Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What To Read...? What To Read...?

Currently, I'm reading The Wrath of The Spectre by Michael Fleisher and the late Jim Aparo.

If I were the delivery boy of hot, fresh, piping-hot miseries, I would want this man riding shotgun.

This is the man who was given the job of writing Jonah Hex , a character who got a potential sidekick who came with a small pox blanket.

Poignancy and "Damn, that's ****ed up," meet the new boss.

Aparo does some of his best, most detailed art here, a far cry from the looser style employed on such titles as Batman and... um... Batman... And The Outsiders.

Wrath of The Spectre is... how to put this in polite company... bat-shit insane. It's like this little person who just walks into your party, drops his pants and points and proclaims, "You're out of tequila... and taquitos"

It's a bit disturbing and short but one hell of a story.

Add to the mix, a swinging babe Gwen Sterling, heir to a hair salon dynasty, who ten minutes after her after gets blown up in a pool (!) asks The Spectre's alter ego, Lt. Jim Corrigan out on a date. That failing, she finds out he and The Spectre are one and the same causing her to stalk them both.

Later, she will try to kill him with a meat cleaver.

Hey, we all handle our grief differently, I guess.

The main hook of the book is just how f*cked up The Spectre is to everyone, including the people he's supposed to be helping. In one scene, four elderly women are on the verge of being swindled out of their fortunes by a fake swami, The Spectre appears from within a crystal ball, turning the dude into crystal and sorta just casually tips his ass over...

...and leaves.

I damn near pissed myself laughing.

These poor women damn near broke, watching their path to spiritual enlightenment shattered right before their eyes by a chalk-white man in a green Speedo and skulls for corneas and all The Spectre could do was, "Is somebody gonna clean this shit up, 'cause I gotta turn into smoke here."


I would pay DC Comics to let me write this comic.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hey, Kids! PORN!


After perusing the comics racks with me the other day, the girlfriend asked me a question, "Are these porno comics?"

"No, just regular comics. They do make those."


Oh, she does not know our world, does she?

What I love about her innocence is that her understanding of comics is strictly on the surface level. She knows a Superman, a Batman, a Spider-Man, a Wonder Woman but the fact that someone could possibly see these characters or any character for that matter that occupied a small corner of her childhood as some sort of sexual entity is just astounding to her.

Yet, as astounding as it may be to her, I think I'm just horribly desensitized to what she's seeing.

Has my having seen so many comics led me to this place where I don't even see the ridiculousness of Emma Frost's X-Men uniform anymore?

If it has, how come every time I see a Greg Land drawn character my corneas provide the failure for my words to express what I'm feeling?


Raise your hand if at one point you were like me and considered a Wednesday where no X-Men comics were published.

Now, it's like a day where Jon Carey isn't comparing himself to an elephant's... down there. It just never happens anymore. Marvel knows its market and come hell or high water, there WILL be an X-Men comic on the stands for no other reason than that we, as readers, have come to expect it.

And one of the biggest reasons for this was the prolificacy of 70's/80's/90's X-Men writer Chris Claremont. Last month, Marvel announced the creation of X-Men Forever, a comic answering the question question fans across the world had been asking themselves, "What would Claremont have done with The X-Men if he hadn't been fired."
I wish, WISH one of my former employers would re-hire me to pick up where I left off:

"Did you hear? Devon bought the company and rehired himself."

"No! How?!?"

"He won the lottery."

"Which one?"

"Which one? We already know he won the genetic lottery. The other one. The one with the money. He just fired the boss and created a new research division for himself. Buttocks fondling. By the way, he wants to see you in his office."

"Geez, I shoulda been kinder to that guy."

There's all kinds of reasons this thing could be bad.

One: Claremont hasn't exactly been at the top of his game for nearly two decades.

Two and most important: It's just out-and-out pandering to the fanboys who "stuck around" past the Nineties and who may have dropped X-Men somewhere along the line. The storylines won't go anywhere because guess what... they didn't happen.

Apparently, nostalgia porn's going for $3.99 a pop nowadays.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have appeared in the Vertigo universe.

I have co-headlined a title with Superman.

The Batman has acted as my agent.

I have been the target of an assassination attempt.

I have hunted down a serial killer with the help of The She-Hulk.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Random Thought

"Swimming's like walking for Aquaman, it's what he does. Now, walking HAS to be hard for Aquaman. It must be like crawling around in mud."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Don't Call It A Comeback...?

It sort of feels like I've been here before.

The last time I felt this way was before they lied to me.

You see, I was a huge DC Comics fan. Devoted four years of my life to writing about just how much I loved DC Comics. Then, weird things started happening. The DCU started becoming a very busy place.

