DAMN, Emma Frost!

I’m glad the days of Fredrick Wertham are behind us, where paranoids found dirty drawings in every nook and cranny.  And I really have no problem with the realism in comic art today, where artists take it to draw every zipper and seam in a costume (or uniform, if you’d prefer).

But I was reading Uncanny X-Men #534.1 and came across this panel…

…and I can’t help but think that’s no seam.  I have no idea how this made it into a Marvel comic.

Random Links For Your Weekend

Man, it has been a long, LONG time since I’ve done a link round-up, and I have so many browser tabs open these days it’s crashing my computer.  So, in the spirit of enlightened self-interest, please help me get caught up.


This Week’s Comics

I wasn’t expecting so many titles to be coming out all at once! Here’s this week’s noteworthy titles.

  • BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT #3 – The third issue comes out just in time for DCNu to take away everything.  Well played, DC.
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 – And now we get a new Captain America #1 for Marvel to make a cash grab for, just in time for the movie.
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #879
  • FF #6 – Of all the titles I’ve been skipping, FF is the one I miss the most.  I’ve finally managed to pick up a few of these, but I don’t have all the gaps filled in yet.
  • FLASHPOINT EMPEROR AQUAMAN #2 (OF 3)
  • GHOST RIDER #1 – A 0.1 then a #1?  Alright, then.
  • GODZILLA GANGSTERS & GOLIATHS #2 (OF 5) – I really had no intention of picking this book up, because for some asinine reason the title made me think of Monster Island creatures in hats and suits with tommy guns. The real book isn’t quite as solid as Kingdom of Monsters, but isn’t bad.
  • GREEN LANTERN #67 (WAR OF GL)
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #61 (WAR OF GL)
  • NEW AVENGERS #14 – I’ve now plowed through most of New Avengers and don’t care for it at all, so it’s off my list.  Expect reviews of all the various and sundry Avengers titles soon.
  • RED WING #1 (OF 6) – This is the book I’m looking forward to the most: Jonathan Hickman’s new creator-owned title at Image.
  • WOLVERINE #12
  • X-MEN SCHISM #1 (OF 5) – Yet ANOTHER event.  Nothing you know will be the same until it is again!  Bleh.

Well, that’s it for this week.  What are YOU looking at?

What, Me Continuity?

Continuity.

If there’s anything more divisive in the comic community (aside from organic vs mechanical web shooters) I can’t think of what it is.  With as many creators as it takes to create a line of comics nothing can stay 100% consistent.  That’s
okay, we’re all human.  Stan Lee invented the No-Prize as a way of poking fun at just that thing and we’ve all found our own ways to adapt with the ever-shifting reality of our favorite fictional worlds.  But the real problem with continuity  is that all of us have different burdens of acceptability for variation.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone ask how Spider-Man can be fighting the Scorpion in Amazing at the same time he’s fighting Doc Ock in Web or Spectacular.  I’ve never really had this problem: comics don’t operate in real time.  One issue is probably several hours to a few days (out of 30 in a month) so there’s plenty of time for Spidey to be somewhere else.  Yes, it is an insanely nerdy solution to a nonexistent problem, but that’s how it works in my head.  I didn’t ask for it, that’s how it happens.  But even that example shows I buy in to the very idea of continuity.  There must be a place and order for everything that happens.

Even with my (eminently reasonable and sensible) rationalization* I’ve been struggling with continuity lately.  I’ve set up what I consider a relatively low bar for continuity: I just want to know where everything fits in.  Normally this isn’t a problem.  We have the DCU and the 616 Marvel U.  The Ultimate line is its own consistent universe.  The Adventures line (along with DC Kids/Johnny DC) is the all-ages line that focuses on done-in-one stories and doesn’t worry about continuity.  No problem there.  But then there are books like Thor: The Mighty Avenger, anything involving the Legion of
Superheroes, or umpteen one-shots and mini-series (like the recent glut of Captain America titles) that feel like they should have a place in core continuity but don’t.

