buckshot blogging: akira toriyama, static shock, chew, breaking bad, naruto

September 7th, 2011 by | Tags: , , ,

Static’s back. Have you heard?

Static is one of those series that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s the hands down best updating of Peter Parker thus far, and since Spider-Man is the best expression of a superhero (it’s not Batman, chuckles, Spider-Man is a genuine everyman fantasy character), that’s saying a lot.

Anyway, I was most interested in Static Shock #1 out of DC’s New 52 books that are launching this week. (DCnU looks and tastes like poop when you type it, so chill with that.) It was equal parts interest and trepidation. I mean, DC has managed to screw up everything else relating to Milestone except the trades of previously printed material, you know? What’s next? Ed Benes on Icon?

As it turns out, my fears were pretty much unfounded. Here’s page two of the issue, the moment I decided I would enjoy reading it:

And man, Static is such a goofball and this is exactly what I was hoping to see. Well, not exactly–that’s definitely hyperbole, but as far as the platonic ideal of a comic featuring Virgil Hawkins goes, I’ve got to tip my hat to John Rozum, Scott McDaniel, Jonathan Glapion, and Guy Major. This was a pretty good stab, and enough to make me commit to buying the issues at $3. It’s well worth your time. You can cop it here.

I wrote about Akira Toriyama drawing fight scenes in Dragon Ball, more specifically DBZ for ComicsAlliance. Dude is super talented and I finally figured out a way to say so without just saying “I like how Vegeta effortlessly murks this guy right here.”

I like how Vegeta effortlessly murks this guy right here.

He’s such a thug. ~swoon~

Buy Dragon Ball Z, or just v22 if you want to see this scene.

I wrote a post about how I don’t really dig on steampunk and you know what happened? I went and read a steampunk comic book that I really dug. What’re the odds, man? Here’s a page from it, though, and I think you’ll see why I dug it:

Art team: pencils by David López, inks by Álvaro López, Nathan Fairbairn on colors, and Jared Fletcher on letters. Words team: G Willow Wilson, who I’ve praised before.

This book really clicked for me. It’s a little Cinderella-y, with a twist I saw coming halfway through the book but was still well-executed. I might want to talk about it in-depth later, I dunno, but I liked this page and the book enough to share it. The Lopezes have come a long way since Catwoman, and I remember liking their stuff back then, too. Fairbairn does wonders for their art. It’s like magic.

I’ve been reading/rereading Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. Five bucks a volume, man. I didn’t expect to be so weak. I’m ten volumes in now. I got to my favorite bit from the cartoon–the Rock Lee vs Gaara fight? It’s either this or this on Hulu, I dunno. (Hulu is down for me right now.)

I loved the Rock Lee vs Gaara fight because it got so bananas in a way I really, really dug. Fast punches, clever gimmicks–it starts with a punch from the front that almost hits the back of Gaara’s head. It’s awesome fight staging. They blew their animation budget on this episode, because everything after looks like crap crapped out of a crap-filled crap butt.

It looks way better in the comic. Here’s three pages that I liked:

From Volume 10, my dudes.

I love page 3, panels four and five. The dust in the air over Gaara’s head in 3, and then Gaara being almost entirely constructed out of speedlines–including his fist, eyebrows, eyes, and mouth–is fantastic. Good looking comic.

I’m writing these while watching Breaking Bad. I download it, so missing it when it airs isn’t really a huge deal, but it’s marathoning this show is crazy. It’s SO tense, but also very, very funny. Walt is so passive-aggressive. Every once and a while he decides to show everyone who wears the pants and whoops look at that, look who’s pants have pee on them. It’s you, Walt. They’re your pants, and you peed in them, because you suck, son.

Jessie Pinkman is incredible this season. Everything he does, man. A+, give that dude some awards.

I liked this bit from Chew 20, now on sale digitally:

Tony’s sister doesn’t curse, you see. Simple, ain’t it?

But quite clever.

I love this image.

Read Good Comics.

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21 comments to “buckshot blogging: akira toriyama, static shock, chew, breaking bad, naruto”

  1. I would suggest getting off the Naruto train with the manga too the quality of that series takes a major nose dive.

    Especially by the time Part 2 starts.

  2. Yeah, Naruto really took a dive somewhere between volumes 15 and 20. At some point the high concept ninjutsu took over and all the kinetic energy and cleverness that was part of the fight scenes in the early volumes was sacrificed.

  3. Dragonball was an incredible action comic. Too bad all people remember is that damned “NINE THOUSAAAAAAND!?” Like you said, it leaves superhero comics in the dust.

  4. Toriyama does amazing splash pages, too! The Garlic Gun vs Kamehameha shot from where Goku and Vegeta face off is a particularly great one. I love the little details present in the comics, because they too were lost in the transition from page to cartoon. Really amazing stuff.

  5. So I came into Static Shock having only seen the cartoon a few times. I never read the comic book at all and I was so lost! None of it made much sense. I think that DC assumed too much prior knowledge for me and I didn’t really dig it. If I’m not mistaken, McDaniel took lead on this one, so I might give #2 a shot if it’s Rozum, but I’m really on the fence here as to why I should love this book.

