The Return...

Like the Jason Todds and Bucky Barneses before it, Waiting for Wednesday's death sentence has been revoked.

Stay tuned.

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Awards Ahoy!: Greatest Robotic Fellow In Comics

From here on out, WFW will team up with it's sister site CAGN (of GameFAQs) to present to you a collection of awards and honors to comicbook characters, those famillar and long forgotten, in various random categories. Why? That's a good question. Who cares? Again, you've nailed me. But, we're all about fun and alos fascianted with invisible, make-believe hiearchies in a very non-elitist way.

Users of CAGN nominated, and then seconded, characters that related to the category, while those judges who signed up ended up voting and commenting on their choices via email. Votes were sent to a secret underground bunker 100 miles below the surface, where 33 underpaid vagrants sorted and ordered them for your pleasure.

This time, we decided to see just who is everyone's favorite robotic chum.

We assembled an elite panel of celebrity judges to email their votes and thoughts in, which was then compiled and determined the winner, like every other contest that has existed. Each judge was awarded with absolutely nothing for their troubles except the mental image of receiving a comicly large key to a non-existant city in Idaho. These judges were: azraelswrd, heatckerr, oort, HouseT, Awesome Mike Awesome, Havok3595, almeister112, HunterD, tigerbtl, Neeber, SpeechieMoogle, Mike S, PizzaBoy87k, azlum, brunbbmerc, BornIn1142

Here is the official ballot. There is quite a few faces you'd have planned on seeing, but a lot of underdogs and unsual choices as well. The daleks would be proud.

The CAGN's Greatest Robot In Comics Nominees:
1) Vision
2) Ultron
3) Machine Man (Aaron Stack)
4) Hourman III
5) Doombot
6) Air-Walker (Android Version)
7) Jocasta
8) Master Mold
9) Red Tornado
10) Darkhawk
11) Optimus Prime
12) Bender
13) Nimrod
14) H.E.R.B.I.E
15) Human Torch I
16) Amazing Screw-On Head



4) RED TORNADO: One of many robots on this list whose original intentions was to destroy a superhero team that they soon would side with. T.O Morrow's crimson creation has been one of the many classic robotic chaps that have come out of the DC, and also has died many deaths. He also has been a hot pick for evil scientists to steal or host their bodies in, which has happened several times in the past year. Something about that bright red paintjob must drive the ladies crazy.

Unfortunately for Tornado, most of our panel kept their mouths shut about him. Whether it was his Dracula cape or many incarnations that attracted votes, we'll never know.


Easily the best robotic nemesis that made the list, but a horrible robot maker. Seriously. Almost all of this fellow's creations have turned on him, and one of them beat him out of the top spot.

You'd think by now Ultron would cope with his horrible humanoid making skills, but like Liefield or Uwe Boll, he just doesn't get it. Ah, well, he still makes a great villian. He's pretty much the only metallic person on this list who I could see eat a baby or be a backup bassist in GWAR. And that says a lot about someone's character.

"He's my favorite Avengers villain, not so much because I find him interesting (but of course I DO), but rather for what he stands for. He is the one challenge that the Avengers (and more importantly, Hank Pym) cannot seem to overcome. He is the ultimate nemesis, not because of the destruction he causes, but because he is so tenacious." - Cory Williams

"Hank Pym's one of my favorite characters, and the archenemy that is perhaps a little too close to an alter ego gets cool points for that." - Mike Weaver (Havok3595)

"Plus-side: Major baddie nemesis who when written well is nigh-unstoppable. Good innovations and constant upgrades/surprises with well-thought out plans. Many good appearences where it took a whole team just to stop little ol' Ultron. Minus-side: A bit 2-dimensional (more traditional robot) compared to other advanced entities (like Vision and Nimrod" - Brett Lang (tigerbtl)


What else can be said about this pinnacle of fanboyism and the 80's that hasn't been said already on the internet? Michael Bay better utilize his "stuff falling out of the back of trucks in slow motion" direction skills to make a decent Transformers film. So far racing stripes and flame decals is a pretty bad sign.

"I gave it to Optimus due not only to his great badassness in comics, but also his multi media and mainstream accepted whupping of the ass. I could not allow myself to do but give my support to the truck." - Michael Soo


A suprise? I think not. When I think of robots in comic, I think of Vision. Though he's always kind of been the Martian Manhunter-esque do-everything know-it-all, he's always been my favorite Avenger and always seems to trigger the greatest arcs or events known to the series' history.

