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This Week in Panels: Week 177

February 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hello nice people. This week it’s me reading way too much superhero comic junk, Gaijin Dan reading way too much manga, Brobe sending in a chunk of stuff and a little something-something from Was Taters, Space Jawa and Jody.

I should feel alarmed that I’m enjoying Thunderbolts, even though I know that Way will do me wrong like he always does. Then again, to paraphrase Mitch Hedberg, we eat every apple knowing that it’ll become a core.

Unleash the panels!

Animal Man #17
Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, Steve Pugh and Timothy Green II

Avengers #5
Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

Batwing #17
Fabian Nicieza and Fabrizio Fiorentino

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“industry shady, it need to be taken over”

December 5th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I hate writing about writing, because it is the most stereotypical and annoying thing a writer can do, but I’ve become what I’ve forsaken and the irony’s wild.

I haven’t written about comics on here in a month. I wrote about comics on ComicsAlliance a total of eight times in November, roughly twice per week. I did this Judge Dredd thing with Douglas Wolk that was actually a whole lot of fun, since I rarely collaborate and Wolk is one of the sharpest dudes around. (This week’s dance partner is Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress, who completely outshines me.)

I haven’t done it at all this month. I burned out. I needed a break. I’ll be back in a while. Maybe a week, maybe less, I dunno. Hopefully this post doesn’t come off too self-pitying or whatever, but it’s been bugging me and if I don’t write about it it’ll keep bugging me so… reap the whirlwind, I guess.

I quit because comics journalism, or criticism, or whatever you want to call writing about comics, is essentially free advertising. Which is fine, I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. When I write about something, be it Brandon Graham’s King City or Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman’s Hulk, it’s because I want you to buy and read it. Well, first and foremost it’s because I wanted to talk about it, but the buying & reading goes right along with that. I want to talk to people about these books. It’s not hand-selling, but it is recommending, yeah?

And I quit because every time I saw a review of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales working on Action Comics, I wanted to scream. The thought of Marvel caking off Fantastic Four 600 and dedicating it to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee makes my skin crawl. I can’t pretend like a comic set in the Congo featuring child soldiers and a warlord named Massacre is something adults should take seriously. Batman is already a dumb idea, but it has seventy years of inertia behind it. (“Massacre?” Negro please.) Or a million other things. “Check out this cool Tony Daniel preview!” “Matt Fraction is breaking new ground in the Defenders! What if Hulk… had a Hulk!” Pshaw.

I felt complicit in something I hated, and I decided not to write about it any more, barring my obligations at CA, and I eventually sent Laura a sad sack email begging off those, too.

(I didn’t quit reading comics, mind. I bought Thickness #2, a porn comic, and it’s grrrrrrrreat. I finished Twin Spica 10 over lunch today and it had a twist that I saw coming that still knocked me off my feet with its finality. I bought comics online and in stores. I just quit blogging about them for a while.)

A lot happened in that month, personal and otherwise. I had a hilariously awkward conversation with a PR person after I wouldn’t play the game. I spent a lot of time thinking about this post about Black Panther and War Machine. I wondered if I’d screwed up somehow, but I read it and reread it and reread the reaction to it and… I’m appalled that people came at me like I was calling Marvel a bunch of racist scumbags. I don’t even imply it, not even close. But you know, mention that two black characters share a thing, and speak of that thing negatively, and suddenly you’re… I don’t even know, bizarro David Duke or something. (I can’t think of a famous black racist right now. Sorry.) That got me to thinking about how insular and toxic comics culture is, how Team Comics has people thinking that we’re all in this together and leaping to defend corporations that don’t care about them, how comic shops actively hamper digital comics, how people claim to ignore Rich Johnston but hang on his every word…
November was a month that seemed hellbent to make me hate everything, including comics. I thought about every encounter with pushy PR people, every time I got someone in trouble because of something I wrote that some PR person didn’t like, the gross quid pro quo of maintaining access, passive-aggressive emails from Bluewater’s president because I told him I wasn’t interested in his ugly, stupid comics, and years of beating my head against the wall. Everything I don’t like about comics, I ended up processing alone or with a group of close friends, all of whom have been remarkably okay with me being such a Debbie Downer about some dumb old comic books.

