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This Week in Panels: Week 260

September 15th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , ,

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It’s another Week in Panels, brought to you by 4th Letter and your host, Me!

This week, Me, er, I am backed up by Gaijin Dan, Matlock, The AnarChris, and Gavok. For Matlock’s sake, I’m hoping that this big DC Futures End thing is actually good – or at least halfway decent and not mind-bogglingly bad – because he very well appears to be reading through every single issue of it this month like a trooper.

You’ll have to ask him if it’s actually any good, though. I haven’t been reading it at all and I don’t think Gavok’s delved into them either outside what he normally reads.

Fortunately for you, you don’t have to read any of it if you don’t want to – all you have to do is check out the panels below! So let’s get to that, shall we?

Amazing Spider-Man 6 [Matlock]

Amazing Spider-Man #6

(Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos)

annihilator 1 [Gavok]

Annihilator #1

(Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving)

avengers 34-1 [Gavok]

Avengers #34.1 [Gavok's Pick]

(Al Ewing and Dale Keown)

Avengers 34-1 [Matlock]

Avengers #34.1 [Matlock's Pick]

(Al Ewing and Dale Keown)

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Original Sin and Deadpool’s Foot Fetish

September 14th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: ,

We’re at the tail end of Original Sin as an event. I think we just have that last issue of the Thor/Loki tie-in and we’re done and we can move on to Axis. Axis can go either way, but when it comes to Original Sin, I’m of the opinion that it may be the best Marvel/DC event story in at least the last decade.

The miniseries itself was strong. It wasn’t the best ever, but it’s a good standalone story, which I can’t say the same about Infinity. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Infinity was amazing, but that’s only because I’ve been reading Avengers and New Avengers from the beginning and if you don’t do that, you’re kind of lost. Original Sin just felt like a remake of Identity Crisis that tried to be over-the-top instead of mopey. Instead of a sudden, out-of-nowhere ending where “THAT LADY BE CRAZY!” we got something more interesting. In fact, the events surrounding it are still rather ambiguous and the moral debate between the characters of Fury and Uatu are quarantined to the mini itself. It’s not like Civil War where every single comic for nearly a year is arguing one point against another.

Also, there’s the tie-ins. Sometimes events can be murder with tie-ins because we’ll get the same crap over and over again. Secret Invasion, World War Hulk and Blackest Night were stories where the tie-ins felt like the same thing over and over again. You read one, you read them all. Original Sin had a gimmick of heroes discovering shocking secrets, but they didn’t go the easy way out and make it create a rift in every single relationship. Instead, we only get Captain America’s current hate-on with Iron Man, which honestly has very little to do with Original Sin anyway and was going to happen regardless. Even the Hulk tie-in where it’s suggested that Iron Man created the Hulk out of spite ended with a sweet ending that highlighted the movie-mandated friendship between Stark and Banner.

For real, Stark emotionally yelling at Banner and bitching him out for thinking everyone would be better off if he was dead was such an awesome scene.

“Never say that! Never say that, you $#(@ !$#%!”

“Don’t make me angry.”

“Then don’t make ME angry, Bruce! You always make me so damn angry!”

Another awesome tie-in came in the form of this week’s Deadpool #34. I wrote a review of it here, but the gist is that it’s a soul-crushing issue that goes into one of the more messed up moments of Deadpool’s past. It’s one of the darkest moments in the character’s history. Luckily, being a Deadpool comic and also a Brian Posehn/Gerry Duggan Deadpool comic, it’s also hilarious otherwise.

The gimmick is that it takes place during the early 90’s. Scott Koblish proceeds to make it 90’s as fuck, doing his best Liefeld impression. The characters look right, but one of the best subtle running gags comes with a piece of missing anatomy that we’ve all come to recognize Liefeld for.

Spot the missing feet.


During this entire flashback sequence – which is all but three pages of the full issue – we never see a single foot. As great as that is, the real punchline comes from the ending, where we return to the present and a regular art style. Behold.

Of COURSE that’s the first thing we focus on.

