Archive for October, 2009


Still a Couple Minutes of Halloween Left

October 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Here’s my favorite Halloween-related thing. Back in the day, Alice Cooper was abducted by Jason Voorhees. The Terminator decided that Axl Rose wasn’t worth killing. Both the Fat Boys and the Fresh Prince were each terrorized by Freddy Krueger.

But Dokken doesn’t play that weak shit. Kick his ass, Don! WITH ROCK!

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Dustin Nguyen x Bushwick Bill

October 31st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Key words: Dustin Nguyen, Halloween short story, Batman, Geto Boys.

Click or be turned into a pillar of salt.

For reference:

The video scared the life out of me as a kid.

More artists should do this. Someone turn Ghostface’s “Run” into a comic strip, please.

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The Undertaker Comic Part 1: No-Selling in Ink Form

October 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The history of the WWF/WWE can more or less be broken up into eras. There’s the Golden Age, followed by the Hogan Era, followed by the New Generation, followed by the Attitude Era, followed by the Crossover Era, followed by the Cena Era. At least, that’s how I see it. The Attitude Era is easily the most successful era, regarded for bringing wrestling into the media forefront. Chronologically, it begins with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise as a top face and ends with Wrestlemania 17, where Austin turns on the fans shortly after the company had freshly bought their competition, WCW.

Professional wrestling was at its apex during this era, mostly due to WWF and WCW trying to outdo each other. It seems silly now, but the idea of a WWF comic was pretty natural back then. In 1999, Chaos Comics got the rights to the property and let loose with a handful of comics. Mankind, The Rock and Chyna each got their own one-shot, while Steve Austin got a four-issue miniseries. I’ll save those for a later day.

Today I’m going to discuss The Undertaker’s comic. Unlike the others, he got a full-blown series out of the deal. It lasted 10 issues, plus specials. On one hand, it makes sense. Undertaker was always one of the most unrealistic and open-ended characters in the WWF. On the other hand, during the release of this series, Undertaker was the top heel of the company. We’re basically meant to root for the WWF’s top villain.

I’ll get into a who’s who for those uninitiated with wrestling in a bit, but first I’ll go over the Undertaker Halloween Special. While it did come out towards the end of the series, it doesn’t exactly fit in with anything and makes as a good introduction to the four wrestling-based characters.

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Watch out now, she’ll chew you up…

October 30th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

From Typhoid #4, the last issue of Ann Nocenti and John Van Fleet’s 1996 miniseries from Marvel Edge:


Typhoid Mary is one of my favorite comics characters and was created by one of my favorite writers and one of my favorite artists. This is a good scene that illustrates exactly what she is. Mary, Typhoid, Bloody, and Mary Walker. Virgin, Whore, Femme Fatale, and Human. Parts of a whole.

I can’t figure out my favorite part of this scene. It’s either when Mary Walker wakes up and puts the gun in her mouth (“here’s to lightening the load”) or the way she switches from Mary to Typhoid to Bloody in quick succession on the next page. Bloody’s justification for killing speaks volumes, too, with shades of Ennis’s Frank Castle lurking in her words:

“You wanted to know why killers kill? What a stupid question. Did it ever occur to you that some people should be dead?”

I dug this mini a lot. I’ll have to work up a real review for it, because it’s really very interesting from a variety of viewpoints. But honestly, I really, really want Ann Nocenti to do some more comics. These are fascinating, and since the blogosphere has a decently-sized feminist faction, I’d like to think that we’d get some interesting discussion of her old work out of it.

This book also convinced me that, like Noh-varr, Bendis has no qualms about taking older, previously-established characters and sanding them down until they fit into the fictionsuit he needs to make his story work. Typhoid Mary goes from representing corruption and beauty and social pressure and imbalance to being… Generic Loopy Crazy Chick With Her Boobs Out. Noh-varr goes from Angry Dane McGowan Bent on Fixing Earth By Force to Confused Baby Hero, Easily Led Around by An Obvious Villain. It’s really soured me on his writing. It feels so lazy, like it’s sucking all the potential out of these wonderful things just to have them in a story.

