Here’s the thing – as I’m sure most of you have noticed, I haven’t been making posts related to doing lengthy reviews of terrible comics. Such reviews take time, and, well, I am both lazy and dedicated to my goal of getting into the comics industry itself to tell good stories. So, sadly, I must deprive you all of DieHard’s crotch or Daredevil’s fifth-dimensional physics.

However, I do like having a comics blog, so I’m going to try to keep it up. And I’ll still do the occasional review, especially since I just have so many bad comics that deserve it. I’ll also be doing a mini-review for Albert Walker over at The Agony Booth as soon as I get off my rear end and polish the review up and make it funny and whatnot. Otherwise, though, the Blog will shift over to my own thoughts and ideas concerning the comic industry, modern comics, scifi and pop culture, and where I think things are going.

Oh, and of course, I will be shamelessly self-promoting anything my puny hands can grab hold of. Will it make me more consistent? Dunno. I do know that Blue Beetle and Teen Titans come out this week, along with the JSA Annual, so two out of three books guarantee to be of some quality (I’ll leave you all to decide which ones I’m talking about… or just wait for me to blog about it).

Oh, and in my spare time, I shall attempt to DESTROY CHRIS SIMS!

…And take over the world. For more on that, here’s this fine gentleman:

Atop the Fourth Wall

Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where we sit over bad comic books and set fire to them. We all know there are bad movies, bad TV shows, and bad novels, but not enough focus is given to those awful, awful comic books. Now I love comics. I can list off several titles at any given point that I’m reading and love, but some books are just plain awful.

So here’s how it works – I find a book that is so painfully bad (or one is suggested to me) and I go over it detail by detail, analyzing and scrutinizing its flaws and trying to make you laugh along the way at some of the sheer idiotic funnybooks out there. Either go to the latest review or click “Read More!” to see the archive!

All-Star Batman and Robin #1

All-Star Goddamn Batman and Dick Grayson, Age Twelve

All-Star Batman and Robin #2

Suddenly Joel Schumacher’s Batman seems subdued and well-executed.

All-Star Batman and Robin #3

Who knew the Irish had secret ninja powers?

All-Star Batman and Robin #4

So basically by Frank Miller’s own admission here Batman is a rude, murderous child abductor who cares what twelve year-olds think about his toys and eats rats when not mourning the loss of the bloody, incestuous affair he had with his mother.

All-Star Batman and Robin #5

Frank Miller once again proving that just because you CAN write doesn’t mean you SHOULD write.

All-Star Batman and Robin #6

Man, remember when the idea of Frank Miller writing Batman seemed awesome? Those days are gone forever.

Badrock #1A

The series no one demanded! Well, except perhaps the American Dental Association…

Blood Pack #1

Thrill as they sit around and bicker with confusing dialogue!

Daredevil #306

The Man Without An Editor for his Obnoxious Purple Prose!

Isaac Asimov’s Ibots #1

And Apple Computers lawsuit in 5…4…3…

Nightcat #1

The comic that makes the movie Glitter look like-

Nah, I take it back.
Glitter is still worse than this.

Secret Defenders #9

Who says there aren’t any overweight superheroes?

Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes #1

Kind of Self-Explanatory, isn’t it?

The New Guardians #2

Sex-crazed international clichés vs. the awesomest villain ever ceated!

Thunderstrike #1

“Whosoever picks up this comic, if he be worthy, shall instantly regret it.”

Uncanny X-Men #423

I have to say, the people who paid 25 cents for this comic were profoundly ripped off.

Youngblood #1

The Next Generation of Zeroes!

The New Guardians #2

Sex-crazed international clichés vs. the awesomest villain ever created!


Something that you start to notice about a lot of crappy comics that have spun out of the last twenty years is that they tend to come about because they were spin-offs from a popular (or semi-popular) comic. Sometimes these spin-offs are widely successful and great, such as Blue Beetle from the relatively recent Infinite Crisis or the old Justice League international that came out of DC’s Legends event. On the other hand, there are some books that just seemed silly to start with.

DC’s Millennium crossover featured two main plot details – one was that the Manhunter robots were secretly infiltrating Earth and disguising themselves as friends of heroes within the universe. The second plot detail was the stupider one – ten human beings who will be the next stage of evolution in the universe. Some of those ten were dead or evil by that point, but the few that were still alive were imbued by the Guardians of the Universe with powers. And thus we get where we are here.

The series only lasted for twelve issues. Supposedly, the idea was that since most of these characters were original creations, they could explore themes that weren’t touched on in regular mainstream books and the characters could change significantly within the book over time. However, it all went downhill quickly as it seems editors were rather squicked out at the idea of a comic that dealt with stuff like sexuality and identity and drugs and etc., etc. It also wasn’t helped that the team was a pastiche of new foreign characters that were basically stereotypes right from the get-go. So, essentially, it was a book that tried to be more than it was, but editors prevented it from reaching its potential and the fans never exactly latched onto the concept.

What really made this worse is that I’m not showing you the first issue here, where it’s more jaw-dropping than this one. For that, I leave you to Truly Awful Comics’s write-up. What’s the problem with the book? Well, apparently the mission of the New Guardians is to have lots and lots of sex so they can pass their genetically-superior genes on to the next generation and ensure mankind’s survival.

Wow.

The cover is once again a little bit better than the usual garbage that graces this book, though I think that’s because it’s issue #2 and not #1. No doubt if this was the first issue, we’d be treated to the team running at the reader as if it was something new and exciting. Instead, we get a scene of the New Guardians in a blizzard, but I should point out that while we do get a jungle in the book and a villain with snow in his name, there is no snow to actually be found. They’re all showing how much in pain they are, reflecting the number of responses people had to this comic.

We open to a full-page spread of the team in front of a silhouetted leg. “Life is hard, then you die.” Well, actually life is like a box of chocolates… no, wait, actually it’s more like an onion – it has layers and- look, I’m just dropping the cliché phrase crap while we’re at it. “I don’t know where I last read those words of inspiration… But they’ve been coming to mind ever since my bold amigos and I arrived here in this snake-infested jungle off the coast of Columbia.” Funny, I’ve been saying the words, “Why-oh-why was this ever green-lit?” ever since I first heard about it. “We were chosen, you see. Chosen by a cosmic pair of higher powers to ensure mankind’s survival throughout the next Millennium.” Ladies and gentlemen, we have a crossover title! “But at the moment — we may have our hands full just surviving the day!

Sooo, the Guardians of the Universe entrusted the fate of all mankind for a thousand years to, looking at the image of our stalwart heroes, the following:
-Some Chinese woman in a cleavage-exposing number with red hair that’s so long she’s got Starfire asking her for showering tips.
-Some guy in a Dr. Strange cloak with a spherical earring that’s larger than both of his eyeballs and a hairdo that screams, “I just discovered Hair gel!”
-Some woman whose green hair appears to be on fire (plus she’s running around in a bikini top and loincloth).
-A guy with more than half of his body replaced with see-through plastic that shows off the fact that he’s got the largest motherboard of any computer on the planet (for that matter, he’s a walking computer. In a jungle. With no visible fans to cool off his systems.).
-Jasoon Woodrue, the Floronic Man. A BAD GUY.
-Harbinger from Crisis on Infinite Earths. Who was taken over once by the most powerful bad guy in the history of the DCU.
Let’s face it, people – our species is doomed.

And what master supervillain are they facing off against?! Well, apparently it’s David Carradine in an armless Santa Claus suit and white face paint over his eyes. He proclaims to the New Guardians, “First freak who comes any closer is a dead freak.” This from the guy who once did a cameo in Epic Movie. Each of our heroes gives off a line that’s meant to be reflective of their character in response to his threat, with the worst of it being a woman named Jet who is our woman with green fire hair in a bikini. According to Wikipedia, she’s supposed to be from England, but the way that her dialogue is written, it looks like she’s supposed to be Spanish. “Freak? ‘E callin’ us freaks? De mon be, higher den a kite!” Yeah, that’s a British accent, all right.

