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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 30 April 2008

All right, let’s go viral, get on the net, and blog it out!

First, in honor of the death of Albert Hofmann at 102 (!), let’s check out a great panel from the greatest run in comics history (polls notwithstanding, because I reject the poll!):

Second, I’m bitter this week because the stupid Suns lost to the stupid Spurs again! I do like the Suns, but not enough to be really that upset, except for the fact that I absolutely loathe the Spurs. Man, the Spurs are like Stalin’s Russia: ruthless, efficient, utterly devoid of any personality or creativity, grinding people into the dust, scaring the hell out of the officials because the refs are scared they might be put in the gulag, and something nobody wants to see and wishes would go away. I mean, is anyone really a fan of the Spurs? Even people in San Antonio? For their second playoff game, they had over 700 tickets available hours before game time, after the Spurs and Suns played a double-overtime classic in Game 1. Good job, San Antonions.

But we’re here for comics! COMICS!!!!! I was mildly offended by a comic this week, and it wasn’t the one with the blind girl becoming a Secret Service agent, if you can believe it!

El Escarabajo Azul #26 by Jai Nitz (writer), Mike Norton (penciller), Trevor Scott (inker), Rob Leigh (letterer), and Guy Major (colorist). $3.50, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

Why is this $3.50, you might ask? Well, there’s some extra pages that I didn’t count. Those pages feature the script. Why is the script included? Because this is the Spanish edition of Blue Beetle!

This is a fairly interesting marketing tool, and it’s probably the perfect book for it. Jaime lives in El Paso, after all, and is the “hero” for both that city and Juárez, right across the border from it in Mexico. So this issue, in which Jaime takes his main squeeze, Traci 13, to a family reunion at which most of the people don’t speak English, is a good opportunity for DC to give something new a try. It’s a placeholding issue, as Rogers’ big storyline is done, Will Pfeifer’s guest stint hasn’t started yet, and Matthew Sturges is some months away from taking over. But it gives Nitz an opportunity to show Jaime and his family without the weight of the Reach or anything else bearing down on them.

For the most part, this is a perfectly charming issue. Jaime fights the Parasite, who shows up in Juárez for, well, really no reason, steals some powers (I’ll get back to that), and almost beats Jaime until the scarab thinks of something. It’s really just a way to get his aunt (if that’s who Lily is) to denounce superheroes so his grandmother (who knows he’s Blue Beetle) to speak up on his behalf. It’s a sweet “get-to-know-Jaime-and-his-family” issue, and does its job well, ably illustrated by Norton.

There are a couple of problems in it, however. First, Parasite steals the powers of the Posse, who showed up early in the series but haven’t been relevant recently. I just read the first year of the book, and I can see why people didn’t like it, because it’s not that good. The Posse is a group of superpowered youths, the idea of which was fairly dumb to begin with, and to bring them up here is odd, as we have to assume DC is trying to get a demographic that might have skipped reading this to pick it up, so why bring in some lame characters newcomers wouldn’t know? I get that Parasite needs different powers and needs to discover Jaime’s identity (not to mention grasp Spanish, which he does), but I wish there had been a better way to do that.

The use of Spanish was not a complete success, either, for a couple of reasons. I don’t know Spanish, so I’m going to trust people if they want to come here and tear me a new one. First, the fact that DC gave us a translation disappointed me. I was hoping they wouldn’t, and that Norton’s storytelling skills would be able to carry the book if you didn’t understand what was going on. For a great deal of the book, the art helps immensely, and I was able to follow along fairly well. But Nitz’s story demanded too much exposition, especially when he was explaining the Posse’s powers (another reason not to use them). I thought it would be neat to see if we ignorant Anglos could follow what was happening without the translation. I got the family reunion stuff almost perfectly, and that’s a tribute to Norton’s art, I think. (Of course, on the splash page, he screws up because Traci’s hair is perfect even though she’s flying upside-down, but I’ll let that slide.)

Second, and this is something that I’m just putting out there as a discussion point, is the Spanish that Jaime and his younger relatives speak. Let me explain. When I taught in the rougher part of Phoenix, the student population was about 60% Hispanic. Most of them spoke Spanish in some capacity or another. Some spoke very poor English, and they took English classes, obviously. The woman who taught them spoke very good Spanish, but they accused her of not speaking Spanish well. Why did they accuse her of this? Because, like many teenagers, they spoke an atrocious version of their native language – poor grammar, slang, lots of cursing, you know the drill. The teens who spoke English as a native language often butchered the language! So my question is: does Jaime speak perfect Spanish? Or is it “teen” Spanish? I’m not necessarily criticizing it if he does speak perfect Spanish, but I would find it interesting if he does, as characters in comics often don’t speak grammatically perfect English. Yes, I know I’m bringing up grammar again, but I’d like to know about Jaime’s Spanish and how “perfect” it is. Does anyone know?

Anyway, this isn’t a great issue, but it’s a nice experiment. Nitz doesn’t quite pull it off, but given how he almost does, that’s not a bad thing.

Caliber: First Canon of Justice #1 (of 5) by Sam Sarkar (writer), Garrie Gastonny (artist), Imaginary Friends Studios (colorists), and Annie Parkhouse (letterer). $1.00, 31 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

This is the first of two Radical comics I received in the mail, and I’d like to thank them for giving me a chance to take a look at them. Both of them cost a thin dollar, and for that amount, you might want to check them out, as they’re both very slick, professional comics. They look fantastic, and unlike a lot of new publishers where the painted covers look nothing like the art inside, the interior art is quite nice. (The artist, Garrie Gastonny, is Indonesian, which I think is rather awesome.)

