Saw the second Fantastic Four film. Is there anyone connected to Marvel in any way that’s capable of telling the truth?
Apparently the reason DC has been so vague about the solicitations for Flash is that they’ve cancelled the book. In order to restart with the previous volumes numbering, with Mark Waid as the writer. While broadly hinting that they’re bringing Barry Allen back. Hey, which means that I get to drop Flash! Because while the Bart series had its flaws, there’s no way in hell I’m going to waste my money on Waid’s Silver Age fetishism.
Everybody else seems to do a regular or semi-regular rundown of Previews, but I don’t. It’s not because there’s nothing I find noteworthy in the magazine, it’s just that I find the experience of reading it so soul-crushing and mind-numbing and infuriating that I can’t imagine that it would be much fun for anyone else to see my reaction. So I went and did the post anyway. I also decided to count the number of covers/toys/ads which seem to use women’s chests on display in oddly prominent ways to attract attention.
Dark Horse The thing that strikes me the most about the Dark Horse listing is the sense of “going to the well too many times” so many titles give me. Groo, Richie Rich, Star Wars, Buffy, Conan, Aliens vs. Predator, Neil Gaiman, The Mummy of all things: I’m mostly shocked there’s still perceived demand some of these things. Boob Count: 1
DC I’ve already talked a bit about these solicitations already, and I really can’t think of much more to add. Though I still think the odd insistence on “armored versions of characters” in the action figures is sort of odd. Boob Count: 10
Image The apparent offensiveness of Special Forces is only mitigated by the fact that it’s Kyle Baker doing it.
I think the existence of a Jon Bon Jovi cheap plastic statue “action figure” should be taken as final proof that Todd McFarlane has too much money, if he can waste it acquiring licenses like this. And doesn’t it seem like the Jack Bauer action figure should come with some torture “interrogation” accessories? Boob Count: 11
Marvel Sigh…I want to like you, Marvel. Honest, I do. But you just make it so hard… Boob Count: 12
I’m also honestly surprised that with all the (deserved) grief Marvel has taken lately, this slipped under people’s radar:
Granted, most of the men don’t get arms either, but that’s still tremendously creepy.
And here’s a little cock panic for the straight boys:
Wizard I can’t believe people pay money for these shitty magazines.
Anarchy Studios Boob Count: 4, all Vampirella, if that makes any difference.
Antarctic Press The Boob Count is only 2, but in the middle of their solicitations is an atrocious ad for “To Heart 2″ figures, so it feels like I should bump that up, even though Antarctic had nothing to do with the ad placement.
Arcana Studio Boob count: 2. The ad for Kade is so prominent, I think it should be counted as well.
Archaia Studios Killing Pickman sounds like something I might be interested in, but not at $3.50 for six issues. I can wait for the trade. I think the ad for Starkweather justifies a Boob Count of one.
Aspen Boob Count: 5. All for Iron & The Maiden.
Avatar Boob Count: 5 Ass Count: 1 Crotch Count: 1 Covers Count: 24 Actual Comics Count: 13 Well, at least they’ve found a business model that works for them…
Basement Comics Boob Count: 3. Mike tells me Cavewoman used to be readable…
Big Bang Comics Boob Count: 1. But they’re Kirby knock-off boobs.
Bloodfire Studios Boob Count: 2, counting their ad. But they’re sci-fi elf-girl boobs!
Bluewater Productions How many different names has this company been under? Anyway, Boob Count is 4.
Broadsword You know, I’m not even going to bother with a Boob Count. It’s almost the friggin’ point of the line…
Broccoli International Boob Count: 2. 250 pages into the book before we get our first manga t&a.
Checker Book Publishing Group With Growing Old with B.C. you can chart Johnny Hart’s progression from occasionally funny hack to insane fundamentalist racist, all in one convenient volume!
Class Comics I keep forgetting Diamond carries this line now, and since it’s only really listed in the adult supplement, it’s not hard to imagine why. Plus, I’m always more than a little surprised to see Diamond carrying gay porn anyway.
