Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Novelists don't always make a graceful transition to the comic/graphic novel form, but veteran crime author Victor Gischler makes the jump look easy, delivering this solid one-shot and whetting our appetites for his upcoming Punisher MAX arc. Avoiding rookie struggles for the most part, he seems natural at giving the artist something to draw, and displays a firm grasp of the tight space he's got for his plot.
It's surprising just how tidy Little Black Book is. Gischler doesn't stray into overambition, steering clear of the "Analyzing Frank" moments better suited for longer stories and not wasting time engineering some big plot twist or double-cross that he'd run out of space trying to unleash. By simply playing to the writer's strengths, there's just enough going on to introduce the players, set up Frank's plan, establish the villainy of the villain and give the audience several money shots of the Punisher punishing without feeling rushed and without momentum-sucking exposition.
Jefte Palo's art meshes well with the economic script--plenty of shadows and sexy, with mood to spare. I'm not sure if he's slated to handle the art for Gischler's upcoming turn with the main title, but he does seem suited and Marvel could do worse than Palo in there.
Welcome to funnybooks, Mr. Gischler. Any writer getting a comic published who isn't named Bendis, Johns, or Brubaker will get our attention, but it takes a decent story to keep our attention, and Little Black Book looks to be a sign of quality reading ahead.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
10. Strangers in Paradise -
Since my wife never fell for the "they're not comics, they're graphic novels" load, I never had to bring home Terry Moore's heartfelt... whatever it is. I never even tried to read this on the sly in Barnes & Noble, and that's saying something since I did read 300 that way after the movie came out. I'd love it if I actually could read this series and in doing so erase the other "chicky" things I've seen and heard, like Pearl Harbor, Kate Hudson's entire career, and Rilo Kiley.
09. Spawn -
Sure, Strangers in Paradise and I don't travel in the same circles, but I am a little surprised that the flashy and (then) new-stylish Image flagship never made its way in to my bag at Sincere Comics back in the day. Image burst out nearly the same time I re-entered the buying market, but I guess my speculator gene is a recessive one, because my sole exposure to any of the Spawn mythos is the HBO series (which I did think was pretty kick-ass). The good news, I guess, is that the series is surprisingly still around, so there's still time. (Honorable Mention: most other Image titles, notably WildC.A.T.S. and Savage Dragon)
08. Grendel -
My skipping this title in the late 80's/early 90's is a little more puzzling, because everything I've heard/read about Matt Wagner's generation-spanning story makes me sure it was way better than Spawn.
07. The Walking Dead -
Zombies. Human survival instincts tested by danger and the dulling passage of time. Written by Robert Kirkman, who's other work I've enjoyed, including Marvel freaking Zombies. The only excuses I can offer as to why I've no clue about this ongoing series is that I didn't know who Kirkman was until his Invincible got rolling (which I did come across late, but not so late that I couldn't quickly catch up), and by the time I realized Walking Dead existed and that he wrote it, it was already three trades in. Sorry, Robert.
06. Grant Morrison's "Weird" DC Titles -
In the late 80's a friend of mine was briefly an overnight DJ at the local album-rock radio station. At a staff meeting, the station's music director asked the "talent" why they didn't have more Beatles in the rotation. My friend's brilliant (and totally honest) response was, "Because you don't have time to go poop while a two and half minute song is playing." That observation fit right in with my college-altered reading habits at the time, which were strictly cram-mode. This shift was mostly permanent--I still really can't sit at the kitchen table or on a toilet without something to read. My DJ friend's knock on the Beatles mirrors those habits, in that I would only tend to read something I could digest while, um, digesting and something I could just purge from my brain thereafter, like, um... you get it. What I didn't grab for kitchen table or bathroom reading was Doom Patrol or Animal Man. I blame higher education--not enough time in the day or room in the brain for that much in-depth reading. Maybe if DC was testing me on it every month I'd have devoured it.
