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Monday, February 28, 2005
A Day In The Life
Saturday, Feb. 26
9:00--In light of the fact that I will be going to a party populated almost entirely by gay men, and bears at that, directly after work, I decide to wear the pants that make my ass look good and a perverted t-shirt (underneath a sweater).
9:10--I must leave for work or be late.
9:20--The gas station only has the expensive gas available. It is already not shaping up to be a good day.
10:00--Despite the gas situation and the compulsive need to stop for coffee, I manage to get to work precisely on time.
10:10--Start shifting titles around on the shelves to eliminate spaces where comics sold out.
10:15--Spend five minutes on the phone with a gentleman looking for reprints of newspaper strips.
10:20--Search for missing Vampirella magazines.
10:25--Have to clear off every available inch of counter-space to make room for a large collection someone has just brought in to try and sell to the boss.
10:28--Mike disappears into the back room, leaving me holding an armful of box lids that needed to be taken into the back room. See, I told you all Mike's a jerk.
10:30--Observe to Mike that in the last two days I've rung up, maybe, one copy of Seven Soldiers of Victory.
10:45--Put the Street Fighter comic published by Ocean Comics in the same section as all the comics called Street Fighter based on the video game in the hope that someday we may actually be able to sell the Ocean series. Yes, I'm shameless.
10:50--Find the first evidence that someone who works for the game store we sublet space to has messed up our shelves out of carelessness.
11:05--Wonder if there are any X-Men comics from the 90s that didn't have Wolverine, Gambit or Colossus on the cover.
11:25--Find an error in Krause's price guide. It lists Robotech: Return to Macross from Academy as lasting only 32 issues. We have up to issue 37. Overstreet doesn't even bother to list the title.
11:30--Prompted by putting an Oingo Boingo CD on the store's stereo, Mike and I try to remember what Jaye P. Morgan was famous for.
11:40--The first (of about a dozen) people waiting for the game store we sublet space to shows up to wait for the game store to open, loitering on our side and reading comics they do not intend to buy.
11:47--Mike utters his first "feh" of the day.
12:04--Asked if we carry jigsaw puzzle mats.
12:33--Help a customer looking for Captain America dolls, t-shirts, posters...anything with Captain America on it that isn't a comic book.
12:43--Finally sell one of those .25 cent Trigun comics.
1:00--"How old is Captain America?" Well, the character first appeared in the early forties. "No, he's at least a hundred years old." (Not the same customer who was looking for Cap merchandise, incidentally.)
1:18--Overhear a customer compare Y: The Last Man to Strangers in Paradise.
1:32--While picking up lunch, over-hear the Hispanic clerk at the counter speaking Japanese to an Asian-American customer.
1:48--Mike decides to put on the Skidoo soundtrack. Yes, he is straight.
2:01--First "kids come running for the great taste of" joke of the day is made, in regards to X-Force. It is amended to include the phrase "moms like it too 'cause it's low in calories."
2:23--First reference to Tom of Finland of the day.
2:31--The necessity of processing a huge pile of Vampirella magazines for sale causes me to curse the name Warren.
2:58--Find a cover of Vampirella with a half-naked man on it, which I decide to scan.
3:00--I express disbelief that Warren magazines, despite the many protestations made to the contrary, were actually intended to be read by adults, even given that it was the 70s.
3:22--"What's the name of the character that's green and shoots arrows?"
3:37--We run out of Sin City trades. Again. Express doubts that we'll be able to get any back in stock before the movie opens.
3:45--Sell a large stack of Archie comics to a little girl, for the third time in as many days. Remind myself that we must be doing something wrong, because everyone knows that kids don't read comics, and if they do, girls certainly don't.
3:50--Note that the credit-card machine is feeding paper out crooked.
4:15--While scanning items for the store to sell on eBay, observe that Viggo Mortensen has a very affected autograph.
4:25--"Is this from the 70s?" The lunchbox, or the film depicted on the lunchbox?
4:44--I find an unintentionally dirty Detective cover to scan.
5:13--Asked if a comic that's really, really bad is any good or not.
5:30--Take a short break to check my site and see if anyone has left a comment.
6:02--The last customer of the day finally leaves, without spending any money.
Oh, and by the end of the day we went from having too many Seven Soldiers left to probably not having enough, given that we ordered enough copies to last a year.
I recently had the opportunity to go through one of our customer's pull-boxes and make a tally of everything in it. This is a customer who buys almost everything from the "front of the catalog," or in other words, almost every title published by Dark Horse, DC, Image and Marvel. Due to his current work situation, he hasn't been in to pick up his comics for about 22 weeks (we knew this beforehand, otherwise we wouldn't have let this many books go unpurchased for so long). But I thought it would be interesting to share with the world a breakdown of price points from the Big 4 publishers, via a "one of everything" customer.
The $2.25 books are about evenly split between Marvel and DC. Both the $1.75 books are from Marvel, for a title which has since raised its price to $2.25. All of the $2.50 (save one) and most of the $2.95 books are from DC. All of the $2.99 books are Marvel, Dark Horse and Image. The $3.50 books are mostly Marvel titles, with several issues of one DC mini-series. All of the more expensive books with prices that end in $.95 are from DC, and the ones ending in $.99 are from Marvel.
There are a couple of things worth noting here. First of all, there are still a good number of $2.25 books coming out, but more and more books are coming out at higher prices. I can't remember the last time a Marvel title launched with a price of less than $2.99. There's a lot wider scale of prices at DC. The mid-point price of $2.50 is only there on DC titles and Spawn. But DC has a much wider range of prices. The most expensive book on the list is from DC. Marvel's most expensive regular title is $3.50. There are also a lot of specials and one-shots on the list, especially given that this list only covers about half a year's worth of purchases. There are 19 of them, ranging in price from $3.99 to $6.95.
So, there you go, completely unscientific data. Make no assumptions regarding the health of the comics market from this information, nor generalize regarding the policies of various publishers from it.
In my defense, it was actually fairly difficult to come up with 100 different things.
I don't have much to say about this week's new comics. I am vaguely annoyed that for some reason Flash sub-plots are showing up in my Wonder Woman comics.
Oh, and it made me very angry when I opened a box from Diamond yesterday and discovered that the trade paper-back of Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes had a variant cover.
In defense of item #12 from yesterday, I present this thread, in which not only are two talented artists unfairly criticized, but both homophobia and misogyny are in ample display.
I almost felt a small twinge of guilt about that item when I wrote it, but everytime I start to feel the slightest bit of sympathy for the people who post there, they go and start a thread like that.
Let's talk about that image for a minute. It's gorgeous. Quitely is one of the most talented artists around, and that picture is a simply beautiful illustration. But the thing that strikes me is the attitude it conveys. It perfectly captures some very simple body language. Superman is very relaxed, and casual, and he is just sitting there in the clouds watching over his city. I have a strong suspicion that Morrison had a hand in this cover design, because it's making a strong reference to the "Superman as God" interpretation you see from time to time. He's a benevolent force watching us from the skies, wanting us only to be our best. It's a remarkable statement of where Morrison's run on the title is likely to lead.
Now, we all know that I'm the Dean Martin to Mike's Jerry Lewis. And Corey is the Harpo to Mike's Chico and my Groucho. Well, Sean is the Master Shake to Corey's Meatwad, Mike's Carl and my Frylock.
(Yes, I realize that those metaphors don't really map to each other - except for the fact that I'm left as the straight man in each one, ironically enough - but trust me, when you see the group of us together, it works.)
(I don't yet have apt metaphors for the other members of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE...)
100 Things That Actually Sort-Of Annoy Me About Comics
So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, we begin:
100-Web-based comics. Access to a digital camera, a scanner or Photoshop doesn’t make you a comedic genius.
99-Boxes from Diamond that only have one small item in them.
98-Bad decompressed storytelling. Good decompressed storytelling is a thing of wonder and beauty, but we’re rapidly approaching the point where we may need to have writers pass some kind of test before they’re allowed to use the technique. “Because six issues fit so nicely into a trade paper-back” is not an acceptable reason to use the method.
97-Being asked by a customer whether or not a comic that’s really bad is any good or not. Which should I listen to: my inner critic or my inner merchant?
96-“If comics were only cheaper/printed on lousy paper more people would read them.” No, more people would read comics if more comics were any damn good. Price and paper quality don’t even enter into the equation. In fact the ugly truth of the matter is that the low price point of comics is what’s keeping them out of many venues.
95-Advertising a book with the promise of killing off a character. Because there’s no such thing as bad writers who have run out of ways to increase dramatic tension, just bad characters who aren’t interesting or popular enough to make people care about them.
94-“Kids don’t read comics.” Yes they do. They just don’t want to read the same comics that their grand-parents read.
93-While we’re on the subject, the vast majority of Golden Age comics. They just weren’t that good.
92-Marvel’s reprint policy. It’s feast or famine with them these days. Stuff we could really use doesn’t get reprinted, but stuff they want fans to think is a hot seller gets reprinted over and over again in dozens of different formats, regardless of whether or not there’s any actual demand for it. And saying that you’re going back to press because the book “sold out,” when you only print to order in the first place, is at best disingenuous.
