Thursday, April 30, 2009

CBR Review: Dark Avengers #4

I recently reviewed Dark Avengers #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After Dark Avengers #3 went to a second printing, Marvel quoted my review of that issue, where I wrote, 'This is Bendis at his best... a must read each month.' That may have been true last issue, but not so here. Now it’s more 'This is Bendis writing a comic book that you can read each month if it ships on time... I mean, it’s an okay read, not too bad, but it’s not going to set the world on fire or anything.' There’s a quote that will move comics, don’t you think?"

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CBR Review: Batman: Battle for the Cowl: The Underground #1

I recently reviewed Batman: Battle for the Cowl: The Underground #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Batman: Battle for the Cowl: The Underground begins with the words, 'This story is a mystery, the best kind,' which is both true and false. This story is a mystery, that much cannot be denied, but it is not the best kind as the mystery in question is 'What purpose does this comic serve? Why does is exist? Who would want to read this pointless dreck?' Okay, that’s three mysteries, but they’re all tied closely together, so we’ll treat them as one -— a mystery I’m determined to solve right here and now."

You can read the rest HERE!

Free Comic Book Day 2009

Because my wife works on Saturday, I am doing up this year's Free Comic Book Day big time. I'm going to no less than TEN shops that day all across the St. Louis area, taking photos of their shops and activities along the way. And while I will be getting a few free comics, I also fully intend to give money to each of those shops too. It's a day for celebrating comics, and that's what I plan to do!

My intended itinerary is:

Heroic Adventures in Edwardsville, IL at 9 am
Hometown Comics in Edwardsville, IL at 10 am
The Fantasy Shop in Fairview Heights, IL at 11 am
Twilight Comics in Shiloh, IL at 11:30
Fantasy Books in Belleville, IL at 12:30
Mo's Comics in St. Louis, MO at 1:30 pm
Star Clipper in University City, MO at 2:30 pm
The Fantasy Shop in St. Charles, MO at 3:30 pm
Comic Relief in St. Charles, MO at 4:30pm
and maybe The Fantasy Shop in Florissant, MO if I have the time before Sarah gets home from work at 5:30 pm

So watch this space on Sunday or Monday for photos and a blog about my FCBD 2009 experiences!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CBR Review: Sherlock Holmes #1

I recently reviewed Sherlock Holmes #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The ensuing discussion seems aimed at filling the pages and holding off the end of this issue as long as possible, because it’s the shocking cliffhanger —- and reads exactly as such. Moore and Reppion mimic the writing style of Doyle well enough but, as I said, seem so beholden to his formula as to not produce an interesting comic. While this sort of set up works well in prose, for a comic it falls flat and crawls at a glacial pace."

You can read the rest HERE!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Advance BOOM! Mini-Reviews (Apr. 29, 2009)

Mr. Stuffins #1 (of 3)
Written by: Andrew Crosby, Johanna Stokes
Art by: Axel Medellin
Rating: Very, very lame

Teddy Bear secret agent... sounds like a decent enough concept, but the execution is very "unproduced screenplay." Broadly drawn characters, a lame mix-up, even the bear isn't that entertaining. Honestly, this was a disappointing read, because the concept could be very cute and have all sorts of directions it could go in, but this... this is very, very lame.

Zachary's parents are getting divorced (or are, more properly, separated--something that comes up a couple of times oh ho ho) and his dad takes him shopping where his dad tries to get him to buy MANLY toys like tanks and footballs, but Zach wants a talking teddy bear that's totally interactive. His dad thinks it's lame, but buys it anyway. What they don't know is that a scientist working on some top secret project is on the run and hid his disc containing the project in the very bear that Zach just got! So the bear, instead of being loveable and fun, is now a paranoid, militaristic toy that ties up the other stuffed animals and "interrogates" them.

Yeah, it could be fun, it could be entertaining, but it's not. The family is one horrible cliche after another: workaholic dad, bitter mom, slutty daughter, loser son with no self-esteem! The bear has no real personality. The top secret project subplot is nothing new. Like I said, everything about this project reads like "unproduced screenplay" with many obvious reasons for the 'unproduced' part.

My prediction for what happens: the bad guys swarm the house, the kid and the bear work together to overcome them, everyone lives happily ever after having learned a valuable lesson.

The Muppet Show #2 (of 4)
Written by: Roger Langridge
Art by: Roger Langridge
Rating: Pretty damn funny

The first issue didn't wow me as much as everyone else despite my liking the art. This issue, though, really impressed me. Focusing on Fozzie attempting to rework his comedy act, Langridge had me laughing throughout this issue.

My favourite scene has Fozzie attempt physical comedy by jumping off a diving board onto a trampoline while people throw pies at him. Langridge's art and composition cracked me up quite a bit.

Unlike the Kermit story of the first issue, this one worked for me because it played around with Fozzie trying out new comedy styles. It's very active and engaging.

I honestly don't have THAT much to say beyond that this was a very funny read, both because of the writing and the art. Pulling off comedy in art seems lost on most comic book artists, but Langridge's cartooning abilities are superb.

CBR Review: Scalped #28

I recently reviewed Scalped #28 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "For the fourth part of 'High Lonesome,' Jason Aaron shifts from focusing on one character to focusing one event -— or, really, two events directly linked: the killing of the two FBI agents in 1975 and the killing of Gina Bad Horse in the first year of Scalped. We finally learn who was at fault in each case and the answer isn’t shocking, but the results very well could be."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Ignition City #2

I recently reviewed Ignition City #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Ellis is near the top of his game here as everyone is damaged. The heroes, the villains, everyone seems to be going through the motions of life, half hoping that they won’t wake up the next day, because if they can’t be in space, if they’re stuck on dirt, what’s the point? Ignition City is a comic about people who have had their dreams taken from them and have to keep on living. It’s mean and horrible, and very, very good."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Panel Discussion on Comics

This past Friday (April 24) I hosted a panel discussion on comics at the school where I teach, Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL. The members of the panel were Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Matt Kindt, three comics creators from the St. Louis area.