Dynamite Entertainment We get five full page ads before we even get to their section. And we get a Boob Count of 21, counting those ads. A new record!
I had a comment all ready to go for Lone Ranger, about how the best way to kill my interest in the Lone Ranger is to put out an incredibly decompressed comic, prompting me to wait for the trade, and then put the trade out in hard-cover…with a variant cover…but the hard-cover isn’t solicited in this issue, so the point seems moot.
Del Rey You know, I’m surprised I can’t bring myself to justify a Boob Count for Del Rey, given that I’ve seen Suzuka before, but this cover is downright prudish compared to previous volumes.
Devil’s Due Boob Count: 5. Amazingly, G.I. Joe isn’t one of them.
Digital Manga Publishing This month they’ve got Pop Japan Travel: Essential Otaku Guide, a manga-format travel guide to Japan’s nerdiest destinations. Something tells me this might be one to stock up on…
Digital Webbing Presents Boob Count: 5
Dynamic Forces I’m just going to pretend that all this crap doesn’t exist. It’s better that way.
Eighty Eight MPH Studios An “Ecto-1″ lithograph from the film Ghostbusters…why?
Fantagraphics I really fail to grasp the appeal of Johnny Ryan. He’s so busy trying to be “outrageous” and “offensive” that he always forgets to be “funny.”
Graham Crackers Comics Boob Count: 1, for Transformers comic…cripes…
IDW Boob Count: 2, for Gene Simmons Dominatrix and variant. I can’t help but think some kind of punctuation is appropriate there, probably an apostrophe, though a colon doesn’t seem unreasonable either. Frankly, I’m appalled the market can support six different Transformers titles…none of which seem particularly appropriate for children.
Linsner.com Boob Count: 2, not counting what I’m sure are thoroughly tasteful offerings in the Previews Adult catalog.
Moonstone CLASH: I’m trying to avoid dismissing this as yet another attempt to rewrite Watchmen and failing.
Oni Yes, I’m the jerk who doesn’t like Scott Pilgrim. I’m also frankly baffled by the hipster kid ironic nostalgia for heavy metal music, which Black Metal seems to be trying to tap into.
Tokyopo Boob Count: 2. Slow month for Tokyopop. I do reserve the right to mock mercilessly anyone who buys the Star Trek manga.
Tyndale House Manga Messiah: of all the things that come to mind when I read that title, a straight-faced adaptation of the Bible, with a frankly cynical attempt to make it appeal to kids and teens by using manga-style art, wasn’t one of them.
Valiant Entertainment What, seriously?
Virgin Boob Count: 2
Viz Boob Count: 1, but it’s for a title called Kurohime, which looks so ridiculously over the top I’ll probably need to check it out. I mean, look at it:
I break out into giggles every time I see it.
Viz also starts the weekly releases of Naruto. The best explanation as to why that I’ve seen is that they want to burn off all the volumes containing an unpopular storyline, and gimmicking them out this way is the most financially logical way to do it.
Zenescop Entertainment Boob Count: 4.
Magazines Boob Count: 2, both Femme Fatales. A magazine which can never seem to decide if it’s a Maxim-clone or a Playboy-clone for nerds.
Books I’m always baffled by half the stuff that gets solicited here. I can only imagine that the section exists to fulfill the obsessive collecting needs of those shut-ins who haven’t heard of Amazon. Also, there’s a Chronicle Books ad on page 403 for Wonder Woman merchandise which, as far as I can tell, are not solicited in this issue of Previews. Timing people, timing!
International Boob Count: 3, which is surprisingly low for this section.
Trading Cards That’s cute…they think there’s still a market for trading cards…
“Hey man, what’s that supposed to be on your t-shirt?” “Oh, it’s the Silver Surfer. But as a zombie. Pretty cool, huh?” “…You don’t get out much, do you?”
Toys & Models Boob Count: 6. And how fucking creepy is it that the “toys” section deserves a “Boob Count?”
General hint when going through the toy section: anything that says “sold in case lots only” may as well read “we’re forcing retailers to over-buy because the profit margin vs. perceived demand is nonexistent.”