I realized that I didn’t need any of that. I don’t depend on comics. I have a job. Life is short. Why should I do anything I don’t want to do, within reason? So I’ve been trying to figure out how I can keep writing about comics and entirely avoid, shun, or ignore the business side of things. I’ve gotten books early or for free, which is nice, but not necessary. (It also makes me feel really guilty. Friends make friends pay retail, yeah?) I can talk about comics I love at any point. I’m on a ’60s manga kick right now, so I’ve been buying used copies of Shotaro Ishinomori’s Cyborg 009. I can (and will) write about that at any time! (It’s wild racist, if you like/hate when I point that stuff out, but totally awesome, too.)

November was “How can I continue doing this thing I like doing when I’ve managed to surround myself with almost every aspect of it that I hate?” Sales figures, that thing where you read bad comics because you want to get your two-minute hate on or self-harm or whatever, paying attention to reviewers you don’t actually like in the name of… well I guess that’s masochism, too.

I ended up being The Digital Comics Guy somehow. Or A Digital Comics Guy, I figure. I think Brigid Alverson is the only other person to have really written repeatedly and at length on the subject. I’ve made some mis-steps (regarding believing sales charts, even!), but I’ve spilled tens of thousands of words on the subject. Maybe a hundred thousand, even. (Terrifying thought.) I’ve got a google alert for digital comics news and I’m on a bunch of mailing lists.

I saw an announcement that made me really happy. “Dark Horse Delivers Day & Date Digital Comics Same Day As Print!” They’re one of my favorite companies, they publish at least three of my favorite ongoing series (Usagi Yojimbo, Hellboy, and BPRD), and I own a bunch of their stuff. I’ve actually given away a bunch of DH stuff, because I had friends who I thought might dig it. Share the wealth, spread the word. I was really happy about this announcement, shot off a couple of quick questions to DH, forwarded the news to Andy at CA so he could write it up (being on my “oh poor me i hate writing about comics right now but am still gonna read comics news” vacation) and felt good.

On Sunday, Rich Johston reported that Larry Doherty of Larry’s Comics was refusing to shelf Dark Horse Comics over the price point. Which, as far as I’m concerned, is a crybaby punk move. Digital comics aren’t physical comics. Digital books provide a different experience than print comics. This stupid “print vs digital” thing is a smokescreen, a garbage talking point. They aren’t direct competitors, and they certainly won’t be as long as the prices are so high.

But this guy Larry, this actual racist, this person who sent a friend of mine a picture of a woman with a bunch of hot dogs stuffed in her mouth after she rightly called him out on requesting DC do a XXX video fo Batwoman and Question “banging each other” because “chicks doing it is awesome,” this scumbag who two different people I know personally–and I live a few thousand miles from dude’s store–have been like “Oh yeah, Larry? I used to live around him, he’s a disgusting punk,” this guy, the last guy anyone should be listening to or hanging out with or associating with, period, is the one who’s banging the “WHAT ABOUT US POOR RETAILERS YOU OWE US” drum the hardest.

I read the news, rolled my eyes, had a few conversations about it, and moved on.

Today, I assume in response to Larry’s bleating on Twitter, Dark Horse caved. More specifically, they caved and said this:

Unfortunately, there has been a bit of miscommunication regarding our pricing strategy, and we would like to clear that up here. In our initial announcement, we did not come forward with any pricing information on our upcoming releases. However, some assumptions were made based on our current pricing model.

