Saturday, May 31, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #20

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's run on Wildcats. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

After the events of "Serial Boxes," Joe Casey is joined by guest artist Steve Dillon for the two-part "Sodom and Modem." The story revolves around Grifter visiting Miami and his staying at the same hotel as Jeremy Stone. The first issue deals with the weird complicated relationship the former WildC.A.T.S. have with one another. You get the idea here that Cole and Jeremy don't really like one another all that much. Cole is mostly interested in picking up platinum blonde-haired women, while Jeremy wallows in self-pity.

In one scene, Cole makes fun of Jeremy for his efforts to "cure" Pris of her Daemonite genetics, which causes Jeremy to level Cole with a giant purple fist. Both men are assholes, but they can't escape one another, not really. Casey recognises that their past has stuck them together--despite what Jack Marlowe said at the end of last issue. For all of this book's concerns with the future, the past is an ever-compelling and influencing factor in the lives of these characters.

Cole's obsession with platinum blondes stems from his inability to get over Zealot. Jeremy uses his brains in an effort to finally get the hot girl to like him, no doubt trying to overcome lots of rejection and hurt feelings--all the while ignoring what she wants (or that it seemed she liked him already).

Also introduced in this issue are three CIA agents investigating Jeremy for his interfacing with MADGE, a government computer that is a closed system and, supposedly, unhackable. And not only that, it's fallen in love with Jeremy. Among the CIA agents is Agent Orange, who we'll learn more about next issue. He is worth paying attention to as he becomes part of Casey's big picture in Wildcats 3.0, which we're fast approaching.

To be concluded next time.

The Splash Page 17: Final Crisis #1

Tim and I discuss Final Crisis #1 in this week's Splash Page and surprise, surprise, we both liked the Grant Morrison-penned issue. You want a bigger surprise, we both admit that we're wrong for some reason. What could that reason be? What on Earth could possibly have Chad Nevett and Timothy Callahan saying that they are wrong? Has the whole world gone mad?

Find out in this week's SPLASH PAGE!!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008


In one of his Bad Signals today, Warren Ellis requested that anyone with a blog mention FreakAngels, the weekly webcomic he does with Paul Duffield. Normally, I'm not one to just do something like that, but I read the thing every week and... well, it's a Warren Ellis comic that I haven't mentioned here before.

This week is episode 15, so that's 90 pages you can read if you haven't already. Jesus, it's been 90 pages? It doesn't feel like that, because this is a very relaxed, expansive comic. When I think about it, I can see how it's been 90 pages, but it doesn't feel like it. FreakAngels is, in many ways, the prototypical Warren Ellis comic and, in others, not. Normally, Ellis is more plot-oriented than we see here. So far, there have been little pieces of plot, but Ellis has spent more time just establishing who people are, how they relate to one another... what this world is like. Like I said, it's relaxed and expansive.

Take this week's episode, for instance: five of the six pages are devoted to two characters we haven't seen yet, but Ellis gets across everything we need to know, really. Jack loves Sirkka, Sirkka loves Jack and everyone else, Jack can't live like that, so he lives on his boat. We also get another hint that the FreakAngels serve the community--possibly to make up for previous behaviour.

Paul Duffield's art is really good. His people are a little simplistic/rough, at times, but he draws lovely landscapes and has body language down. His art has been telling the story quite a bit and has been essential in establishing this world.

I would talk more about the plot, the characters, try to sell you, but you can go read it all right now, online, for free... so why bother? Just click here and take a look.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #19

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's run on Wildcats. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

In the conclusion of "Serial Boxes," Casey returns to one of his most consistent "tricks": the anti-climax. Throughout his career, he often sets up a grand confrontation in traditional superhero terms, but then undermines it through a resolution that involves no physical confrontation. Here, he doesn't go that far--he provides some action, but only in the most technical sense.

Jack Marlowe and Grifter have set a trap for Sam Smith--a public speaking engagement at UCLA. Except, Marlowe has used his considerable resources to close down the entire campus, so there's no chance of any innocent people getting hurt. This is important as it goes against two superhero tropes: normally, the villain sets the trap for the hero; and, normally, fights are public with innocent lives in danger. Marlowe is not limited by this sort of thinking as he is a post-superhero (I don't like the term that much either, but it's the best I've got).

Unfortunately, Agents Wax and Mohr hide on campus, hoping to arrest Smith. They confront him when he comes on campus. He kills Mohr and injures Wax.

In the auditorium, Smith and Marlowe face down one another with Smith starting things off by using his fire vision on Marlowe--which does nothing except burn away Marlowe's clothes, skin and hair, leaving the humanoid android body unharmed. The last time we saw Marlowe in this form was issue ten when the energy from Emp's death left him looking very much the same. Then, he told Grifter not to look at him--here, he simply says to Smith, "WELL MET. / PRAY YOU HAVE MORE TO GIVE."

Smith sees this as a confrontation between good and evil in a typical superhero manner: the final showdown between two families, one of heroes, one of villains--and he's loving it. But, Marlowe ends it with two words: "TAKE HIM." Then, Grifter shoots Smith in the back of the head. We--and Smith--get only the most basic of superhero/supervillain confrontations before it is over.

After, Marlowe and Grifter have the following exchange:





Grifter, still trapped within the older way of thinking, one of traditional heroes and villains, finds satisfaction in the confrontation as he performs his role per usual--but Marlowe finds no satisfaction, much like the reader. There is no feeling of triumph here, because this was not an epic fight between good and evil--it was just putting down a mad dog that had to be put down. You do not feel good about it, you do not celebrate. The two simply teleport away, leaving Smith's body to the National Park Service.

The issue ends with Void telling Marlowe that she's left Grifter in Miami and asking if he will want to return to Miami as well. Marlowe responds, "NO. / MY PLACE IS HERE AT HALO. / THE PAST IS A THING TO BE BURIED. AN IRRELEVANT CONCEPT. DESTINY IS WHAT PUSHES US FORWARD. / THE FUTURE AWAITS." Marlowe recognises that he has moved beyond his former comrades. He will always have a connection to them as they are his family, but he has also outgrown them in many ways. From this point forward, Marlowe will pursue his path and, at best, bring them with him, force them to grow to his level--he will do his best to avoid stooping to theirs again, as he was forced to here.

"Serial Boxes" is a story about burying the past, of moving beyond former limitations. It will spur growth in Pris and Maxine--even Grifter. In killing the grandson of his "uncle/father's" enemy, Marlowe concludes the superhero chapter of his life.

Of course, Casey follows this up with two issues of Grifter and Maul versus the CIA. Hoo-ha.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Superman 2000 Pitch: Clark Kent, Vegetarian (and Superman's Evolving Morality)

When discussing Joe Casey's final year on Adventures of Superman, I described his decision to make Superman a pacifist as "probably the biggest leap forward for the character in decades." I see Casey's decision to do such a thing as a character-defining moment quickly ignored because it is too tough to write and conflicts with how we like to view the character--after all, can we have Superman comics where he doesn't punch things? Perish the thought.

