Thursday, November 30, 2006

Random Reading: Legion of Super-Heroes: Death of a Dream, and Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Strange Visitor from Another Century

Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Legion of Super-Heroes is a series I've heard a lot of good things about. It seems to be one of those series that everyone has accepted as good and moved on, because you don't hear much about it anymore. Lots of praise near the beginning and then not much. But, the bookstore had volumes 2 and 3, so I figured I'd pick them up and see what the big deal is.

Legion of Super-Heroes: Death of a Dream

OMG! The ftr iz all stpd & adlts rul evrythng!!!11!!!!!

Shit, that was lame, wasn't it? I can't even fake "netspeak" I'm so old. 23 and I'm too old to type like a moron. That's odd.

Anyway, it's the 31st century and parents control every aspect of their children's lives through something called the Public Service, a big-ass computer system of some sort. But, luckily, the Legion of Super-Heroes are here to shake things up and be all "We're wearing stupid costumes, mom and dad!" because somehow, the message they got from the legends of Superman, Batman and the JLA was to fight against the status quo. You know, the same heroes who have all had at least one story where they look around, realise that the world sucks ass and they have the power to change it only to have every other hero say, "You have to let people do that themselves!" and then fight to maintain the status quo.

If that was my first thought, my second was, "If this Public Service is such an intrusive and all-powerful system, how the fuck did it ever occur to these kids to rebel when the parents would just, I don't know, USE IT TO STOP THEM?" Maybe this was answered in the first volume. I suspect it as something to do with Brainiac 5 since he's the one who creates the Legion's flight rings, which also shields them from the Public Service.

Anyway. The story here is that there's this guy who has the power to erase himself from both organic and computer memories and he's trying to rip apart the United Planets by destroying planets. He's already destroyed Super-Rich World and next up? Super-Smart World! Isn't it really stupid of the future to make it so every world only has one thing going for it and thus when something bad happens to that one world, it fucks everyone else over big time? Like Super-Rich World gets destroyed? There goes the economy because all of the fucking money was there! Smart thinking. Couldn't Super-Smart World have foreseen something like that happening? Or maybe Future-Seeing World? WHERE THE FUCK WAS FUTURE-SEEING WORLD, PEOPLE?

So, Brainiac 5 and a few of the other Legionnaires go to his home planet of Super-Smart World and find that everyone has some sort of retard virus. That means Brainiac 5 isn't just the smartest person in the Legion (as he tells us every damn time he opens his mouth), he's the smartest guy in the universe.

Now, this is where a lot of stories falter, because, let's face it, Mark Waid is not the smartest guy on the planet or anything. Not his fault, but it makes writing a character who is, far FAR more intelligent than he is problematic. Like I said, this is a problem for a lot of writers. How do you write a character whose intelligence is beyond us as much as ours is beyond a dog's? (And shut up, dog lovers, we are smarter than them. They're pretty fucking dumb.) Would you trust a dog to accurately write a human character? But, this is something that probably only bothers me--same thing with Q in his various Star Trek appearances.

Actually, almost all of my problems with this book are problems I generally have with science fiction. All-seeing computers that for some reason never see the rebellion until it's too late, every planet except for Earth filled with completely homogeneous races that all think exactly alike, beings that supposed to be far more advanced than us intellectually but never really are--oh, and Earth as the centre of the fucking universe. The undying belief that humans are somehow unique and innately superior somehow.

Ignoring all of that stuff, this is a pretty good read. Waid handles a large cast well, moves the story forward at a good pace without rushing it, and doesn't explain every little detail. He trusts to readers to fill in some of the blanks and throws a few surprises our way. There's also the best "David & Goliath" moment I've seen in a long while.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Strange Visitor from Another Century

My first thought: Why didn't they use the cover of issue 18 for the cover of the trade and have it continue the design of the first two trades with a member of the team facing the camera, right hand out, Legion ring prominent? Am I the only one who thinks that would have worked much better than Supergirl-leaning-up-against-a-pillar-leg-bent-looking-all-cool-and-shit-while-the-Legion-hangs-out-in-the-background cover from issue 17? Or how about the fact that it doesn't continue the volume numbering? These seem like stupidly obvious design elements that should have been included.

