Archive for February, 2009



February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

There were two things I learned at the DC Universe panel.

There is going to be a Batgirl book after Battle for the Cowl is over.

Cassandra Cain is not going to be ‘part of the batfamily’ after Battle for the Cowl is over.

I asked who was going to fill the cowl and was denied an answer, so I’ve compiled a list.

1.  Barbara Gordon:  Her upcoming series is titled ‘The Cure.’  Dan Didio has gone from flatly denying the idea that Babs would ever walk again to giving cagey answers like, “There’s a lot to be said for a Barbara Gordon Batgirl.”  I think I’ve made it no secret that I would love to see Barbara Gordon as Batgirl again.  But then, isn’t she just a bit old for the ‘girl’ title?  And since the position of Batwoman is filled at least up until the end of the JH Williams Batwoman book, there might not be a place for an adult Batgirl.

2.  Stephanie Brown:  What can I say?  I don’t give up hope. 

3.  Charlie Gage-Radcliffe:  After all, she adopted the title for a while, and Barbara took her under her wing.  But what’s more – It’s been a long time coming.  And let me say, there were times when I truly believed I would never see this day.  But at last, at long last, there might possibly be a heroine with a hyphenated last name in the Batbooks.  Stay strong, sister!  Make us proud!

4.  Cassandra Cain:  Because sometimes a DC editor can be the father of all liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeees.

5.  Deathstroke:  He shows up in every book.  It was just a matter of time, really.

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My Review of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Oh God, Why?

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

“You killed my—“
“Yes, yes, I killed your father. What is it with you women? I killed my father and you don’t hear me complaining about it.”

— Chun-Li and M. Bison from the Street Fighter animated series.

Years ago, I went and saw Street Fighter: The Movie in theaters. It was, as we all know, a bad movie. It’s infamous for being a bad movie. I hated it. As time went on, I learned to forgive it and even enjoy it for its ridiculousness. More than that, I understood the movie.

At least, I understood why it came to be. Street Fighter II was all the rage and a movie was a natural follow up. With so many characters to choose from, the best they could do was create a GI Joe setting where the then-most popular character in the US leads his fellow good guys against the main villain and his cronies. It was there to sell action figures. It was stupid, but I understand why it was.

Last night I watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. Most fighting games have the habit of having a crappy first attempt and a beautiful second attempt. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Fatal Fury, Guilty Gear, the Marvel games and so on. By all means, it should be the same with the movies, considering what a turkey the first movie was. They HAD to improve. The studio pressure was lessened this time. We didn’t need Guile and his kung-fu commandos taking on M. Bison’s armies. They were free to tell a more fitting story. They were allowed to do better! They WOULD do better!


The real question isn’t whether or not Legend of Chun-Li is worse than the first Street Fighter movie. Because it really is. It really, really is. The real question is whether Legend of Chun-Li is worse than the Happening. I honestly can’t figure out a good answer for that right now. It’s that close. It’s definitely worse than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation if that means anything to you.

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Wonder Woman: The Movie

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Maybe it’s the result of being in a huge room and watching the movie with hundreds of other people, but the battle scenes in this movie make you want to stand up and cheer.  That is, when they don’t make you want to turn your head away and wince.  Director Lauren Montgomery said that the first cut of this movie earned an R rating, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit.  I cut my teeth on the kid-friendly Batman: The Animated Series, and am therefore not accustomed to see that many bodies on the ground in a kid’s animated movie.  Still, the violence is done with style, giving the battles energy and weight, rather than just gore for the sake of gore.

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WonderCon: DC Nation Bulletin

February 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Here are a few of my reactions to the DC Nation panel:

  • Ian Sattler is almost disgustingly endearing as the moderator.
  • And when he said that James Robinson’s accent would class up the place he wasn’t kidding.
  • The New Krypton is still far from over, and while I’m usually not a fan of long, drawn out crossover events, the snazzy trailer they showed featured an increasingly militaristic society of Kryptonians and Lex Luthor.  Might vanquishing the Kryptonian forces be a way for Lex to claw his way back to respectability?  They say it’s all building toward a 2010 event, so we’ll have to sit tight for now.
  • Blackest Night #0 is going to be made available on free comic book day so I’m going to have to wear nothing but yellow and carry a wooden bat to get past the hordes of Green Lantern fans.
  • The new Doom Patrol book was nerd-bait to begin with.  Add in Keith Giffen and the Metal Men and I thought that the flames on the cover image were just the smoking remains of some fanboy’s exploded head.
  • Paul Dini deserves all the credit in the world.  He writes fantastic stories and has been doing so for coming up on two decades.   The problem is, when you are a female comic book fan and you hear about a team book with Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn, and it’s called Gotham City Sirens, you have one main worry: Will the entire premise of the book be a lot of  boobs with a little story around them?  Once you start worrying about that you pretty much rate each statement made about the book as good or bad depending on whether it implies that your worry is justified.  So, I will interpret Mister Dini’s description of the book thusly:  It will have “emotional devastation  (Good.).”  It will be “very dangerous (Bad.), very hot (Extremely Bad.), very extreme (Neutral.), and not what anyone is expecting (Good, again.).”
  • Whatever else is going on, making Kate Spencer the new DA of Gotham is inspired.  Bravo.

