Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Whither Daredevil?

There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the comic internets about the current direction of Daredevil. Between Shadowland casting him as a villain (or at the very least, getting dangerously close to villainous territory) and the news that Marvel’s going to be “ending” his series following Shadowland, lots of people aren’t happy.

I actually think that the direction they’re taking is long overdue. A long running joke amongst fandom is how the job of every writer on Daredevil is to make Matt Murdock’s life even worse than the writer before him did. Considering that the best Daredevil story ever written (Frank Miller’s Born Again) robbed him of his law degree, made him homeless, and brought his ex girlfriend back as a heroin addicted porn star, it’s a testament to the sadism and creativity of comic writers everywhere that Daredevil’s life has gotten even worse since then.

Since Born Again, we’ve had Daredevil’s ex killed, his secret identity revealed to the world, seen him spend time in prison, and get forced to reluctantly take control of the Hand. Now, I’m not sure how taking control of a ninja death cult could end well, but it looks to be ending about as poorly as possible with Daredevil constructing a prison for criminals and corrupt cops in the heart of hell’s kitchen and going up against all of NY’s street level heroes.

As a concept, I think this is great. Putting Daredevil through the ringer has been basically the default setting on Daredevil since Frank Miller took over the title. It has certainly been the focus of virtually every run on this title since it was rebooted under the Marvel Knights imprint. It’s about time for Daredevil to hit rock bottom and him taking control of the Hand is certainly a good enough story for that to happen.

As a concept I love Shadowland. With everything that’s happened to Daredevil throughout the past few years, it makes sense that’d he say “enough!” and stop playing by the rules. Played as a fall from grace, followed by a redemption, it’s a story that’s tailor made for comics’ most catholic superhero.

The problem has been the pacing. The story of Daredevil being corrupted by the Hand felt like it was going for a slow burn, until Shadowland kicked in. Then it felt like the process we were about to watch slowly advance for a while, was finished and Daredevil was an absolutist psycho in charge of the Hand.

I don’t want to judge the book too harshly, after all it hasn’t been completed yet and there’s clearly more going on to some of the story than meets the eye. However, right now, it feels like a good idea that wasn’t earned.

Still, I like the basic direction of the story. Its time for something different for Daredevil, and for that to happen, its time for him to hit bottom. Shadowland looks to be doing that. Following the crossover, Daredevil is going to be “cancelled” and followed up with a mini series called “Daredevil Reborn.” The lack of cardboard silver age characters at Marvel has me much more optimistic about this series than anything with that title at DC.

Anyway, I think its time for a fresh start with Daredevil and I’m interested to see where they go with that, because a story where Daredevil builds himself back up feels like something we haven’t gotten in a long time on this title. I’ve been luke warm on Andy Diggle’s run thus far, but I’ve liked enough of his other stuff that I remain optimistic. I’m totally on board with the direction he’s taken this title, I just wish the execution were a little better. Hopefully Shadowland will end up being more than the sum of its parts and Reborn shakes this title up a little.

Roy of The Rovers, World Cup Special

So far, the one thing that I miss the most from the US, other than English language comics, is the constant flow of sports. I loved following the teams, watching games as time would allow, reading about them, and even listening to sports talk on the radio. I just loved sports. Of course, as an American, the one sport I never got into was soccer, or football as the rest of the world calls it.

Of course, living in France gave me the opportunity to watch more World Cup football than any one person has a right too. To be fair, there aren’t any other sports on so there wasn’t anything else to watch. But it was good enough that I decided to see what it was like in comic books, so I picked up a copy of Roy of the Rovers World Cup Special.

For those unfamiliar with Roy and the Rovers, which would be most of our readers, Roy, our hero, is the best player on the Rovers football team. Always of a sharp mind and accurate kick, Roy leads his team to many a victory! The World Cup Special is a greatest hits of stories that happen to involve the World Cup.

The first story, written in the 50’s and has all the silliness that you would expect from a 50’s comic book story. Roy and the team are traveling through Australia when a cattle farmer enters them into local tournament dubbed the ‘Australian World Cup’. Actually, entered is a strong term, the farmers bets his farm against a dishonest rancher that Roy and crew can win the tournament! Roy feels obligated to help and ends up playing against teams of Italian acrobats, aborigines, and even Bulgarian miners. If you can imagine a 1950 imaginary Superman story with soccer balls and no cape then you have a pretty good idea what this story is like.

