Open Mike Night – Babes in Comicland Part 2

By blackmore and Havok3595

Last week’s column received a lot of good responses, so we decided to hit that same theme again. Why argue with success! While last time, we focused on what leads to the negative stereotype of women in comics, this time we’re going to take a look at some examples of positive examples of women in comics.

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

We talked last week about the secretarial duties of Wonder Woman and the comparison between Wasp and Rick Jones. As we indicated then, these two (and several others) have changed quite a bit over the last forty or fifty years, mostly for the better (we’ll ignore insect Wasp for the betterment of all. In fact, ignoring The Crossing should be any comic fan’s goal).

Jan Van Dyne, as many know, divorced Henry Pym after being abused. Most of the reason Jan was in the Avengers in the first place was due to her relationship with Pym, so it struck many as odd that she continued with a group consisting almost exclusively of friends of her abusive ex-husband (and, at times, said ex himself) after the divorce. This was Jan proving that she had definition beyond being a sidekick to Gi/Ant Man/Yellowjacket/Goliath and she rose to be one of the better leaders Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had ever seen.

Later, after it was revealed that Pym had been mentally manipulated by a variety of villains at the time of the abuse, it seemed that the flames of old love would reunite. Henry Pym certainly hoped so, but Wasp definitively told him that she had no interest in getting back together to that level. She enjoyed her freedom, and wouldn’t remarry him (although she would date him). This leads to an interesting reversal of the “Mystery Date”: Pym got to a point where he was mostly defined in terms of his relationship to Wasp while Jan was much more detailed.

Wonder Woman, likewise, has begun to show herself as far more than cheesecake in a swimsuit. Instead of being tied up and helpless, she’s intentionally blinded herself to fight a mythical beast who turns those who gaze upon it to stone. And we’re not just talking a blindfold…she literally plucked her own eyes out when push came to shove. Few male heroes have even gotten that hardcore, and Diana didn’t skip a beat. In DC’s current event, Wonder Woman kills a man despite the protests of Batman and Superman. She’s done with the days of taking names, she’s all about kicking asses these days.

The Invisible Woman is another heroine who has grown from her fashion model Reed Richards arm candy days. Recently, Doctor Doom has described her as the most powerful and dangerous member of the Fantastic Four. She’s also knocked out the Hulk, something even the ever loving blue eyed Thing can’t lay claim to. And don’t you dare call her the Invisible Girl anymore.

Speaking of former “girls”, the former Batgirl has gone from being a cute helper in Batman’s war against crime to marshalling her own forces as Oracle despite a crippling injury at the hands of the Joker. And she’s arguably better at it than her mentor…more than once, he’s gone to her to get information he was unable to find himself.

Leader of the Pack

But, women aren’t just becoming more independent characters. They are also taking strong leadership roles in comics. Look at Storm! She’s been a leader of the X-Men for about 20 years now! When her leadership was challenged by Cyclops, she was able to take him out without her powers. When you have independent guys like Wolverine taking orders from her, you know Storm is one strong leader. Not to mention, she is also one of the most powerful members of the team. Which is why you should vote for D-Generation X in the Eisner Cup. This cheap plug is sponsored by D-Generation X’s leadership.

As mentioned earlier, Wasp has also evolved into a strong leader of the Avengers. During Avengers Forever, even Captain America fell into line behind her when all reality was at stake. That is why you should vote for the Charlatans in the Eisner Cup. It is also why you should stop reading this column immediately and go read Avengers Forever. We’ll wait here for you.

Welcome back!

Some other examples of female team leaders:

- Invisible Woman has led the Fantastic Four on several occasions.

- Zatanna led the Justice League for a short time before Crisis.

- Wonder Girl was the leader of Young Justice. Saturn Girl has been the leader of Legion. It should be noted that in both of these situations the fans voted that these characters were the ones who should lead the team.

- Jenny Sparks was a terrific leader for the Authority. Jack Hawksmoor is one of my favorite characters, but he sucks as leader in comparison.

- Skyrocket was the field leader for Power Company before its way too soon cancellation.

- Fairchild was the leader of Gen 13.

- Both Young Avengers and Runaways feature female characters who are a lot more competent leaders than the males of the group.

- Songbird has lead the New Thunderbolts recently…mostly.

- Monica Rambeau (as Captain Marvel) led the Avengers for some time.

- Rogue’s going to be leading a team of X-Men soon.

- Several X-enemies have been led by women, from Marrow leading Gene Nation to Mystique leading the Brotherhood to Deathbird marshalling the forces of the Brood.

Women of the Atom

Some people say that Chris Claremont maybe likes the ladies a bit too well, but it wasn’t him that created Storm, easily the most powerful of the relaunch X-Men. He did up Jean Grey to the Phoenix levels and made her a cosmic threat. Again, we get a reversal of the mystery date: in the Dark Phoenix era, Cyclops is frequently defined as he relates to Jean. But previous to the relaunch, even back to the very first issue, we have all the males drooling over Jean who declares herself an independent woman by using telekinesis to get her own chair instead of taking the one Beast pulls out for her. Polaris also rebuked Iceman for declaring her “his girl” by saying “I’m nobody’s ‘girl’ except my own!” in the Silver Age run. Both of these instances were pretty progressive in an era where women in several other titles were taking notes and sewing uniforms, no matter how powerful they were.

Upping the ante, Lilandra usurps the throne of a large intergalactic empire from her crazy brother…and the person to challenge her (and frequent thorn in the X-side) is her sister Deathbird. Deathbird is a particularly interesting case as she lost her place in the order of succession to Lilandra because she carries the obvious traits of the Shi’ar’s avian ancestors, which are looked down upon for being antiquated. Sort of a microcosm of the human/mutant struggle on Earth, and interesting because the X-Men side against equality on it. But I guess I wouldn’t want an interstellar race headed by someone named Deathbird either, to be fair.

Mystique assembles and competently leads a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants during the epic story Days of Future Past. They would have succeeded too if it wasn’t for a time-traveling Kitty Pryde, who was sent back in large part by Rachel Summers. A story full of girl power on every side.

Despite devolving into a little more than a Gambit fashion accessory, Rogue was definitely one of the most powerful X-Men of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Between her power to basically add on the powers of friends and foes in times of crisis, she also had the strength and durability and flight of Ms. Marvel…which is about three times the strength and durability of her more rugged male teammates, in addition to adding flight to the mix.

Even more recently, Marrow and Dr. Reyes were far from your typical comic females. Marrow took some steps backwards in later years, but when she started out, she was pretty hardcore and a very capable leader. Dr. Reyes was a strong and independent woman that didn’t fall easily into any stereotypes.

Outside the Mainstream

Just wanted to throw in some lesser known examples from the world of comics:

- Crossgen was full of examples of strong female characters, like Sephie in Meridian, the characters in Mystic who showed that being sexy does not have to equal useless, and El Cazador is about a strong, intelligent pirate captain…who happens to be a woman.

- Polly and the Pirates over at Oni features a young girl who is forced into the life of being a pirate.

- Lullaby has some cool updates of characters like Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood.

- Sam Kieth tends to write terrific female characters. Read Zero Girl, Maxx, or Ojo for some good examples.

- Fallen Angel started out at DC, but never received much attention until it jumped to IDW.

- I was told by an irate poster to mention Friends of Lulu, but I’ve never read the book, so I have no idea what it’s about. So if is sucks, log onto GameFAQs and blame BB mofo.

- Oni Press’ Courtney Crumrin is a pretty solid female lead that bucks expectations…a teenage witch who falls under the tutelage of her spooky uncle. She forsakes a love enchantment at one point after realizing that dating hot guys is not a priority in life. This alone shows how different she is from the standard old school teenage girl. It’s a dark and quirky book that lies somewhere between Lemony Snicket and Harry Potter. And a strong female lead!

All right, this is about it on our end. Please e-mail me any questions, comments, or whatevers to I do read all my e-mails, and I’ll post them with my column. Also, remember to swing by GameFAQs and check out Eisner Cup season 3!

Now, go out and read some comics, you slacker!

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House Rules! Week of 03/22/06

Later than a loose debutante who "spends a semester overseas" and about as funny as one, too. This is your weekly installment of comic related goodness. Just in time to almost not matter. Dig in, children...

On Deck: She-Hulk #6, Robin #148, Supergirl and the LOSH #16, and ASM #530

She-Hulk #6

"Beaus and Eros Part One: I'm With Cupid"

Writer: Dan Slott
Art: Will Conrad

Note-a-Quote: "Ma'am, it's none of my business when a lady's with her fella... and she has her knees apart and..." -Matt Hawk, Two-Gun Kid (We get it, Matt... we get it. For the love of heaven, stop right there!)

The Skinny: Eros of Titan (AKA Starfox) stands accused of using his superhuman influence to sexually assault a woman. The fact that he openly admits he had sex with her in front of a hundred reporters doesn't help matters.

His friend and fellow Avenger Jennifer Walters stands ready to defend him, but can she manage the stress in her own life long enough to do it? And what strange fate will befall the entire law firm when Starfox's "natural charisma" begins to make its influence felt?

My Take: Many would argue that the current volume of She-Hulk isn't as funny as previous one. Truth be told, they'd be right. While it has its humorous moments, the current incarnation of She-Hulk has a decidedly serious tone in many of its moments. But don't let me give you the impression that that's a bad thing.

