Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 48

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: iTunes reviews, mentor/protege writing teams, America, Justice Society of America #50, Secret Avengers #12.1, Avengers #12.1, Batman #708-709, Batman, Incorporated #5 and Detective Comics #876, and the LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 48 HERE!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

CBR Review: Avengers #12.1

I recently reviewed Avengers #12.1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Avengers #12.1 is the first ‘point one’ comic that seems like Marvel went out of its way to provide a special issue meant to wow any new readers who happened to pick it up. That’s not to say that other issues didn’t put forth good efforts, but 30 pages of story with no ads screams ‘Trying to win over new readers’ a whole lot more than anything the other ‘point one’ issues have done. That doesn’t make the story intrinsically better than those found in other ‘point one’ issues, but it does provide a glimpse into what the program possibly should have been like from the get-go."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (April 28 2011)

Jays game on. Distracted.

Batman, Incorporated #5: "Oh, so that's not Azrael on the cover..." Someone said this. Somewhere. [***3/4]

Captain America #617: Oh. It was Gyrich. That explains it. [***1/2]

Detective Comics #876: How long ago was "No Man's Land" exactly? [***1/2]

The Mighty Thor #1: Was there a plot here? Anyone? There were some nice moments, some nice pieces that could form a plot, but... was there an actual fucking plot here? Some nice art. [**3/4]

RASL #10: I genuinely enjoy the wide open pacing/art on this comic. It's so laid back. [***1/2]

Scalped #49: "I'm in. I'm up his ass." [****]

Secret Avengers #12: Oh. It was mind control. Lame. [*1/2]

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #6: Two weeks later... the weakest issue of the series to date. A bunch of fragments that didn't really add up -- and the comic just kind of ends. I turned the page and went "Oh? It's over? Really?" [***]


28: Fear and Self-Loathing (Why Children Should or Maybe Shouldn't Read Marshal Law)

For me, Marshal Law has always been a part of comics. Just like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Born in 1983 to a dad that would buy these comics when they came out meant that, as a child, they were there. Some may debate the suitability of these books, especially Marshal Law on a small child, but that seems to be missing the point. Who cares about the violence and nudity and swearing? To focus on those elements is to miss the obvious effect that that comic had on me (along with the other two books I mentioned, but won’t really discuss because they’ve been discussed to death): it helped shape my perception of the superhero genre as much as comics featuring Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Thor, and the rest. On one side, you have the status quo, the love, the reverence, the fanboy lifestyle; on the other, you have cheap jokes, deconstruction, and hate. I still haven’t quite figured out how to reconcile the two.

Is it possible to separate Superman from the Public Spirit in my mind? It’s not like the Public Spirit is what I think of first when I think of Superman. Consciously, I never really connect the two except through the Public Spirit. The Public Spirit leads to Superman, not the other way around. Consciously. But, listen to me discuss the Man of Steel and the influence of the Public Spirit is obvious. My oh so witty mockery, my lack of reverence, my inability to take him seriously, my insistence on focusing on the hypocrisy and failings of the character... That sense of betrayal when I think of the potential to progress beyond the futile, stupid limitations that both the company and the fans want to keep him in as a simplistic mythic status quo figure content to exist in a cycle of awe and hate, falling more and more out of touch while his supporters talk about the timeless quality of the character, of how he rises above fashion and zeitgeist.

What I really brush back against is giving that much importance and love to a fucking superhero comic character.

And, yet, I love superhero comics. They occupy a big part of my life. My weekly trip to the comic shop is based around them. Physically, they take up a somewhat large space in my apartment. I have my favourites and I follow their adventures with an odd loyalty that disgusts me sometimes. I don’t have any problem with loving the writing of an author (whether in comics or not) or an artist... or a musician or filmmaker... but, the idea of following a fictional character and investing emotion into it. Of being content to simply follow its adventures, good and bad, to receive joy from the chance to watch it happen. My first reaction at that idea is to take a step back and just shake my head like I somehow know better and the mere idea is too stupid to even mock. It’s beyond mockery, it’s so stupid on the surface that words are unnecessary. But, that’s bullshit, of course. You don’t stick with a (sub)genre this long without some serious affection. It’s not just comics. I love comics, sure, but I love superhero comics. I also find them inane, juvenile, frustrating, and unfulfilling. I get my thrills when the icons of them are broken down and put on display for the ridiculously immature power fantasies that they really are. Take a step back and giggle at the men in their underwear, right?

