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What I bought – 3 November 2010

“It’s the worst thing you’ll ever do in your life,” she said, “helping the people you love to do something that in your heart you believe is deeply wrong.” (Orson Scott Card, from Xenocide)

So many dinosaur covers this week! I don't know if I want to know what's going on here Venetian blinds - your pulp/noir staple! Why is she reaching for me?!?!?!? Has Gillen paid enough dues to make this a success? Best cover of the year?  Probably Is her left hand on top of underwear, and if so, WHY DEAR GOD WHY?!?!? No wonder comics writers and artists love dinosaurs - look how cool that is! Yes, I tried this! Given the way Moses usually acts, that smile sure is creepy! They went to the X-Men crossover a bit too late! So many dinosaurs!!!!!

Avengers Academy #6 (“I Dreamed a Dream”) by Christos Gage (writer), Mike McKone (penciler), Dave Meikis (inker), Rebecca Buchman (inker), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Rick Ketchum (inker), Jeromy Cox (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

FOUR inkers! Wow. It’s implied that Mike McKone is off the book, as Gage writes in the letter column that they’re welcoming Tom Raney next issue, and he doesn’t say it’s for a guest spot. I don’t have an issue with either McKone or Raney, so it’s a six-of-one, half-dozen of the other sort of thing, but I wonder why Marvel and DC even bother announcing one creative team anymore – they should have two artists attached to every project, because that’s the way it goes, apparently. DC is upfront about the fact that J. H. Williams III won’t be the only artist on Batwoman. I mean, that’s a given and we know it, but it’s nice that DC anticipated it.

Anyway, the final issue of the introductory stories gives us Reptil, who is elected class leader of the group and spends the issue wondering if he’s capable of being the leader. It’s not a bad issue – we get to check in on the various subplots that Gage has begun over the course of this initial arc, as Humberto keeps noticing that something strange is going on between Finesse and Quicksilver (and since Finesse has decided to use him as her sex toy, he brings it up either post-coitus or pre-coitus – I’d go with “post-,” even though they’re clothed, because of the dialogue between them – which would seem like the absolute worst time to bring stuff like that up); tries to point out that Hazmat and Mettle ought to hook up, which they don’t think is a good idea; and has a chat with Jessica Jones about her time being possessed by the Purple Man after his mind is briefly taken over by Mentallo and he goes full dinosaur, biting the villain on the shoulder. Gage does a nice job showing how Humberto is feeling out being a leader – he wants to lead by example and not talk so much, he gives credit to others, he meddles in Hazmat and Mettle’s conversation, and he realizes he needs to talk about Mentallo and about Norman Osborn messing with him. It’s a nice, solid comic.

I should point out that in a comic book where Reptil and Finesse are having sex out of wedlock (the horror!) and it’s been implied that Finesse is boinking Quicksilver (the HORROR!), Gage goes out of his way to have Jessica tell Humberto that the Purple Man didn’t rape her. Now, I don’t have my issues of Alias right in front of me, but wasn’t it fairly obvious that he did, in fact, rape her? I seem to remember her standing in front of him in her underwear and him talking about some icky things he was going to do. I know that she’s been integrated into the “kid-friendly” mainstream Marvel Universe, but it seems odd that in a book where two young people are having sex and we have possible statutory rape (is Finesse supposed to be a teenager, or in her early twenties?), Gage takes the time to assure us that, in fact, the Purple Man didn’t rape Jessica. At least, I found it odd.

I usually decide about new comics after the first arc, and I think I’ll stick around for a while with this. Gage has done a good job with the characters, and I like the central hook of the book – that these are kids the Avengers have to keep an eye on. We’ll just see how many issues Raney draws before he needs a break!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Reptil is taking a bite out of crime! (Sorry, I just had to go there.)

Batman and Robin #16 (“Black Masks”) by Grant “Yeah, it’s out of order – wanna make something of it, fanboy?” Morrison (writer), Cameron Stewart (artist), Chris Burnham (artist), Frazer Irving (artist/colorist), Alex Sinclair (colorist), and Patrick Brosseau (letterer). $3.99, 32 pgs, FC, DC.

Morrison’s Batman endings always fall short of his set-ups, and this is no exception. I mean, it’s just Dr. Hurt getting beaten up again, innit? That being said, it’s still a cool issue, for many reasons. On the first page, Morrison quotes directly from Milligan’s “Dark Knight, Dark City” arc, which is where this whole demon thing comes from. He also doesn’t forget the girl/sacrifice, who shows up in this issue and suffers a horrible fate. Morrison writes Bruce particularly well – his dialogue feels spot-on whenever he shows up, and that’s no exception here. I was a tad bit disappointed that Alfred was, actually, in a trap filling with water – it felt very much like a lie just to get Batman off Hurt’s trail, but that’s just a minor thing. I also like that Damian defusing the bomb doesn’t get much screen time – Damian tells Bruce that of course he doesn’t need his help, and that’s the last we hear of it. Those little touches always make Morrison an interesting writer, because he often zigs when we expect him to zag. And, you know, Gordon in a dress. Awesome.

Of course, the art is amazing. Stewart, who draws the first 15 pages, is tremendous, with the two pages of fight scene between the Batman gang and the 99 fiends a wonderful visual treat. Burnham shows why he’s probably going to get higher-profile work in the future, and Irving is excellent as usual. The art styles clash quite a bit, but at least the three artists work on separate sections of the book – Stewart has the flashback to 1765 and the initial big fight, Burnham handles Bruce running through the mansion trying to rescue Alfred, and Irving wraps up the Professor Pyg stuff and the Joker/Hurt stuff. The way Irving shows what the Joker does to Hurt is particularly effective.

The biggest problem with the book is that it came out before The Return of Bruce Wayne #6, so we still don’t know what the deal is with the cliffhanger at the end of issue #5 of that comic, plus it came out before Batman: The Return, which renders that book irrelevant (okay, probably not irrelevant, because I don’t know what that book will contain, but still). Obviously, the Justice League’s fears about Bruce’s return were kind of silly, but it’s annoying that it doesn’t seem to have mattered at all. Whatev. I do like how Morrison establishes the idea of Batman, Incorporated – it allows him to have Batman going all over the place in that title while still having a Batman in Gotham, and who’s to say Bruce won’t hire some other dude to be Batman every once in a while so he can take a vacation? If anyone could make that work, it’s the God of All Comics.

While I know Morrison is capable of excellent endings, the fact that this resolution isn’t great doesn’t bother me too much. The entire “Dick Grayson-as-solo-Batman” era has been forgettable except for some clever characterization, and it’s a bit frustrating that DC would allow it to happen, because it leads to a fairly dull conclusion – we know Bruce is coming back, it’s just a question of when. Still, the Morrison magic is sprinkled throughout this issue and this run, which is nice to see. I’m looking forward to what he does with all the “Batman meets International Batmen” stuff.

One totally Airwolf panel:

In a book full of some very cool panels, how could I pass this up?

