Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I Have A Confession To Make (Again)

Starlord #1
Ignorance is supposed to be bliss but if you wander through life thinking something is right, or in this case not realising the significance of something, it can be a bit of a shock when the penny finally drops.

Back when I was a kid in the 70's, here in the UK we had a limited number of comics to choose from unless you were happy with the World War II titles such as Warlord, Battle Picture Weekly or Commando. I was a little too young to be allowed to read Action - my mum wouldn't buy it for me - so drifted into the science-fiction comic boom following the success of Star Wars.

Here you had two choices: the still-ongoing classic 2000AD and the sadly short-lived Starlord. For reasons that I can't really remember, I ended up getting Starlord rather than 2000AD (it was the 70's and we didn't have enough money for both titles!) but that was a problem that was solved a year or so later when the two titles merged.

Two series from Starlord carried over into the more successful 2000AD - Strontium Dog by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra which is still one of my favourite strips ever, and Ro-Busters by Pat Mills and a variety of artists.

Ro-Busters was a story about a team of robots, a disaster recovery squad who would go in to various situations too dangerous for humans to save the victims. While the team was headed up by Howard "Mr. Ten Per Cent" Quartz - a human brain in an otherwise robotic body, he routinely referred to himself as a human - the two lead characters that quickly established themselves as fan favourites were Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein. To help 2000AD readers acquaint themselves with the characters, their first story in their new home had these handy panels:

This was Ro-Jaws, the lovable rogue who swore (well, as much as you could in comics those days) and was the funny man of the team. The origin of his name is obvious: he's a robot with jaws. Ro-Jaws. Simple, eh?

If he was the funny man, the straight man was this guy:

Hammer-Stein, the big, tough, ex-army droid. His name obviously referred to the bloody great hammer that he had for a hand. The stein bit, I thought, just sounded cool

Together they'd go through various adventures, facing off against their annoying companion Mek-Quake on more than one occasion, becoming part of the ABC Warriors and eventually meeting up with Nemesis the Warlock. All brilliant stuff (okay, mostly) which, thanks to reprints, I've been able to read over the years and still enjoy them.

Which brings me back to the start of this post and my confession. To my mind for years on end, the characters were just Ro-Jaws and his mate Hammer-Stein. Simple as that.

A week ago, I was reading one of the reprints and, completely out of nowhere, it hit me.

Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein . . . 

Ro-Jaws and Hammer-Stein . . .

Rodgers and Hammerstein!

They were named after the songwriters responsible for Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King and I, and - goddamit! - The Sound of Music!

How the hell did I miss that reference for the best part of 30 odd years?!?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday Covers #19

Preacher #1
Who knew what delights awaited us behind this cover, eh? Having been a fan of his Hellblazer stories, and a Steve Dillon fan since I was a kid reading 2000AD, I was eager to pick this up. An absolutely brilliant series which deserved all the hype it had.

I was lucky enough to have a letter printed in issue #27 (you remember the days when they used to print letters in comics?!) and swapped a few letters with Garth Ennis after that, even ending up with a personalised, signed copy of issue #44 and the script for it as well!

Oh, happy days.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #99

That's a president I'd vote for!
As I was away last weekend, you lucky people get a double sized edition of Who'd Like A Cocktail, the posts where I just babble away in bullet points about my comic books.

