Monday, August 30, 2010

"Why Ruin a Good One?" A Response to Gavok on Zodiac and Deadpool

For whatever reason, I can't get Gavok's idea that Zodiac be made the archenemy of Deadpool out of my head. Well, I can, but invariably the idea returns, and I'm always struck by the same "Oh god no!" reaction. It's that reaction that's made me think about the idea again and again, because it's such an immediate and violent reaction. No thought, no contemplation, just a simple "Oh god no!" A gut reaction of pure instinct that says that that idea is pretty damn godawful. But, being me, I can't let it stand at that, I have to wonder why. Why do I hate this idea so much?

After all, Gavin makes a pretty good argument from a Deadpool fan's perspective: Deadpool doesn't really have an archenemy and Zodiac could be seen as a varation on Deadpool, simply lacking a moral barometer. If I squint at the character hard enough, I can almost see that. There's an absurd lunacy to Zodiac in his glorifying in villainy. He doesn't kill and maim and steal and fuck shit up for any reason other than to do it. He lives for the anarchy and evil. If he were a mutant, he'd call his group the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and mean it. He's the kind of villain that makes it his business to fuck with Norman Osborn because he's angry at the idea of villains playing hero. Or, he's the kind of villain who has his girlfriend dress up as Captain America while giving him a blowjob. On the surface, that seems pretty workable with Deadpool, I must admit.

And, Gavin makes an interesting point about Zodiac and his spiritual predecessor, Prometheus: once you have him lose once, he kind of loses his lustre. Except, that's something I don't think is true entirely. Prometheus was built to be the Batman of evil -- the guy you can't stop, because he's better than you. Once he's stopped, he's a joke. Zodiac is set up to be the fucked up guy who loves being bad. He'd get off on being defeated and vowing revenge. That's part of the game. He doesn't want to win, he wants to make life hell for people. After all, he didn't kill Johnny Storm. Killing the hero isn't part of the game.

That's where I find Zodiac doesn't fit with Deadpool. Zodiac is meant to be a return to a traditional supervillain. Gavin doesn't think he'd fit with the new "Heroic Age" mentality, but that's where he'd be most at home. He seems almost antiquated, but strong heroes need really bad guys. Bad guys that are there to be bad. He would be a worldclass threat almost because he's so out of left field. A 'hero' like Deadpool would be beneath him. It wouldn't even be a case of going through the whole 'upset that Deadpool just won't die, so have to keep trying' bullshit; Deadpool just ain't worth the effort. He's a tweener. Sometimes good, sometimes evil... not worth a second look. To make him Deadpool's archenemy would be to alter Zodiac... and what's the point of that? We've seen how well that worked with Noh-Varr PROTECTOR.

But, I'm also of the mind that unless Joe Casey and Nathan Fox are involved, Zodiac stays on the sidelines, so that plays a rather large role in my reaction, too. Then again, Casey and Fox could actually make a funny Deadpool comic... maybe. Ultimately, it doesn't feel like a good fit without changing Zodiac to suit Deadpool and, at that point, just create a new character. Why ruin a good one?

CBR Review: Scalped #40

I recently reviewed Scalped #40 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "At the center of Scalped #40 is a four-page scene that isn’t like any other scene done before in Scalped. In it, Wade, Dash Bad Horse’s father, is confronted by Red Crow (flanked with two bodyguards) over his return to the reservation. It’s a playful scene with Wade clearly having fun screwing with Red Crow, because he’s not afraid of him. He’s not trying to make Red Crow think that he’s not afraid, he simply doesn’t care. But, he also isn’t looking to make Red Crow afraid of him. He’s just Red Crow’s old rival for Gina Bad Horse’s affections and he won, a fact that he likes rubbing in Red Crow’s face. It’s so low stakes compared to the regular death and violence that permeate Scalped that a simple, playful scene like this stands out to such a degree."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

CBR Review: Ani-Max #1

I recently reviewed Ani-Max #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "While Max’s story is very similar to that of Ben in Ben 10, Ron Marz does a good job of imbuing the character with playful charm, especially when everyone’s first reaction to him is one of fear. Max is somewhat confident in his abilities, but it comes off as putting up a tough front as he struggles to play the hero at such a young age. The part where he tells his origin to two classmates that recognize him despite his animal features is something of a drag on the issue, but a necessity. It doesn’t really work given that it’s told in the middle of a crisis. The reactions of his friends are well done as they simply accept what they’ve been told and go along with Max’s request for secrecy, a seemingly unrealistic response, but I attribute it to the idea that kids have seen so many stories just like this that they would naturally fall into the pattern of ‘friends to the hero.’"

