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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Fourcast! 96: Welcome to Pluto

September 19th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-I was out late doing karaoke before recording, sorry if I sound tired
-Esther made me read Gail Simone and Neil Googe’s Welcome to Tranquility
-I made Esther read Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto
-Esther claims that I’m why we can’t have happy comics, because I like sad things
-We didn’t like each other’s books very much, I think. Can you tell?
-So we switch gears to talk about stuff we do like.
-Esther liked a pretty good bit in Spider-Island with the Punisher
-Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto’s Punisher is aight, it’s aight, but it shoulda been more john blaze than that
-Esther really digs Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon’s Punisher
-I’m not as keen on the changes to the origin story
-(it’s a good comic for someone who’s not me)
-The thing I said was from Daniel Way and Steve Dillon’s Punisher vs Bullseye was actually from Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke’s Under the Red Hood, and also the note said “LOL” and not “gotcha!”
-Here’s something similar from the series though:

Buy John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew, thanks.

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Fourcast! 95: The New 52

September 12th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-DC’s in the process of releasing 52 mostly-new comics!
-We’re talking about the first full week.
-Esther picked up Action Comics, Stormwatch, Green Arrow, and Batgirl
-I picked up Static, Justice League, and Animal Man
-I also bought Swamp Thing, but didn’t manage to discuss it. It was fine–I just don’t think I’m much of a Swamp Thing fan is all.
-We have a conversation about whether or not people from the Midwest say “ain’t” in casual conversation.
-I think they do, because I assume all farmers talk like Southerners, and back home, we say “ain’t” like ain’t nothing wrong with that
-Esther says they don’t
-It turns out I have feelings about how cool Superman breaking chains on homage covers are
-Those feelings amount to “Ugh, why?”
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-Here comes a new challenger!
-See you, space cowboy!

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Batgirl #1. Again.

September 10th, 2011 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Ah, Batgirl Issue 1.  It’s almost as if I’ve seen you before, recently.

We start with a (presumably) sweet old man being murdered horribly in his front yard by some kind of costumed villain called The Mirror.  The man, Graham Carter (and I kind of hope that this shows up in internet searches so that when a Graham Carter somewhere out there googles himself he gets this result.), was the survivor of a shipwreck years ago.  The Mirror asks why he survived, but instead of letting him answer, shoves a hose in his mouth and drowns him (I suppose.  How do you die when a running hose gets shoved in your mouth?).  We see that the next name on his list is Barbara Gordon.

We then cut to Batgirl expositing about her life as Barbara Gordon.  This is, I guess, for the benefit of anyone picking up the book for the first time.  She talks about how she’s the Police Commissioner’s daughter while she swoops in to catch a group of kids who themselves are expositing, to a terrified family, that they are rich kids from good homes who have been murdering entire families for fun.  She takes them out, but when one tackles her over a railing, she is helped up by the family, thinking to herself how she got lucky and how scared she is.

Next we have exposition about how she was shot by the Joker, has a photographic memory, how she was Oracle for three years (establishing time period), how by some miracle (it doesn’t say what) she can walk again, and how she lives with her dad but is about to move out.

Cut to her moving out.  She goes to a building that, she exposits, is centrally located and that she can afford, as long as she has multiple housemates.  She meets a roommate, who weirdly isn’t named.  Destined for the chop?

Across town, some cops are guarding a nonspecific murderer who is injured and confined to a hospital bed.

Back to Move-In Day.  Barbara’s roommate sees her wheelchair lift and talks about how she would never want to be, “trapped in a chair.”  Unnamed roommate is now the most tactless person in the world.  *Really* destined for the chop?

Back in the hospital, The Mirror is shooting a bunch of cops, on the way to get to the bedridden killer.  One guarding detective, McKenna, draws a gun and prepares to shoot, but doesn’t, even though her partner tells her too.  The Mirror kills the partner, wounds McKenna, steps on her face, and goes after the guy they were guarding, “Theodore Rankin.”  He says he was ‘next on the list’.

Batgirl swoops in, and promptly freezes when she sees The Mirror has a gun.  The Mirror then throws Rankin out the window while McKenna calls Barbara a murderer because she didn’t do anything.


