Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I don't even have a thing about spiders. But I might now.
The book looks great, but not recommended reading for arachnophobes.
Monday, April 29, 2013
McKelvie and Gillen deliver aninsane 2-page Marvel Boy-in-action spread that contains one of my favourite things in a long time... Noh-Varr taking a few seconds out of his extreme hyperviolence to lay down some wax (from his Pocket Dimension Record Storage)
Sunday, April 28, 2013
If Lost were to have a comic book counterpart, it would be Morning Glories, including all the positive and negative connotations it conjures. I, for one, loved Lost (still do) but it was at times a maddening program, one which I found much easier and more satisfying to consume in concentrated doses on DVD than week-to-week. I watched the first 3 seasons on disc before my need to see more got the better of me in season 4.
Morning Glories is much the same, where l'm reading it in trades, getting that concentrated dose every 9 months or so, and couldn't imagine how frustrating reading monthly(ish) might be and yet I'm so very tempted to find out. The waiting for more is killing me, but then I know from reading trades that each issue does not give enough story progress and details and answers to satisfy... a trade barely does soon its own, but its definitely a full experience.
So much has happened in Morning Glories since the first few issues that it's hard to keep all the twists and characters and open questions straight without staging a rereading of all the previous material. With this volume, things started with even more confusion as the first half of this oversized collection (oversized for six issues worth of material anyway) deals with a whole new cast of characters, their pasts and their plans, but writer Nick Spencer cleverly weaves their past with the backgrounds of the main sextet of kids while casting parallels between their experiences at Morning Glories Academy.
Spencer starts toying even more with time travel this volume making it reminiscent of Lost season four, we're introduced to a monestary (like in Lost season 6), and if those new kids (who are actually older kids aren't like the others and Abraham isn't Jacob... there are so many broad parallels to Lost but they are very broad, and the real intrigue and excitement of the series is in the details and those are definitely unique enough to keep it intriguing.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Beyond the monthly (or twice monthly) X-Factor pickup, I haven't read an X-Men book in probably about ten years (whenever it was that Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run ended... it was before that). I didn't really grow up with the X-Men (I had one mid-'80's issue of Uncanny and that was it until I bought something like 38 copies of the Jim Lee X-Men #1 in 1990) so I have never had a tremendously strong connection to the team it's endlessly expanding cadre of characters, and those art-focussed '90's X-Men comics (X-Factor excepted) didn't do a lot to endear me to the Mutant world. I dabbled, sure, (Morrison & Whedon most notably) and I watched the movies and cartoons (both with mixed feelings) but the dizzying myriad of titles, characters and unending supply of crossovers has proven a largely insurmountable obstacle for me to get into the books. I knew it would take one special creator to get me back in. Where some favourite writers s of mine, like Kieron Gillen, have failed to lure me in past the formidable continuity hurdle it shouldn't come as too big a surprise then that it's an artist that lures me back in. Afterall, if I am only coming in for the art then what does the story or characters matter?
I was wondering if Frazer Irving would lure me into a sinkhole of "I need to know more" and I would go into an X-buying frenzy, pulling every remaindered trade and dollar back issue I could find... because I can get like that.
Alas, I didn't really get what was happening and I didn't really care to know more. This X-Men stuff just doesn't seem to be my thing... most of the time. I'm so underwhelmed by this issue that I may not even ride out Irving's next two issues (and of no fault to him... his art is popping as always.)
Friday, April 26, 2013
I liked the design of The Answer, which is kind of like Grendel, except he has a bold, white exclamation mark on his black face mask, but I wasn't really in the market for yet another superhero title when the series came out. But for free, certainly, I'd give it a shot.
It's kind of a bait and switch, this first issue, as the Answer is sort of your common-stock enigmatic powerless vigilante and not really the focal point. Instead it's Devin McKenzie, hyper-intelligent, over-educated librarian whose prompt triumph over a sequence of online brain teasers puts her in grave danger, and it's up to the Answer to save her. Devin is the book's narrative voice and where the Answer and his motives remain mysterious, Devin is broadly revealed, and I like her. Dennis Hopeless has found a great voice for her, giving her narrative duties. Hopeless sells her intellect without trying to hard, and without falling into the sociopathic trap.
I like the story and the set-up, the only thing I'm not sold on is The Answer as a character, but if he comes as a vehicle for delivering intriguing set-ups and fun supporting characters like this first mini, I may be on board. I'll definitely pull the second issue digitally (I'm not certain if DHD is using Comixology's guided view technology or their own in-house design, but the DHD version seems to work a lot more smoothly on Android than Comixology's buggy app).