While some of these are very good stories, I want them to fit in. Somewhere.  Anywhere!  And that they don’t fit into a certain established chronology is frustrating me to no end.  Marvel launched their Ultimate line as a means to escape the burden of continuity and start from scratch without making the same mistakes. But now, 10 years in, Ultimate comics are in the exact same predicament.  It’s just by the nature of serial storytelling that a backstory gets built up.  The Adventures line is great, and you can miss any issue without missing a critical piece of story, but then again none of the stories in the have as much weight, because everything has to be reset by the end of the issue.  There’s no character arc.  In addition, these stories cheat in a sense, because we already know the characters from years of their primary stories already established. As much as I love Jeff Parker’s MA Avengers, they wouldn’t work as well with brand-new characters.  To some extent it is by piggybacking on established continuity that he is able to skips the characterization and focus on the adventures.

It’s not just comics in this dilemma.  Less than a decade after Spider-Man finally made it to the big screen, relaunched Batman and Superman movies are looking to get rebooted, too.  Where does X-Men: First Class fit in?  Good luck figuring it out!  Imagine if comics worked like the movies, where three stories represented a burden of backstory and required a reset!

It looks like I’ve been picking on Marvel, but stay tuned for Part Two next week, where I finally share my thoughts on DCNu and explain why I’m so befuddled by the whole thing. 


*Your reasonable and sensible rationalization is neither reasonable nor sensible because it’s different than mine.  That’s just how it works for us comic nerds, sorry.

This Week’s Comics

Wow, there’s a good amount of stuff to talk about this time around. Here’s what I’m looking at this week.

  • AVENGERS #12
  • BATMAN #709
  • BLACK DYNAMITE SLAVE ISLAND GN – Expect a dissertation on Black Dynamite to show up tomorrow, but for now I’ll say this: Black Dynamite is an amazing film, with a cast and crew who really know and love their source material: blaxploitation films.  This is not one of the ridiculous be-afro’ed pimps who show up in a comic every couple years, this is the real deal.  Black Dynamite comes with my highest possible recommendation.  And there will be sharks.
  • GREEN LANTERN #65 and GREEN LANTERN CORPS #59 – I’m resisting the urge to start quoting The Godfather, but I was happily out of the Green Lantern line until War of the Green Lanterns kicked off.  And now I’m off the wagon.
  • SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #1000 – Seriously Marvel, you can bite me with this shit.
  • SUPER DINOSAUR #1 – The cynic in me says this is a blatant attempt to catch in on the wave of new zany comics, or at the very least Axe Cop.  But the optimist in me says it’s a kid running around with a cybernetic dinosaur so I have to at least check it out.
  • THUNDERBOLTS #156
  • UNCANNY X-FORCE #8 – Marvel makes sure we know that they’re going to pry every single possible dollar from our hands by keeping their titles at $4.

o hai

I’ve finally picked up a copy of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1.  I found out that local shop I Want More Comics also got their shop one of the variant covers so I was happy to be able to check it out. I’m fairly pleased with it, a slow burn of a first issue that doesn’t explain the origin of Godzilla so much, but does present the first appearance of the king of the monsters in Japan, and explain where his fire breathing ability comes from (not that I’ve ever cared).  This is very much a  ground-level Godzilla story, taking place from the human point of view rather than the monstrous.  Powell is a comic book master, and while I’d prefer a little faster pacing, I understand the need to properly lay the groundwork for the appearance of a creature that looks like it’s going to destroy Tokyo.  I have faith he’s going to take us where we want to go, and this title promises to feature all of the Toho creatures, so I’ll be on-board for a while.  The art by Phil Hester is solidly drafted (he opted for one of the more feline variants of Godzilla), but his panel layout is incredibly hard to read at times.  The way his pages are laid out are reminiscent of how Powell lays out The Goon, but Powell has the benefit of softer coloring to pad between scenes and I think Hester would be well-served to stick with more traditional panel borders for the time being, unless the coloring style changes up.

