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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Oh Snap

April 11th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Oh no! Marvel has completely white-washed Storm! And maybe brown-washed, too, I can’t tell with homegirl on the top right.

I’m kidding. Congrats to that guy for winning a TV show I don’t watch.

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X-Men with O-Faces

March 15th, 2008 Posted by Hoatzin

Marvel’s panel on the X-Books at Wizard World Los Angeles just ended. Check here for Newsarama’s coverage, here for CBR’s. The most interesting news? Matt Fraction is joining Ed Brubaker on Uncanny X-Men as co-writer starting with issue 500, with rotating art duties by the Dodsons and Greg Land.

Wow. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Fraction and Brubaker are two great tastes that taste great together, and the Dodsons are fine artists, but Greg Land? Seriously? Haven’t people caught on to his plagiarizing ways yet? Why is he on a comic that matters? He’s going to make that book annoying to read at best, unreadable at worst. Just look at the cover for issue 500 alone:


Let’s play “Spot the Ripoffs”!

– Warpath, Cyclops and the guy behind Cyclops have exactly the same body. Land has used it at least once before.
– Tattooed guy on the left and Colossus have exactly the same body.
– Wolverine and long-haired shouting man in the background on the right have exactly the same body, only Wolverine’s head is different. Land has used it at least once before. I distinctly recall Ultimate Namor in this pose as well, but I don’t have the relevant issue at hand.
– Land has used Cannonball’s body at least once before.
– Land has used Rogue (is that Rogue?)’s body at least once before.
– Land has used Storm’s body at least once before.
– Land has used Pixie’s body at least once before. It also happens to be the one with that ridiculous porn face made immortal by Ultimate Scarlet Witch. Very appropriate for a sixteen year old girl!

This is from spending maybe five minutes looking at this image and skimming through four issues of Ultimate Power. I could probably find a lot more if I spent effort on this. Maybe I’d even find the photographs he traced these from. Come on now. This is absolutely ridiculous. Why can’t we have an artist that actually draws?

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Dear IGN

March 13th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

IGN: From Comics to Screen: Marvel’s Babes

(Nevermind the fact that most of these fictional ladies were created by sex-starved geeks, who imagined such busty and scantily clad female characters from either their mother’s basement, or a studio filled with other similarly sexually deprived male artists.)

Sue Storm: created by Stan Lee (married since 1947) and Jack Kirby (married since 1942)
Mystique: created by Dave Cockrum (married)
Jean Grey: created by Stan Lee (married since 1947) and Jack Kirby (married since 1942)
Mary Jane: created by Stan Lee (married since 1947) and John Romita Sr (his son JRjr was born 08/1956)
Elektra: created by Frank Miller (married to Lynn Varley in the ’80s, divorced now)
Rogue: created by Chris Claremont (has a wife and kids) and Michael Golden (can’t find any info on him)
Storm: created by Len Wein (married twice) and Dave Cockrum (married)

Sex-starved geeks? Sexually deprived?

Characters that were “busty and scantily clad” upon creation: 1 (and that’s Elektra, which is being a little generous.)
Characters created in someone’s mother’s basement: 0
Number of worthwhile articles on IGN.com, period: 0

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Black History Month 27: Dirty Harriet

February 27th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

no-nonsense but common sense in droves
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my favorite one-shot hero
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Misty Knight
the best fake pam grier ever
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first lady of the marvel universe
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Black History Month 25: Halle Berry? No Surprise.

February 25th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

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art from marvel comics’s black panther. words by hudlin, art by sal larocca, scot eaton, and cafu.
Whether chocolate or vanilla, or you’re somewhere in between
A cappuccino mocha or a caramel queen
Rejected by the black, not accepted by the white world
And this is dedicated to them dark skinned white girls

–Murs, “DSWG”

This is kind of a hard post to phrase, ’cause, man, it’s rooted in old school prejudices. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard to shake, you know? So, let’s just get right into it.

When Halle Berry was announced as Storm for the first X-Men movie, there was really just one response from most black people I knew who read comics, including my uncle who put me onto them in the first place: “Well, if that ain’t just the worst and most apt casting ever.”

Halle Berry has made a career out of being the “safe” black actress. She’s part (half?) polish and she’s fairly light-skinned. She’s just white enough to be nonthreatening, if that makes sense. I’m not dissing her for that, of course. She can’t help how she was born or why she sometimes gets roles. It’s just that, well, she’s got a reputation.

