Saturday, June 30, 2012

Swearing in Michel Rabagliati's Paul comics

Paul in the Country, 2000


Paul Has a Summer Job, 2002


Paul Moves Out, 2005


Paul Goes Fishing, 2008


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I recently read and, in some case, re-read all of the Michel Rabagliati comics I could get my hands on. There are a lot of striking things about them, as you can probably tell from the incredible designs and rendering in the little excerpts above, but one of the things that struck me was how Rabagliati handled depicting swear words in his stories.

Sometimes he writes them out, sometimes he uses grawlixes and sometimes he'll use them both within the very same dialogue bubble.

Of the examples above, in Paul Moves Out, the first two panels actually appear consecutively in the book, so that in one panel Paul gives a verbal explosion upon seeing the rat, but then uses the f-word to describe it immediately afterward. Similarly, in Paul Has a Summer Job, the panel in which young Paul strings "Jesusgoddamnholyfuckingshit" into one, big mega-swear word is followed by the next panel on the very next page, in which a canoe flips over in the rapids, and a string of unidentifiable swear words come out.

Rabagliati seems to choose to use the grawlixes mainly when the swear words being employed don't really matter—it's quite different than when someone in a Marvel comic book says, "Go to @#$%" or "@#$% you!"—and to use the actual words when it does matter (Obviously, neither Rabagliati nor his publisher Drawn and Quarterly have any aversion to printing any and all swear words).

So the grawlixes are used more for grumbling, under-the-breath swearing, standing in for "random string of profanity" rather than to cover up or otherwise get around using swear words.

Do note that Rabagliati will choose very specific symbols to draw in his grawlix dialogue bubbles though, turning them into little pictograms. For example, the aforementioned over-turned canoe panel features a skull and crossbones with a pair of oars in for the crossed-bones, making it an oar or canoe-specific swear word.

And in the other panel featuring a grawlix and a canoe from Summer Job, Rabagliati features a little drawing of a blind man in there, indicating that the character is swearing about not being able to see.

One final note, the fourth panel from Summer Job features four drawings of religious symbols. Within the book, directly below that panel was a note reading "Host tabernacle chalice cavalry;" in the back of the book there's an explanation on "Quebecois swearing."

"In Quebec, swearwords are generally religious in nature," it reads, and translates them into the Quebecois dialect. That's why you'll see chalices almost as often as skulls.

These are really great comics, by the way.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wait, one more link before the weekend...

I also have a review of Shigeru Mizuki's NonNonBa at ComicsAlliance. You can read that here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meanwhile...

I have a short review of the Russ Kick-edited The Graphic Canon Vol. 1, a pretty astounding collection of comics and art based on a wide variety of great literature, in this week's Las Vegas Weekly. You can read it here.

And I have a longer, less-focused piece on Alison Bechdel's Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama up on Robot 6 today. You can read that here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Comic shop comics: June 27

Aquaman #10 (DC Comics) Only one new, story-advancing thing happened in the 20 pages of this $3 comic book: Aquaman's archenemy Black Manta makes a move towards Dr. Shin, who is being guarded by Aquaman's wife Mera. That's it. And it happens on the last page, soooooo...see you next month, suckers?

Now there are, of course, 19 more pages in this comic book, but they are seemingly slow, unimportant and somewhat repetitive. There are eight-pages devoted to introducing a new character, one of "The Others" the current story arc is named after, three pages are devoted to illustrating what Shin already told Mera in the previous issue (that Aquaman killed Black Manta's dad), about four or five pages of Aquaman and Black Manta fighting while a couple of Others comment and two (two!) pages containing a single panel of Aquaman punching Black Manta.

There's a lot about the New 52boot that has reminded me of Marvel's 2000 introduction of their Ultimate Universe. Aquaman is the one book I'm reading that reminds me specifically of the pacing and frustrating reading experience of Brian Michael Bendis' scripting of the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man.

I really, really, really like Aquaman, I think Ivan Reis is a pretty okay artist and I like more of Geoff Johns' writing than I dislike, but I'm digging this book less and less each month, and am pretty much on the cusp of dropping the book.


Superman Family Adventures #2 (DC) Art Baltazaar and Franco's second issue adopts a format closer to that of their Tiny Titans, with several related and connected short stories within the same issues as opposed to one long single narrative. There are also some subtle and not-so-subtle callbacks to their previous book, with a panel set inside the barn at the Kent farm revealing that it's the headquarters of the "Just-Us-Cows" (which began as a joke about Batman: Battle for the Cowl), and a scene featuring Superboy and Supergirl hanging out with the aged and newly-costumed not-quite-so-Tiny Titans.

As the cover reveals, Bizarro is in this issue, and his costume has also been altered to more closely resemble Superman's New 52 redesign; like Superman, Bizarro has lost his trunks, got a new V-neck turtleneck collar and a new belt that matches his cape.
Weird.

I haven't been reading either of the Superman books since the New 52boot; I know this doesn't really count as in-continuity, but is this the first appearance of Bizarro since the September 2011 relaunch...?

The issue is, as to be expected, pretty charming, although I must confess I was a little disappointed with Baltazar and Franco's Bizarro dialouge. It wasn't opposite enough, for my tastes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We now interrupt our regular comics coverage in order to present some niece placemat art...


At the last big family outing to a restaurant, Niece #1 filled her placemat with drawings of various family members as Lalaloopsies (if that's the correct spelling of the plural of Lalaloopsy), which are pretty much her favorite thing in the world at the moment (If you're not familiar with them, here's the website; they are a line of plastic dolls and collectable plastic figurines that are supposed to be rag dolls with button eyes come to life).

Above are her Lalaloosy-ized versions of, from left to right, her mom, her uncle (that's me!), her sister and her dad. Each Lala comes with an accessory or two and a stuffed-animal pet.


She gave me a book for an accessory, and asked me what kind of pet I wanted. I asked for a penguin, as my favorite stuffed-animal as a small child was Pengy, a stuffed penguin.

"There aren't really any bald Lalas," she said while drawing, "But we'll just have to make an exception for you.


And here are two more. These are my littlest sisters/her aunts, who also appeared as the models for some of the superheroes in a previous work of niece art you may remember.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Some disjointed thoughts on Wolverine By Greg Rucka Ultimate Collection


I saw this big, fat, somewhat absurdly-titled trade paperback sitting among the new ones in the young adult section of my library a few times, but I didn't actually pick it up and take it home with me until I was heading out of town for a few days and knew I'd have plenty of down time to kill. In other words, this wasn't a book that screamed "Read me!" so much as a book I looked at and thought, "I'd read that."

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It collects the first 19 issues of the Wolverine title that was launched in 2003, spanning three story arcs within a larger story arc all written by Greg Rucka and drawn primarily by Darick Robertson. It was likely a relaunched version of whatever the Wolverine title had going on before 2003, and it resumed its existence as a more straightforward superhero story with that twentieth issue, in which Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. took over and turned out a story arc with no more plot than this: Wolverine, now wearing his yellow costume and calling himself Wolverine again, fights the entire Marvel Universe.

That was probably regarded as something of an antidote to the Rucka run, during which Wolverine never wore a costume, his affiliation with superheroes or the Marvel Universe in general was only occasionally and seemingly reluctantly referenced, and he never went by anything other than "Logan."