Earlier today, in response to some dumb DC news I shouldn’t have read anyway, I said “these could conceivably not be lies.” I instantly felt bad about being so cynical and skeptical, did a little more research, and proved to myself and a couple friends that the things DC said weren’t lies. Which is pretty screwed up, but that sort of shows you where I’m at with comics marketing. I’m conscious of the fact that it’s poisoned for me, and I’m working to correct it. But dang, man, almost every bit of news I read seems like more and more garbage. It’s not healthy.

But that thing up there, the quote? It’s, at best and at my most charitable, a falsehood. It’s a falsehood that offloads blame onto the press, onto the people who reported the news. Maybe there was some miscommunication, but there definitely wasn’t on my side. I was sorta surprised at how much I resented reading this, as if it were personal almost. But I take writing very seriously, even if I’m just doing research for someone else, so it is what it is and he said what he said.

And now I’m like… this is an industry where Mark Millar runs wild with comments about shooting people who don’t deserve it, wondering if black people can have Down’s Syndrome, telling people not to buy digital comics, and plotting “The Rape of Wonder Woman” for yuks. This is an industry where Alan Moore talking about comics he hasn’t read, and says he hasn’t read, and proceeds to talk about anyway, is front page news every single time. It’s an industry where people complain up and down the street about how inaccurate sales figures are, except when their own books sell out. Rushed events are blockbusters. Sub-par fill-in artists are something publishers pooh-pooh and downplay as necessary.

It’s where one of the best publishers in the industry publicly bows down to someone who has consistently been an embarrassment to what passes for the comics community.

And I’m having some serious trouble figuring out why I should even want to support this industry with my time and words. It’s not like I have a lack of stuff to talk about, things that don’t make my skin crawl. I’ll get past it, obviously–I want to talk about Cyborg 009 and Wonder Woman and everything else I’m reading and enjoying, and getting paid to write is really really nice this time of year, and a month is probably long enough to get over it, especially after this post–but right now, I’m seriously not feeling it at all. I hate it.

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This Year in Panels: Year 2

September 21st, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this crap for two years. I just did the 100th installment of This Week in Panels a month ago, so this is less of a big deal, but whatever. This Week in Panels has been about me and people who read this for whatever reason picking out panels that best represent the comics we read. What is the comic? Sell it with one panel without the context. Let the readers figure it out.

Going with what I did a year ago, I decided to do a little look back at the past 52 weeks. The challenge is to showcase a panel from each week without double-dipping on the same series. Let’s see what the last year have given us.

Amazing Spider-Man #664
Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Max Fiumara

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

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #2
Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

Batman and Robin #15
Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

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Create, Consume, Recycle 06/13/11

June 13th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

stuff i made

-A quick preview of Adam Warren and Emily Warren’s Empowered: Ten Questions for the Maidman, a one-shot released last week that was pretty dope.

-Graphicly just redesigned their site, and I took a quick look at what works.

-This is the remix: I took this post about X-Men First Class and turned it into this post, inviting dozens of comments from idiots about race. That sorta thing is sorta why I hate writing about race for a mass audience, because sucker ducks always got something to say. Whatever though. I’m gonna go sleep on this pile of money.


something i like

Four pages from Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, and Dave Stewart’s Hellboy: The Fury, a series that’s going to be positively apocalyptic and more worthy of your attention than pretty much any other ongoing comic:


There’s something incredibly pure about Hellboy these days. Mignola and company have been pumping out quick series or one-shots that do a lot with a little. With The Fury, we’ve got three issues that can go in any direction, save for maybe the death of Hellboy. Then again, we’ve already seen him maimed, so that might not even be off the table.

This intro is enormously effective. It brings to mind a ton of things. I look at it and see a boxer’s long walk to the ring. It’s the stranger riding into town while strangers grip their pistols and spit. It’s Deebo walking up and everyone in the hood going silent. It’s the beginning of the big war conference in any movie ever, where warriors bang shields and monsters roar at the moon. Lightning strikes either as a show of approval or as an omen of disaster.

