Archive for October, 2010


This Week in Panels: Week 58

October 31st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

First off, Halloween happened. That led to this.

Thankfully, I didn’t come across anyone dressed as Lawrence Taylor or Major Payne.

Now to panels. This week I’m joined by Space Jawa. There are other kinds of Jawas?

Action Comics #894
Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Nick Spencer and RB Silva

Avengers #6
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

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Your Halloween Treat

October 31st, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

If you have seen a little too much scary this Halloween, take a gander at this.

If this does not make you feel better, you have no heart.  At all.

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Pretty Girls: Eduardo Risso

October 29th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I yapped this piece of Nancy from Frank Miller’s Sin City from ComicArtFans.

Eduardo Risso: Wiki, ComicBookDB, Lambiek, 100 Bullets Week
Books: Start with 100 Bullets Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call and work your way down the series. All the images in this post are from 100 Bullets. Colors by Grant Coleash or Patricia Mulvihill.
Why? Stupid statement alert: I like Risso for what he draws and doesn’t draw in equal parts. Not generally–specifically. He’ll leave out certain details that your mind fills in and render other things in exacting detail. Details drop in and out as needed, and whether it isn’t there or it is, the effect is the same: it looks excellent.

He has a way around noses that I really admire. He suggests facial structure with just a few tiny lines. (It sometimes puts me in mind of whoever did the character design for Final Fantasty Tactics sometimes, but cartoony in a different direction.) Pretty much everyone Risso draws is a bombshell, or clearly used to be one. He’ll stick in subtle wrinkles and cellulite as needed, and it’s all okay. His facial expressions are deadly, too. He’s got mean stares, curiosity, amusement, surprise… he’s got everything down. He knows what to show, what not to show, and how to do it best.

All that and his signature is ill, too.

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BPRD: Hell on Earth – New World 04 [Exclusive Preview]

October 28th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

As far as ongoing adventure comics go, those series meant to reward both years of reading and capture the new reader while telling the story of a specific set of characters, Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis’s BPRD is the best, bar none. It beats the best of the Big Two easily, and they do it by simply being very good at the basics: strong characterization, building subplots over time, quality art, and simply telling a good story. They know when to let things creep in the background and when to bring in the bits where a guy with twin guns goes up against a two-story tall monster. There are no stunts here and no marketing-based character deaths. Just some fine storytelling.

I’ve written about BPRD before. It was one of the 5 Series I spotlighted this summer, where I focused on how it’s similar to and different from cape comics.

The new series is called BPRD: Hell on Earth, with New World being the subtitle. There’s an unspoken rule in comics that the more colons and clauses a title has, the more likely it is to suck. Not true for BPRD, unsurprisingly. To catch up on the new series, check this thing I wrote on ComicsAlliance bringing you up to speed. If you want to jump into the series, there are a few entry points. It’s actually pretty easy to hop right into Hell on Earth, to tell the truth. The status quo is “The Earth is screwed, didn’t you read the title?” and everyone is reintroduced pretty well in the first issue. It’s not a clunky “The focused totality of my psychic powers” introduction, either. It’s much more organic. But, if you want to start from the beginning, B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: Hollow Earth & Other Stories introduces the series and is a collection of stories. The series changed over into being specifically about something (rather than being short stories) in B.P.R.D. Volume 3: Plague of Frogs. If you’re patient, you can pick up B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs Hardcover Collection Vol. 1, which covers the first two trades (I believe) and drops in February.

Thanks to the kindness of the folks at Dark Horse, I’ve got the exclusive preview of BPRD: Hell on Earth – New World 04. Words by Mignola and Arcudi, art by Davis, colors by Stewart. Here’s the pitch:

Trapped in a massive firefight with a horrific tentacled behemoth, the B.P.R.D. are rescued by another wild monster, while one agent chases the evil responsible for this chaos.

I really like page two, panel five. The exploding Humvee looks good. It isn’t realistic, but it approaches realism through clever cartooning. It’s all short, rough lines. Lots of implied motion in there. That and the ill zoom on page six are great.

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The Cipher 10/27/10

October 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

the new NERD album sucks
-I am positively drowning in existential crises. Pardon my dust. Fourcast! is on a brief break.

