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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 14 April 2010

You stay in prison, what your time calls duty, honor, self-respect, and you are comfortably safe. Or you are free and crucified. Your only companions the stones, the thorns, the turning backs; the silence of cities, and their hate. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)

Feel the burn! Now with 100% less Vampire Dimension! The over/under on number of issues this lasts is SIX! Yes, this scene actually appears in the comic itself! Man, I love all of these covers! Look at those dreamy pecs! Something is creepy about that cover, and I can't figure out what! Nothing subliminal to see here, folks! What did poor Will ever do to anyone? Rassum-frassum Cronin! If you don't like Mike Grell's art, you make Baby Jesus cry! Lousy ninjas! Nipples will strike you blind! He's gleefully nutty! Poor Pauly Bruckner!

Anchor7The Anchor #7 (“Black Lips Part Three: The Fifth Fury”) by Phil Hester (writer), Brian Churilla (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), and Johnny Lowe (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Boom! Studios.

I’m not terribly worried if this book gets cancelled, because even when I love a comic I don’t worry too much, and while this is pleasant enough (“pleasant” being a relative term, as it’s about a dude who kills monsters and eats their hearts while his soul keeps demons from exiting Hell), it’s not like Young Heroes In Love just got cancelled, right? I’m not sure if it is, but when Hester writes in the letter column that issue #8 is a “natural, satisfying conclusion,” I wonder. It would be too bad if this got the axe, mainly because it’s kind of like a superhero book but more interesting. Churilla draws the best monsters this side of Mike Mignola and Dan Brereton, and Clem’s Christianity filtered through Hester’s sensibilities makes this a more fascinating read than it might otherwise be. It has felt that Hester is rushing things a bit, but I don’t know if that means next issue will be the end. The great thing about Hester is that he always has keen ideas for new comics, almost all of which have nothing to do with DC or Marvel (although if I ask him where The Atheist is one more time, he may shove his pencil through my eye and into my brain), so if this is getting the axe, he’ll have something else coming down the pike.

Of course, this might be a moot point. I wouldn’t have mentioned it if Hester hadn’t implied something in the letter column, and it might be that he always knows the end could come suddenly. So there could be nothing to it. It would still be a shame if a comic that doesn’t star another iteration of a Big Two superhero and features a hero who is unabashedly Christian goes away. Plus, no more heart-eating!

So how’s the issue, you ask? Come now – here at the “What I bought” column you occasionally don’t get reviews, you get whatever is on my mind at the time. Deal with it!

One panel of awesome:

Well, that can't be pleasant!

Well, that can't be pleasant!

AtomicRobo4.2Atomic Robo volume 4 #2 (of 4) (“Big in Japan”) by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist), and Jeff Powell (letterer). $3.50, 26 pgs, FC, Red 5 Comics.

I don’t speak Japanese. Nor do I know very much about modern Japanese culture. I probably know more about Japanese society a millennium ago than current Japanese society, and I don’t know very much about Japanese society from a millennium ago! So I always wonder about the Japanese culture portrayed in comic books written by gaijin. Specifically, something like the group of Japanese heroes from this comic, who are known as “Science Team Super Five.” In comics, we often see Japanese nomenclature like this, with un-English syntax, and while I’m not saying it isn’t so, is this the way it really would be in Japanese, or is this something the Japanese do in their popular culture that is slightly self-mocking, and American writers have picked up on it? (I’m thinking of the documentary Hype!, which is about Seattle’s music scene of the early 1990s. One of the interviewees told of a journalist calling him (her?) up and asking about “grunge” terms and this person making stuff up on the spot, which of course later showed up in a story about how to be a hipster grunge person. I’m not saying the Japanese are deliberately misleading silly Westerners, but perhaps there’s a bit of self-aware mockery going on?) I don’t feel like digging out my copy of Big in Japan, but I imagine that Seth Fisher, who lived in Japan, would know a bit more about it, but I just don’t know. It just strikes me as odd that whenever there are Japanese in a pop culture comic book (as opposed to one that, I don’t know, is about those Japanese in World War II or something), they speak perfectly “normally” (that is, using English syntax and word choice, which I know is not really “normal”) until they have to name a group or a hero, and then we get stuff like Science Team Super Five. I’m honestly curious about this.

That’s not even a criticism, because how could I criticize such a groovy comic as Atomic Robo? I’m not sure how Clevinger manages to write such perfect dialogue – I guess he’s had a lot of practice on Robo so far, so it becomes easier and easier, but I laughed on pretty much every page. The story is simple enough – Science Team Super Five goes out to battle a “biomega” monster, and Robo has to help out when it becomes something much more serious than they could have anticipated. Robo’s whining is the best part of any issue of Atomic Robo, mainly because it’s funny but also because he knows he’s going to win and he can’t see why the bad guys don’t recognize that and save him the hassle. Unlike many superhero books where the writers go out of their way to pretend that the heroes aren’t going to win even though we know they will, Clevinger just accepts that principle, knows that the readers accept it too, and has as much fun with the story as he can before reaching that point. So we get Robo complaining, “Why do we even have the square cube law?” (which, honestly, I had to look up), we have Robo being jealous of Dr. Yumeno’s hardware, we have Robo getting beaten up just because it’s convenient. It’s just a joy to read an issue of Atomic Robo, and when one of the less funny things in this story is Robo throwing a copier at a giant monster, then you know it’s gold. Gold, Jerry!

That Wegener fellow is pretty good, too.

One panel of awesome:

Bringin' the funny!

Bringin' the funny!

BlackWidow1Black Widow #1 by Marjorie Liu (writer), Daniel Acuña (artist), and Nate Piekos (letterer). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Marvel.

There are certain crazy commenters here at the blog (okay, one) who think I don’t like women’s breasts. That’s kind of nutty. I’m a straight man. As much as I think it’s odd that breasts are symbols of sexuality and know it’s some weird psychological thing about men and their mothers and breast-feeding, I’m as hardwired as the next guy, and I dig a nice rack. What some crazy commenters (okay, one) think is that I hate breasts because I think things like this cover are ridiculous. Listen, Jennifer Lopez can wear this dress to as many awards ceremonies as she wants to, but if she tries to fight terrorists in it, I’m fairly certain we’d see ta-tas and a hoo-ha. Similarly, if Natasha is as brilliant as some writers claim she is, she wouldn’t be getting in any fights with that costume unzipped like that, because if she did, she’d be popping out right quick (unless that’s her devilish “distraction” strategy – oh, the wimmins, you can never trust them to fight fair!). When I point these things out, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like the boobies. It means that I’m a bit depressed that Marvel thinks the only way to sell this comic is by promising boobies. Because guess what? Inside, Natasha is dressed almost Puritan compared to how she’s often dressed. Not an unzipped top in sight!

