Sunday, August 31, 2008

Catwoman: An Appreciation

Wrote a review of Catwoman #82, the final issue of the current series for Rack Raids and it turned into an appreciation of the work of writer Will Pfeiffer and artist David Lopez.

Catwoman has been consistently been one of our better books for nearly six years now, even surviving the sufferance of some really crappy Paul Gulacy artwork.

I'm kinda proud of this review because it sorta sums up my feelings on the current comics marketplace and certain comics' place within.

So, g'wan over and take a look and don't forget to look below as our own Benny "The Hat" Hatton asks you, the Second Printer, to bring your "All-Time Top Five."

Friday, August 29, 2008

All Time Top Five

So I one of those millions of people that are underemployed in this fair country, significantly underemployed. It’s not that I haven’t been looking for work. I have been on job interviews, I have done test teaches at schools, I spent many evening until two or three a.m. writing cover letters. But I digress. So I was at a job interview yesterday (fingers crossed) and the guy interviewing asked me “Desert island top three books you would take with you.”

Now I hate this question. I hate being asked if I could only eat one food again what would it be. Or if I could only use one type of moisturizer on my smooth skin what would I choose. So, because I am that type of guy, I am going to ask you loyal Second Printers a similar question.

Desert Island Top Five Single Issues – What Would Go With You?

I know we have done top five comic moments but that’s not the same thing as the top fives comics you would be content reading over and over again. To me Green Arrow’s death was a huge comic moment, one that drove me from DC Comics for years, however I am not taking it to the island with me. After all, I assume if I am on an island I would crying a lot already. No need to throw something into the mix that also gets me all misty.

Now I say single issue to avoid the people who will throw in Morrison’s New X-Men Omnibus into the mix. However, if you want to say a comic that only came out as a graphic novel, say Blankets, I say go for it. However, if you are taking Blankets with you to a desert island you have more problems than being stranded on a desert island.

So here are mine.


5. Battle Chasers #5

Cringe all you want. Let your respect for me drop. It’s cool. There is something about Battle Chasers that hit me at just the right moment to ingrain itself on my comic psyche forever. Maybe it was the unnaturally large chests on women, maybe it was the robots mixed with swords. Whatever it was, I go back and reread the six issues I own (when I say own I mean stole from my brother) of the series at least once a year. Issue #5 is the one where they kick all sorts of ass. It makes me happy.

4. Scud: The Disposable Assassin #24

Hitting the shelves earlier this year, the last four issues of Scud were something I have been anticipating for a decade. I know I haven’t talked that much about Scud here at Second Printing, but I can say it was the series that kept me in comics through most of the mid-90’s. I love the book and everything it has to say about growing up and being part of this crazy world. The fact that it ended with love and hope and big ass, naked God eating angels secures its final issue a place in my top five.


3. Starman #16

Here is where the series really began for me. Sure the first storyline was great and the battle at the freak show was interesting, but issue #16, where the Mist says to Jack, “You become the best hero you can and I will become the best villain I can,” is just an amazing moment between two archenemies whose fates are so intertwined. Also they talk about Bringing Up Baby and I love that flick.


2. H*E*R*O #22

Have you ever read the ending to a series and realized that it was totally the best way they could have ended it? That even though you are sad that no more stories will be told with those characters or in that minute corner of the comic universe you’re o.k. with it because of how it went out. You read that last issue again and again and it reminds you how awesome the series was as a whole. That’s what issue #22 does for me. I could, and do, read it again and again.


1. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

I don’t think I have read a comic so many times in such a short amount of time. I read it the moment we pulled it out of the box at the comic shop. I read it twice more while working that shift. I bought it and read it twice more that night. Then I read it at least once a day for two weeks. Scott is the everyman for my generation. He is a witless hero who blunders into great things and then tries his hardest to keep them. He makes me wish I was the greatest fighter in the province.

There’s Mine, What’s Yours?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Best Week Ever?

Okay, maybe, the best week in a long time.