This was the third time I've done this lecture at my college and the fifth time total that I've moderated such a panel (having done a lecture just like it in the spring semesters of 2003 and 2004 when I taught at Olney Central College). But this year marked the first time ever that the planets aligned, and I was able not only to record the guest lecture but also to upload it all to Youtube for everyone's viewing pleasure!

Now because my camera only allowed my camera operator (my wife Sarah) to record for ten minutes at a time, she had to do her best to stop and restart the camera between questions. She was more successful at that task in some videos than others, as will clearly be noticeable if you watch the videos themselves. But overall if you watch these videos you will be seeing 95% of what you would have seen had you actually been in the Olin Theatre in the Hatheway Cultural Center that fatfeul day.

And here they are:

Video one runs 9:47. In it the guys introduce themselves and then answer questions on their training in their fields and what influenced them in their formative years.

the second part runs 9:36. The panelists address why they chose comics as their creative medium, if there is still a stigma on comics as "kids' stuff," and what goes into writing a comic.

In the third video the guys discuss the pacing of comics as it related to ad placement or serialized comics vs. graphic novel length stories. It runs 9:34.

The fourth video deals with the collaborative nature of comics creating, transitioning into the need for criticism during the creative process, and runs 6:22 in length.

Video number five is 4:23 in length and in it I ask the artists of the panel about their creative process while drawing.

The sixth part of the lecture focuses first on the nitty-gritty aspects of publishing comics, doing work for hire for mainstream publishers or for smaller indie publishers and doing work you own yourself. Then we talk about art styles and how much they can bend to suit a particular genre. It's 9:29 in length

And the seventh and final video runs 8:29 and concludes the panel by talking briefly about color vs. black and white in comics before then taking a few questions from the audience (one final question which involved female readership of comics sadly got cut off midway through the responses, but I might try to do some editing and see if I can post a reconstruction of it at a later point).

Comics Should be Good Reminder

Just wanted to post a little reminder about my contributions to Comics Should be Good where, each Sunday afternoon, I do a Reread Review (a look at books I've read previously and am now rereading), each Tuesday I do Random Thoughts!, and, once a month, I do the Judging Books by Their Covers feature for Marvel and DC's newly solicited covers. A lovely archive of all of my writing for CSBG can be found here. I just posted a Reread Review on JLA: Heaven's Ladder, the oversized kickoff to the Mark Waid, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, and Laura Depuy JLA run that no one really remembers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Bought Comics: April 22, 2009

[Christ, it seems all I do these days is write and think about comics. But that's not true! I also watch wrestling and Blue Jays games! I also hang out with my girlfriend! I also read books! I also talk to the police about this odd fraud scheme that some people tried to involve me in! See? Lots of stuff besides comics! Which is why I feel okay writing some more about comics here. As always, these aren't reviews, because I get paid for reviews and you bastards ain't paying shit. So this is what you get for free. Because I love you.]

Detective Comics #853

I did enjoy this comic despite it's hokey-as-fuck ending that really frustrates me. Partly because it's hokey-as-fuck and partly because it has Batman giving up. FUCK THAT SHIT. The Batman doesn't give up. I don't care if he realises he's dying and his mommy says it's time to go, the Batman says, "Sorry, mom, my city needs me" and he keeps on fighting. None of this "Goodbye, [*insert element of Batman's life*]" shit! Superman would do that, but Batman? No chance.

The other thing that bothers me is that I realised that SOMEONE should have insisted and fought for JH Williams III to draw this story. And I'm not saying that just because I love Williams's art and wish he drew every comic I read, but because he's an artist who shows a unique talent to draw in different styles on a character-by-character basis -- and that's what this story needed. Kubert does an okay job, but Williams would have made it obvious that these were characters from different eras coexisting.

Also, how cool is that Joker sketch by Kubert in the back of the issue? And why does the Joker he actually draws here (and in Batman #686) not look nearly as awesome?

New Avengers #52

Chris Bachalo continues to make Billy Tan look like a fucking hack. I can't seem to drop this book. I really like Bendis's Avengers stuff. I do.

No Hero #5

A lot of nice moments here, but Josh getting to be a hero was nice -- although is was obvious what had happened before the reveal. Not quite sure where this series is going or how it will end. It seems very relaxed and meandering. Really enjoying it. Edit: And I just noticed that the cover colour schemes match the colours of the rainbow/light spectrum. So far: red, orange, yellow, green, blue... with the zero issue being black. I rather like that touch.

That's what you get for free on a Friday morning.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CBR Review: Ghost Rider #34

I recently reviewed Ghost Rider #34 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "A demonic trucker versus a biker with a flaming skull. Is this not the best issue of Ghost Rider that has ever been penned?"

You can read the rest HERE!

notes on teaching V for Vendetta

In my discussion of V for Vendetta with my students over the past week that I've been teaching it, a few interesting thoughts came up that I thought I'd share with you.

+In comparing V to Rorschach, we talked about how Rorschach is defined very much by his sense of right and wrong. However, it's established very early on that V is a sociopath. Now that diagnosis comes from agents of the all-powerful government (such as Delia Surridge) but it is apt nonetheless. Beyond simply taking life with no qualms, he manipulates individuals (Rose, Evey) in horrific ways to meet his own ends and sees no value in them as individuals, only as organisms that are a part of the society as a whole.

Thus as a sociopath, V doesn't really have a sense of right and wrong. However he does have a sense of good or bad, I think, and he sees that the government as led by Susan is BAD because of how it impinges on its citizens' freedoms. Valerie is one of the only people he shows genuine feeling for, but I suspect that is more due to what she represents (what society has lost) than her own personal struggle.

