Thursday, May 23, 2013

Comic Book Reviews: Justice League #20 and Green Hornet #2

Some of you probably saw my post yesterday where I reviewed Batgirl #20 and saw my sheer rage at how illogical it was. I've looked over the next three months of solicits and it appears these plotlines will continue for a while.

As such, while I'll still review the title, it may come with a delay, as I'll not be buying the book. It's not that I drop titles easily, but the fact is that my comics budget has a limit. I'm already adding Superman Unchained next month and will be buying all the main Trinity War storyline, which takes up three Justice League titles.

If Unchained fails, and I decide against the Superman/Batman book, then maybe I'll return to Batgirl on a regular basis, but for now, it's $3 too much for my budget to waste on a lackluster title.

Anyway, on to the books!

Justice League #20

This book has entered total setup mode for the Trinity War, as we get most of the story told through the perspective of The Atom. Why do I feel it's setup? Well, once you see the significance of what The Atom is doing in this continuity, you'll understand.

To Geoff Johns' credit, he does a good job of making her likable before we find out her secrets, so there will definitely be a bit of sympathy working in her favor.

The other major plot point is the missing Kryptonite that was stolen from Batman and the really uncomfortable contingency plans Batman is placing on Superman. I know that these characters have an understanding that if one goes rogue, the others have to stop him/her, but to hear Bruce speak so bluntly about it is kind of unsettling.

It also makes me think the Superman-Wonder Woman dynamic is about to take a BIG hit during this crossover. While it's sad that it will happen without any really great moments (first kiss excluded), I am glad that this might lead back to Superman and Lois Lane becoming a thing. (Or Lana Lang. I do enjoy Lana Lang's character.)

The back-up has been the highlight of this title the last few months, and the Shazam! storyline is almost at a close. We find out a twist in the Black Adam origin that I hadn't really considered and it was really well-played. The final part of this seems to be the actual showdown between Shazam and Black Adam, and it may get most of next issue, so I'm AMPED for that.

I didn't think the kid characters would be that great, but I've found them endearing since starting this title, and I'm looking forward to when Mary Marvel finally comes around and what her name will be if Captain Marvel is officially Shazam.

Basically, this is a comic key to your understanding of the next event crossover, so you may want to get a jump on this one.

Green Hornet #2

This is a week delayed, but this is the book I was looking forward to last week. And boy, did it deliver!

Mark Waid is officially my favorite writer. He just 'gets' characters and his Green Hornet treads that line of a hero pretending to be a villain perfectly.

There is a scene in which he sets a not-really-a-cop on fire to showcase how much of a badass villain he is in front of a crime boss. Yes, it's extreme, but it's hard to argue against talking to a guy when 1) He's on your side in the whole crime thing, and 2) He's willing to set people on fire.

His Britt Reid persona is also given a tremendous load of respect. He's clearly well-connected and competent; the only flaw in the storytelling is that his newspaper is tremendously successful in 2013 (AY-OH!)

This issue focuses on the Hornet trying to find out who has been responsible for the most recent string of crimes that have been blamed on him. After finding the manufacturer, though, he makes a careless mistake and the way this issue ends will leave you wanting this book to come out much, much faster.

The art is solid, but there is an issue with people looking too similar. It took me a couple reads to get through the scene where Britt Reid is talking with local businessmen and politicians because the suits and faces were too similar and I kept getting people mixed up.

But overall, this is a book you should be reading. No, the Hornet isn't really a superhero, but in my mind he's just as awesome and his crime stories are just as compelling as anything you'll read in the mainstream books.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Comic Book Reviews: Batgirl #20 and Nightwing #20

So I'm a week delayed on my blogs, unfortunately, and much of that has to do with the new project I just began working on: A fanfiction crossover between a fanfiction and the source material it's fanfiction-ing!

To make that make more sense, I'm writing a fic called "Harry Potter and the Moment of Crossover," which is a story where a Voldemort from another timeline invades, forcing Harry, Ron and Hermione to find a way into his timeline for more information. When he gets there, though, he finds that Voldemort died in the 1980s, a lot of people who died in the first war are alive now, and Snape is married to his mother and has a son.

Turns out Snape is the same one from his timeline and he's been allowed to relive his life (the story of which is told in Sindie's "The Moment It Began"). If you know the main HP story, this story will be easy enough to follow and is now three chapters in. Take a look if you have time.