I say this carefully, because it’s the first issue, and I love Gail Simone’s work, but this didn’t work for me at all.

First there’s the violence.  I’m always a little disturbed by how often cops are killed in comic books.  It seems like a way to signify that This Killer is a Big Deal, and I believed that already.  Still, that’s something that happens in every comic book.  Add to that the pleasure-killing family annihilators, the fact that you saw the old man’s eyes popping out slightly from the pressure from the hose, and this feels like Secret Six violence in a Batgirl book.  Not every villain has to be the most horrible killer imaginable.  If it’s a dark book overall, it works, but contrasted with Barbara’s demeanor and storyline, this is jarring.

And then there’s Barbara’s storyline.  When Cass screwed up, it was okay.  She was 17, and didn’t speak any human language at all.  When Stephanie screwed up, it was okay.  She was 16-18, and was kind of known for screwing up.  She’d received no training and had gone through life trying to be a superhero just because she wanted it enough.  When Babs screwed up the first time around – fine.  She was new, too.

But even though the issue number is starting over, and even though this is meant to introduce new readers to the book, Barbara Gordon isn’t new anymore.  She’s not a rookie hero, she’s the freakin’ Oracle.  She wasn’t just a superhero, and she didn’t just lead a superhero team, she led all the superhero teams, everywhere.  She’s was everyone’s go-to source for information and advice.  She trained new heroes.  She trained them in how to fight – by fighting with them.  She fought in virtual reality.  She beat people up, trained fighting people, in actual reality.  She didn’t just face a gun, she faced the Joker.  She faced the Joker with a nuclear bomb.  She also fought the Joker face-to-face.

She bought buildings.  Not ‘house’ buildings, ‘skyscraper’ buildings.  She bought luxury cars for people who came in to fight on her team’s side.  She bought planes, and then paid to have them completely re-done to fit her team’s needs.

This storyline, the new girl spreading her wings and moving out of her father’s place to a bare-bones apartment in the city, scraping by, and managing to do good at work through spunk and determination – that’s not Barbara Gordon.  Maybe it was before any of this stuff happened to her and before she accomplished all the things she did, but it isn’t anymore.  It can’t be.  Put another way, what would the reaction be if Bruce Wayne ‘froze’ every time he got picked up and had dialog in his head that went, “My spine!  He’s going to snap my spine!  Just like Bane!  I can’t move!  I can’t move!”  Or Dick Grayson thinking, “He’s just like Two-Face!  I’m frozen!  I can’t do anything!”

It’s not that I don’t think she’ll get better, and it’s not that I don’t think that the roommates in the new apartment will lead to some funny banter and good relationships.  It’s just that this woman has been a hero for years, and is one of the most compelling characters of the DCU.  She’s a badass. A rich badass.  A rich, brilliant, multi-talented, and ruthless badass.  Having her play the ingénue doesn’t work anymore.  It just feels condescending.

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Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman #1

June 2nd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

New York Times bestselling writer Brian Azzarello, author of The Joker and 100 Bullets, teams up with the immensely talented artist Cliff Chiang (Neil Young’s Greendale) for WONDER WOMAN #1, an exciting new series starring the DC Universe’s greatest superheroine. The cover to issue #1 is by Cliff Chiang.

I’m going to go on ahead and call this DC relaunch a success, because they’re getting me to buy a Wonder Woman comic for the first time in… years, probably, during a brief dalliance with the Greg Rucka run. It’s creator driven, obviously–Azzarello and Chiang a team that is too good for most any cape comics character–but here we are nonetheless. Also, I liked this bit from the last time Azzarello wrote Wonder Woman in Superman: For Tomorrow (two trades: one and two):

Couple other bits that seem interesting:

The world’s third-smartest man – and one of its most eligible bachelors – uses his brains and fists against science gone mad in MISTER TERRIFIC #1, the new series from writer Eric Wallace and artist Roger Robinson. The cover to issue #1 is by J.G. Jones.