Casey has also said he regrets Superman explicitly stating his pacifism, wishing he had simply had Superman not use violence, but not discuss it. I found that wish very interesting as that's the exact opposite reaction I had at the time: I wish the idea had been taken up by DC and made an integral part of the character. Use The superhero as the agent of change and really explore the next stage of superhero comics where, maybe, superheroes don't have to use violence. It's not a new idea, as the old Captain Marvel comics often had him simply take punches and bullets until the criminals simply gave up.

Casey's regret at stating it explicitly also reminds me of part of the Morrison/Waid/Millar/Peyer "Superman 2000" pitch where they also wanted to take Superman's character to its next logical step by having him be a vegetarian:

One final little note, which has nothing to do with the fact that Grant wrote "Animal Man" and Millar’s a veggie, but is a matter for pure logic. Clark eats bouef bourginon? The man with a code against killing eats murdered animals? Regardless of his farm upbringing, can we justify a Superman this aware and attuned to life in all its forms being a carnivore? Though there’s no need to make a direct, on-stage issue of it, file this thought away; his diet would be beans, pulses and windfall, if anything, and his body would be capable of extracting maximum energy from these simple foods if not solely from the sun’s rays.

Like the pacifism, it makes perfect sense with who Superman is--he respects all life and would continually alter his behaviour to be more in line with those morals. But, the four also mention that they don't want to state it explicitly. I can understand why, as didactic stories are rarely good--and do you want to turn readers off by having Superman of all characters preach about the evils of eating meat?

At the same time, why not? Shouldn't Superman contain elements of didacticism? His comics always have--his role has long been the moral guiding post for youth and inspiring others to act to his level. Shouldn't he be a pacifist and vegetarian, state those things proudly--not preach, not try to convert, simply put that knowledge out there and hope that others follow his lead?

Or, is it reluctance to enact any meaningful change in the character, because it can and will almost certainly be undone by the company within a couple of years? Despite being a forerunner among superheroes, the leader of them, is Superman incapable of meaningful leadership because of corporate influences and goals? Is bleeding the trademark for all its worth impeding the logical evolution of the character?

Shouldn't Superman be an agent of change and progressive morality that alters how we view superhero comics--and how superheroes view themselves? Isn't that the best way to make the character relevent and interesting? Isn't that exactly what he needs?

Update: Tim Callahan discusses The Concept portion of the "Superman 2000" pitch over at his blog. Go read that.

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #18

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's Wildcats run. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

The penultimate chapter of "Serial Boxes" is a nice mixture of quiet and action. It begins with Agents Wax and Mohr, where he learn how Mohr came to work for the National Park Service: an ex-girlfriend had superpowers and went crazy, and he "neutralized" her. Casey sets up these guys are experts in taking down superpeople, causing us to wonder: who will get Sam Smith first, them or Marlowe and Grifter?

Speaking of which, those two plan a way to kill Smith when he arrives in LA to confront/kill Marlowe. A contained "public appearance" is Marlowe's plan. They want to keep the entire thing quiet, but Maxine Manchester eavesdrops...

We get another postcard page with Smith writing a letter to his dead grandpa. Noir and Jeremy are in Miami, and they learn of a lecture Marlowe is giving at UCLA, which Smith also sees on the news. These scenes actually do little beyond keep us in touch with the characters.

The most important scene of the book, really, is a two-page discussion between Marlowe and Grifter. Grifter confronts Marlowe on his motivation for wanting Smith dead--he wants Marlowe to admit he wants revenge, to put Smith down because of what he did to Pris and Jeremy. And Marlowe says this. Again, Casey gives us a small moment demonstrating that Marlowe is not a typical android. As well, that these two characters are not so different, really. They are the heads of the Wildcats "family," forever together and, when things get rough, they are united. They are foils for one another.

The rest of the issue focuses on Maxine's attempts to find Smith first and kill him herself. She eventually finds him--thankfully because he's arrogant enough to register under his actual name (but not before breaking in on several other Samuel Smiths). In the ensuing fight, Smith burns her alive with his eyes. We last see her being hit with his fire vision before Marlowe has Void teleport her back to the Halo building... where she's completely on fire. After she's put out, it's clear that she's dead.

Again, one of the women in the book is mutilated... and, this time, killed by Smith. This one has its own disturbing subtext: Maxine dies because she takes the initiative to kill Smith herself instead of leaving it to the alpha males of the group. Pris's mutilation was because she was sexually independent, Maxine's because she is active and... okay, psychotic in her desire to kill sometimes. Not sure Casey intended these readings of what happens, but it's also pretty blatant.

Next issue, Smith dies.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

John Constantine V. Batman (A Quick Snippet that Amuses Me)

Since I'm on a bit of a Hellblazer kick, I finally sat down and reread Brian Azzarello's run last night and this afternoon. It's a decent enough run from issues 146-174 (or, in four collections: Hard Time, Good Intentions, Freezes Over and Highwater) and deals with John in America, feeling guilty over the suicide of a fellow con artist, Lucky. It's a sprawling story that makes sense as a whole and is pretty typical of Azzarello: features a lot of fucked up shit including S&M internet sites, beastiality, incest, neo-Nazis... and Batman as the mastermind behind it all.

This caused a very minor stir when it happened, but the man responsible for Lucky killing himself in front of John is SW Manor, a billionaire industrialist whose parents where murdered in front of him when he was a kid. Now, SW Manor is an allusion to "Stately Wayne Manor," which is how Bruce Wayne's house is often described. Manor's manservant is named Fredo (Alfred). In his mansion, there is a trophy room full of artifacts much like the Batcave. Manor donates money to an orphanage in exchange for a priest sharing what he hears in confession: through his orphanage, we see/hear about Manor's encounters with two young boy: Jason who died with a smile on his face, referencing Jason Todd's death at the hands of the Joker; and Tim, who Manor is going to feed to his vampire bats. There's also a scene where it's revealed that Manor tells his secrets to a little bird, held in a cage by Fredo... perhaps a robin?

Probably a few more references I missed, but it's a bit of childish humour thrown into the run. It doesn't really add anything to the story and isn't important to the plot, but fun to pick up on. I am strangely intrigued by one scene where John uses his abilities so Manor can speak to his dead parents--who then tell him how disappointed and ashamed they are of the man he's become. Would Wayne's parents say the same?

Regular post later today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Sunday Open: Third Week of May 2008

Captain America #38

This story continues apace and the quality remains typically high. We learn who Steve Rogers really is, have Falcon and the new Captain America teaming up, and get more politics. Because politics is fun.

Ghost Rider #23

Jason Aaron's initial story concludes and, yeah, Danny Ketch is back. I'm pleased that he's on the other side. Team-ups are fun, but opposing one another is always better. I've never been a fan of Ghost Rider (Blaze or Ketch), but am strangely excited about the prospect of the two going head-to-head.