91-Variant covers. They were a neat idea the first time. Now they’re just a way to prop up sales.
89-The very idea of comic book “ages.”
88-The thought that I might have anything whatsoever in common with a member of HEAT.
87-The continuing attempts by comics publishers to duplicate the success of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
86-Comics publishers that pretend that death in comics is permanent or significant.
85-That comics fans still fall for it every time a marginally popular character is killed.
84-“Batman is considered to be an urban legend.”
83-That English translations of Ralf Koenig comics are hard to come by.
82-That the most posistive portrayal of gay characters in comics is in Japanese books about androgynous little boys.
81-Skip week events.
80-That a serious take on Zorak was actually published outside of fan fiction.
79-Thirty years of lesbian innuendo and “lingerie=evil” in X-Men comics.
78-Being asked when late books are going to ship.
77-Being asked when cancelled books are going to ship.
76-“That” smell. You know the one I’m talking about.
75-Via Mike: When customers who only speak in a mumble get annoyed with you for not understanding what they’re saying.
74-Autobiographical comics. If I wanted to know more about the lives of neurotic people I’d spend more time with my relatives.
73-Customers who call every day asking if we have an item in stock, but never actually come in to buy it.
72-Customers who call in every day asking if we have an item in stock, and when they finally do come in after calling every day for several weeks, get pissed because we sold it to someone else.
70-“Rock of Ages didn’t make any sense.” Always from customers who never seem to have any problems differentiating which alternate timelines various X-Men characters come from.
69-“How much is this baseball card worth?” We don’t deal in baseball cards. “Oh, well how much is this baseball card worth then?”
68-Strangers in Paradise
67-People who think that “comic book store” means “free baby-sitting service.”
66-“Comics were better when I was a kid.” No, they weren’t. You just think they were because you were a kid, and as such, had lousy taste.
65-Having to explain to someone who brought their “really good” comics into the store to try to sell them to us why the condition of a book is important.
64-Having to try to explain why the condition of a book is important over the phone.
63-“Do you have any good ninja comics.” You may think I’m kidding, but honest-to-God, I was just asked this the other day.
62-People who come in looking for tattoo designs. Take it from the guy with ink; if you’re going to have an image permanently scarred into your flesh, you’re going to want it to be something you really want to look at every day for the rest of your life. Strolling around a comic book store in the hopes that you find an image that takes your fancy is a one-way ticket to tattoo remorse.
61-People who claim to be Sam Keith fans who say, once I show them his latest work, “But this doesn’t have Wolverine in it!”
60-Customers who buy supplies and “know what they need,” refusing to let me help them make sure that they’re getting exactly what they want to get and need to get, in light of our “no returns” policy on collector supplies…
59-…Because they invariably return the next day complaining that it’s somehow my fault that they bought magazine boards to use with current comic bags.
58-“But it must be out, I saw it on the internet.”
36-That there is a sizeable segment of the population that will go to see movies about super-heroes, buy super-hero action figures, play video games about super-heroes, wear clothes with pictures of super-heroes on them and get super-hero logos tattooed on their bodies…but won’t be caught dead reading a comic book.
35-That whenever a talented independent comics creator starts to achieve some success you can literally count the seconds until someone accuses them of being a sell-out.
34-Comic fans who really like Kitty Pryde. No, I mean they really like Kitty Pryde.
33-That Chaos Comics ever existed.
32-That Chaos Comics no longer exists.
31-The Black Racer. Proof that even Jack Kirby could have bad ideas from time to time.
30-That the deification of Jack Kirby has resulted in writers and artists trying to make the Black Racer work in a serious context.
29-When you come into the shop with your Hot Topic pants, “indie band of the moment” t-shirt, studded leather wrist-bands, emo glasses and self-consciously “punk” haircut to buy all the acceptably hip indie and art comics that just got reviewed in whatever pretentious scenester music magazine you read…and pay with a credit card. Oh, wait, I’m sorry. This entry should actually go on my “Signs You’re A Poser” list.
28-Hearing the phrase “It’s not as good as the Jim Lee version” in reference to Jim Aparo’s Batman.
27-Customers who feel the need to ask me questions that are asked on a comics cover, such as “Where is the Justice League?” I don’t know, why don’t you try reading the book!
26-Magazines about comics that have a price-guide in them. Especially if it’s a price-guide for CGC graded comics.
25-The overall state of comics “journalism.” So we’ve got Tom Spurgeon and the occasional piece over at IcV2 for good reporting…and about two dozen sites devoted to reprinting publisher press releases and soft-ball interviews with the creators of the comics talked about in those same press releases.
24-Artists still trying to draw like Jack Kirby.
23-That talented artists made the mistake of taking Ayn Rand seriously.
22-Artists who attempt to make super-hero costumes look “realistic” and “practical.” In other words, I don’t need to see all the seams, buttons and fasteners on the costumes.
21-Comic fans who insist on reading dense, multi-layered works as if they are only surface-level, straight forward superhero comics.
20-The mistaken belief that there is some kind of hierarchy of geekdom. That it is somehow acceptable for Star Wars fans to look down on Star Trek fans, for Trekkies to look down on D&D players, for D&D players to look down on comic fans, and for comic fans to look down on furries. Guess what? You’re all nerds. Deal with it.
19-That there are approximately one million different manga titles being published in English about scrappy young boys hoping to become the best fighter, ninja, samurai or card player around, and an equal number of titles about whiny and neurotic teenage girls who inexplicably have the coolest and most handsome boys in school fall in love with them. No wonder people complain about all manga books looking alike.
18-Via Mike Sterling: Fucking crazy comic book fans. Let me explain. The kind of fan who, as a former co-worker once put it, wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to look up and see the Hulk walking down the street.
17-Comic fans who read interviews with Grant Morrison and get upset with what he says, not realizing that he’s being facetious.
16-Comic books that only exist because Alex Ross wanted to paint the covers.
15-Comic creators who claim that they aren’t being racist just before they make a racist statement.
14-Comic creators who get bent out of shape by comic fans who refer to fictional characters by diminutive nick-names.
13-Comic creators who absolutely refuse to permit their work to grow and evolve, and so are continuing to put out the exact same kind of boring, tired and cliché-ridden work that they were churning out twenty years ago.
12-Ah, the hell with it. The John Byrne Forum.
11-Articles in the more sophisticated comic magazines that read as if they were written by an over-eager grad student with a “Dictionary of Pretentious and Obfuscatory Words” handy.
10- Customers who come into the shop with a list of about two hundred back issues they’re looking for, a list that will require at least two of us to go through several dozen boxes of back-issues, and possibly even a trip into the dread “back room of over-stock” to hunt down those comics…on Wednesday morning. Any other day of the week I’d be more than happy to help people track down that many back issues…but not on the day I’m trying to sort through twenty boxes from Diamond. Not on what is usually our busiest day of the week. And what kills me, what absolutely kills me, is that the only people who do this know that Wednesday is new comics day!
9-Comics creators and publishers who leak information on creators and titles to internet gossip columnists, then complain when leaked information about them and their titles appears in internet gossip columns.
8-Comics creators and publishers who dismiss all on-line conversations about comics as “fifteen fat losers who can’t get girl-friends talking to each other with different screen names.”
7-Comics creators and publishers who get upset by what those “fifteen fat losers” say about them. If you don’t think any comics discussion going on on-line is worth taking seriously, why are you taking it seriously?
6-That the vast majority of on-line comics discussion really doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously after all.
5-The gall of “columnists” for internet comics “news” sites complaining that people who write blogs are “unprofessional.” “People who live in glass houses” and all that.
4-This notion that seems to have gotten into some peoples heads that Alan Moore and Grant Morrison hate super-heroes. If you’ve read their work and come away with that impression, might I respectfully suggest that your reading comprehension isn’t as good as you think it is.
3-That the most visible public face of comics is a magazine that drunken frat boys on spring break find sophomoric.
2-When a reporter for the local free weekly (and boy do you get what you pay for in that paper) described the service in the store as “apathetic” in an article, when Mike and I know for damn certain that every time this person came into the store we went out of our way to help them because they were extremely over-sensitive to comics content.
1-People who are so unrelentingly negative that they don’t have anything better to do with their time than make lists of things that annoy them about comics.
Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount's pirate humor comic from AiT/Planet Lar is now available in a handy and convenient trade paper-back collection. If you've never before encountered the heady mix of low-brow pirate humor and pop culture satire that is Scurvy Dogs this is the ideal opportunity to finally correct that serious personality defect. If you're one of the enlightened ones who are already aware of the utter brilliance of this work, there is now bonus material, including the unlikely team-up of the Dogs and Vampirella of Drakulonia, so now you have a valid reason to spend more money on comics you already own without looking sort of sad. Of particular interest is the lengthy annotations provided by Boyd and Yount, providing, to be honest, rather more insight into the creative process behind this book than I cared to know.
This is a book that defies any kind of coherent description. It's got pirates in it. They drink a lot. They do terrible things to other people who may or may not have deserved to have had terrible things happen to them. And it's funny. One of the funniest comics to have come out in recent years, to be honest. And Yount's art has a very rough-hewn element to it, mixed with a blocky cartoon look, that nicely compliments the absurdity of the stories.
