Thursday, December 08, 2011

Hello and Welcome

Hello there Surfers of the Super Highway,

I've been invited by the 4th Man himself to provide another view on today's comic book world! Currently I'm reading 21 series from DC's new 52 and I will give a glance how I rate them and hopefully give you all a new book to read off of my suggestions. I also read Marvel and indie comics and will provide the same for them too.

I want to jump right into a few quick reviews here. Yesterday, Dec 7, Powerhouse Comics in Appleton, Wisconsin opened at noon and I was waiting outside the door. I picked up my box of awaiting comics and also a few ones that tried to fall through the cracks on me.

Marvel: The Defenders #1
- Here we go! Marvel has been advertising this comic like crazy and I'm hoping it won't disappoint. Breaker of Worlds; Part One: I Hate Myself and Want to Die. First things first, I love the Nirvana reference here and if you haven't heard Nirvana's IHM&WTD then download it or go by the Beavis and Butthead Do America soundtrack. It's an A+ song, with heavy riffs and wailing feedback it's everything Kurt Cobain stood for.

So The Defenders started on a high note and faltered HARD from there. I've heard Matt Fraction (Casanova) is a good writer, but he leaves no proof of it here. My favorite character leaves us on page 3 after she slept with Dr. Strange without even getting help on her thesis paper! Then on page 5, I nearly put the book down entirely. HULK (green) actually asked for help. I can't believe it. Hulk was scared. Imagine, "What if HULK... had a HULK? (pg 7)" So the first antagonist is some sort of HULK squared named NUL: the breaker of worlds and he scares the HULK. This is such a farce that it makes me not want to continue reading this comic honestly. The HULK I know and love can't be scared because being scared is weak and the HULK is the strongest thing in the world. If something was stronger than HULK than it would rest SOLELY on HULK's shoulders to stop it. He wouldn't need to recruit a team like the would-be Defenders to help him.

I give this comic a F, because like Netflix my rating can't go any lower. Honestly, a F! I didn't finish even reading the book because none of the ways the characters were used interested me. Iron Fist is a waste of space, the Silver Surfer doesn't even get enough coverage to validate his presence on the team. I won't buy The Defenders #2 and it doesn't bother me at all to say that.

IDW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Micro Series: Raphael
- BUY this book! Buy all the rebooted Turtles books! Kevin Eastman is writing the Turtles again and it's great great stuff. If you are already reading them, good job, this comic picks up with Raphael having being implemented back into his family, but he still goes on runs with Casey Jones every Wednesday. Nothing like some good asskicking with Jones.

Brian Lynch writes and the art is done by Franco Urru with colors by Fabio Mantovani. The writing is superb and the art is very a cartoonish gritty. Here we are introduced to ALOPEX. A new mutant in the TMNT world and she is a speedster/trickster. She reminds me of Sly Cooper: Thievius Raccoonus in a good way. The back pages have design sketches from Kevin Eastman of Alopex.

But is Alopex a goodie or a baddie? Read and find out. Raphael does his best to discover her true motives. Also, in this issue we are hinted at Shredder for the first time and also hinted at the future of Bebop and Rocksteady. I mean hell, Bebop is even wearing the same out-of-date shades and it's awesome.

-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 is an A+. Buy it, love it, cherish it. READ IT/REREAD IT.
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-series Raphael #1 is an A. I don't know why it isn't an A+, other than I wish I saw more of the other Turtles. I can't give everything an A+ can I? Although with these restarted Turtle's books, I just might. Amazing book/amazing reads.

DC Comics: Batwing #4
- I wanted to review Batwing specifically because 4th Man gave it such a big thumbs down, but I will give it a thumbs up. If Batwing disappeared I would notice! Especially after reading and starting to be interested in the character David Zavimbe. At first I thought he was gonna be just a black batman, but it's more than that. I'm very intrigued by Africa and the turmoil of the countries found there, especially in Northern Africa.

Issue #4 gives us the 'secret origin' of Batwing. It's not so secret anymore, but it is a very ideal and easy to believe backstory. David Zavimbe was a child soldier, whom with his brother, killed, stole, and did everything most child soldiers are trained to do. But he has morals enough to not want to kill children and women, and he stands by those morals. Enough so that he losses someone close to him because of it.

Tired of seeing all the death around him, David vows to never kill again. He instead wants justice and reform for his country. Now as David takes the mantle of Batwing, he returns to his battle against an enemy named Massacre. If you are looking for a slaughterfest, then Massacre is your guy. He kills on a whim and is extremely happy to kill anything and anyone.

Also, I found the first few pages very hard to believe that they took place in Africa. The victorian designed house and the firefighters and police looked very modern American. As if they came out of middle america to fight a fire that supposedly took place in Africa. I don't expect tiki huts, but I don't expect two story victorian houses either.

Batwing #4 gets a C. It focuses too much on backstory for my liking. It's a good backstory, but predictable.

DC Comics: Batwing #3
- The look on the 'Dragonflies' faces on page one is worth picking this comic off the shelf and opening to the first page alone. These child soldiers of Africa are such an oddity in today's world. I can't even find the words to describe how awesome/horrible I think it all is to be honest. I'm sure there is a German word to describe it though. Intriguing and repulsive at the same time. This comic gave enough backstory and enough current story to satisfy me.

Massacre, the main antagonist thus far is going around and murdering super heroes of Africa named 'The Kingdom'. The best part of the story is that his murders seem justified and in issue 3 we hear his motives. The action with Batwing/Thunder Fall vs. Massacre is crisp and believable here. It's a great fight and I love good fights in Comics.

-Batwing #3 gets an A.
-Batwing #2, lets just say if you like machetes then this issue is an A+. But I'll give a B, because with the second issue of a new series I want to see more of the main character. Batwing isn't present due to what the story dictates, and that's okay and mostly believable. I do love the character of Thunder Fall, who is introduced here. Fun fight between Massacre and Thunder Fall contained within!
-Batwing #1 introduces you to 'The Kingdom' and Massacre and of course Batwing. It also gives you an idea of what Batwing wishes to implement in his country of 'Tinasha'. A honest and not corrupt African police force. But it'll be hard with guys like Massacre around. One of the New 52's greatest first issue twist endings. The art is just splendid and the story is a quick an fun read. Easy to rate this issue an A, because it makes you want to read more. I'll give it a jaded B+ though, because Batwing just keeps getting better. On the standard of issue 3, the first issue isn't an A.

-The Defenders #1 : F

-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rafael #1 : A
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 : A+

-Batwing #1 : B+
-Batwing #2 : B
-Batwing #3 : A
-Batwing #4 : C

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The New 52: Some quick hits

Batwoman #1 ~ I didn't love it, and I didn't hate it. I won't notice if the title dies, but it wasn't a book I'll avoid either. Another Bat title looking for its own niche in the lead character. The art made me think of somebody who really wants me to take acid before I read. 'B-'.

Birds Of Prey #1 ~ Another book I don't have strong feelings on, except to note that I had strong feelings on the old B.o.P. It's a decent opening salvo, and maybe it will build into something more. 'B'

Blackhawks #1 ~ I was enormously indifferent to this book.It sets up a number of storylines right off the bat, but none of them really engaged me. Felt like filler for a comic line that had other options. 'C+'

Captain Atom #1 ~ Krul gets a lot of rope from some people, given his status as a real 'comer' at DC, but I'm not one of those people (*yet.) I didn't find anything in this book to make me care, and I felt like there was too much 'Dr. Manhattan' to the new Captain Atom. I'll only spend time reading this book when I've read everything else. 'B-'

Catwoman #1 ~ Winnick on the other hand usually gets a little bump and a little patience when it comes to me. The book was fine, and I'll admit that I didn't object to anything deeply as I was reading it, unless it's the hyper sexualization of Selina. Then again, in the Year One story by Miller she was a prostitute, so sexuality has always been deeply linked to the character. In the end, it's an alright book, but nothing special. 'B'

Deathstroke #1 ~ The author clearly wants me to remember that Deathstroke is a bad, bad man. I get it. But couldn't he have added a little more depth to the story? Couldn't he have made me care, or given me some sense that he'd offer me more in coming issues? He'd better find something to draw me in and show that he knows more about Deathstroke than that's he bad. Otherwise this book is doomed. 'C+'

That's all for now...