"My first dive into comics was Busiek's run on the Avengers. His stories were often Wanda-centric and thus had to also deal with her failed relationship with the Vision. I saw Vision as one of the most humanly portrayed characters in comics, with believable goals, problems, and insecurities." - Cory Williams

"He's always been one of my favorite characters, partially because his speech bubbles were yellow squares (which was different at the time). Also, growing up in the Bronze Age, I was around when the whole Vision/Scarlet Witch thing was relatively benign and not an excuse to crack the internet in half or whatever." - Mike Weaver (Havok3595)

"He has grown so much as a character since his inception as a "villain spawn" that he transcends soap operatic proportions. From getting a brain transplant to getting married, Vision is easily forgotten as a robot and first seen and remembered as a fixture on the Avengers and the most reliable member second to Captain America or Thor in terms of performance and recognizability. But seriously... who in American culture can get away with a red face and green cape? Then going straight yellow and back? If I didn't know better, I'd say someone was sending subliminal signs from a very popular Chinese folk hero - Guan Yu." - Steven Gong (Azraelswrd)

"Plus-side: As human as you get for a robot. Long-time avenger with staying power. Cool powers. Minus-side: Powers are a bit of a rip-off of Martian Manhunter without the mental part. Origin has been convoluted and retconned so its a bit of a mess...original human torch or not? Is he even really a "robot" at this point (synthezoid, right?)" - Brett Lang (tigerbtl)

Final Standings:

Thanks to all those who nominated, participated, voted, commented and viewed this. Sorry I was so late with it, I've been busy as of late. Join us next time when we see just who is: The Most Outstanding Douchebag In Comics?

Update: This event has ended already.

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HouseTV - Who Wants to be a Superhero? Week 2

Last week's disturbingly entertaining episode gave us thrills, laughs, and public nudity. Could this week's show possibly keep up the pace or... possibly exceed it? Read on and see.

Spoily the Pirate says, "Y'arr! There be spoilers here!"


This week's show begins with Stan giving the gang a special task. It's Truth or Dare time, kiddies. Or just truth time. Each of the heroes are given the opportunity to anonymously write down questions for the other heroes. The questions will all go to Stan, who will read them and ask the heroes to respond. Ah, anonymous question and answer. A reality show staple.

Among the heroes that receive questions (and since they were aired we'll assume they were the better of the questions), Major Victory is put on the hot seat about having been a male stripper (so that's where he gets his moves from...), Fat Momma is called into question on being able to be a role model who's overweight (most consider it a low blow to her), and Iron Enforcer is called on to answer allegations of steriod use and body odor (his response to the latter is to fan his butt at his peers... real mature there, Enforcer).

Having been adequately demoralized by the Q&A session, the heroes have to turn their attention to their next challenge. A little old lady has locked herself out of her house, and the heroes need to scale the backyard fence and get in through the back door. Simple enough, right? Did I mention the old lady's backyard is guarded by two vicious attack dogs? At least the heroes need only touch the door to end the challenge. And at any point, they can bail out by screaming, "Uncle." All the fun of a boy scout citizenship badge combined with the bullying you received as a 10 year old. Ah, nostalgia...


Tyveculus earns high marks for 1) volunteering to go first under the premise that the dogs will wear themselves out on him and 2) barrelling through the dogs and the challenge itself. I don't think the people who came up with the challenge considered that someone would actually charge at the dogs and push them back like that.

Feedback felt that he let Stan down last time, so his determination would not allow him to fail again. His grunting declarations that he would not be stopped made for entertaining commentary.

Major Victory was... well, Major Victory. Between saluting the dogs prior to entering the yard, all but politely carrying them to the door as they clamped onto his arms, and asking if his hair was okay after it was all over, the man made for one entertaining trip.

Fat Momma decided to eat a doughnut for power before the challenge, then tossed one into the backyard to attempt to distract the dogs. It's a foolish gesture, since everyone knows that a superhero can only distract enemies that way if they use Hostess brand fruit pies.

Monkey Woman held onto a steadfast determination going into the challenge. She had to be crazy to try it, since I know for a fact that dogs and monkeys do not get along with each other. I saw it on MedaBots, so it must be true. But despite that, Monkey Woman perservered through initial pain and over nine minutes of dog battering to eventually reach the door. She even managed to eek out a weak victory screech before collapsing on the floor. That's good heroing.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel in the challenge (and ending up in the hot seat for elimination):

Lemuria: She really got the short end of the stick on this one. Stan calls her out for getting dragged back by the dogs and then giving up, but it realy looks like her helmet was about to fall off. Courage under fire aside, I can't help but think that anyone would have quit at that point.

Iron Enforcer: The Half Man, Half Machine, Half Time-Bomb, showed what he was made of when he yelled uncle just a scant foot from the door. For the guy who's supposed to be the tough one, he certainly picked an odd time to wuss out. Although in his defense, it did look like a dog was pulling his arm at an odd angle right before he gave in. On the other hand, that was his metal arm, so he should have just sucked it up.

Cell Phone Girl: On top of having the shortest time before saying uncle, CPG made the lamest excuse for her performance when she claimed that she had a headache. What's worse is that she mentioned at one point that she had been bitten by a dog before, so you'd think that she would have worked that into a, "I was brave just for getting in there," excuse. But alas, she chooses not to, and Stan eliminates her.

The heroes get a bit of a break in the torture the next day as Stan offers each of them a costume makeover. Feedback celebrates his new look, and Major Victory declares himself to be, "Mr. Shiny Pants." But it can never be as simple as fun makeover, and Stan declares that it's time for another elimination.

On the block:

Iron Enforcer: After his makeover, Stan noted that something felt like it wasn't quite right with Enforcer's look. If nothing else, you'd think that they would have streamlined that microwave oven he calls a gun, but nothing doing.