So, in a way, she was the perfect Storm and the worst possible Storm they could have picked. Storm is a regal, powerful, arrogant African Queen. Storm possesses some of the most powerful abilities on the X-Men and in the Marvel U. She’s a powerhouse. Storm also has long, apparently super-permed white hair, blue eyes, and distinctly non-african features for the majority of her lifespan.

That’s the crux of Storm right there. For a long time, she was only black in skin tone, and barely even then. Claremont built her up into this amazing goddess in Africa (and that is something else entirely), a master tactician (making for three on the X-Men), and generally just this amazing character. Thing is, she looked black. She doesn’t read black, she doesn’t feel black, and to a lot of people, that means that she’s barely black at all.

I mean, look at how long it took her to hook up with a black dude. Heyooooooo I’m here all night folks, try the veal. You guys are a great audience, really.

The thing is, Storm was all we had for so long that she’s kind of the pre-eminent black female of the comics world by default. I might find Misty Knight more interesting, but I like crime comics and blaxploitation. Misty pushes my buttons, but she can’t really go cosmic. Who else is left? Vixen can’t carry that burden. Natasha Irons is still way too green. Who’s left? Bumblebee from Teen Titans? I hadn’t even read her in Teen Titans before Tiny Titans came out, but I hate shrinky people, so that’s a big fat en oh.

This is the problem with only having a few black characters in comics way back when. You have to latch onto someone, and sometimes that someone isn’t really what you’re looking for. You settle for second best, basically. You can’t get the Smurfs, so you settle for the Snorks. You can’t get Beast Wars, so you settle for Extreme Ghostbusters. That sort of thing.

In a way, Storm is one of the best black females in comics. In another, she’s one of the absolute worst.

I love Storm, but I hate her, and what she represents, so much sometimes.

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Black History Month 13: Wu-Wear- Garment Renaissance

February 13th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

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pictures taken from comics.org and GIS.
Fifth–hold on, turn the beat off
I had to turn the beat off for this
You talking ’bout you an eighties baby?
You thirty seven years old!
You was born in 1968!
And I open the Daily News…
How is the “King of New York” rockin’ sandals with jeans?
Open toe sandals, with chancletas, with jeans on
How is the “King of New York” rockin’ sandals with jeans when he 42 years old?
Back to business!

–Cam’ron, “Gotta Love It”

In those days, your whole ave was the spot
The scene locked with Lee patches, Cazal glasses
Suede Pumas and rumors of rap not lastin

–Buckshot, “Think Back”

Honest to goodness, man, it’s time for some real talk. Enough is enough! I guess no one gave Cheryl Lynn any love for this a while back, ’cause I’m probably gonna end up reiterating a bit.

Stop making black characters look bummy. Honest to goodness, man. There’s just no excuse for that to leave your house looking like you just woke up. Let me go down the list up top there.

Dashikis: It isn’t 1988 any more. Seriously though, I’m not trying to be a hater, and I’ll admit that a young David Brothers had a leather Africa medallion or two back in the day, but the height of all that was almost twenty years ago. I realize that Amazing Man (awful name) is trying to be all about black empowerment and Katrina and all that, but he’s leaving the house dressed like he got into a fight with a bedsheet. You could probably get away with a kufi, but that’s it. The dashiki is way, way out of date. If you aren’t from Africa, you probably shouldn’t be wearing one. Just FYI.

Mohawks: I shouldn’t even have to explain how stupid this looks, because you should already know. Storm rocking a mohawk? They used to call her Super-Perm in elementary school. How’s her hair stay up? She isn’t Grace Jones, man. Don’t go there ever again, seriously. It looks ridiculous.

Mullet and jheri curl/perm: Bishop looked ridiculous when he first appeared and he didn’t stop looking ridiculous until he shaved his head. What in the world possessed Lee/Portacio/whoever else to give him that look? I have never in my life seen that. He’d have been better off with a rat tail, or maybe an M cut into the side of his box fade on some Kid-n-Play tip. He works better as a bald head, anyway. Shut ’em down.