Dan Slott has a real skill at balancing his humor with edgy or even outright controversial material, and this issue is no exception. The concept, while amusing on the surface, has a deeper undertone to it. On one hand, you have the notion of a desperate housewife so intent on denying an affair that she accuses Starfox of manipulation to avoid scrutiny. That in and of itself is a sad commentary on the state of our current legal system.

But on the other hand, we have an entirely seperate issue at work. As is demonstrated in the latter half of the issue, Starfox does exude a certain natural influence on people in his presence. Whether deliberate or not, one has to wonder if he did manage to manipulate an otherwise unwilling individual into a sexual tryst (although as a hero-lover, I sincerely want to lean to the "he didn't do it" side of the fence).

All the while, we have Jen clearly being worn down by her job (which forces her to turn down work from friends because her firm is representing the villains are suing them) and her personal life (which would be much happier if she'd just buy a clue and get with Pug... hello! You're in his freaking house, Jen! He's watching chick flicks with you! Use your... She-Hulk sense or something...)

The plot helps convey all of this stress, even intimating that the lovey-dovey relationship between Jen and John Jameson may not be so rock solid (yay!) before crushing hopes of a break-up with the Eros love spell sub-plot (boo!). And really, why is there so much romantic tension in the law firm to begin with? What is this, L.A. Law?

Awesome Andy digs Mallory Book. Ms. Book digs Two-Gun Kid. Pug digs Jen... and can I just say how impressed I was that Pug almost pulled the trigger and made a move on Jen. You go, Pug! You get yours before you're inexplicably killed as an emotional plot point, which by the way better not happen. You hear me, Slott! Don't you touch my Pug!

So all in all, while it may not be as hilarious as previous issues, there more than enough good stuff to keep one fixed until the story concludes in the next issue. And I'd expect there to be all kinds of resolutions going on in that book. Although probably ones wrought with frustration.

Story: 7/10 (She-Hulk's supporting cast as just as entertaining as she is.)
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10 ("Don't You Touch My Pug!" will be available as a single or as part of my album release later this year...)

Robin #148

"Boy Wanted Part One: Out Go the Lights"

Writer: Adam Beechen
Art: Karl Kerschl/Wayne Faucher

Note-a-Quote: "You've been accused of murder before. Can you imagine someone else cleaning up your mess for you?" -Tim Drake (I'm not sure what it would look like, but I know it would be at least an eight issue crossover. With variant covers.)

The Skinny: It's One Year Later. A mystery assailant attacks Robin and leaves him stuck in an alleyway with a dead body in a Batgirl suit. The good news is it's not Cassie. The bad news is there's still a dead body in the suit, and that's enough to make Robin wanted by the Gotham PD. Even though Batman offers to help, Tim declares it a personal matter and wants to work it on his own. Step one: investigate the imposter's costume. And all Robin has to do to get hold of it is break into a GCPD station. No problem at all...

My Take: It's One Year Later... and Robin's in the flow with his solo title. Here's what's new with Tim Drake one year later: he has a new costume, a better relationship with his mentor/partner, and a pretty solid attitude to boot. He's also hit a time warp, but we'll get into that later.

In stark contrast to his elder Dick Grayson, Tim starts off his new exploits still in the groove. Well, he still gets his butt handed to him, but that's all in the set-up. Or I should say, that's all in settng him up for taking the fall for killing someone. And a nice, plausible set-up it is, too. I have to say that Tim also gets a much better set-up in terms of backstory as well. If I didn't know better, I'd think that all the events that Tim references in this issue actually happened in a book somewhere in the past. It feels like continuity is being cemented rather than just tossed in as a gimmick, but maybe that's just because the storyline gels.

And speaking of gelling... it looks like the entire Bat Family is operating as a solid unit now. Or at the very least they're getting along enough to be in touch with each other since Oracle's unsettling announcement to the group covered all the usual bases. Even the allegedly killed Cassandra Cain spends time lurking through the shadows, so you know it's just a matter of time before she makes her presence felt.

It's hard to say that Tim is or isn't in character since things may have changed a little over the past year, but he seems to be mostly his old self. He's also displaying self-confidence, something which, while not missing from previous appearances, is sorely missed at times. Telling Batman that he wanted to handle things on his own is the kind of thing that only a Robin can get away with. Or at least it used to be.

Fortunately for us, the OYL incarnation of Batman seems to be a much more amenable person. Instead of the psycho, overcontrolling mind****er that we've seen the past few years, Bruce has "mellowed" into the night soldier that's willing to let Tim handle the case on his own. At the same time, Bruce lets Tim know that if he needs help, he only has to ask. It's honestly a nice thing to see.

I enjoyed the art in this book, too. The only minor complaint I could register is that Tim looks incredibly small in most of the panels. And yes, I know he's a child, but he's supposed to be a teenager. Not only does he look like a child in most of the book, he looks puny. Although to be fair, making Tim small and lithe is one way to go with his look, I do like him to look a little bigger than waif-sized. Maybe that's just me, though.

Other than that, everything worked for me. I'm not the biggest fan of the new Robin costume, but the color scheme works. And I admire any artist that makes Robin's throwing R's look like feasible weapons and not an attack launched by a Sesame Street character.

Story: 7/10 (A solid start for Robin's solo adventures.)
Art: 7/10 (Aside from "kid" Robin, it's all good.)
Overall: 7/10 (A good jumping on point for Robin, OYL or not.)

Supergirl and the Legion of Superheroes #16

Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Barry Kitson/Mick Gray

Note-a-Quote: "Admit it. You're dying to cuff us. This is killing you, isn't it?" -Ultra Boy (Cocky, yes, but the when you're Ultra Boy you can get away with it.)

The Skinny: It's 1001 Years Later (heh)... As the Legion revels in their newly acquired status as an extension of EarthGov (which means, among other things, they get to do anything they want to), Cosmic Boy debates whether the Legion as a whole should hold an election for leadership. And if that's not enough, Earth itself faces destruction at the hands of a incoming space projectile.

The Legion's attempt at stopping the object fails, but allows enough time for Supergirl to arrive and save the day. When pressed for information, Kara pulls Cosmic Boy aside and reveals that she is the Supergirl from the past.. but that the entire Legion is a figment of her imagination.

My Take: It's 1001 Years later (heh)... Yikes. I guess it only makes sense that the girl with more origins than she has powers would show up just in time to pull a rewrite on the Legion... not that they need help with that. Maybe that's why Supergirl and the Legion make such a good pair. It's like a new origin ceasefire, or it would be if Supergirl wasn't prepared to hit the reset on Legion again.

The story itself has all of the normal Waid legion elements. There's still the overriding socio-political aspects of the Legion, with them acting more as a political movement than a team of superheroes. Likewise, we have the presence of refugees/supporters outside of Legion HQ, which only adds to the political tension. And on top of that, we have Brainiac's "truce" signed with EarthGov, which causes more problems than it solves. Especially since the Legion makes no qualms about solving problems their own way, no matter what.

But the heroes are still heroes. They catch the bad guys, and the scene they make while doing so ends up more to make the people in the area stand up for themselves than to harrass civilians. And while some of the Legionnaires are cocky about their newfound freedoms, others appear much more subtle and reflective on the matter.

Of course it could be all a moot point, since it's possible none of them exist anyway. But that's not really that big of a deal. At best, teh Legion's just one alternate future timeline, anyway...

Story: 7/10 (Nice story, nice twists, and a good start to a plot.)
Art: 6/10 (Even the gritty parts of the future look bright. Go figure.)
Overall: 7/10 (The future has an interesting... future ahead of it.)

Amazing Spider-Man #530

"Mr. Parker Goes to Washington (Part Two of Three)"

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Art: Tyler Kirkham/Jay Leisten

Note-a-Quote: "It's going swell. In fact, if it were going any sweller, they'd probably have to deport me." -Peter Parker

The Skinny: Peter begins his Washington road trip with Tony Stark, who's having an informal session with the Congressional Committee on Superhuman Activities. It seems they want all powered and costumed superheroes to register with goverment or face prosecution. And we all know that would end well.

Anywho, Peter and Tony talk to the committee with less than positive results, all the while being shadowed by a mystery assailant. After Peter foils an attempted shooting, the assassin, Titanium Man, reveals himself to the duo. Peter sends Tony to safety, then pulls a quick change into his spider gear. The web-slinger has a brief brawl with the T-Man before the local authorities chase off the big metal one. Spidey, not one to let things go, snags Titanium Man with a web line and gets dragged off into the air with him.

My Take: The build-up continues. The Congressional meeting goes off exactly as you'd expect it would. No real surprises there. But we are introduced to Peter's new 2.0 version of his suit. What's new you ask? Here's the short list:

Liquid metal nano-fiber (capable of appearing invisible. looking like other costumes, and providing camouflage in dark environments)
"Waldoes" (thin metallic arms capable of grabbing, spying and attacking)
DVD Burner

Okay, it doesn't have a DVD burner, but give Tony Stark another week and it'll probably have WiFi access and an onboard PSP. He's just pimp like that, yo.


Yeah, me and the urban lingo don't work so well together.

It was also nice to see an old school Iron Man villain like Titanium Man show up, even if it's not an old school guy in the armor. Also impressive was how bold Peter was in taking him on. Not that your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is one to back away from a fight, but Spidey simply won't let the guy go. Of course, we'll probably have to deal with Peter having a moment at the start of the next issue where he thinks, "What was I thinking?" What, indeed.

