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Milo Manara: Sometimes Great Isn’t Good Enough

January 16th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

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drawn by Milo Manara, yapped from Marvel Unveils Milo Manara “Uncanny Avengers” #2 Variant – Comic Book Resources)

Milo Manara is like Frank Cho, in that he’s very good at one specific thing and really good at a few other things, but he got so good at that first thing that the rest of the work sometimes suffers.

Frank Cho draws great busty women and decent thick women. That’s his thing, and I feel like only one of those dudes that draws Cavewoman — I think I’m thinking of Budd Root and early Devon Massey, and even that’s a reach — could go bar-for-bar with him in that very specific race. But Cho’s storytelling and focus has suffered as a result. The sexy girls seem like crutches, immaculately drawn though they may be, and nothing else in his stories has been clicking half as well as the girls do. That’s part of why Liberty Meadows works for me while his later work hasn’t — he could indulge the funny animal/dumb joke side of himself in addition to the carnival boobs, so there was something more to read the series for beyond “What unlikely-but-sexy pose is Cho going to draw a hot girl in this time?”

Manara’s similar. He’s fantastic at drawing a specific type of woman. His women possess a smoldering sexiness, one that’s probably best typified by Megan Fox these days. It isn’t entirely my bag, maybe because it isn’t as close to being in line with my tastes as Cho’s trunked out girls are, but I can still recognize how unbelievably talented he is sometimes. He tends to draw women who are (often literally) two panels away from being in full erotic ecstasy, with their head thrown back and hair blowing in the wind and mouth a perfect O.

It sounds familiar and lazy, but there’s an art to it. A lot of the empty cheesecake we complain about in cape comics is approach Manara’s throne, but it gets screwed up at the most basic level. Manara knows what he’s doing, and it shows.

But, as near as I can tell… that’s about all he does. I mean, he’s still an incredible draftsman, but like Cho, his women have a certain gravity. They feel like the real focus of the story to me at this point, like each story is a vehicle that exists just so that you can see Manara (or Cho) draw pretty girls.

Which is fine, on a certain level… X-Women was interesting, if neutered, and Cho’s Shanna was pretty okay, but again, felt neutered. But it gets old so fast. Their new work feels like echoes of their old work, but without the swing and passion that made the old work so interesting. You know that these guys can go in, but it just feels like a book that was created on autopilot.

It’s one thing to see something familiar done well, but seeing something done well in the exact same way over and over and over… it gets boring, no matter how solid it is. So you end up with things like this shot of the Scarlet Witch, which is drawn very well but uninteresting beyond the weirdness of one of the greatest porno artists ever drawing Marvel characters. When you expand it to include the rest of his covers, which are similarly vacant… I dunno. It ain’t working for me.

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New Ultimate Edit Week: The Annotations

March 4th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Before I bring the whole Ultimate Edit Trilogy to rest, I just needed to write up the page-by-page details that explain all the endless references and dropped gags. Enjoy.

WEEK ONE

Cover

- References are made to Josie and the Pussycats, Squadron Supreme/Squadron Sinister where the original Nighthawk is from and, naturally, Heroes for Hire.

Page 1

- The line about Spider-Man looking like a toddler is commentary on David Lafuente’s weird proportions in his Ultimate Spider-Man work.

Page 2

- Spiders-Man is a character from Earth X who was given Inhuman powers and it turned him into a scaly-looking Spider-Man with the ability to create illusions. With Mark Millar’s return to writing Ultimate comics, he introduced a new Spider-Man to Ultimate Avengers. He’s a clone of Peter Parker, kept in a cell with a Hannibal Lecter personality and some kind of mind power. While I’m sure he isn’t based on Spiders-Man specifically, I’ve always just referred to him as Ultimate Spiders-Man. It fits.

Page 3

- During the production of Ultimates 3, there was a nixed cover by Frank Cho that showed Wolverine having sex with Magda, mother of Scarlet Witch. The final version would have had a blanket added on to cover her up, but the released sketch showed a giant bare ass.

Read the rest of this entry �

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Seven

March 2nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

It started over three years ago. Venom attacked the Ultimates for a reason that’s still ill-explained and it led to a story about Ultron murdering the Scarlet Witch and Tarzan knockoffs being taken apart by Magneto. Then, many delays later, we got a story about Magneto killing billions, including a bunch of mainstream characters. As bad as Ultimates 3 was, Ultimatum brought crap to a whole new level. But with every Empire Strikes Back, there needs to be a Return of the Jedi, for better or worse. New Ultimates has come and gone and now it’s time to lay it all to rest.

Yesterday showed the fates of Loki, the return of Captain America’s shield and Arcana’s posterior. Let’s finish it.

And there it is. Thank you so much for those of you who read this regularly enough and even stuck around for the end. Thank you for every, “This makes more sense than the actual story,” comment. Thanks to my partner in crime ManiacClown, who will no doubt go through the worst episode of withdrawal since the baby nightmare scene from Trainspotting. Thanks to Frank Cho, whose art has made this a more pleasurable experience. Hell, thanks to Jeph Loeb for keeping me off the streets.