The New 52: Wonder Woman #1

Brian Azzarello brings us the completely relaunched Wonder Woman and I think I should just open by saying; FINALLY! Somebody who understands the point of a relaunch. True, Brian didn't drag us back to Diana's birth and give us a story heavy with history and the resetting of continuity, but what he did do was wipe the slate clean and get started on something new.

Or old.

Maybe the best part of this comic was the way that it got back to the basics with Diana, drawing deeply on her roots and ties to Greek mythology. Diana has always been at her best in stories that recognize her value stems from the ability to weave her into the grandiose machinations of the Gods themselves.

The art is a little different, but it works so wonderfully that after noticing it immediately, I stopped noticing it and simply sank into the story.

This one gets a solid 'A'.

Read it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The New 52: Batwing #1

Let's get right to the thick of it.


The last thing I need is another Bat title, about a character I'm not even remotely interested in. I read the first two issues, just to be sure that I wasn't underselling Winnick's work, and I'm not. It's fine. It presents a passable story, that I don't find myself caring about at all, with basically no hook that I could find. It's not terrible, but there's nothing special about it. It stinks of having another Bat book just for the sake of having one.

Also, add it to the list of books that doesn't read well for the admitted target audience of the New 52. If you don't know you're Batman Inc history, this doesn't make any sense at all. Strange for a refreshed universe to demand so much back story knowledge. In the end, I'm really only left with one honest question:

If DC cancelled this book, would anyone even really notice?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Read the back pages...

Action Comics #2 has an interesting interview with the author and writer of the newly revamped comic series on its back pages. Read it and tell me what you think of it.

I thought that it was unbelievably arrogant, but as somebody pointed out.....should I be surprised? Not given who was speaking I shouldn't.

BTW - I don't buy Action Comics to read about the modern day equivalent of Hercules. I buy it to read about SUPERMAN. After two issues I stand by my position that it's a good, fun's just not a Superman story, regardless of what the characters are called.

The Golden Age Forgotten?

How quickly has Marvel forgotten The Golden Age?

The 'big theme' that was supposed to remind us all of brighter days was swept away pretty quickly by anticipation for the next 'big event.' Fear Itself is a dark story of the breaking of heroes and of worlds. People died. Other died before it (Johnny Storm - although we all know that won't last!) Where has this Golden Age gone?

Didn't we deserve something slightly brighter, for some time slightly longer than this? Wasn't that the inherent promise of The Golden Age?

I'm not condemning Fear Itself, which thus far has been decent (I've only read the first five issues) and looks like it might break the trend of all-hype no climax Marvel moments, but I am wondering why we have to race from event to event, without any time to just revel in the growth and development of our favorite character(s).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The New 52: Batman #1

Scott Snyder's appointment to the main Batman title (in my mind you don't get a bigger Batman book than.....well.....BATMAN) is something that I was very pleased to see when I reviewed the new creative teams for the New 52. Previously I had been following his work in Detective, and I was really starting to become a believer. After Batman #1 I can tell you that I am completely converted.

Can I just say, Batman & Joker versus the inmates of Arkham? Wow.

I'm a huge fan of pacing in a story, and Snyder's pacing is something to behold. This issue does an exceptional job of laying out a steady progression, with escalating climaxes that leave us satisfied as we advance through the book to the pinnacle of the issue; the final panel. The ending of this book is not to be missed.

The artwork in this book is an entirely different matter. I love the way Capullo draws Bats, but I hate the way he does some of the other characters. His backgrounds are gritty and harsh, which I love, but sometimes his people come off as cartoonish. The funny thing is that his Joker is less cartoon and more Heath Ledger, but his other villains are more cartoon than I'd like. It probably would help if I didn't find that all the Robins look like they actually are Bruce's sons. The art doesn't hurt the book, but it doesn't do enough to enhance it in my opinion.

All in all though? Solid book.


There is an opportunity here though for me to continue judging books on DC's relaunch and the idea that new readers have to pick the books up. Like the rest of the Batman titles, this book offers little in the way of a fresh start and could frustrate new readers. It isn't as egregious as Batman & Robin though.

(and no I'm not going to explain the comment about Batman & Joker. Read the book.)

The New 52: Batman & Robin #1

Damien is a little a**hole.

I just needed to get that out of my system. There is almost no redeeming quality to this kid, unless you consider the fact that he's Bruce's kid to be redeeming. There are few things I would enjoy more than watching Dick or Tim absolutely slap the taste out of his mouth the next time his condescending, arrogant attitude emerges (which will be the next time he says anything.) Bruce can't slap him because then we'd have to address the issue of child abuse, but man would I pay good money to see Tim knock him on his butt.

Sorry, I really needed to get that out.

This book leaves me scratching my head in regards to DC's relaunch. I'm not sure I would have found this book to be particularly reader friendly if I'd been new to the DCU, and isn't that the point of the relaunch? To appeal to new customers? There was simply too much going on that demanded explanation, and nothing in the way of clarification from the author. Is that a failing on Peter's part, or a shortcoming of the entire plan to relaunch the universe without strong editorial direction on a complete revision of history to make it user friendly? As a relaunch book I'd say this fails terribly.

With that said, I'm old school DCU (I remember when Batman & Superman were 'chums') and to me this read like an extension of the Batman & Robin that I invested a great deal of time in under Grant Morrison. It doesn't explain to me why Bruce is willing to tolerate a Robin whose actions make Bruce himself less effective, but I'm hoping that's a theme that will play out as the book progresses. I like the new villain, and the inclusion of the Batman Inc. theme as fundamental to the storyline that Peter is building. The art is terrific with the right blend of fun and darkness.

I wonder how many people will overlook the plan for Crime Alley, and its significance? Tomasi is making a major statement about how he wants to impact The Bat.

All in all, Id' rate the book like this:

New to DCU Reader: 'C-'
Old Reader: 'A'

The moral of this story? Screw the NEW. If you wanna know why things are the way they are, pick up a trade and get caught up!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The New 52: Animal Man #1

Let's get one thing out of the way really, really quickly.


When I drop the name Animal Man to friends, and non comic fans, I get strange looks and barely disguised chuckles, occasionally finishing with a hearty laugh and the shake of a head. After all, the only thing more lame than a guy who has animal powers is a guy who speak to fish. Right?

The difference here is that this book hits all the right (wrong) notes and is a perfect blend of artwork, coloring and writing, all working together to let you know that you're in the opening scene of a horror story. When the bombshell drops, I can't say you'll be surprised, or even that you didn't see it coming, but I can say that it is downright creepy. Going into this book I had absolutely no expectations.

Now? I'm expecting greatness. It's one of the best of the New 52.

It's an 'A+' book.

If it continues to deliver like issue number one did, it will be a breakout hit.

One last thought; sometimes new series or relaunches have this need to pour into you as much backstory and information as they can dump into the first issue. It's as if you can't survive the book without learning the protagonists history. This book does an exceptional job of giving you just the right amount of information, without making it into a blatant LEARN THIS NOW moment. Maybe more importantly, Lemire understands that you really don't need to know everything Buddy Baker in order to get engrossed in his story.

