Archive for April, 2011


Mortal Marathon Part 9: Unholy Alliance

April 29th, 2011 Posted by guest article

Guest article series by Gabriel “TheJoker138″ Coleman, who apologizes for having to deal with a million papers and finals when he should be writing up more of these. Stupid priorities.

This episode starts out in the cobalt mines, with Shang Tsung summoning Quan Chi, who appears with Siann (the redhead from the previous episode), while Not Jade watches from the shadows. Quan is a bit pissed about being summoned, but his curiosity about why Shang has summoned him won out, so he came. Not Jade tries to attack Siann, but she blocks it and grabs her by the neck before she’s able to actually do anything. Shang says that she’s of no importance and to ignore her, but his offer of an alliance is important. One could say this is a… Deadly Alliance? But no, they don’t say that, they call it the unholy alliance, stop being silly.

At the training post, Kung Lao is meditating. His visions start as memories of Jen, but quickly turn into nightmares of her murder by Scorpion and his own death at the hands of Goro. Speaking of Goro, we go back to Outworld now and get a brief shot of either him, or another Shokan, watching over the mines.

Goro looks really short here

Shang and Quan are sitting quietly as Not Jade and Siann have a shouting match with each other. Shang says if they don’t shut up he’ll kill them both and Quan sends Siann away to avoid further incident. Quan really doesn’t care about Kung Lao dying, as all he wanted from him was his soul, which is out of his reach and asks what Shang could possibly have to offer him. Shang says he’ll teach him the secret of taking souls by force, as he can do and this is enough to grab Quan’s interest. He still doesn’t understand what Shang needs of him though. Shang is vague about his plan, but says that it needs both of their power and it still might be dangerous. The temptation is great enough that Quan accepts, on the condition that he gets Kung Lao’s soul when it’s all over. Shang agrees.

At the training post, there’s some actual training going on, which is the first of this we’ve seen. It is just between Siro and Taja though, so the whole “find new warriors to help in Mortal Kombat” seems to still be in the planning stages. They make a bet that if one can defeat the other in a single move, the loser has to be the other’s slave for 24 hours. Siro wins of course, because Taja is useless. Kung tells them that they need to stop messing around and take things more seriously. He’s in a pretty bad mood, what with the visions and all, an storms off. Raiden confronts him in the marketplace and Kung lets him know that the visions are back. Raiden tells him that as long as he’s afraid, the visions will never leave. They have a conversation about how Kung doesn’t want to accept the responsibility of being Mortal Kombat champion and Raiden tells him that quitting is the best idea he’s ever heard. Kung will quit, he’ll quit, they’ll all quit and it’ll be great. Raiden is a dick and I love it. Raiden then tells him that maybe he should actually find some new fighters to train, so that he doesn’t have to shoulder the responsibility all by himself, but Kung says he hasn’t because no one else could ever be as good as he is. Raiden laughs in his face and disappears.

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Wolverine Can’t Keep Up With the Fans

April 29th, 2011 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

So apparently there was some Wolverine storyline in which evil demons got into Wolverine’s brain and members of his team had to get transported into a physical representation of his mind in order to kill the demons and free him.  Hilarity ensues, including the following scene:

This scene made it over to scans_daily, where people reacted thusly:

…That’s it? Those are his deepest, most secret, rawest sexual fantasies?

Jeez. 13-year-old fangirls publicly come up with far dirtier stuff than that all the time.

Well, I’m not sure about the exact age, but it’s true.  I don’t even read Marvel, but I know that doesn’t scratch the surface of what is out there written by women.  Reading it I have to say I rolled my eyes a little, but then I had to look at my reaction.

One major thing about this scene is, it’s a woman looking at it.  And the woman’s response is, “I must die this instant.” 

That moment brought me back to, I kid you not, The Devil Wears Prada.  Yes, I saw that movie.  In the movie, Anne Hathaway (the soon-to-be Catwoman), plays a serious journalism student who goes and gets a job at a fashion magazine, and is roundly mocked by Fashion People.  The running gag is this: She’s fat.  Any of you can google a picture of Anne Hathaway right now.  Even for an actress, she’s very slender.  And the people making the various fat jabs were fatter than her.  They weren’t objectively fat.  They were also slender.  But they were fatter than Anne Hathaway. 