This picks up right where the last volume left off with the Legion having saved the universe from war, their headquarters destroyed and the adults looking like idiots for ever criticising the Legion. So the adults offer them a deal where the United Planets will fund the Legion, which interim leader Lightning Lad takes them up on, which makes the Legion look like sell-outs.

And then Supergirl shows up and everyone is all "OMG! SUPERGIRL! WHOO!" except for Light Lass, who's all "I don't trust her!" And so on.

To his credit, Waid has given the whole Supergirl introduction a cool twist: she thinks she's still living on Krypton, dreaming everything that has happened since it exploded. So, she has a very flighty and superficial attachment to what's going on, which I hope is exploited further in future issues.

There's also a big problem since Brainiac 5 has stolen the dead body of Dream Girl, hoping to bring her back to life, which puts him at odds with the rest of the Legion who is being yelled at by the people on Future-Seeing World because they want to bury her.

Again, Waid handles the large cast well, has some interesting stories, blah blah blah. The art is solid in both volumes, too.

This volume also has a special treat of various 4-6 page letter column comics from past issues. They're pretty damn funny at times. My main problem is that you think this trade has issues 14-19, but REALLY has 14, 16-19 because issue 15 was a letter column issue or an out of continuity issue or something. I only found that out by checking online. Something telling the reader this--hell, including the cover to issue 15 would be a big enough clue. I was left wondering "What the fuck happened to issue 15?"

Hell, the whole packaging of this trade leaves me wondering about the people putting these collections together.

Oh, and even more nit-picky point: the addition of Supergirl happened at the same time as the whole "One Year Later" thing at DC and thus, the Legion title had "1001 Years Later," but (and this shows me to be a total dork) if this title takes place 1000 years after the current DCU and it jumped a year forward, but this title didn't (and it didn't, just to be clear), isn't it really 999 years later? Wouldn't it need to actually jump TWO years ahead to be 1001 year later? Just wondering.

So, while my review may not say this well enough, I did enjoy these books. They were engaging reads that never bored me. Most of my problems are those nit-picky things that don't actually make the reading experience less enjoyable--and are, often, problems with most stories involving the future. I do plan to pick up the first volume over the Christmas break and the fourth volume when it comes out this spring.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Random Reading: Ms. Marvel #7 and Hellblazer: Empathy is the Enemy

Discovered that the 7-11 right by campus sells comics, so I'll probably hit random Marvel titles over the next while that way--what is it with every store selling just Marvel comics? The bookstore, 7-11, the Mac's near my house . . . all Marvel, no DC. How odd.

Ms. Marvel #7

Another "Civil War" book, except it's a pro-registration one. And Iron Man still comes off as a dick. Seriously. I find that funny. In this whole thing, no matter WHAT side is presented, Iron Man is a dick. "Civil War" should be subtitled "Everybody Hates Tony."

Hell, while we're at it, let's look at the pro-registration side we've got here. The last experience I had with Ms. Marvel was back in Kurt Busiek and George Perez's Avengers run where she was drunk off her ass and got booted from the Avengers for trying to save the world drunk. Apparently she's sober now and has, well, no personality as far as I can tell.

She's one of the heroes who's sided with Iron Man, along with Wonder Man and the hero formerly known as Spider-Woman, but is now Arachne, I'm assuming, because Bendis decided he liked the original Spider-Woman and that meant someone had to change their name.

The plot of this issue is pretty boring. Teenage spider-themed hero Arana is brought in by the Amazingly-Named Duo while her father is all "This is America, you can't just arrest people for no reason!" And she decides to register. Yay.