(Meanwhile Evey IS touched by Valerie's story on a personal level, and one main reason behind V's torture of her (be it to educate or to indoctrinate her, depending on your POV) is to test her reaction to Valerie's letter, to measure her humanity. Evey learning what lesson V wanted her to learn, that her integrity and personal beliefs are more valuable than anything else, when she had been driven by the state of the world to the brink of betraying those beliefs (and killing someone) proved to him that she would be a worthy successor, the creator to follow him in the role of destroyer.)

Anyway, this led to me arguing that V's vendetta against those in power was not personal in any way and in fact, had the end result of his own torture and pain in Larkhill actually bettered society in some way, I would argue that he might have stopped at the end of book one, only revenging himself upon those who directly harmed him and leaving the society intact. But because the government is corrupt, he plays a different role. He sees the flaws in the way the world is run and he must point them out. He must fight to save the world from itself. It is here that V shares a commonality in his personality with Rorschach (and Ozymandias, but we'll get back to him in a moment).

Also, I find he is similar to Rorschach in his self-knowledge. Both characters, in my opinion, know that in order to clean up the cesspool of the society in which they live they must cross over a line. By crossing that line into "wrong" or "bad" behavior, they also recognize that any better world that might come to pass cannot have a place for them in it.

+Meanwhile, V as compared to Ozymandias is very similar in overall methodology. Both recognize that the ends justify the means, and both are willing to deal a little death in order to bring about a better society for all. Again, what V does to Rose, how he sets her up to get dragged through the mud so much that she will assassinate Susan, despite what it means to her own well-being, is perhaps his most reprehensible action in the book, very much akin in my mind to Ozymandias poisoning his faithful servants (and then later claiming no responsibility for that act).

However, I believe one key difference is that V does NOT harm unnecessarily. He could kill the train conductor when he kidnaps Prothero or the guard who finds Prothero, but he doesn't. Nor does he harm Finch, beyond a flesh wound to the leg, when Finch attacks him in the subway in the end. He only kills when he must, and never to hide his actions in a cowardly way. In fact, he wants it to be known what he's doing from the get-go. Meanwhile Ozymandias kills many people for the sole reason of covering his own tracks, when their deaths are completely unnecessary in bringing about his better world.

And I think this difference is essential in the end result of the book for both characters. V knows that he should not be a part of the new world order, that he has merely been an agent of destruction and that the rebuilding process should not involve him in any way. He was up front from the beginning about his role in the destruction of the old way of doing things, because he knew he would not survive and he wanted the new world to be chosen by the people themselves (thus why Eve as V lets the people riot on their own, thus why it's so important that ROSE kills Susan and FINCH kills V, since they are agents of the people and not individuals, thus why Eve/V abducts Dominic to educate him (the new senior authority) in the right way to create a new society).

Yet Ozymandias wants to rebuild the world in his own image, and his desire to change things for the better is all about HIS will (as established in the Veidt Method pamphlet), his selfish desire to outshine Alexander the Great and conquer the world (as established in his origin story outlined in issue eleven.

So it was our belief in the class that V would be at odds with Ozymandias for the harm he did and for his egotistical desires to be in power afterward, whereas Rorschach he would have no problem with, as long as Rorschach didn't get in his way. On the other hand, Rorschach would probably diametrically oppose V's actions, while Ozymandias would look at the end results of what he had plotted out and view him as a kindred spirit.

+One interesting contrast we found in the book is how in the beginning of the book the voice of Fate changes after Prothero's mental break, and everyone takes notice. The voice of Fate is the symbol of security in the government; it is everpresent and thusly taken for granted by those who hear it day in and day out, until the moment it changes. The change rocks the world of the people, casts doubt on security, shows the system is fallible.

On the other hand the voice of V changes in the end of the film. Whenever Eve takes over the role of V, and delivers the final address to the people of London, her voice must sound different than the original V's did. BUT no one takes note of that fact, because despite the nature of V as a symbol of what they've lost, they're actually listening to what V has to say. They don't care about the delivery, only the content, and thus take no note of a difference.

I just find that an interesting contrast.

+Of course we talked a great deal about how Evey can be viewed as the real protagonist of the series (since V himself is not a man but an idea, a symbol) and her growth from youth to adolescent to adult, from Evey to Eve to V, is what the book is really about.

And that naturally led to a detailed discussion of the changes made to the story in the film, for which I owe Kate McClancy much thanks for providing me with a copy of her essay which she presented at Wondercon this past February. We talked about how V in the film IS a man, how his humanity is emphasized repeatedly and how his love for Evey diminishes her character to mere love interest rather than disciple. V in the film tortures her, which she judges monstrous, showing him the error of his ways. The government must still be brought down because of how they have wronged him, but he realizes his methods are wrong now even though it is too late to turn back.

Rereading that essay by Kate solidified several issues in my mind, which I highlighted as we spent an entire class period looking at individual scenes from the film (the Larkhill scene, the TV hijacking, Valerie's letter, and the last twenty or so minutes of the film, from Sutler's death to V's to the march on Parliament), pausing between bits to discuss how the changes affected the characters and theme.

In all, the past two days of analysis of this great graphic novel have been very insightful, not just for my students but for me as well. It was a true delight how I could still find new and intriguing things in this book, even after having read it what must be somewhere between 25 and 50 times.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Panel Discussion on Comics Friday April 24

Just wanted to do this as a brief announcement of an event I'll be moderating on Friday:

On Friday April 24th I will be hosting a guest lecture on comics in the auditiorium in Hatheway Cultural Center on the campus of my school Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL. Three writers and artists who work in the comics industry will be coming to campus to engage in a panel discussion of their work and their creative process.

