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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This Week in Panels: Week 33

May 10th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Time for another go at TWiP, including a rare couple panels from Esther. Also, reader Space Jawa tossed in a panel from Thor and the Warriors Four. If you really dig a comic that you see we aren’t reading and want to toss us a scan, by all means. Email’s on the top right.

Tossed in the few Free Comic Book Day issues I’ve had time to read.

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #1
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Atomic Robo Free Comic Book Day
Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener and others

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This Week in Panels: Week 31

April 25th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Just got back from CHIKARA’s King of Trios and I’m completely exhausted. I’ll do a little trip report of sorts later. For now, it’s panel time.

Amazing Spider-Man #628
Roger Stern, Lee Weeks, Mark Waid, Tom Peyer and Todd Nauck

American Vampire #2
Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Stephen King and Rafael Albuquerque

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Annihilate Your Type If You Violate

April 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I quit the Avengers books. Bendis’s plotting was dragging, Dark Reign was bugging me, and I was honestly bored since some point around the middle of Secret Invasion. Billy Tan on art didn’t help. I also quit pretty much every DC comic. I love Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner’s Power Girl, and I check in on Batman & Robin once in a while (when Quitely and Stewart are on art, mainly), but that’s where it stops.

I didn’t quit Marvel’s cosmic books.

Over the past four years, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with a strong assist from Keith Giffen, have quietly carved a stale and stagnant corner of the Marvel universe into a vibrant and fascinating sub-franchise. I’m not particularly a sci-fi guy, but DnA have written some frighteningly consistent books over the past four years, ones of such great quality that when you get an issue that’s merely “good,” you feel a little disappointed.

Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is a consistently good comic. Good, but a little too much of the same thing, month-in, month-out. You run out of things to talk about. Not so for this cosmic stuff. DnA plugged several shake-ups into their plotting, keeping their heroes rocking from status quo to status quo without feeling jarring. It fits together almost like a series of movies. You can hop in wherever you like, though some points are obviously better than others. But that’s okay. I’m here for you. Let’s talk about lame characters gone good, terrible concepts turned interesting, and nobodies turned heroes.

Let’s talk about outer space.


It began with Annihilation. An army of bug monsters from space, the Annihilation Wave, set about the destruction of all that is not them. The story is one thing. What’s important here are the characters.

There is Thanos. He was born on Titan, Saturn’s moon, to a race of godlike beings. He was born twisted and deviant, and lusts after the personification of Death. He’s committed genocide and attempted omnicide to gain Death’s favor, to no avail. When Death senses the Annihilation Wave coming, she describes it as “something wonderful.” Thanos allies himself with Annihilus so that he can partake and impress his love.

Drax the Destroyer used to be strong and dumb, an outer space version of the Hulk. Then, he died. When he came back, he was lean, smarter, and less strong, but doubly lethal. Drax was created for one reason, and one reason only: to destroy Thanos. The need to wipe Thanos off the face of the universe is in his genes. That is his goal, and when faced with his target, he can’t help but pull the trigger, and damn the consequences.

Before Drax was Drax, he was Arthur Douglas, father to Heather Douglas. On a trip through the desert, the Douglases witnessed Thanos landing in a spacecraft. Deciding to preserve his secrecy, the Mad Titan blasted their car. The blast instantly killed Heather’s parents and accidentally threw her clear. Thanos’s father took Heather to his homeworld and trained her to be one of them. Now she is Moondragon, a master martial artist, telepath, and scientist.

Imagine being the child of the greatest hero in space. Now, imagine being the genetically-grown kid sister of the heir to that legacy. And then, imagine that heir dying, and being the only one left alive to continue the family business. Phyla-Vell of the Kree, daughter of Mar-Vell, better known as Captain Marvel, knows exactly how that feels. Her father was a hero. She is nowhere near as popular. When Moondragon, her girlfriend, is kidnapped by Thanos, she’s forced into the spotlight.

The Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd, is a former herald of Galactus, the world-eater. He has little interest in seeking out worlds for his former master to find, but once Annihilus’s forces begin attacking Galactus’s heralds in an attempt to secure and weaponize Galactus himself… well, the Surfer is forced to make a decision.