Meanwhile, Arachne is on the run with her boyfriend, Shroud, who she was supposed to arrest (seriously, why would you send the guy's girlfriend to arrest them besides wanting to set up a fugitive story?). They steal some clothes and a car and have an argument about going to Colorado to get her daughter, all the while being tracked by S.H.I.E.L.D. Fools!

And now we get to Iron Man's a dick time: a big meeting is called and Ms. Marvel brings the Spider-Girl chick with her and Iron Man's all like "This is big time classified government business, so if she fucks it up, your ass is grass!" and Ms. Marvel is all like "No shit, asshole." So they're all sent to capture the fugitives in the green car, which means the top secret classified info is suddenly a big fucking fight on a freeway where the trained superheroes cause a bunch of civilian cars to crash. Yeah, the "professionals" sure are great at what they do.

It ends with Shroud all captured and Ex-Spider-Woman riding atop a big rig in a "Dazzler" t-shirt. Oooh, I can't wait for next issue!

For a pro-registration book, I came away thinking that side was full of even bigger idiots than I did going into it. Let's see, they abduct teenage girls, their best heroes are Ms. Marvel and Wonder Man, Iron Man is a dick to his own people, they sent one of their heroes to arrest her lover and are surprised when she decides to take off with him, they claim to be trained professionals but cause just as much carnage and civilian destruction as always, and they can't even catch someone so lame she couldn't even hold onto the name "Spider-Woman."

*claps slowly* Bravo, Marvel. Not too obvious which side you're on.

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Empathy is the Enemy

I've been waiting for this to come out for a while. Usually two or three times a week, I would check the bookstore's website to see if it had come in yet. I blame Warren Ellis for getting me into Constantine and loving to see how different writers do him. Now, I am torn about Vertigo's decision to release the first collection from Denise Mina's run before fully collecting Mike Carey's run--although, it looks like they will be collecting both at the same time, which is odd. But, I do understand why they've done it. It's obvious, just looking at the cover where Mina's name is the biggest type except for the word Constantine. Mina is a well-known crime novelist, so trying to sell the book with her name is smart--and Hellblazer is one of the few books in the mainstream where I could see people picking up more collections (and liking them). It seems in all the rush to give people every other Vertigo book under the sun, people always forget about this one even though, it tends to be one of the best-written titles they have at any given time. Because everyone who grew up east of the Atlantic in the mainstream worships old Johnny boy the way the rest of us cream our jeans over Spider-Man, but with more respect and reverence, the quality never dips too far.

In this book, Constantine has a problem. He helped a guy out by wiping his memory, but that meant taking on the problem himself, which is feeling empathy. So much empathy for everyone that it hurts so much you want to kill yourself. But, Constantine is a bit of a bastard naturally, so he can handle it, right?

Peppered throughout his journey to find out how the guy got his name and what it all means are flashbacks to various points in the past, beginning with 6th century and some monks building a monastery on an island near Scotland. They sacrifice one of their own as part of the custom, but three days later, one of them receives a vision from God to dig him up--and they find that he isn't dead. The not-dead monk tells them about how Heaven and Hell aren't what they think they are and they've got it all wrong, so everyone assumes he's a puppet of Satan and buries him alive.

What it comes down to is that there is a third place that has been taking the souls of the dead and a cult wants to shut it down by creating an empathy engine that will make everyone love one another and they want Constantine to willingly sacrifice his life to make it happen. And the bastard does.

The story is engaging, is well-structured, always giving the reader new information, but not too much. It does jump around a bit near the beginning, but that's to be expected since this is Mina's first comic work and no one gets a handle on the mechanics right away.

The art is also fantastic. Leonardo Manco has long been a favourite of mine and his style is perfect for a horror book like this.

The only downside is that there are a few spoilers of what happens in Mike Carey's run for anyone who has been following that only in trades (like me). Big details that are shocks, but also don't actually tell you WHAT happened, if you get me. In a way, the spoilers just make me want to read the next few collections of the Carey run even more now.