Bullet to the Head #5 (of 6) by Matz (writer), Colin Wilson (artist/letterer), Chris Blythe (colorist), and Chris Caniano (letterer). $3.99, 29 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Philip and Jimmy, the cop and the hitman, continue to hunt down the people who killed everyone they know, and while there’s some violence, most of the book is Matz contrasting these two, much like he did with Jimmy and Louis earlier in the series. There’s an undertone of sudden violence, though, because we’re never sure if Jimmy is going to turn on Philip or if Philip is going to try to arrest Jimmy, and that makes the proceedings all the more tense. Wilson does his usual stellar job, with the art occasionally looking a bit like Eduardo Risso’s while remaining firmly Wilson-esque – it’s a nice trick. In a book with a lot of talking, Wilson gives us scenery of the streets around where the two men talk, making it visually more interesting than if he focused on their heads all the time (and he does that often enough, so when he pulls back, it’s a good change of pace). It’s a good penultimate issue, with some of the violence taken care of but not too much, so the final issue is sure to be a bit bloody.

The two men hide out in Chelsea late in the book, and it takes an odd turn. There’s a lot of talk about gay men and how much Philip, in particular, hates them (Jimmy doesn’t seem to mind as much). It’s pretty nasty talk, but it’s interesting because it makes Philip much more believable – why wouldn’t he be uncomfortable around homosexuals? The reason I point it out is because so often in comics, the characters don’t have many opinions about things everyone has opinions about. There’s not a lot of talk of politics, religion, or cultural issues. Sure, Jimmy and Philip can talk about which hot actress they’d like to nail, but that’s not much, is it? I don’t want comics to turn into deep philosophical discussions about meaningful things, obviously, but it’s interesting that when the topic comes up, Matz doesn’t ignore it and by making Philip a homophobe, he might make him less likeable (depending on your stance; maybe you think all gay people should be rounded up and shot because you’re, you know, an idiot) but he makes him more interesting. We wonder more about this guy after his outbursts than before, and he’s more of a human being than before. A less likeable one, sure, but at least more of one. But that’s just my opinion.

Oh, and Chad Nevett gets quoted extensively on the back of this issue. That Canuck is smart, eh?

One totally Airwolf panel:

If you're a hired thug, that has to be the best way to go out, right?

Days Missing: Kestus #1 (“Part One: The Sword”/”The First Fold”) by Phil Hester (writer, “The Sword”), Trevor Roth (writer, “The First Fold”), David Marquez (artist), Digikore Studios (colorist), and Troy Peteri (letterer). $3.95, 24 pgs, FC, Archaia/Roddenberry Productions.

The problem with the first Days Missing mini-series was that it was a bit unfocused. Each issue had a different writer (Hester did the first and last ones, if I remember correctly) and a different artist, and while the art side wasn’t bad, the fact we couldn’t get a good handle on the Steward, the central figure of the book, because I assume no writer could impose his will on the character without a different one coming along and messing with it made the book a bit more potentially good than actually good. It wasn’t bad, certainly, but the idea – a man can erase certain days in humanity’s history before events on those days cause grievous harm to humanity – remained a good one that needed to be fleshed out a bit.

It was intriguing enough, however, that I wanted to get the sequel, especially because Hester and Marquez are doing the whole thing, so perhaps the Steward will get some more personality to go along with the weird plots. Hester does that right out of the gate, introducing a possible love interest for the Steward, a woman named Kestus who apparently is much like him, only without a conscience. She’s living on the Asian steppes, ruling as a goddess (she’s lived a long time) over a horde of warriors who are about to overrun a town where lives a young man who is fairly important to the future of humanity. I won’t give it away – Hester makes it pretty easy to guess – but it’s a nice tale, as the Steward meets Kestus, flirts with her, shows the young man how to make iron weapons (thereby promoting war even more, as iron is stronger than bronze and makes for better killing), and proves to the hordes that their goddess might not actually be heavenly. Presumably each chapter of this series will be a point in time when the Steward comes across Kestus and we’ll see how their relationship changes over the millennia.

Marquez is a decent artist – we can tell who’s who, the art looks digital but not too stiff, and the special effects are keen. It’s not going to make me change my religion, but it’s pretty good. I always question the logic of having women 2500 years ago dress with a lot of skin showing – I’m not saying they didn’t, but I wonder – so the fact that Kestus wanders the Asian steppes with no pants on is a bit perplexing, but as we have no photographs of women from the Asian steppes 2500 years ago, I’ll give Marquez the benefit of the doubt. Like I wrote, I can tell what’s going on in this comic, and if that sounds like damning with faint praise, remember that on some Big Two comics, it’s occasionally difficult to tell what’s going on. So Marquez gets points for that!

One totally Airwolf panel:

You don't want to let down the worshippers like that!

Generation Hope #1 (“The Future is a Four-Letter Word, Part One”) by Kieron Gillen (writer), Salvador Espin (artist), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), and Dave Sharpe (letterer). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, Marvel.

I’m a bit excited about Generation Hope because I want Gillen to write a high-profile comic that I want to read, and while this isn’t as high-profile as Thor, he was never the permanent guy on that book, I wasn’t interested in it, and this one has the chance because it’s X-related. “So was S.W.O.R.D.,” say the smart-asses among you, and sure, sort of, but this is moreso – look, it has Wolverine in it! And Gillen is a really good writer, so I’m always rooting for him. In this first issue, Hope, the mutant savior, has “activated” four new mutants (she can do that, apparently) and this book begins with the group flying to Tokyo to collect the fifth one. Unfortunately, before she can get to the mutants, their powers go a bit nuts, and that’s what happens to Kenji, the fifth “light” (as the new mutants are called). The first two pages of this comic are actually kind of creepy, as Kenji goes a bit nuts, and then Gillen introduces the team, your typical group of teenagers who don’t want to be mutants and are kind of grumpy about it. Cyclops and Wolverine are already in Tokyo, Rogue flies the rest of them in, but Kenji goes even nuttier before Hope can touch him (which will calm him down). When Hope goes into Kenji’s apartment alone to help him, things get worse. Oh dear.

So that’s the basic plot. Gillen does a nice job with the dialogue, which isn’t surprising – he’s quite good at that. I understand why he used first-person narrative to introduce all the characters, but it does become a bit heavy-handed, and it would have been nice to see the kids’ powers and innermost thoughts introduced over the course of a few issues. Like I noted, I’m sure Gillen did it to get everyone up to speed quickly so people don’t lose interest in the series – it might be a mutant book, but it also has a bunch of unknown characters – but it’s a bit depressing that that’s probably the reason. If every narrative caption was deleted from this book, it would still be an exciting read and we’d probably know enough about the kids to move on. That being said, when Hope finds Kenji in his apartment, his narrative captions are pretty keen. Simple, but keen.

The real revelation for me is Espin, whose art is really good. Most of the time, I’ve seen Espin doing the Kid Marvel stuff, which calls for a different style, but this is grittier, more realistic, and definitely creepier. He channels Katsuhiro Otomo in the big splash page late in the book, but it’s still a horrifying image. There’s even a bit of a difference between Hope and her charges, who are teenagers, and Rogue, who’s still young (she can’t be more than 25, if that, right?) but has lived more than they have. I don’t know how many issues in a row Espin will be able to do, but I’m very happy that he’s on the book – when I heard his name, I was a little leery, but he’s put those fears to rest with only one issue.

This is $3.99 mainly because it’s a #1 issue from Marvel, but also because we get Hope’s back story, which means eight (8!) pages of explanation tacked on. Issue #2 is $2.99, so if the price is making you balk, give it a try knowing that the price will go down. It’s a very good comic. I’m going to talk more about it when I get to the second #1 issue I bought, down below, so there’s that to look forward to! I’m sure you’re trembling in anticipation!

