Comic Corner: Ravagers #2 & Superboy #10

Since I am a self-proclaimed UberGeek (No, it’s not prestige thing. It’s just a term I came up with to explain that if it’s something geeky, chances are I have an interest in it. Compare to folks who are just Star Wars Geeks, Anime Geeks, Gamer Geeks, etc), I figured it would be worthwhile to talk about my love of comics now and then on the Land of Odd.  So I’ve started a new ‘Comics’ category to talk about the latest issues, what I like and what I don’t like and whatever weird theories or rants I may want to talk about.

Recently, I’ve mostly been diving into the DC Comics’ New 52. Not that I won’t EVER talk about Marvel comics on here, but I don’t follow them nearly as close as I do DC.  Maybe I’ll talk about why on here someday.  (FYI, if you would like to contribute some Marvel comics write ups as a guest writer or something, feel free to contact me!)

Well this week brought new issues for two titles on my reading list.  Let’s share, shall we?

Ravagers #2

Ravagers #2. Cover by Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund

So we finally got the second issue of Ravagers yesterday.  I wish I could say that with more glee in my voice, but that would be unfair to you and downright lying for me.  Based on a rumor that I heard that an old Teen Titans character, Raven, would possibly be appearing in the DC Comics’ New 52 around issue #5 of Ravagers, I decided I’d stick with it for a few months and see how it pans out. Two issues in and I’m already starting to doubt that decision.

The situation is admittedly interesting in that you have a bunch of teenagers that have been emotionally and physically abused in a giant death match to turn them into killers and are now on the run to save their lives.  There is potential there.  There’s some flashes of the Bourne series mixed with Battle Royale.   Sadly, so far most of the comic plays out like this:

“We were trained to be killers so we do not trust anyone!”
“But we need to work together!”
“But we do not trust you. So we are going to seperate and go different directions and slowly get picked off by the bad guys before we can even establish our names.”

I mean the biggest potential in this comic is the characters and after two issues I only know half their names and that two of them are related.  That’s it.  Personality? Thrown aside for action sequences and shouting about not trusting each other.  One character – Ridge – who is a former member of the actual Ravagers (who are bad guys hunting the main characters. Kind of a confusing title at the moment.) HAD a cockney accent but then seems to have lost it somewhere.  Oh and Caitlin Fairchild is in it and she may or may not be a lesbian.  The subtext with Rose is quite unclear on whether they were friends or lovers in the past.

Compare this with the New 52’s Teen Titans which I am LOVING.  The characters were introduced pretty quickly over the first 5 or so issues, but they are written in a way that you pretty much get a grasp on their personalities in just a few pages.  Here? Nothing. Zilch. Other than they don’t trust each other and they’re angry.  That’s about it.

The villains are not much better.  While Rose Wilson is relatively established along with Caitlin from their time in the Superboy series, the rest of the villains are names and flashy costumes.  Their motivation? Their boss told them to.  Their bosses motivation?  No clue. Still a mystery after the Culling crossover.

The road to Ravagers #5 is going to a long and bumpy one.  Pray for me.

Vry’s Rating: 2 exploding collars out of 5.

Superboy #10

Superboy #10. Cover by Scott Clark.

If Ravagers is a bunch of sound and noise signifying no character whatsoever, this month’s Superboy is pretty much its polar opposite.

Following the events of the Culling, the Teen Titans and Superboy ended up on Mystery Island.  Yes, that is its actual name.  It’s a giant island shaped like a question mark.  It’s extremely ridiculous and I LOVE it.  This issue however starts with Superboy and Cassie Sandsmark (Don’t call her Wondergirl)  seperated from the rest of the team.

While there is a comedic little fight with a T-Rex (Yes, there are dinosaurs on Mystery Island), the majority of this issue is just Cassie and Kon-El talking and getting to know each other.  It’s a nice quiet issue with a lot of character development that I’ve wanted since Superboy and Teen Titans started.

I want to say it’s mainly due to the big Culling crossover last month, but Teen Titans 1-8 felt really rushed, jumping from event to event to get the groundwork for the crossover laid out (And yes, STILL had better character development than Ravagers).  Superboy on the other hand felt extremely padded and stretched out, possibly because it DIDN’T need 8 issues to set up for the crossover so it just had to kill time until issue 9.