Another story, written in the 70’s, involved a mistaken identity with one of the players and a Prince of a foreign country. But the capper of the collection is a story about a group of American’s practicing for a run at the World Cup against the Rovers.

The stories in this collection are all very good. In fact, I was surprised how good they were. Don't get me wrong, they aren’t earth shattering, world changing cosmic events or anything of that nature but they are light hearted stories about sports and sports stars. There is something for everyone in this collection from the ridiculous Australian World Cup that you can’t help but laugh at to the portrayal of Americans as the ham fisted, over the top, over achievers the world believes us all to be. There’s nothing funnier than reading caricatures of your own cultures. The stories weren't mentally strenuous or taxing but they maintained tension through the various soccer games and kept it all fun. The art throughout is very good. It was never stellar but it was never ugly either. All the stories flowed and I really enjoyed it.

I'm not sure America has ever done a good sports comic, at least not since NFL Superpro (yes that was a real book) and this is an excellent collection that really shows how comics can be more than men in tights.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The 2010 Baltimore Comic-con in Pictures

I've been going to the Baltimore Comic-con annually since 2005 and this may have been the best year I've ever had. I'll try to write up some highlights and throw in a few pictures along the way. If you're looking for Cosplay photos of the costume contest participants, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. (Lee you'll be upset, because of all the great deals you missed.)

Day 1 -- My son and I got there around 6:30 am -- we only live about 1/2 hour south of the city. I found a new parking area where you put money in a slot with no attendant...only $10 -- A bargain (and only 3 blocks away)! We played Iron Man 2 game of War to pass the time and he tried to teach me to play Baukugan. Maybe, I'll win that Ford Fiesta sweepstakes they were having...

Our place in line was right next to these stairs. Too bad the REAL bathroom wouldn't be available to us for another 2 hours when they let us inside. Man did that place reek!

The early morning crowd. There really is no reason for me to get there that early, but I like to just the same. Plus it beats waiting in line for an hour to get in when you arrive at 10:00.

Skipping a lot of stuff (conversations and the like, including some of the Thor panel and selling some Spider-man comics) to one of the highlights -- my Walt Simonson sketch placed in the front of the Thor: Tales of Asgard HC (50% off).

Walt at work. I wish I had audio of his talking. He's very approachable. I was number 5, which he sharpied on my thumb, in line for getting the last sketch of the day.

My sketch idea: Mjolner and Stormbringer clashing.

I've been trying to get a sketch from Walt since 2005!!! He said, it's a sure thing that no one else has that sketch. He seemed to like the idea.

John Workman (letterer of Thor) was there this year (first-timer) and he graciously provided some sound effects.

The awesome finished piece!

Day 2 -- we left church after Sunday School and arrived around 11:00 am.

The always friendly Thom Zahler (Love and Capes), who did a sketch for my daughter who is starting high school tomorrow. I ordered his Long Distance script, which he didn't have with him this year.

The legendary Herb Trimpe and his charming wife. Herb's going to ink a Hulk picture he drew for me in 2008.

Eating lunch at the comic book diner with my four youngest children.

The kids drawing at the diner table.

Head shot sketches with word balloons of each of the kids by John Workman.

John Gallagher (Buzz Boy) draws Evy as a Super Hero.

...and Faith with a Super-Paci and blankie

Ted Levine of Superworld Comics, my dealer and super nice guy. He's fair and straightforward and gave me a very good price on 11 Spider-mans (#13 thru 23), so I was able to get some things at the show such as...

I was able to fill in some holes in my collection with a few dollar issues and 50 cent issues. I picked up the early part of Paul Tobin's Marvel Adventures Spider-man run (#53-57). I got the Neal Adams Batman Vol 2 HC for 75% off! I got the DC Bible Treasury edition for $5 and a Jack Kirby Darkseid DC direct figure for $5 too. I finally found the first issue of Robocop Vs. Terminator (a great series).

Lots of HCs. Justice League Archive 1 was 75% off and 2, 3, and 4 were $20 each. Marvel Masterworks Avengers 7 was 50% off and 8 and 9 were 75% off. The AWESOME (best book I got) Don Martin MAD 2 volume HC was also an ASTOUNDING 75% OFF!!! It retails for $150, so I saved over $100 dollars on that book alone.

Detail of some of the books, including a Spider-Girl digest for only $1.

