As most of you know, I’m your “Air Traffic Controller” of comic books. I try and guide you into entertaining ports of reading pleasure as well as making sure you don’t find yourself trapped for hours on the Tarmac Of Tedium.

So put your tray tables up and buckle your seat belts, we’re taking off.

Suicide Squad #1
Written By John Ostrander
Art by Javi Pina & Robin Riggs
DC Comics

Every now and then a comic book has the rare chance to get back on track. It doesn’t happen often. Suicide Squad has just gotten that reprieve. In it’s original form it was an interesting and solid book with the much-loved “Dirty Dozen” slant that people love to see. Like meat and potatoes at a church social, sometimes there can be too many cooks adding a lot of stuff you just don’t need. This happened with Suicide Squad. I’m happy to say that there’s just one cook in the kitchen now. He’s the original chef of adventure, John Ostrander.

With the first issue of Suicide Squad rebirth, Ostrander serves up everything you need and throws out all the stuff you don’t. Within 22 pages he introduces you to the characters and in an efficient, entertaining way lets you know them without tons of unwanted text. There’s a beginning, middle and cliffhanging end all within the allotted amount of pages. There’s a perfect ratio of set up, talking and action. This is a picture perfect first issue.

The art by Javi Pina and Robin Riggs is easy to follow and doesn’t get carried away with the lost path method of 52 or Countdown story telling. I think that Pina will only improve with character consistency as the series marches on.

So if you’re looking for a good $2.99 monthly book to pick up from the start, Suicide Squad will fit the bill.

The Initiative: Sub-Mariner #5
Written By Matt Cherniss & Peter Johnson
Art By Phil Briones and Scott Hanna
Marvel Comics

There’s no bigger Sub-Mariner fan than me. I have been one since I was a little kid. When it comes to The Sub-Mariner, I’m a hard guy to please. It remains that way. The story by Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson almost does it for me. There are traces of some really good stuff here. Political intrigue, betrayal, double-crossing and a few unseen twists. I’m sorry to say that the art by Phil Briones and Scott Hanna is off the mark a little and it pulls the story with it.

Namor and everyone from Atlantis have a Smurfy-Elf thing going on that takes away any seriousness they may have. Anatomy is all over the place and a little distracting. Overly long faces, torsos atop stubby legs. I wondered at times if I had picked up a copy of Elfquest by mistake. (Trust me, that would be a BIG mistake.)

Maybe it’s because there’s talk of a Sub-Mariner movie in the works, but I’ve never been a fan of Namor’s black leather bar shirt and Capri pants look. Granted, his green speedos look like French beachwear, but they’re better than this current look. I think I have the perfect look figured out for Namor, but I’m saving that for when I’m writing his adventures.

If this book was half the price at $1.49 I’d say pick it up, but not for $2.99. Looks like I’ll be doing the catch and release on this fish.

Metamorpho #1 Year One
Written By Dan Jurgens
Art by Jesse Delperdang and Dan Jurgens
DC Comics

You don’t just how much you appreciate it until you find it again. I’m talking about the mix of good story, dialogue and well-paced art. I’m not surprised with Dan Jurgens using his fingers to control the keyboard and art paper. His teaming with finisher Jesse Delperdang works out great. It’s such a pleasure to read a story that moves so smoothly. There are no artistic speed bumps to slow your reading down. No dialogue potholes that fill you with reading rage.

Metamorpho #1 is good comics 101. The long time character is treated with respect of what has come before and spiced up with subtle new additions that make it just right. The beginning, middle and end are seamless. Editor, Tom Palmer, Jr. shows what it takes to be a good editor and works with the creators instead of trying to be one. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s also a great example for aspiring writers and artists on how to do a good comic book. In fact, it’s also a great refresher course for some veteran creators that have lost their way.