Anyway, shameless plug over. Let's talk comics!

Batgirl #20

You know, Gail Simone is not making her triumphant return to this title worth my time. This may be the first Batgirl comic written by the signed writer that is really freaking awful. I mean look at that cover! Does that thing have a "Batgirl" feel to you?

Anyway, the Ventriloquist makes their first appearance in the New 52 and, yeah, it's a woman this time. Not just a woman, but a creepy girl who gets a magic puppet and goes on a supernatural rampage. Part of the fun of the Ventriloquist is that you're almost certain the puppet isn't alive and yet the fact you have to question it makes him more unsettling.

That's not the case here, and it's basically a possessed girl with a freaky-as-all-hell toy. Oh, and the puppet's a pervert too. That's a thing.

While all this is happening, Jim Gordon is livid that Batgirl killed his psychopath of a son. Um... why? You never showed that kind of inner protectiveness when he was being insane in "Black Mirror." You have no guarantee he's dead because you haven't found the body.

But the most important factoid that should be mentioned here: WHY ISN'T HE TALKING WITH BATMAN OVER THIS? Have they really not met up yet to hash this out before he goes into manhunt mode for what happened. Wouldn't it make sense to get Batman involved on this if a Bat-family member is going rogue? Hopefully that's the plan for Tomasi's next issue of Batman and [Insert second character here], but I shouldn't have to rely on OTHER BOOKS to make this make sense.

The art is unsettling and really gory and I'm left wondering how Batgirl, usually one of the most fun titles DC produces, has gotten this messed up. Red Sonja is traditionally darker, but Gail Simone appears to know how to make that fun and serious. This got really dark, really fast.

Overall, this is an unpleasant issue with a nonsensical change to a villain and characters acting WAY out of their normal behavioral spectrum. This better get better quickly.

Nightwing #20

I feel really weird about this book. I buy it each month, love the characters, have fun reading it, but I never have that anxiousness and excitement to get it the way I do with Snyder's Batman or Waid's Green Hornet.

This is another solid issue, nonetheless, and the art doesn't suck now! I really like the lighter tones used on the people here.

Dick has a new possible love interest in his life as his roommate's actual fellow tenant comes back early and is a woman who seems to get on well with Dick... after she apologizes for attacking him, thinking he was a prowler.

It's humor like that that makes Nightwing such a fun hero to read about. The Prankster, who seems to be the main villain at the moment, is also written in that vein, playing vigilante by putting people in really uncomfortable situations if they have wronged people. He or She has an interesting first encounter with Nightwing that makes you wonder about his or her motivations.

Lastly, there's the Tony Zucco plot, which gets a new layer to it, teasing that Zucco might have some remorse for past actions. I'm not sure if I'm just looking too deep into it, but he at the very least doesn't seem to be part of a deranged plot at the moment (at least not intentionally), so that should be monitored for future issues.

Like I said, this is a good book that deserves your money. I just wish I could get more amped for it and I really have no idea why I feel like I've cooled on this title when I still get the same enjoyment in the moment.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Superman-a-thon Part 1: Superman (1978)

[Author's Note - These links will become active as the blogs are written: Superman and the Mole Men (1951), Superman II (1980) / Richard Donner Cut (2006), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), Superman Returns (2006)]

Some of you may remember last summer's fun experience where I reviewed all of the live-action Batman films in a "Batman-a-thon" of sorts, all leading up to the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises."

I guess that it was pretty freaking popular because my post-review awards and Batman (1989) blogs are my 1st and 2nd most popular posts of all time, respectively. My Batman Awards can be found here, and that blog at the top has links to all the reviews.

But since everyone seemed to enjoy such a marathon, I feel that I should do the same for Superman. As such, today begins my Superman-a-thon!

Two things to note: 1) Yes, I will review the Richard Donner cut of Superman II. The movie is VERY different from the 1980 original release. And 2) No, I will not be reviewing Supergirl's movie. This is to prepare for next month's Man of Steel, and watching that awful, unrelated garbage could only serve as a detractor.

So let's begin this thing! Seeing as I've only seen Superman and the Mole Men once and it was too long ago for me to be confident in what I'm saying, I'm publishing my blogs out of order and starting with 1978's Superman: The Movie.