Tyveculus: Poor Ty gets caught in a moral quandry. His new look was... less than great, so much so that even Stan says that it didn't end up quite the way he expected it to. But when asked how he felt, Ty decided to suck it up and declare that he was pleased with it. Ty later fesses up to Stan that he doesn't like the new look, and Stan calls him out for being dishonest when he was first asked. A tough break for a guy who probably just wanted to spare Stan's feelings.

Feedback: Speaking of tough breaks, Feedback gets called out because he mocked Ty’s new costume. Or maybe it was more because his pun was so horrifically lame. If I had to wager, it's because they needed a third person and no one else did much of anything worth noting.

At any rate, The third time's the charm for Iron Enforcer, and he's asked to leave. The other heroes breathe a sigh of relief facilitated by the Enforcer's B.O. having been removed from the house.

The End... or is it? As Enforcer strolls down the street, Stan appears on a hidden screen and tells him what was bothering him before. The thing is that Enforcer doesn't make a good superhero, but he would make a great supervillain. The offer of a villain makeover and the chance to mess with his former allies is too tempting to pass up, and Iron Enforcer is reborn as... Dark Enforcer. Oh, snap. It's on now.

All in all, the episode was pretty solid. The lines between hero and real person started to unravel during the Q&A session, and a few featers got ruffled as well. Finally the reality of the reality show begins to seep in. Stan was in good form as he was last week, equal parts funny (when he feigns insensitivity by pointing out that he'd hate for the dogs to wreck the heroes' costumes) and chiding (when showing his disapproval of the hero's who have failed). Likewise, he is equally dramatic and convincing when he explains to Iron Enforcer how every hero needs an arch enemy. I think anyone would have been lurd to the dark side after that speech.

And Enforcer has stumbled into what may be the breakthrough role of the series. A few of the heroes may be forgettable, but everyone remembers the supervillain. Hopefully he has an evil laugh and the appropriate gesticulations to match.

Next week looks like it will be equal parts challenge and drama. If the previews are any indication, the heroes seem to take the villain change with the appropriate level of in chracter shenanigans. Good times will be had by all.

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House Rules! Week of 07/26/06

By: Thomas "HouseT" Houston

I'm back. Again. For the first time since the last time. But hopefully it won't be the last time.

On Deck: ASM #534, Birds of Prey #96, Shadowpact #3, Avengers/Power Pack #4

I'm going to drop my old format for the time being. With any luck, I'll go back to some full summaries soon.

Amazing Spider-Man #534

"The War at Home Part 3(of 6)"

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Ron Garney/Bill Reinhold

Note-a-Quote: "Route C. Oh, no... this can't be good." -Peter Parker

The Skinny: In the aftermath of a major battle between both sides of the Superhero Registration Act, Peter Parker swallows his reservations and prepares to help protect a convoy of captured heroes during a move to a more secure facility. But Peter's reservations are tested even more when he's forced to face off one on one with Captain America.

My Take: Peter Parker with mixed feelings? That kind of thing never happens. But kidding aside, this issue continues the current theme of Peter having his reservations about what he's doing. The irony of him being so in doubt while on the "right" side of the law becomes more apparent as the issue continues.

On one hand, we have Peter continuing to lose trust in Tony Stark. I have a little trouble believing this for two reasons. First, Peter registers doubt when Tony seems to know about Peter's spider sense. According to Peter, his spider sense is a closely guarded secret that only he, Aunt May, and Mary Jane know about. And Venom. And Doc Ock. And Mysterio, and Green Goblin, and any of a number of heroes, villains, dying children, and civilians that just happened to be standing around when he's mentioned it. Mind you, I'll be the first to admit that I always thought that it was stupid for Peter to go blabbing about how he had a danger sense, but it's equally bad form to suddenly write it as if its some closely guarded or relatively unknown fact. I can think of no less than 20 pieces of information about other heroes that are more obscure than that. Even if it wasn't directly stated, anyone who had been around him long enough would be able to figure out he has to have some kind of mojo working for him.

Secondly, I don't think that it would take this specific incident to make Peter think of checking the suit for monitoring equipment. Even if Peter trusted Tony one hundred percent, I still think that Peter would be inclined to do some tinkering on his own. If nothing else, Peter's scientific nature would have made him check things out. It's far more plausible than the incident that's presented here.

On the alternate side of things, we have Peter facing off with Steve Rogers. This encounter reads much better than the aforementioned conversation with Tony if only because Steve stays more in character. His brief talk and offer to Peter to switch sides came off as sincere and something that Captain America would be inclined to do. That said, it still feels odd for Steve and Peter to go to honest to gosh fisticuffs over the matter. Sure, Steve and Tony punching each other around I totally get. But for these two to fight seems horribly unnatural.

At any rate, we're left at the end with the obligatory stalemate as Cap disengages to go help the rest of his team. Peter, of course, is left with more doubt than he had when he started, and we are left with yet another reminder that Spider-Man is smack dab in the middle of this Civil War story line.

Because multiple banners and variant covers isn't enough to get the point across.

But this issue does at least address that several members of the Civil War have their own internal conflicts in the matter, something that the main title continues to ignore. I'd rather have had a bit more solid of a story, but I can live with this one.