There had to be someone who noticed this somewhere between script and screen, and you think these lines would have been re-written, just the same way a movie filled with jokes about a character’s blue eyes would change the line if the actor playing the character had brown eyes.  But no one changed the lines.  So a theater full of people, presumably none of them blind, saw several actresses look at a visibly skinnier actress and call her fat.  The jokes made no sense, and yet they stayed in the movie.  Why?  Because they were Fashion People and she was Regular Jane, and so she had to be fatter than they were – even if the entire audience’s eyes were telling them that she wasn’t. 

This is what that scene feels like.  It’s pretty much beyond dispute that the ladies like the weird, or know the weird, or at the very least expect weirder than that from Wolverine.  I don’t read Marvel so this lady might be particularly restrained.  (Although, if she is, why is she looking in a door marked ‘sexual fantasies’?)  It just seems like that has to be her reaction.  Wolverine is the hard-bitten hero who’s been everywhere, done everything, no-nonsense, man of the world.  He’s the guy with the Dark Side.  The animalistic member of the X-Men.  He has to have fantasies that shock people, no matter what.  So she’s shocked.  Otherwise Wolverine’s identity doesn’t work.

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It Ain’t No More To It: “When a fresh faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.”

April 28th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

started at the top of Saul Williams’s “Banged and Blown Through.” 2334 on 04.25.11. images from brian azzarello and eduardo risso’s 100 Bullets Vol. 8: The Hard Way. you can start with issue 1 for ninety-nine cents, though.

Cape comics are nice and all, but my favorite types of comics feature real people doing real things. Crime comics and war comics are what really float my boat, for whatever reason. Sci-fi and fantasy are okay, but never really manage to hold my interest for long. I like seeing people in these books that could live next door, but have this insane other life.

Crime comics are a sorely underserved genre. There’s a lot of crime in cape comics, sure, but that’s not really the same thing. My ideal crime comic would probably read like Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Richard Stark, or Dashiell Hammett doing comics. Where cape comics are flashy and make a splash, crime comics are the ones that are a little dirtier, and a lot more down to Earth. People get shot and die, punches hurt, and the dialogue is punchy or mean.

In terms of crime comics, I like them spare, more often than not. The ones that descend into two-fisted gunfights, intense acrobatics, suicide charges that the hero lives through… all of that is sorta bland. It turns it into an action movie, rather than something measured and realistic. I like it when a punch in the face ruins someone’s whole day, or when the violence is inexpert and awkward. You can be trained to shoot guns with deadly accuracy, sure. At the same time, that can be a little boring, can’t it? I like people who mess up.

My favorite crime character is Richard Stark’s Parker, though I don’t know that Stark is my favorite writer, crime or otherwise. I like the spare, stripped down nature of him. He likes money and women, in that order, and he pulls jobs so that he has money to get women. Everything else is just part of the job. Not to say that he hasn’t pulled off some impossible stuff before–Slayground is essentially Home Alone in an amusement park and there’s one book where him and some friends rob an entire town–but when you get down to it, Parker is just a guy who’s talented at what he does. And that happens to be hurting or robbing people.

I liked Sherlock Holmes a lot as a kid. I loved the whole idea of solving mysteries being like unlocking a puzzle. Once you had all the pieces, it was simply a matter of looking at them from the right perspective. All it took was smarts and you could do anything. I don’t remember many specifics about Holmes any more, and it’s been years since I revisited Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, but I still love the idea of him. The Robert Downey Jr movie was pretty okay, but more action-oriented than I’d have liked.

I liked Holmes, but I loved Encyclopedia Brown. That kid was amazing to me. Sherlock Holmes Plus.

A lot of comics tend to screw up the violence. It’s action movie violence, which is great for a two hour picture, but not necessarily good for comics. I like when it gets visceral and personal. One guy fighting thirty ninjas is boring. One guy fighting his brother is great. Give me stakes I can believe in, stakes that go higher than just “If he loses, he dies.” Give me blood and give me tears.

