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Long After Watchmen: Let’s Talk About Deadpool History

July 5th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I regularly peek at the traffic of the site because of ego. No big deal, I figure. While the new stuff almost always ends up hitting the top of the hit list, it’s interesting to see what stuff regularly gets its share of visitors no matter how old it gets. The We Care a Lot and the What If stuff, for instance, still do well. One of those articles that still gets notice is the Top 70 Deadpool Moments. It’s a 7-day series of daily posts I did three years ago that listed my favorite moments in the character’s history (with a little help from the readers). It was a fun writing project, but I look back at it and raise an eyebrow.

The timing of it was deliberate. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which featured a character that was SUPPOSED to be Deadpool, was about to be released and Day 7 came out on that Friday. It was right before what I like to call the Deadpoolsplosion, where he started appearing all over the place with way too many comics to keep track of. And I think back to the list and all the comics that have come out since then and I wonder how much I’d change the list if given the chance to update it.

Sadly, I wouldn’t change all that much. There really haven’t been too many stellar incidents with him since mid-09. He’s had his moments for sure, but they’re more few and far between than there should be, what with him being all over the place. In fact, for a guy who was once one of my favorite Marvel characters, the only thing I read with him is a team book where he rarely gets shoved into the forefront.

I figured it would be a good time to look at the character’s history and see what went right and what went wrong.

Deadpool made his first appearance in New Mutants #98 in 1990, where he fought Cable and lost. While Fabian Nicieza was the writer, the basic design for the character was an idea of the artist, Rob Liefeld. Liefeld had always wanted to draw Deathstroke the Terminator professionally – something he’d get to do 22 years later at the expense of me caring about what was a fun series – but since Deathstroke was a DC character, he had to make due with a pastiche. We got Wade Wilson instead of Slade Wilson and our awkwardly-drawn villain was born.

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Black History Month 2011: Doc Bright

February 24th, 2011 Posted by david brothers



from quantum & woody, words by christopher priest.

Mark D. “Doc” Bright
Selected Works: Spider-Man vs Wolverine, Quantum & Woody, Icon: A Hero’s Welcome

Doc Bright is a classic superhero artist. Not in that he’s old, but in that he draws superheroes in a way that makes them feel natural and real. His style, or at least the style of his that I’m the most familiar with, is scratchy and rough, like his people were sculpted from blocks of wood without being sanded down. It makes for pleasingly weighted superheroic action, and it’s not quite as antiseptically clean and slick as some other artists. Probably a little Neal Adams in there, too.

Bright’s had a long career. ComicboookDB says his first work ins 1978′s House of Mystery 257, an issue that also featured Arthur Suydam, David Michelinie, Otto Binder, and Michael Golden. He’s worked on Thor, Falcon, ROM, Power Man and Iron Fist, Iron Man, Action Comics, Green Lantern, and dozens more. I was going to say that I don’t think he’s done any work with Batman, but nope, he’s been there and done that several times.

His work has been few and far between lately. It seems like it’s mostly been reprint work, the odd pin-up, and Milestone Forever, but it’s easy to see that he never missed a step. He’s still as good as he ever was, though perhaps not as flashy as some of the guys nowadays. His work is always worth looking at, though, because he was always good at body language, fight choreography, and simple layouts.

Quantum & Woody, his series with Christopher Priest, had a bunch of scenes that varied from a tense nine (or more) panel grid to something more free and loose. He made the page fit the story, which is another reason why he’s such a classic artist. He knows how to make comics go.

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Black History Month 2011: Christopher Priest

February 16th, 2011 Posted by david brothers



art by dan fraga

Christopher Priest
Selected Works: The Crew, Black Panther, Captain America & The Falcon Vol. 2: Brothers And Keepers

I find myself less and less interested in who was the first to do something. Milestones are nice, and arriving is undeniably important… but it’s not very interesting, is it? Who cares who was first, if the person who was first was wack? Being first doesn’t mean much if that’s where your accomplishments stopped.

Christopher Priest was a handful of firsts. At the very least, he was the first black editor at Marvel and DC, and he may well have been the first black writer at Marvel. He’s had a long career, having gone from Marvel to DC to Valiant to DC to Marvel and out over the course of what, somewhere around thirty years? It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any new comics product from Priest, and as near as I can tell, he’s retired.