As for Mina's John Constantine, I like him. He's a bit too nice and engaging for much of the story, but that's because he feels empathy towards everyone. The John at the very end is one we all know and love, and makes me want to read the next collection of this run as well.

One problem I saw with this collection is that I'm never told anything about Denise Mina aside from the "Author of . . ." blurb under her name on the cover, nor are there any of the usual promo pages that list the other Hellblazer collections available. If the goal of this trade, as I figure, is partly to bring in Mina's readers, pointing them to specific titles would be beneficial and every other trade on the planet usually has bios of creators, so why not here? The only person who gets any bio is Ian Rankin following his introduction. Odd.

But, it's a good read with a fantastic ending. Pick it up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Reading: Superman Confidential #1, American Virgin: Head, Human Target: Strike Zones

I had no idea that I would be buying any of these books today. I just went into the bookstore and picked up what I felt like getting.

Superman Confidential #1

Wow, the bookstore had a DC comic. No idea why this is the one actual issue released from DC they've gotten since I've been here.

This is an odd issue. I'm not sure if I hate it or love it. I must say that the beginning bit where kryptonite narrates, I rolled my eyes and wanted to get to an actual story.

Jump ahead to Superman only two months into his superhero career and he's up against the Royal Flush Gang. And it isn't much of a fight because Jack is a moron and fucks it up. What I don't understand is whether or not Ace is killed by an ice shard. That's never really explained. I sat up and was like "Shit . . . did Superman just participate in that guy dying? The hell?"

The rest of the issue is Parry White getting his three best people (which somehow includes Jimmy Olson) to help take down some businessman who is probably all corrupt and shit.

Basically, this issue was either boring as hell or somehow very subtle and brilliant. I'm thinking the former because I ws bored as hell with it. Tim Sale's art was nice, but I just cannot get into Darwyn Cooke's writing--I must be the only one who thought New Frontier sucked. Ah well.

American Virgin: Head

I don't understand the point of this book. Maybe if I talk it out things will become clear.

Adam is a youth minister who preaches virginity until marriage. He's suave, charismatic and could be the next big thing for the religious right.

He's also got a girlfriend who's saving herself for marriage too, but is in Africa doing aid work. Until she gets beheaded by some terrorists or tribe or rebel group or something, I dunno.

So Adam gets his sister and they go to Africa to find her killers and bring her body home. While there, he finds out she was cheating on him and kinda freaks out and . . . well, not much else.

There's some stuff about being angry at God and guilt over masturbation, but nothing much else here. I have no idea where this series is going and I can't say I care too much.

Human Target: Strike Zones

While wandering around, I found a few trades on sale and this was among them, so I picked it up. And I am glad I did, because it saved the day.

This is first of two trades from the 21-issue series that ran in 2003-04 written by Peter Milligan and it is some good shit.

The first issue begins with Christopher Chance, the Human Target, dead and his last client, Frank White (a movie producer) receiving threats from an irrate fan upset with the violent films he makes. Except none of that is actually true.

What I liked the most about the first issue collected was that it just jumped in, sink or swim, fuck the reader, on with the story. You get caught up over the whole issue, but never feel lost. I presume what happened before was Human Target: Final Cut, but whatever, I followed along fine.

The second story is about a man who fakes dying in 9/11 and makes Chance re-examine what it is he does. The third story takes a good look at the world of baseball and also shows us just how fucking good Chance is at what he does.

Milligan's writing here is superb and mature. As I said, he doesn't take time to explain things, but he also doesn't confuse. It is a confident style that pays off, but does demand a lot from the reader. Quick jumps, two-panel scenes, and a lot of subtext.

Javier Pulido's art is fantastic. Both realistic and cartoony, he never drops the ball and also gives some interesting layouts.

