What If? What Then? The Comic I’d Like to See

April 12th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

The next Comics from the 5th Dimention column should be up soon. The big drawback about writing for PopCultureShock rather than here is that you can’t have your stuff up instantly. Them’s the breaks.

I plan to one day write my own comic series. I’m currently trying to move my gears forward on that. That said, I still find myself thinking about what kind of DC or Marvel-owned series I would love to write if I had the chance. Stuff like an Eradicator on-going where he stations himself in Coast City as a way to make up for and investigate the human feeling of guilt he suffers from his failure to protect the city from Cyborg Superman and Mongul. Or a Juggernaut series where he’s on the run from SHIELD, all while showing the parallels of the Superhuman Registration Act and being the avatar slave of Cyttorak.

There’s one comic concept that came to me the other day. What If occasionally had sequels, most of them not very good. Having read so many issues and having some of them so nestled into my memory, the continuity nut in me always compares some issues to events that happened after the release date. Sometimes it’s just to laugh at the continuity screw-up, like how Alicia Masters in What If the X-Men Lost Inferno was really a Skrull and the writer didn’t know it yet. That revelation gums up her part in the story.

Sometimes I realize how much more interesting stories become when you toss in delayed retcons and new pieces of canon. For instance, there’s the issue What If the X-Men Had Died on Their First Mission, where the New X-Men team (Wolverine, Storm, etc.) go to Krakoa to save the original X-Men and they all die. Xavier beats himself up over it, Moira comforts him and eventually another X-Men team is created. It was a good story, but compare it to what we know now. Deadly Genesis showed the other X-Men team that died fighting Krakoa. When they failed, Moira was angry, so Xavier erased her memory of the events. Put the two stories together and it’s pretty fucked up. Xavier deserves to feel bad. His Krakoa mission would have cost him three X-Men teams, totaling at 17 mutants. Then you have Moira trying to keep him from being suicidal, not knowing what a bastard he really is because the son of a bitch removed it from her memory.

What would have happened when Vulcan came back to Earth, not only forgotten, but now without his brothers? Now that would be a sequel issue worth reading.

I think back to other What Ifs that lead to a new status quo and how vastly different things would have been if they continued the story and met up with the events that were destined to happen. I think a handful of them could make for a good limited series.

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Pop Quiz, Hotshot

February 19th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

What is the joke in these four pages?

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a) Deathstroke and Trigon are the parents of the two girls, so they are mortified to find that their fathers are going to be teaching in the school. Also, Trigon is a monster.
b) Deathstroke and Trigon are old-time enemies of the Teen Titans, have killed multiple members of the team over the course of 30 years of continuity, and are a nod to those times.

If your answer was B, you aren’t qualified to review Tiny Titans, one of the most adorable comics I’ve ever read and one you can give to just about any kid. It’s like the Muppet Babies– any continuity nods are secondary to the visual humor.

I mean, if you feel like Tiny Titans requires obscure continuity knowledge, you must shake your first in rage every time the Chiquita Banana lady shows up on Bugs Bunny, screaming out “Why don’t they explain who she isssssssss,” right?

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November 24th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Johanna Draper Carlson nails one of my problems with Alan Moore’s latest works.

I also, and I cringe at the potential response to this but I’m going to say it anyway, outgrew this kind of fanfiction years ago. When I was a kid, my impulse was to match up the casts of favorite TV shows (because I was a child of the 80s). It’s not that much more clever when Mr. Moore does it with literary figures, except in his case, you need a scorecard to recognize some of the more obscure ones. It’s also not very creative to think that simply having character A from book series B meet character C from TV series D makes for sufficient story. It doesn’t.

I haven’t read Black Dossier yet, nor Lost Girls, and you know what? I kind of don’t want to. I’ve gone into why I can’t get into Alan Moore, and LoEG seems to just be more of the same.

LoEG is continuity porn for literature geeks.

I’m tired of continuity porn and I’m tired of pastiche.

Stop being so clever, Mr. Moore, and write stories with real plots with your own characters.

Amen to that.

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September 5th, 2007 Posted by david brothers


My buddy Jason McNamara’s been interviewed by Jen Contino over at The Pulse.

THE PULSE: What influenced you the most in coming up with the world her dreams occupy? How’d you design this pharmaceutical police state?