DC started testing my love for it. Somewhere along the time of Infinite Crisis and the "One Year Later" event.

The DC Universe had become a darker place following the death of Superboy.

Somewhere along the line they were going to kill Dick Grayson and lost the nerve. Instead, they chose to have him become a male model.

In the coming months, The pillars of the DC Universe, The JLA and The JSA were pretty much dismantled and re-organized into configurations designed to confuse readers, new and old alike.

Then they had the fastest and funnest teen alive, Kid Flash, with little to no explanation, grow to adulthood and become the sole Flash only for them to kill him off mere months later.

The promise of Infinite Crisis was within one year replaced by the confusing mess that was and forever will be Countdown To Final Crisis.

The breakout character of the SHAZAM! Family of characters was... Black Adam.

We sludged through it and got to Final Crisis where we were promised the end of the New Gods by Grant Morrison, only a few months earlier we'd been treated to the deaths of New Gods in not only Countdown but also, you guessed it... the non-Morrison penned The Death of The New Gods.

Final Crisis was widely viewed as a bit of a letdown.

Eventually, what happened was instead of DC providing us with a plethora of "Holy Shit!" choruses we were given near-perfect conditions for apathy.

That pesky ol' left hand was grabbing for balls while that good ol' right was trying to deliver a knockout punch.

Then, something weird happened.

DC started becoming interesting again. Now, we had some missteps like "Faces of Evil" but what it did do was give us a chilling new look at DC Comics' Kobra and more importantly, it introduced me to writer Ivan Brandon, someone we all should be looking out for in the near future. DC, don't pull an "Aaron" with this one.

Milestone Comics and former cartoon mainstay Static is in The DCU and has joined The Teen Titans.

DC Comics' Jonny DC suerhero line of "comics for kids" is consistently some of the best comics currently on the stands.

Instead of giving us yet another weekly series in the form of a Trinity, we're getting a Wednesday Comics, a refeshingly out of continuity look at the DC Universe by the likes of Joe Kubert, Kyle Baker, Jose' Luis Garcia Lopez, Dave Gibbons, Mike Allred, Paul Pope and Neil Gaiman. Good company to keep, comic book-wise.

Blackest Night is shaping up to be THE event of the year due to fine, consistent work from the Green Lantern team of writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi.

The co-feature, a mainstay of DC past returns this year featuring the likes of The Question, Ravager, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and Black Canary written by some of DC's top writing talent.

Word just came down that DC Comics has one of the masters of comics noir, Brian Azzarello working on a mysterious comic featuring Doc Savage in some sort of project possibly thrusting him into the two-fisted past of The DCU.

Not too long ago was when I felt it. Again.

It looked like a nod in my direction. In truth, it felt like it did before a lie.

There it was the return of fun. Impulse. Kid Flash. Most importantly, Bart Allen, the child who drove The Joker crazy with his enthusiasm, was back!

The next month saw the return of Superboy, lawyers be damned.

Are we seeing a return to Infinite Crisis form for DC? Are we actually having fun again? When Didio was swearing up and down that this all was leading somewhere, was he actually telling us somewhat of a truth?

What I do know is that Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire, late of Justice League, are working on The Metal Men. That alone is reason to believe again.

I'm feeling kinda good about you again, DC.

Don't let me down, again, DC.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

HEY, KIDS! comics.

Today, the Spider-Man plushie swings from a grown man's rear-view mirror.

A teenaged girl walks past me, giggling, wearing a Batman backpack.

At the train station, a grown man rushes past me, darting his way through a sea of people. He is wearing an Aquaman t-shirt.

I walk into Target and half the men's t-shirt aisle is devoted to super-hero tees.

The day after Obama's inauguration I watched as folks lined up to buy a comic book featuring our President and Spider-Man.

The Justice League wants to sell your child Kraft's Macaroni and Cheese.

Wolverine is the current "Sexiest Man Alive."

This summer's box office began with your woman (or your man, I don't judge) feigning interest in the origins of an oft-naked, totally ripped superhero in a wifebeater, tight jeans and cowboy boots.

The movies expected to gross the most this year?

Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Terminator: Salvation. Star Trek. All have roots in the comics fiction world.

Our heroes are out in this world everyday, ingratiating themselves into the "civilian" world and despite their superhuman effect on the Hollywood bottom line, it has little effect on the bottom line that's helped feed my ass for nearly thirteen years.


What is about the comic book that doesn't speak to the greater part of society? Why do millions flock to the theatres and willingly hand over $11 to be told a Wolverine story while on a really good month, a Wolverine comic only sells 75,000 copies at nearly quarter of a movie ticket's price?

