Tuesday, August 18, 2009

War of The Gods: ARES

Not too long ago, a friend and I were discussing our mutual love of mythology, specifically, comics mythology.

More so how Marvel is in love with Norse mythology and DC, Greek. I'd known this friend had been away from comics for a good while but when we got to the subject of Marvel's recent use of the Greek pantheon, he almost bust a gut:

"But Marvel doesn't DO the Greek pantheon, it's like... a line, man. You just don't cross it! Marvel does the Norse gods, DC does the Greek gods! It's always been that way. You just don't do it, Marvel. You just don't."

This was said with the conviction of a man wholeheartedly against race-mixing.

Well, they did and to be honest, I think they're doing a pretty good job of it.

So, with that said, in the ongoing debate of "Who's better? DC or Marvel," we're going to play War of The Gods, Second Printing-style.

First up?


Wouldja look at this guy? This is Marvel's God of War. You know what this guy says?

He says, "Welcome! Welcome to Ren-Fair, one and all," and then you punch him in the nuts and walk in for free.

Knowing that I would punch this guy so hard in the nuts, Marvel went and did something about it, making him over into:


Now, that guy has War God written all over him: skull-n-bones, armor, gun, 90's pouches for... stuff, sword, big ass ax and studded kneepads for when you really need to knee a guy in the junk and send a message.

Plus, this guy is a Dark Avenger. He's on the team in case Sentry, the most powerful man in the Marvel Universe, ever goes off the mental radar. He's there to take him down.

Plus, this one time, he set himself on fire and had his brother, Hercules, throw him at stuff.

Style points.


Now, that is how you make a damned first impression! "**** 'em all, let us sort 'em out!"

That is how gods should sound. Speaking in third person, using terms like, "weak-kneed mortals!" "DOGS OF WAR!" "LUNACY!"


Put Black Sabbath's "War Pigs," behind it and it only gets better!

DC's God of War has always been a bit of a bad boy, proclaiming war on something or someone, usually getting his ass handed to him by love or a cute bunny but dammit, he never lets that stop him.

He gets back on that that war horse and tries, tries, tries again.

And when that doesn't work, he embraces the computer, proclaims himself the god of conflict and overthrew Olympus, eventually overthrowing Hell.

Style points.

Ares was last seen in Wonder Woman, getting his head caved in with his own axe.

Negative style points.

With that, Marvel's Ares only recently got kinda cool while DC's has always been a total bad-ass.

The coolest George Perez costume design, ever.

Doubt me?
This is what swagger looks like.


Monday, August 17, 2009





Taken from DC's November solicits.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Detective: Comics

I have been the second and the fourth and the second, again.

I have fought side-by-side with and against immortals.

I have been infinity and known the fleeting nature of the moment.

I have been present in the future.


Everything Old Is New Again

DC Comics has had a storied history of acquiring properties from defunct or flagging publishing houses. Acquisition of properties such as Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Blackhawks, the Freedom Fighters and more, coming from Fawcett, Quality and Charlton were in large part responsible for the creation of the multiverse, and integrating them into the DCU proper was the mandate of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Over the past year, DC has been on a tear, picking up licenses for other long-unpublished superheroes:

In recent months DC has incorporated the Milestone heroes into their universe, squaring the Justice League off against the Shadow Cabinet, bringing Static into the Teen Titans while also pairing him with Black Lightning, pairing Hardware with Blue Beetle, and Xombi with the Spectre in the pages of the Brave and the Bold.

This month the Red Circle/Blue Ribbon/Archie comics heroes get a kick in the pants from J Michael Straczynski in a quartet of one-shots starring the Hangman, Inferno, the Web and the Shield, before each gets their own ongoing title/back-up feature pitting them square in the DC Universe.

DC recently announced at San Diego the acquisition of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, also bringing them into the DCU proper.

At Wizard World Chicago, DC noted Brian Azzarello's pairing of Batman with Doc Savage, bringing the classic pulp hero into the DC pantheon.

But DC's not the only one playing this game:

Marvel's big news (probably the biggest of SDCC) was the acquisition of the Marvelman property.

Dark Horse has announced Jim Shooter will be revitalizing the Gold Key characters, yet again, including Turok, Magnus: Robot Fighter, Solar: Man of the Atom and the Mighty Samson.

Dynamite Entertainment has just acquired the rights to (if not the blessings of) Simon and Kirby's Fighting American which will be revived under guidance by Alex Ross, part of his creation of a "Kirbyverse" (also including Silver Star and Captain Victory), which is something he's been doing with mild success with public domain superheroes in his Project:Superpowers titles.

Almost all of these properties were given new life in the 1990's...

DC Comics tried their hand at the Fighting American in 1994, before Rob Liefeld, Jeph Loeb and Jim Starlin all gave it a stab later in the decade at Liefeld's Awesome Entertainment. Meanwhile the other "Kirbyverse" heroes (Silver Star, Teenagents) were given life ever so briefly by Topps comics in the early '90s by Roy Thomas and Kurt Busiek.