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This Week in Panels: Week 259

September 7th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , ,

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Another Week, another Week in Panels! Which is full of Panels!

As mentioned, and if you didn’t see it, Week in Panels was in fact given a shout out over at Nerdist last week. It’s pretty cool getting a referenced over at a bigger website, so big thanks to Charles Webb for that.

Meanwhile, in this weekly edition of Week in Panels, things are absolutle chalk full thanks to the help of Gaiji Dan, Matlock, AnarChris, and Gavok. Gaijin Dan should probably be happy that his usual manga contributions were given a special note in Webb’s WiP shout-out. Lots of double – and even triple – representations on display.

So, yeah…YAY!

Now that I’ve successfully patted us on the back hard enough to cure us of any choking hazards that might have coincidentally been happening at the exact same time, let’s get on to panels, shall we?

Action Comics FE 1 [Matlock]

Action Comics: Futures End #1

(Sholly Fisch and Pascal Alixe)

 

angry birds 7 [Gavok]

 

Angry Birds Comics #7

(Paul Tobin and David Baldeon)

avengers world 12 [Gavok]

 

Avengers World #1 [Gavok's Pick]

(Nick Spencer and Marco Checchetto)

Avengers World 12 [Matlock]

 

Avengers World #1 [Matlock's Pick]

(Nick Spencer and Marco Checchetto)

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This Week in Panels: Week 258

September 2nd, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , ,

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And now, after much delay, it’s time for that time of the week – Week in Panels time. That time where we take panels and use them to sum up the comics of the week.

This week I’m joined by Gaijin Dan and Gavok. It’s probably a broken record by this point, but IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series? Gavok and I both agree that it’s pretty dang awesome. The current Turtles in Time miniseries equally so.

That and others as we get this panel party rolling!

all new invaders 9 [Gavok]

All-New Invaders #9

(James Robinson and Steve Pugh)

 

all new ultimates 7 [Gavok]

 All-New Ultimates #7

(Michel Fiffe and Giannis Milonogiannis)

all star western 34 [Gavok]

All-Star Western #34

(Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Darwyn Cooke)

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Kobe Doin’ Work, five years on

August 28th, 2014 Posted by | Tags:

I re-watched Spike Lee’s 2009 documentary Kobe Doin’ Work: A Spike Lee Joint recently. It’s the story/study of one game during the 2007-08 season, when Phil Jackson’s Lakers went up against Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, featuring voiceover commentary by Kobe Bryant after he went off for 61 against Spike’s Knicks. It was a significant game, thanks to a Lakers/Spurs rivalry (Wikipedia tells me the “two teams combined to win seven of the last nine NBA Championships”) and Kobe gunning for League MVP. He ended up playing 32 minutes, putting up 20 points on six made shots.

It’s a weird documentary, maybe closer to an homage than a true study of the man and his work. It’s uncritical, in that no one ever questions him or his actions, but having Kobe be the dominant voice throughout the feature also reveals a lot more of Kobe than I expected to see.

It’s funny—2009 feels like forever ago, both for me and in basketball terms. That season was the first Kobe/Pau season. Trevor Ariza, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, and Ronnie Turiaf spent time in the purple and gold that year. Kobe hit 20,000 career points. Now even Pau is gone.

Kobe’s a good subject for a documentary like this, because he’s so focused, driven, and talented. He’s either the greatest Laker or second behind Magic Johnson. But as a result of the focus on Kobe, the doc is almost entirely unconcerned with the other players on the court, the score, or the team’s performance. There are a lot of shots of Kobe watching someone take a shot or make a play, instead of seeing how that play turns out.

Kobe Doin’ Work is weird, there’s a lot of slo-mo and some visual flourishes that don’t quite work, but it’s still fascinating. I think my favorite part of the doc was how Kobe subtly dominates every single person around him, from his teammates to his coach. Even Spike gets it—Kobe makes it a point to talk about how he wanted to shut Spike up in New York before recording.

It varies. Kobe talks a lot about how he and Jackson will call the same plays without knowing, and marks it up to them working together for so long. He talks about wanting to teach—not show—his teammates things about the game or the other team. He’ll tell people about double team tactics on the bench or urge them to do basic things.