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh dear - that's not going to end well

Gødland #33 (“Døgland”) by Joe Casey (writer), Tom Scioli (artist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

You know, at this point, I honestly don’t know what to write about Gødland. Casey ramps it up further every issue, as Friedrich Nickelhead continues to chat philosophically with the butterfly while Basil, who is still attached to the crotch of a giant robot (although not for long) continues to battle the Almighty Decimator as the world goes to hell around them. In deep space, Adam visits Maxim’s homeworld, where things get … even more cosmic, if that’s possible. Meanwhile R@d-Ur Rezz escapes but meets a thing with no name, and their battle changes things … back on Earth. Yes, it’s all twisty and wacky, but it’s ridiculously entertaining, and although it’s a long wait between issues, I don’t care. Every issue is a blast of pure comics wonderfulness, and I am tingling with anticipation about how Casey and Scioli are going to wrap this thing up. We know it’s coming soon, we just don’t know when (issue #36? further than that?). Until then, I will simply love reading every issue, and then, I will sit down and re-read the entire series, and my mind will be blown again! Who wouldn’t love that?

One totally Airwolf panel:

I really had to pick this panel, especially with what's down in the corner

See? You can hang it next to your ELO poster!

Scarlet #3 by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Alex Maleev (artist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). $3.95, 25 pgs, FC, Marvel/Icon.

Scarlet continues to piss me the hell off, but hey, I keep buying it, right? Damn you, Bendis!!!!

Okay, so why does it piss me off? Well, I still think the premise is ridiculous and even stupid, but now that Scarlet is killing cops, the fact that the cops might be corrupt goes right out the window, because she’s lost any moral high ground she had (especially by the end of this issue, where she really goes around the bend). As has been the case from the beginning of the series, if Bendis is leading us to a point where we understand that Scarlet really is insane, this might mitigate it a bit, but I fear he’s not going to do that. And then there’s Gabriel’s best friend, Brandon, whom Scarlet recruits for her mission in this issue. Bendis goes back to the “one panel depicting important moments in lives” schtick that he used in issue #1, and it’s less clever and even more clichéd than that one (they trade baseball cards – really, Bendis, in the mid-1990s?; they play hookey; they sneak into The Matrix Revolutions; they play XBox; they cheat off each other; they go see Arcade Fire), and then she gets Brandon to go along with her, filming her at the end when she takes things up a notch. Poor Brandon. Will he be sacrificed for Scarlet’s greater good? Who knows. I guess I can’t feel too bad for him – he doesn’t exist, for one thing, and when Scarlet told him what she had done, he didn’t immediately call people to take her away to the asylum in Salem. So he’s as dumb as she is!

What bothers me most about this issue and the series so far is how Bendis has stacked the deck so much. Scarlet is like the Joker in The Dark Knight – she’s a super-terrorist who, despite appearances, apparently has everything planned out months in advance. The cop who wrote in after issue #1 gets a letter printed about issue #2, and he’s right – the cops cannot be this inept: the only reason they know who killed the cops is because Scarlet calls them and tells them. Some guy writes in calling that cop full of shit or clueless, because he (the letter-writer) knows all about corruption in the police department. Heck, so do I – I grew up near the town that convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal, after all, and, to remind people, the town where the mayor once bombed his own city (yes, he really did), but while the letter-writing cop might be a bit naïve about police corruption, he’s right in this letter about the ineptitude of the cops, who have no idea what’s going on even though Scarlet visited an ex-cop in issue #2 and basically told him what she was going to do, plus she left fingerprints and DNA everywhere at the crime scene. (Yes, I know Guzman is supposed to be cowardly, but come on, and I know the cops just discovered the body, but it wasn’t her first murder, after all.) So we have idiot cops and a girl who apparently can do everything. It’s just stupid.

As always, you might wonder why the hell I’m buying this book. Well, Maleev’s art helps, of course, but Bendis does know what he’s doing, and when he’s not doing superheroes, he’s capable of greatness and at least interesting stuff. I’m certainly willing to give him a long piece of rope, because I do have some faith in him. We shall see how long it takes before I cut it.

Oh, and Bendis/Maleev on Moon Knight in the spring? Yeah, I’m there.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, Brandon, you might want to run away right now

Secret Six #27 (“The Reptile Brian Part Three of Four: Masked and Masked Again”) by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

I read somewhere that Simone is very happy with DC censoring Secret Six because of all the stuff they actually let her get away with, and that’s fine and dandy, but how cool would it have been if they had allowed a “fuck” to slip in here? You know where! That would have been awesome. Would anyone have raised a stink? Do parents let their kids read this comic?

As Bane lies dying (he doesn’t), Jeannette tells both teams to knock it the hell off, because, as she puts it, “no one is supposed to die” when two supergroups fight. That’s a nice meta comment. So the two groups go their separate ways, but they’re still on opposite sides, so of course they end up squaring off again. That won’t be pleasant.

The biggest problem with this arc, as I’ve mentioned, is Skartaris itself. Yes, it’s a fun place where dinosaurs roam and all, but Simone really digs into the DC archives with this, as Machiste and Shakira (singing sensation AND woman warrior of another world!) figure they need to resurrect Deimos to fight the intruders. Simone does a decent job of giving us the basics about these people, but man, that’s a lot to process, especially when we consider that Travis Morgan is dead, killed off at the end of the latest series, a series no one but Mike Grell and Mike Grell’s close relations read (I suppose DiDio might have read it, but that’s just a guess). So that came as a bit of a shock. Still, the fact that Simone is referencing either really old stories or recent stories that no one read makes this a bit more opaque than usual. But otherwise, this isn’t a bad issue, and we get to see what happens when Thomas Blake goes native. Okay, more native than usual. And, of course, Waller. And, of course, Rag Doll in Superman underwear. You WILL be disturbed!!!!!

One totally Airwolf panel:

All hail Catman!

Superboy #1 (“Smallville Attacks! Part One”) by Jeff Lemire (writer), Pier Gallo (artist), Jamie Grant (colorist), and John J. Hill (letterer). $2.99, 23 pgs, FC, DC.

And so we come to the comic that you, the readers, chose for me. Actually, if you want to get technical, more people suggested I try Jonah Hex #61, but I had a few reasons for not choosing that one. As commenter Philip pointed out, I bought a few issues of Jonah Hex a while ago, and while I didn’t hate it, it just seemed like the same thing over and over again. Kind of like those old DC war comics – sure, it’s fun to see the soldiers fight dinosaurs every single issue, but I’d rather get that in Showcase format for 17 bucks rather than plunk down three dollars every month. I do like seeing the art, but not enough to get me to buy it. More importantly, I didn’t get to the shoppe early on Wednesday, and by the time I got there, Jonah Hex was sold out (they don’t order many for the shelf; I think there are usually two copies out). So I missed it. (This is also why I didn’t buy Chaos War #3 or Strange Tales II #2 – they too were sold out by the time I got there.) Superboy got only one fewer vote than Jonah Hex, and they were by far the most vote-getters, so it was easy to pick this one up. The town full of Hitlers looked pretty cool, though (and I am planning on getting that trade, in case you want to know).