Of course, that gets back to that feminist blogger that all the angry nerds love to hate, our own Ms. Thompson. I don’t know if Kelly bought this book, because she often writes on her own blog about deciding not to buy a book based on the cover (isn’t there a proverb about that, Ms. Thompson?). I hope she does, though, because while this isn’t a great book, it’s far better than I thought it would be, and while I’m sure it will be cancelled before you start your fantasy football draft, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a look. It’s an intriguing set-up, with Natasha getting attacked and sliced up and having … something … taken out of her, but we don’t know what. The doctors don’t know, either, as all her organs are there. And there’s a mystery villain at the end! It’s all done with a healthy dose of intrigue, a nice interlude in which Natasha goes out on the town with Bucky (I like how both of them are over 80 years old but are also hot young thangs thanks to “Marvel Universe Science!”), and an appearance by Wolverine that threatens to take over the book but doesn’t. It’s not perfect – Natasha gets taken down a bit too easily, if you ask me – but it’s a solid start. Acuña’s art, which I enjoy, looks much less static and blocky than some of his stuff has been in the past, and in the restaurant scene, it looks like he’s channeling Stuart Immonen with heavier inks, which isn’t a bad thing at all. The page where whoever it is takes whatever it is out of Natasha is downright creepy, as Acuña shows just Natasha’s face as whoever it is digs around inside her. It’s a horrifying scene, but it’s very effective.

I’ll be sticking around for a while with this, because I’ve always dug Natasha and enjoy reading good comics with her in them. I doubt if this will last long, so get it while you can. And, because I’m just a slave to my hormones, at least Marjorie Liu is c-a-t hot, amirite? (High-fives agent_torpor across cyberspace!)*

* Today is National High-Five Day, so this is appropriate. And that’s an old high-school joke my friends and I still say. I shan’t get into its antecedents, because I’m sure I’d get it wrong. And you don’t really care.

One panel of awesome:

There's nothing like the classics!

There's nothing like the classics!

Chew10Chew #10 (“International Flavor Part 5 of 5″) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Steven Struble (color flatterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image.

Chew reaches the end of its second story arc, and you trade-waiters will only have to wait until next month to get your hands on it – what a concept, making sure the trades are out in a timely manner not long after the individual issues are! Anyway, it’s Chew. So it’s good. Tony once again gets bodily fluids all over him (he’s like a magnet for that stuff!), we find out more about the vampire and, well, some other stuff, and if the various notes scattered throughout the issue are any signpost of reality, Rob Guillory needs to visit a nice quiet place for a while. Poor Guillory! Oh, and Tony’s boss is suddenly nice to him. The cool kids who read each issue know why already, but for those of you waiting for the trade, I’ll say this: It’s a doozy.

I don’t know what else to say. I love this comic. Much like Atomic Robo, it’s just a hoot to read. I urge you to buy the trades if you haven’t already, and in the meantime, go to Layman’s blog (link above!) and check out his photographs of Italy. Bastard.

One panel of awesome:

I just love the florid lettering!

I just love the florid lettering!

Daytripper5Daytripper #5 (of 10) (“11″) by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (writers/artists), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Sean Konot (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I’ll keep writing this about the series because it keeps being true: Daytripper is pretentious, but in the best way. Moon and Bá have taken this gimmick (which I still won’t give away) and made it completely irrelevant. It makes us pause and appreciate the short stories that the creators are giving us, because we don’t worry about how it will end. Bá and Moon have taken away something crucial for most of us – comic readers are often so caught up in “how it ends” that they ignore how we get there. With superhero comics, it’s very difficult to get away with this kind of thing – the very nature of the genre demands that the endings “matter” – but in a book like this, it’s less important, which is why we often see a writer show us the ending and then work toward it. Moon and Bá don’t even do that, really, but they still force us to consider each page and each panel and appreciate how they track Brás through his life. Yes, occasionally it feels a bit clichéd – in this issue, it’s Brás feeling all oogy inside about his cute cousin – but there’s also very neat moments, like the way Brás is born and the way his father writes. Because this is a different culture (for most of us, of course), we get a strange sense of alienness even as Bá and Moon write about universal feelings and desires. It’s very keen, and one of the reasons why I dig this series so much.

One panel of awesome:

Sure, it might be icky, but it's still sweet!

Sure, it might be icky, but it's still sweet!

DocSavage1Doc Savage #1 (“The Lord of Lightning: Darkness Falls”/”Worst Nightmare Part One: The Wounded”) by Paul Malmont (writer, “Lightning”), Jason Starr (writer, “Nightmare”), Howard Porter (penciller, “Lightning”), Scott Hampton (artist, “Nightmare”), Art Thibert (inker, “Lightning”), Rob Leigh (letterer, “Lightning”), Sal Cipriano (letterer, “Nightmare”), Brian Miller (colorist, “Lightning”), and Daniel Vozzo (colorist, “Nightmare”). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, DC.

I blame Greg Hatcher.

You see, many years ago, before most of you whippersnappers even knew what the “Internets” is, a younger and less bitter Other Greg wrote a column in which he mentioned Paul Malmont’s The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. It sounded very intriguing, and I bought the book soon after that. I still, um, haven’t read it yet. (I’ll ‘splain, though no one asked me too. I love buying books. I don’t read all that fast, plus I read a lot of comics, so I get behind on my books very quickly. The last time I checked, a few years ago, I had close to 300 books in my possession that I had not read yet. At the pace I read books, I figured I probably get through no more than 15 a year, which works out to about 20 years to read them all. Yet, I should point out, this doesn’t discourage me from buying more books. I noticed I had this problem probably ten years ago, and not only that, I would tend to get all excited about a new book I bought and read that, leaving some other books behind. So I decided to read them alphabetically by author so I wouldn’t miss any. I’ve gone through the alphabet twice since then and I’m on “C” of the third time through, but I bought Malmont’s book after I had passed “M” the last time through, so I have to wait until I get there again. Alles klar? And before you ask, yes, my wife thinks I’m crazy. Get in line, nerdlings!) But the book still sounds really keen, so when I saw that Malmont was writing Doc Savage, I’d figured I’d give it a look, even though I still haven’t read anything that Malmont has written. But if Other Greg likes a prose book he wrote, his comics work is sure to dazzle, right? Isn’t that like the transitive property or something?

Well, unfortunately, Doc Savage isn’t that good. It’s not terrible, but it’s not that good. Let’s jump right to the art, because Howard Porter is absolutely wrong for this book. You may not like Porter, and that’s cool, but I do, so him being on the book was an extra draw. However, Porter is a very good superhero artist, and this isn’t a superhero book. Porter’s linework looks fine, but the fact that nobody is wearing gaudy costumes really stands out, and the tone is just all wrong. The art is far too bright and cheery for the kind of issue it is. I mean, it’s not a dark-as-pitch story, but it is pulpy, and Porter is just wrong for it. The biggest problem Porter seems to have is with faces – not really the expressions, just the composition of them, so people wearing masks a lot works for him (it’s no coincidence that his Superman and Wonder Woman were often the “ugliest” characters in JLA, because they don’t wear masks). Porter isn’t the worst artist you could put on this comic, but he’s certainly far from the best.