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, August 27, 2010

CBR Review: Secret Warriors #19

I recently reviewed Secret Warriors #19 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The final issue of 'The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos' lives up the story arc’s title as Jonathan Hickman juxtaposes the end of the most recent Howling Commandos reunion with a mission gone wrong in China. While it’s no surprise that the mission went south given Dum Dum and Sitwell ending up prisoners of the United Nations, how bad it goes is surprising. What’s even more surprising is how moving the downfall of the Commandos is because of the cutting back and forth with the reunion. Hickman plays up the sentiment surrounding the group perfectly."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CBR Review: Captain America #609

I recently reviewed Captain America #609 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "One of the problems with James Barnes, the former Bucky and Winter Soldier, as Captain America is that he’s been out of the hero game so long that he doesn’t have many villains that are his own. Ed Brubaker could fall back on the regular Captain America villains to highlight the differences between James and Steve, but he does something different in the current storyarc by positioning Baron Zemo, a traditional Cap villain, as the natural antagonist to James. Because Zemo’s father was, supposedly, responsible for James’s death, Zemo treating James’s role as Captain America as a personal slight is a logical outgrowth. It’s an interesting approach and makes a lot of sense for both characters."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Punisher Max: Happy Ending #1

I recently reviewed Punisher Max: Happy Ending #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "These Punisher Max one-shots all seem to fall into a pattern of presenting stories where Frank Castle is a supporting character, often trying to kill criminals while the main plot goes on around him. Considering the character’s long history and the fantastic work Garth Ennis and Jason Aaron have done on the character recently, it’s an understandable approach to take. Happy Ending is no exception, with the Punisher only appearing in three brief scenes. Instead, Peter Milligan focuses on Joseph Bonner, an unhappily married accountant whose trip to a massage parlor has him fleeing gangsters with one of the masseuses, Gi-Gi."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Batman #702

I recently reviewed Batman #702 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "I wasn’t too sure initially about Batman #701-702, with Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel reteaming to provide the ‘missing chapter’ of 'Batman R.I.P.,' presumably for all those that complained it was hard to decipher or follow. A two-issue exercise in hand-holding didn’t sound too appealing, but I’ve really enjoyed Morrison’s work on the character, so I was in. Issue 701 was exactly what I feared when it presented what happened after the climax of 'Batman R.I.P.' up until Final Crisis, filling in ‘gaps’ that never needed filling. This week’s issue 702, though, does something different in its second half as it provides a somewhat essential explanation of what exactly happened to Batman in Final Crisis #6 when he shot Darkseid and was hit by the Omega Sanction in response. More than simple gap-filling, Morrison takes this chance to add new elements to the story currently going on in The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman and Robin."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

CBR Review: Avengers #4

I recently reviewed Avengers #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "It’s hard not to interpret this opening arc of Avengers as Brian Michael Bendis responding to the criticisms that he’s a weak plotter or that his stories are padded with pages of endless dialogue. These charges have dogged Bendis for his entire tenure on the Avengers franchise, but this opening arc, continued in Avengers #4, is pure balls-to-the-wall craziness. Bendis keeps throwing things at the reader, piling time paradox upon time paradox, and giving John Romita the chance to draw everything from Devil Dinosaur being blown up by Martians to a brawl between Catholic and Protestant Irish people in the streets of Manhattan while Galactus attempts to feed. This might be the most fun a comic that Bendis has ever written."

You can read the rest HERE!

Quickie Reviews (August 25 2010)

Things are busy busy busy here with reviews to be written, blog posts to be written, plus super-secret things to be written. So why am I using my precious time for this? Because I love these super-short 'reviews.' I need to work at them a little more, so they can become these small, hardened, diamond-like things. Need to get better... always... onto reviews...

Gravel #20: After two storyarcs of Gravel working his way through magicians, killing them all as if they were nothing, the same thing is happening to him with his home and safe places all destroyed, and the new Minor Seven killed with even less effort than it took for him to do the originals. Granted, the originals were much more accomplished, but still. Crazy nutter that Gravel should have just killed is responsible. I have no idea if this series is continuing after next issue or if it will end after three seven-issue storyarcs. Either way, I'm sure I'll be okay. [****]

Thor #613: The longer this storyarc lasts, the less I care. I'm not sure why exactly. It's a logical outgrowth of what Gillen did during Siege, but... it's just not clicking with me. Maybe it's the overwrought narration by Mephisto's demon pal (that even Mephisto makes fun of!). Maybe it's a group of villains that I find boring. [**1/2]

Wonder Woman #602: And, because the only way to describe my reaction to this issue is to quote some of J. Michael Straczynski's dialogue from an episode of Babylon 5 from the third season, I'm sticking that under a cut in case you don't want to get spoiled.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 28

In this week's (late) episode, Tim and I discuss: Brian Hibbs's Superman: Earth One review, All-Star Superman, Micronauts, Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer #270, Marvel Zombies 5 #5, Thor the Mighty Avenger #1-3, iZombie #4, Amazing Spider-Man #640, Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #1, Age of Heroes #4, Uncanny X-Men #527, The Boys: Highland Laddie #1, New Avengers #3, Secret Avengers #4, Avengers Academy #3, Bulletproof Coffin, and a bunch of other stuff including trades/hardcovers, Will Smith movies, and SpongeBob SquarePants. It all begins with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie, too. So, download, listen, and enjoy.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episide 28 HERE!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

