This Week in Panels: Week 208

September 15th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Howdy. I didn’t read too much this week (though I did pick up the Street Fighter Origins: Akuma comic, which was neat), but Matlock went the distance. Goddamn. He’s flanked by Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Normally, I’d follow up this update with This Year in Panels, but next week is closer to the actual ThWiP anniversary, so I’ll do it then.

Which is a reminder that if you want to contribute to the second attempt at This Character in Panels, you’re more than welcome. I’ll be doing that update on Friday the 27th.

Apologies for the low level of updates here. It’s been busy times for me. I’m working full hours at my job, I’m doing the Den of Geek thing and I have assignments to do for my sketch writing class. Once that last part is finished with, I’m sure I’ll be a bit more prolific here. In the meantime, I have two new Den of Geek articles up. One for the 10 Most Uplifting Moments in Professional Wrestling and another in the form of a guide to the current TMNT storyline City Fall.

Now this is the part of Sprockets where we show panels.

Action Comics #23.2
Greg Pak and Ken Lashley

Aquaman #23.1 (Gavin’s pick)
Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

Aquaman #23.1 (Matlock’s pick)
Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 1

March 28th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Lately on the Something Awful forum, there’s been a thread about the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us game. A good percentage of the people who read and write in that thread aren’t comic fans, but are simply interested in the new game. That leads to a lot of questions based on various discussions. Questions like, “Who is Black Adam and why is everyone excited about him being in the game?” “Wait, what happened to the Green Lantern with the funny crab mask?” “What’s the deal with Flash, again?” “Hold on, Black Adam gets his powers from saying ‘chocolate egg cream’?” and mainly, “What the hell are any of you even talking about?”

For the hell of it, I started writing up profiles for each of the 24 announced characters. A guide that explains what each guy is about in a way that gives their backstories and notable moments, while spotlighting the stupid and cool aspects of their histories. I did a couple and it went over really well, so I’ve been trekking on. It’s actually been a complete blast to write.

So I figured, what the hell, I might as well repost them here. Send your non-comic reading friends and be edutained.


Before I get to the game’s cast, let’s take a quick look at the DC universe itself.

DC’s continuity is a complicated mess. Originally, back in the 30’s and 40’s, DC hit the scene with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and other Golden Age heroes. Popularity died down a bit except for the first three (early Wonder Woman sold a lot through the years due to being a thinly-veiled fetish comic) and during the late 50’s/early 60’s, DC reintroduced a lot of their ideas. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were more or less the same concepts, but Green Lantern went from being a magical dude in a cape to a space cop in spandex and the Flash went from being a dude dressed as Mercury to a masked man with lightning bolt ears. Eventually, they figured out a storyline reason for this. The Golden Age of DC takes place on Earth-2 while the “modern” stuff takes place on Earth-1. This is discovered when 60’s Flash teleports himself to Earth-2 to meet the original Flash. This also meant that Earth-2 Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were all about 20 years older than their modern counterparts.

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Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 13

November 29th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

The third full month of DC’s New 52 experiment comes to a close and I’m going to take my last look at the lineup for a little while. Coincidentally, I don’t have much of a choice in taking a break from writing about the New 52 as this coming week has zero books from the reboot being released. I don’t mean zero books that I’m following. I mean absolutely none of the 52 titles altogether.

First of the week is All-Star Western by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Jordi Bernet. It’s a rather odd issue, as the Gotham Butcher storyline almost takes a bit of a break. The good guys win, almost a little too easily and once the villains get back at our heroes, Hex simply shrugs it off and leaves it behind for the next story. Obviously, the plot threads will stay in the background, ready to come back at a moment’s notice… at least, it better. I am noticing as the comic goes further that Hex is essentially Frank Castle in the DC Universe, only in a different time. Same personality, only he uses his bounty hunter persona to feed his need to kill those who need it rather than devoting himself to his own never-ending war.

The backup was so uninteresting it’s shocking. El Diablo fighting zombies turns into a brief confrontation with a Native American antagonist, some arguing between the main characters and then it simply ends. I can’t believe they pissed away all the good will from the first installment. I’m still enjoying the main story enough that I’ll endure the extra buck and check out the next backup. Just as long as Arkham isn’t completely pushed away from the story. I like him. Sticking.

Aquaman by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis continues its strong run. It does a lot of decent world-building, while holding onto the fun gimmick that few take Aquaman seriously. Even when he proves himself a bit, the reaction is just slightly better, but still condescending. Not only are our villains given some more background, but we’re introduced to a new (?) villain of sorts in Mr. Shin, whose appearance only brings potential to upcoming stories. Will he rise as a threat or remain a bitter and sad man? What was he talking about when he brought up Aquaman’s trident? What’s that stuff going on on the side of his neck?

I think this has potential to be one of the top three best New 52 comics when all is said and done. Going to stick.