Aaron also writes a mean fucking bastard of a Ghost Rider. He totally fucks up that cop for no reason other than the cop trying to arrest a dangerous criminal and Ghost Rider thinking he deserves a harsher punishment. That scene actually had me taken aback a little since it was so cruel.

Also, Roland Boschi's art on this title is making me a fan quickly.

The Mighty Avengers #14

" more Nick Fury?" My initial thought upon beginning this issue and then Bendis won me over by the end. Some wrote the Sentry off as Marvel's Superman... which he is, but that's a good thing since this is a very human "Superman" whose powers are pretty meaningless since his head is so messed up. The Skrulls know this (or Jarvis-Skrull does) and exploit it. Sure, it gives some obvious detail to a scene from Secret Invasion #2, but also adds a fantastic ending that I can't wait to see followed up on.

Khoi Pham's art is decent, but a little inconsistent. In some panels, he's aping Steve McNiven; in others, John Romita, Jr.; in others, Oliver Copiel... basically, Marvel's big names all seem to show up. It's not as jarring as it sounds, but every few pages, a panel would stop me cold because it was so unlike other panels with its style differences. But, I'd rather see a young artist experiment with styles like that in an effort to find his voice than to struggle with trying to be original before the ability is there.

Scalped #17

Lots of small things happen and that pushes the book forward far more than any one big thing could. This is a subtle, slow, methodical book quite unlike anything I've seen in comics before. Jason Aaron seems content to take his time and really focus on the moments and the characters. It's a heartbreaking read most of the time. I am so glad that I started reading this book.

War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #3

This comic makes me laugh. The second page is fantastic. The whole comic is pretty good as Ennis continues his slow turn around of Kauffmann from eager fuck-up to skilled fighter pilot. I'm also growing more fond of Howard Chaykin's art.

Hellblazer: Tainted Love and Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame

I was only planning to get one of these this week, but fuck it. I also ordered a copy of Rake at the Gates of Hell online to complete my collection (except for two Ennis-penned issues that remain uncollected--it would be three, but one is in Rare Cuts), and, holy shit, was it difficult to find a reasonably priced copy of that trade. Apparently, it is out of print or something, because I see people selling copies for over a hundred bucks. That is insane. I can't stand it when I see any book being sold for such a huge price--and I don't blame the people doing the selling, I blame anyone who pays that much for it. Seriously, if you're paying more than, like, maybe forty bucks for a trade originally priced at less than twenty bucks, you probably have too much money and too few brains. The worst case I've seen of this is for Haruki Murakami's Pinball 1973, which is available in English only in an edition published in Japan as part of a book series designed to help Japanese people learn English. You see, that was Murakami's second novel and he doesn't like his first two novels really, and won't allow them to be translated into English outside of Japan. I got a copy of his first book, Hear the Wind Sing as part of the same series and for, like, ten bucks, as copies are plentiful. Pinball 1973, on the other hand, seems to start at two hundred dollars or so, which I refuse to pay. Firstly, I'm not paying two hundred dollars for a little paperback book no matter what. Secondly, Murakami doesn't consider it good enough for me to read, so why would I pay more for that book than any other book I've ever bought? Better options for reading it: wait for Murakami to change his mind or, eventually, die and maybe it will get published in English then (morbid, I know, but true); or, maybe, spend some time to learn Japanese and get a copy that's in its original language for ten bucks. Both seem like far more intelligent ways of going about it than spending a huge amount of money needlessly.

The point: have some common sense about buying books out of print. The irony, in the case of Rake at the Gates of Hell is that when it first came out, it was around the time that bookstores were beginning to stock comic collections in large numbers and I saw it everywhere--but didn't buy it, because it collected the end of Ennis's run and I didn't have what came before it. Typical. On a good note, since I just bought a copy (at a decent price that was doubled because of shipping--so, $30 total, which isn't that bad), Vertigo will probably do a new printing--especially since they're going into overdrive to collect Hellblazer now by finishing up Jamie Delano's run (which I start in on next) and, then, I hope, Paul Jenkins's... I may have said that before, but I stand by it.

As for Tainted Love and Damnation's Flame... Ennis really put John through the goddamn ringer, didn't he? Those first few stories in Tainted Love are pretty messed up with John living on the street. I did love how easily he turned it around with one page of magic. The Chas issue was really great, too. Actually, my favourite stuff is when Ennis just had John or others sitting around, having a pint and talking. I know I'm not alone in that regard, but still needs to be said. Reading new stuff (for me) by him and Steve Dillon along those lines just has me begging that they'll get to City Lights soon. But, Ennis is pretty busy and Dillon is over at Marvel doing *shudder*... Wolverine: Origins (a book that makes me weep because Dillon is so much better than it).

I'd read much of Damnation's Flame (namely the eponymous story) thanks to Steve who send me a bunch of Ennis-penned Hellblazer issues a few years ago since he didn't need them anymore and knew I was into Ennis and good ol' John Constantine. But, it was nice to read the story again. Messed up, really.

I'm very much looking forward to my copy of Rake at the Gates of Hell to arrive. This summer will also be great with another Delano collection (I need to get the first two, though) and another Diggle one... and Jason Aaron does two issues that I'll pick up in singles, because, odds are, they won't be collected (unless Vertigo does a collection featuring those one-off issues and small arcs including stuff like Darko Macan's two issues between Ellis and Azzarello, or Eddie Campbell's four issues, and Mike Carey's one-off between Denise Mina and Diggle's runs--just title it "More Rare Cuts"). I am happy that Vertigo is cluing in that having the entire series collected is a smart move since it is the backbone of the entire imprint.

Punisher Presents: Barracuda

I really had not planned on getting this. My buddy Jason and I hit my regular Windsor shop and then the other one since he was looking for a copy of the first Preacher trade (he has all of the others--he got hooked after Adam lent him the series) and they had a copy of this collection, which I'd been looking for. I'm always impressed at Ennis's ability to continually come up with new stories involving the same sort of characters, but he does. This one is a lot of fun and not to be taken seriously. It's just Ennis taking the piss of everything possible.

With all of the Ennis I've gotten recently, I'm tempted to look through my collection of singles and trades to see whose work I have the most of: Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison or Joe Casey. I have no idea, but it could be a close race. Not that it matters, I'm just curious. Ah well.

Until next week.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #17

[Continuing my look at Joe Casey's Wildcats. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

A quiet, emotional issue after last issue's brutal injuries to Pris and Jeremy.

We begin with Jack Marlowe meeting with Captain Anthony Pacheco, a member of the LAPD who wants Marlowe to help out with his crash squad. This meeting is interrupted with news about Pris and Jeremy.

Nearly all of the rest of the issue takes place in a Miami hospital and we get a sense that Marlowe is not as heartless or cold as he's seemed these past few issues. Casey has been very good at giving us little moments that suggest that there's more to Jack Marlowe than just another android. At the same time, one convention of science fiction (which this is, by the way) is the seemingly unfeeling android that is really just as "human" as the rest of us. Except, is Jack Marlowe human or is Casey perhaps writing him in a similar manner but with a Kherubim basis? I honestly don't know as the thought just occurred to me, but it would make more sense.

