Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 1

September 6th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Sometimes I get identified on this site as being a Marvel guy as compared to Esther being all about DC and while I’d like to argue against it, my latest buying habits in the past year don’t back me up. I seem to skew more on the Marvel side with only a handful of DC stuff on my plate. It wasn’t always that way. I seem to remember that in the mid-00’s, I was either pretty even with it or maybe even more on DC’s side. Thinking back, things were actually pretty exciting during the lead-up and follow-up of Infinite Crisis. It was really Countdown to Final Crisis where the company started to slope downwards in my regard.

As of a month ago, the comics I was reading under the DC banner were as follows: Batman and Robin, Batman Inc., Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Booster Gold and Secret Six. And you know what? I didn’t even like Secret Six that much by the time it ended. I liked the promise more than what happened. There’d be a good one-shot story in there every once and a while, then it would go into six issues I didn’t care about. At least it gave us the happy-go-lucky characterization of King Shark. At the same time, I feel guilty reading that when I should have gotten off my ass and started reading some of the series that I kept hearing were good like the latest run of Detective Comics, Batgirl, Action Comics and Doom Patrol.

When I first heard about DC’s reboot/relauch I raised an eyebrow and initially had the same, “Can they do that?! HOW CAN THEY DO THAT?!” reaction as everyone else. I just used my inside voice. Then I looked back and decided that maybe this is for the best. Oh, sure, it can and may be a failure in the long run. That’s their problem and the problem of whichever readers got screwed over by the big change. Me? I was only reading six comics by them. 52 new comics are being thrown against the wall and if even seven are still there when gravity kicks in, who am I to hate? Yes, this could definitely work out for the best.

I think back to when we got One Year Later and how enjoyable it was, despite how a lot of it returned back to the status quo. While it did turn me onto a couple good comics I wouldn’t have otherwise read, it did also allow me to join in and laugh at some of the stupider moments with the masses, like everything in that first Nightwing comic. Hey, remember when Nightwing is fighting this guy and he kicks him and practically shits himself while going, “Y-you’re a *gasp* m-metahuman…” as if he had only heard of such a thing before and never met one? Ah, man, that was the dumbest thing. I think the balls-out drive behind this new initiative can lead to an interesting six months at the very least.

So since I’m genuinely interested in this editorial stunt and I owe my comic guy for always having me at his place for wrestling PPVs and never having me pay for the show or food, I decided that I’d go headfirst into the new 52. I’m reading every single one of those fuckers. Yes, even the Liefeld one. Every week, I’m going to give my thoughts on them and decide whether I’m going to stick or drop it. Since these are all supposed to last six issues at the least, I’m going to try and keep going throughout that time so we can see what I’m still reading by the end of February. Who knows, by then I might just be doing an update about what I thought about that week’s issue of Blue Beetle because it’s the only thing left I care about. Though in the beginning, I’m giving every #1 a fair shake. You have my attention, DC. Wow me.

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This Week in Panels: Week 95

July 17th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to Week 95. I got the full crew with me. David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa. Oh, also Boco T. I’d have more to say for this intro, but I’m more excited about this happening.

Punk and Christian are the world champs, Daniel Bryan and Del Rio are main event bound, Mark Henry is awesome and John Cena will hopefully be off TV for a while. Oh, and Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli may be signing with WWE. All is well.

Let’s get into character.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2
Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy

Batgirl #23
Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez

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This Week in Panels: Week 83

April 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Hey, I’m back from Vegas! Had a fantastic time and made about $400 during the trip. Also got to check out some good Lewis Black stand-up. Now I’m back, enjoying the fruits of Mortal Kombat and my Chikara King of Trios DVDs. I’ve watched the first night of King of Trios which features Team Minnesota in the main event, made up of Arik Cannon, Darrin Corbin and the 1-2-3 Kid. Yes, you read that correctly. Not Syxx. Not X-Pac. The 1-2-3 Kid. Although he shaved for the show, he apologized to the crowd because there was no way he was going to bring back the mullet.

Said match involved them facing a team which had Jinsei Shinzaki (otherwise known as Hakushi in the mid-90’s WWF), leading to a big “1995!” chant from the crowd. God, I love Chikara.

On topic, great comic week. All my non-Venom favorites showed up. Avengers Academy, Darkwing Duck, Thunderbolts and Uncanny X-Force. Lot of stuff this time around, as I’m assisted by David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa. Let’s get cracking.

Avengers Academy #12
Christos Gage and Tom Raney

Avengers #12
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

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This Week in Panels: Week 79

March 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Good evening or morning or whenever you’re reading this. This week I’m helped out by David Brothers and Space Jawa.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #5
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Batman Incorporated #4
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

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This Week in Panels: Week 74

February 20th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

This installment is bordering on lateness and with good reason. I’m exhausted and busy as hell this week due to some crazy work scheduling and other real life factors. That explains why the promised New Ultimate Edit Week 5 is pushed back a week. Don’t worry, it’s most certainly on its way. During all this madness, I forgot to get around to reading the latest SHIELD, so consider that one missing from the list.

This time around I’m helped by David Brothers and Was Taters.

Amazing Spider-Man #654.1
Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

Avengers Academy #9
Christos Gage and Mike McKone

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This Week in Panels: Week 65

December 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

This week I’m joined by Was Taters and Luis. Luis insists on sharing a panel of Amazing Spider-Man, which he most certainly hated.

As for that Avengers Academy panel, I can assure you that that is not Metamorpho.

Amazing Spider-Man #650
Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos and Neil Edwards

Avengers Academy #7
Christos Gage and Tom Raney

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This Week in Panels: Week 61

November 21st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Why, hello there! Feels nice to be doing a post that for once isn’t about guys in tights fake fighting. Wait, shit.