Well done.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The New 52: All Star Western #1

Western comics? Meh.

Revisiting a classic title like All-Star Western rather than beggin a man like Ennis to revisit Hitman? Seemed like a sketchy choice going into the book. All of that changed when I read it though. While I found the title a little too rife with cliche relatives of Gotham City staples in the modern books, the story was intense, dark and conspiratorial. All things I found compelling.

Mixing Jonah Hex with Amadeus Arkham, a fledgling Gotham City, a serial killer and a conspiracy that potentially reaches to the upper heights of Gotham's power elite? Brilliant. What's more, the artwork actually works with the tone of the book, setting a mood for the reader that enhances and powers the author's theme. It's a spectacular synergy of author and writer supporting each other to put out a book that exceeds either of their individual contributions.

Hex is the ideal late 19th century replacement for Batman, in an environment that demands a vigilante with no regard for the law, and a mercurial psychological profile. With Arkham appearing to play the straight man, we may be seeing the first works of a brilliant story.

This book gets an 'A+'.

The New 52: Aquaman #1

King Arthur has too often been the laughing stock of the DCU. Fans have mocked him. Comics have mocked him. Even pop culture (say.....The Big Bang Theory or Family Guy) has mocked him. In the opening salvo of what I hope will be the definitive Aquaman series, even Geoff Johns mocks him; albeit in the form of a brash, rude blogger seeking to elicit some reaction from the calm, reserved King of the Sea.

My hope is that the book sets the tone for a new investigation of a largely under appreciated member of the Justice League. The last time I felt like a writer was going to dig right into Orin's life and peel back the layers like an onion, inviting us to care about the otherwise uninspiring fish-man was when Peter David took the title in the mid '90s. The unique approach that Johns seems focused on providing us with is a fresh perspective on the hero, while directly confronting the popular opinion that he is a weak hero, with ineffective powers.

I'm not surprised that the opening issue reads well, and sets us on a path I'm very interested in exploring, but I am very pleased. The character has long deserved better, and now we have a chance to see him get it. If Johns can bring to this character some of the compelling storylines he has infused into Flash and Green Lantern in the last decade, we may finally see Aquaman for the major hero he deserves to be. That he ranked #147 in a Wizard poll on the greatest super-heroes ever was a travesty.

This book? So far it's an inspiration!

I'll give it an 'A'.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Apparently I'm wrong.

I have it on good authority that "everyone says Action Comics #1 is poo."

The good news for me is that I've never spent a lot of time concerned with what everyone says. In fact, I often find my opinions affirmed in everyone else's disagreement with them. Despite assurances from a friend that the blogs he's been reading, and the feedback he's been getting all reach the consensus that The New 52's Action Comics is terrible, I stand by my initial assessment.

While it isn't a Superman story in my opinion, but rather the tale of a love-child blend of Superman & Batman, it is still an exceptional piece of writing that gives just enough taste of what may yet be coming to wet our appetite. Indications are that this Luthor, like the one depicted in All-Star Superman, will be lifted up for us to admire both his incredible brilliance, and his glaring emotional failings. That's something I like in Grant's writing. The hero, while not Superman by my reckoning, is still an interesting protagonist struggling to find his role in a society that doesn't yet know what to make of him.

Best part of all is that the first issue end like it's The Empire Strikes Back. I like a bleak ending as a way of opening the first chapter of a story.

Screw the consensus; this is a book worth reading!

*It should still never have happened though.
**It is still better than anything that has Spider-Man in it. Spider-Man is a terrible excuse for a hero.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The New 52: Batgirl #1

I'll make this review short and sweet.


Joker shot her 3 years ago, and she's back to fighting crime? Gail's focus clearly intends to be on the mental struggle with getting back on the horse, but my struggle is on the fact that issue #1 paid no mind to Oracle or the Birds of Prey. It seems from what we got in this issue that DC isn't interested in reliving that part of Barbara's life in their relaunch.

Shame on them.

I found nothing in it motivating me to read the next issue. 'F'.

The New 52: Action Comics #1

I have not been a loud proponent of DC's latest marketing stunt, but as issue after issue flies off the shelves at my local comic retailer, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't start sharing some of my thoughts on The New 52. I thought I'd start with the book that should NEVER have been relaunched. If any title should have been too sacred, it is this one.

DC did not share my view.

This September they launched Action Comics Vol. 2, handing the responsibility for guiding this flagship title to Grant Morrison, an author that should have inspired great confidence after his sensational work on All-Star Superman. Strangely it was Grant's proposed direction for Action Comics that really sparked my distrust for what DC has planned.

I stand by my previous position regarding the relaunch; I don't like it.

That said, this issue gets a solid 'A' grade. Morrison may be representing a character that doesn't resemble the Superman I know and love, and he may look completely asinine running around in jeans (although running around in tights is a little......ummmm.....questionable as well) but the story that he wove together to launch this series is unquestionably fantastic.

I can describe it best in two words: it's fun.

I especially enjoyed the way we get our first glimpses of both Luthor's genius, and his insanity. There's still too much "Batman" in this comic for it to feel right to me, but if I could just forget that I'm supposed to be reading about Clark Kent, and simply read the series, I'm sure I would rank it amongst my favorites. No doubt Morrison, who benefits from terrific work by Morales, will continue to weave a captivating re-imagining of Superman's early days in Metropolis and will eventually win some kind of award for it.

I won't even be surprised if an entirely new generation of readers sees this as their 'ideal' Superman going forward. It just won't be mine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No repsect for Oracle

Batgirl is coming back.

No not Cassandra, or Stephanie.


THE Batgirl.

One of the big announcements that shows up with the New 52 is the return of Barbara Gordon to the mantle of Batgirl. I'd like to sum up my initial thoughts on this in one word.........but I try not to swear on this blog.

Despite assurances from the woman who's been doing a sensational job of building Barbara's character and value as Oracle in recent years, I'm having a hard time taking Gail Simone at her word when she says "we’re doing everything we can to be respectful to this character’s amazing legacy."

Like Barry Allen, Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan before her (amongst numerous others) Barbara Gordon's character was rocked to its foundations in what many people consider to be a seminal moment in comics history.

Since being put in her wheelchair, Barbara has grown and evolved as a character and her value to the DCU as Oracle far exceeds any value I ever saw in her as Batgirl.As Oracle she became the lifeblood of the Birds of Prey, and the information power broker of the entire super hero community. Beyond that, she represented in my mind, a powerful image of the physically challenged and how they can impact our world.

Apparently DC didn't think that was an important role for her.

Sometimes when a character is killed, crippled or deeply altered there is an eventual necessity to find an 'out' from the events that created that situation because the book, or the character, are dying under the weight of it. I don't see that as the situation with Barbara (much as I don't believe it was the situation with Barry Allen and the Flash.)

The changes in Barbara's character grounded her in my eyes. They made her more genuine, as though she could move herself out of the books and into the real world. Now that they're taking that away from her, I have to wonder why I should care about her instead of The Huntress or BatWoman or The Question or any of the other 'street level' heroines that have gained exposure in the time that Barbara spent as Oracle. Without reading a single page of Gail's new series, my concern is that Barbara becomes an interchangeable spare part that isn't so dissimilar to any of the other Batman family members.

She is no longer unique.

And to me, that's not respectful to her legacy at all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dick Grayson: Doctor Fate


I've been reading some Flashpoint.

