Archive for March, 2007


Civil War: The Confession

March 31st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

(feed problem fixed!)
Here is my confession.
I love comics.

But, I hate having to bag and board them.

It’s by far the worst part of comic collecting and part of the reason why I vastly prefer trades. With trades, I can read them and toss them on a bookshelf near similar or related titles. With monthlies, floppies, pamphlets, singles, or whatever, you’ve got books without a spine. You can’t stack them like trades, because they’ll fall over, and you can’t stand them up like trades, because they have no backbone. Monthlies are cowards, ladies and gents.

Bagging and boarding comics is awful. I don’t like it, so I tend to put it off for months at a time. I boarded fifteen weeks of comics tonight. I know this because I buy 52 and the earliest issue of that I had was #32. Fifteen weeks is, what, almost four months? 3.75 months. That’s a lot of comics! I usually spend around 20-30 bucks a week, excluding trades, so that works out to probably an average of 8 books a week on the low side. Ouch!

Another reason why this is so bad is because, in order to sort comics, you’ve got to go through a longbox. I’ve managed to keep myself to one longbox by trying to sell off the comics I don’t love. (Speaking of, I’ve been looking for the best way to do that. eBay lot of them all? It’s nothing particularly valuable, so a lot would probably get me the best bang for my buck.) As I go through the longbox, and this happens each and every time, I come across a book that I really like and have been thinking about rereading.

So I pull it out of the longbox. I sort a few more books and see something else. “Oh!” I say. “Union Jack. This was a good one.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

This doesn’t happen with a bookshelf, man, I swear. It’s just that when sorting things for a longbox, you kinda have to look at all the titles. With a bookshelf, you can skim or rely on memory. I don’t have to know where to put We3 on the shelf because I’ve got an entire shelf dedicated to Grant Morrison. I can just sling it up there. It doesn’t have to go between Kill Your Boyfriend (also due for a reread) and Kid Eternity.

(I also have a Frank Miller/John Romita Jr shelf, a David Lapham/David Mack/Ed Brubaker/Geoff Johns shelf, and a Garth Ennis/Mark Waid shelf. Bendis gets to share a shelf with almost all the ’90s X-Men crossovers and all the Mark Millar trades I wish I hadn’t bought.)

So, right now, I’m looking at Stray Bullets v2: Somewhere Out West, Loveless v2: Thicker Than Blackwater (counts, because it reprints an arc I want to reread), Iron Man: Hypervelocity 1-3, The Other Side 1-5, Criminal 1-5, Casanova 1-7 (though I am missing 2, 3, and 6 somehow), and The Intimates 1-12 (missing 5 and 11 here). This is in addition to the books I’m already working on, like The Mighty Skullboy Army (my first reviewer’s comp! review will be up soonest), Kyle Baker’s King David, and Jim Mahfood’s One Page Filler Man.

The cool part is that I read fairly fast, so I can be done with all this probably by Tuesday or Wednesday, where the cycle will begin again.

One last thing– you know how when you wash clothes, you always end up with a sock or something missing? That happens to me with comics. This time, though, I got lucky. I’m only down one book, and that’s Spider-Man: Reign #3. I don’t know where it could’ve gone, because I know that I purchased it.

I really want to reread that series, too.

C’est la vie, right? This isn’t really as negative as it sounds. These are all good stories and worth rereading.

Maybe I should just learn the ancient art of self-control?

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The Spider-Man 3 Novelization: A Long-Tongued Taste of What’s to Come

March 30th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Sometimes I can’t keep myself from reading spoilers. A week or so before Revenge of the Sith came out, I read the comic based on it. I like Runaways member Chase so much that at one point I had to check Wikipedia to make sure he wasn’t the one who died in Runaways #18. I read spoilers for Supernova’s secret identity the day before that issue of 52 came out.

This is no different. The other day I got my hands on the novelization of Spider-Man 3, as written by Peter David. I was a bit wary, as the last time Peter David wrote Venom, this happened:

I’m going to try and stay away from major spoilers, but I may slip here or there. For instance, there’s an excellent scene where Aunt May defeats the Grizzly in a game of beer pong. What I won’t spoil is that she did it blindfolded.

