Friday is quickly passing, so I turn to my friend Nextwave for guidance. It, certainly, will provide me with the TGIF happiness I need.
Perhaps Death Bears?
Perhaps Etheric Loop Recall Televocometers?
Actually, what got me in Nextwave #6 wasn't explodo humor, but a simple act of heroism. Well drawn and simply written, it was all the more arresting being in the middle of this non-stop manic issue.
Friday, June 30, 2006
One. Stunning. Cover.
Shouldn't someone have caught "Adam's Reappearing Eye"? In a book as dense as 52 ... everything counts.
It's a shame the unexpectedly rich Natasha/John storyline hinges on a willy-nilly violation of doctor-patient confidentiality.
In a few panels, 52 reminds me why Ollie Queen is among my favorite DCU characters.
*What is this? Each week, I write exactly 52 words on that week's 52. The word count is according to the Word Count Firefox Extension.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
One year ago, I made this first post.
It's been a great year since, due mainly to the wonderful community of the WeboComicsBlogoNet. Through comments and posts, blogs that initially seem isolated islands are anything but. In honesty, I didn't expect I would make it a full year. It's the community that keeps me coming back. I'm having a great time, and it's thanks to a list of people far too long to name .... thanks, all of you, for making this fun.
In celebration, I'm going to do a little revamping. A big change to the unwieldy blogroll and some other minor tweaks (though I can't imagine the site in another template). So the site might act a touch odd for a day or two.
The biggest content change is giving up on my aversion to capsule reviews. I pulled ScatterThoughts out of the mothballs last week, and will go forward with that weekly. I've been trying this first year to only write substantive 300-500 word pieces, but lately I find myself with lots to say but without 200 words to pad around it. So I've been writing nothing about the comics I'm reading, and that's kinda contrary to the point of having this here ramblespace.
Thanks for reading, and I'll try my best in the next twelve months to write at least one worthwhile post!
- After reading this ENGINE mention of a new edition of the Complete Little Nemo In Slumberland, I bought one myself. It just arrived, and is a gorgeous edition at an insanely affordable price. I highly recommend it.
- Happy Blogoversary to Tom The Dog! I'd love to see more comics content from him, but I he's quick becoming my touchstone for pop culture at large.
- Again with the "love to see more comics content" theme, there are also anniversaries at play over at the Brill Building. Ian turns 2, and his blog turns 23 .... or vice versa. Congratulations on both, whippersnapper.
- The excellent Northwest Passage gets some welcome press time with a 13-page Newsarama preview. It makes August 23 seem very far away ...
- At Resplendent Beard:
But instead of giving up the scene and walking away forever, A. H. announced the debut of her new webcomic Goodbye Chains. Read it.
I'm bored with superhero comics again--they're not even trainwrecks anymore, just annoying fender benders that back up the Interstate when you're running late for work. There's no sport in making fun of them, and no joy in reading them. So I'm not going to bother. I've already tossed most of the books I've bought in the last year, except for the uncollected bits of Baker's Plastic Man (there WILL be a volume 3, won't there?) and a few random issues of JLU and Jonah Hex. I'm done with them. I don't care. I tried, and it didn't work out. So it goes.
(I would just mention, though ... once you're publishing and trying to make a name for yourself, the time for shyness is past.)
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
"New mainstream", thy name is The Leading Man. Launching this week from Oni Press, this miniseries from the Battle Hymn team is about as high-concept as you get: dashing Hollywood A-lister makes escapist action movies while secretly being a top espionage agent. If there hasn't already been a movie or T.V. series with this hook already ... I can't imagine why. While it's not Player-level Hollywood cynicism, Moore does mine some nice comic moments from the setup: in a culture where actors' private lives are for public consumption, keeping any secret is a tricky thing. The art is snappy and clean, and is perfectly in keeping with the tone of the book. It's not about kitsch, it's not about a postmodern wink-wink-nudge-nudge, it's not about homage. This very straight-up action fun, with wit and snap to separating it from a Hart To Hart episode. It seems almost out of place in the Oni lineup - feeling much more like an AiT/Planet Lar "HBO On Paper" book - but that's probably neither here nor there. Just don't skip it because you think you know what an "Oni book" is.
If you are looking for that prototypical "Oni book", look no farther that this week's other Oni Press debut: Love The Way You Love. An amerimanga of romance and rock bands, this fits squarely in alongside Blue Monday or Scott Pilgrim. Jamie S. Rich hits all the marks, and starts to develop some interesting characters in this first volume. Rebounding off a painful breakup, budding rock superstar Tristan Scott happens to notice a beautiful girl at the airport. When she shows up at his gig that night on the arm of her fiancee who's there to sign the band, it appears to be fate. Marc Ellerby's art is wonderful, almost a streamlined Matt Groening, and he is able to swing back and forth from comedy to romance on a dime. One of my few problems is a point made in the book that all these characters are under 21, and that feels a bit off to me, like a forced point. Perhaps it's manga convention, but it rings false when set in the U.S. Excellent fun, though. I'd especially recommend this to fans of Nana, who might be looking for something else working that delicate balance of music and romance and comedy.
