Archive for October, 2009


Maybe You Just Had to Be There

October 22nd, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Thunderbolts #137 came out this week, written by Rick Remender and drawn by Mahmud A. Asrar. It’s a decent issue, though it really reads more as Luke Cage and Iron Fist Featuring the Thunderbolts. I’m one of those who doesn’t have a problem with that idea, so bring it on.

I bring this scene to your attention. Under the leadership of Ghost (who I like to think of as Earth-3 Rorschach), the team has successfully captured and brainwashed Iron Fist. Now they discuss matters over lunch.

The lack of tray in front of Ghost is some good continuity.

Anyway, the Irredeemable Ant-Man is thinly referencing the TV show Jon and Kate Plus Eight, starring Jon and Kate Gosselin. I’ve never seen the show for myself outside of the clips shown on The Soup, so I at least get the gist. Ant-Man’s description, while random to the situation, is still on point. Before the two announced their divorce, the show was about Kate being a total ice bitch 24/7 while Jon seems a step away from suicide. Apparently, people really like this.

I bring this up because while I don’t partake in the show, I have a loose connection to Kate Gosselin. About nine months ago, she did a book signing at the Barnes & Noble I work at. It was a really big deal and had a huge turnout. Thankfully, I was on vacation so I didn’t have to deal with it.

My co-workers, on the other hand, had many problems. From every single account, Kate Gosselin was a complete nightmare to deal with. She had them change the signing to a day later at the last minute, which caused us headaches and screwed with the customers who couldn’t be in the loop. She didn’t greet a single customer or employee throughout the night. She had no reaction towards the flowers we got for her. She refused any and all photos and would only sign either copies of her book or the first season of her show. She refused to make eye-contact with any of her fans, including a sick, little girl who was at the front of the line. She wanted to leave an hour early, even though she obviously wasn’t done. Like I said, a total nightmare to deal with.

The general consensus at the store was that Kate Gosselin is a bitch, but others would go far enough to straight-up refer to her as a cunt. Now, in the workplace, it’s hard to throw that word around safely, so we came up with a way to make it easier. From then on, we would retire the C-word and replace it with “Kate”.

“Then she got kicked right in the Kate.”

“That one customer who demanded to do a return without a receipt was acting like such a Kate.”

“Jeff Goldblum’s first line in any movie is Deathwish, where he says, ‘Goddamn rich Kates! I KILL RICH KATES!'”

You’d… You’d be surprised how much that last one comes up…

Now, then. Let’s go back to Thunderbolts as Mr. X gets in Ant-Man’s face. Makes sense for Mr. X to be angry, considering Remender nearly ruins him completely in one issue.

Haha! See? Art is imitating life. I love it.

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Dollhouse Reveals New Miracle Cure: Punch-in-the-Face

October 21st, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Say what you want about Dollhouse, it makes a compelling case for giving Bruce Lee the Nobel Prize for Medicine posthumously.  There is very little in the human body, mind, or soul that this series hasn’t cured with a good hit to the brain-pan. 

First of all, any soon-to-be parents can throw out those namby-pamby parenting manuals that tell them to spare the rod.  In the pilot, the ‘hero’ of the series is introduced via boxing montage.  As he is pummelled mercilessly, his fight is intersperced with scenes of his superiors telling him to back off investigating the Dollhouse.  After he is beaten to the ground, he gets up to fight once more!  That’s right.  You can smack determination into your kids.  Do it early.  Do it often.

Of course, this might get them feeling a little down.  No problem.  You know what cures suicidal tendencies?  A hit with a chair.  Yes, in episode three, a suicidal pop star is ‘cured’ of her tendencies by being cracked with a folding chair, wrestlemania-style.  No, I’m not kidding.  It wasn’t subtext.  It wasn’t a post hoc, ergo propter hoc situation.  They actually said, on the show, that a ‘brush with death’ helped reignite her desire to live.

But those are just mental conditions, right?  Mental problems are cured in all kinds of strange ways.  Physical problems, however, well – they take something a little more specialized.

Or not.  Four episodes into the series, an evangelical preacher actually beats the blindness out of the main character.  All right, so he only dislodged a chip in her head, allowing her to see.  That, however, was just an open-handed slap.  Imagine what a fist could do.