  • BRIGHTEST DAY #10 - Firestorm gets some really bad news - he's the next Big Bang just waiting to happen. I wonder if Damage will be jealous when he hears about that. The new Aqualad makes his appearance culminating in a very tense stand-off between Aquaman and Black Manta that really makes me think Geoff Johns could carry off an Aquaman solo-series. All told, another good issue.
  • DC UNIVERSE: LEGACIES #5 - they missed a great trick here, not having the original Crisis tie-in banner running across the cover! Of course, this being a post-Crisis depiction of Crisis on Infinite Earths, it isn't really a tie-in, but I'm nit-picking. Len Wein continues his stroll through the various ages of DC's history, stopping off at the big Crisis. This issue really is splendid, managing to focus on a normal family who observe some of the biggest DC events; sure it's been done before (Marvels is the obvious comparison) but that doesn't stop this being good. And hey, they got George Perez to do this issue as well!
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #52 - the Alpha Lantern storyline comes to an end as Cyborg Superman is defeated once more (I'd like to say permanently this time, but we know that's not going to happen) and the Alpha's have their emotions restored.
  • THE DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER: THE JOURNEY BEGINS #5 - And so the journey that began a couple of years ago has come to the end of the bit where the journey begins. Or something.
  • GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD WARRIORS #2 - Guy Gardner starts his top-secret mission and, no surprise, his friends Arisia and Kilowog tag along for the ride. There's not a great deal that happens this issue, to be honest, as it seems to be setting things up, introducing Zardor of Kralok and his mental powers, along with bringing Red Lantern Bleez back into things.
  • THE BOYS: HIGHLAND LADDIE #2 - I love it when I'm right! Back in Cocktail #95, I wrote: "May I predict a hugely oversized adversary for Hughie, employed by the drug smugglers, who will also be quite humourous either in name and/or appearance?" and in this issue we meet the gigantic Wee Sarah. Still, Ennis's predictability doesn't prevent this being another top issue.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #10 -Warning! The cover of this issue is not reflected in the contents at all! Warning! Don't get me wrong - it's another cool cover, but at no point does a Year One style Batman hang around a JL International embassy building. The faux-JLI continue their attempt to find and foil Max Lord's plans and, just when it looks like Batman's figured out something's wrong, Lord's global mind-wipe kicks in again.
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #49 - this seems like a done-in-one just to bridge the gap between the end of last issue and a big 50th issue celebration. Trust me - introduce a mind-manipulator in the first few pages and you can guarantee anything that happens after that is all in someone's mind. And since when did Donna Troy swear so much?!
  • POWER GIRL #16 - here we see the start of the fight which is going to dominate #18 featuring Power Girl's new nemesis, Divine. The rest of the issue's background on why she ends up in the Arctic in the first place. Having bashed Winick on this blog on more than one occasion, I have to admit to still liking this title; he's keeping it relatively light and the art's nice and clean so hopefully it's not going to go down the pan at any stage soon.
  • PROJECT SUPERPOWERS: CHAPTER TWO #12 - all the heroes get together to beat the crap out of the Claw while the Death Defying 'Devil is outed as being the Devil himself! Well, maybe. The next issue solicit says that Chapter Three, out next year, will be the last one. Surely Dynamite aren't just going to roll this series up and put it away?
  • ZATANNA #5 - another cracking issue of magical superheroics; this series just keeps on getting better. It's almost as much fun as the old Power Girl series was, just with more demons!
And what made me smile:

I had no intention of picking up Knight And Squire but after seeing the preview in the back of Justice League of America #49, I think I may!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

All Star Superman Movie

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd recently picked up the trades of All Star Superman. It's a great story, one of the better I've read by Morrison in a while, dealing with Superman's last days after being poisoned by Lex Luthor.

Now I find there's going to be a DC Animated film of it:

This looks awesome!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Friday Night Fights - Say Goodnight, Adolf

It's Friday and that means fightin' time according to Spacebooger. I missed last week's carnage due to being away with a bunch of fellow writers but I'm back and, after scouring my comics for a worthy fight, remembered this little beauty.

Forced to go back in time to kill Adolf Hitler, Midnighter ends up in the German trenches in World War I, just in time for an attack by the Franch infantry. He doesn't want to hurt them but . . .

Grabbing a grenade from a dead German, Midnighter hurls it towards a Frenchman with a machine gun:

Which ends as you'd expect:

Trouble is, he ends up being congratulated by . . .

Adolf Hitler himself!

Thing is, Hitler's admiration is short lived as Midnighter grabs him and . . .

Let's face it - who wouldn't knee Hitler in the balls given the chance?

Now head over to Spacebooger by clicking on the picture below, check out the other fights and vote for your favourite!

Midnighter becomes the darling of the civilised world in Midnighter #2 cover datedFebruary 2007, written by Garth Ennis, with art by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Did You Miss Me?

Nah, course you didn't!

I was away over the weekend at the annual FantasyCon organised by the British Fantasy Society where a bunch of us writers, fans and assorted others get together each year, drink beer and talk utter nonsense. It was held in Nottingham again - the place where Russell Crowe comes from - and a damn good time was had by all.

It did, of course, mean I had to abandon these hallowed electronic halls for a few days so last Sunday's Cocktail post will end up merged with this coming Sunday.