Malmont’s story isn’t great, either. On the surface it’s perfectly fine – lightning strikes all over New York appear to be targeting Doc and his cronies, and Doc doesn’t know why!!!! But it lacks any kind of flair – the first page, where Doc defeats an evil scientist and his leonine minions by hoisting a lion over his head (see below) is the funnest one in the book. Malmont flies around, never letting us catch our breath, and while there’s nothing wrong with that style of writing, it feels disjointed for no reason. The first page is a prologue, and then, in the first panel of the second page, Doc sits in his blimp, returning to New York, and muses, “Up here I can almost fool myself that the world is a peaceful place.” It’s supposed to show his, I don’t know, gentle soul?, but it comes from nowhere and makes no sense. The two kids Doc saves, Wes and Nathaniel, are trapped in the Empire State Building, and Doc, who’s floating far, far away from the mooring, can hear them over the noise of the storm. Really? I wasn’t interested in First Wave, so I skipped the first issue and wasn’t sure if this takes place in the modern world (it does, in case you’re wondering). That makes Doc’s question to the kids after he rescues them even weirder: He asks them if they like baseball, which is fine, but then asks them if they like the Yankees or the Dodgers. Why those two teams? I thought for a second that this book took place in 1939, which would make the question a bit more relevant (although given the way the Dodgers sucked back in the 1930s, perhaps the better question would have been about the Yankees or Giants), but if it’s modern, why those two teams? If Wes and Nathaniel live in New York, wouldn’t it have been better to ask Yankees or Mets? I kind of wish Wes and Nathaniel had said, “Mariners and Diamondbacks, asshole!” or some other two teams. Way to be a frontrunner, Doc.

Boy, I can ramble, can’t I? The whole problem with the writing is that it seems Malmont really wants to get to the big ending and can’t pause for breath on the way there. This is what I was writing about with regard to Daytripper – the ending doesn’t matter, so Moon and Bá can linger on certain things. Malmont MUST get to the big explosion on page 20, so he rushes through everything and makes this rather unsatisfying. Despite the rush, it’s kind of dull.

I’m still keen on reading The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, though. So there’s that.

One panel of awesome:

This is Doc's morning workout, because HE'S COOLER THAN YOU ARE!!!!!

This is Doc's morning workout, because HE'S COOLER THAN YOU ARE!!!!!

Fables94Fables #94 (“Rose Red Chapter One: The Barbara Allen Incident”) by Bill Willingham (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciller), Steve Leialoha (inker), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I know I always harp on this, but I just find it hilarious that Willingham simply doesn’t care about the restrictions of the 22-page pamphlet. I guess when you’re eight years into this series, you know who’s reading and who’s not, so you’re not going to lose readers simply because you end an issue so abruptly. So he ends issues abruptly. It’s kind of endearing, actually – Willingham has a story to tell, and he’ll be damned if he lets the idiotic vagaries of American comics publishing to get in his way!

This issue picks up the story pretty much exactly where we left it in issue #91 (if I recollect correctly), which is even funnier. Willingham threw a two-part story into the mix, possibly because of Buckingham not being able to keep up but also because it will be important down the road, and then he just moved back to the main story once Buckingham was back on schedule and pretended nothing had come between. He just trusts us to keep up! So we get more political intrigue with Geppetto but also with Ozma and King Cole, while Rose Red appears ready to get out of bed … maybe. That’s what the “arc” is about, anyway – Rose Red getting out of bed. And Frau Totenkinder makes a move, and while I had no problem with her getting younger when she left the Farm (like everyone’s favorite feminist blogger did), I will say that I figured it was for a reason like this – how will she be able to seduce anyone if she’s an old woman? Everyone knows a recently sexed-up dude will agree to just about anything, after all! Oh, and there’s the Dark Man down in New York, making everything bad. That’s just not very nice.

It’s always fun to read an issue of Fables, and it was fun to read this one. Even if, when I reached the end, I thought, “Again with this? What the crappin’ crap!” But that’s okay.

One panel of awesome:

Oh, he's a bad mutha - Shut your mouth!

Oh, he's a bad mutha - Shut your mouth!

FearlessDawn3Fearless Dawn #3 (of 4) (“The Case of the Monster Frog”) by Steve Mannion (writer/artist/colorist) and Frank Forte (colorist). $2.95, 22 pgs, FC, Asylum Press.

That crazy commenter about whom I wrote above never seems to come around when I buy something like Fearless Dawn, which is basically hot girls with large breasts wearing tight clothing and fighting evil. It’s total cheesecakery, but it’s gloriously silly cheesecakery, and done with so much tongue-in-cheek and balls-to-the-wallsness that I can’t stay mad at it. Mannion simply wants to draw young ladies and monsters, so he takes a break from the “regular” story (which involves Nazis) to give us a flashback to when Prissy and Betty were young and fought a giant mutated frog. Said frog was created when the government exploded an atomic bomb near their town. Said explosion was witnessed by the townspeople, who were invited to check it out, because that’s what you did in the 1950s, man! You also sat around making piñatas, which is what Prissy and Betty are doing at the beginning of the flashback. So they fight a giant frog and win. The end. Mannion uses “effect” when he means “affect” and totally misuses the word “genuflect,” but it doesn’t matter, because it’s hot girls with large breasts and wearing tight clothing fighting a giant mutated frog! And Betty wears roller skates as she does it! You know you want it, just give in and find it!

One panel of awesome:

See?  That's all it is, but that's all it needs to be!

See? That's all it is, but that's all it needs to be!

KillShakespeare1Kill Shakespeare #1 (“A Sea of Troubles”) by Conor McCreery (writer), Anthony Del Col (writer), Andy Belanger (artist), Ian Herring (colorist), and Robbie Robbins (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, IDW.

I was a bit wary about this mini-series, which sets up a situation where Shakespeare’s characters try to kill him, because it can go so very, very wrong. I enjoyed this first issue, but it could still go off the rails, because this is mostly set-up. McCreery and Del Col do a good job with it – they start with Hamlet being exiled from Denmark, but then the story goes sideways as Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern* prove to be real friends and then Hamlet gets shipwrecked and rescued by Richard III. Richard convinces Hamlet that he has to kill the wizard, Shakespeare, in order to bring his father back to life. We, of course, know that you shouldn’t trust Richard III, especially the Shakespearean character, but Hamlet doesn’t, so everything is set up for a betrayal, especially with the appearance of a character on the last page.

It’s a rousing adventure, full of darkness and death and portentous portendings, but what really makes the book fantastic is Belanger’s art. It’s wonderfully detailed and has a truly weird, dreamlike quality to it, as befits the subject matter. Hamlet’s Denmark feels “real,” but he’s soon plunged into a strange world with giant regal statues rising from the ocean and witches shooting meteors out of their chests (see below). Belanger pulls the trick of shrinking the panels when the pirates attack to speed up the action, and Richard’s world is a nice blend of solid reality and creepy dungeons where lurk three familiar hags. It’s a very nicely drawn comic, and makes McCreery and Del Col’s somewhat pedestrian execution (there’s nothing wrong with it, but as I wrote, it is mostly set-up) dazzle more than it might with a lesser artist. Belanger is fantastic, and I hope the intriguing premise keeps up with it.

Give Kill Shakespeare a look. It’s keen.

* If you ever wonder why Portland is awesome, I’ll give you one reason: Once, many years ago, we saw Hamlet at a theater and then, a week later, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – and they used the same actors. First of all, Stoppard’s play is pretty darned keen, and by using the same actors, the plays were linked far better than they usually are. It was a cool idea that worked really well. Hence, the Rose City’s awesomeness. Don’t question it!