At any rate, we're still in the process of being set up for the upcoming Civil War storyline, which will no doubt have some obvious and not so obvious plot developments. But the prelude is still shaping up well.

Story: 6/10 (More a link between the beginning and end, but still a good story.)
Art: 6/10 (Same complaints as last issue, but okay.)
Overall: 6/10 (Why am I steady numbering all of these ratings?)


It's time to read us some T-Mail!
Reply to some posts and some e-mail!
Might even get one from a fe-male!
(But it'll probably be from a dude.)

Michael Weaver wrote: Hey's a sneaky e-mail from Hav at work.

Anyway, your Superman review has me more interested in DC than I've been in a while. I may just have to check out some of this OYL stuff, nifty.

And I saw previously that you enjoyed Ms. Marvel, and that's on my pull list now.

Stop making me spend money you fiend!!!!!

Michael: Lord help us all, I got an actual e-mail this week. That's right, a real, honest to gosh, in my inbox e-mail!

I'd like to thank the Academy, my producers, the fine people at Gillette (makers of Gillette Fusion: the evolution of shaving), Hillshire Farms, the Mormon Tabernacle Choi... what's that? It's just from Havok? Aw, crap. Oh, well... I'm, still counting it because he sent it from work. So extra points for sneakiness.

And personally, I just loves it when someone tells me they're adding a book because I reviewed it. It makes me feel so... useful. Ah, usefulness. Now to wait for someone to complain because they picked up a book because of me. It's just a matter of time.

If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, feel free to leave them here or contact me at Please reference either "Waiting for Wednesday" or "House Rules!" in your subject, so I have some idea why you're mailing me.

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Snake, Bats, and Spiders Oh My!

This is my first review post for the Wonderful Waiting for Wednesday (eat your alliterative heart out Stan Lee). I got a pretty good line up of titles last week so if you did not make it to your local shop its time to get it in gear. If you did not figure out the title this week I have three Batman titles up along with the Amazing Spider-Man and. YES THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

Amazing Spider-Man 530

~ Ok I will admit it, Straczynski aggravated me with the "Gwen Stacy has pity sex with Norman" thing, but he has really started to turn it around. Despite the less than spectacular "Other" arc Spidey's new powers are ok. I hated that Straczynski got rid of the Parker house too but I have a grown on the idea. Anyways enough of the recap, lets get into the review.

~ Spidey starts off meeting Tony as they prepare for a trip to Washington to discuss the new Superhuman Registration Act as well as version 2.0 of Spidey's new suit. There is a nice little joke about Tony having 49 variations of the Iron Man armor. On the plain ride there is a plug for the illuminati story so buy it or else Marvel will slaughter a kitten.

~ Once the plain lands Spidey gets to check out the additional upgrades for the new costume. I really like the upgrades and Straczynski does a nice job setting up the return of the classic webs. Spidey can now change what the costume looks like so he can go with any variation of his costume ever (bagman anyone?). Hopefully Straczynski will keep up on this and use the glider capabilities as well as the body armor and new "Waldoes" (the tentacles).

~Peter and Tony head over to the Senate to discuss the S.R.A. but 'GASP the Titanium Man is watching them. Now for one of my favorite scenes in the issue, the Senates actual discussion. I am a whore for Tony Stark to begin with so I was already loving him being in Spidey's life. After he told the Senate they were getting off cheap by heroes causing only two hundred billion dollars of damage over 60 years I loved him even more. I don't know if the numbers are true but Tony basically beat them over the head with facts of other departments budgets and came down to nullifying their point. Peter then jumps in at a point and gives a nice speech about heroes and villains but ends up proving the need for the S.R.A. which makes him feel like an idiot.

~Tony then gives some nice insight into the world of politics and, I really liked the dialogue throughout this whole issue. Here is an example of the awesomeness of Tony:

“Mr. Parker, do you know what time it is?”
“It’s 10:35.”
“Wrong Answer.”
“But it’s the truth.”
“Yes but it is still the wrong answer to “Do you know what time it is?”
“The correct answer is “yes” and you leave it there. If they want more information then let them ask for it. Never volunteer anything”

~After this the meeting ends and Tony and Peter leave, but wait the Titanium Man attacks! O NOES! Peter changes into version 2.0 and starts fighting. There is some typical witty Spidey banter and then the issue ends as most issues do, with a cliffhanger. Spidey webs onto the Titanium man as he tries to fly away.

Overall Issue: 9/10 – I really enjoyed this issue the whole way through; while I am not an immense fan of the Titanium Man I do love Tony Stark. I am interested to see how Peter stays with Tony and advises him in the upcoming Civil War. The issue was funny and had good dialogue; it is one the best issues by Straczynski.

Batman Detective Comics 817

~Ok, it is officially one year later in the world of Batman and the first face we are greeted with JIM GORDON! The one true police commissioner of Gotham has returned in all of his glory sporting a wife beater.

~Gordon gets a call about the KGBeast getting killed in mid assassination attempt. The figure appears to be Harvey Dent since Dent is shown in the next scene wearing almost the same clothes as the killer.

~Gordon takes a female cop with him up to the roof of the police building and turns on the Bat-signal. BAM! Double splash page of Batman and Robin arriving on top of the light. Apparently Poison Ivy is alive and has received a significant power upgrade. Ivy has turned the entire top of a building into a plant garden.

~Gordon becomes almost sympathetic because Ivy is taking the CEO’s of a company hostage to stop the killing of forests. Gordon realizes she is going about it wrong though and needs Batman’s help to stop her.

~As Batman and Robin prepare to leave the female police officer tells Batman that she is glad to have him back. Batman does not really care though and some of the familiar Bat-jerk comes out. Robin picks up after Batman though and talks to the officer and tells her that Batman was glad to hear it.

~Batman has a nice exchange with Gordon here and the two shake hands and give a little hint about 52. They basically have a nostalgic discussion, they say it seems as if nothing has happened since the last time Gordon turned on the signal. Batman tells him that it did but all they can do now it make sure it never gets as bad again. The last page has Gordon saying that he will sleep well since he knows Batman will take care of it.

Overall Issue Rating: 7.5/10 – This was a pretty interesting issue but nothing to freak out about. It was nice to see Batman and Robin in the same book again because it has been so rare over the recent years. The dialogue was alright and the art was decent. It is a better start for Batman OYL then I expected.

Batman 651

~ Part two of the first Batman OYL story; I liked this issue even more than the first. The issue starts from the citizens of Gotham perspective and how many of them think it is good that Batman is back.

~Next scene you see is Batman’s jet ripping through Ivy’s plants into the building she is holding hostage. Batman and Robin rise from the crash and then split up and it looks like Bruce is smiling at Robin, it could just be the art but the whole issue seems like Batman has a slight grin on his face.

~Batman and Robin both run into different plant monster pets of Ivy’s but Batman ends up actually getting to Ivy. Ivy makes a remark about being surprised Batman is even back in Gotham and she raps him up in plants.

~Ivy says she won’t reveal yet how she came back to life and the two talk about how big business is tearing down forests and the entire planet. Ivy becomes suspicious that Batman is just talking to her and even agreeing that she is fighting for the right thing.

~Batman’s plan was to have Robin put a powerful defoliant in the water system, specifically the sprinkler system. Batman breaks out of his plant prison and lets Ivy surrender. He offers her his hand and tells her that she was just doing the right thing in the wrong way.

~Later in Gordon’s office Batman has a feeling the night is not over and apparently he is right since lame villain number two…umm… magpie…was killed (who cares/10).

Overall Rating: 8/10 – I enjoyed this issue more than the first part of the series. I liked that Ivy and Batman did not physically fight, that they more or less came to an understanding to resolve the issue. I also like that Robin served a purpose and acted like Batman’s sidekick instead of the leader of the Teen Titans. The two seemed to have good chemistry through out the issue and it was a more lighthearted Batman tale instead of ZOMG JASON TODD IS BACK WTF HOW!?!SHIFT!11! I like the darker Batman sometimes but it seemed like DC got to a point where they wanted to do nothing but make Batman’s existence more miserable. It is refreshing to see Batman work with Robin and actually find a solution to a problem that did not involve beating someone within an inch of their life.

Robin 148

~A new costume for Spider-Man and a new costume for Robin. It is OYL and Robin now swings around Gotham in a predominantly red costume with black gauntlets, boots, and outside underwear along with accents of yellow on his Cape that now has the spikes like Batman’s.

~The issue starts with Robin fighting an unknown assailant who he soon tags with two of his…Robinrangs? Anyways his eyes adjust and to his surprise he apparently killed Batgirl (NOOOOOOOO), this can’t be true though can it? The boy wonder goes to check and luckily it is not the real Batgirl. Someone dressed up Lynx in a Batgirl suit, but Robin has deduced that she has been dead at least three hours.

~Robin does not get a chance to do inspect more since two cops show up and accuse him of going crazy like Nightwing (hopefully a reference to Jason Todd Nightwing not Dick Grayson Nightwing…if they crap on Dick anymore I may have to stab someone Jason Todd style). Robin gets away from the cops and makes it to a roof top where he changes into street clothes so he can get back to Wayne Manor.