Not say that there’s no place for stylized violence. The other day on Twitter, I said that “I mostly just want stuff where men and women (or ninjas) of visibly legal age wear suits, smoke cigarettes, and kill people.” It’s glib, but it’s also kinda sorta true. I love that whole Rat Pack/mobster/Mad Men aesthetic, and the thought of gentleman thieves is one that I can never let go of. Stylish people doing stylish things is a fetish.

Cigarette smoke is bad for you or whatever, but it’s also one of the best visuals I can think of. You can do a lot with that, from a melancholy moll to a weary hitter. If you know what you’re doing, it can be immensely powerful, you know?

I’m a big fan of Lupin the 3rd. He’s a take on the gentleman thief that I can really get down with. He steals because he’s good at it and because he likes money. His heists are increasingly ridiculous, and he’s chased by a bumbling oaf of a cop. Lupin the 3rd is pretty comedic, but the actual heist portions are always fun. He’s sort of how I wish they’d portray the Riddler in the Batman comics. He does it because he’s good at it, not because he’s a villain. If you’ve got a talent, flex it. Why not?

Another thing I dig about crime stories is the way the conflict between good vs evil plays out. It’s rarely as simple as black and white, and sometimes, morality blurs under the weight of reality. Sometimes a guy just needs to feed his family, and sometimes a cop has to feed his smack habit.

Crime comics/stories can be ugly and mean, but I love them.

I love war comics, too, though my taste in that has gotten very specific very quickly. I like them pared down and lean. Big battle scenes are no good, and one superman vs a faceless horde isn’t my thing. I like my war comics personal, and from the point of view of the man on the ground or his girl back home. The sort of stories where officers are corrupt and ineffectual, and the only real men are the ones with blood on their bayonet.

I eat up Garth Ennis’s war comics with a spoon. He’s got a take that I love, one that’s reverent of the men who do the work but scornful of the fact that the work itself exists. There’s this strong strain of hate for the war industry in his comics, the people who profit off bullets and bombs and blood. He’s concerned about the people, rather than the politics, and that makes for good reading. The people in his comics are everyday people pushed to do extraordinary things for sickeningly ordinary reasons.

“Spare” is my watchword, apparently. It’s something I try to do in life. Keeping things as simple and free of flourish as possible is something I try to practice, both in my writing and real life. “I deal with the real, so if it’s artificial, let it be,” right? I like when crime and war tales strip away the fat and just show us the meat and bone. Why are these people doing this? How is it going to affect them? Why do we put them into this?

Cape comics tend to work in the opposite direction. Heroes fight as soon as they team-up because the genre demands it. The villain who just spent a year terrorizing everyone in the country gets punched out, sometimes on live TV, and that’s supposed to be some type of closure any reasonable person can live with. Nobody ever gets stomped out. They just “do battle.”

That’s good, up until a point, but sometimes I just want to see people react to violence like normal people. Seeing somebody get shot is traumatic. Getting punched in the face sticks with you. There’s not enough of that in cape comics, but war and crime tales tend to keep me satisfied.

finished at the end of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” 0001 on 04.26.11

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WWE Race to the Rumble: If Creative Has Nothing For You, Turn to Page 34…

April 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

As a kid, I never read much of the choose-your-own-adventures books. I did read an old Superman one once, which was really good and in retrospect is intriguing for including so many ways that Superman can get taken out in one book. It’s just that those books tended to be just a little too depressing. You don’t just receive bad luck in a lot of those books… you enact nightmare material that I was too young to endure. Where I currently work, I had flipped through several of them and even now I find the stuff questionable. I saw one book where a decision led to the main character getting hit with a car so hard that they needed to check the dental records to see who he was. Jesus…

Then I saw this book: Race to the Rumble: Pick Your Path #1 by Tracey West. It’s a WWE choose-your-own-adventure book and it’s Royal Rumble-based. I kind of had to pick it up and read through it out of principle.

Rey Mysterio actually has very little to do with this book. Same with Edge who appears on the back cover.

The book is nearly 100 pages and exists as being both fun and lacking. Lacking in the sense that there’s no real path divergence in the stories. Instead of branching off into different scenarios, we’re only given two storylines. Each decision, with one exception, gives you one choice that will continue the story or end it in one page. That’ll at least make this write-up easier on me. What is there is at least good stuff. West has a decent grasp on the WWE and really does come up with some good booking ideas for a gimmicky book like this. There are times when I’ve read what’s happened and thought, “I wouldn’t mind seeing that.”