Ronan the Accuser is a Kree warlord with a giant hammer. Desperately loyal to his people, even when placed on trial for treason, Ronan is forced to battle his own government to prove his innocence and expose the rot inside the Kree empire. When you are accused of a crime by Ronan, it is best to simply take what’s coming to you.

Unless you are Gamora, the most dangerous woman in the universe. She is Thanos’s adopted daughter, and part of a race with the unlikely name of “Zen Whoberi.” Thanos raised her to eliminate the Magus, the evil aspect of Adam Warlock. She worked with and for Thanos for years, and betrayed him when he revealed himself to be a threat. Lately, she’s been mind-controlled and her reputation has diminished. With the aid of Godslayer, her newfound sword, she wants to get back out there and make people fear her name once again.

Adam Warlock is the messiah. No, really. He’s here to save us all. The problem is that at some point in the future, he becomes the Magus, a religious demagogue, and works to enslave the universe. His loyalties shift and blur because of this, making him particularly untrustworthy. Messiah or doom–which is it?

Imagine Peter Parker joining the Green Lantern Corps and you have the basic building blocks of Richard Rider, better known as Nova, the Human Rocket. He has more or less the same origin as Hal Jordan, but at the point Annihilation begins, he’s just a foot soldier. He’s five years in to being a Nova Centurion, one of thousands, but forty-eight pages later, he’s the only one left. And since the Nova power is shared amongst the entire Nova Corps, what happens when Rich is forced to contain all of it? What happens when you send a man to war?

That’s all you need to know to get started. The story begins in Annihilation, which is composed of three volumes (Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3). Annihilation tells the complete tale of the Annihilation Wave, as well as laying the foundation for the revamping of Marvel’s cosmic universe. Later was Annihilation Conquest, which told of an opportunistic invasion by a crappy X-Men villain turned fearsome. This was collected in two volumes (Book 1 and Book 2), and told the story of a race that was bent on turning sentient beings into slaves. Annihilation Conquest set up two series. Guardians of the Galaxy was about a group of heroes who banded together to protect the universe from an oncoming threat. The galaxy had been rocked by two incredible threats, back to back, and enough was enough. Someone had to put a stop to it. In Nova, Rich Rider is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding the Nova Corps from scratch and policing a galaxy on his own.

While all this was going on, a mad earthling assumed control of the Shi’ar empire, a race of bird people. Others did not take kindly to this, which led to the War of Kings. The aftermath of the war, called Realm of Kings, left a hole in space, and that hole leads to something akin to hell. In another universe, life has completely defeated death. Lovecraftian elder gods and infected versions of heroes we know lurk in the darkness, waiting for their chance to push through.

At this point, DnA are dragging the cosmic heroes into another catastrophe. Their solo series are on hold for The Thanos Imperative. The Mad Titan is back, pissed, and stronger than ever before. Complicating matters is the incursion of the Lovecraftian monsters from the other universe, but when you pit the ultimate manifestation of life gone wild against a god who worships Death herself… well. We’ll see.

I can’t stress how solid DnA’s cosmic work has been. They’ve taken perennial z-listers like Star-Lord and Nova and turned them into multifaceted, interesting characters. They’ve taken goofy concepts like Annihilus and the Phalanx and made them into believable threats. And they have done it month-in, month-out, since 2006.

That kind of dependable quality isn’t anywhere else in comics right now, save for Mike Mignola and John Arcudi’s BPRD. This cosmic stuff where the great stuff is hiding out at Marvel right now. There have been a few mis-steps. CB Cebulski’s two-issue Darkhawk miniseries was perfect deleted scene material and entirely missable. Some of the art has been questionable, but never for too long. But, if you don’t read Marvel, or you don’t read this part of Marvel, you’re missing that good stuff. Get familiar.

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This Week and That Week in Panels: Weeks 25 and 26

March 21st, 2010 Posted by Gavok

For those who haven’t noticed or forgot, a nasty storm caused me to lose my cable connection last week and rather than wait a day to post TWiP, I made the dumbass decision to add it onto the next week. Apparently I was too busy to notice that this week was a huge one regardless, making this a gigantic update. Welp, let’s get moving.