So. Superboy #1. It’s not bad. It’s enough to get me to come back for the second issue, which I guess is all it really has to do, right? It begins with Conner Kent hanging out in Smallville when the Phantom Stranger shows up, speaks all mysteriously (“There is a darkness blowing in on these gentle Kansas winds. Something sinister incubates within these rich oil fields …”), and then disappears. To be fair, Conner calls him on his bullshit, but the Stranger, as is his wont, doesn’t stick around long enough to get a punch in the face. So Conner goes to school, brushes off Lori Luthor, Lex’s niece, who’s totally hot for him (does he brush her off because she’s sort-of his cousin, or because her uncle is EEEEEEvillllll?), and finds out that his best friend, Simon Valentine, knows that he’s Superboy (because Simon tells him). Oh, and some old fart lectures him because he doesn’t know that the day is the 154th anniversary of the Smallville’s founding. (Conner should have said, “Look, I’m just passing through this podunk town on the way to the big city – you know, Topeka – so STFU, Andy Rooney”) Then the Parasite attacks. Superboy beats him, natch, with some help from Krypto, and then discovers that things are still not jake in Smallville – the plants are going crazy. Who on earth could be connected to that?????

It’s a pretty good first issue – Lemire introduces a conflict and some important characters, and Conner narrates enough about himself so we get a good handle on who he is. I don’t love Gallo’s art, but it fits the cornfed, all-American, clean style of a Superman/Superboy/Supergirl comic, or at least what I think that style should be (it’s not always so, I know). He draws a pretty good Parasite, as well. I know this might be sacrilege, but the fact that Jamie Grant is coloring this gives it a strange, Quitely-esque sheen to it, not unlike All Star Superman. I’m not saying Gallo is better than Quitely or that Quitely is better than Gallo (I prefer Quitely, but I know he has his detractors) or even that their styles are similar, but the vibe of the book – the brightness of it, the almost airbrushed quality, the precision of the line work – reminds me vaguely of ASS. I still love that acronym, I tell ya.

Okay, so we have two #1 issues from the Big Two – Generation Hope and Superboy. Recently a wacky Australian with too much Carlton in his system suggested I hate DC (oh, I’m joking, you wacky Aussie – I’m sure it was Tooheys). But here we have an interesting test case – two inaugural issues by writers I really like starring characters who have some baggage. Why do I like the Marvel book better? I like Superboy, but I like Generation Hope more, and if I had to choose, I’d choose the latter. I’m not sure why. They both feature a good fight and explain the situation fairly clearly, and they both end on pretty good cliffhangers. They’re almost identical in their plot patterns. I have been thinking about why I like Generation Hope slightly more, and it comes down to a difference in tone. In the Marvel book, it feels like something is changing, and Gillen is moving the narrative forward into the future. In the DC book, Conner is entrenched in Smallville with Ma and Pa Kent, he fights an old villain, and it feels like it’s just a superhero book that will feature Connor simply defeating villains. It does not feel like there’s any forward progression. Note that I say “feels like,” because as we know, mainstream superhero comics rarely change, so the illusion of change is important. Change isn’t always good, of course – Hope’s back story is already ridiculously convoluted, as the prose section in the back of the book makes clear, and she’s only dealing with the last five years of mutant history. But it feels like Gillen has an agenda with the book – Hope is activating new mutants to save their race – and it doesn’t feel like Lemire has much of one beyond writing a solid superhero comic. Again, there’s nothing wrong with writing a solid superhero comic, and perhaps the Phantom Stranger’s appearance means that Lemire will move things forward, but I’m talking about my own personal biases here. They can be irrational if they want to be.

And let’s look at the “coming soon” page at the back of Superboy. Generation Hope doesn’t have one, but at least we know what the first arc is about – Hope and the others trying to deal with Kenji. in the back of Superboy, we have a promise of a Kid Flash/Superboy race. Really? I mean, I know Marvel does this too – how many freakin’ times is Ben Grimm going to become human again? – but the Flash vs. Superman race is so, so dull to me, and it’s part of the reason why it feels like Lemire is just tapping a nostalgic vein. There’s a promise a yet another iteration of the Titans and Superboy meeting Superboy, which makes me think there’s going to be close interaction with the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group I simply have never been able to get into. The entire page screams “comfort food,” meaning that Lemire is just going to tread very familiar ground with regard to the character and DC history. Again, Marvel does this too, don’t get me wrong, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t read Avengers, for instance. I don’t read a lot of the main superhero books for that reason. But the DC books I do read – Booster Gold (for now) and Secret Six, as well as Morrison’s Batman (and this is partly because it’s Morrison and partly because I love Batman) – at least try to move things forward. While Marvel still spins the wheels of the big franchises, much of their B- or C-level output seems to have far more interesting storytelling than DC’s B- or C-level output. Let’s face it – Superboy isn’t an icon, especially this Superboy. So the fact that this feels really traditional kind of bums me out, even though it’s well done.

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. Part of the problem with DC has always been the iconic nature of their heroes, and that idea filters down to the icons’ knock-offs like Superboy. I mean, JMS can change Wonder Woman’s status quo, and I don’t care because there’s no way it will last. Marvel tries to change the status quo and while we know it will usually revert, very often it doesn’t do so right away (Steve Rogers still isn’t Captain America again, for instance). Marvel, despite being a conservative corporate entity, manages to keep the feeling that their characters grow and change. DC keeps replacing their new characters with the originals from the Silver Age. More than anything, that’s why I tend to like Marvel more. But that’s just me.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Even Parasite can't believe how dumb the idea of Krypto is!

Unknown Soldier #25 (“Beautiful World: Conclusion”) by Joshua Dysart (writer), Alberto Ponticelli (artist), Oscar Celestini (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

Unknown Soldier ends pretty much as it has to, and while this issue isn’t all that great (the first part is intense, but then Dysart has to wrap things up pretty quickly, so he goes the old “prose telling us what happens to the characters” route, which gives us a lot of information but isn’t that interesting), it is a nice coda to the series, which ended too soon. The final image is both chilling and hopeful, which isn’t a bad way to go. It would be nice if DC would bring out a nice 25-issue omnibus kind of thing, because this series deserves it. It started slowly, but Dysart and Ponticelli quickly made this a must-read, one that never shied away from the harsh reality of war and highlighted a conflict in a part of the world Americans know very little about but which, like all wars, shouldn’t be ignored. Dysart was a decent writer when this series began, but he’s really become a very good writer as it’s gone on. It’s too bad Unknown Soldier couldn’t get a bigger audience, but I would implore you to get the trades and prepare yourself for a gripping read.

One totally Airwolf panel:

Yeah, that's not going to end well either, is it?