McDonaldland action figures: who buys this shit? No, seriously, I want to know, because if they have that kind of money to waste, they may as well give it to me.
On page 448 there’s a “Steve Irwin: Wildlife Adventures Ocean Dive” playset. Which strikes me as being in slightly poor taste…
That’s just hideously off-model. And nightmare inducing. And they want $40 for it.
There’s a $10 difference in price between those two statues. Seems hard to justify to me.
Okay, setting aside the fact that anyone reading Previews is likely to know what Han Solo looks like, this is what’s on page 471:
And then there’s a bunch of over-priced vinyl figurines for hipster kids.
Import Toys and Models Boob Count: 13
I fucking hate nerds…apparently, in the series this figure is from, she doesn’t even have a name, just a title. You know, to make the dehumanization even easier for fetishists.
It’s a base for your Char-piloted Gundams. Sold separately. That’s actually kind of brilliant in it’s evil.
I want to work up some bile over the “Hostel” action figure on sale on page 504, but honestly? The popularity of torture porn just makes me depressed.
Collectibles & Novelties Is there any good reason why this stuff can’t be merged into the two other toy sections? Because I honestly don’t understand why Star Wars fake helmets are “toys” but 300 fake helmets are “collectibles.”
“World of Faries and Elves Figures”
I know some people get annoyed when they see obvious head-shop junk “gifts” in their comic book and collectibles catalog, but I love it. It’s a none too gentle reminder of where, exactly, comic book stores place in the retail hierarchy.
Games Monte Cook creating a new back-story may actually get me to pick up a “World of Darkness” game. Because almost anything has got to be better than their regular campaign back-grounds.
Videos Like the book section, I’m baffled as to who this is useful for. You can get every single thing in this section sooner and cheaper anywhere other than a comic shop. The only thing I use it for is to keep track of anime release dates. So that I can then go get them at Fry’s. For about $5 to $10 less than Diamond has them.
Ragnell examines a trend in recent comics conversations online, in which fan entitlement concerns are dressed up as outrage over imagined sexism to give those arguments undeserved weight. This is a trend I’ve been sensing coming on for awhile now, and it does no one any good as it obfuscates genuine issues of concern and gives the pro-misogyny crowd ammunition to dismiss legitimate critiques by associating them with illegitimate ones.
On a related note, I can’t stress enough how much I disagree with Johanna’s fundamental position, that super-hero comics “aren’t for girls.” It’s an overly reductive, near-essentialist attitude towards gender and genre that I’m really disappointed to see coming from such an intelligent and articulate commentator. It’s not the genre itself that is sexist, it’s the way the genre is marketed. There is nothing specifically masculine about Manichean morality plays in tights. I’m further troubled, because the “super-heroes aren’t for girls” argument is the flip-side of those stupid “get your girlfriend to read comics” articles that pop up in the nerd-press from time to time which always recommend Strangers in Paradise and Sandman for women comic readers, as if there is some sort of female hive-mind enforcing uniformity of taste. It assumes that women “naturally” don’t want to read about super-heroes, and that those who do are outside of normative parameters.
Kevin makes some very good arguments about accessibility in contemporary super-hero comics, and I essentially agree with him. Where we differ, I think, is that I’m not as concerned with accessibility in comics that are quite clearly designed to appeal primarily to existing fans with an extensive knowledge of comics continuity as I would be in work that is meant for a wider audience or has the potential to appeal to a wider audience. I’m okay with tailoring work for the “continuity porn” crowd to that crowd, in other words.
Chris talks about Dark Horse, and their inability to make material that they’re advertising, material aimed at a very narrow market, available to their primary consumers; retailers. So, it’s business as usual for Dark Horse, really.
Here’s your fun link: I’ve finally figured out why the character designs in the new Transformers movie bother me. All the robots look almost exactly the same. Apart from variations in color, I’m hard-pressed to tell them apart. The fact that they all look like they’ve got metal dildos glued on to them doesn’t help much either.