Corben on Hellboy is always worth a glance. More on Corben.

Bulletproof Coffin is a great book, and this bit of analysis by David Allison is great in part because it’s something I never would’ve done. About half his thoughts/connections never even crossed my mind, and that’s a wonderful thing. This is what comics internet is good for: learning stuff.

-Related: Someone please put the most recent issues of Bulletproof Coffin up so I can buy them digital. Thanks in advance. I love you.

-What’s comics internet isn’t good for: decent interviews with crap headlines. I like Kaare Andrews, and I thought this interview was pretty swift, but that headline has got to go. The biggest thing in there was Andrews “Slutting Up Emma?” Nothing about what makes a good film vs comic? Nothing about the experience of creating a movie vs a comic? He says a lot of interesting things, and that is the least of them.

-More good: Mike Hawthrone and Nathan Fairbain collab on an Elektra Lives Again piece. The colors on this are fantastic, dead-on.

-More good: Tim O’Neil points out some screwed up priorities in Batman comics. Hey, doesn’t this make Vicki Vale an accomplice? Send old girl to jail. Make it a Crisis. “Child Slavers Crisis!” It’ll move units. (No Larry Flynt.)

-Matt Seneca is a cool dude, and I always enjoy his Monday Panels. I’m not sure how old he is, other than “probably 20s,” but I like seeing how our tastes crisscross (or don’t). I don’t know from half of what he talks about, beyond it being stuff I should’ve read before now, and I’m impressed with his depth of knowledge of that stuff. I’m just good at putting together puzzle pieces. Matt’s good people.

-I really like this bit from Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Hellblazer: India. It’s probably completely opaque, but something about it, maybe the trade of barbs or just the voices I’m hearing when I read it, clicks. Perfect Constantine to me.

what happened, son?
-Create: Some Halloween ish, some previews for Beasts of Burden/Hellboy (review soon, tl;dr is “good!”), T-bolts, and Deadpool MAX, some solicit previews, and a review of Panty & Stocking.

-Consume: I re-read Yasuhiro Nightow’s Trigun 1-2, and Trigun Maximum 1-3, but boy are those crap. Art’s okay in TM, but the translation is soft (Who says -san and oi! in the old west?) and plotting so-so. John Constantine, Hellblazer: India was good. Other than those, nothing really sticks out. What have I been doing over the past week? Oh, right, I got Def Jam Rapstar, one of the three games a year made for black people. I like it a lot, but the DLC schedule is absurd. The only song we get this MIMS’s “This Is Why I’m Hot”? And why isn’t “Grindin'” on the PS3 store? The devs released a statement about it, but man. I’ll probably get Rock Band 3 eventually so I can play the Bob Marley joints. The song line up is pretty thoro.

Nina Simone’s The Lady Has The Blues is five bucks, by the bay.

In Search Of… was great, though
David: Amazing Spider-Man 646, Thunderbolts 149
Esther: Action Comics 894
Gavin: Justice League Generation Lost 12, Time Masters Vanishing Point 4, Avengers 6, Avengers & Infinity Gauntlet 3, Captain America 611, Deadpool Team-Up 888, Incredible Hulks 615, Secret Avengers 6, Secret Warriors 21, Thunderbolts 149, Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 3

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Wrestling Memory Lane: Claudio Castagnoli, the Kings of Wrestling and My Favorite Storyline

October 27th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

As of this writing, we’re fresh from the finish of Bragging Rights, the latest PPV in WWE’s overcrowded schedule. A lot of the event centered around Wade Barrett holding John Cena in his thrall against his will. It’s another chapter in what’s been a really good run for Barrett’s short-termed WWE legacy. I thought the show NXT was a fantastic concept, followed by an interesting second season (as long as you ignore the trainwreck final episode) and a hilarious self-aware third season where the commentators are open to how awful the show is. The Nexus storyline has been top-notch outside of random unfortunate instances that you can’t blame on the writing. Injuries, stupid firings, temporary deportation and even the stupid ending of Summerslam was improvised from time restraints.