I almost forgot. I picked up nearly (missing only two issues) of the Gene Colan Wonder Woman run pre-Crisis for only a dollar each. I also got the Alan Moore Superman/Swamp Thing DC Presents issue. Speaking of DC presents I saw a guy buy a page from issue 41 from Jose Garcia-Lopez for only $150. I would love to get one from his Deadman mini-series. The most exciting back issue I found was the 7-11 exclusive Radioactive Man #711!!!

There's so much more I could say, but I had a blast. It's such a great show. Next year it'll be August 20 and 21st.

Paul Tobin Interview -- Writer of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes Part 1 of 3

Hi everybody! I'm filling in for Jim this morning and I was going to do my version of Jim's "What I'm Getting", but it turns out I'm gettin' nothin' this Wednesday! Actually, that's a good thing since I'm planning on spending some money at Comic-Con tomorrow (two-days past for you readers -- time travel is always so confusing). Fortunately, I've got something even better for you -- Part 1 of my interview with writer Paul Tobin!!! I contacted Paul prior to writing my review of Super Heroes and he graciously agreed to answer my questions. I'm telling you, his responses were awesome. But don't take my word for it, read on...

This interview was conducted by e-mail via a Word file between 2010 Aug 13 and Aug 26. Paul was super-busy, so I really appreciate him taking time out of his schedule!

First, let’s focus on some questions about the Marvel Adventures Super Heroes title itself:

Matthew: I had originally thought that issue 1 was the start of the series, but it looks like it actually began in issue 17 of the last Marvel Adventures Super Heroes title, correct?

Paul: Correct indeed. That was the launch of me on the title, and a new direction for the title itself. We’d originally launched Super Heroes as a venue to showcase heroes that didn’t have their own Adventures titles, but with issue 17 we decided to do that within the greater scheme of the Avengers… so that we’d have a team book, and single issues would highlight members of that team.

Matthew: Was this a subtle reboot of the Marvel Adventures (MA) Universe? The Giant Girl (Janet Van Dyne) who starred in the MA Avengers title originally written by Jeff Parker has never been a member of the Avengers in the new PTU (Paul Tobin Universe), right?

Paul: Maybe a VERY soft reboot. The Adventures line was never all that concerned with continuity, but it was about that time that I really noticed how many of the books I was doing, and that I might as well institute a sort of broad scheme continuity. I always like shout-outs to things that have happened, and plot clues to what might be upcoming.

Matthew: This is really an Avengers book and now that there is whole Avengers franchise out there is there a specific reason why this series doesn’t use the name “Avengers” in the title?

Paul: Mostly because we do still want to highlight individual characters. We see “Avengers” as the family from where we draw the characters of the moment. The rest of the characters play sideline to whoever is stepping forward in any given issue.

Matthew: Is any of your work on the late MA Fantastic Four series part of this new universe’s continuity?

Paul: I consider it to be that way, yes. But as far as it be “officially” that way, not as much.

Matthew: Was there any change in the way you wrote the book from the “red banner” days to the new incarnation? It seems a little different to me (better…more subplots), but it could also be the difference of having rotating artists versus a consistent artist. Please tell me Cliquet and Santos are coming back after issue 5!

Paul: I’ve been given the go-ahead to go a little deeper into storylines, as long as each issue is still contained, and I’m certainly taking advantage of that. I love building stories over time. So, while each issue IS complete to itself, previous issues have events that lead into them. And Ronan will definitely be around. Scott Koblish will have some upcoming issues, and then we cycle back to Ronan Cliquet. Ronan is currently turning in pages for a Thor / Pirate story that is Knocking My Socks Off.

Matthew: Do you write out detailed scripts or do you collaborate with the artist using the “Marvel Way”? Do you modify your story based on what you know are the artist’s strengths or would artist A and artist B get the exact same story from you?

Paul: I’m very detailed with my scripts. I have a pretty clear vision of what I’d like to see, how I’d like to see it. At the same time, I realize it’s my job to stand back and let the artist do his job, so unless there’s a specific reason, I stay away from calling shots. And I love aiming scripts towards specific artists, but sometimes (due to deadlines, potential artist availability, etc) I’m writing scripts blind… not knowing who is going to be illustrating. If I DO know, and I have time, I like to ask an artist what kinds of things they find exciting to draw.

Matthew: Did you get to pick all the team members or were some editorially mandated for you?