Young Allies #6 (“A Change of Mind”) by Sean McKeever (writer), David Baldeón (penciler), N. Bowling (inker), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

Well, another book I read gets cancelled, and I’d like to consider this and Avengers Academy, which apparently is doing fine, sales-wise (maybe it’s not, but at least it gets to go on past issue #6). It’s interesting to consider why a book sells, even though it’s wild speculation. Some books hit a nerve at just the right time, and that’s great. Some books – far fewer than I want to admit – sell on the strength of the writer or, more likely, the artist (art, being more visually interesting, is probably easier to hook readers). In mainstream superhero comics, it seems, the biggest reason a book succeeds or fails is because of the characters. That depresses me on many levels, but let’s check out these two books. Avengers Academy and Young Allies are both written by pretty good but not superstar writers and drawn by pretty good but not superstar artists. They both feature characters who aren’t terribly popular and don’t have much history. Both are good superhero books. Avengers Academy, however, is tied into Marvel’s biggest property right now, and Young Allies isn’t. That, apparently, is enough to keep it afloat. The psychology of the consumer fascinates me, as you can tell. If you’re Typical Consumer A, and you walk into your local comics emporium and see these two books on the shelf and you can only buy one, with all other things being equal (i. e., you’re not Sean McKeever’s mom or you don’t have a huge crush on Mike McKone), what differentiates these two books? It’s not the main characters, certainly. It’s the fact that the non-cancelled book has “Avengers” in the title and when you flip through it, you might see Hank Pym or Quicksilver, characters you know! I’m just speculating about that, but when there’s such a miniscule difference between the quality of the books, something else must be driving sales.

Anyway, this actually is the weakest issue of the series so far, which is kind of a bummer. It’s possible (probable?) that McKeever meant it to somehow lead into the next arc and had to rework it a bit, but I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter. McKeever screws up in the back and thanks every member of the creative team, including Joe Sabino, but doesn’t mention the inker, the mysteriously named “N. Bowling.” Bowling works with Sotomayor at Sotocolor, so I guess thanking the colorist and his “cohorts” is enough, but poor Mr. or Mrs. Bowling, who doesn’t get thanked and doesn’t even get a first name. It’s very sad.

I thought this series would have an uphill climb, and it turns out I was right. Oh well. Everyone will come out of it okay. And we’ll all move on. One Marvel series dies, another is born – it’s the circle of life!

One totally Airwolf panel:

You know, Emma can be a bitch and all, but what cracks me up is that there's some doofus back at the ranch who claims to love her

Xenozoic by Mark Schultz (writer/artist). $39.95, 352 pgs, BW, Flesk Publications.

I don’t know if the stories in this volume are any good, but damn, the art is fantastic. Very cool stuff!

As I continue to track the unholy Disney-ESPN-Marvel trinity, in the latest ESPN the Magazine (published in New York City the City!), there’s a Nathan Fox drawing. It’s not a particularly interesting drawing – it’s on the first page of an article about coaches who scream a lot and shows one coach in varying stages of screaming – but it is, you know, Nathan Fox. I saw it and thought, “That looks like Nathan Fox,” and then checked the credits to confirm. I read way too many comics, don’t I?

I hope everyone in the States voted on Tuesday, just because no matter how cynical you are, it’s always good to vote. I’m not too bent out of shape about the Republican tidal wave – people might be doom-saying throughout the country and the world, but I remain calm! The reason I’m not bent out of shape about it is because people vote very weirdly, often to throw someone out rather than to get someone in. They might be dissatisfied with the way Obama is running the country, but now the Republicans, with their renewed pledges of fiscal responsibility and smaller government, have to stop spouting slogans and figure out how to do these things. Cut welfare? It’s already cut to the bone. Destroy Obamacare? Good luck with that. The two biggest government programs are defense and Medicare. Have fun trying to cut those, Republicans. I imagine it will be business as usual in Washington, and in two years, there might be a surge in the other direction. In Arizona, the weirdness of voters was highlighted by the fact that we voted for a governor who, in her brief time in office (she replaced Janet Napolitano, so she hadn’t been elected yet), had done nothing to stop the state from hemorraghing money, yet because she signed one piece of legislation, the ludicrous anti-illegal immigration bill, was swept into office. Governor Brewer has the potential to be the worst governor in the country, yet she dominated in the polls because of one bill. Yet Arizona, which could make a claim to being the most conservative state in the country, rejected two ballot propositions that would have gutted a land preservation fund and a children’s education fund in order to help balance the state budget. Land preservation and public funding for schools – two areas that are now traditionally “Democratic,” yet voters in our state told the Republican-dominated legislature to leave them alone. Elections are always interesting because of stuff like this. I’m curious to see how long it takes for power to go to the Republicans’ heads. It always happens!

How about we gaze upon The Ten Most Recent Songs Played On My iPod (Which Is Always On Shuffle):

1. “Miss America”Styx (1977) “Next year, what will you do when you have been forgotten”
2. “Incommunicado”Marillion (1987) “I want to do adverts for American Express cards, talk shows on primetime TV”1
3. “Hard to Handle”Black Crowes (1990) “I’m advertising love for free so you can place your ad with me”
4. “Lie Lie Lie Lie” – Chumbawamba (2000) “You watch Friends together, then you break up”
5. “What About Livingstone” – ABBA (1974) “Wasn’t it worth the while traveling up the Nile”
6. “W. H. Y. B.”Liquid Jesus (1991) “Love is the key, and music’s the thing that’s burning in my soul”
7. “Immortality”Pearl Jam (1994) “Some die just to live”
8. “Supper’s Ready” – Genesis (1972) “The frog was a prince, the prince was a brick, the brick was an egg, the egg was a bird”2
9. “Send His Love to Me”PJ Harvey (1995) “This love becomes my torture, this love my only crime”
10. “Man of a Thousand Faces” – Marillion (1997) “Pass me a microphone, I need to testify”

1 In case you didn’t notice, last week I started linking to videos of these songs, either the actual videos or live performances. Because I don’t spend enough time looking for non-comics links in these posts! Anyway, I don’t know if anyone cares to look at the videos, but I encourage you to check out the one for “Incommunicado,” because it’s hilarious. A late 1980s video, full of big hair, goofy clothing, and really bad dubbing. It’s a good song, but the video is so-awful-it’s-awesome. And thank all that’s good and decent that Fish started shaving his head, because he looks really goofy.
2 I couldn’t find any decent concert footage of Genesis performing this song. I’m sure it’s out there, I just couldn’t find it.

Hey! It’s totally random lyrics:

“‘Cause I’m just a problem
For you to solve and
Watch dissolve in the heat of your charm
But what will you do when
You run it through and
You can’t get me back on the farm”

Don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend! We don’t do that here, which is actually more annoying, because everything on television shifts to one hour later in the day (except the nightly network shows). But you should remember!

40 Comments

love Vitology, haven’t heard that song in forever.

Man, I don’t think it’s a stretch to call “Supper’s Ready” the greatest song in progressive rock history. Just a perfect synthesis of everything that makes the genre unique and wonderful.

I’m bummed about Young Allies, and you bring up a good point about the characters, because that’s one thing I don’t really care about for the most part, and with that in mind McKeever’s message at the end doesn’t really help me, no matter how much it tries to soothe the blow. It’s like, “I don’t really care that Spider-Girl is going to be integrated into the Marvel Universe. I don’t really want to read a Spider-Girl book. I wanted to read a Young Allies book. That’s why I bought it!”

Good luck and Godspeed to McKeever-he’s a very good writer and I look forward to whatever he works on next.

The Coolest Dad

November 5, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Booooooo! You should have got Invincible #75!

Hardly anyone voted for it, sir, and I will get it eventually – I get Invincible in trade (although if enough people had voted for it, I would have bought it).

Bendis’ Alias makes it explicitly clear that Jessica wasn’t physically raped; the Purple Man made her beg for him and watch as he did horrible things to others, but he never actually forced her to have sex with him.

