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures #4
Annihilation #6
Astonishing X-Men vol. 3 TP
Batman & the Mad Monk #6
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #214
Batman: Secrets TP
Black Panther #24
Blue Beetle #11
Chronicles of Wormwood #1
Creeper #6
Crossing Midnight #3 (damage replacements)
Daredevil #93
Deathblow #3
Defenders: Indefensible TP
Devi #7
Digital Webbing Presents #32
Doom Patrol vol. 5 TP
Dragon Knights vol. 24 GN
Ebberon: Eye of the Wolf Collector’s Ed.
Elephantmen #6
Essential Ghost Rider vol. 2 TP
Ex Machina #26
52 #39
Gear GN
Ghost Rider Finale
Gold Digger #81
Gold Digger 15 Year Anniversary Special #2
Gold Digger Sourcebook #2
GTO Early Years vol. 3 GN
Hawkgirl #60
Hellboy Animated vol. 1: Black Wedding TP
Hunter Killer #11
Ion #10
Ion vol. 1: The Torchbearer TP
Iron Man: Extremis TP
Jack of Fables #7
JLA Classified #33
JSA Classified #22
Kabuki #8
Lady Death/Shi #0
Marvel Spotlight: Dark Tower
Ms. Marvel Special 1-shot
Mushishi vol. 1 GN
Negative Burn #8
Nodwick #36
Pieces For Mom: A Tale of the Undead 1-shot
Ptolus: City by the Spire #4
Red Eye Black Eye GN
Satsuma Gishiden vol. 2 GN
Savage Bros. #3 (damage replacement)
Scarface: Scarred For Life #2
Seven Soldiers of Victory vol. 4 TP
Snakewoman #7
Spawn #164
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #13
Strangers in Paradise #87
Superman: Back In Action TP
Tales of TMNT #30 & 31
Teen Titans #43
The End #1
Totally Spies vol. 1 GN
Tsubasa vol. 12 GN
Ultimate Civil War Spider-Ham Crisis #1
Ultimate Fantastic Four #38
Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters #7
Usagi Yojimbo #100
Walking Dead #34
Wasteland #6
Wonderlost #1
X-Men #195


Review by Carroll: Criminal #4 and more.

January 26, 2007

The world needs more comics like Criminal. The concept is pretty simple: the reluctant, yet expert, criminal with a heart of gold gets sucked into a job that he’s not so sure he should be involved in. Things go wrong – really wrong – and now he and his lady friend/partner are on the run with a few pounds of high grade heroin. Ed Brubaker’s dialogue is the tops (compare it to Bendis’ run on Alias a few years ago) and Sean Phillips’ art is just about perfect. There’s no crazy super powers and there’s no flying saucers. It’s just good old fashioned crime noir.

I love it.

This issue in particular was very good. It’s the penultimate issue in this story arc, entitled “Coward.” People die, get kidnapped, and do drugs. But not necessarily in that order. Some questions get answered and the set up for the conclusion is a pulse-pounder. I don’t think anyone who reads this issue would say, “Eh, I don’t care about what happens.” You have to care, it makes you care. Another thing cool about Criminal? The back content: each issue features an essay or commentary from someone concerning noir fiction. This issue features one of my favorite comedians, and fellow geek, Patton Oswalt talking about an obscure noir film called Blast of Silence. So there’s multiple reasons to pick up Criminal: the story, the art, the dialogue, and back content. What more do you need? Do yourself a favor and pick this book up.

Other comics I read this week (ratings out of 5 stars):
Civil War: The Return – This could have just been done in Civil War: Frontline and the Sentry story was boring. 2 1/2 stars.
Dr. Strange: The Oath #4 – The Doc kills a monster with Hilter’s personal pistol. Yeah, that’s right. 5 stars.
Fables #60Mike Allred on art! The Wild Things! 5 stars.
52 #38 – The Fourth World and the New Gods are coming back. I don’t think the Question is going to really die. 3 1/2 stars.
Silent War #1 – When does this take place? Why is Frazer Irving’s art so bad in this book? I don’t understand. 1 star.