In the rear-view mirror, the run was quite an aberration, a rather realistic take that eschewed pandering to the regular Marvel Universe audience in order to seek out potential readers who liked what they saw in the X-Men movies, or were intrigued with the idea of a stoic bad-ass type who could summon knives from his knuckles to kill bad guys in need of killing.

I guess Rucka and Marvel never found that audience, or didn't find them in sufficient numbers to keep this take on the character and the book going; in the third and final story arc of Rucka's run, Wolverine's archenemy Sabretooth re-surfaces, and there are riffs on the old "Weapon X" aspect of Wolverine's fictional history, making it the most Marvel-ous of the three. When Millar came aboard, his first issue had Wolverine bouncing around panels filled with Nick Fury, Elektra, Kitty Pryde, The Hand and SHIELD.

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Rucka's Wolverine launched during what was a pretty exciting time for Marvel, when the publisher seemed to be trying new things on the regular, with those new things often designed to appeal to people who didn't already read Marvel comics religiously. It's hard to even imagine today, but it wasn't that long ago that Grant Morrison was writing one X-Men comic, while Peter Milligan and Mike Allred were creating another X-Men comic.

I read this series as it was published serially for a story arc and a half; it was one of the many examples of the time of Marvel hiring creators who worked primarily at DC, DC's Vertigo imprint, and/or indie comics to come on board and breathe fresh life into their characters. Whiteout, Queen and Country and Batman writer Greg Rucka teaming with Transmetropolitan artist Darick Robertson for a new series starring the coolest X-Men? Hell yeah, sign me up!

Serially, the series was a real drag. This was during the period in which Marvel went out of their way to make their covers as bland and indistinct as possible—the idea was to shoot for "iconic" poses on every cover, the result being that the cover for any issue of a particular comic could be swithched out for any other.

On Wolverine, it meant painted images of the character by Esad Ribic (although Leanardo Fernandez would later take over), posing with his claws before a generic or minimal background, generally looking taller, slimmer, more handsome and with longer hair than Robertson's squatter, hairer more trollish character within. The guy on the cover looked like Hugh Jackman with better hair, the guy inside looked like comic book Wolverine (which I suppose is apropos...whenever they make films based on a real person, the actors in the films are generally better-looking, right...?)

A side-effect of this, however, was that I would often see issues of the book on the shop rack and neglect to pick them up because I thought I had already read that issue, or I wouldn't even notice it there. This happened a lot with Marvel's back then, with Timothy Bradstreet creating a new cover of Frank Castle standing there holding a gun each month for the Garth Ennis-written Punisher books or Utlimate Spider-Man, the first few years of which had practically identical covers month in and month out.

The interiors of Wolverine were similarly similar each month, and sometimes a flip-through wouldn't reveal whether or not you had already read the issue. The writing was of course de-compressed, and whether Rucka was necessarily writing for the trade or not, his pacing was slow and deliberate.

I dropped the book an issue or two into the second arc, "Coyote Crossing," out of boredom with it.

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At the time, I assumed the book was going for a filmic feel, given how the character was redesigned to match Jackman's portrayal in the X-Men movies (The second X-Men film opened the same year the book was released), but rereading it now, it seems more like it was written so as to resemble a television drama, of the hour-long sort you might see on a cable or premium channel. Unfortunately, it's paced so that every story arc would be an episode of the Wolverine television show that existed in Rucka's mind, rather than every issue, so it would take six months to "watch" each episode, with the only really complete stories being the little epilogues between them, during which Logan meets Nightcrawler, who is also out of costume and never referred to as "Nightcrawler" in a mutant bar with the unlikely name of The Box to talk about the action of the previous arc and weigh in on the issues that troubled Logan's soul—was he more animal than man, basically.

The budget seems television-low; there's some action in the first two arcs, but it's just gun-play and stabbing, nothing very dramatic. I don't even recall anything in the way of an explosion (Contrast that to Millar's first issue which, if I recall correctly, involved ninja fights, a flying aircraft carrier and an underwater fight to the death with a Great White shark).

It's not until the third arc that Wolverine fights anyone with super-powers, or fights army helicopters.

In live-action, you wouldn't need much in the way of special effects.

His opponents are realistic, power-less guys who don't need spandex or capes. There's a cult-leader with a soul patch and teardrop tatoo named Cry, a Mexican drug runner and people smuggler, and a couple of corporate suits, who hire actual super-villain Sabretooth, but who is only referred to as "Victor" or "Creed" and who wears street clothes (I never understood Sabretooth's costume—was it a fur-collared spandex bodysuit, with a Gambit-style built-in head-band....?)

There's also a new, original supporting cast, which include a guy who owns a gun shop that Wolvie goes to to get information from, and The Generic Greg Rucka Woman, a hard-man law enforcement/military type who just so happens to be a woman.

In this iteration, she's an ATF agent named Cassie who has a chance encounter with Logan and spends the first two story arcs trying to figure out who he is, what he's all about and, eventually, bedding him.

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These read much better in trade, where one need not wait a month between story beats, and run the risk of forgetting half of what's going on in each issue. It may feel like a paper version of Wolverine: The Series, but at least you get to watch the entire episode—or three!—in a row. Removing Wolverine from his usual trappings is also surprisingly refreshing, and Rucka's aversion to showing Wolverine-being-Wolverine comes off as purposeful, tasteful restraint when read all at once like this.

For example, his healing factor is teased in the first issue, as are his senses, and while he pops his claws a few times, Robertson doesn't drawn them on panel for a few issues; we only "hear" the SNIKT sound effects, and see the effects of his claws. For example, in once scene, he takes a crooked gun-dealer's pistol from him, turns his back to him and, a SNIKT later, hands him back the pistol in neatly cut pieces, like some sort of magic trick.

It's not until the climax of the first story that we see Logan with all his claws out, and leaping into action; it's a striking use of a splash, with a spread featuring 13-panels giving way to a double-page splash, featuring a huge image of an animalistic, screaming Wolveine leaping claws-first at the viewer, teh background a solid field of red.

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The stories are these: "Brotherhood," "Coyote Crossing" and "Return of the Native."

In the first, Logan's next door neighbor, a troubled seventeen-year-old girl, is gunned down by automatic weapon fire, and, when he steps in to intervene, so is he. He tracks her killers, eventually finding a weird cult that has taken over an entire town, and crossing paths with Cassie for the first time.

In the second, he stumbles across a human smuggling operation, which sends him south of the border to find the monster behind it, and the identity of the head of the criminal organization was a nice, effective twist that made for a dramatic moment for the character.

In the third, Victor Creed is hunting "The Native," a Weapon X alum who has gone feral in Canada, and some people seem to think she's some kind of Bigfoot now. Handily defeated by her, Creed sends Wolverine looking for her, and follows Wolverine, as he's easier fro Creed to track. Wolvie and the Native fall-in lust—amusingly, going feral means she has waist-length dreadlocks and dresses in animal skins, but she still shaves her legs and armpits, as the sexy feral wolf lady still has to meet the traditional Madison Avenue standards of beauty—we can't have Wolverine copulating (and impregnating!) a woman as hairy as he is!

As I said, this is the most superhero-y of the three, with three super-powered characters, and the most supervillain-y of the bad people Wolverine encounters, a mad scientist lady named Vapor who wears spandex in one scene and may or may not be a recurring X-Men villain (If an X-Men character wasn't prominently featured in more than one episode of the 90s cartoon on Fox, chances are I won't recognize them in a comic book).

