Sunday, November 30, 2008

Random Thoughts: Secret Invasion #1-7

Since Secret Invasion #8 comes out this week (and I'll be reviewing it for CBR since Canada's shipping schedule is unaffected by the American Thanksgiving, meaning Canadians get to read it before everyone else... odd), I figured I'd reread the first seven issues and be all caught up regarding all of the characters, plots, subplots and little bits of information that may play a part in the final issue. So, here are some random thoughts as I flip back through the issues:

* Why does Tony Stark try to arrest Luke Cage and company in Antarctica? Isn't that just a bit outside of his jurisdiction?

* Did we ever see how Jarvis got replaced? I'm sure the issue featuring that plot would have been padded and boring, but... did we?

* In issue one, the SHIELD helicarrier is clearly crashing over Manhattan... in issue three, it turns up in the Bermuda Triangle... what the fuck? I know I'm not the first person to mention this, but, seriously, what the fuck?

* Why would Emma Frost be on the ship featuring the '70s heroes? In fact, why those specific heroes? Like, only the Invisible Woman represents the Fantastic Four and in a lovely bit of retroactive placement, Jessica Jones is there in costume. Why just Wolverine and Phoenix from the X-Men? Seems very random, going for characters who are either dead or have changed their look...

* How stupid is Clint Barton? Every other "hero" off that ship turns out to be a Skrull, but his back-from-the-dead wife is real? Okay, the emotional element is pretty strong, but still.

* Norman Osborn is one smooth talker.

* Even Nick Fury calls his group Commandos... just saying.

* I've got to wonder... will Ares be pissed off that his son is a member of Nick Fury's Howlin' Commandos Secret Warriors?

* Really, it's a quick read, but I'm mostly left with nit-picky questions regarding how the Skrulls managed to get DNA samples of every hero and villain in order to create so many super-Skrull warriors. Especially the Galactus one that shows up in issue seven... And how fucking shitty are these Skrulls, really... they get their asses handed to them pretty easily in issue seven.

* Some scenes really seemed designed for the serial nature of the series, particularly the bit between the Skrull Queen/Spider-Woman and Tony Stark where she tells him that he's a Skrull sleeper agent... it seems designed for shock value that's quickly undermined if you read these issues in one sitting.

* I will say that, so far, it works better than Civil War as a whole story, though. Some of the middle issues get a bit too jumpy and fragmented, but there's more of a whole feeling here. To the point where some of the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers issues seem horribly redundant or unnecessary (especially that Captain Mar-Vell/Noh-Varr one).

* However, like Civil War, logic is almost completely replaced in some spots by what seems like a cool idea... hitting those "fanboy orgasm" moments. Really, the whole invasion seems very ill-planned from a logic perspective, explained away by mentions of scripture and prophecy...

Not much here to discuss, honestly. We'll see how it ends, because that will also determine if I keep reading the Bendis-penned Avengers books.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Splash Page 40: Batman #681

In this week's Splash Page, Tim Callahan and I discuss Batman #681, the final part of "Batman R.I.P." How do the two of us, both huge proponents of the book react to the culmination of two years? Do we laugh? Do we cry? Do we swear and go insane? WHO KNOWS! Well, I know and you can know too by reading the column!

All that plus the not-so-secret-origin of how Tim and I met in... THE SPLASH PAGE!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

CBR Review: Thor: Man of War

I recently reviewed Thor: Man of War for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The language used to describe Thor’s response usually refers to it as a tantrum or the actions of a spoiled brat, placing Thor in a role we’re not used to: the impetuous youth in good need of a smack. His father, Odin, is more than happy to oblige, first sending out the Valkyrior and then confronting Thor himself. There’s a certain joy to be had in seeing Thor get taught a lesson in humility at the hands of his father."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

CBR Review: Trinity #26

I recently reviewed Trinity #26 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Trinity has completed half of its run with an issue that nearly defies description — because I didn’t understand it one bit. Granted, I haven’t picked up this weekly book since the first issue and it may be unfair to jump on board 25 weeks later expecting to understand fully what’s going on, but this is ridiculous."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Transhuman #4

I recently reviewed Transhuman #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "With a title like Transhuman, you’d expect people that rise above the fray. Hickman chooses, however, to show how altering the physical bodies can’t change how rotten and cruel people can really be. In short, instead of the optimism one might get with a Warren Ellis comic on the same subject, we get a vicious attack upon humanity that, sadly, rings all too true, but may cross the line between justified criticism and flat-out misanthropy."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

CBR Review: glamourpuss #4

I recently reviewed glamourpuss #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "As well, at some points, Sim mocks comic readers for, no doubt, gawking at the drawings of these swimsuit-clad women, but how is that different from Sim producing twelve pieces of art this issue depicting said women? Is Sim also mocking himself? Really, the question ultimately becomes, 'What’s the point?'"