Honestly, it's probably best I start with this one seeing how this is the most famous of the Superman films. Heck, a lot of people will point to this movie being THE superhero film. And it's clear why. This film is an origin of Superman (the most notable superhero at the time and possibly still) and it is told in a manner that is true to the character and works perfectly on the big screen.

The film itself starts fairly slow, as it starts with a trial on Krypton to send General Zod and his assistants into the Phantom Zone. This gets paid off in the next movie, but the first few minutes for new fans are spent trying to keep track of what world they've been placed in.

Once the trial is completed, the situation starts to become clear, as Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando) exposits that Krypton is going to soon be destroyed, and he decides with his wife, Lara (Susannah York), to send t
heir son to another planet where he has a chance to live. The boy, Kal-El, will be sent to Earth, where the less dense yellow sun will infuse his body with energy that will give him super strength, speed and invulnerability.

The film fast forwards after Jonathan and Martha Kent find Kal, who is now known as Clark Kent. At this point, Clark/Superman is played for the rest of the movie by Christopher Reeve. Reeve is a natural fit in this role. Depending on your generation/which you saw first, the definitive Superman is either Reeve in this movie or George Reeves in the TV series.

Reeve makes it clear in this movie why he is so beloved in the role. He always comes across as likable and whether he's confident as Superman or bumbling as Clark, he fills both roles with an aura that makes you believe he is the character. When a movie claims to make you believe that a man can fly, it's the job of the character as much as the effects. Reeve does his part to perfection.

There's real emotion in the story as well. It's legitimately sad to see Jonathan Kent die and watch Clark deal with the fact that all the power in the world couldn't save him. The death leads to Martha explaining how they found him, and a crystal inside the ship compels him to go to the Arctic.

He spends 12 years listening to his father's seemingly endless stream of knowledge, and the 30-year-old Clark is off to protect the world. I never fully understood how Clark could disappear for 12 years and immediately get a job at the Daily Planet. Were scenes of his going back and forth taken out? Because I want to live in this world where 30-year-olds with no job experience just get journalism jobs by irritating the editor.

It's working there that he meets Lois Lane, played by Margot Kidder. Kidder is without a doubt my favorite live-action Lois. Besides her looks, she's energetic, doesn't take b.s., clearly acted with reckless abandon to get stories (even before Superman came around) and can keep Clark focused on what matters. It's odd that she has an issue with spelling, but it's funny enough and spellcheck didn't exist yet, so it's not a plot hole.

There are nice scenes showing Superman's awesome abilities that start with catching bullets as Clark, but it's when he rescues Lois in a helicopter where he makes his spectacular debut. There's also a nice nod to the TV series in this scene when he can't get into a telephone booth to change. Anyway, he rescues Lois (and Air Force One among other feats of strength) and he soon attracts the attention of Lex Luthor, played by Gene Hackman.

I like Hackman in the role even if the appearance of hair on Lex contradicts most of my viewings of the character. He's got enough energy in the role to keep up with the big feel of the movie. Otis and Miss Teschmacher (Ned Beatty and Valerie Perrine, respectively) fill their roles as henchmen well, though Beatty grates on me at times. His slapstick detracts from the seriousness of situations and there were times I'd prefer he not be there.

The building romance between Supes and Lois is at its best in the flying scene and it comes just in time for the big Superman-Luthor showdown, where Lex tricks Superman into grabbing Kryptonite and losing his strength.

Luthor reveals his plan is to send missiles at each coastline, destroying at least one coast and giving him control of the new coastline (he'd purchased desert land in the center of the country earlier). Teschmacher frees Superman on the condition that he saves the East Coast first to protect her mother. Superman proves too slow to stop the western missile, which forces him to simply contain the damage.

The damage takes so long to deal with that Lois, who had been caught in the impact of the explosion, suffocates under a bunch of rock. And HERE is where we come to the gaping flaw of what had been an otherwise great film: Superman decides to listen to Jonathan Kent's advice of doing something great by flying around the earth a bunch of times until the rotation stops, then reverses. This causes time to go backwards, leaving him time to save Lois...


Seriously, he passes the whole U.S. in about half a second.
Complaints about this have been raised many times before, but to drive the point home, here are just some of the issues this creates: 1) Time does NOT go forward because the earth rotates. Time would NOT go backwards if it reversed. 2) If the rotation of the earth abruptly stopped and changed like that, people would fly off the earth! How is no one dead after this? 3) If you reversed time, wouldn't all the accidents and missiles be active again? And if they aren't, does that mean a second Superman is flying around stopping them?