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They're pretty good action genre comics, made with a high degree of craft, and they were enjoyable read in this particular package. Rucka finds a character hook to Wolverine, one that's or more less essential to the character—am I man or an animal, does doing bad things make me a bad person, will I ever learn to control my animalistic berserker rage, etc—and has him wrestle with them more or less subtly (few of the issues are narrated by anyone, and none of them are narrated Chris Claremont style).

This, and the relationship with Cassie, is the one constant in the book, although the Cassie plot disappears in the third story, perhaps to make room for the other characters.

De-coupling Wolverine from the X-Men (for the most part) and the Marvel Universe in general (again, for the most part) made for an easier, less new-reader hostile experience, but it was also somewhat surreal.

It would be understandable in a Wolverine TV show or movie, but it was strange reading a Wolverine comic book in which a federal agent spends so much time trying ot figure out who the short, hairy, wolfman guy with Civil War sideburns driving around on a motorcycle righting wrongs by stabbing dozens of bad guys to death might be. Was he man or animal? Did he even exist?

Maybe Wolverine usually wore a mask when the X-Men or Avengers were on the news or whatever, but still, there can't be that many guys with knuckle-knives, can there? And certainly mutants and super-people have to be a pretty common thing in the Marvel Universe of the 21st century, right?

It's also pretty jarring because Rucka sets the stories in this story-universe apparently devoid of knowledge of Logan, Wolverine and mutants and superheroes in general, but then we'll get an issue like #6, wherein Wolverine has a drink with Nightcrawler in a mutant bar and they talk about Colossus and Kitty Pryde and so on. The book thus had a very convenient relationship with continuity and the Marvel Universe as a shared setting, which I found fairly amusing.

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Also amusing? The cover for Wolverine #6?

Why is Nightcrawler naked? Why does it look like the cover of a romance novel? It looks like this would be the cover to some X-Men yaoi/slash fiction paperback novel that exists in an alternate universe.

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Also convenient? In the first issue, Wolverine is unable to protect the teenager girl he spends the first story arc attempting to avenge. Even though he lives right across the hall from her, and even though that very night she warned him that she needs protection, two guys with automatic weapons shoot her to death through her door and, when Wolverine comes out of his room, they shoot him to death too.

Well, he lives because of his healing factor, but he totally let the girl get killed. Later he would kill those same two dudes...plus 25 other dudes, all at once.

I realize the girl had to die and he had to fail to protect her in order to move the story in the direction Rucka wanted it to go, but it was hard to reconcile the unstoppable killing-machine with super-human senses version of the character to the one who lets a girl get chopped up with bullets right under his super-nose, and gets filled full of lead himself.

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What's the closest close-up you've ever seen of Wolverine's nipples? Is it this scene?



Robertson drew the hell out of Wolverine's nipples, didn't he?

Oh, and if you're wondering what the hell is going on in that completely out-of-context series of three panels in which we see Wolverine's nipples up close, this is the morning after he has been shot to death (or what would be shot to death if he didn't have a healing factor), and apparently his skin has healed up over some of the bullets, so he's cutting open his skin in order to pop the bullets out of his body.

That guys is so gross.

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Please note that while the only artist I've mentioned doing interiors was Robertson, Fernandez actually draws the "Coyote Crossing" storyline. His art is fine, and while it doesn't mesh as well with Robertson's as would be ideal, he's a good artist who doesn't clash with Robertson's art style either.

If you need more than one artist on a superhero monthly, that's the smart way to do it, have the artists each draw distinct story arcs.

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Here's a badly-scanned page form the final story arc, in which Wolverine fights a bunch of black helicopters to try and save his new feral girlfriend.

Do you remember that part in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where Wolverine fought a helicopter? That was my favorite part of the movie. In fact, it was the only part of the movie I liked, except for the part where the kindly old couple that adopted Wolverine over night gut killed, which was pretty funny, not because I am psycho who thinks it's funny when kindly old people get murdered, but because the film took such pains to force them to be Wolverine's surrogate parents for, like, one scene before killing them off just to make Wolverine slightly madder.

Anyway, that movie came out in 2009, and this story took place in 2004 or so. Did the people who made the movie steal Wolverine vs. Helicopter from this old Greg Rucka comic, or is Wolverine fighting helicopters, like, a thing? A thing that's been going on for years and years, like Daredevil beating up bar-goers?

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So, Wolverine By Greg Rucka Ultimate Collection? You could read it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

(links)


In putting together the ComicsAlliance week-in-review posts, I read a lot of comics-related news that isn't usually of personal interest to me, like stuff about videogames (The last videogame I played with any degree of consistency being Super Mario Bros. 3).

I was pretty fascinated by this particular news, which I think I've mentioned before: Stan Lee, Spider-Man co-creator and self-proclaimed "King of the Cameos", is a playable character in the latest Amazing Spider-Man game. This post at CA includes a little video demo of Lee's videogame avatar in action, complete with Lee-specific, Lee-performed dialogue.

What makes it even more surreal is that the Lee avatar is essentially a skin (is that the right term?) you put over the Spider-Man sprite (do they still use that word?), and so Lee's movements are the same as Spidey's: He can web-swing, web-shoot, climb walls and perch like an insect atop the edges of skyscrapers. That makes this game, played that way, as a sort of What If...Instead of Co-Creating a Character Who Was Bitten by a Radioactive Spider and Given Spider Powers, Stan Lee HIMSELF Was Bitten by a Radioactive Spider and Given Spider Powers?.

More than a game I want to play, that's a comic book I'd like to read. What if Lee decided he was selfishly wasting his life writing, editing and promoting Marvel Comics, and decided that instead of writing lines like "With great power comes great responsibility," he was gonna start living them, and fighting crime in Big Apple...?

I kinda hope Marvel starts putting Stan Lee in all their videogames going forward. What I'd really love, though, would be to see him in a fighting game...along with the various Marvel Bullpens from over the years.

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The other interesting video-game related thing I saw in CA this week was this post, which links to another trailer for Lego Batman 2 (I don't know if it's the familiar, more Batman-ly music, or the more Batman-ly sounding voices or the way the action and humor beats mesh, but it really seems to be advertising a better Batman movie than this trailer, which also features supervillains and some jokes).

I went to IMDb to check out who was doing voices for it, as Lex Luthor sounded like Justice League Unlimited Lex Luthor (with good reason; it was the same guy), and The Joker sounded like Mark Hamill, although I thought I'd read he had retired his Joker voice-acting (interestingly, it's another actor doing The Joker the way Hamill did The Joker).

Anyway, I was pretty surprised to click on the Lego Batman 2 page, and see this weird character creator's list:

Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
John Broome characters: Green Lantern & Sinestro
Chuck Dixon character: Bane
Bill Finger character: Robin & Catwoman
Gardner Fox character: The Flash
Bob Kane character: Batman
Gil Kane characters: Green Lantern & Sinestro
William M. Marston character: Wonder Woman
Doug Moench character: Bane
Graham Nolan character: Bane
Harry G. Peter character: Wonder Woman
George PĂ©rez character: Cyborg
Joe Shuster character: Superman & Lex Luthor
Jerry Siegel character: Superman & Lex Luthor
Mort Weisinger character: Aquaman
Marv Wolfman character: Cyborg

I don't know enough about IMDb to know if the company responsible for the product, in this case, a videogame publisher instead of a movie studio, provides that stuff, or if it's more like Wikipedia and users/readers submit this stuff, or what, but it's pretty cool to see creators credited with their creations. I'm used to seeing Bob Kane and Siegel and Shuster created for Batman and Superman, but I'm not so used to seeing Bill Finger get credited for his contributions to the Batman franchise, or creators of characters of as recent a vintage as Cyborg (1980) and Bane (1993) get credit.

