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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 23 January 2013

And now let us believe in the long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been. (Rainier Maria Rilke)

World's worst amusement park ride? Misdirection! Jackal in a space suit! That's a lot of rounds, yo Damn Made you look! You don't use 'shambling' with regard to actual people too much, but that's what Dex looks like she's doing Benday dots! Could this be the first toy from this comic? Ultra-mod! I wouldn't trust that chicken Conan ANGRY! It's about time! That's still pretty ridiculous

Batwoman #16 (“World’s Finest Part Four: Serpent’s Homeland”) by J. H. Williams III (writer/artist), W. Haden Blackman (writer), Dave Stewart (colorist), Todd Klein (letterer), Rickey Purdin (assistant editor), Harvey Richards (associate editor), and Mike Marts (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC.

We’ve reached the penultimate chapter of Williams and Blackman’s massive 17-issue epic, and DC nicely allowed Williams to go absolutely nuts with the art on this issue. There’s Page 1, then 3 double-page spreads, then two pages laid out in a fairly standard way, then 5 double-page spreads (the last one is a bit more conventional, but still) and then the final page of the issue. So 16 of the issue’s 20 pages are double-page spreads (and DC stuck all the ads at the end, which they should do for all their comics), and they’re packed with beautiful artwork and amazing details and impressive layouts and even interesting lettering. It is, of course, a giant fight comic, but Williams and Blackman still manage to get some nice character details about the various people involved in the fighting, plus a brief about the ultimate villain, Ceto, whom Medusa is trying to bring out of the ocean to destroy Gotham. As with most superhero comics, it strains credulity a bit that no other superheroes notice that one of the country’s great cities is being destroyed, but that’s the way it is, isn’t it?

I know that some people have dropped this because, let’s face it, 17 issues is a long time to follow a story, and some people were buying it just for the artwork and couldn’t get on board with Amy Reeder or Trevor McCarthy, but I’m really curious about the sales of this book. Without making a big deal about it (like announcing that your comic is going to star only females!), this book is completely dominated by women. There’s Kate, of course, but there’s Maggie, Wonder Woman, Cameron Chase, and Bette, while the villains are females too. Sure, Director Bones and that dude with the hook hand show up in this issue, but they’re sideshows. Williams and Blackman manage to get a bit of romantic longing into the book, as Kate originally heads over to Maggie, who tells her to take off and help others (of course, because Maggie doesn’t know about Kate’s secret). They also check in on Chase, who’s freaking out but still fighting, and even Medusa, who explains why she’s trying to raise Ceto, which doesn’t make it right but at least provides some depth to her backstory. One of the problems with putting females in superhero books is that there were so few of them that they had to be the exemplar for every woman, and in recent years, that’s begun to change. All of these women are different characters with different motivations, and the fact that they’re women is important but not the only thing about them. The idea of motherhood, for instance, is a crucial part of this entire story arc, so Williams and Blackman bring that in, but there’s a lot of other things going on, too. I’ve written before that Williams and Blackman have gotten better with the writing aspect of this book as it’s gone along, and it’s nice to see that they’re pulling things together well as we reach the end.

I’m still not sure if I’m going to keep buying the book past issue #17 – I don’t know if Williams is going to be back on art after he finishes with Sandman – but the finale of this arc seems like it’s going to be something, so we’ll have to see after that, don’t we?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Well, that's freaky

This is the final page of the issue, but I hope you don’t think that Medusa wouldn’t succeed in summoning Ceto, do you? So many of the others are double-page spreads, and they’d have be shrunk to fit in this post, but I do like this page a lot. Using Medusa as a frame for the scene is smart, and Williams shifts from her to the tentacled monster to give the impression that Ceto and Medusa are one, not just mother and daughter. It’s a nicely balanced page, too, as Medusa’s head, Batwoman, Ceto, and Medusa-inside-the-frame form a nice diamond, while Williams turns the symbolism on its head, as it appears Ceto, Medusa’s mother, is rising into her womb instead of the other way around, which makes sense as Medusa is “giving birth” to her mother, if we consider resurrecting her as a “rebirth.” Notice that Williams seems to make Ceto look “3-D” – the greens and reds are echoes of each other – and I wonder if that’s to make it appear as if she’s from a different reality than ours. We’ll see next issue, won’t we?

Chew #31 (“Bad Apples Part 1 of 5″) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

So last issue, I mentioned that something awful happened. I still won’t spoil it, but you see from this cover that someone is being buried. Oh dear. That can’t be good.

But let’s move on. Tony has been reinstated to the FDA, but we’re not sure why. But it does lead to a new case, which has all the hallmarks of a classic Chew case – something horrible is happening to people (see below) and it has to do with food, and Tony and Colby track down what’s going on, and it turns out it’s connected to one of the larger plotlines that has been weaving through the book. In other words, Layman decides to calm down a bit after the intensity of the previous two arcs and regroup – he gives us some of the fallout from issue #30 in the first few pages, and it’s clear that Tony is slightly more … focused in this issue, but it also seems that Layman wanted to show us a good old-fashioned case, too. That’s fine, though – one of the great things about Chew is that it can go from the absurd to the deadly serious very quickly, and it always feels tonally “correct.” It’s not surprising that Tony is a bit more focused in this issue, so even the absurdity of the case can’t quite wipe the past away. It’s a nice balance.

Guillory does his usual superb job with the art – the first few pages are necessarily muted, and he does a marvelous job with the facial expressions of the characters, which is always crucial in this comic but particularly so in this issue. The absurd part of the case is wonderful, and we also get the “vision” artwork when Tony is reading something, which is also very cool. Plus, there’s always the Easter eggs, which are fun.

We’re into the second half of the run, and I’m sure there will be plenty of consequences for things that Layman has been setting up for three years. I can’t wait!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

You definitely don't want to feed them!

Guillory and Layman use the “Viking” opera cliché, but that’s okay because it’s so goofy. Meanwhile, Guillory nails the convention experience, although he makes Layman far more attractive than he really is. Although Layman probably would act that way if someone burst into flames right in front of him – he’s kind of a bastard like that.

Dark Horse Presents #20. “The Victories: Babalon Working Chapter 1″ by Michael Avon Oeming (writer/artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Aaron Walker (letterer); “Alabaster: Boxcar Tales Chapter 3″ by Caitlín R. Kiernan (writer), Steve Lieber (artist/letterer), and Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist); “Journeyman Chapter 1″ by Geoffrey Thorne (writer) and Todd Harris (artist); “Gamma Chapter 3″ by Ulises Farina (writer/artist/letterer) and Erick Freitas (writer); “The White Suits Chapter 3″ by Frank J. Barbiere (writer/letterer) and Toby Cypress (artist); “Station to Station Chapter 2″ by Gabriel Hardman (writer/artist/letterer) and Corinna Bechko (writer); “Captain Midnight Chapter 3″ by Joshua Williamson (writer), Pere Pérez (artist), Ego (colorist), and Nate Piekos (letterer); “Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde Chapter 3″ by Peter Hogan (writer) and Steve Parkhouse (artist/letterer); “X: The Pigs Part Two: Pointy Sticks”) by Duane Swierczynski (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Richard Starkings (letterer); “Finder: Third World Chapter 17″ by Carla Speed McNeil (writer/artist/letterer), Jenn Manley Lee (colorist), and Bill Mudron (colorist). $7.99, 80 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not sure if I like what Dark Horse is doing with this comic, even though the quality is always high. They seem to switch too easily between running a serial in this title and then transferring it to a regular book or vice versa, far more often than they did when they first launched the book. I mean, Howard Chaykin’s story and Neal Adams’s story, whatever you thought of their quality, ran entirely in DHP. Some serials are still doing that – McNeil’s “Finder” story keeps trucking along, showing up in 17 of the 20 issues so far, and it’s quite good – but they seem to be doing shorter stories that they then package as a “zero” issue before the inevitable launch of a mini-series, which is kind of annoying. Then, occasionally, something that began as a mini-series shows up in DHP, and that’s also annoying. I didn’t buy Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories, because it sounded like just another superhero book, but now here it is in DHP. I don’t care all that much – it’s not a bad little story, and it’s obvious you don’t need to read the mini-series to know what’s going on, but I wonder why Dark Horse is doing it. I mean, if you’re already picking something up by Dark Horse (that’s not a strictly licensed book), you’re probably paying a bit more attention to who’s writing and drawing the story, so it’s not like you’re going to get DHP only because Oeming’s superhero story continues here, is it? I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s still worth pointing out: in this issue, we get The Victories, which began in a separate mini-series; Alabaster, which began in DHP, went off a was a mini-series, and now is back; and Resident Alien, which is the same as Alabaster. Meanwhile, Gamma promises that it’s “The End For Now,” the Captain Midnight story continues in a free comic on FCBD (which is fine, of course, as it’s free, but still); and I can’t imagine that Dark Horse is prepping some of the others, like X, for a new mini-series or series. Again, that’s fine, especially if it helps them sell more books, but I get bugged by the switching back and forth – as I mentioned, I haven’t gotten Resident Alien in trade yet, and now there’s a sequel back in DHP. If they move it out of the anthology into mini-series, that’s cool – but don’t bring it back, man!

Anyway, they’re all pretty good stories, which isn’t surprising. It’s always nice to see Cypress’s chaotic artwork, and for me, “Journeyman” is the most interesting, because I’ve been waiting for Thorne and Harris to follow up their excellent Prodigal: Egg of First Light mini-series from a few years ago. Parkhouse’s art looks … better, which is odd because he’s a good artist and he’s been doing this for a long time, so why would it suddenly look better? I can’t explain it – it looks a bit more detailed, and the colors look better. Maybe he figured something out in the coloring process. And “Finder” moves along, with McNeil’s oddball science fiction sensibilities continuing to make it a wonderfully strange journey. So, yeah. A good comic. Yet I still find something to complain about!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Damned lubbers!

This is from “Journeyman,” and let’s just ignore the narration for now – we meet the person who’s talking on the last page of the story, but we still don’t know much about what’s going on. Harris does a nice job with the scene – we get close-ups of the young lady and then the monster, a wide shot of the situation, and then the final panel that shrinks the woman and makes the monster larger to emphasize the threat but also clearly shows the weapon that the woman is throwing. The coloring is interesting, too – as you might recall, I’m a fan of different kinds of coloring, so the way Harris emphasizes the monster while turning the woman gray is fascinating – the monster is primal, while she’s part of the bland world. The yellow and red in Panel 2 are in nice opposition, too. The chapter is basically a chase, and Harris does a good job keeping it exciting.

Deadpool #4 (“The Quick and the Dead and the Really Dead”) by Brian Posehn (writer), Gerry Duggan (writer), Tony Moore (artist), Val Staples (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer), and Jordan D. White (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel.

It’s interesting that for some of its line (not as much now that Marvel NOW! has begun, it’s true, but still), Marvel tries to ship twice a month, yet they gave Deadpool some extra time between issues #3 and 4, presumably because Tony Moore is slow. I don’t know how much lead time he had, but obviously it wasn’t enough. Still, if he can draw issues #5 and 6 in a reasonable amount of time, it will be a nice arc, and Mike Hawthorne, who’s coming onto the book next, will have some more time to get ahead! Everybody wins!

Anyway, Deadpool continues to be a ridiculously insane book, an absolute pleasure to read even though it’s about as deep as a kiddie pool. I actually had to restrain myself from getting angry at Posehn and Duggan for treating James Polk, a very good (if pro-slavery) president, with such disdain, before I remembered that it’s freakin’ Deadpool. So on Page 1, we get a Simpsons joke (a rather clever and fairly subtle one), and then we get the people who actually support the Zombie Presidents, and then we get a suicide joke (because it’s Deadpool!), and then Posehn, Duggan, and Moore slaughter some random characters just for fun, and somehow William Howard Taft flies in in his bathtub. How does that work? And Moore homages the cover of Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, because of course he does. It’s hilarious, it’s vulgar, it’s insulting to Canadians, and it’s gory. Just what you want from your comics!

There’s a reason why Marvel tends to be better than DC right now, and Deadpool is an example of it. I can’t even imagine DC publishing something like this right now – they have in the past, sure (Lobo, anyone?), but right now, DC seems locked into a rigid form for their comics, with no room for craziness or individuality. It’s too bad. As I’ve been writing, I have no idea if Posehn and Duggan can sustain this kind of craziness (Hawthorne is a pretty good choice to follow Moore, though), but right now, this is a wonderful comic book.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Hadouken?

Moore shows why he’s such a good artist, especially of action scenes, which aren’t that easy. There’s a nice fluidity to this page, which makes it easy to zip through. Unlike a lot of DC comics, the gore is more hilarious than disturbing – it’s a fine line, of course, but Moore and the writers fall on the “good” side of it. Part of the humor of the book comes from the fact that the “regular” folk living in the Marvel U. take it all in stride – the final panel on the page is hilarious because the tour guide just eases right into talking about the dead presidents raining down on the group.

Hellblazer #299 (“Death and Cigarettes Part Two: Post Mortem”) by Peter Milligan (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (layouter), Stefano Landini (finisher), Brian Buccellato (colorist), Sal Cipriano (letterer), Gregory Lockard (assistant editor), and Shelly Bond (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

I’m not going to spoil the ending of this comic, but given that it’s the penultimate issue and John was killed last issue, perhaps you can figure it out. Prior to that, this is all Epiphany’s issue, as she’s given an opportunity to take revenge on John’s killer (see below), she contemplates suicide so she can join him, she sees a creepy demon that wants to claim John, she gets help from a friend of John’s to fight off said demon (a friend who does not like Epiphany in the least), she talks to John’s nephew, whose life has been quickly ruined now that he knows he’s a Constantine (man, Milligan is ruthless there), and she attends the funeral. As I love Epiphany and think it’s sad that she’ll be ceasing to exist after next issue, I appreciated this portrait of her, because it just re-affirms her awesomeness. I was a bit disappointed what she did on Page 16 (come on, Milligan, not that!), but other than that, this is a good issue to set up the final one. I don’t know how Milligan will send the series out, but I’m looking forward to it.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Damn, Epiphany

I’ve tried to give Camuncoli and Landini their due on this book, but maybe I haven’t been as much as I should. They kill it on this page, though – look at the sad rage on Epiphany’s face as she shoots the dude, then the vacant look in her eyes when Terry asks her if she’s better. Finally, the last panel shows the toll John’s death has taken on her. It’s a wonderful page just for that, and that first panel is tremendous.

Mind Mgmt #7 (“The Futurist Chapter 1″) by Matt Kindt (writer/artist/letterer), Ian Tucker (assistant editor), and Brendan Wright (editor). $3.99, 24 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Kindt begins his second arc on Mind Mgmt, and for as good as the first arc was, this might be the best issue so far. Meru is back where she started, but something is bugging her. She gets mail – on a Sunday – and that spurs her into action. She tracks the message she received to a guy named Brinks, and then the craziness starts all over again, as Henry Lyme shows up, rescues her from an assassin, and explains that someone is trying to reconstitute Mind Management. So that seems to be the focus of the series going forward.

Part of the goodness of the issue stems from Meru’s relentless pursuit of the truth and the way Kindt shows that it might even be part of a mental breakdown, but we’re not sure. At some point she gets a gun and she doesn’t know how. She’s also calmer and more focused than she was in the first arc – she’s obviously been through a traumatic event, and even if she doesn’t remember it, it’s changed her so that Lyme trusts her now. There’s a lot more – it seems – clever stuff in the artwork, from the way Kindt just draws the story to the images he sprinkles in throughout the issue. And the margin, which last arc was taken up with instructions for Mind Management agents, is now telling a story, while down at the bottom, we get instructions on creating an assassination letter. Plus, the main story ends with a surprisingly compelling line, which makes us wonder exactly who Meru really is. All in all, it’s a very good issue, building on the first arc but an intriguing story in its own right. I always like it when books improve as they move forward, and Mind Mgmt, which started pretty well, is getting better. That’s pretty swell.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Meru takes no shit!

I love the not-really-subliminal advertising in the first panel, as the world seems to have taken an interest in thwarting Meru as she seeks out Brinks. I also like how Kindt doesn’t make it too obvious that she’s a lot tougher than she was in the first arc, as she simply answers the receptionist’s question but the receptionist has no recourse to stop her. The first panel extends past the borders, so Kindt skips the story running up the side of the page, but we see at the bottom the instructions. It’s just an example of how immersive the book can be.

Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #5 (of 5) by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist/colorist), Rico Renzi (colorist), and James Lucas Jones (editor). $3.99, 30 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

The second volume of Stumptown comes to an end, and Rucka wraps it up pretty nicely while both hearkening back to the first volume and setting up a third volume. Handy, that. I figured it would be hard to top last issue’s car chase, and while this issue isn’t quite as exciting as that one, but he does a nice job showing how Dex puzzles out the mystery. Rucka writes in this issue that he’s not good at writing puzzles, and that for him, the journey a P.I. takes to figure something out is the interesting part, not the solution. Dex isn’t smarter than everyone around her, but she is dogged and thinks of things others might miss, and that’s how she figures this out. One of the reasons I like Stumptown is because Rucka doesn’t write Dex as some super-woman – she does her job, screws up at times, and doesn’t try to solve everything herself. She figures this mystery out but knows when to call in others to help. It might make the resolution of the mysteries not as compelling as some, but as Rucka points out, the fun of Stumptown is following along as she puts the pieces together, even if they don’t always fit. And then, just for fun, Rucka messes with her at the end. Man, that’s just mean.

Meanwhile, it’s colorist appreciation day on Twitter, apparently. I’m not really sure who, while reading comics in this day and age, doesn’t understand the importance of colorists, but there you have it. It’s important because of the way that Southworth and Renzi have been experimenting with the coloring process on this book. I’m still not in love with it, although I think it works a bit better in this issue than the previous ones, especially at the end when the “watercolors” – I can’t find the comment Southworth left on my Facebook page about the process, but it doesn’t involve actual watercolors – become more prominent and the computer effects fit well with the rest of the artwork. It’s still too “soft,” but in this issue, that doesn’t matter as much. One thing this process does is make the book look a bit more … sleazy, I suppose, which might not be the best word to use because it sounds bad. I don’t mean it that way, honestly – I think the coloring makes Portland look a bit more like a crappy place full of crappy people, which isn’t a bad thing when you’re writing detective fiction. It also makes the book look a bit more nostalgic – the earth tones seem to add to that more than they have in the past, and the “softness” of the colors helps create that feeling. While I can’t really love the new colors, I think I see what Southworth and Renzi are going for. I don’t know – I assume Southworth will be at ECCC and we can discuss it and he can punch me in the brain for being a Philistine.

I’m sure that there will be a giant hardcover of this story coming out soon – Oni did one for the first story – so if you missed it, you can pick it up then. It’s a pretty darned cool comic.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Why so mean?

Notice the dappled shadows on the bad dude’s face in Panels 1 and 2. The new coloring process does this quite well – he’s in the woods, so of course he’d have shadows on him, but the light isn’t very strong, so the shadows would be faded. Meanwhile, Southworth plunges the confrontation into blackness, which somehow adds to the tension. Why is that? Beats me, but it works.

Uncanny X-Force #1 (“Let it Bleed”) by Sam Humphries (writer), Ron Garney (penciler), Danny Miki (inker), Marte Garcia (colorist), Israel Gonzalez (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Jordan D. White (associate editor), and Nick Lowe (editor). $3.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Oh, look – there’s a new X-Force comic. I’ll get to that soon enough.

First, I want to talk about Storm’s haircut. She is, of course, rocking the mohawk again, and many people across yonder Internet have chimed in with “Yay, the mohawk is back! How awesome is that?” Well, it’s not awesome, and I’m going to explain why (you just knew I would, didn’t you?). Originally, Storm showed up with the mohawk in Uncanny X-Men #173 (1983) after a series of troubling events that cracked her “ice goddess” façade (including stabbing Callisto in the heart) and caused her to question herself far more than she ever had. When she went to Japan for Logan’s wedding, she met Yukio, the slightly crazed woman who dug Wolverine, and became friends with her. After a wild night in Tokyo, Storm showed up with the ‘hawk (which was intended as a joke, according to Paul Smith, who drew it). It was such an Eighties thing, and it symbolized that Claremont was making Storm grow up a bit – remember, the first time we saw her, she was naked and being worshiped as a goddess, and over the course of his work with her, Claremont turned her from that naïve girl to a tough leader. When she lost her powers a few issues later, it was even more of a change – suddenly she wasn’t even a “mutant” anymore, and her struggle toward maturation had alienated Kitty Pryde, her “little sister” on the team. Change was hard and occasionally traumatic, Claremont was saying, but it’s something everyone has to go through. Even though Ororo was a bit older (she was 25 in the mid-1970s, and presumably Claremont saw her as about the same age or a year or two older by 1983), she still hadn’t “grown up,” and the mohawk represented a rebellious phase that a lot of people go through when they grow up. It was cool, sure, but it was also representative of something else, and it worked really well.

So let’s flash-forward to 2013. Mainstream superhero comics are STEEPED in nostalgia – even the best ones look to the past more often than is probably healthy. The people who write comics these days grew up in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. I don’t know how old Sam Humphries is, but in pictures, he doesn’t look much older than 35, if that. So let’s presume that if he was reading comics when he was growing up, he was reading them in the middle of the Claremontian Golden Age, which means he probably thought the mohawk was motherfucking bad-ass. I’m assuming a lot, of course, but I don’t think I’m too far off. Garney is older – he was born in 1962 – but that means he was already 21 when Storm got the mohawk, and I assume he was already working on art then, and if he was into comics, I think it’s safe to say he knew about the haircut. I don’t know if it was Humphries or Garney who thought about bringing the mohawk back, but given the state of the comics culture these days, where the Cult of the Writer overwhelms all, I’m going to assume it’s Humphries. So, that’s a LOT of assumptions, I get it. What does it all mean?

Well, in this issue Storm just shows up with the mohawk. She only interacts with Psylocke, and Betsy doesn’t comment on it. There’s some omniscient narration that seems to imply that she’s devastated by the end of her marriage, but is that really it? Ororo did not have the mohawk in All-New X-Men #1, which occurred after Black Panther dumped her. I didn’t read very much about her marriage, but from what I can tell, Marvel pretty much ignored it, didn’t they? They tried to shoehorn in this great romance, but did anyone buy it? If the readers didn’t, I guess you could still argue that Storm was gutted by it, but that doesn’t “feel” right, does it? Anyway, say she’s upset by the end of her marriage. Okay. She wants to change her image. Would she really go back to a look she’s already done? Wouldn’t she think, “Well, I’ve already done the mohawk – what can I do now?” Doing something shocking the first time is shocking, but doing the same thing again is … well, conventional. Because nobody comments on the new haircut, we don’t know what anyone thinks of it, but she did know Betsy back when she had it the first time, so wouldn’t Betsy say something like “So, you’re going with the mohawk again? What’s the deal with that?”

The issue here is that Storm’s mohawk, which meant something once, has become just another “kewl” thing. It’s meaningless except to appeal to a nostalgic streak the cool people like to claim they don’t have but everyone possesses. I really, really hope that Humphries thought something more than “Shit, Storm looked bad-ass with that mohawk. Let’s bring that fucker back!” If he didn’t, then this is a disservice to Claremont and the readers, because it does nothing for the character. The fact that corporate IPs don’t have singular visions behind them anymore means that the characters can be wildly different from title to title, and while that’s not too big a deal, it does mean that when Storm does something like this, it’s not because Humphries has been building up to it and it’s a crucial move in her development as a character. Humphries hasn’t been writing Storm, so he’s cobbling together emotional beats from a bunch of other comics and hoping her haircut makes sense. Unfortunately, it only makes sense if you view it as a “kewl” move because Ororo looks awesome with the haircut. It doesn’t actually mean anything.

So what, right? Fuck you, old man, right? But here’s the thing: Do we read superhero comics just to see gorgeous people beat the shit out of each other? If so, then none of this matters. People are going to read Uncanny X-Force because they think Spiral is fucking cool and Psylocke is fucking cool and Storm’s mohawk is fucking cool. Maybe I’m completely off-base. I don’t read superhero comics just for that anymore, because I’ve seen it all before. I love the action, sure, but the best superhero comics I’ve ever read care as much about the characters as they do the action. Unfortunately, almost every superhero comic today cares more about looking cool than anything else. It’s too bad.

But what about this issue? Well, it’s fine, I guess. Garney is talented, certainly, and the artists – Garney, Miki, Garcia, and Gonzalez – make this book look nice and slick and professional. There are a couple of pages – Betsy’s flashback to the school, Puck’s explanation of what’s going on in Los Angeles – that are clever, but otherwise, it’s just a nice-looking comic. The story is perfectly fine – Betsy and Ororo go to L.A. to check out something weird that Puck alerted Logan about, and they find out it’s Spiral doing something nefarious – but while the dialogue is okay, only Puck actually sounds like Puck, and when Betsy sees Spiral, she acts like an idiot. I mean, she’s been a freakin’ superhero for 30 years, yet she acts like an idiot. I love Psylocke quite a bit, but it’s been years since it seems like she’s been written well. I could forgive her tough-chick attitude in this issue if she weren’t such an idiot. Come on, Betsy! Humphries does update us on Fantomex, but I haven’t read the last few trades of Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, so I assume what has happened to Fantomex happens in the final story arc, which makes me really apprehensive about the final arc because it seems like what happened to Fantomex is utterly stupid. Man, parse that sentence, mofos! Although we do get a nice, creepy final page, so … yay?

Anyway, I didn’t have ridiculously high hopes for this comic, and it’s certainly not terrible. I’m just sad that I can’t dive into superhero comics and turn my brain off as I do anymore. I kind of wish I could – this book would certainly be more enjoyable!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Puck is totally checking out her ass

Does Storm need to alakazam her hands like that to freeze something? And what the heck it happening in Panel 2? I do like the actual pencil work even if I don’t get Panel 2, and the coloring on this page is very nice. Psylocke and Spiral are fighting inside a club, so that explains the harsh red lighting, but it also helps imply the hatred they have for each other.

Witch Doctor: Mal Practice #3 (of 6) by Brandon Seifert (writer/letterer), Lukas Ketner (artist), Andy Troy (colorist), and Sean Mackiewicz (editor). $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Image/Skybound.

Seifert continues to explain what’s going on, as Dr. Morrow meets the people who infected him, and it goes a bit sideways. It turns out they were misinformed about certain things, but then, so was he. So things get really bad very quickly, and the issue ends with nothing looking good for our friends in the supernatural medical field. I can’t really say too much about what happens – it’s the middle of the mini-series, so we’ve established that Morrow is sick and the bad guys want something from him in exchange for the cure, but there are still mysteries a-comin’, including what the heck happens to Morrow in this issue. This continues to be a very cool series, and Ketner is really good in this issue, as he has to draw some weird-ass things and does so quite nicely. You know you want to check this out!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

The ol' quadruple cross!

One thing that Ketner does well is design cool clothes for the characters. Everyone on this page is wearing something different and interesting, and it fits what we know about them. The main bad dude – Peter Tiberius Nostrum – is a dandy, the evil chick on the left wears an odd military-like uniform. Her “twin” on the right is aged and worn, but she wears “sexier” clothes to cling to her past beauty. Morrow is dressed well, as usual, and Penny wears a hoodie because she’s sullen. It’s nicely done by Ketner. Meanwhile, Morrow’s rage at being “quadruple crossed” is captured well, too.

Young Avengers #1 (“Style > Substance”) by Kieron Gillen (writer), Jamie McKelvie (artist), Mike Norton (artist), Matthew Wilson (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer), Jake Thomas (editor), and Lauren Sankovitch (editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Marvel NOW!

Speaking of books for which I had high hopes, Gillen and McKelvie together again on a Marvel book that can’t have too much pressure on it as it stars several non-A-list characters is at the top of my list. I mean, McKelvie won’t be able to keep up a monthly schedule, but maybe Marvel will simply allow them to do their thing and not worry about the schedule too much. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

But before we get to the book, another rant! This book, you’ll notice, is $2.99. Uncanny X-Force is $3.99. How does Marvel determine their prices, is what I’d like to know. Bear with me, okay? The main Avengers books are 4 bucks. The main X-books are 4 bucks. I get that. I don’t like it, but I get it – people will lap up the Avengers and X-Men even if Bendis wrote 20 pages about the bowel movement he had this morning. Iron Man is 4 bucks. Okay – maybe people think that Robert Downey Jr. will show up at their house if they buy it? So is Uncanny X-Force a “main” X-title these days? I just ask because Marvel obviously doesn’t do this for creators, because Gillen has been writing for them for a longer time, and presumably his name on a book moves a bit more than Humphries’ does. So is this book 3 bucks because it’s not a “main” Avengers title but Uncanny X-Force is a “main” X-title? That doesn’t seem to make sense. Does anyone consider Marvel’s pricing policies, or do they have a big dart board in Axel Alonso’s office with all their books, and the darts are labelled “$2.99″ and “$3.99″ and they just start chucking blindfolded? I’m just wondering.

Anyway, Young Avengers. Oh, for 17 pages it’s so, so good, and then … oh dear. It certainly doesn’t get bad, not at all, but it becomes a bit less … excellent, I guess. I mean, we begin with Kate Bishop waking up after banging Noh-Varr (go, Kate!) and watching him dance to the Ronettes, and then there’s a Skrull attack that McKelvie draws over two pages with a bunch of small panels that capture every crucial moment. It’s really cool. Then Wiccan and Hulkling have a heart-to-heart (Teddy has been running around playing superhero, and Billy is upset about it because they agreed they wouldn’t), and it’s excellent. Then Loki sort-of fights Miss America, and Billy does something stupid, and McKelvie again uses two pages with a lot of panels to zip around. But then we find out what Billy was doing, and … oh dear.

I won’t give it away, but the book becomes a dumb superhero comic for a few pages, and my heart broke a little. This gets back to the stewardship of characters – Gillen writes on the “letters page” that YA is about being 18 (whereas Heinberg and Cheung’s iteration was about being 16), but Billy doesn’t seem like the same character. He seems, for lack of a better word, dumber. I get that we do stupid crap when we’re teenagers, and Billy was desperate to do something nice for Teddy, but it gets back to the fact that Gillen can’t write these characters as “normal” teenagers, because they’re not. When the Young Avengers first showed up, they were fanboys (and fangirls, but the original ones were all male). They knew quite a bit about superheroes, and so Billy should have known that what he does in this issue might be a really bad idea. Again, I get that he’s upset and he wants to help Teddy, but that’s why the fact that this is the first issue works against Gillen – if we’ve read the old series, it seems strange that Billy would act this way, and if we haven’t, we might wonder why he would be so dramatic in such a short time. Gillen hasn’t made these characters his own, in other words – obviously, Loki is probably the best-written one in terms of personality, because Gillen has been writing him for a while. For the others, he skims the surface, using the events that bring the team together to highlight their personalities, and it works pretty well. I just don’t buy Billy’s actions, though. Now, that’s not to say the ending isn’t effective – it’s pretty danged creepy – but I don’t quite buy how we got there.

Still, it’s a gorgeous book that feels far more hopeful than most comics – Gillen and McKelvie make comics that feel joyful, which we really do need more of in mainstream superhero books, and this is a comic I knew I’d be buying in single issues from the moment it was announced, so I’m pretty sure I won’t have many problems with it very often. These creators – I didn’t get a chance to write about Wilson, but he’s excellent as usual – know what they’re doing, so a little stumble in the first issue isn’t a deal-breaker for me. It might not even be one for you. I’m just silly, probably.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf page:

Yeah, no one has cameras in their phones these days

Look at Panels 2 and 3 and marvel at McKelvie’s workmanship. The woman in Panel 2 is a jaded New Yorker – even as she is saved from being mugged, she cocks an eyebrow at Teddy because she knows that Spider-Man can’t do that with his arms. And even though Teddy is “masked,” his shrug in Panel 3 is tremendous. This is part of why McKelvie is so good – he can express so much in a few lines, and it’s really cool. Even the fact that he draws “Spider-Man’s” outfit just a bit differently because Teddy isn’t sure exactly what it should look like is very keen.

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges (writer/artist). $16.95, 260 pgs, BW, Mariner Books.

The author found out that her father, whom she thought was dead, is alive, and it freaks her out a bit. So she calls Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and hilarity ensues? I don’t know, but the premise of the book sounded intriguing, so I picked this up. Come on, she’s suspicious of a chicken on the cover. Chickens – MAN’S GREATEST ENEMY!!!!

Conan: Throne of Aquilonia by Roy Thomas (writer), Mike Hawthorne (penciler), Dan Panosian (artist), John Lucas (inker), Dan Jackson (colorist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Brendan Wright (assistant editor), and Dave Marshall (editor). $19.99, 132 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

This is the last Conan volume before the Brian Wood reboot, right? I’m just checking.

The Spider volume 1: Terror of the Zombie Queen! by David Liss (writer), Colton Worley (artist), and Simon Bowland (letterer). $19.99, 132 pgs, FC, Dynamite Entertainment.

Travis Pelkie AND Greg Hatcher dig this comic, for what that’s worth. I thought the art was a little less computer-generated, but it still looks pretty keen.

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega by Brian Wood (writer), Roland Boschi (artist), Dan Brown (artist), Mark Brooks (artist), Andrew Currie (artist), Jay Leisten (artist), Norman Lee (artist), Ronda Pattison (artist), Walden Wong (artist), Andres Mossa (artist), Cam Smith (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Sebastian Griner (assistant editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), and Nick Lowe (editor). $19.99, 100 pgs, FC, Marvel.

You’ll notice that this is the only Brian Wood comic I bought this week. For some reason, my store didn’t have The Massive #8, so I assume I’ll get it next week. You’ll also notice that both the Conan book and The Spider book are 132 pages for 20 bucks, while this is 100 pages for 20 bucks. Curious, that. And also – this came out after Aaron launched Wolverine and the X-Men, didn’t it? I’m just wondering why it’s a separate mini-series when it seems like it would have fit in nicely to that series. Oh, wait – Marvel couldn’t have charged even more money if they made it part of the regular series. I get it!

**********

It’s been a few weeks, and the beard is progressing. It’s still fairly itchy, but I notice it at night. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to groom it or let it go nuts, but it’s not long enough yet that I have to worry about that. I’ve still been taking photographs, of course, and making .gifs out of them! The first one is the original – it covers 1-10 January. The second covers 11-20 January, and the first in the sequence is the photo where I’m wearing an orange shirt and it doesn’t look too washed out. There’s another one where I’m wearing an orange suit but the lighting is much brighter. The third covers 21-24 January. In order: I’m wearing a dark gray T-shirt, then a black polo shirt, a muted green shirt, and a somewhat light blue shirt. Just in case you care. Obviously, once I have a good amount of facial hair things aren’t going to change from day-to-day too often, but there you have. The next update might be in two weeks, or I might wait three weeks or a month. Who knows? Also, I apologize that some of them are blurry. My 7-year-old has been taking most of the pictures, and she’s not quite as skilled at taking pictures as you would expect a 7-year-old to be. I mean, really!

pictures to animation

make gifs

Here we go with the Ten Most Recent Songs on My iPod (Which Is Always on Shuffle):

1. “I Hear a Symphony” – Supremes (1965) “You bring much joy within, don’t let this feeling end, let it go on and on and on, now, baby, baby, baby”
2. “I’d Die Without You” – P.M. Dawn (1992) “Is it my turn to hold you by your hands, tell you I love you and you not hear me”
3. “The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side”Magnetic Fields (1999) “I know Professor Blumen makes you feel like a woman, but when the wind is in your hair you laugh like a little girl”
4. “Lake Charles”Lucinda Williams (1998) “Did you run about as far as you could go down the Louisiana highway across Lake Ponchartrain”
5. “The Devil Is Singing our Song” – James Gang (1973) “Every time I see you it costs me another heartache, but it ‘s just too late for us, I have to move along”
6. “Kiss with a Fist”Florence + the Machine (2009) “Broke your jaw once before, spilt your blood upon the floor; you broke my leg in return so let’s sit back and watch the bed burn”
7. “On the Turning Away”Pink Floyd (1987) “We could find that we’re all alone in the dream of the proud”
8. “Angeleyes”ABBA (1979) “Sometimes when I’m lonely I sit and think about him and it hurts to remember all the good times”
9. “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”A Tribe Called Quest (1990) “It was a nice little pub in the middle of nowhere – anywhere would have been better”
10. “Jane Says”Jane’s Addiction (1988) “She gets mad, starts to cry; she takes a swing but she can’t hit”

More fun music than you can handle!

I hope everyone has a nice day, and remember – I’m on Twitter these days. Yes, I’m shamelessly asking you to follow me. But I’ll follow you in exchange! I’m swell like that! In the meantime, be excellent to each other!

34 Comments

So was ‘Hadouken” a reference that went over Moore’s head?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going back to mohawk Storm for the simple reason that it’s cool. I agree that modern Big 2 comics are way to steeped in nostalgia. And I also agree that there was significant character reasons for the first time Storm went with the mohawk, and that it made a lot of sense with the character development at the time. But sometimes people just change their hairstyles because they want it to be different then it currently is, and there isn’t a major life change involved. My wife has changed her hairstyle a few times over the past few years. Not a single one of those times corresponded with a major change in her life or mutant abilities. She just felt like getting a new haircut. I feel like requiring there to be some deeper reason behind a cosmetic change in a character would result in crap like when DC came up with some tragic reason behind Barry Allen’s bow tie or Hal Jordan’s flight jacket.

I realize my argument that basically boils down to “don’t take a change in hairstyle so seriously” is somewhat undermined when I write a huge block of text to say that. I’m going to blame that on the rum.

I also blame all the grammatical errors in my post on the rum. And the fact that there’s no “edit” function on comments.

Yeah, they looks nothing like a Hadouken. How do you not know Street Fighter? Were you raised in a cave!?

I dropped Deadpool after #2 because I thought it was painfully UNfunny, and…that’s really all the book is, just a colorful gag reel for Tony Moore. Tony Moore is the one of the best in the business, but I even I have my limits.

You comment on some elements of McKelvie that you enjoy with his “acting”, but I actually came away less impressed. It’s not just that most of his characters have that one stock face, but I feel his storytelling can be off. Kate Bishop says, “This is everything I’ve ever wanted”, but her face is a mix of agitation and maybe boredom? The foster parents at the end look like they’re reacting to a fart in the room. And I really did not buy the Domestic Drama power hour section. Way too much unnatural sounding exposition in it for me to believe they were a real couple. In between their thirty second conflict/resolution, they neatly managed to go over every single bullet point concerning what’s been happening in their lives since the original young Avengers. It’s so earnest it makes your teeth ache.

I do like the book besides those hick-ups, and I think it can really gel into something special. And hey, if that $2.99 price point gets more people to pick this book up over the other Gillen book with the shitty Greg Land artwork, so be it!

I read Greg Rucka is trade, so I’m glad to hear Stumptown turned out well. I hear that’s a pretty badass car chase in there, which are usually pretty damn hard to make exciting in comics(well, Hawkeye #3 did it almost effortlessly last year, but whatever). I really enjoyed the first volume, lookin’ forward to more.

I’m gonna miss Hellblazer :(

Oh, and they explain the hair change for Storm(uh, sorta?) in WATXM #24, also out this week. I know that doesn’t really help that you gotta buy another book for that, but she’s doing a similar thing in that book. She’s over her marriage, she’s taking over as headmistress of the school, she’s hookin’ up with Logan, and hey, Mohawk Storm IS a cool look! That’s about all the reason I need, anyway. I’m shallow like that.

No FF? Very visual comic, and three all-time threats merged to become Doom the Annihlating Conqueror. Or at least that’s what Far-Flung Future White Haired Johnny Storm tells the gang. Also: Wyatt Wingfoot. Has he been in anything lately?

I would’ve gone with the splash page of Deadpool and Abe in the Octagon, and Wade asking him if he found a woman in Canada and shoved a hairy baby inside her. Couldn’t care about Polk, but I can’t believe Andrew Jackson got one-shotted. The guy is money ($20 bill for any Canadians reading this) and he was one vicious mutha back in the day. If you were to pluck all 44 Presidents from the primes of their respective lives, locked them in a room and told them to tear ass, Jackson would be one of the last man standing. I’m thinking it would come down to him and Teddy Roosevelt.

Also awesome: Abe bitching about Deadpool about how overexposed he is. Very meta.

According to some quickly googled sales figures, in December, Batwoman #15 sold 34,964 copies. That placed it 60th on the chart, just below Daredevil (58) and Catwoman (59) and just above Hawkeye (61) and Wolverine (62). In other words, a middle of the road title by today’s standards.

So. Since X-Men, especially from that era is one of the only things I’m “sorta an expert” on, I didn’t need the extended “Storm history lesson” however I think any rationale that uses the word assume (and its many versions) that many times in one paragraph has got some serious problems.

First of all, I agree with others that there’s not actually anything too wrong with going back to something because it’s cool. Either for the character thinking it’s cool, or the creators. It’s not the strongest choice ever, but in such a visual medium I don’t really see the drama.

That said, I’d be surprised if “kewl” was the sole motivation.

There are a ton of reasons that Storm might return to a (yes, badass) haircut that represented things to her – a time in her life, a thing she was going through, a time when she was unattached and trying things out new things, a time when she was strong enough to be without powers, etc. Storm went through a lot of things while she had that haircut and after a personal tragedy (regardless of whether fans enjoyed the marriage or not – I personally didn’t “get it”) it should still be INCREDIBLY important to her as a character…I mean, her just blowing it off would be ridiculous. The ending of a marriage can (and frequently is) a horribly traumatic event. It doesn’t surprise me at all that she would reach for change. It also doesn’t surprise me that she would reach for a change that reminds her of a different time in her life (and one in which she was both younger and unfettered in so many ways).

I frequently yearn for some badass hair that I had when I was living in LA…it represented a lot of different things to me – including being younger and happier and generally more full of hope and optimism – I’d love to go back to that hair (too expensive) for emotional and physical (aforementioned badassery) reasons.

Also, for what it’s worth, the haircut is addressed (in fairly significant page time) in this week’s WATXM (#24) – I didn’t LOVE the issue, but the fact that the hair is addressed in a book in which Storm is clearly starring (she’s on the cover) seems legit to me. Addressing it directly and repeatedly in other books would frankly be pretty annoying.

Suffice to say I’m pro-mohawk.

This was more than I thought I would EVER have to say about any fictional character’s hair…then again, I didn’t write QUITE as much as you did…so we’re about even I guess? :)

Yeah, as a few others have mentioned, The Mohawk has its origin story (yup, that’s what I’m calling it) in Wolverine & the X-Men #24, which came out this week as well. Now, I will agree that the shipping schedule should have been such that the two comics didn’t come out int he same week, but I do think the story for the mohawk is pretty good as these things go, and I thought WATXM #24 was, as I always expect from that series, a very good issue. And let the record show that I’ve been telling you for the better part of a year that you should be getting it in singles. It’s a rewarding reading experience in floppies, and it’s the kind of book that you’ll enjoy getting to check in on the characters every few weeks as opposed to 3 or 4 times a year in trade.

Honestly, my big question about Uncanny X-Force #1 is when did Ron Garney start drawing like Andy Kubert circa 1995? The likeness is… well, uncanny. And my biggest history with Garney’s artwork was his Captain America run in the 90s with Mark Waid, which I loved at the time. And I loved Garney’s blocky dynamic art then, almost like Bruce Timm channeling Frank Miller. When/why did he abandon that style, and when/why did he become a Kubert clone? And look, I love Andy Kubert, so I don’t mind when art looks like his. But Garney had such a cool, unique style… why change?

Other than that, I did enjoy the issue, perhaps a little more than you did but still with a few reservations. I think a recap page about the current statuses of Fantomex and Bishop might have helped me, as I don’t know a thing about what the last few pages of the book discussed. And while I don’t remember for sure as I haven’t read the Claremont era in quite a while, I don’t recall Psylocke ever mentioning a vendetta against Spiral before. Ever. Yes, I remember in New Mutants annual #2 when Psylocke first got her new eyes, but has Psylocke ever demonstrated any hatred of Spiral ever since? That seems to have kinda come from nowhere.

I also loved Young Avengers, though that’s another case where I would have liked a bit of a recap page because I don’t really know who any of the characters are. Why is Loki a kid? Who are Hulkling and Wiccan? I don’t think any of this is crucial to enjoying the comic (which I obviously still did despite not knowing the answers), but as you pointed out, these are certainly lesser characters. Marvel should have known that some readers might not know who they are. I ended up finding out a bit on Wikipedia, but still. But man, I did love that double page spread of Hawkeye and Marvel Boy fighting the Skrulls. Phenomenal storytelling.

I’m still enjoying Deadpool quite a bit.

And now a request for your advice… I love John Constantine and read a lot of Hellblazer back in my early comic years. I’ve read most of the first half of the series, but got out of comics for a while around the time Warren Ellis left, and never ended up picking Hellblazer back up when I got back into comics. So I haven’t read an issue in a dozen years or so. That said, I’m still considering picking up #300 to see how it all ends up. Obviously you don’t know what will happen in the issue, but from your best guess, will I be able to read #300 and have any idea/appreciation of what’s going on? Would I be better off trying to also pick up 298 and 299? Or do you think even that wouldn’t totally help and the entire Milligan run is too dependent on having read the whole thing?

It’s obvious that we should be calling it the ‘NOWHawk’…

I still like the look…but the whole thing is pretty emblematic of the reason why I don’t read very many of those types of comics any longer.

What did you think of Station to Station in DHP?
I want to love DHP because I think anthologies are a great way to package small stories that might not sell on their own, but my frustration with the title pretty much mirrors yours.
Every so often though, a story hits for me and I think “DHP is the best book out there and it is totally worth $8″
Station to Station is the most recent. I love the art, and the story seems fun and dumb. I loved the cliffhanger. Well done.
Other favorites have been anything Concrete, Finder, and that fun, dumb Tony Akins sea monster story. (Really hope they don’t spin that off). I like Resident Alien when it was just a short story too.

I don’t remember if you’ve tried any of Hickman’s Avengers or not. I recommend it. Jerome Opena is doing amazing things. I can’t believe he’s the guy who did Fear Agent when Tony Moore couldn’t. I don’t read a lot of Marvel anymore but Avengers, Hulk and Thor have sucked me in.

I love Witch Doctor’s wit and camp. Its the most fun book (tied with Glory) on my list right now.

Totally agree with you about Young Avengers #1. I was reading the book in the shop (yes, I know, I’m a bad person) and enjoying the good stuff, until I got to the end; I let out an audible sigh and had to put the book back because I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. So frustrating.

Would I be better off trying to also pick up 298 and 299?

Yes, that’s the way to go.

It seems a bit odd to lead off with Batwoman, talking about its gynocentrism and love of double-page splashes, and then complain that DC has no room for individualism in its comics.

I knew writing disparagingly about the mohawk would be like poking the bear!!!!

Jazzbo: I agree. I’ll get back to that later in the comment!

I have no idea what “Hadouken” means. I have never played Street Fighter – in fact, I have rarely played any video games in my life. Maybe I was raised in a cave …

But I guess it went over Moore’s head just like it went over mine. Oh well.

Jeremy: Humor, of course, is one of the most subjective things in fiction, so that’s cool. I think it’s hilarious, but if you don’t, you’re certainly not going to enjoy the comic.

I think Kate’s face is fine, and while I agree a bit about Teddy and Billy’s conversation, it feels to me that Gillen does quite a good job getting us up to speed while still making it sound like two people talking. I didn’t mind because I didn’t think it was bad, but also it’s the first issue. Every so often, you need exposition!

Jason: I’m trying to get trades for everything from the Big Two unless it’s really, really good, and while I enjoyed FF, I’m not getting it in singles. I might get it in trade, but we’ll see. I really did not like Fantastic Four #1, so if Fraction tries to keep the two books linked, it might actually make me like FF less.

The splash page is the homage to the Superman vs. Muhammad Ali thing, so I decided to go with something else. That page is pretty fun, though. And I was surprised that Jackson wasn’t more prominent, too, because he does seem like a tough SOB. I guess Posehn and Duggan decided to go with the big famous ones as their main villains, and there wasn’t enough room for him. Plus, Taft in the bathtub is funnier.

Scott: Damn you and your Googling skills! :) That’s not terrible for sales, which is nice.

Third Man: Maybe Garney’s style is different due to different inking and coloring techniques? Miki is kind of a slick inker, so maybe he has more influence on Garney’s pencils than other inkers have. You’re right, though – it does look a bit Kubertian.

Your point about Psylocke and Spiral is why I wrote that she was acting like an idiot. I’m pretty sure she’s had chances before to “settle up” with Spiral, so why now?

Is Marvel phasing out recap pages? X-Factor still has them, and Deadpool’s are hilarious, but maybe they weren’t in X-Force and YA because they’re #1 issues. I agree, though – it would have been nice. I just let Fantomex’s situation wash right over me. I figure I’ll find out soon enough!

As Brian noted, I would definitely pick up Hellblazer #298 and 299. They give you a pretty good idea about what’s been going on in John’s life. Of course, I think you should get Milligan’s entire run, because it’s excellent, but if you’re planning on getting #300, you should get #298 and 299.

joe: I mentioned Station to Station last time, and I agree with you – I enjoy it. Of course, Hardman’s a good artist, but the story is just goofy enough while still being exciting. I also really liked the Akins sea monster story, but it ended so ambiguously that I fear they will spin that off. Of course, maybe it will continue in DHP itself!

I’ve read every Marvel NOW! #1 book, with the exception of Superior Spider-Man, which I forgot to grab before it sold out. I liked Avengers (New Avengers – not so much) and Thor, and Hulk was okay. We’ll see which ones I get when the trades start showing up.

William: Sure, but Williams can do whatever the hell he likes – even DC isn’t dumb enough to rein him in. I’m talking about the majority of the line. Everything (even Batwoman) is so deadly serious, and the art, for the most part, is very similar to all the other art. Only a few creators at DC can get away with breaking the mold, while at Marvel, it seems they encourage everyone to do it.

As for the mohawk … well, I didn’t read Wolverine and the X-Men, so if Aaron decided to give her the mohawk instead of Humphries, I think my assumptions (as much as I know about assumptions) still stand, just with Aaron instead of Humphries. Third Man, I know you’re trying to get me to read it in singles, but I just can’t spend 4 bucks for 20 pages on a Marvel comic (or a DC one, for that matter). It would actually make me angry while I was reading it, and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. So that’s out. I agree with everything everyone says about it, and it’s not that I really wanted a serious reason, but if they’re saying it’s because of the end of her marriage, I think that’s dumb. In “Marvel time,” she couldn’t have been married more than a year, and because Marvel screwed up the romance from the get-go, I just don’t buy that she’d be that upset. If, in Wolverine and the X-Men, someone asked her about it, she responded, “What? It’s bad-ass, and I want to get laid,” I would have loved that. Kelly’s right – sometimes people just want to go back to something that reminds them of a different time in their life. But she’s also right that it’s a visual medium, and I can’t help suspecting that whichever writer gave it to her did it just because it looks cool. Which, you know, whatever, but it’s a measure of how comics are always looking backward instead of forward. If Aaron or Humphries don’t want to have a serious reason for it (and I agree with you, Jazzbo, that she doesn’t have to have a serious reason), it would be nice if she did just say it looks awesome. I still don’t like the mohawk not because it’s not cool-looking (it is), but because I think the way it was done the first time is much more interesting than the way it’s been done this time, but such is life.

Man, we should all be on The Big Bang Theory, shouldn’t we?

the 2000s mohawk is the mostly shaved head on women, leaves about a 1/2 inch to an inch of hair. If they were paying attention, and this wasn’t about nostolgia, that is the hairdo she’d be rockin’.
Probably Rogue and Jubilee too.

Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega is why I don’t trust Brian Wood. For a five issue miniseries at $3.99 a piece, to have zero plot movement and no character moments that couldn’t have been fit it elsewhere in the second issue, all in an unoriginal plot, is lazy writing of the worst decompressed degree. I dropped it with issue two and handed off the two issues I did buy.

I’ve harped on it a couple times, but dang, that’s just taking my money and not giving me anything in return.

“people will lap up the Avengers and X-Men even if Bendis wrote 20 pages about the bowel movement he had this morning”

You just described the plot of every Marvel event from the last eight years.

The last page of Hellblazer was such a tease :D

thanks for the shout-out, Greg.

We actually considered sending you a pdf of the full story but it was decided your real-world, real-time responses more closely mirror those of the “average” reader.

All i can say about the narration is “stay tuned;” all will be revealed in chapter two.

JRC: But … she’s so xxxxx-treeeem!!!! :)

Jeremy: Well, I hope I like it better than you did!

Scott: And look what happened! People bought it!

Minuteman: It kind of had to happen, though, right?

Geoffrey: I do like the format – it’s nice to get some tidbits and think about what the heck is going to happen with it. I look forward to learning more!

Let me say that after that first 10 days, your beard has gotten to be pretty rockin’. Well done, follicles!

I find that my beard fluctuates in itchiness — right now I’m not itching and haven’t been for a while, but there will be times when it itches like crazy. Then it goes away again for no apparent reason.

Anyway…

I’m behind on my comics reading, so I can’t comment on anything else yet. I must get reading!

I’m probably not treading any new ground here, but to me McKelvie’s art is like a more detailed Steve Dillon. Which is a good thing.

Deadpool is still fun, but the two shout outs to Posehn’s comedian friends Scott Adsit and Scott Aukerman distracted me. But I’m weird.

jjc: Hmmm … I hadn’t thought of that. I think Dillon has a thicker and rougher line, but I get the comparison. And I didn’t know that Posehn was referencing his buddies, so it didn’t distract me too much.

The Mohawk rant is brilliant and should have been saved for its own article. It’s kind of getting lost in here and a lot of people might miss it.