Priest managed to be first and good. He wrote a couple of classics while he was at Marvel, edited and wrote a gang of good ones at DC, and I’m pretty sure that his runs on books like Black Panther are generally regarded fondly. More than that, Priest has range. His Spider-Man vs Wolverine is a good book, and perfectly in line with the cape comics of the day. Quantum & Woody is a screwball comedy. Black Panther veered from political intrigue to Kirby homage to Avengers-style action. The Crew was street level spy slash crime comics.

Priest is a consummate writer. While he has a few quirks I’m not particularly fond of, he’s done some genuinely impressive work in a variety of genres and with a number of different gimmicks. He redefined Black Panther forever in his five years on the book, and I still say that The Crew is the best book Marvel ever cancelled. Priest earned his place in history.

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Black Future Month ’10: The Stereotype

February 9th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

What do Black Panther, Black Lightning, John Stewart, Black Goliath, Luke Cage, John Henry Irons, Sam “Falcon” Wilson, and Martha Washington have in common? Easy: they were created in whole or in part by white (or Jewish) dudes.

Your boy John Shaft? His origin lies in a novel written by Ernest Tidyman, a white guy from Cleveland. Foxy Brown, the meanest chick in town, was written and directed by Jack Hill, another white guy. Are there any black pop culture figures that have been homaged, swagger-jacked, referenced, and emulated more than Shaft and Foxy? Maybe, maybe James Brown or Muhammad Ali?

Consider the importance of Gordon Parks as director of Shaft. Shaft‘s New York City is grimy, dirty, vibrant, black, and beautiful. We see opulence and poverty, violence and peace, and in the midst of all of this is Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, head held high and in control of the situation. Shaft presented black characters who didn’t feel inauthentic and a world that had depth. It’s fair to say that having a black director, and an actor as talented as Roundtree, served Shaft well. Parks got it.

I love Jack Kirby and I dig his Black Panther, but it took Christopher Priest to make me a believer. I found Reggie Hudlin’s take on Black Panther to be fascinating, at least in part because it pushed a very specific, relatable version of Panther. The two of them brought an aesthetic, or mindset, to the book that hadn’t been there before, and it worked. The character clicked for me for the first time.

Let’s talk about diversity.
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Black History Month ’09 #07: These Are Your Shoes, These Are My Shoes, We’ve Got Issues

February 7th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Talking about black characters in comics puts me in mind of the old joke about newscasters. If they mention an armed robbery and not the race of the crook, it’s obviously a white guy– they would’ve said the race if he wasn’t. This is because being black is Different. It’s something outside of the norm. Basically, to put as blunt a point on it as possible, it’s The Other.

Once you create a book with an all, or mostly, black cast, and you acknowledge their race, marketing and advance word of mouth is given a chance to play up that aspect of the book, no matter how much it plays into the content of the book.

This is what happens when you treat black characters as special snowflakes. This is what happens when so many black characters have to address Racism, or The Streets, or The Struggle, or The Man at some point in their career. You begin to build certain expectations in your audience. You’re waiting for that bit of the book where you get hit over the head with race.

Before The Crew came out, Christopher Priest was already fighting the idea that it was a Black Book.

I briefly wanted to call this book The Black Avengers. It’s a terrible idea, but, the truth is, with this cast, race will speak the loudest. Having not said a whole lot about what this book is, the feedback I’ve gotten thus far has only confirmed that fear. Fans don’t know what THE CREW is, but they know it’s, “A black book set in the ghetto.” So, I figured, why not. Race is all some fans will see anyway, let’s just get to it. The book has a kind of Avengers vibe, anyway, with two archetypical AV characters in our black Iron Man (WAR MACHINE) and Black Captain America (JUSTICE). Moreover, Black Avengers really just nails What This Is in a way “The Crew” really can’t.

It’s kind of funny. If Christopher Priest had replaced the gangs in The Mog with, say, Hydra, you could’ve branded The Crew as The Avengers: The Crew and had the kind of story Hawkeye used to star in. With black heroes up against black gangs, though, it’s a Black Book.

This is essentially what I’m trying, and have been trying, to get at. Books featuring a cast of largely black characters become almost inherently political. They’ve got to be about Black People, rather than about adventures. No, that’s wrong. They seem like they have got to be about Black People, rather than adventures. It’s that perception and prejudice again thing- we’re trained to expect certain things out of these books.

Admittedly, I’m working from a small sample size here, and that’s part of the problem. Talking about this sort of thing is tough when you can only point to a fistful of books for examples. How can you talk about reasonable or offensive portrayals when your sources are lacking? We haven’t had enough books starring black characters to erase the idea that Black Books are always something to be gawked at or treated as a big deal.