I still think “third-smartest man” is a dumb gimmick (It’s on the level of “When a lady walks to me says ‘Hey, you know whats sexy?’ I say, ‘No, I don’t know what it is, but I bet I can add up all the change in your purse very fast!”), but I liked the Eric Wallace who wrote Ink and I like Mr. Terrific in theory and a few times over the past few years (Infinite Crisis talking with John Stewart, Checkmate, maybe a couple other spots). Titans, though, I’m not even remotely keen on. Fellas: wow me.

Rising superstar Francis Manapul, fresh off his acclaimed run on THE FLASH with Geoff Johns, makes his comics writing debut in THE FLASH #1, sharing both scripting and art duties with Brian Buccellato. The Flash knows he can’t be everywhere at once, but what happens when he faces an all-new villain who can? The cover to issue #1 is by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.

Manapul draws nice.

One bit I’m not interested in:

Welcome to a major new vision of the Nuclear Man as writers Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone team up with artist Yildiray Cinar to deliver THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1. Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond are two high school students, worlds apart – and now they’re drawn into a conspiracy of super science that bonds them forever in a way they can’t explain or control. The cover to issue #1 is by Ed Benes.

Ethan Van Sciver? Thanks, but no thanks–I’m not the type of guy who can knowingly put money in the pocket of a Joseph McCarthy fanboy and known associate of Breitbart/BigHollywood types. Not a chance, son. Those people are human scum.

I’ll have fuller thoughts once the solicits hit in a couple weeks, I guess. I’m gonna be checking for that new Justice League by Johns & Lee, too. More details here.

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Secret Six #25: The Moments I Live For

September 10th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

So many times, when I read Secret Six, I wonder why on earth I’m reading that kind of book.  This is not a slam of Secret Six, which has a devoted following and has been a consistently good book.  It’s just that, from the start, it’s been the kind of book that just isn’t for me.  It’s got torture, murder, despair, tragedy, and a bunch of people being mean to each other for kicks.  Every single story arc has the Six turning on each other in some way or another.  It never, ever fails.  I should not be liking it.

And yet I do.  Part of it is the creative stories and the constant quips, courtesy of Gail Simone.  The book is also loaded with multi-dimensional, smart, fun, and different female characters.  Pretty much all of them manage the difficult trick, in fiction, of being female but acting human.  No dumb blondes, no mindless seductresses, no personality-less token tough girls, just a bunch of nutty characters, just like the men.

Most of all, though, I like Secret Six because it’s a team book in which the team very clearly cares about each other.  And I like it because it’s not a generic ‘caring’ the way most team books do it.  The Six don’t get along, they don’t understand each other, and they don’t understand reality outside of their insane world.  They do, however, want to make each other happy, and when they try, it leads to wonderful moments.  One of those moments is in Secret Six #25. 

Black Alice is a teenage girl who can steal anyone’s powers by looking into their eyes.  One day she used her powers on her father.  Shortly afterwards, her father got cancer.  She joins the Six to make money in order to treat him, even though she’s clearly out of her depth.

Floyd Lawton is Deadshot, a member of the Six, and a character who was obviously created back when Floyd was a common name.  He, along with the rest of the Six, hears about this in one of the issues.  Not much is made of this.  In issue #25, he goes to Alice’s father’s doctor, and threatens him with a gun until the man tells him all about the case.  When the doctor confirms that Alice was probably the cause of her father’s cancer, Floyd picks up the phone and tells the doctor that he will call Alice and tell her that he knows what caused the cancer and it definitely wasn’t her.  He will also tell her that everything is going to be okay.

There is at least on thing practically wrong with this plan.  Morally, there are many things wrong with it, depending on your particular moral compass.  The point, though, is that Deadshot sees the girl suffering, decides to help, and does it in a crazy way.  David and I have talked before about really good relationships between people who antagonize each other but also love each other – Cassandra and David Cain would be one of those.  The unimaginative writer writes them as at each other’s throats until such time as one of them is about to do something too brutal, at which point they suddenly stop because they care so much about each other.  Secret Six does it right.  It shows a bunch of relationships in which people who are imperfect, trying to help each other in imperfect ways.  It gives you both a warm feeling inside and a better understanding and appreciation for the characters.  I really wish there was more of it, but I love what I’ve got.