I have my comics and I'm only 4 comics in and already I've seen:

Brad Meltzer have Geo-Force do something we've all wished he'd done for a long time.

Brad Meltzer blow the doors off the place with DC Universe: Last Will And Testament.

Catwoman steal the batteries.

The Family Dynamic and was utterly charmed. (Channeling the spirit of The Incredibles and Mike Wieringo, not a bad thing at all.)

A dog eat a pair of former cartoon sidekicks.

I haven't even gotten to Final Crisis: Superman Beyond 3D written by Grant Morrison and comics' most underrated artist, Doug Mahnke or seen Black Panther fight Skrulls.

Four deep and ten more to go.

It's a great week to read your comics.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Same Old Song And Dance…

You hear it all the time as a comic fan, heck you probably say it all the time, “This is just (insert storyline) all over again.” It is true there might be a twist here or there – the writer might have added a reverse turn, a hip sway, a rond de jamb – but ultimately you are looking at the same comic samba that impressed you in the 70’s. Here is the thing though, you used to be able to count on some breathing room between the retelling of pot arcs – say five to ten years, maybe even twenty. One of the issues that I have had in my comics recently is that we are not getting even that break. You don’t get even get four years of something on the back burner before it is heated back up again.

Let’s look at Robin, the monthly that is the impetus of this post. For like a year and some change now Robin has basically been one story, “Who is behind that mask?” First we had who is Violet followed by who is Spoiler and now, before we have even digested all this new info, we get who is Red Robin. It’s boring and distracting from the larger “Batman R.I.P.” storyline.

Take a look at Justice League of America; rehashing the storyline that Meltzer kicked the series off with less than three years ago. Amazo? Check. Vixen’s powers on the fritz? Check. Red Tornado without a body to really call home? Check. Some people might call this cleaning up dangling story threads. I call it played. Hell, the Teen Titans have been on a membership drive since before Johns left.
Even more startling, is this developing trend of retelling origins or taking people back to where they were in the beginning and watching them develop all over again. I bring up Green Lantern and the whole “Brand New Day” event in Spider-Man. Comic companies are so worried about the new and the untested that we expect the status quo at the end of a plot arc.

But the status quo does not get a person excited, or at least me excited. It’s hard to maintain a weekly medium with the same stories over and over. Yes, it’s true soon we will have a dead Batman and Darkseid making everyone bow to the Anti-Life Equation, a world of Gog and a Starman again in the Justice League. Yes, we have the X-Men on the West Coast, Red Hulk and Iron Fist dead by 33 (supposedly). Despite all this my sense of wonder and excitement is not being peaked. After all, unless all the hype and solicitations are lying to us – Superman will not be dealing with Final Crisis fallout; he will be dealing with the residents of Kandor. Didn’t we just have a storyline with a ton of more super powered Krypotonians?

So you say, “Ben, what are you expecting? These are comics. Stop being na├»ve.” The thing is though some comics are changing things up, a scant few companies are giving us those drastic events that leave everything different. These are titles that have moved to the top of my must read list. They might not be the best comics out there but they are taking familiar characters and jacking them up. What are these titles?

Wild C.A.T.S, The Authority, GEN 13, and Stormwatch P.H.D.

This World’s End arc, following the superb Number of the Beast, has changed the face of the entire Wildstorm universe. Those catastrophic events that occur in the Big Two with little repercussion happened here and now everything is different. Least of all many people now have beards, which I love. It is what I hope for from my comics, drastic change and growth even if it means that the stories take turns that don’t make me happy. At least I can honestly say I don’t know what is going to happen next.

Same thing goes with Fables. If you believe the hype the series will have a dramatic new direction after issue #75. The war with the Empire will be over. That’s huge. The driving force behind the series gone in the span of one arc. Time to take the same characters and start them on a new path. Love it.

However, I think I am minority here. I think my want to truly alter a character’s life, as long as it a step forward so Brand New Day doesn’t count, is not the want held by most comic fans.