I've already explained why Flashpoint is something that has me more interested than Marvel's summer blockbuster Fear Itself, but as I get a little deeper into the story itself, I'm finding some really terrific reasons to like the creative concepts brought forward in the twenty spin-off series that make up the Flashpoint timeline. One of the ones I really enjoyed is Deadman & The Flying Graysons.

Followers of the blog may have picked up on the fact that I'm a big Dick Grayson fan. Robin. Nightwing. Batman. Call him what you will, but Dick Grayson is a terrific character that, in my opinion, has always had lots of depth and is seemingly ripe for more interesting and challenging scenarios. Maybe the one thing that DC did get right with the New 52 (even though it is, in itself, wrong) is the return of Dick in his own series as Nightwing.

Still, in the Flashpoint world, where nothing is the same as its supposed to be, Dick and his parents are still traveling with the circus. They were on a tour of Europe when the Amazonian-Atlantean War broke out and ravaged that part of the world. Trapped there, they continued to tour, sticking mostly to small towns, trying not to get caught up in the war itself.

Fate had other plans.


Flashpoint is the story of a world rapidly racing towards total annihilation, and I wonder if I'm going to be satisfied when it is concluded, or if I'm going to be left with a keen interest to read more; to hear an author's take on how that world will ultimately play out. Specifically, will anyone find the opportunity before the final issue of Flashpoint wraps up, to tell me whatever became of Dick Grayson in his new role as Doctor Fate?

Which is very cool.

My congratulations to J.T. Krul, the writer who dreamt up the story, which includes Deadman, The Flying Graysons, elements of the Secret Six, Doctor Fate, Count Vertigo and in the final panel The Question, Kid Devil and Brittania.

I definitely would have read more of this series.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

If I could get serious for a moment...

For a brief moment I'd like to take a break from comics and talk about something totally unrelated.

In conversations with friends in the past I have often lamented that fame is wasted on the famous, because so few of them understand the wonderful power of it. It isn't the money, or the ability to walk into the best restaurant in the world without a reservation, or the opportunity it provides you to rub elbows with other famous people. Those things are all selfish experiences that while, perhaps, exciting for you are nothing more than the accessories of fame.

The true power of fame lies in the ability to connect with, and impact directly the lives of others.

It would be easy for me to list off the countless ways in which famous people have an opportunity to change our world for the better, but I don't want to turn this into a lengthy blog. Five minutes ago I read this article "Bautista calls dying fan to wish her Happy Birthday" online and appreciated somebody who understands the only true value of fame.

I know Jose isn't alone.

I know other actors, athletes, musicians, etc. are out there showing the same type of appreciate for the power that has been blessed unto them, but honestly? It's not enough. Given how many people have Jose's influence, and more, in this world.....our news should be overflowing with reports like this one. 

Monday, August 08, 2011

Legacy Heroes

Great article by Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance: Ask Chris #67

Perhaps I should have thought of the topic before I read his, because I find myself with absolutely nothing to add on the topic of Barry Allen and his disappointing return to the DCU. Chris expertly sums up the value of Barry's death and the incredible ways in which so many authors leveraged it to turn Wally West into something more than just a temporary stand-in.

He also references my favorite Flash story ever: The Return of Barry Allen.

If you don't know it, you don't appreciate just how good Waid's run on Flash was, or just how much the character grew over the next decade. Your loss.

All of that said........any Spider-Men reference definitely weakens the argument, because of how much he sucks. 

Sunday, August 07, 2011


Tonight my son told me he thought the Princess Bride was "stupid."

I've never felt more like a failure in my life.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Random find: Byrne love

Check out this post (and the work in gerenal that's being done over at Nerdage) from last year.

It got me thinking about a guy who's work I really, really admire.

60 Comics By John Byrne That You Should Read

I stumbled on it by chance while referencing the cover of X-Men 141 for a friend, and it lead to quite a conversation about Byrne.

For the record, I cannot imagine skipping his Alpha Flight run, and I think his FF work was sensational. His current Next Men work is a real thinking book. I'm always rereading, and trying to extrapolate out where the series may be going.


I have submitted my order for September and it does not include weekly DC titles.

In the end, I just don't see the point. The entire venture has, in my opinion, been a slap in the face to current/ongoing consumers for the sakes of the untapped consumer. It's like a bank that offers people who don't do business with it a better rate than people who've been there 10 years. It's just stupid. I can't bring myself to be the guy who's loyal to a brand that isn't loyal to me.

Additionally, while not enamored of the idea of moving out of weekly books and into trades, it will mean more money in my pocket during golf season. That's a plus. And if any of the NEW 52 turn out to be terrific, they can, as Randy points out, easily be picked up in trades later on.

Plus I'll bet money we'll be back to regular numbering and the original universe by.......April.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In or out?!?

I'm back on the fence.

Is this new launch, as Randy suggests, the ideal opportunity to leave behind weekly orders from DC? I'm firmly attached to the experience of monthly comics, and I have a somewhat extensive investment in them sitting in my basement. Is that a good enough reason to continue ordering in the same format that I always have? Or should I also consider cancelling all DC orders, and transition to simply purchasing the graphic novels that I really want to read?

I'm torn. Seriously.

On one hand, I like comics in their monthly format, and I enjoy the time I spend filling in gaps in my collection. On the other hand, will there ever be a better time for me to leave it behind, and explore simply purchasing graphic novels?

If, as I suspect, this grand experiment of DC's fails abysmally and they eventually come back to pick up their original numbering I'll have the option to change my decision at that point in time. The months in between could be an experiment in exploring options.

I've got about 48 hours to make a decision......and right now I'm stuck right in the middle.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Action Comics #1

Superman in jeans is stupid.

'nuff said.

Resets clean up continuity right?

That's always been my theory.

If you run a reset, you should be looking to clean up continuity and rebuild your brand on a strong foundation that will allow you better access to new readers going forward. After all, new readers are the ones who object to continuity and backstory, and use them as excuses for not buying ongoing series.

So just what the hell is DC doing then?

In the transition between the original DCU and the "New 52" some series have been cancelled and some new ones will be introduced.

For some books the cancellation is made necessary by the nature of a reset. There can hardly be a Batman Inc. if Bruce has only just begun his war as the Dark Knight. Timothy Drake cannot be Red Robin, because (chronologically speaking) he has not yet been Robin. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule about what will be continuity and what won't. If Tim Drake isn't around to be Red Robin, how is it that Damien is around to be Robin? New continuity? Are we at the beginning of Batman's career (as suggested by the sneak peak at Justice League #1) or not? If Dick Grayson is already Nightwing, how is it that Green Lantern is stunned to find out that Batman is real?

And no.....I don't think "5 years ago" covers it. Five years isn't nearly enough time to go from Batman, the urban myth, to Batman the legend, with his son as Robin, Dick Grayson all grown up as Nightwing, etc.

Without a deeper dig into the New 52, I cannot possibly hope to explore all of the continuity glitches that are being committed as writers are (obviously) being given free reign at the expense of maintaining a strong universal continuity.

I'm just not sure I'm prepared to invest the effort.

What's the point?

Normally I devour my comic when they come in.

I wait two months (on average) longer than everyone else to read my books because the cost savings are exceptional, and when I finally get them into my hands I basically ignore everything else (usually to the point of my wife's vocal objection.)

But as I sit here with June and July's order from DC I find myself asking a very simple question; why bother?

In almost every single series my personal expectation is that the current story needs four to six months to properly unfold and wrap up, but I already know the writers have one more month (at most.) Truncated conclusions and choppy endings; just another fine present from DC as a result of "The New 52!"

Even simply contemplating the pile that happens to be lying right in front of me right now?

JSA All-Stars - cancelled & not coming back
Justice Society of America - cancelled & not coming back
R.E.B.E.L.S. - cancelled & not coming back
Red Robin - cancelled & not coming back

Where's my motivation to read it?