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This Week in Panels: Week 114

November 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Pretty small week on the Marvel front. They were sold out of Fantastic Four, so I only picked up Captain America and Bucky. I got the usual crew this time around with David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa.

Kind of a small week on all fronts, now that I think about it.

All-Star Western #3
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Jordi Bernet

Annihilators Earthfall #3
Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Tan Eng Huat

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Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 5

October 4th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It’s the last week of #1s for the New 52 and it’s an interesting one. The last few weeks have been filled with comics that I had been genuinely looking forward to, but not so much for this week. This week it’s nothing but DC trying to win me over. Characters I don’t care for, characters I’ve never read before and a couple comics that feature heroes in new comics that already set the bar high. Let’s dive in.

First is All-Star Western by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat, which surprised me as being one of the top three of the week. Nothing says “western” like a fictional city in New Jersey, but whatever. I bet they figured that despite being a pretty awesome character, Jonah Hex’s name was too poisoned by the recent movie to carry the title. Or they’re going to be doing non-Hex stories down the line. Anyway, it’s an interesting pairing with Hex and Dr. Arkham, with the latter reminding me of the biographer character from Unforgiven, only with actual talents to keep him useful. It’s a murder mystery from the past mixed with a buddy cop movie… only the two will surely still hate each other by the story’s end.

I like that with Arkham around, we have a protagonist who could talk down at Hex to us as being something of a monster (though he’d never have the balls to do so to Hex’s face) and yet we have our cake and eat it too by being able to follow and root for Hex as the other protagonist. A prostitute gets fridged because, well, there’s nobody else to really get at someone like Hex through and even that only shakes him up verbally. With his gritty know-how and Arkham’s occasionally helpful brilliance, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before they have this wrapped up with no problem. Then the ending turns it all on its ear where even our two main characters accept that they may indeed be fucked. I’m drawn in and definitely want to see this story through. Between that and Moritat’s Tony Moore-like art, I’m sticking.

Aquaman by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis is probably the best intro we can get that doesn’t involve turning him into the beloved Zap-Brannigan-meets-Hank-Scorpio incarnation that Batman: The Brave and the Bold gave us. I don’t know when the whole “Aquaman is worthless” thing truly came into being. I’d like to think that it was something people silently agreed on for years, especially in relation to the first season of Superfriends and didn’t fully explode until that skit on the State where Superman gives the Superfriends missions, tells Aquaman to “go talk to some fish” and everyone begins laughing relentlessly at him. Either way, the guy has been a laughing stock and DC’s been trying so hard to make him work. Personally, I loved what they did with him last time they gave him a reboot with the One Year Later underwater Conan concept where he carried a sword and hung out with King Shark. That ruled pretty hard until Busiek left the book.

It’s a strong start. Aquaman acts like a badass to the point that getting shot in the head causes him to get slightly cut open in the temple, but he’s considered to be this big joke by the police and public. After years of stories about superheroes doing the right thing only to be hated for being menaces who everyone thinks are really evil, it’s pretty great to see a different, more light-hearted take on it. Granted, no matter how Aquaman tries, he’ll still never measure up to Namor. I bet if that asshole blogger guy asked Namor about what it’s like to be nobody’s favorite superhero, he would have flown off through the wall and come back later to tell him that he’s now that blogger’s mother’s favorite superhero. Then he’d punch him in the dick for good measure.

I tend to have faith in Johns’ storytelling and I like what he’s doing so far. As long as he doesn’t draw out the “Aquaman sucks” gimmick too long, I’m sticking.

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Fourcast! 41: Fishtalker Showdown

April 19th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Continuity Off! Namor vs Aquaman!
-I take the lead, again, with Namor.
-Esther has Aquaman, husband to the most popular DC Comics character ever.
-Yes, I do confuse Master Man with Maxi-man. Hush.
-It was raining while we were recording, so when I’m talking about how it sounds like Namor’s invading outside… pretend like you can hear the rain.
-I don’t regret my “haters gon’ hate” joke. Haters gonna hate on Atlanteans, that’s why they’re always getting invaded and destroyed.
-Also Atlanteans are SUPER racist, Marvel and DC both.
-This is the fantastic Roger Jr ending from Tekken 5:

-Yep, Esther made a “shave and a haircut, two bits!” joke.
-Here is the final word on Namor vs Aquaman. Aquaman has never been in as great of a story as Michael Kupperman’s “Fed Up With Man” from Strange Tales. Beat this, fishface:

-A hook hand, a popular wife… ridiculous.
-We talked for a long dang time about some fish.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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I’m not even reading the Lantern Saga

January 28th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

But I love this page with my whole heart.

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Friday Flashbacks 02: Ghosts and Rivals

June 19th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I guess I should put down some set-up first. This is from Avengers/JLA #4, written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by George Perez. It came out a little bit before Marvel and DC made some of their bigger modern changes. The team rosters were still more classic than in recent years, still before the days of Disassembled and Crisis of Conscience. Hal Jordan was still the Spectre.