~Oracle is apparently back after the events of War Games and she lets the bat family know that Tim is the chief suspect in Batgirls murder. Tim makes it back to the manor and lets Alfred know he didn’t do it (If there is one man to go to, it is Alfred (What? He makes amazing tea, so says Hal Jordan in Green Lantern 9).

~My favorite part of this issue is the talk between Bruce and Tim, right off the bat Bruce lets Tim know that he could not beat Cassie. I also like that Robin told Batman that the last year was about building trust in the family and that he would not want someone else to clean up his mess. Despite a sprained shoulder and a black eye Tim still takes on the challenge and decides that he has to sneak into the police station to get a better look at the costume Lynx was wearing. The issue ends with Robin holding himself on the ceiling as 2 officers walk below him.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – It was a fun issue and has a more interesting murder plot then the current Batman series. I don’t really care that Batman’s story is killing of D-list characters; it will be interesting to see how Tim finds out who framed him. I also like the new costume; it has a stealthy look to it. Brighter colors like yellow and red are still dark and he seems to blend in better to darker surroundings. The art is ok here, nothing stellar but it works pretty well with the book but I don’t like how Kerschl draws faces. It is a great jump on point for new readers.

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Another POA POV: 'Meister's Musings on the Marvel Legends Apocalypse Series

This week, in a special guest Points of Articulation Column, I destroy any credibility Uli may have had with his articulate, well-thought-out articles! Enjoy!

Incidentally, strap yourselves in for a long one. This review is a doozy. Luckily, there's a handy summary at the bottom for those of you who, like me, suffer from ADD.

I finally bit the bullet today and spent my $50 to get the Apocalypse series. Was it worth it? Well, true believer, read on to find out!

Astonishing X-Men Wolverine
Iron Fist
Maestro Hulk

The Marvel Legends series has shown that action figures can both be ultra posable, making them great for kids and collectors alike, and that they can look pretty good at the same time. For the most part Legends figures have improved since Series 1 oh-so-many years ago; the sculpts generally look better, there's a higher degree of articulation for most of the figures, and they come with much better incentives to buy them: Instead of picking and choosing your favorite characters, you now pretty much have to buy the entire series lest you want a crippled Galactus, Sentinel, or Apocalypse trying to rule the world. To quote Freddy Pharkas, that just doesn't work like that. Unfortunately, despite all of the improvements throughout the series, Legends figures still aren't perfect. Some of the best new articulation points from previous series are strangely absent from figures in later series. For instance, chest articulation has been figured out; having that little gap between the chest and abs of characters allows for a much greater range of flexibility, and yet, in the Sentinel Series, Cyclops didn't have it. Which inevitably leads to a grand ol' WTF? From the buyer. A few problems like that have reared their ugly heads again in the Apocalypse Series. Where, you might ask? Read on, and ye shall see.

Astonishing X-Men Wolverine
Sculpt: 8.5/10
Posability: 8/10
Coolness factor: 9/10
Overall: 8/10

This is now the fifth Wolverine figure in the Marvel Legends Series; first we had the good ol' yellow-'n-blue, then the brown costume, followed by Weapon X, and now we have Astonishing. Overall, this is a pretty good figure. The sculpt is very good, from the tiny wrinkles around joints to individual seams on the costume. Other than weirdly flat feet, this is pretty much exactly how Cassaday's art in Astonishing X-Men should look as an action figure. You also have to give 'em bonus points for making the figure physically short. He barely comes up to Cyclops' chin when standing next to the figure. I've never seen that in a Wolverine figure before, so kudos to them. The claws are also sturdy enough not to bend all over the place, so they actually look like claws instead of pipe cleaners for once.

There are, however, a few problems with the crazy Canuck, almost all of which fall into the Posability category. First of all, his hands are a waste of two points of articulation. His fingers can open and close, but there's absolutely no point in doing so: the figures are sculpted in a completely curled position, so his hands just look stupid in any pose other than a fist. Furthermore, instead of a smooth chest/abs joint, there are really only two settings: up and down. While this isn't too big of a deal, it's tough to get really precise posing for him. My last little gripe: his waist joint cuts his belt in half. When he's turned, his belt is completely misaligned, which, while a very minor detail, is enough to be noticeable.

Overall, Astonishing Wolvie is a good figure to get; despite a few very minor flaws, the sculpt is great, and I think it's the best Wolverine we've had so far.

Sculpt: 8/10
Posability: 8.5/10
Accessories: 8/10
Coolness factor: 9/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Bishop is one of my favorites of this series. His sculpt is good: he probably has one of the most detailed costumes and body sculpts I've seen. The muscles all look like Barry Bonds' steroidy-goodness, while there are all of the obligatory costume wrinkles to add that extra bit of realism. Or, at least, as much realism as a pumped-up, red-eyed man with a shotgun can have. His guns are also pretty good. He has trouble holding them (more on that in a minute), but the holsters on his back and right leg hold the shotgun and...other thing perfectly. On the posability front, Bishop is pretty good. His fingers are individually articulated, which, for a figure with guns, is a must. All of the usual points of articulation are here, including the side-to-side foot joints (another must), making it possible to get Bishop into all sorts of cool poses.

Now for the bad. Luckily there aren't too many flaws in this figure. The two biggest ones cause problems with his weapons: it's difficult to get his hands to hold the guns, and it's also hard to move his arms as much as one might like. The guns only work in one hand each: the shotgun goes in the right, the plasma doohickey in the left. Each palm has a small peg on it which corresponds to a small hole in each gun. Unfortunately, this isn't enough to hold the guns there, so you have to mess with the fingers until you get one in the trigger guard and three on the handle. Otherwise you're screwed. Furthermore, due to the stickiness of the joints that plagues this entire series, moving the elbow can sometimes be enough of a jolt to send the gun flying, making you start all over again getting the guns in hand. The other big issue I have with the figure is the lack of forward and back shoulder joints. The Spider-Man 2 Ultra-Posable figure, along with Sasquatch from this series, have special joints at the shoulders allowing the arms to swing forward further. For a figure with a gun this is a good thing to have, as that allows the figure to have two hands on a gun (one firing, one supporting), or it can also point the guns straight forward rather than off to the sides. Last problem: like Wolverine, Bishop lacks chest/ab mobility. This is partly due to the great holster on his back, but the joint is also just not that flexible.

Overall, though, Bishop is another good figure. The sculpt is very detailed, from working holsters down to tiny details in his gloves, and the figure is pretty flexible. I like 'im.

Iron Fist
Sculpt: 9/10
Posability: 8/10
Accessories: WTF?/10
Coolness factor: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

My knowledge of Danny Rand is really quite limited. From what I do know, however, fans of the martial arts master should be pretty happy. Parts of this figure are the single best sculpting job I've seen in any Legends figure: his head and chest area are masterfully sculpted, as are his legs; his feet even have individual toe tendons, so the level of detail is really quite impressive overall. Even the little bits of cloth trailing from his belt and mask look great. In terms of posability, Iron Fist rivals most Spider-Man toys in their flexibility; there are a few glaring omissions here, but overall he's got the goods. He also has the greatest degree of confusion in all of Marvel Legend-dom: Iron Fist has mystical powers associated with his hands. As such, Toy Biz nicely includes two fiery accessories for his hands which look really great. The problem is, I can't figure out how the hell to get them on his hands for the life of me. If I could get them on, I guarantee they'd look awesome beyond belief; unfortunately, I appear to be retarded, so my Iron Fist figure is sorely lacking in the mystical hands department. Woe is me.

Once again, like all of the Marvel Legends figures ever made, there are a few issues. Iron Fist, for the most part, has one of the best sculpts I've seen; and yet, for all of that, he looks somewhat idiotic when he's just standing around. This is a direct result of his weird shoulders: instead of being integrated into his chest area, his arms look like they're just stuck onto his body, and stick out strangely as a result. While this does allow for greater flexibility in his arms (they even added an upwards shoulder joint, so that's a good thing), it looks bad when he isn't posed in some exotic manner. There's also a problem with his feet: once again, a very good point of articulation is missing from this figure for no apparent reason. Almost every Legend figure has the side-to-side foot joint that allows the figure to support itself when its legs are going off to the side. Unfortunately, Iron Fist doesn't have that, making a low-to-the-ground martial arts pose trickier to pull off than it should be. I have no idea why that joint isn't there. Maestro Hulk has it, for Chrissakes; you'd think one of the most flexible characters in all of Marvel Comics would be as posable as possible. While the figure is very flexible, it's amazing what this one little omission can do to damage his posability. This is probably the stupidest error of the entire series, right up there with Cyclops from the Sentinel Series lacking a chest pivot.

Despite his few very-noticeable errors, Iron Fist is pretty good. The sculpt is great, though the weird shoulder joints are somewhat distracting. While not perfect, Iron Fist is nothing to laugh at. That's X-23's job, and we wouldn't want to take that away from her.

Maestro Hulk
Sculpt: 8.5/10
Posability: 7/10
Accessories: 7.5/10
Coolness factor: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

I have no clue who Maestro Hulk is. According to the back of his box, he's the Hulk from an apocalyptic future (fitting for the series, no?) ravaged by nuclear war. Is this the Hulk from Hulk: The End? I really don't know. What I DO know, however, is that the action figure looks pretty cool. The head sculpt is great. If he weren't green, Maestro Hulk's head would look great as Zeus or Poseidon. His body in general is pretty cool, too, with individual veins running up his arms and little warts covering his chest. His helmet is equally cool, though its tendency to fall off his head at any moment knocks it down a few points. Posability is the Hulk's nemesis, though: while he isn't Spider-Man, Maestro Hulk has some trouble moving around.