CBR Review: Witchblade: Due Process #1

I recently reviewed Witchblade: Due Process #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "At the heart of Witchblade: Due Process is an interesting idea: as a rookie, Sara Pezzini witnessed fellow police officers breaking rules, possibly to convict an innocent man of murder, and, ten year later, she’s trying to make it right by getting the man released. Except, ten years in prison for murder has changed William Hicks from a nice, loving man to the sort of guy who has done awful things to survive and fallen in with a white supremacist gang to survive and have his family protected. Where it goes wrong is by adding in a demon to make the message of the book even more over-the-top."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hellboy: One for One

I haven't taken advantage of the $1 first issues that publishers have been putting out recently -- mostly because I haven't noticed them at my shop. Last week, I almost got the Sin City: The Hard Goodbye one dollar first issue because... well, Frank Miller, motherfuckers. I already have the contents of that comic, but still. I opted against it, but did take advantage this week when I saw they had the first Hellboy issue on the rack. A buck to check it out? That seemed more than worth it (I was also hoping the shop would have Usagi Yojimbo #1 since it also shipped this week, but, alas, it did not). Prior to this comic, I'd read exactly three Hellboy-related comics. That special from a few months back that Richard Corben drew and the two issues of Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain I reviewed for CBR. I've seen the first movie as well. Other than that, Hellboy is just one of those 'heard it was really good, so I'll pick it up when I have the money' books. Well, right now, the only way that seems possible is with a one dollar comic. Ah well, let's jump in anyway. (I was surprised to see John Byrne's name in the credits for scripting the book. I don't know why, it just surprised me.)

Hellboy: One for One by Mike Mignola, John Byrne, and Mark Chiarello (originally published as Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 in 1994)

Right away, I was thrown by the amount of text on the first few pages. But, I think it works. Text on the left in its own nice column, Mignola's art on the right. The first two pages operate that way and it showcases the art somewhat. Bold, heavy drawings with lots of ink. Chiarello's colours are wonderful -- I love the orange/pink/red hues of the sky to denote dusk. Chiarello uses broad, solid colours with gradual hues. It's very refreshing and plays off Mignola's art style well. Since his drawings look so purposeful and static at times, so bold and contrasting, the colouring needs to match that. Lots of computer effects would muddle the art, but solid colours that pop off the page is exactly what's required. You know, Hellboy isn't various shades of red with special shifts in his face to suggest extra depth: he's one fucking shade of red that stands out on the page and makes you take notice.

I love the use of purples and blues for the Nazi ceremony... Mignola provides lots of shadows, but it never looks so dark that it's murky, because Chiarello colours the pages with the purples and dark, rich blues. The scene looking bathed in moonlight. Or, there's the panel where the explosion happens and it's just two figures in high contrast black (with some brown) against a yellow background. Not a bright yellow or a dark yellow, just yellow.

Goddamn, I could stare at these colours for days. They're so rich and bold... they're not consistent, though -- but that seems to fit. Chiarello alters the tones and hues to match the panel and changing setting. The shift of Hellboy's bright red skin to a duller shade as he moves into darkness... before it kicks back to bright red. Why continue that dull colour when all that's needed is one panel to establish the change in lighting?

Mignola does some interesting things with his art. Despite it being a very bold style that focuses on specific panels looking amazing, there's a nice flow to it. He moves in broad strokes with some smaller panels thrown in at times. There's an economy in his layouts. He uses the minimal amount of panels to get across the necessary information. Take the page where Hellboy is raised from Hell: five panels, three tiers...

Tier One: large panel of the small, red thing in the middle of some fire/energy, while a solider backs away, surprised. Hellboy is mostly in shadows, but enough is there to know what he is.

Tier two: three panels, the first takes up half of the tier. It has reactions from three people. The second panel closes in on Hellboy. The third has him named by a fourth individual.

Tier three: a photograph with the black of the rest of the panel around it. It's a photo of everyone there when Hellboy came to Earth, him in front of everyone.

Mignola handles his arrival, initial reactions, acceptance/naming, and suggests what happened next in one page with a minimum of panels/art. Really strong, economical storytelling.

Later in the issue, I love the fight between Hellboy and the Frog Creature. The panels where Hellboy uses his smaller, left hand to fight off the creature are drawn in a way to accentuate it being smaller than his large, strange right hand. Mignola uses shadows to give the impression that the hand/arm is almost sickly thin. The sort of arm you'd see on a person in a third world country dying of starvation. When you look closer, you can see that that's only part of the arm, but, initially, it looks extra thin. Mignola's art is very energetic in those pages. Hellboy and the Frog Creature are always moving or getting ready to move. When Hellboy kills the Creature, the sound effect of his gunshot is coloured red.

The writing is fine. It's not the sort of writing I expect from Byrne, but I imagine it's more Byrne helping Mignola out with the scripting duties than providing all of the dialogue/narration. There are hints given about things, but not a lot come out and said explicitly. Hellboy's dialogue suggests a much more subdued character than I expected given my (limited) previous experience. Where's the sarcastic, wise-cracking, rebellious Hellboy...? Not a complaint, just a surprise.

Now, the $64,000 question... does this make me want to read more?


