Friday, February 26, 2010

First Wave...

THE Comics Event Of 1940 In 2010!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Pleasant Surprise

Comics-wise, if you want to put a smile on my face, you can start by doing one thing: begin your storytelling with cover of a comic.

My first encounter with the awesomeness of this device was in 1992's Excalibur #55:

There it is all on the page; a beginning, an invitation to hit the ground, running.

Plus, the other thing it does for me is that, for some reason, I feel like I'm getting a full extra page of story, more bang for my bucks!

So, it was with particular glee my feet, once again, hit the ground in the best possible of ways and with the opening of a door went on a murder mystery featuring The Riddler. The cover certainly added to my enjoyment of this comic and better yet, my comics, period.

Well played, comics. Well played. Well done.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring forward, empty wallet

So yes, I did find some cheese to go with my whine. After Winter Blahslast month's post, where I talked about how disappointed I was with DC's offerings in their April Solicitations, the company has decided to not just do an about-face, but also slap me in my own with it. The May solicits are available and I despair for my pocketbook.

Foremost, I decided to trade wait on Blackest Night, and rather than releasing the saga on a scattered schedule, as they so often seem to do, they have launched 7 (SEVEN!) different hardcovers comprising the bulk of the series and its tie ins. There's Blackest Night hardcover, with all 8 issues plus the 0 issue (304 pgs, $29.99), the Blackest Night: Green Lantern with issues 43-52 of Green Lantern (272 pgs, $24.99), and Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps, collecting issues 39-47 of GLC (264pgs, $24.99). In addition, there's Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol 1 (256 pgs $24.99) collecting the three Blackest Night 3-issue minis featuring Superman, Batman and The Titans while Black Lantern Corps Vol.2 (240pgs, $24.99) covers the other three 3-issue minis featuring the Flash, Wonder Woman and JSA. Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns (256 pgs, $24.99) collects all seven of the revived DCU series (like Catwoman #83 and Starman #81) plus a couple other tie ins, while Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps (176 pgs, $24.99) collects Tales of the Corps #1-3, GL #49 and Adventure Comics #4-5.

Looking at that a little closer, each issue of Blackest Night was $3.99, which 8 times over is $31.92, so at $29.99 the hardcover is actually cheaper than buying the issues. The Green Lantern collection is 10 issues (which would usually run $29.90) for $24.99, while the Green Lantern Corps collection takes 9 issues (usually $26.91) also for $24.99. In fact, almost all of these collections are cheaper (in hardcover no less) than buying the individual issues except Tales of the Corps, which is a paltry 6 issue at $24.99, though sparing you from the back-up features of Adventure Comics. PLUS! You can pre-order them on Amazon (right now) for almost 35% off the cover price! Aren't you glad I'm here? (Disclaimer, Amazon receives their trades a few months behind the direct market, so you're not likely getting them until July rather than May).

Anyway, so that's exciting. But that's not all. Not by a long shot.

May sees the beginning of two year-long, bi-weekly series: Brightest Day (carrying forth from Blackest Night) and Justice League: Generation Lost. I have to say that, in regards to comics, two of the most exciting things in recent years have involved weekly comics. I speak of 52 and Wednesday Comics. Thanks to the above market flood of Blackest Night hardcovers, I'll be all prepped for Brightest Day (though whether super-multitasker Geoff Johns will be, I dunno, I can see the bulk of the workload falling upon Pete Tomasi's respectable shoulders). Meanwhile, Keith Giffen returns to his Justice League of
old, though with Judd Winick in tow in place of his old partner J.M. DeMatteis. Though I question whether returning to the BWA-HA-HA era League is a good idea or not, as I also question Judd Winick's spotty superhero resume (I did like his Outsiders though), I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm hopeful that one of these can capture the magic that 52 delivered (even though Countdown so horrendously dropped the baton).

I suppose, if like me, you're wondering if the DeMatteis and Giffen team (recently seen doing the Metal Men back-up feature in Doom Patrol and the awesome Hero Squared for Boom! before that) is kaput, never fear, for they're back, taking over Booster Gold in May with issue #32!