One panel of awesome:

When the evil chick shoots meteors out of her chest, there's really nothing you can do to save yourself!

When the evil chick shoots meteors out of her chest, there's really nothing you can do to save yourself!

Light1The Light #1 (of 5) (“Outbreak”) by Nathan Edmondson (writer) and Brett Weldele (artist/letterer). $2.99, 25 pgs, FC, Image.

In case you missed the premise of this comic, light starts killing people. Yes, light! In a small Oregon town, a man named Coyle gets fired from yet another job. His mother (with whom he’s staying) thinks he’s a loser, his daughter thinks he’s a loser, and he himself thinks he’s a loser. Then people start dying. The guy who fired him comes running out of the dark, telling him that if anyone looks at any light, they die. His ex-boss accidentally looks at a light, and we see what he means – he simply burns up. Ray gets his daughter (his mother isn’t so lucky) and they head out – he with welding goggles on, she with a blindfold – to find a way out of town. At the end of the book, she decides that wearing a blindfold is stupid. These kids today – no respect for their elders!

This is a very keen introductory issue, because Edmondson does a nice job setting up the mystery and getting things moving. One thing that’s very neat is that Coyle is kind of a scumbag. He gets fired all the time and his wife left him because he hit her. He’s definitely not hero material, but he does what he can to get his daughter to safety. It will be interesting to see how Edmondson develops Coyle over the course of the series, because he’s so unlikable and survives this issue mostly by luck.

Weldele, as I often point out, is an acquired taste that I certainly have acquired. He does a nice job with this, because he seems very comfortable with creepy stories – he’s good at empty spaces (which sounds weird, but if you see his work, you’ll know what I mean) and things in the corner of the panel that look just a bit off. He definitely helps set the mood, and as this book requires a lot of darkness, he’s a good fit for the series. I always say that Weldele needs more work, so I’m glad he’s getting some!

I get that a lot of people will wait for the trade (it’s only five issues long, after all), but you should check it out. The only problem I really have with it is that Edmondson explains some of the premise in the back of the book, and I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s something that should come out in the course of the series instead of explaining it to us in an essay. I assume Edmondson will get to a deeper explanation throughout the series, so it feels unnecessary. And if he doesn’t get to it, he should. But that’s a minor annoyance. This is a cool comic with a neat premise. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?

One panel of awesome:

The children make the panel awesome!

The children make the panel awesome!

Pilgrim1The Pilgrim #1 by Mark Ryan (writer), Mike Grell (artist), Jason Millet (colorist), and John Workman (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW/ComicMix.

I don’t read those funky on-line comics (well, I do occasionally, but not too often), so although I know this has already shown up on the Internet, I didn’t read it. Now that it’s been printed, I can sit down, have a glass of Glenfiddich, and read this at my leisure.* The premise is intriguing – something odd happened during World War II that seemed to involve both British people and Nazis calling something evil from beyond the void, and then, in modern times, there’s a government facility where they study paranormal activities and such. And one of the participants in the study is haunted by something that happened in the Middle East. How all these threads will pull together isn’t clear yet, but Ryan manages to pack a lot of information about the “Psimex Research Institute” into a few pages, which is nice. The World War II stuff is less clear, as it’s mostly a riot of images with very little text, and it’s also a bit unclear what happens in Afghanistan/Iraq (wherever they are). That’s okay – the basic premise is interesting enough, and it’s always nice to see Grell’s artwork. Grell is a tremendous artist, and he always does a cool job with blending several images together in a grand tableau. The fact that it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s going on in the first few pages doesn’t make the art any less neat. I can see perfectly well what’s happening, but the lack of much text makes it a bit more opaque than it should be.

I know some people already know what happens, but as I’m all old-school and shit, I’m perfectly happy to wait for the actual issues to come out. It’s a good start, though.

* I don’t drink while I’m reading my comics, as it’s usually Wednesday afternoon when I’m reading them. But I do love me some Glenfiddich … neat, of course!

One panel of awesome:

I love the smugness of the dude on the right

I love the smugness of the dude on the right

ProdigalEggofFirstLight1Prodigal: The Egg of First Light #1 (of 2) (“Chapter One: Why Byron Hates Ninjas/Chapter Two: Why Byron Hates Magic”) by Geoffrey Thorne (writer) and Todd Harris (artist). $4.95, 48 pgs, FC, Ape Entertainment.

When I read the solicit for this, it sounded pretty good, but you never know, do you, especially when I don’t know the creators. Thorne tells the story of Pae Mei Jacinto and Byron Lennox, two retrieval specialists. They’re hired by some secretive monks to get an egg back from the weird cult that stole it from their monastery. This “egg of first light” turns out to be a nasty thing – if anyone opens it, it’s the end of the world. Pretty standard stuff, right?

Well, sure, but as with anything, it’s all in the execution, and this is an amazingly enjoyable comic. Jacinto is a stereotypical hardass, but she’s a genius, too, and she gets the job done. Meanwhile, Lennox is a super-tough guy who provides comic relief (note the names of the chapters) – in the first part, he goes on and on about why he hates fighting ninjas (Jacinto points out that they’re not ninjas, but that doesn’t placate him) and in the second chapter, he chases the cultists to what appears to be another world and gets into a fight with a magical chick. Thorne makes him very funny, and the banter between he and Jacinto is excellent – without getting into it too much, Thorne makes it clear how well these two work together and how much they care about each other. Harris’ art is very good, as well – he does very nice work with the action scenes, and you can just tell that both creators are having a ball. They don’t stray too far from the action/adventure playbook – there’s even a crusty old guy who’s a vast font of information! – but it works very well. And next issue, it appears that Jacinto is going all Elektra on someone’s ass (she’s wearing a red bandanna/cap on her head just like everyone’s favorite Greek assassin!), which should be fun.

For five bucks, you get basically two issues of the series, and it’s a ton of fun. This might be hard to find, but if you see it, you should pick it up. It’s nifty!

One panel of awesome:

I don't know why this cracked me up, but it did!

I don't know why this cracked me up, but it did!

SecretSix20Secret Six #20 (“Cats in the Cradle Part Two of Four: Fear of a World to Come”) by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

A few people expressed their displeasure with the way last issue ended, because it appeared Ms. Simone was going to a well to which she had gone before, and those who were disappointed with it wondered if she was going to keep drawing from said well. I didn’t mind – I didn’t think Simone was really going where she was going, and in any event … these are horrible people, as we know, so the fact that they might betray the others at the drop of a hat doesn’t strike me as strange. So in this issue, Simone shows us that what people fear would happen didn’t, which means someone is going to die, or at least it appears someone is going to die, and although I’m not a terribly bloodthirsty person, I really hope the person dies, because in most popular culture, it won’t happen. Boy, I’m trying hard not to give the game away, aren’t I? It’s a nifty little plot twist, so I don’t want to ruin it, but the way Simone has set this up, someone has to die, right?