The creators are writer Cullen Bunn and artists Brian Hurtt and Matt Kindt:

Cullen Bunn's first comic, The Damned, is a horror noir series that was first released by Oni Press in 2006. The first story arc, Three Days Dead, has been collected in trade paperback. The second story arc, Prodigal Sons, has been published as a three-issue mini series. A third arc, Daughter’s Danse, is forthcoming. Since the publication of The Damned, Cullen has focused primarily on writing comic books. Oni Press will soon be publishing The Tooth, a tribute to the comic book horror heroes of the 70s, and The Hollows, an epic horror graphic novel.

Brian Hurtt has been working full-time in the comic industry since 2002 with his debut in the spy series Queen & Country from Oni Press. Since then he has drawn for a number of different comic companies on a variety of series, most notably Hard Time for DC Comics. He is the artist and co-creator of The Damned with Cullen Bunn.

Matt Kindt has been nominated for 4 Eisner and 3 Harvey awards over the course of his illustrious career. He is the writer and artist behind the graphic novels Super Spy and 2 Sister and the co-creator of the Pistolwhip series, all from Top Shelf Comics. His works have been honored by numerous magazines such as Time and GQ, and his newest book 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man will be released in September.

The panel discussion will begin at 2 and will last until 3, with another hour or so for students to meet the artists afterwards in the lobby. There the students will be able to ask them questions and get copies of the various works they have created.

This event is free and open to the public, so anyone interested in art in general or comics in particular can come and hear about the creative process of these three professional comics creators. If you're in the St. Louis area, I strongly encourage you to stop in. If you have questions or need directions, I can be contacted at my school email address,

And for all of those who can't make it, my wife will be recording the presentation with our digital camera so a few clips will be available on my Youtube account shortly after the presentation, and I will post links here as soon as I get them uploaded.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CBR Review: Thor #601

I recently reviewed Thor #601 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Straczynski weaves through all of these plots in issue 601, giving a wide view of reactions and consequences, all while having a lot of fun. Balder dining with Loki and Dr. Doom is wonderful, as the new lord of Asgard toys with the notion of emigrating to Latveria rather than staying in an Asgard floating in the middle of Oklahoma. It’s hard to get a read on him as he both seems to distrust and listen to Loki."

You can read the rest HERE!

Watchmen and Philosophy

I started reading the book Watchmen and Philosophy while I was teaching the book, and now that I've finished I thought I would go ahead and post a quick review here. Like any anthology of criticism, some essays are better than others, having a bit more to say or plunging a bit deeper into the themes and characters of the book, but overall the quality of insight these critics offer is very valuable to a deeper understanding of the graphic novel. There are only a few essays that I didn't like, but more on those later.

The best section of the book is the section which deals with Doctor Manhattan, which has a trio of essays that each explore a different aspect of his character in a very thought-provoking way. The first of these, "Dr. Manhattan, I Presume?", explores the philosophical question of if Dr. Manhattan is still Jon Osterman if Osterman's body has been destroyed, through the Cartesian concept of the mind existing on a nonmaterial plane. It also analyzes the idea of which of the different versions of Dr. Manhattan retain his identity and can be viewed as "really" him when he splits into three, as well as what happens to the mind when a person is teleported long distances. In the second essay, "A Timely Encounter: Dr. Manhattan and Henri Bergson," the author analyzes how Jon perceived the past, present, and future simultaneously, in a non-linear fashion. It shows how perception and memory are different and how Dr. Manhattan's perceptions of his past experiences intermingle with the present. And finally the third of the Dr. Manhattan essays of note is entitled "Free Will and Foreknowledge: Does Jon really Know what Laurie Will Do Next, and Can She Do Otherwise?" It talks about the concept of fatalism (how everything is preordained) and how it jives with the issue of Jon's perception of time as discussed in the previous essay. All of these essays are very insightful, both to the philosophical concepts they discuss and to the graphic novel itself. (There's also a fourth Doc Manhattan essay too, but it's not quite as good as these others.)

There are also several rather good essays that explore the philosophical motivations of Rorschach and Ozymandias. "Can We Steer this Rudderless World?: Kant, Rorschach, Retributivism, and Honor" is about Rorschach's views on right and wrong from a retributivist point of view, that wrongdoing must be punished not to teach the person a lesson but simply because wrong is wrong and deserves punishment. Similarly the essay "Rorschach: When Telling the Truth is Wrong" also invokes Kant in its look at Rorschach's character, how telling the truth is a categorical imperative and must be done simply because lying is wrong, no matter what its result may be.

Meanwhile Adrian is the focus of "Means, Ends, and The Critique of Pure Superheroes" and how his particular brand of utilitarianism is that of a consequentialist, that the ends are the most important thing, whereas Rorschach is more of a deontologist, believing that the morality of the actions themselves is the most important. It also adds in the concepts of egalitarianism, how Adrian weighs the happiness of everyone worldwide against the death of the population of New York and judges them accordingly. Finally "Superheroes and Supermen: Finding the Ubermensch in Watchmen" explores what Nietzsche meant by the term and how it fits in with various characters in the graphic novel, specifically Adrian.

Probably the weak links of the collection are two essays that come towards the end, and they are weak simply because they are the most obvious. The first of these is called "'Why Don't You Go Read a Book or Something?': Watchmen as Literature." As its name implies it tries to define what literature is and whether Watchmen fits the definition. And the end conclusion is that... the authors remain undecided, that most likely comics are a new hybrid art form, not quite art and not quite literature. In all it's a bit elementary and a bit inconsequential.

The second essay which I found uninteresting, "Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis: The Ambiguously Gay Duo," felt out-of-place because of how little it had to do with Watchmen. It mentioned the characters from the book briefly in the intro and conclusion, but it's mostly just a patronizing piece on why homosexuals are people too. It's full of antiquated notions that the author thinks are progressive but only induced eye-rolling in me. Some interesting quotes:

"Regardless of the way someone acts, looks, or sounds on the outside, he may still be an HM [the author's abbreviation of homosexual] on the inside in terms of his basic orientation. After all, if it's true that Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice are gay, they sure as heck don't act and look like they're gay" (187).