05. Scott Pilgrim -
Time will tell if this newish fan/critic darling will move up or down any future version of this list. Sure, it's an interesting premise, combining post-adolescent romantic entanglements with the classic gauntlet style test of commitment, but the art, the musical ingredient, the fanbase... it all makes me feel too old to get into it. Probably unfair, but I doubt if the legions of fans, the producers of the probable film version, even creator Bryan Lee O'Malley are losing much sleep over my not getting into that series or wanting into their club.
04. Batman: Year One -
My partner-in-blog might actually be shocked at this entry but I can explain. Miller's fleshing out of the early days of the Dark Knight went totally under my radar in 1987, due more to the fact that I was just getting back into funnybooks and was doing more catching up than picking up current books. Had the online community existed back then, I might have a more immediate notification that something of unusually high quality was out there and been more inclined to pick up the regular ol' Batman title. Back then, DC and Marvel hadn't been all that adept at hyping their upcoming "regular" titles and storyarcs-as-events, unlike their effective promotion of "outside" projects like Dark Knight Returns and Secret Wars. To me, Year One was just four regular issues of Batman that came and went without being missed by me, featuring extra insight into the character that I wasn't craving. All that said, I don't know why I still haven't picked up any of the collected versions of this, while somehow holding onto to at least three issues of Secret Defenders.
03. Love & Rockets -
This may drop off the list soon, and not really because I've got so many friends screaming at me to pick the trades up (because I don't). L&R stayed off my shelves and out of my longboxes because I just didn't easily draw a parallel between the Big 2 and the Hernandez Brothers: they all have a fully functioning, living, breathing universe. A whole world to play in. The only difference in structure is that Marvel and DC don't just put out one comic featuring the length, width, and depth of that universe. Can you imagine Marvel only putting out one title, (call it "Marvel"), where you might only check in on the Fantastic Four every three months or so? I couldn't either, which is why I've never imagined picking up Love and Rockets. But again, things may change because, dammit, I'm a grown-up now. It's okay to have an appetite for something a little more sophisticated. Doesn't mean I have to stop asking my wife to dress up as Zatanna for my birthday.
02. Maus -
Hard to clarify why I've never checked this Pulitzer winning work. Maybe it doesn't feel like escapism to me. Maybe it's a youthfully harebrained knee-jerk reaction to being told a piece of art is "essential" or "required". The good news is, I don't think that way these days, and like Love and Rockets, I may finally be ready to enjoy the book of my own volition.
01. Most of the Works of Alan Moore -
Honestly, it's easier for me to list the Alan Moore I have read, than the works I haven't: Couldn't really get away with not reading Watchmen, loved his Superman tales "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" and "For the Man Who Has Everything", Top Ten (as much for the Gene Ha goodness), and a couple of installments of his Captain Britain with Alan Davis, reprinted in some X-Men Classic comics I got for 20 cents each and promptly wallpapered my bathroom with. The only Moore-to-film comic I read was League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. From Hell, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and most of his Miracleman/Marvelman have all escaped my notice unscathed. And to be honest, if those haven't aged any better than the Captain Britains on my wall, I don't know if I'll spend enough time in my bathroom to ever justify bringing them home.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Let me 'splain.
I'll start with Ha's comments, which were made last September in passing as part of an explanation for the huge delays behind his and Morrison's run on The Authority:
"First off, I don't think The Authority #3 by Grant Morrison and Gene Ha is ever coming out. Grant is busy redesigning the DC Universe and I've moved onto new projects."
I think that's the first place I'd seen reference to that idea of Morrison "redesigning the DC Universe," or at least put quite in terms quite that specific. We knew even then that Final Crisis was going to be another epic multiverse-shaking story, but little was known about what sort of result the series was going to have. (Honestly, we still don't know that much about it; DC's been doing a damn good job of not letting that particular secret slip.)