Paul: A little of both. It’s not uncommon for me to pick what artist I want to work with… but quite often I’m picking from a small pool of available people. There are three or four artists I’m trying to work into our regular stable, at this point.

Matthew: I really love the inclusion of the Invisible Woman, Nova, and the Vision. As a fan what’s your history with these characters and which comic stories (I’m thinking specific issues or runs) in the past are most influential on the way you write them today?

Paul: I have a horrendous memory, so I rarely think in terms of the past in specific, but I certainly think of the characters in overall themes. I like to strip a character down to what’s essential to them, why they put on the costume, what would make them stop, where his or her boundaries are set, and really play with those elements. Cap, for instance, is an Avengers leader because he is driven to do the right thing, whereas Sue (in a very subtle difference) is a strong leader because she’s afraid of what would happen to the people she cares about if she doesn’t do the right thing.

Matthew: I love the romance between Sue and Captain America. She’s really going to fall for Steve once she discovers whatever secrets Reed’s been keeping from her (via the Black Widow). Do you actually have the freedom to break out of the 50-year cycle of Reed and Sue as a couple? I’m not just talking a temporary break, I’m actually hoping to see Mrs. Susan ROGERS in the PTU someday!

Paul: I have quite a lot of freedom in the Adventures line, yes. How best to utilize that freedom is always interesting to me… and Steve’s attraction to Sue is definitely going to become a front story element quite soon.

Matthew: Any hints at what’s coming up next in the series?

Paul: Unexpected romances. Betrayals. A trip to Asgard. Pirates. One of the Avengers very much is AND isn’t who you might believe. And sea monsters.

Matthew: Do you know if this series will be collected in digest form or regular trade paperback?

Paul: Digest size, I believe, but I haven’t talked to the marketing people about that, so I can’t say for sure.

Matthew: I’m already sold on Super Heroes, how about you give me some reasons why I should be reading MA Spider-man too? It would help if you could highlight any similarities or differences between the two titles and how they’re written.

Paul: Spider-Man is actually a more “pure” book for me. The fact that I can focus on Spider-Man rather than a cast of seven heroes (in the Avengers title) means that I can go more in depth, and can really focus on characterization, plot development, relationships, and all the other aspects of storytelling. Because of this, I also have room for a strong supporting cast, like Sophia “Chat” Sanduval, who is a girlfriend to BOTH Peter Parker and Spider-Man, as opposed to so many girlfriends in the past. And I can also play with the Blonde Phantom in a reoccurring role, and of course the younger years of Emma Frost. She’s currently a character called the Silencer. She isn’t really sure if she likes her best friend, Chat, to be dating such a cool guy as Spider-Man, and she isn’t really sure if she’s a good guy or a bad guy. Lots of fun tension in poor ol’ Pete’s life.

Matthew: I heard that you’re writing the new spider-girl series that takes place in the regular Marvel Universe. Now, I am a HUGE May “Mayday” Parker (the one and only) Spider-Girl fan and normally, I wouldn't give any other “spider-girl” the time of day; however, with you writing it I’m willing to at least try out the first issue. I think you could engender a lot of good will with the MC2 Spider-Girl readers by saying some nice things about May and the phenomenon that’s about to end (only if you really mean it though).

I actually own this piece of artwork folks!

Paul: There seems to be a small segment of people that are making this an either / or situation, but I’m not really one of them. Mayday Parker was a great character, and continues to be a great character. Nothing we do is going to change that. What we can do is add ANOTHER character to the name, and that’s really my aim. I want Spider-Girl to be her own character, her own life… not standing for any replacement of all the great works that DeFalco did with Mayday. I hope that Anya Corazon is around for a long time to come, and I hope that Mayday sticks around, as well.

Matthew: Now, that you know which camp I belong too, can you make a pitch for why any other MC2 Spider-Girl fan should try out the new title?

Paul: Same reason that drew me into comics in the first place… a fascinating character in fascinating settings, dealing with the fantastic. And, I like to think that I’m bringing, to this title, what I’ve been known for in other titles, strong characterization that leads people to care about the people behind the masks. That’s what it’s all about for me… the human side of those that we comic creators Toss Into Chaos.

Matthew: How will your writing of spider-girl (you may have noticed that the lowercase is intentional kind of like God versus any other “god”) in the Marvel Universe differ from how you’re writing Spider-man in the Paul Tobin Universe for Marvel Adventures? What sort of “code” do you have to follow within MA (I thought the avoidance of saying “Deadpool” in issue #4 was hilarious)?