What Do You Think?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Observations From A Convention Floor: Fans Vs. Creators

(Hey kids, I'm the new guy. You may know me from RackRaids... or maybe not. Anyway, I'm honored to be here amidst such prestigious company as Jon, Ben, Big Mike and that other guy. I've got much to live up to. Apologies in advance for any Canadianisms that slip into my posts [like our predisposition towards apologizing for stuff]. And now, content:)

"Hey," a gruff voice called out to me, my back turned as I was straightening out the product on the convention floor racks, "how much for all those Amazing World of DC books?"

I turned around, looked at the man and then back at the top shelf where about a dozen issues of the official fan magazine of DC Comics from the 1970 stood apart.

"These," I said, pointing. There was something familiar about this guy.

"Yeah."

"All of them?"

"Yeah."

"Just a second and I’ll grab the calculator."

I punched in the numbers, calculated the figure, and told him what it was. He didn’t bat an eye. He repeated the number. Then it clicked: I was, staring eye to eye with Darwyn Cooke. I have 9 action figures he designed sitting on the book case above the TV. I just finished reading Catwoman: Selena’s Big Score. I’m not his biggest fan, but dammit, I am a fan.

There was a pause.

I knocked the price down.

He repeated the number. He seemed pleased.

I had met Cooke once before, on the airplane on the way back from San Diego last year. We talked about my newly purchased Green Lantern baseball cap and the Hot Wheels Batman floor display. I’d heard stories about him being kind of chilly, and he is to an extent, but I don’t think he means anything by it. Really, he could utter Ron Burgundy’s quote "I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal" and you’d likely think "he’s right", but he’s not pretentious, just a little standoffish, and probably unintentionally so. I didn’t actually realize it was Darwyn Cooke until I returned to my seat and my wife asked "What were you and Darwyn Cooke talking about?"

"I’ll probably be back for those," he said.

And I said "I’m not sure if anyone else will give you the same deal or not, so if you come back, flag me down."

I was caught too off-guard by the moment to react in any way but professionally, as a sales person and a representative for my Local Comics Shoppe. Just after he walked away, one of the actual store employees working the con said, "What were you and Darwyn Cooke talking about?"

I told him what went down (like I being Lee Van Cleef and he being Clint Eastwood, staring each other down), and within five minutes half of the other people working the massive booth came over and asked me about it. Or maybe I went and told them. I don’t recall. I don’t know why, but there was certainly that level of "starfucking" that we all get a kick out of whenever someone notable swings by. The only thing is, I’m horrible at talking to pros, and I don’t even like contemplating it. I could've met Keith Giffen, but I would probably reduce myself to a puddle of Boy Blob in the process.

I had a conversation with the former manager of my LCS a few months ago. We were talking about meeting comics celebrities, and he stated how much he enjoyed it (the number of artists and writers who will come up to him at the Convention and say hi is pretty staggering), while I stated how much I’d rather not, about how nervous I get. He said some profound words akin to "Just remember, they’re regular people just like we are. Treat them as such and everything will be fine."

But I can’t. My connection to them isn’t personal, it’s their work. And if I appreciate their work, it’s hard to look past what they do to see them as something more. It’s also hard not to get excited.

The more people I meet, the better I get at staying calm and cool, but I’m still not, how would you say… smooth? It’s not quite - but almost - as awkward as when I’d try to approach the girl I had a crush on in high school, when the heart starts beating faster and you get a little mealy mouthed, and your thoughts come out of your mouth like buckshot, scattering everywhere, rather than precisely, like a bullet. Eventually that nervous tick worked for me and I landed myself a fantastic lady who’s sexy, smart and loves comics (I didn’t even have to convert her), but I’m still rather clueless when it comes to making talk-talk with most comics professionals.

I don’t have the raving fanboy in me, for which I am grateful, and I’m always wary of overstaying my welcome when approaching a pro at their booth/table. And quite frankly, there’s only so much you can (or should) say to someone whom you don’t know personally, even though you may know much about them , they know nothing of you, and getting too into their business is kind of creepy.

