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So, I go into the comic shop over the weekend, and I see this:
I'd heard of this a few months back and was intrigued enough at the notion of Euro-comics takes on super-heroes to want to check the book out when it came out. I flipped through it...and it looked okay. Not as porny as most Euro-comics, understandably, but still recognizably not an American production. And certainly the sort of thing that I'm curious enough about to give a shot.
And then I take a closer look at the cover, and realize that isn't a retro-ironic corner box picture of a character from the comic:
No, it's a fucking ad for Secret Invasion. An ad for a cross-over I have no interest in because of it's uninspired execution and eye-straining art. A cross-over that, two years from now, will be largely forgotten, a post-script to whatever mega-cross-over event Marvel will be in the middle of. An ad they stuck, glaringly, in a stupid position on the cover of a comic that stands a strong chance of appealing to people who might not otherwise be interested in reading a Wolverine comic.
Marvel talked me into saving my money by shoving a reminder of a comic I don't like on a comic I might have liked.
No, that doesn't happen. Oh, sure, I've heard those sub-Dane Cook level comedians make those same sophomoric jokes: "Hnurr hnurr, I wish I was a lesbian, I'd just stare at myself all day, amiritefellas?" It's not funny. It's really kind of offensively stupid. And the joke really doesn't translate when being applied to gay men. Especially not when it appears in a comic aimed at 25-35 year old man-children who would probably shriek in terror at the thought of a nude gay man. And yes, this is me being appalled at something in the worst comic since Skate Man. A fool's errand at the best of times.
Speaking of people who have apparently never met a real-life homosexual, I'm a little weary of people trying to make the Machine Gun Joe character in Death Race some sort of indicator of the progress of gay characters in mainstream films. In the film, when the question of the character's sexuality is introduced, it is quite clear from the context that it's just a homophobic taunt. From one of the likable "good" characters, naturally, homophobic insults still being something that it's okay for protagonists in mainstream films to say. Unlike smoking or racist insults. Now, I'm aware that some of the film-makers have said that the character is meant to be gay, while others have not. In any case, there is nothing in the film itself to suggest the character is gay, save that insult. The character himself never declares himself to be gay. And the one vaguely "homoerotic" moment in the film is almost instantly deflected by the normalizing return of heterosexual values. In a way, the film-makers have stumbled upon a neat trick; they get to take credit for a "ground-breaking" gay character in an action film without ever actually having to deal with a gay character.
So, I keep thinking about Kevin's posts about bad retailing decisions, mostly because I'm baffled that smart people keep missing Kevin's point so badly. Either they think it's a good thing for a retailer in a small margins business to actively discourage sales in the names of "integrity"--which is an argument that really phenomenally misses the point that comic shops being run like club houses instead of businesses is bad for the industry, or they keep bringing in this asinine restaurateur metaphor, as if a waiter suggesting the crab cakes because the clams with linguine are a bit off tonight is anything remotely like a retailer sending out a mass e-mailing to existing and potential customers insinuating that they're idiots if they like a comic he doesn't. It all makes me reconsider that "smart" adjective. But what I keep coming back to is that telling your customers your opinion of a book, and still selling it to them, are not mutually exclusive.
Amazing Spider-Man #2338; While many fans, myself included, were upset with what it took to bring the character to the new status-quo, the new creative teams on this title have met with critical and commercial success. A new storyline starts here for those curious about what's been going on. Astonishing X-People #2222; While the combination of Ellis and Bianchi are not to my taste, a new storyline starts here, tying in to the larger "Manifest Destiny" branding in the X-books. It's a good jumping on point for those who enjoy Ellis's super-hero work.
Hey, whoa, did you see that there? I gave as neutral a judgement as I could while still finding a way to tell interested customers to check the book out. And it was easy. Of course, this doesn't address the concerns of those bloggers who see nothing wrong with what the retailer in question did because he was bashing super-hero books in his newsletter. But I'm sure that if he had slapped a big NOT BUY on Kramer's Ergot or Love and Rockets, the art-comix bloggers would have had my back.
As I've done every year prior, I undertook the masochistic task of getting my hands on, and reading, and reviewing, every single Free Comic Book Day book available. This year I missed out on a few, as they failed to get to me in time. I've heard that I didn't miss anything. The review scale is the same as before. If I say Get It, that means that I think the book is worth your attention. If I say It's Free, that means either the book is good, but nothing exciting, and you should probably either be happy with it for being free or pass. Avoid, I would hope, is self-explanatory.
All Star Superman The best Superman comic in decades, with fantastic art and a real sense of humanity in the writing? If you haven't already been picking up this book, read this, and lose all your excuses for not getting it. Get It
Amelia Rules: Comics and Stories An engaging cast of characters, in all ages stories, with suitably dramatic and emotive stories without being preachy, condescending or reminiscent of an after-school special. Oh, and also funny and well drawn. Get It
Atomic Robo The lead story here is a fun adventure comic featuring robots, crazy Russian scientists and explosions. It's a little reminiscent of Hellboy in tone, but in a good way. It's Free
Bongo Comics Free-For-All Several inoffensive Simpsons stories, mildly amusing at best, but nothing remarkable. The best thing in the book is the art on Nina Matsumoto's manga-fied Simpsons story. It's Free
Broken Trinity Prelude A text-heavy recapping of the last several years worth of Witchblade and Darkness comics. The art has a nice, painterly quality to it, but the story is simply dreadful. Avoid
Cartoonapalooza Highly uneven in terms of subject matter and artistic quality, there's some momentary diversion to be found here, but nothing very compelling. It's Free
Comic Book Challenge Showcase A flip-book, with Hero By Night, a well-drawn but somewhat derivative super-hero comic, and Gunplay, a western with utterly undecipherable plot details, just based on this preview. It's Free
Comic Book Diner A collection of all-ages, and mostly very young-skewing at that, stories. As with most of the anthology titles, the quality of material is very uneven, but overall there's more good than bad or indifferent here. It's Free
Comics Go Hollywood A sampling of articles from magazines published by TwoMorrows about comic books and film. It's mostly interesting, but it's almost explicitly aimed at the older, long-time comic fan, and much of the material feels a bit randomly chosen and not particularly relevant to the interests of a new or casual comic book reader. It's Free
Dabel Brothers & Del Rey 2008 Preview A sampler of comics based on fantasy and sci-fi novels, overall of fairly good quality. The art on many stories is possibly too stylized to be of broad appeal, and the samples are a little short to be very effective, but not a bad package. It's Free
Dan Dare/Stranded What we have here is a not interesting at all science-fiction story and a revival of a decades long defunct British sci-fi property. It's hard to tell who the target audience for these is supposed to be, but since neither story is engaging in the slightest, it probably doesn't matter. Avoid
Drafted This is just horrible. Terrible art and a thread-bare concept that screams "buy me and turn me into a movie." Avoid
EC Sampler It's free EC stories, so there's no question as to the quality of material or its value, but only one of the stories really stand out as an iconic example of the EC style. A good idea, but not the best selection for this purpose. It's Free
Gekiga Two excerpts from Drawn & Quarterly's mini-line of, for lack of a better phrase, "indie" manga books. It's good material, and the excerpts stand alone and create interest in the complete story. Get It
Graphic Classics A broad selection of artists adapt great works of literature into comics form. A stand-out collection. Get It
Gyro Gearloose A bit of a disappointment compared to previous Disney releases from Gemstone, as Gyro stories tend to be more than a little repetitive, even by the standards of Duck comics. It's Free
Hellboy Interesting supernatural adventure stories, but there's a strong suggestion here that you should probably already be more than passingly familiar with Hellboy and his supporting cast. It's Free
Ignatz Another uneven collection, this time with the added benefit of self-importance, in this sampler of books from Fantagraphics "Ignatz" line of comics. There are a few good stories here, in the few self-contained pieces, but overall there's little to impress. It's Free
Impact University Volumre 4 Nothing but a glorified ad for pricey "art instruction" books. Avoid
Jughead Even by the standards of contemporary Archie comics, this is tedious and charmless, and the advertorial nature of the inclusion of the Geppi's Entertainment Museum is off-putting. Avoid
Kid Houdini and the Silver-Dollar Misfits There's an interesting art style on display here, and the idea of a young Harry Houdini solving Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries with his gang of circus side-show freaks is quite clever. A complete story, however, would have been preferred. Get It
Love and Capes #7 This is a real charmer, a funny super-hero romance book with a distinctive and appealing art style. If you haven't read this before, this is a nice place to start and a good introduction to the book. Get It
Maintenance This was fun, a bit too impressed with it's own cleverness, but an amusing take on the "super-villain" concept focusing on the guys who have to do the actual heavy lifting. Get It
Marvel Adventures: Iron Man & Hulk & Spider-Man Fairly inoffensive, but feels a bit to "talks down" to kids a bit. As far as introducing new readers to the characters, it's an okay effort, and it nicely capitalizes on upcoming Marvel movies. It's Free
Maximum Ride As a manga-style adaptation of a young adult novel, there really isn't anything here to recommend it unless you're already familiar with and a fan of the novels. There isn't even any kind of recap page to explain why people have wings. Avoid
The Moth Nice art, but it's in service to a completely generic super-hero story. It's Free
Owly and Friends Nicely illustrated kid-friendly comics. Most of the stories are dialogue free, making this an excellent choice for pre-readers, and the art is simply lovely on almost all these stories, giving the book appeal to all readers. Get It
Project Super-Powers: The Death-Defying 'Devil Most of the book is actually taken up by ads, mostly focused on Dynamite's licensed properties. The main story is unremarkable, featuring characters that even long-time comic fans will probably have to strain to remember, and the format chosen, having the characters explain a past adventure, makes for an undynamic book. That the villain is one of the more egregious "Yellow Peril" characters ever produced does not help matters either. Avoid
Salem Queen of Thorns I might have liked this more, if it didn't seem like it only existed in order to have something to hand off to potential film investors. There's probably still some good entertainment to be wrought from the fantasy/mystery genre, and this isn't terrible by any means, but it feels like a means to an end, rather than a finished product. It's Free
Shonen Jump Special A good over-view of several Shonen Jump titles, marred by the in media res nature of two of the stories. It's Free
Sonic the Hedgehog There is a certain charm to this, and the art is lively. It does definitely talk down to kids, though, and suffers from the same sort of going-through-the-motions quirks that most Archie adventure books have historically displayed. It's Free
Tiny Titans Pure, undiluted joy. Great art, cute stories, and fun. Get It
Transformers Animated I was actually looking forward to reading this, as I think the character designs for the new Transformers cartoon are fantastic...and then I saw this was a poorly designed fumetti using blurry screenshots instead of an actually drawn book. Avoid
Wizard: How To Draw Wizard has a bad history of putting out completely inappropriate material for FCBD, but this is actually not bad, cover aside, with good drawing advice from talented artists. It's Free
Worlds of Aspen I've been reading comics a long time, and I can't tell what the hell is supposed to be going on in any of these stories. I even know the basic concepts of the books featured, and I still can't figure out what's going on. So either I'm a complete illiterate, or this is just inept. Avoid
X-Men A character I've never heard of, a new status quo for the X-books alluded to, but not really explained, and enemies that as far as I know haven't been seen since the seventies, and weren't very interesting then either. On top of all that, we've got the traced-over-porn art of Greg Land presenting all this to us. It's completely unpleasant to look at, but it's "slick" so I imagine it will go over well, so long as people only look at the pictures and don't try to read the damn thing. Avoid
So, there's this Avengers/Invaders book coming out. And it looks like it might be okay. Kind of fun, and it's get Steve Sadowski on art.