While the writing isn't the star, the art is amazing. This makes me want to get the deluxe hardcovers. Well worth the dollar -- for me and Dark Horse, I imagine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

CBR Review: The Boys: Highland Laddie #1

I recently reviewed The Boys: Highland Laddie #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Highland Laddie is the second of three planned mini-series to accompany The Boys and, unlike last year’s Herogasm, it focuses on one of the main cast members -- in fact, you could say it focuses on the main cast member, the point of view character for the series, Hughie. After recent events in the title that saw him take a terrible beating from a superhero and learn that his girlfriend Annie is one of the Seven, Hughie takes some time away from the group to return to his hometown of Auchterladle, Scotland. The way things go, it’s almost surprising that Ennis didn’t title the issue 'You Can’t Go Home Again.'"

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: X-Files/30 Days of Night #2

I recently reviewed X-Files/30 Days of Night #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Tom Mandrake does his fair share of the work when it comes to creating tension. The page where Scully wanders from the crime scene and discovers the young girl is a slow, methodical page that uses a strong, open layout that closes in on itself with a sketchy, violent panel border for the shot of her seeing the girl burning up in the snow. I wasn’t sure that Mandrake would be a good fit for a licensed book like this, but his combination of dark, rough lines with smoother lines creates a visually intriguing interplay on the page. He’s very good at playing with the shadows and darkness to bring out the characters and create scenes that move forward through his art. His depictions of Mulder and Scully go a long way to giving off the impression of the actors that play them and selling their banter. He’s a really strong fit for the book."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CBR Review: Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #1

I recently reviewed Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Marvel’s recent initiative of taking classic stories and redoing them in short, all ages books is one that makes sense in theory. A lot of those stories were done in styles that aren’t appealing to a contemporary audience or are bogged down in continuity, so updating them in a fresher style and setting them apart from heavy continuity concerns makes sense. For fans of the originals, the updated versions are a chance to experience that loved story again from a different perspective and see what choices the creators make in reimagining it. When Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet was announced, co-writer Brian Clevinger said that he wanted to avoid rereading the original Infinity Gauntlet story, so his version can stand on its own."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Amazing Spider-Man #640

I recently reviewed Amazing Spider-Man #640 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Let’s run down the checklist of story points created in 'One More Day' that 'One Moment in Time' has needed to solve. Peter and Mary Jane no longer married? Check. Peter and Mary Jane remaining a couple and, basically, living out their married life despite not being married? Check. Aunt May’s life saved? Check. Spider-Man’s identity no longer known by the world? Not yet. No, that’s what Amazing Spider-Man #640 focuses on to lead into next issue’s conclusion where Joe Quesada and Paolo Rivera will no doubt check off this plot point."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Age of Heroes #4

I recently reviewed Age of Heroes #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The conclusion to the anthology series intended to shine some light on some of the lesser known or unseen corners of the Marvel universe as 'The Heroic Age' begins, concludes with an epilogue to Doomwar/a prologue to Klaws of the Panther, a story about Steve Rogers’s influence on the Inuit who found him in the block of ice, two pages of Zodiac being awesome, and one page on Cloud 9 whose point escapes me. It’s a very hodgepodge issue that offers a little bit for a variety of readers (emphasis on the word ‘little’), but none of it coheres together, making it questionable who the intended reader is."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quickie Reviews (August 18 2010)

Goddamn, I hate that 'Heroic Age' banner. Good thing initial storyarcs are ending soon and we can all forget those banners ever existed. I've got two of them in this quickie bunch of books. (And, by bunch, I mean three... three books.)

DV8: Gods and Monsters #5: In some ways, Brian Wood is continuing the grand DV8 tradition by writing characters you kind of wish would get killed. Unlikable, mean, cruel, selfish fucking pricks. Still enjoying the book and getting a better idea of the larger picture. I don't have a lot to say beyond I like this. [****]

New Avengers #3: Wow, that Spider-Man/Thing discussion was certainly involved... entertaining, though. Bendis does some metacommentary with Spider-Man standing in for the fans. Victoria Hand gets a nice moment. The reveal at the end is... well, let's see the explanation before calling it crap. But, right now, it seems kind of crap. All that plus Stuart Immonen! [****]

Secret Avengers #4: Nova gets written off, Steve finds out about Nick Fury, the bad guys are defeated, and... well, Steve Rogers as Nova fighting against a possessed Nova was pretty cool. Other than that, though, something was missing here. I can't explain what, it's one of those intangibles. 'Something' wasn't there and the book was lacking for it. [***1/2]


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fragments & Impressions: I Never Liked You by Chester Brown

If you look at the cover of I Never Liked You, it looks like two people are dancing. The girl's face is calm, almost serene, they're embracing, and there's a record player in the background. On page 105, we learn that the two people (Carrie and Chester) aren't dancing, they're locking up to wrestle. Then again, the wrestling they engage in is a dance of sort. Carrie has a big crush on Chester and everyone knows it, while Chester doesn't return her feelings. He still hangs out with her (most often by helping her with the dishes). It seems almost cruel of him. I'm not sure if it is or not. He doesn't owe her anything besides friedship, but wrestling already has a sexual element to it, first introduced when Chester and Sky wrestled earlier with Sky winning. Subsequent to this, Chester displayed feelings for Sky, while Carrie initiates wrestling with Chester on at least two separate occasions. So, wrestling is part of the initial dance of courtship... does that make any sense? Damned if I know...