Anyway, badassery ensues, Rag Doll is hilarious (my favorite line from this issue: “I don’t know which horrible thing to watch!”), and Catman gets serious. But I want to point out my favorite nit to pick about idiotic mainstream comic books. In this issue, someone commits suicide (off-panel, true); someone innocent is threatened with death; we see Cheshire lying almost seductively on her sofa after she has been beaten, so she’s bloody and swollen yet, creepily, attractive (I have a feeling it’s deliberate on the part of Califiore, and I’m fine with it, but I thought I’d point it out); we see the aftermath of a massacre … at a wedding; we see a woman get three knives right in her chest; and we see a man graphically tortured to death (well, the beginning and the end of it, but it’s still graphic). In other words, it’s a typical issue of Secret Six! I don’t have a problem with any of it – as I’ve pointed out before, Secret Six is supposed to be unpleasant, so I forgive stuff like this in it when I don’t in more superheroic comics. But then, right in the middle of all this, we actually see a couple in the middle of having sex … yet DC cannot show her nipples!!!!!! I’m serious – apparently, these days in DC comics, you can actually show the act of coitus and even orgasm on the page, but no nipples. Dear sweet Jesus. I hope one day DC does put nipples in an issue like this, so a kid can ask his mother, “What are those, Mom?” and the mother can organize a boycott of DC comics, not because of the orgasm or the torture, but because of the fucking nipples. Because people are so fucking uptight. What the fuck, indeed.

One panel of awesome:

You know what's currently in his pants, don't you?

You know what's currently in his pants, don't you?

SiegeLoki1Siege: Loki #1 (of 1) by Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You know what sucks? McKelvie probably made more money drawing this 22-page issue for Marvel than he did for the entire run of Phonogram. I blame Obama.

I bought this only because it’s Gillen and McKelvie, not because I have any interest in Siege or any interest in Loki, really. It’s basically Loki plotting, but because Gillen and McKelvie are awesome, it works. There’s a page with Loki influencing Norman Osborn (unseen, of course, as he’s a god and can do that sort of thing – he actually speaks through Osborn’s Green Goblin mask, which is keen) that looks like it could appear in a Phonogram comic – it has the nifty Gillen writing and McKelvie’s dynamite facial expressions, and the last panel on the page is priceless. He gains the service of some ancient creatures, leases them out to Mephisto, and gets Hela to give him something he wants. Gillen is sharp as always, and McKelvie’s Loki is a nasty piece of work. Interestingly enough, on the final page he looks strangely like McKelvie himself – what’s that crazy British bastard trying to say?

I can’t say you should run out and buy this – if you’re going to get anything by these creators, get Phonogram – but if you’ve already gotten those, this is a reminder about how damned good they are, both alone and together. You don’t even need to be reading Siege – it’s just Loki doing his thing, and that’s always fun!

One panel of awesome:

Oh, you know there's going to be ass-kicking!

Oh, you know there's going to be ass-kicking!

Unwritten12The Unwritten #12 (“Eliza Mae Hertford’s Willowbank Tales”) by Mike Carey and Peter Gross (writer, layouter), Kurt Higgins and Zelda Devon (finisher, colorist), and Todd Klein (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

These one-off issues of The Unwritten are pretty keen, because they tie into the bigger narrative, but they’re also fun to read as short stories. If you haven’t been reading The Unwritten, they’re good places to start, because you can get feel for the way Carey and Gross do their comics. Even though this looks nothing like Gross’ usual art – he lays the thing out, but it’s really Higgins’ and Devon’s show, and it’s very good. It’s softer than the usual art, and it looks like something that takes place in a children’s book, which makes the darker twists even more effective. Carey’s story is about a rabbit who lives in a fairy tale land … except he knows it’s fake, and he keeps trying to escape. He manages to get to the cottage of Eliza Mae Hertford (who created the world), where he confronts her and realizes he probably should have been happy with his fate. Mr. Bun, the rabbit, isn’t really Mr. Bun, he’s someone named Pauly Bruckner, and he’s somehow connected to Tom’s father. It’s a creepy little story, and it’s all fun and games while Mr. Bun is calling people bitches and fuckers. Who doesn’t love that?

One panel of awesome:

Look - they're politicians!

Look - they're politicians!

Hey, it’s time for The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “I Want It All” – Queen (1989) “Gotta find me a future, get out of my way”1
2. “Throw Me Out” – Marillion (2008) “I tore apart my oldest friend”
3. “Square Go” – Fish (2007) “Raised in jungles, I quickly learned to read the trees”
4. “Come Sail Away” – Styx (1977) “But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold”2
5. “From Out Of Nowhere” – Faith No More (1989) “You splash me with beauty and pull me down”
6. “Zoe 25″ – Fish (2007) “He couldn’t make the phone call to explain it all away”
7. “Gimme Stitches” – Foo Fighters (1999) “I’ll always be the one who runs from everyone ’cause everyone’s just too weird”
8. “Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing” – Magnetic Fields (1999) “In tat or tatters you’re entrancing”3
9. “In A Bar” – Hamell On Trial (1997) “She’s got a baby boy, man, that kid’s her pride and joy; but here’s a zinger, the kid’s a dead ringer for you”
10. “Underwater” – Midnight Oil (1996) “There is room for make believe out in the ocean”

1 This might be heretical, but this might be my favorite Queen song. It has the great Brian May guitar part, Freddie’s bombastic lyrics and you can even feel him preening as he sings, and it has that fantastic selfish chorus. Suck it, “Bohemian Rhapsody”!
2 This is such a perfect 1970s song, to the point where I can’t imagine it being a hit in any other decade. It has that mystical bullshit that was so popular in the Seventies, and then there are aliens? Oh man, that’s so Seventies!!!! Still, it’s an awesome tune, dudes and dudettes!
3 If you haven’t heard 69 Love Songs yet, I fear for your immortal soul, I really do.

Let’s do some totally random lyrics!

“Tip-toe through the tulips and then raise your hands up high;
There’s a fire down below and you don’t want to catch his eye.
Hide behind each other and don’t even make a sound;
You’re in trouble now, take the elevator down.”

I hope everyone paid their taxes! We’re all in this together!

48 Comments

“Inside, Natasha is dressed almost Puritan compared to how she’s often dressed. ”

I have no idea what this sentence means.

“It would still be a shame if a comic that doesn’t star another iteration of a Big Two superhero and features a hero who is unabashedly Christian goes away.”

You’re so right, Greg! The world just doesn’t have enough unabashed Christians!

She’s wearing sensible clothing that doesn’t show too much skin. She usually wears tight leather that recently has been unzipped to her navel. So even though the clothing in the issue is normal clothing, it looks like Puritan dress compared to what she usually wears.

Salright?

Ha, ha, Dan. Name one superhero who talks about his faith a lot. I’m not talking about the world needing more Christians, I’m talking about the fact that Hester writes an interesting character who is Christian and talks about his faith and the portrayal is fairly positive.

You’re smarter than that – don’t let whatever personal animosity you have toward Christians make you write dumb things.

Does the Spectre count?

The fact is that there are religious allusions and references ALL OVER any given medium, and due to the popularity of Christianity, lots of those relate to Jesus. TV, movies, books, etc. are filled to the brim with shining examples of the virtues of Christianity, encouraging the world to join their party or burn for all eternity.

I don’t think that superheroes are suffering in the least bit for not participating.

