Monday, December 31, 2007

Not Much With the Posting

Despite the impression folks might have gotten with my awe and wonder at 46" of Hi-Def video goodness, the new TV really isn't what's kept me from posting. I'm in the third round now of a battle royale with whatever funky virus is going around. This time, I've managed to cut off it's resources, stop it from recruiting bacterial allies, and I'm hoping that some Excedrin and a whole lot of orange juice will clobber it early. (Let's face it... working four 13 hour shifts, only to come home sick on your first day off really stinks.)

I hope everybody's having an agreeable holiday season. I look forward to getting back to it as soon as I've kicked this cold's butt.

Friday, December 21, 2007

House Trashing, Round Two!

I really do have some commentary on the current week's comics. But my comments are slightly delayed as I tear the inside of our beautiful home apart to make room for a Christmas gift to myself. (I'd take a picture, but honestly I'd be ashamed to.) It's being delivered tomorrow, so I've been clearing out the entertainment center before preparing to move it elsewhere in the house. (As my first piece of self-assembled furniture, as well as something that's withstood the ravages of the past 9 years pretty well, I'm loathe to part with it.)

But tomorrow's phrase of the day is "Merry Christmas".

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Moment of Holiday Zen...

Hearing hair-metal band Twisted Sister belt out "O Come All Ye Faithful" to the familiar tune of "We're Not Gonna Take It" has just made my holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Odds & Ends

I don't think I posted anything here yet, but I've finished my first comic script. Thanks a lot to Jim Shelley for giving me a chance to try my hand. I definitely learned a lot about the process. I'm looking forward to getting something else going.

Also, if anybody who checks out my blog hasn't ever seen any of the Floating Hands Studio's comic book parodies, you haven't truly lived. Somewhere in the primordial past, someone sent me a link to the video "X-Men: Death Becomes Them" in which the X-Men are confronted by Magneto, but devolve into squabbling about how many times they've each died. (With a special non-surprise twist at the end!) Check them out! They've got a spot-on parody of House of M that's 130% more entertaining than the original!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

File Cabinet Update and New Comic Day 12/19/07

I got the replacement for my faulty filing cabinet today, so I've been busy emptying the last of my Drawerboxes, and going through my assorted short-boxes to clear them out as well. The verdict is that I'm down to a single short box of stuff that I haven't put into the file cabinets yet.

Sixteen Drawerboxes and five short boxes put comics into 11 of my 12 drawers. One of them is still completely empty.

I've still got plenty of space in most of the drawers I'm using as well, which makes me happy. These things are definitely a step up in price from any kind of box, and I'm honestly not sure where I'd fit another one without some serious reorganizing.

It's been more of a project getting them loaded up as well, because of my ignorance at the beginning of my comic purchasing days. Before I understood about the differences in size between Golden, Silver, and Current age comics, my first bags and boards were comically mis-sized golden age supplies. A lot of boxes are designed to accomodate comics of that size though, so it wasn't an issue. Until the cabinets came. So I had to re-bag/board possibly a couple hundred books. The drawers are 18" wide, which can accomodate two rows of current-age books . But those golden-age bags and boards were just too wide.

On the whole, I'm pretty satisfied. I've noticed a tendency on the part of the books to try to shift over within the drawer. I'm going to need to get something to try to keep the rows orderly. I'd been contemplating cardboard after talking to some friends, but I'm starting to wonder if I might be looking for something a little thicker.

I bought a hundred title dividers from Heroes & Dragons, only to find that I didn't buy enough. (And I'm not just talking about the detritus that builds up, random scattered issues of things that didn't turn out to be worth buying more of... I've got a few titles that I'll have to dig a little more for.

If I can get the shifting sorted out, I don't think I'll have a single complaint with these things. They're:
  • Sturdy
  • Cat-proof
  • Lockable

I'm not going to be hauling them to conventions anytime soon, but for home use I'm pretty content.

Now, on to this week's planned purchases:

  • CHECKMATE #21 $2.99
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #839 (GHUL) $2.99
  • SHADOWPACT #20 $2.99
  • SUPERMAN #671 $2.99

  • CABLE DEADPOOL #48 $2.99
  • IMMORTAL IRON FIST #11 $2.99
  • INCREDIBLE HULK #112 $2.99
  • NEW X-MEN #45 MC $2.99
  • SHE-HULK 2 #24 $2.99
  • THE ORDER #6 $2.99

Looking at the list, there are definitely some titles that I'm on the fence about. Batman & The Outsiders is pretty decent... but Chuck Dixon could write a Batman title in his sleep. I'm giving it one more issue before I make a decision. She-Hulk is also one that is probably on the outs. What I loved about the title during Slott's run was the sheer insanity of the courtroom drama combined with the self-referential super-hero stuff. I almost always felt like the title was making fun of comics, and it worked. I haven't seen that in Peter David's run.

The one thing that's absolutely mandatory is the Marvel Holiday Special. I've been picking these up for a few years now, and they've never failed to entertain... whether putting J. Jonah Jameson in the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge (Visited by Captain America, The Thing, and Spider-Man as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future), or casting Ultron in the role of Santa Claus, I've always gotten a good chuckle.

This is the last new comic day before Christmas, so if I fail to post again until next week, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Yule, or whatever ceremony, rite or eldritch ritual you subscribe to!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Comic Delay, 12/12/07

Well, I've had a fairly busy week thus far. I didn't get to post what I intended to purchase this week because I was working through Wednesday morning. I still haven't been able to post about what I actually purchased, because I've been busy getting three new legal-size filing cabinets out of their very bulky boxes.

That's right... as much as I've enjoyed having the drawerboxes to hold my comic collection, I'm stepping up to actual drawers. Three legal sized filing cabinets ought to hold the vast majority of my comics... once I've got everything set up and my inventory transferred that is. I've confirmed that one (slightly) overfull drawerbox transitions to roughly half of a file cabinet drawer. The transition is going to require that I re-bag a few comics. Early in my comic purchasing I mistakenly bought a set of golden age bags and boards, using them for the comics I bought at the time. I can get two rows into an 18" wide drawer, but I'm going to need to get my books into current-age bags.

I'm going to have a busy few days. I'll post a few pics maybe, when I've got it done.


Breaking News on Broken Filing Cabinet!

One of the drawers in one of my cabinets doesn't open all the way. I'm going to have to touch base with Staples tomorrow to see about getting a replacement. I've still gotten all but three of my Drawerboxes into two of the cabinets, and I've probably got room to empty one of those.

Friday, December 7, 2007

World War Hulk: Aftersmash

World War Hulk is currently my favorite comic 'event' of all time. It spun out of 14 months of well-told Hulk story by Greg Pak, and it kept a laser-focus on what it was about.

So what did I think of the epilogue, World War Hulk: Aftersmash?

I thought it was a very fitting close to the Hulk stories I've been so in love with for more than a year now. It wraps up loose ends I didn't even know about. (Sue me, I haven't been reading Heroes for Hire.) It gives the Warbound a chance to leave World War Hulk behind as heroes... every member gets a chance to do something heroic except Brood. (But considering the Brood, is that really all that surprising?) It shows us Hercules and Amadeus Cho working together to try to hold Manhattan together... literally. We get Tom Foster, Goliath's nephew, learning that vengeance just leads to more vengeance.

There are a lot of great moments in the book, and everyone involved comes off as a hero. I'll miss Greg Pak when he leaves the Hulk, but he's given us an epic run with the character. World breaking stuff, really.

Words of wisdom...

If you're wearing a dress... don't go commando to that superhero smackdown. 'Nuff said?
These words of wisdom, brought to us by Justice League of America, Vol. 2 #15

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CrossGen was right?

Since I started thinking about pitching a story idea to Jim Shelly of Flashback Universe, I started thinking a bit more about digital distribution of comic books. It makes sense, since that's one of the pillars at the project's foundation.

So when I stumbled onto a link to this article from Publisher's Weekly, I had to take a gander.

CrossGen began publishing comics at about the same time I started buying them. It was a less than ideal timing for me as a consumer, because I wasn't yet an educated consumer. I didn't know what was good, and I didn't even really know what I liked. So I wound up buying a lot of everything, and then became disheartened when a lot of it failed to really grab me. (I blame a lot of that on all the X-Men comics I bought in those dark times.)

But I did always remember the CrossGen books, even when I stopped buying them. They were on my mind very recently, though, as I read Negation, which was described to me as some of Tony Bedard's best work.

However, I'd abandoned the label before they started making their comics available digitally at no charge. To summarize the article, series that were made available digitally saw a sizeable upturn in sales for multiple weeks. It's a conclusion that makes sense... while there are a lot of comic book fans who are most interested in the story and the art, it's ingrained into a lot of us, I think, that we want to possess the physical book. As I take a look at 22 boxes full of comics, I find it hard to argue with that conclusion.

Sadly the article doesn't provide the details of CrossGen's digital comic initiative, so I don't know if the books were downloaded as files, what format was used, or what kind of restrictions were placed on the books, but the fact that five years ago someone had studied digital comics and found a positive correlation between digital comics and physical sales says a lot for the digital model.