This trade was so good that I am definitely going to buy the other three collections (collecting the first mini, Final Cut--OGN, and Living in Amerika, which collects issues 6-10 of the series) plus hunt down the 11 uncollected issues of the series.

Next week: who knows? I was eying the second Legion of Super-Heroes trade along with the one that introduces Supergirl into the cast, so I may pick up those.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random Reading: Five Worldstorm First Issues

The 1999-2003/2004 (maybe) period at Wildstorm was amazing. I loved what they were doing, particularly the Warren Ellis and Joe Casey stuff plus Adam Warren's Gen13, but then those titles faded away mostly and reboots happened and I lost interest, except for the odd title (Ed Brubaker's Authority series was decent). So, now that Wildstorm is rebooting its entire line, I thought I'd give it a look, picking up five of the first issues over the past month or so. Granted, this isn't a complete selection of the titles offered (I didn't get Wetworks because I never read it and didn't care, while the Stormwatch PHD because it looks like shit--which probably should have made me pick it up, but ah well, I'll survive). So, here we go:

WildCats #1

Before I begin, I should mention that I am one of seven people alive and reading comics that hates Jim Lee's art. I find it ugly, superficial and ineffective at conveying the story. But, I did my best not to let that get in the way. Figured I should get that out of the way, though.

I expect more from Grant Morrison. Compare this to various other books he's done--which, despite some people's views, is a fair thing to do--and this feels like a third of a comic. Maybe.

I like the little introduction to the universe, especially since this is the flagship title of the line. That works fine, but the rest is just.



Morrison puts us in a world that builds on Joe Casey's Wildcats Version 3.0 with Hadrian/Jacob Marlowe running Halo, expanding the technology of the world with Spartan robots and his own Carrier. Beyond that, there's nothing here. A few semi-interesting concepts and not much else. There's some hints of a renewed Daemonite conflict, but not much else.

The Grifter scenes are nice, but not really. They do the job, but there's no much there to do.

I don't know if Morrison altered his style to fit with Lee's or what, but this is, by far, the most unsatisfying thing I've read of his in a long time. For the supposed flagship book, this is a weak start.

The Authority #1

Now, this is more like it. I've read reviews that bash the issue for not having a member of the team appear in it, except the team does show up--firstly, on the cover, which I think is integral to the end of the issue--and, secondly, at the end of the issue (maybe).

But, it's made very clear that the world we see here is meant to be our world, not the Wildstorm universe. We are introduced to Ken who is having marital problems--as in his wife is leaving him--and work problems--as in he's at the bottom of the ocean investigating a terrorist attack on a submarine and there's an artificial craft 50 miles by 20 miles by 8 miles there.

I rather enjoed this issue and its set-up. Granted, the team does not appear here, but judging by the cover and the final pages, something fucked up has happened and the Authority now find themselves stranded in a world much like our own. It could make for an interesting take on the title, especially in comparison to what's come before. They've tried fixing worlds with superpeople, what about a world without them?

As well, Gene Ha's art is amazing. Top notch. The realistic style suits the material perfectly, especially the one-page splash of Ken's wife leaving. Amazing.

I look forward to future issues.

Gen13 #1

Holy stupid teenage cliches, Batman!

To be fair, Gail Simone didn't invent these stupid cliched characters, but she is playing right into those early years of the original book where they were nothing more than walking cliches.

Luckily, she attempts to make that part of the story. But, she fails.

It's hard, actually, to know how much of the lameness of this issue on Simone's shoulders and how much on the original book. The very, very, very basic premise of government-created superpeople is good and even done in a semi-original way here. The rest, though . . .

The art is 90s image lame, which goes to Wildstorm's roots, I suppose, but is just unattractive. For some reason, it has this weird squiggly line effect to it that I cannot figure out since the lines are straight. It baffles and annoys me.

