Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Justice League International #22
“Little Murders”
Keith Giffen: plot & breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis: woids
Kevin Maguire: pencils
Joe Rubinstein: inks
Bob Lappan: letters
Gene D’Angelo: colors
Andrew Helfer: rocket physicist

The only disappointment in this entire issue is that Oberon doesn’t actually sport the duds he’s wearing on the cover. Otherwise, even though this is a tie-in with yet another crossover event that I didn’t read, it was a hoot. Also--and maybe this is just because the issue comes on the heels of two Templeton-penciled issues--Maguire’s pencils seem to be getting better and better all the time--and I loved ‘em back at issue #1. (Of course, any praise for the art would be remiss if it didn’t acknowledge Rubinstein’s inks, which went a long way toward synthesizing Templeton’s work with Maguire’s.)

In addition to acknowledging a terrific (albeit truly bizarre) picture starring the great Elliott Gould, the title references the battle Oberon must wage against a force of diminutive aliens that invades the League’s New York Embassy. The invaders quickly overcome Booster Gold, leaving Oberon to save the day, which he ably does within the first 10 pages.

The second half of the book then finds the rest of the League on Fiji, where they’re helping the military stave off the larger-scale Khund aliens. Essentially, the League needs to keep the alien’s distracted while Wonder Woman extracts operative Etta Candy from the Fijian jungle. Wonder Woman’s presence serves two real purposes here: answering longtime fan demand (expressed in the letters pages) to see her in the book, and giving Blue Beetle and Rocket Red an excuse to trip over themselves while trying to impress her.

Nevertheless, the League gives the Khund aliens hell--in fact, even Ice makes a notable contribution, erecting an ice mountain that takes down an enemy ship. Not all is fun and games, though, as the issue ends with J’onn mourning the loss of so many Khund lives. Here at The D.D., we’ll take it back a few pages so we can end on a brighter note.

The complete 60 Weeks with the Justice League on The Danger Digest:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #23, #24, #25/1, #26/2, #27/3, #28/4, #29/5, #30/6, #31/7, #32/8, #33/9, #34/10, #35/11, #36/12, #37/13, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

All images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Jon D. W. throws down a good bit of his hard-earned cash on comics. (And sometimes, as in the case of Chew and The Lone Ranger, he borrows the comics from friends.) Here, he spills the beans on whether or not it was worth it. But to paraphrase LeVar Burton, don’t just take his word for it--you should read comics too.

written & lettered by John Layman
drawn & coloured by Rob Guillory

In the world of Chew, chicken meat has been outlawed in the wake of what is purported to be an outbreak of bird flu, although more than one character accuses the government of a vast conspiracy. Against this backdrop, cibopath (basically, someone with a sense of taste that goes way deeper than just the buds on his tongue) Tony Chu joins the FDA, where he’s partnered with Agent (and fellow cibopath) Mason Savoy. Savoy is a badass: Wielding sais, he takes out a group of Yakuza ninja. Chu, meanwhile falls for saboscrivner (someone who can write about food so poignantly that readers can taste her words) Amelia Mintz, food critic for the Mercury Sun. It’s a terrifically original idea, backed up with Layman’s solid scripts and Guillory’s expressionistic art, which beautifully complements the underlying absurdity of the story. This creative team isn’t afraid to put as many as 16 panels on one page when the story calls for it. They also aren’t afraid of vomit, which there’s a lot of. And I won’t lie--there’s a bit of cannibalism, too. Great fun, this.

Brett Matthews: Writer
Sergio Cariello: Artist
Dean White: Colorist
John Cassaday: Cover Artist & Art Direction
Simon Bowland: Lettering

I’ve fond memories of watching Clayton Moore bellow “Hi-yo, Silver--away!” on TV when I was growing up, and to this day a Lone Ranger action figure stands sentry in my office. Despite my nostalgia-infused affection for the character, however, I’d never really known a thing about him other than he wears a mask and rides a horse named Silver while fighting for justice alongside an American Indian named Tonto. Fortunately, Dynamite Entertainment tapped Matthews and co. to take the vigilante back to his roots as Texas Ranger John Reid. This is a hell of an origin telling, keeping the character mythic even as it reveals the man beneath the mask, and giving substance to all of the points mentioned above without ever coming off as sentimental, coincidental or contrived. For its part, Cariello’s art is a good fit, with an expressiveness that seems to owe a thing or two to Will Eisner, although from time to time his horses are too small for their riders. I’d actually picked up the first two issues of this book back when they were fresh off the presses, but the pacing plays out much better with the entire arc presented in one volume.