What actually piqued my interest of the Answer first was the back and forth between Mike Norton and Francesco Francavilla, where Norton provided an illustration of the Black Beetle in the second issue of The Answer, and Francavilla responded in kind in the third issue of the Black Beetle. I like that kind of mutual appreciation. We don't see it enough.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Gibson’s illustrative style is inelegant, but unique, and it conveys information smoothly and smartly. Fans of Matt Kindt or Jeff Lemire will be right at home in Gibson’s muddy, earthen world (his colour sense is what I groove on the most). Like Marvel’s “Infinite Comics” digital offering, Gibson takes advantage of the format by layering his panels with multiple “takes” giving the illusion of motion, one of the most alluring additions digital comics brings to the table. As well, the programming that backs these comics allows the creator an increased control over the reading experience, pacing the panel reveals and reading order that contribute something else unique to the reading experience. Gibson uses both of these techniques masterfully, moreso than any other digital-only I’ve read, and with a story whose purpose isn’t to just show off these things. It’s great stuff.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
This was my first exposure to Lyra and while I'm not offended by her, I don't think she's necessary. Here she's used as a sidekick for She-Hulk, and while I've never really seen Jennifer in the mentor role before (so, something new), it doesn't seem to be the right move for the character. There's a pretense for her to be in that role, tasked with cleaning up some mess from some story from some other series, (the two of them are hunting down some bad guys), it just doesn't seem... right. And the Lyra going to high school thing, while a cute sequence, seems like a Mean Girls riff that doesn't seem appropriate for the character (and I don't even really know her).
I may give Red She-Hulk a go at some point, but for the interim I'll stick with Jen in FF.
(Anyone else looking at that cover thinking GLOW?)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Ever since Cris Gage and Mike Costa debuted their dirtier, darker, edgier skew on G.I. Joe a half decade ago it's been the only Joe I've needed, and kind of all I ever wanted. It's gone through at least four relaunches at this point yet with Mike Costa and artist Antonio Fuso still in control, and really carrying on as if it were just the next issue. I haven't actually checked, but I'm quite sure we're well over 50 issues at this point, with nary a dip in quality. The series has started to play a little loose with its original conceit (which was a Cobra-focused series) but it had followed its own natural path, the creator's instincts, leading to certain characters taking the foreground, including Cobra refugee Chameleon, Tomax Paoli and, for a time, Major Bludd. Costa likes to play with shades of grey in these series and it is so very fascinating, especially the manner in which using a fictional terror organization allows him to play any spy games with impunity and without offense. I'm almost certain the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy type psychological espionage storytelling would be quite rejected by the masses were the next Joe film to look like this, and critics would be baffled by storytelling this mature coming from action figures, but it does go to show that characters and concepts are only bound by those constraints which we conceive ourselves. This is some of the best comics reading I get every month.
Q to the crew: who was that waking up from the coma at the end? I'm obviously forgetting some story detail from last series. It can't be Chuckles, right?
Monday, April 22, 2013
I wrote of how I felt about Frank Castle after reading Space Punisher #1 (365 Comics # 104) but I do like Greg Rucka's writing a great deal so his recent Punisher work stayed on my radar. Rucka is a great writer of spies and procedurals so it's no surprise that the police play a big role in his story. Rucka is equally a great writer of strong female characters so it's also no surprise that there are a few of those here as well, including an ex-military whose new husband and entire family are killed in gang crossfire at their wedding reception. It's evident Rucka's grooming a female Punisher (as a replacement or a protege I cannot discern) and I want in. I'm aware it'll be short lived but I like it already.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Spider-Man generally doesn't interest me and I've never really figured out why. I've only read perhaps 2 dozen comics in which Spider-Man was the lead character over 30 years. I watched both the 60's Spider-Man cartoon and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends as a kid but few if any of the cartoons from the 90's onward. I saw all three of the Sam Raimi films as a dutiful comics geek but didn't care to own them on DVD (the first was a good gateway for superhero films to gain credibility with mass audiences, but I don't think it holds up all that well) and I still haven't seen The Amazing Spider-Man with no immediate plans to.
To me the '60's cartoon is the ultimate representation of the character, as Peter Parker has always seemed a product of his era of creation that never acceptably outgrew it... he's the Archie Andrews of superheroes... not that I'm really in the experienced position to judge. I just don't connect with Peter and Spider-Man's powers and costume and rogues gallery (or "deadly foes") have never resonated with me. The closest I ever cane to "getting" Spidey was when Static emerged in the early- mid 90's and everyone called him a modern Spider-Man, a Spider-Man for the '90's. I loved Static (DC's mishandling of the character is criminal), and I like Spider-Woman and Peter Porker:Spider-Ham... so derivatives seen to work or me...
And wouldn't you know it, but I'm loving Miles Morales as Spider-Man. If Static was the Spider-Man for the 90's then Miles is the Spidey we need for the twenteens (is anyone calling this decade that?). It's not about skin colour... okay it's not just about skin colour. Diversity is important and it's so often done blatantly and terribly in comics that its good to see the character of Miles Morales is the focus of the series far more than being Spider-Man is though the two are dovetailing more and more as the series progresses. But Miles and his family take the focus to the point where sometimes the costume stuff seems to get in the way of the more interesting and entertaining aspect of the character.
This volume ratchets up the intrigue of Miles' uncle, the master criminal the Prowler, who figures out Miles is the new Spider-Man and seeks to train him to be a smarter, better fighter and more helpful hero. But is he just using him? It's probably more complicated than that. Miles is desperate for a mentor... and videos of Peter just dont cut it. Meanwhile the weight of keeping secrets threatens to crush him and learning to juggle two lives its a logistical nightmare.
That Miles is only 13 is something Bendis is right to keep in the audience's mind since Miles is so small the danger level for him is that much higher. Chris Samnee and Sarah Pichelli both have differing styles but are equally suitable to the exaggerated action of Spider-Man and the not-so-quieter drama of Miles' life.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
The meeting of three of Superman's heavyweight creators was call for special treatment in this prestige format, squarebound one shot, something DC was getting pretty hot at the time. By the mid-90's it seemed like DC was putting two of them a month, and most of them were mediocre at best. But John Byrne, Curt Swan and Jerry Ordway on one book seemed noteworthy. Alas.