Due to pleasantly unexpected schedule changes, I'll be hitting 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics a bit late this week. Those waiting in breathless anticipation for this week's senses-shattering "52 on 52" will, unfortunately, remain breathless until Friday.
I'm showing the Big Two lots of pecuniary love this week, and I am sure they are appreciative. Though plagued by delays, Young Avengers still tops my list of Marvel books these days, so I greet 12 with mixed emotion. I'm happy to get a new issues, and to see this arc resolve ... but I hate to say goodbye as it goes on some sort of hiatus.
Oni Press sees two debuts this Wednesday: Moore and Haun's The Leading Man, and Love The Way You Love from Jamie S. Rich and Marc Ellerby. With foresight granted by the Oracle At PDF Preview, expect some thoughts on these late today or tomorrow - in any case, before you head to purchase your goods.
There are times I wonder if all these bloggers - including your humble Totalitarian - posting their shopping lists is worthwhile. Then something happens like today, where I read Jog, and it puts a new book on the list: Babel #2. I haven't read #1, but I think I'll figure it out.
I am attempting to scale my purchases back, or at least stay even as I get drawn in to Civil War. That means I'm dropping Hawkgirl and Moon Knight from the lists, though I can certainly see how you might enjoy them. I feel a bit bad about Hawkgirl: I really ought to support Chaykin and Simonson, but just feel like title's treading water, with Chaykin looking dated and Simonson ill-adapting to the current decompressed climate. Before you say it: yes, I am neglecting two living legends while gleefully partaking in multiple Civil War tie-ins .... I know I'm killing comics.
- 52 #8
- Action Comics #840
- Batman #654
- DCU: Brave New World #1
- JLA Classified #23
- Solo #11
- Supergirl And The Legion Of Super-Heroes #19
- Amazing Spider-Man #533
- Civil War: Front Line #2
- Fantastic Four #538
- New Avengers #21
- Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. #6
- Runaways Vol 2 #17
- Wolverine #43
- X-Factor #8
- Young Avengers #12
- Babel #2
- Leading Man #1
- Love The Way You Love #1
Monday, June 26, 2006
Yes. Gone a bit silent today.
It's because of a certain call I recieved on Friday with very good news. It's just not been very good for my blogging time ... but fear not. I shall return ... bearing content.
Oh? The good news? Oh ... you might look here.
Friday, June 23, 2006
The biggest problem with All-Star Superman #4? The fact that I've already read the first three. I've become used to it, taking it for granted - I don't send it flowers anymore. I no longer have that sense of wonder I did with the first issue. Is there another superhero book on the stands today that feels so polished, so perfectly crafted? This is Morrison's finest superhero work, and I hope we'll see a run at least as long as New X-Men.
In issues, not in Quitely Years.
For those who keep track of such things: no, I did not understand Casanova #1. This was planned as a 16-page book, exploded to 32, and still didn't fit everything in. I'm O.K. with the confusion, though. There's a point with Kirby or Morrison or Lovecraft or others where you just ride the wave. It's a bit akin to treknobabble's "warp flux capacitors" or "inverse dilithium matrices" ... it's just there for effect, the details really aren't important. It's got energy and style and moment-to-moment dreamstate reality. It's the music of madness, and why would I need to know the lyrics when I'm being blown away by the virtuoso guitar solos of pencilman Gabriel Ba?
When discussing The Ultimates 2 #11, Kurt smacks that nail squarely on it's head when saying: "Dollar-for-dollar there have been more F@*% Yeah! moments in the last two issues of this book than any five others combined." Mark Millar takes a lot of WeboComicsBlogoNet flak, but I appreciate that he's a bit like Wolverine. He's the best there is at what he does ... and what he does is write F*@% Yeah!* moments. The Ultimates is a F*@% Yeah!* compendium. It is a F*@% Yeah!* concordance.
It is The Gospel Of F*@% Yeah!
Can I get an "amen"?
If someone asked "Why do you like Peter David's writing?", I'd give them this book.
If someone asked "Why do you hate Peter David's writing?", I'd also give them this book.
Giant-Size Hulk #1 pretty cleanly sums up The David Duality. I generally like Peter David as a writer, but it's only by the thinnest of margins. This book's reprint of Hulk: The End sums up the Good David: excellent pacing and structure, strong voices, psychological insight, characters that exist in complex shades of grey. The lead story wherein Hulk and The Champions stand off is the Bad David: incessant pop culture references, snarky winks at the audience, characters that all sound alike because they're all mouthpieces for David's next bit of cleverness.
Exhibit A in "How To Handle A Relaunch"? Allan Heinberg's Wonder Woman.
Exhibit A in "How To Completely Botch A Relaunch"? Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo's The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1.
What a confusing mess of voices, characters, and continuity. For a continuity as confusing as this, a nice and clean recap was essential ... but is missing. rather than any kind of jumping-on point, this felt like it was saying on every page that if you haven't followed the character for 20-odd years, you should pack your stuff and head home. The other real problem I had is that Bilson and DeMeo are another TV-to-Comics team, and it really shows in the narration. With similar diction and point of view, a slight change in the coloring of the caption boxes simply isn't enough. It's as if they were relying on the actor to differentiate the voices in the book.