The books, and characters, aren’t abnormal. Get your hands dirty, put them through their paces, and make them commonplace. I’m pretty happy about Luke Cage being in New Avengers, in part because that’s the highest profile position for a black comics character since Steel became one of the four fake Supermen over a decade ago. It’s a step in the right direction, at the very least.

I don’t want it to seem like the market should suddenly be flooded with dozens of black people, each with a different gimmick and backstory. You don’t have to “blackify” comics. At the same time… the more black characters there are, the fewer characters there are that will be expected to be official representatives of the race. You’ll have more variety, more characters to identify, and a wider range of experiences.

So, there it is. Nothing’s ever simple, right?

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Authentic Street Lingo?

September 17th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Batman’s Comedy of Eros, by Dennis O’Neil – ComicMix news

Comics have come a considerable distance in the few years since I left editing. Hell and damn, once verboten seem okay both in comics and on TV, and a few gamier locutions are beginning to pop up. But I don’t believe the medium – comics – has evolved to the point where authentic street lingo is expected.

This is about the All-Star Batman thingaling. I guess what he’s meaning by “authentic street lingo” is curse words, but I don’t exactly see why comics have not, or would not have, evolved to the point where it is expected.

“Motherloving” is a terrible, terrible word. It was bad in Ennis’s Punisher, it was bad in Priest’s Panther (or was it Deadpool?), and it was bad in last week’s issue of Amazing Spidey. “Butthat” is pretty bad, too. “*@#($&” is annoying, but not as annoying as the fake Legion grife and sprock and frak and whatever.

I saw The Incredible Hulk with Ron from iFanboy and James and Kirsten from Isotope. There is a bit in the movie where the old school Hulk theme plays. We were talking about the movie afterwards, and Kirsten remarked that playing the Hulk theme was a bad move. It was something that pulled you out of the movie and just reminded that you that you were a dumb comics fan who was seeing a dumb movie about a dumb guy who turns into a big dumber guy.

That’s what the fake censoring does. No one is doing it for the “Hee hee it was almost a cuss word” thing. People do it because the other ways look stupid. The other ways just serve to remind you that, HEY, this is a comic book, buddy! They jerk you out of the story. They look stupid.

The black bars are actually pretty elegant. I think the first place I saw them, and really noticed them, was in Adam Warren’s work, though Milestone used a variant of it. It’s reminiscient of the TV beep or music video cut. It takes away the word while still allowing it to remain present for dialogue flow or character purposes. A lot of all-ages titles get this right. They don’t use fake curse words. If they have a situation that needs them, they don’t replace it with “motherlover.”

Some people don’t like to be reminded that they are reading a comic while they’re reading. It isn’t a comics hate or self-hate thing. It’s no different than being pulled out of a movie or novel. It’s distracting. It hurts your enjoyment of the book.

So, yeah. Put me down with the people who expect authentic street lingo out of comics, be it superhero or otherwise. I can’t think of a single reason why not. If it isn’t a book that that is mature readers (and that is an essay to come, as Frank Miller had a really interesting discussion about it in some Sin City lettercols years ago) and you are worried about backlash, bleep the words.

David U from FBB has some more thoughts on the immaturity thing here.

More to come. I’ve been at work all day yesterday, all night last night, and possibly all day today again. I want to talk about this stupid streak of self-loathing comics fans have, or at least loathing toward other comics fans, and more on censorship and labeling.

I guess the long and short of it, though, is that labeling isn’t something I’m down with and self-loathing is for idiots.

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A Perfect Storm

July 1st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

So, uh, yeah, my feelings on Storm are pretty well documented, I think.

It’s almost 4am and I’m doing some writing (for work) and thinking about Storm. I’m thinking about Storm due wholly to this (Manstream) and this (B@N). Also, it’s late, and a Brothers’s mind wanders when it’s late.

Anyway, I had a thought hit me a few minutes ago.

I can think of exactly four black people, all of them men, who have written stories featuring Storm in a lead role. Christopher Priest used her during his Black Panther run, and this link suggests that the issue I’m thinking of was BP #26 in 2000, though I think that was a multi-part story. Reggie Hudlin is using her in Black Panther right now. Eric Jerome Dickey wrote her origin miniseries, Storm in 2006. Dwayne McDuffie is writing her in Fantastic Four right now, while she and T’Challa temporarily replace Reed and Sue. The bulk of Storm’s character development was handled by Chris Claremont and, who, Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell? I know that Claremont had her roped up in X-Treme X-Men for the early ’00s.