Eventually the big two will have to address this new format. But something definitely seems off watching them both demonize what's basically working for them as free advertising.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Comic Day 12/05/07

Well, another week inevitably rolls around with another set of new comics to buy. Though honestly, this week's looking a bit thinner than usual. On the DC side, we've got:


Marvel's looking a little better though.


I've been a fan of the Avengers Initiative comic, so I'm looking forward to that title's annual. Matt Fraction's The Order has been refreshing, probably because almost all of the characters are completely new additions to the Marvel Universe.

Annihilation Conquest is holding up alright through the two minis I read (Wraith and Quasar) and the first issue's keeping me for the second. World War Hulk was a great read, so Aftersmash is a no-brainer for me.

Now if I can only keep myself away from the back-issues of Marvel Team-Up, I ought to be alright.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mark of Shame - 11/29/07 - Teen Titans #53

I know I'm not the only one that misses days when we didn't get images like this in our comic books, right?

Obviously there's nothing wrong with putting an image like this in a blog post, because any kind on the street could walk into a comic shop, and buy the comic it came out of. But could someone tell me just why imagery like this is needed? I don't personally want to see people I'm supposed to see as super-heroes tearing the heads off of people.

I think this is the point at which I label 'Infinite Crisis' a total failure. Wasn't it supposed to give us back a comic book universe in which superheroes acted like heroes again? Is this what heroes act like, Mr. Didio? And compared to Brad Meltzer's run on Justice League of America, this is restrained.

I understand that there's going to be a level of violence in superhero comics. That's fine... it's expected, and enjoyed. But why do we need such a graphic and bloody image? Can anybody give me a solid reason why it's necessary?

I was hoping to just have a light-hearted talk about Marvel Team-Up #74 (as mentioned yesterday) in which Spider-Man and the cast of Saturday Night Live foil the Silver Samurai. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Master of Comedy... AND Teleportation!

Who knew? If John Belushi still had that teleportation ring, he might be alive today! The full story including Spider-Man, Nick Fury and the Black Widow fighting Boomerang and the Silver Samurai (with John Belushi's teleportation ring, darn him) can be found in Marvel Team-Up #83.

The theft of said ring occurred in Marvel Team-Up #74, an issue that has already gone onto my Most Wanted list.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Trial of Tony Bedard

A little while ago, I posted, detailing the reasons for my negative impression of Tony Bedard's work in comic writing. I also stated my intention to hunt down a few issues of the CrossGen series Negation, as a friend had provided it as an example of something Bedard wrote that didn't suck.

I received the issues today. I've read them through, and I'm digesting them.

I'm not sure who came up with the pitch for the series, but I really like the idea. It's the story of a group of people plucked out of the CrossGen Universe, and dragged into another dimension to be studied by the forces of the Negation Empire, ruled by the God-Emperor Charon who plans to invade the CrossGen universe. So we're starting with a cool concept, and a mark in it's favor.

And I have to admit that over the course of the first six issues, it certainly didn't suck. In the first two issues, Tony Bedard shared writing credit with Mark Waid, but the book certainly didn't tank in the third issue. (And it's not like Mark Waid's never written a bad comic... I only need to think of his three issue run on Top Cow's City of Heroes series for evidence.)

Naturally over the course of the issues, the prisoners attempt to escape, which turns them into fugitives in a strange universe. In two small groups, they manage to escape their prison, pursued by their former jailor. So on some level, it's a pretty archetypical story as a group of disparate individuals with few common ties must evade a massive force. I think one of the things that bothered me about the first six issues was that we learned very little about any of the characters. It's possible that some or all of them originated in other CrossGen books that either I haven't read, or don't recall so that's not as heavy a criticism as it could be. One thing that I did particularly like was that one of the main characters, Obregon Kaine is considered a major threat despite the fact that he doesn't have any weapons or any powers... It's his ability to organize and rally the others that makes him a threat. To me it draws parallels to Captain America. He never had as much raw power as some of the other Avengers, but because he was the one who could pull the others together and orchestrate things tactically, he was the most important Avenger on the field

My final verdict on what I've read is that it was a pretty enjoyable read. It's not great, but it rises above mediocrity and moves along well. It doesn't do enough to erase all the stuff I've read that's left such a bad taste in my mouth, but I think it does go to show me that he's capable of writing something pretty decent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Comic Day 11/28/07

Well, a stint of three 13.5 hour shifts is behind me, and I've got a few days off, which means it's time to catch up and see what I'm going to be looking at tomorrow. Here we go!

  • BATMAN #671
  • TRIALS OF SHAZAM #10 (OF 12)


  • DAREDEVIL #102
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #2 (OF 5)
  • X-MEN #205 MC

I've also read over on Phil Looney's Poptown (from whom I confess I shamelessly ripped off the idea of talking about comics I haven't bought... yet!) that the newest issue of Casanova hits tomorrow as well. I'm just now trying to jump on, reading up on the hardbound Luxuria trade but I think I'll keep my eyes peeled for the latest issue too.

The pattern continues, that Messiah Complex is vastly more interesting than the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul. I'm hoping that this issue bucks the trend. If any of the current Bat-family writers can make this a better read, my money'd be on Morrison. I don't even feel too guilty for having bought New X-Men last week for the simple fact that the rest of the story was crammed into their book, so I had to endure those characters less than I might have otherwise.

I'll give Chuck Dixon a few issues to sell me on the new Batman & The Outsiders series. But I do have to say at the outset that the first issue was far better than the final issue of the Outsiders a few months ago. (Until I get the first six issues of Negation, which have been shipped from I'm trying to hold off on the smack-talk about Tony Bedard but that really was a bad issue.)

I do note that two stories which appear to have suffered some delays are progressing today. On the Marvel side, we have One More Day, and on the DC side we have the conclusion of the Camelot Falls story. And for the wait, I have the privelege of paying an extra buck or so. Anybody else feel like they're getting ready to bump prices up on us?

I'm also working my way through Alan Moore's From Hell. When I was in middle school, it was something like the centenniel of the Jack the Ripper murders, so for a few weeks it was big news. There was even a made for TV miniseries featuring Michael Caine as Inspector Aberline. Moore's book isn't what I'd describe as an easy read, but I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't say that it wasn't good stuff.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Hey everybody! A slight deviation from my usual ranting and raving about comic books for the almost-generic Thanksgiving post. I may not always be happy with everything in my life, but I want to take the opportunity, on this day especially, of saying how thankful I am for what I do have.

For starters, there are the basics. I've got a roof over my head, and food to eat. For anyone who doesn't know, I work as a Security Officer, and I'm currently working the City of Columbia's emergency homeless shelter so every day I work, I see plenty of people who don't have either for themselves. It's easy, sometimes, to forget how much these things really mean. This is something that I'm generally reminded of for as long as the shelter's in operation, but it seems right that this should be the first thing I'm thankful for.

Secondly, I'm thankful for having someone to share my life with. She's there when it sucks, and she's there when it's great. And even though we argue, she never fails to forgive me.

Thirdly, I'm greatful for the generous and inspiring people I've encountered. If there's one thing I've figured out about life, it's the people around you (both family and friends) that make it worth living. I'm blessed with both, and I'm greatful for that.

I wish everybody a happy and safe Thanksgiving, and a good start to the Holiday Season.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Comic Day 11/21/07

Well, it may be a little later than I intended (I totally blame an impromptu rock-out with my fiancee courtesy of Harmonix's new creation, Rock Band) but it's still Tuesday, which means I've still got time to talk about what I plan to buy tomorrow.

  • BRAVE AND THE BOLD #8 $2.99
  • CHECKMATE #20 $2.99
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #838 (GHUL) $2.99
  • SHADOWPACT #19 $2.99
  • SPIRIT #11 $2.99
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA #32 $2.99
  • INCREDIBLE HULK #111 WWH $2.99
  • SHE-HULK 2 #23 $2.99

The stuff that's on the list is generally pretty solid, with the exception of She-Hulk. Peter David didn't really grab me with his first issue and I don't see a career as a bounty hunter offering as many opportunities to look at the Marvel Universe from a funny place as it did while Jen was a lawyer. Still, I'll give him a second issue to sell me on it.

On a separate list, as a comic I'm ashamed to admit that I intend to buy is:

  • NEW X-MEN #44 MC $2.99
I'll confess that I'll probably be purchasing this entirely due to the big X-Men crossover. Compared to the Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, the X-Men's answering shot Messiah Complex has dug into me with both claws. That would be a lot better if was actually enjoying the Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul, but it has the distinction of being something I'm going to read because it's in titles that are all already on my sub form. If the world were judged solely on quality, I'd drop all my Batman books and re-add them when this drek is over but laziness counts for something. Ra's had a great death, a fitting death, and the void created by his death had been neatly taken up by Talia and Nyssa. I'd complain this whole story undermines the consequence of death in the DC universe, but I wouldn't be able to get halfway through the sentence without laughing. Everybody knows that death in the DC universe amounts to nothing more than a rough shot of bronchitis.