The Hulk is, well, a hulking creature. You probably wouldn't expect him to be too agile, and you'd be right: While he has all of the absolutely vital points of articulation (beating the pants off of any DC Direct figure you're likely to find), he's also got some issues. Maestro Hulk has the side-to-side joints on his ankles that Iron Fist lacked (Why? I don't know, he's on third, and I don't give a darn.), but he doesn't have the joint on his calves that every other Legend figure I've seen has: his foot has to be lined up with his knee at all times, as he doesn't have a joint that allows him to do otherwise. He also has an utter lack of chest movement (even worse than the rest of the series, which, for the most part, is quite a feat), so he's unable to look up or down without moving his neck. This also means he can't tower over a smaller guy like Wolverine very effectively. The last problem Maestro Hulk has is his hands: they're just awkward. They're pudgy and the fingers just don't look very good. His right hand doesn't quite work as a fist, and it doesn't quite work as an open hand. His left looks pretty good open, but they both look bad when you're looking at his palms.

For all of his articulation flaws, though, I have to say I like Maestro Hulk quite a bit. The sculpt is good , and it's definitely possible to make him look good in a pose. Perhaps not as many options as you'd have with, say, Iron Fist, but he's a fun figure nonetheless.

Sculpt: 8/10
Posability: 10/10
Accessories: 0/10
Coolness factor: 7/10
Overall: 8.5/10

Sasquatch is one of the single most-articulated action figures I have ever seen. Bested perhaps only by the super-posable Spider-Man 2 action figure, Sasquatch can do pretty much anything you'd like him to. From individual fingers being movable, to the shoulder joints that Bishop doesn't have, Sasquatch is really pretty impressive. He's also HUGE. Poor little Wolverine only comes up to his waist. There's also a really good attention to detail on the figure: the texturing is very well done, making Sasquatch a big, hairy lunk of a guy, and the longer hair looks good, too. Really nothing to complain about on that front.

In fact, I have only one complaint about Sasquatch: his accessories are terrible. If the Silver Surfer can come with Howard the Duck, where the Hell is my Marvel Legends Puck action figure, dammit?! Despite that grievous error, there's really nothing to complain about on this figure. Good one to have, overall.

Sculpt: 5/10
Posability: 6/10
Coolness factor: 2/10
Overall: 4/10

I hate to say it, but I really don't have too many good things to say about X-23. Instead of looking like a ruthless killing machine, she looks like an anorexic who could be killed with a gust of wind going the wrong direction. Other than her extendable foot claws (which are actually kinda neat, as they fold under her feet), she's really got nothin' going for her. She has about as many points of articulation as the first Spider-Man classics figures (except she can't bend her toes, due to the foot claw), and she doesn't have any kind of hand joints at all. While that would have been OK for Wolverine, it just adds yet another point of patheticity (aren't fake words fun?) to an already-pathetic figure. Unless you're a huge fan of X-23, buy this figure for the Apocalypse head and toss her in a drawer. Disappointing all around.

Sculpt: 8/10
Posability: 8/10
Coolness factor: 11/10
Overall: 9/10

I absolutely love the build-a-figures of the last few ML series. While I never got the Galactus series, the Sentinel is far and away one of the coolest action figures I have. Now Apocalypse is right up there with him. This is why it was worth buying the POS called X-23. The giant Apocalypse figure is just really, really damn cool. First of all, he's utterly massive. Sasquatch comes up to his waist. This means Wolverine only hits the tops of Pooky's knees. The sculpt is pretty well done, overall. Though not as detailed as the Sentinel (and what can be?), Apocalypse is nonetheless really good-looking, in a grey-skinned, blue-lipped kinda way. If you're into that kind of thing, that is. The easiest way I can think of for reviewing Pooky is by part. So here goes:

Head/Upper Torso: X-23
Those bastards at Toy Biz forced us into buying X-23 in order to finish up the figure. Luckily it was worthwile. Pooky's head looks downright menacing; though limited somewhat by his well-sculpted collar, it's also rather mobile. The only problem I had with the upper torso was the coloring of the shoulders. The arm pieces are actually only the forearms and biceps, as they attach to the shoulders on the upper torso. The shoulder ball joints are painted a lighter blue, unlike the black of the rest of the figure. While it matched one arm (more on that in a second), the other arm has a blue shoulder and black bicep, which looks kinda weird. Other than that, no complaints.

Arms: Sasquatch (Right), Maestro Hulk (Left)
The arms are probably the most problematic parts of the figure. As previously mentioned, one my figure's arms isn't the right color. My Sasquatch figure came with a blue arm that matched the color of the shoulder joint. The Hulk, however, came with a black arm that matches the legs and rest of the figure. While it isn't horrifically noticeable, be sure to pay attention when buying figures, as you probably want to shoot for all-black limbs. The other issue with the arms is the finger setup: each finger is individually posable, so that's a good thing; however, much like Wolverine, you really don't want to uncurl the fingers or it'll look funky. The fists look great, though, as do the cables that connect to his back. Unlike other Apocalypse figures, these cables are also plenty long enough: it's impossible to pull the cables taught, so fighting with the cables for posing rights isn't really an issue. I always had that problem with the growing Apocalypse figure from the Animated Series, so it's good to see they fixed that.

Lower Torso: Bishop
The lower torso is really kind of strange. Unlike the Sentinel's, which locked with the upper body using a regular one-way connector, this attaches to Pooky's chest using a weird mechanism that, though effective, results in an annoying clicking sound whenever you use the chest joint. Furthermore, much like the Sentinel, the hip joints are both stiff (which is good for figure this heavy) and noisy. I don't quite know why that is, but any time you move Pooky around you'll get some clicks out of 'im. Not a big deal, though.

Legs: Iron Fist (Right), Astonishing Wolverine (Left)
I really have no complaints about the legs at all. They're well-sculpted, detailed, and very posable; any joint you'd expect to be on a regular ML leg is found on Apocalypse's. Another nice touch, which is also found on the arms, is the lack of visible joint bolts: one can usually see were the bolts holding joints together are on a figure, but Apocalypse has little plastic squares on each side of each limb covering up those unsightly joint holes. A little touch, but a nice one, nonetheless.

Recap time!
Astonishing Wolverine: damn good. A few minor flaws, but good sculpt, and he's finally a midget!
Bishop: worthy effort. Detailed, generally good accessories, not a bad buy.
Iron Fist: another good one. A few weird problems and confounding flaming hands, but good sculpt.
Maestro Hulk: not too articulate (heh, heh) but a fun figure anyway. Helmet's a bit annoying, though.
Sasquatch: no complaints. Very posable, detailed sculpt; lack of Puck is terrible.
X-23: horrible. Buy it for the Apocalypse piece and nothing more.
Apocalypse: godly. Huge, very cool looking, and, despite a few problems with the arms, really really good.

Overall the Apocalypse series is a pretty good one to go out and find. While the character selection isn't the best (do we really need our third Hulk and fifth Wolverine, when there hasn't been a Captain Marvel or Banshee or Hawkeye figure? Sasquatch, Iron Fist, and X-23 are a step in the right direction, at least), and there are a few stupid problems with posability, none of the figures are terrible (with the notable exception of X-23). There are two other problems, though, that apply to this entire series: the first is a lack of bases. The plastic stands that came with the Sentinel Series were brilliant; the Pooky figures don't have them, which is really a shame. Furthermore, I have never seen action figures with joints as stiff as these. All action figures usually require a few minutes of breaking in their joints, but these figures, particularly their legs joints, are really problematic. It's also sometimes a bit tricky to get them to stand up on their own, but that's nothing new. Other than that, though, this series lives up to the expectations that now come along with ML figures. And having a gigantic Apocalypse figure makes up for all of the little details that aren't quite right.

As always, feel free to email me with glorious showers of praise, marriage proposals, ideas, etc. I suppose I'd even read criticism.

--The Almeister

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Open Mike Night – Babes in Comicland!

By blackmore and Havok3595

What better topic for two guys to talk about then sexism in the comic industry? Too often, adult comic fans are portrayed as misogynistic, pimple-faced, 40 year olds who live in their parent’s basements. The sad part is that in a lot of ways, the comic companies and the fans seem to try to cultivate those stereotypes.

Last week, someone actually posted on Gamefaqs, “The only reason I haven't read BoP so far is because it features an all-girl line-up.” I was floored by this comment. I am sure that the poster is a perfectly decent person, but comments like this add fuel to the myths about comic fans, broad stereotypes about broads that just don’t always reflect reality. In fact, the two fine, upstanding columnists are both happily married (NO, NOT TO EACH OTHER!) and haven’t lived with their parents in at least a few days.

So, where exactly does this stereotype come from? Ever been to a comic shop, with a blatantly displayed adult section? Can’t imagine this would make most women feel too comfortable. And if you do find a woman comfortable in that environment, marry her on the spot! But, it’s not just the adult section. Look at the covers for Emma Frost’s series. Now, wrap your head around this: THIS BOOK IS GEARED FOR YOUNG FEMALE READERS! Yeah, I feel real comfortable giving a twelve year old girl this comic.

But wait, there’s more:

Holy incredibly large bosoms, Batman!