So we know (or can at least theorize with some degree of certainty) that when Morrison's done, the DCU will have been changed in some way, likely with his particular brand of highly imaginative neo-retro fusion. (Really, if you were going to redesign or modernize/futurize a comics universe from the ground up, wouldn't Grant Morrison be on or close to the top of your list of creators you'd want involved?)
The second bits of info which got my neurons rubbing together to form this wild-ass theory came from Chip Kidd when discussing the distinctive, if thus-far uninspiring, FC trade dress:
NRAMA: So what went into the process for Final Crisis’ look?
CK: Well, to start with Final Crisis - the big thing that no one would be able to know yet, and I won’t get too specific here, but for the people that think it’s a generic look – wait. By the third issue, you’ll start to get it. Basically, the trade dress dissolves. So, it’s starting out as something now, and by the second issue, it will be slightly different, the third issue, even more different, and between the third and fourth issue, I hope people will get it, and understand what we were doing all along. It might not make people like it any better, but they’ll at least understand what I have in mind. It’s an evolving trade dress. ... There are people who are in the talkbacks saying that DC is just riffing off Civil War, but again – wait and see. By the fourth issue, you’ll realize that’s not what we’re doing. We’re doing something else.
So the trade dress is going to start to dissolve and turn into something else which will be apparent -- or at least the direction will -- by the third or fourth issue. This implies to me either the current dress and logo will "fall away" to reveal something new underneath, or will degrade and reform into something new over the last half of the series' seven issues.
I don't think what's revealed or regrown will be simply a reworked presentation of what came before. I think it will be something entirely new.
I think the title of this series is going to change halfway through, or perhaps begin to change only to be complete at the end of the series.
Title and trade dress are important to Morrison. When he took over X-Men in 2001, he changed the name of the book to New X-Men precisely because he'd designed a logo for it which could be rotated 180 degrees and read the same. He had Marvel redesign the trade dress for all of the X-Men books to make them more visually distinct from the rest of Marvel's line. I think to him these elements of comic books have more meaning than beyond the simple graphic appeal of them -- while I'm not willing to say for sure it ties into Morrison's interest in magic, it's possible that it does, but at the very least ties into his penchant for meta-story. The trade dress of many of his books say something about the books themselves.
So I'm looking at the words "Final Crisis." And I know that Morrison is building a new DCU. And I know the trade dress is going to change. And I know that there's a tremendous battle halfway through the series which, I speculate, is going to result in the deaths of most or all of the DC heroes. And I know that Morrison's using Jack Kirby's Fourth World creations extensively in this series.
And while I can't say for sure exactly what's going to happen...
...I want to note that it wouldn't take a lot of work visually for the word "Crisis" to evolve into the word "Genesis." (New Genesis, remember, is Kirby's "good twin" of Darkseid's evil planet Apokalips.)
When this series becomes Something Genesis by issue #7, launching the shiny new Morrison-ized DCU, I want you to remember where you heard it first.
 That's not to dismiss the work of artist JG Jones, by the way; it's just that this particular notion of mine lies along the story and meta axes, so it's much more in Morrison's court than Jones'.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Poke around, catch up--I think we're 15 installments in as of today. And join the messageboard, too; just remember to bring your brain, your sense of humor, and a good temperament.
What about the other six days a week you neglect me? the blog asked.
I have no good answer.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Presenting my unfiltered response to the New Avengers #35 "Bendis hates women/Bendis hates people/Bendis hates Tigra/I love Tigra/Bendis has the job I want/Fuck Bendis/Praise be to Bendis" hullabaloo.
It's dated, yeah. It's unreadable, also yeah.
Let's see who actually reads this crap. carry on...
misogyny... when you're a comic nerd, it's a nifty word to toss around if you have a girlfriend who thinks your fandom is geeky or juvenile or a gateway drug to weeklong cyberporn binges. Or if you're sitting at a cafe with a girl you wish was your girlfriend defending the "serious" comics that you read. When you're not a comic nerd, or even a comics reader in general, it's a nifty word to cast aspersions on those things that you don't consider "serious art", like SNOOTY AUTHOR, SNOOTY FILMMAKER, or Dane Cook.