But either way you slice it, Messiah Complex has my attention, so good for it. Let's just see if it can keep it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

On Tony Bedard

I was asked the other day just what I had against Tony Bedard. As I answered, it occurred to me that I may not have ever satisfactorilly answered that question here. So this is the post in which I talk about Tony Bedard.

Now, I don't personally dislike him. I've never met him, so there's nothing in that regard. But my impression of his writing has never been very good.

The first time I encountered Tony Bedard's writing was as a replacement writer for Chuck Austen on Exiles. Now don't think I had any special love for Austen's run on the book. (In all honesty, I think it was worse than Bedard's run.) But at one time, Exiles was a very special book for me. Pretty much all of Winick's original run was a book I looked forward to reading as soon as I could get my hands on it. It was one of the books that I read first.

Bedard's run though, had a total of two issues that I liked. I'll grant, I do absolutely love those two issues. But Tony Bedard's run ran over forty issues. Forty issues, and I can only recall two that I genuinely enjoyed, both of them extremely early in the run. (The issues are Mission: Impossible and the truly noteworthy Rube Goldberg in which the Exiles save the universe by purchasing a cheese danish.) Excepting those two issues, the rest of the run was mediocre or adequate at best, and I'm ashamed that it took me so long to drop the book.

Standing out among those issues of his run on Exiles was a story, and I'll grant that this one probably wasn't really Bedard's idea, where the Exiles travel from one different universe to another, allowing Marvel to handilly renew their copyrights on the New Universe, 2099 Universe and Squadron Supreme universe. The story dragged on, month after month, and was finally the straw that broke my back regarding the book.

But Exiles is only the biggest example. Tony Bedard has signed an exclusive contract with DC, and his track record at his new publisher hasn't impressed me either. He took over Birds of Prey after Gail Simone left the book, and his first issue was thoroughly mediocre. He wrote a single issue of Outsiders, and apparently it left a big enough impression that DC handed the new Batman and the Outsiders title to Chuck Dixon, instead of Bedard, as had previously been announced. (Granted putting Chuck Dixon on a book featuring Batman is as close to a no-brainer decision as one can get.)

Lastly, Bedard is one of the writers on the beleagured Countdown. I don't think I need to tell anybody what I think of that title, do I?

In the interest of fairness, though, I asked my friend to suggest something good that Tony Bedard had writen, and he put forward the Crossgen series Negation. So when I couldn't find any of the book at Ye Olde Comic Shoppe I ordered several issues online.

I like to think that I'm a pretty fair guy, and I'm willing to give him a shot. I'll let everybody know what I think when I've read it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Attention: Chris Sims

I'm not sure how frequently Chris scopes out my blog, but when I saw this ad in a recent issue of GameInformer magazine, I knew he would have to be made aware of it.

A free double-sided Cobra Commander poster (both hooded and helmeted versions, no less) free with the purchase of any GI Joe team shirt. That seems as close to a no brainer as I can see.


Friday, November 16, 2007

New Comic Day 11/14/07

Okay, okay... between work, and my sudden desire to talk about Marvel's digital distribution initiative I didn't get around to saying what I planned to purchase this week. So instead, I'll talk about what I actually did. Here's the high-level score card.

DC: 4 Books
Marvel: 6 Books
Slave Labor Graphics (SLG): 1 Book?
Vertigo: 1 Book

DC saw a decent week with:
  • All Star Superman
  • Nightwing
  • Batman And the Outsiders
  • Titans East Special

My thoughts about DC this week mainly consist of an immense relief that they killed off Power Boy. His Supergirl fetish was seriously over the line as far as being 'apropriate'. A super-hero who's also an obsessed stalker? Great idea, guys! (And yeah, I 'spoiled' it. If you couldn't tell he was getting the axe, then you don't know why he deserved it.)

I thought Fabian Nicieza was an interesting fit for Nightwing, but I have to confess I'm not especially taken with the Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul. I think the biggest reason I'll read it is that it's going to run entirely in books I'm subscribed to.

Batman & The Outsiders was redeemed at the last minute by the simple fact that Tony Bedard isn't writing it. I like me some Chuck Dixon, and at least in the first issue Batman manages to be all business without being a paranoid jerk. So good on you, Chuck.

Marvel was definitely the highlight of my week with:

  • Avengers: The Initiative
  • New Avengers
  • Punisher War Journal
  • Thor
  • World War Hulk
  • X-Factor

I do think I have to ask though... does Marvel pay Bendis specifically to stretch his stories out to a ludicrous extreme? I mean, I feel like there was only half a comic to New Avengers this month. Granted, I think that's actually better than some of the previous issues. And then there's the fact that we've seen more of the Mighty Avengers (aka Tony's Team) in New Avengers than we have in their own title. Pity it seems to only be published quarterly or something.

Punisher War Journal was a blast. Matt Fraction's got a really neat take on Kraven's son, and it's something that's so obvious I have to wonder why nobody thought of it until now. (Unless of course they did, which makes me look a bit foolish.)

World War Hulk wrapped up far better than it had any right to, meaning it's the first current Marvel 'event' comic that I simply can't poke any holes in. It's gamma-powered hide is just too tough and awesome. If you're not checking out World War Hulk (and for that matter, the preceding Planet Hulk) Hulk will SMASH puny humans! (Seriously, it's great stuff.)

Somehow another copy of SLG's Gargoyles #6 worked it's way into my subs. I actually bought this comic about a month ago. I'm guessing it actually sold out or something, requiring another order. But since SLG's titles cross the desk so seldom, I can forgive Ye Olde Comic Shoppe for thinking it's a new release. (It's really my fault for not having paid more attention.) At least this one seems to have corrected the artwork goofs present in the first batch.

And with that, I think I'm heading to bed. It's actually a chill night in South Carolina, and some time under a down comforter is sounding pretty good right now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marvel Takes a Shot at Online Comics

Well, through a work-induced haze I was getting ready to put together my usual suspects as regards to what I expect to shell out my hard-earned cash for when I noticed (on videogame site Kotaku of all places) that Marvel Comics is launching a subscription-based online comic book service.

This kind of thing, as a rule, is much more Jim Shelly's domain than mine, but right off the bat I think I can hazard a guess at two of his criticisms of Marvel's plan.

  1. "Marvel Comics has launched a new subscription service called Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, which allows you to traipse through their back-issues via a web-based browser." - In short, you have to be connected to the internet to read your comics. Do you want to read comics on your laptop while away from internet access? Too bad. You're paying Marvel to read their comics when they say you can. Maybe I'm crazy, but if I'm going to pay for the pleasure of reading Marvel's books (and I'm being sincere here, I genuinely enjoy their comics) I think that it's only fair that I should be able to read them when I, the consumer, want.
  2. "While you won't be able to stay current - it'll be at least six months before new comics are eligible for inclusion in the service - you will be able to catch up with your favorites without having to pay through the nose for back issues." - In short, don't expect to read anything new and exciting through this service. You might get around Marvel's well-placed attacks on your bank account. You can read what everybody was talking about six months ago though... so long as you've got internet access. (Okay, that was a cheap jab at point #1 above, but I still think it was called for.)

I think it's great that Marvel wants to address the growing segment of comic book readers that would like to get some kind of cheaper method of distribution, but this is a half-step at best. It shows the same kind of 'Rights Management' paranoia that's made the RIAA the punchline of so many jokes, while still jealously guarding their monopoly in the comic shop. If you want to read what your friends are talking about right now, you still have to drag yourself down to the store and put your dollars on the counter.

At the risk of plugging him again, Jim Shelly is making a real attempt to prove not only that comic books can be created for a digital format, but he's also trying to show just how it should be done. With Flashback books, you download them and they're yours to read as you please, on any device.

But if you want to read some of Marvel's back-issue catalog digitally, allow me to suggest an alternative. Eagle One Media has produced a selection of DVDs containing massive numbers of Marvel comics viewable as PDF files in Adobe's Acrobat Reader. While I gather that PDFs are distasteful to the online comic scene, they have the distinct advantage of being something that you can read where/when you want.

That counts for something, right?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Heist Books

This month at comic club, we read (and I'd imagine some re-read) Matt Fraction's Last of the Independents. For anyone who hasn't read it, I definitely recommend it. (In fact I'd say that I heartily recommend it, except I'm about the only person who uses the world heartily.) It's a very accessible and easy to read story. (Truth be told you can blow through it very quickly. The story may not have much depth but the characters are fully realized and Kieron Dwyer's art is spot-on perfect for the material.)

I remember one of the things that struck me most solidly was the very fact that it was a heist book. Our protagonists are bank robbers. And after looking at my stack of books this week, I realize that it's not as if that was the only heist story I'm reading.

I'm speaking, of course, of MODOK's 11.