So let’s get into the story. It all begins with you, a nameless and indistinct indy wrestler winning a match against Blockhead in a high school gym. A talent scout from the WWE comes to you and offers you a tryout. You remember news that WWE’s announced a tournament of sorts that’s allowing newly-recruited guys to earn a spot in the Royal Rumble. This sounds awesome and gives you the drive needed to beat another nameless hopeful in your tryout match in front of Vince McMahon himself. Vince thinks your ringwork is impressive, but wants to hear you cut a promo on the spot.

This is where we get our first choice. You can either play a good guy or bad guy. For now, let’s go face and cover the rest later. You give a generic, “What this means to me,” speech and Vince kind of shrugs at it. You’re a good athlete, but you have a month to prove yourself and grow a personality. Off you go to your first match where you’re opening a show against Drew McIntyre. Backstage, Drew takes offense to the idea that you were signed by Vince himself, since he’s Vince’s Chosen One. You get absolutely destroyed in your debut match and the fans call you a loser.

Here’s where we get the one and only side-plot of the choose-your-own story. Chris Jericho meets you backstage and comes up with a gimmick idea that comes off as lame, but he’s a veteran, so maybe you should listen to him. The gimmick is Kid Caveman, where you’d wear a loincloth and carry a big dinosaur bone as a club. Should you listen to his advice? Let’s see what happens with that…

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The Cipher 04/27/11: “Lees and shell toes like it’s Black History Month”

April 27th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

picture me, lampin’ in the company car

created: blahhhhh

-New milestone: I did a piece for Publishers Weekly on First Second’s digital strategy. I don’t do much actual journalism type stuff, so this was pretty neat.

-I liked Wilfred Santiago’s biography of Roberto Clemente. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is cheap on Amazon, just about fifteen bucks. I liked it quite a bit, so check out that review.

-You can read Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac for free.99. You absolutely should. Big fan.

Moebius is your favorite artist’s favorite artist. True.

Here go five digital comics you need to get up on. Comic Book Comics, Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Fantastic Four, Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, Catwoman: Dark End of the Street, and Marineman.

-Here’s video of the iFanboy vs ComicsAlliance panel at Wondercon:

rims like tibetan prayer wheels

consumed: Today sucks like days haven’t sucked in forever, so I’m going to keep this short. Longer next week, I promise.

-Music… I’ve been spinning this mix of David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and Saul Williams’s The Inevitable Rise and Liberation Of Niggy Tardust. Is it a yin/yang thing? I dunno. The transition from “Rock’n’Roll Suicide” to “Black History Month” (ain’t on youtube, look elsewhere) is pretty crucial. On Twitter, I said “the transition from David Bowie’s Rock’n’Roll Suicide to Saul Williams’s Black History Month is like dying and waking up in the apocalypse.” I dunno. I wish I could set up like a 15 seconds crossfade from one song to the other in iTunes, but not between songs on both albums.

-Black Avengers–Graeme pulled out some quotes from a Brevoort piece on CBR that made some waves on Twitter. I don’t care, but I don’t care in that way that I get mad that other people care.

-It reminds me of the chromatic casting meme from last year (year before?). It’s begging for scraps off the table instead of demanding a seat at the table. I don’t want to buy Black Avengers. If I had to choose, I want to buy some fresh new comics with black characters. I don’t need the Avengers to validate my race or the characters I like.

-Screw the Avengers.

-This sort of thing tends to pop up once or twice a year–somebody gets it into their head that in order to be EQUAL black people need to be the same thing as white people. We need a Black Spider-Man! That’s diversity, right?!

-Black Spider-Man can get deez nutz. I don’t want him at all.

-The worst part about Black Avengers, and I’m using Black Avengers as a term to stand in for the thing I’m talking about, is that it’s so unbelievably short-sighted. It just ends up propping up the old, clumsy, ugly, poisonous, and rotten paradigm that everyone claims they want to get out from under. Let them people have the Avengers. Make something better.

-Oh, you want rock’n’roll? That’s cool, ’cause we’ve got rap.

-Sometimes I seriously hate corporate comics.