You can read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CBR Review: Dragon Prince #3

I recently reviewed Dragon Prince #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "There’s something very familiar about that plot. It’s not a rip-off of anything specific, but the general ideas are very basic and general: a young boy finds out he’s got a secret heritage with two groups telling him conflicting things, each trying to win him over. But, Ron Marz makes this generic sort of plot work with subtle hints that Aaron is also aware of stories like that, and is wary of everything he’s told. He doesn’t believe what Madigan, leader of the Magi tells him, but he also doesn’t disbelieve. The character is remarkably self-aware, but that self-awareness is downplayed and mostly hinted at."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Best Whatever Lists (A Day Later and...)

Well, CBR has the top 25 comic book fights up and I figured I'd mention it since it relates to what I was talking about yesterday. The voting for this was open to anyone via the Comics Should Be Good blog and I considered voting, but then realised I just don't care. It's a list of the best fights... meh. Not my thing. The list itself is pretty typical with only a few surprises thrown in. Hell, there are only a few things I'd really even question about this list (that Deathstroke Identity Crisis fight being the main one... really?). But, hard to argue against the voted lists, especially when 90% of it is pretty much what you expected to see. People too bent out of shape over the order on lists like this, but, as far as I'm concerned, if it's on the list, that's good enough--especially a small list like this. Where lists usally get interesting is when they're in the 50+ range... that's when you get beyond the expected canonised stuff and really get into the controversial, "really, THAT got voted in?" fun. But, check out that list and see what you think. I will say that the description of that fight from Invincible has me almost wanting to check out that book.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best Whatever Lists...

In the new Rolling Stone, the magazine counts down the supposed 100 greatest singers of all time. The list is a usual mix of subjective getting it rights and what were they thinkings, but that doesn't actually matter since the point of these lists isn't so much saying this is how it is, but creating a little discussion and piquing interest. What really interests me is how this list compares to the recent top 100 guitar songs that the magazine published this summer, which I found pretty laughable in spots (only two Zeppelin songs?), if only because it seemed geared towards being inclusive and featuring a lot of different people rather than actually listing the top 100 guitar songs (which would result in a band like Zeppelin taking up a much larger chunk than 2% of the list, I imagine). But, do you know what the difference between those two lists is, really?

The guitar list was created in-house, while the singers list was created via voing by polling "a wide range of rock luminaries, acclaimed producers and music-industry heavyweights" (according to Jann Wenner). Say what you will about the actual make-up of the lists, but doesn't the second one at least have a hint of credibility behind it? You may disagree with the eventual results, but you can't exactly fault the method in creating the list... what better way? (Of course, some could fault who was polled and who wasn't, but come on...)

And that got me wondering why Wizard or The Comics Journal or whatever other comic book magazine remains doesn't do some lists this way (this isn't the first list Rolling Stone has created in this manner). Maybe they have (I'm not aware of such instances, though), but, jesus, wouldn't a list of the top 100 greatest comic book artists of all time (or writers, or stories, or whatever) created by polling a wide range of writers, artists, critics, editors, retailers, etc. (currently active or not, doesn't matter) be something fun and interesting? Or, is the comic book industry too in-bred, too connected... people voting for themselves or their buddies' work... voting along company lines... voting along genre lines... could it work?

Just wondering.

Could Marvel's Future Be X-Rated?

I received a lovely e-mail this morning from a guy/girl (the name given isn't a clear indicator) who had recently read Marvel Boy and came across my essay on the series (although, that essay makes me cringe and I keep meaning to update/rewrite it--same with my Codeflesh one), and wanted to know what I think of the recent use of Noh-Varr in the Marvel universe. I've discussed this a few times here in the past, but since it got me thinking, I figured I'd address it again in some detail.

My view on the Noh-Varr in Marvel Boy is that he's partially an invocation of Golden Age "heroes" like Namor and the original Marvel Boy, but also a reimaging of Spider-Man for the 21st century. The numerous similarities are too numerous to ignore from the colours/design of his costume and hair (the colours being the opposite colours of Spider-Man's costume), the death of a father figure, the survivor of a mother figure, the death of a girlfriend and getting a new girlfriend (note that their hair colours are red and blonde...), the general lesson of issue three is one of responsibility, the spider/cockroach powers... except Noh-Varr acts like an angry teenager with superpowers would: he carves swear words into cities, fights against authority figures, dates the wrong girl, learns everything he knows from TV, and wants to tear everything down so he can make the world "better." I still say that Noh-Varr captures the teenage experience far better than Spider-Man could ever hope to--better than any teenage superhero story ever has, I'd even say.