And they're not they only ones who are back. Paul Levitz makes his return to writing comics BIG TIME in May with the all-new Legion of Super-Heroes #1 and a rather intriguing, old-school World's Finest-sounding run (involving Superman's God complex) starting with Superman/Batman with issue #72. Wow.

Know who else is returning? The Goddamn Bruce Wayne, that's who, with the first two issues of Grant Morrison's The Return of Bruce Wayne also hitting in May, also bi-weekly. While I've been quite enjoying Dick Grayson as Batman and I don't really want to see Bruce's return yet, I still am curious to see a) how Morrison plays this all out, and b) how this differs from Captain America: Reborn. Hopefully there's no "Whose Jowls Will Wear The Cowl" one-shot in which nothing actually happens.

Phew. I'm tired from just looking at all this.

Birds of Prey are also back. Gail Simone. Ed Benes. Lady Blackhawk. Ass kicking. Gnarly!

And did you notice that the doggam DOOM PATROL teams up with the LEGION OF SUPER HEROES in The Brave and the Bold #34!!! How can you pass that up!?

And the Mighty Crusaders Special #1. Okay, I know what you're saying, but if you're not reading the Shield, you're missing out on one of the best written books in the mainstream, not to mention the art team of Marco Rudy and Mick Gray are pulling some serious J.H. Williams III-style layouts and absolutely rocking it. It's a really phenomenal book, completely under the radar.

Surely that's got to be it though. There can' be anything else.
(who am I talking to, my narrative voice is getting awfully confusing here)

Showcase Presents: Suicide Squad vol 1 At last DC is getting around to reprinting the second best ongoing series of the 1980s, although doing it in the cheapo black and white format of Showcase Presents is a curious decision... that said, I think that Luke McDonnell's art style will transfer rather nicely to black and white and 552pgs for $17.99 spells BARgooon!

Len Wein presents a unique maxi-series: DC Universe: Legacies, 10 issues spanning the history of the DC Universe, although this issue curiously starts in the WWII-era 1940s (but illustrated by Joe and Andy Kubert!) so I'm hoping they time jump through to the Western and prehistoric eras, amongst others rather than just covering 1940s - present day.

Is that it for me from the DC Universe. Please tell me that's it...

There's the all new Icon: Mothership Connection trade paperback, which reprints disparate later issues of the Milestone series (#13, 19-22, 24-26, 30) which is fantastic because I've been having a devilish time finding them. It's a curious collection given that the first Icon tpb printed issue 1-8 so this is a radical jump.

Hey did you know that Paul Dini's wife is a magician. I guess that explains his almost obsessive need to include her, I mean Zatanna, in his Batman stories. Well, now perhaps he can get miss Zatara out of his system with her all new series starting in May. Given all the other things starting this month, this one can fall under the radar, but I think Stephane Roux on art will really sell the series (do a google image search).

Phew. That's my acquisitions list for May... well, plus the latest issues of ongoing stuff like Doom Patrol (looks to be a fun issue), Secret Six, the Shield, Nemesis: The Imposters (great cover) and Batman and Robin

(And I just noticed Harlan Ellison with Kyle Baker doing a Spirit: Black and White in The Spirit #2! Aw man!)

There. Done.
I could take a look at the Marvel solicits for May but who has the time, energy or money? I mean really?

I'm just glad I'm not also into Superman right now, else there's also four issues of "the War of the Supermen" also going on, not to mention the big Absolute All-Star Superman hardcover. Gads.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dream Street

I had a conversation with an artist friend of mine once and we got onto the subject of artists being better than the material they were given.

Recently, Marvel announced that former X-Factor writer Louise Simonson was returning to "finish" what she'd started with a new series, X-Factor Forever.

The "Forever" concept is a simple one; Marvel calls in a former writer known for working on a character at a specific time and brings them back to finish the story they never got a chance to finish.

I'm going to read it. For one reason or another, I always loved her X-Factor work, along with another bit of her work.

Along with her work on X-Factor, she also created another of the favorite comics of my youth, Power Pack, a book that I always felt read more like a children's book than a comic book and mean that as a compliment to both genres.

Simonson had the great fortune of being teamed with artist June Bringman, an artist who could draw children as something more humans with large heads.