Alas, The Earth Stealers as far too old-fashioned a Superman story to fit comfortably into the post-Crisis Superman mythos (a noticeably de-powered Supes from his pre-Crisis incarnation, which makes his end-of-book feat so very preposterous, contextually speaking) and Byrne's script attempting to do so makes this feel less like a special and more like part of the Superman series of books (an Annual perhaps). There's a sense that Byrne is going for a Superman Versus Muhammad Ali feel where Superman faces an alien threat that could destroy the Earth and ultimately must face an opponent mano y mano as sport, but it's not even close to being as epic a story.
The Earth Stealers isn't terrible but it's far from a classic Superman story. The idea its intriguing enough, an ancient spacecraft emerges through a rip in space and proceeds to tow earth and the Earth and the Moon out of their orbit of Sol and back through the rift where they will be placed in line to enter a gargantuan, star-sized "cracking station". The station obliterates planets, stealing all their natural resources in one fell swoop. With Earth as the line the captain of the transport ship plays nasty with Superman by exploiting his greatest weakness... no not Kryptonite but Lois, Jimmy and Perry. Sigh this book thinks so small and assumes Superman does too.
There's little to no interest in the technology that can rip planets out of orbit (and a 50's-style sci-fi disregard for the science of what would happen to the rest of the solar system if it did) and even less exploration or concern for the greater impact of a technology as well as race or society that its doing such a heinous thing (especially with populated planets). There's potential for an ecological allegory here but Byrne has Supes so narrowly focussed on saving only Earth (and even more concentrating on Lois, Jimmy and Perry) that anything else doesn't even register as an afterthought. Doesn't knowing this technology is out their just weigh on Clark's mind? Was there ever any follow-up?
This is the worst of Superman, the thing I so often dislike most about comics' most super hero, that the stories so often stay so insular with the main character and his supporting cast as if they're the only thing that matters. Lois and company have their place in the lore but when things start getting cosmic (or global even) these supporting characters should fade into the background if not disappear altogether. (To paraphrase Black Dynamite: Hush up now little earth folk, the grown Super folks is talking.)
The idea of Earth getting stolen is a silly but fun concept. It was used to far better (and funnier) effect on the great Invader Zim episode "Planet Jackers".
Friday, April 19, 2013
I love post-apocalyptic-set movies and stories, and equally I have a fascination with 70's "future" stories. Merge the two and I am in a dreamscape, wowed by the seriousness and earnestness of the story and the of-the-era representation of what a dystopian would look like (which tends to be delightfully clunky technology and still 70's polyester earth-toned inspired garb). It's a true wonder then that I've never caught onto Kamandi before today's random 75 cent discovery of a dog-eared, beaten copy of issue 45. (There was the one story in "Wednesday Comics" a few years back and a more recent episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold but they're not the authentic Kamandi experience).
This being my first exposure to vintage Kamandi was a total mind blast. It made no sense at all, I had no idea what was happening and I couldn't for the life of me figure out any of the characters' motivations or objectives. Things seemed to turn on a dime story-wise which may be because 3 writers contributed to the main story this issue with Denny O'Neil ultimately toting the script duty.
This is the 5th issue following Kirby's departure from the series and it was in total flux. Keith Giffen and Bob Smith are the credited artists and it looks really good. Not Kirby good, mind, but still a very solid outing for a young Giffer. That guy's so super talented.
There's a backup feature, Tales of the Great Disaster, and it's outlandishly terrible. I've never heard of writer David Anthony Kraft before but this is a pretty dire story about pretty dire humanoid animals riding horses (! why are there still horses?) squaring off against police dogs ("coppers") riding giant insects. It's not even close to being as cool as it sounds. The art from Mike Nassir and Joe Rubenstein waffles between nice and sloppy.
But it doesn't detract from the rather sizeable impact that The Main story had on me. I want more. I wish I'd discovered this 25 years ago. I don't know why other than I think 12 year old me would have loved the shit out of this.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics make for vacuous reading. They're not really stories, merely brief character moments. As such they're not very satisfying... but they are free, so there's that.
Moreover, the GOTG Infinite Comics serve multiple purposes. First as a proof of concept for new means of using the digital comics medium. It's not motion comics, but it presents things in a layered, quasi-animated sense, where a background will remain stagnant but the characters will move, or a body will hold a position but a head will look multiple directions. It's actually an intriguing development, one I hope more comics learn to use (I wonder how dependent it is on Comixology's Guided-View (tm) technology?), as it can have added value to the experience of reading the comic, particularly in expanding the action sequences.
The second purpose these GOTG Infinite Comics serve is as introduction to the main characters of the GOTG books (and forthcoming movie). They're bare bones as far as introductions go, but if you're not familiar with the characters at all you do glean just a little insight into them. Gamora in this issue, for instance, we're told (or reminded) is Thanos' daughter, trained to be one of the most powerful fighters in the galaxy. She's rebelled against her father and fights to free those under his sway. That's about the crux of this book, introduce those few points, show her kicking a lot of ass, loop it into GOTG #1...