In fact, given the nature of Bane's introduction to Batman comics, starring in a one-shot meant to introduce him to readers before the entire line of Batman comics plunged into a long, crossover story written and drawn by all of the line's Batman writers and artists, I couldn't have told who created Bane; I would have guessed either "Denny O'Neil" (as the character seemed to be created specifically to beat Batman, break his back and force him into an early retirement in order to make way for a new, darker and more temporary Batman) or "A committee of writers and artists".

But according to IMDb, it was 90s Batman writers Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench and artist Graham Nolan.

I wonder if they will see money from The Dark Knight Rises this summer...? Any of the real comics journalists in the reading audiences want to look into that? If I remember correctly, Len Wein said something a while back about how he received more money from his creation Lucius Fox's supporting roles in the current cycle of Batman films than he did for his co-creation Wolverine starring in the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And Jim Starlin noted earlier this summer that he had to buy his own ticket to see The Avengers, which featured a tease based on one of his more famous additions to the Marvel character catalog.

Not to get all DC vs. Marvel on you guys, and credit one shitty corporation for being less shitty than the other shitty corporation, but is Warner Bros. more generous with this sort of thing than Disney's Marvel Studios...?

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Wait, I don't get it

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Professional Tom Brevoort stalker Graeme McMillan notes the Marvel Entertainment executive editor was asked if readers might ever see a trade collecting the Hostess comics ads of the 1970s, something I've called for repeatedly.

Brevooort responded negatively, saying it would involve profit sharing with Hostess, that such a trade "would tend to be a niche item in the first place" and that "you could only do the Marvel ones, not the DC or Archie or Harvey ones."

Poppycock, I say.

Firstly, certainly each publisher could do their own own books, and come to their own arrangements with Hostess. Like, there could be a trade collecting the Marvel Hostess ads, a trade collecting the DC Hostess ads, and so on, if there's demand for Archie and Harvey ones (I could see Archie ones; not so sure about Harvey ones). Although DC and Marvel have co-published comics and trades in the past, and DC and Archie have done so even more recently.

Secondly, Hostess and DC Comics have worked together in the extremely recent past, so figuring out rights and profit-sharing regarding Hostess snack cake ads can't possible be as complicated as, say, figure out the rights to Rom or The Micronauts.

And finally, yes, it was be a niche item. But you know what else is a niche item? Virtually every single trade collection that Marvel publishes.

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Did you hear that artist Paolo Rivera is leaving Daredevil to focus on creator-owned work?

It's great news for Rivera, terrible news for Daredevil, and worse news for people who read Dardedevil.

Maybe now they'll reduce the accelerated publishing schedule of DD to accommodate current artist Chris Samnee (whose latest blog post said he would be the sole artist on the book going forward), and make it a monthly again instead of a book that's published every week, every other week or twice a month, depending on the month?

If not, then hopefully they'll find someone of a high enough caliber of talent and a compatible enough style to do every other arc. I nominated Francesco Francavilla, although Mike Allred and/or Nick Dragotta would be great, too.

I'm sure whatever Rivera does next will be excitedly reported anywhere comics publishing news is reported, but, in the mean time, here's Rivera's blog if you want to keep a look out for yourself. He's just posted some fine commissioned headshots of various Marvels.

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Sean Collins' linke round-ups are better than mine. Here's his latest, and here's the first tidbit quoted full, on account of its hilariousness and remarkable condensing of an argument into a few well-chosen sentences:
* People drawing an equivalence between DC’s use of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen characters in Before Watchmen and Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill’s pastiche of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen would have a point if and only if Moore released this issue as “BEFORE HARRY POTTER,” starring all the actual Harry Potter characters rather than parody versions of them, using the Harry Potter trade dress, through Harry Potter’s publisher, exploiting a loophole in a contract he arranged with Rowling, over Rowling’s explicit and unequivocal objections, following a two-decade string of mistreatment and broken promises.
I haven't read the latest LOEG yet, but it's worth noting that Harry Potter is, as Rowling herself would admit, a particular version of a Brit lit, magical school boy fantasy character type who has appeared in several other works prior to hers, the one most mainstream comics ones are most familiar with being Tim Hunter in the Neil Gaiman-written Books of Magic series, and the various Vertigo sequels and spin-offs.

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Reminder: The occasional bad cover aside, Guillem March is awesome.

This is a good example of what I mean when I saw DC is wasting March's talent. Yes, he's draw a variety of Batman spin-offs, but he he's not drawing Batman or Detective (Tony freaking Daniel is), or even one of the three other Batman books starring Batman (Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight or Batman Incorporated). Even if he were though, DC still probably wouldn't be making the best use of him.

I mean, can you imagine a Catwoman writer Judd Winick or even fan-favorite Batman writer Scott Snyder penning a script in which calls for the artist to, say, draw in the style of R. Crumb for a scene? Because Guillem March can totally do that.

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If I were making this list, I woulda excised First Wave (why remind readers of one of the publisher's bigger misfires of the last few years, and that Azz was maybe the most responsible for that misfire, being the most present of the creators involved) for Doctor 13: Architecture and Morality, the best super-thing he's ever written.

Also, I thought The Joker wasn't very good, but I guess it was popular, which, from a marketing standpoint, is probably close enough to be the same thing.

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Oh man, I just read the funniest Dinosaur Comics comic ever last night, and thought I cut-and-pasted the link somewhere where I wouldn't lose it, but now I can't find it. Then I went back to its home page, figuring "No big, I'll just scroll back until I find it," but then I realized I found it by hitting the random comic selection function, and so I can't find it, and may never find it again.

Anyway: That comic is usually pretty funny, and, this one time, it was funnier than it ever was before.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Comic shop comics: June 20

Daredevil #14 (Marvel Entertainment) Trapped in a castle in Latveria (no Doom appearance, despite the cover), our hero is exposed to a mysterious gas (Confidential to everyone who writes comic books: I'm soooo sick of seeing the prefix "nano-") that is slowly eliminating his sense, one by one. Can he make it to the Latverian border before he loses all of his senses?

That's the fun of this issue, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, although there's also some plot advancement regarding Matt's relationship with Foggy and that girl he took on a date a few issues ago.

As per usual, Daredevil delivers perfectly solid, top-of-the-head superhero genre thrills and drama.

This issue also includes Daredevil on a horse...

...which, for some reason, just isn't as exciting as Batman on a horse. Maybe it's the lack of cape...?


Saga #4 (Image Comics) No lie, no hyperbole: I opened the cover of this book and jumped in my seat. The image on the first page, a splash page, was probably the last thing I expected to see, and it surprised, frightened and freaked me out a little. So good job Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples!

Great Lying Cat scene too, which follows immediately, making for a perfect first three pages.

The rest of the comic's not too shabby either.


Wonder Woman #10 (DC Comics) I actually had a little trouble making sense out of this issue. It opens in Hades, where Wonder Woman is about to marry Hell (which is what they're calling Hades in the book). He ties a noose of her lasso of truth and makes her wear it and answer if she loves him or not. She says yes (Wonder Woman loves everyone, you may remember).