“Now I am become Death,” the witches say as they look on their handiwork. “The destroyer of worlds.” They’re not as powerful as they thought they were, and now they’re wracked with doubt and guilt. Then they spot a lone figure walking out of nowhere, and begin creating stories about him to suit their purpose.

“It’s Odin out wandering the world.” Wise and all-seeing, Hellboy is the all-father in human form. Wikipedia tells me that Odin is “related to ōðr, meaning ‘fury, excitation,’ besides ‘mind,’ or ‘poetry.'” There you have the title of the series and the tone. The Fury is the epic poem of Hellboy’s life. Hellboy’s stuck in a Homeric tale, and he’s almost at the end of his run.

“He carries a hammer. Thor then.” He’s the thunder and the lightning, destruction and health, a terrifying protector. A hammer is used to build and destroy. Sometimes that’s the same thing. The myth parallels Hellboy’s journey, too. Thor battles Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent.

Hellboy is every god, every hero, every messiah, and not in some stupid Joseph Campbell sort of way, either. He’s fighting something that is the ultimate evil, so it stands to reason that he has to be the ultimate good. The only thing that matters is beating her.

This is the eschaton in progress, where evil breathes in before pulling the trigger and heroes stride down off the mountain, glorious in demeanor and unafraid of death.

It’s Mignola synthesizing all of his interests, from myths to ghost stories to Jack Kirby comics, and creating something fearsome.

More than anything, though, this has what a lot of theoretically exciting cape comics lack. This is exciting. It builds tension. This is how you do the slow walk.

Funny coincidence. Marvel’s Fear Itself, courtesy of Matt Fraction, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Laura Martin, features the Asgardian host battling an ancient evils. I picked up the first issue and found it overwritten by far, though the art was nice. It had a bunch of people telling you why something’s scary or dangerous instead of that thing putting the fear of God in your heart. What little tension there is isn’t earned at all.

Fear Itself didn’t feel effortless like this does. The Fury is a snowball rolling down a steep hill, and the weight of the past few years does it wonders, but the difference is still striking. Maybe that’s unfair. I don’t think so, though.

There’s a gang of Hellboy available digitally. Read ‘em in order, or check out The Island and the Third Wish, Makoma, or Buster Oakley Gets His Wish. I like those a lot, especially Makoma and Buster. Corben and Nowlan are beasts. Nobody should be able to draw cows as cool as Nowlan does.

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This Week in Panels: Week 82

April 17th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Hello, everybody. This week I’m helped out by David Brothers, Space Jawa and Luis.

In a couple days, I’m taking off to Las Vegas for a bit, but that won’t put a damper on the quantity of posts. In a few hours, I’ll have a big review article going up. Tomorrow I’ll have something really cool to share with you all and while I’m gone, a couple Mortal Marathon guest articles should be popping up. Plus that one guy and that one girl will probably still be posting stuff as usual.

Anyhow, panels.

Batgirl #20
Bryan Q. Miller and Ramon Bachs

Batman and Robin #22
Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

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This Week in Panels: Week 67

January 2nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Hey, folks. First off, check out this awesome interview the 4L monarch David Brothers has done at the Comics Reporter. It’ll take you about three days to read, but it’s a good one.

So while I have the usual suspects in David, Space Jawa (is there any other kind of Jawa?) and Was Taters (is there any other kind of Taters?), I also got one from aggressively horny ducks (are there any… um…). He sent it to David, who found it buried in his spam because it came from a guy named aggressively horny ducks. That’ll happen. Why I obviously have What If #200 taken care of, our foul and fowl reader sent in his own panel because, “I don’t care a lot about continuity but this is just foolish.”

True enough, though if any panel from that issue raises my eyebrow, it’s the one of Namor punching Bullseye while saying — not yelling — “Imperious $#%^.” Imperious what? Imperious cock? Imperious fuck? Did he drop the n-bomb? What?