I was happy to get caught up on Nick Spencer’s new Image title Infinite Vacation, whose second issue hit the stands last week.  Infinite Vacation is a service that uses the theory of infinite universes to create an online auction system that allows you to trade lives with any parallel version of yourself, letting you live a life that may have been.  Mark is a heavy user, averaging almost 10 jumps per day, and someone is killing him across realities.  While that would be a good enough story to provide you with plotlines for years, Spencer also looks at the social and moral ramifications of the Infinite Vacation, and provides an interesting counterpoint with the “deadenders,” the 3% of society that refuses to participate (and the group I would probably fall in with).  I’ll have to do some research to find out if this is an ongoing or a mini, but I’d love to see stories of other vacationers, too.  This is a lush, well-rounded world Spencer and artist Christian Ward have created in just two issues, and I can’t wait to see where they take us.

Mile High Comics’s web site is starting to show significant price drops of this year’s issues, so that is a resource I’m able to take advantage of now.  I’ve updated my running pull list to reflect the new books I’ve picked up, and that’s it for this week.  What are YOU looking at?

This Week’s Comics

In order to make up for the lack of comics I picked up last week, Rao has smiled upon me with a pretty healthy release of comics this week. Here’s what I’m looking at.

  • BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #5 (OF 6) – Despite my uncertainty about the upcoming Batman, Inc, I’ve really been enjoying Bruce’s return to the present more than I expected. And having recently re-read  Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, this is making a lot more sense.  (For example, now I remember the rocket in issue #1 was launched in the last issue of Final Crisis.)
  • BRUCE WAYNE THE ROAD HOME BATGIRL #1, BATMAN & ROBIN,OUTSIDERS #1, and RED ROBIN #1 – What I pick up will depend on either a flip test or the creators involved.  Since they’re all $2.99, though, I’m not as afraid to experiment with them.
  • GREEN LANTERN #58 – GL is back on notice.  You’d think a book that puts Larfleeze in Las Vegas would be more interesting.
  • IMAGE FIRSTS MADMAN – It’s always a treat to look at Mike Allred’s art, and the start of Madman — the book where he made his name — will be a nice place to revisit.
  • KNIGHT & SQUIRE #1 (OF 6) – I haven’t been a big fan of Knight and Squire in their recent appearances, but I learned to love Paul Cornell from his work on Captain Britain and MI-13.   Since that book’s cancellation, I’m really looking forward to this.
  • STRANGE TALES 2 #1 – The $5 price tag means there will have to be some strong content and extra pages, but the first Strange Tales was excellent, and I’m really glad that Marvel is keeping this one going.
  • SUPERIOR #1 (OF 6) – I’m growing increasingly tired with the “what if Superman was a douchebag” analogues we keep seeing.  I’m giving Millar the benefit of the doubt, but the first issue is really going to have to bowl me over.
  • SUPERMAN #703 – Hey, they’ve gotten out 3 issues in 3 months. I owe Matt 5 bucks.
  • X-BABIES CLASSIC TP GN VOL 01 – I only point this out to mention that “X-Babies Classic” is an oxymoron.

Well, Matt’s review of Chaos War #1 won me over.  I picked it up and thought it was pretty good.  I’m somewhat behind on Herc-related happenings, not having read Assault on New Olympus or the Death mini, but it was easy enough to get up to speed.  I take issue with Herc calling himself a fool, as he’s always seemed boistrous but not foolish, but I imagine if anyone has valid insight into his character, it’s Pak and Van Lente.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

There doesn’t seem to be much reason to continue this farce…

Over at Comic Alliance today, Chris Sims has an interview with both Ken Hale and Jeff Parker. This should be cause for celebration. It is not. The bad news is that Atlas ends at issue #5. The “good” news is that Parker feels he’s walking away on his own terms.