Read the rest of this entry �

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A Late Question

March 29th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

“The death of Captain America should’ve happened in Civil War.”

Have you guys seen anyone say that? Said it yourself?

I don’t get it. Civil War had a (lackluster) ending. Cap dying was only tangentially related to it, in that it just provided a somber backstory for it. He died as a result of a plot that’s been building in the book since issue one. It shouldn’t have happened in Civil War at all!

I think what it is is that Captain America 25 was a good read, and a better read than Civil War #7. It had the bang we wanted from the end of Civil War, rather than the sound and fury CW7 delivered.

I mean, really, CW was over in the first issue when they passed the law.

Food for thought?

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: The Finale

March 28th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I feel kind of silly making this article since it was supposed to be done months ago. There are several things that kept me from finishing it, but I’m going to take the easy way out. All the time I usually use to write these What If articles was really used to pretend I was writing for Lost. I love writing Sam the Butcher’s dialogue the most.

Starting it off, here’s a series of sig images I made for the Batman’s Shameful Secret sub-forum at Something Awful. I guess they worked.

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Five Reasons

March 26th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

This is inspired in part by Kalinara’s post here.

Five Reasons Why I Blog:

One: The only way to become a better writer is to write.
I write for a living, so it’s important that I stay in practice. Having a comics blog lets me talk about something that I love. I’ve been trying to move 4l to a daily blog, but sometimes that’s hard. That’s the dream, though.

Two: I am a hopeless narcissist.
I like when people pay attention to me, and having a blog gives me a chance to see what other people feel about my opinions and/or writing. I love getting comments and responding to them.

Three: Blogs and the blogospherohedron have a wide variety of opinions.
This is partially related to Two. Getting comments is an easy way to see these other opinions, but the best way by far is to read other blogs. I’ve got 108 feeds in NetNewsWire and at least 60-70 of them are comics related feeds. I read all the big blogs, as far as I know, and a bunch of the smaller ones. There are a lot I don’t comment on (I hate that Blogspot doesn’t have comment feeds), but I do read them. You get to meet cool people.

Four: I like being able to sit down and organize my thoughts on comics.
I do a lot of thinking. Putting words on virtual paper forces me to organize those thoughts in such a way that they are both palatable and understandable to people who are not me. Writing them down makes them real and concrete.

Five: I just love comics, man.

I just wanted to talk about the comics, see? All those shitty, amazing comics…”
–Wally Sage, Flex Mentallo #1

You probably haven’t noticed, but there’s a Podpress link text at the bottom of the page now. I wonder what that could mean?

Watch this space.

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Is ALLnow Love

March 25th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I’ve mentioned before that I tend to think of Grant Morrison as a relentless optimist. It’s an admirable trait and it makes his comics kind of a joy to read. The heroes, while not flawless, are heroes still, even when they don’t want to be or do not believe themselves to be.

I’m in the middle of rereading New X-Men. it’s been a while, so it all seems pretty new. I just finished the first hardcover and a couple pages jumped out at me. Well, a lot of pages did, but these are the two I want to talk about. Both are from New X-Men 122.

team.jpg This is almost self-explanatory and a perfect encapsulation of Morrison’s optimism. The last time the X-Men fought Cassandra Nova, she laid waste to the team. It was only a last minute save by Emma Frost that took her down. Even then, Cassandra won. She jumped into Charles Xavier’s body and switched minds with him. She’s now in the body of the most powerful telepath on the planet. Shortly before Cassandra left Earth to take control of the Shi’ar Empire, she reduced Beast to a wreck and had him beaten nearly to death. Even while she’s been gone, her plans have been in motion. She’s poisoned the X-Men with nano-sentinels and booby-trapped her own body with a number of degenerative diseases.