If the man in the Aquaman tee ever makes his way into an actual comic book shop, what do you sell him? Aquaman, currently, has no presence on on our shelves.

Now, I know that as intellectual property, superheroes are Marvel & DC's bread and butter but it seems to me that, instead of trying to create some sort of symbiosis with regular folks, they do nothing but encourage the notion that their comics division is nothing more than a boutique business.

A business once thirsty for the new and the innovative, allowed for the creation of a Wolverine, a Batman, a Superman, a Batman.

Are comics doomed by this new corporate mentality towards their own product?

Should I be shocked? No, I'm not. I realize these are corporations with bottom lines and all that comes with it but what gets me is how when the push comes to the shove, comics usually gets the shove while everything else gets the huge marketing push.

Are The Big Two still a business that commits itself to marrying itself to its intended suitor or does it now give itself away in the backs of dark movie theatres in two hour increments of time, hoping they'll really like them and respect them the next day?

I don't know. I just know what I see and it ain't translating into comics sales.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Improves Digestion!

One of my fondest memories as a child was finding five WHOLE dollars on the ground in a supermarket.

Yes, as a child, when you're paying for everything in cuteness and smiles, five dollars to you, is five WHOLE dollars.

What did I do with this five dollars? What I wanted to do was pull a Daffy Duck and do like he did to Bugs Bunny when they found a magic lamp. I wanted to beat the hell out of my father and run away screaming, "MINE! MINE! MINE! I'M A RICH AND FILTHY MISER," all covered in gold chains while sitting on a huge ass diamond.

What happened, in actuality, was he asked me what I wanted to do with the money. After some debate, the answer was clear.

Comic books.

But where was I to buy some? Here I was, miles away in North Carolina, a hundredy-billion miles away from my local drugstore in Washington, DC and as far as I knew, all they ever sold in North Carolina was tobacco and salted pork products. What was a city boy to do?

Dejected, we approached the checkout aisle, my father getting whatever it was that old guy's got while his son had five WHOLE dollars burning a hole in his little pocket and then, I was rescued.

Superman. Batman. Adam Strange. Deadman.

DC Comics' superheroes. All in one place, the checkout aisle.

What I was seeing wasn't what I was used. With that I was introduced to the world of The DC Digest. I found hope in that checkout aisle. My summer had been saved.

I'd been introduced to the DC Universe proper.

Now, the things that struck me were many. The Batman presented within the digest was radically different from the Batman of the live action TV series I loved and that Batman was sort of different than The Batman I knew from the Super Friends cartoon I loved to watch.

Upon further examination (buying more comics) I discovered something awesome: each and every Batman was simply, Batman.

Somehow, after spending years with a live-action Batman who carried around a Bat-Alphabet Soup Decoder in his Bat-Utility Belt, I was somehow able to reconcile that the somewhat high-pitched voiced guy who hung out with Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog was Batman, as well. Now, imagine how my mind must have felt as I encountered a Batman who hid in shadows and lived for the fear in a criminal's eyes.

I was hooked and I loved them all, equally.

Today, I don't know if this could happen. DC, for too long ,has clung to the notion that any new reader will become confused by differing takes on their characters. Supposedly, you can't have a swingin' 60's Titans one-shot on the comic racks while a cartoon series called Teen Titans is on the air.

Might confuse the kids.

Kids who might have five WHOLE dollars to spend.

What I propose is that we un-confuse them and actually give them something to think about.


DC, bring them back and let people (re)discover your comics, your heroes.

Put them back into the supermarket checkout aisles.

Put some of the better stories of the year in digest form, regardless of where they came from. Start a digest with Tiny Titans in the same digest as Justice Society of America #26, you know, the one where Stargirl has a birthday party. It was a good comic, one written by that Geoff Johns guy you're so high on.

DO a Batman digest spanning the many facets of The Batman. Include a Golden Age Batman & Robin story with The Joker, include a Silver Age Batman story where he visits far off planets and wears Batman rainbow-inspired costumes. Throw in an issue of the original Brave and The Bold where he teams up with The Metal Men. Throw in a Kelly Puckett/Mike Parobeck Batman Adventures comic inspired by the 90's Batman cartoon series and for God's sake, throw in an in-continuity Batman story. Heck, even have a cover where all of these Batmen are interacting together sorta like you did with that one Catwoman trade paperback that came out around the time of the Catwoman movie. Do it with Batman, though. People will care, then.

Take a step back and be small. Show the world what you're made of.

Don't underestimate yourselves. Start treating your universe as if a kid would wanna spend his five WHOLE dollars on it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Comics! They Aren't Just For Kids Anymore!