I think that might have to be my pick for the week. It's a tough week to pick a single book though. I mean, we've got the first chapter of Annihilation: Conquest which in which we learn that the High Evolutionary has apparently gotten bored of messing around with Terran species and moved on up to the Kree. Astonishing X-Men deigns to grace us with it's presence. (It's tardiness is only excused by the fact that I'm really enjoying the story.) We've got the early chapters of not just one 'event' but two... one from each of the big two. But for my money, MODOK's 11 was just plain the most fun I had reading this week. That's not to say that The Order was bad... it was great, really great. But there's a sense of fun that I think seems to get lost in a lot of contemporary comics. It's the joy I get in reading Cable/Deadpool. It doesn't take itself too seriously.

It's funny, because early on I think I mentally lumped MODOK's 11 in with Identity Disk. I enjoyed that book, but if you've ever seen The Usual Suspects by Brian Singer, the story beats in ID come just a little too predictably.

Last of the Independents may read a lot like 'old' 70's heist films, as was frequently pointed out at the club meeting, but at a guess I'd say it doesn't take too much inspiration from any single source. That's a lesson Identity Disk should have taken to heart.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Comic Day 11/07/07

In the wake of the $3.99 monsters that came out on Halloween, this installment of New Comic Day looks positively affordable.


ROBIN #168 (GHUL) $2.99
SUPERMAN #670 $3.99

THE ORDER #4 CWI $2.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #492 MC $2.99

And of course both of the big two have an issue of their respective events. Messiah CompleX gets to show me why I should put up with X-Men and New X-Men, while the Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul tries to explain why DC feels the need to undo one of the best deaths in recent comics history. I think both tasks are about equally difficult.

It's no second coming, but I'm glad there's only one $3.99 price tag in there.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

About the DC Infinite Halloween Special

The first thing that needs to be addressed is the monstrous $5.99 price tag. Ouch, DC. A bit much there?

I can't help but feel a bit disappointed by this offering, especially given the monstrous Halloween price tag. (Definitely a trick, I just wish there was more of a treat attached.) I love the set-up, but on the whole it left a bad taste in my mouth.

The set-up is Arkham, on Halloween night. A bunch of the inmates, lead by the Joker are breaking out. They're holed up in a control room waiting for a shift change to let them slip out without triggering any alarms. To pass the time, they tell each other scary stories. It brings to mind the Almost Got 'Im episode of Batman: The Animated Series, one of it's single greatest episodes.

The problem is that most of the stories are just way too short. Now, I love a good anthology format, and shorter stories aren't always a bad thing... but three pages? The end result is that any of the stories that you like are over before you know it. And most of the stories just really failed to impress me.

Of special note, in that regard, is a story that riffs on the classic It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. (It's the Blue Devil/Enchantress story in the book.) It strikes me as one of those ideas that seems absolutely brilliant before you go to bed, but if you take a good look at it under the harsh light of day, you see it's really not as funny as you thought. Here's the gist: stand-ins for a grown Charlie Brown and Linus sacrifice Snoopy (off-panel, thankfully) to summon the Sinister Pumpkin to get their revenge on Danniel Cassidy.

If they hadn't pushed to squeeze 13 stories into one book, there might have been a better outcome. As it stands, the only story that really stands out for me is Phobia recounting how she scared Lobo. Maybe Lobo's fear is well known to folks who've been reading comics longer than I, but I didn't know it, so I got a few chuckles.

All told, I'd rather have my $5.99 back.

Late breaking update - while putting this monster into the database, I noticed that the Sinister Pumpkin story was written by none other than DC EiC, Dan Didio. That explains a few things.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Comic Day - Halloweed Edition - 10/31/07

Welcome to the week of Halloween, in which what looks like a relatively short list contains some nasty surprises in the form of shock and horror at the cover prices I'm likely to pay.

BATMAN #670 $2.99
TRIALS OF SHAZAM #9 (OF 12) $2.99


That's right... apparently 66% of my expected comic purchases are going to be above and beyond the $2.99 mark.


Seven comics are expected to cost me about $30. That's just painful. I might decide to re-think the DC Halloween special, but I have to confess a couple of mitigating factors here:

First off, I love Halloween. I think it's the greatest holiday of the year, from a perspective of pure fun. Christmas is great for loved ones, and reminiscing over the past year (assuming you've got anything worth reminiscing about) but I've got to tell you... it doesn't hold a candle to Halloween for sheer fun.

Secondly, I love holiday-themed comics. I've bought every Marvel and DC Holiday special I've seen since 2004's Marvel Holiday Special which featured J. Jonah Jameson visited by three ghosts in the forms of Captain America, the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing, and everybody's favorite Wall-Crawler as the ghost of Christmas future. This Halloween special would have to be absolutely horrid NOT to get my money.

So, I'm prepared to suffer for my comics this week. I'm just hoping I don't have to suffer through them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Possibly The Coolest Thing Ever

Maybe the fact that I'm fairly new to comics explains why the simple math of Black Bolt + Mind Control = WMD hadn't ever occurred to me before but this image (taken from What If? Planet Hulk, now on sale where Marvel comics are sold) just struck me with awe.

Sentry? Power of a thousand exploding suns? Not much compared to Black Bolt trying to refuse to speak. Too bad his refusal was vocal, eh?

But seriously... What If? Planet Hulk is a great read, and I thoroughly recommend it. Aside from watching Caiera go all, well, for lack of a better word, Hulk on the Earth, there's an awesome story of what might have happened if the Hulk had landed on the peaceful planet Reed promised. And as near as I can tell, everything is written by Greg Pak, who in the past year and a half, has turned the Hulk into something truly great.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Calling Danger Ace! Calling Danger Ace!

When I checked my mail this evening, I was thrilled to find my copy of Danger Ace #0 waiting for me. I've talked to Chad a bit about the 'Ace and I'm glad to say that the finished comic is a great read.

And on top of the story, also included are all of the submissions made for the Small Press Idol contest, and the corresponding Judge's commentaries.

While I'll admit that this is the only book I bought from Small Press Idol, I think it's a shame it didn't nab the top spot. The concept, setting and character relationships are a very refreshing change from most 'heroic' comics.

Thanks, Chad, for a good read!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Comic Day 10/24/07

Here's what I figure I'll be picking up tomorrow:

BLUE BEETLE #20 $2.99
ROBIN #167 $2.99
SUPERMAN #669 $2.99
TEEN TITANS #52 $2.99

DAREDEVIL #101 $2.99
SHE-HULK 2 #22 $2.99
X-MEN #204 $2.99
X-MEN DIE BY THE SWORD #2 (OF 5) $2.99

I'm unsure about this X-Men Die By the Sword thing. I mean, on the one hand it's tugging pretty hard on what's left of my fond memories of Exiles, before the series fell into mediocrity. And I did enjoy New Excalibur... while it lasted, that is. But I'm really thinking to myself... do I need to read this? The answer isn't really coming up 'yes'.

In the meantime, I'm working on page breakdowns for my Flashback Universe story. It's a new experience for me. And while I'm not entirely used to any portion of creating a comic book, at the very least there's a structure to plotting that lends a little comfort, and confidence that I'm heading in the right direction. But breakdowns are entirely new to me, and I haven't really found a guide to them. But so far the feedback I've gotten has been pretty decent so I think I'm doing okay there. And the whole process is much more enjoyable than my 'job' so score another one for me. And a round of thanks to Chad for helping me get a better grip on how the art side of a comic comes about.

Monday, October 22, 2007

For anybody who doesn't know...

I'm trying my hand at actually writing a comic book. Jim Shelly over at Flashback Universe has been good enough to let me try my hand with one or two of his characters. It's proving to be an adventure but I'm loving every minute of it.

I don't think it's much of a secret that my 'day' job is something that I can't really invest any of myself in which makes me happy to have the chance to contribute to the Flashback Universe.

Thanks, Jim!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Something I'm a Bit Excited About

Anybody who's talked to me at any length about comics probably knows that I use a database program purchased off the Internet to help keep things in some semblence of order.

In fact, I try to submit my new comics to the online database, including plot summaries in order to help other folks adding books to their collections. They can just download issues from the database online straight into their own local copy of the database. Until now, this hasn't benefitted anybody who doesn't use the same database program.

Until now.

I was peeking in at the Comic Collector Connect website, which until recently just stored statistical information about the database when I noticed a search box on the left hand side. The online database is now searchable via the web. It's got credit and character listings, and if anyone has submitted it, the plot synopsis as well as cover art. For long-running series it looks like it's only showing the last 49 issues or so, but I still think it's pretty neat. Especially considering the odds are good that any plots you read were my submissions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


My buddy Chad, at his new home, is musing that the mythical holiday of Wednesday sounds less of a sirens' call in his heart.

Wednesday, a mighty day, derived from Wotan's Day... Wotan being another spelling of Odin, the Allfather of the Norse pantheon. (Just as Thursday is derived from Thor's Day.) And how do we show praise and respect for the Allfather? We call it humpday.

Oh, and we buy comics.