So that brings me to this posts, I could have one comics wish it would be this:

when it came to a sense of wonder in comics, the printed page could barely contain him. He was pulling influences from all over the place while forging a style uniquely his own. He was always one of my favorite artists and always seemed to be greater than the material at any given time.

If I ran the funny farm and could have gotten anything greenlit, at a certain time, it would have been this:

Preferably, in a star-spanning, time-spanning graphic novel format. Wouldn't that have been the epitome of what we know as awesome?

What's your comics dream project?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Can It Be It Was All So Simple

I don't remember when I met him but I know it was a good day.

Hearts choose you and today, I am even more certain of it.

For over twelve years, I worked in a comics shop and made more friends than I sometimes believe I have any right to.

As the years passed, those friends of mine, literally hung around, listened to one another and became friends. From a seed, a tree. We have conversed with one another. Spent evenings outside of a comics shop with one another. Attended baby showers with one another. And when one moved away, we promised to continue to meet with one another.

And we did because... we had history and every time we would get together, it reminded us of us and how we came to be. This sort of disparate comics reading family.

Three years back, events took place threatening to fracture what it'd taken years for us to build. I was to be fired and the business of doing business was meant, as it should, to go on. The "customer base" had other ideas.

One word was never said to me about it. Apparently, I had little say in the matter.

Not about the job but about what was to happen next.

The customers walked. They walked.

En masse. They'd decided that I needed to be shown loyalty and good faith and they effectively, quit a business.

Months before, I'd stood before them and at a particularly trying time in my life, I spoke my heart to that room.

"Everyone of you are like family and just like family, I would not hesitate to have any one of you at my table."

It was my truth and I don't speak it often or as much as I should. I remember feeling the lump gathering at the back of throat and then, out of the corner of my eye, a gentle nodding caught my eye. It was acceptance. It was unity. At a time when I felt as though I could do nothing right, there it was, the subtle acknowledgment that it was going to be OK.

It came from my friend. The same one who would months later help spearhead a walkout simply because "you don't treat my friend like that."

And that's the difference between "people" and friends. People will weigh you down by simply being people, a friend can say everything you need to hear by simply just being.

With him, it was simple.

A friend will want you to shine with them, brightly, spreading it out into the world.

My friend had shine. He lent me some of his.

He was a star and had it to give.

Today, my friend, Martin Bosworth passed away.

We all continue to shine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sleeping With The Fishes

Aquaman's coming back... maybe.

Those dead sharks surrounding him don't look very happy that he's back, though.

Current friend and former patron of the comics-shop-I-used-to-run, Glen Weldon, wrote a really nice piece on Aquaman for NPR, proving why Aquaman is AWESOME.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Morning Would

Certain characters just give you the warm fuzzies.

I would write the ongoing adventures of Lady Cop for a handful of nickels and a ketchup packet. (Heinz)

I would buy a comic called Hawkman Team-Up where he'd simply team-up with his mace and beat the shit out of inanimate objects. Actually, that sounds like any Hawkman comic.

When it comes to Aquaman, I'm always good for at least six issues until I get mad at whoever's screwing up something so gloriously simple.

If I were an editor at Marvel, I would have Stingray just pop my books and just stand around and look awesome.

I can be something of a feminist and yet, I have a weird affection for The Inferior Five's Dumb Bunny. (Vertigo, come see me.)

I am a straight man who points at Lady Gaga and asks incredulously, "So, why doesn't anyone get Dazzler?"

I have an inexplicable like for things that others simply dismiss.

We all have them, characters that we love that seemingly, no else would. We would rescue them, in a heartbeat, from The Isle of Misfit Comics Ideas and build whole worlds of dialogue and lore around them.

Who are some of your favorite "below the radar" comics characters?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Raising The White Flag

As suggested by Peter:

There I am, being dragged closer to it. I claw at the ground, shouting at the indignity of it all. I was a disciple. I knew its every intricacy, its every chapter and verse. I'd managed to elude its grasp for over a decade, something I proudly shouted to the heavens on as many occasions as opportunity would allow. I had put this thing down, conquered it and slammed it back to the hell it had become.