It’s still horrible and non-consensual and invasive, but it wasn’t physical rape.

agree with you on the Jessica Jones Purple man issue. I also don’t think Quicksilver/FInesse are doing anything personally. But what really bothered me is that Hank Pym thinks it’s perfectly legit to eavesdrop on Reptil and Jessica Jones conversation, WTF is up with that? I don’t know Jessica Jones profession(I thought reporter) but Reptil was introduced to her as basically she’s a counselor, what about privacy? Hank Pym has crossed a line again in my opinion.

I do not see what the fuss was about Superboy, I mean after reading my issues this week, I figure Taskmaster, or even Avengers vs Pet Avengers would have been better recommendations. (of course Captain America Man out of Time was a good retelling of an origin issue) Superboy was nothing interesting, good artwork,decent basic comic but nothing to write home about.

I think Batman and Robin was one of Morrisons finest issues yet, and as far as his conclusions are concerned this beat pretty much everything he’s done in the past five years.

In regards to Young Allies and the review there, I have to say that I don’t subscribe a hundred percent to “follow the writer”, but I have my reasons for this. Some writers, I will; Grant Morrison can write whatever the hell he wants and there’s a very good chance I’ll read it. But for most everything else, the creative team is just one factor; I generally have three or four criterion that factor into whether I want anything to do with a book, including creative team, concept and reception (since I’m a trade waiter). If about two of the three don’t seem right, the thirds going to have to work extra hard to get my attention.

For me, the base concept plays just as important a role. If I do not like the concept, I’m probably not going to read your book. They could get Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons to write it and I still would not go within a mile of a book that contains the words “Onslaught”, for example, so no offense to him, but a guy like Sean McKeever doesn’t stand a chance. Young Allies probably won’t get the time of day come trade time either, as it didn’t really catch my interest; the concept sounds okay, but coupled with the fact that I’ve had good and bad experiences with Sean McKeevers work and you’ve got something I’m probably not going to take a long look at.

Unknown Soldier…I will miss you.

You’re putting me in a tough spot with Generation Hope, Greg! I’ve read dozens of good comics based on your recommendations but on this case I’m just not sure.

I’m confidant that Gillen will do a good job, but it being an X-book I worry about the inevitable shitty cross-overs that are sure to follow. Also, I haven’t read an X-book in ages so I have no idea what’s up with Hope (I know there are 8 pages of recap, but still).

Uh … the last Warlord series was pretty good, but sadly canceled due to low sales. Something you comment on about on here for other series…

I’m sure more then just “Mike Grell and his relations” read it… Just as more then Sean McKeever and his relations read Young Allies, myself, and you included.

Veidt

Actually, Jessica Jones makes a point when telling the story of her captivity with the Purple Man that he never made her have intercorse with him. He made her plead for it, made her watch him go at it with other women, made her want it so much, but never let her consumate as torture. He obviously was having way more fun hurting her mentaly through denial. My theory is that he hated superheroes so much he couldn’t give her any sort of satisfaction or pleasure, regardless of how much he wanted her physically.

Generation Hope looks like an interesting Generation X anologue. Interested to read it if it gets collected.

Veidt, here on Earth we have these things called “jokes”. Oftentimes, a situation will be exaggerated to a humorous degree in order to achieve such a joke.

Man. I’m so out of synch with everyone this week. :(

CBR gives DV8 a 2.5 rating and it was my favorite my book of the week other than B&R. They give Superboy 5 stars and Generation Hope 4.5, and my man Greg here gives both of them pretty solid thumbs up and based on these two issues I probably won’t buy either again despite Superboy having completely sweet cover art and Hope being written by a guy I like and whose writing I’ve liked very much in the past.

You mention Gillen’s writing was a bit heavy handed here and I would have to say…A LITTLE? It was like swimming through overwritten prose. That said, I like the dude and loved S.W.O.R.D, plus maybe Rogue’s going to be in it regularly (hard to tell)…so I’m torn.

Anyway, either I drank the kool-aid on my own or everyone else did and I forgot cause I’m out of synch…and it feels weird.

You make some good points Greg contrasting Young Allies and Avengers Academy…but I don’t know that I can fully get on board because I’ve been reading both since issue #1 and while AA has some problems, in general I’ve liked it and thought it was solid, while Young Allies has just never worked for me…at all. I think mostly for me that’s a writing issue as I like the art in both books. Another interesting thing to think about is that in AA the main characters, though tied to The Avengers, are pretty much new, while in Young Allies, though less tied to a superstar team, are mostly characters that are well-established already. It’s interesting regardless and though Young Allies didn’t work for me, it’s a shame they’ve pulled it. I always feel like 6 issues (and of course it was decided much earlier than that which only makes thing worse) is too early to call it on something like this. But what do I know…clearly nothing…especially this week apparently.

Though Secret Six has long been one of my favorite books, nothing works for me about this latest arc and the art is becoming unbearable for me. What the hell is the point of them fighting and then stopping because “nobody is supposed to die” and then ultimately pairing off on opposite sides to do it all again? So frustrating and pointless.

You and I don’t agree on what the problem is with Scarlet, but we can both agree that it’s not working. This issue was decidedly not good.

Gotta agree with Christopher and monstermike – I’m pretty sure though Jessica Jones was certainly violated and tortured, she was never technically raped.

Regardless of my depressing comments (sorry!)…great post as always, I’m always anxiously looking for your What I Bought column to see what you thought and where we agreed and disagreed, always interesting.

Christopher: I was talking about the original Alias series – Jessica makes the point in this issue that the Purple Man never raped her, but I couldn’t remember the original series. I bow to everyone’s greater knowledge! It was still icky.

Dude: I fear the first crossover with the other X-books, too! Let us hope it’s not too annoying and comes after the book has already been established rather than to save it from cancellation.

Kelly: Well, I’m looking forward to the DV8 trade, mostly based on your love of it. So there’s that! And I really hope that Gillen was just doing that because it was a first issue. He didn’t do it a lot in S.W.O.R.D., so maybe he thought he had to here to get people up to speed. It will be annoying if it continues.

I still don’t mind Calafiore’s art, but this arc has been a bit of mess, except the Waller parts. It feels like they’re out of their comfort zone with the sword-and-sorcery stuff of Skartaris, so I’ll be glad when they get out of there. Still, Bane on a dinosaur and Blake dressed as the Warlord is keen.

I know what you mean with regard to Avengers Academy and Young Allies – my point was that even if you like one more than the other, they are quite similar. It’s not like Avengers Academy was SOOOOO much better than Young Allies (if you feel that way). You can say it never worked for you, and that’s cool – it’s kind of how I feel about Superboy – but you don’t sound like you thought Young Allies was a piece of crap while Avengers Academy was Watchmen-esque.

Hey, you know I love writing these. And speaking of writing – shouldn’t you be writing, young lady?

The Magnolia soundtrack is great and that’s a great Aimee Mann song from it.

@Greg

SIGH. You’re right.

:shuffles back to her sad little word document and continues writing:

Huh. Just realized that Catman’s scars are missing in that panel.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Jesus Greg, not even trying to hide the DC hate this time?

Nah, just kidding – though Carlton is my drop of choice, Toohey’s is a good fall back though.
Remember kids, no one in Australia actually drinks Fosters – don’t believe the hype.

I reckon you got the wrong panel for B&R #16 though – I mean, there were so many cool panels I’m sure everyone could have a different favourite – for me it was the panel of Professor Pyg being swamped by his dolls yelling ‘I’m not wearing protection’.
I couldn’t stop staring at that one when I first saw it – so disturbing.