*The royalty check is in the mail, Dave.
Yes you, do, Jimmy. Yes, you do.
(Am I hallucinating a response to another scene of skimpy clothing in the All-Star line?)
This Friday, I am also cheered by James Sime's review of Superman Returns. Because I think he gets it, and I'll have about the same response. Now, how to wrangle a chance to see it? Please - send babysitters, stat.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
- I still have yet to read New Frontier. I've been wanting to since I came back to comics, but was holding off because I thought there might be an Absolute Edition ... and am now holding off because there is an Absolute Edition. Still ... the news of a New Frontier animated movie with Bruce Timm producing fills me with glee.
- Happy One Year Blogoversary to The Fortress of Soliloquy!
- Warren Ellis points us to a piece of the internet that needs to be enshrined in the Temple Of Goodness: The Annotated Pilgrim. Bryan Lee O'Malley is going through the Scott Pilgrim books, giving notes about setting, inspiration, etc.
- In the comics criticism flap lo these many moons ago, I namechecked Lester Bangs. Esquire is now wondering about The Lester Bangs of Video Games. As a videogame reviewer, let me assure you in no uncertain terms that comics criticism is many rungs up the evolutionary ladder from what passes for videogame analysis.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This is the official debut of the new Batwoman? A massive plot hammer, and an introductory scene that's practically noir parody?
Speaking of plot hammers ... why was Manthrax in the crowd at LexCorp? In costume, no less?
Is this is our first example of the series happening in parallel with real-time?
*What is this? Each week, I write exactly 52 words on that week's 52. The word count is according to the Word Count Firefox Extension.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
A few months ago, Larry Young made some waves.
This is, in itself, in no way surprising. When a wave appears, Uncle Lar's often involved in the making. We know this.
However, this particular wave was unique: an entire graphic novel being given away for free at the same time it's dead-tree version was being solicited in Previews. It was a decision that provided a spark to continuing discussion about the future of comics distribution, and certainly gathered some buzz for the title.
But what of Continuity itself? Beyond the splash of internet distribution, how does it hold up as a graphic novel, now that it's to hit stands in analog form? I personally can't cope with reading comics on a computer monitor, so I gave up on the PDF version of Continuity perhaps a quarter of the way in. So when a preview copy arrived of the print edition, I relished the chance to settle down and read it the old-fashioned way.
Distribution and marketing methods aside, Continuity is a fascinating OGN that moves a step past AiT's "HBO Of Comics" high-concept domain while still holding on to enough of that "new mainstream" energy to provide an interesting blend of the best in comics. Certainly, the "hook" is there: in a drugged-up hypercommercial dystopia, a pregnant girl tries to stay awake because she fears her dreams can change reality. It's classic Philip K. Dick material, as reality gets rewritten under your feet.
But what really makes Continuity shine is a relentless focus on the personal. The book's opening seems like we've see it before: explodo satire of American consumer culture. The genius here lies in keeping that world as setting, not as subject. The point of Continuity isn't the high-concept of a dream that rewrites reality, that's just a devious hook to explore a very complex character who's reality reflects her own fears and desires. Alicia stands at the center of her reality - as do we all - and it's her dreams and nightmares that shape the book. It reminds me of the work of one of my favorite writers, George Saunders who plays with much the same concepts of commercialism run amok to examine fragile human souls. Continuity isn't "clever" - it's messy and organic and human. It's a black and white indy comic about a tortured teen's attempts to escape her life as an outsider, almost a prototypical "art" comic. Using action and sci-fi concepts as extended metaphor, Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert have really come up with something that transcends the navel-gazing traditional "art" comics, while avoiding the shallowness that can sometimes plague the "new mainstream". It's sharp and complex, and hopefully the buzz of internet release will get some people to take notice of this little gem.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's trip to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics. Hackneyed or not, big summer events like 52 and Civil War make me want to get to the store early. This week doesn't have much in the way of crossovers, but just so happens to be packed with some of the best series in today's mainstream.
I remember enjoying the old Flash TV series, and letting those writers take the helm on a mysterious new Flash series sounds cool. All-Star Superman, of course, sets me a-tingle with anticipation as each issue so far has been a feast of fun. Though the snark abounds all across the WeboComicsBlogoNet, put me down for Eternals in a big way. Ultimates 2 ... well, this issue is where the feces will hit the wind-making device, and I can't wait to start in on the home stretch of maybe my favorite series today. And then there's more: Manhunter, Astonishing X-Men, Captain America, The Black Coat and more. What a great week of comics.
It's a week full of some really tremendous releases, but Casanova takes the cake as the most interesting book on the docket. Jog's already seen it (and liked it), and that's often good enough for me. Add on that it's in the "Fell format" of 16 pages for $1.99 ... and then add that Fraction and Ba simply couldn't stop creating until this two dollar pop single weighed in at a valueriffic 32 pages. Buy it for value alone.