Brett Matthews: Writer
Sergio Cariello: Artist
Paul Pope: Artist (wolf sequence)
Marcelo Pinto: Colorist
Simon Bowland: Letterer
John Cassaday: Cover Artist and Art Director

Butch Cavendish, whose gang sabotaged Reid and his fellow Rangers back in volume one, here drops his political persona and embraces his role as a bandit and an outlaw. The devolution of his character is brilliantly handled, from him telling off a Senator and taking his money to suddenly smashing a shot glass of whiskey in a stranger’s face. All is not depravity, though; the Lone Ranger himself continues his crusade for justice even as he operates outside the law. Cariello’s layouts show an increased deference to widescreen framing, which generally suits the Western vistas and cinematic pacing, and his pencils (seen in the previous volume’s bonus content) are brilliant--tight and easy to read. I’m not thrilled, however, with his inks, which are looser and just don’t seem as considered. (Also, you can easily make out the inconsistent black densities of his brush pen, which I found somewhat distracting on the book’s glossy paper.) Paul Pope also contributes a few pages of art, which is always welcome, for a story Tonto tells of a wolf. Pope lets his panels bleed off the edges of the page, which on top of his unique style, helps distinguish Tonto’s parable from the primary narrative.

Harvey Pekar: Writer
Dean Haspiel: Artist
Lee Loughridge: Gray Tones
Pat Brosseau: Letters

There’s little here that hasn’t been touched on before in Pekar’s long-running American Splendor, but it’s never been presented in such a dedicated, sequential chunk. Here, Pekar takes his story back to some his earliest memories, and he speaks openly about his own struggles with depression. There’s much that’s left unsaid--for example, whether Pekar ever reconciled with his parents, and how his first marriage crumbled--but I can’t fault the man for not wanting to open any more old wounds. The lingering questions don’t take anything away from what is told, and fortunately for the reader, Pekar’s humor makes what could often be devastating material palatable and relatable. Also, Haspiel’s art (with Loughridge’s gray tones) is gorgeous; his layouts show an organization that parallels Pekar’s own attempts to make order out of his memories.

Writer/Artist: Walter Simonson
Inkers: Terry Austin (issues #342 & #346) & Bob Wiacek (issue #348)
Colorists: George Roussos & Christie Scheele
Letterer: John Workman Jr.

I’d read the first issue here collected a good many years ago and spent the intervening time believing that Beta Ray Bill had enjoyed a long stretch as the god of thunder. I was more than a little disappointed to see his story wrapped up just a few issues after he was introduced. However, I was outright perplexed when Odin separated the bond between Thor and Dr. Donald Blake, and Blake was never seen from again. I mean, Blake was his own man before he ever stumbled across Mjolnir, so I’m hoping he’s not just dead. There may be an answer waiting in a later volume of these collected Simonson stories, so I’ll let you know if I ever get around to reading it. Anyhow, this is an overall enjoyable read; Simonson’s art seems a perfect fit for Thor’s mythology, and his writing captures the heady melodrama of Lee and Kirby’s early tales. Also worthy of note, Workman’s lettering is an uncanny, seamless match for the story and the art.

All images copyright their respective publishers. Text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Justice League International #21
Keith Giffen, plot & breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis, script
Ty Templeton, pencils
Joe Rubinstein, inks
Bob Lappan, letters
Gene D’Angelo, colors
Andrew Helfer, who cares?

This issue’s a whirlwind for the Leaguers, most of whom don’t have a clue what’s shaking when they suddenly find themselves boomed to Apokolips. What’s there to do except punch the apparent bad guys in the face?

After 19 pages of such goings on, Darkseid himself intervenes to settle the whole kerfuffle. He sends Manga Khan on his way (without a trade agreement, natch'), and returns Mr. Miracle to Barda and the League. Basically, the big guy can’t be bothered with any hijinks he didn’t start himself.