There’s a huge problem with this issue, and I’m just going to come right out and say it: I had to go to the artist’s website to find out that it is, in fact, a retelling of the Arthurian legend retold in the American Old West. You really can’t tell that from this issue (except, I guess, the actual title of the comic, but even that’s not terribly clear, plus the names are similar, but they’re not uncommon names, so it doesn’t always register), and although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s kind of strange that the parallels aren’t more precisely drawn in this initial offering.

But does it matter? I mean, does it have to be obvious that this is the Arthurian legend for it to work? Not really. It works fairly well on its own, but there are some holes in the plot. Jean Michel, the son of a French minister and a shaman’s daughter, has a magic gun that fires lightning but can only be used in a just cause. The story takes place in Oregon, where a ranch is burned by masked men but the crime is blamed on the Nez Perce Indians. Captain Pendergon doesn’t really believe it, but there’s a lot of pressure on him to go in and clean those savages out! Jean Michel gives the gun to Pendergon because he believes he’s a just man, but does he make the right choice? If you know the legend, probably not.

It feels like we step into the middle of a story, as Jean Michel seems to be narrating events that we’ve already seen (but haven’t). Plus, there’s a woman who shows up in the middle and has sex with Jean Michel, and she kind of shows up out of nowhere. Yes, it’s a five-issue mini-series, so I get that we’ll get some answers, but the plot feels a bit disjointed. Maybe because it’s meant to be a retelling of the Arthurian legend, we’re supposed to make the connections ourselves, but because the subtext isn’t too obvious, it’s a bit tough. Finally, we can, again, figure out why things go bad, but it’s still not clear what happens if an unjust man tries to use the gun.

Gastonny’s art is quite nice. Jean Michel has some impressive visions that are brought to life well, and although it looks somewhat photo-realistic, Gastonny gives them some nice personality. The biggest problem with the book is in the climactic fight, the colors are extremely dark and murky, and we don’t really get the full impact. This is especially egregious in a double-page spread which looks very cool but doesn’t look as cool as it could because it’s so dark. It’s a shame.

I’m not completely positive that this is a good comic, but it’s only a dollar, and it’s at least an intriguing comic. It has some potential, which is more than a lot of books!

Ex Machina #36 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Tony Harris (penciller), Jim Clark (inker), JD Mettler (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/WildStorm.

The “flashback” part of this book takes place on my 30th birthday, so of course it’s awesome. It introduces a woman who falls in love with the Great Machine because he’s so groovy, and possibly shows up at the end showing her disapproval for George Bush. It’s probably her, but who knows? Anyway, Kremlin and January’s plot against Mitch continues apace, the idea of him running for president is floated, and it’s, you know, a fun read. Shocking, isn’t it? There’s not much else to say, because the book is humming along nicely.

Glamourpuss #1 by Dave Sim (writer/artist/”specialty” letterer). $3.00, 26 pgs, BW, Aardvark-Vanaheim.

This is, without a doubt, the weirdest comic of the week, if not the year. It’s not even a comic, really. Sim writes: “When people ask me if I have anything planned after Cerebus this is about all that comes to mind: cute teenaged girls in my best Al Williamson photo-realism style.” And that’s pretty much what this is. It’s a bit more than that, actually, as Sim delves deep into how Williamson, and especially Alex Raymond, created his art back in the 1950s. He does this cleverly, by using panels from the old Rip Kirby strip and showing how he tried to recreate them, plus putting his essay into word balloons so that the “comic” looks like a comic, but it’s much more of a treatise than anything. That part of the book is rather fascinating.

But then there’s the part that makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t know if I should be. In the middle fo the issue, we get a “short story” called “The Self-Education of N’Atashae.” It’s six splash pages of, well, a cute girl in Sim’s best Al Williamson photo-realism style, but Sim adds a bit of a narrative. The drawings of “N’Atashae” are very nice to look at, but the entire “story” is weird. I know it’s supposed to be a parody of fashion magazines, so I think I should let slide the fact that the entire narrative consists of N’Atashae thinking about her fashion choices and how they fulfill her as a woman, comparing her ambivalence about her clothing to moments of self-doubt that wracked Gandhi. Again, I know it’s a parody, but given Sim’s views, this feels a bit more biting, as if all women care about are clothes, and as long as a woman can match toreador pants with a big poofy blouse she’ll be happy. Am I reading too much into this, or can we expect Sim to think this? It’s weird, because it’s obviously a parody, but it still makes me uncomfortable, given Sim’s history.

Other than that, I don’t think I’m going to keep buying this, and not because of the parody of fashion magazines. Sim’s examination of the Alex Raymond school is actually pretty interesting, but I’m not sure if it’s worth coming back for more.

Helen Killer #1 (of 4) by Andrew Kreisberg (writer), Matthew JLD Rice (artist), and Philip Clark (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, BW, Arcana Comics.

Our Dread Lord and Master, who lives in the Center of the Universe, got to read this last week, but the rest of us peons had to wait until this week. Oh, New Yorkers are so special, aren’t they????