There were a few pinups in the back of the book. It blew my mind that Howard Chaykin did one:

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Humor vs. Character: Death Match?

October 28th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell


The character responsible for Kyle disgusted lip-curl is Bueno Excellente, Garth Ennis’s Section 8character.  Bueno overcomes evil with the power of perversion.  Seriously.  A drugged sexual encounter between Kyle and Bueno is implied (although it is possible that Bueno managed to save Kyle), in the above panels.  Some people have said that, whichever scenario is implied, the above panels are a rape joke, and would have an effect of Kyle’s character.  Other people say that it was just a joke and not part of continuity.

(There’s also a ‘just a joke’ argument versus an ‘offensive’ argument.  Since that always comes up, I’ll briefly summarize my thoughts on the matter.  Phrasing something humorously doesn’t mean the central concept isn’t offensive, and if someone is tough enough to make jokes about sensitive subjects, they should be tough enough to take criticism.)

I haven’t seen Bueno in action, so I don’t know if the moment is out of character for him, but I imagine that this was just meant as a funny shout-out to another comic book, and not an important part of either character’s history.  (Unless Grant Morrison gets hold of it in 30 years.  Then it will be the basis for several whodunnit-type story-arcs.)  There are other moments scattered through comics that do the same thing.

Much was made of the Tamora Pierce (Edit: Jodi Picoult was the actual writer.  Thank you David Uzumeri.) Wonder Womanissue in which Wondy dropped an injured man she was carrying when he made a lascivious remark about her.  It was supposed to be a humorous beat, but many readers pointed out that it was an out-of-character move for Wonder Woman that could have had serious consequences.

Savant and Creote were introduced in Birds of Prey.  Savant was a computer genius who had no ability to judge time; he wouldn’t know if he had done something yesterday or a decade ago.  Creote was a Russian ultra-thug who, it was revealed, was gay and in love with Savant.  They were bad guys who were semi-redeemed over about forty issues, and then left the story.  About ten issues later, when the Birds need someone they can trust to take car of a young girl, Creote turned up in an apron with a feather duster under one arm, oven mitts on both hands and balancing what looked like a casserole dish.  The panel was a funny image, but Creote was established as a glowering tough guy who was indifferent to his surroundings; indifferent, in fact, to everything that wasn’t Savant.

Obviously, the skill, timing, and context of these moments influence how people take them, but so does personal taste.  Some people don’t mind a little out-of-character wackiness if it’s in service of an overall humorous tone.  Others don’t think its funny if it doesn’t feel right for the character.

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Neither Brave Nor Bold: Just Stupid.

October 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

“Tune your ear to the frequency of despair, and cross reference by the longitude and latitude of a heart in agony.


Gav threw in a brief mention of it on Sunday, but I wanted to come back around and reiterate exactly how unbelievably stupid Brave and Bold 28 was last week. Uzumeri hit ’em up earlier this week, so consider this “Bomb 1st,” a second reply.

In brief, the comic is about the time the Flash took a trip back to the Battle of the Bulge and hung out with the Blackhawks. There’s some typical comic book science tomfoolery to make it happen (involving light that travels slower than light speed), of course, and that’s dumb, but not as dumb as the main story. Barry Allen, Flash, is torn. He’s in a war zone, he has a plot device injury that keeps him from running at full speed (though he is clearly still faster than everyone else), and the Blackhawks want him to shoot up some Nazis. So he thinks, mopes, and then takes a uniform out of a supply box and shoots up some Nazis. Why is it okay to do this? “Because Barry Allen, American, can do those things in the uniform of his country, which is at war.”

Brave and the Bold: Comics That Insult Your Intelligence!

This story is really and truly the most offensively bad piece of crap I’ve read in ages. In pursuit of trying to make a point about “The Greatest Generation” and when it is okay to kill, JMS wrote the kind of story that mixes black and white morals/moralization, superheroic problem solving (hit it til it’s dead, leave a smug moral on its corpse), and a complete and utter lack of perspective.