"Plenty of HMs I know are very kind, generous, and gifted; the world would definitely suffer for their loss" (188).

"HMs are, however, quite distinct from pedophiles. The actions of pedophiles in molesting children are, by their very nature, harmful to others, but not so the actions of HMs. ... There is no such thing as a good, right, or moral act of child molestation. We can't say this, necessarily, for the HM, because there are such things as good, right, or moral HM acts; not every HM act need be evil" (191).

so yeah, lines like those made me a bit squeamish while reading it. It's very well-meaning but it comes across as just as judgmental as those it argues against. But those are again the two weak points out of the entire book. Overall it is a very worthwhile read that I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of the GN.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Bought Comics: Ed Brubaker Edition

[Yeah, yeah, yeah, not reviews, just whatever pops into my head... probably not entertaining or informative in any way, but, well, fuck you, this is my blog and you don't have to read it. Not the best way to encourage readership, but what the hell? I do this to entertain myself, the rest of you being a secondary concern. I don't know you people, so how would I target anything at you? It would be pointless and I just don't care. I'm kind of sleepy, hungry, feel a bit off, and am listening to the Beatles. That last bit is a good thing. I love the Beatles as everyone should. Anyone who says they don't love the Beatles is evil and should be shot. It's one of those cases where everyone is right, they are fucking amazing, accept it. Except for "Yellow Submarine." That song is a piece of shit.]

Captain America #49

A fairly average comic book periodical. Meant to be a character piece, but it doesn't really do much. Luke Ross's art really doesn't measure up to any of the other artists on this title. This issue would not have received four stars had I reviewed it for CBR. To be fair, I'm probably being hard on it only because I expect better from this series.

Incognito #3

We encounter another All-Star Superman situation: a book that I should love and everyone else seems to love, but I find just okay, nothing special, what else is in this week's pile? It has all of the right elements with Brubaker, Phillips, black comedy, a bit of noir... but, yeah, it's not doing it for me. I didn't find the black comedy all that funny. There's something really... I don't know, lowbrow about the book in every negative sense of that word. It's not as smart as the other stuff that Brubaker writes. It features similar characters doing similar things, but just seems like a dumbed down, more juvenile version of those other books despite having no obvious signs pointing in that direction. I can't explain it really. Sorry.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CBR Review: Air #8

I recently reviewed Air #8 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Air #8 isn’t a bad comic. It’s simply another in a long line of comics that are just sort of there. Some events happen, characters seem to think they’re important, but none of that really comes across. Nor does much of a sense of who these people are or why they do what they’re doing. Granted, there is a sense that Blythe isn’t 100% certain as to what’s going on, so that helps, but she comes across here as such a cipher that it’s hard to tell."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Gødland #27

I recently reviewed Gødland #27 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Both plots are ludicrous and played (almost) completely straight with some of the most ridiculous lines ever written said seriously. How does one properly take in lines like 'You will pay the ultimate price for your lateral thinking!' and 'Has this truth ever been more self-evident -- supervillainy is the new violence!'? How does one properly evaluate them? Either you dig ‘em or you don’t. That’s the way Gødland is: either you get it or you don’t."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Uncanny X-Men #508

I recently reviewed Uncanny X-Men #508 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The number of plots addressed here is high, which works against the issue as a whole. Since each of them need an introduction of some sort to catch readers up to speed, a lot of time is wasted on exposition. The scene with Beast and the scientists he’s gathered to solve the X-gene problem is nothing but repetition of the problem itself; there’s no room at all for that plot to advance, which makes it superfluous."

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Steve gets blurbed

Here's an image from the new ad for the second trade paperback collection of Terry Moore's new series Echo:

echo blurb 1

See that copy at the top of the ad?

echo blurb 2

I wrote that. That's part of my top 10 comics list for 2008 (which Echo took the number one spot in) for Playback St. Louis. I excerpted that bit on Goodreads as my book review for the first trade, and Moore found it and asked to use it.

(Hopefully on the actual TPB it will be credited to Playback STL, but we'll see.)

Anyway, I'm more than a little geeked out about it. :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

CBR Review: X-Files #6

I recently reviewed X-Files #6 (and, yes, I reviewed every issue of this series) for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "In this issue, Denham makes a bold move by breaking from that realistic style in a couple of spots to depict flashbacks in very sketchy, frantic drawings. The results are fantastic as he demonstrates that, while this is a licensed comic book, it should also be executed as a comic book and take advantage of the medium’s strengths, like using differing art styles for differing effects. For the first time in the series, an issue reads like a comic rather than a TV episode in comic form. It’s a shame that this moment of growth came in the final issue."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CBR Review: Wolverine Noir #1

I recently reviewed Wolverine Noir #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Have you ever sat down, looked at your copies of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Marvel’s Origin, and thought to yourself, 'Well, sir, gee whiz, if only they would find a way to combine these two things that I love into one place so I wouldn’t have to waste pesky time reading both?' I know I sure haven’t, because the idea sounds rather dumb to me."

You can read the rest HERE!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Splash Page: 2009 Eisner Nominations Part II

[You might not understand everything that follows if you don't read the first part over at Tim Callahan's blog. Not only that, but he provides even more context about this crazy little column that he and I do nearly every week. Except not the next two weeks. Don't look for columns then, because there won't be any.]

Timothy Callahan: I don't know if it really matters. If it's a new creative team and new numbering, then I say let it qualify. But I do find the Marvel numbering system endlessly annoying. I don't mind relaunching with a new volume every few years, but I despise how they go back to the high numbers once it reaches #400 or #500 or whatever.