It leads nowhere.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cap is outstanding!

Watched Captain America last night.

It was an exceptional comic book movie, and I would be willing to listen to anyone who wanted to put together the argument that it is actually the very best comic book movie ever made. I can certainly think of reasons that it outperformed The Dark Knight, in terms of its comic-ness.

Chris Evans isn't spectacular, but then he doesn't need to be. He's solid and he gives just the right understanding of Steve Rogers in my mind. The determination and willpower required to persevere and become Captain America are very well represented. Tommy Lee Jones was spectacular, and should be commended for doing such an exceptional job of portraying a character who represented the best and the worst of the U.S. military during the war.

2011 may be Marvel's greatest class of comic movies ever.

I haven't seen one yet that I didn't think was terrific.Thor, X-Men: First Class and Cap have all been exactly what I want from my comics on the big screen. I wonder if maybe DC could take notes?

Just a quick question though....did they need to market him (erroneously) as the First Avenger in order to get that movie over with the public?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Smart comments always welcome...

"Ohhh so Superman becomes Batman and Batman becomes Tony Stark. Got it. What the crap! Just call the company Marvel!"

This was one of the responses on the boards where the Morrison article was posted. I actually thought something very similar recently (only I didn't think "What the crap!" because that's just poor grammar.)

Morrison on Superman

Morrison on Superman

That's the link a friend sent me, inquiring about my thoughts. The timing is very interesting, since I was recently in the midst of a conversation with Rude about the fact that I am both in love with, and hating Morrison's work on Batman Inc.

Why bring that up?

Generally because my first reaction now is that I'll have the same feeling about his work on Superman. I'll be honest. I wasn't thrilled when I heard him announced for the new creative team on Action. Grant Morrison does breathe new life into characters, offering fresh perspective and opening up new avenues to the character for development and growth. I cannot deny that, nor would I want to. Those are the strengths of what he does, and very often it works.

Batman Inc was a powerful, brilliant idea.

His execution though can sometimes leave me wanting more. Rude pointed out that Morrison likes to leave the minor details for us to fill in for ourselves. He doesn't need to spoon feed everything out for us. I agree, and sometimes I don't even mind that approach. Unfortunately I have found that in reading stories like R.I.P. and now Batman Inc, that another thing he likes to do is excuse himself from having to 'enter' a scene or 'exit' a scene. We're often left reading story without context, because his transitions within the book are so choppy as to be non-existent. They are disruptive to the story itself.

This concerns me, especially in the context of his new Superman story, because we're going to see something fully original and fresh from him. That should be good news, but if Grant decides that we can 'guess' the context for ourselves, it's going to leave the readers scratching their heads more than clapping their hands.

Also, I don't find his perspective on Superman as intriguing as I found the idea behind Batman Inc.

One of the things that concerns me is that he's going to blur the line between Superman and Batman. I'm not saying it can't be done, or even that it shouldn't be done.....I'm just concerned that in doing it, we're fundamentally changing the most iconic character in comics. For decades Superman has known that Luthor was the bad guy, but he respected the conventions of the United States legal system enough to operate within it. There is an implication in the article that Clark may now be willing to take the law into his own hands, or to decide what justice is for himself.

Doesn't that completely miss the mark?

Aren't we talking about dirtying Superman up a little bit, if that's where we take him?

What do I think of the article?

Honestly.....I'm concerned.

A few issues in...

So I've managed to work my way a few issues into both Flashpoint and Fear Itself, and so far.......Flashpoint is much more interesting.

I may be a bit of a mark for alternate reality stories though, so its probably not a fair comparison. DC went into this with the edge of writing the type of story that I'm often engaged by. What would have happened if Thomas Wayne had lived instead of Bruce? What would have happened if the U.S.A. had never won its independence? Would the world change if Barry Allen never became the Flash? The very idea of a complete re-imagining of the DC Universe under those standards is always intriguing.

Now Fear Itself hasn't been bad; it just hasn't been captivating. Sure, it's interesting to watch seven hammers of mythic power fall to Earth, and to see who will pick them up. Sure I'm confused by the gutless attitude of Odin, as he runs for cover like a chicken and looks around for a nuclear option. And yes, I will admit that I would like to get to the reveal and see the All-Father(s!!) collide. But other than that? So far this thing has too much fodder and not enough substance. 3 issues in and what I've learned should have been revealed in 1 issue. Seriously. 

Where the difference stands for me is in the details.

On a large scale like event like Fear Itself, Crisis On Infinite Earths or Secret Invasion, I often find myself mired down in little details that I couldn't care less about. Side issues, and minor details in every book in the company don't mean a thing to me, and quite frankly I find that they detract from the bigger story. They also use it to draw out the space between the big moments in the story. Shouldn't the story itself be the big moment?

However in titles like Flashpoint (or Marvel 1602) I find the details equally engaging as the core story for a simple reason. They hold the same message. They say "this is how the world is different." It's the author revealing to me how the comic universe would have unfolded if his vision had been its guiding light. It's a very different experience for me. I want the minute details, and I scour every panel for them.

And that's really all it is for me. In a 'What If' or 'Elseworld' I want the details. In a mega-crossover event in core continuity, I find myself much more interested in the big picture. The 'real' story.

And in Fear Itself, I'm not getting enough of what I want.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Flight is back....

On July 1st, which is known north of the 49th parallel as Canada Day, I was sitting at a friend's in Mason, Ohio thumbing through my last two month's worth of comic books when I stumbled across the first couple of issues of Alpha Flight.

Since I was waiting for my girls (wife and daughter) to get ready to head out, I decided that there wasn't a much better way to spend some quality "Canada time" than seeing what the comics industry has brought us in this latest installment of the Flight.

Greg Pak, whose work over on Incredible Hulk in recent years has often been outstanding, is the name that gave me the incentive to explore the series for the first time since John Byrne wrote it. I've taken passing glances at other incarnations of the Flight, but I've always come away feeling like somebody was beating me over the head with Canadian stereotypes, and treating some incredibly diverse and rich characters like they were Wolverine's inbred relatives.

The big question was 'Would this time be different?'

I'm very pleased to report that the first two issues were good. Not great, but certainly good enough to necessitate a review of future issues and give Pak and crew an opportunity to fully flesh out the storyline that they have envisioned. I've no doubt that the foundation being laid with the focus on the Canadian National Election will provide us with a politically driven story that draws in past aspects of the title (like the Box armor attacking all of the team at once!)

There are two things about the issues that didn't sit well with me though.

First of all, it just doesn't feel very Canadian. I know the people over at will disagree with me on that point, but that's alright. I could probably write an entire blog about how many little aspects of it just didn't feel right to me, but it would be a pretty boring report....and honestly, who outside of Canada would even care?

Secondly, it's only good. After years of terrible, the book needed a big victory. What it got was a small one. There are enough things wrong that you can nit-pick at it until the general impression of what's been accomplished is diminished, but you should try not to do that. Try and enjoy it for its improvement over past efforts, and for the potential that is laid out in the all to obvious foreshadowing.

I'll give it a 6.5.

Canada Day was a 10 by the way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

This news just in...

Apparently I am the only person I know that cares that Valiant Comics may be coming back.

In the 90's, Valiant made a move to become a major comic company, and was well on its way to success. Then it all fell apart and readership dried up. This won't be the first time somebody's tried to breathe new life into it, but I'm hoping that this time it will really take. I like the Valiant characters, and I'd like to see that universe redefined by a strong creative leader, and then handed over to powerful writers.

Then again, I was excited when I heard that Marvel was going to bring back Crossgen, and so far?