A Primer Born Out of Many Years Experience Blogging
Don’t Blog. Seriously, don’t. Blogging has been called the CB-radio of the 21st century. That’s being far too generous. It’s also been compared to publishing a zine. That’s simply stupid. Blogging is the pet rock of the 21st century. Inherently stupid, probably a scam, and the people who fall for it should really know better. Let’s face it, ten years from now, a bald and fat Dane Cook will be on VH-1′s latest talking-head nostalgia exploiting reality program talking about how everyone thought blogging was cool and everyone had a blog and then just as suddenly everyone came to their senses and got on with their lives. When your significant other asks, all innocence, if you ever had a blog, do you really want to admit to it?
Don’t Link to Other Blogs. A link to another blog is a tacit endorsement of that blog’s content. Think carefully about the content you’ve seen on other blogs. Do you really want to be associated with…that? I don’t think so.
Don’t Pay Attention to Your Incoming Traffic. This is very tempting, but it should always be avoided. Blogging, by its nature, is a very egotistical act, so you’ll want to see who is sending readers your way. You’ll want to know who thinks you’re a genius. What you will discover, almost every single time, is that the people sending you readers are idiots or assholes or both. Idiots and assholes and idiot assholes like your blog. That means you suck.
Don’t Host Your Own Images. Some pipsqueak on MySpace will just hot-link them.
Don’t Ever Review Anything. It’s not worth the hassle or the challenges to your taste or ethics. If you buy your own materials to review, you’re just a fanboi, so you can be safely ignored. If you are sent materials to review by publishers or distributors, then your opinion can be ignored since you only give things good reviews to keep the free loot coming in. And if you ever have the nerve to give anything a bad review, well, you’re probably just a bitter crank who doesn’t get it!
Don’t Linkbait. In other words, don’t put up posts just to get people to link to you and talk about you. There are various ways to go about this, all of them a bad idea. You could blog about things you don’t like, but that would just be sad. Or you could start a blog tracking discrimination in popular entertainments, but reveal yourself to be a xenophobic, racist, homophobic religious supremacist with every post. You could even make a habit of going out of your way to deliberately provoke other bloggers, because a good flame-war increases hit counts on all sides. The ultimate expression of this would be simply to start a blog linking to other blogs. But no one would be mad enough to do that.
Don’t Allow Comments on Your Posts. The only thing remotely sadder than a blog writer is a blog reader. Do you really want validation so badly that you are willing to put up with the inevitable trolls and sycophants?
There’s been some question in the gay blogosphere if this ad from the Super Bowl should be considered offensive or not:
The joke here seems to be that casual homophobia is funny. Which, at this point, if you have to have why it’s not funny, or appropriate, explained to you, well, there’s probably no point explaining it to you. For myself, I find the ad more stupid than offensive, and it certainly doesn’t make me want a candy bar.
What I found more troubling was the reaction videos Snickers used to have on their web-site, in which football players expressed disgust at the notion of two men kissing. Homophobia in professional sports is a real problem, and one that most American sports leagues have been more than willing to turn a blind eye to, and it’s disheartening that advertisers would seek to profit off it.
This picture has also made the internet rounds lately:
Now, I look at that picture, and I see a very attractive man. But apparently most gay men online are looking at that picture and seeing a big, fat, disgusting, fat, piggy, fat-fattie.
How fucked up is the body image of most gay men that they look at Morrissey and see someone fat? I’m not ashamed to admit, he’s in better shape than I am, and he’s in much better shape than most Americans. But then the attitude of Americans towards their bodies is out-right schizophrenic; we’re quite probably, if not certainly, the fattest nation on the planet, but we loathe any body-type that strays from an impossible notion of perfection, so this sort of thing really shouldn’t surprise me.