Harbinger proclaims, “The man has obviously never heard of the New Guardians!” Yeah, I mean how can he not have heard of you after you- um… Did that… thing. Yeah. Ram, our Japanese cyborg (a Japanese man whose superpowers are based around computers – that’s not remotely stereotypical), takes the lead and attacks the man. Said white-haired guy roars, “I am Snow-Flame! Every cell of my being burns with white-hot ecstasy. Cocaine is my God— and I am the human instrument of its will!” I can now say, without any hint of irony, that that is the crackiest statement I’ve ever seen in a comic – and I’ve seen Jetpack Hitler and an ancient Khandarian book being used for toilet paper by zombie superheroes. In fact, that statement is so bloody ridiculous, insane, and bad that it swings back around to become AWESOME. Snow-Flame, the man powered by cocaine, is now my favorite character in the universe.

Ram and Snow-Flame exchange blows for a bit, Snow-Flame taking the time to expound about how awesome he is: “A blow like that would have sent an ordinary man reeling! But I am no ordinary man!” Yeah, few men can say they got to pretend to be Uma Thurman’s lover. “You see before you a man on fire!” Well, a man on drugs, anyway. “A man who craves any excuse to burn brighter!” Or a man who craves any excuse to snort cocaine. “I feel no pain, Ram — although I relish your feeble attempts to inflict it!” SNOW-FLAME KNOWS NO PAIN! The other New Guardians, not doing anything to actually help their colleague in taking down the being of pure win that is Snow-Flame, simply comment on the fight. “Takeo remains silent!” Harbinger cries. Gloss, the Chinese woman of the group (who channels the “mystic dragon lines of the earth,” nothing racist there, by the way), comments, “That means he’s getting down to business! serious business!” My God, could it be?! Serious business, you say?! My goodness, what could he be doing?! Devoting more CPU power, perhaps?!

Our helpful narrator, the Doctor Strange wannabe by the name of Extraño, informs us! “Ram’s eyes were now apertures of cold light, as the human side of nature yielded… and gave way to an advanced electronic fighting machine, wielding an awesome might with computer-calibrated precision.” And just to be clear – he says the whole “eyes were now apertures of cold light” right next to a panel of showing that his eyes look just fine. I fear the artist wasn’t really paying that much attention to what he was reading. But then again neither was the writer. And by the by, this “advanced electronic fighting machine” apparently consisted of turning Ram into a Rock’em-Sock’em Robot, since all he does with it is repeatedly punch against Snow-Flame’s chiseled abs.

Snow-Flame remains unimpressed and regails us of more of his Dr. Doom-esque rantings of win: “How long do you think your silicon chips can stand up to my psycho-kinetic flames? Don’t you understand yet? I burn with thoughtaccelerated thought generated by my fantastically heightened mental senses!” Take note of this, kids: cocaine IMPROVES your senses. Apparently, according to Snow-Flame, the more that people fight him, the bigger his high becomes and the stronger he gets. This is illustrated by knocking down Ram (though I think a simple refrigerator magnet would’ve done the trick) and his speech starting to accelerate, removing the spaces like he’s the Flash or something. The Floronic Man laments, “Erythoxylum Coca– what new spore of madness have you released upon the world this time?” You know, with dialogue like this, I am seriously starting to wonder whether this is the worst comic in the world or the awesomest comic in the world.

Snow-Flame’s goons suddenly pop up out of the brush and open fire on the team, apparently killing them all. Huh. That was quick. Snow-Flame orders the New Guardians to be buried, “With alltheir (sic) personal effects intact! In my jungle we respect the dead!” So don’t put them into any humorous poses or anything and- oh, damn it, Steve! I admit it’s funny, but get his hand off of there! Well, folks, that was an interesting read, but at least it was short and- oh, son of a… Extraño’s still talking in his caption boxes! “Death. How often over the course of a lifetime does one entertain colorful fantasies of a swift and noble demise?” Well, considering how many bad comics I’ve had to endure around here… “And how often, I wonder, does the reality turn out to be a slow and agonizing nightmare? Life is hard, then you die.” Look, you’re dead, Extraño! Stop making a big production out of it and just die!

We suddenly shift to the New Guardians in what appears to be a Doctor’s office. Yeahbuhwha?! There’s no text box to indicate that this is in the past or the future or just an hallucination brought on by Extraño’s refusal to just die already and end his melodramatic monologue. But here’s the real kicker of this scene, which is apparently referencing the events of the first issue (not that we get a text box to tell us this, simply speculation on my part with help from Wikipedia): “The results of the autopsy were conclusive. The monster died of AIDS.” Huh. There’s something else this comic has taught me: monsters die of AIDS almost instantaneously and not after months of treatment and being bed-ridden from the various infections that crop up as a result of it.

This is all coming from a Doctor, mind you, and one has to wonder what the heck Steve Englehart was thinking when he wrote this stuff: “This “Hemo-Goblin,” as you call him, could’ve picked up the virus from any of the other victims. Unfortunately, the results of the blood tests we gave the three of you are anything but conclusive.” Harbinger points out that they’ve already been tested as negative, but the Doctor points out (accurately, as well), that there’s an average two-month window where HIV won’t be detected. What I find fascinating about all of this is that they’re giving a lot of accurate information about HIV and AIDS here, but the jaw-dropping moment is what the Doctor apparently thinks may have caused an infection: “This creature who bit you was highly contagious– perhaps due to his accelerated metabolism.” Okay, first of all – if “Hemo-Goblin” just bit the New Guardians, they’re in no danger. The only way a bite could possibly infect them would be if this being had bleeding gums or something that caused the infected blood to mix. Saliva doesn’t carry the virus. Their own blood getting spilled won’t get them infected. I know this was 1988, but come on.

Following this there’s more technical jargon about how AIDS works and transmission and blood cell count and, well, all it does is remind me of the shoddy job that Judd Winick did with it when he gave Mia Dearden AIDS in the pages of Green Arrow. Well, that and Team America’s wonderful song “Everybody Has AIDS!” Extraño laments about how he’s gay and how he’s already familiar with all of it since he’s in a high-risk category. Harbinger expresses her own angst about their (not-possible) infection of AIDS to Jet: “Oh, Celia… how on earth will we be able to go on… with this hanging over us?” Jet’s response is equally drama-free: “Day by day, girl. We haveta larn to live day by day.” Speaking of which, this comic feels like it’s been going on for days now. Come on, give me some Snow-Flame already!

It gets better with Harbinger’s next question: “And our glorious mission? What becomes of that?” Yes – their glorious mission to become pregnant – the goal of any great superheroine! The Doctor points out that women can pass on the virus to their children, much to the horror of the group. They walk off, sullen at the news, but Ram speculates that some guy named Kroef is responsible (another thing I assume happened in the previous issue, but no editorial boxes to indicate this), sending in the Hemo-Goblin to fight them and infect them. The group rush off to the airport (they’re a superhero group that needs to book passage on an airline?! In full costume, no less?!) but are stopped there by CIA agent Twerlinger (*Snickers*). By the by, our little CIA Agent here is dressed in an ugly brown suit with an even uglier yellow plaid shirt beneath the jacket. Because nothing says “Central Intelligence Agency” more than the outfit of a Used-Car Salesman.