Late to the party...

I have a friend who loves Joss Whedon.

Every now and then he drops one of those "In Joss We Trust" comments and I cannot help but wonder when he might actually take his head out of his ass and get some fresh air. After all, while I respect Buffy & Angel for their depth and the mythology they have sprouted, and I'm willing to admit that Firefly was pretty solid, some of his movies credits leave me scratching my head and wondering if those are simply exceptions to the rule.

They're not.

The movie credits he's gotten that I, personally, think are weak most likely represent the exception to his enormous talent. After all, he's the guy who helped make Toy Story a phenomenon, and got tapped to do Wonder Woman (I like that he wanted to really delve into her Greek history while modernizing her tale) before it all fell apart. Now, with news of his involvement on two of the next big Marvel movies gareners more and more attention, I find myself thinking more and more about his forgotten television show.


That's the one that went off the air due to poor viewer response, but did so with style. I just finished watching the second season, and I have to say.....I really grew to love the story. As the first season went along, and we got out of the serial process of watching Echo's engagements week in and week out, the bigger story of the Dollhouse itself, the Rossum Coroporation and numerous conspiracies started to drive the bus. By the end of the first season the series was very strong, and the second season was exceptional from start to finish.

It isn't all happy endings either. If you have the opportunity, I'd recommend you invest a little time in this 26 episode, two season show and enjoy the ride. If you like it, maybe give some of the comics associated with it a try. I haven't done that yet, but I'm going to keep an eye out for them at shows and give them a read. The premise is well suited to comics and the translation across media should be seamless.

I didn't watch Dollhouse when it was on television, but now I'm kind of wishing I did. I got to see two seasons of the five Joss apparently had mapped out in his head.

Doesn't that just make me curious.

Relating to the bad guys...

As X-Men:First Class wraps up we find ourselves watching the all too predictable reaction from the U.S. and Russian military; a joint attack on the mutants who have just averted World War III. Fear is at the very heart of the X-Men as a concept, running right alongside the themes of racism and equality, and the movie is no different from the comic book in that way.

What I did find different was my sympathy for Magneto (both for his lame costume and for the position he finds himself in!) In the X-Men comics I have always found it easy to understand Magneto as a polarizing figure who (depending on the writer) is either a megalomaniac rallying selfish, power hungry individuals to acts of evil or a misguided victim of extreme prejudice lashing out indiscriminately at the world that threatens his species.

In First Class, as he stood on the beach having just saved the world, I found myself relating to him more than I ever have before. Until that moment in the movie I had known that he was a morally compromised, emotionally damaged man who was hoping that vengeance would allow him to release the pain he had carried through his life. In that moment though, I saw him completely as a victim.

Would his reaction have been justified? Absolutely.

Would it have been right? Now that is a much bigger question.He had the power to defend the survival of his people, but was murdering others the same thing as defense? He had stopped the attack of the military completely, but in doing so he had also decided to retaliate. In a Jason Bourne movie I would have cheered the very idea that he was retaliating against people who had so egregiously done him wrong. Why wasn't I hoping for Magneto to do the same? Was it because years of reading the comic book and seeing him pitted against Xavier had cast him eternally in the role of villain for me? Or was it because I understood his power to have put him so far beyond the men and women who were attacking him that I felt retaliation should have been beneath him?

I'm not certain.

But I do know that in this movie I found myself more sympathetic to Magneto than I have ever been in comics. Mankind declared war on mutants, and he responded. Maybe I can take this position because he had not yet attempted the murder of innocents (contrary to Xavier's claim, members of the military engaged in an act of war are not innocent) and when that happens (in the next movie?) perhaps I will no longer find him relatable.

Until then though, I think I'm on Magneto's side.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Just saw it.

Liked it.

Found myself much more empathetic to Magneto than I expected, despite his failings to 'rise above' the petty fears and weaknesses of homo-sapiens. In retrospect, Xavier is just slightly short of being a saint, or completely idiotic, for his unabashed tolerance of 'our' callow behavior.

The movie as a whole sets the groundwork perfectly for the rebuilding of the franchise after the last two X-Men related movies, which were absolute abortions (the one before that wasn't much better.) Very pleased they made it.

More on it later!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Legal side of the reboot at DC

A lot of blogs and sites are busy talking about the legal motivations that may be involved in DC's reboot. I've read some interesting sites with some legal discourse and some speculative fanboy discourse and at the end of it all, I'm not really sure what I think; other than the fact that I don't like the reboot in general. Like many people, I'd have preferred that they looked at doing a refresh of their line in the vein that Marvel launched its Ultimate line. That's not what's happening though, and I'm wondering if the potential legal motivations matter to any of you.

Don't know what they are? Here are some opinions on their potential involvement in all of this:

Intelligent Designs
Comics Beat

There are plenty of other opinions out there on the potential legal influences in the reboot that is about to take place.

If, and I stress that word, the DCnU revamp is actually being motivated entirely, or in part, by a legal situation, does that change anything for you? Does it shape how you see the need for the revamp, or your willingness to embrace it? Does it bother you that characters who make millions of dollars a year are being fought over by insanely rich corporations and the estates of deceased creators? Is it damaging the legacy of the creation in your eyes?

Just on one simple thought, I'd say that I suspect there's more than enough money involved with the Superman franchise to make everyone happy. Greed is making what should be a wonderful association ugly. Siegel's family is absolutely entitled to something. He created the Man of Steel! On the other hand, the publisher gave him a home, promoted and developed him, and turned him into a worldwide phenomenon. It should be a partnership, with both parties recognizing the critical contribution of the other. Instead its a fight that, potentially, may be driving a reboot I'm not thrilled about.

It isn't the first time it's happened either.

What do you guys think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hitting...........the button

It's all coming out of....

This summer Geoff Johns (he of the misspelled name) launches his alternate-timeline opus to the Flash. June is the month when it all really gets going with over twenty books being added to the DC offering. Over the course of the summer? Schedules for Flashpoint related books I've seen put the overall number of comics written as a part of this event at almost one hundred (the number doesn't include any regular series tie-ins.)

I honestly can't remember the last time that a summer event introduced that many books into my monthly order. It's almost obscene. Yet while I'm anticipating Flashpoint, I'm not exactly looking forward to the fallout. As all of you no doubt know by now, following Flashpoint, DC will press....

....the button!

Now, this isn't the first time that DC has taken steps to revamp their universe. There have been all manner of Crisis stories, Zero Hour events and the like designed to allow the DCU to transition from its apparently heavy and cumbersome history into a smoother, tighter, more user friendly mode. Well, apparently none of them worked, because here we are again.

Naturally people who don't read comics on a regular basis have extolled the virtue of this decision, pointing to the difficulty following the continuity heavy backstory of comics as a reason why they don't read them now. Pardon my french but....

Spoken like a person who doesn't read comics. I don't read X-Men, but when I have cause to pick up issues (usually in graphic novel format, and usually at trade shows where they're dirt cheap) it takes me all of half a book (often about 2 - 3 issues) to get my bearings, understand what I've missed and get the general gist of what's going on. And if that ever proves too daunting, I've discovered this marvelous new thing; it's called the internet. I look up the answers I need to give me context in about ninety seconds, and then I get back to enjoying my book.

Do you want my opinion?

Too bad. You're getting it anyways. First of all, Spider-Man sucks. Second of all, the value of a character is in the development that's taken place, because that development has often added depth and breadth to the character you're interested in. Wiping it away makes the character less vibrant and interesting. Effectively it makes them Peter Parker.

The good news is that DC says that none of the core cannon will change, even with the updates. That's some relief, of course, but does it address everything it should? I mean, what do you consider core canon?

