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Showing posts from October, 2009

Tangent, and also tangents.

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I've been reading quite a bit of DC lately!  I have a fair amount of backlog (I'm up to...past halfway through Countdown to Final Crisis, around that time period), and that includes many of the assorted projects DC was developing around that time.  I've completed most of the unremarkable projects, so now I get to talk about the ones that stood out.  More specifically, I'll be focusing on the ones that weren't part of DC's main line, and instead were on the fringes of the DCU (if they were in it at all).Tangent ComicsVolumes 1-3; Tangent: Superman's Reign Volumes 1-2
This was a concept that I'd seen only through house ads in DC books around that time.  I was getting my comics through subscription services, so picking up these books was never an option--they were a curiosity, nothing more, nothing relevant.  Going back, though, I can see why these titles took off.  These were titles written and illustrated by some of DC's top talent in those days--D…

Contestant of the Week

Wolverine creator Len Wein’s wife, Christine Valadais on Jeopardy! tonight. (It should still air in Philly at it’s regular 7pm time, because the Eagles pre-game show doesn’t start until 8pm.)

Spoiler: Results after the jump.

Blog of the Week

Bill Willingham (Fables, JSA), Matthew Sturges (Blue Beetle, JSA All-Stars), Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Torso), and Paul Cornell (Doctor Who, Captain Britain & MI-13, Dark Reign: Young Avengers) have a blog called Clockwork Storybook that’s worth checking out. (There are also other writers, with whom I’m less familiar, involved.) Their mission statement: “This blog is an ongoing discussion about the art, craft, mechanics and absolute human necessity of storytelling. It's about whatever interests us, the things we like to argue about, the things we feel worth crowing about, and certain other items we think you might find enlightening and interesting.”

NOIR: Crime done correctly . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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NOIR:  A COLLECTION OF CRIME COMICS  anthology, various writers and artists, trade paperback  October 2009  (Dark Horse)          Wow!!   This is extremely well done.  If you were not exactly fond of crime comics before, you might be after reading this.  It’s the best collection of any kind that I’ve come across in a good long time.  All the stories are premium quality.  All the art is deserving of your attention.  Noir is “all thriller, no filler.”   This is the kind of quality I was hoping to see in the new CREEPY series, which I gave praise to for it’s ambition but expressed disappointment for it’s execution.  NOIR does not disappoint.  It satisfies.  Most of the stories have twist endings that you expect to see in the horror anthologies - - - and they are mostly clever and somewhat unexpected rather than predictable.          Dark Horse has assembled an army of stellar writers and artists to contribute to this anthology, of which I sincerely hope there are more to come:  Brian Azz…

Spider-Woman does Hulu

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For those of you interested in the Spider-Woman motion comic, but not so interested in being charged for it, you can see all five episodes for free on hulu.com at the time of this writing. It’s possible this is a mistake – the last episode just went up for sale on iTunes – so you might want to check it out as soon as you can. (Note also that the motion comic story gets ahead of the print comic after episode 1, and the episodes get much better as they go along – the last one has the best balance of motion and acting.)

Comics I Read: September, Part 5

Strange Adventures 8 (of 8): I love the splash page of Bizarro with an undersized Hawkman helmet on his head, but it’s sharply downhill from there. The scene between Synnar and Bizarro doesn’t make any sense unless you know whether this version of Bizarro talks in opposites or not, which Starlin doesn’t establish. (Does “Bizarro no join you” mean “yes” or “no”? No way to tell.) Then he turns the Prince Gavyn Starman into a Firestorm ripoff wearing a thong, somehow the JLA is there beating the crap out of Comet (who folds like a house of cards) and I’m getting heartburn just thinking about the rest of it. Fortunately, it ends with everything pretty much back where it started so hopefully the rumors about Starlin’s falling out with DC are true and we never have to speak of this again. (I’m looking forward to Adam Strange and Comet appearing in REBELS, though.)Justice League: Cry For Justice 3 (of 7): Slowly improving, though it’s still at times borderline icky. (Like the splash page of …

Mythology and history in comics . . . . .