Reading Marshal Law and the various comics that follow it, it’s easy to see the influence these comics have on me. The good Marshal is, after all, a superhero comic reader who hates superhero comics and fellow superhero comic readers. His anger at the Public Spirit is that of a boy who idolised him grown into a man who sees through him, how his image is nothing more than something used to lead impressionable youths into death and twisted lives of violence and loneliness and stunted growth. Marshal Law struggles with the idea that he hates superheroes and is one. That he hunts superheroes and, in his daily life, works to help them in a hospital. He’s a string of contradictions, unable to ever truly embrace either side. Because, dammit, it’s hard to. It’s easy to look at the absurdities of superheroes, point your finger, and snicker. It’s hard to embrace that passion inside that draws you to them for reasons you don’t want to admit. So, I wind up running between the two camps depending on the day. Neither one suits me entirely. But I think I know which one ultimately wins out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

CBR Review: Malignant Man #1

I recently reviewed Malignant Man #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Somewhere in this comic is a good idea. Man gets cancer, later finds out that that’s a good thing and gives him powers of some kind? That has potential. Unfortunately, Malignant Man squanders all of it by presenting a by-the-notes rundown of this sort of story: man seem hopeless, inciting incident occurs, mysterious bad guys want him dead, he’s rescued by even more mysterious do-gooder who knows all about him and will reveal all in a shocking manner. It’s clichéd, uninspired storytelling coupled with clunky, laughable dialogue, and art that’s too good for what it has to draw."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, April 25, 2011

CBR Review: Deadpool MAX #7

I recently reviewed Deadpool MAX #7 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The team of David Lapham and Kyle Baker continually produce one of the funniest and best comics Marvel publishes in Deadpool MAX, and the seventh issue shows why. The juxtaposition of Baker’s hyperrealistic art and Lapham's absurd writing creates a tension that drives the book forward. Here, it’s the delusions of Deadpool about being a husband and father, and his wife’s mental breakdown as she shifts from a parody of Domino to a parody of the Black Widow."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CBR Review: Avengers #12

I recnetly reviewed Avengers #12 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "From there, though, the issue improves with a fun sequence of the Red Hulk using the Power Gem to pummel the Hood and chase him through various alternate realities like the Marvel Zombies world or the Ultimate Universe. Unfortunately, these incursions into other worlds are relegated to background art from comics showcasing those worlds and without any interaction with the characters. Still, as far as chase scenes go, it’s a good one and the frantic, clumsy look of the Red Hulk trying to smash the Hood while he frantically flees is handled perfectly by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, April 18, 2011

CBR Review: Doc Savage #13

I recently reviewed Doc Savage #13 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Known for his art, J. G. Jones takes over the writing duties of Doc Savage with this month’s issue and his adoration of the character and his roots show through. After an involved story arc that was both personally motivating for Doc Savage and allowed a broader view of the 'First Wave' world, Jones goes for a more basic adventure approach. It’s globetrotting and mummies for Doc and company, but that feels empty and without purpose. Things happen and characters move along their set path and there’s no reason to care except for it happening in Doc Savage #13 and that’s not a good enough reason."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