McNAMARA: The dreams are the downside of wish fulfillment. Got a crush on some dude? Bam, now you’re pregnant. Hate everyone in your hometown? Super, now they’re all dead. Feel bad? Too bad it’s your fault.

As for the pharmaceutical stuff, I approached it by marrying the marketing of awful food to inappropriate medication. That gives you stuff like Low carb morning after pills, the abortion patch, sweet and sour anti depressants, circumcisions while you wait!

The physical design is all Tony. When he read the script he just knew what it was supposed to look like. I put a couple suggestions in the script and he, as usual, ignored them. My favorite image is a park bench that has been fenced off. That page can always make us laugh.

Go check it out. Jason Mac is great, and I’m not just saying this because he’ll kill me if I don’t.

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Distressed About Damsels

July 16th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been thinking about a few things and you cool cats get to reap the benefits.

Damsel in distress/lost family stories. They form the basis of characters like Punisher, and are common in Spider-Man, Batman, and Daredevil stories. They’re part of a “You Touched My Stuff” trend that’s understandably bothersome. They tend to reduce the damsels, or families, to things that are possessed by the hero– my wife, my son, my family.

All that is true, but I’m having trouble letting go of them. It’s an easy story, but one that never fails to get me. It’s a suspense builder. It’s an easy way to get that “Oh, snap!” reaction. It gets that because it’s an easy pop. Of course the hero is going to fight harder when his family is in danger, who wouldn’t?

I’m not all about them, don’t get me wrong. But, if a story comes up featuring a character I know and a writer I enjoy, I’m much more likely to give it a chance than I would if it was some no-name character.

There were two that have gone down in comics relatively recently that come to mind. Punisher: Man of Stone featured something like a damsel in distress, and Daredevil’s most recent arc features a traditional one. I’m going to spoil both of them, mind you, but they’ve been out for a while so I guess that’s okay.

I kind of wish I could put my resolution right here, above the fold, but it kind of flows better if it’s at the end. Read it if you’re interested in seeing where I’m going, hey?
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Cool Exec, Heart of Steel– Iron Man

July 12th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

So, guess who just got back from a special sneak preview of the Iron Man game coming from SEGA :quagmire:

It was a short preview, and not hands-on, but it looks pretty dope. We saw the 360 rev, which looked really good to be so early. We saw a Siberian stage, with IM versus Russian mercs… Russian mercs run by AIM. Rhodey and Jarvis assist him over a radio.

We saw a couple good scenes. Iron Man can catch missiles and redirect them, turning the enemy against itself. It was an unfinished build, but there was a pretty good sense of speed, and the stage was huge. It’s structured so that you can complete objectives in a mission in the order that feels most comfortable to you, which is kind of cool. Infantry and that kind of thing are really no threat, but heavy armor? Yes, that will rock you but good.

One last thing before I dip– I asked the dev specifically about armors. He said that they’re going to rep the movie first and foremost, but that they’re going to pull on 40 years of Marvel continuity and give us some hot unlockables. War Machine armor is a no-brainer. It’d be kinda cool to see some Hulkbuster armor (renamed, of course) or something from Adam Warren’s Hypervelocity.

One more one last thing– I know one of the dev guys, and he’s local to SF :whatup:

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5 Questions from Tom Foss, 8 from Carnage

June 27th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Not that Carnage.

Before I get into it, though, I’ve got half of an idea in my head. Boxing, the NBA, and the NFL are mostly black (except for quarterbacks :doom:). What if you had a series of superteams, like say one in each of the 50 states, that were run like a sports team? Try outs, scandals, all stars, cocky all-stars fresh out of high school… There’s something there, but I can’t quite grab it yet. Any Given Sunday in a comic book universe.

First is Tom Foss‘s five questions:
1. You’re given the keys to the Marvel Universe, and your only order is to take one “What If” storyline from the entirety of the series and make it canon, along with whatever alterations occur to the universe as a result. Which story do you choose?

Geez. I’d probably pick Gavok’s #1, What If Iron Man Sold Out. It was an awesome story, one of the few What Ifs I owned as a kid, and had great art. It hit all my buttons– it was set just pre-apocalypse, semi-fascist, and had heroes coming back to be true heroes.

Actually, yeah, that’s it for sure. What If Spider-Man Kept the Power Cosmic was another great one, but it kind of takes my favorite superhero out of the runnings for further stories, so no dice. What If the Avengers Lost Operation Galactic Storm was great and I’d like to see that one. It was practically Annihilation III in terms of scope.