Is Clark Kent married to Lois Lane?
Is Barry Allen dead?
Did Hal Jordan betray the corps and become Parallax?
Is Superboy a clone of Clark and Lex?
Did HUSH ever happen?
Is there a Batman Inc?

With some of the leaks coming out now, we can guess at some of the answers. Some will win fans over, and some, I suspect, will alienate fans who are pissed off at investing into a character to have it all wiped away. I know I won't be pleased to see the cowl torn off of Dick before he got a chance to really own it. Or will I? After all, few of the writers have done a good job with him under the cowl.

Still, out of this will come something that does excite me.

Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on JLA.

August 31st, 2011 - The day it all changes!

Not sure what I'm talking about?

You can get the news anywhere, but why not drop over to Topless Robot for a very profane summation of what's going to happen as this summer wraps up: DC hits the reset button

Two big pieces of news have surfaced lately, and they both happen on August 31st. DC Comics is going to do two things that will change the way they do business in the comics medium for the foreseeable future. They're going to push their single issues to digital on the exact day that they release them to the comic stores, and they going to hit a great big reset button on their universe.

And everyone seems to have an opinion about this news.

They're not alone.

Comic Retailers Reaction.
I can't say I care for the decision to go digital on the same day, and all but stab their longtime vendors in the back. DC, like music companies, and just about every other form of media that could be translated into digital, snubbed the internet market when the opporuntity to embrace it first arrived, and they've paid the price.

You can download almost any comic book you want for free if you know where to look.

Now, in an effort to recapture that reader (who I personally find strange, because the joy of a comic doesn't come from another hour spent in front of your computer!) they're going to embrace that market at the expense of their traditional business partners. Not only is that cold blooded, it's reprehensible. It makes me wonder if there's any reason for us to ever expect companies to do the right thing. Comic retailers have kept DC in business for decades, and while that's no excuse for ignoring the future (which may be digital distribution - although I can envision moving beyond comic books entirely, and into webisodes) it should at least buy them some consideration. Would setting the digital release exactly 1 month behind for the next five years have been such a bad strategic move?
I suppose the argument would be that that would encourage impatient downloaders to go and get unpaid for copies off of the net the week they're shipped. The counter-point to that defense though is that people inclined to download for free, are going to download for free no matter what. It's what they do.

In any case, I'm with Bendis on this one. It's a move that slaps DC's longest standing business partners in the face, and I can't support it.

Now, as for the reset....

Thursday, June 02, 2011

About Hickman.....

He is NOT as cool as Jason Aaron.

While his writing is out of this world, and his work on comic's first family has been some of the best work I've seen on that book ever, he is clearly gravely confused as to the value of Spider-Man.

I mean seriously.......making him a member of the FF?

On the plus side, that still didn't get him invited to Logan's birthday party (the rest of the FF were there!)

I lied.....I had one more thought to get out.

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning.

Why do they matter, you ask? Well, mostly because they do some of the best work in the industry and are generally handed books that are under-achieving, or stock full of B-list characters that are inevitably going to die off no matter how good they get.

In fact a comic store employee I know tells me whenever we discuss them that "As soon as Ain't It Cool News catches on and realizes that their books are awesome, they're sure to be canceled." He's not just making that crap up either. Abnett & Lanning have a history of terrific runs on under selling titles that almost nobody has heard of:
  • Resurrection Man
  • Nova
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy
  • Majestic
  • The Authority
  • etc, etc, etc
Now they've gotten to work on a new Heroes For Hire series over at Marvel, and once again it would appear that they're doing OUTSTANDING work. I can't say I'm surprised, but I can say that I don't understand why their names on a title don't automatically mean decent sales. Is the comic buying world really that obtuse? If the name on the cover doesn't say Bendis, Miller, Ennis, Ellis or Johns does that mean that it's not worth immediately giving a try to?

I have a much larger list of names I'll try new books from than the ones I listed above, and I keep Abnett & Lanning on it at all times. I find their fresh approach to most characters appealing, and I also love that they don't over think the product. These two guys knows their market and they don't shy away from it. They write comic books about super heroes.

Sometimes that's all I want.

Jonathan Hickman

Read EVERYTHING he writes.

This is NOT a joke.

Specifically, read Fantastic Four (now FF) and S.H.I.E.L.D., but above all else read Secret Warriors.

You don't know how to mix spies, super heroes and black ops until you've read this book.

If you don't own it, BUY it.

It shouldn't even be optional.

I'm going back to reading my 26 issues of Secret Warriors now. I'll be back later....

Let's talk THOR some more.....and racism....

A while back I was passed this link Thor Racism Debate and I made a mental note that it was, indeed, something I wanted to discuss.

And then I stopped posting.

For a long time, as it turns out.

Now that I'm back, and I've had a chance to see Thor, I can't think of a better time to tackle the subject of injecting multi-ethnic characters into Asgard. Feel free to review the article provided at the link in question, and maybe even peruse the comments that flowed from the site's viewers (although some classic ignorance runs rampant, so be warned.)

First, let's clarify; Heimdall was AWESOME in that movie!

Idris Elba brought an enormously powerful presence to the roll that I suspect most actors would have found very difficult to achieve. The man's presence in each of his scenes imbued the character with true power that was very reflective of the gods he was representing. I applaud the choice to cast him.

The bigger question is whether or not I applaud the decision to break from comic cannon for the purpose of re-imagining the comic into a new medium. Perhaps you could make an argument as a comic book purist that your disappointment isn't so much from the issue of Norse Gods all having to be white (based largely on the presumption that that is how the Norse always envisioned them), as it is from the fact that you are disappointed with the very fact that they re-imagined the tale.

We've all kind of grown to accept that that is what Hollywood does though, haven't we? Aside from a very pressing effort in 300 and Sin City, Hollywood has a terrible habit of insisting on telling us that they know the characters and stories we love better than we do. That is, of course, a point for another post. The point in this one is that unless your argument is about the departure from comic cannon, you really are just a big racist.

I'm amused though that these people who are staunchly defending the Norse Mythology's core didn't come out kicking and screaming when Marvel insisted that he be blonde. Or when they brought him to Earth in the modern era. Isn't the entire idea of placing him into modern comics an affront to the mythology to begin with? Doesn't it trivialize the subject matter by making little more than pop culture? Aren't they upset that he doesn't get ragingly drunk and lust for battle constantly? No. What they want to nit pick about is that Hollywood re-imagined Asgard as a gleaming city of gold, older than time, and functioning as a great multi-ethnic society?

Because they've accepted all the other bastardizations of Thor for the purpose of placing him in comic books, but making Heimdall black is the final straw!

That just ruins everything!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jason Aaron gets it...

A second quick hit for today.

Marvel has a new collection of writers who have truly emerged in the last year, and one of them is currently guiding the new Wolverine title. His name is Jason Aaron, and while the book, so far, has been good (not great), in issue 5 he proved his worth to me.

Logan's girlfriend arranges a wonderful surprise party for him. She invites the X-Men and the Avengers, amongst others (Deadpool.) When Melita asks for everyone's attention to introduce herself to them, she first inquires "is this everyone?"

Luke Cage's response? "Yeah, this is everyone."

Mixed between those lines is a caption showing Spider-Man walking around Avengers Mansion, wondering why everybody else is out for the night.

Mr Aaron.....welcome to my Hall of Fame.

I really do want to talk comics


Yet somehow over the last five months I've found myself too busy, too distracted, or too apathetic. Between work, road travel for work, building a new online roleplaying site, managing the current online roleplaying site, preparing for our baseball league's season, running our baseball league, having a family, and not getting my comic shipment for three months, it was easy to get away from this.