Anyway, I liked this more than Brian did, but I understand his objections. It’s a rather odd book, because I’m not sure what it’s really going for. The art is very nice. Rice has a good feel for the time period (1901) and his attention to detail is very good, both in the fight scene and in the rest of the book. The fight scene, artistically, is choreographed very well, and Rice manages to pack a lot into each panel without seeming too busy. The way he incorporates sign language is well done, too.

Kreisberg’s story is where the book gets a bit odd. If you haven’t heard of this, the conceit is that Helen Keller has a dark side, which she calls “Phantom” (this is actual fact, as Kreisberg points out in his text piece at the end of the book). Alexander Graham Bell designs spectacles for her called the “omnicle,” which, using comic book science, allows her to see and hear. But it also allows her to gain “herculean” strength and agility. The Secret Service decides this makes her the perfect person to protect William McKinley at the upcoming Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, where they are convinced anarchists will try to assassinate him. Of course, in the real world, Leon Czolgosz (who shows up at the end of this book) actually did kill the president, but presumably Helen won’t allow that to happen! Of course, the omnicle also produces side effects, letting Helen’s dark side out somehow. That’s presumably why she doesn’t use the omnicle all the time.

Kreisberg does a very nice job with Helen and her handicap, showing how she is able to communicate with others and also voicing her teacher Anne Sullivan’s objections to the way the Secret Service will use her. This book might work rather well, except that it veers into superheroics, and it’s just too unbelievable. It’s not enough to make me dislike the book, but the fact that Helen suddenly becomes a superhero is just weird. I get that if she didn’t, there’d be no comic, but I think it might be more interesting if she was more of a secret agent who could appear blind and deaf but actually wasn’t and thwart Czolgosz that way. The way Kreisberg spins his yarn isn’t disrespectful to Helen Keller (or, by extension, blind and deaf people), but it’s a bit goofy. It’s as if he doesn’t want to offend anyone, but then we get the silly title and the creepy cover and Helen jumping around like a ninja on speed. It’s a very strange dichotomy that makes this a disjointed comic. I hope Kreisberg figures it out in subsequent issues, because, as I’ve said, it looks great and could be an intriguing book that makes good points about the handicapped and they price they pay for treatment and whether that really helps them. I get that it’s an action comic and that Kreisberg probably won’t delve into that too deeply, but it seems like he has some of that in mind, and it seems like the action might overwhelm that.

One final point: in the “real” world, the guy on the last page was dead by the time this story occurs. It’s a minor thing, but Kreisberg did encourage to search down the cast of characters on the Internet, so he has only himself to blame!

Hercules: The Thracian War #1 (of 5) by Steve Moore (writer), Admira Wijaya (artist), Imaginary Friends Studios (colorists), and Todd Klein (letterer). $1.00, 22 pgs, FC, Radical Comics.

This is the second book Radical sent me, but I’m grumpy because I didn’t get the Steranko cover (oh, I’m kidding – that’s a pretty neat cover by Wijaya). Both these Radical books will eventually be $2.99, but it’s pretty cool that they’re launching with $1 price tags – at least you can give them a try and not feel like you got hosed!

I like the art (or, more precisely, the coloring) in this book more than I did in Caliber, because it’s brighter and you can see much better what’s going on. Like Gastonny, Wijaya has a photo-realistic style, but he does a good job making it more fluid than you might expect, and his bloody fight scene at the end of the issue is horrific to behold, which is kind of the point. Hercules is living in a brutal time, after all, and Wijaya doesn’t pull any punches in that regard.

The reason I don’t like this as much as Caliber, however, is because not much happens in this issue, and even though I was a bit confused by what was happening in the previous book, at least the plot was moving along nicely. In this issue, Hercules and his merry band head to Thrace because they’ve been hired by the king as mercenaries. We never actually find out why the king hired them beyond a vague reference to training the troops and unite the Thracian tribes, but that’s it. Moore does a good job introducing all the characters and giving them some nice personalities, but the issue basically consists of the Greeks and Thracians insulting each other, and finally, reaching a breaking point. Then the slaughter begins! At the end of the issue, it seems like the actual story is about to begin, but I wonder if maybe we could have gotten there sooner.

Nevertheless, this is not a bad comic. It looks good, and it’s mildly amusing to read the insults that the two sides trade, and it sets up what should be a fairly entertaining action adventure. Like Caliber, I encourage you to check it out, because it’s certainly worth a look.

The Hunter #2 by Adam Hamdy (writer), David Golding (artist/letterer), Jhosephine Tanuwidjaya (colorist), and Adam Sydney (script consultant). $5.95, 64 pgs, FC, Dare Comics.

I received this in the mail as well, and I’d like to thank Adam Hamdy for sending it over to me. It’s very cool of him. The second issue of this book is a bit better than the first, which is nice, as Hamdy delves deeper into the terrorist attacks on American soil and we find out the secret origin of the Hunter! Most of this issue is dedicated to finding out how Gavril became a superpowered being, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, as well, as the conspiracy that led to the attacks gets more twisted. Despite the superheroics, there’s a nice “thriller” aspect to this book, as we begin with an assassination and an arrest of a presumed terrorist that goes horribly wrong and end with yet another assassination. This comic has a real “old-school” feel to it, from the art, which is solid and occasionally quite good but lacks a certain modern verve, to the coloring, to the paper stock, which is thick and tough, not unlike construction paper. Even though it’s not a great comic, it gives me an odd pleasure to read it – it’s enjoyable and interesting, certainly, but more than that, it gives me a strange feeling of nostalgia. It’s a strange reason to recommend a comic, but that’s why you tolerate me – because I give you weird reasons to buy books!