The full title of the book is I Never Liked You: A Comic-Strip Narrative, but the contents are a series of semi-connected/somewhat disjointed strips. What is the overall narrative? The book begins with a short prologue where a young Chester (grade four) swears while about to leave for school (he says 'shit') and his mother charges into the room, screaming at him to never say that word again while shaking him. As he walks to school with Connie (Carrie's older sister), she says, "My mother says that only crude and ignorant people use words like that." The story is how Chester defines himself in relationship to two things: women and swearing. His desire to embrace the former causes him to shun the latter. It's not entirely that simple, because he never actually achieves a healthy emotional connection to any of the women in the story. It's like he thinks simply not saying the wrong words is enough... it's a passive non-action and he never seems entirely comfortable taking real action. The one or two times he does, like in drawing a picture for Sky for Christmas, he shies away from his actions (he denies the obvious sympolism of the picture).


It's weird to make such blanket statements about Chester since this isn't simply a character, it's a real person. But, I would hope that Chester Brown wouldn't care too much or be offended since that's a risk in telling stories about yourself: when you become a character, you open yourself to the same judgements and interpretations as fictional constructs.


I don't like autobiographical comics usually, but I really, really like I Never Liked You.


There's only two scenes depicted in the book that don't relate to Chester's relationship with a woman or to his refusal to say swear words. The first is a two-page, three-panel sequence where he takes a cracker out of a container, takes a bite, and then sees that, because of the bite he took, the cracker now resembles a heart. It's never identified as a heart, but it's impossible to mistake (unless I'm mistaken and, then, boy do I look like a moron...). Through action, Chester takes something unassuming and ordinary (a cracker) and turns it into a representation of love.

The other is a one-page sequence where Chester is walking down the street, sees a truck coming, imagines laying down in the street and having his head crushed by the truck, but doesn't do it. The truck speeds by, causing a gust of wind that makes Chester's hair stick out behind him. Chester considers action, but does nothing. That relates to the other ideas and themes of the book, but in an odd way. Here, Chester imagines dying and doesn't initiate it, but what does that have to do with actively pursuing a strong relationship with his mother or actually taking Sky out on a date? It's not readily apparent, but another big part of the book is Chester doing everything he can to be an individual and have his own identity. While his refusal to swear no doubt comes from his attempt to ingratiate himself with women, it also becomes his identity: he's the guy who doesn't say 'fuck.' He often avoids direct action, because he's selfish and unwilling to do anything that puts himself out. By acting, he would make himself vulnerable or leave his identity open to attack. Death would be the end of him (and his identity) and he won't take any action that could result in that.

At the end of the book, Sky comes over and finds Chester mowing the lawn. She invites him to the fair, but he refuses, wanting to go buy and listen to the new Kiss album. He chooses his own selfish, insular world instead of forming a genuine bond with her. If he had, he would cease to be Chester, he would become Sky's boyfriend -- part of a couple, a shared identity that's informed by another person. By choosing a Kiss album, he creates his own identity (no less informed by an external party, but a broad, general one that's almost impersonal).


The way that Brown lays out the pages is interesting. Scenes usually begin or end with a page that contains a single panel. The scenes flow into one another with a gentle ease. Some are more important than others, showing more significant events. By displaying them equally, there's a sense of floating through Brown's memories. A lot of pages will have six or so panels, but they don't feel like a regular grid since Brown is pasting them onto the page. Each panel is its own little slice of the memory and the fact that it's on the same page with five others doesn't produce the same density as a regular six-panel grid. An odd effect that I can't fully explain.


There's a Ulysses allusion that always stands out. Chester's mom is in a mental hospital and his father takes him and his brother to visit her. When it's time for Chester to say goodbye, he imagines himself saying 'I love you,' but he doesn't say it. He's unable to act for whatever reason. That reminds me of Stephen Dedalus being unwilling to kneel down and pray when his mother is dying.


Early in the book, Chester is sitting in the library and two girls come up to him, claiming to have something to say to him, but they're interrupted by a group of boys who want to hastle Chester for not swearing. That identity once again prevents him from a connection of some sort with women...


I don't know if I'll ever really understand why I like this book so much.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 27

In this week's episode, Tim and I discuss: Nic Cage and accents, Tim reading Detective Comics, lots of talk about reviewing comics, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1, the upcoming Grant Morrison documentary, Superman #702, Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 #1, Read Comics in Public Day, we hate on independent comics and probably piss people off, Thor the Mighty Avenger #3, Daytripper #9, the personal lives of comics writers, The Thanos Imperative #3, and Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2. It all kicks off with "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 27 HERE!