We'll never know exactly what Grant Morrison had in mind for the next two Marvel Boy series, but I get the feeling that, over the course of them, Noh-Varr would mature and grow, and no longer be an angry young man... because that's what happens. And that seems to be the direction that Brian Michael Bendis (with the help of Zeb Wells and Brian Reed) is taking the character. But...

But, it's too quick. There's no real reason for growth in the character. Since Marvel Boy, he been imprisoned, confronted by the Illuminati (in a godawful issue) as they tried to suggest that he should somehow help and protect the barbaric monkeys, brainwashed by the warden of said prison, taken over the prison and... yeah, not much. Where is the impetus for growth, to somehow want to take over the mantle of Captain Marvel as things seem to point to? He still comes from a civilisation thousands of years ahead of humanity--and the Kree of the 616 Marvel universe. As I said, the Kree may be more advanced, but it's by a few centuries, and Noh-Varr is beyond them all by a few millenia... he may feel affinity for the Kree of this universe, but not much. To put it another way, would you feel a whole of affinity for the homo sapiens of 150,000 years ago? How about even 10,000 years ago? They would barely qualify as human if your eyes because they're so less evolved. Now, is Noh-Varr that advanced? Debatable, but he is advanced enough that I don't see anything that Bendis/Reed/Wells has done that would suggest he would waver from his goal of tarraforming Earth and its cultures in an effort to recreate his homeworld of Hala.

Thinking that through, an idea occurred to me: maybe that's how Secret Invasion ends. Maybe after the Skrulls are defeated, Noh-Varr takes over and begins going about reshaping the world. Highly unlikely, but since the push to have him take over as Captain Marvel is so obvious, it would make sense that a curve ball be thrown. Maybe the "secret invasion" of the title is Noh-Varr's, not the Skrulls'. That would at least be interesting.

(I also want to say that despite his inclusion in the regular Marvel universe, I still read Marvel Boy as the first Ultimate book--the true updating of Spider-Man and other Marvel concepts for the 21st century... Morrison's reimagining of Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, the Punisher, and S.H.I.E.L.D. are all much more in line with the concept of the Ultimate universe in that they really do take the concepts and push them beyond their old limitations, making them more palatable for modern audiences. Just saying.)

So, that's that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

No Splash Page This Week

For various reasons, no Splash Page this week. However, in next week's edition, Tim and I will discuss Batman #681, which is the conclusion to "Batman RIP" and is sure to have us excited. In the mean time, I may post some more random things over the weekend, because both the roommate and girlfriend are out of town (no, not together) and I'm not sure what to do with myself beyond read comics and then write stupid things about them online.

I will say this, though, I wish Avatar would published more Warren Ellis Bad Signal collections. I have the first two (along with the first "From the Desk of..." collection--I tried to order the second from Avatar directly a couple of years back and things didn't work for various reasons and I've been too lazy to try again since) and am rereading them and... I still say that Ellis's writing on comics is just as good, if not better, than his actual comic work. I particularly love the manner in which he takes the collective online audience to task for not getting the simplicity that was The Filth #1. I want more, dammit.

Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1 (Part Four)

[It's been well over a year since my last post on this book, but I figured I should finish it up. This post refers to pages 403-560 of the volume, covering Action Comics #254-257 and Superman #130-133.]

The general focus of my reading of this volume has been focused on the odd plots and instances where Superman lies. Seriously, that guy seems incapable of telling the truth. It's kind of odd that he's supposed to be so heroic and noble, but constantly lies. Let's see what he makes up in these eight issues... (Actually these eight issues weren't nearly as messed up as previous ones.)

* In an effort to protect himself from Kryptonite, Superman once made himself a lead suit to wear. Except, of course, he can't see through lead and couldn't leave any holes to see since the radiation would get in... so he flew around in the thing and almost caused a plane to crash, because he's a goddamn moron.

* He also once magically recovered from Kryptonite radiation poisoning. No medical evidence given.

* He taught his robot duplicates to lie about the effects of Kryptonite.

* When a criminal tricks Superman into granting him six wishes, his first wish is for the biggest diamond in the world, so Superman brings him a baseball diamond. The criminal, enraged, says that he meant diamond as in ice. He wants ice and, after Superman leaves, says, "WHAT ELSE COULD ICE MEAN?" Yeeeeeeah.

* There's a town called Cyrusville where Superman is not allowed. They have policemen on guard to keep him out. Superman is so pissed off that he can't help but investigate the whole thing in disguise as Kent Clark--an original thinker, he sure is.