This issue however was great. It had comedy, character, a bit of action, some nice art from Iban Coello which I prefer to RB Silva’s sometimes downright cartoonish faces or worse the blank faces with little lines or dots to indicate where the eyes and mouth are.

There’s even some romantic tension between the two since we have previously established that they do in fact find each other attractive, but well… I won’t spoil it for you but it gave me a chuckle.  I’ll say this much: Wondergirl? Total tsundere.

Finally, there is a really nice touch in this issue.  In the midst of the controversy about the over sexualized and downright spine breaking poses that characters like Catwoman have been put into in the New 52, it was REALLY nice to see a scene where Cassie is starting to undress to take a bath in a lake and it ISN’T ridiculously sexualized.  She’s just standing there with her shirt slipped off and covering her torso.  No chiropractor needed.  No butt shots or perfectly positioned foliage to block naughty bits.  I’d say it’s probably because she’s only seventeen, but I think DC and Marvel have both shown in the past that they have no problem ‘going there’ with not quite legal teens in the past.  It was just a small note that I was expecting something ridiculous and got something quite tasteful.  Kudos to DC for once.

Vry’s Rating: 4 unconscious dinos out of 5.

L. Gnight Shaman’s ‘Old Town’

Welcome back folks to the final installment of the Stormwind Tour.  We’ve had an eccentric tour thus far to say the least, but no worries.  We have a new tour guide here with us now and his psychological profile check has proven to be way more stable than the last guy.  Now enjoy, as we bring to you Stormwind’s oldest district simply known to the locals as Old Town.

Hiya folks! Welcome to Old Town! Named such for the fact that much of this district actually predates the Reconstruction of Stormwind after the Second War.  It’s kind of got that classic Gnorman Steamwell feel to it of small town Azeroth in my opinion that makes it one of the most endearing…  Are they gone yet?  No one see those pricks from OddCraft?

Right then! They thought they got rid of me! HA! One good fake interview and a fake mustache and I’m back on top! After all, You’re MY tour group and I will give you the tour.  I’ll tell you what, Old Town is one messed up berg. This place is the complete opposite of the rest of Stormwind.  So whether Old Town or the Rest of Stormwind is inverted and backwards in their thinking, I’ll leave that decision to you.

Honestly, Honest Business is Honest

This is my first hint that this entire district is part of some huge conspiracy.  I’m sure those who have read up on all my other tours will note that I talk a lot about the shops in each district. Weird shops, confusing shops, empty shops and flat out lying shops.  Well the shops in Old Town are the complete antithesis of all of those things.  Each shop is clearly labeled, and they sell exactly what is on the sign.  You walk into the shoe store? All you can buy there is shoes.  The shield store? Shields only.  I visited every single shop in this entire district trying to find a single out of place thing, some momentary glimpse of the insanity (or sanity) I had become used to while wandering about this town.  Not a thing.

What could possess the people of Old Town to pull a complete 180 like this? Is this the work of some strange being from the depths of the Nether coming to drag Stormwind into the depths of madness by making this entire district actually make sense? It’s like a little miniature parallel dimension that is trapped in some kind of horrific more innocent time and it’s got me on edge.  I keep expecting some kind old lady to come out and offer me some cookies and a bottle of sody pop, or some brats running through the streets pushing a wheel with a stick like some demented ritual of evil to a bygone age of 5 copper funny books and walking up hill both ways in the snow!

I’ll tell you this much, dear readers.  The first step towards complete chaos and destruction of everything we hold dear is showing good clean honesty like these shops.  Ever wonder why serial killers are always described as being good neighbors or such nice guys? Uh huh. You got it.  How about those horror stories that always start in sweet innocent peaceful small towns but then turn out to have a rotten core of a decidedly eldritch origin and nature.

The Black Poison Heart of Old Town

So um… this is awkward. Apparently Old Town does have a rotten core.  It’s not necessarily of eldritch origin or nature, but in the center of the entire district lies a black heart in the form of a small alleyway that leads to the very shifty territory.  Here there dwells the darkest and foulest that the streets of Stormwind can offer: rogue rogues, defias sympathizers, a shop that sells deadly poisons and Star Trek references. Okay, maybe the Star Trek references aren’t THAT dark, but have you ever smelled one of those conventions? You have got to at least give me foul on that one.