Story: 6/10 (It nurses a few flaws, but it's still a good story.)
Art: 6/10 (Just what is Ben Grimm doing in that panel? Seriously, should we know?)
Overall: 6/10

Bird of Prey # 96

"Headhunt! Part One: Through the Shards of a Looking Glass"

Writer: Gail Simone
Art: Paulo Sequira/Robin Riggs

Note-a-Quote: "You did not have my permission to enter my home. You have five seconds to leave here alive." -Black Alice

The Skinny: The Birds spend some downtime reflecting on fallen hero Ted Kord, but there's no rest for the weary. The Society has their sights set on recruiting Black Alice, so Oracle dispatches the team to intercept them while she handles another matter.

Talia, however, has other plans in mind, and convinces Black Alice that the Birds of Prey are coming to get her. So Alice does what Alice does best and borrows a little Amazon muscle to slap them around. And since the BoP are lacking any serious muscle, it goes about as well as you'd expect for them.

Meanwhile in Gotham City, a couple out for an evening stroll run into a trio of thugs with bad intentions. The couple lucks out, though, as the trio is taken down by... Batgirl? Is this what Barbara meant by having another matter to tend to? Is old Babs bacj in the saddle again? Is this some imposter, or is a new hero on the Bat-roster? And more importantly, just how much cybersex is "a little"? The answers, sadly, will have to wait for another time.

My Take: First, let me say that it was great to have a section of the book dedicated to the late Ted Kord, so let me take my own moment to reflect on his greatness.

Here's to you, Ted Kord. Inventor, Philosopher, Humaintarian, Cyber-humper. Because he totally cyber-did it with Barbara. And you know she has to be good at it, because she's freakin' Oracle. If you can hack a Pentagon database in under .5 seconds, you gots to be good with the cyber-loving. Even a little cyber necking would be hot.

I put too much thought into it, didn't I? Let's move on.

There seems to be a recurring theme here with the Birds getting outmatched. Last time it was Prometheus, and now it's Black Alice. I remember the good old days when the team would actually face people they could take down. Then again, it's all about the journey.

Black Alice does indeed have anger issues, but you have to "wonder" (ho, ho, punny!) why she's getting so bent out of shape about a few heroes showing up. Presumably, someone's done something in the past year to make her already agitated state worse. It doesn't seem like any of the Acts of Vengeance business should have warped her that much, and it would be nice to find out just why she has a chip on her shoulder.

That aside, this is a good issue with some well balanced story elements. As was mentioned before, the team taking the time to pay respects to Ted Kord. In fact, it was just nice seeing the team spend a relaxing morning together. Although the whole thing almost got offset by Sin and her love of pancakes. Too delicious, indeed.

But the issue leaves just enough points in limbo to drag you back next month. Between wondering just what Alice will do next and just what the mystery of Batgirl is, there's a lot of things to look forward to.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10 (A solid issue with a nice set of cliffhangers.)

Shadowpact #3

"The (Short) Year of Living Dangerously"

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art: Cory Walker

Note-a-Quote: "A year? But that means I just went a year without paying rent on my place." -Blue Devil

The Skinny: After having been captured last issue, the Shadowpact manage to escape their respective captors and make short work of the Pentacle. Relatviely short work, since the spell mojo that Enchantress has to work to break the evil seal over the town they're trapped in robs all of the occupants of one year of their lives. On the plus side, a real world year has passed while they were imprisoned, too. Isn't magic fun?

My Take: Am I the only one disturbed by how efficient the Shadowpact is when they apply themselves? Seriously, it appears that as long as they all work as one collective group, there isn't much they can't do. It's a nice dynamic to have for the team, especially since their purpose seems to be to face the unthinkable (or something equally dramatic sounding).

The Shadowpact also takes the lead in the "Best OYL Jump" category. I wasn't sure how they were going to resolve them being stuck there for a whole year. Committing a super-team to a small town for a year was going to be a pretty bold move, not to mention incredibly limiting when it came to venue selection ("Next month, they'll fight evil in the red barn. The month after that, the blue one...") Although part of me does feel sorry for all of those poor mages outside that had to spend a full year watching a funky red bubble for no good reason. Oh, well. It's the thought that counts.

Although there is one down side to the way things were handled. The Shadowpact may have come off as looking too powerful. Much like the Big 7 and Pantheon incarnations of the JLA, if you get the impression that the group that's assembled can handle anything, you have to keep coming up with bigger and crazier threats to make it interesting.

Much like those other teams, though, the Shadowpact is chock full of entertaining personalities to keep things interesting. Just the fact that their diverse makeup is chock full of moral ambiguity makes for heated discussions within the group. Enchantress' willingness to kill combined with the other's resolve in allowing it to happen lends itself to the gray area that the team seems to operate in. And we really do need more people operating in gray areas. Gray leaning towards good, of course.

Story: 6/10 (Felt either forced or rushed, but otherwise a good story.)
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Avengers/Power Pack: Assemble! #4(of 4)

"Conquered! Part 2: Pack to the Future"

Writer: Marc Sumerak
Art: GuriHiru

Note-a-Quote: "For a guy who's traveled to both ends of the timestream, you'd think Kang would have figured out that keeping his enemies frozen in time like trophies would come back to haunt him." -Jack Power

The Skinny: Say you're a megalomaniacal time travelling conqueror from future. You manage to spring back to our present, overcome the Avengers, and conquer the world. All that's left is to find something to do with those pesky, yet persistent kids they call Power Pack. Do you:

A) Obliterate them flat out.
B) Travel further back in time to kill their parents and erase them from existence.
C) Send them to the future, where they can run into future versions of themselves, free the Avengers, then travel back in time to ruin your ****.