In short, she’s completely played the entire team and she’s coming back to finish them off. Hank in particular is shaken up by all this because Cassandra tore him down to his basic elements. Jean’s response works to both reinforce Hank and to remind him that the X-Men don’t lose. It’s not even an option. It isn’t on the menu. For every negative that Hank brings up, Jean has an overwhelming positive. Can’t play the guitar? You can learn the drums! You’re afraid? You’re a hero to a kid who needs one. Blocked on creating something? It doesn’t matter. Keep trying. That is hope, and hope will triumph.

strangeeyes.jpg Another thing Morrison is big on is being true to yourself. The Invisibles dealt with this quite a bit, with King Mob trying to figure out who he is, Dane embracing the Jack Frost identity, Lord Fanny period, and the climax of Boy’s story arc. He’s got this whole thing about being radiant and true before you face down your big bad. This page is another perfect moment in time.

The Phoenix entity has a long comics history. It’s reached cliche status now, and it usually signals that something terrible is going to happen. Jean Grey could unmake the universe one day due to it… until now. She’s embraced her wings, strange eyes, and brilliant mind. It’s a new era. Hiding who you are in an attempt to fit in is the wrong way to go about things. Repression is wrong.

It’s hinted here that Jean only lost control because she was afraid and ashamed of her powers. Scott suggests that she go back to strict self-control, but what he’s suggesting is really self-limiting. It’s hiding all the things that are you in an attempt to fit in and be safe.

There’s an old saying. “Scared money don’t make money.” If you’re too afraid to take a risk, you aren’t ever going to get anything. Jean has taken a risk and embraced who and what she is and look- she’s better for it. “Do I look like I’m losing control?” She is in complete control of everything now. Herself, her powers, and her confidence.

This is really good stuff that isn’t always immediately apparent. Quitely’s body language says a lot here, too. Scott is hesitant and unsure. Jean? She’s in charge.

When he’s on top of his game, Morrison is one of the best. These two single pages just show a couple of his more enjoyable quirks. Even the end of The Invisibles features a hug and a reminder that good things are coming. “is allnow love,” and so on. He’s all about letting your freak flag fly.

If you’re curious, Geoff Klock has quite an interesting look at the issue here, as part of his ongoing look at the whole of New X-Men. Worth a read. He talks about all the things I don’t in this post.

There’ll probably be more later. NXM is a personal favorite of Morrison’s works, in part because it works with so many characters that I loved and grew up with in new ways. I think that there is a lot to be said about the way that Jean stepped up in the Professor’s absence to play the nurturer and carry the dream, as well. Even though it was Cassandra who left her in charge, she truly is the team leader, at least during the first year of NXM. Interesting, in that it’s usually Cyclops who is in charge, but he’s got so many issues that he is only on-point when he’s in battle. He’s flawless in space, for example, but a bit of a milksop when it comes to relationships.

But, wow, Charles Xavier is only 42 years old?

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A Slight Change of Plans

March 24th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

With a heavy heart, I have to announce that the next installment of Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings is on hiatus. Nobody is more shocked and outraged about this turn of events than former Intercontinental Champion Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

I know, Nikita Koloff. I know. But I have a reason. A very good reason.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing too many updates lately. I’ve been using my free time to read through the latest Mick Foley autobiography, Hardcore Diaries. I loved his other two autobiographies, but this one left me sour. About as sour as Mick Foley comes across for most of this book. Interesting wrestling anecdotes take a backseat to stories of Mick meeting B-list celebrities, ragging on the President to the point that it gets real old, and telling countless stories about what a great humanitarian Foley is.

There’s something else I’ve been reading. Readers of the site might remember my acquisition of the first three issues of the Marvel WCW comic at the New York Comic Con. I decided that three issues wasn’t good enough. Not for me and not for you. Fortunately, I came across the entire run on eBay. Unfortunately, it means I own two copies of a comic issue featuring El Gigante. God help me.

I forced myself to read the series and it wasn’t easy. The Malibu Street Fighter comic wasn’t all that bad until the end. The Mortal Kombat comic was honestly pretty good in parts. Even Extreme Justice could keep my attention enough that I’d keep going on to see what could possibly be next. World Championship Wrestling, though, hurt. A lot. Once a friend got wind of what I was reading, he told me, “You could be doing literally anything else and it would be a better use of your time.”

But I can’t let you guys down. Deadshot’s Tophat can wait. I’m finishing up my last What If article (finally), but after that, it’s on. Me and the WCW comic. One-on-one. No holds barred. With hermanos barred from ringside.

Prepared to get Stingersized!

