Friday, September 2, 2005

COMICS: Quick Comics Reviews!

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Lethargic Lad Jumbo-Sized Annual #3
I've been a fan of Greg Hyland's goofily fun "Lethargic Lad" since it was a self-published minicomic back in the early '90s, and always get a bunch of laffs whenever he puts out a new comic these days. "Lethargic Lad" (whose power is overwhelming lethargy, standing around and saying "um") and a whole slew of wacky supporting characters, including Teen Lethargic Lad, Pelican Boy, Monkeyhead, the Zit, Bag Head Guy, and many more, bop around in funky parodies of comics and pop culture. Everything from the 'Daredevil' movie to Harry Potter to Paris Hilton gets poked - Hyland's frenzied characters doing a nice job of mocking the way today's hot topic is tomorrow's "whatever happened to..." Hyland has done indie comics series, but the last few years his main forum has been free strips over on This annual collects the funnies from the past 18 months or so and a bunch of other bonuses. Unlike most of today's overpriced comics, it's a pretty good deal, packed full of 48 pages of fun for $4. Hyland's deeply referenced comics almost require annotations sometimes to get all the jokes, but if you're schooled in geeklore, they're pretty darned funny stuff. Grade: A-

Action Comics #830
I haven't really regularly read the "Superman" comics in years, but the creative team on this book drew me in to check out a few issues - up-and-coming writer Gail Simone, and classic 1980s Superman artist John Byrne. It's good old-fashioned fun Superman comics, reminding me a lot of Byrne's stellar run back in the day, when he could actually write compellingly. This issue basically serves as a spotlight for the twisted villainy of Doctor Psycho, who's come to Metropolis to take Superman down in the most degrading ways possible. Simone does a great job making Psycho a sick little troll, and the story ties neatly into the very entertaining 'Villains United' miniseries, also by Simone. The final pages promise a big throwdown between Supes and "Shazam" enemy Black Adam next issue, so I'll be back to check that out. Solid fun, although I'm not quite hooked enough to read the Superman books regularly, really. Grade: B

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1
The teen Spider-Man gets a new girlfriend after breaking up with Mary Jane — and it's a pairing that actually makes a lot of sense, the X-Men's young Kitty Pryde. In the "real" Marvel Universe, the two characters have a big age difference that would make such a pairing a bit icky and illegal, but in the "Ultimate" universe, they're both too-smart outcast young teenagers, and Brian Bendis tells a funny and sweet-natured tale of their courtship in this annual. The ongoing 'Ultimate Spider-Man' series has been of varying quality lately, but this special really captures the series at its best, with Peter Parker's loneliness and dogged optimism. There's not a lot of "action" in this isssue, but it really does a nice job telling us why a teen superhero might find his best companion in a superheroine. The art by Mark Brooks isn't quite as appealing as Mark Bagley's on the regular series - a little too angular and manga-esque for me – but it's still a great, self-contained story that holds some fine story potential for future issues of Ultimate Spider-Man. Looking forward to seeing where this relationship goes. Grade: A

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