Batgirl #0 is kind of a strange book. It endeavors to explain Barbara Gordon’s first work in a bat costume, and some of her motivations behind her initial moves into costumed adventuring, and it does that… kind of. But it also leaves open as many questions as it answers, introduces a bunch of vague mysteries that allow writer Gail Simone to tease assumed future stories, and winds up leading directly into the flashback of one of the most famous moments in the history of the character. It also spends a lot of time telling us Barbara’s character traits by, well, telling us about Barbara’s character traits, and it never really explains why Barbara is so fascinated with Batman – certainly not to the point where it makes sense that she’d put on a suit and start working with him.

But on the plus side, this is a superhero comic drawn by Ed Benes that features almost no gratuitous ass shots. Then again, depending on your taste, that might be a negative.

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We will be performing some pretty extensive and much-needed site maintenance today, so you might see some some outages, errors, and wild changes in layout.

Please be patient with us; the drugs will eventually wear off, and all will return to normal soon.

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Goddammit Marvel, now you’re just fucking with me.

Last week, Marvel released a series of one-word teaser posters hyping the winter round of Marvel Now relaunches (but not reboots! Marvel doesn’t reboot! And Mile Morales has always been Spider-Man in the Ultimate Universe! And Cyclops has always dressed like Nightwing on his way to an evening at The Ramrod’s Tower of Power night!). And while the first round of pre-San Diego Comic-Con teases were pretty transparent – “Mighty,” Marvel? Really? – the last few have been downright inscrutable. “Killers” could mean anything from a team led by The Punisher to some anonymous soul in Marvel editorial subtly bragging about blowing Brandon Flowers.

But yesterday, Marvel outdid themselves… and not necessarily in a good way, depending on how you interpret it.

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It can’t be this easy. And make no mistake, it won’t be… but as of a week or so ago, Marvel Comics now seems to have the rights to the trademarks of Marvelman and Miracleman, putting them under the same roof for the first time in… well, considering Dez Skinn started publishing Marvelman stories in Warrior back in the 80s without necessarily paying Mick Anglo, the character’s creator know, maybe ever.

So here’s how it apparently plays out… and let’s all keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, I am not privy to nearly 30 years of discussions and legal paperwork, and I am quite hung over: Neil Gaiman settled the main part of his lawsuit against Todd McFarlane over the rights to the Spawn characters Gaiman created for McFarlane back in January of this year. But apparently there was still an outstanding issue: McFarlane had filed a trademark for the Miracleman character after he bought out Eclipse Comics in the early 2000’s, and Gaiman had, in turn, filed an opposition to that trademark. And that trademark has remained in dispute since then, even after the disposition of the original lawsuit, meaning that even though Marvel bought the rights to the Marvelman trademark from Anglo back in 2009, the trademark for Miracleman – which includes all the Eclipse-printed Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman stories form the 80s, which are the only ones anyone gives a fuck about – was still up in the air.

Well, whether as part of the terms of the settlement, or via sheer laziness or forgetfulness, it seems McFarlane has legally abandoned his claim to the Miracleman trademark. And on September 5th, Marvel Comics filed their own notice of trademark on the name.

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During the mid-90s, when Wildstorm was an independent publisher run by Jim Lee and before it because a launching-off point for Warren Ellis’s groundbreaking writing on Stormwatch and then The Authority, I knew it less as an imprint known for publishing creator-owned comics, and more as “one of those X-TREEM Image-type publishers that’s fucking up comics,” while I spent three or four years in mostly Vertigo-fueled superhero comics exile. Oh sure, I’ve read some of the old Wildstorm stuff in reprints, and have become familiar with some of the “classic” characters via the more recent Ellis and Ed Brubaker-written stories, but when it comes to a lot of the stuff from, say, 1994 through 1998, I’m what you’d call tabula rasa.

And having read Team 7 #0, by writer Justin Jordan and artist Jesus Merino, that is going to simultaneously bite me in the ass and make me wish I hadn’t spend my mid-20s sneering so hard at books that weren’t named PreacherTransmetropolitan or Jonah Hex.

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It has been a crazy busy day at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, with none of our obligations being comics-related. Let’s just say that we don’t know any hookers, and even if we did, she was certainly alive when we left, and even if she wasn’t, a lot of people carry shovels in the trunks of their cars.

But bad personal craziness or no, it is Wednesday. And Wednesday means new comics, which further means that this…

…means the end (the beginning also, but regardless) of our broadcast day.

But it’s looking to be an interesting week. The book I’m most excited about it Team 7, written by Justin Jordan of Luther Strode fame and representing his first Big Two comics work. But we also have Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 (apparently someone dies; I don’t know if you heard – thanks, Yahoo News!), the DC Zero issues of BatmanBatman & Robin, and Suicide Squad, a new Jonathan Hickman Manhattan Projects, and the start of volume two of Greg Rucka’s Stumptown! There is also a new Rob Liefeld Deathstroke… I guess because if you spent your afternoon the way we did, you need to pay for your sins.