Also of note is Continuity, from AiT/Planet Lar. It was released for free in PDF format, and now's the time to see if that move pays off. I should have a review up in a few hours, but I'll head to the punchline: if you like heartfelt sci-fi, you should buy this book.
- 52 #7
- All-Star Superman #4
- Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #1
- JSA Classified #13
- Manhunter #23
- Robin #151
- Shadowpact #2
- Superman/Batman #27
- Casanova #1
- Astonishing X-Men #15
- Captain America #19
- Eternals #1
- Giant-Size Hulk #1
- Iron Man #9
- New Avengers #20
- Ultimates 2 #11
- Conan #29
- Black Coat: Call To Arms #3
Monday, June 19, 2006
- Mark Millar is starting a series of auctions to help aid research headed towards a vaccine for Crohn's Disease, from which he suffers. Today, the first item in the auction was posted, and it's a doozy: a starring role in his next creator-owned project. I was expecting signed scripts, original art, and so forth ... this is another level altogether.
- Young Avengers has won the "Outstanding Comic Book" award from GLAAD. That is excellent, and I completely agree. The great thing about the boys' relationship is it's simple acceptance. It's not a plot point, it's not an issue, it's not a Very Special Episode of Young Avengers. Two youngsters are in love, their friends accept them, their parents accept them ... they move along and punch badguys.
- I noticed this post about Girl-Wonder.org being under attack, only for the reason that it sounds awfully familiar. While running the Operation Sports forums, I dealt with more than a few such "attacks". From Marionette's description, I'm guessing it was good ol' goatse*. Dealt with one such goatse spam attack when I was up at 3 AM getting a crying baby back to sleep ... much fun was had. Really - internet assholery is equal-opportunity.
- Not just anyone can handle a 42-day month, but Dave Carter can. In an decompressed storyline worthy of Bendis, Dave extended is famous Free Comic Book Month a few extra days. All told, he gave away 150 comics. Great work, Dave!
- I love reading Warren Ellis talking about comics and process and theory. Technically, today's Newsarama interview is about Desolation Jones, but there's a lot more there.
*No, I'm not linking to it. Are you nuts?
Friday, June 16, 2006
So - last week on MillarWorld, the topic gets brought back up again: Does Marvel need a DC-Style "Reboot"?. More and more comics get published, and it supposedly all happens in a sliding 10-year timeframe. Marvel launched the Ultimate Universe to try to give the characters a fresh start, but the question keeps coming up: how long can the main Marvel comics go without giving themselves a fresh start?
With this week's events, the idea keeps getting raised. Graeme calls it "the obligatory cosmic reset". Ragnell opines that Marvel has "never had the guts for a real universal reboot".
The thing is .... Marvel can't reboot. Because - unlike pre-Crisis DC - real things have happened. All of DC's significant events happened after the Crisis On Infinite Earths: Jason Todd's death, the Lois/Clark marriage, Hal's insanity. Before Crisis, DC largely existed in a sitcom continuity where the status quo was never fundamentally altered.
That's never been the case at Marvel, and there's one Patron Saint Of Continuity: Gwen Stacy. A "cosmic reset" that started the characters all over would remove too much, too many important character-changing events. A Spider-Man who didn't lose Gwen is a completely different character, and the ghost of that death would haunt any reboot ... much as it haunted Brian Bendis' supposedly clean slate in the Ultimate Universe.
It'll continue to be a problem for Marvel, as the kipple accrues. More and more will need to be shoved into that ten-year span, including the events of Civil War #2. At some point, Marvel will need to do something before it collapses under the weight of it's own continuity.
I doubt it's happening anytime soon.
But then again ... Uatu was there in the first issue of Civil War, and the Beyonder just turned up again, right?
*I swear, it's like I took Scipio's post as a challenge.
This week's happy-making comes from a shocking last page reveal.
No - not that one.
The final page of Checkmate #3 put a huge smile on my face, which is .... unexpected ... coming from this grim-n-gritty espionage book.
Because this is why I read the Big Two - at least partially. This is what they can offer that other publishers can't: a shared universe. I love that feeling, that click in the brain when unexpected bits lock together in mainstream comics. I love reading the introduction of The Great Ten in 52, then heading over to another book coming out the very same week using them as a surprise ending. Yeah, sure - it's editor-driven, event-driven comics. But when done well - like this - it's deeply appealing to me.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Perhaps it's the question we'll ask each other at some con 20 years down the road: "Where were you when Civil War #2 was spoiled for you?" I was in my Bloglines account, trying to avoid spoilers before I left for the shop. I knew that there had been a leak of some sort in the Retailer Preview Pack the week before, but had studiously avoided the news. This last check, though, I hit upon Comic Foundry and ... well ... I couldn't close the browser window quite fast enough.
The reaction has been pretty strong, especially on the messageboards.
I could only get invested in the debate, if I took it seriously. But I don't - and I'm not intending the standard WeboComicsBlogoNet anti-crossover snark, either. Perhaps there's something wrong with me, but I tend to read by Moore's Dictum: "This is an imaginary story... Aren't they all?"