Paul: There are certain elements we shy away from in the Marvel Adventures line… the “blood n’ death” aspects are at a lower level. To be honest (and this is something I’ve discussed with my pal Jeff Parker, who agrees with this line of thinking) I think ALL writers should have to start in the Marvel Adventures line. Because we have certain restrictions, we have to learn to have stronger characterization, more inventive styles of drama, and so on. This means that when we do work within the 616 line, we’re coming into that market with a bigger bucket of storytelling tools, and it only leads to better stories.

Matthew: The regular Marvel Universe isn’t very all ages friendly at all most of the time. Since you’ve been so heavily into the Adventures universe, do you have any qualms about writing “darker” things? I guess I’m wondering is there a line that you won’t cross as a writer (i.e. No Sue Dibny tragedies or Sins Past fiascos)?

Paul: I’m by no means adverse to darker themes. I like having them around as a way of raising the ante, upping the drama, stacking the deck in favor of the villains… BUT… I’m hugely against using such “dark” elements as crutches. This is a rant I could go on for hours, and I often do… writing such as the Sue Dibny episode are created as no more than shock value, throwaway elements to make a story seem important. In turn, though, they ultimately devalue the story and the writer both. If people are always dying, then each death lessens the impact of the next, until it graduates to the meaningless. And if a writer can’t think of a better story than “SOMEONE DIES!” then that’s pretty sad. This medium is rampant with creators that think, “I’ll be remembered because this story is important,” when is should be filled with writers thinking, “I’ll be remembered because this story is good.”

That's not nearly all folks come back on Saturday for Part 2!
And come back later today for some pictures from the Baltimore Comic-con!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Like a Hammer

Frank Miller, though one of my favorite writers, is not an adherent to subtlety. Usually, though, he's subtle enough to include a plot and some story to his writing, but with Hard Boiled, he reached a nadir. Nothing but poke in the eye protest to this one.

Dark Horse produced this three issue book, which started in September 1990. It was oversized at about 8"x 10 1/2", and actually somewhat larger in the second two issues than the first. This was nice for the detailed artwork of Geof Darrow. Darrow put in Perez level details to this, so every extra inch of space helps the reader pick up on all that work. In fact, the main reason to have read this is for Darrow's work, much more so than Miller's story. Darrow has created a sort of art deco near future. The buildings are evocative of the 1920s architecture and the vehicles, so long as they're not oversized behemoths, are very much of the 1950s style, which matches very well with the '20s architecture. His human renderings are beautiful. The inclusion of sex scenes in the book, with all the oft hidden bits, is something like I'd like Invincible to do. They're appropriate for the book and done in feasible depictions (actual humans could manage these positions).

My only quibble with Darrow is one of cultural detail. In the second issue there's a scene in a subway that says "Way Out". This would be fine if the story were set in England, but it's set in LA. Should say "Exit", then.

Ah, but let's get to the fine story. I think I can summarize it pretty quickly. Robot/cyborg malfunctions, kills hundreds. Robot/cyborg is rebuilt and reintigrated into his "human" life. Other robot/cyborgs who have rebelled against their programming seek him out to free them. Evil corporation's programming holds and robot/cyborg remains loyal to his masters. "Free" robot/cyborgs die.

Now, what I think Miller's really going for is a parody of the excesses he sees in modern America, which he pushes to further excess to hammer home his point. The book is one endless flow of over the top sex and violence, mostly violence. Our lead is Nixon, surely not an accidental choice of name, who is a robot/cyborg whose function is to assassinate rivals of his corporate creator, an appliance company. He kills hundreds without repercussion. He has lovely sex with his "wife". His over the top violence spills over into a public orgy. I think I get it. America is in love with sex and violence. There seems to be some population explosion commentary, too, because LA is nothing but wall to wall people. All of this makes for dehumanization, as there's little concern for the countless dead. Just line up somemore, there's plenty left.

If that's all Miller hoped to achieve, it would have been nice if it could have been done in a reasonable time span. While it was 3 months between the first two issues, it was 15 months 'til the last. If you're going to do a 3 issue series, why not have all 3 issues ready to go as soon as the first one comes out? (Ok, it's 20 years gone now, so there's not much point in criticizing a publishing schedule that far out, but it's not like that sort of thing has improved in the intervening years.)