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THOR ANNUAL #1 Peter Milligan writer; Mico Suayan, Tom Grindberg with Stefano Gaudiano, artists (Marvel) I have the trade paperback featuring JMS’s first run on the monthly THOR and absolutely love the way he re-introduced this premium Marvel character and settled the new Asgard on Earth. I haven’t read the second trade paperback yet and have been holding it for an opportunity to read them both back to back. (Maybe I’ll wait until I have Volume 3.) So, I’ve been picking up the Thor one-shots, specials and this annual to tide me over until then. I didn’t like this story quite as much as the last Thor special written by Milligan. I have no major complaints here. I just didn’t find the story that interesting. If what occurs here would be going on in the monthly title I don’t think it would entice me to pick it up. Thor is exiled and in remorse for something he did (I’m assuming this occurs in the regular title) and is hesitant to use his mighty hammer, actu…

A Conversation With Robert Venditti . . . . .

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Will the bright lights harden Robert Venditti?  Or, will the intense heat of exposure cause a melt-down?  Neither seems to be unreasonable assumptions.  After all, if the first graphic novel you scripted received critical acclaim and then became a movie you would be entitled to a little pride and increased confidence.  Maybe you would need a larger hat to contain your swelling head.          On the other hand, the increased attention sometimes causes artists to become more self-conscious and they never seem to equal their earlier works.  Sometimes they get bogged down or burdened by trying too hard to create for their new audience and end up being their own reviewers and critics, which can cause paralysis.          In addition, a common fear among the close tight-knit fan base of popular culture like comics, music and genre literature is that success will spoil or change their favorites.  I don’t think we need to worry about any of those things when it comes to Robert Vendit…

Comics I Read: September, Part 4

Nova 29: Abnett & Lanning always know how to keep this book fun and interesting, but they’ve outdone themselves here by digging up Monark Starstalker, an old Marvel cosmic character so obscure that not only had I never heard of him but he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry! (Apparently he was created by Howard Chaykin in a 1976 issue of Marvel Premiere.) To their credit, he’s immediately compelling.Strange Tales 1 (of 3): This is one of those “indy creators do superheroes” anthologies, and as usual it’s a mixed bag. Paul Pope’s Lockjaw-centered “Inhumans” story is fun, but not as good as his recent “Adam Strange”. John Leavitt and Molly Crabapple’s Victorian “She-Hulk” story did nothing for me. There’s a short manga of Spider-Man and MJ living in a town of spiders, which makes MJ the interesting one, that’s cute if you like that sort of thing. Dash Shaw’s “Dr. Strange” story is a weak attempt at Ditko-style psychedelics with a dumb ending. James Kochalka’s multi-colored “Hulk” st…

Books I Read: August/September, Part 2

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The Incredibles: Family Matters HC: I’m so glad the Pixar license wound up with Boom! Studios, because you couldn’t pick a better writer than Mark Waid for these characters. It’s superficially similar to his Fantastic Four, but since this family has secret identities there’s a whole normal domestic side that the FF as celebrities don’t have. (There’s actually a brilliant story in Waid’s FF about why Reed chose to make their lives public, but I digress.) Waid uses all his skill to make this story seem light and effortless, but it’s actually a perfectly constructed little tale of Mr. Incredible losing his powers and how it affects the family and the team. Artist Marcio Takara is also a great find, balancing the action and family scenes while keeping all the characters on model. My only minor quibble is that the book is a little larger than the paperback digest size, but not quite comic book size. I understand why the paperback is digest size – that’s what kids like – but I don’t get why…

Baltimore Comic-Con Preview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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It’s a shame I couldn’t attend this con from start to finish because there was much more going on than I was able to see.  The exhibit hall was jam packed with artists, writers, publishers and vendors.  I was there for a good part of the day today, Sunday 10/11, and managed to take in  some of the presentations and stop at a few booths/exhibits. I’ll have more to share later. 
For now, here are some photos as contestants prepared to enter the first annual costume competition on Sunday afternoon.Above:  ARMOR CON  -- An unmatched adventurer prepares to face off with two armored avengers.                 Above Right:  Deadpool tries to order take-out, or is that Demolition Man?  I prefer to call him Eight-Ball. Don’t think you can win if nobody can figure out your character.   Right:  When DP/DM/8B above tried to order “wings”  she got a little disturbed.