Perhaps it's my acting background, but I see "character" as eminently mutable. Even defining traits can be interpreted in many different ways. Many see Peter's act as "out of character". For example, there's Tom The Dog:
If there's a plausible -- I said plausible -- reason in the story why Peter would go against 40 years of character development and suddenly both bend over for the government and jeopardize his family's safety, please let me know.
Or MillarWorld poster "Burno":
When would Peter Parker disregard what was his guiding motto in his whole life, responsibility and suddenly put a target on the head of everyone he ever met?
Of course, the other character choice here is that revealing his identity is the responsible thing to do. Responsibility means worrying about greater needs than your own, or even your family's. It's about doing what's right, regardless of personal cost. If Peter believes in the Superhero Registration Act, then this is the responsible action to take.
The other reaction I've seen in a few places is concisely voiced by Newsarama poster "seethruhero":
Bye Marvel. You just lost a long time Spider-man reader. This ruins years of stories.
Millarworld poster "SamMamudi" feels the same:
..the end of MCW#2 basically killed Spider-Man. Oh, sure, there's a guy called Peter Parker who has powers like Spidey did. But the Spider-Man that Lee and Ditko created, and who's been with us for 40 years is gone. I credit Marvel with more integrity than simply planning to retcon this in a year or so, so the unmasked Spidey is here to stay...which, I say again, utterly kills the concept.
I understand the gnashing of teeth here, because the concept of "secret identity" is integral to Spider-Man. It's what makes him tick, more than any other hero (except, perhaps, Superman). The balance of his "lives" is the dramatic tension that's kept the character alive and popular over the years, and without that dynamic the character would be altered past the point of recognition.
On the other hand: It's a storyline. Nothing more, nothing less.
To think this is a fundamental change that will stick with the character is completely contrary to Marvel's track record. Mike's right: this will be retconned quicker than you can say "No more mutants."
And - that's O.K. I'm also not simply dismissing it as a "stunt", because I don't expect it to last. It's a hell of a storytelling beat, should hopefully lead to some interesting situations, and by next summer's release of Spider-Man 3, all the toys will be back in the box. Changes don't need to last forever to be fun reading. Morrison's New X-Men is still a hell of a read, regardless of how quickly Marvel backed away once he left. Peter David's run on Hulk doesn't cease to exist merely because the Big Green One isn't intelligent anymore. And mutants regaining their power within weeks of the end of House of M doesn't mean it sucked.*
I'm enjoying Civil War, and finding myself drawn to the Marvel Universe in a way I haven't for a long time. Hopefully, we get some good stories springing off that last page of Civil War #2 ... that's about all I can ask for.
Because these stories? They're all imaginary.
*OK, it did suck. But it sucked before Bobby got frosty again..
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Again, only two days this week. Is the structural hook falling apart? Though it's now clear that storylines will be alternating weeks.
Was nicholas danger right? That looks like an army of Luthor Clones to me.
The hints and references in this panel alone will keep me reading for quite some time.
*What is this? Each week, I write exactly 52 words on that week's 52. The word count is according to the Word Count Firefox Extension.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I'm hoping to get down to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics nice and early this Wednesday, the better to avoid Civil War spoilers. I understand a big development got accidentally leaked last week, but I've not heard it yet. As we all know, the WeboComicsBlogoNet doesn't talk Marvel, and the only comics messageboard I frequent is Millarworld, where they tend to be really good about spoiler stuff. So I have no idea what's happening, and look forward to being freaked out.
Strangely, the book I'm most looking forward to seeing this week is Thunderbolts. It was one of my favorite series when I was last reading comics, and I remember that first shocking issue like it was yesterday. I was sort of surprised to see it still running when I returned to comics, and I've been considering picking it up but wanted a good jumping-on point. Civil War seems to provide that point, and Jim Roeg's praise of the latest issue sealed the deal. It should be fun to check in on these characters after a long time away, see what they're up to.
52 looks like it should be a fun week - literally. That's the best looking cover for the series so far, isn't it? And it looks like we're getting The Great Ten this week, which I greet with open Morrison-loving arms. Ursa Minors also drops this week, and I am sold on the high concept: "It's Seinfeld, but with Bear Suits. And ninjas. And cussing." Dan Slott can be hit-or-miss for me, but I have high hopes for Marvel Westerns: The Two-Gun Kid.
I continue to buy various books while "making up my mind", and relay need to make a decision. American Virgin, Checkmate, and Firestorm: The Nuclear Man are three such titles that are hovering on the edge of my pull-list and need a strong issue before being pushed off that selfsame edge.
- 52 #6
- American Virgin #4
- Checkmate #3
- Crisis Aftermath: The Battle For Bludhaven #5
- Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #26
- JLA Classified #22
- Superman #653
- Supermarket #3
- Fear Agent #5
- Civil War #2
- Marvel Westerns: The Two-Gun Kid
- Thunderbolts #103
- Ursa Minors #1
Monday, June 12, 2006
Monday, when I work my way though all the items I've marked in my Bloglines account as stuff I want to mention ....