I also think the failings in story are detractions to the overall point Miller wanted to make (at least the one I think he wanted to make). There's never any explanation of why or how Nixon is going to free the other robot/cyborgs. Why's he necessary at all for their freedom? I understand why he kills the robot/cyborg that tries to seduce him, but I totally fail to understand why the other female robot/cyborg then kills herself when he doesn't overcome the programming. I think this is because her suicide is dependent on her pinning all of her hopes for freedom on Nixon, but because I have no idea why all her hopes are linked to him, I have no understanding of her suicide. Miller manages to get across the despondency a reader should feel in Nixon's continuing slavery to his programming by his corporate masters, but loses the reader in the rather important details of Nixon's importance to others of his kind.
The story could have been condensed into a one shot issue. That, I think, would have left the plot shortcomings more understandable and acceptable. Making it three issues should have made for more development of the motivations, though. The payoff of the ironic final panel is undermined too much as it stands.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book #2 -- A Review

Today is the first day of the Baltimore Comic-Con, the greatest comic-con on earth IMO! I'll be in attendance at least one if not both of the days. No real agenda this year as I've already sold most of my high-end books that I can bear to part with and don't have the cash for original art or commissions. Still, I expect this cruddy economy to bring out some really good SALES on back issues and HCs. It's always fun to chat with creators too. Anyway, what better way to celebrate than with a review of the comic that spoofs us, the comic book fans!

The first issue of this five-part mini-series was entertaining, but also seemed a little lacking. However, this issue makes up for it and was HILARIOUS!!!

Comic Book Guy is “dead” and Reverend Lovejoy is conducting the funeral in front of the Simpson family and one million Internet viewers via a web cam. The guest eulogizer is non-other than Stan “The Man” Lee, who comes out of the shadows after Lovejoy reads the three-hour introduction that Stan wrote about himself. The actual eulogy is pretty short and sweet, but it’s a perfect parody of Stan’s style. My favorite part was the “flying cars” gag. Apparently, Stan was just trying to save time to get to talk about his upcoming projects. Lisa performs a Sax solo that she wrote herself; the nerds and geeks on-line decode it: “I have perfect pitch, and the notes that keep repeating are D, A, B, D, and A. ‘Gasp!’ The five stages of grief!” I love Bart’s graveside remarks too.

The next part deals with Comic Book Guy’s video will where all the key players in town are assembled to see it. The prize is ownership of the Androids Dungeon. However, CBG first takes the opportunity to show off some of his make out sessions much to Principal Skinner’s dismay. The person who catches the Radioactive Man action figure gets the ownership and everybody clamors for it like bride-wannabes during the bouquet toss. It’s ends up landing in Marge’s hair.

Once Marge takes ownership she removes all the violent comic books and action figures, the “occulty” role-playing games, and even the baseball cards, because of the rampant steroid use. She renames the store “The Androids Playroom” decorating it in lots of pink. The only comics she carries are the ones with “Little” in the title. All the real comic fans leave in disgust, which is everyone except Nelson, who likes Marge’s motherly discipline. The comic fans go on-line to a comic message board site (where they are trying to see if they should illegally download comics now) when something unexpected happens…

“I’ve made several posts, and no one’s made any mean sarcastic remarks. I’m actually having full, interesting conversations!”

“It couldn’t be that most, if not all, of the snark online was Comic Book Guy posting under different names, could it?”

“And, now that he’s gone, the Internet is at peace. An online utopia!”

This has immense consequences, which strike fear in the heart of the President of the U.S.A (Simpson version). An aide explains, “The Internet has lost its snark. It was the only thing stopping people from having an actual open exchange of ideas and beliefs!” So, the Prez shuts down the Internet, forcing people to come out of their homes and wander aimlessly around like deer in the forest, since they don’t know what to do now. (The social commentary is great here).

Lisa encourages them to talk to each other in person, but it quickly turns into a fight between Millhouse and another kid with glasses over the ending of Spider-Man 3! Another fight starts over the use of “geeks” or “nerds” to describe the comic fans, pitting friend against friend resulting in a civil war! Mayor Quimby gets the bad news.

“Look out your window, Mr. Mayor, but brace yourself for the worst!”

“Don’t tell me they have begun wearing homemade outfits…?”

“Yes, Sir, I’m afraid Cosplay is involved!”