  6. @Dan Mesa: I’m not sure what you could have possibly missed, and “none of it made much sense” is like… objectively incorrect. Everything you need to know is laid out in the issue–he just moved to NYC, he has electromagnetic powers, he has a family who likes him, there’s a mystery with his sister, he has a super-rich benefactor… what was there to not understand? It was as fresh a start as you’ll ever see.

  7. @david brothers I just didn’t understand “who” Virgil was. Maybe it’s too pedantic a complaint, but everything felt like it was starting in the middle. Were the villains old Static villains? They sure seemed like they were important based on the way the panel was all, “Yo, this guy is important,” but I had no idea why I should be scared of these villains.

    Even the first plasma dude. Virgil seemed to have a lot of familiarity with him, but I had no idea who he was. Who is Hardware? Why does he bankroll Static?

    Maybe it’s a misconception. Maybe I just thought that the reboot meant that it would be a great jumping on point for people who have never really heard of the characters. You’re right, I can gleam everything I need to know about Virgil between the pages. Nothing is so obfuscated that I can’t follow, but everything I wanted to know as I was reading wasn’t there. I didn’t come away from it knowing why I should like this book.

    There’s definitely something to be said about just getting started and trusting the reader to come along for the ride. The other DC books (I’ve never spent a dollar on a DC book before this week) have the benefit of legacy and pop culture. My vague recollections of the Saturday morning Static Shock cartoons are nothing compared to my prior knowledge about Supes or Batgirl or even Swamp Thing. There’s a good contrast: Swamp Thing #1 was more of an issue #1 to me. Maybe I just need to do a little more homework. I only read it once and I’ll be reading it again tonight. Between then I’ll check out some of Virgil’s history and get back to you with what I think.

  8. Naruto, man…tightened up a whole lot, you’d have a solid series about how child abuse either makes kids abusers (Gaara) or compassionate (Naruto), with Sasuke as the kid picking which way he wants to go.

    (Although I haven’t read the series in a while, I understand Sasuke’s basically said “I’ll be Gaara”, and Gaara said “I’ll be Naruto” I guess.)

    Anyway, that Lee/Gaara fight is the best. Awesome build up with both characters; Gaara as the untouchable monster, and Lee being played so goofy between fights, the reader forgets this is the guy who punked the coolest kid in school with pure speed the first time he showed up.

    I have my problems with Naruto as a series, but Kishimoto’s so damn good at having the B-list characters step up in fights; it’s so rarely a matter of “I’m not as strong as the lead!”, and more “I’m not the star of this comic, but I’m still a trained professional child mercenary”.

  9. @Josh: Unless you’re Sakura. ;p

    In all seriousness, Naruto is interesting in that I find myself having to think about how to describe where it is right now. I feel like, though opinions will vary on whether he’s succeeded, Kishimoto is trying to move things in a more mature direction. By which I mean having Naruto face more complex issues without simple answers, and having to grow up and be more of an adult to handle them. I think the battle with Pain was a good example of this.

    He still does way too many flashbacks, though.

  10. At the same time Kishimoto has a panel in one of the more recent chapters where he calls his own work terrible in the comic and says that he is going to do better for the finale. It was unreal.

  11. @david brothers Reread the book last night.

    What I didn’t like:
    – I still think the book is assuming a bit too much, at least with respect to Virule and Piranha. Are they old villains? Are they new? They just are. It’s minor.
    – Why is Hardware helping Virgil? I know they’re from the same comic imprint, but the research I did on Static didn’t mention any team-ups with Hardware. I also feel like we lost a speech bubble or some dialogue in their first exchange because it feels like Virgil is starting mid-conversation in my issue.
    – What’s wrong with his sister? He says that he’s friends with Hardware because it will help his sisters, but when we saw them later they looked perfectly normal and healthy to me. Also, why did they move to NYC?
    – I’m being really subjective here, but I thought most of Virgil’s jokes were flat out not funny. That first one about taking a bite out of the Big Apple? Groan-worthy.
    – This is probably my fault, but I was under the impression that we were getting something that was more new reader friendly. This isn’t as welcoming as I thought it would be.

    More importantly, this is what I liked:
    – Virgil is extremely well written. He’s a teen, he acts like a teen, and he thinks/talks like a teen. His humor and temperament are agreeable to me, even if I’m not fully on board with his jokes.
    – McDaniel’s art is great. It calls back to the old tv show enough that I feel like I recognized the characters, but it’s different enough that it doesn’t look like a cartoon adaptation. I also dug Guy Majors’ colors. Bright and vibrant where it could have gone NYC gritty.
    – Even with some of the fake-y pseudo-science that gets thrown in about Sunspot’s plasma not acting like plasma should, I still dug all the electrical science and physics that are part of the book. I’m an electrical engineer, so electric powers are pretty much perfect for me.
    – I can’t say enough how happy I am that Hardware is also black. DC is doing something good with the Batwing idea…except that it took a white man showing up and giving a black man money and equipment to start to make a difference. So we have a white dude who showed up in a predominantly black country to tell a black man that he’ll bankroll his efforts to get their act together. It’s a small touch, but having Virgil’s benefactor not be white is big for the racial politics of this book.