But, lately, a certain number of funs have been getting antsy over any suggestion of males with external genitalia in comics Alex Ross is involved in... And, honestly, given the sorts of things they're complaining about, it's quite clear that they don't know what the hell they're talking about.
Luckily, the free preview of Avengers/Invaders you can pick up at your local comic book shop does feature some drawings of super-heroes with bulges that actually, you know, bulge.
Ultimate Spider-Man #123 begins a storyline that ties into a Spider-Man video game. If ever a title had what the kids call a "jumping off point" a video-game tie-in issue is probably it.
Ultimate X-Men #95 tentatively interests me. First, the new writer can't possibly be any worse on the book than the last few have been, and this:
Is that Ultimate Beak? Okay, yeah, I can hang with that.
I mentioned the other day that I like Todd Nauck's art, and the next couple of issues of American Dream are solicited. I kinda like the "Spider-Girl" family of titles. They're not ground-breaking, oh no, but they have their charm. If nothing else, they're frequently the only Marvel titles where the marquee characters aren't acting like colossal dicks.
While I'm on subject: Avengers/Invaders #2 is drawn by Steve Sadowski, and I can't get him drawing more comics with Wildcat in them, I'll settle for this. I just hope it avoids the "let's do a serious and grim version of Super Friends!" thing that bogged down Justice.
I find the optimism in starting a third ongoing Hulk series to be touching. And a bit touched.
I'm genuinely surprised at how disinterested I am in Secret Invasion. So, it's a soft reboot of various characters, that creates an even more potentially nightmarish mess of keeping continuity straight? And the major heroes are still acting like assholes? Yeah, I'm really not interested. At least World War Hulk had a very easy to understand through-line, even if they botched the ending by removing culpability from the people who sent Hulk out into space in the first place. I mean come on! *ahem* Anyway, I was all set to ignore the series and settle back to watch other people wring their hair over it (and honestly, trying to hype it by having Patton Oswalt talk up all the "kewl deaths" just makes it worse! The guy's good, but he's been terribly over-hyped by nerds seeking validation, as if his success was somehow because of his nerdy obsessions, not in spite of them and...) *cough* So, as I was saying, I was going to pass, but then I spotted this:
SECRET INVASION: RUNAWAYS/YOUNG AVENGERS #1 (of 3) Written by CHRISTOPHER YOST Penciled by TAKESHI MIYAZAWA Cover by MICHAEL RYAN The Skrulls are invading and the Runaways and the Young Avengers both have a Skrull on their team. Coincidence? We think not. You two favorite teen teams come together again as the Marvel U is pushed to the brink. 32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99
Well, it's only a three issue tie-in series. I can live with that.
It's been awhile since we had one, but here's Marvel's Beefcake Of The Month:
Trinity is probably going to be the book to watch. Yeah, DC has shown that they can do a weekly series, but a weekly series with the same writer and artist? Yeah, that's going to be a neat trick.
I see there's a Robin/Spoiler special coming out. Man, I hope they kill her off again soon. No, I'm serious. Complaining about Spoiler gave the crazy people something to keep themselves occupied, so that the rest of us could go on with our lives. I mean, just imagine what kind of damage would be wrought on the world if the "scans_daily" crowd took that complaining about Spoiler energy and directed it towards health care reform...we'd all be dead of some vile new plague... (A plague, by the way, they would somehow still manage to blame on Dan Didio...)
The Brave and the Bold is a book that's perennially on the bubble with me. I'm not sure in which direction having Scott Kollins on art will push me: drop or keep.
Manhunter is back! Manhunter is back! Yeah, that gets me a little excited. Hmm...that good news may require a bit of...special treatment...in the near future.
I want to put up a picture of the cover to the final JSA Classified, as it's Wildcat, but it's also Dough Mahnke, and his work just does nothing for me. On the plus side, I remain blindly optimistic that the book got cancelled because DC plans a Wildcat & Son ongoing. Hey, if Hulk can have two, and one for his son, even though historically the character's sales barely justify one, I can hold out hope...
I'm also stupidly excited about the JLA hard-cover reprinting the Grant Morrison run, as now I can re-read those stories as often as I want without wrecking my existing comics. Plus, both Marvel and DC put some intensely stupid things out in hard-cover, it's nice to see something that deserves a nice treatment get one.
More Diana Prince: Wonder Woman is on the way, and no, the stories still aren't any damn good, but I will be buying this because I want the series to last long enough to reprint the Delany stories, dammit!
This is a fantastic cover:
I would also encourage anyone who was upset by my earlier comments about Spoiler and "scans_daily" to read Super Friends. No conflict, nothing bad happens to anyone, and everything gets reset at the end. It's the perfect comic for some of the fans out there...
A Chuck comic? Really? That's as left-field, coming-out-of as a Lost Boys 2 comic. But with Huan and Noto on art, it will at least look good.
I had to scroll down quite a bit to find something appropriate for the DC's Beefcake of the Month
Too bad the solicitation rather gives away a plot point. Not one anyone hadn't already guessed, but still.
As sad as I am to see the passing of The Exterminators, I'm slightly mollified to see a new Matt Wagner book, Madame Xanadu coming out.
Speaking of World of Warcraft, sort of, a third batch of action figures is coming out. And there's still no Tauren. But we get yet another pissy little Blood Elf...come on guys, get on the ball...
It's two whole months in a row where there was enough amazing/horrifying things in Previews to warrant a post.
Let's start with Dark Horse
That is easily the evilest cat I've ever seen.
But that's okay, between Indiana Jones Adventures, The Complete K Chronicles and Wondermark: Beards of our Forefathers the publisher easily makes up scaring a year or two off my life-span with horrifying Japanese cats.
It's not directly relevant to the issue of Buffy solicited here, but I do want to note that straight guys congratulating themselves for their commitment to diversity by putting hawt lesbo sex into their films, comics and tv shows really aren't fooling anyone at this point. Of course, I'm sure someone will pop along any minute now to lecture me about how Buffy having sex with another woman for the titillation of her male fanbase is empowering to women...somehow...
There are actually quite a number of things coming out from DC that are interesting, but they're interesting in that "I've been reading super-hero comics for 25+ years and this looks like an entertaining example of the genre." Which is a rather select value of "interesting" but there you go.
Image has a new issue of Tod Nauck's under-rated Wildguard comic...and another beefcake-ish figure from McFarlane Toys...that's two months in a row. Weird.
Avengers/Invaders is drawn by Steve Sadowski, so that'll look good...and, yeah...that's about as nice as I can be to Marvel this month.
All I'm willing to say in public about Dave Sim's Judenhass at this time: yeah, something tells me this isn't going to end well.
This is awfully random merchandising:
I know others have mentioned it, but this “zombie variant cover” shit has got to stop:
At this rate I fully expect Archie to get in on the action.
Gemstone brings us the third collection of Carl Barks Duck stories paired with a sequel by Don Rosa. This is a very good thing.
Knockabout Comics has an adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Hunt Emerson. This is going to be one of those very good, very worthwhile comics that almost no one will talk about.
Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who story “The World Shapers” is collected by Panini. Doctor Who. By Grant Morrison. It pretty much goes without saying that you should be buying it.
Platinum Studios has something called I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space. For ninety-nine cents. From Platinum Studios. Only $ 0.99. Platinum Studios... I’m genuinely torn...
Radical Comics seems to have slipped under my radar, but I see they have a Free Comic Book Day sampler coming out, and a very potentially beefcake-tastic Hercules comic, as well as a Western retelling of Arthurian legends. Both these ideas are interesting to me, even if the samples in Previews look a bit heavily Photo-shopped for my tastes, coloring wise. I’m cautiously curious.
There is what appears to be a fumetti version of the live-action Asterix film Asterix at the Olympic Games coming out from Sterling Publishing. I’d really rather know when a Region 1 release of the live-action films can be expected.
Viz is re-releasing Rumiko Takahashi’s One Pound Gospel, which surprises me, as I seemed to recall it not selling well during its inital release. At all. Like, below Urusei Yatsura levels, which Ranma 1/2 and Inu-Yasha fans seemed to reject in droves. I’ll probably pick it up this time. Though I would really like to see the return of Urusei Yatsura... They’ve also got the Kazuo Umezu series Cat Eyed Boy, which feels pricey for manga at $25 a volume, but look at this:
Yeah, I’m there.
Okay, so I know I was just praising the idea of Indiana Jones Adventures, but an Indiana Jones Magazine just seems like over-kill. We’re going to be sick to death of Indy by the time the movie comes out, aren’t we. It’s going to be The Phantom Menace all over again.
Of course, a magazine isn’t as much overkill as a "fake leather" $75 hard-cover...
Previews also has John Barrowman’s auto-biography, Anything Goes, solicited for sale...that’s a little surprising. It’s mostly about his career in theater.
"Say Mr. Comics Retailer, I wish to purchase a t-shirt that advertises to the world my devotion to the lowest lows of pop-culture ephemera." "Well, young lady, how do you feel about a shirt featuring a pedophile with erectile dysfunction that is allegedly a Star Wars parody?"
I suppose it was only a matter of time before we started to get Song of Fire and Ice merchandise of this nature but still I was surprised to see this:
Eddard and Sandor look fairly book-accurate, but something about Daenarys feels really off to me. Maybe I’m just uncomfortable with a somewhat sexualized statue of a fifteen year old girl...
Dear Japan, A cloak and knee-boots are not acceptable winter wear;
A page and a half of Sweeney Todd merchandise...at last, the real motive for making the film is revealed; giving Hot Topic something to sell the nine months out of the year no one gives a fuck about Nightmare Before Christmas.
I'm not quite sure what to make of Marvel's partnership with French publisher Soleil. On the one hand, I hope it works out better for Soleil than the deal with DC did for Humanoids. On the other, this is Marvel we're talking about, and rather than just publish the albums, they're releasing the first series, Sky Doll, in comic format. And that's not even getting into the question of whether these will be edited in order to avoid a Fox News segment on "Spider-Man Publisher Pushes Porn On Kiddies..."
The solicitation for Spider-Girl spin-off American Dream reminds me of the occasional defense I sometimes feel obligated to mount for the M2 line. Which is that, as mediocre and formulaic and out-of-synch with contemporary comics storytelling standards as the line is, I find that they're frequently the only books Marvel publishes which aren't trying too hard. They're unambitious, but they're also not trying to be "edgy" or any other nonsense like that. They're the books where the good guys act like good guys.
I will be buying Avengers/Invaders. If you know me, this may come as a surprise to you. But for me it basically comes down to twelve issues of Steve Sadowski drawing Wolverine, and...yeah, I'm up for that.
Guardians of the Galaxy. Hate the name. But it has Rocket Raccoon in it. So, yeah, it gets checked out at least.