Now it’s in an entertaining stage where John Cena is forced to follow orders from Wade Barrett or get fired. Wade has been demeaning him on a weekly basis, but it’s showing more ripples than just Barrett vs. Cena. Wade has been alienating himself from his Nexus peers by focusing far more on himself than the team. Cena is beginning to raise the ire of his friends in the locker room because he’d rather attack them based on Wade’s orders than be a jobless millionaire. A lot of it is borrowed from the Shawn Michaels/JBL storyline from a couple years ago, but it’s stronger here. For one, the villain is a man in his first year in the company, rising up and only getting better, as opposed to being a dude long past his prime like JBL.

But there was another “forced lackey” storyline this kept making me think of and the more I look back on it, the more I realize it was one of my all-time favorite wrestling storylines. When I think of my favorite angles, I think of things like Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Rick “The Model” Martel or Ric Flair vs. Mr. Perfect or “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Rock (and by that I mean joining all their different feuds into one overarching story). The one in question isn’t even a WWE story, WCW, TNA or even ECW. No, it’s from the wonderful world of CHIKARA.

Since CHIKARA is far from mainstream, I thought I’d take some time to go over the angle for the uninformed.

Readers might recall that CHIKARA is my indy wrestling fed of choice. I’ve talked about CHIKARA a lot here and I’ve stated the wackiness of the product, but it isn’t completely dependent on it. Sure, they have storylines like a wrestling knight whose tag team partner is a younger version of himself pulled out of the timeline and they end up feuding and have a match where the loser is thrown in a time machine. They would have a tag team named 2.0 change their gimmicks and become the Badd Boyz, leading to a Badd Boyz vs. 2.0 match where the Boyz win by count-out due to 2.0 not showing up. There was a time when two wrestlers had a no-time-limit falls-count-anywhere match that went outside until the cameraman lost track of it and it continued to the next night’s show at another venue where there was finally a winner (23 hours and 36 minutes, longest match ever). Not to mention the time a tag match took forever to start up because two of the guys were too busy having arguments about the Sega CD.

Thing is, not everything is goofy in CHIKARA and even when they are silly, the booking is really good. They like to build each year up as a season with a basic main storyline with enough of an ending during the finale that would lead to the next year’s big angle. Our storyline here is one that mainly takes place during the year of 2007, but with more than enough lead-up and aftermath. It focuses on this man, Claudio Castagnoli.

The 6’5″ Swiss powerhouse could be argued to be one of the best performers in the world. It’s still a complete wonder why he isn’t tearing things up in the WWE right now, considering he’s a total package. He’s got size, strength, speed, agility, good psychology, a good look and loads of charisma. As a heel, he’s an egotistical, bullying Swiss banker with more money than you. As a face, he’s the chillest dude you’ve ever met. I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

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This Week in Panels: Week 57

October 24th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Time for another week of ThWiP. This time I’m helped out by Was Taters (Power Girl) and ManiacClown (Loki). Apologies for the lack of content in the last week outside of that Avengers cartoon article. Various things have been holding back my free time. I’ve been busy with a bad work schedule and ManiacClown has been… learning how to make Mjolnir with balloons. Not making that up.

Anyway, panels.

Azrael #13
David Hine and Guillem March

Batman and Robin #15
Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

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Gamble a Stamp 03: Superhero Comics Are Dead

October 24th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The story goes that Dark Knight Returns was born when Frank Miller realized that Bruce Wayne was younger than he was. This character that he’d looked up to, or at least enjoyed, since he was a kid in Vermont was suddenly younger than he was. Miller was getting old, and part of getting old is looking at the things you loved as a child stay young. The aspirational aspect of superheroes, the “Gamble a stamp!” element that makes the genre so fascinating, is a little tougher to swallow when you’re finding wrinkles in new places and Bruce Wayne is still 29 years old.

So, Miller added twenty years to the character and in doing so, plowed fresh ground. Batman became someone Miller could look up to again, with his universe and methods updated accordingly. Superstitious and cowardly criminals were replaced with a threat birthed from societal collapse and the apathy of good men. Batman turned pointedly political, and Miller took on Reagan and pop psychology over the course of DKR. He created Carrie Kelly and made her the new Robin, both updating and critiquing the Robin concept.