Friday, August 13, 2010

CBR Review: Thor the Mighty Avenger #3

I recently reviewed Thor the Mighty Avenger #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After the two-issue introduction to this version of Thor and the world he inhabits, Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee open it up with appearances by Loki, Giant-Man, and the Wasp in a wonderfully exciting and entertaining issue. This issue is packed with emotion and passion as Thor tries to come to terms with where he is, why he’s there, and what he’s lost in the process. The issue is packed with enough story to fill two or three other comics, but it doesn’t feel overly dense or sluggish. The storytelling is economical and breezy, making the most of each panel and piece of dialogue."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: The Thanos Imperative #3

I recently reviewed The Thanos Imperative #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Ah, the inevitable exposition issue. Every story arc has one, especially if the story doubles as an event/crossover book. It's the issue where the non-stop action slows down so some key plot points can be explained, hopefully without boring the audience so much that they ‘forget’ to pick up the next issue. Abnett and Lanning don’t bore in this issue, but the exposition is lacking in delivering a believable and comprehensive explanation of how the Cancerverse came to be despite the point of divergence being a smart one."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CBR Review: Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2

I recently reviewed Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "With James maintaining the Captain America mantle and Steve acting as a supporting cast member in that title, while leading a team in Secret Avengers, a mini-series focuses on him doing something alone is exactly what’s needed after his absence from and return to the Marvel universe. Ed Brubaker packs in the right balance of action and character work to make for a satisfying read. With Rogers returned from his time-skipping, it makes a lot of sense to write a story that involves his origin as Captain America, and Brubaker does so, remarkably, without any major retcons or forcing the issue too much."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 #1

I recently reviewed Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Only one week after the conclusion of the second volume of Ultimate Comics Avengers, the beginning of the third ships. Unlike the second volume where Mark Millar spent the first two issues introducing the new characters of the story arc, the Punisher and the first Hulk, he divides this issue in two to introduce us to Blade and Ray Connor, the new Daredevil, ending the issue with an obvious indication of what the plot of this volume is. It’s a stronger way of beginning the story and definitely makes for a denser and more interesting first issue of an arc."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #3

I recently reviewed Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #3 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The mini-series telling the story of Cassie’s first ‘case’ is more than halfway over, and this issue explains what the rumors about Farmer Fig’s place are all about as Cassie struggles to fit in with the teens in her new home, while more teens are killed. The issue effectively sets up the final issue’s resolution to the plot, while also revealing more about Cassie’s character through her overwrought narration."

You can read the rest HERE!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CBR Review: Morning Glories #1

I recently reviewed Morning Glories #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The issue kicks off with a bang by showing an escape attempt from the school. No explanation for what’s so wrong is given, but something clearly is if a group of students plot an escape by blowing up part of the school. Instead of teasing the point, Spencer gets it right out there: Morning Glory Academy isn’t what it seems. Though it appears to be a premier prep school that caters to only the best and the brightest, the reality is far different. How the image and reality both manage to exist is, perhaps, the most interesting question, since the school is successful in graduating top students that go on to Ivy League schools. That tension hangs over the issue as we’re introduced to six new students who have no idea what they’re getting themselves into (though we don’t entirely either)."

You can read the rest HERE!

Quickie Reviews (August 11 2010)

Man, today's comics didn't excite me a lot ahead of time, but I enjoyed them. Nice when that happens.

Avengers: The Origin #5: Finally got a copy of this. "Finally" meaning... a week later. Oh how I suffered! I had to wait a week for a conclusion to a story that I... already know. Why my, lord? WHY ME? Anyway, this was... not entirely good. I love Casey's interpretations of the characters, but, by giving them more depth, he also makes the whole 'forming the Avengers' thing seem forced and contrived. When they got to that part, it seemed like he'd written a story where these characters should go off on their own, vowing to never see one another again, because this fiasco was such a pain in the ass -- instead, they decide to form a club. It's meant to be big and awe-inspiring, especially with the flashforwards to big Avengers moments, but it's so disjointed from what came before that it's like they spliced together two different stories. Maybe it will read better as a whole (something I don't plan on finding out until next year's blogathon). Phil Noto draws pretty pictures, but his figures can be very stilted. I think that adds to the disjointed conclusion in a way I can't quite articulate yet. Maybe come July/August 2010. [**1/2]

Daytripper #9: Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? Love the bulkier/more cartoony style used for young Bras by Moon. I think I understand. Maybe? I do love stories like this. The sort that makes you reflect upon yourself... yeah. I don't know what to say. [****1/2]

Superman #702: Of course, the problem is that there aren't any aliens or Supermen to create new jobs in Detroit... That's the problem with using the real world in your stories of hope, isn't it? They simply wind up reminding you that there isn't any really. There's just a kind of shitty comic that does the exact opposite of its goal. [*]

The Unwritten #16: I don't know about you, but Wilson Taylor's gambit got me jazzed up. You thought it was going one way and BAM! There is a new Tommy Taylor book and it's meant to make his son into Jesus. That's pretty fucked up right there. Interested to see where this series goes from here. Glad I stuck with it. [****]


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CBR Review: Sparta, U.S.A. #6

I recently reviewed Sparta, U.S.A. #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "With Sparta under Nazi occupation on the orders of its founder/figurehead, the Maestro, former football hero Godfrey McLaine has created an underground resistance with the two forces engaging fully in this issue. Lapham plays upon the Sparta name to allude to the 300 Spartans that stood against the Persians (most comics fans will be familiar with Frank Miller’s rendition of that story), while also combining that with football and how the town’s obsession with the sport gives its citizens a stronger understanding of teamwork and strategy. The football element doesn’t land as strongly as it could, while the Spartan allusion seems more cute than anything else."