I asked my wife last night what she thought about sexism in comics, and abnormally large breasts was the number one thing she came up with. I can point out three or so Silver Age and earlier characters that are realistically proportioned, and the situation has gotten better (to some degree) over time, but just about every woman was a knockout with proportions that made Barbie cry with envy. In addition to this, these characters like to show us what they have to one degree or another. Bathing suits, mini skirts, Power Girl’s window on the world, and the most egregious offender, Witchblade. One of these days we’ll be treated to a character with two Band-Aids and a string of dental floss.

The rationale for this is obvious. Sexy female characters attract pubescent male readers. However, if you’re trying to sell a comic to women, the last thing you want is to make them feel like it’s demeaning, and when you’ve got full body suits on the men and Frederick’s of Hollywood on the women, it doesn’t exactly give you a sense of equality.

A frequent counter argument to the unrealistic proportions is “Yeah, well, all the men have muscles coming off of their muscles, and that’s not realistic either.” Incredibly large muscles are an unmistakable asset in fighting crime. You can argue the same for the bosoms, but that goes into territory I don’t want to explore.

Wonder Woman, jot this down!

When most people think of Wonder Woman, they think of pretty much the prototypical comic book woman. Despite this, when JLA first started, Wonder Woman was treated as the group’s secretary. Think about that. At the time, she could have ripped Aquaman in half with her bare hands, yet most of the time, she was shown jotting downs notes or trying to arrange to have Superman’s codpiece washed.

Also, Wonder Woman’s weakness used to be that if she got tied up by a male, she lost her powers and fell under their command. Talk about your ultimate S&M fantasy power trips!! Strongest woman in the world, but once a guy gets his grubby paws on her, she’s as weak as a kitten.

And then you have Wasp. Bad enough she was treated like Ant-Man’s sidekick most of the time, but in early issues of Avengers, she actually was treated as less of a member than RICK JONES!! Now, I know Iron Man has a drinking problem, but when he says, “Well, we allowed Wasp to join the team, so there is no reason the whiny kid with the ham radio should not be a full member,” it’s time to get him dried out. But, I guess I can understand his point. Most of the time, Wasp was more concerned with fashion and trying to go out on the town then fighting crime.

Thankfully, a lot of these traits have been taken out of comics and Wonder Woman and Wasp have both developed into strong and independent characters and strong leaders, for the most part, but the damage has already been done in a lot of people’s eyes.

Who’s your Mystery Date?

At one point, women in comics existed solely because of their relationships with men. If you saw a woman in Spider-Man, you knew she was somehow going to date Peter within a couple years. People expect Wonder Woman to get together with Batman sometime, because a single woman in a group of men needs to partner up, damn it. Patsy Walker, who’s sold more solo comics than a lot of other heroes, was partnered up with the Son of Satan of all people. Enchantress spent years upon years pining after Thor.

If it’s not a date, it’s an even worse relationship as a protégé. Superman gets to have the sub-character of Supergirl. Superwoman, meanwhile, is evil. Because it’s evil to have an equal footing with a man.

In an early issue of Avengers, Wasp utters the immortal line, “Oh, if only a man was here, he’d know what to do.” Scarlet Witch, in the same era, is pretty much the most powerful Avenger, but chooses to spend her time sewing costumes “just in case Giant Man comes back” instead of honing her powers. Why? Because they only exist insomuch as they provide small bits of help for the men.

Even recently, this phenomenon raised its ugly head in Thunderbolts. I’m not going to spoil the issue for you, but let’s just say that the strong female leader who’s taken no nonsense for the last dozen or so issues has a mystery date of her own.

The Light At The End of the Tunnel

Thankfully, things have gotten somewhat better recently. My favorite comic for the last several years was Meridian, which featured a strong female character that didn’t have massive cleavage and didn’t act dim witted or need a man to help her get out of situations. Also, in Power Company, Skyrocket was the field leader. She was black and a female, but neither of those things was “THE MOST IMPORTANT THING” about her character, which was a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, both of those comics were cancelled.

The Avengers Forever limited series featured a strong Wasp leading when Captain America, long synonymous with leadership in the comics world, could not. Wonder Woman was recently shown as more hardcore than Superman and Batman combined…so much so that they actually rebuked her for it. Birds of Prey is a pretty popular comic…even though it has that pesky ALL FEMALE CAST! I would suggest that the influx of strong female creators (Devin Grayson, Gail Simone, and Barbara Kesel come to mind) have definitely helped, but it is still an industry primarily created by males and marketed to prepubescent males of all ages.

But, there is still a long way to go. As we’ve said about a thousand times in the last few weeks, comics need a bigger audience, and the last thing the comic industry needs to do is cut themselves off from potential female readers. If you want spank material, turn to Playboy and leave the comics to the rest of us.

Okay, Mrs. Blackmore and Mrs. Havok3595, we wrote the column. Now can we have our stash of Vampirellas and Pantsless Wasp comics back?

Letter Page

From Chris,

What can I say, great work...again!

The commentary on fanboys raging about comics is perfect. I especially liked the AICN cracks. AICN takes itself way too seriously, plus their articles go on forever. Does anyone care what Harry or his staff eat for breakfast?

When Knowles said that watching the version of Night of the Living Dead with the new footage was worse than seeing his mother's charred body (not sure if you know but she died while smoking in bed), the man hurdled over 1,000,000 sharks. I could never take him seriously again.

Way to go on this and many other levels.

Yeah, that just doesn’t surprise me very much. I’ve never liked that site very much, as it just feeds into the whole “spoiler culture.” But, it’s popular with the geek crowd, so it will probably be around longer than the rest of us.


This is blackmore just bubbling over with excitement! Prison Break is back, baby!!! By far the best show on TV! Lost, 24, Sopranos don’t even come close. This week’s episode kept me on the edge of my seat yelling at the TV. It is rare for any show to get that kind of reaction from me, and Prison Break manages to do it several times an episode.

When this comes out on DVD, you should really check it out. Lucky for you that you will be able to watch it without the incredibly stressful cliffhangers.

Some notes: sorry for the delay in this column. It’s been finished for days, but I never got around to posting it. Blackmore’s family rabbit died suddenly a few days ago. That is also why we have no art this week from my sister.

All right, this is about it on our end. Please e-mail me any questions, comments, or whatevers to I do read all my e-mails, and I’ll post them with my column. Also, remember to swing by GameFAQs and check out Eisner Cup season 3!

Now, go out and read some comics, you slacker!

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V For (Insert Witty Pun Here) Review

Film: V For Vendetta (06)
Director: James McTeigue (Wachowski Brothers Puppet)
Starring: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea


What happen to that mask? Did the five year old who made it in his arts and craft portion of sleepaway camp accidently gnaw too much of it off?

Ah, that's better.

Oh, those kooky Wachowksi Brothers! Or, eh, siblings.... after the sex change.

Masks aside, the Wachowski.... Sibling's new adaption of the classic graphic novel V For Vendetta is majorly updated and altered to relate to things occuring in today's realm. Whether it's 9/11, the war in Iraq or The Patriot Act, theres much symbolism in the film to each event.

Does all this allegory make the film flow? Is V still the same kooky anarchist?


The film is faithful at times, but dazes off into "Hey, You Get The Symbolization?" realm every now and then. But instead of sitting here rambling like a fanboy who only cares about the adaption, and focus on reviewing what it is: a film.

Vendetta's trailers are misleading, since it looks like an action packed James Bond film, but we only get three scenes of action. And hey, that's a good thing. We get instead, a detailed allegory of today's society, seen from three angles; Evey's, V's and Finch's.

Weaving does a great job of portraying V, though you have to suffer through one "V-licious" block of dialogue at the very beginning.

V: This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

Portman did an okay job. I noticed she went in and out of her British accent a lot, but she did well at being emotional and understanding at every right moment. Stephen Rea also acted wonderfully, capturing that noir inspector feel of a determined yet inquisitive detective.

The film's sweeping shots and blurry transitions felt just right and well done. All of the kerploding buildings and knife throwing scenes were great eye candy, and looked very real. The use of a certain pallete of pale colors gave the film a unique look and feel. At certain times, the blackness of V's attire seemed to pop out at you in the seas of green, red or grey. All credit goes to Adrian Biddle, who died last December before the film was released.

The sound was excellent, and full of little things that caught your ear. One of my favorite scenes was the explosion of Parliament at the end, in sync with the 1812 Overture, which was one of the more jaw dropping scenes I've seen these pass few years. Many of my friends and family, and many who see the film I've heard, teared up during that scene.

As far as the new symbolization and allegory elements with today's topics, they fit wonderfully, since I think a Margaret Thacther-esque story as originally intended would have not fit and be as well understood. If you choose to ignore the allegorical symbolizations since you might not agree with them, the film still plays out great, but if you listen to them, you'll be intrested and like the comparisons.

There a lot of important events that are left out and modified from Moore's novel. The entire ending is changed to that of one less artistic and symbolic than in the comic, to one of quick plot sum up and resolution. Of course, everyone could see this happen since thats movie magic for you. Still, a "Third Man" style walk away with Finch, as in the comic, would have made the movie pretty cool.

Overall, the film is great. Its an excellent shot and acted story of vengence and revolution that is totally relevant in today's world. Though sort of faithful, the film stands next to the graphic novel as a wonderful piece of art that shows us the right time for anarchy and uprising.
Guy Fawkes would be proud.