Kicking and screaming, I am forced upon its altar and shown, once again, its uncanny face. I bow my head, not in reverence but in submission. I have completely and utterly given in.

And like a addict returning to the needle, Matt Fraction has made me read The X-Men again.

I'd given up reading The X-Men, proper for nearly a decade. Sure, I'd read Grant Morrison's New X-Men but let's be honest, that wasn't the X-Men. That was Grant Morrison's X-Men and when he left, I left with him, vowing never to return.

For about a year I'd been hearing good things about Matt Fraction on the X-Men and while I wasn't initially floored, I could easily see that this was a man unleashing his love for the superhero genre upon the masses who'd come to expect nothing but the X-cliches of gloved fists vowing revenge and berzerker rages against machines.

What we got was a man who understood that for Wolverine to be Wolverine he had to be Wolverine. Meaning, he had to get his hands dirty so enter a leader, Cyclops, who allowed for this to happen. Matt Fraction's Cyclops was the delivery of the shiny promise Morrison always hinted upon.

His X-Men Science Squad was the welcome geek-tastic continuation of his Image Comics graphic novel, The Five Fists of Science.

And do not even get me started on his Emma Frost or his Namor, for that matter.

It is Uncanny X-Men methadone for those with New X-Men cravings.

And here I go again.

So, what comics did you think you'd never read and now, love?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Raising The Red Flag!

HUGE Justice Society of America fan here.

So, why am I not reading it?

Can't really lie, neither JSofA or JSA All-Stars writers Bill Willingham or Matt Sturges are clicking with me. There's still time for them to wow me but my wallet just isn't large enough anymore for that particular grace to happen.

I've collected JSA in nearly its every modern incarnation from All-Star Squadron to the Strazewski/Parobeck Justice Society of America to the Geoff Johns era JSA and after years of waiting and wanting, The JSofA is franchised out in order to give us The All-Stars and...

It all feels a bit *meh.*

I like my JSA on the same page, literally and figuratively. I don't particulary like having my favorite characters not interacting because of a generational/attitudinal rift.

I'm all for storytelling but in my mind, certain characters are there to do certain things. The JSA is there to show others how to work through things and get the job done. The division that brought about the JSA All-Stars' creation just doesn't feel very "JSA."

It's simple, really. Really simple.

I like my Stargirl fighting alongside Wildcat, not against.

That's just how I like to see the JSA.


Not to raise the red flag of fanboy entitlement but in dividing them, DC lost a chance at getting into my wallet, twice.

It's cool. I know I'll be back, eventually.

Are there any books out there you really want to read but for one reason or another, you can't bring yourself to do it?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Must Be In The Front Row!

Superman's there but kinda-not-really-in-some-ways. So's Spidey and most of The X-Men.

Batman is in there, in the VIP section. Has his spot roped off... or so I hear.

Wonder Woman's in there but she's always getting mistaken for a groupie.

Iron Man just made it in there a couple of years back and Green Lantern seems set to join him next year.

Most of these characters have permeated into the mainstream consciousness through different forays into mass media and all have one thing in common, they originated within the pages of a comic book.

The road from idea to comics to media darling often goes a little something like this:

Comic stand, someone buys it and has his or her mind blown, tells others. Someone on the lookout for "the next big thing" or someone who believes in the potential inherent in the concept or someone simply looking to fill time in a schedule comes a-knockin', offering it up to a broader audience.

Superman goes from idea to comic to radio to serial to cartoon to TV show to movie and somewhere along the line achieves iconic status.

The X-Men start out as an idea to comic to canceled comic to revived comic to biggest-selling-comic-on-the-stands to cartoon series to blockbuster tentpole movie franchise to an idea that Hollywood is already looking to reboot.

Let's face it, comics have a velvet rope, an intangible way of rewarding certain characters for being and for keeping others out.

Watchmen had a built in audience that held it up and spread its mighty word around for over twenty years and then it caught the break of being directed by the man who directed Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300. It's pedigree was sealed and was set to take it's place alongside The Dark Knight as a new millennial triumph and then...


Watchmen was the sound of general apathy crashing up against greater expectation.