New Ultimate Edit Annotations

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Six

March 1st, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday gave us the brief reunion of Thor and his undead squeeze Valkyrie, whose wings will make putting on shirts a total chore. With everything taken care of, threat-wise, we still have the epilogue to work through. Shanna, Ka-Zar and Black Panther have moved on to greener pastures. They aren’t the only ones leaving.

ManiacClown insisted I namedrop “Twinkies” somewhere in there. The dude just can’t let it go, but whatever. I like the challenge. As for what Zarda’s talking about, the Supreme Power: Hyperion miniseries from a few years ago showed a dark future where Hyperion, Zarda and a lot of superheroes rule over the world with Nighthawk being the only remaining opposition. Like with the end of Howard Chaykin’s Squadron Supreme series, Loeb’s exit from Ultimate stuff calls for a moment of, “Crap, we have to force things back to the status quo so that future stuff can happen.”

Tomorrow is about putting an end to this for good and also tying up that one loose end that really should have had a bigger impact on the story.

Day Seven!

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Four

February 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday showed the two powerhouses of the Ultimates Thor and Zarda duke it out over the streets of New York City as the 9,281st lightning bolt goes off right behind them. I’m wondering how any of these superheroes even hear each other over all the deafening thunder that must be filling the area. As the two slug it out, Iron Man appears in his special Hulkbuster armor out of nowhere. It seems enough to take Thor down and he has been trying to talk some sense into him. That brings us to this.

Thanks to ManiacClown for the help. Tomorrow the not-quite-Christmas story continues.

Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Three

February 26th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Ah, Day Two. The installment where Thor wrecked everyone some more and Zarda woke up and gave him a piece of her mind. It’s mentioned that Zarda really hasn’t been pulling her weight ever since joining the team at the end of Ultimate Power. But now it is Day Three, where their brawl continues and develops. How does this relate to that Clark Kent-like exit Iron Man did just a few minutes before?

Oh, Santa Thor. ManiacClown and I are going to miss writing you.

Tomorrow, Tony will continue his crusade to get through to Thor. What role will Loki play?

Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day Two

February 25th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday started up the new week with a flashback where Thor and Loki kind of stumble upon a bunch of slaughtered dead guys like it’s just another day. Thor is still going all kill-happy and our heroes have no idea what to do.

Thanks to ManiacClown, who is the master of translating 80′s pop music into Thorspeak. We’ll be back tomorrow as the heavyweight fight continues. Then it becomes a triple threat.

Day Three!
Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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New Ultimate Edit Week 5: Day One

February 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to the final week of Ultimate Edit. Boy, it’s been some ride, eh? It’s been just over three years with fifteen issues to its name, but it’s about time to bury it. I guess we were already “burying” it, but– you know what I mean.

So to sum up. A bunch of former D-list heroes have been amped up as villains and fight the Ultimates before being forgotten about completely. Then Loki and Enchantress come to Earth with a big troll army and wrecked stuff for a bit. Enchantress magically coaxes some of the female Ultimates to help them out and capture the staple members of the team. That way, the lesser good guys could look important by rescuing the heroes worth a damn. Valkyrie breaks free from the spell and gets herself killed by Loki, but then Thor shows up and goes on a rampage. He targets everyone and Loki’s all, “Haha! All part of the plan, beyotch!”

And now, the rest of the story…

Thanks to ManiacClown who wanted Loki and Thor to discuss how Hela looks like the ladies in mommy’s lingerie scrolls. We’ll be back tomorrow with some of those other characters nobody cares about. Don’t worry, they’ll be gone by the end of the week.

Day Two!
Day Three!
Day Four!
Day Five!
Day Six!
Day Seven!

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New Ultimate Edit Week 4: Day Seven

December 25th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Merry Christmas! We end our penultimate week on a day about Jesus being born, Barney getting his Pebbles, Pre-Crisis Dick Grayson laying an egg and me getting both a Spider-Man chalice and tickets to Spider-Man Musical Deathtrap 2011. God bless us, everyone!

Last we checked, Loki got run over by a reind–er, Thor. Now he appears to be at the Ultimates’ mercy… or is he?! Forgive the lack of punchlines as it’s almost entirely Loki talking here and we really needed to move the plot forward, verbally.

And another issue bites the dust. Thanks to ManiacClown for putting up with my absolutely horrible holiday retail schedule. We’ll be back soon for the conclusion of the Ultimate Holiday Wars. In the meantime, enjoy Iron Maiden doing a cover of a Gary Glitter Christmas song.

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New Ultimate Edit Week 4: Day Six

December 24th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Hey, it’s Christmas Eve! Meaning we’re almost done here. For yesterday’s installment, Thor roughed up Iron Man pretty badly. Then Hela and Valkyrie hung out and left their pants at the door. Now it’s time for Thor vs. Loki.

Apologies to ManiacClown, who suggested a couple changes to me, but I kind of forgot what he said. So if this isn’t any good, it’s my fault. Tomorrow, we finish things off with a little more backstory.

Day Seven!

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