I’ve become interested in the culture that has sprung up around massively multi-player games. Enough so, in fact, that I finally broke down and bought a copy of World of Warcraft. This is as much a surprise to me as anyone, as when I had played WOW before, I hadn’t really liked it very much. The emphasis on the game is very much on grinding to the maximum level possible, and then running the same dungeons over and over again to collect better and better equipment. There are also a great deal of time-sinks built into the game, designed seemingly to keep you playing and distracted from the highly repetitive nature of the missions. I’m still continually baffled by some of the “loot” drop rates, which more often than not defy all common sense: “Go and bring me back eight wolf paws!” “Okie-dokie, that just means go out and kill two wolves. No problem.” Three hours later… “Boy, I can’t believe there were over two hundred paw-less wolves in this forest.”
And the less said about crafting systems and auction houses and other manifestations of in-game economies, the better. No, the City of Heroes games are much more my speed. The missions aren’t any less repetitive, but there’s a “get on, beat bad guys up for an hour, team if you want to, log off” approach that suits my lifestyle a little better.
So, why did I get the game, if it’s not really my sort of thing? For some variety, mostly. Now, when I want to pretend to be someone else, I have another option besides “superhero” or “supervillain.” I even went a step beyond, and put the character who has evolved into my “main” on a role-playing server, a step I’d always been reluctant to do in other on-line games. I’m not sure why I ever hesitated, it’s not as if anyone on the role-playing servers ever, you know, role-plays their characters, but it was the thought that counted. Plus, as I said, I’m finding myself intrigued by the cultural significance of MMO games, and WOW is definitely the biggest one out there, so it felt like it was worth investigating.
Plus, I played a little bit of a “free” MMO from a major publisher that was basically a complete and utter knock-off of World of Warcraft, but without a tenth of the charm or appeal but plenty of fanboy pandering geek humor. After seeing WOW done wrong, it suddenly made the real game look a thousand times more appealing.
I’ve been irrationally annoyed lately with the “I only enjoy comics ironically” crowd. I’d prefer they just come out and admit they don’t like them.
Note to at least one on-line comics forum: maybe they’d take your complaints and criticisms seriously if you actually bought comics…instead of downloading them in torrent files.
I think Archie should move away from the house/DeCarlo style. Yes, I realize that the “realistic” style is only temporary, but I think it might actually work on a permanent basis.
Three words I would like to see comic book readers stop using until they learn what they mean: deconstruction, metatext, discrimination. Okay, it’s really just one person misusing that last one.
I’m…I’m starting to come around to accepting the phrase “Bronze Age.” Yes, I still think it was coined by shady comics dealers looking to up their prices on 70s Marvels and 80s DCs, but I can’t think of a more useful, widely understood term to describe the post-Silver Age period in comics. But hearing “Copper Age” still makes me fist-swinging mad.
There are certain types of responses which over the years I’ve noticed occur with startling frequency in online discussion venues, be they bulletin boards, forums, or blogs. In general, they’re the responses of people who don’t have anything to say, yet feel compelled to talk. There’s also a more than healthy desire to antagonize or play the victim.
(Not here, mind you. My commentators are, almost to a person, sophisticated, intelligent, witty and dead sexy. I know this for a fact. I mean, they’re reading this site after all, so they must be.)
I’ve identified three general types. The first is the complaint that you can’t have an opinion about a work until you’ve experienced it, in its full and complete form, for yourself. Granted, certain opinions have more or less merit based on their owners familiarity with the topic under discussion, but this particular complaint, as it was brilliantly summarized for me by my friend Andrew once, is more along the lines of “if you don’t put your hand into every open flame you come across, you’re prejudiced against fire.” It’s the insistence that, despite all the available evidence, and against all your past experience, your unwillingness to expose yourself to something is suspect, if not out and out wrong, because you haven’t sat through a two hour movie by a writer and director whose work you’ve never thought was good in the past, starring an actor you hate. Or because you haven’t read all fourteen volumes of the fantasy series, even though you’ve never enjoyed any multi-volume fantasy novels in the past. Or bought the first one hundred issues of that artists magnum opus, despite really not finding the art style aesthetically pleasing.