I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space #1 (of 6) by Megan Rose Gedris (writer/artist/colorist/letterer). $.99, 22 pgs, FC, Platinum Studios Comics.

Now that’s a groovy cover. It lies, as this book is NOT 32 pages, but it is only 99 cents, so there’s no reason you should pass it up, is there? IS THERE????

Well, it’s not a great comic, but Gedris really has fun with it, and this is a fun little comic. The art looks fantastic, much like the cover, with Benday dots all over the place, a few surprisingly dark panels reflecting the bit of the weirdness of an Earth girl actually getting kidnapped by pirates (which is slightly traumatic, I think you might admit), and one panel that shows photographs of pulp novels featuring lesbians (and if I don’t read Satan Was a Lesbian before I die, I’m going to be sad). The story is appropriately goofy, as four lesbian pirates from outer space kidnap a woman named Susan, who doesn’t believe that lesbians exist but really is one herself (I know, how shocking!). The issue is mostly set-up, as we meet the four pirates and find out a little about Susan, but Gedris gives the book such energy that it’s easy to overlook that not a lot happens. It’s a wildly weird comic, from the fact that there’s a sound effect of “faint” when Susan faints to the end of the story of why the lesbians have antennae. I have no idea where Gedris is going with this, but it’s just goofy enough that it might work.

Speaking of lesbians, did everyone read that the inhabitants of the Greek island of Lesbos are a bit grumpy that gay women call themselves lesbians? The man who has sued an organization for using the word “lesbians” in their name claims it violates their human rights. Now, I can understand being a bit grumpy about saying you’re a “Lesbian” and have people look at you funny, but violating your human rights? Really? Now I kind of wish I was a native of Lesbos so I could call myself a Lesbian.

The Immortal Iron Fist #14 by Matt Fraction (writer), Ed Brubaker (writer), Tonci Zonjic (penciler), Clay Mann (penciler), Kano (artist), Stefano Gaudiano (inker), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist), and Artmonkeys Studios (letterer). $3.99, 36 pgs, FC, Marvel.

“The Capital Cities of Heaven” limps to a close, and it’s a shame. I seem to recall someone commenting that Aja had some health problems, and that’s why he couldn’t finish the run, and even though the guest artists have been decent, for the most part, the lack of consistency in the latter half of this run (plus its slowness) robbed this story arc of some of its awesomeness. And it was a very good story arc, and we see even in this issue, as Zonjic does a nice job with the big fight between the good guys and Hydra, Danny Rand stops the train in an extremely keen way, Davos … well, Davos does something, but I don’t want to give it away, and we get to see such manuevers as the “Vaulting Mantis Spine-Snap,” which is pretty damned excellent. We also find out something crucial about the Seven Cities that will, presumably, drive the story forward, so that’s nice. There is, as always, a ton to like about this comic, but it still felt like it went on too long. Issue #8, which began this story, came out in August, after all. The individual issues were often very good, but the arc’s inconsistency drained some of the pleasure out of it. Still, this issue’s battle is done well, and the way the status quo is left at the end of the story can lead to many intriguing stories in the future. Let’s hope the new writer is up to the task.

Local #11 (of 12) by Brian Wood (writer), Ryan Kelly (artist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, BW, Oni Press.

When I was at San Diego last year, Ryan Kelly was selling a print of this cover, and I didn’t buy it. I don’t think I had enough cash left, but still. I’m peeved, because it’s a nice piece of art.

Anyway, I didn’t read this, as I gave up reading these issues as single issues because of the length between their releases. I know each story is somewhat self-contained, but it’s still an arc about Megan growing up, so I figured I’d just wait until the entire series was out. According to Wood, #12 will be out next month, and I’m dying to read the whole thing. I’ll review it then.

Marvel Comics Presents #8. “Vanguard” by Marc Guggenheim (writer), Francis Tsai (artist), Tony Washington (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). “Machine Man” by Ivan Brandon (writer), Niko Henrichon (artist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). “Cyclops and Wolverine” by Andy Schmidt (writer), Marco Turini (artist), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). “Weapon Omega” by Rich Koslowski (writer), Marco Checchetto (artist), Laura Villari (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, Marvel.

The funniest part of this issue is that Stacy Dolan keeps calling Blade “Wesley.” Who knew that Blade had a movie in the Marvel Universe as well as ours? Plus, the Machine Man story is, unfortunately, not all that good, as Brandon does not write Aaron Stack like Ellis wrote him, which makes me wonder: does Brandon not think he can write Aaron Stack like that, so he didn’t even try (which is fair), or did he write this years ago before Aaron Stack’s renaissance in Nextwave, so the Ellis speech pattern wasn’t established yet? Either way, it’s not a horrible story, and Henrichon’s art is fantastic. And the Weapon Omega story, which has been humming along rather unremarkably, takes a nasty and very interesting turn.

“Wesley.” That’s good stuff.

Noble Causes #33 by Jay Faerber (writer), Yildiray Cinar (artist), Ryan Vera (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer). $3.50, 21 pgs, FC, Image.