We only get to see that miracle cure in season two, but let me tell you, readers, it was worth the wait.  In the first episode of season two, we see the boxing-ring hero call on all of his experience and actually beat martial arts ability into the heroine.  On the way, he probably went through the ability to horseback ride, speak other languages, and work as a trained nurse, because she was glitching between multiple personalities until she was smacked into one who could kill all the arms dealers who were surrounding the both of them.

Regardless of the situation, I think that Dollhouse has showed us the way to true health.  Forget vegetables and meditation.  Find yourself a wall and whack it with your head.  You’ll thank me when you’re a ninja.

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Behold, I Teach You the Wildstorm

October 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Grant Morrison and Jim Lee on Wildcats ended up being a non-starter. The first issue came out, the second didn’t, and that was the end of that. I reread it recently, though, and it is actually very good, for a number of reasons.

One of my favorite parts of Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder is the dissonance between the art and the story. Jim Lee, love him or hate him, defined superheroic art for the ’90s. Multiple artists were told to draw in his style, including Ian Churchill, and from a strictly comics perspective, he’s probably the most successful of the Image founders. Miller’s story, though, runs in direct defiance of that, dripping with pulpy narration and so over the top in its grotesque incorporation of superheroics that it seems off-kilter and wrong. Once I got it, the book clicked for me.

As in ASBAR, Jim Lee’s art is used in Wildcats as a tool above and beyond “sequential art on a page.” Lee’s style is Wildstorm. They’ve had various artists come through their doors, with an astonishing amount of great ones (Dustin Nguyen, Sean Phillips, Travis Charest, Aron Wiesenfeld, Richard Friend, Laura Martin), but Lee defined the style and still stands out in my mind as the Wildstorm artist.

And Wildcats is Grant Morrison’s take on the Wildstorm universe, but a take on a very specific time in the WSU. He’s going right after the period of time when Wildstorm was at its peak, when The Authority, Planetary, Wildcats/Wildcats 3.0, Automatic Kafka, and Sleeper reigned. It’s Grant Morrison taking what Lee, Casey, and Ellis, in particular, built and pushing it to the next level. The book begins with a bit of exposition that sets the stage: President Chrysler has just come to power, and the world is in turmoil. With a few short phrases (“from the new underwater cities to the asylum ghettoes of Europe”), he establishes this new world. It is not ours, rather, it is a comic book world. Suicide bombers don’t strap explosives and ball bearings to their chest. Now, they are radioactive supermen who lurk in outer space. Telephones are 3D and you can have your very own android for protection (“In stock now! New low price!”). And, more than anything, superheroes are everywhere and revel in their glory.

scan0013Joe Casey’s Wildcats was all about pushing superheroes to a new level. Not the next level, but one different from the one they were on. A focus relationships and business maneuvers, rather than superheroics and spectacle, was a valid description of his run, until he had to give in to market forces and jazz 3.0 up some in an attempt to avoid cancellation.

Morrison takes Joe Casey’s Hadrian, CEO of Halo and reformed superhero, and pushes him to the logical conclusion of Wildcats 3.0. Halo has revolutionized the world, providing families with personal Spartan robots, fancy telephones, and other high tech tools. It’s the end point of the Reed Richards/Tony Stark/Superhero Super Scientist character. At some point, they are either going to drastically improve the world or die as failures.
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Stop Buying Greg Land Comics

October 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Greg Land is a bad artist. Stop buying his comics.


No equivocation, no wishy-washiness: he’s terrible and supporting him is even worse. Comics should be more than just trademarks moving around on a page, acting out the latest episode of soap operas that began when our parents were young.

Put even plainer: Greg Land is a symptom of the poison in mainstream comics.

What I said before still stands. Get this lazy scrub out of here, and put somebody good on his books. Do better.

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Fourcast! Updates

October 20th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I just realized I haven’t been doing the Station Identification on the podcasts recently, which is probably pretty dumb. So! Here is some important info:

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-60fd9af9e57947dbb2602de779a8da1b}
RSS feed via Feedburner
iTunes Store

The Fourcast! is:
-Free, forever and ever, amen
-Published once a week on Monday mornings at 6am, barring unavoidable technical difficulties
-A fun show with a conversational tone, mainly focused on superhero books, with occasional dips into other genres
-About half an hour long, with hour-long shows reserved for special occasions like The Girlcast

Tell your friends.

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“Despair is fine.”