The second isn’t a specific response to anything, but more a pattern of behavior. It’s the “Thin Skinned Asshole” who haunts the internet (and, sadly, the real world). These are the folks who go out of their way to be rude and obnoxious. In fact, they’re usually proud of being rude and obnoxious. They will in fact quite frequently use the term “Asshole” as a badge of honor. Until, of course, you finally have enough of them and say “fuck off, you asshole.” At which point, you’re the person being rude and unreasonable. Because you weren’t willing to take their abuse with a smile, I suppose.
My particular favorite aspect of this behavior is that after the initial “I’m an asshole! Boy, I’m an asshole! I just love being an asshole!” “Quit being an asshole.” “What! How dare you!” exchange, the inevitable rejoinder is “Man, you women/gays/whatever need to learn to take a joke.”
The last type of response is the touchingly naive belief that sales are an indicator of quality. There’s even a set, predictable pattern for these responses: “If X is so bad, why does it sell so well?” Because we all know that the only things that sell well in this country are those of the highest merit and quality, and that appealing to the lowest common denominators in the general public will never reap you financial rewards. That’s why The DaVinci Code was the greatest novel of all time, and Britney Spears the most accomplished singer.
The “Better Late, Literally, Than Never” Award
Goes to Marvel comics, for publishing a “creator-owned” Jack Kirby comics years after his death. I suppose at this rate, Steve Ditko might start getting some of the credit for creating Spider-Man sometime around 2030.
The “These Are Not The Queers You’re Looking For” Award
Goes to Marvel, for their entertaining to watch policy on gay characters. We went from “gay characters only in adults only titles, because we don’t want to offend bigots” to “we’re reviewing the policy” to “there never was any such policy” to “we love the gays, look, our flagship title Marvel Team-Up has a gay lead” to “oops, we just killed our gay lead character.”
The “You Kids Stay Off My Lawn” Award
Goes to a some-time blogger and comics commentator, nameless here because even I feel slightly guilty about picking on the guy, who felt the need to try and dictate who could and could not link to his on-line comments made in public forums. Guess what folks, the internet doesn’t work like that.
The “Taking My Ball and Going Home” Award
This very nearly went to Tokyopop, because of their attempt to make low-selling titles on-line exclusives, thus cutting direct market stores, the only venues which really had a chance to sell the niche, low appeal titles Tokyopop was pulling in the first place.
In the end, however, I think it has to go to Alias Comics, for dropping all their non-religious titles and selling what remains of their line only in Christian bookstores. It was about as bold a statement as to the niche nature of their product as they could make, really.
The “Well, Somebody Had To Say It” Award
This is all Grant Morrison’s, for telling us exactly what he thinks of Frank Miller’s proposed Batman vs. Al Qaeda series. The money quote: Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it’s likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I’d be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb ‘vs’ Al Qaeda.
The “I Didn’t Make Him For YOU” Award Chris Butcher wrote a thoughtful piece on yaoi, from the perspective of a gay man. Yaoi fangirls reacted with much horror, because they seemingly forgot that gay men are actually, you know, real, and might have an opinion about companies and creators making money off of fetishizing gay sex for teenage girls. And, in the process, the creepy homophobic/heterosexist attitudes of many yaoi fangirls was brought kicking and screaming into the light. So, this award goes to all those yaoi fans who can’t stand the thought of gay men putting in their two cents about mass media depictions of gay men.
The “AHHH! Pornface!” Award
This is for Greg Land, who this year taught us all that you don’t need much to be an artist, just a stack of porn magazines and a lightbox. Hey, look, I can trace super-hero costumes over pictures of porn stars too, where’s my Marvel contract?
The Creepiest Realization of 2006
At some point this year I realized what, exactly, was causing me to hate Kitty Pryde so much. When the character first appeared she was, to borrow a phrase from manga and anime fandoms, a moe-ish type. She was the ideal comic book girlfriend of those folks who were just a tad too into their X-Men comics. But, as Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men has made crystal-clear, she’s morphed into more of a Mary Sue figure for the mostly male comics audience. If you will, the attitude from fans has gone from “I think of her as a younger sister…that I wanna screw” to “I wish I was a super-genius Jewish ninja getting fucked by a Russian body-builder.”