- I am much overdue in mentioning the great Comic Book Resources writeup of Jason Rodriguez' upcoming Postcards anthology. It's going to be a battle for Jason publicity-wise. He's really reaching outside the Direct Market Fanboy with a book about antique postcards ... but if the dice come up right, he'll hit it big and attract audiences from in and out of comics fandom. The Direct Market will be interested in this based off the amazing talent he's assembled, and props to CBR for getting the word out, even if antique postcards falls outside their normal jurisdiction.
- Comic Book Commentary has moved, and what would a blog celebration be without a giveaway contest?
- Happy One Year Blogoversary to Jim Roeg! Hard to believe it's been a year since what I've come to think of as 'The Class Of June '06" all started up at about the same time: Jim, myself, Zilla, Kurt ... am I forgetting someone? According to the Official Blogger timeline, shouldn't we all start bitching about how Comic Blogging's turned to shite, and the Golden Age Of The WeboComicsBlogoNet is over?
(I'm also glad I finally got a chance to see X-Men 3 this weekend, as I can finally read Jim's essay entitled "Deconstructing Brett Ratner's X3 (2006): How to Fuck It All Up and Betray Your Principles Without Really Trying".)
- Is the blogosphere lopsided? Scipio's prompted a pretty interesting discussion on the DC-centric nature of the blogosphere, and the comments section has advanced some interesting theories, including my suggestion that Marvel discussion seems to center around messageboards. I'm not even sure I fall on a DC/Marvel spectrum at all, at least in terms of posts here at Focused Totality.
- Not A Linkblog, But Not A Post Of It's Own: Yesterday, I'm at a family gathering. My sister-in-law, who is as far removed form the comics scene as one could get, asks: "So what's this I heard about Batwoman?"
.... That's marketing.
Of course, I don't know what good it all does. If she wanted it, she'd need to find a comic shop and then wait six weeks for the issue to hit. Could've timed that better, DC.
Friday, June 09, 2006
As of last night, I am caught up with Runaways. I'd heard the good word about the book since coming back to comics almost a year ago, but didn't want to jump into the monthly without knowing what's going on. Now I've digested the excellent hardcover of the first series, the two digests covering much of the current series, and found the last few issues at 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics.
All the praise I've heard didn't prepare me for this sustained excellence. The arc of the first series may be one of my favorite storylines in comics. Runaways is remarkable for being on the short list of new characters that actually succeed, and the secret is simple: they are characters. They are not a set of costumes, powers, and high-concept origins. They are living, breathing people who are engaging and endearing.
Anyways - this T.G.I.F. I present maybe my favorite joke from a series full of wit.
I don't mind being manipulated. Most art manipulates - good art manipulates well. I don't mind being led by the nose, and I don't mind it if the seams sometimes show. Sometimes, it's fun to be sucker-punched, to fall for the bait and swallow the hook. Allan Heinberg's debut on Wonder Woman this week manipulated me: setting me up to take each fall, making my emotions jump through hoops, cleverly using my expectations against me. There's a point where it's fun.
And there's a point where it's offensive.
Look no further than this week's debut of Civil War: Front Line for the "offensive" part of the equation. On the whole, this ancillary series does just what was intended: flesh out and give some depth to Marvel's main event, Civil War. As Civil War is written by Mark Millar, it will deliver oodles of badass action, kicking last-page cliffhangers, sharp character beats, and half-baked politicizing. "Detail" and "richness", however, aren't Millar's strong suits and the job of painting the wider effects of the Superhuman Registration Act has fallen to Paul Jenkins. His lead story of two reporters coming at the Act with opposing politics is interesting enough, though it seems heavily dependent on continuity. I know Ben Urich, of course ... I get the impression I should know Sally and her history, but she's a mystery to me.
The biggest problem I have with the lead story in Front Line is how imbalanced it is. Marvel's made a point through their Civil War press junkets that there is a debate here, something past a simple good/evil, with arguments to be made on both sides. Jenkins barely pretends a wink at impartiality, setting up Crusading Lefty versus Venal Conservative in no uncertain terms. I suppose t's hard to blame him: once Captain America took a side (early in Civil War #1) the debate was essentially over. He's the moral voice of the Marvel Universe, and anyone who opposes him is simply wrong. Jenkins follows along, giving lip-service to the concept of true debate, but the whole thing reads a bit like an NPR piece on a fiction debate until the final reveal, that ends up giving the issue more storytelling punch than I expected.
That's not where I got offended, though. One-sided debate is tiresome and disappointing, but it's not that unexpected. There are also some backups: a tale of the last surviving New Warrior that takes a small look at the triggering tragedy's aftermath (gorgeously illustrated by Steve Lieber), and another tale that attempts to link the fiction Superhero Registration Act with the very real Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. The text of the piece is largely that of an anonymous poem written by an internee, and it's contrasted with scenes of a father trying to explain to his child why their country is imprisoning them.
It's also contrasted with images of Spider-Man feeling sad and swinging around on his web a bit.
