on voodoo, ron marz, black women, & comics [somebody call sandman sims]

July 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I was out of the news loop while I was in San Diego. No, that’s both true and untrue (Schroedinger’s Anecdote I guess). I was clued into the Image and Marvel news, as I was covering their panels (as seen on ComicsAlliance!), but DC and Fantagraphics and everyone else? I got their news via Twitter or word of mouth, if I got the news at all. At some point, I checked in on the DC blog and saw this post, which had the art for all of their Edge titles. The standout is easily Travel Foreman’s work on Animal Man, with the I, Vampire pages by Andrea Sorrentino being the surprise “whoa, that actually looks cool” of the day. (It looks very Jae Lee.) There were also these two pages by Sami Basri, artist of Voodoo:

And you know, the pages are aight or whatever. Basri’s style is very clean, but not particularly… spectacular, right? He can do the pinup, cheesecakey stuff fine, but he’s never really done anything that made me go “whoa.” DC uses him to make sexy girl comics, which is apparently what Voodoo is going to be. And I dig Voodoo, I love the whole Wildstorm Universe (or I did, anyway), but man, talk about a pitch that fails to grab you.

I saw the pages at… I don’t know, waking up o’clock in the morning and tweeted about it a little bit, with the intent of leaving it at these quick hits:

’cause I mean, I don’t have to tell everyone every single one of my opinions. There are hundreds of comics I’ve never mentioned here that I don’t care about, right?

buuuuuuuuut there was this:

which immediately brought to mind one of my favorite Jadakiss bars: “Fuck boys do fuck shit” and probably a whole bunch of unfair (psyche) ad hominems. It’s not even a foot-in-mouth thing, it’s just a dude turning into a defensive jerk in an attempt to head off a controversy that, near as I can tell, didn’t actually happen anywhere. This guy is all, “Heh, look at all these dummies jumping to conclusions from the preview images released to sell my comic to them.” and there’s not even anybody on Twitter, the ultimate in personality spamming technology, talking about it beyond me and one person I know with locked tweets. As far as freakouts go, this is on the same level as taking a swig from a soda bottle and going, “Hm, is this a little flat? Maybe not.”

Anyway, it’s midnight-something, and I gotta be up in the morning, but I really don’t like how this guy is assigning all types of bad faith arguing on the part of readers who (probably) have very reasonable questions about Voodoo. So: let’s freak out.

“Waiting for the inevitable ‘she’s half-naked!’ freakouts over Voodoo pages.”

Thought about writing a rebuttal to this, but it’s late and this isn’t really the part I want to focus on because it’s stupid. The meat is in the second sentence. But I mean, congrats on being defensive without someone even challenging you. He sounds like the little kid who tells his mom that nobody ate any cookies while she was out and the dog broke the vase not me, I promise when she comes home and just says “Hello.”

“There couldn’t POSSIBLY be a story reason for that, right?”

There’s a story reason for everything. Dizzy Cordova from 100 Bullets is hands-down my favorite lady in comics and her introduction to the world featured a chick forcing a kiss on her in prison. Elektra wears a stupid looking costume. Blah blah blah, there’s a reason for everything.

There’s probably a great reason. She stripped in Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s, too. That’s reason enough, I’m sure. “It’s faithful to her origin!” We’ll find out the reason later on, when we get to read the actual comic. The reason doesn’t matter, though. Months before the books hit the shelves, the only thing that matters is the perception that the PR tour DC is currently on creates in the minds of readers.

This interview with Marz at CBR and this interview with Dan Didio at The Advocate are the most substantial sources of info on the new series.