Shane's Blogging the Fantastic

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This is one of Marvel's most difficult books to really get right.Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had a legendary run on this title, setting a record that wasn't broken until just recently (by Bendis and Bagley on Ultimate Spider-Man).  During that run, they revolutionized the comics industry, bringing superheroes back and launching an entire universe that would eventually dominate comics as the leading company.  They also established these characters so firmly, so distinctly, that very few writers have been able to succeed them.John Byrne.  Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo.  Maybe Walt Simonson.  In the forty years since Lee and Kirby left the book, only these writers have been able to capture the magic of these characters.  Others told interesting stories, but they were stories that could be told--easily--with other characters.  For some, this may be a dream project, but for many it winds up being a nightmare.When Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch announced that they would come onto this title,…

I’m Still Going BATS lately, part 6 . . . . . . . . . .

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GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #3  . . a Riddler story by Scott Lobdell & Guillem March          Just three issues in and the story of Harley Quinn’s abduction is interrupted for this unrelated story featuring the Riddler.   Call it whatever you like, but a “fill-in” story at this early juncture can’t be a good sign for this book.             This time it doesn’t appear to be delayed artwork that’s holding things up. The artist here is the same one assigned to this book.  Writer Paul Dini is M.I.A.  But Page 3 does feature Catwoman and Poison Ivy asking for The Riddler’s help, and the final page shows an informing phone call to Selina.  Unfortunately,  both pages are not pertinent to this issue’s story and seem to be inserted later just to remind us that, after all, this book is GOTHAM CITY SIRENS.   The cover to Issue #3  does feature Poison Ivy in a seductive pose (weren’t you expecting that?) and bears no relationship to the story inside except for the four question marks (that were likely…

Music Video of the Week

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Marvel commissioned a theme song for the Spider-Woman motion comic, and made a music video with scenes from the first few episodes. Silly idea, right? Maybe, but I’ve been humming the tune all week…

Comics I Read: September, Part 3

Amazing Spider-Man 604-607: A little over a year in, they’re starting to do the kinds of stories about Peter’s love life that they haven’t been able to do in decades. It’s well done, as usual, but if you’re still bummed about the marriage thing these stories will annoy you. The Mary Jane solo story in #605 teases a few details about her breakup with Peter and shows how he influenced her for the better. The Black Cat's appearance in #606-607 goes back to basics (in a good way) because the re-hiding of Spidey’s identity allows them to use the original concept that she’s a thrill seeker that finds Spider-Man exciting and his “normal” self boring. The shot of Spidey and Felicia kissing on the Jumbotron at the end of #606 is cute, but someone in editorial should have noticed that they used the same gag recently for the JJJ-as-mayor reveal. (Without the kissing, of course.)Agents of Atlas 10-11: Wraps up the series for now, but they’re trying to get more attention (presumably for a rela…

Random Reads as of October 7th . . . . . . . .

SPIDER-WOMAN #1  Brian Michael Bendis, writer and Alex Maleev, artistI’m assuming this is the same story as the motion comic on Marvel’s website.  It’s a good new direction for Spider-Woman as Jessica Drew contemplates what to do now in the aftermath of Secret Invasion. She takes an assignment with  S.W.O.R.D. to find and eliminate some of the 32 different alien races living in disguise on Earth, beginning with the leftover Skrulls.  I’m not sure if this is going to hold up and remain interesting over a lengthy series run.  After so many “kills” it could get monotonous.  But, Bendis is the scripter so it’s worth a shot.            And he does a fine job with the script on issue #1.  If you ever want to study how a writer can move a story along through dialogue and thought captions, this is a great place to start.  It’s what he excels at - - always a joy to read his conversations between characters.  Alex Maleev, who gets a chance to do it all here (pencils, inks, color) doesn’t waste …

Ultimate re-launch = hits and misses, part 2

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ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #2    Brian Bendis and David LaFuente           My absolute favorite thing about Issue #2 is the cover, an artistic interpretation of how Spider-Man would look as viewed through a kaleidoscope, those cherished old-time toys that involved a telescope-like cardboard tube that you held to the light and looked through. They were colorful and usually featured abstract designs in geometric shapes. It was like looking at a stained glass window, and when you twisted the ends of the tube the images tumbled inside and changed.  And like that toy, Bendis and LaFuente take the Spider-Man we are familiar with and twist it and turn it so it appears new and different.           After reading Issue #2, I feel even stronger (see my comments last month on Ultimate Spider-Man #1) about this book being the best chance to introduce new readers to Marvel.  It really feels like it is intentionally written for a much younger audience than the standard Marvel reader and seems to be making …