Allow me to repeat: we have the Internment Camps mixed with images of Spider-Man feeling sad and swinging around on his web a bit
It seem to bears little relation to the story (there are no Superhero Internment Camps being proposed in Civil War), and feels wildly inappropriate and tactless. Using the pathos of a firsthand account of one of America's most shameful incidents to lend depth to Spider-Man? It's heavy-handed, self-important claptrap that just about sent the book flying across the room. I suppose there's a chance that someone is reading along and suddenly discovers this bit of history for the first time - and that would be a good thing. I know as a kid that Claremont's use of the Holocaust in X-Men educated me somewhat about those horrors, or at least grounded it in a way beyond history class. There's even, in my mind, a tasteful way to have made this analogy and introduced this history ... but it doesn't feature Spider-Man feeling sad and swinging around on his web a bit. Let the story stand on it's own, but don't lead me by the nose to somehow correlate the plight of unjustly imprisioned Americans with an angsty Spider-Man.
Not only is it cheap manipulation, but it cuts off the Civil War debate at it's knees. All those "I'm With" banners can be thrown away, because Jenkins makes his point too baldly: you're with Captain America, or you're with those who imprisoned Japanese-Americans. It's as manipulative as the right-wing journalism Jenkins is attacking with his portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson, and if this smash-bang summer crossover starts to become a soapbox, I'm out.
More scenes of Captain America kicking a fighter jet's ass? Yes, sir. Sign me up.
More pathos and drama cheaply trotting out historical tragedy to make a point about superheroes? No, thank you.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
That would make her wingspan about what, Ted?
This issue only covered two days. I'm glad to see the format's flexible enough to allow individual days to build momentum.
It's pleasantly suprising to be pleasantly suprised in this Internet Age Of Comics. Could the unexpected offworld crew be our three missing boxes?
*What is this? Each week, I write exactly 52 words on that week's 52. The word count is according to the Word Count Firefox Extension.
Yeah, I'm a bit of a "Twainie". We actually prefer the name "Twainer", but I understand the confusion. I don't dress up as Twain anymore, and I don't do conventions. But I do have a real fondness for Samuel Clemens, who is one of the Great American Writers to this day. He's Oscar Wilde gone through the looking-glass: though different in almost every way, they were both showmen and masters of the bon mot. Too often, Twain is portrayed as his carefully cultured persona of the genial country wise man. We remember Hal Holbrook, not the devilish figure who set minds ablaze.
As a "Twainie", I approached Five Fists of Science with much interest, a dash of excitement and just a wee dram of dread. I love the characters involved, and the concept of rip-roaring Steampunk adventure. There was this nagging concern, however, that Matt Fraction would miss the Mark .... pun intended.
He didn't. In fact, Fraction's dead-on Twain not only is note-perfect, it really drives the book. He captures Twain's essential passion and showmanship and cunning and charisma, and uses his manic energy to propel the mad plot with such gusto that you pass the threshold from history to outright fantasy with little notice. With Twain's complexity as the hook, this story of giant robots battling Lovecraftian demons at the turn of the century makes perfect sense. Steven Sanders contributes to this by making his Twain a trifle younger than we might expect (and with devilish good looks), and keeps him in constant motion.
There are some mis-steps in Five Fists of Science: at times the coloring is so dark that the action and detail becomes hard to read, and the intercutting of the final action sequence moves from "fun" to "distracting" to "confusing" pretty quickly. On the whole, though, I wasn't disappointed in the least. As I wait on my preordered reprint of the sublime Howard Who? by Howard Waldrop, Five Fists Of Science gave me that blast of Waldropian fun I've been craving: well-researched historical figures and themes put in the blender, which is then set to "frappe".
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Assuming that Hell's Itself doesn't open and swallow us all up on this fine 6/6/06, I should be heading down to 2005 Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award Winning Night Flight Comics tomorrow to pick up some comics. It's a light week, and that's good - the last two have been enormous, and I have Runaways digests sitting in my pull box. It's time to catch up for a week or so.
The book that most looks to float my boat this week is Allan Heinberg's Wonder Woman. His Young Avengers is easily one of Marvel's best books, and I think he shown has the ability to write strong women ... and more than one. I usually buy Wonder Woman, but often feel her place in the DCU is a case of "tell, don't show". We're often told that she is on equal standing with Batman and Superman, but her solo series has never quite lived up to that billing. Perhaps that will start to change tomorrow.
Since I first saw Punks, I've been a Kody Chamberlain fan. I know the style is completely different, but I'll still be picking up his Keith Giffen written horror title, Tag. The new volume of Nana ships this week, so next to "spine-snapping horror", I'll have me some teenage J-Pop fashion. Which makes sense.
- 52 #5
- Batman: Secrets #4
- Detective Comics #820
- JSA #86
- Outsiders #37
- Wonder Woman #1
- Civil War: Front Line #1
- Fantastic Four: First Family #4
- Tag #1
- Nana Vol. 3
Monday, June 05, 2006
I couldn't be happier to read the news that Elk's Run will finally see completion.
Except, perhaps, reading the news that it will see completion as a graphic novel from Random House imprint Villard. I have even heard the word "hardcover" bandied about.
It's another story of mainstream publishers dipping their toes in the graphic novel waters, and Elk's Run is an excellent fit. It's suspense-laden storyline and natural, warm art will speak to people outside the Direct Market. In a nation obsessed with Lost, where fictional books mentioned on the show sell bucketloads, Elk's Run is a hit waiting to happen.