Twerlinger explains, “Ever since your well-documented rift with Janwillem Kroef last year, the Agency has been keeping tabs on the six of you. We don’t presume to know all the particulars of the split. Our goal here is to prevent six aliens from causing an international incident.” Okay, let me stop you right there, Mr. CIA-Man. You just admitted (and followed-up on in the next page) that these six are not United States citizens. As such, if they should go to South Africa and confront this guy, it won’t be on the United States’ plate. Furthermore, it’s not like a country tends to be held accountable for the actions of a citizen of that country acting on their own volition. If an American travels to China and murders a Chinese citizen because the American was a sociopathic freak, the Chinese government isn’t going to hold the entire United States responsible for the actions of one psychopath. These six people, none of whom are citizens of or agents of the United States or its government, are traveling to a foreign country to confront a criminal of their own free will and decisions. No one ordered them to do so. What exactly is the “international incident” you’re worried about here? That the USA will be embarrassed that the people who helped save the planet earlier now want to go around having lots of sex?

In any case, more posturing from the CIA guy follows and the New Guardians respond that they need to see him for what they’ve done and blah, blah blah. Man, I just really miss Snow-Flame. The CIA guy agrees to make a deal with them – if they go to Columbia to put Snow-Flame out of business, the CIA will keep the Kroef file open and give them time to build a case against him. We cut back to the scene that we just saw seven pages ago when another member of the New Guardians, Betty, speaks up about how Snow-Flame’s troops are in the brush. Betty, according to Extraño, is “the cosmic aborigine with whom I share my soul.” So, what, Extraño’s soul is on a time-share? Betty, by the way, is a floating ball with a face on it, a huge nose, and more green hair. What was with the artist for this and his obsession with green? We have Ram, whose technological bits are shown as green, Floronic Man, who has plants all over him, Gloss with the green costume, Betty and her bizarre green whatever-the-hell-that-is, and Jet with the flaming green hair. To make matters worse, Extraño’s powers apparently manifest in the form of green energy. I suspect that if Harbinger hadn’t already had her colors chosen that her uniform would be bright green instead of blue.

Anyway, Extraño says that the heightened senses of the others gave them precious little time to prepare for the danger, and now we cut back to, hell, I don’t know. You know how the timeline of All-Star Batman and Robin makes no sense because of the text boxes saying when they took place? I’m now really lamenting those, since now we’re back to the New Guardians being dead. Except it turns out they’re not dead. Even more to my surprise, Snow-Flame’s men, who were supposed to be building graves for them, have apparently made a huge-ass trench[!?] to bury them! Why? Because it makes it all the more dramatic when the New Guardians suddenly pop up and look down at the soldiers. “They are demons!” one poor soul shouts. Gloss responds, “No. Superior beings.” Not a hint of arrogance with that, is there?

Gloss uses her earth-powers to bury the soldiers in the huge freaking trench that they had just dug. And no, we don’t get any explanation about how the hell the New Guardians survived being shot repeatedly beyond “we’re superior beings!” and “Thank goodness Betty warned us about the soldiers!” Yet another thing we can all learn from this comic – you are immune to bullets as long as you know that they’re coming. Ram comments that he has been disgraced and “There is but one way for me to regain my honor.” Yeah, because you know, the Japanese are all about honor and stuff when it comes to battle, since they’re all samurai ninjas who like their technology. Extraño ends the dialogue in the group with not only a cliché, but a cliché that makes no sense: “By the end of this long jungle trek, you will find revenge is a dish best served cold, amigo.” Just let that line sink in for a moment and remember that somebody actually wrote that and was paid to write it, in fact.

The group makes its way through the jungle and discover Snow-Flame’s compound. Snow-Flame himself is lounging around a pool, reveling in how they only need to sell a paltry ten bags of cocaine in order to afford a Rolls-Royce while women in bikinis drape themselves over him. The New Guardians knock out the guards with what Jet refers to as “alpha waves,” which makes no sense to anyone who even bothered to look up what an “alpha wave” is. They point out that his guards aren’t a match for them and his guests are too high to care. “You cannot take on the six of us alone!” Oh, those poor fools. Don’t they know they’re going up against the awesome might of Snow-Flame?!

And that Snow-Flame charm quickly ramps it up after they offer him the chance to give up. “Give up the ultimate exhilaration— the divine rapture— the euphoria of electricity that now surges through every molecule of my body?” You know, that feeling of euphoria he gets right before the drug wears off and all. To enhance the rich insanity of Snow-Flame, he buries his face in a whole bunch of cocaine and just starts snorting like mad. Snow-Flame orders his entourage to attack, who strangely obey, despite the fact that they’re all strung out on cocaine just as he is. However, knowing the New Guardians, I’m surprised the whole thing didn’t turn into a huge drug orgy.

The New Guardians are taken aback by the various people in swimwear that attack them. “All de coke ‘as left dem crazed!” Damn it, why couldn’t they have had Pepsi, instead?! “They feel no pain!” So, in addition to the superpowers cocaine apparently creates, it also destroys nerve endings. Got it. Floronic Man suddenly starts feeling sick while Ram goes to confront Snow-Flame again. Floronic Man starts commenting about the color of one of the attackers’ eyes and, much to my complete and utter amazement, Gloss reasons what’s happened to him: “Erythoxylum coca! That photosensitive plant skin of his has given Floro a contact high!” That’s right, folks: Floronic Man absorbed cocaine into his skin via photosynthesis. Not only does cocaine not work that way, plants do not work that way, and photosynthesis sure as hell does not work that way.

Gloss uses the “dragon lines of power of the earth” (whatever the hell those are supposed to be) to extract the cocaine from Floronic Man’s system. The two hit upon the idea of using this to siphon the cocaine from the bodies of all the people who are attacking them (and no, nobody thinks to use this to help out real-life cocaine addicts, because that would actually be the smart thing to do). Ram wrestles Snow-Flame into a swimming pool at the compound, which I’m sure is meant to extinguish his flames, even though I can’t see any evidence of Snow-Flame’s powers actually being flame-related. When they get out of the pool, his strength returns, but Ram punches him into a shed, which turns out to be the chemical shed. Said chemical shed subsequently explodes. Can anyone explain to me why the highly flammable chemical shed was owned by the guy whose powers apparently involved bursting into flames, and furthermore why you’d put it next to the pool?

The New Guardians recover and get up, cracking a few jokes with one another (no one is apparently upset that Snow-Flame just went kablooie). Harbinger, however, will have no humor. “How can any of you laugh and make light of our situation? Don’t you realize our mission has been aborted before it has begun?” Jeez, every party needs a pooper. Harbinger flies off, upset more about the fact that three of them may have contracted AIDS than all the people who were killed by the explosion. The various swimsuited people in the compound come to the New Guardians and state, “For so long… we permitted Snowflame and the white powder to be our Gods. But you have shown us the folley of our ways! It is the six of youyou who are the true gods here!” So, wait a second, these people were genuinely worshipping cocaine? What, did they pray at the altar of “his holiness John Belushi” and make sacrifices to “the reverend Chris Farley?”

And instead of giving an answer to the church of the snorters, we just get a one-page splash of Extraño looking down at the plants as beams of light shine down around him. “…Yet I do not know if my future is to be measured in months… years… or decades. I tell you something. Life is hard.” I tell you something, too: The Prince look went out- well, let’s put it this way – the Prince look was never in to begin with.

Okay, let’s collect everything we’ve learned from this comic:
-Cocaine leaves you not only lucid after inhalation, but with super-strength and white face-paint under your eyes.
-AIDS can be spread by biting people and kills you almost instantly.
-Being shot to death is really nothing more than some kind of reverse placebo effect. If you know the bullets are coming, you won’t get shot!

And that’s the review! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go see if I get superpowers from marijuana.

Daredevil #306

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The Man Without An Editor for his Obnoxious Purple Prose!