Most media seems to actually avoid the issue of religion completely, and quite often when they do reference Christianity it is in an unflattering light. While the real world might be overflowing with Christians, popular entertainment actually has very few out Christians. The Simpsons is one of the very few American shows that depicts a family that regularly goes to a Christian church, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans identify as Christian (whether they are practicing or not.) So while in real life I would agree that in America we are exposed to a plethora of Christian influence, there aren’t a lot of positive examples of it in popular fiction. So I’m with Greg. Having a main character that is vocally Christian and yet not portrayed as a bad guy or embarrassingly naive is a rarity, and there should be room in the wide range of comic media for such a character. And if you’re not a fan then you can just read the 99% of comic books that don’t feature an outwardly identified Christian character.

I assume that by “join their party” you mean “be a good person in general” because several Christian denominations – including Catholocism – explicitly belive that non-Christians are perfectly welcome in heaven.

I assume you mean that ’cause you wouldn’t just slam a religion without knowing what you’re talking about, right?

No, by “join their party”, I mean “believe the same things they believe”. Because the thing is, you can say that non-Christians are totally welcome in heaven, but for them to get there would be inherently proving you right and their former beliefs wrong. It comes across to me as a way for them to feel like they’re being tolerant and inclusive, without having to scrutinize their belief system.

I slammed a religion. Big deal.

Man, the whole “You’re smart, don’t say dumb things” schtick really pushes my buttons. But I guess that’s why you do it, so congrats.

So, Greg. What is it about an unabashedly Christian superhero that you feel is something worth preserving?

funkygreenjerusalem

April 16, 2010 at 2:32 am

The Simpsons is one of the very few American shows that depicts a family that regularly goes to a Christian church, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans identify as Christian

And brilliantly, they all think it’s bunk – they only go because Marge, the nagging unfunny one, makes them go.

So while in real life I would agree that in America we are exposed to a plethora of Christian influence, there aren’t a lot of positive examples of it in popular fiction.

That’s because people just say they like it – if you put a positive example in fiction it probably won’t be popular fiction.

I mean heck, for 90% of the Bible the Jews and then their follow up act, the Christians, aren’t shown in a positive light.

@ Apodaca: you’re right,it was no big deal because you slammed Christianity. Every does it, there’s nothing special about it, or consequences to be had.

It’s not like people start protesting or attacking embassies if they see a comic or cartoon portraying Christianity in a bad light, right? That would just be stupid.

As for your question, I don’t think that a superhero’s religion should be important, but in The Anchor’s case, the character’s Christianity is central to the plot, so I think it makes sense.

several Christian denominations – including Catholocism – explicitly belive that non-Christians are perfectly welcome in heaven.

I’m not sure what Catholocism believes, but Catholicism says fairly explicitly “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation” (Article 1257 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church), so non-Christians aren’t really welcome.

What is it about an unabashedly Christian superhero that you feel is something worth preserving?

I’m not a Christian myself, but what I’m interested in, in life and in art, is philosophy. A character who can deliver an interesting justification for their actions is always going to be more interesting that has no understanding of why they act. People like Paul of Tarsus or Martin Luther, despite the fact I disagree with them, are infinity more interesting than almost every character in comics today. Christianity provides a (in fact many) philosophy, and for that reason a Christian superhero is going to be more interesting than one with no real belief system.

There may be “religious allusions and references ALL OVER” media, but it is rarer to have characters that are unabashedly Christian. I’m not sure what you mean by “shining examples of the virtues of Christianity” but sacrifice, selflessness, charity and love could describe the virtues of superheroes as much as those of Christianity.

It’s clear that you don’t agree with Christian views in these works. But merely because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it is without artistic merit. You see Christianity everywhere, but people tend to see what annoys them most. The hyper-Christian sees godlessness everywhere and T sees liberalism everywhere. I have to wonder if you should take a step back, and question whether you want your art to be challenging, or merely edifying to your own beliefs.

FGJ,

Do you even watch the Simpsons? The reference was obviously to the Flanders family. The way they handle Ned Flanders (or used to – I haven’t watched it in years) is actually very nuanced. He’s naive, but his faith hasn’t usually been mocked. Even Rev. Lovejoy is is a slightly cynical but generally realistic depiction of a preacher. I prefer Family Guy or South Park – while they are much less gentle in their satire, but they seem to be willing to savage any and everyone.

David

I completely believe, even though I’m not exclusively Christian myself, that the media needs more openly Christian characters. It’s becoming a trend in large-cast TV shows to have a “token Christian” character whose entire purpose is to rave about the apocalypse and be generally ignored by everyone. That is not a fair treatment of the demographic, and realistically more than half the characters would identify as Christian (although it may not seem that way on the Internet sometimes, because the Internet is full of vocal atheists. Similarly, Marvel has Daredevil and everybody else who has ever hinted at being connected with religion is either a God himself or keeps his mouth shut about it.

I just think it’s interesting that as the roles of other underrepresented minorities are generally increasing in the media, religions are getting shoved aside to avoid a controversy that wouldn’t be present if the issue were handled with any degree of class. We could use more characters like Lost’s Charlie, whose Catholic faith is only one facet of his personality that is explored as much as any other.

Then again, there’s also Battlestar Galactica at the other end of the spectrum. But I guess that just shows how the other side of the issue can still get a voice in pop culture without preventing the result from being really, REALLY good television.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 16, 2010 at 4:23 am

Do you even watch the Simpsons? The reference was obviously to the Flanders family. The way they handle Ned Flanders (or used to – I haven’t watched it in years) is actually very nuanced. He’s naive, but his faith hasn’t usually been mocked. Even Rev. Lovejoy is is a slightly cynical but generally realistic depiction of a preacher. I prefer Family Guy or South Park – while they are much less gentle in their satire, but they seem to be willing to savage any and everyone.

Have you ever watched it?

The Simpsons are shown to go every Sunday – that’s what he’s talking about – or he would have specified.

Flanders is constantly mocked for his faith – and always has been… heck, his whole family is a joke about christians – and Lovejoy is often shown to be dead inside, over his job and tired of always being bothered.

Jesus.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 16, 2010 at 4:25 am

Then again, there’s also Battlestar Galactica at the other end of the spectrum. But I guess that just shows how the other side of the issue can still get a voice in pop culture without preventing the result from being really, REALLY good television.

Except that the religious elements were always in contrast to the rest of the show, jarring and used as an utter crutch for the ending, which betrayed the promise of the show at the very start – even totally killing the metaphor it had going for life.

Flanders is constantly mocked for his faith – and always has been… heck, his whole family is a joke about christians – and Lovejoy is often shown to be dead inside, over his job and tired of always being bothered.

I think that’s a very narrow reading FGJ. Ned is constantly mocked for his faith, yes, but he is always shown as a more competent and functional character than Homer, and often a more successful and happier one too. With the possible exception of Lisa, Ned is clearly the most generous and helpful of the characters on the Simpsons.

Yes, on the surface Flanders is mocked. But if we take the time to look underneath, we can see the show is often on Flanders’ side.

We could use more characters like Lost’s Charlie, whose Catholic faith is only one facet of his personality that is explored as much as any other.