Just when I think Marvel's starting to act like a real business, I come across something like the solicitation for Kick-Ass: Plus, Kick-Ass starts to find out what happens when you tick off the real-world criminals who have ignored him until now. Things turn ugly and that can mean only one thing...God, this comic is so good I could cry. And I'm very butch. Yeah, way to convince us your company isn't being run by over-grown frat-boys there, guys...
I'm not sure what I can add to the incredulity of not only a collection of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, one of the worst comics of all time, but a hard-cover collection at that, in multiple editions, when Kevin's already said all there is to say. Except this: when I worked in comics retail, the only people who ever bought this series where obsessive-compulsive X-Men fans who had to own at least one copy of every book with an X-Man character in it ever published, and creepy guys who were a little too into Kitty Pryde...
Narcopolis #1, by Jamie Delano and Jeremy Rock, published by Avatar A new sci-fi serial by one of the most under-appreciated writers in recent years? Yeah, I'm up for that. Delano creates a bold world, throwing readers head-first into it without context, forcing you to work to understand both the setting the clever language games he's using for dialogue. It's breathtakingly innovative work, with stunning artwork from Jeremy Rock. It's easily one of the most exciting first issues I've read in years.
Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, published by About Comics This is a reprint of an "adult" humor magazine from 1922. I use scare quotes because it's neither particularly risque or off-color, just somewhat deliberately, even self-consciously, naughty and provocative. Given that this is an early Fawcett publication, that level of smirking smug schoolboy naughtiness isn't terribly surprising. It has a certain charm though, in a contemporary setting, as a reminder that the supposed innocent ages of the past weren't so terribly innocent. (Yes, I know this isn't a comic.)
The Last Musketeer by Jason, published by Fantagraphics Jason's work never really seems to prize narrative as a focus. There's an almost surreal sense of story on display here, a kind of "this happens, then this happens, then that happens" rhythm to events that is suggestive to me of the kinds of imaginative play that children often engage in. The ideas come quickly, and blend together disparate elements that don't suggest natural pairings; in this case, a Dumas-ian musketeer thwarting a Martian invasion by a disinterested Martian Emperor while his daughter smacks her boyfriend into doing what she says. The art is deceptively clever, and highlighted by simple flat coloring.
Incognegro, by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece, published by DC/Vertigo Moral certainty is an easy out when dealing with stories set in the South during the segregation period, but Johnson's historical mystery goes beyond a simple black/white race-based conflict to incorporate issues of class and gender as well, set against the vital artistry of the Harlem Renaissance. It's a flawed work; the evilness of the villains approaches the one-note, lacking any nuance, but it's still a strong and compelling work. Pleece's work is expressive, and he takes full advantage of the symbolism the black-and-white format of the work affords him in his characterization.
Comics What Could Have Been Better
WWH Aftersmash: Damage Control #1, by Dwayne McDuffie and Salva Espin, published by Marvel The title alone should give you a big hint as to what my major problem with this book was. On it's own, this was a good title: well written, well drawn and genuinely funny. Unfortunately, it's been over 15 years since a Damage Control comic was published, and this comic assumes I've read World War Hulk, Civil War and the issues of Wolverine that tied into Civil War. Even a release of a Damage Control trade featuring the original issues would have alleviated some of these issues, at least it would have gone some way towards reminding me who these characters are supposed to be. But in the end, this is a book that could have been good, but is crippled by the presumption that the only people who could possibly be interested in it are intimately aware of the minutia of Marvel's publishing output.
Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka and others, published by Oni The plotting and character-ization here are top-notch, and it's a neat trick that Rucka has pulled off, creating a realistic espionage thriller that never feels like it's either pandering to popular political opinion or seeking to avoid causing offense. The significant problem here is that the change in art styles from story to story is jarring, and certain artists feel like extremely bad fits for the story. Steve Rolston and Brian Hurtt turn in the best work here, while Leandro Fernandez's contribution marks such a radical change in style, with grotesquely caricatured characters in comparison to the work that has gone before.
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman - Volume 1, by Denny O'Neil, Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano, published by DC Oh boy, are these comics no good. The only reason these comics are even readable is that the passage of time has rendered their very rough to look at art and naive stories amusing when viewed with an ironic detachment. So the end result is that these are enjoyable to read, but by no means whatsoever any damn good. At all. If you're a Wonder Woman completist, a blogger looking for easy content, or simply entertained by well meaning failure, than this is a book for you.
Indiana Jones Omnibus Volume 1, by Various, published by Dark Horse There is a trio of comics published shortly after the release of the third Indiana Jones movies reprinted here, from the period when Lucasfilm was trying to replicate the success of the so-called "Expanded Universe" of Star Wars to the Indiana Jones properties. The first, a comic adaptation of the stellar "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" video game, is yet another reminder of the fact that video games, even the plot-heavy adventure games which used to dominate the market, simply don't make good source material for comics. The second story, "Thunder in the Orient" is a twice as long as it needs to be piece of Steve Canyon fan-fiction, complete with sultry Asian villainess, disguised as an Indiana Jones story. It's simply dreadful, to be blunt. The last story, "Indiana Jones and the Arms of Gold" comes off well, simply by being competently executed and not insultingly bad. The book is more of a test of patience to see how much of an Indiana Jones fan you really are to get through it.
Comics What Were Good, That Failed To Engage Me
Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads from Seattle's The Stranger by Ellen Forney, published by Fantagraphics Forney's artwork is pretty, and there's a sly sense of humor on display in most of these pieces, but the nature of the project itself; single-panel adaptations of personals ads, doesn't lend itself to a big thick book. A few dozen or so in a pamphlet or in a magazine is one thing. One hundred and sixty or so pages of it becomes quite tedious. It doesn't help either that a good deal of contempt for the people placing the ads comes through from time to time. There's a certain "let's laugh at the sick desires of the loveless freaks" attitude that surfaces from time to time that's off-putting.
The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo Vol. 2, by Dan DeCarlo, published by Fantagraphics While DeCarlo's art is as fantastic as it ever was, and the production of this volume is fantastic, with excellent use of limited color to accent the artwork, this was still an unsatisfying read. Frankly, it's because the cartoons really aren't terribly funny. The cartoons are reprints from men's humor and pin-up mags, and so the point is more to draw a really stacked dame, maybe with a hint of nipple showing if it looks like the Post Office might not be looking too hard this month for things to censor, than to show much originality or wit.
Krazy & Ignatz 1941-1942: "A Ragout of Raspberries", by George Herriman, published by Fantagraphics Like the DeCarlo book, Herriman's art is amazing, and the production values on the book are excellent. Sadly, the work is too much of its time, and far too repetitive regarding the nature of the gag's, to really work successfully for a modern reader. It's an interesting curiosity of an earlier period, and an important piece of comics history, but in and of itself it fails to compel.
Hank Ketcham's Complete Dennis the Menace 1955-1958 Box Set by Hank Ketchum, published by Fantagraphics It's too much Dennis! I can't really think of any other way to put it. Ketchum's line work is still strong at this fairly early point in his career, and there is still an undercurrent of slightly risque humor that would disappear in later years on the strip, as it devolved into a mediocre "kids say/do funny things" gag strip. Dennis is actually more of a terror in these strips, which honestly doesn't say much for the parenting abilities of the Mitchell's. But then, given their seeming neglect of the boy and their own barely repressed anger towards each other and outsiders, perhaps it isn't too surprising that Dennis acts out. But that's over thinking the strips.
Comics What I Did Not Like Hotwire Comics #2, by Various, published by Fantagraphics Mome #10, by Various, published by Fantagraphics Anthology titles tend to be a mixed bag at the best of times, and while that's certainly the case here, on the whole there is more material in both of these books that is simply bad, if not unreadable, than is good or merely mediocre. Hotwire's contributors repeatedly make the mistake too many of today's self-consciously "edgy" cartoonists make, which is that they're so busy showing off how offensive or outrageous or envelope-pushing they can be that they forget to actually create a comic worth reading. Most of Mome's contributors make a similar mistake, which is to be overly self-regarding to the point of laughable pretentiousness.
It's official; I have no strong opinions about One More Day. This shouldn't be particularly surprising, seeing as how I don't like Spider-Man the character. At all. If I wanted to hear about the life of whiny, neurotic losers, I'd spend more time in bars. Or comic shops. I don't see why I should be expected to pay for the privilege.
The outrage has been fun to watch, though, as it usually is. Nerd rage is highly entertaining after all, especially the more self-important and self-righteous it becomes. For the sake of comparison, the last time I saw raw anger that approached this level it was when Blue Beetle was killed. This eclipses that though, as unlike Blue Beetle, Spider-Man actually is a popular character. I can understand why, even despite my dislike for the character; having Peter Parker sell his soul to Satan in order to avoid the consequences of his actions as Spider-Man really is about as far as you can get from the core concept of the character without rendering him utterly unusable.
I think the thing that gets me is that people are genuinely surprised at the turn the storyline took. I never thought that the Straczynski run was any great shakes to begin with, not from any of the issues I read, and so given that it started badly, with lots of negative reaction from fans, continued badly, with lots of negative reaction from fans, how did people expect it was going to end? In sunshine and lollipops? That the book would be of such fantastic quality that it would cure cancer?
The only interesting thing about the book, to my mind, is the back-and-forth squabbling between Straczynski and Marvel's Editor-In-Cheif, Joe Quesada, over whose bad idea the book was, and to what extent. Not that they're quite phrasing it like that, mind you. It's interesting because, in the early days of Quesada's tenure, Marvel was supposed to be the big-time comic company that let the writers work on corporately owned characters in whatever manner they saw fit, without heavy editorial interference. And those days, apparently, have passed, if editorially mandated rewrites of the book really did happen. Which, again, shouldn't be too surprising, given that Marvel just finished up Act Two of a cross-over cycle that began with Avengers: Disassembled and seems poised to go on for another year or two at least. You simply can't manage, or micro-manage, so many events of such magnitude for an extended period without having a heavy editorial hand. (Or, to look at it another way, it's Marvel once again copying DC's bad ideas...)
And that, after all this, a few foolish people have been seen expressing optimism for the storyline to follow this? Oh, that's the funniest thing of all, really.
I blame all those people who complained about how they "hadn't heard" of any of the books on last year's list... I mean, I'm sure it's an entertaining book and all, but is it really better than , say Alice in Sunderland or The Salon, neither of which, I note, made it onto your list...was it really the fourth best graphic novel of the year?
*(The title of this post was shamelessly stolen from inspired by Kevin Church.)
Since people seem to be in a mood to analyse Marvel lately: the only "mainstream" Marvel U "post Civil War" comics I was getting were New New Warriors and New Order (which is a cheap and easy joke, but hey, so's your Mom). And I'm not getting them anymore. They're perfectly serviceable comics, but I'm just not interested in this "going nowhere slowly" between crossovers approach so many of Marvel's titles seem to have. Now there's nothing wrong with going nowhere slowly, but it's so much better to be going nowhere fast, you know?