This android character is also different from Casey's other android, Automatic Kafka. Marlowe does not wallow in what he is or long to be something else: he knows who and what he is and acts with confidence. He is rarely unsure or self-doubting. He is decisive and very much the opposite of Kafka. But, that's a discussion for another time.

Marlowe shows concern here for Jeremy but is more interested in Pris and in who did this. He clearly has his goal in mind and uses Agents Wax and Mohr to further that goal when they arrive on the scene. It's interesting to see how Casey has Marlowe be so decisive and active that he operates on another level here: everything he says and does is both out of concern for his "family" and in furtherance of finding the person(s) responsible. He gains information from the agents that this is a serial killer, which makes the prospect of revenge even more appealing since he probably deserves to die. Not only that, but Marlowe learns from Pris everything Smith told her--including his motives. Pris and Jeremy were hurt in an effort to get at Marlowe, making it his responsibility--not that he didn't already think it was, but this adds a level of blame, too. After several issues of control since he had to kill Emp, Marlowe now faces a situation that he is not in control of. How he reacts says a lot about him.

At the end of the issue, he leaves Noir in Miami and has Void bring him home... with a stop in between to pick up Grifter. The issue ends with a splash of the two arriving in Marlowe's office in their respective costumes (Marlowe in his suit, eyes glowing; Grifter in his mask, guns drawn). These two define Casey's run, particularly when they're together.

But, that's next issue.

The Splash Page 16: Fantastic Four #557

In this week's Splash Page, Tim Callahan and I look at the conclusion to Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's first arc on Fantastic Four. Now, I've been critical of their work on the book for the past three issues, so you can probably guess what I have to say. But, what about Tim? You don't know what he's going to say, do you? I sure as hell never do! And, if I don't, I'm thinking you don't either. At least one of us will surprise you this week. Besides, is surprise the end-all and be-all of everything? No, sir, it is not. So, stop being a whiny little bitch and just go read the column, okay? Okay.

More Wildcats stuff later today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats #16

[My issue-by-issue analysis of Joe Casey's Wildcats run returns after over a month off. New posts Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Little known fact: Serial Boxes takes place at the same time as Jackie Brown or so says the first page of issue 16 where Pris and Sam Smith are talking in a mall food court--and we get a shot of Sam Jackson as Ordell (minus the little braided goatee and long hair) with the back of Pam Grier's head and her holding a cigarette. Not that that really has anything to do with the comic, but I've always enjoyed that panel.

This issue is very focused on Smith and Pris, including some interaction with Jeremy--and a couple of scenes with Agents Wax and Mohr. Mostly, we get Smith's attempted seduction of Pris that goes from mall to club-hopping back to Jeremy's place where he has just figured out how to eliminate the Daemonite genes from Pris--but she doesn't know that.

Something about Smith winds up turning her off... and he reacts by burning a hole through her with his eyes and then going to town in attempting to mutilate her. As always, he explains who he is and why he's doing this, but this time, two things that haven't happened before occur: the woman he's about to kill knows Jack Marlowe and Smith is stopped.

Namely, by a giant Jeremy who beats the shit out of Smith until Smith blasts Jeremy in the eyes and gets thrown out of the house. The issue ends with Jeremy grasping blindly for Pris, only to grab one of her legs... neither of which are attached to her anymore.

The two scenes with the NPS agents establish their methodology and goals: they deal with superpowered criminals and serial killers. As well, it establishes that they have figured out where Smith may go next: to Jack Marlowe.

The storytelling in the scene where Smith attacks Pris is fantastic as we get shots of Jeremy in his soundproof lab, about to do more work--and leave Pris completely on her own. But, he finally (and, for some reason) just busts through the wall. Phillips's art is great here. Very creepy and suspenseful.

The actual attack on Pris is a little problematic, I would imagine, for some. Pris is typically a strong woman who is very independent and can take care of herself, but, here, she is a victim. Normally, I would agree that it falls into the "woman in refrigerator" mould that many comics do, but Pris's role as victim here underscores one of Casey's themes in this book: what happens to soldiers after the war? Pris has chosen to lead a "normal" life and ignores her heritage, abilities and past as a superhero-of-sorts. Smith, on the other hand, has embraced his heritage and abilities, becoming a supervillain-of-sorts. Jeremy is slightly heroic, but as he's also turned his back on his past, he is only partially successful--he gets rid of Smith, but is also seriously injured and unable to prevent injury from coming to Pris. Additionally, this injury puts Pris into a position where she reconnects with her natural abilities and heritage.

Also, most of the former WildC.A.T.S. are victims in one way or another, with the exception of Jack Marlowe, I'd say. That said, the elimination of the female WildC.A.T.S. is a pattern in this book, as we'll see--and a disturbing one, at that.

To be continued on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Joe Casey Comics: Wildcats Recap

It's been over a month since my last post regarding Joe Casey's run on Wildcats and that's a long, long time online. In that past month, many things have happened that have no doubt made you forget all about my analysis of that book, so I figure before jumping back into it on Thursday, I'll do a quick recap of what's happened, and maybe try to draw out some of the recurring ideas/themes.

Wildcats was relaunched in 1999 following DC's purchase of Wildstorm with Scott Lobdell writing and Travis Charest on art. It was a bimonthly book to accomodate Charest's slow pace. It was not good. It was a bad comic on almost every level--and, yeah, I'm including art, because, while Charest's work is pretty, it doesn't function well at telling a story. Pretty pictures are nice, but I want more out of my art.

The basic concept was that of a "non-team" that lacked direction, except Lobdell did his best to give it direction in the form of Kenyan--a human made immortal by Emp/Jacob Marlowe. So, the team is after him--the team consisting of: Emp, now a Kherubim high lord ready to ascend; Spartan, a near indestructible android with advanced strengths and other abilities; Grifter, Cole Cash, a guy with guns; and Noir, a gay French arms dealer with computer skills.

Other former WildC.A.T.S. show up like: Voodoo/Pris, a Daemonite half-breed who is sleeping on Maul/Jeremy's couch in Miami--he has the power to increase and decrease his mass and is working on a way to eliminate the alien genes from Pris's body as a surprise in an effort to get her to love him. There's also the dead Zealot, who Cole is all kinds of in love with. And Jeremy Reno/Warblade who had his girlfriend killed by Pike and then killed Pike. He is currently retired and living in New York.

Towards the end of Lobdell's run, Casey came on board to script a couple of issues over Lobdell's plots, but that didn't make them any better. In a few spots, Casey took the opportunity to make fun of the book (or, so I read certain pieces of dialogue). Lobdell stayed on the book until issue seven and Charest left after issue six, having only completed two full issues--three more involved another artist doing part of the issue and issue five had Bryan Hitch on fill-in. These issues act merely as a prelude to Casey's run.