Then she hears the word "bind", and freaks out, running away from the ceremony and attempting to escape Hell (the person and the place which, here, are one and the same thing), the only explanation of her actions being these: "Bind me? With proof--not trust? I won't be bound that way to any man... Woman...or god."

Wonder Woman hates proof! She did horrible in math when she was in school because she refused to show her work!

I suppose her plan all along was to flee Hell at the crux of the ceremony, as marrying the god of death probably didn't jibe with her long-term career plans anyway, but the way it's presented is kind of strange. I've read the scene three times now, and I can't make sense of Wonder Woman's motivations in it. Unless the whole point was for her to demonstrate how much she loves everyone, even the creepy little god of death who was trying to force him to marry her, and making her escape once he was pretty sure she was going to go through with marrying her, but, I don't know...I'm just making guesses at what I see in the text.

Beyond that and a little-don't-think-about-it-too-much glitch (all of Hell is made out of Hell, so he controls everything in it and can thus attack Wondy from all directions constantly, although the dress he gave her and the skinless horse she rides...I guess Hell imports its wedding dress fabrics and skinless horeses...?), brian Azzarello's script is fairly well structured, and the ending has a very nice little demonstration through actions of what Azz had Wondy babbling about at the beginning. It was also nice to see her attempting to convert a foe through kindness and love, Golden Age style, rather than beating the bejeezus out of a foe, post-Kingdom Come style (although there IS some pretty serious gore before the end).

The Elvis Costello allusion was a bit much though, wasn't it?

The art holds together fairly nicely given the fact it's from two different artists, Kano handling the first half of the book and pencil artist Tony Akins and inker Dan Green the second half. Kudos are due to colorist Matthew Wilson for blending the art together so well and, I suspsect, to Kano, for drawing a bit more like Akins (and in the Chiang designs and style) than usual.

Flipping through it now, it's easy to see who drew what, and where the artists changed, but, in the first read-through, I barely noticed, and it only slowly dawned on me that some of the characters looked different now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pre-New 52 review: Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns


The title story in this collection is pulled from Green Lantern Corps #48-52, and it seems to be a companion story to the first story arc from the short-lived tertiary Green Lantern title, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (reviewed here).

As was the case in that storyline, a group of Green Lanterns are thrown into conflict with a major villain from their past, and, as the story reaches its climax, we find that the villain was being manipulated by the villain from the "War of the Green Lanterns" crossover story. So "Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns," like Emerald Warriors, is something of a prelude to "War of the Green Lanterns," or simply an exercise in killing time until that storyline could arrive to commandeer the scheduling of all three books, depending on how generous you want to be.

The villain here is The Cyborg-Superman, who has become a sort of de facto Green Lantern villain due to the events of "The Reign of the Supermen" story, in which he and Mongul destroyed Green Lantern Hal Jordan's hometown of Coast City, driving Hal bonkers. (Geoff Johns made use of the Cyborg-Superman in his "Sinestro Corps War" story.)

His plan is a little loopy. He has the power to control all machinery, and he's used it to usurp the programming on the Alpha-Lanterns—which, if you don't read Green Lantern, are a group of Green Lanterns that the Guardians turned into robot super-Lanterns and tasked with serving as Green Lantern Corps Internal Affairs; that is, they're the police who police the space police. Holding them mind-controlled hostage, he wants to force a Guardian (Ganthet who, at this point, has demoted himself to a regular old Green Lantern) to turn them back into organic beings and, once he's demonstrated he can do this, he can turn the Cyborg-Superman back into a normal human being. And then he can commit suicide, as all he wants to do is die, but his existence as a sort of electronic ghost that possesses robots and stuff prevents it.

Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and John Stewart, plus Ganthet and Sora and The Big Rock Guy, must brave a planet full of robots and Alpha-Lanterns all controlled by the Cyborg-Superman in order to save the day.

While the Cyborg-Superman is essentially the star of the storyline, some attention is given to Alpha-Lantern Boodika, who goes through something a transformation in the story, proving that even though she now looks like a robot, she's still the same person underneath it all (Following this story, the trade includes GLC #21-22, a Boodika-focused fill-in story by writer Sterling Gates and artists Nelson, Derek Fridolfs and Rob Hunter; it's awfully generic, although Boodika fans who want to know more about her life before she was a robot might find it of greater interst than I).

The artwork is from pencil artist Ardian Syaf and inker Vicente Cifuenetes, and while it's passable, it's also probably the worst I've seen on this title, which was previously drawn by the great Patrick Gleason and would later be drawn by Tyler Kirkham. Kirkham's art is, like Syaf's, rather rough, even ragged around the edges, but Kirkham's compensates with a lot of movement and energy.

Syaf's looks, at first glance, as overly futzed-with Dan Jurgens art (that is, with Jurgens-like layouts and figure works, but a lot of not-always-necessary lines in them), and the settings seem like fairly generic sci-fi ones. Backgrounds tend to disappear for long stretches, and the anatomy can be...lacking:

This probably isn't his fault, but he does draw John Stewart with a ring-generated army guy costume and rifle in several panels, so that John Stewart looks like an idiot:


I know there's a "story" reason for why Stewart makes rifles out of his ring energy (because he was retconned to be a marine sniper, and holding a sniper gun apparently helps him concentrate), but is the cosplay really necessary? The ring does generate a forcefield, and will automatically protect him from harm, so I'm not sure what the glowing green army helmet does, beyond make him look silly (And maybe it calms his nerves in-story, but I don't know, it's not very heroic; that would be like me using a power ring to generate a glowing green version of the blanky I used to carry around as a toddler whenever I had to infiltrate an enemy robot stronghold).

The robot centaur I spotted on a cover for an upcoming issue appears in this.

That's pretty cool, that this guy a) exists and b) is an Alpha-Lantern, as it means at some point in the past there was a Green Lantern centaur, and that the Guardians took their Green Lantern centaur and turned him into a Green Lantern robot centaur.

Finally, props to the art team for their depiction of blood-vomitting Red Lantern Atrocitus:

I like the way they draws his blood-vomit as something of an aura or face halo; instead of simply running down his face like drool and occasionally being fired at foes like a projectile, it hangs around his face like a cloud.

But my single favorite image in this collection is definitely the variant cover by Patrick Gleason, which shows Ganthet forging his own Green Lantern ring and lantern:

The scene in the story is kind of cool in the awesome/stupid way that the Geoff Johns era of Green Latern comics is, as there are apparently willpower mines on Oa (?), and the willpower ore is, like, smelted, and then poured into a mold, and then the Guardian has to recite the oath so hard that he sweats and leads blood out of his face (?!).

I mainly just love how huge Gleason draws Ganthet's head though, and how spindly—but still muscular—his bare arms are.

While reading, I discovered that this storyline explains where The Weaponer from the later story arc (reviewed here) got his magic white light net (the explanation is dumb, but at least it's an explanation), and also how the Cyborg-Superman got inside an Alpha-Lantern in order to appear in that "Return of Doomsday" storyline (reviewed here).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

(links)

Fair warning: I didn't do a links post last Sunday, so this post will actually contain a good two weeks wroth of links and me babbling about them, so it could get fairly long. You may just want to skim.

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You know what really bothers me about this picture? The lady dressed up as a sexy cat has four cat ears instead of two. For some reason, that's the part of the image I can't get over.