And most importantly, 4) If Superman was too slow to stop missiles in New Jersey and California, HOW IS HE ABLE TO CIRCUMVENT THE EARTH AS QUICKLY AS HE DOES? If we're using Silver Age logic, Superman at the very least should have been able to throw the Jersey missile at the California missile and destroy both in the air.

There were so many other ways to fix this issue, the most easy being that Lois is brought back by good ol' fashioned CPR. This decision is baffling and honestly threw me for a loop after the film's physics had been played pretty much straight the whole film.

Anyway, everyone ends up OK, Luthor's people are in jail and movie ends.

In all honesty, if you ignore the most out-of-place ending in the history of cinema, this is actually a nearly perfect Superman story. Everyone comes off as smart, likable and competent (except for Otis, but his role is minimal). 

But it's the humanity of this film that really sticks out. I think my favorite scene in the whole film is a dialogue between the recording of Brando's Jor-El and Superman about why he shouldn't intervene too often in human affairs. It is a testament to how brilliant Brando is as an actor and it's the kind of emotionally pained dialogue any father or son could relate to. I was so glad to hear that the spirit of this speech is intact for the Man of Steel (if the trailer is an indicator), and it sounded brilliant.

With that said, I don't believe anyone could match that moment, and it's scenes like that that make this film so hard to compete with. I hope Zack Snyder is ready for the comparisons because they are coming in droves the second his film premieres.

As I pointed out, this film has flaws and academic papers could be written to try and make sense of the ending, but this remains a legendary film and, Dark Knight trilogy excluded, this still can make a case for being the best superhero film. I give it 3.5 stars out of 4 and 8.7/10.

Join me soon for Superman and the Mole Men OR Superman II, depending on when I watch Mole Men again.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thoughts on the Las Vegas Paramore concert

This past Friday was my first ever Paramore concert, and more importantly, it was the band's first concert in Vegas since the new incarnation of the band released a self-titled album.

No, this is not from the show I attedded. It's only
a placeholder until I have the chance to upload my own.
I will open by saying that while the Joint at the Hard Rock Casino is an excellent venue for concerts (I've seen Flogging Molly and Disturbed there and both concerts KICKED ASS), the route to get in is unbelievably frustrating. Going straight from work, it took a circuitous route just to get into the parking garage, where I parked on the freaking roof.

And the line to get into the Joint, if you followed my live tweeting in line, was unbelievably and unnecessarily complicated. As you can imagine, traffic after this concert was a pain, but I suppose you only pay for the music when buying tickets, so let's talk about that.

The sole opening act was an band called Kitten. My best description of this band is that they are what would happen if Pat Benatar and a bunch of 80s hair band guys tried to perform emo punk music. It may have been the audio setup, but the guitars REALLY drowned out the singer a lot, which was odd since she was clearly belting the lyrics out.

They weren't the best opening act I've ever heard, but they were definitely good at what they do. It's rare that I find an opening act where I want to seek out their albums, but I'll have to make a point to keep an eye out for them in the future.

I'll leave a video of them here so you can judge them. Honestly, their music sounds smoother in the videos, so I'm thinking that something in the audio setup was off. Either way, it sounded ok there and it sounds good in the video.

Anyway, Paramore came out roughly a half hour later, performing "Moving On," which is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs despite it being a 90-second interlude. I have videos on my iPod that I'll add later on, but I need to wait until I'm on another computer.

They immediately broke into "Misery Business," and then midway through the song, Hayley Williams announced that she had some type of stomach issue (she said food poisoning, but given that Paramore canceled a show three days later, I'm guessing some type of flu bug).

Though she didn't go for any of her highest notes and show off her range, she still moved across the stage with a tremendous deal of energy and sang every song without the aid of backing vocals (if you don't include the audience, which was RABID).

I made the point on Facebook and Twitter that Hayley gave her "Flu Game" performance during that and (I'm assuming) the San Francisco show, and I mean that. Given how I felt with a normal flu just a couple of weeks ago, to perform at as high a level as she did for more than an hour (with two encore songs to boot) was nothing short of astonishing.

Taylor, Jeremy and (insert random other band members here) were all on point and each song was studio quality. One of the few missteps was that at no point during this show were the others on stage introduced, but maybe I'm just used to the full introductions Flogging Molly always makes a point of doing.