* Mr. Mxyzptlk needs a warning buzzer to alert him whenever he begins to spell/say his name backwards.

* In the future, Superman will make a stack of pancakes for his wife at super-speed... somehow his powers allow stoves to cook pancakes faster.

* A Bizarro copy of Bizarro is a mentally challenged Superman...

* Superman pretends to be Ultra-Superman from the year 100,000 and then uses his "future knowledge" to try and fail to prevet three disasters that result in destroying a major bridge, a naval vessel and an undersea dome in an effort to prevent a plot to kill the president... instead of just arresting the plotters. Why use logic when a retarded lie and tons of destruction will work just as well?

* Lex Luthor uses a raygun to give Clark Kent superpowers in an effort to see if there will be any side-effects. If there aren't, Luthor will use the gun on himself and escape from prison... instead of sticking Luthor in solitary confinement or something logical, Clark uses his powers to accumulate a massive amount of wealth, piss everyone off and then donate to charity as a supposed side-effect of the raygun.

* For an article, Clark spends three days as a policeman and gets the badge of a retired cop. He accidentally gets shot, but is unharmed... so the police chief's first thought is that Clark is wearing a lucky badge. Clark, of course, encourages this insanity and continually lies in order to make the badge seem lucky.

* We also get to see how Clark came to work at the Daily Planet. He needed a job because it would look suspicious for Clark Kent to have money and not work, so why not be a reporter? Perry White, of course, sees him as an unqualified doofus and tries to send him packing, but Lois likes his moxy, so... he's given several assignments that should be boring, but through lies and manipulation, Clark manages to make exciting. Until the final assignment: get a picture of Superman holding some Kryptonite... what? What the hell is wrong with Perry White? "Your assignment is to poison someone and photgraph it!" But, Clark fakes it and gets a job.

* Superman is an alien and can't run for president (as a previous issue told us), but he can apparently be drafted into the armed forces. He then proceeds to be a total dick and is quickly promoted to general whereupon he walks past his former commanding officer at superspeed, forcing said officer to continually raise and lower his arm to salute General Superman until the guy's arm needs to be put in a sling.

Sadly, not the most exciting stories, but they do continue to revolve around Superman's utter lack of logical thinking, his giant ego, and his inability to tell the truth when a complicated lie will do the job... at the expense of time and property, of course.

Still, I much prefered Showcase Presents Shazam!...

(Previous posts can be read by using the "showcase presents" tag...)

CBR Review: X-Files #1

I recently reviewed X-Files #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Writer Frank Spotnitz wrote for the television series and this issue tries to read like an episode, but lacks the depth or mood of the show. Scenes are rushed through, conversations are brief and lifeless, and the plot is barely engrossing. The differences in comics and television obviously necessitate a little compression since a 45-minute episode has more room for dialogue and lingering in scenes, but making it work is the job of the writer, and not the fault of the medium."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Bought Comics: Third Week of November 2008

[Ah screw it, I'll rant and rave and write meaningless tiny remarks on everything I got this week... even the stuff I reviewed for CBR. These are not reviews, though. Except if they are.]

Ghost Rider #29

Sure, I get an advance .pdf for a comic on my pull list... It's like how the week after getting the CBR gig, nothing I'd normally buy was coming out... Odd fun about the gig, I suppose. My review over at CBR for this issue was a little edited to prevent even the possibility of spoilers... I tried, but better safe than sorry. I really enjoyed this run at first and I wonder if the aimlessness of it combined with Roland Boschi's insanely perfect (for the book) art was a big allure. Now that Jason Aaron is focusing on the Story and not random weird shit, and Tan Eng Huat's art is here (and has been for a while), I'm losing interest. This issue has some great moments, particularly how Danny defeats Johnny--he doesn't just beat him, he converts him, really. And there's a logic in many Ghost Riders, but... meh. I find the idea so mundane... so easy. "Oh, there isn't just ONE Corps, there are many! Oh, there isn't just ONE immortal weapon, there are seven! Oh, there isn't just ONE Spirit of Vengeance, there are many!" Making the character less unique in an effort to make him/her MORE unique is just the current thing, I suppose.

Holy War #7

The best issue of the series so far. The sense of dread is palpable and real. The characters are desperate and willing to actually do some fucked up shit. I'm still wondering why Animal Man is in this book aside from the connection to 52. Still not a great book, but Starlin is better here.

Pax Romana #4

I reread the first three issues on Tuesday night so I'd be able to follow along fine and, man, this was a great series. Hickman just exploring the idea and morality of changing history to fit with modernity... Characters don't really matter, more the ideas/arguments they represent. It should read for shit, but Hickman makes it work. His art... I'm not sure I can discuss it intelligently. He uses space in a very unique way, one I'm not sure I understand yet... I'm looking forward to him on the new Holwin' Commandos Secret Warriors book... I also want more from this universe.