The comic it came from, by the way, sounds really awesome. I never see these things on the rack in the wild, but after reading a review like that, it sounds like something I'd want to pick up and read for myself. Maybe I'll discover a Tarot mother lode when mining back issue bins some day...

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In his review of DC's Ravagers #1, Don MacPherson picked up on the oddity of the decision to reboot Beast Boy's color from the traditional green—the same color it was and is in the Teen Titans and Young Justice cartoons and all the affiliated merchandising—to red.

It's but one of many, many, many examples of the minds behind the "New 52" reboot taking the opportunity to not to move closer to the versions of the characters from the many successful cartoons, but even further away (The depiction of Starfire in Red Hood and The Outlaws vs. the more appealing all-ages version from the Teen Titans cartoon and the make up of the Justice League and the teen superhero team in Young Justice being the two that spring most immediately to mind).

A while back, when DC did alter aspects of their comic books in order to more closely align them to their TV adaptations, like when the original Young Justice comic book was canceled along with Titans in order to make way for a new Teen Titans book and line-up that more closely resembled that of the then-new Teen Titans cartoon, or when Green Lantern Kyle Rayner was kicked off the Justice League and out of his own book pretty much overnight in order to put Green Lantern John Stewart in JLA.

Mainly these things bothered me at the time because they didn't really make sense in the context of the DCU as it stood at the time. But if the publisher was going to reboot the whole damn thing anyway, and start over from scratch with whatever they thought needed reworked to appeal to a bigger, more popular audience, why not follow the examples of the successful cartoon adaptations?

Especially since so many of them, like the Young Justice cartoon for example, seem to have rather seamlessly done things that DC Comics finds difficult to pull off in their books, like integrating Milestone characters or Captain Marvel.

As far as I can tell, the only changes of the New 52boot that seem to have been made to make the comics more closely resemble aspects of various multimedia adaptations were making Harley Quinn (herself an import from the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon) more closely resemble the version of the character in the Batman: Arkham videogames, and changing the color of the abstract bird icon on Nightwing's costume from blue to red, like in Batman and Robin, one of the few Batman-related adaptations that no one anywhere has any affection for.

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Tom Spurgeon on some old Avengers comics:

It was a golden era for dickheaded superheroes, and for all the kids that didn't quite understand just how dickheaded they were being.
That really makes me want to read those same old Avengers comics. My favorite thing about the Marvel Universe is its occasionally dickheaded superheroes...which is, of course, one of the main reasons that Namor is my favorite Marvel superhero.

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Comics sales chart watcher Marc-Oliver Frisch has been examining sales on the "New 52" books (and making charts!) and it looks like the sales bump is in the process of officially wearing off.

(I know, I know; shocking that simply re-numbering the titles, adding a Spawn artist and a couple of old X-Men writers and doing a lot of press, but otherwise continue to have the exact same dudes do the same kinds of stories wouldn't completely revolutionize sales, bringing comics to a whole new audience).

One of the reasons I think the old DCU continuity will reassert itself at some point is that, in addition to the resiliency of certain ideas and stories and costumes and symbols, is the fact that the sheen of new-ness will quickly wear off, as it seems to have done in so many cases, and a Crisis reverting to the (or "a") old continuity/cosmology will definitely boost sales (temporarily, of course).

I just wonder if it will be an all-at-once thing or a dribble-drabble of change backs, a "Superman's new costume returns in Aciton COmics #1,000!" here, a soft de-reboot of JLA following an epic battle with the Master of Time there, and so on.

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Speaking of sales charts, here's Paul O'Brien's analysis of Marvel's April sales at The Beat.

I thought this part, discussing the new Ultimate Spider-Man comic, which is the one based on the new cartoon Ultimate Spider-Man, which itself takes its name from a pre-existing Marvel comic:
The other new all-ages book, also based on an animated series – and not to be confused with the other ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, which is technically called ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN these days. Marvel is also soliciting the books under the MARVEL UNIVERSE banner, in reference to the universe in which they aren’t set. I cannot help but wonder whether all this is needlessly confusing.
Yeah, I'm gonna go with "needlessly confusing."

I was enjoying the digests of whatever Paul Tobin's Spider-Man book was, but I couldn't keep track of the titles it went under. One day I have to sit down and do enough research to figure out what I need to buy to read the rest of it...

Oh, and last night while looking over Marvel's September solicitations I noticed that it looked like they were repackaging the all-ages stuff from various books published prior to the institution of the "Marvel Universe" branding (which refers not to stuff set in the Marvel Universe, but non-"canon" all ages apocryphal stories) with "Marvel Universe" in the title. For example, there's a collection of the title Super Heroes that they're collecting and publishing as Marvel Universe Avengers: Hulk & Fantastic Four Digest.

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Wonkette, the politics blog I most enjoy reading, links to Robot 6, one of the comics blogs I most enjoy reading (and one I contribute to). What a world...

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Hey, is our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man cool with torturing the bad guys now...?

I just recently finished reading Ali H. Soufan and Daniel Freedman's The Black Banners (which I'll discuss in greater detail in the next installment of "Everything Else", but one thing he hammers home again and again is that torture simply does not work as an interrogation tactic. Beyond the considerable moral objections, former FBI interrogator Soufan noted that it's just not effective, particularly on Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists with apocalyptic/religious motivations, as they have been trained to expect and be subjected to things like being severely beaten, sodomized, and watching their relatives be raped in front of their eyes.

Also, with torture, all you—the torture—has to do to resist is wait it out. You will eventually die and, in the minds of the terrorists, go straight to heaven.

Whereas with open-ended, non-torture techniques, the interrogation could go on indefinitely.

Soufan also noted that it is especially ineffective in ticking time-bomb situations, the sort of situations its advocates are always citing, because then the amount of time one has to merely endure torture is even shorter. (The types of mad-scientist bullshit torture techniques the U.S. was sanctioning especially took long periods of time to "break" someone...usually they didn't work at all, but it would takes weeks and weeks before the torturers would even know if it was working or not.

Now what's so depressing about these stories where we see superheroes torturing supervillains (I remember being kinda sickened when I saw Hal Jordan slapping around a guy behind bars in one of the early issues of Geoff Johns' run on Green Lantern, which was released shortly after word of the atrocities at the Abu Ghraib prison were coming out), is that the writer is in complete control of all of the situations and factors.

So Spider-Man's never in a position where he feels like he has to torture someone unless the writer chooses to put him there. Of course, the writer can choose to not only force Spider-Man into a situation where Spider-Man might feel like he has no alternative but to torture a villain, but the writer can also make it so that the torture always works, which is more depressing still (Soufan noted in his book that most of what people—including folks working for the CIA and congresspeople—know about interrogation and terrorism in general comes from movies and Tom Clancy novels).

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Neat. I always liked the idea of the Ghost character and the character and costume design, but the few books I actually read featuring her didn't really do much for me, I'm afraid.

What I'd really like to read is an autobio comic about Kelly Sue DeConnick hanging out with some real-life ghost hunters in order to do research for a comics-writing gig...

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Well they damn well better. He would be a pretty easy character to integrate into their movie-verse, I think, and those connections could certainly help buttress a character who isn't as immediately appealing and widely known as, say, The Hulk or Captain America.

The (movie) Avengers line-up is in desperate need of some color, too (Green doesn't count). Black Panther, Luke Cage, Falcon and Goliath all seem like they'd fit in pretty well, although Goliath's grow-gigantic power might prove a little too fantastic for the rather grounded Marvel movie-verse...

