Archive for March, 2009


Read Good Comics: The Amazon #1

March 31st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale’s The Amazon is an interesting tale, both from a story perspective and a historical one. It began life in 1989 at publisher Comico. This was a huge surprise to me, as I’d off-handedly assumed that Seagle got his start writing X-Men for Marvel. Regardless, The Amazon was their attempt at the comic books for adults that were arriving back in the day.

The Amazon was intended to raise some awareness about the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest via comic books. The narrator of the story is a journalist, Malcolm Hilliard, looking for a story. He finds his story in the form of an American man who has gone native with the local tribesmen and begun sabotaging the equipment. Hilliard plays the role of skeptic, refusing to believe in the superstitions of the local workers, and seeker of truth.

The original run of Amazon was colored, but this re-issue has been re-colored by Matt Hollingsworth, who does a fascinating job of making the Tim Sale of 20 years ago look similar to the Sale of 2009. The color scheme ranges from vibrant, but subdued, jungle to gloomy sunsets. Hollingsworth is one of the industry’s all-time greats, and was a great choice over Sale’s pencils.

I’m not sure how much, if any, reconstruction went on with Tim Sale’s pencils and inks for the re-issue, but the art is still sharp. The book is largely made up of detailed landscapes and talking heads, and Sale does a solid job of rendering it all. He sells the expressions on the faces of the suspicious foreman, drinking workmen, and Hilliard.

Sale also does some fairly cool storytelling and panel composition work. The majority of the book is made up of horizontal panels, maybe four to a page on average. When we finally get to see our renegade American, the composition switches to page-tall vertical panels, emulating the experience of looking between trees in the jungle. There is also a particularly good panel that has a character hidden in the jungle, visible only by figuring out that a certain shadow isn’t.

Seagle’s done a solid job on the writing. The storytelling is separated into three tiers. There’s the standard dialogue, Hilliard’s internal monologue, and his article. The three intermix and coexist, and build an interesting picture of both Hilliard’s personality and distance between his own thoughts and how he approaches journalism.

The story definitely feels like the first chapter in a longer story, and may read better in trade, but this first issue is far from poor. Seagle does a good job building up the main character, setting up the conflicts, and even sneaking in a bit of education regarding the Amazon without coming across overly preachy.

I dug the first issue, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series shakes out. If I hadn’t been told, I never would’ve guessed it was close to twenty years old. It’s well worth a look.

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Supergirl is 50 Years Old

March 31st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Who knew? The Silver Age Comics blog has the lowdown.

Supergirl is, by a wide margin, the most important female character in comics during the Silver Age. Only Wonder Woman even has an argument, and given the wretched state of that feature during the 1960s, I don’t think many people will make the case.

Seems like it should be more of a big deal, doesn’t it?

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2 Days for Free Watchmen Books!

March 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Remember this? You’ve got today, tomorrow, and maybe early Wednesday morning before time’s up! If you’re thinking of trying to get some free books, now’s the time.

I’ll likely post the winners after lunch on Wednesday, along with my review of the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen book!

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My Scott & Jean: Knowing When To Let Go

March 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

from marvel’s New X-Men Vol. 7: Here Comes Tomorrow, words by grant morrison, art by marc silvestri

My Scott & Jean is accepting change. Opinions change, people change, stories change, characters change, and comics change. Gambit and Rogue had a “will they or won’t they?” relationship when I first started reading comics. Cannonball was on the verge of becoming a great leader. Iceman was learning just how powerful he really is. Scott and Jean were going through relationship troubles. And so on.

When things last that long, they stagnate.

New X-Men was the last great X-Men story. It told a tale that of drama, death, and revenge that, in the end, was solved by love. Jean Grey is basically the main character of Morrison’s New X-Men. Despite having grown apart from her husband after he went through some serious trauma, she loves him. She’s grown-up enough to let the relationship go without any drama or mess. She laughs, and tells her husband to live. It was easily the most mature thing to ever happen to that relationship, which has been fraught with Claremont-style fairy tale love and forced drama.

It’s over, let it be. It’s time for something new.

I’ve got no interest in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Flash: Rebirth, the return of Babs Gordon as Batgirl, Johnny Storm and Iceman being dialed back to being idiots because writers are too lazy or too infatuated with the first time they read them (whatever happened to that friendship, anyway?), Cyclops going back to being cold and aloof, the X-Men going from thriving minority to endangered species, or any of that crap. Leave 1985 in the past, because we have been there and done that.