I'm also not particularly interested in the current state of the Marvel universe. DC, for all it's flaws, has managed to hold my interest, and that's partly because the heroes still act like good guys and the villains are clearly identifiable as bad guys. You can't quite make those distinctions at Marvel anymore. And it doesn't help that the consequences of Marvel's big events don't really get dealt with because the stage has to be cleared for the next big event. Say what you will about Countdown and its cross-overs, but you can't really argue that DC isn't thoroughly exploring the consequences of the last few event titles in those books. At Marvel they almost seem to be burying the problems created by their events under the weight of new events. "Oh, we made Iron Man a fascist, but we can't deal with that now, the Hulk's attacking. Ooops, we made the Hulk a mass-murderer, but we can't deal with that now, the Skrulls are invading. Ah, we've established that Wolverine is actually a hyper-evolved stoat and not a mutant, but we can't deal with that now because Namor has the Serpent Crown and is trying to flood the surface world..."
Say you're an American publisher. And say you have the rights to publish, in America, newer and older licensed comics that are successful outside the US, but haven't really sold well in the US for a couple of decades. And say that, about ten to fifteen years ago, there was an animated series based on the comics you have a license to. An animated series that did several loose adaptations of some of the better known comics in the series. And let's say that the animated series in question was very successful and is largely credited with revitalizing an area of the animation industry that had become moribund. It would seem like a no-brainer to do a book collecting the best stories that inspired the series, and to slap the logo of the series all over the book, right? So why would you go and put an introduction in the book that spends a good deal of time blasting the quality of the show?
Which is what Gemstone did with their Carl Barks' Greatest Ducktales Stories books. Oh, comics industry...you so stupid...
Stephen Sadowski's pencils for Superpowers #0 are very nice, but with him only drawing the preview book, I'm not sure I'm interested. I REALLY did not like Justice, and the "nostalgia for grandpa's childhood" vibe is strong on this project. Which means I'm probably holding out for Avengers/Invaders. YES! I'm a hypocrite! I complain about Marvel than look forward to one of their projects!
You know what's fun? Video games.
It's like a virtual pet, only it's Daffy Duck, and the idea is to torture him as much as possible.
It's an old-school "point and click" puzzle game, only on your console. And since it's on the Wii, you have to mime out using the object with the remote. It makes you look like a complete tool, so I recommend playing with the blinds drawn.
Lars and the Real Girl was an excellent, excellent film, very sweet and heartfelt, with just enough sadness and darkness underneath it to give it some real emotional heft.
And it looks like we've cycled back to the 90s in the nostalgia wave. A team of "hard-core" badasses in black leather, all with sharp objects.
I'm not sure "hysterical giggle fit" was what Marvel was trying to evoke with that picture, but in my case, that's what they got.
And now, for something that may shock some of you: the trailer for Iron Man looks pretty good. And since I'm still not sold on Jon Favreau as a director, it's pretty clear as to why it looks good. Good actors. Good actors make an incredible difference. And, apart from the X-Men films, this is the first Marvel movie featuring people who can actually act in the cast. I mean...wow. I, for one, didn't imagine it could happen.
From Li'l Pals #4, yet another in Marvel's long list of attempts to cash in on genres other publishers are having success with... You don't remember all those Charlton and Whitman cross-dressing duck comics?
Our Love Story #26's lead feature is an entertaining look at an early model of the "metrosexual" variety. At least, that's the interpretation I'm going with. Because the slightly more plausible interpretation is that the story is about a young woman a little too dim to realize that her boyfriend is a closeted homosexual just using her as a beard in order to help himself become a success in the, er, fashion industry.
Oh, man...clothes designer, stands hip-askew, wears a gold bracelet...he's at least a 3/5 on the ol' Gaydar.
"That's right Dad, clothes! He won't even so much as deep kiss me! So back off, old man!"
"And he's so sensitive...and he doesn't try to paw me like the other boys do...and he likes going to the muscle-man beach with me..."
That's right Jill...no 9-to-5 job means less money to buy you pretty, pretty clothes...
Is...is that a momentary flash of insight on Jill's face? The artist has perfectly captured that "Why am I wasting my time on this broke-ass homo?" look.
Honey, Derek finds himself every weekend at the steam room in the gym...
Uh, no, I'm calling bullshit on this. Because as we all know, the one thing there isn't enough of in this world is advertising. Of course, if "Dad" treats all his customers like he does Derek, no wonder his business is falling off. "We'd like to advertise our exciting new lines of vitamin pills." "What is that, for loafers?"
Hey, it's the secret origin of The Gap!
And then we ran out of story pages so we get the horribly implausible ending. And for years, Jill wondered why Derek had to stop off at every rest-stop whenever they traveled anywhere by car. And why he became a Republican...
BIRDS OF PREY #109 A consistently fun book, and I'm curious to see what Bedard brings to it.
BLUE BEETLE #18 The best Spider-Man book on the market.
COUNTDOWN 36 Screw you, I like it.
GREEN ARROW YEAR ONE #4 (OF 6) Diggle and Jock, so a guaranteed sell. And Ollie doesn't come off as a complete tool. But that mischaracterization aside...
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #15 "Sinestro Corps War" is such a stupidly good idea.
JSA CLASSIFIED #29 Uhm, no idea...buyer's inertia? The overall ratio of "good" to "bad" is better than on JLA Classified.
OUTSIDERS FIVE OF A KIND WEEK 4 METAMORPHO AQUAMAN Is it wrong of me to hope that New Wave will show up in this new version of Batman and the Outsiders at some point?
SHOWCASE PRESENTS WONDER WOMAN VOL 1 TP These are dreadful, but in that semi-charming Silver Age nuttiness sort of way. Plus, you know, blogging fodder for dozens of people for weeks.
SPIRIT #9 Not sure if I'm going to stick with this past Cooke's departure.
SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #33 For Pete. I don't like this new version of the Legion at all.
SUPERMAN #666 (NOTE PRICE) I really like what Busiek has been doing with the Superman books. Between him and Morrison, the books are the best they've been in decades.
ANNIHILATION CONQUEST STAR LORD #2 (OF 4) That the presence of Rocket Raccoon is apparently enough for me and other people to pick this book up makes the odd lack of a trade for Mignola's Rocket Raccoon mini even more puzzling.
FANTASTIC FIVE #4 (OF 5) Consistently, I find myself liking the MU2 stuff more than the regular Marvel comics. They're slight, but they're good fun, and it's nice to see the Marvel heroes acting heroically.
THE ORDER #2 CWI Still on the fence. The first issue didn't suck, but neither did it blow me away. And why are all the female characters exposing their belly buttons?
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #45 After that interminable Thanos story, there's been a noticeable uptick in quality.
INUBAKA CRAZY FOR DOGS VOL 4 TP Cute girls and cute dogs. It's almost like the perfect manga.
MOUSE GUARD WINTER 1152 #1 (OF 6) I debated switching to trades, but every issue I buy is one less for speculators to get their hands on.
NAOKI URASAWAS MONSTER VOL 10 TP Okay, no, this is the perfect manga.
Books I'm Not Buying This Week
BATMAN LOBO DEADLY SERIOUS #1 (OF 2) I digs me some Sam Keith, but I'm all about Lobo-ed out.
BOMB QUEEN III #4 (OF 4) (MR) Every time I see this on the shelf, I sigh quietly to myself. At least I don't have to actually sell it to people myself anymore.
AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS VOL 1 HC VAR $75 for pre-super-hero Marvel books? Uhm, pass, thanks.
HALO UPRISING #1 (OF 4) (MR) The Cult of Halo confuses me. It's just a FPS. And not even a very good one, from what I can tell.
30 DAYS OF NIGHT DARK DAYS TP NEW PTG (MR) Hey, look, the trades coming back into print in a reasonable amount of time before the movie premieres! That's how you can tell Dark Horse didn't publish this.
BLACK SUMMER #2 (OF 7) (MR) I'm definitely feeling Ellised out. I read the preview, and I just wasn't feeling this book. It's tired, well tread ground for Ellis and dozens of other creators.
SHOJO BEAT SEP 07 VOL 3 #9 Dropped. We're at the point now where the only thing in the magazine I want to read is Absolute Boyfriend, and I can't justify $6 a month for that.
TOUPYDOOPS #6 (RES) (MR) Mike says there's something in this issue which will annoy me. I'm assuming he means apart from the lack of anything funny in a supposed humor book.
ZOMBIES VS ROBOTS HC (OCT068201) If I ran the comics industry, there'd be no more fucking zombie books.
I thought it would be appropriate to do some "needlessly cynical reactions" to Wizard World Chicago announcements, but honestly, statements like this, in relation to the Millar/Hitch run on Fantastic Four: "And oh yeah, and they plan on it being monthly!"
IDW finally manges to put out a book I'll buy. I mean, sure, it'll cost about $1 to $2 more than it should, but it's Doctor Who! Of course, I'm not optimistic about it's sales potential. Doctor Who is pretty much a cult show in the U.S. Comic books are a niche market. Comic adaptations of TV properties are even more of a niche market...you see where I'm going with this, right?
Top Shelf to reprint Marshall Law. Now all you little pissants complaining that Grant Morrison "clearly hates super-heroes" can see what a comic created by people who really hate super-heroes looks like.
Matt Wagner to write Madame Xanadu for Vertigo. So DCU characters can appear in Vertigo books, but characters in Vertigo books can't appear in DCU titles. I appreciate the intentions behind keeping the lines separate, but they're straining reader patience at this point with it.
I count six books with the word Countdown in their title and another three explicitly identified as tie-ins. So DC learned the wrong lesson from Civil War... It's "better stories/fewer tie-ins" guys. When you release a flood of tie-ins, the good stories get lost and all the public sees is the cash-grab attempt.
For some reason, the notion of Starfire's adventures hanging out with Buddy Baker's kids amuses me greatly.
I still want to know who felt that the world needed a Lord Havok and the Extremeists mini-series. I just know that some horribly significant "event" will take place in the book, in order to justify its existence, because there aren't enough people on message boards and LiveJournal who insist DC bring back everything connected to the Giffen-era league to make this profitable.
Bill Morrison writing Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, terrible puns and all? Yes please.
You would think that Batman and the Outsiders would have enough retro-homage points in its favor to get me to at least look at it, but with Koi Turnbull on art I'm fairly indifferent to it, as I associate him pretty strongly with Michael Turner's Aspen studio, and I simply do not care for that style of art.
Green Arrow/Black Canary #1's solicitation refers to a "shocking event" at the wedding, and features Black Canary teamed up with Conor Hawke on the cover. So, it's either a fake-out or DC may have spoiled something.
Death of the New Gods: Okay, I'm the guy who actually kind of liked Jim Starlin's take on the characters. I mean, don't get me wrong, if you're going to do a new New Gods series, I'd rather see someone like Grant Morrison take it and go gonzo, or someone like Busiek take it and do a good polish, but I'm not going to sulk about either the presence of Starlin or the word "Death" in the title.
I'm actually looking forward to Greg Rucka's Crime Bible as well. Again, I seem to be one of the few who actually likes She-Question.
Metamorphoa Year One: I don't generally mind Dan Jurgens, but the notion of him doing a new origin for a goofy Kanigher character like Metamorpho is causing me to have flash-backs to that Metal Men book he did. That's not a good thing.
Gotham Underground features just about every Gotham-based character, or so it promises, including possibly the first significant post-52 appearance of the much reviled by fanboys, which is strange given she's a red-headed Jewish lesbian in leather, Batwoman. I'm a sucker for "Gotham" stories, apparently...I'll probably check this out.