Kang, being the cookie cutter villain that he is wont to be at times, elects for the third and most entertaining option. But if it makes him feel any better, he probably couldn't have obliterated them if he tried.

My Take: Avengers/Power Pack has been a surprisingly great title. There have been a variety of appearances by hero and villain alike, and even an underlying story line that has continued throughout each of the individual stories. This final issue outlines the kids trip to an alternate future where Kang has taken over the world.

First of all, the kids from both times are characterized well. From the cool composure of the future Power Pack to the ever present immaturity of the present team, everyone falls into place in a way that makes them feel like they're connected. Which makes sense, since they are just one big family. And speaking of family, the group has a nice series of heartwarming moments (even though kid Jack and Katie will claim they were more disgusted by them than touched).

The art is bright and colorful, and even the grown up heroes and villains look like they fit in with the kids' four color world. And for a story about four kids, there certainly is a hearty helping of action thrown around the book. Not that I'm complaining.

Avengers/Power Pack is proof positive that an all ages title can well scripted, intelligent, and still remain undeniably fun. This last issue may have been the best of them all. Hopefully, the world's youngest super team will keep getting a spotlight. With any luck, it will be as favorable as this one.

Story: 9/10 (An well paced action packed story with lots of character elements tossed in.)
Art: 9/10 (As refreshingly upbeat as the story it's attached to.)
Overall: 9/10 (But darned if I'm not scarred for life. Future Julie was how old? Rrowr!)

So that's that. Hang in there, hang loose, hang tough, or hang whatever you can without breaking any laws.

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HouseTV: Who Wants to Be a Superhero?

By: Thomas "HouseT" Houston

Wondering if the new reality show is worth your attention? Look no further, true believers. I'll give you the big breakdown.

(Note: While I try to steer clear of spoilers for this review, I do discuss some aspects of the plot of the first episode. It isn't anything you couldn't glean from watching the opening, but be warned that there is some minor discussion here.)

When I first heard that Stan Lee was creating some kind of reality show based around superheroes, I was more than a little wary. Actually, I think my response was more along the lines of, "Oh, boy. Here we go..." My biggest fear was that this was just one more reality show trying to milk some abstract concept for all it was worth. If nothing else, it was hard to wrap my head around the concept (which it turns out I had wrong for a long time). At first I thought that it would be some contest for aspiring writers and artists, but it turns out that you don't have to have any skill in either. In fact, it would seem that most of the contestants have skills in neither and are just big fans of comics.

Again, this didn't seem to bode well for me. But heaven forgive me, I'll give anything a shot at least once, so I set my DVR to pick up one of the airings and went about my business. I stopped in my local comic shop and talked to one of my friends there and he all but ordered me to make sure I watch the show before I saw him again. A positive recommendation? This bodes well, methinks.

So I checked it out when I got home and I'm still not sure what happened. I was shocked. I was disturbed. I was amused. But most importantly, I was hooked.

The premise for the show is simple enough. After holding a series of auditions (of which we get to see a short series of rejects during the opening), 12 costumed heroes are selected to live in a secret lair and compete to see who among them is worthy of becoming a real superhero. And become one they shall, because the winner gets their hero made into the star of a Dark Horse comic and a SciFi TV movie (that in and of itself would make you immortal).

So far, so good. But the most obvious question is what kind of challenges will the wannabe heroes face? As Stan himself explains, they obviously can't test their superpowers since... well, they don't really have any. But heroes are not measured by their powers but by their hearts and actions. So the show has a series of challenges designed to test the minds and spirits of the individuals. As one potential hero put it, it might be easier to learn how to fly.

Take for instance the first hero challenge. After arriving at a location in their civilian identities, the heroes were all given the signal one by one to begin. They then had to find a secluded location to change into their hero costume and race to a checkpoint. The one who arrives first in true superhero fashion would be the winner. Sounds easy enough, right? But when an obstacle in the form of a lost child gets thrown in the path of the finish line, which heroes will notice? And which will choose to stop and help knowing full well that it might cost them valuable time?

First of all, the show is corny at points. It has to be, since it's based on a bunch of people running around in costumes. On top of that, the heroes are an eclectic collection of personalities ranging from the gun-toting assassin (like Iron Enforcer) to the idealized heroic personas (like Feedback and, to an effect, Major Victory) to the slightly odd (like Monkey Woman and Creature) to the just right out there (but don't worry, Fat Momma. I still love you). The show gives a little time to let the people behind the heroes give confessionals about how they feel. It lets you see that they do have motivations behind what they're doing, and in some cases lets you know that they're not completely insane (or in some cases the opposite, but we won't get into that now). Most at the very least have a true love for comics or superheroes and want to be a role model of some sort.

If the initial challenge is any indicator, the heroes are going to be put through the ringer. But in a good way, since the challenges are indeed skewed to reward those thinking like a true superhero would. Likewise, the individuals who just have a soft spot or a good all around nature appear to have a chance to excel. Ironically, this show may do a better job weeding out competitors based on the proper criteria than shows more grounded in reality.