... Which is the third purpose the these Infinite Comics' existence... they're free, so they're promotional. They're to get people excited for the comic book. Read this, go buy the comic. I mean, we gave four of these to you, so don't you kind of owe us to at least read the first issue? (I mean, I would, but...$3.99? For Guardians of the Galaxy? That movie ain't made, and it ain't a success yet guys).
Finally, this particular book serves to re-introduce Gamora in a, well, less sexualized, less offensive, less impractical wardrobe. Gone is the Euro-style Vampirella-esque body thong, say hello to mesh and body plates, halfway between Tron and an Star Wars Stormtroopers. It's certainly something one could see Zoe Seldana in whereas the former you primarily would only find on a mannequin in an Adults Only shop.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
11 titles in my pull this week: 4 Image, 3 DC, 2 Oni, 1 Marvel,1 Dark Horse. X-Factor topped the reading pile if only because the wife reads it to and I wanted to have read it before I passed it off to her. That and I like it.
I was reading the comics feed on my Flipboard this week and wound up reading an article (don't recall where or by whom) about how the answer for the big 2 to increase revenues is not more titles but more of the same titles... more issues per year on the books people are enjoying and willing to buy more of. For the past two years, up until Peter David's stroke he was churning out 16+ issues of X-Factor a year (actually 19 in 2012, 17 in 2011)and I loved it. I loved that it cropped upon the stands so often. I works for the soap opera that X Factor is, makes it seem more like a (network) T.V. season. I don't think it's the answer for all books, in fact any book that is creator driven should be done so at the pace of the creators (so generally it would only work on character-driven books, books that will sell regardless of creators involved).
I don't really have answers... I really just went more X-Factor more often again.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite part four (KKK? Really?)
When last we left Superman and friends:
-Clarks book is now on the remainders table, steeply discounted
-Mr. Mxyzptlk had given Lex Luthor a magical chunk of Red Kryptonite, a product of his own creation that robbed Superman of his powers
-Lex meanwhile is dying of radiation poisoning
-A powerless Superman squared off against Mammoth and managed to bluff the dumb lug into surrendering
-Perry White's son was killed, but it turns out that he was really Lex Luthor's son, so both men grieve the loss of their only heir
-Superman gets cruddy 80's Starman (who can change his face) to pretend to be Superman and he retrieves the Red K from Lex for Prof. Hamilton to study.
-Superman/Clark spends a lot of time sulking about the loss of his powers.
-Lois' Mom has cancer
-Basically overnight Prof. Hamilton builds Superman a color-scheme correct suit of power armor for our powerless hero to fight for truth, justice etc. in. Of course Superman ruins utterly the suit within minutes of battling the bad guy staging a prison break.
-Superman sulks more when the bad guy gets away.
-Jimmy's mom is in a coma for some reason
-Gangbuster and The Guardian help out while Superman is de-powered...
As for this Landmark 50th issue!...
-Clark gets thrown out of Lexcorp on his face
-Clark takes a walk and ponders the events of the last few issues in abbreviated length
-Clark takes the subway
-Clark is saved from a rat
-Clark takes a taxi after the Rat incident
-Clark writes a "feature" about the rat
-Clark ponders his B.O.
-Clark takes a shower
-Clark talks to his Mom on the phone
-Clark buys a newspaper
-Clark reads a newspaper while walking posing a danger to himself and others
-Clark makes a point of avoiding an otherwise preoccupied Cat Grant
-Clark somehow keeps a straight face when he sees Jimmy in a bolo tie
-Clark asks Lois to marry him after ordering a Tuna Melt and Soda, and both requests are made with equal enthusiasm
-Clark faces Luthor and gets him tell him where the Red K came from before getting ejected from the building for the second time that day
-In telling Clark about Mxyzptlk, it nullifies the power drain
-Some talking and fighting occur
-Lex is sad about his son, still dying and angry about it all
-Perry is sad about his (still dead) son and angry at his wife
-Lois' mom is gonna be okay
-Jimmy's mon pulls a Duke u comes out of her coma
-Lois agrees to marry Clark
In my favourite moment in the book it is revealed Mr. Mxyzptlk moonlights as Impossible Man in the 616
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I don't have much of an affinity for Frank Castle. I understand the role he plays in comics and the potential for an intriguing character has always been there (starting his life as a derivative Charles Bronson in Death Wish) but he just doesn't fit into a shared universe filled with altruistic heroes who would, at the drop of a shell casing, take him out. I know that writers have pitted him toe to toe with Cap and Spidey and for one reason or another he always remains free to wildly kill thugs and criminals another day.
The best thing for Castle is putting him in a stand-alone setting, ala his Max series unencumbered with other tights and capes, or Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe/ Archie Meets The Punisher which are odd satires of the character. Space Punisher is more of the former with a lot of the latter, an out of continuity tale in which Frank is a spaceman, in the classic sf sense, with a robot sidekick, an array of exotic weapons (lightsabre, anyone) and a skull themed spaceship. It's like a ruthless, semi-psychotic, revenge obsessed Space Ghost, and I kind of love it. It's pretty much exactly what I'd hoped it would be.
Oh its ridiculous, but in the best way possible, full of Marvel U nuggets (alien symbiote/Brood hybrid) that extend the already enjoyable conceit. Plus Mark Texeira is on art... and Texeira art is always a good thing (he's been in the industry over 30 years and his fully painted art here as good as anything he's done).