Intro 1: Really Lame Villains

Over at Dave’s Long Box (where I originally learned of this comic and its first part, both of which really are bad), Dave Campbell first thought up the concept of “The Riddler Factor.” Essentially, The Riddler Factor is that there’s a villain that for all intents and purposes should be knocked out with one punch by the hero, but because they need them for there to be an actual plot, the villain somehow manages to get away easily. And thus is the case of today’s comic, featuring the dastardly villain the Surgeon General!

What does the Surgeon General do? Well, there’s an urban legend about people who are drugged and then one or more of their internal organs are removed and sold on the Black Market. The victim then awakens to discover what has befallen them one way or another. While organ harvesting in such a capacity doesn’t really exist because of the complications necessary in organ removal and transportation, there is a black market for organs. However, said organs are usually obtained through other means – coercion, negotiation, or just theft form the recently deceased. However, urban myths and legends are the stuff of entertainment; hence we have the Surgeon General.

The Surgeon General has no powers, no martial arts skills, and no motivation, either. There’s no particular reason she does what she does besides for money, but that makes no sense. Being as skilled a surgeon as she is she could easily be making a six or seven-figure salary performing operations. So she doesn’t even have an appealing backstory that makes us want to sympathize with her plight in the slightest. She’s just frigid and mean because she’s the villain. The only thing she’s got going for her besides her medical skills is her army of henchmen, who all dress like her and follow her because… hell, I don’t know. She pays them, maybe? Her costume isn’t even that striking. It’s basically some kind of modified bulky nurse uniform with various medical supplies attached to it, a stupid-looking hat, and a big, irritating sash that holds scalpels and knives. It’s not scary, it just looks unimaginative. Although at least she’s wearing pants.

This is the kind of villain that Stilt-Man or Crazy Quilt can point at and say, “Jeez, what a loser!”

Intro 2: Of Ben Affleck and Heroic Inspiration

Okay, I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like Daredevil. Now, if I were to someday be a comic writer for Marvel I’d treat him with respect since he is still a superhero and perfectly competent and skilled. However, if given the choice I’d love to avoid him altogether. The concept of a blind superhero is great, serving as an inspiration to any reader who has a disability, showing that one can overcome it and do great things. But the problem is that Daredevil isn’t really blind.

Oh, sure, there was an accident that robbed him of his sight, but what did this accident grant him? A radar sense. Essentially, he hears sounds and the sound waves create a kind of echo-location system that allows him to shape out objects as if he could still see them. In this comic he apparently has super-smelling, which basically does the same thing even though that doesn’t make any sense. One also has to wonder how he coordinated any aspect of his costumes, since it’s not like one can smell or hear colors. Sure, there’s the obvious joke one makes about his yellow outfit or his EXTREME! armored blue costume obviously being made by a blind man, but when one thinks about it he still had to get accessories and matching material to make it, so did he have a friend or something that assisted him in any of these circumstances? And why did he trust them? For all he knew, it could’ve been a bright green ensemble with stripes and polka-dots and he’d never know the difference.

Sure, that’s something you can let suspension of disbelief handle, but it does hang in the back of my mind. But then again, most of my information about Daredevil originally came from the movie starring Ben Affleck. Before that, I just knew he was a blind superhero who I sometimes mistook for Spider-Man from far away. Now I know some of you are shouting, “But Lewis, that movie was terrible! Don’t let that taint your view on him!” Well, it’s all well and good, but even upon seeing the movie I thought to myself, “A radar sense that makes him being blind superfluous? That’s just stupid.” Since this is a comic blog and not a movie one, I’ll avoid going into all the details of why the movie sucked, but needless to say that despite its flaw, it apparently remained relatively faithful to the original comics, which doesn’t exactly endear me to the original stories.

My other problem with Daredevil is that he’s just so damn depressing. Any time I see Daredevil’s book it’s filled with darkness and grittiness and usually going up against more “realistic” threats. That’s fine for those that like it, but you’ve got to admit Daredevil’s got the potential to angst more than Spider-Man. To make matters worse, Daredevil is more poisonous to girlfriends than Kyle Rayner. You’d think the guy would just wear a big sign that says “Women stay away from me or else you’ll end up murdered, a heroin-addicted porn star, or a heroin-addicted porn star who’s later murdered.” Hell, the only redeeming thing I found in one book was during Kevin Smith’s run (where said heroin-addicted porn star girlfriend is murdered by Bullseye) where Daredevil made a long speech to Spider-Man about how nothing they do ever makes a difference and life is bleak and terrible for average people and Spidey pauses for a moment and just responds, “Dude, you saved a baby girl’s life today” before he swings off.

And now onto the crappy comic.

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Composition-wise, this is certainly a more interesting cover than we’re used to seeing here at Atop the Fourth Wall, since usually it’s just a single character hanging around in a weird environment or a group shot of several heroes running towards the reader. However, in this case, we have something that actually catches the reader’s attention, with a menacing villain holding the symbols of the heroes by knives. While the Surgeon General herself still looks kind of stupid, there’s still a symbolic dread to having her loom over the heroes like this. It’s made all the more serious when we see that Spider-Man and Daredevil are struggling for their lives from being forcibly operated on by faceless surgeons. Of course, the effect is kind of ruined by the pun, but whatever.

We open to a knife embedded in a spider-tracer. On that note, where did Spider-Man get the capital to fund all his various devices and chemicals that he utilized if he was always strapped for cash in the old days? Daredevil is our narrator for the events: “Spider-Man’s tracking device was supposed to deliver the Surgeon General firmly into our hands. What we’re left holding can only be described with a locker room vulgarism best left unsaid.” What, be sure to shower before entering the pool? “The arachnid’s response to her discover of his spider-tracer is typically cavalier:” To which Spider-Man proclaims, “Oops.” What really makes this scene is Daredevil’s inner monologue channeling our old pal the narrator from Thunderstrike #1: “My own response is equally laconic — but drips a disturbing and unwelcome inner fury.” And what was this furious, laconic, disturbing response to this intense moral outrage?! “Dead end.” Yeah, my spine just went a shakin’ after that one, yep.

“I blame Surgeon General’s Human Organ Black Market for this growing malignancy within–” our nation like an unchecked cancer! Sorry, I’ll quit it with the Thunderstrike references. “–And I mean to see her answer for it!” The two start searching around and Spider-Man finds a case full of red plastic bags. Spider-Man comments, “Trendsetting garbage bags!” Oh, my sides. “Medical waste, Spidey — Human.” As opposed to sea otter medical waste bags. Thanks for the clarification, Daredevil. For no particular reason, Daredevil knocks over what looks like a barrel full of salt, but apparently it’s ashes. Daredevil takes off his glove and sifts through it. “Smooth fabric among the brittle, warm flakes of evidence charred almost to nothing. Strand of silk, soaked in a mix of expensive perfume and sewer reek.” So he knows what a sewer smells like by touching things? Daredevil lets off with his “hypersenses” in search of something else with “that foul scent.” Brace yourselves, folks – we’re in for a stinker.

Daredevil suddenly takes off his glove and points at one of the floorboards. “There!” he cries out. Even Spidey asks him, “‘There’? There what?! Why do I feel so in the dark with the blind guy around?” I know the feeling, especially since there’s no way Daredevil could’ve detected anything unless it made a sound! “Tracing the footprint in the floorboard grit… tactile sensation searching the rubbery carcass of the latest victim in a timeless struggle.” Apparently said victim is a dead cockroach. Although, how Daredevil “heard” the dead cockroach is up for debate, especially since he detected it BEFORE he took off his glove with his “tactile sensation!” “Radar picks out the insect’s contours, the imprint stamped there.” And we get a sketchy black image with a few white lines on it that I assume is supposed to represent how it looks from Daredevil’s perspective, but I can’t see a damn thing that would make me think this was supposed to be a cockroach.