Review by Brian: X-Factor

January 26, 2007

It’s not just for X-fans! This is one of the best books that Marvel puts out, even if you don’t normally like X-Men books. X-Factor is so different from every other X-book out there, everyone can find something to love in it! The team is composed of many lesser-known mutants, like Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Siryn, M, and House of M’s Layla Miller (one of the coolest new Marvel characters to come along in a while!), with frequent appearances by the Son of M himself, Quicksilver! Personally, I’ve been reading and loving X-Factor since the early nineties when it became the all-new all-different X-Factor led by Havok and written by Peter David, and I love seeing the continued adventures of many members of that team. Having read so much X-Factor, I can honestly say that this latest incarnation of X-Factor, also written by David, blows every previous X-Factor out of the water!


Review by Brian: Fantastic Four #542

January 21, 2007

This is definitely the best Fantastic Four Civil War tie-in to date. The others have been so-so, but this issue blows them all out of the water. You finally find out the real reason that Reed Richards is on the pro-registration side, and this same reason also served as one of the bases of Tony Stark’s choice. I won’t tell you the specifics — I want you to see for yourself — so I’ll just say it’s definitely worth the read!

Oh, and the cover art is really cool, too!


New Comics Shipping Wednesday, January 24

January 21, 2007

All New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Update #1
Avengers Next #5
Blade #5 (Civil War tie-in, Back in Stock)
Blessed Thistle GN
Checkmate #10
Chronicles of Conan Vol. 11 TP
Civil War: The Return
Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #3
Damned #4
Deadman #6
DMZ #15
Doctor Strange: The Oath #4
Eternals #6
Fables #57
Fallen Angel #12
52 #38
Flash #8
Futurama #29
Goon Noir #3
Hellblazer #228
Helmet of Fate: Ibis the Invincible #1
Heroes for Hire #6
How To Be a Comic Book Artist
Invincible #38
Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe #2
JLA Classified #32
Low Orbit Vol. 1 GN
Lucifer Vol. 11 TP
Marvel Team-Up Vol. 4 TP
Marvel Zombies HC (3rd printing)
Moon Knight #7 (Civil War tie-in)
Mouse Guard #6
Mystery in Space #5
Ninja Scroll #5
Ninja Tales #1
Occult Crimes Taskforce #3
100 Bullets #80
Outer Orbit #2
Penny Arcade Vol. 3 TP
Punisher War Journal #3 (Civil War tie-in)
PVP #30
Ramayan 3392 AD #5
Robin #158
Samurai Heaven & Earth Vol. 2 #2
Savage Brothers #3
Seven Brothers #4
Se7en: Greed #2
Showcase Presents The Brave & The Bold: Batman Team-Ups Vol. 1 TP
Shrugged #4
Silent War #1
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #14
Star Wars: Dark Times #2
Supergirl and The Legion of Superheroes #26
Tag #3
Transformers: Escalation #3
True Story Swear to God #3
Ultimate Annuals Vol. 2 TP
Wetworks #5
Witchblade #103
Wolverine #50
X-Factor #15
X-Factor Vol. 2 HC
Zombies: Eclipse of the Undead #3
Zombies Vol. 1 TP
Zombies vs. Robots #2 (Back in Stock)


"Why I Agree with Tony Stark" by John K.

January 16, 2007

*Be it known that this post by no means represents the opinion of all employees of Von’s Comics.*

Let’s put aside the fact that Iron Man has been a favorite character of mine since I was a kid because he has cool armor and I loved playing him in the arcade machine. Also put aside the fact that Iron Man has been written as a baby-eating madman in the Civil War series despite claims that both he and Cap would be represented fairly. I agree with Iron Man in theory, if not in practice.

One of the core themes running through Civil War is how the time for masked vigilantism is over. This is neither a new nor radical concept for comics. In Alan Moore’s Watchmen, the issue is explored throughout the decades and characters are forced to choose sides. In Marvel’s Ultimate universe all superhumans are expected to join the government when they reach the age of 18 as seen in Ultimate Spider-Man. Even DC decided “Wow, that’s a good idea” and incorporated it as a theme in their Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters and Battle for Bludhaven comics. (Hey, I like DC, but consider the timing on this one.)