Acting: 9/10
Direction: 8/10
Cinematography: 9/10
Editing: 8/10
Story: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Genre Value: 10/10
As An Adaption: 8/10
Overall: 9/10

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They call me... Az

A brief introduction

Greetings all!

Az or Azraelswrd is the name I use when bouncing around on the 'Net. A rather strange and awkward silence tends to precede the inevitable question:

-- Why Az?

To be honest, Azraelswrd was not my first choice on a username for my college email address. It was really Azrael, but that was already taken. But the question has been posed -- Why Azrael?

As you may have guessed (since we're all here for the same thing of sorts) it was because of a comic book or more specifically a character by that name.

-- Azrael was introduced to the world by DC Comics in 1992 in the 3-part miniseries "Sword of Azrael". I'll talk more about him later. Today it's all about me! OH YEAH!!!

So Az, why not just use 'SwordAzrael'? What happened to the "O"?

Good questions! (says the guy interviewing himself...) I actually considered going with the "SwordAzrael" moniker but I wanted the subject (in this case, Azrael) to be the first thing mentioned. Thus Azrael Sword it was. But that still doesn't explain the "o"mission. Heh heh, recall that this was for a university database and it only accepted up to 10 characters in length.

Yup... it came down to numbers and the vowel had to go. Lingually speaking, most words can still function without vowels as the purpose is merely to make an open sound between the consonants... GAH! Linguistics flashback!!! (You know, I was rather cunning back in my alma mater...)

Ta-Da! Azraelswrd was born! [applause]

Of course, why base a name on a comic book character? Simple -- I love comic books. No real surprise coming from a kid who came into comics during the haydays of the Cold War, Ronnie Reagan and cocaine... I'm obviously talking about 1983. (Yeah, I'm a tad old...)

It all began when my sister and I went with our father to go and get the Sunday newspaper at the local Circle-K (what would be considered a convenience store). I noticed some colorful shiny things on the magazine stand and as I approached, I was greeted with an array of amazement. I had discovered comic books!

Being the kid that I was, I did what came naturally whenever I saw something I wanted -- I asked my parent to go and get it for me. My dad relented and bought some issues I picked, almost at random. The same for my sister. Over time, I continued my interest in the subject by developing my artistic urges. Sketching, painting, and modeling began anew.

My tastes have changed over time, but the core impulse has remained the same. Well, I've bored you enough with my tale. Go out and read a book. DO IT!!!

[Editorial Note: My first comic books were actually Chinese manga, but I don't remember what they were called. I think they were my parents and were given to us [my sister and I] as a means of learning how to read and write in Chinese.]

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House Rules! Week of 03/15/06

Happy St. Patrick's Day weekend! If you're not Irish, then fake it. My reviews this week are chock full of sugary info and crispy opinions. Break out your milk and your spoon, kiddies. This edition is magically delicious.

On Tap: Friendly Neighborhood SM #6 & Superman/Shazam #4 (also Superman #650 and Nightwing #118)

Friendly Neghborhood Spider-Man #6

"Masks (Part 1 of 2)"

Writer: Peter David
Art: Roger Cruz/Oclair Albert/Victor Olazaba

Note-a-Quote: "This isn't a joke! He's calling me a pantywaist for, crying out loud!" -Peter Parker (Poor Peter. Just one wedgie away from it being exactly like high school.)

It's Spider-Man in the wrestling match of the century! He's doing his best to keep up with the masked luchador El Muerto, but Muerto's got Spidey in a full nelson. Spidey reverses the hold and attempts to plant Muerto. Muerto escapes and prepares to launch a new attack. Oh, the humanity! Oh, the drama! Oh, what the heck am I talking about? Let's make like the story and backtrack a little.

Fade back to... a dark evening in the Jameson home. A set of crooks have tied J. Jonah Jameson and his son John up and are preparing to make Jonah pay for . Jonah tries to compel John to come to his rescue, but John notes that there's nothing that he can do. While Jonah realizes the foolhardiness of thinking that his son might be Spider-Man, the two men are saved by the arrival of... El Muerto! Displaying superior strength and skill, the masked wrestler makes short work of the would-be killers. After setting Jonah free, the wrestler admits that he's been watching Jonah because he needed to ask a favor...

And back to in-ring action! Oh, what a hit! Jonah fumes, Robbie makes idle conversation, and Flash Thompson cheers his favorite wall-crawling hero on. Hey, want to hear a funny story...?

Fade back to...earlier in the week. Peter tries to keep one student at his school from bullying another one. The half-cocked jock tells Peter that he got his bully state of mind from his coach, who Peter discovers much to his shock and dismay to be Flash Thompson.

As Peter learns, Flash is out of his coma but apparently has a gap in his memory. He doesn't remember much of the past few years, meaning he doesn't remember anything about him and Peter being friends (or that he isn't a jerk anymore, but we'll get to that later). But Flash is still Spidey's number one fan, and Flash is sure that Spidey will step up to the challenge of a charity wrrestling match. He's that kind of guy, Flash.

And back to the ring! Oh, Muerto's got a hold of Spidey. Muerto's wrapping him up, and...ouch! That's got to hurt. Muerto screams at Spidey to surrender, but Spidey won't give, Hey, what's Muerto's deal anyway...?

Fade back to...a lonely, desert plain. Masked fighter Marcus Estrada de la Garcia and his son Juan-Carlos face down a dark hooded apparition. It is time for Juan-Carlos to fulfill his family obligation and fight to keep the mask of El Muerto and all the power held within. But Juan-Carlos is afraid and tries to back out. His life is forfeit, but his father won't let it happen without a fight. The dark entity removes Marcus' mask... along with his head.

Because of his father's bravery, Juan-Carlos is faced with a new challenge. He has ten years to train and prepare himself, after which he must find a masked hero, a champion of the public. He must then challenge, defeat, humiliate, and unmask this hero, or forfeit his life.

Cut to the here and now... minus a few days. The Daily Bugle is adorned with a giant billboard issuing a challenge to Spider-Man from El Muerto. No webs, just skill. From Avengers Tower, the Parker family discusses the challenge. Peter notes that it's for charity, not to mention he knows JJJ won't ever let it go if he backs down. MJ, is sure that Peter can take the guy, but Aunt May has her reservations about declaring it a sure thing. But of course, she's fine with whatever Peter decides, which is good since we already know he's going to do it.

Cut to the here and now... for real, this time. MJ watches the fight at home , uncertain of the outcome. Fellow spectator Wolverine notes that the Mexican wrestler's good... no scratch that... great, then points out to MJ that the Spanish phrase Muerto's been using means mask vs. mask. Which of course means the loser is unmasked. But then, we already knew that. We're attentive readers. And avid wrestling fans.

And back to the ring action! Spidey's got the upper hand... er, leg. Oh, Muerto's back on top again. Spidey points out that if he used his webs this would be over quick. Comic fanboys everywhere simultaneously scream, "That's what he'd do to Batman..." Others scream, "...blah, blah, time to plan..." Fights break out in comic book stores everywhere. A lone Native American cries on the side of the highway...!

Ahem. Sorry. Tangent. El Muerto points out to Spidey that he intends to beat him and unmask him. Spidey panics and in a fit of instinct extends a stinger. Oh, he's stung El Muerto. J. Jonah goes insane, scremaing has a secret weapon. The ref, as usual, sees nothing. El Muerto staggers and falls. And above the action, a dark, hooded figure prepares to take Juan-Carlos' mask... and his life.

Peter David crams a lot of story into this one issue, and as much as that worries me sometimes he makes it work. We get the main story of the wrestling match intertwined with a series of histories that show us not just facets of Peter's life but facets of El Muerto's as well. For Peter, we see that life is just as crazy and full of highs and lows as normal. For Juan-Carlos, we see a young man with a disturbing past and a desparate future.

And somewhere along the way, we get a lot of nice character moments, too. A snippet of wisdom from Aunt May, Wolverine being gruff but still enjoyable. Jonah being mean and thoughtless. And Flash being a jerk. And while for Flash that's a bit of character regression, it is entertaining, and I'm sure that PAD is going somewhere with it.

While the notion of a wrestling match for charity will always invoke the image of Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips for me, it's nice to know a premise as simple as that can still be entertaining.

Story: 7/10 (Nice, interweaving story elements tell the tale well.)
Art: 6/10 (As flashy or as mundane as it needs to be.)
Overall: 7/10 (Every thing you want in the start to a two-parter.)

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #4 (of 4)

"Men and Boys! Gods and Thunder!"

Writer: Judd Winnick
Art: Joshua Middleton

Note-a-Quote: "No. No flying. I'm going to have to run away on the ground." -Dr. Sivana (Not so much for his saying it, but for what prompts it.)

Dr. Sivana is an ***hole. If it was ever in doubt, his actions in this book make it clear. Who else would send a small army of to kill a boy because he believes that he's secretly Captain Marvel? Who else would admit that even if he's wrong and he has just killed an innocent boy, it won't bother him that much? Hold that thought, because it's important.

When we last left young Billy Batson, he and his pal Scott were hanging out in the sewers about to be fired upon by a small cadre of guns-for-hire. Now everyone should have figured out by now that Billy can say a word and be hit by lightning faster than a bunch of thugs can pull a trigger. Otherwise, this would be one short book. So CM takes down to shooters and despite their best attmepts to shoot each other manages to keep them all alive.