Stories shouldn’t last forever.

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Great Moments in Black History #03: A Man Is Just A Man

March 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

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from dc comics’s new frontier, art and words by darwyn cooke

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And… Back from King of Trios ’09

March 30th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

What a weekend. Maybe a write-up later. Tired (and according to that image, dead) now. I did get a muffin kicked into my face. So there’s that.

Seriously, I can’t recommend going to a live CHIKARA show enough.

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March 29th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I think most of the people reading this have heard of Dollhouse.  It’s a series about a super-secret underground organization that rents out ‘Dolls’ out to the rich and powerful.  Dolls are men and women who have had their memories wiped, and have been mentally implanted with memories that allow them to complete a specific task asked for by the client.

A good enough premise, but a few things keep hitting me while watching.

Read the rest of this entry �

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Adventures in Anger Management

March 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

from marvel’s war of kings: darkhawk #2, words by cb cebulski, art by harvey tolibao

You should be able to control your anger when you encounter:
1) Rush hour traffic
2) Underdone omelet
3) Stubbed toe
4) Your mother being put into a coma a couple hours ago by a giant monster from space

Clearly, Chris Powell, bka Darkhawk, is wrong to be upset here. Maybe he should get himself under control, as this fine young beacon of rationality and sense is suggesting!

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Tragedy Confers Skill?

March 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Sometimes I wonder about the backstories of the characters, and how they relate to their skills.  Batman has his parents murdered in front of his eyes.  He becomes the best martial artist, the best detective, the best strategist, the best escape-artist, etc.  True, he did have a long time to train, but what are the odds of him actually being the best, no matter how hard he worked?

Frank Castle had his entire family murdered in front of him.  No lifetime of training for him.  He went straight to ultimate badass after that.

Superman tops them both with his entire planet blowing up.  He becomes, arguably, the most powerful being on earth.

It’s not that I can’t understand the reasons for this.  In the story, a traumatic event explains the character’s drive and focus, which in turn explains their skill.  Also, practically speaking, few people want to read a superhero comic about a superhero who feels fine and isn’t very good at what they do.

At the same time, I wonder about ways to break from the mold.  An evil part of me wants to make up a superhero character who has that traumatic past, but whose past hasn’t conferred upon them the skill that other heroes have.  It’s tragic to be the hollow-eyed, traumatized heavyweight who saves other people’s lives because you couldn’t save your own.  How much sadder would it be to be the hollow-eyed, traumatized screw-up who can’t run fast enough to save people’s lives, can’t fight well enough to save people’s lives, and is just too damn dumb to figure out the situation, anyway?

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Who Wants Free Watchmen Books?

March 27th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

These three books are sitting on my desk right now:


For reference, they are Watchmen: Portraits, Watchmen: The Film Companion, and Watchmen: The Art of the Film.

They’re part of the Watchmen merch that came out prior to or at the same time as the film. I can attest to the fact that they’re awesome, particularly the portraits book. They’re enormous single page portraits of the cast and crew, and even a few props.

Anyway, I have these books, sent to me courtesy of Katherine at Titan Books, and I thought to myself… I should give these away. In fact, I can double it. I have two of each book. That’s six books total. I’m going to give away all six.

Here’s what you have to do. In the comments below, I want you to tell me what your favorite Alan Moore story is. Preferably, it will be a book that we can all pick up on Amazon or at our local book store. If it’s a single issue, tell us what collection it’s in. Here’s the rub, however: you need to tell me, over the course of around a paragraph, two if you’re really into it, why you love it so much.

Just for clarification, we’re talking books here. “Tom Strong” isn’t an answer, but “Tom Strong volume 1” is, as long as you back it up. “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen #1” isn’t an answer, but “LoEG v1, which includes #1,” is. Make sense?

I’m going to close off submissions on Wednesday, unless the thread dies off before then, and then I’m going to go through with my crack team of comics criticism scientists (read: me, myself, and I) and pick out the six best. Those six will get an email from me so that I can get their addresses and then I’m going to mail them a book. I get to pick the book, but all three are about equally awesome.

How’s that sound? Have at it.

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