-And I said this would be short, but that was a lie, because I wanted to get that poison out of me. I’m not mad about the Black Avengers. I just think it’s a stupid idea (and, like all stupid ideas, one that would work under a talented team) and hate that it became, however briefly, a talking point with regards to race and capes.

-Think it through in both directions, front to back–where did it come from? Where will it lead? What does it mean? Black Avengers thinking is poisonous.

-Crap, what do I like so this isn’t completely composed of me blacking out on dumb ideas…

-JTabon on Twitter made the mistake of Twitting this: “Did a watercolor sketch of Jubilee in a hoodie as a warmup today. @hermanos puts terrible ideas in my head.”

-I think I’d twittered something about girls in fur-lined hoodies, but I don’t feel like looking.

-I called his bluff and told him to post it. Look:

-Dude is dope. Follow him on Twitter if you twit, and if you don’t, check out his website. The top post right now is a really interesting inking practice thing.

I liked this Tim Callahan piece on comics media.

Blu dropped some predictably cryptic liner notes for his new album, in addition to the track list. Really looking forward to No York over here.

-I saw Hanna. I liked it. Too frustrated to write about it right now, though.

It Ain’t No More To It is an attempt to better my writing. I give myself a time limit (15 or 30 minutes) and I don’t allow myself to edit. Once a paragraph is finished, it’s locked in stone, typos and all, and I move on. I barely even edit once I finish a sentence, barring deletion. It’s the raw unfiltered. My sword needs to be sharper, and this seems like an effective way to do it. Think faster, think better.

-Oh yeah, the African Batman has a few pages in Batman Inc 5. His name is David and he has a jetpack. I approve.

-I hope Donald Trump gets punched in the stomach on live TV. How unbelievably disappointing.

nigga, what, i’m a star

David: Power Man and Iron Fist 4, Xombi 2
Esther: Oui: Action Comics 900, Batman Incorporated 5 Peut-être: Xombi 2, Detective Comics 876
Gavin: Batman Inc. 5, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 9, Justice League: Generation Lost 24, Avengers 12.1, Captain America 617, Deadpool 36, FF 2, Incredible Hulk 627, Namor: The First Mutant 9, Power Man and Iron Fist 4, Secret Avengers 12, Secret Avengers 12.1, Venom 2, Incorruptible 17

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It Ain’t No More To It: 4thlettered!

April 26th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

started one minute into Saul Williams’s “Tr(n)igger.” 2245 on 04.25.11

Lettering in cape comics tends to suck. I don’t mean that it’s not technically proficient, because it is 99% of the time, but that it’s boring. Lettering is a vital part of comics. It’s an information delivery system, and too often, it’s treated more as USPS than… I dunno, a singing telegram or something that delivers something with some panache.

My eyebrows always sorta narrow when I see word balloons in comics that were taken straight from Comicraft’s site. It gives books this same-y, bland feel. There’s no personality in there, when the letters should definitely have some. I mean, the letters are supposed to represent people’s dialogue, right? I’m not asking for every character to have a distinctive word balloon (thought it was dope when Johnny Storm and Bobby Drake had fire and ice-based balloons back in the Onslaught days), but something more than the default white balloon would be nice, wouldn’t it? I like when you can see the gravel in Ben Grimm’s voice right there on the page.

Letterers like Stan Sakai, John Workman, Tom Orzechowski, Dustin Harbin, and Jared K Fletcher tend to do it right. Their splashy, interesting balloons add to the art, rather than interfering with it. The balloon tails meander and wiggle, rather than coming to a perfect 30 degree angle or whatever. Font sizes vary, balloon shapes warp, and on and on.

Sound effects are one of those things that I feel should be handled by the entire art team, not just the letterer. There’s nothing like seeing sfx integrated into the art. It makes the art just that much more exciting, just a little more like the platonic ideal of comic books. I do like books without sound effects, but if you’re going to use them, why not use them? Make them pretty, not just a Photoshop (Illustrator?) level on top of the colored art. Sketch in a “thwip” or throw a big fat “BOOM!” behind a punch. Let the sound effect serve as your panel, like this bit from Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic’s Heralds.