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Daredevil sees the imprint of a key within the dead cockroach (so, wait – the cockroach was killed by a key falling on it?) and asks Spider-Man to spin his webbing soft enough to get the imprint out. “I can, but… I mean, c’mon, DD, the name’s Spider-Man, not Roach.” Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, there’s that classic Spidey banter. With the imprint in hand, we transition to the Surgeon General talking to some business-type person. The businessman, by the name of Mr. Addams, complains that his investors are concerned. We also learn the Surgeon General’s last name is Kutter. Remember, kids – in comic books, if your name sounds like anything, you will be a supervillain. “Tell them to cool their jets, Mr. Addams! They’ll get their pound of flesh, literally — and anything else the Black Market will support!” By the by, they’re having this discussion in the middle of what looks like a crowded mall, so it’s good that they’re loudly announcing their plans to sell black market organs in explicit detail.

Mr. Addams points out how Daredevil and Spider-Man have put them behind schedule, but the Surgeon General says they’re only minor setbacks, telling him to look around him at all the people. “The young urban professionals rushing about in their almighty ritual of paper pushing… taking only enough time out of busy schedules to fine tune their bodies to society’s ideal through nutrition programs and health clubs!” Quick, everybody run to McDonalds! “All the raw material we could want is well within reach, Mr. Addams! Tell your corrupt surgical teams wherever, they’ll get what they need, and then some.” Ah, nothing like villains who freely admit they’re EVIL and whatnot, eh? Such a fascinating look at what drives this character! Addams tells her that “An industry such as ours cannot continue if no goods come down the production line!” What, do they make beanie babies out of the organs or something? “Nothing good about it, Mr. Addams… only quality.” The surgeon General replies. I see the Surgeon General also possesses Spidey’s trademark wit!

As Addams leaves on a conveniently placed boat, the Surgeon General’s partner (who possesses a large set of keys that he likes to jingle around) leans against a nearby wall. The Surgeon General takes out a green handkerchief for some reason and the partner remarks, “You ruin more of them fancy hankys down here, Angeline.” She replies, “Have to cut down on the smell some way, Jebediah.” Jeez, I haven’t seen puns this bad since Batman and Robin. “I don’t know what stinks more… the sewage in the water or that pig Addam’s arrogance.” Arrogance? He pointed out legitimate potential problems to your illicit business and you call it arrogance? Anyway, Jebediah here drops his keys and then steps on them, pointing out that he’s “always doing that,” which is just the stupidest excuse I could think of for how we ended up with a key’s imprint on a dead cockroach.

We cut over to Matt Murdock’s law office. He calls up someone to get information on the key he and Spidey lifted. Daredevil’s narration skills come back to the forefont. “Foggy and I got a good deal snagging space at Manhattan’s Worldwide Plaza — a prestigious address for the letterhead of two hotshot lawyers on the comeback trail. It carries some clout… A smooth line honed on countless juries does the rest[??].” I think the narration’s gone off into its own little world. “Pads of my fingers “read” the impressions of graphite on the rubbing, reversed off Spider-Man’s makeshift mold.” So, no need for brail, eh, Matthew boy? You know, with his radar senses and the ability to read by touching things, I don’t see why I need any sight at all!

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To make matters better, upon receiving a fax from the security firm responsible for the key, he reads that the same way he did the graphite impressions. He whispers to himself, “Angeline Kutter, world financial center “medical supplies” — arrogant piece of work, aren’t you?” Again with the arrogance remarks! To quote a certain Spaniard – you keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means. Foggy Nelson walks in holding airline tickets. “Pack your bags, Matt! We’re flying first class to Vegas!” Yeah, I’m sure your clients won’t mind if you suddenly went on vacation. I mean, being the highly successful law firm that you are… that just moved into a new building… and according to the dialogue, you just worked to renew your license to practice law… Hrmm. Does anyone else even work at Nelson and Murdock? Anyway, Foggy convinces Matt he should take a vacation after pointing out how long he worked to get his license to practice back and- wait, what?

“Franklin Nelson didn’t graduate at the top of our class at Columbia.” That much is certainly obvious. “But he earns high marks in “Real Life 101.”” Pity it turned out he didn’t have enough Residency Credits. “His words hit hard, staying the sacrifice of the man for the mask.” Deep. “I fought to redeem both sides of my identity…” Jeez, with the random annunciation of words you’d think Miller was still writing this comic. Okay, that was an ellipses at the end there, so obviously it must lead into the next page’s- wait a second! We turn the page and suddenly we’re in a completely different scene! You fought hard to redeem both sides of your identity and what, exactly?! What was the point of that line if it didn’t lead into something?!

Cut to the World Trade Center (*Sigh*) where Daredevil and Spider-Man are meeting. “The wallcrawler does his thing, confirming that Kutter’s nobody’s fool — covering her shapely backside as she has at every turn.” …And he makes the determination that her backside is shapely how, exactly? Oh, yes, his radar sense. I didn’t know echo-location was so good at determining the sexiness of an individual. Spider-Man checks around and tells Daredevil that no one’s there, so they’re back to square one. Daredevil comments that the sewage smell is there, as well, so it’s likely she spent a lot of time in the area. Well, either that or the WTC had really bad plumbing. “Surgeon General’s got a quota to meet, Spidey. Fastest way for her to meet that black magic number is by sticking to what’s familiar.” Maybe it was explained in part one, but how does Daredevil know that she’s got a quota to meet?

Daredevil goes back to writing his inner monologue prose to submit for his creative writing class: “In the pre-7 AM concrete canyons at the southern tip of Manhattan island (“C-minus, Mr. Murdock. You might as well say it was a dark and stormy night.”), dancing patterns of light fly across my shoulders, light-dark hot-cold (Whosawha-?), cathedral-like (In that only God can save us from this crap)… Start saying your prayers, General.” Yes, pray that this will be over soon!

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Nearby, the owner of a restaurant informs the audience via caption boxes that the patrons have all collapsed in their chairs, a result of something in the food. The Surgeon General and her crew arrive, posing as emergency workers. She tells him that the area is quarantined and that he and his staff should leave. And of course as soon as they leave, the Surgeon General and her equally-fashionable Surgeon Soldiers all put on their ridiculous outfits and prep to operate on all the impaired patrons. They get to work and we’re treated to loving shots of the Surgeon General cutting into people as blood drips all around them and various comments are thrown about. Someone calls out for anesthesia, to whit someone calls back to them, “Screw the gas!” I have money! “Let ‘em feel something now, they won’t be feeling anything soon enough.” I know how that feels. All this is happening and I don’t feel a damn thing.

Daredevil and Spider-Man arrive, though I’m really not sure how. The artwork has Daredevil looking down from some rooftop, but the perspective is wonky in the sense that I can’t tell if we’re looking at an interior edge or an exterior edge. To make matters worse, Spider-Man is just kind of floating there as if he was leaping towards the edge where Daredevil is, but it would make no sense to frame him like that, especially since it almost looks like one of his feet is attached to the wall. Daredevil laments that they’re too late and Spider-Man asks if he’s got a particular strategy in mind. Daredevil yells out, “KUTTER!” in a speech bubble that’s emphasized with red on the inside and jagged edges. Daredevil leaps down through some kind of window, causing the Surgeon General to look up with contempt and yell back with the same kind of bubble, “DAREDEVIL!” Spider-Man leaps down, as well, commenting, “Good strategy!” Yeah, Daredevil’s been taking lessons from a master strategist – Nebula.