I have a number of problems with the story, not the least of which is the lunacy of mixing superheroes and real world disasters. However, for the purposes of this post, number one is that Barry Allen steals a uniform and firearm from a box of supplies and pretends to be in the army for “weeks.” Impersonating a soldier is a crime. Impersonating a soldier and killing people is undoubtedly several orders of magnitude more illegal than just impersonating a soldier. Even dumber is Blackhawk insisting that this is war, and people kill or get killed during war, so start killing or get killed. Guess what Blackhawk: prisoners of war exist for a reason.

Soldiers aren’t just some guy who put on a uniform and decided to go shoot some patriotic bullets at infidels. They are specifically trained in a variety of disciplines, from combat to communication to inter-army relations. There are rules and regulations that they must follow, both in the UCMJ and wartime law. Those rules protect soldiers. However, soldiers are not civilians. Barry Allen is a civilian. Civilians who attempt to fight during wartime are unlawful, and should be arrested, tried, and possibly drawn up on war crimes, depending on what they’ve done. Barry Allen using his superhuman powers against normal humans while pretending to be something he’s not? I’d call that a war crime.

Basically, war isn’t a game of pickup basketball at the park. You don’t get to play shirts vs skins just because you take your top off and tighten your high tops. You get to sit on the sidelines, shut your fat yap, and hope for the best.

Second is the central conceit of the book, the question of “when is it okay to kill?”, is ridiculous. Pro-tip: we’re not children. Reducing a problem to an either/or situation works for children, because they don’t have the capacity to understand that the world is made of shades of grey. For kids, there are good guys and there are bad guys. For adults, it is never that simple. “When is it okay to kill?” is dumber when you consider that Barry Allen is a police officer in his civilian life. If anyone should have an opinion on that, it should be Barry. And it shouldn’t be an opinion as turgid and hamfisted as “Because Barry Allen, American, can do those things in the uniform of his country, which is at war.”

There are a number of very valid positions to take on the question. I’m sure we all have opinions on when, or if, it is okay. But, hey, Barry’s a superhero, so there must be a black or white answer. And that answer is “It is okay to kill when you jump through an unnecessary hoop to justify it to yourself in the name of specious logic and self-righteousness.”

After more garbage that you’ve seen in every time travel story ever (“Do we win? In the future, is it worth it?”), a bit more pontificating (“But the country is still the country. It has its flaws, and it isn’t always right, but it’s still intact. And I guess that’s all that matters,” he says, as he looks off into the distance), we’re left with the money shot of all World War II stories: a character looking off into a graveyard and re-affirming that “they were the extraordinary ones.”

My rawest, most honest reaction to this scene was “blow me.” You have a character who can move at superspeed, if not run during the story. He throws a thousand bricks and incapacitates a German unit in a matter of seconds. By the end of the book, he can move at light speed again and goes home, safe and sound. And he’s looking at the graves of the eighty thousand people, people who not thirty seconds ago were within arm’s reach, and thinking about how extraordinary they were?

That’s stupid. I’m stupid for reading it, JMS is stupid for writing it, and DC is stupid for publishing it. It’s not just stupid, it’s insulting. This is why superheroes have no business in World War II tales. There was nothing stopping the Flash from saving those lives. If he can put on a stolen uniform and shoot Germans willy-nilly, any idea of a temporal paradox is out the window. Not using his powers at the Battle of the Bulge is as stupid and patronizing as Superman insisting that he shouldn’t do anything more than beat up giant monsters. Because Flash could have saved them, but didn’t, their lives are on his head.

Keep superheroes out of World War II, and keep JMS out of my comics. Whatever goodwill he had from when he did Spider-Man with JRjr is burnt out and chased out. He’s terrible. I can’t think of the last comic I hated like I hate every single solitary inch of this one.

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Fourcast! 22: Six Fun Twists and Turns

October 26th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

This is a different kind of Continuity Off, as Esther and I break down six plot twists and turns that we’ve enjoyed over the years. 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental is our theme music, of course, and here’s a few of the stories we’re going to ruin for you:

-The Last Days of Ted Kord
-The last great X-Men tale (New X-Men, if you disagree you are objectively wrong)
-The connection between Hitman and Punisher
-Batman buying girlfriends
-The Death of Jack Murdock
-Superboy Prime punches.