Claremont wrote the first meeting of BP and Storm in Marvel Team-Up #100. Priest, who had a plan for Storm to marry BP a few years back, wrote them again in BP #26. EJD expanded on their first meeting in the Storm miniseries, and Hudlin married them in BP (new series) #18.

Over the course of her existence, I can think of exactly one black dude she’s dated, which has really only been handled in any kind of detail in the past, what, three years? Two? Which also happens to coincide nicely with the advent of black people writing her stories.

Which also ties in with the complaints that Storm and Panther are only getting married because they’re black, Storm is out of character, she wouldn’t complain about people dissing her hair, and so on.

There is something here, but I don’t know if I can put my finger on it well enough to articulate it.

Found some images while I was googling up some research for this brief post.

Black Panther #27:
blackpanther27p16qf4.jpgblackpanther27p17is2.jpg

Marvel Team-Up #100:
mtu10040wo5.jpg

Some Uncanny X-Men Annual
uncannyxmenannual05pagewd5.jpg

What is up with all these dudes wanting to make Storm their queen? Dr. Doom, this Arkon guy, Dracula, the dude from X-Treme X-Men… dang. What’s she got that Monica Rambeau doesn’t?

edit after five hours of sleep: Please make Scott Eaton, Klaus Janson, and Dean White draw, ink, and color Storm and Panther forever thanks

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Comic-con Stuff

February 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The 4l crew (myself, Gavin, and Wilde) are hitting the NY Comic-con this weekend. If you want to meet up, send your info to 4thletter@gmail.com!

I get in Thursday afternoon, with the other two arriving Thursday evening. We’ll see how this goes, hey?

Anyway, I figured that I want to get a few trades signed while I’m there. Here’s what I’m packing and who I want to sign it.

Annihilation Vol 1 HC – Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Keith Giffen
Seven Soldiers Vol 1-4 – Everyone
Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill – Oeming
Thor Visionaries Vol 1: Walt Simonson
Wildcats 3.0 vol 1 – Dustin Nguyen
Echo: Vision Quest – David Mack
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines

I’m also taking my DS and a few novels for the trip. The Death And Life Of Superman by Roger Stern (I wonder if I can get that signed?), Green Lantern Sleeper Book One by Christopher Priest, Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines (not comics), No Dominion by Charlie Huston (not comics), and maybe one or two others. I do not know yet!

We shall see how this goes. Blogging may be light, depending on internet access.

Is there anything that we absolutely have to hit? This is my first con, so I kind of want to see all the cool stuff I can. I think we’re meeting up with some goons, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll make the PopCultureShock party on Saturday night. I want to pack my schedule and hang out with cool cats.

Anyone else attending?

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Pride of a Panther: Top 5 Black Men

July 10th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Dr Sivana shol is a smart 'un!So, anyone who spends any amount of time speaking to me tends to find out that I am very, very pro-black. There’s a song by dead prez that goes, “Thirty-one years ago I would’ve been a [Black] Panther.” This is so true in my case that I have actually gone back in time and helped found a chapter of the Black Panther Party in Brooklyn. I did this when I was a little older. Time travel is tricky, all right?

I was sitting here thinking, as us intellectual types are wont to do, and I’m not feeling the love, comics. You aren’t treating your black characters right. You call Jason Rusch, the new Firestorm, a token, an affirmative action quota kid, and all kinds of other nasty names. Bishop? Bishop had a perm. What kind of self-respecting, non-pimp black man wears a perm? Virgil “Static” Hawkins and his imprintmates at Milestone went the way of the dodo, despite being some of the best comics to come out of the ’90s. Static was the first Ultimate Spider-Man, if you get me. Don’t even get me started on the reaction to Captain America: Truth – Red, White, and Black, or the kind of glaring lack of writers of color at the big two.

It’s cool, though.Captain Marvel in Blackface Blacks in comics have come a long way. Luke Cage used to be a patently offensive stereotype, though he’s been pretty well gentrified now. Stepin Fetchits abounded during the early years of comics. Comics great Will Eisner even had his own little stereotypical black kid running around. Did we have it as bad as Chop-chop and Egg-fu? Well, yeah. Stereotypes, unless played very carefully, tend to be ugly, ugly things.

Anyway, this is all introduction to the meat of the matter. A lot of black heroes are wack, but there are some gems, too. For every Black Goliath there’s a Black Panther, dig? So check the list and let me know what you think. Read the rest of this entry �

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