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Foggy Ruins of Time – The Long, Tangled History of Grant Morrison’s Mister Nobody

This is the latest in a series giving you the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of Seinfeld will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal). Here is an archive of all the Foggy Ruins of Time installments so far.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Omar Karindu, we look at the history of the influences for the character of Mister Nobody, from Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s Doom Patrol. The history goes all the way back to a forgotten black superstar of the early 20th Century…

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Boys, Toys, Electric Irons, and TVs 16: Futures End #17 and Avengers #34

We are still reading post-The Authority superhero comics almost exclusively. While Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA kicked off the Blockbuster Widescreen Era of superhero comics, the Warren Ellis/Bryan Hitch/Paul Neary/Laura DePuy The Authority took that sensibility and added on a subtle question of morality and heroism that remains unresolved. Granted, that question wasn’t introduced there, but it was popularised – it became an integral part of the superhero comic language after that point, floating to the surface now and then only to be smacked down because of the terrible implications. Here, it has risen again and shows itself in very different ways in Futures End #17 and Avengers #34. Basically, how far must a superhero go to save the world? How far before they stop being a hero and become a villain? Is there even a line?

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Year of the Artist, Day 239: Steve Mannion, Part 3 – The Bomb #3

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Mannion, and the issue is The Bomb #3, which was published by Atom Bomb Comics and is cover dated 2006. These scans are from The Bomb trade paperback, which was published by Asylum Press in August 2008. Enjoy!
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Committed: Snowpiercer Vol 1: The Escape & Snowpiercer the movie

snowpiercer4Snowpiercer Vol 1: The Escape is a comic book (or graphic novel) by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette (published in English by Titan Comics). 30 years since the original publication, it is a powerful example of the post-apocalyptic books of the era, depicting our ice-covered world, too cold to support life. The remains of humanity cling to life in a giant, high-speed train which is continuously moving, the poorest inhabitants stuck in cattle trains at the back, the richest living in comparative luxury at the front. After escaping from the back of the train, one man fights to reach the engine room at the front of the train and freedom, or some vague idea of it. Continue Reading »

The Past Was Close Behind: “Scarlet Witch Will Never Go Mad!

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This feature spotlights moments, exchanges, etc. from older comics that take on a brand new light when read in concert with later comic books. Here is the archive of previous installments.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Michael F., we take a look at a comment about how the Scarlet Witch would never go mad, less than two years before the Scarlet Witch, you know, went mad…
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1987 And All That: Suicide Squad #1-8

A column in which Matt Derman (Comics Matter) reads & reviews comics from 1987, because that’s the year he was born.

Squad_1Suicide Squad #1-8 (DC) by John Ostrander, Luke McDonnell, Karl Kesel (#1-3), Bob Lewis (#4-8), Carl Gafford, Todd Klein, and Robert Greenberger

The concept of Suicide Squad is elegantly simple, and maybe inevitable in the world of superheroes and villains. The difficulty of effectively imprisoning superpowered baddies has been explored in many ways in all kinds of comicbooks, and this series offers one more approach: a work release program for supervillains. And why not? There are all different levels of supervillainy, and as many different motivations for it as people participating in it, so anyone who wants to prove themselves less insane or untrustworthy than their peers might as well get a chance. Besides, giving them another venue/outlet for their abilities could potentially place them on a better path, even make them better people. Right?

Wrong, says Suicide Squad, which seems to believe that people, good or bad, pretty much are who they are no matter what. The book hinges on this philosophy, its drama fueled by the clashing and immovable personalities of its cast. In the world of Suicide Squad, the whole Suicide Squad project is a futile endeavor, an attempt to convince villains to act against their natures through an odd combination of bargains, threats, and field assignments. Trouble is, nobody can ever act against their nature in this book, so the Squad fails or at least half-fails on every outing, refusing to gel as a group and generally causing more harm than good to its members and the rest of the world.

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Review time! with POP #1

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“You want to be the song, the song that you hear in your head”
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Year of the Artist, Day 238: Steve Mannion, Part 2 – Batman: Gotham Knights #37

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Mannion, and the story is “Fear Is the Key” in Batman: Gotham Knights #37, which was published by DC and is cover dated March 2003. These scans are from Batman Black and White volume 3, which came out in 2007. Enjoy!
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Year of the Artist, Day 237: Steve Mannion, Part 1 – Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #10

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Steve Mannion, and the issue is Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #10, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated June 1999. Enjoy!
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She Has No Head! – The Manara Variant Isn’t The Problem

Milo Manara Spider-Woman #001 2014 Variant

Milo Manara’s variant cover for Spider-Woman #1

So, much to everyone’s shock (I’m guessing), I have very little problem with the Milo Manara Spider-Woman #1 variant cover. Surprising to nobody, I do have some issues with the information we have thus far for the forthcoming Spider-Woman book.

So let’s get into it.

Milo Manara is a well-known creator/writer/artist primarily of porn and erotica, perhaps mostly notably a series called Click! (which, full disclosure, I own). So, when you hire Milo Manara to draw a variant, you are hiring him to get a very specific thing: titillating erotic imagery that is at the very least reminiscent of porn and generally of women.

This is exactly what he delivered. It seems ridiculous to criticize Manara for delivering exactly what he does and what was surely expected of him. Though his response to the Spider-Woman cover controversy is depressing and predictable it’s not particularly surprising. Yes, it’s practically a bingo card of alarming statements we see all the time when people try justify portrayals of women in media: the “there’s other ‘real’ problems in the world to worry about” “all superheroes are basically naked with colors on them anyway” “women are just built this way, I draw what I see” “it’s not my fault this how women are/look” “women wear less than this/are more provocative than this in real life” etc. and of course the artist describing the character/his work as “beautiful, nice, attractive, seductive” all of which have to do only with how Spider-Woman looks to him/should look to him and nothing to do with who she is or what she does. Pretty depressing stuff.

But again, as sad as it is to hear these statements, this is a European (Manara is Italian) man that draws Erotica for a living and has for decades. None of this is terribly surprising and anyone surprised by it is not paying attention. The question shouldn’t be why does Manara draw a Spider-Woman that looks more like a porn star than a superhero, the question also shouldn’t be why didn’t Marvel send Manara back to the drawing board when he turned in his work. The question should be why is this what Marvel wanted in the first place?

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Year of the Artist, Day 236: Jim Lee, Part 5 – Batman #609

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jim Lee, and the issue is Batman #609, which was published by DC and is cover dated January 2003. Enjoy!
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Abandoned Love: Bucky Was Shot and Replaced as Captain America’s Partner?

Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer while still acknowledging that the abandoned story DID still happen. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

This time around, we look at a little-known dramatic shift in Captain America’s status quo…
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Life During Wartime

Charley’s War, specifically. Continue Reading »

Year of the Artist, Day 235: Jim Lee, Part 4 – Flinch #1

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Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jim Lee, and the story is “Rocket-Man” in Flinch #1, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated June 1999. Enjoy!
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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Darkseid Got Mugged

Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we look at the time that Darkseid, lord of Apokolips, was mugged by a pair of punks in an alley!
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