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Hey, check out this series of reviews of comics released on June 6th by Mr. Brian Hibbs, if you haven't already. In addition to noting that Darwyn Cooke's Before Watchmen: Minutemen isn't that great (and that was the one series of the many miniseries that seemed to have the best chance of not completely sucking on paper), he talks a bit about a "series code" attached to Marvel comics, which establishes a particular comic series as a particular comic series, even if the title, numbering and everything else about it can be arbitrarily changed.

I never knew any of that. Comics is the most insane business...

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I found the above panels, which are from the Steve Dillon-drawn Incredible Hulk (!!! Dillon's a great artist and all, but for The fucking Hulk...?) in Tucker Stone's must-read "Comics of the Weak" column for The Comics Journal a coupla weeks back.

I like how Hulk is missing his hair, but The Punisher has all this extra hair. Like he stole the Hulk's hair and made a beard out of it. Or maybe The Hulk sneezed so hard his hair flew off his head and landed all over The Punisher's face...?

I don't know. I just like looking at Steve Dillon's bald Hulk looking at Steve Dillon's bearded Punisher in profile for a couple of panels.

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That same column features Abhay rounding up the roughly one billion times some a-hole on twitter made a joke about Earth-2 Green Lantern Alan Scott being rebooted as gay meaning he must now be a Pink Lantern.

Obviously those tweeters don't read Green Lantern, or they would know that Geoff Johns invented an entire Pink Lantern Corps years ago, although he calls them The Star Sapphires, because he can't call all of his colored Lantern Corps by their colors, because that would be silly. So the Pink Lanterns, The Purple Lanterns and The Yellow Lanterns go by the names Star Sapphires, Indigo Tribe and Sinestro Corps instead.

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I honestly didn't know that The Flaming Carrot was wearing a costume; I thought he was a flaming carrot. Now I can't decide which is weirder: The existence of a humanoid flaming carrot, or a regular dude who dresses up as a flaming carrot.

I'm leaning towards the latter.

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I thought the introduction paragraph to The Mothman.

Apparently one of the Minutemen is named Mothman.

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Curt Franklin and Chris Haley's farewell strip for outgoing ComicsAlliance editor Laura Hudson offers a rare look inside her office at CA HQ. Check out that view...!

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Chris Sims has the most complete round-up of other artists making fun of Guillem March's cover for Catwoman #0.

I still maintain that his cover for Green Lantern: New Guardians #0 is much, much worse:


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I'm curious to see if March's image as solicited will be the image that still adorns the cover when it ships in September, given how much negative attention its received. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a trend wherein comics professionals police one another's drawings by mercilessly ridiculing the sub-par ones (And, make no mistake, that's what March's was—sub-par. The dude's a really great artist who produced a really shitty cover, not a really shitty artist who always produces shit, like, um a bunch of other dudes who drew bad covers that DC has put on top of some of the many badly-drawn comics they plan to ship in September).

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Spotted on Facebook, via Dean Trippe:

Yes, exactly Popeye.

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I always see something I miss when I read Kelly Thompson's Drunk Cover Solicits. In this installment (which is actually last month's...I'm behind in reading her posts. Or she is behind in writing them. Or both...?), I now notice that Green Arrow is drawn a a goddam satyr:

That's cool. I think I may have read all the Green Arrow comics I need to read at this point in my life, and I'm ready to move on to Goat Arrow, the cloven-hooved archer.

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You know who would never, ever put Mountain Dew in his body, under any circumstances? Batman.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marvel's September previews reviewed

I was going to note how many of Marvel's ongoing series are now double-shipping—that is, coming out twice a month instead of once a month—these days, but I see retailer and Robot 6 columnist Carla Hoffman has already done so, sparing me counting and math-doing.

Hoffman notes that there will be 19 titles shipping twice a month in September, as well as noting that there's no easily discernable pattern to which "monthlies" are now "twice-a-month-lies"; some are $2.99 books, while others are $3.99 books. Some are among the publisher's most popular titles featuring their most recognizable stars, some aren't.

Trying to make sense of the publishing decisions that Marvel, or their Distinguished Competition, make is, of course, a fool's game. So let's all be fools, and take a closer look at Marvel's solicitations for September, shall we?



Avengers #30
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (w) • WALTER SIMONSON (a)
Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
AVX TIE-IN!
• Love in the ruins: Can Hawkeye and Spider-Woman’s budding romance last amidst the end of the world?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Wait, honest question time! Hawkeye and Spider-Woman have a budding romance? Isn't he married to Mockingbird? (They even had a title together for, like, four issues before it got canceled!) And didn't they make a big deal out of her coming back to life and reuniting with Hawkeye in Secret Invasion? I know that was three line-wide crossovers ago now, but it seems kind of...unromantic to be reunited with the spouse you thought you'd never see again only to break-up and move on in the space of what's gotta be only a couple months, Marvel Universe time. Or did Mockingbird die again already...?

As for Leili Yu's cover—Simonson's on interiors and they slapped a Yu cover on it?!—Spider-Woman's huge, bullet-shaped breasts look extra-weird with part of the spandex torn away, reinforcing the fact that yes, those things are actually supposed to be made out of human flesh.

And I'm kind of curious about the context, with all those civilians packing heat. I wonder if Bendis has some confused conservative political point to make in this crossover tie-in, kinda like his weird "liberal protesters don't understand the nature of Islamic evil" or whatever he was trying to say in that stupid scene in the stupid sixth issue of his stupid Secret Invasion series...

Maybe "The Only Way Real Americans Can Defend Themselves From the Tyranny of the Eternal, Cyclical Political Struggle Between Democrats (The X-Men) and Republicans (The Avengers) Is By Resorting to Second Amendment Remedies"...? I have no idea. I look forward to reading the trade collection in like two years and trying to figure out what the hell Bendis was going for, and what the hell people saw in the story in the first place. That's how I engaged the last one of these silly things I read, anyway.


AVENGERS ASSEMBLE #7
Brian Michael Bendis (w) • Mark Bagley (a/C)
• Thanos Rules!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


So I wonder why Marvel is promoting this series with little plastic Infinity Gems giveaways, like DC did with the plastic Lantern rings that accompanied various Blackest Night tie-ins...? I might be proceeded to spend an extra dollar on yet another Avengers comic written by Brian Michael Bendis (Hey, did you know that he has three entirely different Avengers series he's writing in September? And he's writing the Ultimate version in his Ultimate Spider-Man that month too!) if I got something for that extra dollar. Like a plastic doodad.



This is the cover to AVX: Vs#6 (not to be confused with AVX, although the two books have "A Vs. X" printed as the title on their covers; the "VS" is bigger in the former than it is in the latter).

I just wanted to pull this cover out to point out how much more graphically interesting and, I think, effective the question mark-filled panels on the cover are at presenting a mystery and/or concealing the identity of characters than Marvel's usual method of simply blacking the figure out.