Scurvy Dogs: Rags to Riches will be available at all fine comic stores starting tomorrow, with a retail price of $12.95. Go! Buy it!
You know, it's probably not a good sign for the X-Books that the most entertaining version of the characters out there right now is a Flash-animated parody.
JLA: Classified #4: Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire bring the wacky version of the JLA back...again. It's good stuff, and very funny stuff, but I'm just slightly leery of any storyline promising more Guy Gardner, I character I've never cared for, and whose humor always seemed forced.
Promethea #32: For the final issue Alan Moore gives us a playful little puzzle that also works as a basic primer on his philosophy. I'm expecting a lot of back-lash on this issue. I've already heard plenty of grumbling on-line and in-store about Moore pulling this "stunt" just to be "pretentious" or "didatic." And frankly, I don't buy that. If you've stuck through this little experiment of Moore's for the prior 31 issues it seems a bit disingenuous to now pretend as if the book was never anything but a super-hero comic.
Ocean #4: Ellis makes hard sci-fi seem so natural and effortless, without losing sight of basic truisms about humanity. This is probably my favorite work of his in some time.
Ultimates 2 #3: So, Pete asked me if I planned on reviewing this issue. Well, here's the thing; it's become painfully apparent over the last several months that Millar has found a niche that he's comfortable with as a writer, and that is largely to attempt to be as faux-controversial and shocking as he can be. So even on a project like this, that when all is said is done is largely mainstream and restrained, it feels...lesser, simply by being associated with him. There's a hollowness to the book, masked by the pretty pictures. There's no "there" there, in other words. And I've simply no confidence in Millar as a writer to hope that there's a point to that emptiness, that it's leading to something, that the characters will grow out of their shallowness and hollowness. And as I have no confidence that anything in this book will go anywhere, I really don't see the point in trying to follow it anymore, much less sit here and try to tell the world whether or not it's "good" or "bad." It is what it is: a pretty, but empty, package.
Young Avengers #1: "They're not what you think..." is what it says on the cover. Well, what I think it is, is another in Marvel's shameless attempts to cash in on something that another company has had success with, in this case Teen Titans. And actually, that's exactly what it is, Marvel's version of a "teen sidekick" team-up book. Now, having said that, it's not actually bad. Yes, there is painfully silly last-page "surprise," and all of Cheung's faces have a certain sameness to them, but there is wit and some originality to the story. Yes, it's stuck having to deal with the fall-out of an over-hyped and not very good cross-over storyline, but I've seen worse spin-offs (New Guardians comes immediately to mind). I'm willing to give it a shot. It has the promise of being a fun book, despite the flock of albatrosses it's got slung around its neck.
ps238 #10: Any issue with more Prospero is a good issue. My only complaint: not enough Prospero.
Manhunter #7: Are you still a super-hero comic if your main character doesn't get into a costume once during the entire issue? Or are you just Daredevil then?
Ex Machina #8: Y'know, I like Vaughn as a writer, but his gay couple here is just a little too perfect. Inter-racial and bi-political, one formally dressed, one casually, one white-collar, one blue-collar. It's a common enough mistake straight writers make, trying to make the gay protagonists a little too universal, a little too "just like straight people." Now, I like the comic and all, but whenever I see someone go that extra length to pretend that not all gay people are non-politically correct queens all I can think is "ooh, get her."
Catwoman #40: I'm the only person who liked Wooden Nickel, wasn't I?
Astonishing X-Men #8: Instead of talking about this comic, I'm going to talk about the movie Phantoms. Bear with me, I've got a point. See, back when I was in college, it was really cheap to go to the movies. It was something like $3 for a week-day matinee, so for about $5 I could see a new movie and get a snack. Now, being a small college town, the assortment of films we got was slim. Basically we got the B movies and the art-house, foreign and indie films. If you wanted to see a big block-buster film you had to drive to the multi-plex the next town over. But the selection of films worked just fine for me, and I usually had the cash handy to see movies two or three times a week. Combine that with the video store focusing on art-house, foreign, indie and classic films with a daily rental rate that worked out to less than a dollar a day, and I watched a lot of movies in college. I've always had a fondness for dumb fun movies, they're a good way to kill an afternoon on a slow day. Now, Phantoms was playing at the local theater, and all I knew about it was that it was about a small group of people investigating mysterious disappearance in a mountain town and that Ben Affleck (before he was just annoying) and Liev Schrieber (who I thought was hot) were in it. In other words, it looked like a dumb fun movie, and I had the $5 to spare. The movie's coasting along, and it is indeed a dumb fun movie. Then, for some reason, the film tried to explain what, precisely, was going on. Which was a mistake. Because I'm prepared to tolerate a strange entity causing people to disappear in a dumb fun movie. But when it was revealed that the entity in question was actually evil, intelligent shape-shifting oil, and that it's what killed the dinosaurs, the movie went from dumb fun to just plain old dumb.
"The danger room is angry" is to this series what evil intelligent oil was to the movie Phantoms.
Runaways #1: After that comic I needed something fun and good, with no dumb anywhere near it, so this was precisely the remedy necessary. It's not the best introduction for new readers, but the basic premise is stated, as is the current status quo. New mysteries are introduced in a dramatic way, but it's a method that works for super-hero books. If I have any reservations, it's in the concept of a support group for ex-teen-heroes. But, again, it's a conceit that works in a super-hero books, and Vaughan does play it off as a slightly silly situation without making any of the characters involved look foolish.
Fables #34: I don't like movies or television shows set in Hollywood, or otherwise about making movies or television shows. It's needlessly narcisstic and self-referential, and designed solely to appeal to the kinds of people who for some reason think that how much money a movie makes is important and/or a sign of the film's quality. So this storyline already holds no appeal to me.
She-Hulk #12: So, Marvel puts out a book that's truly all-ages, generally new reader friendly, has plenty of hooks to keep existing fans happy, and is genuinely fun. And they put it on "hiatus." Swell.
303 #3: While Warren Ellis seems bound and determined to bring the hard sci-fi genre back to comics, Garth Ennis seems to be on a similar quest with war comics. I like his work on books like this far more than his Punisher work. I dropped Punisher quite some time back, in fact, because it felt like Ennis was starting to take the character too seriously, and there's any number of bad Punisher comics from the eighties and nineties that take the character seriously that I could read if that was a version of the character I wanted to read about. When Ennis is being serious and earnest it works much better when it's on a book with a strong basis and grounding in something that resembles a recognizable reality.
Vimanarama #1: At some point, I really do feel like I should sit down and write an in-depth discussion of Seaguy and WE3, and probably this book as well, but for now I'm just going to say that this was brilliant and funny and beautiful and leave it at that.
I'm generally not a big fan of fighting manga. All those little books about monkey-children from space, ninjas in training and samurai just bore me to tears. So I was actually very surprised to discover that I enjoyed Worst as much as I did. What drew me in at first was Takahashi's art. The figures are very detailed and expressive, and Takahashi has a great talent for drawing comedy. The facial expressions as the characters talk and react to one another reminded me somewhat of Kevin Maguire's work.
The story is remarkably simple: it is a fight comic after all. Hana is new to town, attending a high school with a bad reputation and living in a boarding house with three of the worst kids in the neighborhood. Naturally, it turns out that naive, terminally optimistic and outgoing Hana is the best fighter around and decides to enter the big freshman fight competition to determine who the toughest freshman. Only Hana takes things a step further and announces to the entire school that he plans to become the boss of bosses for the entire school, a school so rowdy that no one person has ever been able to unite the entire student body under their leadership.
Hana is a great character. His seeming naivete masks a tremendous empathy for the underdog, as well as a great ambition. He's not a person to underestimate, yet his manner makes certain that everyone makes the mistake of doing just that.
IWGP: Ikebukuro West Gate Park Vol. 1 by Ira Ishida and Sena Aritou
In this comics adaptation of Ishida's mystery novel, a mysterious strangler is targeting teen prostitutes in a popular neighborhood for gangs and slackers. After Rika, a girl lay-about Makoto maybe could have been in love with, dies, Makoto decides to enlist the help of the most violent gang in the area, the G Boys, to help him track down the killer and avenge Rika. Meanwhile, an unwanted figure from the past seems to have plans for Rika's best friend, and the other girl Makoto might love, Hikaru.
This should have been a book I really liked. Ishida's story, while not really working for me as a mystery, was a very good character study. Makoto in particular was complex and engaging, avenging the girl who he suspects he didn't really love out of a sense of obligation for failing to be there to save her, while at the same time wanting the girl he doesn't think he can have. There are mysteries and secrets to just about every other character as well, making this a book that rewards deep reading. And Aritou's art is very brisk and cartoony. And I think that might have been the root of the problem for me. The art is a little too cartoony, and I think it went against the mood in many scenes. So while I admire the talent of the creators involved, I'm left with the feeling that the story as a whole might have worked better for me in the original novel format.
So, Pete and I went to see Constantine tonight. I have a theory, regarding actors. Some actors, when they realize that the movie they're in isn't really very good, decide "to hell with it" and just have fun with their roles. In Constantine that actor is Tilda Swinton, who is quite clearly enjoying playing the angel Gabriel. She's about the only actor in the entire film who isn't either speaking in a robotic monotone or chewing scenery like it's coated with the antidote to the poison they just drank.