But the glue that binds the entire process is The Man. Stan Lee is perhaps one of the best reality show hosts in recent history. Probst may have his moments, but he's never stayed on the island. Trump may have money, but is he really a worthy judge of business acumen? But Stan Lee is comics. Love him or hate him, he has an established history as being one of the founding fathers of comic books. Not only that, but Stan has something Trump could never dream of: a personality. There's just something about the man's voice that makes anything he says entertaining. Whether he's chastising the heroes for some failure or encouraging them onward, Stan has a flair for delivery that gets you pumped up. Seriously, he could say something like, "And now I'm off to take a huge dump in the toilet!" and you'd be half ready to jump out of your chair as long as he followed it up with, "Excelsior!"

Go on. Picture the words coming from him. You know I'm right.

After one episode, here are my early favorites:

Pros: Feedback seems really dedicated to his hero persona and personally motivated to achieve in the competition. One glance at his attempt to stay in his civilian persona until in costume will bring a smile to your face.

Cons: Feedback seems really dedicated to his hero persona and personally motivated to achieve in the competition. I know I just listed this as a pro, but it's possible Feedback may be too motivated. Still, a little heart never hurt anyone. Unless it's an actual medical condition, in which case you may need a transplant.

Monkey Woman
Pros: Like Feedback, Monkey Woman has a true dedication to her hero persona. Anyone willing to climb a tree to stay in character wins in my book.

Cons: Possibly too emotional. Monkey Woman has already gone on record as likely to start the waterworks once people start being eliminated. She might just crack under the pressure. Of course, if she loses too much potassium through her tears she does have a banana handy...

Major Victory
Pros: Very dedicated to his hero persona, the Major is to date the only hero who displays a sense of humor while in hero mode. But behind the wackiness, his true heroic nature manages to shine through. If nothing else, he's hilarious to watch.

Cons: Major Victory may not realize that he isn't actually a super hero. He's that insane. All joking aside, though, if you catch the few moments that they talk to him out of character you'll see that he does appear to be sane. Or is that just him putting on a civilian facade? Hmm...

Here's my list of not so favorites:

Iron Enforcer
The guy looks like he belongs in a comic book. On top of that, I swear I saw someone very much like him in a SciFi movie. Look for IE to be disqualified later in the series as they discover that he stole his weapon from the set of whatever film it was I saw it in.

Cons: Enforcer has an unhealthy obsession with the idea of killing. In another competition, he might have a better chance. But as Stan points out to him, superheroes don't kill people; they help people. That combined with the fact that he seems unfriendly and generally self centered should work against him in future weeks. I'm not entirely sure why he's there except to maybe get a little attention and stroke his own ego.

Pros: ... Er... Well... She has a whip?

Cons: The lack of pros should be enough, but I get the sense that she really isn't a big superhero fan deep down. Every reality show has a few latcher-ons that are just there to be there, and I'm afraid she might be one of them.

In the Middle, but still needing love:

This is a personal point for me, but I have a soft spot in my heart for any member of a fire department. I spent about five minutes trying to figure out if part of his helmet was cobbled from a plastic fireman's helmet. I'm still not sure. I also like that he wants to do it for his kids. And what kid wouldn't want to tell their friends that their dad is a bonafide superhero?

Fat Momma
I can't lie. Part of me doesn't want to like her because she's obviously there to represent the not so fit crowd. In truth, she's the only potential hero to not appear to be in great physical condition. In truth, I'd rather there have been a few more out of shape people in the group just so she doesn't stand out so much. But she does show her caring side, and maybe her compassion is enough to win out in the end. Just so long as there aren't too many physical challenges.

She was the online voter's choice for the competition. Gee, I wonder what they were thinking when they picked her. Probably the same thing I was thinking when she was running through the park. I wouldn't mind double-clicking her hyperlink... ahem, but I digress. The truth is that she enters the competition with something to prove, and she plans to deliver.

All in all, the show is worth a look. I'm so pumped about it that I'm half inclined to do weekly reviews on it. If you're a fan of comics, superheroes, or even just reality shows in general, you should probably give this one a look see, And someone work out an appropriate drinking game for this show already (but good luck not managing to get drunk in the process).

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Words With Waiting: Patton Oswalt, Comedian & Writer

Words With Waiting
Oswalt At My LCS (Austin Books)Interviewer: Gambit
Interviewee: Patton Oswalt

You may have seen his stand-up special, read some of his comics, gone to one of his shows, or caught him on TV, but these days it's hard to not know about Patton Oswalt. He's one fourth of the amazing "Comedians Of Comedy," and a gigantic comic book fan. In fact, he has written quite a few issues from very popular long-time series such as JLA and Batman. Later this year, he will lend his voice as the lead role of Brad Bird's new animated picture "Ratatouille."

Gambit: First off, what have been up to lately? What's on your pull list? Anything your really enjoying or hating?

Patton Oswalt: Trying to go onstage as much as I can and write new material. I’m recording a new CD in November, and I want to generate a lot of new stuff.