What about the nominations for "Best Limited Series"? Again, I've read three out of the five: Hellboy: The Crooked Man, Omega the Unknown, and The Twelve. I gave up on Groo about 20 years ago, and though I've heard that Locke & Key is good, I haven't seen it. The three I have read are good, and that Hellboy mini was probably my favorite Hellboy thing ever, and Omega the Unknown was brilliant. I really need to do some kind of essay on that series when I get a chance, because it was one of my favorite comics in the past year, definitely. The Twelve has great Chris Weston art, so that's something, but it isn't much of a story, and it seems to have completely been abandoned for the time being. I wonder if we'll ever see its final issues.

Of course, I thought Final Crisis was one of the best of last year, and I liked Marvel 1985 a lot, even though no one else seemed to. Shockingly, Trinity didn't make the cut. Maybe they're saving that for next year's nominations. (Dear readers, those last two sentences were sarcasm, but the thing with Marvel 1985 wasn't. I can be hard to figure out, I know.)

What do you think about those five nominations? You read Omega, right? But did you check out any of the others at all? Do the nominations make you want to?

Chad Nevett: I've read Omega the Unknown and nothing else. Hellboy is another one of those properties that I've long meant to get into, but just haven't yet. Honestly, the nominations don't make me want to go out and get anything. That's partly my general apathy towards awards and partly the mystifying choices in other nominations. If categories I'm more familiar with make me wonder what the hell they were thinking, my confidence in categories I'm less familiar with isn't exactly high. Given that each year, the judges for the Eisner's is a group of different people, it's hard to actually put much stock in the supposedly prestigious award. For example, how does Ed Brubaker or Todd Klein not warrant nominations despite no noticeable difference in the quality of their work or any general critical consensus that others have risen to overtake them? Is each year of this award its own beast that doesn't actually fit into any sort of continuum of "Eisner Awards?"

TC: That's a good point. We were pretty happy to see CBR nominated, and many of the comics spotlighted deserve to be recognized for their quality, but what does it mean to win an Eisner Award if the judges differ each year? How consistent is the criteria, anyway? It's like the "Best American Comics of ________" anthologies. It's just a collection of what one editor happened to like for that year, and there's almost no consistency from year to year other than "mainstream" comics are not included. With the Eisners, it's a similar problem, helped a bit by having a handful of judges instead of just one, but it's still a problem that it's such a lack of consistency.

Then again, what do any awards for these types of things mean, anyway? And would you want the same five men and women always picking the nominees each year? What if they loved Judd Winick comics?

Questions like these just end up making everything seem meaningless, and I don't think the Eisners are meaningless. They are, for whatever it's worth, the most prestigious awards in the comic book industry. They matter, to some degree at least. So, to that end, I'll highlight a few things that I'm glad they got right (besides All-Star Superman and Omega the Unknown):

I love that Tiny Titans was nominated, and that they didn't ignore Kramers Ergot 7. Kevin Colden's Fishtown got a nod, and that's awesome, and I'm glad to see that Dash Shaw got a nomination for Body World, which will probably end up with greater acclaim one it comes out in a collected edition.

Gabriel Ba is wonderful, and almost all the nominees for "Best Penciller/Inker" deserve the acclaim, and those "Hellboy Library" editions are really nice, indeed.

So as much as the selection process is probably deeply flawed and inconsistent from year to year, at least they got some things right.

CN: Yeah and I don't mean to pick on the Eisner's since all awards suffer from these sorts of problems. The only awards I never disagree with would be ones I give out -- and, even then, ask me what I think of my choices the next day and there's a good chance I'll take issue with the selections. The Eisner's do get a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong, just like every other award on the planet. The thing I like most about awards is the debate they cause. There is no right and wrong ultimately (well, there are in a few obvious places, but you get what I mean), so best not to take these things too seriously. Especially when you're not actually involved as neither of us are beyond a slight connection through CBR. Which does raise the point: can we claim to be Eisner-nominated reviewers now since we work for CBR? Because, if so, I take back all the bad things I've said in this column...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Bought Comics: April 8, 2009

[For the first time ever, I will not just be discussing my non-CBR-reviewed purchases, but one of the books I reviewed for CBR as well... again, not reviews, just thoughts, impressions, what have you.

Captain Britain and MI:13 #12

One of my fellow CBR reviewers, Greg McElhatton points something out in his review of this issue that I hadn't considered before: Paul Cornell is writing a fresh and interesting vampire story that is unlike anything that came before. I hadn't thought about that, but it's true. How the fuck did he do that?

Timestorm 2009/2099 #1

What I wrote in my e-mail to Augie when I submitted my review: "So, they try to cash in on the 2099 name, but then deliver a different 2099 world... what is wrong with people? Who thought that would be a GOOD idea in any way? And will Brian Reed ever write a comic that I don't want to throw out immediately after reading for fear that it's mediocrity will somehow rub off on my other comics?" I forgot to add that Eric Battle's art is the sort of shit you'd expect to find in a random issue of Spider-Man Unlimited during the period where Ben Reilly was Spider-Man. I'm thinking of a specific issue and next time I'm at my parents' house, I may have to hunt for it to see if he actually did art in it.

But, seriously, what is the goddamn point of using the 2099 name and then changing the whole fucking thing? "Well, Chad, you have to read the series to find out." After a pisspoor comic like this, I don't quite see that happening.

(And in a possibly odd judge of its quality, I've yet to see a thread for this issue appear on CBR's forums. Normally, by this time, a thread would have shown up--even for the shittiest of comics--and someone would have called me some bad words because I didn't appreciate the obvious genius of this week's true masterpiece. Seriously. There was even a thread devoted to proclaiming how wrong I was to trash The Death-Defying 'Devil #4--not a thread for the issue, but for my review. Only two people participated and neither of them were me. But, yeah, not a single thread yet? Not a good sign.)