I think that Lost is a brilliant example of the story-telling potentials of the idea of faith. The dichotomy between ‘men of science’ and ‘men of faith’ is one of the most interesting facets of the show, in my opinion. Lost’s willingness to show the necessity of relying on faith in situations where one lack all (or any) of the pertinent information seems to me to be a timely rejoinder to those self-righteous anti-religionists and the shaky foundations of their beloved ‘reason’.

Chris Claremont did a great job incorporating Nightcrawler’s faith into X-Men. His arguing with Wolverine about killing and praying made for good scenes, with both characters making their points without overwhelming the story.

Balanced portrayals of people of faith- any faith- are rare in comics, especially super-hero comics. One could argue that super-hero comics aren’t the ideal venue for the expression of religous values (“turn the other cheek” doesn’t really work when you’re fighting Dr. Doom), but acknowledgement of a belief system could add to characterization.

I haven’t watched the Simpsons in years, but I remember a scene in which Homer held up the Bible and said something like “There aren’t any answers in here! There aren’t any answers at all!!” Also, the Flanders kids were portrayed as very creepy explicitly because of their beliefs.

Matthew Johnson

April 16, 2010 at 6:35 am

I think the presence of characters whose faith is important to them is a positive not for religion or for culture but for good writing. For many people, faith (or its absence) is essential to their identities and lives, but if you judged humanity by fiction you wouldn’t think so. It’s like writing only characters that have no sex drive — you might offend fewer people, but at a big cost to the quality of your characterization.

Dan: Sorry I pushed your buttons! You know I’m always interested in what you have to say, even though you rarely agree with me.

Most of the people here have already done a good job summing up, but what’s interesting about someone like Clem is that he has a strong faith, he talks about it, but he isn’t portrayed as crazy or intolerant. With some exceptions (John Ostrander’s work, for example), most DC and Marvel characters who identify themselves as Christians are usually narrow-minded bigots, and the vasy majority of them don’t identify themselves as any religion at all. DC and Marvel superheroes KNOW there’s a devil (and a fairly “Christian” one at that), yet they’re not Christian. Sure, we get Daredevil, but he’s a Catholic like my dad is Catholic – that is, not much of one at all. I’m not Christian (heck, I doubt the existence of God 99% of the time), but it’s a very interesting faith, and as so many people in the “real” world are Catholic, it’s nice that Hester is writing one, even if he’s old-school and not terribly indicative of modern Christians.

I didn’t mean to hijack my own thread with an off-handed comment about religion!

I’ll agree that the way most popular culture handles religion is to skirt the issue entirely. This approach is somewhat unrealistic in some cases, but may be a necessary evil, because as soon as weighty religious themes are introduced, they tend to run away with the story to some degree or another.

I would also point out, though, that the vast majority of popular culture that doesn’t completely ignore religion portrays it in a positive light. You are much more likely to find a sympathetic Christian character than a sympathetically portrayed atheist. The only protagonist who is an out-spoken atheist I can think of on television is Dr. House, and its questionable how “sympathetic” he really is.

You know what really keeps me caught up on my reading? Being a bus commuter. When Julie takes the car and I ride the bus, I get through four or five books in a week. When I have the car, the to-be-read pile gets ridiculously huge, very quickly. We acquire books like dryers acquire lint.

I gave Doc Savage a chance because of Paul Malmont, too. All the problems you mention are there– I’m not especially crazy about this hybrid 30s/modern universe the books are set in, it seems ridiculously arbitrary to me — but I’m inclined to look more kindly on it because it was SO MUCH BETTER than the two books that came in front of it. Just to make sure I wasn’t being a grouchy old man, I sat down and read through all three, and having given Batman/Doc Savage and First Wave one more try I can tell you that Malmont’s Doc is miles ahead of them.

What struck me about it was that Malmont has to be the same age I am or maybe a little younger, because the image of Doc that he is using and the feel of the book is the sort of imaginary never-published one that those of us that read the Bantam paperback version got lodged in our heads with the James Bama covers. That pedal-to-the-metal feeling that you found to be rushed and disjointed seemed more natural to me because of that, I think; that was the Doc we all wanted to see but never quite got. And after the nearly static First Wave #1 I can tell you that it was nice to see something more kinetic, which again left me feeling much more forgiving of any breathlessness in the pacing.

That Secret Six cover has one of my biggest pet peeves, and you see it all the time in comics: the 90 degree reflection. Do comic book artists live in a universe with different physical laws than mine? Catman seems to be able to see his own reflection stretching out in front of him in that pool of blood,. But reflections don’t work that way. Reflections are 180 degrees away from us, not 90. Am I making any sense? Do other people see this problem?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 16, 2010 at 7:30 am

Do people who read manga complain about the ubiquitous use of Shintoist symbols and themes? Because complaining that American or European material “references Christianity seems to be a complaint of the same order.

Look, when a system of belief dominated a culture for, golly, many centuries, it tends to be imbricated into the general references and symbols of even the secular chunks of that culture. What isn’t similarly imbricated, however, is the ethical or philosophical argument of the belief system. Nor are the immense complexities and visions within the belief system.

A cross may repel a vampire in a random story, but that’s a comically superficial, really a religious use of an old cultural tradition. I mean, the power of trinket crucifixes is not particularly representative of Christianity, and latter-day vampires — not to be confused with latter-day saints — are simply not part of Christian belief at all. It’s Christian in the same way that most manga is Shintoist, that is, not really at all.

Americans — both religious and secular — also have a distressing tendency to read Christianity as a particular type of evangelical fundamentalism or as a generic Catholicism. There’s a hell of a lot more to it than that, of course.

DC and Marvel superheroes KNOW there’s a devil (and a fairly “Christian” one at that), yet they’re not Christian.

Most DC/Marvel Superheroes also have personally worked with a non-Christian God. Religion would be really weird in a world where Thor or Athena or Orion appear on a regular basis; basically, one moves the discussion from “Do any of these Gods actually exist and should we care?” to “Are any of these Gods the right one, and should we care?”

RE: Secret Six.

I wish DC would just go and make this book mature readers. It’d probably make things a bit easier for the people involved. And, while Gail isn’t dipping into her own well with this story, it seems, she’s definitely dipping into John Ostrander’s well…this story’s now taking on striking similarities to his Deadshot mini that he wrote in the ’80s. But this very well might be deliberate.

I think from now on, whenever people ask me why I’m agnostic instead of atheist, I’m going to show them this thread.

My favorite Queen song is “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is great.

I believe you when you say you like boobies, Original Greg. You wouldn’t make such a big deal about the lack of nipples if you didn’t. This nipple taboo has always annoyed me as well. They show male nipples all the time. (And while I haven’t read DC lately, I know that Marvel shows female nipples poking through clothing fairly regularly nowadays.) It makes no sense because the nipple is the part of the breast that is exactly the same in both sexes, and yet it’s the part that can’t be shown.

So, is that the Widow kicking that guy in the crotch? Why does she look so tiny? Is he a giant?

I’ve been ignoring Siege, too. So Loki is a guy again?

I was going to jump into the religion argument, but I don’t have time right now. So you all lucked out.

He’s a very tall dude. A good seven feet, probably. At least a foot taller than Natasha, probably closer to 18 inches.

I have no idea when Loki became a man again, but yes, he is.

