Archive for February, 2010


This Week in Panels: Week 23

February 28th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Time for another go at trying to portray the comics we’ve read in one singular panel. I was asked to go with the last page of Secret Warriors, which is great in its own right, but a little too weird out of context.

Amazing Spider-Man #622
Fred Van Lente, Joe Quinones, Greg Weisman and Luke Ross

Batman and Robin #9
Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart

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Black Future Month ’10

February 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The end of Black Future Month is a point in time where “black comics” don’t exist. Comics by, for, or about black people exist in this theoretical future, of course, but they aren’t black comics. They’re just comics. They aren’t set apart from their brethren because they happen to star a black dude or is set in the hood. But, let’s put all that pie in the sky Kumbaya business to the side and talk about the here and now.

For a while, I was trying to keep up with every black character in mainstream comics. After a few months of reading about Bishop try to murder a toddler, DC Comics screwing over Dwayne McDuffie, John Stewart not appearing ever, and Cyborg being stuck in Teen Titans Hell, I was officially burnt out.

I was suddenly faced with a dilemma, though. When it comes to mainstream books and black people, you’re generally gonna be SOL. At the same time, I’d carved out this niche as a “race blogger.” I felt like I was supposed to be paying attention to all these characters. That’s the conscious thing to do, right? No. Absolutely not.

Here is the thing. If you’re supporting black comics by purchasing books from Marvel or DC, you’re not supporting black comics at all. They do what they do, and sometimes they do it well, but they are targeted at one very specific audience. Tom Brevoort has owned up to this in a refreshingly frank blog post. If it doesn’t make dollars, Marvel and DC will not do it. If it does make dollars, Marvel and DC will definitely do it, no matter the consequences. Don’t believe me? Ask Dan Didio about Milestone sometime.
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Garth Ennis’ Most Revealing Moment?

February 26th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Cut, because you might be at work and I’m posting a scan from a freaking Garth Ennis comic.

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Black Future Month ’10: Brandon Thomas

February 25th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury came courtesy of Brandon Thomas and Lee Ferguson. It blew me away when it first came out. It, along with Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson’s Genius, took a simple but clever story and turned it on its ear. I loved it, I was ready and raring for more, and bam, its publisher went through a reorganization period and publication halted.

It’s a while later now and we’ve got more Miranda Mercury on the horizon. I wanted to catch up with Brandon as part of Black Future Month because this guy deserves the attention. Miranda Mercury has a great blend of action and character, and “Not Dead Yet” is sure to be a treat.

All images here feature words by Brandon Thomas, pictures by Lee Ferguson, and are from the first few pages of The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295. Look for the new joint later this year in the form of three over-sized issues and, fingers crossed, more later. Check out Brandon’s website, his blog (which is the home of his long-running Ambidextrous column), and follow him on Twitter as @mirandamercury. For some fun, check the script to #297 and look at some of his notes on other books.

Buy Miranda Mercury: Not Dead Yet when it comes out.
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Here Comes the Sun?

February 24th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

This issue of Wonder Woman ends with something I had just about given up on seeing; sunny skies.

I’ve had to gnash my teeth over Wonder Woman for a long time, now.  She’s a character that I should like, but mostly I don’t.  She’s in a world I should like, but mostly I don’t.

When the book gained Gail Simone as a writer, I was absolutely sure I would like the book, and at the beginning I did.  Then came Genocide, and the Nemesis/Wonder Woman break-up and the slaughtering of pregnant women and the crows, and – I picked up some issues, but I kept putting them down.  It was well-written and well-drawn and the character was interesting, but (despite my last entry here) I couldn’t take any more misery.  I wanted Diana to win something; a fight, a game of chess, a church raffle, a free super-sizing of fries with her happy meal.  Anything. 

And now, for the first time, things are looking up for Diana and the rest of the characters of Wonder Woman.  It feels like a break with the past, and a new, more trimphant era beginning.

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Misery, And Why We Like to Read About it

February 23rd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

It’s no secret that comic books are adolescent power fantasies.  They’re about being the smartest, the strongest, the toughest, the meannest, and above all, the one who gets things done.  Kids have little power and fantasize about growing into someone who does.

I don’t see the need to stop reading comics when we’re out of adolescence, since most of the adults still don’t have control over most of their lives.  I suppose you could argue that some people do, particularly the ones who don’t read comics, but I believe that if they did, the world would either be a much better or much, much worse place.

So the fights, the flamboyant outfits, the adventure of comic books, is easy to understand.

What about the pain?  Spider-man took off, in part, because Peter Parker’s life sucked before he was a superhero and after he was a superhero.  Superheroes, for all their power, get clobbered.  They lose at love, they lose loved ones, they lose battles and companions.  Theirs is a world of nonstop pain, and a lot of the pain is theirs.  Why are they so popular?

There are lines about how conflict is necessary for drama, and that old-chestnut, ‘realism’ appears in many justifications for comics melodrama, but I don’t think that’s it.

I think we like their misery because their misery ends in fights and adventure and over-the-top emotional outbursts, and ours doesn’t.  Personally I would like it if a lot of the things that make me sad or angry could be resolved by putting on a cape and doing battle with my enemy.  I’d like if I could solve any problem by smashing a motherbox, or a bomb, or some other high-tech or magical macguffin.  I can’t.  That’s not the world I live in.

A comics character loses someone they care about and it’s time to hit and kick and scream and the world hangs in the balance.  We lose someone we care about and, more often than not, it’s time to sit and feel sad, to acknowledge that our lives are lesser for losing them, to know that there is nothing we can do about it, and to realize we’ll be lucky if we find one person who cares enough to try to comfort us.