Wolverine: Weapon X #1

I generally like Jason Aaron's writing, but this left me cold. It feels like half a first issue. Here's what happens: Logan learns that old Weapon X technology is being used to alter people. That's it. Sure, that information is conveyed in an entertaining enough manner, but that just doesn't cut it.

Young Liars #14

On Tuesday, I was upset over the utter shunning of Young Liars by the Eisner's. On Wednesday, I was enthralled by the absolute genius of this issue and made even more upset. Best comic there is right now.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

CBR Review: Doktor Sleepless #12

I recently reviewed Doktor Sleepless #12 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Doktor Sleepless continues to fly beneath the radar of, well, everyone, it seems. That’s a shame because, after a slow start, it’s developed into a book that looks like it will stand alongside Warren Ellis’ best work. Ironically, one of the reasons the second storyline has worked so well is the absence of the eponymous Doktor after the revelation in issue eight concerning his true intentions. This second arc, so far, has worked around him, examining his influence on Heavenside and introducing other characters that will play a role, either for or against him."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Timestorm 2009/2099 #1

I recently reviewed Timestorm 2009/2099 #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Three pages in, I could tell that this wasn’t a good comic and I really wish the ensuing 19 would have proved me wrong but, no, Timestorm 2009/2099 #1 isn’t a good comic. Or maybe it is a good comic with a convoluted yet mysterious plot, banal and clichéd characterization, fill-in-issue quality art, and a general feeling of ‘who cares?’ makes for a good comic. Somehow, I doubt it."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

CBR Review: Ignition City #1

I recently reviewed Ignition City #1 and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Ignition City #1 is pretty much what Ellis talked about back in 2006: old, forgotten space heroes living on an artificial island located at the equator. If you have a hankering to see a Buck Rogers stand-in lament no longer being in the future and drinking himself to death as a way of forgetting the present, or ever wanted to know what eating food in pill form would do to bowel movements, then, hey, Ellis and Pagliarani deliver."

You can read the rest HERE!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

CBR Review: Jersey Gods #3

I recently reviewed Jersey Gods #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Dan McDaid’s art continues to wow with lots of energy. He delivers very strong work in this issue, adding dramatic tension in a lot of places. His close-up of Deltus in one panel is perfect, and he switches between cosmic god fights and banal human drama with ease. Actually, he seems to be injecting a lot of humanity into the gods plot and action into the human-centric scenes. The two worlds and styles are clearly bleeding into one another with great results."

You can read the rest HERE!

Comics Should be Good

As Brian announced this morning, I will be contributing to Comics Should be Good. He asked, I accepted, it all happened rather quickly. This won't affect my blogging here since I have no interest in giving that up. For now, I'll probably just do a regular feature over at CSBG called The Reread Reviews where I review works that I've read at least once before. My first post will be on Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato, Jr.'s Thor run, "Worldengine" and, hopefully, that will go up later today.

Monday, April 06, 2009

CBR Review: Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #4

I recently reviewed Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Damon Lindelof’s writing here proves the oft-said comment that comics is a medium with far less restrictions than film or television. There is no sign of restraint here, Lindelof completely free to do what he pleases no matter how over-the-top or ridiculous, free of compromise or anyone saying 'Um, maybe that’s not a good idea...' It’s a pure expression of Lindelof’s vision, which is both a positive and negative because, in some spots, Lindelof needs an editor to tell him that maybe what he’s got planned isn’t a good idea."

You can read the rest HERE!

The Art of Timing

Back in February, I began writing a long post on The Incal, both Avant L'Incal and The Incal, which I had reread then. I got sidetracked with other stuff and always meant to get back to it, but never have. Early last week, I realised that I had "missed my chance" as it were with Jog and Tucker Stone doing a series of posts examining all of the material published by DC/Humanoids, which would include The Incal. Yesterday, Jog began writing on The Incal and if there's one thing I know about comic blogging, it's that you don't follow Jog. Interesting how things like this always seem to happen: people wanting to examine similar ideas/material totally independent of one another.

I'll probably just stick my post on the backburner (or work at it slowly) for the next while. Figured I'd mention it as a curiosity.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Bought Comics: April's Fool 2009

[Not reviews. Not at all. Just thoughts. Not necessarily intelligent ones.]

Gravel #10

I didn't know this was coming out this week. Normally, my updated Diamond list comes via Midtown Comics's website and they didn't have it listed, so imagine my surprise when I was handed this along with the other books on my pull list. A pleasant surprise. This issue is a bit slower and gets away from the main point a bit. I do like how Ellis and Wolfer don't bother to deal with the "cliffhanger" from last issue, merely showing us that, yeah, Gravel survived and has solved the problem. Good stuff. Hopefully "Gravel finds and recuits a new Minor Seven" doesn't proceed as slowly as it looks like it will. Wolfer on art is still just what this old Strange Kiss fan enjoys.

Irredeemable #1

I read this last Monday via .pdf, so eat that. It's an enjoyable enough issue. David Uzumeri over at the Savage Critics makes a good point that, perhaps, Waid is trying too hard to break from his perceived "Silver Age character lovefest" persona that anyone who's been paying attention knows is bullshit. But, this is the first issue, so let Waid overdo it a little, I say. Let him pile the shit on at first, pretty much dare you not to keep reading and then show off his regular skills in a "See? Who's old fashioned now, assholes?" move. Also, thanks to Augie, I've listened to all of the "15 Minutes with Mark Waid" podcasts and it's good stuff. All of them can be found here aside from one, which wasn't labelled properly. Check them out. Thanks to my .pdf-aquiring abilities, I'll probably trade-wait this series, but, so far, yeah, I'm on board.

Scalped #27

Scalped good. Very good. Buy Scalped.