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Once again a note on the artwork – it’s a full page spread of Daredevil and Spidey leaping down, but there are a few problems with it. First and foremost, we just saw the previous page where Daredevil smashed the overhead window going at it face-first. Now, on this panel, his body has twisted into a kicking pose and he’s holding out his arms like he’s trying to fly or something. Furthermore, he leapt down before Spider-Man, and yet in this image Spider-Man is below him and shooting out his webbing to catch himself from falling to his death. Next, the panel implications were that Daredevil was looking right at the Surgeon General as he was falling, but now Spidey and Daredevil aren’t even looking down at the Diabolical Doctors (I’m trying to come up with a name for the Surgeon General’s little gang of henchman, in case you haven’t caught on). Instead, they’re facing away from them and at a wall, since we can clearly see the Sinister Surgeons in the overhead shot. Apparently radar senses allow you to violate continuity and physics.

As per tradition in comics, the Surgeon General and her cohort Jebediah manage to get in lots of dialogue before Daredevil hits the ground. She tells him to take the organs they already have and get to the ambulance. Daredevil’s narration returns with a vengeance: “Rage blinds common sense, just as it’s done every step of the way with the Surgeon General.” What an interesting dichotomy – my rage at this comic blinds the common sense that was necessary for someone to say, “Say, isn’t this kind of a stupid villain?” Kind of a weird paradox is at work – rage at comic leads to comic being created, thus leading to rage and etc. One of the Surgeon General’s cronies decides he wants to grab one more organ (what organ isn’t particularly clear, since the woman he’s about to cut into doesn’t have any other cuts on her) to qualify for some sort of bonus. Of course, like his boss, this loser is wielding a knife that is completely impractical for surgery of any kind. Oh, and Daredevil lands like two feet away from him. Apparently none of these people spent very much time on their medical education.

Daredevil promptly beats the snot out of the guy while Spider-Man engages the other Felonious Physicians. “Spider-Man’s got his own way of dealing. A combination of wit and Spider-Sense that keeps the perpetrators off balance and threats off his back.” Spider-Man subsequently gets cut by one of the surgeons. Quite a large cut, too, by the looks of the piece of costume that was ripped off by the impractical knife. Yeah, that’s really keeping the threats off his back there. This is really just a further illustration of why this comic sucks so much – these are a bunch of idiots running around in surgical masks and wielding knives. Spider-Man should be able to do one roundhouse kick and knock them all away. Instead, he gets cut and sent into a pile of oxygen tanks (why were there oxygen tanks just sitting around in a restaurant? We’re never told).

Daredevil chases after the Surgeon General out into a mall, where apparently the restaurant was located (why aren’t there other people in the mall?), somehow not being able to catch an ordinary woman with a big oxygen tank on her back. Apparently when Daredevil got his enhanced agility and endurance, he decided to make it fair for supervillains by walking briskly after them as opposed to chasing them. The Surgeon General grabs one of those cart stores you might find in a mall and somehow turns it enough so she can shove it at Daredevil, forcing him to LEAP OVER IT DRAMATICALLY! Apparently the Surgeon General has the proportional strength of a surgeon general… which is more than you’d think. To make Daredevil look even more incompetent, he grabs at her from behind as he’s falling down, but she somehow manages to reach back with a hypodermic needle and stab his leg[!!]… his leg that’s currently up in the air since he’s falling towards her[!!!].

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Daredevil falls… I think… It’s really hard to tell from the artwork, but he is floating above the ground. Apparently he falls in front of some sort of electronic map system. You know, maybe us Minnesotans just haven’t caught up with New York, but this was released in 1992 and they had electronic maps? Even in 2008 the malls in the area are still using a solid picture map. Anyway, here’s where we ramp up the silliness. Daredevil, lost in the “maze of the World Financial Center,” needs to find the Surgeon General since his radar sense and his normal senses are on the fritz. As such, he starts randomly pushing buttons on the map, since he can’t see the display colors on the electronic map. Somehow, he finds a printer[!!] function and prints off the map. “Hardcopy map of the Center’s layout, handy convenience for the tourist trade in search of restrooms…” Not a good idea to remind your readers they could be doing something more valuable with their time – like going to the bathroom. “…And vigilantes looking to bring down mad doctors.” Speaking of mad doctors, anyone have Kevorkian’s number?

Back with Spidey, the remaining goons make a run for it but run right into a large and quite clearly visible web that he’s set up in their path. And even after they all get trapped in it, they still don’t get it, almost panicking as they’re trapped in it. Of course, since the web is put in between two palm tree displays, Spider-Man quips, “Now I’ve got you by the coconuts…” You know, I’ve heard puns made by five year-olds that were better than that line.

Daredevil and Spider-Man chase after the Surgeon General and are about to catch her when she spots some of her goons driving up in ambulances. The General takes off her oxygen tank and it’s revealed that actually it was some sort of explosive, noxious gas she was carrying around[!!!]. She smacks the top of the tank against a metal wall and releases it, a spark flying in and exploding it. Yeah, she really thought this plan through well. Of course, somehow instead of getting vaporized in the explosion, we see both Daredevil AND the Surgeon General leaping out of the building as glass explodes around them. Somehow the General manages to catch Spider-Man as she’s flung out[!!!] and they land on top of one of the ambulances. Daredevil swings around with his billy club to try to catch them. And the artwork really baffles, as we see Daredevil’s legs suddenly shrink below him while his chest puffs up like a balloon and his left arm turns transparent.

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The Surgeon General orders Jebediah to floor it, which he promptly does. However, Daredevil manages to reach the ambulance and carries the Surgeon General off. Spidey leaps up and webs up the wheels of the car, causing it to crash. Despite the fact that the Surgeon General is an ordinary woman wearing a surgical mask, she still manages to stand up after all that and berate Daredevil for all the money she’s lost. Like a total spaz, she slices around with her impractical knife trying to kill Daredevil, but she keeps holding her arms in front of her and right in the path of the blade, causing her to accidentally cut her wrist. Upon doing so¸ she gasps and wonders what she’s been doing. She says that it feels so cold and I have to tilt my head in wonderment. Apparently, all they really needed to do to get the Surgeon General to stop her rampage was to give her a papercut. Daredevil rips off a piece of her costume and ties it around her wrist to put pressure on the wound. Oh, and her blood suddenly becomes brown in the panel, too, probably so people won’t be confused by the big red costumed guy standing right there.

Spidey arrives and says the bogus doctors have been webbed up and comments on what a mess has been made from all this. “Y’know, DD — and don’t take this the wrong way, but — your bad guys don’t play very nice, do they?” Hmmm. You’re absolutely right, Spidey. Say, how’s Gwen Stacy these days? We transition to the next page via a Daily Bugle article talking about the capture of the Surgeon General to a shot of Las Vegas. Wait a second, if they’re in Las Vegas, why do they have a copy of a New York newspaper?! Three mob guys are standing in a casino and discussing (in plain, public view and hearing) that they plan on making Foggy Nelson act as their lawyer since he apparently has worked with the Kingpin before. When one of them asks what’ll happen if Nelson isn’t as good as they’ve heard, one guy suddenly becomes some sort of demonic, glowing entity (well, I’m sure that’s not what the artist intended, but that’s what we get) and states, “Nelson either delivers… or he’s dead!

And thus our comic ends with the preview of next issue saying that it’ll star Daredevil, Punisher, AND Nomad! Wow, now that’s just a recipe for success! Jeez, this book has more superhero guest stars than the current run of Supergirl. That’s it for this review! Be sure to consult your doctors before you get your organs stolen!

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Man, remember when the idea of Frank Miller writing Batman seemed awesome? Those days are gone forever.


Well, once again I’ve dropped the ball. I’ve considered just turning Atop the Fourth Wall into a general comics blog site to encourage myself to post more, but I fear that defeats the point of a site designed to make fun of bad comics. Besides, I don’t read as many books as others.