I wasn’t even familiar of the word “cosplay” when I read Lee’s comment in the DC preview post the other week, but I learned the definition from this comic. See. Comics really are educational.

Grade A: It’s great stuff and I really have high hopes for the rest of this series, which should make for an excellent trade someday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Fistful of Reviews: Belated

These reviews are from last week as with my sister's wedding this weekend I've been too busy with last minute prep before my trip to Maryland to have much time for reading.

Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom #1 (IDW)

While I enjoyed the underlying story in this issue about Boyd learning to make friends (and sadly mourning them in the end) the story telling through multiple perspectives left me at first a bit confused and later a bit dizzy. The art did help distinguish the differing perspectives but it took me awhile to adjust. Regardless the sparrow story was a good one.

Justice League: Generation Lost #7 (DC)

I've had a lot of fun with this team being "reformed" especially with the addition of the new Blue Beetle and the very very communist Rocket Red. Speaking of the new Rocket Red - Fire's plan to break into Checkmate was hilarious. Max Lord behind this team or not I'm glad at least one of DC's team books is still fun to read.

Batgirl#13 (DC)

I love Stephanie as the new Batgirl and while I preferred having Oracle behind Steph's new persona, Wendy subbing as Proxy should work out just fine. This was a decent issue but it seemed like a space holder in some ways. I am a bit confused about the main police detective... first it seemed like something was going on between him and Babs but now it seems like the flirting is between him and Steph. I guess I'll just have to keep reading.

Titans #26 (DC)

I don't like this book much but at least Arsenal going bad seems to be serving some sort of plot purpose. Also I am a bit curious as to what they are trying to do with Osiris.

Superman #702 (DC)

I've really been enjoying the Grounded storyline thus far. While I suppose it isn't all that action packed they have been pretty good stories about what Superman is really about - helping people. I think this is something that fell to the wayside with all the interplanetary battles as of late.

Zantanna #4 (DC)

This book has gotten better with the most recent storyline and even the art has been more acceptable. I'm hopeful that this book will continue to improve as Zantanna is a pretty awesome character and deserves a good book :)

Birds of Prey #4 (DC)

The reveal for White Canary just wasn't terribly exciting as it took me awhile to realize what characters (White Canary's brothers) were being referred to. The story with Savant and Babs was very well done though and I'm having a great time reading this relaunch of Birds of Prey.

Indies Preview Review for October Part 3 of 3

Titan Publishing
Major Eazy Vol. 01 HC by (W) Alan Hebden (A) Carlos Ezquerra
From the pages of Battle, Britain's best-loved war comic! Major Eazy is a maverick soldier in a dirty war, caught up in the Allies' invasion of Italy in 1944 and determined to see justice done. Even when that means taking on villains on his own side, he doesn't pull any punches! More movie star than military, Eazy was the most laconic British officer ever to grace the pages of a comic. $19.95
Lee: I love old war stories but sometimes the ones in the US seem so sanitized. Well, the older ones at least. I'm interested to see how the British relive WW2 in comics. It doesn't hurt that Ezquerra is handling the art chores either.
Jim: I on the fence on this one, love war comics, love Ezquerra for this materialn but have no clue who the writer is.
Gwen: I don't like war comics. I guess I'm the girl on this one.

WWE Heroes Vol. 01: Rise of the Firstborn SC by (W) Keith Champagne (A) Andy Smith
Since the dawn of time the powers of good and evil have been locked in unending battle and the firstborn children of light and darkness have been reincarnated time and again. Now the Shadow King searches for the firstborn, his enemy, knowing only that he has been reborn as a member of the WWE. Uncertain who it is, the Shadow King attacks Wrestlemania! $14.95
Lee: DO YOU SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN’? Well, the quest is over. After 3+ yrs on the blog, I’ve been able to use my Rock quote. Life is good. But, this actually might be fun. Champagne and Smith are proven creators and the concept is so goofy that it can’t miss.
Jim: I guess the line is funny if you watch the WWE, but I have no clue what Lee's line is all about, but I do know this book will never be ordered by me.
Gwen: Ugh. I think I just gagged.