Joe Casey took over the writing with issue eight and Sean Phillips came aboard on art. Their first arc was three issues and acted as a means of eliminating both Kenyan and Emp from the book, while also advancing Casey's pet themes for the book: post-superhumanity and what do soldiers do after the war is over? In these issues, Emp and Kenyan have a final face-off with Kenyan killing himself, while Spartan kills Emp to assist in his ascension. Additionally, Casey plays around with the conception of family, specifically juxtaposing Kenyan and Spartan as the two "sons" of Emp, one good and the other evil.

Following those issues, Casey continued to have Grifter and Spartan act as foils to one another as Grifter continues along his same path as a mercenary, while Spartan adapts the identity of Jacob Marlowe's nephew, Jack and takes over as head of Halo. He moves the company to Los Angeles and uses his superpowers rarely. A suit is now his costume. Casey also brought back former WildC.A.T.S. Ladytron (Maxine Manchester--a psychotic, foul-mouthed cyborg killer) and Void, who no longer has her human host.

In the story I was last discussing, Serial Boxes, there is a man killing women with the last name Marlowe. He is the grandson of a superpowered gangster who Emp put in a coma, and he inherited his grandfather's power to shoot fire from his eyes. He is Samuel "Slaughterhouse" Smith. He views his actions as a means to get at Jack Marlowe and continue the war between the families. Marlowe used his powers to stop a high speed chase and has attracted some attention. He has Noir and Void working on a project in Otherspace. Noir does not like Void. We've been introduced to Agents Wax and Mohr of the National Parks Service, a government branch that apparently handles superhuman-related crimes. Issue 15 ended with Smith hitting on Pris after she's been using Marlowe's credit card.

As I've said, some of the themes/ideas to look out for:

* Post-superhumanity--what comes after being a superhero?

* What happens to soldiers after the war is over?

* The conception of family: whether biological or created--and make no mistake, the people here are a family

If you want to read my posts on these issues, here are the links:

Issues 1-13 plus the 2000 annual and Ladytron special
Issues 14 and 15

On Thursday, I will resume this series of posts with Wildcats #16 and it will pick up its usual schedule of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Sunday Open: Second Week of May 2008 Part 2

And so I continue my review of this week's books... but, with a post scheduled ahead. Again. When, oh when, could I be writing this? Wouldn't it just blow your mind if I were writing it before the other post? No? Well, damn. Not that it matters, because it's Saturday right now. I'm PastChad and I'm talking comics. I'm also kinda retarded sometimes.

Mighty Avengers #13

I am really enjoying these Mighty Avengers "Secret Invasion" tie-in issues. Nick Fury gathering his forces against the Skrulls is some good stuff. This issue is a little slower with Fury re-recruiting Daisy Johnson and then Johnson recruits a bunch of other people. I'm actually glad Bendis gave us this slower issue and let us meet each of the new Howlin' Commandos like this. I am curious what the timeline for this is as, when Ares's son is recruited, he's a member of the (Mighty) Avengers. How long will this group have had to train, really?

Oh, and I dig Alex Maleev's art. It's beginning to have a real Tim Bradstreet feel to it.

newuniversal: Shockfront #1

Ah, the return of the book that everyone forgot happened. I liked Ellis's initial newuniversal series and have been looking forward to this quite a bit. It continues pretty much from the previous one, but ups the ante by introducing at least two new superhumans. Best discussed as a whole.

The art by Steve Kurth is not a big jump from Salvador Larocca... a little more "comic booky," but still within that realistic vein. Frankly, I think it works for the book better here... as we are moving into a more "comic booky" world. The world here began as real like ours and is slowly becoming something else. A shift in art makes an alarming amount of sense.

Omega the Unknown #8

And we continue towards the conclusion as the two sides have a more direct confrontation. Kind of. What a strange, wonderful book.

Secret Invasion #2

WHOO! Fight! Yeah! So far, the only Skrulls we've seen in the Savage Land have come from the ship, so is Clint making a mistake trusting this Mockingbird??? Who knows! It's a solid issue that doesn't advance much, but is still fun. Hey, who would have thought an issue of a big event crossover thing would be fun?

Thunderbolts #120

Wow, that opening soliloquy by Norman... it's a shame that Ellis will be leaving this book because he's obviously having a lot of fun with it. And he's also doing a fantastic job with these creepy-as-fuck characters. When was the last time the Green Goblin was scary? Or not just a joke? Okay, so he's a joke here, but a different kind of joke. My favourite line: "NORMAN WILL MAKE THE GIRL PREGNANT AND THEN SNAP HER NECK IN PUBLIC. NORMAN WON'T MIND. NORMAN WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES." Ho ho, bub. One more issue of absolute crazy. Damn shame. Normally, I don't lament Ellis doing a stint on a book and then taking off, because that's what he does... but his work here has been truly great in that twisted way no other comic really is. I'm not sure anyone else can really explore this concept with the same perversion as Ellis... and that's the only way to do this concept as far as I'm concerned. Ah, whatever.

Transhuman #2

Not as impressive as the first issue, but the We3 panel was a nice touch. As were the different superpowers given to the test subjects. Hopefully, this will work well as a whole.

Wolverine #65

Jason Aaron ends his short run on the book with a solid issue. Lots of fighting and blood and hurt feelings. I like the revelation of Logan's betrayal in the past. Not quite as good or meaningful as it could have been, but solid.

Young Liars #3

I'm digging this book, but that second issue was such a drag on the momentum. Unless, as I said last month, Lapham plans to go back-and-forth... but still, I already forgot who half of the people in the present were. The fact that Danny shot Sadie is a big thing and goes a long way to making us dislike him. And how can you not? Although, he's the protagonist, so we kind of do. Odd. I'll be sticking with this book for a while to see what it becomes.

Hellblazer: Fear and Loathing

I continue my trip through Garth Ennis's Hellblazer with the beginning of his work with Steve Dillon on the title (who, I think, did a fill-in issue or two previous). Ennis knows what he's doing with these stories and plants a few seeds for who Gemma would become. The stuff with Kit is heartbreaking. Maybe I'll say more when I have the entire run... perhaps begin looking at Hellblazer in its whole someday. Maybe.

The Sunday Open: Second Week of May 2008 Part 1

As this was a big week, I'll be doing my usual Sunday reviews over two posts today. Most likely both done ahead of time and scheduled to be posted sometime Sunday, because Blogger lets me do that now. So, it's actually 2:37 pm on Friday right now, but this won't be posted until... oh, let's say 8:08 am Sunday. Fun.

Batman #676

That's not Tim Drake as Robin on the first page. Or, if it is, Tony Daniel is a shit artist. Since he's actually been pretty decent lately, I'll go with the former. If you want more proof, look at that Robin's face and then look at Tim's on the fifth panel of page 11. Look at those jawlines... I guess Damian gets to be Robin. A solicit for one of the "Batman RIP" tie-in issues of Robin says Tim takes up the mantle. Is that Tim as Batman? Dick? So long as it isn't Jason...