Booster Gold #3: I've seen less homoerotic longing on a man's face in actual gay porn. Yes, I'm talking about Booster. Come on, I can't be the only one who sees it!
DC Infinite Halloween Special: DC villains telling horror stories about the heroes. Neat idea. And no pun to ruin by skittish middle-managers this time, either.
Blue Beetle #20 ties in to the Sinestro Corps storyline, and a perfectly good "torn uniform" cover is wasted on an underage character...
Batman #670 and Robin Annual #7 are preludes to the "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" storyline. Who wants to bet that Liam Neeson is making a return appearance in the next Batman movie?
Aquaman is apparently cancelled with issue #57. Which disappoints me, as I was really enjoying Tad Williams' run on the book. It's a nice balance between the fantasy tone Busiek relaunched the book with and traditional super-heroics. Now I'm just wondering if my pet theory about who the new Arthur Curry really is will turn out to be right or not...
I really like the cover to Birds of Prey #111 for no good reason:
Brave and the Bold #7 is a team-up with Wonder Woman and Power Girl...I'm going to make a bet with Mike about this book. I'm fairly certain I'm going to be right about..."reaction"...to this issue.
Countdown Special: The Flash 80 Page Giant: read the adventures of the Flash's Rogues from before they were turned into child-murderers and rendered pretty much unusable.
Justice League of America #14: Now with John Stewart!
The faces make me giggle, though. Yes, all of them.
Justice Society of America #10. More Kingdom Come nonsense. Why doesn't DC ever want to revisit a good comic?
I've noticed people making much of the supposed "spoiler" on the cover to Checkmate #19. Really, it screams "fake out" to me.
Metal Men #3 features the Death-Metal Men. Is it too soon to declare this my favorite comic?
This cover makes me laugh. I can just hear Detective Chip berating Enchantress for missing the chalk outline.
Dammit, Wonder Girl, get out of the way! You're blocking the man-candy!
Gail Simone starts her run on Wonder Woman with the thirteenth issue. I'm looking forward to it, I know lots of people are looking forward to it, but I'm starting to get a "this will be the cure to cancer and world hunger" vibe off of some of the people looking forward to it. Yeah, it'll be good, but let's temper our expectations a little, okay?
The cover for the hard-cover collection of the first The Brave and the Bold story-line features a new illustration. I can't even remember the last time I saw a new illustration on a collected edition cover...
I'm fairly indifferent to a Showcase Presents volume for the Suicide Squad, but the Secret Society of Super-Villains? One of those books I simply can never fill a run of? Yeah, I'm there.
I'm pretty sure that's what happened to the Black Dahlia...
Christos Gage and Darick Robertson on Authority? Yes, please.
Let's see...Trick 'R Treat...a four issue, weekly mini-series by Manhunter's Marc Andreyko...okay, interested..."based on the major motion picture"...oh dear. I simply do not trust my chances of finding a quality horror film in the current market-place.
Vinyl Underground is billed as a cross between Invisibles and CSI. Those...don't sound like complimentary influences. The cognitive dissonance created by trying to wrap my head around that has me curious.
Testament's third collection is due out...trust me, this is a good series. Also, The Exterminators. You should be reading those books.
An Ambush Bug Mini-Mate? To go with my Wildcat, Power Girl and Wonder Woman? Neat! Oh, it comes with Lobo? Never mind...
Marvel is launching two minis featuring characters created by Steve Gerber, Omega the Unknown and Howard the Duck. Steve Gerber isn't involved in either title. This tells me that someone at Marvel has fundamentally misunderstood the appeal of those characters.
Another new Marvel Zombies book begins, as Marvel is bound and determined to milk that particular cash cow until you're all damn good and sick of zombies.
New Avengers #35 features a Venom-possessed Wolverine on the cover. Wow...just when you think Marvel couldn't do anything more to make me dislike Wolverine, they find a way...
Okay, so New Warriors #s 1 and 2...pretty good. Surprisingly good, given how little interest I've had in the post-Civil War Marvel Universe. And now, the solicitation for #5 teases us with a "we're going to kill off our viewpoint character" cover. It's a bit too obvious...I doubt it will really happen, they're being so obvious...but still, way to undo the goodwill I was starting to feel towards your properties, there.
Why are all the female characters in The Order showing off their belly-buttons, anyway? Will that be addressed in the first issue?
X-Men: Die by the Sword looks to be an Exiles/New Excalibur cross-over. Man, if I were, say, eight, that might excite me.
The last Foolkiller mini-series was quite good. Given what the rest of Marvel was publishing at the time, it was pretty surprising that it was so good, as well. I seem to recall from earlier interviews with the creators that the impression I had of this new Foolkiller series was that it was going to be ultra-violent and focused on "ironic" punishments, in the vein of films like Saw. I think I can skip it. It's going to be a real hard sell to get me to look at it.
Wolverine: Evolution not only gets a hard-cover collection (and I'm always surprised by what Marvel thinks warrants a hard-cover collection), but a black-and-white variant edition as well. Okay, yeah...that's almost enough to make me never want to buy another comic with Wolverine in it ever again, for fear that it might encourage more things like that.
Marvel Beefcake for October
Really, Sub-Mariner? Is that the best Marvel can do?
Two Countdown spin-off minis, as well as a spin-off one-shot dedicated to how the Wildstorm universe fits into the 52 universes paradigm, not to mention three 52 spin-offs and another Sinestro Corps special tells me that, nope, we're still not out of the "massive cross-over" woods yet. Cue the complaints from people who will buy them all anyway!
The Black Canary/Green Arrow wedding gets started in earnest, and, oh my, how the fan entitlement rants are flying with confused arguments for how the marriage of two fictional characters is definitive proof that DC HATES WOMEN, with a delicious extra dash of "let's kill the people who work for DC" popping up every now and again...because, as everyone knows, marriage is a male fantasy of domination over women, and no woman in her right mind would ever want to get married because, you know, she loves the guy...You know, I can see objecting to the marriage because it's clearly a stunt. I can see objecting to it for reasons of characterization. But marriage=misogyny? Christ... On the other hand, that it even occurs to people to think of marriage that way is a sign that maybe we shouldn't let you damn breeders even get married, if you're going to debase the institution with tawdry displays instead of seeing it as a sign of bonding and love.
I mean, let's take the first book, the Black Canary Wedding Planner, written by J. Torres, a notorious misogynist, second only to Dave Sim I'm sure (that's a joke, by the way):
Now, I look at that image, and I see a jokey take on the mishaps that can occur on a wedding day. Other people look at that image and see "OMG, LINGERIE, OBJECTIFICATION! AND SHE'S KNOCKING OVER THE CAKE! SEXISM! SHE'S BEING PORTRAYED AS INCOMPETENT!"
Or this cover to the JLA Wedding Special:
Setting aside the curious emphasis on Wonder Woman's ass, and the overall business of the image, I see a harmless image of a very tame bachelorette party. Others see...well, I'm not actually sure what they see, because other than that it's not a very well composed picture, I'm really straining to see a serious problem with this picture. Okay, yeah, Superman popping out of a cake to strip...maybe not in character. Though with Lois right there, maybe it will. I can totally see Lois enjoying watching her husband strip. And though it's already been pointed out, it bears repeating; regarding this comment: But the Big Blue Boy Scout isn’t exactly who you’d recruit to be your stripper. I gave this some thought, and this is who I came up with for the beefcake: A scantily clad Arsenal/Red Arrow should be bursting out, wearing just a red-and-white toga and doing something cutesy with a “love arrow.”
Yes, just what every woman dreams of on her wedding day...her foster son stripping for her... The internet makes me really not want to know about how comic fans were raised...
Lastly, we get to the actual wedding comic:
I'm not even going to bother to scrounge up the objections to this picture. Mostly they involve the horrible, horrible misogyny of an arrow being attached to her rear end. This despite the fact that she's lifting him, putting her in a dominant position. Never mind the playful sexuality expressed so wonderfully by Amanda Connor on both character's faces. And see, now I'm all depressed and frustrated with comic fans, and I've barely started looking at the books...
Dwane McDuffie takes over as the writer of Justice League of America. This is good news, and that's coming from one of the few people who seems to be enjoying Meltzer's run on the title (pending the ending of this JLA/JSA/Legion cross-over, of course. Something about that story has set my "something really stupid and fan wankish is going to happen" senses tingling). DC manages to spoil this good response, though by taking a quite good cover:
And splitting it into two pieces. No, guys, seriously, wrap-around is better.
Wonder Woman Annual ships, but we'll place that in the "believe it when I see it" category, and a Wonder Girl mini launches, written by J. Torres and with a nice "girls kick butt" style cover by Sanford Greene:
Green Lantern #23:
My favorite version is still:
Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents Parallax is leading to angst in fan circles, with it's suggestion that Kyle becomes Parallax somehow. Me, given how central Kyle seems to be to the Countdown storyline, and given that they already did that story with a Green Lantern, I tend to think it's sloppy and unclear writing.
A second run of the criminally underrated Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters begins, as do new series for Infinity Inc and Suicide Squad. II looks to continue the Steel and Everyman storylines from 52, while SS looks to fill in continuity holes. I can't say either of those prospects gets me too excited.
New Showcase Presents volumes for this month are The Great Disaster and Metal Men. Both are utterly insane, for the record, though I prefer the insanity of the Atomic Knights over the insanity of Silver Age Metal Men.
Superman/Batman #40 brings back Bekka. I'm surprised anyone even remembers Bekka. Checkmate #18 finally gets around to that "oh yeah, Amanda Waller is totally a villain...we should do something about that" storyline that's been waiting in the wings since the series launched (or, since the character was introduced way back when, if you want to get technical).
Flash #232 brings us that vagina dentata cover everyone's been having a good laugh at:
I have to admit, I went from groaning at the tackiness of the cover, to being annoyed that no one at DC stopped for a minute to consider how this cover would be received, to being kind of annoyed with the escalating outrage over the cover. Yes, it's tacky and stupid, but it's hardly the smoking gun proof that "OMG! DAN DIDIO HATES WOMEN!" I've seen some commentators try to turn it into.
The also underrated Mystery in Space mini gets collected as well, though split into two volumes. This does actually annoy me a bit, because I wasn't planning on buying the trades, but volume two will collect the Jim Starlin/Berni Wrightson The Weird series, and I wouldn't have minded a stand-alone version of that book.
Jodi Picoulet's run on Wonder Woman is collected in hard-cover, and while I want to say that this is the first time the follow-up to a recent storyline has been collected prior to the initial storyline, I'm pretty sure Marvel has done that more than once by now.
I kind of want to know what Kilowog is doing in the cartoon version of the Legion:
CMX looks to have a very good month, with the launches of two mature reader titles: the horror series Presents by Kanako Inuki and Variante, a Frankenstein-ish tale of a girl with a murderous arm graft, as well as another volume of the superlative Gon.
GEN 13 #12 features the Authori-teens. Cute.
DC Beefcake for September Nothing! It's quite upsetting, really.
Am I alone in thinking that the Marvel Classics line is going down like a lead balloon?
Ultimate Power still isn't over yet?
What an ugly, overly complicated cover...
Michael Turner Ass Shot #1:
Michael Turner Ass Shot #2:
Hoo-ho! A "cat" fight? Get it? Get it?