The only time I enjoyed this title in its former incarnation was under Adam Warren, who balanced the campy aspects of the title with more serious emotional content. Simone seems to be trying to walk that line, but fails here. Maybe it's just too much vying for so little space, but I won't be reading this title from now on.

Deathblow #1

Speaking of bad, pseudo-90s Image art . . .

This is the first time I've picked up something written by Brian Azzarello and hated the art (the first trade collecting his Superman run aside, because I know why Jim Lee was on that book). I don't know why Carlos D'Anda is on this book other than the fact that he's a Wildstorm mainstay.

In fact, the art gets in the way on the second and third page when Cray is tortured and I cannot figure out what happened. I think his hand was hit with a big fucking knife, but other than some blood (and a lack of fingernails), the hand we're shown looks normal. What happened?

The story is engaging enough, I suppose--about as engaging as any single issue of an Azzarello-written story, actually. We get the details of Cray's rescue from a prison in some Arab nation. People die, he talks tough, some general tells him that they can't trust him, he's in Gitmo.

Not a whole lot goes on here, but I trust Azzarello to deliver a payoff. I'll probably pick this up in trade, mostly because that's the only way to read Azzarello.

The Midnighter #1

I rather enjoyed this issue. Ennis gives us a Midnighter that feels right. The bastard soldier who tries to play hero and husband and father, but is really just a killing machine.

He begins by taking out some tanks in Afghanistan and killing the American military liason who delivered the tanks to the Mujahs. There's the standard "make fun of Midnighter because he's gay" line, which feels oddly out of place, mostly because it's really tired.

Midnighter is captured by someone who's turned off his abilities and needs him to kill people for him. I never get stories like this. Somehow, we have a guy with the means to capture and deactivate the greatest killing machine ever built, but only so he can use it? Why can't he use his amazing resources to just do it himself somehow and not risk getting his skull punched in later (which I expect to happen--or some variation of)? I can never buy plots like this.

The last page is strangely amusing in that way that makes you both groan and anticipate what's coming next. Because it's Ennis, I trust him.

Sprouse's art is good here. I was concerned that he may not be the right guy to draw the title given the character and the writer, but he does it well, especially the movement Midnighter has in attacking the tanks. Very fluid.

Overall, these launch issues were good. None were perfect and most had their share of problems. The biggest flaw of the bunch is that nothing here rivals the period of greatness Wildstorm had in the 99-03 period. Maybe Morrison's Authority, but that depends on what happens next. Rather disappointing, actually. How does a line-up of Grant Morrison, Brian Azzarello, Garth Ennis and Gail Simone not at least compete with Warren Ellis, Joe Casey and Adam Warren?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Random Reading: Futurama Comics #27, Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson #31 & Simpsons Super Spectacular #3

I stood in front of the comics in the bookstore and thought, "Well, shit, I guess I'm going to have to review Blade #2 . . ." and then I noticed these three Bongo titles. This brought to mind a question: "Since Futurama is no longer on TV, do the comics act as a solid substitute?" I decided to buy the two Simpsons titles as well since that show has sucked for a while now and maybe--just maybe!--the comics will fill that need too. So, did any of them?

Futurama Comics #27

First off, from the cover, I expected a story about Fry and Bender hitchhiking to Mars since the cover shows them doing that. But, no, it's a story about how Bender sold some machine the Professor made to some aliens a few years back and now they're using it to the destroy the Earth. And . . . well, that's it.

The comic isn't funny. It has a lot of Futurama lines and characteristics, but only the most broad ones that we've seen dozens of times before--nothing is added in the way the show would always add stuff. The only point where I kind of chuckled was when Zoidberg says "THE RO-BUT HAS A POINT." and that's just because the spelling immediately made me think of Zoidberg's voice. The rest? Useless.

Especially these bullshit lava aliens. They have no personality the way aliens in the Futurama universe always do. They seem like lame villains Stan Lee would have used back in the '60s when short on ideas.