But before we can review them, we need to wash this quicklime off our hands, and then we need time to read them. So until we can do that…

Get in the trunk! There’s money in there! And drugs! And could you tell me if this rag smells like chloroform?

Er, I mean… see you tomorrow, suckers!

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Here’s how you start a quickie, unfounded Nerd Rage in a comic / genre geek when he reads just the headline of a story before he’s had coffee like a civilized person, or at least like a person who needs coffee to keep from dying: you have him spend fifteen or so years knowing the following quote by heart:

Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.

…and then you show him this headline, completely without context:

EXCLUSIVE: Buffyverse Gets It First Gay Male Slayer

Dark Horse Comics announces the introduction of Billy in Buffy Season 9 #14

First, you feel the Continuity Hate: “But… but… the slayers have to be female! That’s been how it is not just since the series, but since Donald Sutherland was teaching Kristy Swanson how to shank Pee Wee Herman twenty fucking years ago!” Then, you feel the Pandering Seeth: “Wait a second… are you telling me that somebody expects us to believe that the forces of magic can’t tell the difference between a girl, and a gay guy? Are you honestly expecting me to believe that I’ve been buying into stories about female empowerment and overcoming gender expectations for twenty years, only to find out that all that matters is what you choose to put in your mouth in the privacy of your own home? Are you telling me that gay men might as well just be women? Does this means that we can expect Willow to get the nod as the starting center for the Oakland Raiders? You condescending bastards!”

And then you actually, you know, drink your coffee and read the fucking story and discover that the whole thing actually makes a lot of sense, given the circumstances and the long-term themes of the Buffyverse.

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Think Tank is Real Genius with more realistic technology and without Val Kilmer. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to read.

I missed the first issue of Think Tank last month; contributor Trebuchet brought it to my attention over car bomb shots a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t able to get my hands on it until this week’s second issue release. And frankly, I wasn’t expecting to get a hell of a lot from it; jumping into an Image-published book by a creator who’s only written a handful of books (the last of those apparently coming out in 1999) can be a dicey proposition when it comes to following what’s going on. When you throw on top of it that the writer is actually a Big Cheese at the publishing house releasing the book, and I was expecting to be thrown off the deep end into an incomprehensible story, where all the setup had happened in the first issue, with no clues as to how to pick up what was going on because no one wanted to edit the boss’s work (that kind of thing seems to be going around these days).

Instead, I found a user-friendly experience where I got the gist of where we were, with some interesting back story about the protagonist, some good character work establishing that character and the supporting characters as multi-layered and interesting, and laying the groundwork for what looks to be a cool escape story coming in the future.

But yeah: writer Matt Hawkins has totally seen Real Genius a bunch of times.

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Here’s one of two things what I knew about the character Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt before I picked up the new Dynamite Comics first issue of his new book: he was the only Charlton superhero that DC Comics didn’t ever even try to give a shot in the DC Universe after they bought the Charlton rights back in the 80s. They even gave fucking Judomaster a shot in the Outsiders book a few years ago, and Judomaster is what you get when someone needs a superhero concept by noon: “He’s a master of judo. Boom! Judomaster. Now give it to some artist to slap a Japanese flag on his chest and fetch me more bourbon.”

The other thing I knew about Peter Cannon was that he was the character upon whom Alan Moore based his Watchmen character, Ozymandias. And Ozymandias was a rich dude with an Alexander The Great fetish who used his smarts to gin up a weird master plan to trick the Great Unwashed into chucking their nuclear weapons to protect themselves from some other-than-natural monster. Of course, the original Thunderbolt couldn’t possibly be like that… and having read the backup story in Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1, written by the character’s creator, Peter Morisi, back in the 80s, he wasn’t.

However, having read the main story, written by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross with art by Jonathan Lau, he apparently is now.

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Fine Marvel Comics, you’ve done it: you finally fucking stumped me. I have no fucking idea what you’re talking about. Are you happy now, you sons of bitches?

Marvel has released a couple of new one-word teaser posters for their winter Marvel Now releases. Earlier this week they released ones reading “Lightning,” which was pretty clearly a teaser for a Thunderbolts relaunch by Daniel Way and Steve Dillon… and then there was “Survive,” something by Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker, which seemed to me to be a possible Marvel Zombies title… maybe. That one’s kind of hard to tell – the word “survive” covered in blood might be a Marvel Zombies book, or it might be a book with Morbius The Living Vampire, or it might be about an accidental bathroom encounter with Ike Perlmutter.

Well yesterday, Marvel released two more one-worders. What do they have on the plate for us?

Fucked if I know, but you can check them out after the jump.

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