Afros: My mom had an afro back when they were cool. That was a few years before I was born. I get that we need the old nostalgia blaxploitation thing… but c’mon. Afros are stopping points on the way to braids now. If you see a dude with a fro, his hair isn’t long enough for cornrows. This is also generally true for women. Do you know why this is? It is because afros are incredibly tough to take care of. My hair is short right now. A quick brush and I’m gravy. With an afro? You’re looking at twenty minutes in front of a mirror and hoping that you picked out the back of your head so that you don’t leave the house looking like you just woke up. Then you spend the rest of your day hoping that you didn’t dent your afro with the handles on the bus, by walking under that low hanging branch, or by doing anything ever, basically.

Jakeem Thunder: Oh man, we are gonna fight. You mean to tell me that a sixteen year old black kid from Keystone City, which is basically Detroit, who was a straight up latchkey kid is going to leave his house looking bummy? When he’s on a team with like four females?

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. You gotta be kidding.

First, Jakeem would not be coming with those smedium shirts and short jackets. He looks like an idiot. Where are the always fashionable Polo shirts? You buy jackets a size up if you’re wearing shirts that are a proper size.

And the backwards cap? Whoops look at me I’m Jakeem Thunder I live in 1996 also I wear K-Swiss and Saucony instead of Pumas or Timberlands.

No on the backwards cap. That’s not how anyone wears it any more. It’s all about the tilt. Example:

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If you’re going to wear a baseball cap (and you shouldn’t to begin with), you’ve got it facing forward and at an angle. It might be bent, it might not, but it isn’t gonna be so bent it’s broken. In reality, Jakeem would have either a fleet of hoodies or a skull cap. See below.


See that? Shirt a proper length, white undershirt (or wifebeater) underneath but not showing under his sleeves, jeans crisp and properly fitted. Loose, but not ridiculously loose… I’m not feeling the glasses, but hey, do you. Find your look.

It’s not hard to make a character look right. Khari Evans does it. Adrian Alphona did it. Before drawing people, at least check a fashion or pop culture magazine! Look at The Source or Vibe or XXL! Give us something up-to-date to relate to!

’cause man, cool kids don’t dress like Jakeem Thunder. Maybe they did ten years ago, but not now. It’s like Clinton Sparks says… Get familiar!

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Remember the Fiff-dee-tuu

November 26th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

This goes out to d00gz and the 52 worlds.

The end of 52 revealed that there are 52 earths in the DCU, each of which ripe with imagination and new ideas and wonder.

(from 52 #52)

Today, DC Comics revealed their list most of the 52 worlds over on Newsarama.

Hang on, can I start over?

Today, DC Comics revealed that most of the new worlds promised in 52 have been replaced with a bunch of crappy Elseworlds that no one read, less people liked, and even less people cared about.

Earth-2: Home of the original Justice Society (first appearance 52 #52 – this earth’s Superman and Power Girl are missing)
Earth-3: The Crime Society’s world (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-4: Home of the Charlton characters (a.k.a. – the Watchmen-esque world) (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-5: Home of the Fawcett (Shazam) characters (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-8: World of Lord Havok and the Extremists – called Angor by its natives (Countdown #29)
Earth-9: Tangent Universe (upcoming in Tangent: Superman’s Reign #1)
Earth-10: Home of the Quality (Freedom Fighters, Uncle Sam, the original Ray, etc) characters (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-11: World of reversed genders ( Arena #1 and The Search For Ray
Palmer: Superwoman/ Batwoman #1)
Earth-12: The Next Generation, beyond Batman (i.e., Batman Beyond?) (Arena #1)
Earth-13: World of dark and arcane heroes ( Arena #1)
Earth-15: World of heroes realized (Donna Troy as Wonder Woman; Jason Todd as Batman) (Countdown #30 – the earth of this universe was destroyed in Countdown #24)
Earth-16: Home of the Super-Sons ( Arena #1)
Earth-17: A post WWIII, apocalyptic universe (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-18: World of the Elseworld’s Justice Riders ( Arena #1)
Earth-19: World of Elseworld’s Gotham by Gaslight (The Search For Ray
Palmer: Gotham By Gaslight #1)
Earth-21: World of Elseworld’s New Frontier ( Arena #1)
Earth-22: Elseworld’s Kingdom Come Universe (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-26: Universe of Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew (Captain Carrot
And The Final Ark #1)
Earth-30: World of Elseworld’s Superman: Red Son (Countdown #32)
Earth-32: World of Elseworld’s Batman: Darkest Knight (Arena #1)
Earth-34: World of Elseworld’s Amazonia ( Arena #1)
Earth-37: World of Elseworld’s Thrillkiller ( Arena #1)
Earth-40: World of Elseworld’s Liberty Files ( Arena #1)
Earth-43: World of Elseworld’s Batman: Red Rain (The Search For Ray Palmer:
Red Rain #1)
Earth-48: Forerunner’s world (Countdown #46)
Earth-50: Wildstorm Universe (first seen 52 #52)