Once you realize what he’s doing, it’s hard to ignore. Kobe positions himself as an authority in every interaction he has with other people, and reaffirms that position through his commentary on himself. There’s a few minutes where he talks about tolerating misses from himself, because he knows a hit is coming. On-screen, he takes suspect shot after suspect shot.

It grates, but I get it, too. Kobe is an all-time player. He’s the post-Jordan star, the pre-Lebron king, and he’s stuck with one team his whole career. In 2009, he was Kobe Bryant. It’d be one thing if he was Dwight Howard or Dwyane Wade or Ray Allen—they’re good, but he’s Kobe Bryant. He’s a competitor, and while he definitely considers himself the star and focus of the team, an assumption which is true honestly, he understands that teams win games. So he’s doing everything he can to ensure that his team comes out on top, because without the Lakers propping him up, there’s no Kobe.

It’s self-centered and selfish, but smart. Kobe is incredibly good at what he does, and sharing his knowledge undoubtedly makes his team better. He praises his teammates at length, but he’s honest about their shortcomings, too. He mentions that one player needs to get into a rhythm, so he tries to hook him up with good shots. He praises the team’s basketball IQ.

As a picture of a competitor, Kobe Doin’ Work is great. You don’t get to dig too deep into Kobe-the-Person since the spotlight is squarely on Kobe-the-Superstar, but you can see the passion and drive that made him who he is. It’s not much of a highlight reel or even a straight basketball doc. But it’s the kind of project that reveals things that would only be revealed through this specific approach. It’s edited, but still has an off-the-cuff feel, with Kobe audibly smiling and laughing his way through part of it and frowning when he messes up. Spike only pops up once or twice to guide the conversation, so all you really hear is Kobe, the PA system, and the commentary, when they’re incorporated into the narrative.

It’s wild cheap on Amazon at the moment, just five bucks. Watching it now, now that Kobe’s signed what may be his final contract with the Lakers before retirement and he’s giving sunset interviews to Sports Illustrated, complete with outtakes, I feel like I get it now more than I did in 2009. Kobe’s a great basketball player, true, but he didn’t get that way by accident. Kobe Doin’ Work paints a better picture of who Kobe is than his performance on the court or random post-game interviews could possibly reveal.

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This Week in Panels: Week 257

August 24th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , , , , ,

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STOP! Don’t read THIS WEEK IN PANELS! It’s really a trap!

READ THIS WEEK IN PANELS!

IF YOU DO, YOU SIMPLY FALL FOR THEIR TRAP!

Or not. I’m not sure, It’s all kind of fuzzy, really. The metaphorical context just kind of went right over my head.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, read The Multiversity. Maybe you’ll have an easier time figuring it out than I did.

In the meantime, here’s this weeks edition of This Week in Panels, as provided by myself, Matlock, and Gavok. Noticeably absent this week is Gaijin Dan, whose standard-issue source of panels took a Japanese Holiday. He didn’t mention which one, and I didn’t bother to look it up either.

 

all new ghost rider 6 [Gavok]

All-New Ghost Rider #6

(Felipe Smith and Damion Scott)

all new ultimates 6 [Gavok] All-New Ultimates #6

(Michel Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna)

angry birds 6 [Gavok]

Angry Birds Comics #6

(Jeff Parker and Stefano Intini)

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Help Kids Learn and Become Superheroes With 826NYC

August 21st, 2014 Posted by | Tags:

My friend Chris Eckert, also known as Kenny Bloggins and of Funnybook Babylon fame, volunteers at 826NYC. I’ve talked to him more days than not over the past however long we’ve known each other, and that means I’ve heard anecdotes like the one below here and there. They’re always hilarious and heart-warming, Kids Say The Darnedest Things-type material, but genuinely funny.

He’s raising money for 826, and I’m a believer. He shared this story, which you can reblog on tumblr by clicking his name, to sweeten the pot and jedi mind trick you into donating. It worked on me, and I hope it’ll work on you.

ihopeyourehappyinternet:

Hello Internet Friends and Acquaintances!