You can read the rest HERE!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

CBR Review: Greek Street #14

I recently reviewed Greek Street #14 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The news of Greek Street ending with issue 16 was met as being part of the larger story of various Vertigo books being cancelled lately. A few have lamented that this series will be ending so soon, but, for most, it makes sense. I’ve bought every issue and I’m not too surprised that this book isn’t lighting up the sales charts, because its quality varies on an issue-to-issue basis. Things seemed to be in an upswing with the end of the second story arc as characters and ideas began to cohere. Even the first issue of the three-part 'Ajax' showed that Greek Street just needed some time to get into a good groove. The end of 'Ajax,' though, is a disappointment, lacking a strong payoff to the story."

You can read the rest HERE!

Friday, August 06, 2010

CBR Review: Supergod #4

I recently reviewed Supergod #4 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "I never understood other people’s reactions to Supergod. Sure, it was an oral history, a lecture in comics form, but it was interesting. It struck me that Warren Ellis was mapping out another way to approach superhumans that had only been hinted at previously: the superhuman as a completely different species. Something alien. For all of the talk of superhumans or mutants or whatever being different from humanity, they rarely act like it for the sake of making them interesting to read about month in and month out. In Supergod, Ellis explores that idea with superhumans created to be gods, created to solve all our problems, created to be alien and inhuman. In Supergod #4, the supergods created finally clash and the results are apocalyptic."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Spitfire #1

I recently reviewed Spitfire #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Over a year since Captain Britain and MI:13 ended, Paul Cornell returns to one of the book’s members with a Spitfire one-shot that’s part of Marvel’s 'Women of Marvel' initiative. With Cornell now a DC exclusive, this could be the last chance for fans of the title to see him handling some of the characters for a few years, at least, and Cornell does not disappoint. While the comic stars and focuses on Spitfire, Blade also features prominently as Cornell continues to build on their relationship with one another as they go vampire hunting in New York City."

You can read the rest HERE!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

CBR Review: Thor: The Rage of Thor #1

I recently reviewed Thor: The Rage of Thor #1 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The unstated irony of this story is that Odin continually refers to Thor’s need for humility and, in the process, puts Thor into a position where he is Asgard’s only hope. Milligan taps into the competition between father and son, using that as the driving point for their conflict. Odin sees that his son is his rival in strength and power, so he pushes him down needlessly, driving Thor away until it’s essential that he return. It’s a pattern that we’ve seen numerous times before, but Milligan does well. By also showing us Thor’s life as Tor, a regular human, we see him happy and content in a way that he rarely is in Asgard. Thor even critiques Asgardian life harshly late in the issue in a way that hasn’t been done before, giving the character an unseen dimension."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Batman: Odyssey #2

I recently reviewed Batman: Odyssey #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "After all, this is an issue where an early Batman adventure is shown where he prevents people from being killed in a train explosion by shooting at them with guns before making nice with a little old lady. People think he’s a vampire out to suck their blood! There’s a level of goofy camp to Adams’ writing where everything is treated with the utmost seriousness despite what’s happening being utterly silly. Even his over-the-top narration when Batman is shot continuously by a couple of criminals feeds that disconnect with the art looking comedic as copious amounts of blood spill out of the hero and his body contorts into a variety of mind-boggling positions, never falling."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #6

I recently reviewed Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #6 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "The conclusion to 'Crime and Punishment,' the second Ultimate Comics Avengers story arc, manages to wrap things up nicely and retroactively make some of the previous, weaker issues look better. While the payoffs here don’t give the overall story a structure that seems to require six issues when four would have done nicely, Mark Millar touches on a lot of small character moments shown in previous issues that deliver here or set the stage for future issues. Plus, there’s two Ghost Riders fighting and call me a sucker, but that’s always pretty cool to me."

You can read the rest HERE!

CBR Review: Avengers Prime #2

I recently reviewed Avengers Prime 32 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Brian Michael Bendis is taking an interesting approach to Avengers Prime, the series meant to bridge the gap between Siege and 'The Heroic Age,' at least when it comes to the relationships of Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Thor. After the trio was transported to one of the Nine Realms last issue, they’ve stayed separated to face their own different problems, presumably so that when they reunite, they’ll learn the value of sticking together and not bickering all of the time. It’s an effective way to settle the differences the characters have, while also providing a broad view of the problems facing the Nine Realms as Bendis picks up on an untouched consequence of Asgard being on Earth."

You can read the rest HERE!