Okay, so I sort of reviewed this a few weeks ago, when issue #32 came out, because I read it then. I’ll probably repeat myself, but here it is: Faerber goes to the tried-and-true superhero well and brings up … a fight between allies! Yippee! Frost, who has worked hard to become a better part of the family (and receives a medal in this issue because he’s so awesome), gets into a situation with Surge, who we saw has some anger issues. What redeems it from cliché is the fact, again, that Faerber has spent so much time with Frost, making us believe that he might do what Surge accuses him of, and so although we know he’s innocent, we can understand why a new Noble might not see it that way. Plus, the story of the traitor within continues and ties into the fight. Faerber has come out of the hiatus on this book with plenty of new subplots, and it’s good to see, because they tie back into the previous incarnation of the book but aren’t so convoluted that a new reader would be lost. It’s a good way to ease people into the book if they haven’t picked it up yet.

Oh, and cigarettes are used in their most propagandistic way – if someone is smoking in this issue, you know they’re eeeeeevilllllll! It was somewhat funny to see cigarettes being used as a signifier like that.

Another good issue of Noble Causes. That’s like 45 in a row. Give one a try!

The Order #10 by Matt Fraction (writer), Barry Kitson (breakdowns), Javier Saltares (penciler), Scott Hanna (finisher), Victor Olazaba (finisher), Nelson (finisher), J. Roberts (colorist), Wil Quintana (colorist), Artmonkeys Studios (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Okay, so I’m not going to talk about this issue of The Order, because it doesn’t really matter, does it? As usual when a book I like gets its plug pulled prematurely, I am going to rant a bit about why it didn’t succeed. I have no idea if I’m right or not, but I hope you’ll indulge me. That’s what the comments are for, right?

Look, I don’t care if The Order gets cancelled. Everyone involved in it will work again, and I can read plenty of other books and enjoy them. I like The Order a lot, but I liked Aztek, and Automatic Kafka, and Wildcats, and Nextwave, and tons of other books that have gone the way of the passenger pigeon, so who cares, really? It’s too bad. But why did The Order fail? It seems like a lot of people didn’t try it because they didn’t know who Fraction was or because they didn’t know who the characters were. Both excuses are somewhat reasonable. A new series often needs a superstar to launch it, and Fraction, although he is a very good writer, isn’t quite as famous as he’s going to be very soon, so perhaps people just didn’t know how good he is. New characters are also a tough sell unless there’s a superstar attached, and even then it’s not a guarantee of success. So this book was a hard sell from the get go. This seems like the pattern in comics: launch books with little chance of success, just to build the creators’ bibliography and make sure that their subsequent books will build an audience. I don’t know if it’s conscious, but I can imagine Joey Q saying: “Well, The Order is not going to work, but we love Fraction, so if we get his name out there, our new Iron Man title won’t tank when we give it to him.” Of course, I don’t think that Joey Q thought they would give Fraction a new Iron Man book when The Order began, but I wonder if Joey Q and DiDio realize that certain creators are very good, but they need to build an audience so they can put them on the flagship titles. Does that make sense?

Is that enough of a reason for The Order to fail? After all, Iron Fist is doing fine. Maybe the presence of Brubaker is enough of a push so that fans will pick it up. Maybe fans just didn’t want another superhero team book. That reason would make me grumpy. One of the reasons why mainstream superhero comics as a whole are stuck in a rut is because fans constantly reject anything that might smack of newness. I often get accused of hating superheroes, both in my comics shoppe and on-line (which is odd, because people like Dirk Deppey probably think – if he bothers to think of me at all – that I’m so mainstream it’s disgusting). But that’s just not true. I love superheroes. What I don’t like is superheroes being done the same way over and over. One of the reasons why I like the Image superheroes is because Faerber and Kirkman can do things that are true superhero comics but aren’t bound by the tradition of the Big Two superheroes. Everyone has been salivating over the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four, but one of the biggest problems with fans today is they want everything to be like the Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four or the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man. Yes, I’m generalizing a lot, but I do wonder how many people saw The Order and, without even reading it, thought: “Well, those aren’t the superheroes I grew up with, so I’m not even going to try it.” I’m not blaming the companies for giving the people what they want. It’s not a coincidence that Marvel basically rebooted Spider-Man so that the stories read like they were written in 1975 (with a few adjustments for modern audiences, like more blood!). Here’s the thing about the icons: they’re always going to be there, good or bad. Some of these books go years without being readable, much less any good. So the fact that something that is a bit fresh, like The Order, gets axed, is ridiculous.

The Order was one of Marvel’s best superhero books over the last year. Now, Fraction moves on, to Uncanny X-Men (as co-writer with Brubaker) and to Invincible Iron Man. Maybe this higher profile will mean Casanova will sell a little better. It’s certainly not going to mean the status quo of those two books will change all that much. I like what Brubaker has done with the X-Men, but he hasn’t really done anything revolutionary with them. Even the God of All Comics’ run, for all its weirdness, was fairly conventional. What makes a comic like The Order great is that you really never knew what was going to happen. This final issue, with its tragic death that shows, once again, that superheroes don’t always have all the answers; and its rather humorous set-up of Fraction’s new Iron Man series, is a prime example of why these new superhero books are often more interesting than the iconic ones. Who cares if we didn’t know the characters before this? In ten issues, we learned a great deal about these characters, so the death in this issue hits us harder than a death in an iconic book, because we know it’s “real.” The character ain’t coming back, people! Well, maybe. It’s still a Marvel comic, after all.