CBR Review: X-Men Legacy #247

I recently reviewed X-Men Legacy #247 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "In his essay 'Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story,' Raymond Chandler, author of The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye gave 12 suggestions/rules for mystery stories. For the tenth note, he wrote, 'The solution must seem inevitable once revealed,' placing a specific importance on the moment of denouement. It's not the most important part of a mystery story, necessarily, since a lot still hinges on that initial moment of revelation and what effect it produces in the reader. In that respect, X-Men Legacy #247 and, sadly, the entire 'Age of X' story fails when the solution to the creation of this alternate world doesn’t seem inevitable or, to add to Chandler’s criteria, satisfying."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

CBR Review: Journey into Mystery #622

I recently reviewed Journey into Mystery #622 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "For the third time in its history, this comic is titled Journey into Mystery. Originating under that title it eventually became The Mighty Thor with issue 126 and, then, returned to its original name for 20 issues starting with issue 503 when Thor joined the other Avengers in the 'Heroes Reborn' relaunch. This time, Thor becomes Journey into Mystery as Thor gets another relaunched comic later this month in The Mighty Thor, leaving his old title to return to its original name and focus on the newly resurrected Loki. Better yet, Kieron Gillen who, last year, demonstrated a clear understanding of the character returns to pen his adventures heading forward."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sketch Reviews (April 14 2011)

Was talking with Tim the Retailer today about some annoying out of print books. I had mentioned that in reference to Jamie Delano's Hellblazer run where the second trade, The Devil You Know is out of print and I wished DC would get off their asses if they're planning on collecting the whole series/getting trades back into print. Another one that's been bugging me is the fifth volume of the Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson series. Tim the Retailer mentioned that there's a similar problem with those Jack Kirby Fourth World hardcovers and the second volume. So, I looked online and he's right! That volume is out of print/sold privately for waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much money. But, is there hope? Did I miss the announcement of DC republishing those books in paperback? Well, shit, I'll wait for those.

Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker #2: Michelle laughed at the title of this comic when she passed by my desk since it's on the top of the stack (for this very blog post!). I love Joe Casey's villains. He writes the best pure villains in comics right now. The villains that like being bad, that love that lifestyle. Let others write the complicated villains that think they're the heroes of their own stories. They're not evil, they're misunderstood! Not Casey's villains. They're evil and perfectly understood. Huddleston is wowwing me on art, too. [****]

Casanova: Gula #4: I love the way that Moon draws the reflections of Kubark and David X when they break Xeno out. Always have. Always will. I also love the little changes that happened since this first saw print. Against the Day becomes Inherent Vice. Hell, changing the final panels doesn't bug me. Why not do a little self-editing? It's what the big writers used to do a few hundred years back. Samuel Richardson did how many editions of Pamela? What is the definitive text of Ulysses? I'm surprised that more changes aren't made. I admire Fraction's restraint. Sure, the colouring is a change, but whatever -- I have the original editions, too. Different editions with changes like this are just fun. I do love the cover to this comic. In a big part because of the colouring. Maybe I'll try and talk about the colouring sometime. [*****]

New Avengers #11: I like this storyarc. I don't quite understand the point of it yet other than taking two three-issue stories and putting them into a schedule that works for the artists. I do like the shift in Deodato's line work. Not as slick. A little rougher. Some of his work still makes me cringe, though. And Chaykin is Chaykin is Chaykin. [***1/4]

Punishermax #12: The natural extension of last issue along with Born. Jason Aaron has done a very smart thing by taking Ennis's work on the character and just continuing down the same road into areas that even Ennis didn't hint at. The convicts shitting themselves over attacking Frank was funny. God, I surely do love this comic. [****1/4]

Secret Warriors #26: "Wheels Within Wheels" indeed. Funny how this one ends, eh? Definitely an issue where Hickman may have demanded too much of Vitti, because the LMD stuff did not come through in the art. And the way it was paced out, I'm not sure how it could have entirely. Still, that last page... you can't do much but laugh, eh? [****]

S.H.I.E.L.D. ∞: Some answers. Some fun. Some really good art. Some suggestiveness. I liked it. [***3/4]

Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates #3: "Hey, never mind that Stephen Segovia drew most of this comic over Yu's layouts with Yu coming in for only the final three pages, let's not put Segovia's name on the cover! Fuck that guy!" The ending of this was pretty obvious from the cover and it still seems stupidly random. Maybe whatever issue of Ultimate Spider-Man that came out this week explains that. What I'm left wondering is how this will affect this mini-series and the way that it's been working... which is pretty well. This issue brought some things to a head a lot quicker than you'd imagine. And, fuck, even I couldn't help but smile at the mistaking an actor on vacation for Fury line... also, Segovia does good work, very much in Yu's style. So far, I've probably been enjoying this mini more than the previous three. Things are just clicking... [***1/2]

The Unwritten #24: The shot of Pauly yelling "SHUT THE FUCKING DOOOOOOOR!!!" is just so awesone. A little bit of Steadman invades the talking critters world. The idea of them climbing to achieve something more than what they are and never getting there despite the 'corruption' of a 'mature' take on the talking critters genre is an interesting idea. Like the other stand-alone issues of this series, a strong read that had me for the whole thing. [****]


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CBR Review: First Wave Special #1

I recently reviewed First Wave Special #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "In the course of this issue, Batman and Doc Savage attempt to convince the Avenger to not kill the head of a crime family. Not because killing is wrong by their moral codes, but because they’re afraid of the next gang in line to take over when this leader dies. On some level, that makes sense. On another, this is Batman and Doc Savage we’re talking about. They actually argue in this comic that the leader of a criminal organization should be kept in power because they’re too scared to take on the gang trying to replace him. That doesn’t sound right to me, how about you?"

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, April 11, 2011

CBR Review: Annihilators #2

I recently reviewed Annihilators #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "With both features in Annihilators getting into the meat of their respective plots, the second issue is an improvement on the first, most notably in the lead story featuring the eponymous superhero team. After the first issue did its best to show us why this congregation of heavy hitters was a bad idea that couldn’t possibly work, this issue demonstrates just how well the team operates when everyone works together and doesn’t fumble over one another. At the same time, the Rocket Raccoon and Groot story gets more into the plot, but still has problems finding a tone that’s consistent and works."

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 47

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: baseball, Brightest Day #23, Fear Itself #1, Fear Itself: Homefront #1, Uncanny X-Men #534.1, recent Justice League of America issues, First Wave Special #1, and end things with the LIGHTNING ROUND! And it all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast HERE!

CBR Review: Nonplayer #1

I recently reviewed Nonplayer #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "If you’re the type of person who reads comic reviews online, you’ve probably read a little bit about Nonplayer in the weeks leading up to its release. Be it Tim Callahan’s 'When Words Collide' column, TJ Dietsch’s interview with Nate Simpson, or one of the many other articles across the comics internet, the book has had some serious buzz going for it. And with good reason: it’s a very good comic book featuring some stunning art. It’s hard to believe that this is Simpson’s first comic work, even considering his background in video game design. His writing and storytelling show the confidence of someone with more experience, not a debut work."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Uncanny X-Men #534.1

I recently reviewed Uncanny X-Men #534.1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The problem of Magneto joining the X-Men is an obvious one: he's widely considered the worst mutant terrorist the world has ever seen. Whether it was him or not who brutalized New York in Grant Morrison's run doesn't matter since it was something he could have done. Here, a superhuman public relations specialist consults with Magneto in an effort to best control the story when they release it and to tell him how he can tone down the scarier sides of his personality. Gillen wisely writes a Magneto that doesn't want to be less scary. He relishes the power fear gives him, wanting people to be scared of him, and seems unable to let go of those aspects of his personality even to assuage the public a little."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sketch Reviews (April 7 2011)

Today has been positively lovely. The weather turned gorgeous while I was out getting comics, had a seat on the bus both ways, got everything I wanted, came home to a Blue Jays game on the TV, which I watched and ate lunch to before muting it and reading comics with it on in the background. Sure, the Jays lost, but it was still a good game. Very good performance by Rick Romero. I'm just happy to be watching a game. Sportsnet put up an Excel file with a complete TV schedule for the season, so I went over it last night, deleting all of the games I can't watch because of work, podcasting, and wrestling shows... plus any that air on the Sportsnet One channel, since I don't get that. That leaves mostly Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon games with some Monday afternoons thrown in plus the odd game on Saturday or Sunday night that I can watch after work. Not too bad. I am beginning to think that Tim and I should have taken a summer break from podcasting, not that one in January. Ah well. Onto comics!