Is it like the art of enticing a woman, asking them questions and only talk about yourself if invited? Or do you just need to relax and greet them as you’d greet any stranger (for some, greeting strangers falls somewhere between public speaking and communal showering on the comfort level).

Writing about and reviewing comics has given me a bit of an in, I can approach people with the confidence of journalistic professionalism, letting them know that I’ve reviewed their work and that they might have seen it (unlikely often though it is), or else asking them to let me know about future work and dispensing a card. I’m not going to be one of these guys who has an email exchange and suddenly proclaims, "I’m friends with XXX" on my blog.

More often than not, though, I just say to people, "I really enjoy your work," and ask them about what’s up next for them, even if I already know. Like, did you know that Cliff Chiang is working on an adaptation/continuation of Neil Young’s Greendale album? That’s kind of crazy (horse).

So, Second Printers, you have any tips for meeting your favourite creators? Jon’s already covered celebrity encounters, but dare you admit your embarrassing encounters with comic pros?

P.S. Darwyn Cooke did come back for those books the next day, he did hunt me down and I may have given off the impression of an excessively nervous Nelly. In reality I wasn’t nervous that it was him, but shaking because I hadn’t eaten much yet. Seconds later everyone else in the booth knew that a) Darwyn Cooke was here, b) what books he bought and c) how much he paid for them. It kind of got incredibly geeky and out of hand.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Comics & The New Mythology

Our god is better than your god.

The old god can call down the lightning, the old god can call down the thunder. The old god cannot contend with the man who can see through walls, create fire from his eyes or breathe with the force of a hurricane.

The old god never stood a chance.

The old god lay broken and battered. The hammer of the god lay silent, in need of a champion.

"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

The man from another planet reaches down, grasping for the power of a god. He is found worthy.

With that, the war is won.

With that, a war we had no idea was being waged had been won. Superman, the champion of our new mythology, won.

Comics, won.

That was my first thought upon reading the final issue of JLA/Avengers, issue 4. Comics are the new mythology.

In this mythology, men like Maxie Zeus, with his delusions of godhood, ultimately defers to the guise of one of America's greatest contributions to the new mythology, the gangster.

In our medium the gods are secondary. The gods grant power and get out of the way. Solomon gifts a young boy with wisdom. Mercury hands the daughter of Zeus sandals, allowing for her to become Wonder Girl. Hercules has to side with The Hulk in order to receive his gift and to remind everyone of how incredible he is. In the pages of Captain Britain and MI:13, Excalibur, sword of King Arthur, is now in the hands of a daughter of immigrants.

Sometimes, we forget.

Sometimes, we forget we're the keepers of this new mythology. The new mythology is Jack Hawksmoor of The Authority, born and bred to master the urban settings of glass and steel. The new mythology is Local, where a young woman creates her own story.

The new mythology comes in four-color and in black and white.

The new mythology is yours. Comics are the new mythology. How we keep it is in our hands.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On Single, Manly Tears, Marching Down my Cheek

The long-suffering girlfriend is reading the post I wrote up, out of the blue, yesterday, and she just hit the part about Dum Dum Dugan. Now, she's hung around me a fair bit, and I have to imagine that nerdery wafts off me like so much man-stink, but the sheer amount of osmosis that has taken place is simply astounding: she correctly identified a c-list Marvel character as "that little bowler hat guy."

I cannot say I have ever been quite so proud.

Friday, August 22, 2008

On Showing Celebrities My Adorable Green Dragon

Those of you who regularly follow my amazing life of adventure and intrigue - you loyal Jonheads, all - may have come to realize that my entire existence is one long, vaguely dull anecdote, charmingly spun. I float from place to place, a Gump-like leaf on the breeze, held aloft by stuttering hatred, practiced cynicism and muttered comments; once and again, though, something so astoundingly retarded happens that I am suddenly grounded, made aware of my surroundings, and brought forth into the warm glow of It Is Now Time To Share With My Internet Acquantinces. It's like being born again, except instead of being surrounded by new life and endless possibility, I'm telling people on the internet how I spent my day.