I’m glad we got ten issues of this, even if Kitson didn’t finish it. Like many of the lamented series of comics, it will be fun to take them out and read them again and again. I have some Spider-Man books I haven’t read in 15 years. I won’t say that about The Order.

Yay, ranting is fun! Come on, rant along with me!

And now, here’s your totally random lyric of the day:

“Uh, yeah, I think I’m goin’ down to the shore.”
“Whatcha gonna do down there?”
“Uh, I don’t know, play some video games, buy some Def Leppard T-shirts.”

36 Comments

Yeah… Jesus dude. GlamourPuss.

I liked Cerebus, pretty much the whole thing. (That I read.) So I was kind of excited to see what Sim comes up with next.

But I am flat-out dumbfounded. Sim went way the hell out of his way to promote this and.. it’s just not marketable. I’m a big enough comic nerd that I can appreciate these weird little curiosity. But, yeah, I can’t imagine I’ll be buying issue two, either.

Don’t forget your Motley Crue t-shirt. You know, all proceeds go to get their lead singer outta jail.

Greg said:

“(which is odd, because people like Dirk Deppey probably think – if he bothers to think at all – that I’m so mainstream it’s disgusting)”

That’s funny. (Oh, wait: I did edit out a couple words, but that’s how I read it at first.)

Re:Fraction—all I’ve heard over the last year is how great Fraction is, so I don’t think it is a case of nobody knowing him.

Re: Kitson—it’s no surprise to me at all that he didn’t finish the series. He simply cannot do a monthly book without having several issues done before the series is solicited. As in 6 issues done of an 8-issue series.

Re: the panel at the top—I don’t recognize it. What is it?

That sucks about the numbers. Man, people should be reading both books!

The panel is from Doom Patrol #50, when Mr. Nobody runs for president. He uses Albert Hofmann’s bicycle, which has somehow become a generator of LSD-induced visions, to freak everyone out. Jamie Hewlett drew that part of the book, which explains the wacky flowers (doesn’t it?).

You didn’t get RASL #1? I thought it shows promise, definitely a lot different than Bone.

I got Rasl #1 a while ago, sir! It came out in March, I think. And I did like it!

Bitchin’ Camaro Bitchin’ Camaro

I RAN OVER MY NEIGHBORS

Yeah — RASL is at least 6 weeks old, I’m pretty sure. I recall it as having come out the same day as the first ish of Terry Moore’s ECHO (of which #2 came out a couple of weeks ago). I thought RASL was … decent. Looked nice, but wasn’t a whole lot of comic or story for what Smith is charging ($3.99?).

Wow — I was under the impression (namely because Faerber has said so, though I guess it was some months ago, about the time NOBLE CAUSES was going up on blocks for awhile) that DYNAMO 5 sold way better than NC, which wsa one motive for retooling the latter … in hopes of matching the former’s sales. I’m on record here & elsewhere as vastly preferring NC to D5, though I still buy the latter because of my admiration for what Faerber has done with the former, & my corresponding assumption that the light will go on behind my eyes one day & I’ll realize that he’s doing it with D5, too. In the meantime, I’m still sort of lukewarm toward the new iteration of NC, but what the heck … can’t tell much from 2 issues, one way or the other.

Otherwise, let’s see …

Some good thoughts on THE ORDER. That was a VERY neat little series.

Man, I’m pretty sure the new BLUE BEETLE is one of the half-dozen or so comics I took to work today in hopes of reading during lunch, which I never got around to doing … & then I went & left them on my desk over the weekend. As I realized whiel walking to my car after work. Which, since I left late, was after the doors were locked. *sob*

Agreed on LESBIAN TEENAGE PIRATES FROM HELL, or whatever it’s called — pretty fun. Not sure I’d’ve been overly happy to pay $3-plus for it, as opposed of course to 99 cents, but considering some of the stuff I DO pay $3-plus for, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice anyway. (Until, at least, it came time to balance my checkbook at the end of the month.) I found the Roy-Lichtenstein(sp? then again, who really cares?)-ish graphics rather neat, too.

Ummm … one of those $3-or-so comics is GLAMOURPUSS. I did buy it, though I’ve only barely glanced at it so far. I must say, the reviews I’m reading so far have not exactly made me want to dig into it. I’ve never read a single panel of CERBERUS in my life — actually, my exposure to Sim’s work to this point is limited to some of the stuff he was doing for his then-fellow-fan-artist Gene Day’s old DARK FANTASY stripzine when I was a kid, back in the mid-’70s — but what the heck … I pretty much knew what I was getting into, in that the man is, as we all know … ummm, not well. (And I say that as someone who’s also had an itneresting diagnosis or two slapped on him by mental health professionals in the past.) So again, y’know, what the heck.

HELEN KILLER I was already planning to order from one of the mail-order giants (Diamond won’t even come across with various Boom! Studios titles for freakin’ AMELIA RULES for my beleaguered-by-my-odd-tastes LCS owner, so I’m sure as heck not gonna burden him with another even more off-the-beaten-path indy.

I bought & read the first 2 or so ishes of MARVEL PRESENTS & found them decent, but not nearly enough so to warrant the inflated price. I’ve since bought the entire series off eBay for about what I paid for those first 2 ishes to begin with, but haven’t read them yet. Picked up yesterday’s new one, too, & will probably eventually decide to wait & pick up the NEXT 8 issues off eBay for a song … assuming it lasts that long, of course.