It's also the story of a handful of artists who kept on pushing, even when things went bad. Josh, Noel, Scott, Jason, Jason, Datsun and everyone else .... congratulations! Harvey Award
nominations are all well and good, but publishing must be even better.
Now it's just the waiting, which wiser souls have dubbed "the hardest part".
- Manhunter gets saved.
Maybe I'm not quite the kiss of death I thought, as Manhunter gets a reprieve. It's great news, and writer Marc Andreyko is capitalizing on the news to do a money back offer.
You've never tried it? Why should you try it? Well, where do I start? How 'bout this: it's a damn fun book that I am proud to be a part of - hence, my long-standing money-back guarantee: "buy an issue of Manhunter and hate it? Send it to me and get your $2.99 back!
So why not try it? I'm talking to you, Jon.
Though between this and Spider-Girl, I'm already wary of a new trend of "cancellation notices as marketing". I guess it's cheaper than a Wizard
- Batman Confidential and Superman Confidential.
These titles have been rumored a while, but the creative teams announced this weekend are pretty exciting. Andy Diggle's take on Batman should be great, and Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale on Superman? That sounds almost too good for a little monthly. I'm sure the talent level will degenerate eventually, but this sounds cool.
- Marvel once again promises "Death To Teh Intarwub!!!"
Forget the pending threat of the two-tier Internet, it's Marvel that promises impending doom for the Information SuperHighway. It's a summer tradition! Last year they threatened to "crack the Internet right in half", and this year they have a new method of destruction.
Touching upon a topic from a previous panel, Brevoort said that with the last pages of Civil War #2 'your jaw will be on the floor, and the internet will be aflame.'
- Absolute Sandman details announced.
$99 per book is certainly steep, but 20 issues in each sounds nice. A four-volume Sandman is going to be an awfully nice bookshelf addition. The example of the re-coloring is really fantastic, and adds more value. I'll definitely be bargain-shopping these, though.
- Lee/Morrison Wildcats still coming.
It still sounds great, almost a year later. I have a hard time believing Lee can do this and All-Star Batman while hitting anything close to deadlines, however.
So, Mike mentions this past week that Mouse Guard is being bought by speculators. I smile and laugh, and go about my day.
Then, I happen to look at my stat tracker and find someone hitting my site based off the search phrase "'mouse guard' AND 'in stock'". Is it really that rare? I head to eBay to look and see.
I see that first printings of the first issue are selling for $50 and above.
See, I've been buying two sets of Mouse Guard all along. One for me, and one for the girls to read and rip. I realize I could sell those three Mouse Guards I have that are still nice, keep reading the family copies, and buy myself the complete freaking run of Ellis' Stormwatch/Authority in trade paperback. Or Absolute Sandman. Or something equally lovely.
So I put them up on eBay, with an exorbitant Buy It Now, just to see what would happen.
Apparently, the Buy It Now wasn't exorbitant enough, as the set sold within a few hours.
I have mixed feelings: I don't like encouraging the speculator mentality ... but if someone wants to drop that much on a comic because they specifically want a first print, I'm happy to oblige. It'll read as well in the girls' ripped first printings, or in a third print, or in the eventual trade paperback.
I don't understand the mania for first printings. Does that make me a bad man for profiting off it?
Friday, June 02, 2006
Hectic day what with recalcitrant WordPress, unexpected bugs in production code, and messageboard debate on the Marriage Amendment.
But I do not shirk my duties. I may be a bit late bringing the T.G.I. to this Friday, but it's a panel from Yotsuba&!, so it's extra good.
Have a great weekend, y'all ...
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Is John Henry's situation part of the Mad Scientist Roundup?
Am I the only one that saw John getting covered in liquid metal, and immediately flashed back to Bulleteer?
Monsters, Detectives, and Kirbytech ... it's this exact blend that makes the DCU fun.
Was Question always this witty?
Renee Montoya: Tomb Raider
- First off, we have the Hardest Workin' Pimp In Comics, Mr James Sime. The Isotope is celebrating its 5-year birthday today, and is the only establishment that will be celebrating late comics delivery with "a new Caribbean cocktail". Happy Birthday, Isotope!
- Looks like AiT/PlanetLar's Larry Young is celebrating early, with a bit of economic prestigidation that will make restock fees disappear! I don't pretend to understand the razor-thin margins that dictate this industry, but I do know that one again, Larry has co-located money and mouth by making sure that retailers can keep evergreens like Demo, Couriers and Last Of The Independents in stock without having to pay extra to do so. He pays 3% of sales he might not get otherwise, and wrangles some visibility and press out of the deal: that's smart.
- Like there weren't enough good vibes churning around, I wake up this morning to find an email from Joshua Hale Fialkov announcing that the Elk's Run crew has amassed an astounding sevenHarvey nominations: Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Letterer, Best Cover Artist, Best New Talent, Best Continuing or Limited Series, and Best Single Issue or Story. Hot damn .... that Eisner's right around the corner, isn't it?