All of that to say.....I'm back.

A lot's gone on in comics since I last was here, but is there any bigger news than the fact that the 2011 comic book movie season is upon us? Thor is already here, and this week X-Men: First Class hits the big screen, followed in a couple of weeks by Green Lantern, and then a month later Captain America. We could find some other movies with comic tie-in potential to discuss, but for me, these mainstream titles are the big four, in what might, arguably, be the greatest comic book movie year..........

.......EVER. (*small inside joke there for those who know.)

What did everyone think of Thor?

I have a couple of thoughts, but most of them are good. I liked the way they introduced Asgard, set up the relationship between Thor and Loki, showed us Loki's actual origin, and Odin's wisdom amongst other things. The breaking of Bifrost was something that tracks with past comics continuity, and I thought they found a good path for explaining the Donald Blake/Thor association. Best of all? I loved that Mjolnir was inscribed with...
"Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."   

You know who's lifted that hammer?


You know who hasn't?


 Anyways, my early concerns about the trailers I had seen didn't play out, and overall I thought it was one of the better comic movie adaptations. The cannon wasn't terribly assaulted (unless you loved the old Thor is merged with Donald Blake bit, which I always found tedious) and the foundation for a terrific character was laid down. Plus the sneak peek at the end gives us a glimpse at a major issue that I expect will rise in either Cap, or Avengers next year; The Cosmic Cube.


Speaking of very first reaction to it in trailers was that it looked like a throwback, campy piece. But with more footage now available, I'm starting to think it might be alright. Maybe even good. They're going a story placed in WW2, and I'm seeing footage that reminds me that this was a guy who really, REALLY just wanted to be a soldier. My hopes for it are climbing.

I cannot claim the same for Green Lantern, which has turned me off from day 1 with the casting of Ryan Reynolds. I love Ryan in lots of things, but Hal Jordan he is not. Hal isn't a joker. He doesn't do quips. He's a taciturn, arrogant man, with a bit of a death wish and a strange mix of courage and stupidity. At least that's how I've always seen him. He certainly isn't any of the things on which Ryan's career has been built.

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some people shouldn't have keyboards...

I stand by that assertion.

When you let everyone have access to a keyboard, the internet gets inundated with stupidity and we end up with the worst of all possible products, meeting only the lowest common denominator. That's a pet peeve of mine, and it is on display in exceptional form right here:

I could go into an in-depth analysis of the critique that is provided by the writer, but I think we'd be better off simply acknowledging that what he was actually attempting was a very tongue-in-cheek comedy piece. There's no other excuse for completely missing the point of any and all conflicts with Batman.

Almost no Batman conflict is centered on the physical capabilities of the World's Greatest Detective. True, at most points in the story we get to see his unparalleled martial skills in action, but the real battle almost always takes place in the mental arena. From that perspective, we can hardly dismiss Penguin's value as an adversary with a simple "look at him."

I think the thing that stands out the most to me, is that even in his comedic vein, the author attempts to explore why Batman always wins physical fights, but carefully manages to avoid reflecting on any of the physically competent and dangerous villains who regularly fit into Batman's rogue's gallery. I'm not referring to fringe personalities like Amygdala either. I'm talking about Bane (the man who broke the Bat!) or R'as Al Ghul (who I consider Batman's most perfect nemesis.)

The author does admit that they did the ones they wanted to, so we know he was motivated by his ability to accomplish his comedic goals.

Still, focusing on Bruce's martial skills is a mistake that plenty of his adversaries have made. He doesn't win the fight with his body though; he wins the fight before it's even begun!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where to start?

In early December I picked up my comics for September through November, and that's 1/2 of the reason I've been missing in action since then. As of today, I'm out of new comics to read once again, and so I'm thinking the best place to start blogging in 2011 is on the books I've just finished reading. This leaves me with one really big question:

Where to start?

I've been reading some truly fantastic comics for the last six weeks or so, and narrowing it down to a singular starting point might actually prove a little bit difficult.  So I'm going to simplify the exercise. A quick spin through the box on the floor, where my most recent reads are sitting waiting to be filed, and let's see what jumps out above the rest....

Levitz on Legion has been pretty sensational.

Pak's Incredible Hulks bi-weekly run is terrific

Fantastic Four may soon be Marvel's best book once more.

Superman's long walk poses some challenging questions.

But do you know what has my attention above and beyond any of these things?

What Brubaker is doing with this Marvel title is fantastic, and while the other Avengers books are finally starting to show some life and perhaps indicating that we're going to get something more than the status quo from Bendis this time around, this is THE Avengers book to read.

Some excerpts of great interest from recent issues:

  • Steve Rogers in possession of the power of the Nova Corps!
  • Nick Fury's fully autonomous LMD duplicate Max Fury returns! 
  • The Prince of Orphans becomes a prime time player!
  • Shang-Chi, The Master of Kung-Fu is back!
  • John Steele (America's real first Super Soldier) is one of the bad guys? 

What Ed is doing with this series is remembering that greatness is in the details. We're not on a wild ride of mish-mashed characters being crammed together for the sake of selling comics like we were back in the days of Marvel Two-In-One. This is a story about a covert Avengers team lead by Steve Rogers on black ops missions that the public isn't allowed to know about. And since the last time I blogged about how great it was in comparison to the other Avengers books, its only continued to get better.

One of the things I like the most is that Brubaker is taking a lot of secondary characters, and making them relevant. I've always maintained that one of the big differences between an "A" character and everyone else was the writer on the book. Of course that rule doesn't apply when you factor in iconic characters like Superman, Captain America or Spawn.................alright, everyone who didn't vomit when they read SPAWN must leave the blog now and NEVER return. NOW!

I'm serious!



Okay.........back to my point......Brubaker is doing the kind of work with otherwise background characters that Robinson did on Starman, and it's that work which will make the series continue to work as these characters rotate into and out of Rogers' black ops team.

The stories are tightly written, and there is an underlying thread which is clearly building to an even larger story. They are, if you will, a mosaic of tales creating an epic story which may yet become one of the great Avengers stories; the potential is certainly there. It appears it will all revolve around a secret society known as The Shadow Council, who are at the root of each of the story arcs we've invested in thus far, indicating that a final, frightening confrontation will perhaps be the penultimate chapter of this run.

I for one am excited to see it.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


Holy crap he's blogging again!

It's true. After the holidays interrupted what little flow I had going, I've finally gotten myself out of the reading chair and into the writing chair again. One of the great things about this past holiday season was the arrival of a friend who brought with him three months worth of comic material and an opportunity for me to catch up once again on things taking place in the comic world.

I've bagged and sealed all the books I've read and as soon as I'm caught up, we're going to go back and talk about what's making an impact these days, and what's not. Thankfully, we've got a lot of really cool (and stupid) things to talk about in the comic world right now. I've stumbled across an absolute litany of topics in recent days.  Here are the things at the top of the list for upcoming blogs:

  • Updating the Best Story Ever review to a more defined rating and narrowing current contenders down to 10.
  • reviewing what's come in and what's great (and crap) in the current stuff I'm reading
  • A look at my December order from 2010
  • a review of this idiotic assessment of Batman's villains:
  • Comic book racism will rear its head as we dissect the following article:
  • The issue will be carried over as we look at this debate:
  • We're going to revive a couple of topics from over on Jordan's facebook page, namely the question of whether or not Frank Miller deserves the accolades (and the hate) he receives and whether or not the idea of Black Panther stepping in for Daredevil makes any sense (spoiler alert: it doesn't!)
  • Oh, and this news just in: we will only be mentioning Spider-Man in order to mock his worthlessness 

 Good times are just ahead...