Which isn't to say that Constantine was a bad film. It was actually a fairly decent evening's entertainment. But I do rather wish that the film-makers had decided what kind of film they were making before they started filming. There are times when it seems that they want to make a horror film, but then they didn't put anything scary or "horrific" in the film. There are times when you almost think they're trying to make an action film, but the movie as a whole is so slow and plodding that can't possibly be the case. And if they wanted to make an introspective character study about the nature of sacrifice and redemption, they shouldn't have cast such dull actors to play such one-note characters. And as for the supernatural aspects of the film, well, if you're going to plunder the already ill-defined metaphysics of the DC Universe for story material you may as well go whole hog and just throw Zatanna and the Phantom Stranger in there as well.
(And, comics geek moment, while Keanu Reeves is playing a character named John Constantine, he's not at all the character of the same name from the Hellblazer comics. It goes beyond a change in hair color or nationality. The very personality and motivation of the character is fundamentally changed.)
Trailers: Now that I've seen the Sin City trailer on a big screen with an auditorium full of people...it still doesn't look any better. I wasn't terribly surprised that the audience didn't burst into laughter during the trailer, but I wasn't expecting the reactions to range from confusion to disinterest either. Of course, Batman Begins got the same response, so make of that what you will. But since Peter has a thing for Bruce Willis I've been told that I am going to see Sin City no matter what, so it really doesn't matter what I think of the trailer.
The people who put together the trailer for the remake of House of Wax really pushed the presence of Paris Hilton. Either they're sabotaging the film or they think there are enough people out there who are annoyed enough by her to want to see her die in a gruesome way on film to make the movie a hit.
Stealth may very well be the last film anyone involved in it ever makes.
Flowers: Stop-motion music video for a neat little song.
Hype Won: Perhaps a little too full of City of Heroes based in-jokes, but I still think it's funny.
Flesh-Head's Treehouse finally updates, with part one of his master guide to surviving the San Diego Comic-Con.
Yes, I bought an extra copy of Promethea. Yes, I carefully disassembled it. Yes, I read it through in the order of the numbered pages. If you do it that way, you sort of get the "cliff notes" version of the series.
So, Wolverine #25 shipped to comic shops yesterday, and Wolverine killed the only gay X-Man. I'm sure I'm supposed to be upset about this, or perhaps even outraged, but the most emotion I can muster is actually just to be profoundly disappointed.
You see, I'm sure that Marvel thinks that by killing the most prominent gay character in the Marvel Universe that they've actually done something shocking and worthy of comment, but the fact of the matter is that all they've really managed to do is demonstrate how creatively bankrupt they are. Marvel is now in some sort of strange perpetual hype mode. And the problem with that is eventually you have to pay off, or the audience gets tired of seeing nothing but a big tease. But the resolution can never live up to the hype, because it has been so built up by the teases and the promotion. Fans expect some huge event as the resolution, but the very nature of super-hero comics means that nothing too drastic an alteration to the status quo can ever be permitted to happen. So, in order to communicate just how bad and scary Wolverine would be if he were evil, he has to kill some super-heroes. Only there's no way that he can be permitted to kill off any major characters. So he offs a D-List character from a failed Spider-Man spin-off and Northstar, a marginally popular character but not one that any other writers had any plans for. The end result is, if Wolverine was evil, the Marvel Universe would have a lot less deadwood characters lying around.
And that points to another problem associated with the hype machine that Marvel has become; the use of death as a selling point. Death in comics is meaningless. Doubly so in an X-Man comic. Nobody stays dead. If a character is missed enough, or a clever writer finds a way to use the character, the character will be back. But fans apparently want to see characters die. In some message boards you will find discussions of which characters should die. It's a strangely blood-thirsty mind-set, and I'm not quite sure where it comes from. In general it seems to be born out of fan boredom with character death. It's so routine and impermanent a condition in comics that fans have become jaded to it. They want bigger and better deaths. It's quite sick really. And it invites the ugly observation that by killing the queer Marvel is giving these fans what they think they want.
And what about the fact that Northstar is the most prominent gay character at Marvel, and the only gay X-Man? Is there any homophobia behind the decision to kill him off. Well, his sophomoric fascination with sodomy aside, I don't think Millar is homophobic. But I'm not sure I can say the same for Marvel's editorial department as a whole. When Northstar had a solo mini-series, shortly after the infamous "I am GAY!" issue of Alpha Flight was published, his orientation wasn't mentioned once. The few times his orientation has been discussed in comics it's to either have him be the brunt of homophobic comments from other characters, or to have him pine uselessly for the love of a heterosexual team-mate. In short, Northstar's sexuality has primarily been used as the basis for cheap jokes. Because Marvel editorial doesn't want Northstar to be used for anything else. And now that Marvel, by it's own admission, is essentially just an R&D service for film and television properties, Northstar is this big gay albatross hanging around the neck of the X-Men franchise. Northstar is never, ever going to appear in any film or cartoon based on the X-Men characters because the character has been reduced to his sexuality and Marvel doesn't want people to think of those disgusting faggots when they think of the X-Men toys that their kids are buying. So Northstar had to go. In a thread at the Image forums, Millar seemed to express surprise that Marvel was okay with the idea of killing off Northstar. He's either being disingenuous or naive, because in all likelihood Marvel was probably glad to be rid of him.
Of course, this also relates back to one of my pet peeves in the entertainment industry in general regarding gay characters, and violence against gay characters. I get very annoyed by the "gay best friend" character you see in television and movies from time to time. The character has no life of his own, and no sex life especially. He only exists to make the romantic lives of the heterosexual characters easier. The flip to this is when a gay character appears in any kind of dramatic series. When the faggot isn't the gender confused killer, he's always the victim. No other roles are open to the gay character. Even in movies written or directed by gay men, the gay character is either the killer or the victim, never the hero. And when the gay character is the victim, in a disturbing number of cases, the death of the gay character is more violent, more gory, lingered on in more detail, than the deaths of other characters. Because the audience, it appears, really wants to see the queer get what's coming to him. It's incredibly depressing to think that this is what Marvel has in mind for Northstar. Hornet was given the dignity of an off-panel death. Northstar we see skewered in a several-panel long sequence, including a lingering multi-panel look at the body. And if the general expectation as to the path this story-line is taking proves to be correct, Northstar will be the next hero to return as a death-crazed murderous assassin. So Marvel gets to have Northstar be both victim and villain. They thrill their audience by killing the queer, and have him assume his "natural" role as bad guy to boot.
Not, of course, that Marvel is alone in this. Both Apollo and Midnighter have tended to be written as more villains than heroes, but that's the nature of every character in their title. Piper seems headed down the villain path again, and Tasmanian Devil spent three issues being mind-controlled before being exiled to another universe. At least Sabre and Cannon were always supposed to be villains. And there are all those lesbian cops in Gotham. But, all in all, not a particularly banner year for gay characters in comics.
Essential Luke Cage...an odd choice for an Essential volume, but certainly not as mis-named a book as Essential Human Torch or Essential Ant-Man.
If ever there was a book that screamed "wait for the trade" from every page it's Apocalypse Nerd...remember back before Peter Bagge became a Libertarian. You know, back when he was funny.
Actually, upon flipping through Buddy Does Seattle, the new manga-sized collection of Hate stories it may be remotely possible that Peter Bagge was never actually as funny as I remember him being.
The book of Dan DeCarlo cheesecake gag cartoons that came out today has a really off-putting orange color on almost every page. And I couldn't shake the feeling, as I was looking at it, that I was seeing some future version of Betty and/or Veronica on every page. Sort of like "Oh, so that's what Veronica got up to after leaving Riverdale" or "So that's how Betty worked her way through college."
So, somehow, Mike and I got into a discussion of Hogan's Heroes and the rumored "serious" film version. Mike mentioned that he can't wait to see the "funny" Green Lantern film. I responded, "Isn't Rebirth silly enough for you?"
Well, I was going to post my silly/interesting comic cover this morning, but, and you may not have noticed this, I made an image-heavy post on Monday. So until that scrolls off the page I may hold off on any more big images.
Little images, however, are fair game. I saw this in the store the other day and immediately realized that it Should Not Be:
You know, with the notable exception of the Grant Morrison run, the X-Men really haven't been any damn good since Len Wein and Dave Cockrum left the book...
Ways to Make Friends On-Line Part Two
I'm not looking forward to IDW's Shaun of the Dead comic. Primarily because the elements that made the film work so well, such as the acting and the timing, are not translatable to comics. But my experience with other IDW books also leads me to believe that the adaptation will be short on story, have over-praised art and be too expensive.
Added to my side-bar recently, because my attention was drawn to them and I liked what I saw, Kung Fu Monkey and Love Manga.
With any luck Green Lantern: Rebirth #4 will finally ship today, so that will be one less "is it out yet" question to have to deal with.
On the other hand, today is the day that we always seem to have people standing outside the door, staring in at us as we try to go through the boxes and unpack and sort everything before we open. Yes folks, standing there and staring at me actually does make me go faster and puts me in such a good mood when we do finally open, you come in, and the first words out of your mouth are "Did the new comics come in yet?"