Even if you don't get it, the solicitation text for Ms Marvel #19 is sure to spell it out. It's Ms. Marvel vs. Tigra…cat fight! Why is the leader of the Mighty Avengers battling a host of female heroes? What craziness are new Initiative teammates Machine Man and Sleepwalker up to? And who is pulling all of their strings? Find out as writer Brian Reed (NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI) and artist Aaron Lopresti (PLANET HULK) continue their acclaimed and back-to-back-to-back sell-out run! Yes, because we never would have guessed what they were going for with the horribly literal cover otherwise...
Make fun of Shanna the She-Devil? Naw, too easy.
So, that year long "X-Men in space" storyline still isn't wrapped up, but continues in X-Men: Emperor Vulcan? I know it's traditional for the X-Men books to pad, but a year wasn't long enough to finish the story?
You know, and despite all that above, I think this month will mark the most money I've spent on Marvel comics in years. I count eleven titles I plan to buy from Marvel.
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.
And so the cycle continues...this time it was when one of the more astute retailers out there expressed concerns about Marvel's marketing decisions, in this particular case, the wisdom of redrawing the cover of a comic aimed at and marketed to children so that it now contains a rotting corpse. But not so badly rotting as to not still be kinda sexy! And, predictably, the peanut gallery responded in the predictable way. Which is to go out of their way to miss Chris's point and complain of people trying to spoil their fun.
I'm not offended by the cover. I think it's stupid and crass, but in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal. That Marvel keeps pulling stuff like this should, maybe, give people pause. And I think beyond the tackiness of sexy corpses, that's the real issue. When I see some of the stuff Marvel releases into the marketplace, the impression I'm given of them as a company is that they're not serious; they're not really interested in being a media corporation. A real business wouldn't blend so easily the lines between their children's properties, their general audience properties, and their mature reader's properties. The impression I'm given is that Marvel is run by a bunch of aging frat boys, cashing in for a quick buck by pandering to the lowest common denominators amongst super-hero fans.
And it's not just in Marvel's marketing that this impression plays out. There's an overall lack of editorial oversight on display at Marvel. I'm hardly one to wax nostalgic for Jim Shooter's reign, as the bulk of Marvel's output at the time was mediocre in terms of art and story...and that's being needlessly generous to it, but it's hard to imagine that past Marvel editors would have adopted the laissez-faire attitude towards retailer relations, late books and over-indulged creators that the current editorial regime has fostered. It's hard to imagine even as draconian a personality as Shooter dismissing out of hand reader's concerns about marketing decisions, as Joe Quesada regularly does.
Take this, the latest example of head-scratching decisions on Marvel's part:
Sure, people were joking that Marvel was going to use "a Skrull did it" as their catch-all explanation for doing away with bad characterization, inane storylines, and failed efforts, but no one actually imagined that anyone at Marvel thought that would actually be a reasonable idea. This isn't a clever idea. It's not even an original idea. It's not even internally consistent with titles Marvel has published now or in the past...but it's "cool." At least to the men in their thirties and forties who run Marvel and act like it's their chance to finally play with the toys, instead of be responsible creators and businesspeople.
Countdown to Adventure looks to be padding of the basest variety, as so far DC has yet to give us a reason to think Lady Styx is a credible threat other than telling us that Lady Styx is a credible threat. Oh, sure, she took out Captain Comet and a couple of Green Lanterns, but who hasn't? ...Yes, I'll be buying it...
Lots of Countdown secrets being spoiled by solicits this month. The significant one is in All New Atom, where we learn that it's the new Atom, Donna Troy, Jason Todd and..."Bob the Monitor" looking for Ray Palmer. Why do people think mundane names like "Bob" means "instant funny?" Is it just me not getting the joke?
Amazons Attack ends, and gets at least three tie-ins. So I guess it's not all that self-contained.
All New Booster Gold: Booster as the sheriff of time and space. I'm there for that. But, honestly, was calling it just "Booster Gold" not enough? Is "All New" DC's response to Marvel relaunching everything as "New?" Is "All New" just that little bit more new-er than regular "New?"
52 continues, sort of, with a Four Horsemen one-shot and a Black Adam mini. I like the teams on both, so I'll probably get them. Plus, you know, sad pathetic fanboy DC-nerd over here...
Outsiders: Five of a Kind really probably should lead to a title change for the regular Outsiders book to Batman and the. We'll probably get All New Outsiders though. Honestly, that does kind of bug me now. Anyway...Batman forces potential team members to duke it out for a position on the team. Because he's still kind of jerk, I guess, after Morrison and Dini went to all the trouble of fixing that personality defect. At least we know that it's not any of the Outsiders that die as a result of this current cross-over with Checkmate. Which stinks, because I'd rather lose a couple of Outsiders as a sacrifice to the continuity gods than any of the characters in Checkmate. Except for Waller and Faraday. I think we've done about as much with the "doing wrong for what they think is the right reasons, but really they're just trying to maintain a tenuous grasp of power because that's all they know" personality types as is possible.
Batman Annual #26: Head of the Demon: I'm the only one who actually preferred Nysa to Ra's, aren't I?
Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious brings Sam Keith back to work-for-hire commercial super-hero work. Which means, hopefully, he'll be able to afford to do some of his own original work again in the near future.
Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or Worse is, as expected, a "best of" collection focusing on the unconvincing romance between the two. I don't know if I'll get it or not. I mean, it is prime material for Green Arrow being an ass, and as we all know, nobody actually likes Green Arrow, we just want to see him get what's coming to him...but I suspect he'll probably come off on top in most of these stories. Dammit.
The cover for Black Canary #4 suggests more dead children in the future of the DCU. If we take it for granted that this is not a fake-out, this is a trend I'm not terribly looking forward to going through.
Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality: Even if you don't believe me when I tell you that this series was utterly brilliant, and damn near the best use of postmodern theory as applied to super-hero comics as you're ever likely to come across, look at this cover:
How can you not want to rush out and buy that book?
Justice Society of America #8: I'll be the first in line to complain about Alex Ross making a bone-headed statement, or letting his peculiar Super Friends fetish take over a project, or even the generally stiff and lifeless nature of his art, but when he gets something right, even I have to admit that he gets it right.
Yes, that's what Power Girl is supposed to look like.
Okay, fanboy rant, so brace yourselves. JSA All Stars Archive has this description: This brand-new series collects all of the Golden Age solo stories of Johnny Thunder, Hour-Man, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat and Red Tornado from FLASH COMICS, ADVENTURE COMICS, ALL-AMERICAN COMICS and SENSATION COMICS (January 1940-May 1942)! Okay, first of all, there's enough Golden Age Wildcat material to justify giving him his own Archive, dammit! And the same is true of Johnny Thunder and Mister Terrific as well, I suppose. But any Golden Age Red Tornado material really should be in a Scribbley book, not a JSA book, while we're on the subject.
I detect the hand of Grant Morrison in this Metal Men description: Doc Magnus’s creations are ready to take on all-new threats and some old, reimagined ones: Chemo, Doctor Yes, B.O.L.T.S., The Balloonatic and his Orphan Army, as well as the Robot Renegades led by an old Manhunter Robot! But the greatest threat lies in Le Cabinet Noir and its bid to control the natural order using dangerous lieutenants like the Nameless, an armored being that feeds off the blood of the innocent and controls the Gogoloth, giant stone Golems made of Granite, Bizmuth, Onyx and Lime. That sounds like stuff that didn't make the cut for Doom Patrol to me!
Sword of the Atom and Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders get formally solicited, and the Captain Carrot Showcase does not include the Oz/Wonderland War. Dammit.
Keith Giffen is the new regular writer of Midnighter. That's...interesting.
Mike will be happy to hear that Swamp Thing villains The Un-Men get their own series. I'm sure Swampy will eventually make a guest appearance.
Okay, we're all probably sick of talking of female super-hero character statues and toys, but I think this deserves comment:
That just doesn't look right to me. Her body, particularly her arms, seems far too delicate to support a chest that big. And speaking of which, maybe it's just the perspective in the photo, but it looks like her right breast is about three times as big as her left. I'm not really getting a "yay! Girl Power!" vibe off this toy.
DC Beefcake for August Very slim pickings this month. All we really get is this beautifully rendered shot of Batman's ass from Detective #835:
I sometimes wonder how some of Marvel's covers get approved. I'm sure nothing was intended with this image, other than to create a dynamic cover that makes you say "what the hell? I have to own that!" But, I don't know...an African-American man, on fire, in front of an American flag...did it not occur to anyone that an image like that could be easily misconstrued?
But then, Marvel signed off on this picture as well, so...
I mean, there's no way anyone could misinterpret a boobies and naughty tentacle cover, is there?
I actually don't have much to post today, other than to note that I've been greatly amused at watching people argue back and forth over whether or not All Star Batman and Robin's latest issue was good or bad, and whether or not it was meant to be good or bad. Amused, and slightly disappointed, because while what All Star Batman is should be quite self-evident, I haven't seen anyone bothering to tear apart a really horrible comic, namely Ultimates #13. This book was so bad, I think it finally cured me of any impulse to ever waste any money purchasing anything with Mark Millar's name on it ever again. I think it cured me of ever giving Bryan Hitch my money again as well, simply out of guilt by association. With this issue, it's almost as if Millar managed to distill Civil War's ponderously self-important "I have an important political point to make, dammit! Right after this fight scene" style into one comic. But, ooooh, it had fold out pages, so I guess we're supposed to overlook the fact that it was terrible and made not one damn bit of sense...
Amazons Attack# 4: "While Batman and Catwoman devise a plan to get to the bottom of the chaos, Grace — the Outsiders’ 6’ 6” female powerhouse — is about to be visited by her past." Okay, I had Grace as "Knockout's daughter" in the "who is Grace supposed to be" pool, so I guess I'm out five bucks.
Is Action Comics #852 the first "official" Countdown cross-over, or did I miss something last month?
Batman Confidential promises us yet another origin for the Joker. Which, I'm sure, is exactly what the comics industry needed.
Supergirl# 19: " Superstar writer Joe Kelly concludes his SUPERGIRL run." That sound you hear is thousands of message-board posters sighing in relief. Which is odd, because while they'll happily tell you how bad Supergirl is, none of them will admit to reading it...
If you have a spare $75, you can buy a hard-cover omnibus of the "Death" and "Return" of Superman. I'm reasonably certain you can pretty much buy all of the comics individually for less than that.
Green Lantern #21 provides me with an interesting dilemma. You see, while I generally enjoy Green Lantern Corps, and while I'm interested in this "Sinestro Corp" storyline, I really don't want to buy a Hal Jordan solo book. At all.
The Flash #14: " DC Comics announces the second month of a special FLASH promotion as the Fastest Man Alive’s world changes forever! Retailers: please check your the Previews order form for a special incentive designed to help you meet the demand for this story. Fans: remind your retailer early and often to order you a copy!" That seems slightly more effective a way to say "we can't tell you what happens, but it'll be significant" than vague hints in a rumor column.
Putting Andy Diggle and Jock on the book is one way to get me to read a Green Arrow: Year One comic. Especially as I trust them to portray Ollie as a tool. Which, really, is the only entertaining way to write him.