I read Moebius’s The Airtight Garage the other day. It was fantastic, as expected, but what leapt out at me maybe the most was one sound effect in this panel partway through, the boom:

Because oh man, Frank Quitely totally used that in his run on Batman & Robin, didn’t he? This is nothing, just four letters and an explosion separated by publishing company and probably 20-some years, but it creates an interesting link between two works. It’s interesting, and it doesn’t dominate the page or look like it doesn’t belong. It’s part of the page, and it’s interesting.

Marvel does this thing that I hate. I think it’s a company-wide general rule for books of a certain rating, but I haven’t put any real study to it. Pure anecdotal, whatever whatever. When someone gets stabbed or shot, the exit wound is almost always covered by a big ugly sound effect. Not all the way covered, but significantly so. It bugs me so much, because it’s just another reminder that I’m reading a comic book that’s stuck pretending like it’s for children. It’s positively graceless. If you can’t show something, why do it and then hide it? There’s got to be a better way.

finished two and a half minutes into Saul Williams’s “NiggyTardust.” 2258 on 04.25.11

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It Ain’t No More To It: On My Superman

April 26th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

started about halfway through David Bowie’s “Soul Love”. 2205 on 04.25.11. i cheated and edited in a correction toward the end at 0011 on 04.26.11, but it was a really dumb mistake. i’ll do better next time.

I read through the last year of Joe Casey’s run on Adventures of Superman the other day. It’s one of the few works of his I haven’t read, and this was the infamous “Superman is a pacifist” segment, so I figured I should. I came away pretty impressed–Casey had a lot of good ideas. Most of them were well-executed, and the ones that weren’t were still very strong. My favorite part of the run was a small scene from Adventures of Superman 610 that was unrelated to the rest of the issue. They’re spread throughout this post.

I really liked that Casey’s Superman refused violence as a way to solve problems, and I felt like this was another take on what Ann Nocenti was exploring in Daredevil all those years ago, the idea that resorting to violence is a sign of failure, rather than triumph. It takes one of the central tenets of the superhero, that muscles can beat anything, and says, “This is untrue.”

Casey having a specific take on Superman, like a mandate, was really interesting to me. Most writers tend to go with “Superman is all that is good,” which is okay, but not very interesting sometimes. It got me thinking about what I like about Superman, a character I wasn’t into much as a kid, but suddenly seem to have a lot of opinions about now that I’m an adult. I don’t really care to argue whether Superman is a Jesus figure or Moses (because he’s Moses, frankly), but I’m going to try to pin down what’s “my” Superman.

I figure my first, biggest tenet is that Superman doesn’t cry. If you take for granted that Superman is Superman, the one hero that everyone loves and respects, then seeing Superman cry would be like seeing your dad cry. It’d be horrifying, a big fat ball of ugly, crawling dread dropped directly into your hindbrain. When he’s Superman, when he’s got that costume on, he should fearless. He can be sad, sure–that’s fine. But Superman doesn’t cry. The only people he cries in front of… that’s Lois Lane and his parents. He’s strong for everyone else, but since he knows that his family is there for him, he can bring the wall down.

Superman’s got Lois Lane. She’s the one he goes back to when times get rough, and she’s the one whose the Mary Jane to his Peter Parker. She’s where he goes to be normal. I never like it when writers come up with infidelity, fake or otherwise, plots, because Lois married the actual best person on Earth. Cheating doesn’t even enter into his mind. It’s positively absurd, like Mother Teresa strangling a child on live television. Lois isn’t jealous because she knows exactly what her husband is. She knows she’s got nothing to fear.

I think Superman’s biggest feature is his compassion. He’s an idealist at his foundation, and he tries to serve as an inspiration. He can’t save everyone, and he knows that, but he hates it. He’d rescue balloons out of trees just to see a kid smile, and he spends more time silently helping people than sleeping. I like this scene with Emilio for exactly that reason. He doesn’t know this kid at all, but he’s so unbelievably compassionate that he came to see him, despite knowing that he couldn’t save the child’s mother. He just wanted to be there, to provide a shoulder.

I figure that at least 75% of what Superman does to help people has to be non-violent. Crime-stopping is okay, but that’s treating the symptom. Superman is going for a better world, not a “pretty good today.”