    I came off as overly negative yesterday, but I do really want to like this book. It was a victim of overly high expectations from me without really knowing what it was. I will buy issue #2, but I still think I’m in the right in saying that it was not a very good introductory issue for people who have little to no knowledge about who Static Shock is.

  12. I miss the days when Naruto was cool and had cool art, instead of basically being an even dumber version of Blackest Night with heavy handed morals everywhere and some of the laziest action sequences I’ve seen outside of a work for hire comic :negativeman:

    Also good read on your DBZ article

  13. @Gaijin D – Even Sakura, by the time I checked out of the series, was basically a Medic/Heavy combo.

    On the other hand, I mostly remember her just knocking boulders the hell out because villians kept dodging her punches, so maybe you’re on to something.

  14. Naruto fans, is Sakura ever not-useless? I know that having three genius ninja in one squad is a stretch, but I’m sorta tired of her inner monologues about how Sasuke/Naruto are so cool and inspire her to fight harder.

    @Dan Mesa: That’s interesting. I took most of the stuff you had problems with in stride. You do come in mid-conversation, but I thought it was clear what the conversation was–“Hey, are you okay?” “Nah Hardware, I’m cool, [conversation continues as depicted].” And why’s Hardware helping Static? ’cause heroes help each other. I don’t think there’s more to it than that, other than the metatextual issue of “These guys share a fanbase probably so put them together.” The sisters thing–he says “sister,” singular, and then corrects himself to the plural. There’s a mystery as to why he has two sisters instead of one.

    You have a real good point on Hardware being black being a good thing. I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah–that’s sweet.

    I share your likes, I think, I just took more for granted than you did. I’ll be curious to see what you think of issue 2. And I don’t love love it–I like it a lot and expect to like it more. It’s weird, because I have to temper my wish to really love it because I know that I have it so hyped up in my head.

    @Josh: I somehow missed that Naruto was about child soldiers up until today, when I read Tsunade’s big sad origin story. Good catch.

  15. Sakura was useful in the first arc after the time skip, where it seemed like she was finally going to do something other than get rescued, but it seems to have petered out again. It’s frustrating, honestly, as Kishimoto keeps acting like she’s going to come in to her own (She has amazing chakra control! She cut her hair and now she’s serious! Tsunade’s made her her apprentice and thinks it’s only a matter of time before she surpasses her!) and then she just…doesn’t. There are several effective female characters, too, so I can’t just chalk it up to misogyny or the like. Off the top of my head, she’s really the only central character that regularly comes out looking terrible.

  16. Well David, Naruto is about children growing up to be Shinobi… and the amount of deaths and how they get used to the idea of dying to protect the village is certainly one that you couldn’t pull off in America W/O someone acting up in arms….

    Could we be seeing the beginning of a type of “Urban Heroes Network” motif here with Hardware? I once made a pitch in my blog on AfroNerd after someone made a comment about how “Black Avengers” wouldn’t work and tried to turn it into a concept where Black Panther would be meeting with different Urban Heroes every issue, forging ties that would eventually spawn into a team book. I really got that vibe here with HW ‘sponsoring’ Static. Would be interesting if that’s an underlying theme here…

    Also anyone else got the vibe that this gang Virgil is taking on is like an Anti-Captain Planet and the Planeteers? I was thinking color schemes that were used and glimpses in attitude….

  17. About Static having 2 sisters all of a sudden: DM and a few other people were fleshing out Milestone’s Static, and it was proposed that he was going to have a brother. John Paul Lennon changed that to a second sister, and DW agreed, but she was never shown or mentioned in the comic (If I remember right, her preliminary design became Daisy). Well…now she’s making her official appearance.

  18. DM = Dwayne McDuffie…sorry for the “DW” the second time I abbreviated. I’m too used to typing that as I message a friend who’s first and middle names are “Donald Walter”, and I call him DW for short.

  19. One thing that Static Shock #1 could have explained, maybe, was how Virgil got his powers- it’s a minor thing in the overall picture and the actual story, but I had to stop and think, “Wait, what happened with this guy again?” The STAR Labs angle made me think it was some kind of gadget thing for a while.

    I think they’d do well to have a logo slug in the title that says “Struck by toxic chemical gas, teenage genius Virgil Hakwins is now STATIC SHOCK”. Just so everyone’s on the same page.

  20. @david brothers: Sakura becomes conceptually less useless in the 2nd half, but nothing really changes. She does alright in like 2 fights, then nothing, then becomes stupid then nothing.

  21. Incidentally I have no idea what a “logo slug” is. I was thinking of the thing they’ll do on the splash page sometimes, like the old X-Men comics, where there’s a brief bit explaining what you’re reading. It’s seen a resurgence as of late, I kinda like it.