The A-Team: Shotgun Wedding #1
Joe Carnahan, Tom Waltz, Stephen Mooney

Amazing Spider-Man #624
Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, Paul Azaceta and Javier Rodriguez

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This Week in Panels: Week 18

January 24th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Agents of Atlas. We have a lot of Agents of Atlas this time around, so let’s get to the Agents of Atlas!

(Not shown: the Agents of Atlas backup story in Incredible Hercules)

Amazing Spider-Man #618
Dan Slott and Marcos Martin

Authority: The Lost Year #5
Grant Morrison, Keith Giffen and Jonathan Wayshak

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We Care a Lot Part 6: Special Guest Villain

December 23rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

We’ve seen about three years worth of Venom’s hero exploits. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, he sure gets a lot of guest heroes and villains from other comics. It would only be fair to see the other side of this. After all, Venom wasn’t exclusive to just Spider-Man comics. He had other places to be.

I’m focusing more on the issues that took place during the extent of Venom’s hero run. I mean, there was an issue of Quasar that hyped up Venom on the cover, only to have Quasar toss him back into the Vault by the second page. And there was a crossover between Web of Spider-Man and Spirits of Vengeance by Howard Mackie that featured Venom, along with Hobgoblin, Demogoblin, Doppelganger and a crapload of demons, but it’s such a gigantic, pointless clusterfuck that I just can’t bring myself to care about it. A lot like Maximum Carnage, now that I think about it.

Already, I’m breaking my rule, as this is before his hero run, but I have a good reason for it. I’m starting off with Darkhawk #13-14 from early 1992. This story, by Danny Fingeroth and Mike Manley, takes place at a point in Venom’s history when Spider-Man had him fooled into thinking that Venom had killed him on a deserted island. Venom spent a long while on that island, free from his vendetta, but eventually Spider-Man had to track him down and reveal he was still alive in order to get help against Carnage.

Darkhawk’s got a lot of problems going on. His father’s in huge trouble with some stuff and Tombstone had recently torn the special amulet from Darkhawk’s chest, causing him to weaken, lash out and get ill. As part of his plan to help his father, he sneaks aboard a crime boss’ cargo plane in one of the crates. Halfway into the trip, the goons on the plane discover him and a fight breaks out. The pilot gets knocked out and the whole plane takes a nosedive into parts unknown.


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Venom’s Shiny New Origin: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!

September 6th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

It’s not easy being a Venom fan. Or, to be more specific, it’s not easy being a fan of Eddie Brock. I’m more or less saddled in with him for life because in the end, he’s the guy who got me into comics and is instrumental to this site’s existence all together. That’ll be a story for another time. Maybe I’ll finally get around to that series of articles about his history next week. I’m getting nowhere with the next Deadshot’s Tophat installment anyway.

Now, I’ve read through the 5 years of Venom being the Lethal Protector (fun fact: reading almost every Venom appearance from the 90’s is so torturous that the Republicans now believe I’m qualified to run for office). It wasn’t a good series, but like all failed comics, it’s at least interesting when you look at what went wrong. What went wrong is Venom’s flaw as a concept. Esther made a post about ailed characters who can never fix what’s wrong with them (note: who the hell is Esther?). Rogue can’t touch, Babs can’t walk, Peter Parker can’t be happy, and so on and so forth. At least those guys have strong characteristics and rich histories. Venom isn’t allowed to have that.

Most of Venom’s 90 run worked like this: a writer would use him for a blatant crossover story and occasionally introduce a new dynamic to the character. He’d give Venom some direction and a little bit of promise. After that storyline, said writer would leave and be replaced with someone else. That guy would toss all of that development out of the window for the sake of writing his own wicked crossover story and it all starts over again.

Then Larry Hama took over for the rest of the run, which is interesting for the fact that the final few arcs were based on Venom fighting for amnesty by working for a corrupt government group that’s implanted him with a bomb if he gets out of line. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Not like they’ll ever follow up on that connection. You see, Venom is a malleable character against his own will. Nobody cares enough to do anything meaningful with him. No matter how many girlfriends he’s given or how many moments of clarity he gets, every single writer after will disregard it all because Venom’s their pet dollar sign with fangs and a hate-on for Spider-Man. No more, sometimes less.

There’s almost some kind of sad tragedy to it. Some kind of Groundhog Day curse, but without the hilarity of Chris Elliot.

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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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