My pull list? I read so many comics. Let me just list wheat I read this week:

Ed Brubaker’s having a great time dropping forthright Captain America into the middle of today’s twisty, all-grey area world of espionage and international intrigue. And Daredevil fighting his way out of prison? Holy shit! Plus, he got the artist to draw me and Brian Posehn into it.

Just for Gail Simone’s handling of the sad, funny little scene at Ted Kord’s grave.


Plus about twenty more. I’m a sad man.

Gambit: I attended the SXSW show you did with Brian Posehn, Aziz Ansari and Eugene Mirman, and it was one of the best shows I've seen judging from years of going to the event (I live in Austin, so it's right down the street.) I think you guys made everyone in the cry their eyes out from laughter. What has been your best and worst show during your years of traveling the globe and handing out chuckles and giggles (in a macho way, though) to the masses?

Patton: Best: The recent Chicago show we did at the end of the last Comedians of Comedy tour. Good Lord.

Worst: Getting booed offstage at the Funnybone in Pittsburgh.

JLA: Welcome To The Working WeekGambit: "Welcome To The Working Week" (The comic, not the song) was one of my favorite JLA-related anything in the past few years. You managed to master things that even big names couldn't and haven't. Plus, it had Ambush Bug. Instant classic. What was it like writing it and did you expect to get such great feedback about it?

Patton: I had a little too much fun writing it. I appreciate your praise, but I think the story’s a little thin, especially in the third act. But I had fun shaking out my idea notebook onto the JLA, and exploring all the stuff I’d always thought about them. And, of course, the good reviews felt really good.

Gambit: In all of the years of comic reading you've had, what has been your all time favorite character and writer if you had to narrow both categories down to one? Has any comic material influenced your stand up or overall sense of humor?

Patton: The Golden Age Sandman, as developed by Matt Wagner and Steven Seagle. I don’t know if any cartoonist’s stuff influenced my stand-up. Ivan Brunetti, maybe.

Gambit: So I've been wondering why your Hostess fruit pies spoof didn't make it to the "Wha Huh?" issue. What was the reason it went unused? Did Mahfood do any drawings of it

Patton: I think it was the Hooker Hacker stuff. I don’t even think Mahfood got to the drawing stage.

Gambit: I watched the "Super Nerds" pilot you did with best friend in comedy and life Brian Posehn, and liked it a lot. Why didn't they pick it up? What could we have expected if it was still on the tube?

Patton: They didn’t pick it up because we never figured out a specific viewpoint for the show, I think. It’s pretty uneven. But if they’d given us time to let it live and breathe, it would’ve gone in a very YOUNG ONES direction, which is how we conceived it.

Gambit: You've done a lot of cool voicework, too, such as Toymaker on "The Batman" and Mr. Groin on "Amazing Screw On Head," not to mention the work you did on "Batman Beyond." Any plans on doing any other films or voicework for comic related things? Screenplaying "Planetary" or something?

Patton: Jesus, I’d love to write a screenplay for PLANETARY. Although PLANETARY should be a TV series. I don’t know what kind of comic book v.o. work is coming my way. It’s not something you can plan.

The Master At WorkGambit: I caught the trailer for Ratatouille at the movies the other day, and it looks pretty good. What was it like working with director Brad Bird of "Incredibles" and "Iron Giant" fame and being the star of a Pixar animated movie? Did you have trouble keeping it clean for all the kids out there?

Patton: It’s as amazing as you think it’d be.

Gambit: If you could start writing any title tomarrow, what would you choose, and what would you do differently?

Patton: SUICIDE SQUAD, and I’d make it way more entangled in the hero community of the DC Universe.
You can hear more of Patton's insights, rants and raves on his website which he updates almost dail, or on his "Comedians Of Comedy" tour.

Patton Oswalt's Website
The Unused "Wha Huh?" Story
Ratatouille Trailer
"Amazing Screw On Head" Pilot

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Wednesday Morning Quarterback: AK Comics

By Michael “Skitch” Maillaro

Hey everyone! How’s the wife and kids? I’m dropping back in for a little fun in my old stamping grounds. An article in our local newspaper tuned me into the appearance of a comic company called AK Comics.

AK has been publishing in the Middle East for the last few years, and only this month has started bringing their books to America. I was intrigued by the idea, and immediately ordered the books from Midtown Comics (who seems to be the only place that had all four in stock). I was pretty impressed by the books and wanted to share them with our readers.

First up, some background from Wikipedia: AK Comics is an Egyptian-based superhero comic publishing venture, and the first example of the genre produced in the Middle East. The company first began publishing monthly titles in February 2004, and its comics are produced in both Arabic and English. AK Comics was founded by Ayman Kandeel, (hence the initials); Marwan el-Nashar is the managing director and Sara Kareem is the English-language editor.

It is heavily influenced by American comics giants DC Comics and Marvel, as well as British comics, Japanese animation, and even the Kill Bill movies.
As explained in the first inside page of various issues, the intention is "to fill the cultural gap created over the years by providing essentially Arab role models, in our case, Arab superheroes, to become a source of pride to our young generations."

In the article in my local paper, Dr. Kandeel commented that so many great fictional characters came from the Middle East, such as Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad, so it always amazed him that they didn’t have a modern Middle Eastern super hero that could rival Superman. I have to say that judging by the first issues of AK’s four series, AK just might have found a way to get a foothold in the industry.