Listen carefully.

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Dude, You’re Getting a Dell Frankenstein!

October 26th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Covering Frankenstein is probably the best way for me to end the Dell Monster Trilogy, just because it is easily the best of the three comics. I realize that doesn’t mean much, and believe me, it doesn’t. It’s still pretty bad. It’s just that it’s the only one that feels like it could be a comic book worth reading.

Dracula was very loosely based on the source material and wasn’t quite as fun a concept as it could have been. Werewolf had literally nothing to do with its source material and despite the utter insanity of the story, was really boring for the most part. Frankenstein is the closest to the source and comes across as genuinely amusing for an old 60’s comic at points. It isn’t much, but it’s still the cream of the crop.

Like the other two, the creative team is believed to be Dan Segall and Tony Tallarico. Much like Dracula, Dell refers to the comic book adaptation of the Frankenstein movie that they released years earlier to be Frankenstein #1. The start of the superhero stuff is considered the second issue.

I can’t be the only one who sees Dell Frankenstein and thinks of Captain Murphy from Sealab 2021, can I? I kept hearing his voice for every one of Frankenstein’s word bubbles.

It begins promising enough with the shot of an abandoned castle that hasn’t been touched in about a century. We soon after find out that this is in America and that it’s only miles away from a major city (Metropole City), but at least the atmosphere is there. A huge bolt of lightning crashes through the roof and hits a slab below. On the slab is a body lying and dressed in red spandex with boots. For no reasons explained, his head is green-skinned and the rest of his body appears Caucasian. The bolt awakens him and he sits up, confused.

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This Week in Panels: Week 5

October 25th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

To make up for last week’s lackluster batch, we’ve returned with more substance this time.

Amazing Spider-Man #609
Marc Guggenheim, Marco Checchetto and Luke Ross

Azrael #1
Fabian Nicieza and Ramon Bachs

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Sick Day Linkblogging

October 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been sick for the past two days, but I’m almost back in fighting action now. While I recuperate, you get to enjoy these links to a couple of good posts.

-Tim O’Neill on the X-Men and longevity:

The weird part is that Marvel as a company aren’t ready to acknowledge that the franchise has peaked – or even that, if it hasn’t peaked, it needs some time off before it can perform again. When the X-Men were the number one franchise in comics they built an incredibly powerful editorial apparatus around the books to guide and control the direction. The books were so important that nothing could be allowed to pass unexamined: every creative decision was micromanaged and second guessed, characters and creators were treated as interchangeable and at the same time jealously guarded. This worked to a point – in the early-to-mid-90s when the books were at their inarguable peak, the machine ran smoothly.

-The Eastern Edge has a great translation of Naoki Urasawa talking abotu making comics.

The trouble is, will I be able to produce a drawing of the ideal acting that I have in my head. It’s a matter of whether I’ve got the skill in my drawing hand or not. For example if I’m drawing Kanna, whether she’s crying, laughing, or just standing there, I’ve got her face in my head but sometimes when I try to draw that it turns out completely differently. I feel like, “Ah, stupid right hand!”

-Kate Dacey talks about one of my all-time favorite comics, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. I love the sprawling and crazily detailed comic, and the movie even holds a special place for me, since it was almost definitely the first anime I saw.

The story itself has held up well. Its paranoid, don’t-trust-the-military vibe seems as resonant in 2009 as it did when the manga was first released in 1982, as does its message about the devastating consequences of WMDs. Watching China prepare for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 — leveling shanty towns, silencing protests — suggested parallels with AKIRA’s own Olympic subplot, both in the secrecy surrounding the facilities’ construction and in the Chinese government’s adamant denial of citizen opposition to the projects. Even Tetsuo and Kaneda’s brotherly drama, which was never one of AKIRA’s stronger points, seems better developed in the manga.

I kinda wish that Kodansha used Marvel’s color for the first few volumes, but c’est la vie!

Business as usual next week, hopefully including a post that’s four weeks in the making (four weeks late).

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