Jim Shooter had tried his hand at reviving the Gold Key heroes, launching successfully (for a time) Magnus and Solar as the early lynchpins of the Valiant universe in 1991, with Turok later to follow (spawning from there the Turok videogame franchise). After being acquired by videogame publisher Acclaim, Valiant was rebooted, only Turok surviving for a time until the 90's crash.

Marvelman, aka Miracleman has been out of print for way too long, and given that it's a masterwork from both Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, the character's notoriety combined with lack of shelf presence has granted it a mythic status. Though bound to still be mired in litigation from Todd Macfarlane's camp (who owns the copyright on the MM logo), getting these great books back on the stands is hopefully priority one.

Doc Savage was under DC's purview in the late 1980's, and in the early 1990's Millennium, a small press publisher, had the rights, before Dark Horse briefly held them mid-decade. He's been fairly absent from the comics' scene since.

For much of this decade DC has been reprinting the original Tower comics T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents in their archive series, but the characters haven't been updated or used to any degree since the original run save for a failed small-press revival in the early '80

The Archie Heroes have appeared sporadically in the pages of Archie comics and digests over the years, but with no fanfare at all. With exception to the short-lived Impact Comics imprint DC attempted in the early '90's, the characters haven't seen steady publishing.

The Milestone heroes (co-published by DC) were created in the 1990's and were quite successful for over four years, but the bust of the 90's market took them out unceremoniously. Static lived on as a very successful cartoon on the WB for a few seasons, crossing over with the Justice League on Cartoon Network.

There are so many questions:

Do any of these properties, save Marvelman, have enough clout, notoriety or gravitas behind them in their checkered pasts to make them a success?

Does integrating Archie, Milestone, Tower and pulp heroes into the DCU give them more validity than their previous publishing exploits?

Are you more likely to read a Doc Savage or Black Hood or Icon comic if there's the possibility of fighting Deathstroke or the Monster Society of Evil?

Does the thought of the Sentry being revealed as Marvelman scare the pants off you?

Are fans of the vintage Gold Key comics really going to support new material?

How many of the core comics readers, arguably in their late 20's to early 40's, actually know or care that much about superheroes like the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents or Kirby heroes who sustained next to no publishing presence in their lifetimes?

I guess the real question is, does ANY of this excite YOU?

Monday, August 10, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

The above picture has nothing and everything to do with the overall tone of the G.I. Joe movie.

It's been nearly 48 hours since I saw the movie and in that time, I've had time to process it, pick it apart and have come to this simple conclusion:

This is the best movie based on a toy line/comic book/cartoon about ninjas/commandos in the military, fighting terrorists who occasionally employ a grape soda loving biker gang, you'll ever see, folks.

Seriously, folks...

That's what G.I. Joe is and always been.

A cartoon.

While I realize that many will be upset over Hollywood's over-the-top, cartoony take on Joe and not comic book writer Larry Hama's pseudo-realist leanings, we have to face this fact:

More people remember G.I. Joe from its cartoons than its comics and THAT is more who this movie was made for.

There are plenty of nods to Joe comics for you diehards. I mean, no one has ever geeked harder than me at one man handing another a piece of bubblegum but let's be real, Joe has never been about Bourne Identity sensibilities. No, G.I. Joe has always been more Superfriends vs. The Legion of Doom, only more deliberate and in the comics, with a splash of dark humor tossed in for good measure.

Hasbro went and produced the movie I'd have made in 1984 when I was a twelve year old boy. Moreso, the type of movie you make just before the 2007 Writer's Strike. Rise of Cobra was a little bit garish, way showy and had a ton of swordfighting and that, to me, was what G.I. Joe has always been about.

Can I get a, "YO, JOE?"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

into the mystery....

Do you ever take a dig through your back-issues and notice there are a lot of comics that you've never read, or barely remember reading?

Perhaps you bought them from the 50 cent bin at your LCS for no other reason than you had $3 and no change for the tax on something newer, or you were at a con at the tail-end of a Slurpee and Skittles-induced sugar high and bought a complete set of some series you once had a passing interest in only to let it languish away in a basement longbox, or maybe a friend, recently shacked up with his new, controlling girlfriend had to purge the bulk of his collection and burdened the unsellable fat unto you, or perhaps some well intentioned family member rescued them from a rummage sale at their local religious facility's parking lot and you thanked them for their well intentioned gift despite having no enthusiasm for what they found...

You know those books.
Those books that hold next to no nostalgic or sentimental value, books that when you look at them you wonder first why you have them, perhaps even questioning where you got them, moreover wondering if you've even read them.
Yes, those books.
You don't care about them, and yet... those books are surrounded by questions, a curious mystery forming around them, enticing you to revive their neglected and forgotten stories from their tightly pressed pages.

They might be battered, broken comic books, with serious creases and folds, perhaps even a missing corner or the cover half torn, hanging precariously from its staples. Someone must have loved it at some point in time.