The only other complaint I have (and unless you live here, this will sound petty) was Hayley's use of the state during the concert - specifically, she pronounced it ne-VAH-duh instead of Ne-Va-dah. I'm guessing this is like when people pronounce the 's' in Illinois or pronounce Louisville like 'louie', but I can't verify that as I don't live in those areas.

Anyway, there were a lot of older songs used and I was actually surprised more new songs weren't put into the rotation. The only new songs used were "Fast in My Car," "Now," "Ain't It Fun," "Moving On," "Still Into You," "Anklebiters" (during which the band let about a dozen people on stage to sing along) and "Proof." Yes, I know that's seven songs, but I was firmly expecting 10 songs off the album. Either way, Paramore has a deep enough repetoire that the other songs weren't missed.

All the major songs were hit by the end, and the encore was capped the show perfectly by using "Proof" and "Brick By Boring Brick."

Paramore is definitely a band to check out if they're near your town, and I will be making a point to see them any time they're in town. While the fans don't mosh, the band creates a fun atmosphere on their own and kept me interested the whole way through.

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Comic Book Reviews: Batman #20 and Batman & Robin #20 (Batman & Red Hood)

That is a borderline absurd number of Batmans in my headline! The only reviews I have this week are Scott Snyder's final non-Zero Year story for 11 months and Peter Tomasi's trip to Stage 2 of the five stages of grief.

Batman #20

Scott Snyder completed his two-issue Clayface arc, as Basil Karlo looked to beat up Bruce Wayne to lure Batman out, steal Batman's DNA and end his effectiveness for good. Bruce gets thrown into a chamber with Lucius Fox, who helps Bruce escape, and then the flashback ends in time for Bruce to have his showdown with Clayface back in the present.

It's a quick story, and there's so much action going on that it's easy to overlook the problems, but I do want to voice a couple. One thing that is noticeable is that Basil comes off as a complete asshole in this arc, and a lot of the characterization shown in John Layman's story is missing. They read like two different Clayfaces, and that leads to a disjointed feel in the Bat-verse.

Another: How does Lucius Fox not know Bruce Wayne is Batman? How is that in any way logistically possible given how involved he is in storylines. I'll have to go back and read Nightwing and Batwing books, because I'm pretty sure that he knew that fact in earlier issues in this universe.

Lastly, if Basil can assume any millionaire's form, why waste time dealing with Batman? Just lock one up and operate as them indefinitely. This seems like a lot of undue risk.

But overall, Clayface's character has some depth to it in this story and Batman utilizes some awesome tools to protect his identity and win the fight. The end goes into Bruce and Alfred grieving over Damian again and the emotion emitted from Greg Capullo's art is one of the highlights in this book.

The back-up story's art is pretty weak, but for a two-off Superman/Batman back-up story, this was pretty good. It showed Superman at his toughest and gave a softer side of Batman. Both heroes came off looking good in this and I give credit to James Tynion IV for that.

This book is not a must-buy, but it's one of the more fun ones you can pick up this week. Next month's issue will be a must-buy regardless, though, so if you want to save the four bucks, I'd understand.

Batman & Robin #20 (Batman & Red Hood)

Red Robin helped Batman through the denial stage of grief by denying readers the chance to see him for more than a few pages. Today, Red Hood helps Batman through the anger stage by helping him maul bounty hunters and having a rage fight with him.

It's kind of odd to see Batman make ANY concessions to allow Red Hood to use a gun, but given his emotional state and the fact that Jason still wasn't allowed to kill made it ok. What I didn't like was how Batman suddenly made Jason relive his death to see if he could help bring Damian back. Given where the story had gone to that point, it made more sense to me if Bruce nearly went over the line and Jason had to punch him back into reality. This felt kind of weak by comparison.

The other part of this story was Carrie Kelley angrily confronting Bruce over the thousands of dollars he tried to give her. (That a**hole!) She's certainly not the same person as she was in Frank Miller's story (really, no one is), but this universe's version is likable enough. This one has been through different experiences and so she should be different. I'm still not sure why you went with Carrie over an original character (or Steph Brown!) but whatever.

Patrick Gleason's art is decent but he splits time with some guest artists and so it's not the best issue in terms of art.

Honestly, this isn't a must-buy, or even a must-read, but skim it and take note of the last page. It looks like we have a Two-Face story coming in next month's Batman & Batgirl issue, which of course will deal with Stage 3: Bargaining.