Tomorrow: Why killing off gay characters in fiction is not necessarily representative of homophobia on the parts of the creators, but does point to a more serious problem in the editorial department.
I'm fairly grumpy and tired after dealing with incompetent people all morning (note to doctors: hire courteous and competent receptionists and you'll go a long way towards keeping patients happy), so of course that puts me in the perfect mood to play every blogger's favorite game: "What Looks Good/Bad/Terribly Ill-Conceived in the Previews."
I count eight statues, a prop replica and an over-priced "Ken as Batman" doll, as well as the film adaptation and a trade collecting the adaptation and Batman stories that vaguely resemble the content of the film. Here's hoping Batman Begins does better than the Catwoman or Elektra movies.
Most of the Bat-titles this month appear to be "Part X of Y" so there's not much to talk about there. Batman Villain Secret Files could potentially be interesting, but it's more likely to consist of largely unnecessary recaps of prior stories and vague hints regarding future stories. Year One: Batman/Scarecrow holds no appeal for me at all, and I'm apparently the one person out there who doesn't thrill to Brian Azzarello's work (his run on Superman notwithstanding), so the paper-back publication of Broken City doesn't register with me either.
About the only thing that does stand out is the first two issues of the Englehart, Rodgers and Austin mini Dark Detective. Their original run on Detective is well-regarded for good reason, and really, how can you resist a cover like this?
The new art teams on Superman and Adventures of Superman are promising, and I'd really like to buy and enjoy Gail Simone's run on Action, but unfortunately she's been paired with an artist whose work I don't want in my home.
A similar problem exists with Superman: Infinite City, with art by Carlos Meglia. I really, really don't like his work, and my first reaction when I heard about this book was, frankly, to be appalled that he's still getting work from a major publisher. (I was tempted to simply not say anything at all about this book, since I can't say anything positive, but like I said earlier, grumpy today.)
I really don't care that they're relaunching Green Lantern. I won't be buying it and I'm sort of annoyed at the deification of nostalgia that the return of Hal Jordan signifies.
I can't be the only person out there who finds the concept of The Omac Project appealing, can I?
A Teen Titans/Outsiders cross-over makes sense given how the titles launched, and if you're a fan of both titles it's a nice little gimmick, but now even I'm starting to think that maybe DC needs to back off of the heavy cross-title continuity a bit.
The Rann/Thanagar war launches and the creators are people who have put out quality work in the past, so I'm willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt, even if others feel that its existence somehow lessens the quality of the Diggle/Ferry Adam Strange mini.
With this month's Seven Soldiers titles, Shining Knight and Guardian, Grant Morrison revives a DC stunt from several years back, the extreme close-up head-shot. If I read some of the news regarding this series correctly, all the second issues of each of the titles will be like this. Frankly, I can't tell if that's brilliant branding or just a really dull idea.
The cover to Villains United spoils the identity of those shadowy figures who have been appearing in DC titles lately. Again, it's a premise I find intriguing and creators I trust, so I'm looking forward to it despite it's involvement in this big push to make the DCU more interconnected.
Wrath of the Spectre collects the Michael Fleisher written Spectre stories from Weird Adventure Comics. It's always good to see DC putting quality older material out in trade format, rather than the Archive format, even when it's not something I have any particular interest in, as is the case here. I wouldn't mind some cheap trades for DC's fantasy or western titles, however.
Looney Tunes features a parody of the Odyssey...hey, if the makers of the Simpsons comic can make humor based on the classics work, why not DC?
DC's long-ago Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy adaptation is re-offered as part of the Johnny DC line...which is a surprising choice.
Nothing new here, just further volumes of existing titles, though several first volumes are re-offered as part of something called "Manga Month" which I'm going to guess is going to be a branding strategy within the May Previews.
There's usually at least one title in this section that looks good to me, and this month it's Olympus by Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger and Butch Guice. Archaeologists and mercenaries fighting monsters from Greek myths...I'm already eager to get my hands on it.
Different Ugliness, Different Madness by Marc Males looks promising as well, and I'm glad to see that the Humanoids line is publishing "realistic" fiction as well as the genre fiction people seem to expect. If a book like this gets a strong critical reaction it raises the profile of the line, which means that maybe more and more diverse offerings could be made available. Were such a thing to happen, I wouldn't mind seeing an English language edition of Lost Future.
The Warren Ellis written Desolation Jones makes it's debut, with art by JH Williams III, and the Devin Grayson with Brian Stelfreeze mini Matador does as well. That's two long-ago announced books coming out at about the same time. Both look exactly like the sort of thing I really want to read. We also get a new issue of Planetary.
And over at the America's Best Comics imprint, the Top Ten graphic novel, The Forty-Niners is due to be released as well. It's a good month for Wildstorm fans with patience.
More continuing on-goings and minis, so not much to comment on, save that the Preacher graphic novels are being re-released with new trade dress, and, it appears, that the price of the books has been set at $14.99. I could be wrong, but I don't remember all the books having the same price in the past. If it is the case I'm very curious as to what prompted this move. My guess would be that it's a reaction to the uniformity of price amongst manga titles, and a sign of how important bookstore sales really are to a trade paperback line.
You know, Megas XLR is an occasionally amusing show, but I'm not sure it warrants a $125 statue.
Wow. These Alex Ross designed JLA figures look really, really boring. Apparently an effort has been made to have Black Manta's mask look more, I don't know, functional or "realistic." It's the freaking Black Manta! It's not supposed to be a "practical" mask, it's only supposed to look cool to boys aged eight to twelve!
Wow, I must be more tired than grumpy because I'm actually a little enthusiastic about most of DC's output for May...either that or DC is actually promising to put out material that actually looks like it might be good.
About 150 GB, counting the removable hard drive that's nothing but music files, but not counting the five or six CDs of mp3 files, most of which are about 700 MB each, because those aren't actually on the computer. When you date a singer, the music files tend to add up quickly. The majority of those downloads, by the way, are either rips from CDs and albums either Pete or I own or were downloaded directly from the artists site or bought from a legitimate mp3 service. Those that aren't, uhm...in my defense, I did make it a point to only download material that was out of print or otherwise unavailable for sale, back in the days I did download music from "those sources.:"
2. The last CD you bought was:
I am incapable of buying one CD at a time. (I am also incapable of buying one book at a time. This theory has been tested and proven.) So the last CD I bought was actually three CDs: Sleep/Holiday by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci which is gloriously odd, Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets by Gary Jules which is very good and reminiscent of Paul Simon before he started taking himself too seriously and Q Magazine's Best of 2004 compilation which I get just about every year because the editor's of Q, of all the music magazines I've come across over the years, have the taste in music closest to mine, and thus put out the best bonus CDs (I shudder to imagine what a Rolling Stones "Best of 2004" would sound like).
3. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
Hippie Chick by SOHO, part of one of four mp3 mixes about 12 hours long each that I often listen to while working on the computer, each mix arranged more or less by the mood I'm in. That particular mix is the goofy/rock/aggressive mix.
4. Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
By a startling coincidence, in another context, I've been working on a "Top 20" personal list of songs, and I'm stuck on #19. So, I'll just talk about five of the songs on that list.
Jolene by Dolly Parton, though the cover by Queen Adreena is really good too (just avoid the White Stripes version), because there is just something about it I respond to, something very heartfelt in its romanticism.
My Curse by The Afghan Whigs, a fantastic band, and this is an incredible song from an all-around great album, Gentlemen. The song really captures the pain of love.
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk by Rufus Wainwright. Again, it's a love song that's less than wildly optimistic, and I could be really pretentious and say that the song is a pretty good snapshot of what it feels like to be gay but I won't.
Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA. Gee, you'd almost think I have a thing about songs about love gone wrong. (Yes, I put an ABBA song on the list. I'm a ho-mo-sex-ual...I'm genetically predetermined to like ABBA, deal with it.)
And of course, the greatest rock song ever, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, by Meatloaf. Okay, it sort of continues the theme here of Dorian being a frustrated and disappointed romantic, but I love this song. Love it. I really wish rock music had gone in this direction way back when, instead of the earnest blue-collar folk rocker and hair band directions it did go in. I want more over-blown, over-dramatic mini-operas, dammit!
5. Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?
Rose (who just had a birthday, Happy Birthday Rose), Bill and John, because that should lead to very interesting and diverse lists of music, I think. Plus, I'm genuinely curious about Rose and Bill's tastes in music, and John I just don't hear from enough (plus, if he does it, that spreads this to the poli-bloggers, and I'm morbidly curious to see if any of them pick it up). I was going to pass it off on Sam, who tried to pass it off on me, but Rick beat me to it.
So, this Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert story that's been making the rounds...it seems to me that the real story is that the Republican party has been paying "journalists" to not only write stories favorable to the administration, but to ask easy questions at press conferences. So what's with all the gay-baiting going on from liberal commentators. Y'know, it's homophobic when people who vote Democrat do it too.
Ever wonder what a short film starring both Ron Jeremy and Scott Thompson would be like? Well, wonder no more! No, probably not work-safe. But damn funny.
A One-Act Play
Customer: Kind seller of comic periodicals, would you be so kind as to answer a query?