Scalped #23

I very much enjoy this comic book magazine.

X-Files #1

My review for CBR should show up in the next day or two. I ended up buying this for two reasons: 1. Glamourpuss #4 didn't ship as expected and I needed something else to review. 2. I was already going to buy it for my girlfriend since she's a big X-Files fan. The book didn't wow me for many reasons, which I discuss in my review. The GF did like it, though... despite agreeing with nearly all of my criticisms. There's probably some lesson about fandom in there.

Enigma #1-8

Next to the register was a box with bagged "sets" of comics, so I flipped through while my books were being rung up and I saw this for five bucks. I couldn't say no to it. I grabbed it and added it to the pile saying, "Hard to say no at that price." I'm slowly, and without any purposeful effort, collecting as much of Peter Milligan's work as I can it seems. Earlier this year, I bought the trade for Screemer cheap at the shop and now this. As a whole, this book is fairly straight forward with few ambiguities by the end, which I didn't expect. It's not a simple book by any means, but anyone who reads the whole thing and then says they don't get it... well, fuck 'em. It's about the absurdity of being a superhero, being gay, being an artist, and being someone you don't like. It's part a critique of comics from the 70s/80s(/90s) and part just a brutal story about a guy trying to figure out who he is. Very good read. I certainly enjoyed myself this afternoon with it.

That does it for now.

CBR Review: Pax Romana #4

I recently reviewed Pax Romana #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The pace of this issue is brisk in that it jumps from moment to moment, but also dense in that many of the moments highlighted feature lots of dialogue (including a two-page transcript of a conversation, which has been a standard technique in this series), and lots of allusions to events that occur off-panel. Hickman really trusts his readers to connect events for themselves, but does provide enough information to tell the story, although primarily through dialogue."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

CBR Review: Scalped #23

I recently reviewed Scalped #23 over at CBR, writing the following sentences in the process: "You know what’s so great about Scalped? Well, there are many, many things, but what I’m talking about is Jason Aaron’s willingness to open an issue with a so-common-it’s-cliche scene, because it’s shocking regularity is why it’s cliche: two teenagers about to have sex and the guy basically saying, 'We don’t need a condom, I just want to be close to you, I don’t want a baby, COME ON.' There’s nothing new here, nothing surprising, but Aaron uses uninspiring, horribly realistic scenes like this to great effect."

You can read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CBR Review: Aetheric Mechanics

I recently reviewed Aetheric Mechanics for CBR, because the book haunted me. In fact, I created the review document sometime last week (Thursday maybe), but couldn't decide if it was worth doing for various reasons (time since publication and that this is my third Warren Ellis Avatar review in the past few weeks), so I reread it yesterday and decided that, yeah, it needs to be reviewed. About it, I wrote the following sentences: "Aetheric Mechanics may seem simple on the surface, but it is one of the best things Ellis has written in recent years, mixing a sentimentality not often seen with his obsession with emerging technology to a wonderful effect. He and Pagliarani create a world that is intricate, detailed, and not easily dismissed."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Splash Page 39: Young Liars #9

In this week's Splash Page, Tim Callahan and I discuss Young Liars #9. During the course of the discussion, Tim puts forth a theory that I immediately jump on as brilliant and then get annoyed with myself for not seeing it sooner. That's always fun.

That, plus us just talking about one of the best books on the shelves right now in... THE SPLASH PAGE!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CBR Review: Ghost Rider #29

I recently reviewed Ghost Rider #29 for CBR and wrote the following sentences: "Following a quick primer on the history of Blaze and Ketch’s relationship, the two throw down in a fight that doesn’t really follow through on the hype, but considering that this is only the first round, it’s a good taste of what’s to come. The main problem with the fight is that it reminds me of the stereotypical idea of what war was like in the 1700s: the two sides approach, one side attacks, then the other, and they just take turns until someone wins. It’s too neat, too organized... and not at all what you’d expect in this balls-to-the-wall grindhouse comic book."

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book of the Week 9: Anna Mercury #4

[Ah, the book of the week... Just a book I feel like discussing that I bought this week. In the past, it has been chosen because it warrants discussion beyond a quick little response. This week, it's been chosen because I bought four comics this week and reviewed three of them for CBR. That doesn't mean this book isn't worth discussing, just that I figured I'd devote a little bit of space to it.]