I am sick and tired of throwing kids into the ghetto.

I still work in a comic shop about one day a week and not a day goes by where some parent goes, "Hey, what comics are good for kids?"

In my heart, I wanna scream, "Fucking all of them! They have words and pictures. Art. Everybody wins!" But, in my actuality, I know what they're asking and with that I lead them and their kids to "our li'l kids comics ghetto," where Archie's still acting like a dick and where as an adult, I sympathize with Reggie Mantle a little more every damned day.

Every Wednesday my heart breaks a little more, knowing the question before it is asked and my knowing the answer that must be given, dreading the the adult squeal of, "Oh my God, they still make Archie!" The young look around with the sadness only a child can feel as men and women in tight spandex fly about their heads, villains shake their fists, men in camo smoke cigarettes, hurl grenades and kiss broads dead on the mouth.

"Look, honey! It's Archie! I used to read this. Here, let's get you a few."

And I see it. The look a child gets when in a candy store and his mom wants to know where the carob-covered raisins are.


It breaks my heart every damned time.

What the f... Give the babies what they want! The babies want teeth. The babies want something they can sink their teeth into and we can't give it to them and the comics companies know this too damned well. So what they offer are ridiculous comics with no teeth that never dare the potential comics fan to come back and have their brains blown.

The term, "Comics! They aren't just for kids anymore," has never been truer. The comics offered to kids are more for the parents than for the kids. They are boring. They are inoffensive. They are uninspiring and from a creative standpoint, DOA.

And this is what I sell to the children.

Marvel Adventures: Marvel Comics without teeth.

Sonic The Hedgehog: Safe video games re-enacted on bad paper stock.

Archie: A comic wherein Reggie Mantle, the only person who realizes something's wrong is made to look like an a-hole.

There are exceptions: I would not hesitate to give a child Tiny Titans. It's clever and has artwork that looks like it was done by a child and I mean that as a compliment and really that's about it.

And yes, there is Bone but Bone did not become a children's favorite until an actual book company colored it up and rescued it from our appointed comics ghettos.

Full disclosure: I don't have any kids.

Who the hell am I to tell you what's good for your kids but as a former kid, I know what I liked. I liked capes. I am wearing one right now. As an adult, I love shaking my fist at things to emphasize my contempt. As an adult, I have hurled M-80's and secretly dreamt of kissing Halle Berry dead on her sweet, sweet lips every time.

The comics I read have made this possible. The Teen Titans issues where Deathstroke did that thing with the bucktoothed kid helped me realize what a true villain looks like.

He wears an eyepatch. Like a pirate.

I wanted to join the military, in part, because of my love for Sgt. Rock, Captain America and G.I. Joe. When I found out, there were no laser rifles in this man's Army, my enthusiasm waned, not my patriotism.

What I'm saying is this: Comics should be clever. Comics should inspire. Comics should spark imagination. Comics have this power. Comics should leave the intended wanting more.

Toady's comics don't do this. They are safe. THEY ARE DESIGNED WITH ADULTS IN MIND.

Better yet, they aren't for kids, at all, THEY ARE FOR THE PARENTS OF CHILDREN.

Am I saying hand your kids Angry Youth Comix and hope for the best? No, what I am saying is that we should never, ever underestimate a child's capacity to figure it out for themselves, to figure out exactly what is right and what is wrong. Parental guidance is suggested but exists even when you're not there. I knew what was GOOD. Kids are remarkably brilliant in their capacity to just be kids. Did I know that thing Deathstroke was doing was that WRONG? Of course not. I was a kid. If you raise a good kid, there aren't enough Deathstrokes in the universe to undo what you've done as a parent.

My mother, even as a Christian woman, knew this. My simple hope that when my time comes, I'll be as strong and as clever and as good a parent as she.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Morrison Madness Results

And, it's done.

After nearly three weeks.

It's done and there is a winner.

And the winner is, with 59% of the vote...


I could lie and say that I was shocked but well, it would be a lie.

From the beginning, I thought it would come down to either this or JLA but what happened was that YOU decided and THAT is what matters the most.

Was it the right decision? Who truly knows? Was it the work that said the most? Was it the work that made you a Morrison fan?

Maybe not.

It was a decision. It was decided. What I'm taking away from this whole thing isn't necessarily its result but just the awesome fact that over the course of three weeks, everyone cared enough to vote, vote again and vote some more.

Simply because you love Morrison's work and more importantly, YOU LOVE COMICS!

And you know what makes this thing even better? With a writer as fluid as Morrison, we could do this all over again in the future and get a new and different result.

Why? After seeing the passion in which you all defended your choices, every work of this man's is someone's "WATCHMEN."