Because of that compassion, Superman has to be a pretty melancholy dude. He’s more aware of his failings than anyone else, and considering exactly how powerful he is, his failings are huge. There is a lot he can’t do, and those would be the things he wishes he could do the most. Like, when his parents died, Batman learned that the world only makes sense when you force it to. You reach out, you make a fist, and you pound the world into shape. Superman’s a little different. Superman’s about coping, rather than control. He’s battling a chronic disease as best he can.

Another thing I hate is when people suddenly distrust Superman. That’s stupid. He’s Superman. The whole point is that you’re supposed to trust him, that he’s hear to save us all. I think it’s interesting when people appear who point out where he’s gone wrong, though I can’t think of a time that story wasn’t smarmy and condescendingly awful. But he’s the one guy who is bigger than politics. He’s Michael Jackson, or Mickey Mouse.

Casey’s pacifist take was supremely interesting. Superman has violence at the core of his character. That’s how he solved problems when he first appeared, and for the past however many years. I’m not one to deny the power of violence as a problem solving tool, but I enjoy the idea of the strongest man in the world actively rejecting that power, and what’s more, treating it with scorn. It’s a statement: “I am better than this. We can do better than this.”

Rejecting violence also lets Superman tackle problems that would be otherwise tacky in cape comics. Superman fighting a super-strong straw man of a black militant is ugly and stupid, an attempt to boil down an endlessly complex quagmire into black and white. A Superman who sits down and says, “Let’s talk,” though, is a way to create much more personal and powerful stories. Sure, it doesn’t make for exciting fight comics, but we’ve had seventy years of fight comics. Go read those. Embrace something else.

I like the idea that Superman reads all his fanmail.

I’m not reading Superman comics right now. I don’t think I’ve read them since Geoff Johns and Eric Powell did that Goon story (I’m cheating, but I definitely meant Bizarro, not Goon). The Krypton stuff did nothing for me, the War With Krypton sounded excruciating, and at this point, JMS has managed to compromise the line. I’ve never been a huge Superman fan, but I like him in bursts. Superman: Birthright is great, as is The Death and Return of Superman. The Death was actually my entry into Superman, back in the day. He died on my birthday, in fact.

I think Superman is a good character. I don’t much care for the bulk of his comics, or really the movies, but he was cool on the cartoon. I wish I liked him more, but I do like seeing how other heroes play off him or are inspired by him. I think he’s too often played as a Boy Scout, full stop, to be truly interesting. There’s a lot of wiggle room in him, just like there is in most cape comics characters, but not a lot of experimentation.

Superman is one of the strongest characters in comics. I think it’d be cool to see how far he can bend before he’s not Superman any more.

finished about fifty seconds into David Bowie’s “Rock’n’Roll Suicide”. 2235 on 04.25.11

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This Week in Panels: Week 83

April 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Hey, I’m back from Vegas! Had a fantastic time and made about $400 during the trip. Also got to check out some good Lewis Black stand-up. Now I’m back, enjoying the fruits of Mortal Kombat and my Chikara King of Trios DVDs. I’ve watched the first night of King of Trios which features Team Minnesota in the main event, made up of Arik Cannon, Darrin Corbin and the 1-2-3 Kid. Yes, you read that correctly. Not Syxx. Not X-Pac. The 1-2-3 Kid. Although he shaved for the show, he apologized to the crowd because there was no way he was going to bring back the mullet.

Said match involved them facing a team which had Jinsei Shinzaki (otherwise known as Hakushi in the mid-90’s WWF), leading to a big “1995!” chant from the crowd. God, I love Chikara.

On topic, great comic week. All my non-Venom favorites showed up. Avengers Academy, Darkwing Duck, Thunderbolts and Uncanny X-Force. Lot of stuff this time around, as I’m assisted by David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa. Let’s get cracking.

Avengers Academy #12
Christos Gage and Tom Raney

Avengers #12
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

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Mortal Marathon Part 8: Quan Chi

April 22nd, 2011 Posted by guest article

Guest article series by Gabriel “TheJoker138″ Coleman.