I was considering picking up the trade before but now it's firmly on the list.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
After yesterday's reading of FF#1, I was kind of worried that I'd get suckered into the Fantastic Four once again as well. This issue wasn't bad by any means, but mercifully that didn't happen.
It was the appearance of the Future Foundation kids that I liked most about this issue, and I wasn't completely disengaged from the "family first" message that it conveys, but ultimately, except for Ben Grimm, I still don't care all that much about the other three. Y'know, even if the Four are going to die (however unlikely) due to some some long-term cosmic-radiation side effect, I'm not sure I care all that much (except the Ben, love the Ben, save the Ben).
If I were to have a Fantastic Four of my own, one based around family, it honestly would be Valeria, Franklin, and Nathaniel Richards (Reed's Dad), and Ben. I like all these characters far more than any of the other characters in the four. Kill off Reed, send Sue off to be Namor's queen (finally) and leave Johnny to reality TV and whoremongering.
I'm also not a big fan of Mark Bagley. He's a good storyteller but his art only ever resonated with me on the New Warriors back in the '90's, and never since. Here, I had to double check the credit on the book after page 2, because I thought for a second Alan Davis was on art. But no, it's Davis' long-time embellisher, Mark Farmer handling Bagley's inks which make it so Davis-looking.
So, I'm able to breathe a little easier and scratch this one off any "potentials" list. I win this round, Marvel #1 promotion.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Aw crap. I thought I was free and clear of The Fantastic Four and its Future Foundation offshoot after Jonathan Hickman's epic and most excellent run ended. I thought I was reading those books solely because Hickman is so awesome and not because l had any real affinity for any of the characters (except Ben Grimm, I've been a lifelong fan... well almost).
Truth told, I was hoping to plead ignorance about the Marvel Now relaunch of the two series,to willfully ignore that there may be any lingering interest or affection for any of these characters, especially since I've never been a Fantastic Four fan, ever. Though I know Matt Fraction to be a good writer (a great one, often) and even perennial favourite artist Mike Allred (with Laura Allred on colours) on one book.. still I was planning to avoid them, even with She-Hulk, one of my all-time favourite Marvel characters and long-time crush, on the team.
Well, damn you Marvel and Comixology for your Marvel #1 promotion. I made short work of sifting through your offerings and came out with 32 of your 700+ first issues that you offered. FF#1 indeed was among them. How could I continue to ignore it?
And damnit if Fraction and Allred (and Allred) didn't throw it in my face how much I really grew to love those FF kids. From Bentley and Dragon Man to Leech and Artie to Val and Franklin, I adore those kids and I want to watch them grow and develop. More more more please. The Allreds draw and colour Shulkie with the most dreamy green eyes, and this grieving Ant-Man fellow, having recently lost a daughter is a most intriguing guardian for these kids. All right, Marvel, ya got me. I'm in, but I'm waiting for trade on FF. No hardcovers for me this time... I can wait.
You ain't getting me back on board Fantastic Four again. No way, no how. Wait, what's this? A free #1?
Thursday, April 11, 2013
I let the Tick rest, for years, up and until the live action series, which, to me, was incredible. I understand why it didn't last, I understand why it was cancelled early, I understand why the general public didn't take to it. They just didn't get it. I could have done with two or three more seasons of Patrick Warburton and company (friends who were Tick "purists" -- and by purists they were generally only fans of the cartoons since the comics were still kind of obscure -- didn't like the changes in the series... Die Fliedermaus became Batmanuel, American Maid became Miss Liberty, the Tick's face more exposed...superficial changes, sexual innuendo was probably the biggest addition to the show).
After the live-action, I quickly learned what I could about The Tick and his background, about New England Comics and about Ben Edlund. I wanted to get into Tick comics, but I was so far behind, and I wanted to start at the beginning. For the longest time I just never got around to catching up. Luckily for me, my wife came to me with original trades on her bookshelf and a few additional floppies that certainly satiated my interest and curiosity about the character. I didn't delve much deeper than Karma Tornado, as Edlund went on to other better-paying things than comics (writing, directing, producing -- Firefly, Supernatural). I dunno, I have it in my head that it's a creator-driven character (even though the non-Edlund Tick stuff outnumbers the Edlund-created stuff like 20 to 1 at this point) and that it's not as worthwhile without Edlund, kind of like Community just isn't the same without Dan Harmon at the helm, like a faded image of itself.
Anyway, when the Tick cartoon came out on DVD, I bought them, I watched them, and it was only in concentrated viewing that I started to appreciate it. Via my stepson's keen interest in the show, I've watched them even more, and I like them even more. A few month's back my daughter (not yet 4) caught an episode and has become kind of obsessed (not as obsessed as she is with Samurai Jack and DC Super Pets and Octonauts, more on a second-tier Monsters Inc, Hulk and Muppets level obsessed). So when the wife and I took the kids to the most recent Toronto Comic-Con, I told the kids they could each get a comic (since I was getting, I dunno, 20 or so). My daughter's pick was a $2 Tick comic, and after a lot of "no that one. No, that one" we settled on this one, the "Big Father's Day Special" (by no influence of my own, I was kind of touched).