October 19th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Remember when JLA was a good comic book? Me too. Exhibit A:

words by grant morrison, art by howard porter

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Ideals and Identification

October 19th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I was thinking today about Diana and Stephanie, the two female characters whose comics I buy.  Diana, Wonder Woman, is perfect.  The embodiment of compassion, strength, honor, bravery, and beauty, she’s a princess and a warrior and an ambassador.  Despite her iconic status, and the fact that she’s had an ongoing comic for the better part of a century, female fan interest in her has only recently heated up – due to Gail Simone’s decision to write her comic.

Stephanie, Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl/Who’sNext?, is decidedly not perfect.  A perpetual screw-up, she’s earned both my and general female fandom’s accolades by picking herself up, dusting herself off, and starting all over again.  It’s possible that her moment of greatest popularity was after her death.

While it’s normal for fans of any gender to decry a comics character’s death while pretty much ignoring their life, I wonder if something extra is at work, here, especially when I think of other media.  Most TV shows and movies about female characters are about the adorable main character trying to get her life together.  She’s clumsy, and awkward, but tries so hard.

And she’s at war, usually, with the ultra-perfect glamazon who is after her job/man/scholarship/position in society/what’s next?  I hate that dynamic because it has always been, in my experience, false.   What’s more, it embraces the values it supposedly abhors.  Whether it favors the popular girl or the outsider (And who are we kidding?  Like any show, book or movie in the last fifty years hasn’t sung the praises of the noble outsider), it still villifies one segment of the population for, basically, having different values, tastes or interests.  Still, I wonder if, no matter how I resist it, it’s at work in me, or at work in many women.

While media that sings the praises of the powerful man (The Sopranos, The Tudors, Kings, etc.), the brilliant man (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, CSI Miami, House, Monk), or simply the eccenric or egotistical man (Dexter, House again, Nip/Tuck) do well, women are always given a heroine they can relate to not one that they feel they have to compete with, and certainly not one they feel they’d lose out to.

Even in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the heroine is usual beset with troubles and struggling, instead of blowing everyone away with her strength and brilliance.  Buffy, the mystical chosen one, is always one step away from getting kicked out of school.  House, the doctor who can’t be assed to restrain his own bad behavior, finds out that his supervisor has budgeted in lawsuit money for the various patients who sue him because he is just that good.

Is this about what’s offered to women?  Is it about what’s taught?  (Tina Fey’s movie, Mean Girls, was hailed as an insightful satire about teenage girls.  It had a group called ‘The Plastics’.  We never had groups like that in my school, but how many movies can you watch before you develop an attitude of ‘it’s us versus them’.)  Is it just my lopsided view of pop-culture?

In the end, girls and women are given many examples of heroines about winning out when odds are against them (just as men are) but relatively few examples of just plain winners.

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Fourcast! 21: Batman Year 100: PulpHope

October 19th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

We’ve got a You Made Me Read This that’s five months in the making! Esther’s read Batman Year 100, and we have a nice discussion about it for around half an hour. We go over what makes Batman Batman, belly button physics, dentures and lisps, and plenty of other bits. After we discuss our favorite incarnations or styles of Batman, 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental plays and we go on our way.

The Batman “Dick, was I a good father?” scene is this one:


I don’t know if it was like that in the original Infinite Crisis #4, but Chris Eckert’s Edited Crisis #4 > Infinite Crisis #4. I love it like a fat kid loves cake or a rap kid loves breaks.

My Podcast Alley feed! {pca-60fd9af9e57947dbb2602de779a8da1b}

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This Week in Panels: Week 4

October 18th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Pretty small batch this week. hermanos is busy at that APE thing, so nothing from him. Esther insisted on including the Blue Beetle back-up from Booster Gold #25. Something about the “fangirls running the asylum.”

Batgirl #3
Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett

Booster Gold #25
Dan Jurgens

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“Don’t be forgettin’ the Free French.”

October 16th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Blogging’s going to be light today since work and other things have occupied my time lately, but I did want to share this sequence from (the as-yet uncollected) The Boys #34. Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra came up with a pretty good (and brutal) way to use World War II in a superhero book. I usually like my World War II pure, but this? This is clever. I snipped a few pages out, but this is still followable. And if you can’t tell by the cover, you probably shouldn’t be clicking this at work.


Dynamite needs to drop this trade asap.

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