I’m not saying Gallo is better than Quitely or that Quitely is better than Gallo (I prefer Quitely, but I know he has his detractors) or even that their styles are similar, but the vibe of the book – the brightness of it, the almost airbrushed quality, the precision of the line work – reminds me vaguely of ASS.

Quietly is better than Gallo, but Gallo is one to watch.
His line work is pleasing to the eye, and I’m surprised you didn’t mention that he is playing with page layouts and trying new things.
That close up of the grain dos look like a yellow sperm though, which made me chuckle, and I then had trouble keeping a straight face when lots of them were used to beat the parasite.

In the DC book, Conner is entrenched in Smallville with Ma and Pa Kent, he fights an old villain, and it feels like it’s just a superhero book that will feature Connor simply defeating villains. It does not feel like there’s any forward progression.

This is where we disagree, and I’m confused.
It’s written by Jeff Lemire – whom you like.
What would have made you think going in that it would be fast paced and moving forwards?
That’s not what he does – he does slow paced rural stories, and monster of the month is the perfect vehicle for him to do the stories he’s great at inside the superhero genre.

As for not moving forwards – Simon has figured out he’s Superboy, his other friend is Lex’s niece, and something is going with the Phantom Stranger – none of which feels to me like it’s spinning the wheels.
Throw in that we got a complete action story with Parasite in, and a cliffhanger leading to the next story – I thought it did great for one issue.
That said, I haven’t read Generation Hope.

As for Marvel C-list books being more interesting, there’s truth to that I guess – with the exception of Cap, I won’t read any of their top books.
Thing is, they get canceled with alarming regularity.

And let’s look at the “coming soon” page at the back of Superboy.

And again, we had totally different reactions to that page!
I thought they all looked great, but not because they were comfort food – but because all of them made me wonder how we’d get there – the race to me just meant there’d be a team-up with Bart, and maybe there’d be an actual race.
Those Titans just made me wonder who they were, and I’m intrigued by Conner meeting up with young Clark.

I thought it was as good as the coming soon in B&R #1!

Marvel, despite being a conservative corporate entity, manages to keep the feeling that their characters grow and change. DC keeps replacing their new characters with the originals from the Silver Age.

My issue with Marvel is, I honestly feel like I’ve already seen every good idea done with their characters.
After the bullshit treatment of Morrison’s ideas for New X-Men, totally wiped away, and watching from a distance what they did to Spider-Man, there’s just no change left that I can believe in, or even think is a good idea.
Not too mention that every new creator comes on and starts changing, every time – as I said, I feel I’ve seen the GOOD ideas done.
They’ve tainted the well.

DC might revert to silver age more often, but I find that I can pick up a story and I know who the character is, and what’s going on.

Kelly:

CBR gives DV8 a 2.5 rating and it was my favorite my book of the week other than B&R.

If you look and compare starred reviews on CBR reviews, CBR looks ridiuclous.
They really need to set a standard that the reviewers stick to with them, or abandon it.

Brightest Day #12 got a 4.5 – and the reviewer basically says it’s because it’s the best issue of that series, not a great issue in and of itself – and yet B&R #16 only got 4.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 5, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Although Greg, you don’t read the best DC C-list books – the one’s written by Paul Cornell!
Check out Action Comics and Knight & Squire – it’s all the goodness he gave us in Capt Britain, but without cancellation in sight!

So Generation Hope is an ongoing series, then? For some reason I assumed it was a limited series. I read a few pages that were in the newest Uncanny, but it didn’t look that great. I might get it, but I’m not so sure, since I’m short on money and two things I absolutely definitely want are also out this week– Avengers Academy and Young Allies. Maybe I’ll by Hope next time if it’s still there.

I really don’t want Young Allies to end. I love it, even though Academy is probably slightly better. Why can’t they give these series at least a year? They should at least allow more time for word of mouth to circulate. Sometimes people just don’t know how good something is until it’s too late.
I’m wondering if maybe they should go back to the old practice of making the less popular series bi-monthly. They could spend the same amount of money on the first six issues or so, but it would have more time to find an audience.

About ‘possible statutory rape’ as you call it, between Finesse and Quicksilver. In most states the legal age is actually sixteen, so she probably is legal, although some states set certain conditions in addition to age. (In my state, for instance, a sixteen-year-old girl is legal only if she’s not a virgin. Don’t ask me how they’re supposed to prove that in court.)

So did you vote for or against the medical marijuana? That’s the only referendum I know about in Arizona. We had some stupid ones in Oklahoma. We had an initiative to ban the use of Sharia law, despite the fact that nobody was ever trying to impose it here. As far as I can figure, the initiative was solely to express bigotry against Muslims. So I voted against it, even though I’m not in favour of Sharia law. (It passed overwhelmingly, though.)

Robert: Hey, I didn’t notice that. Weird. He has them in other parts of the book.

FGJ: I fear that Lemire’s strengths will be overwhelmed by a need to do big superhero stuff. Maybe they won’t be. I certainly hope not!

And I did point out that my biases are irrational – that’s why they’re biases! I certainly get what you’re saying, but I disagree. I’ll see how I feel after this initial arc – maybe it will be neat enough that I’ll want to continue.

As for Cornell’s stuff – I’m definitely trade-waiting on Knight and Squire (as I’m trying to do with all Big Two mini-series these days), and I’m still reading opinions about Action, but so far, it seems fairly positive. So I’ll probably get the trade of that, too.

Mary: I often wonder if there are better ways to introduce new series. No one has found them, though, so we’re kind of stuck with what we have.

The age of consent in New York (which is where I assume the Avengers Academy is sort-of based, even though it’s in “Infinite Avengers Mansion”) is 17, so I assume Finesse is older than that.

I voted against the medical marijuana proposition, mostly because I’m wary of the impetus behind it. I think the U. S. should legalize marijuana, and state propositions for “medical” marijuana do more harm than good, I think (Oregon legalized it while I lived there and has had no problems with it, as far as I know, but Oregon is a lot different than Arizona), especially with all the stereotypes. It was a poorly worded proposition and a poorly run campaign, and I think proponents of it would do better lobbying the government to legalize it outright. Of course, I voted against every single proposition, even ones I sort-of agree with (like that one), because I’m naturally leery of propositions. The one you cite (which I just read about today) is a good example.

Secret Six was even more awesome than usual because of the Shark’s dialogue. Hilarious stuff.

I’d beware the consequences of trade waiting on action comics. The main story is pretty good but the Jimmy Olsen backup is downright hilariously awesome (and looks cool).

You’re right in terms of propositions in general being dumb. Sadly, my state voted to amend the constitution to provide for a referendum recall of governors. The overwhelmingly positive vote was no doubt fueled by our last
Governor, Blagojevich. The stupid this is that we got rid of him WITHOUT RECALL!!!

I’m not sure why the success of a campaign should have anything with your decision on a specific proposition, though, to an informed individual like yourself.

Regarding CBR’s reviews – they’re inconsistent because they’re written by different people with different standards. It’s not like there’s a consistent “CBR Reviewer.”

Chad’s reviews and his ratings are consistent, they are just going to clash with other fellows. So you really cannot compare, say, Tim Callahan’s 4-star review of Batman and Robin #16 to Doug Zawisza’s 4 and a half star review of Brightest Day #12. They both mean two very different things.