What else … I took a sort of perverse pleasure in the Suns’ demise, simply because of my extreme dislike for Shaquille O’Neal. Otherwise, I sort of don’t dislike the Suns, just because I used to live out there … not that I ever got around to seeing any games on a grad student’s salary. But of course, as a dyed-in-the-wool old ABA fan I never tire of seeing one of the league’s franchises succeed in the evil NBA.

Greg,

Since you read Blue Beetle #26, i’ll assume you’ve incorporated a little bit of spanish into the language center of your brain. At least, I hope you have, so you can understand the following:

Que te pasa con San Antonio Spurs? Aguante Manu Ginobili, los Suns no existen! NO EXISTEN!!!! JUAAAAA! Bola de baboooosos!

Have a nice day

:P

comb & razor

May 2, 2008 at 6:54 pm

actually, i had some questions about the Spanish in Blue Beetle myself, mainly because Sergio Aragones is credited at the end for helping with the translation, and he being Spanish (as in “from Spain”), i’d expect that his espanol might have a slightly different flavor from that of the Mexican characters in the book.

comb & razor,

actually, there ARE many differences between Mexican Spanish and Castellan Spanish. However, i’m pretty sure that this comic was translated in a “neutral” spanish, without many localisms.
Of course there are big differences, but nothing that can get in your way of enjoying the story itself.

If you want to know what the main difference between “Latin American Spanish” (which doesn’t exist per se) and Castellan Spanish is that the latter uses the equivalents of “thou” “thee”, etc. In other words, for us former colonies (i’m specifically from Argentina), it seems like antique spanish :P

My Spanish teacher in college used to bring us Spanish language adaptations of Marvel comics when she’d come back from trips to Mexico. Are they still being published? Given the changing demographics in the USA, why doesn’t Marvel (or DC) make those books available here?

I had the feeling that the Order was designed to run 10 issues, contain set-up for the new Iron Man book, and then go away just in time to make room for the new Iron Man book. It’s just too convenient of a set-up.

comb & razor

May 2, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Ariel S. -

thanks for clearing that up… for some reason, it really *did* nag me a little bit!

The Mutt,

Yeah, they are still being published! Both Mexican and Spanish editions have been available practically without interruptions for 30 years or longer, Argentinian editions too, although with MAJOR gaps (currently we are receiving Spanish imports).

I think you can even get them there in the States somewhere, because the Mexican editions list the price for the USA in the cover.

And as to why the Big Two don’t make these editions available in your market, i think it is only a matter of publishing rights. Although Marvel Comics is published in Spain and the Cono Sur (Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay) by Panini, owned by Toy Biz, so they are practically publishing it themselves! I don’ know what could actually keep them from distibuting them, at least for educational purposes.

I think now that I should have picked up the order, having read Fraction’s work on Punisher War Journal (an easy character to do averagely), and heard many good things about the rest of his work.
I’ll try and run the lesbian thing past a lesbian friend of mine for a laugh, if I can find it, and also the spanish Blue Beetle past a friend of mine who is Venezuelan and regularly makes remarks about the non-Spanishness of Mexicans.
Also I’m disappointed to hear of the passing of Albert Hofmann and surprised that anyone cares so much about basketball.

Ariel: So as not to completely veer off-topic, I’ll respectfully keep my opinions about Manu to myself. :)

Alan Coil – How could you miss the DOOM PATROL reference? Mr. Nobody is a comic book classic, or at least he is in my weird little world.

I am very sad that THE ORDER is finished. You’re right – more people should try new books. For the record, it was awesome while it lasted.

“I like The Order a lot, but I liked Aztek, and Automatic Kafka, and Wildcats, and Nextwave, and tons of other books that have gone the way of the passenger pigeon, so who cares, really?”

That particular sentence made me oddly depressed because I’m in the same situation. I loved all those books and I feel like my favorite comics are often axed way too early. This is why I’m for cheaper and digital distribution for comics… it makes it less expensive to try new things and titles that have a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving in the “Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman ONLY” direct market might get a lengthier shelf life.

Rhod – Lots of people care about basketball. If, however, he was fascinated by NHL hockey, we’d have him committed.

Just for the record, having already mentioned the ABA, I stopped caring about (pro) basketball pretty much the day the league’s last 4 teams merged with the NBA some *choke* 32 years ago.

Also, everyone listen to 10,000 DAYS by Tool as a fitting tribute to Albert Hofmann. Just an aside.

Too bad they can’t toss in a random reprint and put Marvel Comics Presents on news stands like Spider-Man Family or the Marvel Two-In-One books. Those three books are the only ones I buy in floppies since they have them at the local bookstore. But we’ve beaten the issue of accessibility into the ground. I just don’t know what they are going for with that title.

Like the rest of the city here, I’m hopping on the Atlanta Hawks bandwagon. There’s plenty of room for the rest of you!

Caliber sounds like it’s worth a look. Nifty. Also, I demand Helen Killer be traded so that I can actually be able to read it.

I am totally a Lesbian trapped in an American’s body.