New Comic day still feels to me like a small holiday you get once a week. You have to spend money, but the presents are all for you anyway. I love Wednesdays. They're an anchor for my week. (And when your working hours are completely fluid, I've learned that having one day that stays where it's put for another reason helps keep an objective measure of time.) I happen to note every Wednesday that passes, even if I can't make it to my local Comic Shoppe on that day. (If I can't, comic shopping becomes an errand of first opportunity.)

I hope Chad can find his Wednesday magic, but I can understand that as time marches on, bringing inevitable change that all magic fades. I hope he finds something nice waiting for him today. (Or whenever he makes it down to the Dragon.)

And as an addendum to my earlier speculations about my potential purchases, I wasn't aware that the Death of the New Gods was written by the Sterling Jim Starlin. As a man well acquainted with bringing stories of star-gods and cosmic doom I broke a personal vow to avoid anything that connected to Countdown even a little bit. And the first issue was pretty neat.

My condolences to MM for his loss.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Comic Day 10/17/07

CHECKMATE #19 $2.99
FABLES #66 (MR) $2.99
SHADOWPACT #18 $2.99

MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #1 (OF 5) $2.99

I notice that the ratio of Marvel to DC stuff I've been buying has been increasing. This actually doesn't surprise me now as much as it would have a few months ago.

And worth noting, I just saw on Newsarama that Chuck Dixon is replacing Tony Bedard as the writer for the new Batman & The Outsiders title. This news alone may be enough to convince me to pick the first issue up when it hits.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Even A Blind Man Could See...

I recently got a little ragged on for not being personally acquainted with Mr. Matt Murdock, and his very good friend Mr. Frank Miller. Two noted Columbia comics bloggers took me to task for my ignorance of one of Marvel Comics' most notable set of books.

I had some familiarity with Frank's excellent work in superhero comics via The Dark Knight Returns and was also familiar with his recent... eccentricity regarding superhero comics as evidenced in All Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder and The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

I'd heard from multiple sources just how good his run on Daredevil was. (It obviously launched his career, helping propel him to the point that he can pretty much do as he pleases.) But Daredevil had never really appealed to me. I'd thought about looking into the character, and Miller's work on the title, but it never seemed like an urgent thing. But I finally decided to give it a good look. After purchasing and devouring Miller's Born Again story, I decided to go big-time. I found an eBay auction of the Frank Miller/Klaus Janson Daredevil Omnibus, and scooped it up for a little more than half the list price.

I'm certainly not finished with the behemoth, but between it and Born Again, I think I'm starting to change my views on ol' Hornhead. It seems to me that one of the things I like about it is something that's fundamentally Marvel. In one issue, Daredevil has to deal with the Hulk. In this corner, eight hundred pounds of green muscle and rage. And in this corner, a blind man in a red suit. Let's have a clean fight, and no driving city busses into your opponent.

What I'm trying to illustrate here, is that Daredevil's got zero chance of taking the Hulk. None. Not on his very best day, even if it were also the Hulk's very worst. And yet, he refuses to give up, even though the end result is near death... even though he cheats and does in fact hit the Hulk with a city bus.

If this were a Batman story (and Batman is the closest DC analog I can come up with on the spur of the moment) Batman would approach the situation with self-assured confidence. He wouldn't falter, and ultimately there'd be no doubt of the outcome. Batman would find a way to outsmart or outmanuver the Hulk. My impression of most DC characters is that they're seldom outclassed, even the ones without powers. In a situation like this, I'd have very little doubt that Batman would fail and that undermines the storytelling a lot. Daredevil ultimately succeeds only because the Hulk realizes he's nearly killed someone who was trying to help him. I have trouble actually putting that one in the win column for Matt Murdock.

I'm enjoying these 'old' Daredevil stories so much, I think, because it genuinely feels like the outcome is less certain. Oh, sure, there are plenty of situations where I know Daredevil will come out on top... but throwing the Hulk in there helps to show that he's not prepared for everything.

I think I'm going to start looking into the current Daredevil stuff. But I'm definitely going to finish reading that Omnibus.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Comic Day 10/03/07

Well, here's what I anticipate trying to pick up next time I'm able to swing by ye olde Comic Shoppe. I'd be a bit more specific, but I have no clue what the rest of my work schedule looks like. I'm hoping to pick them up tomorrow.

NIGHTWING #137 $2.99

UNCANNY X-MEN #491 $2.99

Holy light week, Batman.

And incidentally... what's up with Cyborg Superman? The guy's been around for years now, and DC Editorial hasn't been able to come up with a better name for him? I'll admit, Hank Henshaw isn't really fear-inspiring... and it doesn't immediately hearken back to the Reign of the Supermen... but at least it's a bit more accurate, isn't it?

Flashback Universe has a Blog!

I doubt I'm telling anybody who doesn't somehow know of the coolness that is Jim Shelley's Flashback Universe. If somehow you don't, there is now a blog that can help illuminate you. There are some great people behind this new comics universe, and it's worth your time to check it out. It's free, so it's not like you can argue with the price.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Unexpected Expense

But this one, at least, is a good one.

You see, I'm a fan of the Anthology in general. A sortof literary smorgasbord of fiction. Not only is it a good medium for untried writers (and in the case of visual fiction like comic books, for artists as well) to produce something, but it's also good for the reader. It helps you sample things and maybe try something new in a small dose.
Anthologies certainly aren't any strangers to serial fiction like comics. I believe some of the earliest comics (including Action Comics and Detective Comics) were originally anthology books that were pretty much swallowed by their most popular respective stories. But even today, Annuals are sometimes produced in anthology format, as are holiday specials. And of course, there's the notion of a 'backup' story which helps titles take a step towards an anthology format, without abandoning their primary focus on one title or set of characters.
Since I've found over the past year that I occasionally love backup stories more than the main event, I'm glad to see a new anthology title that Marvel has apparently comitted to. (One of the stories inside this month's issue of Marvel Comics Presents bills itself as Part 1 of 12.)
So a big thumbs up to Marvel. While I do hope that the book won't consistently run at $3.99 I guess it would be worth it if the page count remains where it is.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Comic Day 9/26/07

Well, once again I find myself on Tuesday night, staring down one more...


What's in store for me?

BATMAN #669 $2.99
BLUE BEETLE #19 $2.99
SPIRIT #10 $2.99 - I think this is toast after Darwyn Cooke leaves.
TEEN TITANS #51 $2.99

CABLE DEADPOOL #45 $2.99 - Stocking up on as much Deadpool as I can get to fill the coming void.
THE ORDER #3 CWI $2.99
X-MEN #203 - Another X-Book bought for the backup story. I shoulda waited for the trade.

I'll grant that feels pretty weighty, but I don't really see anything I can just cut out of there. At least not yet. I know that three of those titles shouldn't plan on sticking around too long.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hulk SMASH lesser comics!

The reading material for the next episode of Comic Club is the incomprehensibly cool Planet Hulk.

I really couldn't be happier.

I was fortunate enough to have already subscribed to The Incredible Hulk via the local comic shoppe before Planet Hulk began. (Peter David's House of M tie-in story had me pretty well hooked.) So today, I've read through Peace in Our Time, the story leading into Planet Hulk, and I've started into the first act of the main event.

I'm trying to think of just why I enjoyed Planet Hulk as much as I did. I think that part of it comes from watching the Hulk fall into a Conan story. The massive, physically powerful character follows the progression that the Cimmerian long since carved into stone, transforming from slave, to gladiator, to rebel, to finally King. But through it all, we're not in the head of a savage barbarian from this fantastic world... we're in the head of a monster from our world. We see things more as he would see them. But like Conan, the Hulk isn't out to be a hero to the planet Sakaar. He hasn't set out to save it's people. His is a mission of vengeance, first against the Red King for hurting him, and afterwards on the heroes of Earth for the destruction of the peace he had found in Sakaar.

I think the second reason I find Planet Hulk so satisfying is that culturally I think we see the Hulk as less of a character, and more of an obstacle or a force of nature. He has a worse reputation than the X-Men and Spider-Man put together, but he deserves it. Where the Hulk goes, destruction inevitably follows. It's nice to see him as the driver of events. And even though World War Hulk returns him to being the obstacle, or the disaster, he's still moving events forward.

Thanks for giving me something worth reading, big guy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Secret Infinite Final Civil War Crisis on Infinite Earths Wars

I got to thinking about big 'event' comics the other day, and the differences between the way Marvel and DC tackle them.

It all sprang with me trying, again, to pin the tail on why I've found DC to be so disappointing. And mentally, I figure I trace the beginnings of my disappointment back to the end of Infinite Crisis. And the conclusion I think I've come to is this: It doesn't feel like we're getting stories out of DC that could only be told after Infinite Crisis.

Maybe it's just my opinion, but I kindof feel that if you're going to have a massive event for the reason of making massive changes to the status quo then you should follow two fairly important rules:

  1. Have the changes make sense within the context of the story being told.
  2. Ensure that the stories following the event are impacted in some way by the event.