The CBR interview begins with this:

Ron Marz: Well, obviously, we’re trying to stay away from giving out a whole lot of detail on any of the stories. I think there’s unfortunately a great desire to have spoilers in this business, period. And frankly, I do think it takes away from the experience of the story. So even if I could tell you what we’re going to do, I probably wouldn’t anyway. I feel like people should approach these books — or any books, really — not knowing what they’re really getting into.

and as a result, here is a list of things we know about Voodoo in the New DC Universe:
1. She’s a point of view character for the new universe
2. She takes her clothes off for dudes
3. She likes kissing boys AND girls

The first point is a bit bunk, because every single character will serve as a tour through the new universe, and the second is expected. I’m from Georgia–we might as well have invented strip clubs down south, so that’s fine, I don’t have some bias against strippers. The third is new, to my knowledge, and to the knowledge of a couple of my other Wildstorm Fan Club Crew. It’s not a big deal–kissing girls is fun, I know girls who kiss girls, it’s 2011, I live in San Francisco, whatever whatever–but it is a surprise.

Taken all together, though, it’s crap.

Voodoo is now (inexplicably) one of the highest profile black characters in the DC Universe. (She’s specifically Louisiana Creole, I believe, which was maybe/probably finally established in Alan Moore’s Dancing in the Dark? [as opposed to “generically ethnic” i mean]) It’s her, Mr Terrific, and Cyborg. Voodoo and Terrific have their own solo series, which I would argue puts them a notch above Cyborg, who is just a member of the JLA. Arguable point, to be sure.

(morningtime edit: I forgot about Static, whose series I want to buy, and Batwing. John Stewart’s going to be in a series, and Jason Rusch is costarring in another, too. My point stands, though: Voodoo is top dog when it comes to DC’s black ladies.)

Voodoo is starring in a book that, judging by the choice of artist, is meant to be sexy. Now, all comics should be sexy, but this is a sexy first sort of thing. “We got a comic starring a lady and it’s gotta be sexy so the fanboys buy it” sexy. “Bad girls for fanboys” sexy. “We need hot girls falling out of their tops while serving drinks to dudes rocking ugly sunglasses, as seen on page two of our preview images” sexy. That’s what Basri does, and that’s fine. He did the job on Power Girl. The problem: all we’ve heard about the interior of Voodoo has to do with her sex life. With Power Girl, he was brought on to draw her boobs real big or whatever, but we still got story info, relationship teases, villains, and so on. Voodoo gets none of that because this guy is afraid of spoilers.

DC sucks at black people. They especially suck at black women. So for the first taste of the most important (and the only one to have any measure of press–I think Vixen is on the JLI, but hasn’t gotten any press focus?) black superheroine in their entire universe to be about how you get to see her boobies sometimes, and oh man, wait until you see her kiss a girl at the beginning of issue two (we taking bets on that?) and hey hey hey look at these awesome pages in a strip club bros is crap.

It’s worse than crap. What message is that sending? Mr Terrific has been described as the most eligible bachelor in the DCU in the run-up to his series, so obviously love and/or sex will play a major role in his series. You know what Eric Wallace and them haven’t done, though? They haven’t spent time subtly letting us know that he’s gonna be running through every white woman in the DCU with his big black mandingo johnson. They’ve said that he’s highly sought after, but also talked about the types of stories he’s going to be in (I believe he’ll be in outer space by issue four?), his supporting cast (of black people! of a variety of ages and skillsets! also at least one white dude, and probably a civilian version of Power Girl), his status quo (he’s rich!), and plenty of other bits intended to whet your whistle. What do we actually know about the series? Probably nothing that we won’t find out in the first eight pages. We don’t know details. We don’t know plot points. We know the barest hint of teases. We know the equivalent of an iMDB summary and cast page–that’s it. And it got my interest! It worked! Here DC Comics: have three (or two) dollars!

Here’s what we know about Voodoo, in case you forgot:
1. She’ll make out with a girl with her top off while making eye contact with you, brother, and let me tell you–whooo!–it is hot.

Great advertising, dudes. “Here’s a black lady–she might give you a chubby. ~diversity~

So yeah, it’s nice that you have story reasons for Voodoo stripping. Alan Moore did, too, and so did Jim Lee and Grant Morrison and Joe Casey (well, post-stripping in that case) and everyone else who ever touched the character. But we aren’t reading the story. We’re I’m reading the advertisement for the story. I’m trying to decide if I want to test the series out or not. I’m doing exactly what all of this information, as unbelievably scant as it is, to meant to do: decide whether or not Voodoo is worth my three (or two, actually) dollars.