AVENGERS ASSEMBLE VOL. 5 TPB
Written by KURT BUSIEK, ROGER STERN, ROY THOMAS & STEVE ENGLEHART
Penciled by MANUEL GARCIA, KIERON DWYER, BRENT ANDERSON, IVAN REIS, PATRICK ZIRCHER, YANICK PAQUETTE, BRUCE TIMM, JOHN PAUL LEON, PAUL SMITH, TOM GRUMMETT, JOHN MCCREA, JIM STARLIN, PAT OLLIFFE, JORGE LUCAS & KLAUS JANSON
Cover by ANDY KUBERT
Fan-favorite AVENGERS scribe Kurt Busiek’s most epic tale concludes in this star-studded volume! When the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror launches an all-out war against the present day, the entire planet becomes a battlefield — and the Avengers are on the front line! Atlanteans, Deviants, Sentinels and even the Master of the World join the conflagration — but how will the Avengers react when Kang…wins?! Also featuring outer-space action with the 3-D Man! The spawn of Ultron! And an untold tale from the Avengers’ past, as the original team takes on Dr. Doom! Collecting AVENGERS (1998) #45-56 and #1 1/2, and AVENGERS: THE ULTRON IMPERATIVE.
416 PGS./Rated T …$34.99


Say, if Marvel's publishing the Busiek run on Avengers under the name Avengers Assemble, then what are they going to call the eventual collections of the current Avengers Assemble series, and how will they distinguish those from these...?


AVENGING SPIDER-MAN: MY FRIENDS CAN BEAT UP YOUR FRIENDS TPB
Written by ZEB WELLS
Penciled by JOE MADUREIRA, GREG LAND & LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Cover by JOE MADUREIRA
He’s been Amazing, he’s been Spectacular, and he’s been Sensational. Now, Spider-Man is doing a little Avenging, and he’s brought a few of his pals along for the ride. Ever the social animal, the wall-crawler has a proud tradition of fighting side-by-side with heroes from across the Marvel Universe. And now that he’s a card-carrying member of both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, he can’t go far without swinging into a teammate or two. Step forward the rascally Red Hulk, the hotheaded Hawkeye and the legendary Captain America as Spidey bonds with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Collecting AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #1-5.
120 PGS./Rated T+ …$19.99


I generally like Zeb Wells' scripting quite a bit, but given the names of two of the credited artists whose work appears in this collection, I can't imagine it will be very good. Hell, it might not even be readable...at least not without great effort on the part of the reader.

That said, I thought the sub-title for the collection was funny.



Reminder: Paolo Rivera is the best.



DEFENDERS #10
MATT FRACTION (w) • JAMIE McKELVIE (a)
Cover by joe quinnones
• LETS’S GET SMALL! The long-awaited arrival of ANT-MAN hits THE DEFENDERS!
• With the nature and purpose of the Concordance engines revealed, the team must act fast to SAVE EVERYTHING!
• How can you save the world when you can’t tell anyone it’s about to end?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Great cover by Joe Quinnones, and I bet Jamie McKelvie's interiors are neat looking, too. The fact that Marvel has the balls to charge $4 for a Defenders comic, especially given the market's long-standing resistance to embracing Defenders comics, still kinda boggles my mind.

I like Ant-Man...I assume this is the Irredeemable version of the character, in a newer, worse costume? Call me crazy, but a guy calling himself "Ant-Man" should at least look vaguely ant-like. Antennae or GTFO!


It looks like Daredevil is totally kneeing his allies in the backs of their heads in this cover, right? It's not just me?



Well it's about time we got a legacy version of the late, great Stilt-Man—Stilt-Woman.

Thanks, Whoever At Marvel Made Her Up!

I can't decide if realistic-faced Griffin looks awesome or dumb. Like, it's an awesome drawing, but, as a drawing of the Marvel villain Griffin, I don't know if "as realistic as possible" is necessarily the best way to go, you know?



SPIDER-MEN #5 (of 5)
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (w) • SARA PICHELLI (a)
Cover BY JIM CHEUNG
VARIANT COVERS BY SARA PICHELLI & TRAVIS CHAREST
• The shocking conclusion to the Spider-Man event of the year!
• How will the amazing Spider-Man get back to his own reality?
• What will both Spider-Men due now that they know they’re not alone in the universe?
• Will Peter Parker give Miles Morales his blessing?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Sometimes I feel bad about the constant typos that appear here on EDILW, but then I see something like the above, wherein the word "due" is used instead of "do," and I think to myself, "Well, at least I'm just doing this for my own amusement, and the occasional amusement of readers who don't have to pay a dime for it and thus get what they pay for and I'm not, like, a paid professional whose job it is to try and sell hobbyists something."

Check out that last bullet point too, "Will Peter Parker give Miles Morales his blessing?" How weird would it be if he didn't? Or if he was all like, "Well, you can keep fighting crime with your spider-powers, but only if you change your name to Black Spider-Man, or maybe The Black Spider." Now that would be a shocking conclusion to the Spider-Man event of the year.


THANOS QUEST #1
JIM STARLIN (w) • RON LIM (a)
Cover by ANDY PARK
• Thanos of Titan, the mad Eternal, has been released from Death’s domain.
• In return, he’s pledged to kill half the population of the universe using the most powerful weapons in existence: the Infinity Gems!
• If he obtains them all, Thanos will rule all he surveys!
• Collecting THANOS QUEST (1990) #1-2.
104 PGS./Rated T …$7.99


Just wanted to point out that this page-count and price point, along with the general vintage of the contents, suggests Marvel is experimenting with aping DC's DC Comics Presents almost-trades, which I loved (DC seems to be shying away from them, though; I haven't bought one in a good long while, and they seem to be solicited less and less). I wonder if it will have ads, as DC's did, or not?



ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES #15 & 16
SAM HUMPHRIES (w) • (#15) LUKE ROSS (a) • (#16) BILLY TAN (a)
Cover by MICHAEL KOMARCK
CLASSIFIED!
32 PGS. (EACH)/Rated T+ …$3.99 (EACH)


I don't think that's the way solicitations are supposed to work, guys.



ULTIMATE COMICS X-MEN #16
BRIAN WOOD (w) • CARLO BARBERI (a)
Cover by DAVE JOHNSON
UNITED WE STAND BEGINS!!!
• The X-Men fight for their lives in the Sentinel-controlled states
• Featuring…Nick Fury’s Howling Kittens?!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99


Despite the lack of kittens on Johnson's cover, I think this still wins as the best solicitation of the month, thanks to the promise of "Nick Fury's Howling Kittens."

Actually, "howling kittens" all by itself would be enough to propel this to the top of the Most Intriguing Solicitations list...


UNTOLD TALES OF PUNISHER MAX #4 (OF 5)
NATHAN EDMONSON (w) • NIC KLEIN (a/C)
• Another never-before-seen chapter in Frank Castle’s life!
• A father begs Frank to help him find his daughter who was sold into slavery.
• Frank does way more than just find the girl.
• Rising star NATHAN EDMONDSON (Who Is Jake Ellis) writes this issue.
32 PGS./Explicit Content …$3.99



Considered but rejected title for this series: Unused Inventory Stories of Punisher Max.


VENOM #24
CULLEN BUNN (w) • THONY SILAS (a)
Cover by PATCH ZIRCHER
ASM 50th Anniversary Variant by SKOTTIE YOUNG
• The Devil’s pact made in Circle of Four comes full circle as HELL-VENOM is unleashed!
• Can Flash Thompson regain his soul – or will he be in Damion Hellstrom’s thrall forever?
• Meanwhile, ace reporter Katy Kiernan makes a devastating discovery about Venom!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99


I admit it: I really like the sound of the name "HELL-VENOM"

I also like comics featuring Damion Hellstrom, but only the one's that were published prior to the year 1985.