This afternoon, I sold Fin Fang Foom to Roberta Flack. That, my friends, is bafflingly high on a list I just composed, tentatively titled "Things I Didn't Even Think to Think Would Never Happen, But Totally Did."

(To, uh, clarify, it was one of those rad little Superhero Squad Fin Fang Fooms, as I do not have access to fictional Communist dragons from space. If I did, I doubt I'd work retail. Because my new job would be Ruiner of Cities and Stomper-on By Proxy of Dum Dum Dugan.)

Now, this isn't the first time I've done strange things with celebrities, no - I once shared a cigar with Peter Weller while discussing The Passion of the Christ (Buckaroo Banzai laughed when I said the movie was "like a fucking Wile E Coyote cartoon," which made my life awesome) and a small me learned the finer points of wrestling the bejeezus out of people from longtime WWF champion Bob Backlund. But this is the only time I've witnessed a Grammy winner buying absurd comics-related malarkey.

Anyway, I'm reasonably sure I already know Devon's answer to this, but

what is your most unlikely, ridiculous or otherwise noteworthy celebrity experience?

The Drop Zone

Things have been a little hectic here at the Second Printing Cave.

We've all had life kinda do a little unsolicited fondling and things have kinda suffered here.

That said, things are gonna change a bit, soon and I think, for the better. Vacations are being taken, people are coming back from vacation and Carey just checked out of rehab. (No. No. No. I keed.)

I shuttered my previous blog, Seven Hells!, for the simple fact that I realized Second Printing is where my heart now lies.

I'm personally working on a post that I think is pretty good and will get you thinking so yeah, we're back on track and raring to go.

That said, in honor of parachutist Great Friend Nate's big dirty canoe ride down the River Thames (or something) let us, once again, enter...

THE DROP ZONE!!!

After nearly a decade of collecting, I finally dropped Birds of Prey.

This book has just been cursed for nearly two years now. After gaining stability and a rabid fanbase under writer Gail Simone, BoP has been suffering from lack of cohesion.

First, the title loses its marquee character Black Canary to The Justice League.

Second, it was announced that BoP Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane would be coming on as writer and it seemed a perfect fit. Before McKeever could come on to write there would be fill-in issues by writer Tony Bedard.

Bedard stepped in and wrote some of this title's best issues, not only keeping Bird's unique "voice" intact but seemlessly weaving Birds into the greater events of The DC Universe. Having done that, Bedard moved on stepping aside for McKeever, who almost as soon as he arrived announced he was leaving. Under McKeever, they fought a giant robot and Lady Blackhawk fought a man in a cave, resulting in a wearing down of my patience.

Enter Bedard again, who is doing his same more-than-capable work but something happened. I just can't seem to shake the fact that he still fills like the fill-in writer.

Coupling that with one of Birds of Prey's main draws, artist Nicola Scott's departure rejoining Simone on the upcoming Secret Six series and the title just sort of collapsed in on itself for me.

Also, I hate to say, the new rushed looking, manga-esque art style is doing absolutely nothing for me and despite the promise of Oracle (formerly Batgirl) taking on her crippler, The Joker, this book is unfortunately... dropped.

It makes me sad.

WHAT'S ENTERING YOUR DROP ZONE?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Living Large

Hello loyal Second Printers-

I am sorry it has been a few weeks since I have thrown something up here on the old blog. Things were busy at work (which is now over) and then I headed off on vacation with my wife (which I just back from). Yesterday, as I was recovering from jetlag, I started to work my way through the pile of comics that has built up in my absence. I got through Final Crisis #3 and Secret Invasion #5 before I gave up. It’s not like the comics were bad, in fact I found both issues really enjoyable. They both created a shift in tone to the storyline that was unexpected but I thought very well handled. I was simply too tired to keep reading books.

So what did I do instead?