The two most recent, completed events we have to look at are Infinite Crisis and Civil War. Of the two, I liked Infinite Crisis better as a story. But in a turnaround, I'm of the opinion that Civil War was a more successful crossover in regards to it's effects on the status quo.

The events of Infinite Crisis had Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime conspiring to destroy the DC Universe to form it into something they felt would be better. The feeling was that the DC Universe had be come too dark and grim, losing sight of the good and hopeful outlook DC has traditionally held. The powers that be wanted the DC Universe to be a place for heroes again. And yet take a look at Bard Meltzer's first six issues of Justice League of America... Red Tornado tears Solomon Grundy to bits... on panel, very graphically. On top of that, there were a bunch of other changes made with little explanation or use. We know that Bullock's a cop again, and that Jim Gordon has been called out of retirement as Commissioner. We don't even know why these things are the case really. Or at least, I don't. Continuity gaffes and sloppy fact checking seem to abound in the current DC Universe.

The Marvel Universe is a pretty stark contrast. Civil War was a decent story, and a really nifty idea that felt to me like it was adapted to fit an editorial mandate to shake things up a bit. There's nothing wrong with that... things need to be shaken up now and again. And while I didn't like the story in Civil War as much, and it seemed to me that several of the key players were a fair bit off character... I do have to say that Civil War has had definite impact on the Marvel Universe. And it's an impact that you feel almost everywhere. Every hero in the Marvel Universe had to choose a side, and it's messed with all of their relationships with one another. And, outside of the X-Men books, the stories that I'm reading could not have happened without the Civil War. Spider-Man's a desperate fugitive because of Civil War. The New Avengers are forced to hide and keep a low profile because of Civil War. Iron Man's the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Cap's dead because of Civil War. The Initiative and New Warriors are directly spun out of Civil War. I just feel a lot more energy and excitement in the Marvel Universe coming out of Civil War than I feel at all in the DC Universe.

I was a DC fan first. I want to be a DC fan. But I have to agree with those who say that the DC Universe post-Infinite Crisis just doesn't make as much sense as it should.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Comic Day

That greatest of days of the week has rolled around again. And since I got off work yesterday, this is like Saturday for me, which makes it even better. What's Jason anticipating laying down his hard-earned scratch for this week, gentle reader?

I think something like this:

  • BIRDS OF PREY #110 $2.99 - On the chopping block, now that the title is sans Gail Simone
  • CHECKMATE #18 $2.99
  • ROBIN #166 $2.99
  • SHADOWPACT #17 $2.99
  • NEW X-MEN #42 $2.99 - I still feel dirty for paying money for this
  • WORLD WAR HULK #4 (OF 5) WWH $3.99

And I may cave to peer pressure, and pick up a Daredevil trade. A couple of friends were nudging me rather insistently in that direction. Admittedly, a blind guy who kicks all 31 flavors of ass probably deserves watching. I've just never read any of the stories that really made the character. I guess it's at least partly a question of whether to buy trades as I find them, or hunt down and find a way to take this monster home.

On one other topic, I've heard that Exiles will be closing it's doors at issue #100. While I'd really like to say something like the series was cut short, or deserved better, the last truly enjoyable and memorable issue of Exiles that I ran was #54, in which the Exiles save an entire universe with... I kid you not... a cheese danish. How many super-teams can make that claim?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Another Countdown Blurb

Even though I dropped the book, apparently I can't stop talking about it.

A quote from Dan Didio (courtesy of Newsarama):

The second one – the illness of Karate Kid, and his search to find a cure. That’s also going to take us on a key road that is integral to so much that goes on in Final Crisis also, but there is a definite resolution to his story in this book too.
As someone who dropped Justice League of America until Brad Meltzer left the book, and didn't feel much more for Geoff Johns' revitalized Justice Society, I read none of the Lightning Saga... which is where, to my understanding, a great deal of the Karate Kid story has it's roots.

The problem is that almost none of it was explained within the pages of Countdown. How is he sick? What are his symptoms? Why didn't he make an appointment with Dr. Mid-Nite like the rest of the DC Universe? (Was he too busy, aherm, 'examining' Power Girl again or something?)

As someone who only read what was published within Countdown of this story, I knew almost nothing relating to it. That's kindof a problem.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DC... Done Right?

I've been pretty down on DC lately. A fan could almost thing that those letters stand for "Don't Care". Look at the mess that the Superman titles have been for the past few months. Look at the fill-ins on Detective Comics and Batman, preventing those from being easy series' to recommend. And look at the nonsensical violence of Meltzer's first arc on Justice League of America, prompting almost everyone I know to drop it like... well, like something you drop urgently.

And let's not even talk about Countdown. It's too soon.

So I can't tell you how thrilled I am to come across DC books that I can't help but rave about.

I know I've talked about Brave And The Bold, so I'll wait until the next story arc on that one comes out to start crowing.

But let's talk about the Blue Beetle. As I've been telling almost anybody who'll listen, I think that the new Blue Beetle fills the 'Spider-Man' niche in the DC Universe. He's a high-school aged kid who doesn't really understand his powers, but is determined to use them to help others. Almost all of the characters (including the teenage sidekicks) in the DC Universe seem, to me, to have this air of immense confidence. I can only think of two who don't... Jaime Reyes and Jimmy Olsen. I don't know what's up with 'Mr. Action' but Jaime's struggling just as hard to make sense of his life as he does against the villains he fights. I think it's good to see that somebody in the DC Universe doesn't really know what they're doing. It gives hope to the rest of us.

And the second book I want to talk about is the new Booster Gold series. Booster went through a transformation in 52. I admit... I bought it. I thought he was toast. But the first two issues of the new series are giving me a tremendous respect for the character. Why? I'm glad you asked.

  • Booster's going to undertake a mission that the rest of the Multiverse can never, ever know about. Never. He can't take the credit for saving the day. He can't use it to get a lucrative endorsement deal. Nada. Nobody can ever know what he's doing. Which leads into bullet point #2.
  • Booster has to continue to look like the biggest, most self-aggrandizing, self-promoting jerk in the DC Universe. He can't even act like a competent hero. He has to publically act like the old Booster so that nobody would ever suspect him of doing anything great. He can't even show his contemporaries that he's taken his life as a super-hero seriously.
  • He's acting like a true hero. In the second (and current) issue, he manages to accomplish his goals in a truly heroic fashion. I'll grant, it's a method that has fallout, but for the first time in what feels like forever, a conflict in the DC universe was resolved through means OTHER than violence. I like violence, don't get me wrong... but sometimes something else is nice. You know, for a change.

I initially dismissed this book. Yet another attempt to cash in on 52's reputation. (And honestly, World War III did enough of that, thank you very much.) My buddy Chad told me about the first issue, and I picked it up at his recommendation. And I'm glad he recommended it.

I've tried to avoid spilling any details, but the book's playing out a bit like Quantum Leap. It was a good enough concept for Judd Winick to create the Exiles, after all. The first issue is a $3.99 title, but it's worth any two issues of Countdown... so it's still a value!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post Interrupted

I was working on another post yesterday. I was about to sit down and return to it, when I stumbled across this -- the trailer for the forthcoming Iron Man movie.

It plays out remarkably like the footage I had described to me that appeared briefly online following San Diego ComiCon.

I'd like to say that while I'm not a huge fan of Tony Stark, but this was a seriously awesome trailer, and has me very excited about the movie. Awesome!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Day Note? Night Note?

Hey folks!

I'm a bit frzzled after finding myself on the business end of three very empty nights of 'work'. I use the quotes because I wasn't actually required to do anything. But night shifts mess me up so I'm not entirely sure if I should be considering it night or day at this point.

I was surprised to find that my original pick won Who Wants to Be a Superhero. I'm not used to being good at that sort of thing, and my main choice from last season didn't make it into the final two. So I was kindof shocked when the Defuser walked away with the action figure & comic book. All in all, I thought it was pretty good for a second season, but I thought that the people from the first season were, generally, a bit more interesting. This is frightening in a group that included Cell Phone Girl, but hey... what do you want?

Three DC titles got the axe last week. As previously announced, I cancelled my sub to Countdown. I also dropped Action Comics and Outsiders. DC is certainly doing their best to convert me into a Marvel reader. There are a few monthlies with real quality ... but since you can't guarantee that the quality writer is writing it from month to month, even those runs are tainted.

Ah well... we'll see what tomorrow holds.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Comic Club: The Confession

Well, last night was the first comic club I'd managed to attend for a few months.

On the chopping block was Marvel's Civil War. The book definitely provoked a lot of heated discussion due to the inconsistent ways that it handles characters. (That was definitely something that held the event back for me.)

I mean, there's the whole Clor thing... in what universe would Reed Richards think that was a good idea? It's got Tony Stark acting more like Batman for having underhanded plans on dealing with his friends and allies. And I'd think Hank Pym would've learned his lesson about creating things he can't control with Ultron. But I have to agree with what I felt some of the consensus was around Cap, in that he wasn't acting like the super-hero Captain America. He was acting more like Cap from the Ultimates, more like a soldier.