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Black History Month ’09 #28: You Can’t Stop Us Now

February 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

On Illmatic, Nas breaks off the intro to N.Y. State of Mind to say, “I don’t know how to start this.” There’s a pause, and with a “yo,” he goes on to kick five minutes of sublime lyrics. It’s not a studio gimmick or a punch-in. It’s real life. This little snippet of time, maybe three seconds at most, is Illmatic in miniature. It’s the biography of the young black male: simultaneously brilliant and unsure, arrogant and nervous, full of potential and lacking at the same time.

It’s a line that brings to mind Loop Hughes of 100 Bullets. Before the events of the series, he was the son of a single mother, running with faceless nobodies, and drifting through life. He had a life, but it was half of one. He was going nowhere.

Eventually, he meets his father, thanks to a nudge from Agent Graves, and that puts him on some kind of a road. He absorbs knowledge and experience from his father like a sponge. After his father dies, he learns that his father was respected a great deal by hard men, and he learns another lesson.

Over the course of the series, Loop pays attention to things and keeps learning. He’s trained in prison by a man with no conscience, and when they get out, he’s connected to more men who knew his father. As time goes on, he learns about life and killing. He’s a sponge.

Finally, toward the end of the series, he’s in a situation that is the ultimate mexican standoff. Two of the men involved have no interest in solving it any way but one. Loop sees another solution and takes it, trusting that things will align as they should. And they do. It’s another Illmatic line. “Whose world is this? The world is yours, the world is yours.”

There’s a lot that I like about Loop, and a lot that I can relate to. I know about having a single mother. I know about being aimless. I know about needing a push to reach greatness. I can identify with Loop’s rise over the course of 100 Bullets, because it resembles my own.

Illmatic’s message is, at least in part, about potential. You are sitting at the top of a hill and full of potential energy. You can either waste that energy and fall, or you can spend it and soar. The thing that I, and a lot of people like me, understand is that the potential within me is limitless. The older I get, the more I realize I can do. Everything I’ve ever decided to do, I’ve done and done well. When someone asks me “Whose world is this?” the only appropriate response is “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.”

At the same time, that arrogance only goes so far. Sometimes you have to sit back and whisper, “I don’t know how to start this.” You start out on the back foot, so you’ve got to worry about how you look to others and make sure that you’re on point. The moment you screw up, you become a statistic, a stereotype, typical, and generally just another reason for people to go “Ugh, I knew it.” There’s that little voice in the back of your head that says that you aren’t good enough, and never will be.

Once you get past that, the world is yours.

Loop’s been on my mind a lot lately, for both the reasons I mention above and the fact that 100 Bullets is about two weeks away from ending as I type. When I went to New York Comic-con, I had a chance to get a sketch from Eduardo Risso, artist of 100 Bullets. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I needed a sketch of Loop. So I got it.

Loop Hughes, by Eduardo Risso

I currently have two things on my wall. One is a page of original art from Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, featuring John Henry waking up from being lynched and walking off into the darkness to do what needs to be done. The other is the classic Muhammad Ali poster “First Minute, First Round,” with a triumphant Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston. The other is going to be this piece by Risso of Loop.

I’m very picky about what I put up on my walls. It’s got to have some special meaning to me or represent something, rather than just being a hot piece of art. Ali is the arrogance that is necessary, John Henry is about purpose and drive, and Loop is about potential.

It’s 2009. I’m 25 years old, and the world is mine.

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Black History Month ’09 #27: Life Is Illmatic

February 27th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Today is a short one. It’s from Icon #30, by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright. They say my overall point much better than I could, so I’m going to keep my talking to a minimum.

Really, though- I hope DC does right by Milestone. The company, its legacy, and its characters deserve to be done properly.

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Ryu Final: It’s Tiger Awesome!

February 26th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I’ve always been a fan of the Street Fighter games and their stories. With the sudden resurgence of the series with its kickass new videogame and horrible, horrible new movie which I will unfortunately see on opening day because it probably won’t be in theaters anymore by Saturday, I’ve been checking out a lot of the comic-related stuff. While UDON has three different Street Fighter comics coming out at the same time (Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter IV and a Chun-Li miniseries), I decided to give the manga Ryu Final a look.