If my reaction to your preview material is “Oh, well, this looks like the same old garbage,” that’s not my bad. That’s your bad. That’s you not being able to sell water to a man who’s dying of thirst.

As a black dude who has been increasingly and pretty much unceasingly disappointed in how DC approaches colored folks over the past few years, Voodoo isn’t worth it for me. And with Ron Marz already on the defensive, throwing up stupid, mean-spirited snaps that anybody could take apart with five minutes thought about the portrayal of black men and women in comics, Voodoo isn’t even worth stealing.

DC needs to muzzle their boy and maybe start thinking outside of the fanboy box. Listen to “Black Girl Lost” or “Dear Mama” or “White Man’z World” or something, man. Read some dream hampton. Find some dumb college kid in a daishiki who’ll talk to you about “the black experience.”

Do something. Anything, really. ’cause I’m basically what should be the target audience for this book, being both a Wildstorm fan and black, and every word out of this guy’s mouth is making me less and less interested in the series. Wait, no, that bit’s a lie–it’s turning me from bored apathy toward actual scorn.

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This Is A Terrible 500th Post

April 7th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been rereading Silver Surfer this weekend. I started with the Englehart/Rogers stuff, which was really very pretty, but kind of boring so I skipped up to Jim Starlin & Ron Marz scripting over Ron Lim.

And wow. What an underappreciated bunch of comics these are! I’m not sure if they are actually good or not, but I’m enjoying the crap out of them. I’d read half a dozen of these as a kid, so I figured I’d see if they held up. I’ve taken some notes which I hope you’ll enjoy and possibly be able to answer!

  • Silver Surfer is a gigantic whining wimp. Honestly man, he spends entire issues at a time either a) fighting his own psyche or b) moping around space or c) moping around a planet in space.
  • Black Panther punking Surfer in Fantastic Four was way more of a big deal than it should have been. Surfer spends half the series getting punked by dudes with no powers, dudes with guns, dudes with sharp teeth, and a girl with big fat angel wings who is upset that he doesn’t love her back. Even people whose powers are “sharp teeth” and “big muscles” rough him up.
  • Midnight Sun

  • There are ray guns in outer space, but a shocking amount of people still prefer to use good ol’ fashioned axes, spears, and swords. Not even ones made out of lasers or some kind of made-up science word– just straight up hunks of metal with pointy bits on the end.
  • Frankie Raye, Nova, is dead. I didn’t remember this coming into the series. I’d kind of noticed her absence in the current Marvel Universe with an unspoken “Wasupwitdat?”, but hadn’t thought much about her. I mean, all I know is that Frankie Raye is an awesome name and fire hair is cool. Anyway, she told Galactus “No,” he told her to get gone, she literally had some kind of nervous breakdown, psychotic break, or amnesiac whatever and became a space stripper.
  • Yeah, space stripper, not even joking. She was working at a bar aimed towards aliens with a flame-girl fetish, too.
  • Luckily, she didn’t live to wrestle with the indignity of the situation, since she was killed two issues later by Morg, Galactus’s new herald.
  • But seriously ladies, space amnesia turns you into a stripper. Be careful out there.
  • Rereading the Infinity Gauntlet issues was a long and drawn-out process, to the point where I feel like I’ve read Silver Surfer continuously for the past eighty years. It’s not that they were bad– okay, they were pretty bad.
  • Ron Lim is kind of awesome. You could make the case that his facial features are a little too similar, but that’s every artist ever. However, he draws awesome space battles, great aliens, and I think I like his version of the Surfer more than Kirby, Buscema, or Rogers.
  • There are a lot of weirdly shaped word bubbles in this series. Terrax, Morg, Tyrant, Adam Warlock, Airmaster, Firelord, Nova, Drax, and Thanos all get custom balloons.
  • Tyrant is a terrible name for a villain.
  • Galactus talks a lot, but rarely backs up his threats. However, when he does, it’s almost always worth it. “I will have words with you” is an awesome entrance line.
  • Surf really doesn’t have a supporting cast to speak of. They’re all either dead or too aloof to be interesting. Impossible Man should show up more often, too.
  • The book got a lot less weird when Starlin left, though it was still pretty weird.
  • Tyrant effortlessly punks Gladiator, Beta Ray Bill, and three heralds of Galactus in one issue.
  • Surfer is guilty because his mother slit her wrists in the bath? And years later, his father put a bullet in his brain? Aw, c’mon. That feels like unneeded depth.
  • Galactus should never, ever take his hat off. He looks ridiculous.
  • The Spinsterhood is an incredible idea and one that should be relaunched and revamped in a prestige-format 12 issue maxi-series asap. We can draft a few established characters, hook up a new costume, give them a new enemy. It’ll be golden. From the comic: “We took our sacred vows, forsaking the pleasures of the flesh for training in the ways of war. We marked ourselves with the symbol of our ceremonial daggers.”