I bought a year’s subscription to Comic Foundry. If any of you don’t know, Comic Foundry is a fantastic quarterly comic magazine – just over or about to be a year old (I can’t exactly remember when issue #1 came out) – that approaches comics in a radically new way. See while magazines like Wizard approach comic fandom in a very narrow, very insular, very only comics-dvds-and-the-same-rehashed-news way, Comic Foundry approaches comic fandom in a much broader view. It looks at comic readers' place in the world and not as people who live in their mothers’ basements drinking Mountain Dew and pleasuring themselves to Jim Balent comics.

It takes being a comic reader as being a member of a legitimate culture, one that has fashion styles and music preferences and all of that. You want to know how to dress like a hip Jimmy Olsen? They say try a Banana Republic sweater vest and some canvas chucks. You want to know what comic creators also have bands? Here is a list of them. You want an interview with Matt Fraction, what Didio’s office looks like and to order a Superman shirt? Yeah, it’s got all of that too.

As someone who for years has approached being a comic collector as lifestyle, one that a person should be proud of, it is nice to see at least someone agreeing with me. It's also nice to see it be in the form of a well written, glossy magazine. So my question to you Second Printers is this:

Do you see a comic lifestyle magazine as an overall appreciation of comic culture by a larger audience or a road to said appreciation or neither?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Devon's Fave Five Teen Titans

5. TERRA

Last month, I wrote of much I love Marvel Comics' Squirrel Girl. I think I may have to deal with the fact that I might have an affinity for buck-toothed gals with Dorothy Hamill haircuts.

4. WONDER GIRL

I don't know why but I've always just been absolutely in love with Wonder Girl. Donna Troy or Cassie Sandsmark, doesn't matter. I've just always loved the character. Something about the earnestness one must possess in standing in the shadow of your mentor, being seen the lesser of something greater. Wonder Girl embodies everything most people feel when standing next to someone like me or Batman. Guys doing something awesome and spooky, at any given moment. You know how we do.

I had a point, I swear.

3. HAWK AND DOVE

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's two people but they're like a Reese's Cup, OK?

I'll never forget picking up the first issue of the 1988 mini-series and yes, being blown away by this new artist, Rob Liefeld. (Now, as an adult, I realize that kudos are certainly due his inker, Karl Kesel.) Combine that with the fact their costumes were designed by Steve Ditko and operated out of my hometown of Washington, DC. Hawk and Dove were aimed straight at the heart of that goofy sixteen year old guy and he loved every page of it.

2. CYBORG

What I've always loved about Vic Stone is that he's the brains AND the brawn of The Titans. Pretty much before Vic hit the scene, all characters who looked like me did was steal things on rocket-powered skateboards and yell, "Sweet Christmas!" (Actually, that really doesn't sound so bad once you put it out there in the air like that.)

In Cyborg, we got the son of two brilliant scientists, who wasn't afraid to show that he was equally as brilliant. He's just as liable to build a wall as knock one down. Over the years, he's come to embody the spirit of The Titans and quite frankly, if you have a team called "Titans" without him, well... it ain't The Titans.

1. IMPULSE/KID FLASH

Created by Mark Waid and the late Mike Wieringo, Bart Allen embodied everything good about comics. He was bright, colorful, funny, witty and worked best at his own breakneck pace.

As Impulse, he did what The Batman couldn't, damn near giving The Joker a nervous breakdown by simply being himself.

As Kid Flash, he showed his true character by reading a library in order to help defeat a foe.

Inconceivably, Bart was forced to grow up and went on to become The Flash, resulting in his death mere months later. With Bart's death, The DC Universe lost its hugest resource of wonder. Rumor has it that Bart may be re-appearing soon. Comics could certainly use him right now.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Defining Moment

We've all had them. Moments that defines how you'll be viewed in the eyes of others.

We have them, it seems daily. The difference between us and the superheroes we read is that when we have that moment, girders, steel and flying into the sun with a rogue nuke usually don't come into play.

Sometimes, we don't take the bait and simply turn the other cheek. Some days, we pay the bills on time simply because no one else is going to do it for you.

For me, to be able to bear witness to a defining moment, whether in reality or on the printed page, can be almost transcendental.