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No Solicitors

March 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Have you guys read the new Marvel and DC solicits? I love comics, but those things are a bore and a half. It’s like they don’t even want you to read their books.

It’s cool, though. Here are the ones that are new and good and interesting. Jumping-on points only here, with one exception, perhaps. My pithy and vitally important commentary is in italics.

DC Comics is first since Marvel is better!

Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by J.H. Williams III
The Batmen of All Nations reunite for a weekend of fine food and nostalgia, but an unexpected visitor has other plans for the gathering. Batman, Robin, and the rest of the Club of Heroes find themselves trapped and at the mercy of a dangerous madman on the Island of Mister Mayhew!
This is why I read Grant Morrison. Mad ideas that sound completely goofy. He’s Silver Age with a Modern Age sensibility. Plus, I hope the sweet Knight and Squire from JLA Classified 1-3 shows up.

ROBIN #163
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Freddie E. Williams II
Cover by Patrick Gleason & Wayne Faucher
It’s Tim Drake’s first Father’s Day as Bruce Wayne’s adopted son, and he wants everything to be just right. Unfortunately, the justice-crazed supervillains known as The Jury pick that very day to go on a murder spree in Gotham City!
This is a great idea for a story. The “family” part of Bat-family doesn’t get looked at often enough. “The Jury,” though, conjures up images of a certain ’90s anti-Venom team.

Written by Paul Dini and Judd Winick
Art by Bruce Timm, Joe Chiodo and others
Cover by Timm
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm -two of the masterminds behind Batman: The Animated Series – join forces in this volume collecting the miniseries BATMAN: HARLEY AND IVY! Also included is the special: HARLEY AND IVY: LOVE ON THE LAM by Judd Winick and Joe Chiodo, plus a newly-colored story rom BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE VOL. 2!
It’s Harley Quinn, so shut up and buy it.
Read the rest of this entry �

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“Hip-hop and comics books were my genesis”

March 20th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

supergirl.jpg SUPERGIRL #11
Written by New York Times Best-selling Author Vladimir Nabokov, with art by Joe Benitez, and cover by Ian Churchill, SUPERGIRL is being ushered into a new age! Written by the man who is skilled at both writing and writing about teenage girls, SUPERGIRL is going to hit the DCU in a big way! She’ll be a major player after Nabokov is done, and this leads directly into the slam-bang megaseries COUNTDOWN!
On sale October 4 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Kara, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Ka-ra Zor-El: the tip of the tongue taking a trip down the palate to tap on the teeth. Su. Per. Girl.

Sorry, if I didn’t do this, no matter how unfunny, I never would’ve been able to get it out of my head. I just bought the Annotated Lolita and I’m about to start reading it so it’s on my mind.

Anyway, there was an article in the Toronto Star about superheroes in decline and the dearth of black heroes. It’s a sentiment that I could’ve gotten behind if the article wasn’t a little… iffy.

Here’s some news! The author thought the same thing.

A feature story I wrote about the comic industry’s troubles with black superheroes appeared in The Toronto Star today, complete with some swell art and a clever illo ( I’m always happy to write about comics in a mainstream publication – it keeps my mind limber, and hopefully forces a wider audience to take the medium a bit more seriously. That said, sometimes things happen with big publications that bug me a bit.

First, they billed me as a “visual-arts” writer – not a biggie I suppose. But they also tweaked my lead and cut about 400 words of what i thought was very good exposition.

The sum effect was, i feel, that my story lost a bit of the personality and humour that I pride myself in.

Anyways, I’m going to post the original version of the piece below and any interested readers can decide for themselves which one they prefer….. maybe I’m just being a sensitive writer (poor baby!) So far, the feedback has been positive, including reaction from Reginald Hudlin, and several black cartoonists.

It does, in fact, read much better this way. It’s an interesting read, if a bit old hat at times, but worth reading to see if it shakes any new thoughts out of you.

One thing I came up with was that, in terms of pop culture, you’ll often see blacks at the forefront. Part of being other-ized is that the children of those who other-ed you (if I may mangle the English language a bit) tend to rebel in your direction. Rap was originally music created by and for poor black and latin kids. Nowadays, scads of white kids are down with Tupac and one of the best-selling rappers ever is white. Look at Richard Pryor for comedy, or The Cosby Show, Fresh Prince, Martin, and Family Matters for sitcoms. Trailblazing.