David Brothers and regular contributor Was Taters each have their share of panels to throw into the pile. Remember, if there’s a series you read that we don’t, always feel free to throw a panel my way. Email’s to the side.

Sorry for the lack of a good starter image. I like JRJR most of the time, but his Avengers work is really turning me off. In a way, NOT having to see his rendition of the Hood makes for a better panel.

Avengers #7
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

Azrael #14
David Hine and Cliff Richards

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This Week in Panels: Weeks 48 and 49

August 29th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Due to extenuating circumstances, I wasn’t able to do ThWiP last week, so it’s been accumulated into this week’s update. For last week’s picks, I’m disappointed in David for choosing that specific Avengers Academy panel when the true honors should have gone to Reptil asking a disgruntled Cain Marko if he can say, “Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!” for his amusement. Was Taters rejoins the show once again, unable to choose between panels for Superman/Batman, so we went with both.

Warning: there is something really fucked up going on with Hal Jordan’s hands in the Legacies image and you won’t be able to stop yourself from staring at it.

Action Comics #892
Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Pere Perez, Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo

Age of Heroes #4
Elliott Kalan, Brendan McCarthy and others

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This Week in Panels: Week 45

August 1st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Welcome back to another week of showing the gist of the comics we’ve read from this week. Not an overly fantastic week, but my personal picks for the better comics are Franken-Castle, Punisher MAX and Generation Lost.

Authority: The Lost Year #11
Grant Morrison, Keith Giffen and Brandon Badeaux

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #4
Grant Morrison and Georges Jeanty

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7 Artists: Doug Mahnke

July 10th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Doug Mahnke does one thing better than everyone else, and that’s draw Wonder Woman.

The biggest reason why he draws the best Wonder Woman is easy: the hair. It’s this very straight, wet, flat look that looks so good it should’ve become part of her official look.

He does another thing better than most people, and that’s depict action.

Violence in comics is weird. When it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and it just looks stupid. This is particularly true of the post-Lee artists, guys who draw in the remnants of one of your typical early Image Comics styles. That sort of overly built, action figure style really doesn’t lend itself to a proper portrayal of violence. It looks like action figures moving across a page while an unseen child goes “Pow! Pow!”

Comics art tends toward clean. Bryan Hitch, Stuart Immonen, John Romita Jr, Dan Jurgens, Mark Bagley, whoever whatever, they tend to draw these really neat scenes, clean lines, so on and so on. The action follows. It’s pretty clean and simple, and when people get bloody, it’s a very reserved kind of bloody. It’s not really that brutal. Mahnke, though. Everything this guy draws looks like it’s had a belt sander taken to it not five seconds before, and when he draws an impact, he draws it like it’s the only thing that matters on the page. You don’t even really need the sound effects at all.

Mahnke’s work isn’t interesting because of any particular attention to detail, I don’t think. It’s interesting because of how he approaches his subject matter. Some artists go for detailed draftsmanship and scale (Bryan Hitch), some for body language and realism (Frank Quitely), and some for photorealism (any artist with Photoshop and a host of garish filters). Mahnke… I think the key to his work is restraint.

He draws his characters very muscular, just on the far side of ripped, but not the usual steroid case you expect to see in comics. They tend toward the slim, but filled out. They’re just big enough to be superhuman, but not so big that they look overdone. It’s clear that they aren’t normal, but they aren’t so abnormal that they look ridiculous. They’re just right in that sweet spot between human and super. They work so well on the page because they’re believable.

But that’s all beside the point. When Mahnke draws people fighting, it looks good. The gritty way his lines end up, the slim but powerful figures (with real weight), and his ability to capture the perfect mid-action panel are just a few reasons why. David Aja does choreography, Jack Kirby did bombast, and Mahnke is good at finding just the right moment to freeze the frame.

It’s all about that right moment in time. Aja captures it fluidly and about as close to “in motion” as you can get on a comics page. Mahnke doesn’t have the same style or approach to comics as Aja does, but I don’t think that his is any less effective. There’s a page from Batman: Under the Hood where Jason Todd is beating the Joker with a crowbar. The final panel on that page, where the crowbar is in direct and intimate contact with the Joker’s face, hurts. It’s that moment after the impact, after the Joker’s head has started to turn, but before Jason’s completed his swing. It’s ugly, and that specific moment might be the ugliest.

You can see it in other books, too. Kyle’s limp form as Manitou Raven stabs him in the chest in JLA: The Obsidian Age. The part in Green Lantern where Carol Ferris has Sinestro’s arm blocked and is working her way around his throat. In Final Crisis, Frankenstein taking the head off a dog while his giant wolf thing chews through Wonder Woman.

Panels are always specific moments in time. That moment has to convey whatever feelings or actions are required to create a fully realized story. Creating the perfect panel is probably pretty tough, considering that you’ve not only got to draw well, but capture a specific moment in a scene.

If you’re too late, there’s no impact, no juice. If you’re too early, it’s all still just potential energy. Getting it right… that’s something to be respected. Some artists manage to miss that killer moment almost every time. Their art is just passable, just short of acceptable, but it gets a book on a shelf so I guess it has some value to someone. With Mahnke, though… I’ve never felt like that. His gunfights (as in Team Zero), his superhero battles (Justice League Elite), his brutal hand-to-hand (Batman), and even this sci-fi magic wishing ring stuff he’s doing over in Green Lantern… all of it looks right. It looks like it hurts.

(And honestly, if Doug Mahnke were the only person allowed to draw Wonder Woman and Lobo, I’d be a very happy camper.)

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