FYI, I did buy Black Widow (though it took a concerted effort to with that cover slapped on it) and I thought it was good. Nothing that blew me away, but definitely a solid start. And nary an objectifying image inside. Good call Greg.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

April 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Loki was re-manned in Thor #602.

Never mind the bollocks, it’s the Sex Pistols … err … South Park:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/150308

About the use of “funny-Japanese-nomenclature,” there are definitely a few glaring examples of “Engrish,” but for the most part other than specifics like using the correct plural form or using “the” when they should have used “a” and stuff like that, it’s not anywhere near as bad as popular media shows it to be. The main problem the Japanese have with English is that when they’re taught it they focus completely on the rules and very little time, if any at all, is spent on teaching it for practical purposes. They just teach it in a way so they can test them for it. This blog http://www.peterpayne.net/ is about a guy who lives in Japan and married a Japanese woman and has kids, and he has said on a few occasions that his kids turn down his tutoring is because he tries to teach them practical lessons. For example, apparently, “I’m fine” is THE correct answer for “How are you?” Conversational English is something they aren’t taught in school. But they buy shirts with English for the same reason Americans get tattoos with kanji; it’s cho kakko ii (cool/stylish). And we screw up here just as much as they screw up there. Which is enough to be embarrassed about, but not enough to become the walking punchline it’s become.
The worst offender I’ve seen that I can remember was Grant Morrison’s Super Young Team in Final Crisis. Brian Clevinger’s Science Team Super Five is pretty tame compared to “Most Excellent Superbat” or “Shiny Happy Aquazon.” Ugh.

Science Team Super Five is a mash up of several super sentai team names.

funkygreenjerusalem

April 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I think that’s a very narrow reading FGJ. Ned is constantly mocked for his faith, yes, but he is always shown as a more competent and functional character than Homer, and often a more successful and happier one too. With the possible exception of Lisa, Ned is clearly the most generous and helpful of the characters on the Simpsons.

Yes, on the surface Flanders is mocked. But if we take the time to look underneath, we can see the show is often on Flanders’ side.

Sure, but he’s also always the butt of jokes for it – and as for the family, Maude Flanders was always a busy body gossip who was judgmental to everyone else, and Rodd And Todd are always shown to be odd, as best, and totally messed up by their upbringing.

And though Jazzbo could answer this easily – I’m convinced he meant the Simpson family, not the Flanders.
The perfect neighbours who are better at everything isn’t new to the family sitcom, or television – but the Simpsons going to church every sunday is.

(Then again, The Wire depicted drug dealers and killers, who had a Sunday morning truce, so that they could take their mothers to church every week without fear of getting shot).

funkygreenjerusalem

April 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I wish DC would just go and make this book mature readers. It’d probably make things a bit easier for the people involved

It depends whether they self-censor or not – Nicola Scott said at a con a year or two ago that her and Gail were able to get away with more twisted stuff in the book, as they were both women… and if they were ok with it, it seemed to cut down on the usual worries.

No doubt, mainstream comics are in a weird spot with their content. Take a book you did buy: BRIGHTEST DAY.

It opens with a bird dying in a fairly graphic manner. It features an image of Aquaman staring at his black lantern self. Max Lord is spewing blood from his face in one scene. It is a long way from G-Rated.

And yet … a post-coital Mera walks down to the dock and dives in the water nude, but (you guessed it) bubbles obscure her nipples and pubic area. Moreover, the Hawks discuss their multiple resurrections and never even vaguely allude to the religious implications of that.

I think I will have to have Greg add Kill Shakespeare to his pull list and may unwritten. The cover on unwritten is stunning.

Sorry, that was me, I forgot to log Greg out first.

Just bought ’69 Love Songs’ a couple weeks ago – havent played it yet – I am to CDs what you are to books! (Although I have the book mania too!)
Great col as always!!

“I think from now on, whenever people ask me why I’m agnostic instead of atheist, I’m going to show them this thread.”

‘Oh, so you don’t like to make firm arguments because you’re afraid of people not liking you?’

I’m just teasing. Really, though, I don’t think this thread ended up as anything even close to a cautionary tale.

“I think that’s a very narrow reading FGJ. Ned is constantly mocked for his faith, yes, but he is always shown as a more competent and functional character than Homer, and often a more successful and happier one too. With the possible exception of Lisa, Ned is clearly the most generous and helpful of the characters on the Simpsons.

Yes, on the surface Flanders is mocked. But if we take the time to look underneath, we can see the show is often on Flanders’ side.”

Have you seen the classic episode where Ned finally hits his breaking point and cuts his rage loose on everyone? It shows that all this time he appeared to be well-adjusted and happy, he was actually extremely repressed and conflicted. At the end, he’s finally a bit more balanced, but there’s still a hint that he’s got some disturbing, scary thoughts.

Ned’s generous and helpful, yes, but one of the things that makes certain Simpsons characters great is that for every positive trait they’re given, there’s a negative one to balance it out. No one’s really a shining example of goodness.

“I’m not a Christian myself, but what I’m interested in, in life and in art, is philosophy. A character who can deliver an interesting justification for their actions is always going to be more interesting that has no understanding of why they act. People like Paul of Tarsus or Martin Luther, despite the fact I disagree with them, are infinity more interesting than almost every character in comics today. Christianity provides a (in fact many) philosophy, and for that reason a Christian superhero is going to be more interesting than one with no real belief system.”

Good point.

“It’s clear that you don’t agree with Christian views in these works. But merely because you disagree with something doesn’t mean it is without artistic merit.”

I wasn’t trying to say that the inclusion of Christianity in fiction is without artistic merit. I was just saying that I feel like it’s been adequately done, so it’s no major loss to lose one Christian character.

“Lost’s willingness to show the necessity of relying on faith in situations where one lack all (or any) of the pertinent information seems to me to be a timely rejoinder to those self-righteous anti-religionists and the shaky foundations of their beloved ‘reason’.”

You’re confusing “faith” and “hope”. See, faith is the belief that things will work out a particular way, because the person is convinced that they are supposed to. Hope is the desire for things to work out in a good way, because that would be really nice.

And people everywhere, regardless of supernatural beliefs, have hope.

You also can’t use fiction as an example of the veracity of a belief system. See, in fiction, you get to choose the outcome. That nullifies it as any sort of evidence that one philosophy is right.

Also, the idea that you’re defending a principle defined by the lack of solid foundation, by claiming that its opposite has that exact problem is utterly laughable. The idea of a religious person calling anyone else self-righteous is ridiculous, too. You’re convinced that existence is defined a certain way because of something that is in a book that’s been revised and edited for political reasons over the thousands of years it’s existed (which means it comes from times when every single previously held belief that’s been proven wrong was seen as truth [i.e., racial superiority, vampirism, the world being flat, etc]) and you believe that is a truth which should be reflected by laws that govern everyone. That’s immensely self-righteous.

The fact is, this sort of argument is inherently self-righteous, because we’re all just trading points of view.

“Inside, Natasha is dressed almost Puritan compared to how she’s often dressed. Not an unzipped top in sight!”

It’s interesting, because the inside of the comic is much more in line with how she’s usually dressed. The unzipped costume’s only happened on covers, lately.

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