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Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #20 and Free Comic Books

Well, that's one way to end a storyline.

After taking over for Tony Daniel, John Layman started a very compelling storyline involving one of Penguin's top henchmen overthrowing his empire. That arc ended with last Wednesday's issue and... well, it had an ending.

Apparently Emperor Penguin combined the Man-Bat formula with Venom and other chemicals to create some type of meta-human formula, so now he's a blue guy with orange hair and piercing red eyes. This is a thing that is happening.

I really don't know what to say about this. It came completely out of nowhere and was a complete break from the last seven issues of build-up. The fight was good for what it was, and seeing Penguin get revenge on Ogilvy (Emperor Penguin), but the angle with the body transformation felt tacked on, and something this dramatic should NEVER feel like it's been shoehorned in.

The last third of this book (the epilogue and back-up where Ogilvy is in Blackgate prison) is where the books shines, as we see Penguin removing his mother's name from the hospital and apparently moving to lie low for some time. Cobblepot and Bruce's exchanges were solid throughout the book, but this one was the best in my view.

The backup is great, first of all, because it's refreshing to see these villains end up in Blackgate instead of Arkham every once in a while. More importantly, though, we see a compelling recollection of Ogilvy's life and why he wanted to create an empire. Also, he changes his name to Emperor Blackgate, which is a million times better than Emperor Penguin.

With Batman going into the Zero Year story for the next year, Detective is going to be telling the main stories on what is happening in Gotham, so it means a lot to me that Layman and Jason Fabok are in charge of this book. I feel like the next year should still be really solid for Bat-books if these two are spearheading the universe

Free Comic Book Day

I'm just going to touch on some of the FCBD books I picked up from a couple comic stores around the Las Vegas Valley.

DC's Superman book was a reprint of the start of Geoff Johns' "Last Son of Krypton" story, which isn't a terrible thing, except that the company advertised a preview of Scott Snyder/Jim Lee's Superman Unchained book. All there was was an interview with the two guys that I've seen many, many times on websites. At least give me the first four pages, DC! WTF?!

They did it also with Batman: Earth One, but at least with that story it was made clear from the beginning that it was just a reprint of the start of the graphic novel. Does DC just go out of their way to kiss Geoff Johns' ass? I mean, I like the guy's writing, but geez! Give someone else the damn spotlight.

DC's third and final book was a collection of two DC Nation stories: One of the new Beware the Batman series, and one of Teen Titans Go!

The Batman story wasn't bad, but I still can't get a feel for the tone of the show. It looks like it's aiming for a middle ground between Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman but I'm not really locked in yet.

The TTG story is actually not a TTG story but a story set during Season 2 of the original Teen Titans show. Robin has been made to only talk backwards by Mumbo, and it's up to the other Titans (with Terra) to fix the problem. This is a good story, but I'm once again left wondering why DC is bothering with a comedic Teen Titans Go! series if they could just as easily revive the Teen Titans series that actually maintained the tone in this story.

Seriously! Young Justice is off the air now. There is no reason you can't revive the original concept. I've long said Teen Titans is on par with Batman: TAS  as THE gold standard for DC animated shows, so why are we maintaining a weakened version of it? Ugh. Moving on.

Archie Comics did a 100-page anthology of Archie stories, Jughead stories, a Betty & Veronica story, and a Sabrina The Teenage Witch story. I really do like all these characters and if you can find this book, the stories were all solid. Not their best work, but worth your time.

The last book I'll talk about is the Avatar: The Last Airbender story in Dark Horse's FCBD anthology. This is a Mai story following her break-up with Zuko. She's been hanging out with her aunt at a flower shop (which in itself is pretty funny) and she gets asked out by a guy. The date turns out to have been a setup by Mai's dad, who pimped out the guy so that he could recruit Mai to help break Ozai out of prison and regain control of the Fire Nation.

The story isn't all that bad, and it portrays Mai in a really good light, showing she understands where Zuko was coming from and that she won't go back to an imperialist mindset just because she broke up with a man. Kudos! The biggest detractor is the art. I knew Giruhiru was going to be saved for a full-length story, but this artist kind of warps the faces and it's really distracting. Well, you get what you pay for.

I am still searching for the Marvel story that sold out by the time I got to the stores, but I did find a collection of "JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative" (1998/99) at the second store I visited. I'll share my thoughts on the story at a later date.

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