The Initiative: Fantastic Four #549, #550 and #551
Written By Dwayne McDuffie
Art By Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar
Marvel Comics
$2.99 each

No one was happier to see writer Dwayne McDuffie come back to comic book writing full time than me. Dwayne has always been one of the most unsung writers in comics. He really got to shine when he was heading up one of the best animated superhero shows ever, JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. I’m really glad to see that Marvel Comics was smart enough to sing Dwayne up for not only this book, but some other stuff as well.

Dwyane is so good at taking stories with lots of different characters and making then all shine no matter how many or little panels they show up in. He knows how to show their true character with their dialogue and it’s always a blessing. No two characters are the same. Dwayne shows that he is a keen observer of people because he adds this to all the characters. Each has their own fingerprint personality.

Dwayne is a master at the action/talk ratio. You are never weighed down with too much of either. It’s an equal blend. The art team of Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar is a monthly book dream come true. Both veterans and both well educated in the art of? well? art! They know the mannerisms, body language and looks of each character befitting their history. They lead your eye with their story telling abilities and are masters of shadow and light for drama.

I also want to add that The Sub-Mariner shows up in issue #551 and it’s a great version of him and his character is shown in the best light I’ve seen/read in years. I won’t ruin the shock of this story for you. You’ll have to buy it for yourself like I did.

Jump on this four-color train while you have the chance. Tell em’ I sent you and you’ll get a better seat.

Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week

Alicia Keys
– singer / songwriter / actress / composer

Alicia Keys can do it all and look great while she’s doing it. When the talent truck came to her town she didn’t give it a chance to unload. She threw the driver out, took the wheel, shoved her foot to the floor and took all the talent for herself. Just for good measures she got all the good looks as well.

I was real happy to see her show up in the very fun action movie SMOKIN’ ACES last year. She looked incredible all sexed up and hauling around some wonderful guns. Late one night I was flipping through the channels and stopped when I saw this beautiful woman playing a very cool piece of classical music on the piano. As I looked more I saw it was Alicia Keys and she was talking a break from her own music to do a superb classical piece that was just incredible. I think we’ve just seen the start of what this young lady can do. In the mean time enjoy Alicia Keys as this week’s Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week

Doc Savage-Man Of Bronze #3 and #5
Marvel Comics, 1975

Since the last Busted Knuckles column went without a Manly Cover I’ll give you a double dose this week. In the mid-70s, Marvel Comics did a great magazine/comic of the always manly Doc Savage. I’ve always treasured these great issues with their wonderful art and always exciting stories. These two covers are great examples of the manly deeds that Doc Savage was always involved in. Just check out issue #5, he takes on not only evil bad guys, but the Loch Ness Monster as well!

The Roundup

Just a few days until Thanksgiving and you know what happens after that? Christmas! The weather is great, football is in full gear and soon you might even get a gift of two. (Unless you’ve been bad.)

Things have been busy here at the ranch. Right now I’m writing two new comic book series, (announcement to come soon) a screenplay, (another announcement to come) my three columns, Busted Knuckles, Dottin’ The Eyes (Comics Buyer’s Guide) and Far From Fragile (Impact Magazine). I just finished writing another new comic (I’ll be able to announce it really soon) based on a very well known TV character that has to be one of the true real men of all time on TV. So, between writing and getting ready for the holidays I will be one busy boy.

I just updated my computer collection and got a new iMac 20 inch from Apple/Mac. I’ve been learning all about the Leopard operating system and so far it’s been a load of fun. I still haven’t figured out how to burn my DVDs yet, but I’m working on it. (Not pirating, I’m talking about transferring my VHS stuff to DVD. Send no FBI agents here.) I’ve gotta say the bigger screen is nice. I’m used to working off my iBook and it’s nice to see things big again.

As always, if any of you out there smarter than me (99% of you) have any iMac tips, just let me know. I think Mark Millar and I are the biggest chimps when it comes to computers.

Okay, let’s get the holidays started. Root for my Chicago Bears to finish the season at .500, make sure you go see NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and make sure you watch LIFE on NBC.

From the ranch,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin