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Thoughts on the Dabel Bros./Fall Out Boy Comic Situation

Okay, so I’m reading about the whole situation where the band, Fall Out Boy, is no longer interested in doing a comic book by the Dabel Bros. since the lawyers from the Simpsons got involved over the use of the name “Fall Out Boy” (who is a character from the Simpsons, and while not a registered trademark, certainly is a trademark of the Simpsons).

Now, I get that the Dabel Bros. are pissed off because they had a contract from the band to do the comic, and since the Simpsons’ legal team got involved, the band has cooled off, interest-wise (it seems to me like they want to cause as little ruffles with the Simpsons as possible, because they understand as well as anyone that they’re using a trademarked name).

However, according to the Dabel Bros., the comic CAN proceed, it just can not use the name “Fall Out Boy” as a title (or for advertising). They quote the Simpsons’ lawyers as saying, “Our sole interest is that the name “Fall Out Boy”, the related Simpsons images and any references to The Simpsons not appear in any of your publications.”

Well, okay, but while I certainly feel for the Dabel Bros. here – who exactly is interested in reading a Fall Out Boy comic where you can’t use the name Fall Out Boy in the comic book?

I’m not saying the Dabel Bros. don’t have rights here, but I wonder whether they’re really worth enforcing. How well would a comic about Fall Out Boy, without the support OF Fall Out Boy and not even CALLED Fall Out Boy sell?

Thoughts on the latest Daredevil arc

I do not know if the current Daredevil arc is a response to some of the criticisms levied at this title lately, or if it was just a matter of the creative team realizing beforehand where criticism might end up coming,so they decided to address it themselves – either way, the end result is a great arc so far by Ed Brubaker and co-writer, Greg Rucka, where the pair add a bit less dreariness to the life of Matt Murdock.

Throughout the latest issue, various characters all remark on how depressing and dreary Matt’s life has been lately (as he has gone through the wringer, including losing his wife to the machinations of Mr. Fear). As the characters speak, it is almost as if they are teasing the book itself – “Come on, enough with the moping, do something productive!”

And in this storyline, it is about Matt clearing the name of a thug who is on Death Row for decapitating three children, but Matt and Dakota North (who Brubaker has turned from a character only my pal Matt Bib loved to a character most folks, I am sure, have grown fond of) believe he is innocent, of this particular crime, that is (thanks to his senses, Matt probably KNOWS otherwise, but that’s beside the point).

Who is he protecting? Who is working with the bad guys? What are they trying to hide? How do you save a man who wants to die?

All these questions and more are raised in the latest issue, and once you couple it with the routinely excellent artwork of Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano, you have yourself a good comic book. Well worth giving a look see!

Thoughts on The Middle Man

So, I’m seeing a lot of ads for the new ABC Family TV series, The Middleman, in comic books.

I think that’s cool, as the character first appeared in a Middle Man comic book, written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach with art by Les McClaine.

Here’s the thing, though. The ads, which appear IN comic books, do not actually mention that it WAS a comic book!!!

How ridiculous of a marketing campaign is that?! Advertising your comic book related product in the pages of comic books without noting the connection!!

What’s the deal?!

Thoughts on DC Universe O

It is interesting to note that DC Universe 0, which flowed about as well as a given issue of Marvel Previews, was ten times the comic book that Countdown was, and received by DC fans at about the same rate.

The rousing success of DC Universe 0 makes me think that there is a sort of blueprint you can follow to see what the generalized modern superhero fans will enjoy. They appear to want at least one of the following two things:

1. The comic to be good

or

2. The comic to “matter.”

52 (as a whole) was good, DC Universe 0 “matters.” Countdown gave the fans neither.

Thoughts on the Eisner Nominations

For the most part, seems like a solid job. Obviously, I can quibble here and there, but the nominations are fairly understandable.

And then there’s nominating Justice League of America #11 as one of the Best Single Issues/One-Shots of the year?

With all due respect to the judging panel of John Davis, Paul DiFilippo, Atom! Freeman, Jeff Jensen and Eva Volin, what could you folks possibly be thinking?

I can’t believe that you actually reached the consensus that, of the hundreds of single issues/one-shots released within the time frame of the Eisners, that JLA #11 was one of the five best, so what else could it be? Is there some pressure to include something from the Big Two? I notice Marvel had an issue, too (a Sensational Spider-Man Annual that was actually quite good, although I doubt I’d count it as one of the five best single issues of the year, either), so is that it? Even then, though, The Spirit, one of your nominees for Best Continuing Series, had a number of one-shot issues – why not an issue of The Spirit?

It just puzzles me greatly. I can understand differing tastes, but I cannot understand taking a position that JLA #11 was one of the five best single issues/one-shots of the year.

Thoughts on Trials of Shazam #12

Now, come on, that’s funny.

(Spoilers ahead). Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Children Aging in Comics

In his most recent column, Keith Giffen pointed out a few things he considered “NOT QUITE JUMPING THE SHARK, BUT CLOSE,” and two of them were the recent additions of “sons” of both Batman and Superman. Whether you agree or disagree with Giffen, it reminds me of the fact that both characters were introduced already as children. This made me think back to other children of superheroes (who were shown born in the comics) – and the list of children who were NOT killed/prematurely aged is quite slim.

While certainly, from a writing perspective, it is a lot easier to write a child then to write a baby/toddler – but is that really it? It’s easier? Is that the reason writers always seem to try to avoid writing growing children? Or does the whole fear of continuity explain it? Children aging means characters have to age, while children prematurely aging – that allows growth without having to age their parents. Still, it’s strange how practically universal the avoidance of aging children is in comics.

Thoughts on…Recommending Comics

Danielle’s piece sorta inspired this thought, which is “what comics would you recommend to people?” And what strikes me is this – all things being even, the odds are that the person you’re recommending comics to is not going to be a superhero fan.

That’s not a knock on superheroes. You all know I loves me my superhero comics, and most of the readers of this here blog dig them, too. But come on, superhero comics are a genre of comics, not comics themselves, and when recommending comics to a random person, odds are they’ll be more interested in non-superhero comic books.

Comic books are a broad market of styles and genres, and for whatever the person you’re recommending books is into, there will most likely be a good book to fit that style/genre. And for some of them, superhero books certainly WILL fit the bill, but most of them, not likely.

This may seem like a bit of a “Duh, Brian, that’s obvious,” but too often I see stuff like, “I am looking for comics to get my 13-year-old daughter/niece/cousin/daughter of a friend into comics, do you have any recommendations?” and the recommendations are, like, “Cable/Deadpool!” Okay, Cable/Deadpool was a joke, but the answers sometimes ARE stuff like, “Justice League of America, Hawkgirl, Birds of Prey, Rogue, Manhunter, etc.,” and while all those books might very well work fine for a 13-year-old, the odds are that they are not going to fit the median interest range of a 13-year-old girl.

It could be manga, it could be Archie, it could be Disney, it could be Vertigo, it could Persepolis, it could be Minx, it could be any number of other books. So when recommending comics, just keep in mind the interests of the person you’re recommending to – just like one size does not fit all, one comic genre does not fit all.

Thoughts on Daniel Way’s Deadpool

Boy, do I like Daniel Way’s Deadpool! It is a bit of a shame that, here we are, 20-some-odd issues into Wolverine Origins, and the book is currently seeing the best issues of the entire run, and for the most part, it is because Way is doing such a good job with the NON-Wolverine characters in the book!

A highlight of Way’s short stint on Wolverine was the issue where he had Wolverine face off against Bucky/The Winter Soldier (being, I believe, the first non-Brubaker writer to handle the character, and really, now that I think about it, is Way the ONLY non-Brubaker writer to handle the character?). Way handled the Winter Soldier quite well, and lately, the highlight of Way’s not-so-great run on Wolverine Origins had been the recent storyline set in the past, with Captain America and (once again) Bucky, including the amazing “sideways” take on Uncanny X-Men #268. That was the highlight of his run, until this Deadpool story arc began. Way’s morbid sense of humor fits Deadpool so perfectly that it is such great news to learn that his next Marvel project is a Deadpool series.

Way is taking a madcap approach to Deadpool, similar to Joe Kelly’s classic run, except Way is also adding a darker tone to Deadpool (which is not THAT dissimilar to Kelly, who also had a bit of an edge to his run), and I think it’s a fresh look at the character. Meanwhile, Steve Dillon’s artwork works well for Deadpool because Dillon is so NOT a cartoonish artist, so when he is asked to draw cartoonish stuff like Deadpool, it looks so bizarre, but in a good way. Like watching a real life Bugs Bunny. It’s fascinating.

I can’t wait until their Deadpool comes out.

Thoughts on Super Smart Heroes

As I’ve written in the past, when you introduce a super smart hero, you have to be EXTREMELY careful that the character doesn’t turn into a crazy mix between a Mary Sue/Pet Character/Walking Deus Ex Machina.

So that’s why this week’s Incredible Hercules thrilled me, because it appears (SPOILERS AHEAD!) Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Jeph Loeb and his Artists

So, I’m reading the Hulk #2, and it’s not particularly good, but one thing stands out, and the same thing stands out in basically every comic Jeph Loeb writes – the man sure does know how to write for his artists, doesn’t he?

Take Hulk #2, for example; the book is an action-packed battle between Iron Man and friends versus the Red Hulk, aboard the SHIELD hellicarrier. I did not think the fight was all that interesting (and the battle led to one ridiculous excuse for, of all things, – SPOILER!!- a Hindenburg gag), but it must have been a total blast to draw!!!

The whole issue was filled with what looked to be cool things for an artist to draw. Ed McGuinness must be thrilled to work with a guy like Loeb, who fills his comics with really, really cool stuff for his artists to draw. The cool stuff might not always work for the story (by “might not always work” I really mean “rarely works”), but damned if it isn’t really, really cool stuff.

Take Hush (please! ba dum bum!), for example. TOTALLY played to Jim Lee’s relative strengths. Superman/Batman, Loeb gave McGuinness, Turner and Pachecho tons of cool stuff to draw, same with Joe Madureira right now on Ultimates Vol. 3. Meanwhile, for an artist like Tim Sale, who is less of an action artist, Loeb writes stories with less action.

So feel free to give Loeb some guff over his stories and the relative quality of them – but give the man credit for being a delight for artists to work with (excluding that one time he scripted Fantastic Four, that time doesn’t count).

Thoughts on the New Teen Titans

I got on this train of thought when I was thinking of Roger Stern, and how good of a job he did making both the Hobgoblin and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) into major figures in the Marvel Universe. That is really, really hard to do, and as noted by the fact that the latter character disappeared from prominence basically the INSTANT Stern stopped writing her, and the former character only managed to hold on for a couple of years before also disappearing into virtual irrelevance (although Tom DeFalco is doing a nice job with the Hobgoblin in Spider-Girl).

That got me to thinking about how hard it is to debut a new characters into Marvel and DC comics PERIOD.

Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduced an astonishing FOUR prominent characters in the first couple issues of New Teen Titans (Starfire, Cyborg, Raven and Deathstroke)!

In an era where creators mostly have not been willing to create new characters for Marvel or DC (and if they DO, they’re usually just new versions of, say, Superboy or Supergirl or Blue Beetle or Green Arrow or Green Lantern or whatever), Wolfman and Perez debuted four of them within the span of two issues.

That’s really amazing.

One More Day Brings More One More Day Talk!

Joe Quesada’s fourth part is up here at CBR, and JMS responds here at Newsarama. Let’s see what we shall see! Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Joe Quesada’s One More Day Interviews

CBR has been doing a series of exclusive interviews with Joe Quesada on One More Day (Five parts, the first three are up so far – One, Two and Three), and it’s been quite interesting – read on for some thoughts I had upon reading them. Continue Reading »

“Autobiographical” Comics.

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. “

- Mark Twain

(So, OK, this is a couple months out of date now. I am slow, lazy writer. Can we just pretend it’s September?)

So I’m hanging out in the Haunted Bookstore in Iowa City tonight, it’s COLDcoldcoldcold (and windy) out. And I’m thinking all BIG THOUGHTS about Life and Truth and Stuff.

And I’m a tad miffed.

But it’s those fuckers at the other blogs, not you guys. I will personally vouch that you are all wonderful, witty, brilliant human beings and are very, very good in bed.

So yeah. Truth and comics. And Autobiographical comics, and… Continue Reading »

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