Sexy Comic Retailer: Why yes my good sir, nothing in the world would give me greater pleasure than to answer your most profound and heart-felt questions regarding the glorious and triumphant art-form known as "funny-books."
Customer: Would you, perchance good sir, happen to have any issues of Short Lived and Very High in Demand Obscure Comic From the 70s?
Sexy Comic Retailer: You are indeed fortunate sir, for that comic happens to be familiar to me and I know in exactly which spot we have secreted it away, far from the prying eyes of a world that would not understand.
Customer: May I be permitted to glance upon them, and perhaps purchase, you upstanding fellow, and if I may be so bold to add, exceedingly good looking sir.
Sexy Comic Retailer: With all due haste! Here you are, sir, four of the seven issues that were published of Short Lived and Very High in Demand Obscure Comic From the 70s, all in excellent condition.
Customer: What? Only four of the seven issues? No, sir, you misunderstand my purpose. You see, I am an extremely discerning and discriminatory purchaser of comic art. I will only purchase rare books such as Short Lived and Very High in Demand Obscure Comic From the 70s when they are available as complete runs. No gaps in my collection for me!
Sexy Comic Retailer: I do believe you will find, good sir, that due to the rarity of this title you are unable to find my comic houses such as this with even one ratty copy of one issue within their inventory, much less just over half the run. This is a title known far and wide to be rare and very much in demand, and the recommended buying pattern is to purchase it when you find it in the condition you desire, regardless of how many issues may or may not be available.
Customer: Nevertheless, I will force the universe and market forces to bow to my whims! Good day sir!
Vimanarama not only has a very complicated pun for a title, but the story assumes that the reader has some familiarity with a culture other than the Western hegemony, so I'm guessing it's not going to sell as well as the violent animal book or the funny super-hero.
Menage A Trois managed to be timely with their Super Bowl themed cover. (No, I'm not kidding. I wish I were.)
I was successful in my anticipation that Young Avengers would have a "big shock and surprise" revelation in its first issue, and I was right. I was just wrong about which character. But since "Patriot" still hasn't been unmasked, there's still a chance that there will be a "big shock" there as well. Heck, I'm kinda hoping that each issue ends with a character unmasking to reveal some terrible secret.
Marvel's reprint projects are of increasingly dicey quality. The quality of their recent reprint of the famous Sub-Mariner/Human Torch battle was shameful, with figures reduced to indistinct colored blurs, and from what I hear it was pretty much the same inside the Golden Age Masterworks volume. And now Marvel Weddings not only has terrible reproductions of older material (which I'm prepared to forgive if no good copies of the source material were available), but more recent comics, such as the wedding of Scott Summer and Jean Grey, are also washed out and look like unfocused photographs of actual comic pages.
So, we finally got our replacement copies of Previews, and as I finish up bagging all of them, I realize I forgot to check them to make sure they were complete. So I have to unbag and check each one. Which was fun.
But Dorian, you ask, why do you bag Previews in the first place? Well, in a way, it's all Marvel's fault. When they started putting the Marvel solicitations in a separate book, we tried putting it inside Previews to insure that everyone who bought a copy would also get a copy of the Marvel booklet. We also made sure to get plenty of copies of just the Marvel booklet on its own, as experience has taught us that plenty of people were only buying Previews for the Marvel solicitations. And what ended up happening was that people would take the Marvel booklet out of the Diamond catalog and buy it separately. We discouraged this as much as possible, but people still tried it. All the time. So we ended up with a small pile of unsellable copies of Previews. So now we just bag up the Marvel booklet and the Diamond catalog together, because we'd rather lose six cents on a bag than $2.25 on a book with a very limited shelf-life.
And I'm sorely tempted to spoil the ending of next week's Wolverine #25. I will probably write about it once the issue ships, but let's just say for now that it's not hard to guess why Marvel editorial felt that this character was expendable.
Concrete: The Human Dilemma #2: Blast, just as I was enjoying a decent story about how humans relate to each other, despite the science-fiction element of a man trapped in an alien body, the generically sinister business man reappears at the end of the issue. Still, the issue was enjoyable despite that annoying little reminder of genre.
Lions, Tigers and Bears #1: I picked this up mostly out of curiosity over the art. It's very pretty to look at, to be sure, but the story has so many familiar trappings, the enterprise as a whole has a bit of a "been there, done that" feel to it. Frankly, it's almost as if it's trying a little too hard to fill the apparent demand for more all-ages comics. In other words, it feels a little calculated. Pretty, though.
Firestorm #10: Is the return of Ronnie Raymond meant to placate the fans of the prior Firestorm title, or simply part of the larger story that was intended all along? See, I'm reasonably certain people, somewhere, are intensely debating that point, but my primary concern is whether or not this is a good, entertaining comic. The return of Ronnie Raymond is a dramatic change to the status-quo of the series, and a further complication for a title that was already enjoyable in part because of the rather complicated premise. So it's an intriguing change that I'm curious to see played out.
X-Men: Phoenix Endsong #2: At least one X-Title is comfortable mining Grant Morrison's run for material, rather than franticaly trying to undo it. The art is very pretty, but this now feels like two issues of set-up. To Pak's credit, he seems to be the only X-Writer with a grasp of how Emma Frost should be written, and the only one willing to give the benefit of the doubt as to the sincerity of Scott and Emma's relationship.
Monolith #12: The happy resolution was a bit telegraphed, but this was still a fairly satisfying wrap-up for the series. It closes off all the important plots, yet leaves the characters in a place where more stories can be told with them. I really enjoyed this series, and I'm sorry to see it go. Especially since it's legacy will probably be to serve as yet another example in support of the theory that comics fans don't support new and original material in the monthly magazine format.
Hypothetical Lizard #1: Lorenzo Larente's art is lovely, and I'm very curious to know what technique he used to draw this book (I'd guess it wasn't drawn on white paper, from the textures and shadings). The story is really quite chilling, and I'm both intrigued and horrified by what was done to the narrator, Som Som, in order to turn her into a prostitute suitable for sorcerers. As the first chapter of the story, it by necessity focuses on both how Som Som came to be where she is, and to reveal the background of the drama to come. Another excellent Johnston adaptation of an Alan Moore prose piece.
The Question #4: Well...I like it, but since we're now past the half-way point, do I really need to keep pushing it?
Detective #803: Lapham's Gotham is certainly...grittier than we've seen in awhile. I'm enjoying his run so far, the story is progressing at a quick place, yet complicating itself no more than is necessary.
Batman #636: On the other hand, I'm also enjoying Winick's lighter, more heroic take on Batman as well. It's a Batman that can actually have a sense of humor, with a Gotham that doesn't completely reek of decay and despair. It actually feels like it fits into the rest of the DC Universe, as opposed to the many, many years in which you almost had to pretend that the Batman titles were part of some separate world in order to reconcile the existence of the horrific Gotham that had been built up and the rest of DC's output.
Deadshot #3: More bad fun, a thrill in seeing the high-and-mighty Green Arrow get talked down to for a change and some actual attempts at emotional growth. Of course, now that Deadshot has been humanized somewhat, he's been set up for the obvious fall, as I'm not sure a "good guy" Deadshot is anything anyone wants to see. Still, if the end result is simply that DC has a villain with slightly more depth than "he's insane" or "he wants to take over the world" or the ever tiresome "he's jealous of the hero" it'll have been worth it.
Superman/Batman #17: I'm a long time DCU fanboy, and even I'm getting tired of playing "spot the character."
Adam Strange #5: Ah, the title that everyone liked up until the point they found out that elements of it spin out into other stories. I still like it, though, and still think it's worthwhile reading on its own.
Simpsons/Futurama: Crossover Crisis II #1: How can something be everything I expected it to be, and still be disappointing? This just wasn't as funny a concept the second time around.
Simpsons #102: Which is largely the same reaction I had to this issue, purchased solely in the hopes of getting some laughs in at the Disney in-jokes. There were some, but they were few and far between.
Losers #20: Well, that was an...unexpected development between two of the main cast members.
Legion of Super-Heroes #2: So, let me see if I have this right: Dream Girl is spacy and sarcastic, Braniac 5 is smug and sarcastic, Shadow Lass is violent and sarcastic, Karate Kid is impulsive and sarcastic and Element Lad is aloof and sarcastic. That about cover it? Yeah, the depth of character in this book is staggering. I just cannot see why this book is receiving such high praise. It reads like an homage to the Legion stories that were coming out thirty years ago, just dressed up in shiny new clothes. Future issues are going into the "books only Pete reads" pile I think.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #15: Ellis seems to have finally found his footing with this issue. It's page after page of people sitting around talking, but it's an intriguing and absorbing conversation. And the smaller character bits, such as Ben taking a space-walk, are deftly done as well.
JSA: Strange Adventures #6: I liked this mini, but it does have a bit of an "oh, it's over" ending. The ending doesn't really stay with you or bring the story to a satisfying conclusion.
Y: The Last Man #30: The mystery of how Yorick and Ampersand survived is revealed...and it's really quite sensible in an eye-roll inducing sort of way. Another strong issue.