The cover for Black Canary #2 almost makes me wish Michael Turner was dong the covers. ... No, it doesn't.
The cover for Justice Society of America #7 made me realize that Alex Ross must be using the same model for Citizen Steele as he used for Captain Marvel. You folks who know what I'm talking about know what I'm talking about.
This almost makes up for the creepy Cyclone cover.
I've been putting off buying the Adam Strange Archives, so the Showcase Presents: Adam Strange title can't get here soon enough for me. Likewise the first volume of Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman. Nutty Silver Age Bob Kanigher stories are top quality entertainment.
And while the Tangent comics were, on the whole, pretty good, a trade collecting them, after all this time, does rather surprise me. Unless, of course, it plays into that horribly kept "multiverse returning" secret.
Apparently the Millennium Giants are appearing in Justice League Unlimited #35. Does that count as an official "shark jumping" moment?
I wanted to do a "Beefcake of the month" for DC, but they closest they come this time is that JSA cover.
Civil War Chronicles may just as well be titled "Give Us More Money Fanboys."
I can't even pretend to be interested in a Halo comic.
That there are three Marvel Illustrated books scheduled to come out at once suggests to me that, after all these years, Marvel is still pursuing the "oh, a book in genre X sold well? Better put out a dozen more like it" strategy, with "genre X" in this case being "adaptations of novels."
Annihilation:Conquest-Star Lord is a rather wordy title, when all they needed to tell me to get me to pick it up was "it has Rocket Raccoon" in it.
Despite my better judgement, I actually find myself interested in The Champions. And I'm taking West Coast Avengers as the title it ends up coming out under, if anyone's starting a pool. Oh, Marvel...when will you hire a decent trademark lawyer?
I'm both amused and horrified at the idea of a New Avengers/Transformers title being on the stands.
She Hulk #21: "Ever notice how in some Marvel comics, characters who are SUPPOSED to be dead show up with NO explanation whatsoever? Or in the wrong costume? Or acting in a way they NEVER have before? Well guess what, True Believer, there was a reason. And that reason is going to have She-Hulk and her friends working on some of their STRANGEST cases yet! Don't miss it-- 'cause this is the issue that fixes 90% of Marvel's continuity problems-- from NOW ON! " Pete's been saying for awhile now that continuity at Marvel is so bad they have to do some kind of retcon event to straighten it out. This is probably as close as we're going to get for the time being.
Marvel's best beefcake for the month is Submariner #2.
"Yes it's over. If anything Marvel comics is more edgy, more realistic and overall much more better written and edited than DC whose characters are all practical throwbacks to the 30s or 40s. Frankly the only people who really like DC are the ones who grew up or were born in that time period. Anyone else probably just buys DC either because they don't like Marvel or resents the fact that hispanics and foreign artists and writers are working there. If anything, the implosion of DC can only help Marvel become the sole dominating force that it is in the comic book industry. Just think about it, if Marvel takes out DC then they could be one step closer to scooping up and assimilating their rivals like Image, IDW and Dynamite then and finally then the comic book industry would be practically unified under one guiding mind with one guiding purpose. Think about it under Marvel's editorialship, you could have every comic book character in the Marvel Multiverse with every major creator working for Marvel comics from grant morrison to geoff johns with Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz forced out like the bootlickers that they are.
Think about it if there was only one comic book company then people like Byrne, Austen and Jones would be in the unemployment line and thats frankly the best reason for one comic book company."
"DC comics is just simply more infantile compared to Marvel. Marvel is about adult and mature themes, the problems that you and I encounter each and every day about responsibility and right and our nomal lives while DC is about guys who dress up in bat suits fighting clowns while endangering chilren or some wish fulfillment story about a kid who magically turns into an adult and finds his orphaned sister and his big brother sidekick.
DC = ludicrious and infantile stories Marvel = serious stories that address current issues that effect our lives"
"Why do you need Superman when you have the Sentry? Why do you need Wonder Woman when you have Thor or Hercules? Why do you need Batman when Midnighter or Moon Knight are much superior copies?"
"DC has no proper sense of history. If you don't have a strong foundation based on continuity, you can't move forward and frankly the DC editors suck at continuity so really DC has been stuck in the same quagmire since CoiE thats almost 20 years of going nowhere, but running in circles. Kill the multiverse then bring it back. Reboot the legion then reboot it again. DC has been caught in this vicious cycle for far too long. It's as I say again the sick man of the comics industry and right now, it needs to be put down for the good of everyone."
"When Marvel gives us fans a Crisis, it's a real crisis. Civil War, World War Hulk, Silent War and Annihilation War are all better than the dozen infinite crisis tie-ins that apparently had nothing to with the main event. If anything, it just further proves how detached DC editorial is from the DCU or from the fans. Hell Civil War, World War Hulk and the rest are more connected than the dozen or so lame Infinite Crisis tie-ins."
"No DC doesn't work for anyone, it's a subsidiary of Time Warner and has lost its purpose while becoming part of the super-corporation in contrast to Marvel which maintains its original purpose of selling comic books to the fans and giving what the fans want: great stories and characterization.
DC: souless part of a super corporation that has lost its way entirely, but still tries to pretend that it cares when it really doesn't Marvel: comic book company run by fans of the actual books who care about stories, characters and continuity"
That's all one poster by the way. Either he really hates DC, or he's doing a better job of mocking fanboy rage and nerd entitlement than I could ever hope to. Fourteen pages long as I write this, and it just keeps getting better and better.
Stupid no-fun insertion of common sense: Marvel and DC go back and forth like this all the time. For now, Marvel is up, due to expansive mega-events. In about a year, when the next cycle of mega-events hit DC, they'll be up. It's probably better to compare the companies on long-term sales, rather than a brief window. When you do that, Marvel tends to have huge sales peaks but just as many near-disastrous sales lows. DC tends to be a lot more stable, sales-wise, over the long term.
"I'm sick of everybody and their cousin saying 300 is HOMO-EROTIC... So basically what everyone is saying...is that when you see a movie about BAD-ASS MUSCULAR SPARTAN SOLIDERS CHOPPING OFF LIMBS AND DECAPITATING HEADS during COMBAT...that these soliders would rather be sucking each other off... Ok, so Spartans are muscular and aren't wearing much clothing...what the hell do you expect, a bunch of pale skinny nerds in sweat suits facing off against the Persian army... Just because a muscular man doesn't have his shirt on doesn't make him gay... It makes the viewer gay for thinking about homo-erotic stuff from looking at that... So if 300 is gay or homo-erotic... does that make CONSTRUCTION SITES homo-erotic... oh yeah....PRO-wrestling is homo-erotic... CONAN the Barbarian....very homo-erotic... Beastmaster....now that is homo... don't forget UFC- Ultimate Fighting Championship...now THAT, my friend, is about as homo-sexual as it gets... "
There's one line there that caught my eye: "oh yeah....PRO-wrestling is homo-erotic..."
Sounds like an invitation to play one of my favorite games!
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
The only game harder to play? Gay Porn or Country Singer?
I'm genuinely surprised that I haven't seen more mentions of the latest issue of Stormwatch: Post Human Division's oblique tie-in to 52 and/or Countdown. The meta-plot in the DC Universe leading up to the next cross-over, in any case, figures into the issue, in any case. Either that or a really deliberate fake-out.
Of course, I'm disappointed more people aren't talking about the series anyway, as it's quite good. Most of the Wildstorm relaunches and new titles have been good, Stormwatch, Welcome to Tranquility, Gen 13, Midnighter and Authority keep migrating to the bottom of my "to read" pile. Bottom because I'm one of those weird people who saves the best stuff for last so that I have something to look forward to.
Something I said to Mike, when discussing the unpleasant fact that the success of Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men has more to do with the fact that it's a known property and less to do with it being Joss Whedon writing, and writing blatant fan pandering material at that, got me to thinking about the one thing that really annoys me about X-Men comics: the stupid and pointless space-based plot-lines that crop up so frequently. I've just never been able to understand what the hell going out into space has to do with fighting to protect an oppressed minority.
"To me, my X-Men, we must head into space to stop the Shi'ar civil war." "Uhm, yeah, Professor, about that...we just got reports of an anti-mutant rally downtown, and Logan's following up a rumor of a new Sentinel plant being constructed in Canada, and we've been tipped off that Reverend Stryker has formed an alliance with the Hate Monger. Don't you think we should take care of those emergencies first?" "But the Shi'ar need us Scott!" "Professor, there's about two dozen space based heroes, any one of which is more powerful than any three or four X-Men combined. I mean, they've got Nova, the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock. We've got Gambit, Mirage and Jubilee. Those guys can probably handle a space war a little better than we can. And anyway, the rest of us were sort of talking, and it occurred to us that the Shi'ar are pretty much a totalitarian, imperialist monarchy. If they were Earth-based, we'd probably be fighting against them." "You're just determined to keep me from getting any, aren't you Scott?"
And now, Ollie once again being an unmitigated ass:
I wonder if anyone at DC realizes that no one actually likes Green Arrow...we're only reading comics with him in them in anticipation of that inevitable moment when he gets what's coming to him.
So, despite my better judgement (I can't stand John Romita Jr's art), and despite knowing from past experience that it won't be worth it, I find myself, slightly, intrigued by the premise of World War Hulk. Maybe it's just me wanting to see the Hulk turn Iron Man into a greasy red and gold smear on the sidewalk, but there you go. Stuff like this helps:
Marvel, apparently unwilling or unable to give me a reason to read about Hercules, have decided to simply make me want to look at pictures of him.
Of course, that DC is putting out stuff like this may also be causing me to look across the aisle, so to speak.
Now, I've joked before about how mannish looking the women Alex Ross draws are, surmising that, unable to find women to pose in the costumes for him, he simply puts them on men instead. I...I think Michael Turner may be doing the same thing. Because that doesn't look, even remotely, like a woman. That looks like a drag queen with two huge, flesh-colored balloons down the front of her unitard, that have slipped down too far because no one explained about double-sided tape to this particular drag queen.
Just to prove to you that I haven't completely shifted my allegiances, here's a dramatic re-enactment of one of my conversations with Mike last week.
Me: "Good day to you, kind merchant. I find myself most uncharacteristically taken with some of the concepts behind this forthcoming World War Hulk bally-hoo, and am most taken indeed with the notion that the casus belli is a catastrophic explosion, which most poetically counterpoints a similar dire event which prompted the recent unpleasantness. Is there, by chance, a chapbook collating the earliest chapters of the contemporary Planet Hulk serial story?" Mike: "No. Marvel wants to make you pay for a deluxe, over-sized hardcover collecting the entire series." Me: "Oh well then. Bollocks to them. They shall not see one of my hard-earned guilders."
So, the popular rumor of the day is that Jake Gyllenhaal is being considered for the title role in any Captain Marvel (the good one, not any of the Marvel ones) adaptation that may come out. Personally, I think it's premature to worry about casting in a film like that, and Gyllenhaal is a bit younger and trimmer than I think Captain Marvel should be, but it's not as if he's a bad actor or couldn't add muscle to his frame.
But go ahead and guess how comic book fans reacted to the "news." Go ahead. Did they make reference to his latest role in Zodiac? Or perhaps to the role that first brought him to prominence, the sci-fi film Donnie Darko? Or perhaps his early, ground-breaking performance in Bubble Boy?