In any case, here we find ourselves once again to another issue of All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. Thanks to Jim Lee’s timely efforts to get a few issues in the can before they’re released, we now have a few issues that have been released every month or so for the past few months. Mind you, most of them seem to be most two-page spreads, but hey a book is a book. And a bad book is still a bad book.

Frank Miller has been laying the groundwork for several issues now of just saying “screw the Batman and Robin angle; I’m doing the whole friggin’ DC Universe!” and this issue is no different, as we see Black Canary return after her 14-page stint back in issue 3 as well as bringing in yet another supporting character from the bat family. Ah well, once more unto the breach, I guess…

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Ah, nothing like a good Jim Lee cover featuring two characters that aren’t even integral to a book titled Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder, eh? While beautifully drawn, I do have to mention that Batgirl’s head seems a tad on the large side. However, I would just like to reinforce Jim Lee’s talents here with the fact that he can take a Miller drawing and just do it in his own style instead of reinventing the entire costume. In this case, he does it with the Miller-style Batman logo and the… interesting costume for Batgirl. While I applaud Miller for a lack of exposed cleavage, I do wonder why about the functionality of lots of dangly bits on a superhero costume. Sure, she’s a teenager, but come on, where did she get all the little metal bats?

Anyway, we now return to the comic that keeps on giving us a crazy guy we call BINO. “Sometimes I wonder why I never sleep anymore. But not TONIGHT.” Considering the messed-up timeline we’ve got for how long ago you kidnapped Dick Grayson, Age Twelve, it doesn’t surprise me at all that he doesn’t sleep. “It’s been the kind of night that DREAMS are made of. The kind of night I was BORN for.” Yeah, I dream of kidnapping young children to put them on a war against crime and then beat up criminals, too. What, don’t you? Anyway, all of this BINO narration is coming on a one-page spread of BINO’s head. I see they’ve reduced the time it takes for Jim Lee to do pencils but just having huge spreads of small parts of the body so we don’t need as much detailing.

Flip the page and now a two-page spread! Admittedly, this one’s got more detailing on it, but still… Anyway, it’s a two-page spread of Irish Canary, who apparently has been driving around lost for six months until she finally made it here from issue 3. Actually, when we consider comic book time vs. real time here, considering the lengthy gaps between issues, it’s probably plausible that the events of her book took place six months ago.

BINO’s internal monologue continues: “Just what I NEED. Some damn AMATEUR showing up out of NOWHERE.” With a roaring lion between her legs, too! “Crazy kid. She’ll get herself KILLED, here. She’ll get herself KILLED.” Maybe if I go ride a motorcycle and wear fishnets I can get killed, too? “Where the hell are all these damn wannabes COMING from?” Ask the writer, BINO, since apparently Frank Miller didn’t understand that a book called All-Star Batman and Robin should be about Batman and Robin.

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We cut to “Three hours ago.” Now, let’s go to the flowchart here of timelines – apparently, fifteen hours before he’s kidnapped, Dick Grayson, Age Twelve’s picture appears on a milk carton in Metropolis, causing Superman to get angry and smash it (or possibly he’s lactose intolerant and is sick of Lois picking on him for it). Then we have five hours ago, where we had the man-obsessed Wonder Woman in her pointless high heels talk about killing Batman with other members of the Justice League before inadvertently kissing Superman, who finally says something other than “Damn!” And now we’re at three hours ago. Based on the timescale seen here, BINO has constructed an entire plot around kidnapping this poor, frightened child, and sent clues to everyone else ahead of time for no particular reason. And now trying to think about all this has made my head hurt.

In any case, we cut to some new narration captions which seem to be a combination of the pretentious narrator from Thunderstrike and the voice of Coleman Francis from The Beast of Yucca Flats. “The human spirit is indomitable. Even here–in the rain-soaked, blood-caked canyons of Gotham City–Even in Gotham, there is youthful joy.” Well, I’m glad somebody is happy. Me, I just feel bored. Barbara Gordon runs up a flight of stairs, looking just as psychotic as the woman from the previous issue of ASBAR. “Barbara Gordon. Age Fifteen. Listening to her Dad.” Frank Miller. Physical age Fifty. Writing-style age Thirteen. Driving us insane.

To my utter sadness, it seems Jim Gordon has now entered the foray. And since all the characters in ASBAR can be summed up in pretty much with a few words each time we see them, his defining characteristic is “talkative.” Due to the sheer amount of words we see him speaking here, I’ll save some space here and just tell you the gist of it: he reads to his kid and is worried that his son will probably end up like “some kind of artist type with a ring through his lip.” Nice to see he’s so open-minded in this book. The ever-helpful narrator returns: “Human nature is indomitable.” Wait, I thought it was Human Spirit? “But Life is complex.” I can’t wait for Frank Miller’s philosophy book to come out – Life and its Goddamn Complexities.

“She’s listening to her Dad. Who’s just happening to be talking on the phone to the woman of his dreams while his wife sits in the next room texting somebody.” Along with this emphasizing of random words, Frank Miller will teach you about how to laugh while fighting off criminals and having affairs in his book. Barbara comes into the room and kisses her dad, swearing it up while Jim Gordon talks with Sarah Essen, who would later become his wife in the comics and was featured in Batman: Year One where she had an affair with Gordon. Apparently, like all women in Frank Miller’s universe, she’s just another whore.

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Gordon doesn’t believe that Batman would kidnap a little kid (tell me about it) and here we see Gordon’s wife come in, grab some booze, and then leave again. I want to make a joke about Frank Miller’s feminism here, but I just remembered I already made that joke in another ASBAR book. Seriously, everything wrong with these books just gets repeated over and over each issue and it’s harder to find new material to work with since it’s all just a one-note joke that can be explained thusly: FRANK MILLER CAN’T WRITE BATMAN ANYMORE.

Anywho, Gordon mentions how he’s not upset that BINO’s smacking cops around, but that “The goddamn Batman has become a goddamn urban legend.” Hmm… “I’m the goddamn urban legend!” doesn’t really inspire the same effect, does it? “And he’s inspiring copycats. Some of them are just girls.” Oh n0ez! They might get into our secret ‘boys only’ clubhouse! “Some of them are young enough to be my own daughter. Really. It’s that bad.” And in a ‘humorous twist’ we see Barbara playing around with a grappling hook as she prepares to become the Goddamn Batgirl. Seriously, Frank, stop it. Leave non-Batman and Robin characters alone. The book is called All-Star Batman and Robin, not Former Comics All-Star Screwing around with the DC Universe however freaking way he wants!

“Youth. Hope. Inspiration.” Hot momma. Hot mamma. Hot mamma. Oh, and of course, this oh-so useful page featuring those three individual caption boxes shows a couple Batman posters and little parts of Barbara’s room, which are completely useless and superfluous and we see a shadow her putting on the costume, but it took me a minute to realize there was a shadow there at all, since the room’s so dark to begin with. Barbara puts on her costume and now her narrating voice is added to the schizophrenia of narrators in this book. “DAD would KILL me if he knew about this. But only if he KNEW. And he’ll never KNOW. I’m REALLY GOOD at BULL(Censored with a bar, sic)ING my DAD. And I LOOK AWESOME.” And then back to the other faceless narrator: “Youth. Hope. Inspiration. Purpose… and mischief.” Frank, you’re not Scott Beatty and you’re sure as hell not Geoff Johns and this isn’t All-Star Batgirl! CUT IT OUT.