I mean, the fan attitude towards the character was messed up to begin with, but the Mary Sue appeal brings up all kinds of weird, kinky psycho-sexual issues with comics fans that I just do not want to think too much about.
The Cognitive Dissonance Award
All those comic fans complaining about all the sex in Lost Girls. You…you don’t want borderline inappropriate porn? Since when?
The “Worst Idea Ever, Of All Time, Bar None, Subject Closed” Award
What the hell was Millar smoking when he came up with that? I know it wasn’t crack. Not even crack messes your head up that badly.
The “We Get It Already” Award
Without a doubt, this goes to all those folks still complaining about All Star Batman and Robin. Okay, we get it, you don’t think it’s good. I’m not sure there’s anyone left who doesn’t know you don’t like it. Constantly bringing it up to bash it or complain about? Not clever, not funny, pretty much a dead cliche at this point.
The “Would You Just Publish The Damn Thing Already” Award
Oh, so many contenders for this award. I could give it to All Star Batman and Robin, for becoming an annual instead of a monthly, but that’s too easy. There’s always Daredevil: The Target. I’m slightly inclined to Ultimate Wolverine Vs. The Hulk, because the quality of Lost gives the lie to the excuse that it’s taking up all of Damon Lindelhof’s time. But, in the end, it has to go to Civil War, because Marvel editors, in their infinite wisdom, are so certain that anyone will still give a damn about this book in five, ten, or twenty years time, that it absolutely must have a consistent artistic vision throughout. A consistent artistic vision on a commercial cross-over which only exists to encourage Marvel readers to buy more Marvel books than they already do. A consistent artistic vision on a book which is really just a glorified “super heroes punch each other over stupid misunderstanding” story spread out over seven issues and 70+ ancillary titles.
A consistent artistic vision that was apparently worth pushing back almost all of Marvel’s entire publishing output several months. Because, all those other books I named above? Their lateness only affects themselves. Civil War‘s lateness affects Marvel’s entire line. And that’s almost beautiful in its wrongheadedness.
The “Gee, Can Even I Get Away With Saying This” Award
Now, as any long time readers here know, I’m interested in gender issues as they relate to comics. I have a genuine concern about how men and women are depicted, and I truly think that issues of sexism and misogyny in the comics and the industry should be discussed in a mature and rational manner. But, over the past year, I noticed that the types of fans who are prone to knee-jerk, hysterical bouts of fannish rage, the fans who have a tendency to think that all comics should be drawn and written to their own over-privileged and over-indulged tastes, discovered a new tactic which allowed them to indulge in their outlandish rages and whines without getting much in the way of challenges. And that was to just barely disguise their rages and whines as feminist concerns. Which, you know, I found more than a bit off-putting. Because while there is ample evidence of institutional sexism in the comics industry, and more than our fair share of out and out misogynists working in the industry and in fandom, whether or not Stephanie Brown has a display case in the Batcave is a real hard-sell for me as a legitimate grounds for calling out DC for sexism. Batgirl becoming evil is not evidence of misogyny, it’s evidence of sloppy writing. Every time I see a fanboy or fangirl entitlement rant disguised as a serious discussion of gender issues, I cringe, because all those false accusations of sexism confuse the signal to noise ratio to the point where genuine issues of sexism and misogyny get lost, or dismissed out of hand.
Okay, now that you all hate me…
Favorite Superhero Comic of 2006
Seven Soldiers. It may go down in history as, at best, a flawed masterwork, but masterwork it was. Grant Morrison’s examination of super-heroic archetypes, the nature of fiction, and the interplay between text and reader was the most exciting super-hero work of the year, bar none.
Favorite Nonsuperhero Comic of 2006
Testament, Douglas Rushkoff’s retelling of the Old Testament against the backdrop of an uncomfortably plausible future is one of the most challenging and well-drawn, and criminally under-read, books on the stands. Close Second
Elephantmen, a touching and subtly characterized sci-fi story with jaw-droppingly beautiful art.