As for the actual issue, Tim has poisoned my mind and I couldn't help but read the entire Tim/Alfred scene without examining it all as if Alfred is the Black Glove. What we get here doesn't really add anything to that theory, that I can see.

Really, this is just a good set-up issue with next issue apparently ramping things up. Why must it be a month away?

The Boys #18

The conclusion of "Good for the Soul" is part advancement of character, part teaser for future plots, I think. We have Hughie killing Blarney Cock again... and doing it with his usual fuck-up style. We learn that the Boys have surveillance of the Seven's HQ, which suggests that Hughie will learn just what Annie had to do to get on the team... after he learns that, holy shit, Annie is one of the Seven! I really like Hughie and everything Ennis has done with him so far tells me that he'll be able to see past that shit. He's a good guy.

I do find it interesting that Hughie is the only member we really get any time with. We get brief bits of everyone else, mainly Butcher, but it's the Hughie show. Not that I mind, because Hughie is a great POV character, but still. This book isn't as well-rounded as other Ennis stuff. But, maybe it's not meant to be.

Captain Britain and MI13 #1

After reading many kind words regarding Paul Cornell's Wisdom (which I haven't found a copy of yet), I figured I'd check out the new ongoing by him involving Brit heroes. Strangely enough, its ties to "Secret Invasion" made me less likely to pick it up--but, I'm trying to keep it very streamlined, sticking to the Bendis-written books when possible. But, whatever, this is a good comic. It introduces the concept well and sets up the group. There are some great bits of humour and Cornell really has a handle on these characters. I'm on board, for now.

Casaova #13-14

Finally got issue 13 thanks to the Windsor shop ordering me a copy. These were the first two comics I read this week. Partly because Tim and I discussed issue 14 in the Splash Page. Partly because it's goddamn Casanova, bitches! Normally, I leave issues of Casanova until last, because I like to end with something very strong.

As for these issues... well, I said all I wanted to about #14 with Tim, really. #13 warrants some comments: it's fantastic. The flashback stuff is touching, as is everything about Kaito. I'm also very amused that Kaito is Kefong from The Intimates. Kinda. It's a shame that that book wasn't creator-owned, because just up and plunking down Kefong into Casanova would have made this Casey fan very happy. Maybe I'll do a little post comparing the two--or, at least, telling you all who Kefong was, because I think me and Joe Casey were the only two people reading The Intimates.

Oh yeah... Casanova is very, very good. And the best in a week of very, very good books.

Final Crisis Sketchbook

Yes, I bought this. Before Marvel Boy came out all those years ago, I got a preview sketchbook thing from Marvel free with an issue of Punisher and, yeah, it made me buy that book. I was already kind of going to maybe almost buy that book, but the sketchbook did the job and thank bejeezus it did, because that book changed my comic reading life (and changed my comic criticism life, too). So, we once again have Grant Morrison and JG Jones together and there's a sketchbook preview... why wouldn't I buy it?

Some interesting ideas here and I love getting insight into the creative process. Those Japanese hero names make me laugh, but that's because they're purposely absurd. They also mock superheroes themselves, not just Japan... why is Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash any more absurd and stupid than, oh, the Guardians of the Galaxy or Wonder Woman? Seriously, all superhero names are insanely stupid when you think about it... and maybe that kid is well-spoken. If the X-Men get to be uncanny, why can't this kid be well-spoken?


Guardians of the Galaxy #1

I like cosmic heroes. I wanted to see what DnA were doing with these characters. It's alright. I may pick up the second issue. I may not. Nothing here blew my mind. The writing is decent. The art is decent. I miss Jim Starlin. Other people handling Adam Warlock seems wrong. I miss Thanos. We'll see.

Infinty, Inc. #9

Okay, I was wrong to doubt Pete Woods. He can stay.

And this book continues to be weird. I read this while reading Morrison's Doom Patrol and it strikes me that, at the core, the two books are very similar, just handled much differently. This is more traditional in its approach, but also more expansive as it explores directly the psychological effects of superpowers on people. I am digging this book and hope it gets a chance to continue.

The Last Defenders #3

The evolution of the team continues from Initiative-backed group to two-man covert group to privately-funded ego-boost. Each issue has been a different type of superhero team as it tries to find the right mix of people and purpose, all with Nighthawk at the centre. A meditation on the nature of superhero teams, a commentary on the genre... what else would one expect from Joe Casey? And, damn, I missed out on my chance to ask Casey about that over at Newsarama... the place where they open up a thread for questions for, like, twenty minutes. What's up with that?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Black Glove is Bruce Wayne?

I don't know why, but I just realised that the Black Glove could be Bruce Wayne. And, no, this is not a case of me trying to one-up Tim with crazy guesses... I actually have some evidence. Kind of.

When I was a kid, I had this paperback-sized Batman book called The Untold Legend of the Batman and, in it (if I recall correctly), Batman is being hunted by a mysterious villain that is dressed in a Batman-like costume that his father wore to a Halloween party when Bruce was a kid. Except, it turns out to be Bruce Wayne in that costume, tearing apart the life of Batman. (Edit: Okay, the details were a little off. You can read a summary of the story through the Wikipedia link. I was close, but remembered some deails wrong. Not that it changes my overall point. I just wanted to point that out for clarity sake.)

In a way, Alfred is responsible for the Black Glove as the insistence that Batman rexplore his Bruce Wayne persona gives that persona strength, the desire to be his own man outside of the Batman. Who else could counter Batman move for move? Who else has the resources? Why is the emphasis on Batman?

Okay, this is a wild guess, but it just occurred to me and I thought I would share.

The Splash Page 15: Casanova #14

This week, Tim Callahan and I discuss Casanova #14 in the Splash Page. Never again will you see a column devoted to Tim and I gushing non-stop over how fantastic a comic is. I have a feeling that if Casanova was a girl, Tim and I would both be vying for her affections and wind up in some weird love triangle that would ruin our comic criticism column partnership forever. Thankfully, Casanova is a comic, so we can both enjoy it without awkwardness and hurt feelings. Sometimes, the world is cool like that.

Now go read the column, please.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lesser Known Joe Casey Comics: Autopilot

[Another in my random look at Joe Casey-penned comics that most people have either forgotten or just never heard of. As always, I will end my post by asking if it should remain forgotten or not. New posts happen at random.]

"Autopilot" showed up in a Dark Horse anthology called Reveal back in November 2002. I didn't buy a copy until just recently--when it came out, I read "Autopilot" right there in the store. But, if I'm to be a Joe Casey expert as some (well, Tim) have called me, I need them all, don't I?

And how could I not have "Autopilot," the semi-autobiographical comic by Joe Casey and Sean Philips? Hell, how can you? You want to know what was going on with Casey's Uncanny X-Men, Adventures of Superman and Wildcats runs? Look no further, good sir!