Happy 500 posts to us.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: The Finale

March 28th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I feel kind of silly making this article since it was supposed to be done months ago. There are several things that kept me from finishing it, but I’m going to take the easy way out. All the time I usually use to write these What If articles was really used to pretend I was writing for Lost. I love writing Sam the Butcher’s dialogue the most.

Starting it off, here’s a series of sig images I made for the Batman’s Shameful Secret sub-forum at Something Awful. I guess they worked.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 19

November 8th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Jesus, we’re actually at the top ten. And some of you haven’t even lost interest yet. I’m proud.

What If: Avengers Disassembled came out the other day. You might be wondering if I would have placed it on this list if it came out several months back. The answer is no. No, I can’t really get behind an issue that tries to retcon a major story into something that makes even less sense. Having written this paragraph, I realize the John Byrne jokes write themselves.

Before I start this, one more call for anyone interested in drawing fake covers for the countdown finale. Come on, you know you want to.


Issue: Volume 2, #30
Writer: Jim Valentino, Ron Marz
Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Rurik Tyler
Spider-Man death: No
Background: In-between having Franklin and Valeria, there was another time Sue was pregnant with Reed’s kid. Unfortunately, there were radiation-related complications due to the team’s recent venture into the Negative Zone. Reed went to Doctor Otto Octavius – supervillain Doc Ock and the biggest expert on radiation – for help. Ock went berserk for a bit and the two had it out on the rooftops of New York City. Reed calmed Ock down and he agreed to help out. Unfortunately, they were half an hour late. Sue had a miscarriage. So let’s say Ock didn’t freak out and made it just in time? We have two stories here on two different sides of the spectrum.

The first story is best described as a horror story. Franklin wakes up from a horrible vision of the future where his father is dead. His parents just think he had a simple nightmare and leave it at that, but Franklin already knows that there’s a monster living inside his mother. Over time, Sue’s pregnancy takes a horrible toll on her. She gets weaker by the day and almost skeletal, soon losing her invisibility powers. When she gives birth to her child, she dies in the process. Reed names the baby Sue in order to deal with the loss of his wife.

As experience has taught us throughout this countdown, this isn’t going to end well at all.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 13

September 22nd, 2006 Posted by Gavok

I mourn this image, not for the loss of Timothy Leary, but for the loss of Vaudeville Silver Surfer. You’d think that with Keith Giffen writing Annihilation, we’d see him make a comeback.


Issue: Volume 2, #87
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Frank Teran
Spider-Man death: No
Background: Sabretooth was, for a time, a captive in the X-Mansion with Xavier hoping he could mentally fix what’s wrong with him. One time, when most of the team was out on a mission, a power failure in the mansion allowed Sabretooth to escape. He didn’t get too far, though. When he went after Jubilee, Bishop went up against him and knocked him out with a powerful blast. Our story here begins with Jubilee crying over the shredded-up body of Bishop. Uh oh.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 10

September 11th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Before we hit the halfway point, things are about to get pretty freaking dark. Insert your own Luke Cage/Falcon/War Machine joke here.