Whether it be something as small as the day I saw my youngest brother, at the age of three, quietly help a girl his age down from a sliding board or having the privilege to read Captain America in the pages of Daredevil #233, hold the flag and say, "I am loyal to nothing, except the dream." I still feel like the teenager who was given the words to express who he wanted to be in this world.

These are moments that make living, living. These are the moments that remind me why I love comics.

So, my question to you is this:

"WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE DEFINING MOMENT IN COMICS?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

happy a-X-idents

It’s always great when a comic book comes together. It’s even better when a whole family of comics is firing on all cylinders. One of the things that is really making me a happy fanboy at the moment is the strength of the X-Men and their related titles. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m not reading X-Men: Legacy, Cable, or Young X-Men. But a guy’s gotta have principles, right?

But I am reading a boat load of X-Men at the moment. Far more than I was reading a year ago. X-Factor and Uncanny X-Men have been excellent. And I can’t argue with Warren Ellis if he wants to write Morrison’s New X-Men and call it Astonishing. What’s in a name, right?

The relocation to San Francisco is off to a good start. It’s shaping up in a way that will allow the X-Men to fight the big epic battles of old against their classic foes while also allowing writers to push the stories back into the realm of social and political commentary. I’m as excited to see an updated Hellfire Club storyline as I am to see the X-Men in street clothes examining crimes scenes and hob-nobbing with the mayor of San Francisco. It just feels like a positive set of dynamics for a group of beloved characters.

So my love for the X-Men and of their current direction is no secret. But I can’t help but laugh. Because this all seems to be coming about by accident. The truth is, the big guns at Marvel, the guys who write the big crossovers and dictate much of the creative direction just don’t seem that interested in the X-Men. This has allowed them to avoid the fates of Iron Man and Captain America. Marvel has a stable of talented writers who simply don’t like to be fettered by ongoing continuity. Ed Brubaker had Daredevil on another continent during Civil War. Peter David wrote a few Civil War tie-in issues of X-Factor… but those issues had absolutely nothing to do with Civil War, aside from cover design.

The Bendis-verse, as Earth 616 has become, has little use for the X-Men, other than an occasional Wolverine appearance. And it’s allowed them to get back their roots in some key ways while also paving some interesting new narrative ground. It’s a happy accident that has helped me to reunite with the characters that got me interested in comics in the first place.

So, second printers, I ask you this: What are some other good examples of characters, concepts, or teams that have benefited from being left alone?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Devon's 5 Favorite John Romita Creations

5. WOLVERINE

Just beautiful. Others may have brought out the more menacing aspects but Romita nailed the design the first time out.

4. LUKE CAGE

I swear, this costume is almost bordering on the insane.

Huge black man? CHECK!

Tiara? CHECK!

Skintight yellow pirate shirt? CHECK!

Leather pants? CHECK!

Swashbuckler boots? CHECK!

I can just imagine Romita putting down the pencil after designing Luke and going, "Sidney Poitier would wear this."

3. THE PUNISHER

Thirty-four years on and the costume may have been tweaked but still, it basically remains the same. All one need see is the skull symbol and everything instantly recognizes who it is and what he does. This is not The Good Humour Man, this is death come to your door. It is simply a flawless piece of design.

2. THE FALCON*

I love, love, LOVE The Falcon! I mean, just look at him. If someone granted me superpowers, I'd want to be Superman... and I'd wear The Falcon's costume, complete with my very own falcon named Krypto. Yes, I would.

And everyone would be like, "Devon, you're soooo wrong!"

And, I'd be like, "Ladies, with abs like this... haha... It's SOOOO right. WHOOOO! Some kittens are getting plucked from trees to-night!" And then I'd fly off and pick up my friend Halle Berry, hand her her jetpack and we'd dance and kiss and generally do what us Black folks do when you all aren't looking.

(Yeah, I've got it all planned out.)

*Costume creation

1. JOHN ROMITA, JR.

One of the most consistently dynamic pencillers of our time. He's drawn everything from Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Punisher, The Hulk, The X-Men, Thor, The Eternals, Black Panther and for one glorious moment, Batman.