2. Who watches the Watchers?

The police. Peeping tom perverts always get theirs.

3. What five Marvel characters do you think are most likely to actually be Skrulls?

Sentry’s wife, the secret masters behind SHIELD, the secret masters behind HYDRA, and I don’t know. I haven’t really given specific Skrulls much thought. I’ll have to post my theory on why Nick Fury went underground, though.

4. Who are your top three, back-of-the-OHOTMU, favorite guilty pleasure Marvel characters?
1. Jubilee (who remains the only character I have a continuity nerd story pitch for)
2. Darkhawk
3. Terror, Inc.

Ugh, I was so impressionable as a kid.

5. Which Avengers base is/was the best?

I couldn’t pick if I tried! I only recently became an Avengers fan. So… I figure Stark/Sentry Tower? I don’t know. The mansion is just kinda blah.

Spencer Carnage is up next.
– I have to post these rules before I start.
– I have to tell you eight facts about myself.
– I have to tag eight people to participate.
– I’m supposed to leave a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read my blog.
– And the tagees need to write their own blog post, telling us eight things and posting the rules.

Ugh, eight things. Okay. Deep breath and
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Wake Up- Things Ain’t Necessarily Good

June 9th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

But, you know what? They really ain’t that bad, either! Onward!

It’s those kids. That’s what’s different. He’s got sidekicks. Maybe if I get a couple of punk kids. Picked ’em up off the street and taught them what I know. Mothboy or Lepidoptera Lad or…
–Killer Moth, Batgirl: Year One

You reading any good comics right now? What’s that? You’re reading comics you don’t like? Pfft and *smh*. Read good comics, okay? Treat the problem, not the symptom.

Good Desktops

Playing with a new format today. First up, some desktops. I can’t promise that these are properly formatted, but they are a few of the 221 desktops in my DocumentsDesktops folder so they’re appropriate. Two are related, the others are just cool. We’ve got art from Marcos Martin, Michael Lark, Darwyn Cooke, and Talent Caldwell.

These desktops are Good.

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Good Comics

These comics are good.
Mighty Skullboy Army (by Jacob Chabot)
I was sent this one by a buddy who knows the author, so I guess this is my first comp copy of a comic! Sweet! Of course, I received the book in Aprilish, so this is way late and I’ve got no excuse really! Sorry Kevin.

And what a comic it is! Did anyone out there ever watch Dexter’s Lab? I used to love it dearly. Mighty Skullboy Army reminds me a lot of Dexter’s Lab, not in content, but in tone. It’s got that same kind of slick sense of humor that both kids and adults can appreciate. The art is very sharp, too. It’s very cartoony, but a lot of fun to look at. The scenes involving the monkey are, in my ever so humble opinion, some of the best in the book.

MSA is, essentially, about a young supervillain (Skullboy) who is in way over his head. You see, he’s a young fella… and he’s got to go to school. You can’t very well conquer the city, nay, the world, from a school desk. He’s got a few assistants in the form of a monkey, a robot, and an intern. One problem: they’re all imbeciles and/or too flighty.

Mighty Skullboy Army is whimsical, but in a good way. It’s a respite from the super serious, or faux serious, stuff I usually read. I hate to invoke the name of the almighty Calvin & Hobbes, which is the Greatest Newspaper Strip of All Time To Which There Are No Contenders, but it is fun like C&H is fun. If you like good comics, MSA is up your alley.

Batgirl: Year One (words by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, art by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez)
I got my copy for 17.99, it’s 19.99 on Amazon pre-discount. Weird.
Anyway, DC was, at one point, running the Year One concept into the ground. Hard. They whooshed hard on what Year One stories should be and pumped out some pap. And then, Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty come along and get it right, not once, but twice. Robin Year One, which I believe was drawn by Javier Pulido, and Batgirl: Year One, by Marcos Martin/Alvaro Lopez, hearken back to the noir asthetic of Batman Year One in art.

Batgirl: Year One isn’t quite perfect. Dixon and Beatty seem to love tossing in little knowing nods to DC continuity, including a few too many references to Cassandra the Oracle, and a scene where someone tells Batgirl that heroes tend to end up crippled and stuff like that. It ends up being too cute by half and distracting.