Really, this is a story that most comic fans should read. It is about balancing your real life including stuff like an uncle dying and paying the bills with these fictional universes that people care deeply about with your own hopes and aspirations of creating fantastic works of art. Those are three things that can rarely be balanced in any successful way and Casey knows this. And he tells us this.

His discussion of the "Franchise" team is frank and honest: "They offered you the gig. You took it. You did your job. Big sales. Big royalties. Big heat. Okay, not your BEST work, but you don't regret these things when you've just bought a HOUSE..."

I remember my favourite reply to anyone who bitched about Casey's work on Wildcats (not the book discussed above, but this does relate) was that he wasn't just ruining their favourite characters... he was getting paid to ruin them. Ho ho, aren't I clever?

But, that's what Casey is hinting at here: the reality of comics of is that it's a business and, ultimately, do you think a lacklustre run on Uncanny X-Men seems that bad when it bought you a house? Casey goes on to lament the fact that he couldn't do a better job, because that matters, too, but...

I don't know, which of these things matter more? Grant Morrison likes to discuss how these fictional characters are more real than we are, how they will outlive us all--does that mean that making them the best we can matters more than paying the bills? Or what about creating fantastic works of art? Creating the most literate and layered Superman story may be all well and good, but what if it does a disservice to the character? Some would say that The Dark Knight Returns did just that. So, did it fail at one of the three concerns I mentioned above while succeeding at the other two?

But, which one matters most?

Joe Casey doesn't write any of the comics discussed here. All ended prematurely (in my opinion) and were successful in their own ways (even Uncanny X-Men). But, do any of those things matter as much as real life?

The title of the story is "Autopilot" and says a lot about the work we read on a lot of corporate comics. How often have you read an issue and thought the writer was just going through the motions? Well, Casey is here to tell you that, yeah, that happens. But, writing comics is a job and can you honestly say you've given it 100% every single day at your job? We have these conceptions of what it means to be a writer, to be an artist, but it's a job. And sometimes you're tired or you need the money or your life has gone to hell and the work suffers. It happens to everyone, just not nearly as public... and just not in such an unforgiving atmosphere.

At the same time, does that excuse bad work? I don't think so... and neither does Casey. It's complicated. And there are no answers to these questions--at least none that make sense. As Casey says at the end: "You know you've pulled yourself up to something others DREAM about. You TRY to keep that perspective. / But REAL life waits for you in bed. She's warm and inviting, even when she sleeps. / You try to reconcile the fact that we're ALL products of hard work, luck, and fate. / You try to reconcile a LOT of thing."

Should this story remain forgotten? No. In addition to Casey's wonderfully honest writing, there's some Sean Philips art where he uses a much sparser style than we're used to. It looks very different from his other work and is very good. As well, it's only found in Reveal, which has lots of other stuff in it and you'll probably enjoy some of it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Sunday Open: First Week of May 2008

I'm in London and since I now have pull lists in two cities, nearly every week is only half-complete. Actually, my list is heavily favoured towards Windsor, so most weeks are fine--I miss a couple of Ellis Avatar books, Punisher War Journal and Gødland. Ah well. On to this week's short-as-hell "reviews," which are lacking many, many books...

Black Summer #6

"In which shit gets even more fucked up..."

The Seven Guns take on similarly enhanced soldiers and people die. John Horus discusses things with a commanding officer of some rank. More enhanced soldiers are sent at him. Things go boom. See you next issue for the conclusion.

Cable #3

Still on the fence over this comic. It's alright; some good ideas; some pretty shitty art at times. I give it to issue six.

Gødland #22

Love Nickelhead's opening. Great stuff. This book is great stuff. That ending makes me want the next issue now. Gotta love Joe Casey.

Holy War #1

Fuck you, I'm not calling it by its full title as that title is pretty stupid. Why not just call it "Holy War" and act a little mature, DC?

I have no idea what this comic is about. Okay, I do, as it will obviously be about two races going to war over religion (despite having a longstanding conflict that has nothing to do with religion--perhaps espousing the idea that religion is merely a tool or excuse for violence). What I do love is that it has DC superheroes attempting to destroy an entire culture's religion. Adam Strange, Hawkman, Animal Man and Starfire want to build an anti-god ray.

This issue is all over the place and Ron Lim's art is worse than I've ever seen it--but, I do love it when Starlin gets to be a crazy-as-fuck guy. Particularly enjoy the new Comet who briefs the JLA on the fact that most alien races think humanity will wipe itself out within a couple of decades and, therefore, have no plans on invading Earth when they can simply wait around.

The Invincible Iron Man #1

Fraction mentions the alcoholism! Right there, he won me over with his take on Tony Stark. Good first issue.

Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1

Favreau writes a horrible comic. Bad first issue.

Punisher War Journal #19

This would have been a much stronger issue if combined with last issue. Otherwise, pretty decent. About damn time, too.

Scalped #12-16

I said I would get caught up, didn't I? Actually, I also bought #11 because I am a moron who forgot that Casino Boogie collected #6-11...

This comic is as good as everyone says it is. The characters are complex and unique--often contradicting themselves. Aaron's writing is compelling and difficult to predict. R. M. Guera's art is dark and expressive. But, most of all:

I bought the first two trades and have now caught myself up via some singles and will be buying this comic every month. I don't do that very often. Normally, I will buy a book like this when a new trade comes out like I do with DMZ (which I really enjoy). But, this book is so good that I can't wait the six to nine months for a new trade. I want a monthly fix. Fuck me, you should be buying this comic.

Global Frequency: Detonation Radio

The final six issues of this series. All good stories, all good art. I particularly enjoy the Lee Bermejo-drawn issue. Creepy as fuck is what it is. This is another book that shows us all that Warren Ellis's dominant theme is one of hope and people doing their best to make the world better. If you don't get that, you're missing the point.

Hellblazer #85-88

Since I'm on a bit of a John Constantine kick, I wrote down the issues that aren't collected (and probably won't be), and picked up these four--a small story Eddie Campbell wrote with Sean Phillips on art. It's an odd one as John is suckered in by a ghost to help stop reality from unravelling and winds up travelling the world. It's a solid enough arc--not fantastic, but very entertaining at the same time. If you like the character or Eddie Campbell or Sean Phillips and see these issues cheap, get them.

Aztek The Ultimate Man

Ah, finally, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar's cult superhero title is collected. Is it worth it?

Sure, why not.

This is a pretty decent read, although I can see why it failed. Morrison and Millar are very guilty of not laying out the premise of the book at the beginning--we need to get it doled out in chunks. I think it's not until issue six or seven that we even learn what Uno's mission is. Which, you know, fine, it doesn't actually matter that much, but all of the intelligent commentary on superhero books isn't going to save you if the average reader doesn't know what the book is about. Morrison and Millar trust the reader, but I wonder if they trust him/her too much.