I was really curious to read this issue since I wasn't sure what Warren Ellis was going to do. After all, issue three ended in a way that reminded me of Ellis's string of three-issue minis from a few years back, and with a logical conclusion already in place, what happens next? The answer is pretty simple: the so-called conclusion wasn't one, not really. It appeared that Anna Mercury had blown up the New Ataraxian's big gun on the alternate (sort of) Earth... but, all she's done is knock it down and it's still active--and still pointed at Sheol, their sworn enemy, never mind half of Ataraxia... The first contact was made via a US vessel with big guns--it appeared in the middle of New Ataraxia and the citizens thought it was God, and, thus, have tried to emulate it through big guns and blowing up the non-believers.

Really, this is a logical way in which to continue the series and provide more background, but I'm not sure if it actually works. The first three issues told a seemingly complete story with the possibility to revisit the concept and characters in future stories. These last two issues are looking like tack-ons that don't actually enhance the overall story (although, that is speculation since I haven't read the final issue yet). The expansion on the Ataraxian's motives is the only thing that really makes this issue worthwhile and could easily have been put off until the next story. Hell, the way this issue opens, with Anna Britton waking up at home and being all normal seems like a good way to open the next story.

Then again, is Ellis attempting to do two stories in one here? Is issue three meant to act as the last part of that story and as the first part of this one? Sort of like how Robert Rodriguez joked that Once Upon a Time in mexico is the final part of the El Mariachi trilogy and the first part of the Agent Sands trilogy... Okay, I'm reaching here, because that's clearly not the case with this issue as it really just follow-ups on the mission from the first three in a minor way that couldn't stand on its own.

I guess I'm just having trouble seeing the structure here since this issue seems so out of place. Maybe the finale will clear things up, but Ellis is usually very good at structure and this doesn't seem like him at all. It's not bad by any means, it's actually pretty good, but... it just feels unnecessary. Examining the whole mini-series will be quite interesting, I think.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

CBR Review: Young Liars #9

Recently, I reviewed Young Liars #9 for CBR, writing the following sentences about this brilliant, wonderful comic book magazine that you should all be buying monthly: "Unpredictable, passionate, odd, idiosyncratic, and very quite funny... really, your typical issue of Young Liars. Then again, there is no 'typical' issue of this book as David Lapham seems to have made it his mission to keep the reader guessing as every answer he provides leads to at least five more questions. Fractal storytelling at its best, I’d have to call it."

You can read the rest HERE!

Random Thoughts (Nov. 13 2008)

* It occurred to me sometime in the past few days (I can't say when), but what if the post-"RIP" make-up is Dik Grayson as Batman with Damian as Robin and Tim as the new Nightwing? I haven't seen that possibility floated anywhere else (so apologies to anyone who thought of it first), but there would be a certain logic in that, don't you think? Or, hell, throw Jason Todd into the mix and have him upgrade to Nightwing while Tim becomes Red Robin or whatever the hell that's called. Not saying this is a good idea, but it certainly wouldn't be out of place in the DCU and would be a way to factor in the different generations of heroes, especially between Bruce, Dick and Tim... why not make the Nightwing identity a transitional one between Batman and Robin? A sort of university/college education in superheroing with the Robin identity acting as junior high/high schooling, and the Batman identity being the Professional Real World Hero job... Again, not sure this is a good idea, but it makes a certain amount of sense and would place Dick/Nightwing into the hierarchy in a stronger way.

* Tony Daniel is writing "Battle for the Cowl"? Really? I'm still not sure if I'll pick up the non-Grant Morrison stuff being written by Denny O'Neil, Paul Dini and Neil Gaiman... so, yeah, don't think so. Daniel's art is bad enough, thanks. (That sounds a little too snarky, doesn't it?)

* This week was a very good one for what I bought. It actually made writing reviews yesterday a bit difficult as I reviewed three books that I thoroughly enjoyed and was getting sick of praising stuff. It's hardly news, but I'm always more comfortable tearing into stuff... which speaks to my character in a negative way, I suppose.

* The other day, I got a chance to read 2 Guns, the BOOM! mini by Steven Grant and an artist whose name escapes me. Lots of twists and turns with an ending that becomes pretty obvious partway through, but still very enjoyable.

* New Watchmen posters do little to make me feel better about that flick... Everything looks too slick, too neat and clean, which is not how I picture that world, aside from specific places/people. I'm trying not to hate everything I see related to the movie, but nothing so far has impressed me much aside from the odd shot in the trailers/bits of footage I've seen. That said, I'm holding any real judgements until seeing the movie, because who actually cares about the posters?

* Though, the trailer for The Spirit looks both fucking insane and fucking awful. It's one thing to see Frank Miller's obsessions on the page, but in live action with stylised green-screen environments... Wow. Fans of the character will no doubt have a shit fit upon release, but it could be one of those wonderful theatre experiences where you see something truly insane that you will never forget.