Strange Adventures #2

Hey, did you know that this book already has a running back-up feature? Jim Starlin: several steps ahead of the rest of DC. The main part of this book is interesting as the Weird is revealed officially to be the new vessel of Synnar, which I assumed Starlin would drag out more--thankfully, he just dives in. The back-up feature continues to be the best part of this book, as it was in the first issue. Starlin on art (albeit with the godawful inks of Rob Hunter) doing a Bizarro story where Bizarro doesn't talk. I love it. Throw in an insane final image of a woman with a little Lady Styx growing out of her head that has its own Lady Styx growing out of its head and, hey, Starlin is a bit insane.

That does it for this week.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bendis Secret Invasion Reading Order (Updated June 29, 2013)

I find it funny that Grant Morrison had to deal with a lot of questions over the order of his Final Crisis issues when they seemed fairly obvious, while I haven't heard two words about the order in which one reads Brian Michael Bendis's Secret Invasion issues. The New Avengers and Mighty Avengers tie-in issues are kind of all over the place, so I've created a reading order for anyone who cares.

First, post-Civil War, I decided to alternate New Avengers and Mighty Avengers with it going New Avengers #27, Mighty Avengers #1, New Avengers #28, Mighty Avengers #2, and so on until you get to Mighty Avengers #11, which is followed by New Avengers annual #2. This leads right into Secret Invasion and the order I've decided upon:
  • New Avengers #38-39: "Infiltration" issues.
  • New Avengers: Illuminati #1-5: This series needs to go somewhere and here seems best since issue one sets up Secret Invasion and issue five is a lead-in to Secret Invasion.
  • Secret Invasion #1. The story begins with various reveals of characters as Skrulls. Since many issues deal with how people were replaced, having those issues before the actual reveals wouldn't make much sense.
  • New Avengers #44. Skrulls use fake Illuminati to attempt to harness Reed Richards's intellect. Seems like the 'earliest' plot and builds directly on the Illuminati series.
  • Mighty Avengers #16. Elektra explanation.
  • Mighty Avengers #15, 17. Hank Pym issues.
  • New Avengers #46. The Hood and his group discover the Skrulls prior to the invasion.
  • Secret Invasion #2. The fight in the Savage Land leads into other tie-in issues.
  • Mighty Avengers #14. Sentry issue that builds on what happens in the Savage Land.
  • New Avengers #41, 43. Spider-Man meets up with Ka-Zar and Sheena during Savage Land fight. Most revelations from the past, including the Skrull Captain America.
  • Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust?. Not a Bendis issue, but I have it, so I'm mentioning it. At least one story builds on the Savage Land fight.
  • Secret Invasion #3. The Skrull Queen is revealed to be Spider-Woman.
  • New Avengers #40, 42, 45. The Skrull Queen's three-issue storyarc as she is found by her people and takes over for Spider-Woman.
  • Secret Invasion #4-5. Main plot.
  • Mighty Avengers #19. Captain Marvel/Noh-Varr issue that builds on events in Secret Invasion #5 and leads into/crosses over with Secret Invasion #6.
  • Secret Invasion #6-8. The story concludes.
  • New Avengers #47. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones story that ties into fall-out from Secret Invasion #8.
  • Mighty Avengers #20. An epilogue to the whole thing.

What you may be wondering is "Where's Mighty Avengers #12, 13, and 18?" and the answer is simple: I pulled them out and stuck them in front of Secret Warriors #1. That's a personal choice, but if you want to include those issues in the above, I'd slot them in between Secret Invasion #3 and 4, right after Fury and company shows up in that "shocking" manner.

So, there is your Brian Michael Bendis Secret Invasion issues reading order. I'm sure many will disagree including Bendis himself who I imagine would argue for just reading them in the order they were published, but I prefer this way.

UPDATE 06/29/13: In doing a reread of Bendis's Avengers work, I decided that my original placement of the Skrull Queen/Spider-Woman issues of New Avengers after Secret Invasion #1 was incorrect. I have moved them to following Secret Invasion #3 where the reveal that Spider-Woman is the Skrull Queen happens. While the Skrull Queen is shown in some of the other New Avengers and Mighty Avengers spotlight issues that I place earlier in the reading order, she's always shown out of costume and come off as a generic human woman, not Spider-Woman specifically.

CBR Review: glamourpuss #6

I recently reviewed glamourpuss #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "This issue is more meandering than previous issues, but works well as a break after five issues of very focused discussion, both for the reader and Sim. There’s a sense that Sim needs the break just as much as readers might, that just having a leisurely chat about artists working in advertising in the 1940s and '50s is required. There’s plenty of interesting facts here that shed a lot of light on a part of comics history often ignored."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

CBR Review: The Boys #29

I recently reviewed The Boys #29 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The first half of the issue spells out the truth behind the G-Men, while the second half features the Boys’ reaction, with Hughie leading the charge, and the final fate of the G-Men. Events don’t play out how anyone expects and I’m not sure who’s more surprised by that: the Boys or the readers."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Invincible Iron Man #12

I recently reviewed Invincible Iron Man #12 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "But, the rest of the issue just kind of happens, leaving little to no impression. For some reason, Fraction pours on caption after caption, sometimes delivering genuine (and witty) insights, sometimes making up for the shortcomings of Larroca’s art by clarifying things, but usually just talks for the sake of talking, or so it seems. There’s too much tell, not enough show, especially since there isn’t that much going on already."

You can read the rest HERE!

(As well, this is my 100th review posted. Just saying.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

CBR Review: Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1

I recently reviewed Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Morrison and Stewart are in top form here. Morrison throws out dozens of insane, off-the-wall concepts that Stewart draws with seeming ease. However, the mad ideas are just the window-dressing for what looks to be another story focusing on Seaguy’s growth to maturity. A large part of Seaguy’s unease comes from Stewart’s art, which captures the struggling teenage-like mind of Seaguy as he comes to grips with who he is and the world around him. It’s rare to see a character’s eye have a longing need behind them, but Stewart gets that across."

You can read the rest HERE!