One particular painful moment is when an attempt at Bender's patented "surprised but don't have any liquid in my mouth, so I'll drink something to do a spit take" spit take is attempted, but it doesn't work here. It simply fails to land and the writer knows it, so adds a line where Bender explains what he just did. If you need a character to explain a visual gag, DON'T DO THE VISUAL GAG!

Utterly forgettable (I hope), don't bother with Futurama Comics for your Futurama fix. Just watch reruns and your DVD sets until those DVD flicks arrive.

Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson #31

You know what makes this comic the saddest of the bunch? The best part of it is a story that doesn't involve Bart at all.

The first story is all about Bart winning a contest at Krusty's toy store (as there's a Krusty toy store chain apparently) where he gets five minutes to fill his shopping cart. At first, he's excited until everyone begins asking for him to get them stuff and even threatening him.

Amazingly, Homer is funny in this story with his total self-centred thinking towards everything. While in the show, it comes off as painful and unfunny, when he's put in a context where he's a secondary character, it retains some charm.

Following that story are a couple of two-page fillers that kind of suck. The first is Comic Book Guy's "Handy Pop Culture Quotes For All Occasions," which isn't funny. Or even uses the best quotes. The other is how you can use school supplies to be a total jackass at school. *yawns*

The last story, though, is called "The Maggie & Moe Mysteries! In Color! Tonight's Episode: The Disappearing Duchess!" and features Maggie and Moe as detectives. The first page is worth it since it copies a TV theme song with shots of them in an airplane, fingering a mother and baby in court, and of Maggie showing Chief Wiggum how to solve a murder.

The story itself is kind of lame. Moe takes Maggie to Wall E. Weasel's, but the Duchess of Dorinia has rented the play area, so Maggie can't play. That is, until the Duchess suddenly disappears and Maggie & Moe are on the case!

Except, they have competition in the form of Titania and Baby Gerald, another bartender/baby crime-solving team! What follows is pretty typical, but the inclusion of those two characters made me laugh, because it's just so perfect. I just wish they amped up the competition a bit.

This story also includes a few choice lines from the Wiggums:




On the whole, a passable attempt that is actually slightly better than the show right now, mostly because of secondary characters, or putting Homer in a supporting function--he's a parody of himself currently and works better on the sidelines.

Simpsons Super Spectacular #3

A trio of superhero stories. The first, "The Coming of Gastritus" is a play on Galactus with Homer in that role. Bart does the Silver Surfer and makes a lame Uranus joke. Marge is Air Walker and makes a better joke about eating a heavily forested planet with no animals since it's a healthier meal. Moe is Nova . . . and naked. Naked Moe.

Extra points to artist John Delaney for drawing Gastritus in a solid fusion of Groening and Kirby. Actually, I should mention that the art in everything I've been talking about is fantastic. Everyone looks like they do on their respective shows and even the angles reflect the shows well. But, the art on this story stands out the most.

The second story works for the first page and then dies. It's a funny concept that makes fun of Adam West Batman (although, I must say: Still? Seriously, move on) with Lure Lass and Weasel Woman taking on . . . THE CRAZY CAT LADY! It doesn't get better than that, but still goes on for eight pages.

The third story is about Stretch Dude, Clobber Girl and Bouncing Battle Baby (Maggie got powers, I guess). They cause so much damage in a recent battle that the city outlaws superheroes (but not supervillains because they wouldn't listen anyway). There's a good "Spider-Man no more!" shot of the three kids walking away with their costumes in a garbage can. Plus, they get in trouble at school for using their powers when they can't help it.

Turns out, Agnes Skinner was replaced by an alien and everything works out, but there are a few good jokes.

Overall, these comics aren't that great and I have no intention of picking up more (especially of Futurama Comics), but I can see why some would. They usually do have a few good jokes and offer a wider variety of stories than TV--in length and content. So, pick one up and see for yourself if it works for you.