On the whole, I do have to judge the book a success... but not due to it's own quality. It was stated that when considering the story's quality, you have to look at all of the stories that have spun out of it. And that's a point I have to concede. But it's also a success in an editorial way. It shook up the status quo of the Marvel Universe and didn't put it right back. But I can't help but wonder just how long it'll stay this way. I mean, in the Endangered Species backup that's proceeding throughout the X-Books for the past few months, we're already working at opening the 'mutant' floodgates again. How long will the new status quo last, with only a few writers really sticking with it?

Who knows? But I'm psyched for next month's comic club. Planet Hulk is the book, and it was a thoroughly awesome read the first time through. I don't have any complaints with reading that one again.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I think that about wraps it up for Countdown

Countdown is, at best, tiresome.

I'm a huge fan of Paul Dini, but I can't possibly imagine how he could be behind this horrible, horrible mess. I'm going to get a bit longwinded with a commparison here, but bear with me. I think it's relevant.

With whatever other qualms anybody might have had with Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, my biggest problem with the movie was the climax. George Lucas had us following four plot threads at once.

  • Little Anakin flying a fighter
  • Cool Jedi lightsaber fight
  • Princess Amidala fighting for her throne
  • Gungans vs. Robots

My problem was this was that you didn't follow any one part of the story long enough for it to make an impact. And the one part that everybody really wanted to see (Jedi on Sith lightsaber action) was over too quick, and then you were forced to watch something that, comparatively, sucked.

The reason for this comparison is that it describes the main problem with Countdown beautifully.

We're about 17 weeks into the Countdown (soon to be retitled to Countdown to Final Crisis) and what's actually happened in the book? This is a legitimate point to assess it... we're a third of the way there, more or less. Here are the plot threads in the book, as near as I can rattle them off my head:

  • Jimmy Olsen has SUPER-POWERS!
  • Mary Marvel's a witch!
  • Piper & Trickster are living a buddy-movie
  • Bob & Jason & Donna get lost (And Ryan's a bug)
  • Holly Robinson gets her Amaz-on
  • Karate Kid and Friend
  • and very seldom, Death of the New Gods

Now there may be more that I've missed, but I'm only interested in reading two of those stories at the moment. (For the record, the search for Ray Palmer, and the Death of the New Gods) But how much schlock do I have to wade through each week to get perhaps two or three pages of what I'd actually LIKE to read? And of the stories I find interesting, when I get them, there's never enough space to live up to their potential.

I'm done with Countdown. I may not manage to dodge the next issue next week due to my work schedule, but I'm dropping a cancellation notice on my next trip to the Dragon.

Countdown aborted.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

'Weird Al' Concert Aftermath

Well, much to my own surprise, we actually made it up to Carowinds to see Weird Al, and I have to say that the man can put on one heck of a show.

He opened up with Polkaramal, his latest Polka medley before tearing off into an impressive selection of his more recent material, with a few of his older gems smattered here and there.

Most of his most recent album Straight Outta Lynwood was represented in some way or another, and the best tracks of the album were played in full. Al and his band performed a medley of songs, most of which were on his last album Poodle Hat. Each song was given about a minute and half or so, and included the tracks eBay, Ode to a Superhero, Couch Potato and A Complicated Song. One of the more amusing moments in the selection was a new verse for his song Headline News (a parody of the only memorable song by the Crash Test Dummies, Mmm-Mmm-Mmm-Mmm) detailing Paris Hilton's arrest for a DUI.

A bunch of his hit songs got the full treatment, including (in no particular order) Fat, It's All About the Pentiums, Amish Paradise, Smells Like Nirvana, The Saga Begins, Yoda, White & Nerdy and others. He and the band were constantly changing costumes between songs, for the big numbers. All told, the show was about two hours long, and thoroughly rocked. At least if you're a fan of Weird Al. I would've liked to see a bit more of his older material, but the man can only be asked to perform for so long, and with a younger audience, he's probably going to hilight the songs they're more likely to recognize.

Between the songs, during the costume changes old Al TV segments were shown, and he played an extended version of Albuqurque as an encore. An awesome, awesome show!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Who Wants To Be A Superhero

After watching two episodes of the show, I'm of the opinion that none of the characters this go around have the presence of some of last year's entrants. (I was a big fan of Feedback, Major Victory, Ty'Veculus and Monkey Woman.) I kindof want to like The Defuser, but knowing that there's a 'mole' in the cast makes me more and more suspicious that he's the one. He's been taking charge from the start, and I wouldn't be surprised if he turns out to be Stan's undercover man.

Most of the characters this year make me wince. Parthenon is the biggest offender in that regard. I'm not bothered by the concept of a homosexual superhero, but his wealth of 'catch-phrases' just made my teeth grind. Ms. Limelight seems more like she's interested in being in a reality show than in crafting a superhero character. And Mr. Mitzvah is more of a caricature than a character.

At this point, I think I'd have to say that my favorites are The Defuser, who I suspect of being Stan's undercover agent, Basura, and Hyperstrike.

Hyperstrike, at least, apparently watched the last season of the show and saw the episode where Ty'Veculus didn't care for his costume change. Figuring he'd score some points with Stan, he admitted right out that he wasn't crazy about the costume change, but agreed to give it time to see if his opinion changed. At the elimination last year, Ty'Veculus was called out for not having been up front with Stan about not liking his costume. This year, Stan called out Hyperstrike for not liking it. Stan, you wacky old man... I guess for creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, we'll let you have it both ways.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Deadshot's a p-i-m-p!

Deadshot's so smooth he cops a feel even while shooting up the Iceberg Lounge. I have a new role model, folks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Conan, What is good in life?

Yeah, the lamentation of your enemies women is pretty good... but even better is recovering the comic book database you slaved over for the past year.

Or, close enough. I got a backup from about a month and a half ago. (June 7, before HeroesCon 2007.) All of the cover images are gone... those are separate files. But I can download those again. I can try to reason out what I got from HeroesCon 2007. The prices won't be there, but I should be able to cobble something together.

Either way, I'm breathing a little easier now, from the first time I had to put up with this mess.

And thanks to those who posted comments, and set e-mails of support. My PC's had a stroke, but it looks like it's going to be okay.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lamentation, and the Gnashing of Teeth

My mighty PC threw a rod this morning, and the hard drive was a casualty. Total loss. My comic book database is now... no more. This makes me particularly sad, since I'd cataloged which books I had obtained at the past two years of HeroesCon.

I'll be able to figure some of that out as I rebuild it, I know... but I'll miss being able to count those items among the various sources I use for my books.

Now, I'm just waiting for the company that created the software to help me out a bit. I need to reinstall the software, and now I don't have my activation key.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

In Defense of Judd Winick

At least here in South Carolina, I haven't sensed much love for Judd Winick as a comic writer. In fact, most of what I can recall hearing is how awful he is, and how he's ruining Captain Marvel. I'm going to go on the record here...

I don't see it.

About a year ago, maybe a bit more, I set up a database to help keep track of my comics. As I entered, one of the things I started to do was to pay a little more attention to who wrote things that I liked. One of the names that came up? Judd Winick. So I'm here to say that on the whole, I think he's a pretty fair writer. He's no Alan Moore, but I've really enjoyed most of what I've written that has his name on it.
So here are a few things I like about Judd Winick:
1) Exiles - The first 25 issues of Exiles are still some extremely enjoyable comics. Crossing the X-Men with Quantum Leap, the book introduces myriad versions of the Marvel Universe that have gone astray, and the characters are tasked with correcting each one in it's turn before moving on to the next.

I can't say for certain that I know he came up with the concept... but the series was very strongly written. Covering scenarios that included The Trial of the Phoenix gone wrong, an Earth that has been under the yolk of Skrull domination for over a century, Iron Man conquering the world, and a world where the Avengers were all vampires, there was a sense that this book could go in any direction at any time. The book had infinite possibilities. Chuck Austen, and later Tony Bedard's runs on the book eroded my love of it though, and ultimately the "Worlds Tour" storyline, which seemed largely to be just an excuse to refresh copyrights on the New Universe and Counter-Earth finally killed my desire to read it. Judd Winick made this book great.

2) The return of Jason Todd - There are a lot of folks, I know, who don't approve of this former Robin being back from the dead, but I actually like Jason where he's at now. He's a character who can get under Batman's skin even more than the Joker, because Batman's responsible for him.

I enjoyed Jeph Loeb's 'Hush' story, but I felt that it chickened out in the last couple of issues. Near the end of the story, they revealed that the mystery villain Hush was actually Jason Todd returned from the dead. They chickened out and made it Clayface, but apparently Judd Winick thought that having Jason back would mess with Batman in some pretty cool ways, and ran with the idea.