Other than the convention, Nottingham had one thing going for it (well, apart from the pubs but I'm trying to concentrate on the comics side of things here) which is Page 45 - an excellent comic shop that I've made a point of going to each year for the last four.  This time round I picked up vol #16 of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, vol #9 of The Walking Dead trades, and vols #1 and #2 of All Star Superman in trade paperback.

A great weekend but no it's time to get back to it.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Monday Covers #18

Green Arrow & Black Canary Wedding Special #1
Despite DC's recent decision to break up what could have been one of the best married superhero teams ever, this is how I'll remember them - good humour and love, with Amanda Conner artwork as well.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Monday Covers #17

Action Comics #614
As much as I enjoy a good Hal Jordan bashing, Green Lantern's still one of my favourite characters and I make no apology for that, and this cover by the wonderful Mike Mignola just makes the guy look awesome.

He's surfing.  On an asteroid.  Above the sun.

How cool is that?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #98

Screw-on Head has the nation's safety at heart when disposing of criminal geniuses
  • THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD - Utter genius. Some friends had bought me the animated version of the title story of this collection last Christmas and it was crazy and brilliant enough that when I saw this collection advertised, I just had to have it. Mignola's art is just gorgeous and the stories are simply wonderful - The Magician and The Snake manages to be both funny and heart-wrenching in just five pages while The Prisoner of Mars is simply elegant. An excellent book thoroughly recommended.
  • BOOSTER GOLD #36 - Giffen and DeMatteis manage to squeeze in a Justice League: Generation Lost tie-in almost in one caption as well as bringing in the Giffen written summer cross-over event from years back, Invasion! Chances of getting Snapper Carr and the Blasters to show up next issue?
  • DAWN: NOT TO TOUCH THE EARTH - Delayed by months, this book finally lands and I have to think why? I like Linsner's longer works - the Dawn series are pretty good - but this smacks a little of self-indulgence. It doesn't bring anything new to Dawn as a character nor is it a particularly fulfilling one-shot. Bit of a disappointment, really.
  • DOOM PATROL #14 - Ahh, what's not to like here?! From Ambush Bug's opening song recapping the last few issues, to Rita hurling Mento out over the ocean, to the team finally, really bonding. And then, of course, there's the Chief absorbing Kryptonian powers and completely losing it. I love this series!
  • GREEN LANTERN #57 - The Predator's back in town! I've always like the Predator, at least the look of the thing - wonderfully 80's. True it's been through a couple of incarnations but Geoff Johns appears to have decreed that this is what it is: the entity behind the Star Sapphires, as Ion is to the Green Lanterns and Parallax to Sinestro. And why's Jordan so pissed that Carol Ferris had to kiss the Predator's host? It's not like he isn't seeing Jillian Pearlman. Remember her, the girlfriend we haven't seen in months?
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #9 - Rocket Red once again steals the scene as Max Lord's scheme seems to show its first sign of fragility. Not a bad issue all told, but not that hot either.
And what made me smile:

Now that's an ambition!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday Night Fights - Green Lantern's Might (Sorta)

Yay! I won last week's Fight! And who said Countdown to Final Crisis didn't contain anything worth while?!

At the risk of pushing my luck, I'm once more delving into the pages of Countdown... where we find dark Mary Marvel wandering around on Apokolips beating the crap out of anyone she can find.

Seriously, if Darkseid's giving you compliments you know you've gone over to the . . . err . . . dark . . . ummm . . .

Yeah, anyway, Mary's beating the snot out of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner but it's okay because here comes his ex, Donna Troy, to the rescue!

Oh wait - maybe not so much rescue as being battered by Mary using Rayner as a baseball bat!

I swear - the above is the best panel in the entirety of Countdown to Final Crisis! WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP WHAP  I can read it for hours!

Mary (with her overly large head) declares herself the winner and if you all head over to Spacebooger and vote for me like you did last week, I can too!

This interesting use of a Green Lantern first appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #3, cover dated April 2008, written by Paul Dini and Sean Mckeever with art by Freddie E. Williams II.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Armageddon Almost Here

The annotations for Armageddon 2001 are pretty much all done over at the Annotated DC Project site and I was planning to say they'd be published within a week . . . but I've hit a bit of a snag.