ArrestThisMan: I saw only a little campaigning for the proposition, but it seemed like they weren’t addressing any concerns people had about marijuana, even though we live in a big smuggling state. I’m a big believer in unintended consequences, and the people behind the proposition didn’t seem to think of any. That’s a reason I tend to vote against propositions in general – you can get so many bad things out of what appears like a good idea. Plus, I think we could use a little less direct democracy – as Mary’s Oklahoma referendum makes clear, “the people” don’t always vote with their heads (and yes, I include myself in this category – I definitely voted with my heart when I voted against our governor).

I thought you were picking up Strange Tales this week? If you didn’t you really missed out.

I never liked Incommunicado. It’s too circus-y. Rest of that album is good though.

Julian: My store sold out before I got there. They didn’t order many, and I didn’t pre-order it, so I didn’t have one reserved. I should get it next week or the week after, though.

Matthew: I like Incommunicado, but I do agree it’s “circus-y.” The rest of the album is better, but I wonder if the gang was having some desire to do more pop songs and Incommunicado was the result. It’s not surprising that Fish went on to be more poppy, as that’s what he wanted to do, while Marillion retreated from that after the disaster that is Holidays in Eden.

Oh and by the way, Greg, PA Kent is dead. Superboy and Ma Kent are the only two living in the farm house in smallville. Just FYI when you start to realize he’s not there.

Thanks, sir. I had forgotten about Jonathan’s fate, especially because I don’t often read Superman comics.

But, but Superman CRIED about it, and he, like, never does that! How did you miss it!

Ahem.

The one proposition I voted on had so many clauses in the phrasing, I’m not even sure what I voted for. I would introduce a proposition that all propositions have to be phrased in plain english and not legalese.

Does the wife question why you are looking up ages of consent (or know them off the top of your head)?

The entire “Dick Grayson-as-solo-Batman” era has been forgettable except for some clever characterization

I’d say the era has been forgettable largely because of its near-total lack of characterization. What could have been a nifty series about a softer Batman and a harder Robin and their relationship (Dick feeling self-conscious about slipping into his mentor’s shoes, Damian not feeling self-conscious about anything at all, ever, Dick being more of a detective than a dark shadowy creature of the night, Damian being an ass-kicker at heart) pretty much did everything in its power to avoid any actual character-based drama.

Oh, for a writer who writes strong characters to have written this series. Ed Brubaker, for instance. Or Mark Waid.

But characterization has never been Morrison’s long suit, and he seems to be getting worse on that score as the years roll on.

Travis: Well, I did have to look it up for that comment, so I don’t think she has anything to worry about!

Michael: I would argue that in Morrison’s Batman and Robin, there’s been a little bit of characterization, as you do (“near-total lack” doesn’t mean TOTAL lack, right?). There hasn’t been enough of it, true, and I wish there had been more, but there was some! :)

funkygreenjerusalem

November 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I fear that Lemire’s strengths will be overwhelmed by a need to do big superhero stuff. Maybe they won’t be. I certainly hope not!

This felt like a great blend to me.

If you read his ‘Atom Special’ you’ll know this is a huge leap forward from that – that was a book with nothing in it that felt Lemire, and nothing in it that felt super-hero-ey.

I think once he’s done with set up, Superboy should fall into a good mix of superhero action and Lemire’s character based style.

Especially if the artist can last more than two issues sequentially.
(Is it just me, or does anyone else find it weird that whenever DC does a bio for Andy Clarke, they list REBELS, a book he last two issues on?)

And I did point out that my biases are irrational – that’s why they’re biases! I certainly get what you’re saying, but I disagree. I’ll see how I feel after this initial arc – maybe it will be neat enough that I’ll want to continue.

I hope so to!
If this does well, it might convince them to keep Sweet Tooth chugging along – and that would be a good thing.

As for Cornell’s stuff – I’m definitely trade-waiting on Knight and Squire (as I’m trying to do with all Big Two mini-series these days), and I’m still reading opinions about Action, but so far, it seems fairly positive. So I’ll probably get the trade of that, too.

I think Cornell has become my favourite superhero writer.
Captain Britian was the best superhero team this side of Agents Of Atlas and The Order, Action has upped the stakes every issue with it’s crazy combination’s of characters, and Knight & Squire is a bizarre mix of old school superheroes and all-out humour – It makes JLI and Damage Control seem grim and gritty.
I’m more excited about him filling in on B&R than I am about seeing Tomasi and Gleason take over.

Heck, I read his Dark X-Men mini on the weekend, and for a story set in the middle of Dark Reign, and with a plot concerning the return of X-Man, Nate Grey, it was pretty darn entertaining.

But characterization has never been Morrison’s long suit, and he seems to be getting worse on that score as the years roll on.

He doesn’t spend pages and pages on it, preferring a more compressed form of story telling, but if you go back and re-read from start to finish, you’ll see both Dick and Damian grow into their roles – Damian especially has a distinct shift almost every storyline, as he grows into wanting to the right thing – and also the relationship between the two.
Heck, even Damian and Alfred grow into a friendship, though it happens almost exclusively off panel – after shared crises, their dialouge interactions take on a different tone, as does the amount they care about each others fates.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Regarding CBR’s reviews – they’re inconsistent because they’re written by different people with different standards. It’s not like there’s a consistent “CBR Reviewer.”

Chad’s reviews and his ratings are consistent, they are just going to clash with other fellows. So you really cannot compare, say, Tim Callahan’s 4-star review of Batman and Robin #16 to Doug Zawisza’s 4 and a half star review of Brightest Day #12. They both mean two very different things.

If they are going to use the same measuring system across the board, stars, then you don’t think it makes more sense to have a standard by which to use them?

There is an editor across them all – the opinions can vary, but surely the measuring system they use could be more standardized – I enjoyed BD #12, but marking it half a point off of being a perfect comic?
There’s nothing even in the review to suggest it’s that good.

Different reviewers will think different things, but if there’s going to be a star measuring system, there should be standards for how it’s used.

I just haveta say Greg, I hope to god you at least get the trade for Taskmaster. You’re gonna absolutely love that series. Book of the week, easy.

Well said, Michael Rawdon.

That GH panel was awesome, but my favorite panel was definitely the Akira homage at the end.

I’d say the era has been forgettable largely because of its near-total lack of characterization. What could have been a nifty series about a softer Batman and a harder Robin and their relationship (Dick feeling self-conscious about slipping into his mentor’s shoes, Damian not feeling self-conscious about anything at all, ever, Dick being more of a detective than a dark shadowy creature of the night, Damian being an ass-kicker at heart) pretty much did everything in its power to avoid any actual character-based drama.

Although I could see your point, I’d rather have very little characterization than yet another writer doing the whole thing with Dick Grayson having an inferiority complex to Batman and feeling he can never measure up shtick. If I had to choose between little characterization or more of that counterproductive wimpy characterization, I’ll choose very little characterization.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I’d rather have very little characterization than yet another writer doing the whole thing with Dick Grayson having an inferiority complex to Batman and feeling he can never measure up shtick.

We agree!

Dick Grayson should be diving out planes into exploding cities with a massive grin on his face.

Not having a cry in an alley because his foster father in the leather suit didn’t hug him enough.

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