It’s tempting to go into a rant here, but I’ll spare us all. Still, the death of consistently smart and entertaining titles like this points to the exit door for me more quickly than the consistent price hikes.

This Week’s Mysterious Comics

It’s a week of trials this time around.  Or at least trial and error.

  • BATMAN AND ROBIN #13 – B&R has been consistently great, but with the current Return of Bruce Wayne tie-in happening right now, it’s by far the best Batman book I’ve read in some time.  I’m putting this right up there with Morrison’s All-Star Superman.  Except with, you know…Batman.
  • BRIGADE #1 – I honestly can’t believe we’re getting another 90’s Liefeld throwback.  I always thought Brigade was one of the worst of The Rob’s paramilitary superhero comics, but I may still be tempted to pick this up if Liefeld’s doing the art with the painted-style coloring that showed up as a preview in Image United.
  • HIT-MONKEY #1 (OF 3) – I like the concept, but the cynic in me thinks this is just a cash-grab using Julie Schwartz’s theory that comics always sold better with a gorilla on the cover.  Still, for 3 bucks I may bite and give it a try.
  • MARVELMAN FAMILYS FINEST #1 (OF 6) – I’m a huge Miracleman fan, and I’m pretty excited that Marvel may finally reprint (or dare I hope?) finish Neil Gaiman’s run.  Still, I’ve never had the opportunity to read any of the original Marvelman material, and I’m looking forward to the chance.  If nothing else, it should be fairly insane.
  • SHADOWLAND #1 (OF 5) and THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) and X-MEN #1 – Regardless of what publishers may think, there is such a thing as “event fatigue,” and I have it.  I just lack the interest or motivation to keep up with whatever terrible line-wide crossover is supposed to the the big, new, status-quo shattering event.  Of course, Marvel kicks off three new events this week (granted, Thanos Imperative is a reprint).  Sorry, Marvel. No.  You JUST got the 616 universe back into a recognizable shape.  Let’s keep it that way for a while, shall we?

Last month Matt swore he was done with Green Lantern, but I’m hoping he makes an exception for last week’s issue.  Featuring Lobo — the 90’s most inexplicable fad — hunting down Atrocitus, this issue was
all action, something we don’t really see enough of in Geoff Johns’ comics.  While I’d hate to see him regain his Deadpool-like status he had 15 years ago, I really enjoyed this issue and felt like Lobo was making the meta-commentary I have been for the past year.  The conclusion wasn’t especially original, but I liked it, and it set the groundwork for a story that could prove to be really interesting if he decides to follow it.  We also finally got the origin story of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat, and it read a little too much like “Dream of a Thousand Cats” but I liked it.  This was a solid, fun chunk of storytelling, and I wish more of Blackest Night And Its Infinite Crossovers had been this well done.

That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?  And don’t forget, new comics come out on Thursday this week.

Dispatches from Heroes Con, 2010, pt. The Second

In which our intrepid protagonist attended two panels and bought enough stuff to make both Achilles and Agamemnon sulk in their tents.

What I neglected to mention yesterday was a rather significant fact. I apologize for getting your hopes up in yesterday’s post if the following bit of information depresses you.

Neither Marvel nor DC have a noticeable presence at the convention. Let me repeat: there is no Marvel booth, nor is there a DC booth. For me this is a mixed bit of news. On the one hand, the big two don’t see this convention as big EVENT…which is nice… As their booths are behemoths that take away from the shops while offering minimal exposure to talent in return. On the other hand, the big two publishing companies do not see this convention as a BIG event. The difference is subtle, but it boils down to the panels and the coverage.

Starting this month fanboys and fangirls around the world will be checking in religiously to the larger comics news sites (my personal favorites are comicbookresources and newsarama). Eagerly they’ll refresh the pages frequently to see what new announcements have been made. Generally at cons like Wizard World and San Diego, you don’t have to attend the BIG panels because the transcript is uploaded within an hour or two of the event.