Issue: Volume 2, #22
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Ron Lim
Spider-Man death: No
Background: After turning on Galactus, Silver Surfer was punished by being forced to stay within Earth’s atmosphere. Whenever he tried to fly off, an invisible barrier would bounce him back in. Eventually, a powerful being named the Champion came to Earth and helped destroy the barrier, permitting the Surfer to travel the universe and experience more adventures. In this reality, the Champion never does come to Earth.

Surfer rams into the force field again and again, still annoyed. The Fantastic Four show up, explaining that they haven’t figured out an answer to what’s holding him back, scientifically. They ask the Surfer to join their team, since it’ll give him a home, something to do and having him around would help Reed’s research into how he could break through the barrier. The Surfer thinks about it and takes them up on the offer.

I don’t have to tell you that they dominated. We get a two-page spread that shows the Surfer aiding the other four in punking out Annihilus, Dr. Doom, the Frightful Four, and others. It’s like God Mode in comic book form. Plus we get this amusing image:

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 8

September 4th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Just so the other Marvel alternate universes don’t feel left out, here are some quick reviews for a couple of them.

Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe: Fun, if it’s one of your first Garth Ennis stories. If not, you’ll be rolling your eyes.
Earth X: Strangely, I haven’t read it yet. One day.
Marvel Ruins: Depressing, hard to look at and pointless. A lot like the Steel movie.
The Last Avengers Story: You know why Kingdom Come worked? It knew who the Big 3 of the Justice League were and centered it on them. A brief cameo by Captain America, a vague explanation of Thor’s death as a flashback aside and absolutely no mention of Iron Man fails this comic. For shame, Peter David. For shame. Nobody cares about Henry Pym but you.

Now let’s get to what you came here for.


Issue: Volume 2, #49
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Scott Clark and Kevin West
Spider-Man death: Technically, yes
Background:Thanos had reached his goal and wielded the power of God himself through the Infinity Gauntlet. He fought the remainder of Earth’s greatest heroes with only a fraction of his full power, yet he still killed them off easily. The battle was all a plan by Adam Warlock in hopes to distract Thanos so the Silver Surfer could fly by and grab the Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand. He missed. Then a lot of stupid stuff happened. So if he did grab it, it would kind of have to make for a better story, right?

With a successful steal, the Silver Surfer stands before the depowered Thanos and Captain America. Adam Warlock (I keep trying to type “Adam Strange” when I bring him up) pops in to thank the Surfer and asks for the Gauntlet. The Silver Surfer refuses, as only the Silver Surfer can be trusted with such power. He takes the omnipotence, claiming it to be a burden that needs to be carried. First he undoes all of Thanos’ destruction. Earth is set back the way it was and all the heroes are resurrected. Terraxia is destroyed since she was never meant to exist.

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The Top 100 What If Countdown: Part 4

August 13th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

I think I’m out of intro fodder. Let’s just get to the meat, then.


Issue: Volume 2, #5
Writer: Jim Valentino
Artist: Jim Valentino
Spider-Man death: No
Background: When the Avengers first met Wonder Man, he was secretly dying of a rare radiation disease. Baron Zemo offered to cure him if he helped destroy the Avengers. Appearing as a friend, Wonder Man led the team into a trap. Soon he had a change of heart and sacrificed himself to save Thor. Giant Man recorded Wonder Man’s brain patterns in hopes that he could live on. He did, later on, in the form of the Vision. While an android, Vision’s personality was based on that of Wonder Man’s. Some time later, Wonder Man did return from the dead, but that’s beside the point. What if Wonder Man had his change of heart before luring the Avengers into a trap?

Wonder Man tells the Avengers that he’s supposed to trick them, but can’t due to how they’ve treated him with such dignity. Giant Man talks with Reed Richards about a possible cure for Wonder Man’s condition as Wonder Man fights alongside the Avengers. After the brawl with Zemo’s forces is over, Giant Man gives him the cure and saves his life. Wonder Man is granted membership into the Avengers.

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