I thought the mohawk was the best thing in Uncanny X-Force #1. I’ve been waiting for it since the first announcement and thought it was a huge letdown. I’ll give the first story a chance but it is not off to a good start in my opinion.
Same with Young Avengers. Nice art but it was just TERRIBLE! I was interested mostly because I loved the original series, but not sure I’ll even bother with #2.

Forgot to ask, did you love the Dazzler poster in the background art of Young Avengers? I thought of you when I saw that, and wondered whether it would influence your review.

And if anyone is interested, my review of Zero Dark Thirty posted to Annarbor.com yesterday:

http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/zero-dark-thirty-offers-entertainment-but-no-easy-answers/

IAM FeAR: I think people might think I’m crazy if I devote too much time to the mohawk! Well, crazier than they already think I am.

Third Man: To be honest, I missed the Dazzler poster. There’s a lot going on in that panel, and I completely missed it. After you mentioned it, it actually took me a couple of passes to see it. So no, it didn’t influence me at all. It is kind of awesome that it’s there, though.

I really ought to see Zero Dark Thirty, oughtn’t I?

Strong review of Zero Dark Thirty, Third Man. I agree with pretty much everything you said. Although I think Jennifer Lawrence was noticeably better than Chastain (in terms of Best Actress). Chastain WAS really good, though. You don’t NOT say that, of course, just noting in case you think Chastain was better.

@Greg: I know I should let this “mohawk thing” go but I just can’t.

So, what you’re saying is that because the marriage wasn’t done well (in your opinion – & I happen to agree) and didn’t resonate for you, and couldn’t have lasted for more than a year, then that excuses them to not have Storm have a “real/honest” reaction to the end of her first marriage?

That makes no sense to me.

To me that’s like saying, well, because some people fucked up the initial story as it related to this issue, we shouldn’t bother to take it seriously now. So we’ll just brush it under the rug, pretend it didn’t happen. Therefore Storm won’t have a serious reaction to the dissolving of her marriage (her position as Queen of a nation/people), and which is also her husband that she is still supposedly in love with leaving her. She won’t take that seriously or be emotionally affected by it because we didn’t like the way some other folks told the story before.

Two wrongs do not a right make, man.

Kelly: I don’t think I’m saying that, but maybe I am. My point is that because characters are being written by so many different writers in so many different books, it’s hard to build up an emotional back story for them anymore. If Storm has that reaction to the break-up of her marriage, fine, but Aaron and Humphries didn’t write her marriage (which seems pretty clear was editorially-mandated) and didn’t write the break-up (well, Aaron might have, but I don’t know which writer of AvX wrote it or where it happened), so it’s tougher to make that connection, emotionally. When Claremont first gave her the mohawk, she was only appearing in Uncanny X-Men, so readers of that book had gone through her emotional journey with her, and it was a shock. Now, it’s not. Again, Aaron can give her any justification he wants, including her just deciding it looks cool, but he hasn’t put in the work to make the reader care, so it feels hollow to me. Her reaction to the marriage has to be tied into the way the marriage was presented, because everyone reacts differently to a break-up. But because her emotional beats are scattered over several different comics with several different writers, it’s hard to buy it. I’ve made this point before about a lot of different emotional moments – more than, it seems, than in the past, writers are relying on what readers bring to the table with regard to responding to emotional moments rather than what’s in the text. In a serialized universe, there’s always going to be some of that, but it seems like it’s getting more prevalent. Storm’s mohawk is just the latest example of that – we’re reacting to something that happened in a different comic with a different writer and the current writer expects us to do the heavy lifting. It feels lazy to me. Then again, I didn’t read much of her marriage arc, so maybe it was emotionally devastating.

And yes, I think that if Marvel refused to take her marriage seriously (“Hey, we have two high-profile black characters who have never interacted before – let’s marry them to each other!”) or the break-up seriously, then it’s fine for readers or subsequent writers not to take it seriously. But that’s just my opinion!

Bit harsh on YA, lets see where the story goes. I for one, loved it, but it has GIllen (great writer) writing Kate Bishop (great character). It was made for me, and lets hope he can save Noh-Varr from what Bendis did to him.

Agree the Storm marriage was sloppily written, I gotta side with Kelly. It kind of reminds me of BND, where people said they mephisto story was stupid therefore all spidey is stupid. A bad story actually led to some of my favorite spidey stories in years. Apples and oranges, true, but stupid events happen in comics enough (Fear itself, blackest night) but the stories that spin from those events can still work if they impact the characters. And for the reasons Kelly mentioned, Storm would have felt an impact. My 2 cents…

ZDT was probably the most intense movie I’ve seen in a long long time. I went with a friend and regardless of your politics or your opinions on the subject matter, as a film it was astonishing and we were both hooked. Jessica Chastain was amazing, but her character was really..unusual…so focused that it was hard to grasp all the time. Not to say she was a bad character, just not one you see in movies normally and to see her step up and anchor the movie as she did I think was a huge reason the movie had the impact it did.

Thanks for the compliments Brian, I appreciate it. The Chastain vs. Lawrence argument is one I’m really struggling with. When I write my Oscar predictions the week before the ceremony, I always write a “Who should win” bit to go along with who I think will win, and I still haven’t decided who I think is more deserving between the two. When I saw Silver Linings Playbook in Toronto back in September, I wrote then that I thought Lawrence would deservedly win an Oscar for the role. So part of me still wants to stick with that original statement (and I DO think Lawrence will win). But I keep going back and forth with which performance I think is the stronger one, and it’s really an impossible question. Lawrence was probably miscast (she’s too young), and the fact that she could overcome that and still own the movie, as well as steal a scene from Robert De Niro, is no small compliment. But that end scene from ZDT haunts me, and Chastain’s portrayal of obsession is amazing. What’s the better achievement, owning a movie you were miscast but still have the best role, or owning a facial expression that makes the movie? I don’t really know. I’ve seen Playbook twice now, and I’d like to see ZDT a second time before I decide.

And yes Greg, you should see Zero Dark Thirty. It’s one I really recommend seeing in theaters not necessarily because it demands the big screen, but because it demands the communal viewing experience and the distraction free environment. It’s a movie that you’ll want to remember how you feel walking out of the theater, and you’ll want to see the faces of others walking out with you. That’s not really a sensation you can get watching a movie on the couch. And ZDT also deserves to be seen in a distraction free environment, where you won’t have any temptation to check your phone or anything.

As for the Storm issue, I kind of agree with Kelly. I think your beef, Greg, is that you see the original mohawk as basically a high concept movie, and when a high concept movie (Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, Home Alone, The Hangover, etc.) cranks out a sequel, it’s not for the sake of character continuation, it’s just an effort to relive the original experience. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. Personally, I never read a single comic in which Storm and Black Panther were a married couple, so I can’t speak to how the marriage was handled by whichever writers handled it. But in the same way that adults often go through a heavy drinking phase with the demise of a long, committed relationship, maybe Storm just goes through a mohawk phase. Were she a suburban housewife, this would seem like a non-sequiter. But Storm is a character that lives on the extremes. Is this really that strange a response for her?

Any time a storyteller goes back to the well, it will feel less original by definition. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in an artistically fulfilling way.

Yeah, the fact that Lawrence so clearly didn’t make sense in the role and yet still killed it in SLP just amazes me. The idea that we ended that film with her character making totally sense when it inherently made no sense is astonishing and I think it was all owed to Lawrence’s talents (which I’m sure is what Russell was thinking – once he saw her I’m sure he thought, “Fuck the logic of it all, she owns this character”). The ending of ZDT was remarkable (and the notion that anyone could see that scene and say that the movie was advocating any particular position is quite silly to me) but I think Lawrence was dominant throughout SLP while Chastain I think stood out “only” in particular flourishes (the aforementioned ending, the “motherfucker” scene and “this is all I have done” scene).

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