As you probably know, the story jumped from Armageddon 2001 #1 into a bunch of that summer's annuals; as I only had those for Justice League America and Justice League Europe I did some hunting round on the net hoping to find enough information to write my own synopses of the other annuals I didn't have. Thing is, there wasn't that much out there.

Instead, I jumped over to and checked the prices of those annuals I was missing. For under $10 I could buy all of the missing annuals and be able to write up my own summaries direct from the source material which, if I'm honest, I'd like to do anyhow.

I've bought back issues from mycomicshop before and their service is great; trouble is this time they missed one of the annuals out and sent me something else instead. Mistakes happen, you know, and I'm certainly not bad mouthing them, but it does mean that the notes are going to be delayed until I reorder the missing annual . . . unless someone out there wants to lend me a copy of Flash Annual #4 from 1991 to speed the process up . . . ?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Monday Covers #16

The Spectre #47
The John Ostrander / Tom Mandrake run on The Spectre had consistently excellent covers by a wide range of artists, none of whom attempted to tie in their image to the story inside. The above image was simply one of dozens I could have chosen, but I've always had a thing for skeletons . . .

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #97

Phantom Lady shows name-calling is a part of fighting villains

  • THE BOYS #46 - Butcher shows his sensitive side . . . right before he shows he's still something of a bastard after all as he allows Wee Hughie to discover just what Starlight did to get accepted into the Seven. It's masterfully done by Ennis and throughout the entire issue you can't help but think Butcher's not such a bad sort after all. At least right up till that last page.
  • BRIGHTEST DAY #9 - So the new Aqualad's Black Manta's son? Blimey. And Martian Manhunter's having a bit of a hard time as well. This series keeps romping along nicely.
  • FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1 - I was really happy when this series was announced, having enjoy Palmiotti & Gray's earlier Uncle Sam and The Freedom Fighters series and this was no disappointment. Always nice to see Nazis taking a kicking and some nicely done introduction scenes for the main players before leaving the issue on a cliff hanger.
  • JSA ALL-STARS #10 - In between the All-Stars kicking some divine butt down in Parador, King Chimera and Cyclone's tentative romance moves on apace, at least until her supersonic sneeze! Power Girl steals this issue, though, by effectively beating the crap out of the gods - until her own self-confidence lends them a hand in beating her.
    • Co feature LIBERTY BELLE & HOURMAN - once again an enjoyable few pages but, really, the plots been a little thin since the start so while each episode has been fun, it hasn't really gelled for me.
  • SECRET SIX #25 - despite feeling like I missed an issue somewhere along the line (last month's foray into the Wild West anyone?)  this is still one of the best titles out there. Looks like we're going to have two teams face off against each other in some weird alien / dinosaur dimension. Best thing, though, is the possibility that Gail Simone will get some payback for the death of the Atom by having Giganta stomp all over Dwarfstar.
And what made me smile:

New sword please!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday Night Fights - Double Donna Troy Trouble

It's Friday so start fighting!

Yes, Spacebooger again demands that we take up arms amidst a sea of troubles and pound the crap out of each other.

For my sins, this week I'm delving back to what was not DC's finest hour by a long shot: Countdown to Final Crisis where we find Donna Troy battling her evil twin from , I'm guessing, Earth-3:

The bad Wonder Girl tries to shake Donna's resolve by babbling on about her lack of identity:

And you know what sort of reaction that's going to get:

Oh yeah! One punch!

And a cool line to finish as well!

Remember folks, head over to Spacebooger, check the other fights and vote for your favourite.

Donna dopplegangers first appeared in Countdown to Final Crisis #15 cover dated January 2008, written by Paul Dini and Tony Bedard, with art by Pete Woods, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Everything New Is Old Again

So when Jim Lee was asked to design a Wonder Woman costume some time back, he came up with this:

which was greeted with pretty much universal dismay, wailing, gnashing of teeth, promises to drop the Wonder Woman book and other assorted reactions that you'd expect from the internet. It was a bold, new, re-imagined look, "a look designed to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who’ve asked, “how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?”" (quote from the DC Source blog article)

So when Jim Lee was asked to design a Wonder Woman costume for the forthcoming DCU Online game, he came up with this:

I mean, come on, how can anyone "be taken seriously as a warrior" in that get up? How on Earth-1 can she "fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?"

Is consistency of message too much to ask for these days?


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