If you guessed that they made trite Brokeback Shazam jokes, well congratulations, you've obviously encountered fanboys before.
Via Dave comes an interview with Doctor Who producer and writer Russell T. Davies. It's an interesting article, not least for this paragraph, on how the show responds to fan complaints and criticisms.
But then, everything creates uproar in the Doctor Who online community. Fans spend hours logging what's right - and what's wrong - with Davies's doctor. He just ignores them. 'In the community of sci-fi shows, I think we're the only one that actively ignores its online fanbase. American shows seem to court them, or pretend that they do. That way lies madness. I can't think of a show that's improved its quality, or its ratings, by doing it. It's like going in search of a massively biased focus group - why would anyone do that?'
You might as well retitle that paragraph "Why no one cares about Star Trek anymore" or "What will kill (what's left of) the comics industry."
Ahem...that being said, I would be perfectly happy to see Davies quit the blatant Judeo-Christian symbolism in series 3. The Torchwood finale and Impossible Planet were rubbish.
I've been entertained by the weekend debate over whether or not Marvel dropped the ball with giving retailers enough advance information on the contents of Captain America #25 to set adequate order numbers. And by "entertained" I mean "amused by the folly of man."
The general response from retailers (and you can read many thoughts on the subject here, as well as at Mike's site), has been that Marvel's solicitation and promotion information was not adequate, and that orders would have been much higher if Marvel had chosen to share the contents of the issue with retailers instead of, say, Wizard, CNN and the New York Daily News. The dissenting opinion has largely boiled down to "nuh uh!" One particular "internet personality" (and really, how pathetic is that tier of fame?) keeps insisting that Marvel gave retailers more than enough information to anticipate the slow news day driven demand for the issue from people who never bothered to buy issue 24 of the magazine nor have any intention of buying issue 26, and furthermore, if retailers had read his sleazy online column at a second tier PR republishing comic news site, in which he never actually said that Marvel planned on killing off Captain America nor had a multi-media news onslaught prepped for the day the issue went on sale, they would have known to order more copies. Because, of course, internet gossip and innuendo are better predictors of sales than cycle sheets and regular customers. This is, again, despite scores of retailers saying no, actually, the information we were given was insufficient to set orders on non-returnable product correctly.
Hmmm...whose opinion do I find more credible? People who order comics for a living, and have done so for years...or a self-aggrandizing publicity-whore?
Of course, that decision is made ever easier by the fact that fine folks like "DanteHicks1972" are taking the bold stand that Marvel is incapable of doing wrong: It seems like any time something doesn't go the retailers way the crying begins. Sometimes it's justified others like this seems like sour grapes. With all the rumors, innuendo etc if Marvel said it was going to be big it's their fault for blowing tem off. The fact that Wizard speculated correctly and made a few extra $$$ more power to them. I'm jus t glad my local retailer held alot of issues back for subscribers who don't normall pull Cap.
Okay, two things deserve comment here. One, by naming yourself after a character in a Kevin Smith film, you pretty much waive all right to having your opinion taken seriously. And two, learn to be friends with the English language and it will be friends with you.
I liked this article about 300 by Francois Peneaud and Joe Palmer for being fair-minded while acknowledging the problematic aspects of the way the original comic dealt with homosexuality. It still doesn't make me want to see the film because, as I've said before, I thought the original comic was pretty dreadful, and nothing about the film version gives me reason to reassess my opinion. I am fairly intrigued, however, by the ways in which people have been projecting highly contradictory meanings onto the film. It's homophobic. No, it's homoerotic. It celebrates fascism. No, it's an indictment of imperialism. It's racist. No, it's misogynistic. No, it's racist, misogynistic and homophobic.
It seems to me that if the film is this open to so many mutually exclusive interpretations it's probably a muddled mess with no strong central theme. And really, I can't imagine my reaction would be substantially different from Tim O'Neil's.
There was apparently a game developers conference in the Bay area this past weekend, and GayGamer has the best write up I've seen on a panel that was held about gay and lesbian gamers and gay and lesbian themes in games. This particular panel was interesting because it's the first example I've come across of gays and lesbians in the game industry talking about the industry being open to gay themes in games, as opposed to the usual straight white men talking about how open the game industry is to gay themes.
Of course, I'm touched by their naivete in thinking that gay themes would be welcome in more games, given that most of the responses in this thread can best be summarized as "faggots are disgusting and I wouldn't buy a game with gay characters."
I Hate They They Don't Even Give Me The Chance To Spoil It
So, Marvel once again decided that the best place to reveal a "significant" comic book event is in the press on new comics day, rather than, you know, letting readers find out for themselves when they go to pick up their books. I know that moves like this aren't really in the interests of their reader base, but more of an attempt to up their profile in the general public, and maybe spur a little speculator interest into the death of Captain America along the way. Which annoys me as a comic fan, but I can appreciate Marvel's mercenary streak in a sick sort of way.
I suppose from a story-telling perspective there's something that can be wrought from this. Given how ham-fisted political metaphor has been in Marvel books of late, though, I doubt that anything interesting can come of this. I mean, other than the spike in sales when they undo this a little bit down the road. Call me cynical if you must, but I just don't see a death like this sticking, not with such a central figure. This isn't Blue Beetle. Everybody already expects this "Ronin" character to turn out to be Steve Rogers anyway, and they already have an "out" with the missing Nick Fury and his Life Model Decoys. The question that most readily comes to me about this, however, is why is an event of this significance occurring in a tie-in book, and not the Civil War book proper? Oh, yeah, right, the never-ending cross-over cycle and Marvel's desperate need to appear successful to investors by using gimmicks to inflate their sales to the direct market.
On a semi-related note, I'm calling for a Memory Hole Watch on the announcement that The Initiative is going from a mini to an on-going. Because when it gets cancelled, sometime around issue 10 or 12, I fully expect to see someone at Marvel describing it as a mini.
I hate your metaphor, and what it says about your audience. Comparing it to how all of the 15 people at a Sex Pistols show formed a band and influenced music, Vaughan said that the influence of comics is now reaching into the mainstream. He cited Damon Lindelhoff as a huge fan of Watchmen who grew up and went into another field but still shows that influence.
I would be so happy to never see anyone compare anything to the Sex Pistols ever again. It's such a cheap and easy short-hand to "yeah, our corporate, work for hire comics are gonna RAWK! They're totally punk man!" (Also, apparently no one told Lindelhoff that Watchmen was notable because it was so good. Not because it was so late.)
What Marvel wants us to know about the new New Warriors NRAMA: Now Sophia (with the iPod) is Wondra? Judging by the color sketch may we assume she’s Latina? KG: Ha! I think It depends on what you call Latina. Also, who even said Sophia was Wondra?... She’s a young black girl with semi-elemental powers... He’s a white kid with the ability to fly obviously and has a host of cool weapons at his disposal.... He’s also a white kid who of course has sonic powers given his name.... She’s a white female, who given her power set, is not someone you really want to mess with. And Renascence, who is also a white female, has a host of different abilities that are constantly changing over time depending on her mood....
Though, seriously, I might check it out. Marvel's teen-hero books are the only ones I ever seem to enjoy anymore, plus Decibel is in a kilt, and I sort of have a thing about that.
Marvel continues to milk their well-reviewed cross-over book Annihilation: Conquest: Starlord according Rosemann follows the original Starlord sent on a suicide mission and joined by a band of misfits including Groot, Captain Universe, Deathcry, Mantis, Bug of Micronauts fame, and Rocket Raccoon. Rosemann described the titles as Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes in space.
They're going to kill Rocket Raccoon, aren't they?
Also in the lineup, Annihilation: Conquest – Wraith will feature a new character called the Wraith, who carries a Western feel and element, but is much darker and grittier than Marvel space heroes of the past.
Wow, really, a "darker" and "grittier" Marvel character? Hoo, boy, is that ever what Marvel needs more of!
Matt Fraction talks Strikeforce Morituri, I mean, Champions While Tony Stark will remain in an oversight capacity of the team he founded under the moniker of 'ZEUS', his new duties post-Civil War have made it so he needs someone in place with the Champions to be more directly involved. The man in the 'HERA' position is an old friend of Tony's, an actor that used to play Iron Man on a television series. "He and Stark were kind of like the Cary Grant and Randolph Scott of the Marvel U, you know? Party pals. And now that the party's over for each of them, Tony's reached out to his old friend to be a Champion," Fraction said.
So, I presume that if there's any property damage in Manhattan, the heroes will have to surrender to the Hulk, right? Isn't that the precedent that they've established; smash a building, abandon your principles?
DC toys with me. Going back to talk about spin-offs from 52, Jann Jones announced a new project: Captain Carrot and the Final Ark, a three-issue limited series. "It's a very important year for Captain Carrot," Jones said. The project will be written by Bill Morrison and drawn by Scott Shaw! The villain of the story will be Ra's al-Pica.
This is going to turn out to have been a joke, isn't it? So long as they were serious about un-cancelling Manhunter, I'll deal. Now if only we could get Obsidian back into the book that was actually willing to use him.
The Krypto story was (temporarily, we hope) shelved at the last minute at an executive level for reasons that it's up to DC to make public or not. Everyone who's read it likes the story, but there are reasons they don't want to print it at the moment. So it's on the shelf -- and boy, did that help our struggling schedule! -- and what'll come out as #659 is what was solicited as #660.
My guess, based on DC's past practices for holding and cancelling comics, is that the story was probably deemed unsuitable to be on the racks at the same time as the kid-oriented Krypto the Superdog comic. So, let's hope that it gets published in some form sooner rather than later.
So, Countdown is officially announced, after months of rumor and speculation. I've enjoyed predecessor series 52, I like the writers and artists associated with this new series, and I enjoy well-crafted super-hero melodrama. What cinches it for me, oddly, is this quote from "show runner" Paul Dini:
I’d say our everyman character in the story is Jimmy Olsen, who to a great degree fits that bill within the DC Universe anyway. He has links to the Justice League, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the New Gods. And he is in the unique role of being not only a traveler through the mainstream DC Universe, but also becomes increasingly aware that he might have a bigger part to play in all this than he’s ever suspected. His quest to find out his role is one of the major driving points of Countdown.
So, the series could almost be described as a new version of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Now, I hate the Silver Age version of Jimmy with an unnatural passion, but so many modern writers have treated him as faintly embarrassing that I'm glad to see him given some kind of due.
To those who would challenge me on my hatred of Silver Age Jimmy, allow me to illustrate by vignette why I loath him. "Super Duper, no one will see through my disguise of a fake beard! Super Duper, Lucy agreed to go on a date with me, but I'm going to disguise myself as a rich Arab and try to trick her as a test of her love! Super Duper, I'm going to blow off the date anyway to go hunt down jewel thieves!" "Jimmy, if you say 'Super Duper' one more time, I'm throwing you into the sun and telling Perry that you were Omega Beamed by Darkseid." "Sup-...sorry, Superman."
The comics blogging world has been too heavy and serious lately. We all need to lighten up. And to do just that, I present panels from Golden Age comics taken out of context to imply sexual shenanigans.
Too much? How about Alias, The Spider and his, ahem, male companion watching a man undress?