I would like to state that I think 'Superboy Prime punching the walls of reality' was a pretty lame way to bring him back. But moving past that, I think the character's got some interesting potential, and is one of the few people who can really get under Batman's skin.
Alright, those might only be two reasons, but to me they're two pretty compelling ones. Honestly, Exiles enough was enough for me. While Winick was writing it, Exiles was always #1 on my 'to read' list. Outsiders has meandered a bit, but I'm willing to give it a look post-CheckOut. I don't think he's the second coming, but I'll stand up and say that I've enjoyed some of what he's written, and enjoyed it fairly consistently.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Non-Comic Related Post Warning!

On my way to work yesterday, I learned that "Weird Al" Yankovic is coming close to my neck of the woods. He's got a show scheduled Saturday, 8/4 at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I've been a fan for the past 26 years or so. I heard "Eat It", back at the dawn of time when Michael Jackson was still:
  • cool
  • human
  • non-albino
In some form or another, I've owned pretty much every original album he's produced. I haven't gone back to buy things like the food album, or his boxed set... but believe me when I say I've got a LOT of "Weird Al". And while I may not have loved Straight Outta Lynnwood as much as I loved Running With Scissors, it still brought me many laughs.

So I've bought my tickets. Row 10. Score!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revenge of the Backup Story

I confess... I sortof glossed over my first experience with a backup story. It's true. I didn't read what I'm sure were great stories in the Batman: Black & White backups of a few years ago. I didn't really follow Josie Mac's backups... in fact, if it was a backup in one of the Bat-books at DC, I ignored it for a long time. I was reading the books for the main story, right?

And, gentle reader, this is where I pay for my errors in judgement.

When I first started getting into comics about seven or eight years ago, I burned myself out fast on X-Men titles. I bought almost anything with the letter 'X' in the title, convincing myself it was a mark of quality. Poor deluded fool that I was. So to this day, I'm still not usually keen on the X-Books. There have been gems, like New X-Men: Academy X... then they stripped all of the charm from the book, injected a female Wolverine clone, making the book (now just 'New X-Men') dead to me, for all intents and purposes.

Which is why I feel rather disturbed that I purchased it this week for the first time in 18 months.

Why would I knowingly purchase a title that I know is nowhere near something I would enjoy? Because the Endangered Species backup story has me hooked.

I'd stopped buying 'adjectiveless' X-Men a year ago, mostly because Chris Bachalo's art made my eyes want to bleed. (Hey, personal taste here. I'm not trying to say his art is bad, just that I don't care for it. What do I know, I liked Kia Asamiya's 'manga-ized' art.) I bought #200 because it seemed that the comics world would come to an end unless every comic book reader bought it. The issue was alright, and the art wasn't quite so bad as I remembered back in #188 but the part that stood out the most for me was the backup story with Beast. The next two parts were in titles I was already subscribed to, Uncanny X-Men, and X-Factor so I got those auto-magically. But now it seems I'm going to be roped into continuing to purchase X-Men. I don't mind that one so much... but I feel dirty, or guilty for having purchased New X-Men.

Maybe next time around I'll remember just to ignore the main story and go straight for the backup. That is, unless Endangered Species gets a lot worse than it looks like it will.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Transformers: The Movie

Having finally picked up this movie on DVD, I was viewing it a bit earlier and noticed that Marvel seemed to be involved in it's production. This isn't really a surprise, as Marvel had the comics license at the time, and I believe was also involved in the production of the cartoon.

But it got me thinking...

I could honestly have seen this story originally proposed as a story arc for the Transformers comic in the Marvel Universe. Let's see... aside form our usual antagonists in the form of the Decepticons, we have a new, massive antagonist with immense power that consumes entire planets to provide the energy it needs to survive.

Does that sound familiar to anybody? Galactus has immense cosmic powers that we know he can bestow upon other beings, so the small matter of rearranging a few robots into more powerful configurations (IE, Galvatron, and his new Decepticons) would be a small matter.
I'll grant, there aren't any of the other staples of a Marvel tie-in, but I think that the similarities between Unicron and Galactus are too powerful to just ignore. Especially considering the fact that we're never given an explanation of why the Autobots Matrix of Leadership was able to defeat Unicron.
And in all honesty, wouldn't it be cool to see the Autobots and Decepticons unite to confront the threat of Galactus? Heck, you could even have thrown some Spaceknights in there too. Who knows... maybe Cybertron will show up somewhere in Annihilation: Conquest.

Monday, July 9, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Similar...

Anybody that knows me in a comic-book capacity has heart me rave about my neighbor Chad Bowers' entry in the Small Press Idol 2007 competition. That entry is now taking orders.

Now, it's easy to support something when the only cost is a few seconds of time. But this round, I gather, votes are counted in dollars. Danger Ace #0 is available for order in the link above. The book's going to be $3.50, and shipping almost doubles it... but a vote for Danger Ace is a vote for Giant Zombie Gorillas.

And I think I can safely say that the only thing cooler than Giant Zombie Gorillas are Zombie Pirate Trolls. I don't see a comic about them yet, so darn it, buy Danger Ace #0.

That is all.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

My Top Five Skrulls

My friend Chad wanted me to list my top five Skrull picks tonight, as my fiancee and I ate dinner with he and his wife. I declined to play the game over dinner, primarily to give me time to actually come up with most of my picks. So here we go...

1) Reed Richards - I think that the former leader of the Fantastic Four is a Skrull for multiple reasons. For starters, I think that there has to be a highly placed Skrull, trusted by the government, helping to form it's recent policy decisions related to super-humans. The first instinct is to scream Iron-Man... but I think that's too easy an answer. But Reed was there with Tony, every step of the way. The Skrulls are very familiar with Reed, which would assist them in replacing him, and his behavior, especially in regards to the Civil War, really seems to be pretty far out for his character. Add onto this, that we know Skrull scientists can grant Skrulls his elasticity, and I think there's a fair argument that makes him my number one pick as a Skrull in the Marvel Universe. Chad disagrees, but I've got to go with my gut.

Heck, if this cover alone doesn't condemn him, I don't know what does!

2) Charles Xavier - After Wanda Maximoff destroyed the House of M reality with those three now-infamous words, the founder of the X-Men dropped off the face of the Earth. He finally shows up when Gabriel Summers is revealing the truth of his existence, and Xaviers actions to his brothers. He did not contact any of his friends, colleagues or former pupils at the school, but silently showed up apparently out of nowhere.

And when he does return, he decides to lead a contingent of X-Men into space on an errand destined to bring strife to the Shi'ar Empire. And what's more, until being lost in the M'kraan crystal with Darwin, he no longer had any powers.

Due to his time with the Illuminati, as well as the X-Men's own actions, he is known beyond Earth, leaving me with a strong belief that he is a Skrull. He even left Earth to train a group of Skrull Mutants once. The Skrull-lover!

3) Dr. Strange - I know, I'm picking on the Illuminati awfully hard... but it seems to me that Dr. Strange is another character we lost sight of, and who has popped up without much explanation of why he's doing what he's doing.

The last time we saw someone I'm confident was the real Dr. Strange, he was meditating in one of the polar regions, hoping that the Civil War in the Marvel Universe would come to a peaceful conclusion. We all know how well that turned out. But now, the good Doctor is aiding the underground remnants of the New Avengers, contrary to his former member of the Illuminati, Tony Stark's wishes. We haven't been given a reason for his complicity with the New Avengers, or even a reason that he's allowing them to crash at his pad. If I were leading a Skrull invasion of the Marvel Universe, I'd be trying to place agents at or near the heads of all factions. I think that with the massive dependence of the New Avengers on Dr. Strange for a base of operations, as well as other assistance, that he'd be a prime target for Skrullification.

4) Apocalypse - I know it's been awhile since we've seen ol' Pokey-Lips but it seems to me that last time we saw him, he was definitely behaving a little oddly. Trying to unite Mutant-kind under him? Acting like a Mutant Messiah? Cutting in on Cable's racket? That definitely seems a bit odd to me.

Either way, Apocalypse is usually a pretty heavy player with the Mutant side of the Marvel Universe. And to see him act against form stuck out in my mind. I'll grant, I'm also reaching for people who are not, and never have been members of the Illuminati, so Apocalypse may be a bit of a reach... especially considering that he hasn't been active since before the latest & greatest crossover... but who knows. Occasionally that shot in the dark hits something.

5) Captain America (Steve Rodgers) - For my fifth pick, I relented to the Cynic that dwells deep within my heart. But I'm not suggesting that the Steve Rodgers that has been shown to be dead is a Skrull.

I'm suggesting that sometime in the not-too-distant future, before all of this mess with Skrulls has finished, Captain America will return with a pretty fair explanation as to why he isn't really dead. THAT Captain America, I think, will be a Skrull. Marvel will be able to sell us on his death, then on his return, and lastly on his true identity as a Skrull. There's an overwhelming desire on the part of heroes in the Marvel Universe to trust Captain America. I think that it's a dangerous impulse, and again, if I were leading a Skrull invasion of Earth, I think it's one that I'd try to take advantage of any way that I could.

But who knows... maybe *I'm* the Skrull!