Bendis doesn't have a misogynistic bone in his body, and I think his work to this point speaks to that (Alias, Spider-Woman, New Avengers to this point, and so on). Those panels were supposed to be unsettling. It was supposed to be a harrowing illustration of just how far apart the good guys and the bad guys still are, even in the post-Punisher/Wolverine/hardass anti-hero geekscape. Was he trying to express some sort of fetishist leanings or some psycho ill will towards the double-x chromosomed? Absolutely not, Jigsaw's camera work notwithstanding. Bendis is pushing some of fandom's buttons to be sure, just not the baser ones so many have cried out about. He's classically building his villains up for some ultra-satisfying retribution in the third act, that's all. Any third-rate Marvel baddie can try and rob a bank or kidnap a Senator or even make an idle threat against a hero and/or someone they care about, but the Hood's mission statement is putting him on a path that leads directly to some righteous, furious, and heroic smiting. And based on Bendis' demonstrated love for a heroine's vengeance, don't be surprised if it's Jessica Drew, Jessica Jones or even Echo delivering some hellacious payback in the months ahead.
Bendis interview w/ Newsarama re: NA #35 and its accompanying discussion.
Bendis' original script as submitted to artist Leinil Yu.
Millarworld forums' New Avengers thread at which point the discussion of the issue in question begins.
Not YOU, A.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I'm starting to appreciate the structure and presentation of Fell: The Series almost as much as I enjoy Fell: The Stories.
Like most good episodic television shows, it's not a stringent requirement to access prior installments to enjoy the current one. The disuse of modern-funnybookish "cliffhangers", "story-arcs", and "future story-arc teasers disguised as subplots" keeps the interval between issues from being a "wait" situation; Fell comes out when it comes out. Not that I wasn't delighted to see Fell on the shelves this week, but I didn't ever catch myself thinking, "Christ, it's been forever since #8 came out! I'm not gonna enjoy #9 as much, due to the waiting between issues."
True, there's probably (read: obviously) some backstory living in Mr. Ellis' notebooks and scribbled on liquor market receipts, but the stories that begin and end inside a single floppy alleviate that burning need to see that history explicitly portrayed for me. I know it's there, but Fell in its current state kind of forces the reader (this reader) to exist in Snowtown's Now. The possibility that we might never find out the whys and wherefores of Detective Fell's consignment to Snowtown, or that there actually won't be a detailed six-part miniseries titled "Fell: Owsley, What's The Deal With Your Leg?" never seems to dog my thoughts while I'm immersed in the latest update.
End of gushing rant.
My overview on Fell #9: Typical Fell, atypical comic: solid, satisfying, and yet another Comic to Wave At Sniffling "Real" Fiction Snobs.
Now, what stuck with me specifically about this issue?
"...rich like astronauts."
I am now off to start a band, write songs, and record an album, just to title said recording "Rich Like Astronauts".
And if you're reading this blog and not reading Fell, I don't really know what to do with you.
Monday, December 3, 2007
At least we can tell which one of Gerry Conway's Sound Effects That Are Always Hilarious is in play here.
All-Star Comics #58, written by Gerry Conway, drawn by Ric Estrada and, yes, Wally Wood. (DC Comics 1976, reprinted in the Justice Society Vol. 1 trade paperback in 2006)
Friday, November 23, 2007
Ironically, this punk is spared having to actually hear Nighthawk screaming, "Why do you scumbags always turn and run from Batman and not from me? Why, dammit?! WHY?!"
Ready your kitchen table, for Bahlactus is coming for your stuffing.
Supreme Power #4, by J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank and Jon Sibal (Marvel Comics 2003)