Favorite Graphic Novel of 2006
Rock Bottom, Joe Casey’s and Charlie Adlard’s examination of what it means to be human was another stunning work, and an impressive leap in Casey’s skill as a writer. Close Second
Pride of Baghdad, another beautifully illustrated work that will rip your heart from your chest.
Favorite Manga of 2006
Reborn. It’s about a toddler assassin. Who shoots people in the head. What is not to love?
Sexiest Man In Comics, 2006
A bit of a change of pace this year, as a comics commentator gets a nod. Tim Leong
And, since I can never pick just one good-looking man, his co-winner. Chip Zdarsky
(photos nicked from Kevin Church, who will probably give me grief for not choosing him for this award)
I want to change tactics for a minute here and talk about an important social issue that isn’t getting enough discussion. I know that this site has a reputation for being “funny” but now is not the time for humor. There is a serious threat out there to every man, woman and child on the planet, and I want to address it in a totally honest and sincere manner.
I’m speaking, of course, of the threat of Christmas.
At this very moment, brave men and women are overseas fighting to protect us from this scourge. There they are, up at the North Pole, in deadly combat with The Fat Man’s miniature army, and how do we react here in America? We put up altars to The Fat Man in our homes. We take our children to our shopping centers to receive a blessing from his look-a-likes. We turn our media over to paeans to his “greatness.”
We have, in short, sought to appease him.
The situation has gotten so bad that many of our television and radio personalities now speak approvingly of the need to re-introduce “Christmas” into the public sphere, in place of the more generic, inclusive and accurate “Holidays.” These people are willing to surrender our nation to the most vile and repulsive of tyrants, and they have the audacity to question the patriotism and nationalism of others. The man I like to call “Bethlehelm Bill” is the worst of these offenders, but there are many, and the strange acquiescence of the American people to the foreign despot at this time of year brings them out of the woodwork.
And so, I have a simple plea for all of you at this time of year. Fight it. Fight the War on Christmas. When carolers come to your door, insist that they sing some Sabbath instead. Don’t shop at stores advertising “Christmas sales.” Don’t kill a beautiful tree simply to worship a red devil or place aircraft confusing lights on your house or yard.
This is a war we can win. This is a war we must win, for the future of America and our children.
I ventured into the alterna-hip-indie record store in Ventura yesterday. I was looking for a Candy Butchers album. I couldn’t find one. No, not even under “Mike Viola” or in the used section. So, I went and found the one employee with natural hair color and no facial piercings, thinking that this would be the person most likely to be able to assist me without commenting on my taste in music in the process (a particular problem with many of the employees at this store).
“Excuse me, do you have any Candy Butchers albums?”
Uh…did you look under “C”.
“Yes. In ‘Rock’ and ‘Used.’ But I’ve learned from past experience that things in this store tend to be shelved according to the musical standards of whoever happened to be working put-away that day, else how do you explain why The Damned keep ending up in your ‘Goth/Industrial’ section while Pink is in ‘Punk’ and No Doubt is in ‘Reggae’.”
Let me check the computer…We have about a dozen different Canned Heat albums, is that what you’re looking for?
“No, I don’t really care for hippie blues bands, and besides, I came in looking for Candy Butchers.”
Dude, I don’t think they really exist. If they did, we’d have their albums. We’re the local alterna-hipster indie music store, after all.
“Let’s see…the last bands or performers an employee here told me didn’t exist were Queen Adreena (you kept trying to sell me Queen), Scissor Sisters (Michelle Shocked), Hidden Cameras (Mott the Hoople), Mountain Goats (Madonna), Polyphonic Spree (Pet Shop Boys) and Stephen Lynch (Sleater Kinney). And yet, in each case, I was able to purchase those albums either on-line or from a chain store. Oh, and by the way, is it really necessary to play Salt-N-Pepa so loudly in the store we’ve had to have this entire conversation while shouting?”
We’re playing Salt-N-Pepa because it’s part of the drinking song mix we play here!
“Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ is a drinking song?”
Dude, it’s ironic!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I buy music online.