I won’t go too deep into the story, but it involves Krona making a bet with the Grandmaster that puts the two super-teams on opposing sides. Not that that needs too much extra effort, though, as Captain America and Superman seem to have it in for each other. Superman sees mutant hatred, Dr. Doom, the Hulk and the Punisher running wild and considers the Avengers a bunch of failures. Captain America sees how the people in the DC world worship the Justice League to the point of museums and monuments and considers them little better than world conquerors. This leads into more than one throwdown, including a fight where Superman beats up Thor.

Fast-forward a bit. To save reality from Krona, the Grandmaster has been pushing the two worlds closer together. Reality rewrites itself again and again. The Avengers and Justice League go from being from two distant alternate realities to neighboring realities. Then they go from two teams that visit each other’s worlds on a regular basis to two teams that co-exist in the same world. Few are able to see through the lies.

Finally, the two teams find the Grandmaster, who wants the heroes to go stop Krona from destroying both their worlds. Due to reality being rewritten over and over, the teams are both down to their more base, classic rosters and identities and want to know exactly what they’re fighting for. Using the last of his powers, Grandmaster shows them a series of screens that broadcasts their histories. Despite all their victories, it focuses mainly on these heroes watching the losses that are meant to be. Tony Stark’s alcoholism, Aquaman’s loss of hand, Bane breaking Batman’s back, Doomsday killing Superman, Captain America losing his abilities and failing in his attempt to rely on armor tech, Odin’s death, Jason Todd’s death, and so on. The more important ones here are that Barry Allen sees that he’s going to die, Scarlet Witch and Vision see that their children will be creations from Wanda’s own madness, Giant Man sees the smack that he will never live down and Hal Jordan sees his descent into becoming Parallax.

And yet, in the end, the two sides decide that it is not up to them to judge the realities they are saving. They band together and plot against Krona. Superman suggests Captain America lead them, which he agrees to.

I swear, when I was intending to write this article, I thought these pages were more than two. Three, maybe four. They’re just so dense with dialogue that it’s bursting at the seams. That’s George Perez for you, I guess.

All five of those different conversations are aces, especially when you notice the segues. Notice how each conversation ends with another character in the shot. It took me forever to see Captain America in the background window. What I really loved about this scene is the stuff with Hal and Barry.

How messed up it has to be for these two. Barry knows that win or lose, he’s going to be dead within hours. It’s depressing, but not nearly as bad as what Hal has to be going through. Barry goes out honorably. Hal knows that not only is he going to die, but first he’s going to go crazy and take out a bunch of his friends before becoming the Darth Vader of the DC Universe. And he’s fighting to preserve that! It’s fucked.

Maybe it’s just me, but you can read the weight of it in Hal’s oath. The way he seems so less enthused compared to all the other times. Is it defeat? Sadness? Intent to do his best one last time? Shame? Bitterness? Is it that he realizes that the very oath he’s reciting has been proven to be nothing more than a lie?

But there they are, Hal and Barry, supporting each other. Just by the mutual reassurance, the two doomed friends are all but removed of that weight. It’s a nice, bittersweet scene, but sadly loses something thanks to their later resurrections.

I think I decided about including these pages for this installment because of all of that going on these days. Personally, I feel totally fine with Hal coming back (Green Lantern is more of a job position than identity, allowing Kyle to thrive on his own, though admittedly to a lesser extent). I can’t bring myself to care about Barry Allen’s return, outside of a couple choice moments in Final Crisis. Unless Steve Rogers stays away from the Captain America mantle and becomes the new leader of SHIELD/HAMMER for an extended period of time, I feel like his death could have lasted another three years. And Bart Allen… shit, I don’t know. That poor guy got messed up so much since Geoff Johns got his hands on him that I can’t say what’s best for him at this point.

Bottom line: I guess I feel like in scenes like this, the finality of one fictional character’s death strengthens the quality of life. But that’s me.

Back to the Avengers/JLA comic, there was one panel I’ve always loved for a stupid reason.

Look at Captain America. That’s the moment I realized that Steve Rogers has balls made of vibranium. He goes on to threaten Superman with such confidence that even now, my brain is trying to come up with ways for that outcome to be a possibility. I’ll get back to you on that. Cool as that is, that’s not why I bring it up.

I don’t know if this was a subtle way to intentionally foreshadow Avengers: Disassembled, but let’s see what happens when we remove the guys on the right.

Hey, now!

By the way, I still miss Hal’s kickass white hair tufts.

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Joy To The World: The DC Universe Holiday Special

December 23rd, 2008 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell
Shaggyman echoes a sentiment shared by all humanity during the holiday season.

Shaggyman echoes a sentiment shared by all humanity during the holiday season.

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