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Why Birds of Prey?

September 8th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I know there’s some Birds of Prey readers out there who also read this site. (At least, one, maybe, does Esther read this stuff or just her own posts? I bet I could zing her good and she would never notice…) Anyway, BoP fans! Honest question here, because it’s been picking at my brain.

Why do you read it?

BoP is in this weird space for me. Gail Simone isn’t really to my taste, but I can see why people like her. But Ed Benes, whoo boy. Simone said he “does lovely, subtle acting, and tremendous facial expressions and body language. I think he brings a very fiery European influence that is a wonderful remedy to some of the tired vaguely manga and video game-esque influences we’ve seen lately.” And man, let me tell you, I can’t think of a single thing in that sentence that I don’t want to pull apart, throw into a Glad bag, and drown in a river. He sucks, is what I’m saying, and I think he’s filling too many pages with drawings of women vulving like their life depends on it rather than doing things like having faces that emote and bodies that act. (No shots.)

One thing I noticed when poking around on blogs and reviews that praise BoP is that they only ever seem to praise Simone, and highly, at that. It’s her book, and with good reason, and Benes tends to get, at most, a line or two about a kick to the face or a guts pose. It comes across, and this is obviously a generalization, that fans of BoP enjoy Simone’s half of the book and tolerate Benes’s half. The art gets short shrift in a way that it doesn’t for other cape comics.

Is that weird? Am I seeing patterns where there aren’t any? I know that I have a (perfectly rational) dislike of the Benes studio’s work (ask me about it sometime), and others like have a perfectly rational like of their work (maybe). I liked it a lot more back when he was a cartoonier Jim Lee, the Wildstorm and early BoP days.

For the fans, are you reading it for Simone? Is it because there’s slim pickings for ladycomics with superheroes? Are you 100% into the comic, writing and art, and I’m just a jerk? For the non-fans, why aren’t you reading it?

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Secret Six Remix: Not An Average Joe

April 20th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Art by Jim Calafiore, and I think that this is a fair assessment of the issue and what happened in it. Here is an alternate take on the issue.

4thletter! Fading comic books like bleach since 1983.

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Here Comes the Sun?

February 24th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

This issue of Wonder Woman ends with something I had just about given up on seeing; sunny skies.

I’ve had to gnash my teeth over Wonder Woman for a long time, now.  She’s a character that I should like, but mostly I don’t.  She’s in a world I should like, but mostly I don’t.

When the book gained Gail Simone as a writer, I was absolutely sure I would like the book, and at the beginning I did.  Then came Genocide, and the Nemesis/Wonder Woman break-up and the slaughtering of pregnant women and the crows, and – I picked up some issues, but I kept putting them down.  It was well-written and well-drawn and the character was interesting, but (despite my last entry here) I couldn’t take any more misery.  I wanted Diana to win something; a fight, a game of chess, a church raffle, a free super-sizing of fries with her happy meal.  Anything. 

And now, for the first time, things are looking up for Diana and the rest of the characters of Wonder Woman.  It feels like a break with the past, and a new, more trimphant era beginning.

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Fourcast! 33: Last Week in Comics

February 15th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music
-Oh snap, comics reviews!
Batman & Robin #8? Good stuff! Cameron Stewart drew a great fight scene, Grant Morrison writes a fun Batwoman (“I have to die.”) and the British stuff is pretty fun.
-Esther wants Damian to disappear, though. That sucks.
Amazing Spider-Man #620? Pretty good, with a great Mysterio bit and amazing art from Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido.
Secret Six #18? Blackest Night crossover, Amanda Waller runs things, and Deadshot shoots dudes.
-Fact: I cannot say “Deadshot” without saying “Deathstroke” first.
-Fact: Deadshot’s miniseries from a while back ruled.
Jormungand volume 2 from Viz features a child soldier who goes into two separate suicidal rages in this volume, a wacky arms dealer, and the hijinx they get into. David likes it because he probably has a gun fetish. Good stuff!
-See you, space cowboy!

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