Alter Ego #97
We examine the other guys - the non-EC Horror Comics of the 1950s! From Menace and House of Mystery to The Thing!, we'll take an in-depth look at some classic horror gems, with vintage art and artifacts by Bill Everett, Dick Briefer, Steve Ditko, Joe Maneely, Gene Colan , Mort Meskin, Shelly Moldoff, Russ Heath, Bob Powell, Jack Cole, Simon & Kirby, Bob Fujitani, and others! $7.95
Lee: I get one issue of Alter Ego every year and this is it. If you have any interest in pre-code horror, or horror comics in general, then this is a must. It’s always great fun and informative.
Jim: I agree, but I'm not buying the book as I have so much of the material in my collection I'd rather just read it.
Gwen: The only horror comics I remember really enjoying (outside of more modern work like Walking Dead) are the old Tales of the Crypt books. I'm not sure I'd like these types of stories as much now that I'm older though. So many horror stories are predictable to me these days.

75 Years of DC Comics HC by (W) Paul Levitz
In 1935, DC Comics founder Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson published New Fun #1, the first comic book with all-new, all-original comic material. What began as disposable media for children was soon on its way to becoming the mythology of our time, the 20th century's answer to Atlas or Zorro. Over 40,000 comic books later, in honor of the publisher's 75th-anniversary, Taschen has produced the single most comprehensive book on DC Comics in an edition even Superman might have trouble lifting. Over 2,000 images are reproduced to bring the storylines, the characters, and their creators to vibrant life as they've never been seen before. Telling the tales behind the tomes is 35-year DC veteran Paul Levitz, whose in-depth essays trace the company's history, from its pulp origins through to the future of digital publishing. Massive foldout timelines and an in-depth appendix including biographies of the artists, writers, editors, publishers, and actors who cast the spell make this an invaluable reference for any comic book fan. You'll find them all here. $200.00
Lee: Here’s the fine print, the book is 640 pages long! It’s basically an omnibus history of DC by Paul Levitz. I can tell you if it was ½ this price I would buy it in heartbeat. But $200 is beyond even me. Looks awesome though.
Jim: I agree. It sounds awesome, it looks awesome but $200 means it does not come home. I wish they would split it into two volumes as 640 pages is really too big of book to read and enjoy and that way I could justify buying two books for $100 each.
Gwen: So you're willing to pay $200 for the material but only if you can lift it more easily? Just wait until it's on Kindle.

The Horror! The Horror! The Horror Comics that the Government Didn’t Want You Read
The Horror! uncovers a rare treasury of some of the most important and neglected stories in American literature - the pre-Code horror comics of the 1950s. These outrageous comic book images, censored by Congress in an infamous televised U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating juvenile delinquency in 1954, have rarely been seen since they were first published. Jim Trombetta provides a detailed history and context for these stories and their creators, spinning a tale of horror and government censorship. $24.95
Lee: With everything that has been reprinted these days, I’m hard pressed to believe that the original books that caused the creation of the code haven’t been reprinted. Actually, more than a few were EC’s and that material has been in print for ages. I need to have some more details before I will commit.
Jim: It sounds like hype and stuff that was probably just canned after the whole Congressional thing get the companies to bail out before they got in more trouble. It is probably no better and more likely worse then the EC material.
Gwen: Can't say I'm interested - especially since some of the stuff published as comic books now would make the stuff censored by the comics code seem tame.

DC Superhero Figure Collector's Magazine #69 (Detective Chimp)
The ultimate collection for comics fans, the DC Superhero Collection Figurine Magazine brings together DC Comics' greatest heroes and villains! Official figurines of the characters, both good and evil, are cast in lead, individually hand-painted and numbered to form an authentic collector's edition. Each comes with a 20-page magazine providing detailed history and background on the featured characters, including exclusive images and interviews. (NOTE: Figurines are made of lead.) $14.00
Lee: This is for Monkey Boy Jim. You have all the other action figures you should get this one too. It’s a monkey… you love monkeys. Just don’t suck on it because of that lead thing.
Jim: It is tempting.
Gwen: Well at least now I know what to get Jim for a gift this year!

Lee: WOW! What a month. Tons of stuff by established creators for guaranteed goodness, a WWE collection, and a lead statue of a monkey. Seriously, what more can a comic geek ask for? Well, if I had one mire wish, I might ask for a picture of Gwen in her best Sailor Moon outfit, BUT I WON’T because she’s getting married. But other than that it’s a perfect month.
Jim: If I had a wish it would be for a billion dollars, then I could pay Lee to wear a Detective Chimp outfit.
Gwen: Sailor Moon? I mean I have Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman costumes... but no Sailor Moon thanks.