I’m not usually a manga guy, but we had it at work and I wanted to give it a shot because it takes place during the course of Street Fighter III. I love the SF3 games and they never get any play. They always appear neglected by Capcom and a lot of the fans, such as the lack of any of its characters in SF4. I should also bring up the bizarre and confusing ordering of the game series’ canon. Some games replace others in continuity, even when they appear to be sequels. By the end of it, it looks like this:

– Street Fighter
– Street Fighter Alpha 2
– Street Fighter Alpha 3
– Super Street Fighter II Turbo
– Street Fighter IV
– Street Fighter III: Second Impact
– Street Fighter III: Third Strike

All while sharing the same universe with Final Fight, Rival Schools and Saturday Night Slam Masters.

Ryu Final takes place during Third Strike, the latest entry in terms of continuity. It follows Ryu, piecing together nearly all of his character interactions and the game endings that relate to him. A run-in with Ken ends with Ryu defeated and questioning why he even fights in the first place. Soon after, he meets with a crazy 150-year-old man named Oro who soundly defeats him and forces him under his wing as his new apprentice. The two of them wander the world together as Ryu takes on various SF3 characters like Hugo, Yun, Yang and Dudley.

This quest for answers brings Ryu closer and closer to his final battle against his main nemesis Akuma. Which reminds me that the manga is completely worth reading just for a flashback sequence that shows Ryu’s origin. Long story short, a younger Akuma saves a very young Ryu’s life by jumping out of the shadows in a cave, punching his fist THROUGH the back of a bear’s skull and stopping with his fist inches from Ryu’s face. The manga does well in adding more dimension to the Akuma character, even including an odd Killing Joke moment of laughter between Ryu and Akuma before their fight.

For me, it all boils down to how awesome Sagat is. For those who play the games, you’re probably wondering what the hell Sagat has to do with anything. He wasn’t in any of the SF3 games. As far as the canon goes, Sagat and Ryu agreed that Ryu would seek out Sagat when he was ready for them to have their true, clean fight. So during SF3, Sagat is just chilling out in Thailand. In this book, Ryu does meet up with him as to fulfill his promise of a rematch and the entire thing is totally sweet.

But there’s another part that’s great involving a flashback. We go back to see Sagat after SF1’s conclusion. Ryu had sucker-punched Sagat and gave him a huge, bloody wound on his chest in a major upset. Sagat’s top pupil has lost faith in him and Sagat has lost faith in himself. He responds to his loss by tearing apart trees in rage.

Then he finds that he almost crushed a kid during this. The boy is laying there, horribly wounded and half dead. A doctor finds that the wounds were caused by a tiger mauling him. There are poachers out there who will force children to act as decoys for the sake of catching their prey. Hearing about this, Sagat races into the jungle.

“What am I doing?! Am I going to defeat the poachers to avenge the young boy…?! NO!! I merely want to avenge my own honor… That is all I fight for! This has nothing to do with compassion… This is about making myself feel better! What a petty man I am! But… I don’t care! No one can stop me now!!”

There are two hunters going after a giant tiger. One gets mauled to death. Sagat steps in and stares down the tiger until it leaves. The surviving poacher is grateful, but Sagat calls him out on exploiting the children. He begins to slap the shit out of the guy repeatedly while bitching him out. His chest wound is still fresh and the pain kicks in again, causing him to hesitate and allowing the poacher to escape into his camp. The poacher brings out a little girl and holds a gun to her head, saying that he’ll let her go if Sagat forgets this night ever happened.

The wounded little boy from earlier shows up and yells at him to stop.

After the flashback, we see that these two siblings have grown up to be farmers who are loyal and close to Sagat. Sagat rules so very much.

But yeah, Ryu Final is worth a try if you’re riding the SF4 high. The UDON Street Fighter stuff isn’t bad either, now that it’s coming out regularly again, but I noticed a big problem in Seth’s plan in the first Street Fighter IV issue:

Don’t do it! That guy in the bottom right beat up Batman and can tear your spine out! Wait, never mind. I forgot that I hate Crimson Viper. Forget I said anything.

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The Blue Beetle: Ending With De-Friending

February 26th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Well, the series went out strong, and with its characteristic emphasis on family.  Add in a big battle won despite staggering odds against our hero, a curtain call by all the characters in the series, and an ending filled with hope and positivity and – *sniff* – I’m going to miss you, Jaime!

Alright, let me shake that off and get into a bit I can criticize.