* I almost picked up the JSA Kingdom Come: Superman special when I learned that Ross didn't paint over his art--something I've wanted to happen for well over ten years. The preview pages didn't look bad, but money is tight and I'm sticking to the essentials right now. Otherwise, despite what I said in last week's Splash Page, I would have picked it up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CBR Review: Gravel #6

Today, I reviewed Gravel #6 for CBR, writing the following sentences: "The William Gravel in this issue is unlike one previously seen in that he’s not in control of the situation. In the past, he’s been up against big odds and powerful opponents, but he’s always had a plan, and now these acolytes throw him off guard. Despite being a killer, Gravel is not one to kill needlessly, especially a bunch of misguided and stupid kids who don’t know how stupid they are. He doesn’t want to play master to them, but seems unsure as to what else to do."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Captain Britain and MI:13 #7

Today, I reviewed Captain Britain and MI:13 #7 for CBR, writing the following sentences: "Paul Cornell makes writing a team book look easy. In this, the second part of the 'Hell Comes to Birmingham' story, the eponymous group is split up into three teams, but Cornell handles it all deftly, giving each its due, packing in action, twists and, even, the odd character moment. And he does it seemingly effortlessly as nothing seems rushed or compressed to make room... how does he do it?"

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Splash Page 38: Justice Society of America #20

In this week's Splash Page, Tim Callahan and I discuss Justice Society of America #20. And porn. We totally discuss porn. Okay, it's "continuity porn," but that's still porn, right? What I don't understand is: how come porn is good (well, to some), while continuity porn isn't (well, to some)? Is it that naked women are much, much better than Silver Age pastiches? Wow, I think I nailed it in one there. My real fear, though? The people who masturbate to continuity porn. Beware anyone who buys two copies of any comic written by Geoff Johns and/or Alex Ross... you just know one is for reading and the other... well...

Yeah, maybe you should ignore this and just go read about continuity porn in... THE SPLASH PAGE!!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

CBR Review: Station #4

I recently reviewed Station #4 for CBR and wrote the following sentences: "It seems almost wrong to say that there isn’t anything actually wrong with a comic and then give it 2.5 stars, but the lack of ambition here really does hinder the enjoyment of the issue by making it totally forgettable. I read the issue shortly before beginning this review and I’m struggling to remember any specific details about it."

You can read the rest HERE!

Random Thoughts (Nov. 9 2008)

* The one comic that I really want to read, but haven't gotten a chance to get yet (for various reasons including money--or the lack thereof--and the shop not having a copy): ACME Novelty Library #19. I really hope to get a copy before the end of the year because my "best of 2008" list will be laughable without it. (Although, by some tastes, my list will be laughable even with it, so...)

* Currently rereading Paradigm for the first time as a whole. I haven't read an issue since it ended back in 2003 (cover dated November, so it's been five years). Have read the first four issues and... I've got to say, this is one weird comic. It goes where it wants, it lies to you, it tells you that it lies to you... It's also a dense read. I own all thirteen issues (both copies of the first one). The original first issue is autographed by artist Jeremy Haun, who I met at Wizard's Chicago con back in 2003. I also bought my "Fight for the sitcom" t-shirt from him then and have loved it ever since. In fact, it and my jacket (which I call The Jacket) are my two favourite items of clothing that I own. The 2003 Chicago con was also where I met Steve Higgins in person for the first time--and Steve is/was a big Paradigm fan. He has several letters printed in issues and I remember spending much of the Friday(?) night at the bar in Chicago talking to him. About what, I don't remember. Wow, that was over five years ago... it seems like forever ago, really. That night in the bar was kind of shitty since it was the hotel bar and I got in before they started carding people (I was only 20 at the time) and the bathroom was in the hotel proper, not the bar itself, so I couldn't leave to use the bathroom or else face not getting back in. Which meant I nursed a single pepsi the entire night. The irony was that I didn't drink back then (despite the legal age in Ontario being 19)... Other than that, it was a good time. But, back to Paradigm... Not sure if I'll write about it here quite yet. Steve should, though. But, I'm enjoying it quite a bit and it works really well when read together. I remember reading it monthly and getting lost here and there. The black and white hurts the book only in that Haun's art isn't always clear on who is who... The writing is a bit obtuse at times, too, but that's part of it. It's weird to think that I was reading this, Automatic Kafka and The Filth at the same time five years ago... I miss 2003.

* I'm rethinking how to go about discussing new comics here since I'm also doing review for CBR of many of the same books. I didn't bother with it this week since the only comics I bought were for reviewing purposes. Maybe I'll switch to extended discussions/reviews of the books I don't review at CBR. Then again, the purpose of those reviews is different from what I do here already. Who knows.