Hey, Glamourpuss has that “Shamed By You English” guy from 1963 on the cover. He must be a dude from comics or something. Hmmmmmmm. I never gave this thought before– http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y191/luxxcorp/blammo/ShamedEnglish.jpg

Andrew Collins

May 3, 2008 at 12:05 am

A few thoughts:

BLUE BEETLE- Loved the parts at the family reunion, felt the Parasite battle was tacked on to give the issue some *umph* Personally, I would have loved to have seen more with the aunt and grandmother and just the family dynamic in general. Plus Jaime and Traci are turning out to be quite a cute couple. I like that the next issue will be a focus on the two of them.

HELEN KILLER- I bought this on a whim because of the farout premise and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected too. I don’t quite understand your complaint about the way she overcomes her handicap in the comic, though, Greg. If she really could see and hear and was just pretending, I think that would confuse people more because they would ask if the writer was playing “Miracle Worker” off as make believe, or ignoring it altogether. Since that is most people’s intro to (and usually only information about) Keller, it makes sense to keep that intact and go with the super-science angle with the spectacles. I thought it gave it a ‘steampunk’ feel, which is something I enjoy. Very much looking forward to issue #2…

LESBIAN PIRATES- Another ‘purchased on a whim’ title and another win. This book was also very fun and had me laughing out loud a couple times. I liked how it never took itself or its concept too seriously. Plus the throwback art style (echoes of Liechtenstein and 50′s romance and sci-fi comics) and deliriously trashy concept made for a good read. Also planning on picking up issue #2…

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the reviews of Hercules and Caliber. I’ll hook you up with a Steranko cover.

I just wanted to offer another POV on The Order. I read issues 1 through 4, missed 5, and read 6. I didn’t bother reading the last 3. My problem was that (assuming nothing definitive happened in #5) having read 5 issues of the comic I couldn’t name a single character. I couldn’t tell you the plot. I had no idea what was going on.

Which isn’t to say I missed the conceit. As a piece of genrework (Superheroes as Celebrity), I thought The Order was a very clever idea. But when I read a comic, I need one of a few things: Either a character I love (which is why I’ll read anything with Kitty Pryde in it), great writing (which Fraction brings to Iron Fist far more than he brought to the 5 issues that I read of The Order), or great storytelling. Potentially, The Order developed one, or all, of those things over its 10 issues. But if by the middle of the series, it hasn’t distinguished itself to me, I really can’t keep trucking along hoping it’ll get better. There’s so much great stuff – a mediocre but clever genre exercise isn’t enough.

Mordy: I have NO problem with people trying new stuff and not liking it. If The Order didn’t work for you, that’s fine. Different strokes for different folks and all that. I disagree with you, but that’s cool. I heard several people say they weren’t going to try it because they didn’t know the writer or they didn’t know the characters or they didn’t like the Initiative. That just seems silly to me. I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but at least you tried it!

RASL came out in MARCH? Holy crap, no idea what’s going on in my comic shop, but I guess I’ll probably have to wait for the trade, although I only had to pay $3.50 for my copy.

[...] über eben diese namens 1963. Hier sind noch einige andere dieser Anzeigen zu sehen. (via Comments on Comics Should Be Good) Mai 4th, 2008 Posted in comic, lol • [...]

The Order
Someone out there speculated that because Marvel was paying to keep Kitson exclusive it didn’t make economic sense to keep him on a lowish selling book. This seems possible.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 4, 2008 at 7:06 pm

I picked up the first trade of The Order after nearly every reviewer was going on about how good a book it was – and Fraction is a pretty good writer.
I quite liked the book, however, I was reluctant to try it out due to it spinning out of a crossover.
I know that’s what Marvel was hoping would make people try it out, but I usually stay the hell away from anything to do with crossovers as I don’t like them, and don’t want to support them… so yeah, I’d say a lot of people who would’ve liked the book stayed away, due to the device Marvel thought would attract the most people to it.
(Oddly, for a crossover spin-off, I enjoyed this much more than the stand alone Iron Fist. Book just did nothing for me).

Re: Blue Beetle #26: So my question is: does Jaime speak perfect Spanish? Or is it “teen” Spanish?

If the cover is an indicator, the answer is neither!

Or to put it in another way…

“DESTRAILLÓ” is not a WORD (or verb) in Cuba, Spain, Puerto Rico, Mejico, Texas, Arizona, Monterey or even Pig-Latin America!

So hopefully, that settles that! Because to be honest, I’m afraid to read past the cover. Plus, I don’t think I’ll be able to even if I try. The butchering of my native tongue may have been too thorough for me.

the answer is: none of the above- i write all my dialogue like me, turns out. no one promised you what you came looking for.

Ivan: That’s true, but let’s be honest – Ellis’s Aaron Stack was one of the most interesting takes on the character in years, so I wondered why he didn’t sound that way in the story. I wasn’t “looking” for anything, but when a character gets defined that way, it’s curious when he/she doesn’t speak that way anymore. Let’s face it – Machine Man is a corporate character, so it’s not like Marvel is going to let you write him however you want to. You can’t suddenly make Spider-Man a ranting racist, for instance. Personally, I wouldn’t write a story with Aaron Stack in it now, because I wouldn’t want to try to make him as entertaining as Ellis (and later, Reed in Ms. Marvel) did. I simply wondered if you wrote the story after Ellis got through with him (as seems likely) and why you chose to change the way he spoke. That’s perfectly fine, but I’m curious if anyone at Marvel said, “Well, that’s not how Machine Man speaks these days.”

no, see, the thing is, clearly, it IS how machine man speaks these days.

[...] Greg Burgas didn’t think the Spanish was a complete success: [...]

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