Like many of his pop's other creations, he only gets better as time goes on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Eight Things I Learned From The Batman TV Series That Have Served Me Well As An Adult

Don't shave your mustache for anything.

Batman is supposed to be scary.

Preparation.

Bruce Lee rules!

A man who can dance can go far in life.

Boxer briefs!

Pay attention to the kitty.

Ascots.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Devon's 5 Favorite Non-Comics Superheroes

5. UNDERDOG

What's not to love about Underdog? Underdog's civilian identity is... dig this... Shoeshine Boy. How brilliant is that. His real name is what he is. What everyone calls him because they can't be bothered to actually learn his name. In a sense, Shoeshine Boy just may be the ultimate civilian identity.

4. BUD MAN

When I was a child, I didn't know what beer was but this guy made me want it. If this guy and The Trix Rabbit ever got together, that... would... be...

(Walks into the kitchen)

3. SUPER SMURF

The great thing about Super Smurf was that he didn't exist. Well, I guess none of them really existed but yeah, Super Smurf really didn't. Super Smurf only came into being when one particular Smurf felt powerless and imagine himself as the super powerful Super Smurf, conquering his fears. Ultimately, the Smurf would come to realize that his self-worth wasn't found in his becoming more powerful but in the way that he carried himself as a Smurf. In that one episode of The Smurfs, I learned more than I ever did from any dozen "Wendy and Marvin" Superfriends episodes.

2. SUPER GROVER

Super Grover's alter ego is Grover Kent, a doorknob salesman from Metro City. Excuse me while I go somewhere and cry 'cause that is beautiful. As a kid, I had this book and I don't remember what happened in the book but it had Super Grover in it. Super Grover is awesome because when he helps, you need to help your damn self. Your cat's in a tree and this dude just flies in, does a little dance, says, "Wubba! Wubba!," and then just flies off and your cat's still in the tree and your ass needs to go and find a damn ladder.

Super Grover is the type of superhero I would be.

"WUBBA! WUBBA!"

1. STUPENDOUS MAN

How great would it be if whenever you wanted to get out of something, you would just put on your cape and just stride the f*** past it.

Maury Povich: Jon Carey, YOU ARE THE FATHER.

Jon Carey, wearing red shirt and black short pants, puts on a cape, simply walks off the stage.


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Drop Zone

There's been a change-a-coming for a long time in comics: the creator-driven comic.

Lately, writers have been falling in love all over again with characters, breathing new life into their childhood faves and burning down the creative house while they were at it.

It started with Brian Michael Bendis' weird obsession with Luke Cage in the pages of Alias and continued with...

Matt Fraction on The Immortal Iron Fist.

Greg Rucka on Checkmate.

Geoff Johns on Booster Gold.


John Rogers on Blue Beetle.

What these all have in common is a certain mission statement, a certain creative bent. These comics are written by fanboys waving their fanboy banners at other fanboys saying, "Look, they gave me that jetpack I've always wanted! Fellas, let's take a ride!"

What this does is give the writer a chance to shine new light on their childhood faves while getting the urge to "jetpack" out of their system.

They move on, leaving the book in different hands and we, the readers, are left with the difficult question of whether or not to drop a book.

That's just one reason to drop a book.

Of course, there's the economy. Another reason is that a book has simply gotten bad, meaning Bruce Jones has started writing it. Or you got bored as I was with Trinity.

We drop books every week for own individual and particular reasons and the numbers eventually tell the story.

What isn't told is the reason behind the drop.

That's where you, The Second Printer comes in.

At least once every other week, we're going to give you a forum to let us know which books you're dropping and why.

Who knows why we do what we do? Only we do, actually.

Are there any comics you have on your pull list that are dangerously close to meeting the chopping block?

Hopefully, this will be a forum for fans and everyone involved to voice their opinions in a right and proper setting.

So, with that said:

Let's enter THE DROP ZONE...