Conan #12: A surprisingly brutal story, particularly the Tom Mandrake illustrated flashback to Janissa's training. The leisurely pace the story-lines take on this title is aided greatly by the stand-alone interludes like this issue. Still, as long as we don't get any more repeats of the interminable Hyperboreia story, I'll be happy.
Catwoman #39: Wooden Nickel is an enjoyably goofy villain, a good blend of modern sensibilities and Silver Age feel. And Morse actually manages to have Batman convincingly act like a human being in this issue as well.
Teen Titans #20: An entertaining super-hero book that successfully deals with the fall-out of changes to the status quo made in another title, in a convincing way. Wow, you'd almost not think it was possible.
Adventures of Superman #636: The "every one takes time out of the ongoing story to talk about Identity Crisis" issue. When you make big changes to a super-hero universe, as IC did, you have to deal with the repercussions somewhere, and Rucka does a good job having each of the DC Big Three give their take on the mini and what it means to the DC U as a whole. Each character's response feels "right" for that character, or at least as "right" a reaction as a fictional person can have.
Plastic Man #14: Plastic Man vs. a mouse. I mean, really, what more do you need to know?
Manhunter #6: I'm really hoping that the critical praise this book is receiving, in combination with the familiarity of the name, will give this book a good life-span, because this has been one of the better new titles DC has had in a year that offered plenty of good new comics from them. I'm liking the look at the DC U from the down-side, where not everything is as bright and shiny as it appears.
Genus Male #4: Ah, gay porn. Surprisingly, I think this is a much better book than Sin Factory's other gay title, Dangerous. The quality of the art is generally better and the stories are both better porn and more engaging. It's not quite as accomplished as Eros' new book Sticky, and often has that amateur feel that a lot of Radio/Sin Factory books do, but it fulfills my need to see boinking in comics.
Wanted #6: So, the whole point of this series was for Mark Millar to demonstrate his total contempt for his audience. Like we didn't know that already? Remind me to pass on any of his other projects that may come out. (Not that they'll, you know, come out in a timely fashion or anything...)
Planetary #22: Ellis takes on the pulp westerns, and it's too brief a story dammit! I wanted more, not just the teases we get here. For the rest of the book, the meta-plot advanced, in its incremental way, and Elijah Snow damned himself by failing to heed the repeated warnings he's been given about his role in the world being larger than petty vengeance.
JLA Classified #3: I don't think there are any comics writers out there today who can take all the glorious silliness of the comics of the past and still make them work seriously within the confines of modern comics expectations, and still have them be fun. This storyline was glorious nonsense as well as being the best critique of "realistic" super-heroes I've ever seen. It's a tribute to the elements of fantasy in super-hero comics that, frankly, is what got just about everyone reading them in the first place.
The five month wait between issues has killed sales on Superpatriot: War on Terror. At this point the only books who don't have their sales hurt by long delays are those that appeal to an audience outside of the super-hero buyer who comes into the store weekly. Which is one of the reasons why I'm very reluctant to pick up new titles from Image. Whenever there's a title that appeals to me, like Beyond Avalon or Lions, Tigers and Bears, I have to stop and think seriously if I'm prepared to put up with the almost certain delays between issues. And that's even assuming the book lasts long enough to finish up a story-line, a rare feat for many Image books these days. And assuming I decide to split the difference and pick the series up in trade format, as I did with Rex Mundi, I often end up waiting in vain for a second trade which never seems to come out because the last issue due to be collected in it never seems to actually come out.
Both Authority and Planetary have had jumps in sales recently. Both are very strong sellers in the trade format for us, so I'm wondering if this is a case of trade buyers switching over to the comic format now that they've caught up. I'm also wondering if the jump in sales in Authority is due to good word-of-mouth regarding Ed Brubaker's run, and how his recent exclusive contract with Marvel will affect sales.
We can't give copies of The Hire away. We do okay with The Ride, so there is an audience out there for comics about cars, but I'd have thought Bruce Campbell fans alone would have sparked some interest in The Hire. Nope. Which is especially surprising given that Army of Darkness is the only Devil's Due title to have decent sales at the shop. Not great sales, mind you, but decent. The first issue of the first mini sold like gangbusters, but it shed a tremendous number of readers with the second issue. The third, fourth, and new number one have all sold about the same number of copies, so it seems to have found it's level, i.e. I now know about how many hard-core Evil Dead fans are in our area.
After spending a great deal of time looking at various comic book message boards and blogs, I've come to the conclusion that this is apparently how comic fans expect publishers and PR people to hype new projects:
"Well, we've got a new book coming out, but really it's not very good. Honestly, I wouldn't waste money on it if I were you. It's crap. Don't know why we're even bothering to put it out, really, it's just so utterly banal and exactly like everything else you've ever seen ever."
On a tangentially related note, I've been giving some thought to this DC Countdown book that's coming out. You know the one, it's the book that everyone on-line has an opinion about, despite the fact that all we really know about it so far is what the cover looks like. A particular point of annoyance for many people appears to be the four mini-series spinning off of this book. Many people don't like the idea of a big, meta-textual event taking over the DC Universe for several months.
I have a confession: the advance word that has been given regarding the subject matter of all these minis; the magical aspects of the DCU, a government conspiracy involving super-heroes, an inter-galactic war featuring many of DC's space-based characters and the behind-the-scenes actions of the super-villains; are all things that interest me in super-hero stories. I would most likely be checking out these minis because each has a creative team I like and at least the promise of a new approach to the subject matter, regardless of whether or not they tie in to a big event. And the fact of the matter is, I'm probably the weird one when it comes to that. Many comic fans have a limited budget that's already stretched thin. If you want them to try something new, you have to give them a compelling reason. And, perhaps unfortunately, saying that "The Omac Project will have long-lasting repercussions on the DCU!" is a compelling enough reason for some fans.
So, I feel like I should say something about this week-end's Justice League Unlimited episode "The Cat and the Canary" as it featured Wildcat in a prominent role, and people seem to think I'm a fan of that character. Most critical reaction to the episode appears to be mixed, bordering on the negative, with a lot of attention being payed to the brutality of the episode and a Ted Grant in the midst of an apparent mid-life crisis. I didn't think Ted's fears of becoming old and useless were out of character. In a good number of his appearances in the 70s he complained about feeling "washed up" and of no further use as a crime-fighter, and in fact retired from crime-fighting at least three times by my count. So, this was a recognizable Wildcat. Not Wildcat at his best, no, but since most of the Wildcat centric storylines came out during his self-pitying stage, I'm not surprised that the writers went with that characterization. (I would have preferred, naturally, that they went with the more self-assured Wildcat of recent years. The one who can single-handedly take down the entire Injustice Society in the nude, for example.)
I thought the rest of the episode was decent. Black Canary straddled a fine line between cheesecake and careful attention to her martial arts. I actually quite enjoyed seeing Green Arrow get beat up, as I've always thought he had it coming. Roulette was in interesting choice for villain, as she is not only fairly recently created, but there were any number of other villains with sports/gambling themes that they could have incorporated. What I was really happy with, however, was the fact that, other than J'Onn's cameo at the end, the Big 7 didn't show up once. It was refreshing to see an episode devoted solely to the characters unfamiliar to the audience, and I'd really like to see more.
This post brought to you many hours later than intended. Thanks Blogger!
I was all excited this morning because I'd kept hearing all week that there was supposed to be some sort of big, culturally important event being broadcast on television today that was quite possibly going to change the course of history and Western civilization...and then I found out that it was just a football game.
girls in t****b****
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"t****b****" is a compound word. The first word rhymes with "high" and the second rhymes with "oots." I've lost track of the number of months in which it's been the most common search term used to find this site, and frankly I'm sick of it, so here's hoping that by not drawing any more attention to it in these monthly round-ups its frequency will diminish.
Oh, and I believe that when men wear them they're called "waders."
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Probably the second most common term, or part of a term, to get to my site in January.
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Hmmm...I'm not quite sure what you're trying to find there. Could you try a more specific search.
Not too many around here, but let me know when you do find some, would ya?
catwoman in bed on earth 2
Wow...someone out there is looking for pre-Crisis nudity!
supergirl tied up
Frankly I'm surprised I don't get more search terms looking for super-heroines in bondage.
i want to know what the ?marks are for for the incredibles for x box when you press start
And I want to know why people think "Larry the Cable Guy" is funny. Your question probably has an answer, though.
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Doesn't it chafe?
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If I read this correctly, you're looking for free cds and books about farming. I don't know if they have anything for free, but Farmcentre is my first stop for all my agriculture needs!
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Wait...is it the women or the photos that are over 35 years old?
Sadly, I'm not aware of any physique models from Finland. Surely there must have been. I should look into that.
I've yet to notice the crippling increase in traffic and bandwidth consumption that getting linked to by metafilter would indicate.
tom of finland
Variations of this turn up often enough that I'm eventually just going to have to break my TOF books out of storage and review them here, aren't I?
is postmodern horror romance stereotypical?