Getting older killed the superhero for Miller. He couldn’t relate as he once did, and he took steps to make superheroes cool one last time. Dark Knight Returns is a blaze of glory for the superhero, that last, brilliant blast of light before death. It says that these dusty old characters are still just as vibrant as they once were, but not in the same ways. People grow old and change, and their interests change with them. At the end of DKR, Batman isn’t a soldier in the war against crime like he once was, and like he is now. He was a general, as his severe turtleneck and demeanor suggests. He’s leading the war, not fighting it. He grew up.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen came from Moore wanting to write a superhero story with weight, something like Moby Dick in particular. He wanted to write a superhero for adults, and chose hard-edged pessimism to get the job done. Its rigid structure shows a world that has no use for acrobatics or melodrama. It has no place for many of the staples of cape comics, whether you prefer Jack Kirby-style action or classic stylings of Curt Swan.

Watchmen, then, is an autopsy. By the end of it, all of the secrets of the superhero are laid bare. You see the paunches and watch their muscles sag. You get a front row seat to Nite Owl’s impotence and the way superhero costumes function as fetish objects. Rorshach is revealed as being not that much better than the villains he fights. An old man gets his brains beaten out, the only true superhero is so alien as to be inhuman, and in the end, the villain wins and saves the world. The heroes? They compromised because to actually defeat the villain would have resulted in the destruction of world peace. Rorshach refuses to compromise and is killed for it.

All of your illusions and ideas of the superhero are deconstructed and proved false by Watchmen. They’re normal people, rather than superheroes, and act accordingly. There’s no magic, no aspirational aspects, and nary a wink from Superman. Just hard edges and gritty realism.

DKR is the blaze of glory. It’s a revitalization before death. Watchmen is the autopsy. At the end, there are no secrets. What’s Flex Mentallo? It’s a wake, that time when everyone gets together, gets drunk, and talks about the deceased.

Wally Sage is overdosing on painkillers in Flex, but that’s not all he’s taken. He’s had a bottle of vodka, a couple e pills, a quarter ounce of hash, and he’s tripping on acid, too. As he’s dying, he’s talking about all the amazing comics he read. He’s talking about the good, the bad, and the irrelevant. He’s painting a picture.

The picture he’s painting is of the full spectrum of comics, or at least the full spectrum of the comics he read as a child. He talks about how exciting they were, how sexy, and how scary. He talks about how superheroes couldn’t stop his parents from fighting or save us from the bomb. Flex is about how fiction is real, and the way that the two rub up against each other and interact at certain points.

Flex Mentallo is a hopeful book. At the end, the superheroes return to save us all. They are revealed as us, or at least a significant part of us. Flex saves the day. The magic of reading superheroes as a kid is adapted to the real world. The glow of the lamp that Wally read comics by as a child serves as a blatant metaphor for the brilliance of superheroes. At the end of the book, the light is restored to Wally’s sight.

Flex is a celebration of the superhero. All of it, from good to bad, from perfections to imperfections, is important. The sexualization of superheroes serves a purpose, either as masturbation material or as an outlet for the creator’s desires. The Silver Age zaniness provided a look into other worlds, whether unsettling or fantastic. The escapism provided a look into a better world. The Starlin acid trips, the fear of the superhero, the edginess, the pointlessness, all of it matters. All of it fits together. It’s all part of the same picture. All of it is wonderful, in one way or another. It’s a puzzle with a million parts that still manages to stay in sync.

And in one of the last scenes, the point of Flex is laid bare. “Look at you! A half-naked muscleman in trunks! What’s that supposed to signify? What are you? Do you know what you are?” asks a teenaged Wally Sage. Flex shrugs and says, “Sure. I’m a superhero. Being clever’s a fine thing, but sometimes a boy just needs to get out of the house and meet some girls.”

Implicit in Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Flex Mentallo is a critique of the superhero. DKR teaches that the superhero is broken and it must be made cool again. Watchmen teaches that the superhero is broken, and here is how it is broken. Flex teaches that superheroes are broken, but that brokenness is just as natural as the parts which aren’t broken. Blaze of glory, autopsy, wake.