So we finally get around to reading it. The art is decent but not inspired (why isn't the Tick always in color... he really needs to be in color), thankfully the story is kind of fun. Kid-Tick is introduced and, because he's neglected by his e-trading dad and career-focused mother, he wants to become the Tick's ward. Of course he sees Arthur as an obstacle and begins sabotaging the sidekick. It has it's fun moments but they're overshadowed by a couple derivative points which remind me why I don't read the new Tick stories with any regularity (or at all really). A story like this actually would have played better longer-term, as a mini-series (or as a part of a regular series), really playing out the antagonism between Arthur and Kid-Tick, delving deeper into the dark comedy of his homestead and more of the cliched parenting moments from the Tick.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I picked up 10 new books this week (2 DC, 2 Marvel,1 Dark Horse, 2 Image, 1 Valiant, 1 Boom Studios and 1 IDW... talk about your diversified portfolio [who was talking diversified portfolios?]) and my first read of the week was Batman and Red Robin #19. Why? Because I bought into the hype, that's why.
It's going to get spoilery in here (no, not Steph Brown Spoiler, sorry) so if you plan to read it best skip this.
So it's been largely spoiled by the comics and mainstream media that Carrie Kelley makes her debut here. I understand that Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns was seminal in its day and had a lasting impact upon the genre and the medium, but I've never been much of a fan and I don't see what the big deal is about her appearance here. Are people really that excited for Carrie to be a "real" Robin?
That said I liked her character here and how Pete Tomasi has brought her into the mythos, by way of Damian. It was a nice touch, one that I'd like to spend more time with. I don't know that I want her to be Robin but she's fun to read so why not?
I wish the rest of the issue were as good though. Were it any other character Batman's actions here would be a declarative step towards supervillainy. He's not teetering the line, his swung his damn ass over it by kidnapping Frankenstein and dismantling him to figure out how he was put together and brought to life. Bruce has gone full-bore psychopath and it looks like everyone is just gonna let him skate instead of putting him down. Oh just let him grieve in his own way and do some seriously Bat-shit crazy things.
- I'm always happy to see Frankenstein
- Red Robin way kind of a waste
- that full page splash of Carrie in a Robin costume attending a costume party that you've seen floating around the net? It's a terrible drawing. Compositionally speaking, character posture-wise,facial expression... not Pat Gleason's finest work that's for sure
- The "WTF" gatefold cover this.. I get why it is "on-topic" but I'm very tired of TDR lifts / homages
-Batman #19 also has Bruce Wayne going bad, very bad. What's it all mean when yor put it together?
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I don't know if this was Cockrum's intended idea behind the Futurians or not, but my take on the characters and series is "what if a half dozen or so average people suddenly were endowed with superpowers from the future and then asked to form a team to combat extra-terrestrial threats from the future without any training whatsoever? What would that look like?"
It looks a hot mess of gaudy derivative 80's-designed spandex and creature mutations, full of fuck ups who have no idea what they're doing and constantly bicker with one another in a not-friendly way. It's kind of like a superhero equivalent of reality TV, about a decade before the John Connor that was The Real World heralded the destruction of television.
I found The Futurians #3 in a quarter bin a couple years ago and became fascinated with it, as I tend to get with short lived series (and companies) that are the product of big name (or at the very least credible) talent. There were such big promises made in the back of issue three with notes about what was so certainly coming down the pipe in future issues. Then I discovered that #3 was the last issue published, and that The Futurians originally started life at Marvel as part of the oversized Marvel Graphic Novel series with intent of continuing as an ongoing under Marvel's "Epic" banner.
Cockrum was however swayed by "Hollywood connected" upstart publisher David M. Singer, a lifelong comics fan who wanted to make his own comics company by throwing gobs and gobs of money at top tier talent in a wholly unstable business model, banking on selling licensing to Hollywood to break it big. Singer did manage to make some great looting comics like this one as well as Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Codename Danger, inexplicably under multiple publishing banners (Lodestone here, Deluxe Comics for Thunder Agents) but only for a few months before it all collapsed. He was apparently paying over double what Marvel was at the time.
Cockrum in interviews I've read seemed regretful about his decision not to stay with Marvel/Epic, thinking he probably would had had a 5-to-10 year run on this series of his own creation. The Marvel Graphic Novel went to 3 printings, rather unusual in those days, it was a hit. But he also understands all too well that as an artist he couldn't turn away Singer's money even if it did seem to be too good to be true.
In the future I should get more into Singer's short-lived publishing history because this guy is something else.
This second issue of The Futurians is a terrible read (in a fun way) but a terrific looking book (also in a fun way). I just need to find issue #1 to complete my run now, although I hear there is a collected edition with the otherwise unpublished #4...
Monday, April 8, 2013
So I'm in the middle of reading the final issue of Dazzler when... what the fu...
Cap's gonna star in a broadway show...
...and maybe you can star with him.
If you're a girl between 10 and 14 who can sing, dance and act up a storm , you might just be the person Vap's looking for! He neefs a bundle of talent to play his very special friend in Captain America(TM) -- a musical spectacular due to hit Broadway this spring!
Then send a photo and background info to:
(Dont bother this was 27 years ago)
Do it today. You wouldn't want to let Cap down, would you?
How bizarre is this? Putting a casting call in a comic book? Oh 1980's, you were so cocaine filled.
And a Captain America musical? I've never heard of it, so either it never came to fruition or it was a miserable failure erased from memory. I'm gonna have to stop reading this Dazzler comic and troll the dark recesses of the net for more info on this most assured travesty.
