Evil sorcery is a problem for the people of a certain age undreamt of, and apparently it's gotten so bad that one Hyborian hero is no longer enough to stop them. That's why in January, we're getting a team-up in the form of Conan/Red Sonja, in which a pretty fantastic creative team of Gail Simone, Jim Zub and Dan Panosian are teaming up the two heroes to stop -- you guessed it -- evil sorcery.
Q: Merry Ask Chris-tmas! What's the weirdest version of the Santa Claus origin story? -- @prograpslady
A: You know, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote about two different version of Santa's origin that were done as stop-motion TV specials from Rankin-Bass, and as much as I love them both, they're not exactly what you'd really expect. I mean, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is essentially the story of a revolutionary who brings down a corrupt European government through illegal toymaking and is then hunted until he has to relocate to the North Pole, and The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus has him raised on the milk of a lioness and taught about Japanese samurai by a twelve foot tall druid who shot laser beams from a silver axe in a war against child-hating goblins.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that even for someone who's spent a lifetime getting used to origin stories with nonsense words like "bitten by a radioactive spider" and "inhaled hard water fumes," Santa's beginnings are pretty weird.
I think we can all agree that the announcement of a new Jem and the Holograms series by Kelly Thompson and Ross Campbell is the single most important comic book news of 2014/ever, but until now, we've only really had half of the equation. Sure, the book and the creative team were announced, but we only got to see the new designs for Jerrica Benton and her sisters. The Misfits, the rival group that bears no relation to the real-life Glenn Danzig/Jerry Only band of the same name, had yet to take the spotlight.
Now, though, Roxy, Pizzazz, Stormer and Jetta have been revealed in all their punk rock glory, ready to both make better songs and also commit seriously egregious felonies in the name of rock supremacy.
Outside of David Uzumeri, who spent a good portion of last week learning about Spiral Dynamics just so he could talk about Pax Americana in excruciating detail, I'm as big a fan of Grant Morrison as you're likely to find. For me, JLA, New X-Men, his seven year run on Batman and even the 11 issues of Aztek that he co-wrote with Mark Millar are easily on my list of the all-time greats. That said, if we're being completely honest with each other, I'm not that keen on his work outside of mainstream superheroes. I can take or leave The Invisibles and The Filth didn't do much for me, and while I like Joe the Barbarian a lot, that book basically has Snake-Eyes from G.I. Joe in it, so it barely even counts.
As a result, I wasn't really paying attention to Annihilator, the book Morrison and Frazer Irving are doing through Legendary, until the aforementioned Uzumeri was singing its praises. Curiosity got the better of me, so today I sat down with the first four issues to see if it was worth all the hubbub, and the result was that I liked it a lot. It's a bizarre and compelling sci-fi epic where Irving is doing some of the best work of his considerably impressive career -- and on top of that, it is quite possibly the most Grant Morrison comic of all time.
If you've been keeping up with "Endgame," the current story raging through Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia's Batman, then you've seen a lot of stuff going on. I mean things are apocalyptically bad in Gotham City on a scale that they haven't been since... well, since the last big Batman story. Still, it's pretty rough out there, what with the millions of zombie-like citizens infected with airborne Joker toxin. But in all the action of the latest issue, you may have missed the most important part: Jim Gordon's ringtone.
It might seem like a minor detail, but it's actually a pretty significant piece of the ongoing Batman mythology -- mainly because I suggested it on Twitter back in November, and now that it's canon, I will never, ever shut up about it.
I'm going to go out on a festively decorated limb here and guess that you are, of course, already familiar with Mike Maihack's fantastic and adorable Batgirl/Supergirl strips. He's been doing them for a few years now, chronicling the perky, cheerful Kryptonian heroine, the slightly grumpier Gotham City vigilante, and their continuing adventures as best friends.
They're all pretty great, but my favorites by far are the annual Christmas specials. This year, though, they're even more special than usual, as Batgirl and Supergirl are joined by a special guest star for an evening of caroling in exchange for candy. It's a Christmas Miracle!
Of all the comics that could indulge in one of my beloved Holiday Specials, Flash Gordon seems like a pretty unlikely candidate. I mean, now that I think of it, if comics can give us that story where Superboy gets caught up in the Christmas Spirit and decides to get the Legion of Super-Heroes to hunt down the star that the Magi followed to the manger and ends up rescuing a race of alien bird-people from a flood in what can only very charitably be called a miracle, I guess you can wring a little holiday cheer out of just about anything. Still, the adventures of three humans trapped in an alien empire full of tree monsters and beast-men doesn't quite seem like it would easily lend itself to the spirit of the season.
And yet, that's exactly what the folks at Dynamite have done with the new Flash Gordon Holiday Special one-shot, and while I could not possibly be more in the target audience for this thing -- my interest in space adventure is only outstripped by my love of Christmas -- it's well worth picking up.
I'm a pretty big fan of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo, for the simple reason that it's one of the single greatest epics in comic book history. The mix of meticulously researched history, funny animal comics and high adventure, along wth Sakai's legendarily consistent high level of craftsmanship, has made it an amazing comic. That said, I never expected it to make the transition from the page to the stage.
And yet, that's exactly what's happening in London, as the Southwark Playhouse's Stewart Melton has adapted Usagi Yojimbo as their annual Christmas play -- and not only that, but it seems to be getting rave reviews for its use of live music and a whole lot of swordplay.
There are a lot of things that are pretty awesome about Valiant Comics -- I'm particularly fond of the way that they haven't been shying away from giving us humor-driven superheroes in the form of books like Archer & Armstrong and Quantum and Woody -- but one thing that's pretty darn appealing about them as a reader is that they're pretty keen on giving new readers books they can jump onto and get into the larger universe. Right now, they're in the middle of one of those with their "Valiant Next" Initiative, and if your tastes run towards reading about supervillains on the run, they've got you covered with Imperium.
Back when it first started up, I wrote a review of Archie's Mega Man comic where I called it "the smartest superhero comic on the stands," mostly because of the way that it took on some pretty serious ideas without detracting from the accessible, all-ages adventure that made it such a fun read. That bit in the first arc where Mega Man starts to withdraw from his family, becoming cold and, well, robotic because of the psychological toll of destroying other robots like himself is still one of my favorite scenes in comics from the past few years.
Forty issues later, I can still stand by that statement. Mega Man hasn't just continued building one of the most enjoyably action-packed stories around the bare-bones plot of "go right, shoot robots" that it got from the video games, it's also having conversations about ethics, forgiveness and what it means to love someone that nobody else in comics is coming close to. And it's great.