Or they might be in pristine condition, placed direct from a distributer's delivery box into its plastic tomb, a backing board holding its shape. The tape holding the bag closed might be yellowed, gummied, almost impossible to open, distending the plastic as you try to open it. Or to your surprise, they used the good stuff, name brand Scotch tape, and it lifts easily off the plastic like it was magnetically repelled. The bag itself may have pressed so tight that the two sides have formed a seal, and you struggle to separate them, like finding the open end of a fresh from the box garbage bag. You might remove the book to find the image of the back cover faintly, yet permanently embedded, in reverse, in magenta, on the backing board.

Does the book have an odor? Does it smell familiar? Offensive? Do you even notice?

As you read the pages, do the images seem at all familiar, like deja vu? Or is it all new, this curiosity, this anomaly in your collection?

But most of all, is it any good?

Second Printers, tell us about any hidden gem(s)in your collection. That book that you never knew you had or that book that you forgot you had.
Or tell us about the coal you've recently discovered, the dead weight you finally read (or re-read) that only confirmed why it deserved to languish in the darkness for so long.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Devon's 4 Fave Comics WTF Moments: Teen Edition

4. "They Changed Aquaman's Costume..."

Imagine that with a "GASP!" behind it. For my whole life, I knew a few things, that mama brought you into this world and she could take you out of it. Water was wet and DC Comics characters NEVER changed their uniforms. It just WAS NOT done.*

Until Aquaman.

Ever the game changer, Aquaman, as the first major DC Comics character to do things as an adult would, marry, have children, proved yet again to be one of comics' most adaptive of heroes.

*And, yes, I know Wonder Woman did it in the 70's but she stopped wearing a costume more than anything.

3. I Just Remembered, I've Got Nothing To Prove To You. I'm Batman, Dammit.

That's essentially the ending of Batman: Ten Nights of The Beast, an ending so bad-ass I decided to use this mind**** in real life AND IT ACTUALLY WORKED.*

A Russian assassin, The KGBeast has dispatched to take down America by killing its leaders. He arrives in America with a freshly waxed bikini arena, a leather submissive mask and a bunch of guns and the ability to handle the **** out of an ax. (More on that later.)

After killing a few sorta minor government officials, The World's Greatest Detective finally realizes that it's part of a wider plot to assassinate THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!

So, just when you think this thing is about to end, with a battle on a rooftop, no less, Batman snares the guy in a rope and what does The KGBeast do to get away? He chops off his own frickin' HAND! All I could think was, "He really musta wanted to get away from Batman."

In the end, Batman hunts him down and prevents him from killing POTUS, luring The KGBeast into a long abandoned underground closet.

So what does Batman do after watching a man kill several gov't officials, threaten to kill The President and chop off his own hand to escape.

He says, "F*** it," and locks your ass in said closet to DIE. Case closed.

*Results may vary.

2. "Storm Defeats Cyclops For Leadership Of The X-Men"

Nearly twenty years of consistency was erased with some simple fight. A depowered African woman vs. a tall, white man with the power to level you with a look. Maybe I read too much into this struggle but damn, but when this black woman walked away with Cyclops' pride and the right to give Wolverine orders, it did more for me than a million episodes of The Cosby Show ever could.

1. "It's In Continuity"

Batman: The Killing Joke was the book that taught me what the term "in-continuity" meant. All I can remember was looking at the above four panels, watching everything I knew about The Batman and his shared universe fade away. I just kept thinking, "This can't be real. They really shot Batgirl. I mean, The Joker hurt Batgirl." Artist Brian Bolland's perfect rendering of Barbara Gordon's surprise and disbelief, is perfect comics storytelling so much that it was only recently that I'd realized this scene had been presented as wordless.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Call me crazy...

... but I'm just not that into 'Darkest Night'. I know... heresy, right? The build-up has been nearly flawless. The 'Green Lantern' series have been consistently the most readable books DC has been putting out over the past few years. So what's the problem?

Sure, I'm not crazy about the gore and blood and guts, but I can look past it. The biggest part of it is that I'm just a little tired of supher-hero death obsession. Ever since they started bringing back Silver Age incarnations of characters, much of DC's mainstream body of work has been infatuated with death and resurrection. No major crossover event can seem to take place without a big death to kick it off.

Geoff Johns has never been my cup of tea... I respect him as an artist. No one this side of Grant Morrison uses DC history as a storytelling tool better than Johns, which is why his work has such appeal. But I'm a relative latecomer to the world of DC comics... Morrison's JLA is my true earliest exposure... everything else came in the re-runs, so to speak. And the idea that DC's best stories are in its rear view mirror seems really unfortunate given the wealth of amazing properties the creators have on hand.

Simply put, to one degree or another, the great DC crossovers of the 21st century have thus far been about past continuity rising from the grave to devour the present... 'Blackest Night' is just the most literal interpretation on the theme to date... I kinda want something new...

Am I alone in feeling this way?