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The Non-Marvel Action Hour – 3/26/8

Scott PilgrimFables, Blue Beetle, Ex Machina, Mr. Monster, Scott Pilgrim, and the best Bizarro story ever to not feature Bizarro.

Employee’s Pick

A. Bizarro 4

[DC] A. Bizarro #1-4

Writer: Steve Gerber
Penciler: M.D. Bright

When Dr. Sydney Happersen revives the Bizarro project, he dupes Lexcorp employee Al Beezer into being duplicated. Two years later, Al’s bizarre clone awakens and must piece together his memory and identity while Lex Luthor tries to tie up the loose end that is A. Bizarro.

OvilivaiClick to enlarge.

After visiting Al’s "ex-loving wife" Ovilia Olvivia Oblivia Olivia, Bizarro Al goes to see the original, who advises him to get out of town. That, and do the opposite of what he would do. Bizarro Al figures that he’d rather die, but Superman thwarts his attempt at transubstantiating his body into roadkill. It’s just as well, as later suicide attempts show that Bizarro Al is in less danger from a speeding truck than the truck is from him. More wandering and pondering later, he decides the best thing to do with his life is to follow the dreams that Al didn’t, to leap forward where Al fell back, to- get captured by Lexcorp.


Lex wants to use this new Bizarro to produce human-bizarro hybrids, but fortunately our hero escapes before he can be forced to sleep with beautiful women. Unfortunately, he escapes by stumbling upon a mother box, which transports him to the dread planet Apokolips. There he finds himself in the orphanage of one Granny Goodness, where he meets a girl dressed like Big Barda (methinks Granny has abandonment issues). Together they escape to Earth, and Bizarro Al fulfills his dream of becoming a rock star. It doesn’t last, but he has other dreams, and the means and will to see them through.

New-Type Books

Ex Machina 31

[DC] Ex Machina #31
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Penciler: Tony Harris

More talking. Mayor Hundred flies to Italy and meets the Vatican’s chief astronomer, who accuses him of being the antichrist. That’s always fun. Meanwhile, evil Russians plot to hijack Hundred’s brain. Which doesn’t seem like it would work, but we’ll see. This issue’s a light read, with little in the way of plot advancement. The cover teases the return of Pherson, but he’s not seen or mentioned outside of a flashback, which provides the book’s lone action scene.

Blue Beetle 23

[DC] Blue Beetle Vol. 7 #23
Writer: John Rogers
Penciler: Rafael Albuquerque


This issue, everything happens. Beetle takes the fight to the Reach, the evil aliens who left the scarab on Earth in the first place and plan to (what else?) take over the world. Posthumous aid from supergenius Ted Kord allows Jaime Reyes to figure out a time travel trick that he uses to fool the Reach into revealing the location of their mothership. He makes a daring attack on the ship itself, bursting through the hull to confront the head alien dude, and… he loses. Utterly. Holy crap.

Back Issues

Fables 57

[DC] Fables #57-58
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Mike Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred

Another in-between tale, as the war between the Fables and the Adversary is, for the most part, set aside in favor of a trip to Grandfather’s house. Grandfather being the North Wind, father of the Big Bad Wolf, whose grandkids are the litter of flying, shapeshifting wolf cubs Bigby had with Snow White. Their visit is not entirely a pleasurable one. In no uncertain terms, Bigby informs his father that he fully intends to kill him should circumstances warrant it. Then he asks for a favor. The children go out hunting, aiming to kill their first wild beast as a pack. What they don’t know is the forest they’ve chosen is not like the ones back home; this one is full of monsters.

Big Bad Wolfy

A great and terrible battle ensues, literally shaking the world with its ferocity. Like Bigby’s World War II adventure from issues 28 & 29, this story is narrated by one of the participants in past tense, so even though this takes place in "present day" from our point of view, being the most recent happening in the Fables world, we know before the end that everyone comes out OK. Can’t say as I care for that, nor the other stories the narration hints at, stories we’ll likely never hear whose outcomes have already been partially spoiled. I suppose an absence of drama is preferable to the pretense of drama, however, and spoilers do little to hurt a second reading. The Allreds, as always, deliver beautiful art, almost a match for James Jean’s covers. My lone complaint is the way Bigby is drawn. Having become accustomed to the way regular penciler Mark Buckingham draws him, anything else feels wrong to me, but it’s more than that. Allred’s Bigby looks like a scruffier version of other male leads he’s drawn – Mr. Sensitive/The Orphan from X-Statix for instance – and his half-wolf form is reminiscent of Vivisector from the same comic. There’s plenty of variance in the other characters, though, so whatever.