If we’ve spoken for more than ten minutes over the past decade, I’ve probably mentioned 826NYC and/or the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. They’re celebrating their tenth year of providing free educational programs and cape testing to folks in the five boroughs, and I’ve volunteered for them for very close to that entire time. You can check out our site for more information about all of the programs: drop-in homework help, creative writing workshops, field trips and publishing projects produced in conjunction with local schools, and even an annual student-made film festival (on August 26th, naturally) where kids get to see their efforts on the big screen at BAM. All of these programs are 100% free for the students and their families, which means that periodically we have to bust out the proverbial-or-literal donation bucket. I’ve never pushed this on my friends and acquaintances because come on, I am a product of public schools and state universities, and I don’t think I’ve even met a hedge fund manager. But this year they’re trying out something called $826 for 826 and how could I turn down participating in something with such a symmetrical hook?

Beyond all of the great stuff 826 does that I listed above — and it is great stuff, I’ve worked on all of it — I thought I would share one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed in the confines of volunteering at 826NYC. 

It was after drop-in tutoring  and two kids around ten years old hadn’t yet been fetched by their parents. One was an 826 lifer who’s been involved with countless workshops and projects. The other was dragged in sporadically by his parents for maybe a year before his sullen eye-rolling brought an end to the experiment. Maybe it’s not important which was which.

The first kid mentions his hopes of getting a dog for his birthday. Or maybe a cat. Definitely a pet. He would LOVE a pet and turns to the second to ask if he has any pets. Second Kid says no, and when pressed on the issue explains because his mother is allergic to dogs.

The first kid is gobstruck. “WHAT? She’s allergic to DOGS? I’m sorry, but that is STUPID. Dogs are awesome. What kind of messed up person would be ALLERGIC to something so awesome? I don’t know man, your mom is DUMB.”

Second kid has absolutely no response to this, and looks at me pleadingly. I attempt to intervene: “Look First Kid, being allergic to dogs has nothing to do with liking dogs. My mother loves all animals, but she’s allergic to cats and a lot of dogs. She can’t help it, it’s just something that happens.”

First kid is deep in thought. “So like you’re born with allergies?”

“Exactly!”

First kid pauses, and busts out an incredible turn of phrase: “Look, what I am about to say MAY BE CONSIDERED CONTROVERSIAL. But I should NOT GET IN TROUBLE FOR IT.” The exact phrasing has obviously stuck with me to this day, and given the gesticulation accompanying I imagine he picked this up from a comedian or something. I still don’t know. For the first time I’m somewhat concerned about being left alone with minors, but I let him continue.

“There are people in our community who are… I don’t want to say the word… it’s like when a boy likes a boy or a girl likes a girl.”

“You mean people who are gay?”

“YES! Now… I know that being G-A-Y isn’t a big deal, it’s just how some people are born, and it’s not weird, and no one should ever make fun of them for it. I shouldn’t get in trouble for saying this!”

“You haven’t said anything that will get you in trouble, First Kid. And if you’re just stating a fact it’s okay to say gay.”

“I don’t want to get in trouble. But like… Second Kid’s mom was just BORN allergic to dogs?”

“Right.”

“Okay, so being allergic to dogs is the same thing as being gay?”

“I mean… yes?”

“Second Kid, I’m sorry I made fun of your Mom for being allergic to dogs. It’s just like she’s gay or something, she’s not stupid.”

Second kid begrudgingly accepted the apology, and seconds later his mother came in to pick him up. First kid felt a little bad for being prejudiced against allergic people, but I told him he’s fine. And he is.

Beyond watching sullen eight year olds who hate homework growing into high-achieving teenagers who will patiently walk a second grader they barely know through multiplication even if it interrupts their own studies, beyond watching kids discover their hidden love of acting, poetry, claymation, or fashion design, beyond even getting to walk through A SECRET PASSAGE HIDDEN BEHIND A BOOKSHELF multiple times a week, this is why I volunteer at 826NYC and want it to continue to flourish. It’s a safe space for people to ask questions, explore topics, and learn tolerance for people with dog allergies. 