From the New York Times archive, 1985:
By Enid Nemy (The New York Times); Weekend Desk
April 5, 1985, Friday
Late City Final Edition, Section C, Page 2, Column 2, 1099 words
[ DISPLAYING ABSTRACT ]'Captain America' boasts a hero-sized $4 million budget. IT'S going to be a big one, if everything works out as befits a musical named ''Captain America.'' Big, in this case, means a budget of $4 million - a lot of money, even for a superhero fighting for the American dream, the flag and the woman he loves. The superhero will not, in fact, be particularly super when the curtain goes up. The book by Mel Mandel and Norman Sachs (who are also responsible for music and lyrics) has Captain A. going through a mid-life crisis. Fortunately, the action speeds up - his girlfriend, a candidate for President, is captured by terrorists and held hostage at the Lincoln Memorial. That's enough of the plot - when you invest millions, as are Shari Upbin, James Galton and Marvel Comics and some as yet untapped sources, you're entitled to a few secrets.
Yowza. It apparently never actually materialized on Broadway (it sounds like it would best Turn Off The Dark in rancidness).
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Am I going to comment on every issue of Smallville Season 11 that comes out this year? Probably. Why? Because it's pretty much the only title that I read that makes me feel like a fanboy. I like most of the books I read in a given month, and I like to think that I generally let my discerning tastes guide me to worthwhile reading, but none of them delight me as much as Smallville does. You know I don't care to watch (or re-watch) an episode of the show ever again but I get giddy when I see "Smallville" on the new releases chart on my store's website and I want this to go on as long as Brian Q Miller wishes to write it.
3 things I loved this issue:
1. How much Clark and Bart genuinely love each other, in a brotherly way of course. "I'm going to build Bart a statue."
2. Superman, Green Arrow and Lois paying Lex, changnesia sufferer, a visit. "For the record, you used to buy nicer scotch"
3. Earth 2 Chloe and the Monitor have a little chat. "Your body, still roiling with Bleed...the anti-matter that separates all universes."
Saturday, April 6, 2013
I'm having a problem connecting with the new universe in general after investing heavily in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths for 25 years. I was 11 or so when I found Giffen/DeMatteis' Justice League and John Byrne's Superman on the spinner rack at my local book store, and I was fixated. So, I understand the impetus for doing it again and I don't begrudge DC for making the effort to try and revitalize their company, their properties, their characters, and I was perfectly ready willing to join the ride but I realized that beyond the brassiness of rebooting their entire line-up of titles, there was nothing revolutionary to what DC was doing. It seemed apparent then (even more apparent in hindsight) that, with few exceptions, the entire publishing lineup was editorially driven, rather than creatively so. While editorial consistency was obviously required in rebuilding the line, it seemed to be the sole focus. The rather shocking turnaround of creative teams on the majority of their titles is endemic at DC, and telling of just what kind of company DC is these days.
The reports last month of Joshua Hale Fialkov walking off his Green Lantern titles and Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel leaving Action Comics are just the latest in a long string of creative debacles at DC. Talent seems to be the afterthought when it comes to most of DCs titles. The titles I continue to read, Batman, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Batman Inc. are the scant few that seem to have the least editorial impact, and I'm invested in these characters because of the intensely strong creative vision the writers and artists (they're also among the scant few titles to maintain a consistent creative team throughout their runs so far). Almost everything else, unless Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder or Grant Morrison is involved, seems to be covered in a thick coat of greasy editorial fingerprints. In the case of both Green Arrow and Animal Man,, these were titles I was ready to drop after assessing my feelings about DC surrounding the John Stewart debacle.
But those are both titles from one other name that seems to be granted some semblance of liberty in creation of his comics. Jeff Lemire came into DC with almost entirely creator-owned output under his belt (critically acclaimed creator-owned product mind-you), and backdoored into the DCU proper through Vertigo much like Scott Snyder did. His Animal Man run was an early surprise hit, and, like his other title, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. he emerged out of the shadow of Grant Morrison's defining work with those characters and put his own indelible stamp on them. He left Frankenstein to pursue Justice League Dark, and has become a bit of a go-to player in DC since (notably taking on the launch of Constantine after creative troubles became apparent early on).
Last month Lemire took over Green Arrow, one of DC's most troubled titles (which is saying something considering the vast chasm of troubled titles they have). Green Arrow's profile rose dramatically with the surprise success of CW's Arrow TV series, and so far the comic has had four writers and even more artists cycle through in less than 20 issues. What they needed was a defining character arc and, taking a page from Marvel, matching the character that's represented in popular media. (With the looming Man of Steel, could matching that film's representation of the character be part of Andy Diggle's conflict with editorial?)
I gave the first issue a shot, despite telling myself I was going to ignore Green Arrow altogether in the New 52, and wound up liking it, more as an analogue to TV's Arrow (a definite guilty pleasure for me) but also because I like Lemire, and I like his pairing with Andrea Sorrentino whose work on I, Vampire quickly transcended his Jae Lee influence and became its own strikingly powerful storytelling beast. Together, Green Arrow was worth taking notice.
Animal Man I liked immediately, and liked even more after Travel Foreman left and Steve Pugh came on. I loved Pugh's work on Animal Man back in the early-90's working with Jamie Delano, creating the arc Flesh and Blood which I think is as seminal an Animal Man story as anything Morrison accomplished, if not moreso. I should revisit it, as in my recollection I see it as a blueprint for some of what has occurred in the title in Lemire's run.