Mr. Monster

[Image] Mr. Monster vs. Gorzilla
Writer: Ken Bruzenak (story), Michael T. Gilbert (additional dialogue)
Artists: Ken Bruzenak, Michael T. Gilbert

Like the title says, this comic’s about professional monster hunter Doc Stearn, aka Mr. Monster, and his fight with a rampaging lizard whose resemblance to Godzilla is purely coincidental. The goal here is parody, but the humor falls flat. There’s no firm basis for the jokes or internal consistency, so running gags stumble out of the gate and never recover. It’s more like a satire than a parody, especially the way the Japanese are portrayed, and it’s not that rare satire that manages to be better than the material it makes fun of. Worst of all, it only kinda makes me want to go watch a Godzilla movie. Homages tend to entice me to that end, but the only reason I want to watch a cheesy giant monster flick after reading this is the belief that it would be more entertaining.


Scott Pilgrim 1

[Oni] Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
Writer/Artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley

Here’s something you don’t see often in Western comics: an ongoing series published solely in digest form. No monthly issues that are collected months after the last of six has shipped, just the collection itself. This is common practice in Japan, but in English-speaking countries, even small press creators tend to prefer the single issue route, as it’s easier to pull in new readers with a three or four dollar comic than a twelve dollar trade. On the other hand, people who venture outside the Big Two for their comic fix tend to rely on word of mouth; if you get someone interested in a new, unknown property at all, odds are they’re interested enough to buy a whole trade. After that, well, there are advantages for the reader in trades, too. The first issue of a comic is going to have introductions, setup, maybe some story if you’re lucky. A good first issue will give you some idea of whether you want to read more, but there might be issues down the line that would pull you in (or drive you away), issues that aren’t bogged down with establishing the characters, setting, etc. With a trade, you know by the end how you feel about it. Anyone who reads the first volume of Scott Pilgrim and doesn’t like it is never going to like the series.

And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read of it, I’d have to say Scott Pilgrim isn’t for everyone, and I don’t mean it’s only for people with good taste. It’s a peculiar series that appeals very strongly to some, but not so much to others. Our hero, the titular Pilgrim, is a 23-year-old loser. He lives away from home, but in an apartment where virtually everything was bought and paid for by his awesome gay roommate, Wallace Wells, and considering Scott is unemployed, it appears he isn’t covering his end of the rent. Scott plays bass in a band, who have a great name (Sex Bob-Omb) but aren’t any good, and is dating a high schooler, 17-year-old Knives Chau. Or he was, until he met the amazing Ramona Flowers and cast poor, innocent, devoted Knives aside. He’s kind of a jerk, really.

Wallace + awesome = true

The story takes a turn for the weird with the introduction of Ramona, who we first see literally rollerblading through Scott’s dreams. Something about subspace travel and Scott’s empty head being a convenient shortcut. Naturally, seeing his dream girl in real life leads Scott to fixate on her, and after some initial awkwardness they begin dating. But there’s a catch. Ramona has seven evil ex-boyfriends, and Scott has to defeat them all in order to date her. This is when we discover that Scott has superhuman fighting skills that, for whatever reason, he doesn’t use for any selfish or altruistic purpose other than to fend off attacks by other refugees from Videoland. There’s also a random musical number (redundant, I know), fourth-wall-breaking, and the general aura of weird that surrounds Ramona. It’s basically my ideal story: more or less realistic with fantasy elements thrown in because they’re cool.

I’m not the biggest fan of O’Malley’s artwork. Everyone has the same squarish head and gigantic eyes, so you’re basically relying on hair, clothes, and dialogue to tell them apart. I mistook Wallace for a girl in one scene because he has a cute hairstyle. O’Malley’s a skilled storyteller, though, so I can forgive the art not being terribly gorgeous. It works, as it did in Hopeless Savages: Ground Zero. All too often I see a comic where the dialogue doesn’t match the scene because the writer and artist aren’t on the same page. Here they’re seamless, and the cartoonish style fits the wacky tone while allowing for highly expressive faces that don’t take an hour to draw.


A. Bizarro – Another gem from Gerber, this one with a proper resolution.
Ex Machina – Midstoryline filler. Still good, but a little too light.
Blue Beetle – Climactic action!
Fables – A fun sidestory.
Mr. Monster vs. Gorzilla – No action, weak humor, and not much to look at.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life – Slice of life romance with fantasy, sci-fi, and video game elements. It all works, except for the musical number. That part was dumb.


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