But, not in comics. Black characters tend to be relegated to the ghetto of “protest characters.” From the article:

The problem is black characters always have to be protest characters…They’re always arguing about something or they’re always angry, and it always has to do with race. So they’re fixed within one specific subject.

They’re already others, and this serves to other-ize them further. Black characters deal with Issues, usually Race-Related, fairly often. They’re mouthpieces, spokescharacters.

We’ve heard this song before, I do believe.

Food for thought!

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4thletter is for… dialogue!

March 16th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I am a complete sucker for good dialogue. The Brians Three (Azzarello, Vaughan, and Bendis) are some of the best guys out at making realistic and natural-sounding dialogue. In fact, I’d say that the big three are Garth Ennis, Azz, and Bendis, in that order.

Ennis has a few themes that he comes back to over and over. “Superheroes suck!” is one. He likes to write about superheroes being awful people, war, and camaraderie. He’s got an incredible ear for dialogue. His people sound like real people. They’re distinct. I wasn’t a huge fan of the overarching story of Preacher, in part because Jesse Custer was kind of a jerk, but the dialogue was so solid that I had to keep reading. Chronicles of Wormwood is one of the most horrible, awful, and offensive comics I’ve ever read. It’s about the Antichrist, Wormwood, only he’s decided to buck his dad’s will and just live out his life without bringing on Armageddon. He’s good friends with JC, another character who has decided to try something different from what his Father wants. He ended up getting brained by a member of the LAPD for his trouble and suffers from brain damage. Wormwood is cheating on his girlfriend with a reborn Joan of Arc, too. It’s pretty despicable, but at the same time… it’s really kind of enjoyable. Ennis’s skill with dialogue turns an interview between a journalist and Wormwood into an insight into the minds and thoughts of both characters. Wormwood isn’t really a bad guy, I mean after all the Antichrist stuff. He genuinely has no interest in furthering his father’s goals and has made it a point to kill anyone who tries to make him do so. He does a bad thing when the journalist gets on his nerves and actually feels bad about it. He goes to break off his relationship with Joan (which ends up backfiring) because of this guilt. Ennis gets characters, is what I’m trying to say. Beyond all the (deformity+face) = Name and potty humor, Ennis writes real people, thanks almost wholly to his dialogue.

Azzarello is the same way. Where Ennis is a more on-the-surface kind of writer, where characters are pretty close to what they say they are, Azz’s characters exist between the lines. What they say is important, yes, but how they say it and what they don’t say is just as important. Look at that up above. Loop, the black guy. What do you get from just those three panels? He’s cocky, rocking a devil-may-care attitude, and he’s clever. Risso’s art helps here quite a bit, too. His body language says almost as much as the dialogue does. Azz’s dialogue has rhythm. People dance around each other’s words and tend to finish each other’s sentences. You have to pay attention to Azz’s dialogue, because it isn’t necessarily plain-spoken. Calling it “layered” would be a start. Words are laced with double and triple meanings. Seemingly offhand bits of dialogue end up being vital. Azz makes you think, and then think again. That’s part of why I love his work so much.

Bendis, for all the played out jokes and catchphrases, is really good at dialogue. He didn’t become one of the top writers at Marvel for nothing. Bendis’s dialogue is stuttery and fairly stacatto. But, who doesn’t talk like that? We start and stop, deliver half-finished thoughts, and talk over each other. Bendis is crazy wordy, but he’s also true to life. His people may sound similar overall, but the stutter-step talky-talk is a great device. One that has possibly been overused, but when used properly, is always excellent.

Let me round this out with one last guy. Personally, I think that Stan Lee brought a lot to comics dialogue. The pre-Marvel books that I’ve read tended toward the bombastic and overwrought. Stan the Man gave characters flaws, and at the same time, gave them voices that stick with you. He’s the man for a reason. To this day, I love the dialogue in those old Marvel books.

I picked this up out of a funny panels thread over at Batman’s Shameful Secret.


We love you, Stan. Don’t ever change.


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