A comics character has a violent tantrum, and it solves their problem.  We do, and it makes our problem worse. 

A superhero sees a problem with society and he shoots, punches, or uses magic until it’s a little better.  If we see it, most of us realize it takes a lot of boring, frustrating, detail-oriented work to change things even a little bit for the better.

Put aside the capes and the silly names, and much of comics’ appeal is this:  It is so much nicer to be angry than it is to be sad.

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Black Future Month ’10: Life in Marvelous Times

February 23rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I almost called this one “The Importance of Being Aya,” but Mos Def’s “Life In Marvelous Times” from The Ecstatic is a much better fit. In it, Mos Def paints a picture of the intersection between the past and the present, conjuring images of starving children with gold teeth and life in the projects, before ultimately concluding that “we are alive in amazing times,” despite all of the poison and destruction and hate. This 360 degree view of life allows him to say that we are living in marvelous times, with “wonders on every side.”

Black history, as it was taught to me growing up, was more limited. The picture that was painted for me portrayed a very poor, down-trodden, and miserable existence. An existence punctuated by regular lynchings, scarred backs, and burning towns. We learned about Martin Luther King, Dred Scott, WEB Du Bois, the high points of the Harlem Renaissance (pretty much Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston), a little bit about the Great Migration (black people moved, the end), a little bit about Malcolm X as Boogieman, and maybe a little something about Marcus Garvey, if the teacher was brave. Black history generally stopped with the death of Martin Luther King.

The problem with this teaching is that you don’t get the whole picture. The idea of blacks as victims is left reinforced and ingrained in your head. It turns life into warfare, a constant struggle for life, liberty, and happiness. Due to that, you miss out on hearing about the other parts of black history. The dapper dressed gentlemen taking their lady friends out to cut a rug, the kids in the ’60s who were born into a brand new world, and the normal folks making a normal living. Black is never normal.

It’s fair to say that we’re in a new age of comics now, one that allows for comics that I would’ve never found when I was a kid. Take Aya for an example. I can go out to the store and buy a hardcover book about a black (strike one) girl (strike two) living in the Ivory Coast (strike three) who is basically living a soap opera (you’ve been out for ages kid, get out of here). Back when I was trapped in the bad old days of Wizard and superheroic speculation, the weirdest thing I read was Frank Miller’s Sin City, a book with no capes, a lot of actual curse words, and a healthy dose of nudity. Nowadays, if I want to read a soap opera starring a girl in Africa and her friends, I can do that.

I never saw that kind of thing when I was a kid. Black folks in comics were generally sidekicks or supporting characters. They were Ron Troupe and Robbie Robertson, or Luke Cage and Bishop. Born and bred in misery, but managing to struggle above into the light, or simply there to dispense useful advice or be the token negro in an otherwise all-white cast. Sometimes both. Sometimes neither.
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When Amateurs Should Turn Pro

February 23rd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I couldn’t think of what to write for this entry.  First I scanned links on When Fangirls Attack, and Scans Daily, and various news sites, but I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted to write about, so I just clicked random links and googled random things for an hour, until I found myself, once again, reading the-blackcat’s Batman and Sons series.

The Black Cat, posting on deviantart and on livejournal (as the_dark_cat) did a series about Bruce, Dick, Jason, Tim, and baby Terry living together as a family and the wacky domestic adventures they get into.  It’s syrupy and ridiculous.  It runs completely counter to the Batman tone and almost everything that is happening in comics right now, and it is one of my favorite things to read. 

I cannot believe how much I love this series and everything in it.  It’s not just the silly adventures – it’s the artist themself.

This is an example of someone how knows their comics so well that they have clearly gone nuts with it. 

That’s a scene at Chris Kent’s birthday party.  Yes, that’s the Creeper handing out balloons to Jade and some kid I don’t recognize because I don’t know comics as well as this person does.

Later Terry gets into a scuffle with the youngest Arrow kid, not only because in the limited number of strips that The Black Cat has created he has been established as a kind of pushy baby, but there has also been established a feud between the Bats and the Arrows, with the Supers acting as peacekeepers.

Let me put this bluntly:  This is a person who should be hired.  To do this.  Because this is freakin’ fantastic. 

There are in-jokes, there are sharply delineated characters, there are visual gags, there is a sense of timing and flow to the panels, and every strip tells a story.  Some stories are poignant, and some are sweet, and some are mean, and most are funny.  I recognize that this is not everyone’s kind of story, and that it has to lean on the Grim Bat Mythos to stand.  Still, this artist has it all, and is giving it to us in these strips.  I wish they could get paid for it.  And I wish that I could pay for an issue every month.

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Fourcast! 34: Comic Book Movies

February 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music
-Comic book movies!
-We’re talking from Batman to Kick-Ass! Blade to X-Men! Spider-Man to Losers! Spawn Power Pack to The Dark Knight!
Batsymbol as glyph
-A brief visual aide to prove that I’m a huge TMNT fan:


-There are trailers under the cut, if’n you want to see what these movies we’re talking about are like.
-See you, space cowboy!
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This Week in Panels: Week 22

February 21st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

It’s a pretty big week for this installment. How big? This one’s all me. Ow, my wallet.

Authority: The Lost Year #6
Grant Morrison, Keith Giffen, Brian Stelfreeze and Joel Gomez

Avengers vs. Atlas #2
Jeff Parker, Gabriel Hardman, Scott Kurtz and Zach Howard

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