Holy shit, there’s an on-screen title that’s actually accurate. I’m seriously amazed. Anyway, we open up this week’s episode at a restaurant in the marketplace, where our trio of heroes are having dinner. Taja is still dressed like a golfer/tennis player in her pink polo shirt, Siro is hitting on the waitress and Kung is getting ready to leave, as he needs to rest up before going to the monastery the next morning. After he leaves, Taja and Siro have a brief discussion about why Siro is always so polite. He says the ladies love it. By the way, the waitress he’s hitting on is actually pretty conservatively dressed for this series:

What, are you a member of the Young Earthrealm Republicans or something? Prude.

Outside, Kung is on his way home when a woman runs up to him begging him for help, because another woman is being killed in an alley. They get there and two women are indeed attacking another one. These two are dressed more in line with the norm of this series:

Hey! It’s Jaime Pressly!

The woman who brought Kung to the alley ends up snapping the neck of the woman who was being attacked and reveals herself to be the third in this little group. The three of them all attack Kung, one of them even doing the Liu Kang flying kick attack from the games. Also, there’s kind of a creepy amount of upskirt shots in this fight, to the point where it kind of feels like I’m watching some creepy anime. Kung takes out two of them easily, but the third gets the upper hand on him. As she’s about to go in for the kill, Taja runs up and punches her square in the face. It’s nice to see Taja not being totally useless for once. Siro is with her and they scare the trio of women off. They ask Kung what happened and why they attacked him and he has no clue. Siro goes off to tell the guards about the murder, while Kung and Taja head home to deal with his wounds.

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Read Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s Bucko For Some T-Bolts T&A

April 21st, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Noted funnybook writer Jeff Parker is making a big push to get a new title: “noted smut-peddler Jeff Parker.” From his Twitter, where he used Twitlonger to cheat and use more than 140 characters:

THE DEAL: Like all true artists, Kev Walker of Thunderbolts has no earthly ‘restraints’ and in the latest issue Marvel chose sagely to let balloons hide the contact between Satana and Moonstone on page six.

IF you would like to see that image sans dialogue, all I ask is that you help get the word out this Thursday on the webcomic BUCKO by me and @erikamoen . Spread the link far and wide with vigor, and if (and when!) we pass our record number of site visits, I will twitpic that obscured file.

Here is the page in question, where Parker has written Satana as like a hyperactive genki girl from anime all hopped up on ecstasy and viagra. If I had the time, I’d photoshop in Moonstone going “Kyaaaaaa! -_-#” and maybe Juggernaut going “ch-ch-ch-ch-chotto matte!”

It’s pretty plain to see what’s going on, but sure, I’ll play your game, Parker.

The thing about Bucko is that it’s got a pretty impeccable creative team. Erika Moen did DAR for a billion years, at least in internet time. Her sense of humor is that right kind of lowbrow comedy that I like and her characters are full of personality (sorta like what I imagine old timey stage actors were like–very dramatic and intentionally overacted, but great for entertainment purposes). Parker’s been in the trenches for, I dunno, forever? Several years, at the very least. He made a splash with some good all-ages book at Marvel, then moved on to work like Agents of Atlas, The Age of the Sentry, a couple more Agents of Atlas, Underground, and Mysterius. These days, he’s writing what’re probably Marvel’s two best ongoing books, Hulk and Thunderbolts.

Bucko. Right. Let’s talk Bucko.

So: two creators who have established themselves in two entirely different lanes (corporate comics & webcomics) and are freakishly talented (poop jokes and talking monkeys a specialty) team up to create… what? Turns out, the answer is “a comic strip about Portland.” Moen and Parker’s comic is a murder mystery that begins when Bucko takes an emergency trip to the bathroom during an interview and discovers a dead body. The drama soon explodes (sorry), with a swirling mixture of threesomes (almost), stab wounds, corrupt cops, and a scathing exposé of the American penal system. Also there are jokes about fixies and Etsy.

All of the people I know in Portland (all… four of ’em, plus I guess a couple of tiny dogs) demand that I move there. Thanks to Bucko, I now understand that this is a dirty, dirty trick.

It’s a really funny comic. Start here and work your way forward. It updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One chapter’s done (21 pages worth of comics), and the second chapter is in progress. You should be reading it, if only so that Jeff Parker can fulfill another lifelong dream.

(read Thunderbolts too, by the way.)

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