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Black History Month ’09 #26: The Message

February 26th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Even though I have problems with some of the treatment of black characters in comics, I think that things are looking better than they ever have. There are more black headliners, more black characters, and better stories featuring those characters than there were years ago. Vertigo, once the stronghold of stories aimed at goths, published Sentences and the Papa Midnite book, in addition to expanding to the point where they’ve got an entire line based around crime fiction. Marvel seems committed to treating Black Panther as a major player in terms of both stories and real world stature.

I don’t think that things are perfect, not by any means, but things are getting better. I still want to hear more black voices, see black characters that aren’t introduced and shuffled off to the sidelines or the background, and stories that do more than paying lip service to the idea of black culture.

It’s a cliche to say that “black history is American history,” but it’s true. America would not be the country it is today without the input of black people, be it forced or voluntary. Slavery led to economic prosperity, but contributions from black people didn’t end there. There’s the Harlem Renaissance, slavery-era literature, 20th century music, novels, movies, and dozens of others. You don’t have to dig very deep at all to find something of value.

I’d like to be able to say the same about comics. Milestone is back in what could be the perfect time for its resurgence. A company that blazed trails in portrayal of non-white characters, transgender characters, and coloring can go from a well-regarded footnote to actually having the stature and respect it deserves. Gay characters in comics don’t begin with Perry Moore and end with Northstar. Islam in comics didn’t start with GW Bridge or The 99. There’s a lot out there that has gone forgotten simply because the material isn’t easily accessible.

There are a bunch of extremely talented black artists out there who will one day be up there with the greats. There’s fascinating panel designs, fusions of influences from Kirby to Otomo to Moebius to Tezuka and back again, and new and exciting ways to approach comics. I’m sure that there are plenty of writers waiting in the wings, too, with fresh ideas and perspectives to bring to things.

What do I want out of blacks in comics? I’ve got a list of things. I’d like to see black characters on an even keel with white ones, more research, more variety, and more respect.

Really though, two words: good stories.

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Black History Month ’09 #25: Re-Definition

February 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Bishop had the strange position of being one of exactly two black X-Men when I was big into the comics. He was on the cover of the first issue of Uncanny X-Men I paid for with my own money (I remember this because it was behind the counter on a display as the first appearance of Bishop.) and he seemed pretty cool. Whilce Portacio made him look pretty mean and scary, and his power was, and is, dope.

But, he doesn’t work all the way for me. It isn’t that he’s inauthentic or not “black” enough or whatever– he’s from the future. It’s also not necessarily his origin or his underlying story. The X-Traitor stuff was fascinating, his ties to Gambit were interesting (the Boysenberry pie scene from X-Men is still one of my all-time favorites), and the hero worship he originally had for the X-Men was really very cool.

He just hasn’t clicked yet. He’s been through a few different variations. His original version is probably the most interesting to me, though the costume and hair left much to be desired. The idea of the X-Men living on into the future and inspiring people even then is, well, inspired. It’s a nice twist on the idea of a superheroic legacy, and Bishop being awestruck the first time he meets Storm or Cyclops was fun. There’s an unspoken undertone of authoritarianism to the whole works that adds a bit of sauce, too. After a while, he just turned into a generic X-Hero, but it was interesting while it lasted.

Bishop went through Age of Apocalypse and ended up with his mind turned inside out. He tripped from that into Onslaught and a series of increasingly uninteresting adventures that went from New York to the future to outer space and back again. When he landed, Claremont reinvented him as a bald detective guy, which could have been an interesting idea. Instead, it turned Bishop into a generic guy who makes deductions and sometimes fast-talks cops. District X was a series which threw Bishop into the midst of Mutant Town, New York, but it was similarly bland.

Messiah Complex added a new wrinkle to Bishop’s past. It explained that the dystopia he hails from was caused by a certain mutant baby. Messiah Complex was essentially a crossover that is at least in part about Bishop trying to kill a baby. This situation escalated in Cable’s solo series, where Bishop is chasing Cable and that baby through time.

While it’s actually kind of a gross-sounding hook on paper, I think it would have been way more interesting if Bishop were presented as at all sympathetic. If the baby actually did cause the death of millions, then Bishop is genuinely trying to do the right thing and you have a real dilemma. Instead, Bishop is eliminating entire eras in his attempt to pop the baby. It makes him pretty unlikeable, I think, on top of the whole “I need to kill this baby” thing.

Bishop’s a character that I want to like, but, like Nightwing, he’s never had a Frank Miller come along and turn him on his head and make him interesting. He’s run through a gauntlet of characterizations at this point, and none of them really seem to click. He’s always missing something. He needs a good hook and a good arc to make him worthwhile.

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