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Why reading is better than banning.

October 23rd, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

One of my favorite essays on banning books comes from Florence King. She’s a person whose writing I admire but whose politics I almost never agree with. I’m in agreement with her, though, in her opinion about banning books. In an essay called “My Savior, Fannie Hearst,” she wrote the following:

The problem with censorship is that the people who do the censoring are always so shortsighted, especially when it comes to “Our Children.” Instead of taking certain books out of school libraries, we should be putting them in.

She then goes on to describe a book, “Back Street”, by Fannie Hurst, that abandoned the trope of the glamorous mistress and made the whole thing sound like such an awful enterprise that “sex was never quite the same afterwards.”

Libraries and schools are supposed to be places that open up our worlds, and let us think about new possibilities. For many, they are also places where the joy of certain things are crushed out ruthlessly with reading lists, long discussions, and tedious essays. People who like math, usually, don’t like it quite so much when it’s presented five times a week using a structure that they’re not fond of. People become used to, and then become irritated by, things they usually like.
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The Cipher 10/20/10

October 20th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

leave with lifeless lungs or come in peace
-Remember when I said “You should be reading it” in relation to the Fraction/Ferry Thor? I take it back. I was okay with the first issue being empty, what with it being essentially the first chapter in what is meant to be a book, but the second is just as empty. All of the goodwill I had for it was instantly sapped by the pace and plot. Check out Tim O’Neil’s pretty good review of the issue. I agree with everything he said, I think. Pretty art, I dig the letters, but you’re cashews if you think I’m gonna pay four dollars a month for that.

-I’m slowly working my way through the books I bought at NYCC… and the books I bought after NYCC, and the books I’m probably gonna buy tonight. Time to scale back the insanity some, maybe? Who knows.

-I went to APE. It was okay. I liked the Writers Old Fashioned panel on Sunday. I bought a couple pages of art from Steve Oliff, the incredible colorist who did Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira.

akira color guides

One of the best comics ever, seriously. I’m happy to own two bits of it. These are also the first two pages I’ve bought that don’t feature colored folks.

-Disc-less Netflix on PS3 > Netflix on 360. The interface is smooth as silk.

-I deleted like ten gigs of mp3s last night. Goodbye, Canibus and Cassidy. You overstayed your welcomes. Drake, you’re next.

-If all goes well, I’ll have both a new Pretty Girls for Friday and a good post for tomorrow.

-You ever feel like there’s something you’re forgetting, even though it’s consumed your thoughts for days? I’m having that feeling right now. It was definitely something to do with comical books.

i would rather have you fear me than have you respect me
wrote: Ehh, light week. Just a preview. You should watch the footage of our panel from NYCC, though, and leave comments about my looks.

read: One Piece, Vol. 55, Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Volume 4, and Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 11. OP was great, as expected. GSC flagged a little toward the end there by introducing a major character and then ignoring him for the rest of the book. It stumbled, but other than all the pedo stuff, it was pretty great. (Ugh.) 20thCB11 introduced a staple of adventure comics (crippling self-doubt!) and resolved it over the course of a chapter (I am invincible.), so that was nice. I like it more now, but it’s still threatening to spin off into absurdity (more than it already has, I mean). I hope the guessing games are mostly done. The stuff about Kanna was really strong this time around. More of that, please!

watched: I ordered The Night of the Hunter and received Seven Samurai. Why? Because Robert Mitchum and Akira Kurosawa, that’s why.

listened: It is positively absurd how much I’m feeling Rick Ross’s Teflon Don. Who knew? I’ve mostly been listening to Kanye and old joints, though.

laws and rules don’t apply to me
david: Hellblazer 272, New Mutants 18
esther: Possibly, but not likely: Batman the Road Home: Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon. Possibly: Batman and Robin 15, DCU Halloween Special, Tiny Titans 33. Probably: Superman/Batman 77
gavin: Azrael 13, Batman And Robin 15, Green Lantern Corps 53, Carnage 1, Chaos War 2, Deadpool 28, Hulk 26, Shadowland Power Man 3, Steve Rogers Super-Soldier 4, Darkwing Duck 5

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