I've talked about Rotworld already (see 365 Comics #70), a well executed (though far from flawless) epic that drew me into the crossover with crossover with Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing (see 365 Comics #39). But it was so concretely a finite epic that I felt like issue 18 of both Animal Man and Swamp Thing were perfect stopping points. But I knew that would do a disservice to the lower-key family drama superhero comic Lemire had so wonderfully established early on.
So I've given them another month, and I think they're staying on the pull list, but it's still a shaky commitment. I'm sad that Pugh is leaving/being pushed from Animal Man as this issue is a triumph of his ability to evoke emotion from his illustrations, as Buddy Baker and his family bury his son Cliff. It's also so evident that Pugh has these characters and this weird world Buddy inhabits deeply rooted within him. There's rarely a flaw in what he's portraying or how he portrays it. This issue of Animal Man does seem like a jumping off point just as much as a jumping on. It's a reflective issue, giving me time to assess my investment in these characters, given the turmoil Lemire has thrown them into (it seems to be having the opposite intended reaction in me that it's supposed to, it's driving me from the characters instead of deeper into them).
With Green Arrow, I'm in for the first arc but I don't know if I'll make it beyond that. It seems like there's a good stand-alone story in here, but again, I'm not convinced I'm invested in this character, certainly not in the way that I am with CW's Arrow (at the same time I'm not so invested in CW's Arrow that I feel it necessary to pick up the Arrow spin-off comic).
It's also unofficially officially "WTF" month at DC, wherein all of the New 52 feature gatefold covers with the hidden part being a surprise reveal. With both of these covers, neither gatefold is all that what-the-fuck inducing, but at the same time, I find them both very attractive. I spent some time this week at the shop unfolding all this week's gatefolds and finding myself stimulated almost to the point of buying some new titles (but I didn't, the cynic in me recovered quickly). Turns out, I really like gatefolds.
[Doubling up today after our silent reflection Thursday. My thoughts about what Roger Ebert meant to me can be found over at "Graig and David Sometimes Disagree". I touched on my affection for Carmine Infantino very, very briefly in 365 Comics #58 and 365 Comics #4 but you can bet it won't be his last appearance here]
Friday, April 5, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
CARMINE INFANTINO (1925 – 2013) http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2013/04/04/carmine-infantino-1925-2013
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
LOKI: Loan me your power...
(Wiccan, Hulkling and Miss America stare at him incredulously)
... Just for ten minutes. I use it t0 cast aspell and... well, the problem goes away.
(They continue to stare at him)
WICCAN: I wouldn't lend you an eraser, let alone power over reality.
LOKI: Okay, okay... Game of Thrones. You watch and /or read it?
MISS AMERICA: Huh?
LOKI: Who's your favourite character?
LOKI (enthusiastically): I'm Tyrion!
(They stare at him incredulously)
Gillen & McKelvie, yous guys are awesomesauce.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
A digital only (for now) freebie bonus precursor to Brian Bendis' run on the relaunched GOTG series, which is suddenly ace property, top flight stuff to afford a monthly price tag of $3.99 (the ongoing series that is, not these infinite comics). I was quite fond of Abnett & Lanning's GOTG series, more as a core part of their overall epic Marvel Cosmic storytelling than owing any allegiance to title or character, and the segue into the forthcoming film is a testament to the strong work they did. I'm a little cynical about this new series because to me it seems to be cashing in on, as well as itself becoming advance hype. Yet at the same time I recognize that there's A-list potential given its increasing profile so why not put A-List talent on it (Bendis and McNiven are definitely Top Tier). I guess I just don't see it as top level enough a title for a $3.99 cover price. But free, Bendis and Ming Doyle. Sure, I'm in.
Bendis has a handle on Rocket Racoon,nailing the humour, and this would have been a wonderful launch into a solo or ongoing on Rocky himself but I suppose it probably just dovetails into the main GOTG series which means a) I probably want to go read it now and b) no Ming Doyle. D'n 'A worked with some great artists in their 5 years in front of Marvel Cosmic but none draw RR like Ming Doyle does.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Here we have a digital-first (only?) one-shot from IDW, 48 pages in length for 99¢. How good could it be?
Turns out, really fucking good. It's not a wholly original concept (werewolves live among us, Brooklyn animal control is responsible for policing them and making sure the public doesn't find out... A sort of Men-In-Black deal). But this isn't a concept-driven book for a change. Writer J.T. Petty has built a wonderful cast and a richly constructed history to the human-lycanthrope relationship. His story is constructed with enough character and family drama to be fully engrossing, but he also provides mystery and much conflict both physical and emotional and an appropriate sense of humour without undercutting anything (actually made me laugh out loud a couple of times).
Art from Stephen Thompson is great. There's so much that is distinctive and interesting in his character design,.. his close ups reveal such control and understanding of subtle facial expressions (where the majority of illustrators tend to go for broader expression). He's also got as expert and impressive eye for natural detail. The flow of his action scenes are a bit jumpy, but otherwise its a great looking book (with masterful coloring from Len O'Grady).
I was confused at the as I understood this to be a one-shot, but the story is left quite unfinished, as if it were but the first chapter (or a pilot, to use TV biz lingo). But, at the same time I think its a good thing because halfway through this book I already knew I wanted more, and it seems like more is at least in the plans.