One thing I noticed immediately about AK Comics is they are actually about 2/3 the size of most American comics. Also, they are much less pages, but not in terms of story. Most Marvel or DC comics are 32 pages, with 10 of those pages being ads, self-promotion, etc. AK Comics are 24 pages, with only 2 pages of ads. This seems like a reasonable trade off as the books are only $2.95, which is much less than I am used to seeing for independent books.

As for the series themselves:

Rakan #1 Review
Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Todd Vicino
Artist: Raphael Albuquergue
Each of the first issues were real stand out comics, but Rakan was the best of the bunch. The market is glutted with superhero comics, and Rakan was a perfect change of pace. Rakan is a true quest book with a Middle Eastern flair! Set in medieval times, Rakan was the lone survivor of a tribe that was wiped out by the Mongols.

As is typical in myth and legend, Rakan gets raised by a sabretooth tiger and her son, Arameh. Rakan encounters a former general with mystical powers who trains him in the arts of Sheba. The general is killed, and sends Rakan and Arameh on a quest to find his daughter.

The introduction to Rakan promises dark forces, wizards, and dragons along the way! Sounds like Rakan and Arameh are in for one hell of a journey, and I will definitely be along for the ride. Rakan reminds me of everything I loved about Crossgen comics, and hopefully AK will be along for a lot longer than CG was.

The art and descriptions in Rakan #1 were quite beautiful and Kandeel, Vicino, and Rafael Albuquerque should be proud of their work in this issue. They very quickly captured the heart of this longtime comic reader. The story seems to be building on a proud tradition of myth and legend, and has potential to be one of the best comics out there.

Score (out of 10): 8.5

Aya, Zein, and Jalila all share a common setting. They are set in the near future in a supposed age of prosperity after a 55 Year War between two unidentified world powers. But, these first issues already showed some cracks in this peace. This fictional world based in the Middle East seems like a great setting, and I would love to see a 55 Year War Sourcebook or Official Guide to the AK Universe to get more information.

Aya #1 Review
Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Todd Vicino
Art: Allan Goldman

One of my biggest complaints about comics has always been the lack of strong female characters. My wife is an avid comic reader, and we have a daughter on the way, so we are always looking for female characters that are not just pin-ups or damsels in distress. Aya seems to fit the bill here. I have to admit, in my own ignorance, I was somewhat surprised to find such strong females in a comic from the Middle East. AK really has done wonders to break down my ignorance.

Aya comes across like a female version of Batman. Her mother has been wrongly accused of killing her father, because of the great sexual inequalities in the Middle East. In order to fight crime and injustice, Aya is working for or with someone called Number Zero. The first issue jumps right into the action and doesn’t force feed the back story down your throat. This really got me right into the story and without even really knowing Aya’s story, I was cheering her on.

Score (out of 10): 8.0

Zein #1 Review

Writer: Todd Vicino
Artist: Raphael Albuquerque

Zein is another unique character. He is a survivor of an ancient advanced society who was cryogenically frozen until our time with his brothers and sisters. He uses his advanced technology, including his computer ISIS in order to protect his land. In this issue, a mysterious swarm of scarabs in on the loose, and Zein discovers these scarabs are machines, and have ties to his own past.

Zein was a very strong book anyway, but the ending of this book floored me. Most first issues set up the status quo, but Zein shatters it almost immediately! I can't wait to see how Zein and Scarab's story plays out. AK managed to set up some major payoffs down the road.

Also, I can't wait to meet more of Zein's cast. It seems like this book will have a strong supporting cast with his siblings and ISIS. Zein's quest to resurrect the forgotten civilization sounds like it has a lot of storytelling potential, and it should be interesting to see how Scarab's influence will change things.

Score (out of 10): 8.0

Jalila #1 Reviews

Story: Dr. Ayman Kandeel
Dialogue: Sara Kareem
Artist: Allan Goldman

I have to admit that based on the first issue, Jalila was my least favorite of the AK books, but that is like saying George is my least favorite Beatle. Jalila's first issue really set up some cool ideas, like the idea this world of peace of prosperity might not be what it seems. This issue also features a nice twist in the end, which led me to a second reading. It was foreshadowed early in the issue, but until you read the whole comic, you don't see how the pieces fit. This is terrific comic writing, and the team of Kandeel, Kareem, and Goldman carried it out brilliantly!

My biggest concern about this issue is that we never really got to know Jalila. We met her supporting cast and get glimpses at the world around her, but she felt like a complete mystery. Hopefully, this will be addressed in future issues.

Comics are often called childish, but this issue was far from it. The comics opens with a scene with Jewish, Islamic, and Catholic leaders gathering together to demonstrate the peace and unity of this new Middle East. But, this gather is ruined by a terrorist attack, and it was a powerful statement. I dream of a world where this meeting can happen in the Middle East, and it always saddens me that there are forces that act against it. But, then we see Jalila acting against this ignorance, and we are reminded how one person can be a force for positive change. In history, we've had men like Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandi. Hopefully, this message got through to readers of this comic, both in the Middle East and in America.

Score (out of 10): 7.5

That about wraps up my look at AK Comics. I have to say that I was really impressed by their initial offerings, and I am looking forward much more from this company.

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