The stories are good, though. M&M play around with superhero conventions like secret identities and modern superhero ethics, and shit like that. Morrison continues his depiction of the super-sane Joker here as we get "cosmic trickster" Joker. Some nice team-ups with Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Batman and, even, Superman. The JLA issue is quite good, too. I am a little baffled why the last issue contains set-ups for subplot that never get explained, because the writers knew the book was being cancelled. Probably ties into the commentary side of the book. Hell, maybe Uno's half-brother will show up in Final Crisis and we'll get a new Aztek.

This book is worth picking up. I do have to ask, though: what happened to N. Steven Harris? His work here is decent and shows a lot of promise. Where'd he wind up?

And that does it (aside from the Garth Ennis Hellblazer trade I bought and don't feel like discussing--even briefly--and the final four Doom Patrol trades I got today as I haven't read them--I want to reread the first two before jumping in and those books are in Windsor).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Splash Page 14: Fuck the Top 100! (And a tiny bit more on Stormwatch/Authority...)

In this week's Splash Page, Tim and I discuss the top 100 runs list again, offering up final thoughts and, well, call voters morons. Because they are. Morons. All of them. Except for me. And maybe Tim. I'm still not sure about him, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As well, I was looking through my copy of The Authority #1 and, at the back, Warren Ellis discusses how The Authority is the third book of one story continuing from his Stormwatch work. Just throwing that out there. Again.

But, go read the Splash Page.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Catching up with Steve

I recently did a review of the DC/Vertigo book Incognegro for Playback St. Louis. Here's my introductory paragraph:

With their new book Incognegro, writer Mat Johnson and artist Warren Pleece weave a tale that is at once thrilling in its plot twists and thought-provoking in its exploration of the racial divide in our country at the turn of the 20th century. It is an insightful look at the themes of identity and prejudice wrapped within a gripping story of murder and wrongful accusation, and it is easily one of the best graphic novels of 2008 to date.

You can read the entire review at this link.

And have I mentioned here that I'm publishing mini-comics? Both the first and second issue are now available, with a third hopefully coming in June. The first issue features a 12-page relationship drama drawn by Nick Main, and the second is a 16-page children's fable illustrated by Stephanie Richardson.

Find more info, including details on how to order your own copies of the book, at the mini-site for my mini-comic.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

DC Continuity Sucks

So, I'm watching some TV in the basement here in my parents' house, and I begin looking through the stack of recent comics my dad has gotten. Nothing really catching my eye until I get to Countdown #2. Since I bought Death of the New Gods, I kind of wanted to see how Darkseid actually died since that didn't happen in the mini-series.

And, um... what?

I hate to be one of those guys who is all "Continuity error! Continuity error! I read the comic good!" (who gets that reference?), but when your entire fucking line of books is built on making sure they match up, I can't resist pointing that shit out.

I only take issue with Orion showing up since he was, well, dead. Granted, his soul was still around, but Darkseid knew that having just fought it before fleeing to Earth. And it couldn't speak. At least, all of that according to Death of the New Gods #8.

In Countdown #2, Orion was fully alive, Darkseid was surprised, and Orion could talk.

Which is correct? Does anyone know? Unless, of course, this ties into Grant Morrison's idea that the New Gods we've seen are just avatars--a concept that could lead to multiple versions of the same god showing up at the same time! So, yeah, one version of Orion died and came back as a soul, but that doesn't mean he can't show up in another avatar that's totally alive! And the Darkseid in Countdown obviously isn't the same one as the Darkseid in Death of the New Gods, because if they were the same ones, it wouldn't actually make sense!

So, instead of shitty editing over a very, very basic issue that would have been easily corrected by altering, like, three lines of dialogue, it's really just subtle storytelling that utilises concepts by Grant Morrison. I'm sorry, Dan Didio. I misunderstood for a moment. Please forgive me.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Splash Page 13: Whatever We Got this Week

In this week's Splash Page, Tim and I discuss whatever it is we happened to pick up this week. Now, I'm not going to lie to you: my half of the column isn't that great. I was tired (physically and intellectually) and just couldn't get into it. Thankfully, I recognised this and tried to get Tim talking as much as possible--which he is great at. So, my half is really only like a third of the column. Tim's stuff is fantastic, so you should definitely read it for that. My stuff... eh, it has its moments.

Sometimes, I am not good at promoting myself at all.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Sunday Open (on a Thursday!): Fifth Week of April 2008

Wow, April was a long month for comics. And, yeah, I passed my thesis defence. Go me.

Now, short reviews that only make sense to me!

DC Universe #0

They teased me. Teased me hard. Some bits intrigued me. Some didn't. The Batman/Joker scene was fantastic. The Libra scene was good. The rest didn't do much for me. But, whatever, it was fifty cents. Bring on Final Crisis and "Batman RIP."

Glamourpuss #1

I've yet to get into Cerebus, but, fuck you, I'm in on the ground floor of Dave Sim's newest comic! And it's... part fashion shit and part a discussion about Alex Raymond's photorealism style. It should be boring and dry, but it's not. This is a process book and strangely entertaining. Who'd've thunk it?

The Immortal Iron Fist #14 no one won the tournament?

Strangely, this left me a bit unsatisfied. It kind of happens and, yeah, there it is. I dunno. I dunno.

Legion of Super-Heroes #41

I got this because Tim and I were thinking of doing it for the Splash Page (which we haven't even begun yet). A decent issue dealing with beaurocracy and other shit. The future sucks, people. And despite being all genius, Brainiac 5 isn't that smart. I dunno, whatever. It wasn't a bad comic, but it also didn't get me wanting any future issues. It was mediocre and not worth further money.

New Avengers #40

Aside from that last page, I already knew all of this because I'm not a moron. I also have read New Avengers: Illuminati, New Avengers and Secret Invasion #1... nothing new is provided here except that last page reveal. The rest was all implied by those comics. So, this is a good issue for someone who hasn't been reading anything pre-Secret Invasion, but for someone like me: three bucks to learn that Spider-Woman is the Queen Skrull. Yeah, and I just gave you that information for free. Fuck. (Oh, don't like spoilers? What does it say at the goddamn top of the page, motherfucker? Yeah. That's right. Shut it now.)

The Order #10

They all didn't die. Fuck. But, bring on Invincible Iron Man or whatever it's called.

Thor: Ages of Thunder

Now, this was a very good comic. Two stories heavily rooted in Norse mythology showcasing Thor's abilities and the stupidity of the gods. Fraction's narration is fantastic here as he strikes a great balance between mythic language and telling the story in an easy-to-read manner. The art was decent, too.

Ultimate Human #4

I liked the earlier issues more.

Youngblood #3

There's some speculation as to whether or not Derec Aucoin is also Derec Donovan, and, if that is true... I liked his work on Adventures of Superman more. Casey's writing isn't that great here, but decent enough. This book is actually more tame and banal than I thought it would be. Weird.

I also bought The Other Side by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Maybe more reviews by the time the weekend is over.