If you can, please donate whatever amount you feel appropriate to support 826NYC. And regardless, if you are ever in the need of a cape and are in Brooklyn, I can hook you up.

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This Week in Panels: Week 256

August 17th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: , ,

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What time is it? Why, it’s time for This Week in Panels! Yay!

This week I’m aided by Gaijin Dan, Matlock, and Gavok. Gavok noted that there’s a lot of Gerry Duggan, but I can’t say I’m seeing it.

This weeks issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was pretty dang great. It’s almost an entire issue dedicated to subverting the classic Krang and Shredder team-up of the 80’s, and they do a terrific job with it and fitting things in to the status quo of the IDW series.

If you’re a fan of the Ninja Turtles, I really can’t recommend the series enough.

Ok, PANEL TIME!

Astronerd [Dan]

Astronerd

(Kazue Kato)

avengers world 11 [Gavok]

Avengers World #11

(Nick Spencer and Raffaele Ienco)

batman 34 [Gavok]

Batman #34

(Scott Snyder, Gerry Duggan, and Matteo Scalera)

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Yay, Viral Charity!

August 17th, 2014 Posted by | Tags:

I got nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What can I do?

http://www.alsa.org/

Seriously, I was not going to ruin that gem of a shirt. Sorry about your retinas.

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Ghost in the Shell: an interrogation

August 13th, 2014 Posted by | Tags: ,

I’m really enjoying Claire Napier’s ongoing interrogation of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell property. There are three entries in Napier’s “Ghost in the Shell: The Major’s Body” thus far. The first focuses on the first film, the second on Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and the third on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a television series. Napier’s doing a kind of writing I like a lot, where she takes a close look at what the work is saying and figures out where she stands in relation to it. The subtext, the themes, the shots the animators choose to create versus how we perceive them…this is good stuff and well worth looking over.

Napier’s posts are extra-interesting to me, as a lapsed Ghost in the Shell fan. I remember watching the movie for the first time on VHS with a few family members, and I watched all of Stand Alone Complex, but it’s been years since I really dove into the franchise, if I ever did at all. Everything I consume now gets passed through a critical lens that I wasn’t capable of back then, so this works as both a trip down memory lane and the revelation of new data.

She asks a lot of questions or points out a lot of things I’d never thought about, like the subtext of the Major often being nude while her male coworkers are clothed. The thing I like the most, something that’s sprinkled throughout the posts so far, is the way she discovers meaning in small things. We all do it, and sometimes it’s derived from subtext (Yes, Superman IS the perfect dad you never had!) and sometimes it’s pure conjecture based on our own experiences intersecting with the text in different ways.

I really appreciate that kind of writing. When I was doing comics journalism/criticism on the reg, a lot of it was boiled down to The Work and The Work alone, thanks to deadline and market pressures. There’s not a lot of outlets that’d pay for those weird, personal, noodly projects and an even smaller audience is interested in reading them. But I cherish posts like that, because it’s like getting a shot directly from someone else’s brain. “This is what this means to me,” freed of any concern about explaining whether the subject is good or worth buying or whatever. It just is what it is.

“The Major’s Body” is particularly poignant for me, because I know Shirow’s work reasonably well, and like most of my friends, I’m disappointed that he’s descended fully into “galgrease” softcore pinups to appeal to otaku instead of the ground-breaking, thought-provoking, world-building comics he made his name on. Appleseed is amazing. A poster of a lady coated in baby oil embracing a dolphin? Much less amazing. So Napier’s thoughts on GitS and The Major join my thoughts on Shirow and galgrease, giving me more ammo to mull over and figure out.

That kind of enthusiasm and conversation is infectious. I watched the first part of Ghost in the Shell: Arise, a prequel series, the other night specifically because I saw these posts and wanted to brush up before reading them. I’m finally going to rewatch Stand Alone Complex now, just to see how it looks and feels with adult eyes.

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