For Iron Man, who I don't think anyone would have pointed out and said would become a franchise character at any time, there's a Daredevil movie or a Phantom movie, a Shadow movie...

You get my point.

For all the fabled history and possibilities inherent in a character(s) story, why do some just work and others just do not?

We have to ask the same with comics, in general. Why does a character like Iron fist go unloved for decades before someone like a Matt Fraction can see the possibilities inherent in the story-of-a-white-child-raised-in-a-mythical-Asian-esque-city-who-fights-a-dragon-and-takes-its-heart, resulting-in-his-having-the-power-to-shatter-things-with-his-iron-like fist, he-discovers-he's-a-billionaire, meets-a-super-strong-black private-eye-with-bullet-proof-skin-wearing-a-yellow-satin-shirt-and-metal-tiara-and-befriends-him?


How does this not enter into the mainstream while Blade does? How does Iron Fist remain a current comics fixture while Blade, the comic book character, flounders through cancellation after cancellation?

So, my question is this:

What makes a character A-list while others remain behind the velvet rope?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Electric Boogaloo

I have a question for y'all...

I suppose by now you've been made aware of the hotly rumoured rumblings of expansion to the Watchmen universe (sequels/prequels) at DC, as reported this week by Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston.

I'm sure we all can agree how horrible an idea this is, and yet, there's not a doubt in anyone's mind that any continuation of stories within the Watchmen universe would be highly successful, if not in spirit at least in sales. Even the naysayers would be curious which would no doubt rack up large numbers for DC. Given the boffo business the Watchmen trade paperback did last year surrounding the buzz prior to the film's release, I'm sure there would be quite a lot of "outside" interest in further Watchmen materials. People who have little to no concept of how sacred, pristine and pure (a little hyperbolic maybe?) the Watchmen has remained over the years would be more inclined to pick up a Watchmen sequel than the latest Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Batman trade.

But yeah, it's a bad idea, and the initial thought is who in the comic industry would be foolhardy enough to take on writing or art chores on such blasphemy? I mean career suicide or what? And yet, I'm sure there are countless individuals looking to make a name for themselves (or super-size their name) that would jump at the opportunity to work on what would be one of the highest-profile comic books ever. And what's more, I'm sure they would benefit from such exposure, even if the results were poor.

And then there would be the egos, the talent that think they're the only ones who can do the work justice and give that timeless excuse to bastardizing someone else's work: "If they're going to do it anyway, it might as well be me", or, to quote Frank Miller on doing "The Spirit", "nobody else gets to touch it".

Speculation is that a Dave Gibbons written/drawn expansion would be acceptable, and in a skewed way, I guess it's really the only acceptable solution outside of the never-gonna-happen Moore/Gibbons reunion. Personally, though I've found most of Gibbons' written work to be average at best, certainly not up to Moore's caliber.

Others have speculated that the industries' highest stature (and also British) writers could possibly give it a run, such as Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis or even Neil Gaiman (who previously followed up Moore on Miracleman), though I doubt any of them would even dare, less they fell into the trench head of "I don't trust anyone else to do it right".

We shouldn't even be talking about this. Yet we are. So let's talk.
That question I wanted to ask...
Aside from the obvious reply of "no one", who would you trust to do something with the Watchmen?

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Blatant Misuse of Company Time and Material

I, like most, get bored at work. Startlingly so, in fact. Idle hands, as they say, are the Devil's playthings, and I guess the Devil wants to retroactively erase marriages and also make me draw little cartoons, because when I'm bored, I doodle. Problem is, I only have access to the humblest of all papers while I'm only the clock; the lowly Post-It note.

I have made the Post-It my bitch.

Here is Thanos, wrecking shop with his magical glove of plot contrivance.
And King Shark, who wears stupid little legwarmers because he really liked Xanadu.
I honestly can't remember if Wildcat even has a tail. If he doesn't, he's less adorable than I thought.
On a related note, the other day I had to go to the Secret Question form to remind me of a lost password. The question was "what is Green Lantern's weakness?" and after plugging in "yellow," "the color yellow" and "blondes," it turned out I'd written "booze."
Remember when he built C-3PO? Good times.