Erg, sorry there, it’s just this book is really starting to get to me. I mean, it’s not like it can really get worse than- oh, no. Now it’s “Five hours ago.” Where’s Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine when you need it? We’ve gone back in time five hours to a hospital where, get this, a Superman supporting character has decided to introduce himself into this mess. Frank really had no bloody idea what he was supposed to be writing, did he? “Olsen just got a message from Vicki Vale. Vicki Vale. He can’t believe she even knew his name. Vicki Vale.” It’s a lot more interesting to read these narrations like they were being read by that guy who does advertisements for monster truck rallies – ‘SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY! Sunday at the Metrodome – it’s Vicki Vale!’

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Jimmy comes running in with some flowers and a laptop, but upon noticing that someone else already has filled the room with flowers, he quickly disposes of the roses and just plugs in the laptop. Vicki asks him if he was able to get what she needed. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve downloaded everything we’ve got on the Flying Graysons, Dick Grayson, and the Bat-Man. It’s all here.” “Thank you, Mr. Olsen. My column just got a reason to exist.” I thought your column was Comparative Superhero Batches? Our narrator once again makes our heads hurts as he chirps in: “He should tell her to just call him “Jimmy.” Everybody else does. But he really gets off on the breathy was she says “Mr. Olsen”…” I get off on the various ways I can think of to destroy this comic.

And man-oh-man do I wish we could have another script copy of this comic, because we now have another comic that features Vicki Vale’s buttocks talking to us. “He tries to take his eyes off her. He really tries.” the narrator says as we get a little homage to the Graduate with Vicki Vale’s leg propped up as she gets out of bed with a nervous-looking Jimmy Olsen behind it. She tells him to fetch her clothes as somehow her hospital gown has suddenly become so tight and changed into some sort of glass-like material that causes her rear to be outlined against it. As she starts to strip right in front of Jimmy (hurray for male gaze, I suppose) and the narrator informs us: “He gets her clothes for her. He doesn’t watch as she slithers out of her hospital gown. He doesn’t watch as she gets dressed. Really. He doesn’t.” Frank Miller doesn’t write bad comics. Really. He doesn’t.

And I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that in this comic I have eight pages of ads by Mad Magazine and Ball Park (Hot dog company, for those unaware) that depict human beings with arms coming out of their stomachs to grab food and eat it and these advertisements are actually less disturbing than all of the ASBAR pages I’ve had to read.

We cut to “Meanwhile… Back On The Docks…” We of course don’t know if this is still five hours ago or we’re three days ahead or, as the excellent Booster Gold series has stated, time is just broken. The Irish Ninja Black Canary has confronted a couple of… well, I don’t know who they are. I’m sure they were supposed to be criminals, but it’s a bunch of criminals who are apparently standing around the docks doing nothing at all, since we get no indication if they were planning on stealing something or shipping drugs or what. All of a sudden, Black Canary is as chatty as Jim Gordon back a few scenes from three hours ago- I’m sorry, I was trying to make sense of the timeline again, wasn’t I?

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She speaks generic Irish stuff like “lads” and “colleen” and “saloon” (I’m actually not sure if that’s an Irish term or not, but frankly I don’t think Frank Miller does, either). More or less she talks about some guy who used to brag at her old job about how he was a fence and how there was a particular stretch of shoreline where someone could sell anything. One of the guys she’s talking to points out she sounds “like a goddamn Leprechaun” and tells her to leave or else there’ll be trouble. Then Black Canary demands that they give her all their money [!!] and finally they get sick of it and decide to shoot her, but not before they call her the trademark name she despised back in issue three – love chunks. In a panel that I’m sure was supposed to show intense anger and concentration (but instead only seems to indicate pouty and flirtatious annoyance), she asks “What did you just call me?”

And now we have, you guessed it, another two-page spread! “All that training– all those years– it finally counts for something.” Yeah, all those years waiting for ASBAR issues to come out gave us a fantastic ipecac. In this case, the two-page spread is of Black Canary wielding some kind of triple nunchaku that’s supposed to look badass, with one bar between the two other bars and linked together by chains. She slams it across the face of a guy in a Mohawk while another guy pulls a gun out of the front of his pants [!]. She dispatches that guy with the same weapon, crushing his forearm in what looks like very twisted, Rob Liefeld-esque anatomy before she swings the weapon over her head and slams it down on the guy.

Following that, she quickly searches the criminal and pulls out a wad of 20-dollar bills. “No harm in playing a little ROBIN HOOD, now is there?” she asks in a narration caption. Oh, I’m sure. So, which charity will you be donating that drug money to, ma’am? Anywho, a bunch of people suddenly pulls guns on her and tell her to drop the sticks. Suddenly we cut to *Groan* five minutes ago. Look Frank, if you can’t decide what time your comic takes place in, just give it up, okay? We’re back with BINO, who’s down at the docks himself watching a cop car drive in as he notes that Jocko-Boy (Dick Grayson, Age Twelve’s murderer) is free:

“With TWO WADS of STEEL-JACKETED LEAD, he turned a wide-eyed TWELVE-YEAR-OLD into an ORPHAN. I’ve got a real PROBLEM with things like that.” 132 pages of paper-jacketed ink, Frank Miller has turned a book about all-star creators doing a fresh take on popular characters into “What if the DC Universe really, really, really sucked?” BINO continues: “And here he comes, escorted to FREEDOM by one of GOTHAM’S FINEST…” We see that Jocko is still suffering from the snake poison BINO pumped into him back in issue 1 as he’s hallucinating, seeing the cop as having worms coming out of his nose and mouth while a cobra slithers around his head.

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Ah, another two-page spread! Now we’re back on track. BINO kicks through the window right into the cop’s face while proclaiming, “Eat glass, lawman!” While I could point out the problem of physics with this picture, frankly my brain has shut down three times thinking about this whole thing and I think it’s best to just move on. Oh, and BINO’s five o’clock shadow has now officially turned into a full-force twenty-five o’clock shadow with as thick as it is here. “Sometimes a fellow just can’t HELP himself.” Ah, the Frank Miller motto.

BINO pulls Jocko-Boy from the car, who proclaims quite soundly: “Blagg”. BINO seems confused by this guttural moan. ““Blagg”? What’s with “Blagg”? I’ll give you some talking to do, Jocko-Boy–” He’ll give him some talking to do? You’d think with both an editor and an assistant editor on this title that someone would point out the grammatical problems with that sentence… Anyway, BINO suddenly hears gunfire and realizes that Black Canary has gotten into some trouble. “That AMATEUR. It’s GOT to be that AMATEUR. Getting herself in DEEP.” BINO knocks out Jocko-Boy, promising to come back for him later. He proclaims proudly, “Blegg!” Oh, I get it! Jocko-Boy speaks the alien language from Red vs. Blue! Hey, Frank Miller – Blarg Blarg honk. Yeah, I said it. I won’t unsay it, either.

Black Canary manages to evade the bullets being fired by automatic weapons as she uses her magic triple nunchaku to choke one guy. “She’s got SKILL, this one. She’s QUICK. And she’s RUTHLESS. KILL a man soon as LOOK at him. None of which will keep her LIVING for too awfully long.” Oh, I don’t know, killing them will prevent them from shooting more bullets and- oh, right. Trying to find sense in an issue of ASBAR. Gotcha. Black Canary ducks down behind some boxes and yells, “Damn your eyes!” And your nose, too! Oh, and your ears! I find your ears really damnable! BINO jumps down and tells her to keep her head down and he’ll take care of things. As BINO leaps into the fray, Black Canary swoons as any woman in Frank Miller’s universe would and yells, “Oh sweet Jesus. It’s the Goddamn Batman!

And with that, the issue ends once again at a stupid point. Oh, look! An advertisement for Booster Gold to the left of this page! Man, I wish I was reading Booster Gold instead of this. In fact, I’m going to go do that. Hopefully it won’t be six months until the next review!

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