Sadly, to everyone’s dismay I’m sure, I totally misplaced my copy of Carnage #2. Still, we must carry on.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #4
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis #4
Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews

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Fourcast! 63: Hellboy: Whom Gods Destroy

September 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-You Made Me Read This!
-David made Esther read Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and Others.
-It was good. A nice mix of creepy and funny, and Esther digs the character of Hellboy, too.
-Esther made David read Chris Claremont, Dusty Abell, and Drew Geraci’s Superman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy.
-David made it two and a half issues in before tapping out.
-It may not be unreadable (there are a lot of word balloons to read), but it is unbearable.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
-Podcast Alley feed!
-RSS feed via Feedburner
-iTunes Store

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This Year in Panels: Year 1

September 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

A year ago I talked to David Brothers about an idea I had for the site. I had tried writing reviews of weekly releases before, but I never got into it. There were a couple reasons and they’re both about redundancies. I can tell you about how great the latest issue of Captain America is, but so will every other site. There are so many other comic sites that will give better reviews of new stuff that I don’t know why anyone would give a damn what I have to say among all that. Then there’s the fact that comic quality doesn’t change so often within the series’ run. If I tell you that Captain America is great one month, chances are it’s going to be just as good the next. Why waste my breath? If I want to give you my opinions, I want it to at least be interesting and hopefully unique.

I thought back to the first issue of the Agents of Atlas miniseries from several years back. The general response of people who read it and tried to push it was to point out that there’s a scene where a 1950’s robot runs down a hallway while carrying a talking gorilla and that gorilla is firing four uzis with his hands and feet. I figured that maybe that could be the unique way to cover the comics of the week. I’d settle on one panel that really pushes what the comic is about, more than often more than the cover does. It’s no longer so much a review as it is giving you a gist on what we all read. At the same time, I would make sure not to have any major spoilers. If the comic has Wolverine beat up Daken in the climax, then I won’t show it. I will, on the other hand, show them about to fight it out.

If anything, it was also an excuse to keep me from straying from doing anything for the site too long at a time. I’d have a deadline of some point every Sunday and I’ve been pretty good on that. I’ve only delayed two weeks and those were because of a lengthy power outage and the loss of my computer.

I didn’t know if it would work, but David said to go for it. Now it’s been a year and I thought it would be fun to do an extra installment in a retrospective form. The idea was to pick one of my favorite panels from the previous 52 weeks, but with the challenge of not double-dipping from the same title at any point. Here we go!

Adventure Comics #4
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates and Jerry Ordway

Amazing Spider-Man #617
Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara and Javier Pulido

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The Mask Is The Man

September 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Hellboy: The Storm (Mike Mignola/Duncan Fegredo) wrapped up this past week. It was a lead-in to the upcoming The Fury (get it?) and pretty fantastic. Elves, armies, kings of England, you know how Hellboy stories go.

Anyway, in the letters page was a pretty interesting question.

The scene in question from Mignola and Corben’s Hellboy in Mexico:

It’s not artistic license! Just like Clark Kent is Superman, and Bruce Wayne is Batman, the wrestler is his mask. The mask is sacred, and represents his true nature. When the mask is removed, or lost in a fight, the wrestler loses more than just the match.

So, after being infected by evil, the luchador up there turns into a heinous vampire bat-thing. He’s been corrupted. After Hellboy kills him, his identity, his true nature, is returned to him, and he finds peace.

Where’s my No-Prize?!

(If you haven’t read Hellboy In Mexico, or A Drunken Blur yet, you absolutely should pick up one of my favorite stories of this year.)

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This Week in Panels: Week 46

August 8th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to a very special Too Much Goddamn Deadpool Edition of ThWiP. Why too much? Even though I didn’t even read Wade Wilson’s War this time around? Simply put, Deadpool #1000 has way too much going for it for me to choose a single panel, so I figured I’d give a spot to all eleven of its stories. Adding that to an already stacked week and we have a hefty set.

Avengers Prime #2
Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis

Avengers: The Origin #5
Joe Casey and Phil Noto

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