* A week or two back, I reread a lot of Grant Morrison's small mini-series. Marvel Boy, Flex Mentallo, WE3, Seaguy, and Vimanarama. The first four have been discussed a lot by various people, but I don't remember much time or effort spent looking at the last one. It was the third of the three three-issue minis Morrison did at Vertigo a few years back and was generally regarded as a disappointment after Seaguy and WE3. Vimanarama is a sort of cross between Indian culture and Jack Kirby... a superhero comic done with a Bollywood influence. It's understandable why it didn't catch on much, but it's not a bad read at all. Philip Bond does the art and it has some really interesting ideas... and fits well into Morrison's usual themes. A superhero who loses his powers because his one true love doesn't love him; an ordinary guy who becomes a superhero at the end; even an elevated plane of existence where words take the place of the items they refer to. Not a substantial work really, but a strangely forgotten one...

* Question: has anyone reading this gotten the recent Marvel Boy hardcover? If so, did Marvel simply reprint the previous collected version, which broke up a couple of double-page spreads (one of which was pages two and three of issue four) or did they insert a black page to maintain the original art as printed in the issues? Just curious.

Friday, November 07, 2008

CBR Review: Cable #8

I recently review Cable #8 at CBR, about which I wrote the following sentences: "The initial fight between Cable and a cockroach soldier is amusing as the soldier taunts Cable for attacking it like he would a human since the anatomy is different. It takes a chainsaw to end the fight. In a later fight, Ariel Olivetti’s drawing of Cable swinging a scythe so hard that he’s literally off his fight adds to the absurd nature of what’s going on -- in a good way."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Invincible Iron Man #7

I recently reviewed Invincible Iron Man #7 for CBR, about which I wrote the following sentences: "Well, Spider-Man and Iron Man had to meet again sooner or later. After the events of “Civil War” where Spider-Man turned his back on his friend after acting as his right-hand man and, then, “One More Day” where knowledge of Spider-Man’s secret identity was erased, a confrontation between these two was inevitable, but the question was how would it be handled? Thanks to Matt Fraction, the answer is quite well."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

CBR Review: Justice Society of America #20

I recently reviewed Justice Society of America #20 for CBR, about which I wrote the following sentences: "The use of artists Dale Eaglesham and Jerry Ordway is wonderful, with Eaglesham drawing the regular DCU, while Ordway handles Earth-2. The slightly retro look of Ordway’s pencils works for the slightly retro feel of Earth-2, but his work does overshadow Eaglesham’s a little. Comparing each artist’s composition and ability to depict so many characters, Eaglesham’s panels often looked crammed and awkward next to Ordway’s."

You can read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

CBR Review: Back to Brooklyn #2

I recently did an advance review of Back to Brooklyn #2, about which I wrote the following sentences: "We’re never told explicitly what Paul has done to warrant his brother’s betrayal, but Bob suggests it’s something very bad and we get hints that it involves working with Russian gangsters who act as slavers. While horrendous, it does raise the question of why this particular action so offends Bob. That question is the one thing that redeems this comic and suggests that it may yet rise above its current lackluster quality."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Splash Page 37: The Boys #24

In this week's Splash Page, Tim Callahan and I discuss The Boys #24. Okay, this will be the third time you've seen me talk about the book this week and there's an explanation for that: when we decided to do the column on it, I didn't have the reviewer position. But, here's the thing: there's no stuff said. All kinds of new stuff. And not just by Tim! I contribute, like, 37% new ideas in this column. So, the column itself is, what, 68.5% new content! That's not too bad, right? Right?

All that, plus 31.5% old content you've read before, but is still pretty great in... THE SPLASH PAGE!!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

CBR Review: No Hero #2

I recently reviewed No Hero #2 for CBR where I wrote the following sentences: "here are hints that Joshua is a plant by some enemy of Masterson’s (with or without his knowledge isn’t clear), and hints that all isn’t right with Masterson or the Front Line, all adding up to a general feeling of uneasiness, which is rare in a comic. Ellis doesn’t do much to create this uneasy feeling; he just drops a line here or there."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Rann-Thanagar Holy War #6

I recently reviewed Rann-Thanagar Holy War #6 for CBR where I wrote the following sentences: "Adam Strange finding himself helpless with his Zeta beam transporter offline and facing forces much more powerful is interesting to see as he struggles to maintain composure and morale in front of the others. He is obviously out of his element and unsure of himself after mistakes in previous issues, but stubbornly maintains his air of authority."

You can read the rest HERE!