The Splash Page Podcast Episode 26

Tim and I have returned to talk about comic books in podcast form once again. There are some technical problems with Tim's side of the conversation, but it's either that or no podcast. I chose that. In this week's episode we discuss: our vacations, last week's podcast, Return of Bruce Wayne #4, how we buy the comics we review, Tim's iPad, Jason Latour, "One Moment in Time," computer lettering and colours, the thing about Tim and soccer, other sports, Batman: Odyssey #2, DC teaser images, this week's comics, Jeff Parker comics, and The Great Gatsby and modernist writers. Plus, there's "We're Hardcore" by Gord Downie, which I did a new intro version of that should sound better.

You can download and listen to the Splash Page Podcast episode 26 HERE!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

CBR Review: Amazing Spider-Man #639

I recently reviewed Amazing Spider-Man #639 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "While the first part of 'One Moment in Time' mixed Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 with new material by Quesada and Paolo Rivera, this issue is those two artists (aside from some flashback panels from other comics) with a more coherent feel. With Peter prevented from making the wedding thanks to a cinderblock to the head, this issue picks up immediately after and has Peter trying to explain what happened to Mary Jane. To her credit, she doesn’t need an explanation and sees that Spider-Man will always be the third person in their relationship and, sadly, someone that will always come before her. That leaves the two broken up with the second half of the issue needing to put them back together again."

You can read the rest HERE!

Quickie Reviews (August 4 2010)

Another big week of comics for me, but that means lots of CBR reviews to write (the most I've ever done in one week, I believe). But, that comes off a month where I had my most reviews published on the site: thirty-three. That's more than one per day. It was also apparently a bunch of comics I liked since it was my highest star-average month ever, too. There were three five-star books... all deserving, but that was unusual and helped to skew things. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Anyway, here are the books I'm not reviewing for CBR...

The Boys #45: Weird thing: on the 'letter column' page of Dynamite books (more just a hype/bullpen page... whatever you want to call it), there's always a section where they quote short snippets of reviews. My review of The Boys #43 for CBR is quoted... twice... in a row... I've never seen that happen before. I did really like the issue. This issue is strong as we get some fall-out of Annie's big revelation last issue. As she tries to explain, the flashbacks of what's happened with the Boys going on in Hughie's head is great. Russ Braun fits into this book so well. If we can't have Robertson, Braun is a fantastic second choice. I'm starting to find reading this book monthly frustrating, because Ennis is really making it compelling and has me thinking the issues are too short and why isn't it next month already...? Fuck. Plus, the Female in a blonde wig? [****]

Captain America #608: Things fall apart more. Zemo is just taking James's life apart, barely appearing in this issue. It's methodical and effective. The art isn't as strong in places, falling really flat. A pretty typical issue of the series... [***3/4]

Casanova #2: Part of me wishes that Fabio Moon was doing the covers for that great contrast of the Twins on art. Issues 2 and 3 of Casanova are represented here and... I just love this book. The feel of it -- the tone -- the execution... yeah, just what my brain craves. This issue, I really picked up on the new lettering and have fallen in love with it. The colouring is still doing its thing while the different, more Criminal-esque backmatter is pretty great, too. If this keeps up its schedule, then the first Wednesday of the month will be Boys/Casanova Day and... that just makes me happy. [*****]

Secret Warriors #18: I'm assuming Fury lost the use of his left eye during the Zodiac Event... that was the only detail that really jumped out at me in this issue. Not a bad issue, just not one that stands out on its down as much. As well, Vitti's art looked a little sloppy/rushed/unfinished. [***1/4]

S.H.I.E.L.D. #3: Yeah, that was really, really, really fucking good. I still find Weaver's art somewhat inconsistent. Some pages/panels are stunning, while others show some really sloppy elements around the edges. His faces, for example, are weak usually. Hickman is writing with such confidence... this is the closest thing to his Image work that he's done for Marvel. I love the joke of the two text pages. Definitely sold on this series. [****1/2]

Now, to the pile of books that need proper reviews... dammit...

Monday, August 02, 2010

"Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen" in October

In October, Sequart will be publishing Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen, which features an essay I contributed titled "Mr. Moore, Meet Mr. Chandler: Watchmen and 'Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story'" based upon my blog post where I applied Raymond Chandler's "Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story" to Watchmen. I expanded that fragmentary post into a larger essay that reads (I hope) a bit more coherently. You can find more details on the collection here. It will be available online through the likes of Amazon and Lulu, but also in comic shops via Diamond (it's in the August issue of Previews). You'll note that Tim Callahan has an essay in the book as well and I like how they stuck our names together on the cover. Personally, I think they should have stuck our names first and capitalised on our celebrity, but that's just me...

Anyway, order yourself a copy, because it's sure to be the comics criticism darling of the season and you wouldn't want to miss out on that, would you?

CBR Review: Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #2

I recently reviewed Abe Sapien: The Abyssal Plain #2 for CBR and, in the process, wrote the following sentences: "Coupled with the main plot, we’re also shown who this zombie is and how he came to be guarding the crate holding the Burgonet. Some of his story was shown in the first issue, but a more complete version is shown here. It doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings, but I don’t think that is the point really. It seems more a demonstration that weird stuff happens to random people sometimes, especially, apparently, in post-World War II Soviet Union. The assignment of the soldier to the submarine is a weird scene and is played straight enough to make it even weirder."

You can read the rest HERE!