I had something of a revelation while reading this issue. I started this whole “60 Weeks” business because I’d enjoyed the issue or two of this series I read a handful of years ago, and I’d long wanted to read Giffen and DeMatteis’ entire run. However, beneath the surface, I expected this series to turn into some meta-critique of the comics medium itself in the way Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s X-Force/X-Statix did. And when I discovered that that wasn’t really happening, I started to get a bit down on the entire enterprise. Somewhere in the middle of all the punches and unconscious Para-Demons in this issue, though, I finally got it: The point here is just to have fun with comics. Period. And word up, I had a hoot reading this issue, starting with the cover, which might be my favorite of the series so far. Also, the sound effects (the onomatopoeia themselves, if not their lettering) are nothing short of brilliant.

The complete 60 Weeks with the Justice League on The Danger Digest:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #22, #23, #24, #25/1, #26/2, #27/3, #28/4, #29/5, #30/6, #31/7, #32/8, #33/9, #34/10, #35/11, #36/12, #37/13, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

All images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Justice League International #20
Dec. ‘88
“If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be -- Apokolips!”
Keith Giffen: plot/breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis: script
Ty Templeton: pencils
Joe Rubinstein: inks
Bob Lappan: letterer
Gene D’Angelo: colorist
Little Andy Helfer: r.i.p.
Featuring The New Gods created by Jack Kirby

Honestly, my favorite thing about this issue is that it has a one-page ad for a four-issue Plastic Man miniseries that’s very near and dear to my heart:

In the book proper, though, Templeton does a solid job filling in for Maguire. The story finds Manga Khan, having arrived at Apolokips, in the process of opening trade negotiations, using Scott Free (a.k.a. Mister Miracle) as his one and only bargaining chip. Things go south for Manga, however, when it’s discovered that a certain group of Leaguers have followed him to the home of Darkseid himself.

Those Leaguers manage to breach Granny Goodness’ orphanage, but a swarm of Para-Demons (please note, I'm using the spelling from this particular comic) forces Barda to boom back to Earth for reinforcements. With no time to explain, she grabs the rest of the team from the New York embassy and booms them all back to Apokolips to join the fight. All of them, anyway, who were in the room.

The complete 60 Weeks with the Justice League on The Danger Digest:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25/1, #26/2, #27/3, #28/4, #29/5, #30/6, #31/7, #32/8, #33/9, #34/10, #35/11, #36/12, #37/13, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

All images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Justice League International #19
Nov. ‘88
“No More Mr. Nice-Guy!”
Keith Giffen: plot & breakdowns
J.M. DeMatteis: script
Kevin Maguire: pencils
Joe Rubinstein: inks
Bob Lappan: letters
Gene D’Angelo: colors
Little Andy Helfer: distraught & beleaguered editor

Picking up right where issue #18 left off, this book starts with a five-page brawl between Guy and Lobo outside of the JLI’s New York embassy. The debris finally settles when Booster traps Guy in a force-field bubble, at which point Lobo begins to ingratiate himself with the rest of the League, figuring he can sit tight on killing the space-faring members until they return home and walk right into his gun sights.

The better part of the second half of the book is dedicated to the League’s new membership drive, in which individual members cold call other heroes, most of whom aren’t home or aren’t interested in joining.

At the end of the day, this issue’s pretty talky, and not much happens in it. (Although Green Flame and Ice Maiden officially change their names to Fire and Ice, respectively, and it's finally settled, once and for all, within the pages of the story proper that Black Canary is out of the League.) However, it sets up what will hopefully be some high-stakes shenanigans on Apokolips, and Maguire’s art (now with Joe Rubinstein’s inks) is in top form.

The complete 60 Weeks with the Justice League on The Danger Digest:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25/1, #26/2, #27/3, #28/4, #29/5, #30/6, #31/7, #32/8, #33/9, #34/10, #35/11, #36/12, #37/13, #38/14, #39/15, #40/16, #41/17, #42/18, #43/19, #44/20, #45/21, #46/22, #47/23, #48/24, #49/25, #50/26, #51/27, #52/28, #53/29, #54/30, #55/31, #56/32, #57/33, #58/34, #59/35, #60/36

All images this post copyright DC Comics. Original text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Post-Holiday Distraction...

...(and some healthy New Year's resolutions) courtesy of Superman.

"Superman's Tips for Super-Health" from Superman #2, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, originally published in 1939. Scanned from the book Superman Archives Volume 1, published by DC Comics Inc. Copyright DC Comics.