On the other hand, the art and overall story are nearly flawless. It tells the tale of a young Barbara Gordon, a young lady who has just begun to pull on the tights. There are a lot of little character touches that are great. Babs Gordon is short for her age, thin, and not particularly chesty (cf. her current portrayal which is a bit busty and statuesque, ugh). She’s headstrong, impetuous, and very teenaged. She makes a lot of dumb decisions, despite being very smart. It’s practically a Marvel story, to be honest. Babs is flawed, and her flaw is her pride. She’s got to prove she’s better than everyone else expects her to be.

I just kind of realized that Babs Gordon, as written in Batgirl: Year One, is a slightly more responsible version of Veronica Mars. No wonder I like this book so much! Not to mention that it isn’t afraid to be silly.

More tomorrow. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things!

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On Nightwing Annual #2

April 21st, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Okay, so the last thing Devin Grayson did on Nightwing was have Dick Grayson propose to Barbara Gordon. I think that was a neat twist and kinda cool. Should they be together? I don’t know, but I am curious!

Then OYL hit and the plot was dropped entirely.

Nightwing Annual #2 hit this week and explained why they aren’t together, in addition to showing some scenes from their past. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Dick Grayson showing up six months after Joker shoots Babs, sleeping with her, and then hitting her with an engangement announcement for his wedding to Starfire the very next morning.
2. Babs going to Dick’s college dorm with flowers shortly after he declares his love for her, only to be meet with Starfire answering his door in panties, a t-shirt, and what I assume is Dick’s letterman’s jacket. They speak, Barb leaves in tears and Kory doesn’t think to tell Dick that one of his best friends just dropped by. PS this is followed by the revelation that Kory was Dick’s first sex partner, as revealed by an insufferably smug Babs Gordon who knows Dick Grayson just that well apparently. Barfo!
3. Babs and Dick being stuck in a safe together by Crazy Quilt of all people, leading to a scene where Dick is trying to hide his bat-erection from Batman.
4. Barbara making the executive decision to cancel her engagement to Dick, despite their twoo wuv (he swears to come back to her and she wears the engagement ring on a necklace) because a) he needs to go off with Batman somewhere and b) she feels that he defines himself by his relationship to others and he needs to find himself before he marries her.
5. Barbara Gordon being a thoroughly unlikeable and heartless person.
6. Dick Grayson being a thoroughly unlikeable and heartless person.
7. Some really awkward dialogue, lovey-dovey and otherwise.

Seriously, this was a bad comic. It was competently written, and I actually really dig the art, but it was bad in a “What were you thinking?” sort of way. Sins Past was bad, and artifically aged Gwen & Norman twins are bad, but this is beyond even that. Every single person comes off as horrible or unlikeable or both. Why should I care about these people?

I don’t even really like Nightwing. I read it because I was interested in that plot about the marriage.

This was like if someone asked me “Hey, what’re some things you don’t particularly care to ever see in a comic?” and then put everything I listed in that comic. It’s gross and not good. I mean, cool, heroes have/should have/do have sex and relationships but for some reason Babs talking to Dick Grayson about losing his virginity to Starfire just comes off mad creepy in that weird nerdy sort of way that comics do so well. I’m not even a prude, man. I own the Bomb Queen trade, I am all about some gratuitous nudity and graphic violence. This, though? This is yuck.

The worst thing is that Nightwing Annual #2, like the similarly useless World War III, feels so editorially mandated that you can picture Dan Didio sitting on your shoulder going “This patches that weird sequence from Tales of Nightwing #209, and this bit means that the guy from Adventures of Superman #132 isn’t in continuity any more, and this close-up shows that there was no penetration in Batman #133 so Robin technically didn’t have sex with his girlfriend…”

Seriously DC, stop with Continuity Patch Comix(TM). They aren’t good. We learned that in the ’90s. I almost wish this story had remained untold, because the reason the two didn’t get married is stupid and now both of them look like jerks because of the reason and the dumb-dumb flashbacks.

And if I never read a book with a Bat-erection in it again, it’ll be too soon.

I’ll talk about some good comics tomorrow. Ones that aren’t gross.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: The Finale

March 28th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I feel kind of silly making this article since it was supposed to be done months ago. There are several things that kept me from finishing it, but I’m going to take the easy way out. All the time I usually use to write these What If articles was really used to pretend I was writing for Lost. I love writing Sam the Butcher’s dialogue the most.

Starting it off, here’s a series of sig images I made for the Batman’s Shameful Secret sub-forum at Something Awful. I guess they worked.

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