Hmmm...an intriguing question. While a lot has been done with the notion of the postmodern in horror recently, probably best in the various Ringu films and re-makes of same, the cycle does seem to be playing itself out somewhat, though to be fair it's mostly people aping what worked in films like Ringu without understanding why they worked that's becoming tiresome and trite (see also Darkness Falls, Darkness and Hide and Seek. As usual, as with all recent bad trends in horror, I think we have The Blair Witch Project to ultimately blame for this). I haven't had the pleasure of seeing The Machinist yet, it played for, literally, days in my community, but it's the only film of recent vintage that I can think of to blend both the "postmodern horror" and romance in its themes. Therefore, I must conclude that your very premise is flawed, and we have yet to experience enough true postmodern horror romance for any of its tropes to have become stereotypes.
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My goth phase was blessedly brief, noted mostly for taking Neil Gaiman comics way too seriously, and there are no nude pictures from that phase. Now, if you had asked for "punk dorian nude" you may have had some luck.
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Why accuse the author of misogyny when it'll suffice to call it "bad?"
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I'm now picturing Ann Coulter testifying against Red, Prof and the rest in some sort of Senate hearings...
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Little Cheese "accidentally" killed Yankee Poodle in an effort to win-back the love and attention of Pig Iron.
The guy can't keep his clothes on on stage, there must be naked pictures of him on-line somewhere. Heck, go buy the We Are Scissor Sisters and So Are You DVD for more ass-shots of Jake Shears than you could possible want. And let me know when you find some naked pictures of Babydaddy.
children masturbating to barney
...What the flaming hell is wrong with you people! Bad Internet!BAD!
anson williams mormon
And? So? At least he hasn't gone off the deep end like the girl that played Joanie.
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See my above comments regarding Barney.
john byrne homophobic
Ah, someone playing "let's you and him fight." Frankly, Byrne has said enough stuff on his own that's cringe-worthy without attributing homophobic statements to him as well.
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You've read one of his X-Men comics, right? Well then, there you go.
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Dress them up in little outfits?
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Now that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a fetish!
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Is this a four-way cage match? 'Cause Batman wins. Because Batman always wins.
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...Hmmm, what? Sorry, got distracted for a minute there.
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There's precious little Watchmen merchandise, but now I want a cuddly little Rorsarch doll.
Your "Out of Context" Comic Book Panel of the Day:
From Marvel Two-in-One #62
See, what's going on here is that the Thing and Starhawk are trying to rescue Ben's girl-friend Alicia (I'm not sure if she was really a Skrull or not at this point) from Moondragon and Her, who they mistakenly believe kidnapped Alicia. Once there, Starhawk turns into a woman named Aletea to battle Her, who is of course the female version of Adam Warlock. And Ben spanks Moondragon...
Actually, come to think of it, putting it into context doesn't make it any less creepy, does it?
I wasn't going to say anything about the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise mostly because, as a person who never really liked Star Trek in any of its incarnations I didn't feel like I had anything to say about it. Besides, there are plenty of otherwisereasonablepeople out there who can approach the cancellation of the show from a more useful context, being that they are fans of the show. But, for me, the continual attempts to keep Star Trek alive in some form has always had the whiff of nostalgia for the past. And you all know how big a fan of nostalgia I am.
Trek reached its peak a long, long time ago, and has basically been supported by an ever-decreasing number of fans. The kind of audience Enterprise was pulling in is probably a good indication of how many Star Trek fans there are left in this country. Was anyone watching the show who hadn't been a long-time fan? I seriously doubt it. And so the cancellation basically means that there aren't enough Trek fans left to keep the property viable, at least not in the commercial television sense.
Much of the publicity for the show strikes me as an attempt to engage that dwindling audience of Trek fans by reminding them how much they liked previous incarnations of the show, by bringing actors and villains from prior versions to this show. And all it seemed to do was remind fans how much more they liked those older shows than this current one.
By contrast, the other example of "your grand-father's child-hood", Star Wars, takes the opposite approach. Lucas almost seems eager to alienate as much of his intended audience as possible, and yet the next Star Wars movie is almost guaranteed to be a success. Does that mean that, at heart, there are more Star Wars than Star Trek fans out there? No, probably the numbers are about the same. But Lucas better understands that no matter what you do, your core audience isn't going to go away. They'll suck it up because it's still Star Wars and they feel compelled to watch it, if only to complain about it. So Lucas does whatever the hell he wants in the hopes of bringing people who aren't hard-core Star Wars fans to the theater. And it works, mostly. His films bring in a general audience, including children and teens who are too young to have experienced the original films the first time around, by giving that new audience what they want: lots of dodgy CGI, the barest minimum of plot or character, and lots of action sequences. The producers of Star Trek seem unwilling to go that route, the give the outside audience what they want route, preferring to cozy up to the hard-core fans and give them what they want, which is a comforting familiarity.
And to tie this, tangentially into comics, as I observed the other day, the recently cancelled Monolith outsells G.I. Joe at our store. Monolith had beautiful art and new characters. G.I. Joe has had decent enough art and picked up the story right where the previous comic-book and cartoon series left off. In fact, most of the revived properties that have been released in the last few years have picked up right where the prior incarnations left off. It's that comforting familiarity again. And each of those revivals sold really well. At first. They've all dwindled, rapidly in most cases, down to a point where most of the people buying the comics are the faithful. (Which is, perhaps, an unfair criticism of nostalgia comics...you could say the same thing about the comics industry in general, and probably should.) Dreamwave has already gone under, the number of Transformers fans being unable to support the number of titles they were putting out.
So, I don't really have a strong conclusion or a thesis here. As I said, just thinking out-loud. We seem to have reached a point in the culture, particularly in the fan/nerd culture where the appeal of nostalgia if falling to the realities of the commercial marketplace. It'll be interesting to see if a new cycle of nostalgia starts up again, with new properties, or if people actually start to look forward and try new things.
The winds have returned to Southern California, hot, dry and dusty. And so my allergies have returned as well. This means that I've been an even bigger ball of sunshine and optimism than usual.
Larry Young is a gentleman of the highest order. After noticing my comment in my review for Couriers 03: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker that Diamond's LA warehouse had apparently not received any copies, a disturbingly frequent occurrence for books from independent publishers, Larry made sure that we had some copies of the book to sell to our customers on the book's release date yesterday. So I've been pimping the book extra hard to our customer's in appreciation. Thanks Larry!
An Interesting Inventory Control Observation: At our store, Monolith outsells G.I. Joe.
New Comics Day
We received the new Bizarro World hard-cover, and I think I'm going to wait for the soft-cover edition. Mostly because I did buy the previous book in hard-cover and wasn't terribly impressed with the majority of the contents. But I can't deny that seeing reports on-line of various cartoonists involved with this book complaining about how unfair it was of DC to exercise content and contract guidelines for this book made me annoyed with some of the cartoonists. Maybe I'm a bad person, but I don't see the problem with the copy-right holder telling someone they've employed on a work-for-hire basis what the acceptable limits regarding content are. Which isn't to say that DC didn't micro-manage this project to death, because by all accounts they did, but I really doubt that the content restrictions DC placed on this project were that onerous.
I was flipping through the Frank Cho Shanna The She Devil comic and, I'm trying very hard not to see this as indicative of some of the wider problems with the American mind-set; but I find it very interesting that showing people being violently disembowled or with half their faces ripped off is a-ok, but for God's sake, whatever you do, don't let people see a naked breast.
Giving Gossip Mongers Fits
A much in demand series from a big name talent, originally produced by a now-defunct company, is going to be reprinted.
A big name talent once described another big name talent as "a s***** s***** b*****."
A big name talent once shot a man just because he felt like it.
Brian Wood's and Rob G's third collaboration takes us once again into the world of urban mercenary couriers Special and Moustafa. This time it's a flash-back to 1993 and the story of how Special and her junior partner met, how Special trained Moustafa to be the street warrior he is today and what exactly they did to earn their reputations.
The appeal of the Couriers graphic novels is the care which Wood takes to translate all the stupidest, most over-done cliches of the action movie genre and translate them into a funny and frantic comic book tale. To put it in short-hand, it's the latest big, dumb "things blow up" movie filtered through a "Looney Tunes" aesthetic. It's an over-the-top, absurdist cartoon. With people shooting at each other, ninjas on mopeds and helicopters flying through the Lincoln Tunnel. Reading through it, it's easy to see how someone unfamiliar with the characters could be horrified by the broad caricatures and the casual attitudes towards violence and death that every character seem to exhibit, but once you cue in to the joke it's laugh-out-loud funny. Every time I witness a scene of intense urban carnage in this book that is causally shrugged off by the witnesses because, hey, it's New York and that sort of thing happens, I crack up.
And of course, I'm thrilled with the art of Rob G. every time I see it. It has a raw edge to it I find very appealing, but without losing the expressiveness and physical characterization that is necessary to a book like this. Facial expressions and body language are fully used to communicate character and tone wordlessly, and G. does an excellent job of that. He also has a knack for capturing the energy of the action sequences while still retaining the reader's ability to see what, exactly, is going on. Which, actually, puts him a step above most of the cinematographers of actual action movies these days.
This was a fun book. That's all I really ask for these days out of my comics, some enjoyment and some fun, and Wood and G. delivered. Couriers 03: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker is a $12.95 soft-cover graphic novel that will be available from all good comic shops starting tomorrow (except, of course, for those stores serviced by Diamond's LA warehouse, who are apparently going to get it next week).