The Boys #53: A disappointing issue. Nothing we haven't seen from Ennis before, even in this book. An amusing idea to apply the concept of defective weaponry to superheroes in World War 2, but that's about it. One of the weakest issues in a long time. [**]

Fear Itself #1: An enjoyable first issue. This felt like more of a 'prologue' than the actual prologue comic. Fraction writes a much better Odin and Thor here than he did on that title. His Odin reminds me of Warren Ellis version, which is one I always particularly enjoyed. His beatdown of Thor was insane. I liked the mirroring of them with the Serpent and Skadi. And, of course, Stuart fucking Immonen on art. Not a 'blow you away' first issue, but quite good. [***1/2]

glamourpuss #18: My retailer commented that I still buy this (am I the only one at my shop who does?). Actually, he said "You're still reading this?" Not in a mocking way, in a curious tone. I told him, no. I'm buying it, but I haven't read an issue for a while now, saving them up. Someday, though... someday. [N/A]

Ultimate Captain America #4: So, Captain America's best comeback to all that he heard was "I knew about that! Protecting freedom is tough work!"? And, then, he thinks that God saved him. I can't tell if this is a sincere book or some of the dryest, most cynical mockery of a mainstream superhero that I've seen in a long time. The more I think about it, the more I can't help but see this whole series as one big joke... probably not the way it was intended, but I may just have to read it that way nonetheless. "Choose Your Own Interpretation!" [***]

Who is Jake Ellis? #3: Tonci Zonjic knocked this issue out of the park. The writing is solid and gets in a clever bit here and there, but this is Zonjic's show. The coloring at the club? Fantastic. [***3/4]

Wolverine #7: I missed this last week. I liked the first part of this storyarc to pick up the whole thing. Glad I did, because this was a really good issue. Great art from Daniel Acuña... seeing him draw those different Logans was cool. I'm looking forward to the finale. [****]


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

CBR Review: Scarlet #5

I recently reviewed Scarlet #5 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Heading into this issue, things looked like they were moving to a head with Scarlet appearing at a public rally, and what happened next would shape the series in a big way. More than any of the previous four issues, Scarlet #5 feels like an exercise in plot advancement and nothing more. To end Book One of the series, certain things need to happen and they do. They don’t necessarily flow out of the characters or exist to do anything but go from one point to another, and that’s a problem."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, April 04, 2011

CBR Review: Secret Avengers #11

I recently reviewed Secret Avengers #11 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "What stands out immediately is the absence of Mike Deodato on art duties. Will Conrad, who’s helped out on the past few issues, draws the entire issue and, thanks to Rain Beredo, there is some visual continuity. Sadly, it’s the continuity of overbearing, shiny, sickly glowing color art that burns itself into your retinas, striving for ‘realism’ and finding only a world where all sources of light are neon beer signs. There’s no such thing are darkness here; the best you get is perpetual twilight."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Thor #621

I recently reviewed Thor #621 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "When it came time to write this review, I struggled a little since this part seven of a seven-part story that has obviously been constructed to be read as a whole. That much was apparent from the first issue, and it didn’t feel ‘right’ to review the finale without seeing how it works as part of the whole story. Not much better, it seems. The problems that were apparent on my first reading were still there, simply smoothed out a little from what little momentum came in reading all seven issues in one straight go. It’s a disappointing end to a disappointing story arc that doesn’t inspire much confidence for the launch of The Mighty Thor #1."

You can read the rest HERE!