The poison shop is a double dose of demented however.  Not only is this a shop that peddles wares that can easily kill you, including a tome written by the shop’s owner that teaches how to store toxic venom in your mouth and spit it at your opponents (Practical for those close quarters situations when battling for ones life in Warsong Gulch or possibly being interrogated by a foul baron.) This shop goes one step further into the depths of evil by also clearly and honestly proclaiming his shop to be a poison shop on a sign hanging above the door.  The one thing you probably don’t want to be advertising for is that your shop sells utensils for murder (as well as pest control and self defense, poison is not a uni-tasker) and these guys go ahead and do it in line with the backwards thinking indoctrination that has taken hold of this hamlet of Stormwind. There must be some evidence of where this seedy reversal of the status quo has originated from – Wait! There! Outside the alley!

The Stone Chiseled Face of Darkness Marks the Way

Yes, this massive statue in front of the Champions Hall.  I’ve seen this statue before. In front of the Stormwind Bank. This means something. This is important. Think about it.  If these statues didn’t have something to do with the madness that has engulfed Old Town down its gullet into an awaiting cesspool of blatant differential mindset than the rest of Stormwind, then why do they look like He-Man?  You can’t answer that, can you? No, of course not.  Truly this is a sign that we are on the right trail and before you even ask, the one at the Stormwind bank is obviously a decoy to make you think that the banks are behind it.  But do I look like some hair brained conspiracy theorist that thinks the people with the money are secretly behind everything? Heck no. I am a professional!

Obviously the strange He-Man looking statue is a sign that the villainous force behind these strange occurrences has a fascination with super heroes.  Probably over idealized male ones.  Judging by the fact that there are two identical statues in different places in Stormwind, I’d say its probably capable of generating instantaneous matter in four dimensions, able to place them anywhere it wants and whenever it wants in history.  The question remains though as to why would the fiend hide here of all places?  After all there’s nothing in this neck of the woods except for the Champions Hall and the Command Center (Possibly where the Powered Rangers take up residence along with their robot, Alpha 1, and their leader Zordormu, a powerful bronze dragon that is trapped in a time tube.) But there is also SI:7 and everyone knows that the SI:7 are the Men in Black of the Alliance, riding around on black horses and making those of us who know too much disappear.

Surely the best place for such a powerful and malevolent entity hellbent on destroying any sense of disorder that Stormwind has would be smart enough to hide in plain sight in the shadiest of shady government organizations in the city. Though how one is hiding in plain sight if they are also hiding in a shady place that does most of its dealings out of plain sight is beyond me.  Come my friends! We shall dispense of this monster and free Stormwind of making sense forever!

The Face of Madness: Horror from the Fifth Dimension

So here’s where it’s all coming from.  The backwards true-to-their-word shops, the small town Azeroth feel that hides the thrice damned soul of a killer, everything that the Old Town thinks it is comes from right here.  Deep in the basement of SI:7 is Doctor Mixilpixil, a poor pseudonym for Mr. Mxyzptlk, the insane conjurer of the 5th Dimension! At last we’ve come face to face and it all makes sense now.  He sows the seeds of strangeness and chaos in the world, but how does one create deviation in a town that sports an unorthodox number of herbalism shops or shops that lie in front of churches or this many pop culture references? You disrupt it by changing it to make SENSE.

Yes, I know your tricks, Mxyzptlk. You are a crafty one.  But you couldn’t hide your obsession of Superman now could you?  It’s like some sort of ever present inferiority complex in super villains.  You even built a statue of a Superman knock off like He-Man right outside your own base of operations.  But now, Mixilpixil, you shall die! FREEEDDOOOO-  Hey wait a minute! Let go of me! I wanted to kill the alien from the fifth dimension! He’s curing you all of the weird! We must stop him! Azeroth needs the weird! I’ll get the Horde to help then! I’LL KILL YOU MIXIPIX–

We are sorry about that. We had our suspicions that Mr. Susan Donem was up to no good, and luckily we caught him before he did something regrettable while we were still liable for his actions. We’ve resolved that by sealing him in a vault in our basement instead of just firing him. We’ve also now sacked our HR director for not noticing that a doctorate written in crayon isn’t authentic.  Well, that’s it for the Stormwind Tour. In case you’re wondering about the Stormwind Keep, we’re saving it.  Too many odd things in that place to broad stroke it like these.