The problem is the law does not allow for vigilante justice. We are not allowed to walk around getting revenge for crimes because of the slippery slope it represents. And in the Marvel universe, this is the same. Police officers are duly appointed public servants who are responsible for carrying out justice.

Of course, the Marvel universe is different, and that’s not just because it’s a comic. In the Marvel universe, you’ve got people who can run through walls, bend steel girders with their minds, and run around in purple shorts smashing things to bits. Naturally, the police can’t stop them. So the super hero is a countermeasure to the super villain. To stop Abomination or Apocalypse, you need Captain America or Wolverine. These heroes have proven themselves repeatedly and above all, gained the public trust.

But what about heroes like Foolkiller or Cardiac? These super powered heroes kill villains. (The Punisher also kills bad guys, but he has no powers other than the power of bullet-fu.) Other heroes also go too far, like Deadpool using guns on his opponent or the Hulk’s tendency to destroy buildings around him.

There is also a more practical purpose to registering superhumans: Keeping track of people with dangerous abilities in the United States. In the US, we register firearms, nuclear materials, hazardous chemicals, and extremely sophisticated technology. This is so the government can keep track of where it is and who is using it. Most superhumans have abilities similar to what I just listed, such as the ability to fire energy blasts (Cyclops), create radiation (Radioactive Man), secrete acid or mind altering pheromones (Chemistro and the Purple Man), or have telepathy. (Professor Xavier.) To keep the public safe, it’s important to know where these people are. While there are good guys out there like Professor Xavier who respects other people and refrains from using his powers on them, there are bad guys like Mentallo who are just as willing to steal secrets from others.

The Superhuman Registration Act also helps the government coordinate superhuman responses better. If Galactus suddenly appeared in the sky, the government could round up heroes to fight him if they knew where to contact them. If there is also a radioactive waste spill in Brooklyn, the government could coordinate heroes who are better equipped to deal with the situation. It could also help hold those who commit crimes accountable.

Does this sound terrible or fascist? Do the supporters of this act want to see superhumans enslaved and give the government complete and total power? Quite simply: no.

For starters, fascism isn’t even the word you’d use. It’d be totalitarian. Second, it’s practical. Government agencies in the Marvel universe like S.H.I.E.L.D. pretty much know what most superheroes’ identities are, or possess the resources to discover them quickly. Other groups have already gathered together this information such as the fabled Identity Disc. It’s not difficult in the modern age to find someone’s secret identity if you have the resources at hand. Most writers don’t use this bit of information because it would spoil the plot at hand if every super villain was finding out a superhero’s secret identity every issue.

So I agree that there should be a Superhuman Registration Act…in theory. In theory it’s a nice way to keep track of all who have superpowers. But in practice it’s flawed. For starters, the act takes away power from many and puts it solely in the hands of a few. All of the heroes who signed the act have seen themselves drafted to fight the rebel superheroes, and being at the government’s beck and call means they can be sent against their will into situations that they are opposed to.

There is also an irony in that most of the heroes who joined Iron Man already have public identities. She-Hulk, Tigra, Reed Richards and Hank Pym have all had public identities for years. They are used to living in the open so they would naturally encourage others to live as they do. The supervillains who joined the registration act also have public identities due to being in the legal system, so they are a little biased.

Speaking of the villains, almost every villain who joins gets pardoned for their crimes. This has put very questionable people on Iron Man’s side. While these villains are powerful allies, can Iron Man be truly on the right side if he lets sociopaths like Green Goblin and Bullseye on his team? We shall see.

So, while Iron Man has a good idea, he’s not implementing it very well. He’s alienated a large portion of the hero community and his extreme measures (such as summoning cloned Thor, or ‘Clor’ as he’s jokingly called) make him out to be a villain. So maybe at another time, their registration act might work. But for now, in this form, it’s most likely not going to.