Now for those keeping score at home, there are a few important things to point out about Billy's friend, Scott:

1) Scott is an innocent child.
2) Scott shares the same racial background as the guys that always end up dying somewhere in the middle of a horror movie or war film.
3) Scott has never been mentioned anywhere outside of this title.
4) Judd Winnick has a prolific skill at being a stone bastard when it comes to plots like this.
5) Scott is not bullet-proof.

Needless to say, Scott is quite shot, and not even the speed of Mercury can get him to help in time.

Anyone who likes their Captain Marvel nice and sweet and occasionally butting heads with a talking worm can stop reading right here. But what happens next is nothing that resembles that. God help the worm that would draw such wrath from Captain Marvel.

The big, mad, red cheese storms the police station, ahem... coerces the thug there to reveal who hired him, then goes to pay a certain evil doctor a visit. And while he contemplates it, Cap eventually decides that killing Sivana won't accomplish anything. Stopping just short of killing him, though, is enough to get Sivana to high tail it out of town.

Meanwhile in Metropolis (remember that other guy that's in this book), word of Captain Marvel's tirade reaches Clark Kent. Superman heads off to confront Cap, who's currently huddled on a mountainside. Superman is halfway through dressing Cap down for losing control when he realizes that Cap's crying. When he's unable to express exactly why he's so upset, Cap says the word and shows Superman that he's just a kid.

Superman confronts the wizard Shazam about putting this kind of responsibility on a young boy, but you know how Shazam is. Fate blah, blah, destiny yadda yadda. But the old wizard does make one point that Superman agrees with. Billy does need guidance. And so it comes to pass that Clark Kent makes his way to the hole in the wall that young Billy Batson is staying at and reveals his own secret identity. And that's how they became bestest buddies... the end. For now.
I know what you're saying to yourself. Captain Marvel is not a vigilante. Captain Marvel does not threaten people. It's not in his nature to try and kill someone. And you're right. It really isn't... most of the time. But given the time frame this story takes place in (no doubt early in CM's career) and the situation (which is most likely the first time death hits close to home for him), his rage and subsequent rampage is understandable. Furthermore, this event, if treated as canon, is a very good example of why many of CM's villains may well know his secret identity and choose not to act on it. He's a nice guy, but push him too far, and there's just no telling.

Not to mention his reaction is a realistic one. He goes from pain to rage, then vengeance, and then finally he just breaks down. And to be fair, that's really the watershed moment in the story. Much like Superman, the reader is forced to realize (or remember) that underneath all that power, CM is a kid at heart and there are just some things he's not ready to accept.

Superman''s role is more that of an external observer. Even when he does go to do something, he's relegated to providing commentary on the matter. And the general theme of the mini-series seemed to be, "Superman and Captain Marvel forge a friendship." And while true, Superman comes off a secondary character throughout the entire thing.

Story: 6/10 (A pretty decent Captain Marvel story. And Superman stops by, too)
Art: 5/10 (Not my style, but it tells the story)
Overall: 6/10 (see above)
Overall (Mini-series): 5/10 (An okay story with a few nice moments, but it's hardly "can't miss")

Superman #650

"Up, Up, and Away Part One: Mortal Enemies"

Writer: Kurt Busiek/Geoff Johns
Art: Pete Woods

Note-a-Quote: "Do you believe the actress they had playing your mom? What was she, twenty-three?" - Lois Lane (I for one would like to think of Superman's mom as a stone cold hottie. I don't know why, it just helps me...)

The Skinny: It's One Year Later. As the people of Metropolis hold an event to remember all the good things Superman brought to them, Clark Kent and Lois Lane enjoy some bonding time at an event paying tribute to Superman. The Man of Steel hasn't been seen in almost a year, but Clark Kent's life seems to be clicking on all cylinders.

However, when an evil kryptonite-powered fiend makes an appearance on the streets, the mild mannered reporter finds a deserted alley, opens up his shirt... sleeve, and summons Supergirl to the scene with a signal watch. As Supergirl handles the super powered menace, Clark gets taken to a clandestine meeting with the newly acquitted Lex Luthor. Lex warns Clark to stop badmouthing him the press, then gets his point across with his fists.

That's right. Clark Kent is now surprisingly mortal.

My Take: It's One Year Later... and now we're finally getting somewhere. This may be the most concrete effect we've seen of any of the year jumps so far. There is no Superman. But more interestingly, there is a Clark Kent. And Clark seems quite pleased to live his life as a normal man. Well, you know, until he has to take it from Lex.

What does this mean for the future? Well, we know that something will happen in one of the upcoming titles to cause Clark to lose his powers Furthermore, it appears to be a "permanent" change (i.e. Clark will be flying again before the year's out). But at any rate, it is a refreshing change of pace. Metropolis being protected by Supergirl in his stead makes perfect sense. And seeing Clark performing his job at an optimal level and enjoying his "normal" life is nice, too.

All in all, it's nice to know the world won't fall apart if there isn't a Superman to keep watch over it. Unless... it happened in the past year and no one's gotten around to mentioning it yet. Hmm...

Story: 7/10 (It makes sense that Superman would know how to leap one year later in a single bound)
Art: 6/10 (Ordinary, but I think that was point of it)
Overall: 7/10 (Now this... I want to see where it leads.)

Nightwing #118

"Gang's All Here"

Writer: Bruce Jones
Art: Joe Dodd/Bit

The Skinny: It's One Year Later. A wild, reckless, and disturbingly violent Nightwing makes his presence felt in New York City. A loose spirited, slack, and decidedly single Dick Grayson has moved to New York City. The problem? The Nightwing and Dick Grayson in question aren't the same person. After Dick has a rough run-in with some of the local criminal element, he's saved by the would-be Nightwing imposter... Jason Todd.

My Take: It's One Year La... you know I'm getting tired of using that bit now. Nightwing has certainly taken a turn in an odd direction. Most noted changes in the past year:

Dick is rusty, implying that he hasn't been doing the hero thing on a regular basis.
Jason Todd is alive and running around in a Nightwing outfit. Can't this guy find an identity to mock and stick with it?
Dick, as evidenced by his introductory romp with a New York socialite, is not married to a certain someone he proposed to one year ago.

That last one, that's the one that really sticks with me. Not so much that they appear to not have married (because that's not so much a surprise), but that after forging a little of the way back together, Dick and Barbara would be completely on the outs again. It drives me crazy. Maybe because, much like my personal fave Spider-Man, I'd like to see Dick Grayson happy. And while I'm sure he was quite happy with the casual sex, it's really not what I want to see from him.

Then we have the running plot of a rogue Nightwing, or I guess a Nightwing imposter. I imagine there's a perfectly good reason for Jason Todd to be running around impersonating Nightwing, and I likely imagine that that will be revealed over time. That said... the heck? That's not quite the curve ball I was expecting with the Bat-Family, but it is something.

The art in this book I have a major issue with. If there's one thing I have a pet peeve about, it's being able to recognize characters when they're out of costume. And for some reason, Dick Grayson is unrecognizable in this issue. If they reveal that's he's in disguise I could buy it maybe. I'm assuming he's not since he was giving out his real name and was clearly recognized by his friend Clancy. But in a lot of panels he not only looks unlike any version of Dick I've seen, he also looks pug ugly. And if there's one thing we know, it's that Dick Grayson is a hunk.

Add to that the fact that the issue involves a Nightwing imposter. An imposter, I might add, that looks more like the real Nightwing than the real one does. Seriously, if there had been no internal dialogue, I wouldn't have known that Dick was Dick, which makes no sense at all. Not knowing that Jason was Jason I can live with. He was, after all, wearing a mask. I am still kicking myself for not figuring it out until the last page, though. But in my defense, it's the only time his look registered with me.

Where does Nightwing go from here? Hard to say, but it is at least working on a few compelling angles. Compelling enough to make my permanent pull list? Couldn't say. But my inclination at this point is that it will be a fond memory if it doesn't gell and pick up a notch.

Story: 5/10 (Okay, but even the plot twists are a little flat)
Art: 4/10 (Uninteresting and generally detracting froma story where appearance was important.)
Overall: 4/10 (Someone should remember that Dick's at his best when his life isn't in the tailspin. And fast.)


It's time to read us some T-Mail!
Reply to some posts and some e-mail!
Might even get one from a fe-male!
(But it'll probably be from a dude.)

Oroboros358 posted:

Because of you I'm going down to my LCS tomorrow and demanding a copy of Captain Atom #6

Oroboros: Cool beans. Nice to know I had an affect on someone somewhere. I just hope I don't live to regret it. And speaking of influencing people...

chickenlover posted:

I severed a man in half and forced him to view your article with his last breaths! That makes 7!

chickenlover: That's the kind of progressive thinking I'm looking for. Remember kids. If you cut the person you force to read my articles in half, it counts as two people.

(ed. note: Please don't cut people in half. It's bad for the environment. Don't ask how.)

Not a fan of comic wrestling? Think Nightwing is the best thing since sliced bread? Really wondering why cutting people in half is wrong (If so, seek help). If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, feel free to leave them here or contact me at Please reference either "Waiting for Wednesday" or "House Rules!" in your subject, so I have some idea why you're mailing me.

Until next time: I did read Birds of Prey this week. Lady Shiva's on the team. Big whoop.

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