Self Serving Links

Best LolCat ever. Anyway, I’ve been really bad about posting links lately, so here’s a flood of them.

WTF Star Wars?! continues to be one of the most fun things I’ve written in a long time and the daily work is much appreciated. But that’s not all I’ve been working on for The Goods. I reviewed Superf*ckers and Super Spy The Lost Dossiers and did a series of lists including Iron Man Action Figures and Toys We Want To See, Essential Saturday Night Live Movies and The Best Star Wars Alien Action Figures.

Of course, the fine folks at Marvel have also been keeping me sufficiently busy with stories about Jeff Parker’s new Agents of Atlas series, the best Iron Man video game appearances, my buddy Jim McCann talking about Hawkeye & Mockingbird, Karl Kesel talking about his five favorite Avengers, colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser talking about her exclusive Marvel contract and the many costumes of Captain America.

My 9 Useful Items for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse list went up on Topless Robot. Start shopping now!

And, as always, my Maxim TV column keeps chugging along. Here’s this week’s.

Oh, also, ToyFare #156 is on stands now. I wrote a lot of that bad boy, from the Incoming section to the DC Direct Arkham Asylum and ToyFare Hall of Fame features.

Trade Post: Agents of Atlas Dark Reign & The War That Time Forgot

Written by Jeff Parker, drawn by Carlo Pagulaya, Benton Jew, Leonard Kirk
Collects: Agents Of Atlas #1-5, Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust, Dark Reign: New Nation, Giant Size Marvel Adventures Avengers #1 & Wolverine: Agent Of Atlas from
Man, I love Agents Of Atlas. Jeff Parker has done an amazing job of taking a bunch of dusty old Atlas characters and making them not only awesome, but really fun to keep up with. The hardcover collecting the very first mini along with the first appearances of most of the characters and a ton of extras is not only one of my most prized hardcovers, but also one of the best examples of what a comic book collection can be. So, needless to say, I was excited to read this collection of AoA stories which launched with Dark Rein, a story I generally don’t care for.

This book picks up, relatively, where the last one left off, showing how the Agents are dealing with being an extension of the criminal organization-turned-instrument for change Atlas group. It’s a pretty cool concept that really plays well in the Secret Invasion/Dark Reign era, even if I do think the idea of anyone handing power over to Norman “The Murderer Who Forced His Agents To Wear Green And Purple” Osborn is one of the more stupid ones in all of comics (and maybe fiction). Luckily, while the stories do firmly take place in the Marvel U, there’s a lot of other action going on with adventures from the team’s past to keep you interested even if the quoed status of Marvel isn’t your bag. Plus, I really appreciate Marvel including the Wolverine story as well as the excerpts from various books and even the Marvel Adventures annual (even if it was the one thing I didn’t care to read). There’s one more trade’s worth of this series, then I’m assuming there will be one that ties in with all of the Incredible Hercules/X-Men/Avengers crossovers and minis, and after that, the new series simply called Atlas. Keep up the good work Parker!

Written by Bruce Jones, drawn by Al Barrionuevo and one issue by Scott Kolins
Collects: War That Time Forgot 1-6 in Vol. 1, 7-12 in Vol. 2
When The War That Time Forgot came out, I’m sure a lot of people were questioning why this book even existed. Fans weren’t exactly clamoring for a book about faintly-recognizable-at-best characters from the annals of DC’s huge history, nor was anyone asking for a Bruce Jones comic, especially after his atrocious run on Nightwing and the generally dull OMAC book. But, the story held some interest for me for a reason I still can’t place. Maybe it was my love of Barrionuevo who I’ve been a fan of since he popped up on Batman: Gotham Knights with AJ Lieberman back in the dizzy. Maybe it was because I WAS curious about those oddly familiar characters like Enemy Ace, Firehair and G.I. Robot among a good deal of others. Or possible I wanted to read a story about a mysterious island like Lost. Whatever it was, I kept my eye out for the two volumes of this book (it really should just be in one) and gave them a read. I really liked it.

I will say right off the bat that one of the reasons I DID like the series is because of the characters. Many of them I had a very passing knowledge of them, which wrapped the story in another layer of mystery. Sure there was the one in the story about how these characters who had no business being in the same time, but I also kept wondering how Jones would explain whether these are the same versions of the characters we’ve seen in other comics. Let me tell you without spoiling anything that it does pay off.

The island holds warriors from all different time periods from ancient Viking times to the French Revolution to both World Wars and even on into the future. In the beginning they’re broken up into two warring camps trying to survive this island full of dinosaurs.

Well, as you might expect there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The story probably could have been told in 4-6 fewer issues, but I never thought it dragged. But, if you don’t have as easy access to these books as I do or even pay full price for trades, I can see why this would be an iffy purchase. But, if you like classic science-fiction with some mystery, intrigue, dinosaurs and somewhat familiar characters thrown in, give this book a shot.

Also of note are the ridiculously awesome cover artists this book boasted. Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Walter Simonson, Kevin Nowlan, Ladronn, Justiniano, GEOF DARROW(!) and Howard Porter. They should be enough to get you to buy the book (they’re just 12 pages out of two whole trades), but I liked the story enough to keep the books in my collection…until I get a few beers in me and start clearing off the shelf again.

Trade Post: Pedro & Me

Written last night:

Hey guys, I’m guessing that if you’re one of my friends from home or college or someone who stumbled upon this site thanks to a Google search and stuck around for whatever reason who doesn’t read comics, you probably skip over a lot of the comic-related posts. I highly encourage you to check this one out about Judd Winick’s graphic novel Pedro & Me (2000) because, like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, it’s a book that I think anyone can get something out of, even if you’re not used to comics

My buddy Ben picked up Pedro & Me recently and passed it to me when he was done with it. It sat for about a week until last when I passed by, picked it up and read it in one sitting. Man, this is a powerful book. Judd was on the third season of Real World with Pedro. Judd was a cartoonist and Pedro had been living with AIDS for years, giving talks about it and taking the opportunity to show the world what a gay man with AIDS really looks like. Judd and Pedro became close friends, so close that Judd was there when Pedro passed away from complications due to AIDS. He would go on to write and draw a memoir of his friendship with Pedro, Pedro & Me.

Regular readers know how much of a fan of the Real World I am, so it might come as something of a surprise that it’s taken me 9 years to read this book. I’m also a big, big fan of Judd’s comic book writing (he’s written Batman, Green Lantern, Outsiders and Green Arrow, plus way more). I don’t have a real reason why I hadn’t read Pedro & Me until now, but I’m really glad I finally did.

Judd tells his story with such simplicity that I think anyone can really enjoy it. It starts off as the story of two boys growing up separately and then turns into the story of their meeting and subsequent friendship until it morphs into a story of death and living life after. Yes it’s sad, but it’s also happy, like life, and has a beating heart at the center of it that practically pulses through the pages.

I don’t want to get too much into the details because that’s the whole point of reading the story, which I really want you to do. As I mentioned, Judd has gone on to work on a ton of mainstream comics and he tends to include characters living with AIDS, gay characters and other true-to-life situations that other writers might shy away from. I’ve heard people give him flack for it, but I’m guessing those people haven’t read Pedro & Me, because after reading it you can really fell how changed Judd was and how he still wants to get the word out about gay rights, HIV and AIDS and I commend him for it.