Check anytime this weekend or next and you will see little or nothing coming out of Charlotte. It was with this in mind that I attended the DC Nation panel today. The presiding Ian Sattler did not seem at ease despite trying to convince us that he was. While he was joined by Franco of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! and Bill Tucci lately of several Sgt. Rock pieces, the atmosphere was subdued and fairly reluctant. The powers that be at DC did not see fit to allow for any thing to “leak” at this weekend’s convention so it was an inordinate amount of, “wait and see.” It turned into more of a rehash of information fans could find on the DC website and a bit of thanks for buying our stuff/ what characters do you like? I can get that talking to the guys at the comic shop that I visit on a weekly basis complete with snarky “repartee.”

DC’s not alone in this. Marvel had it’s Mondo panel today also with a significantly greater number of creators in attendance, but it was more of the same. The ladies and gentlemen on the dais are muzzled by editorial heavies to keep mum. Yes, it’s always a joy to hear Jeff Parker talk about anything. Yes, Jonathan Hickman, currently on Fantastic Four, is a delightful fellow. It’s just that the word MONDO implies something more than pleasant conversation and sound bites for interviews.

What neither company sees is that there is a subtle message being sent. The implication of waiting to leak stories (until August in Chicago or late July in San Diego) is that there simply isn’t enough exciting new news to spread around. Spread it around guys. While no PRESS is bad press, NO press is BAD press.

If that put a damper on your interest in this convention, let me tell you something that should raise it again. You get some really nice almost boutique panels that are a ton of fun. Yesterday there was an in depth interview/ Q&A session with Brian Bolland. Did you know he hasn’t done any hand drawing (outside of sketches for conventions) since 1997? ‘Strue! Mr. Bolland does everything in Photoshop.

Today, there was a similar session with Mike Mignola. There was also a panel with Evan Dorkin, Jeff Parker, Colleen Coover, and Chris Pitzer. The title was Defective Comics: A Celebration of Superhero Oddness. With Dorkin, it quickly took a turn down other paths. It ranged from the lameness of Archie Andrews as a character to a condemnation of the Big Two for not making all-ages books while ramping up the violence and sex in their flagship titles to a truly awesome summary of the events of The Rise and Fall of Arsenal. After hearing Dorkin and Parker compare reading it to the pain of watching an Ed Wood movie, I cannot wait to find this “gem” in a fifty-cent bin in the not too distant future. In this same panel, a clip from a movie called “Ratfink a[nd] Boo-boo” was shown. Words fail me except to say that if Ed Wood had made a superhero movie it would have been this one.

So what did we come away with today? The (lack) of presence by the Big Two does not break a convention. A more varied and intimate panel experience can be had.

If you care, you’ll find a list of things I picked up today.

1. I found the remainder of the Simonson books I was looking for.

2. Took a flying leap on Fallen Angels a 1980’s New Mutants mini.

3. Three silver age Superman gems, two of which involve battling a pauchy Lex Luthor.

4. Pak and Van Lente’s entire Incredible Hercules run… as per Jesse’s strong recommendation.

5. Two posters by a fellow named David Malki ! He does interesting collage work with a victorian/ Steam Punkish bend to it. Check him out. He’s good.

6. Nice display cases for my 3.75 inch scale action figures.

That’s a wrap on today’s events. How are things going in the real world?

Sentry…SECRETS!

Stan Lee said he found me in the back of a filing cabinet. That's not true, I sprang fully formed from Alan Moore's Marvelman.

The Void and I take an annual trip to Atlantic City with our wives. Engelbert Humperdinck puts on a hell of a show.

I went into prop comedy for about 18 months. I did okay, but I sold my best gags to Carrot Top and Gallagher.

I'm entired composed of wormy tentacles. Oh, wait...That's not a secret any more.