Just in case you’re keeping score at home, here are the genuinely new Earths, ones that we’ve never seen before:
Earth-15: World of heroes realized (Donna Troy as Wonder Woman; Jason Todd as Batman) (Countdown #30 – the earth of this universe was destroyed in Countdown #24)
Earth-17: A post WWIII, apocalyptic universe (first appearance 52 #52)
Earth-48: Forerunner’s world (Countdown #46)

There are three new Earths out of 26 announced now, one of which has already been destroyed and the other I think is barren of life or populated by Forerunner’s race or something stupid like that?

Good going, DC. You have the opportunity to create a gang of new characters, settings, and stories and you go right into Fanboy Masturbation territory.

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Marvel Nemesis: The Comic Miniseries

August 26th, 2007 Posted by Gavok

I’ve discussed comics based on video games before. Many of them aren’t very good. There are exceptions to the rule out there, like the UDON Street Fighter series. That is, if you can get past the horrid delays and the lack of anything of importance happening in most issues. The Darkstalkers comic wouldn’t have been all that bad had it lasted more than six issues and actually went somewhere.

The subject today is Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects, based on the similarly named videogame Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects. This review is going to be a little different, as I’m going to try and lead you through the process of me reading this series. The experience of reading these issues when they came out is worlds different than if I were to be reading them for the first time now.

The news first hit that Electronic Arts would be releasing a Marvel fighting game. The place-holder of a name “Marvel vs. EA” was the popular term for this new project and immediately, we were lambasted with awful joke after awful joke. As a comedic writer, something that annoys me is when somebody makes an obvious joke that half of the hemisphere had already made and acts like they’re a comedic genius. The kind of people who make jokes about Mr. Fantastic stretching his wang. Anyway, for months on end, everybody chimed in with the same played out “Spider-Man vs. Madden” or “Wolverine vs. Gandalf” punchline. It was really sad.

Over time, details about the game, such as the actual title, were announced. The first footage of the game featured Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Thing and two EA-created characters Johnny Ohm and Brigade. Artist Jae Lee had a major role in the art direction of the game and made the character select images. He would also draw the cover art for the comic miniseries. Mark Millar was brought in for character designs and backstories. The creative team for the six-issue miniseries would be writer Greg Pak and artist Renato Arlem. I was unfamiliar with Pak at the time, so I had no idea that this was a really good thing. Renato’s art style shares similarities with Jae Lee’s style, so that’s also a big plus.

The cover features a foreground shot of the story’s villain, Niles Van Roekel. Behind him are Spider-Man, Wolverine, Elektra and Thing, all infected with some kind of green goop nastiness. Thing is what it looks like when you chew Fruity Pebbles and then open your mouth and stick out your tongue.

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The Contest of Champions (and Avengers and X-Men and Alpha Flight and…)

August 3rd, 2007 Posted by Gavok

Superhero vs. superhero. Over the past couple years, it’s almost become the new status quo in the Marvel Universe and still gets a good amount of play in DC here and there. Whether it’s hatred, misunderstanding, bureaucracy or mind-control, it’s everywhere. With things like Daredevil vs. Punisher, Civil War, World War Hulk and pretty much any inter-dimensional crossover like Marvel vs. DC, JLA/Avengers and Captain Atom: Armageddon there are many miniseries based on the simple idea of our favorite heroes duking it out with each other.

It makes sense. There’s a certain feeling of bragging rights and uncertainty that comes from these fights. If there’s a story about Superman fighting Parasite, then there isn’t much mystery. We know Superman is going to come out the winner because Superman is our heroic protagonist. But toss him in against another heroic protagonist like Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter or Green Lantern (on a good day) and we don’t know what to expect.

Originally conceived as an Olympic tie-in until the US pulled out of the Moscow Olympics, the Contest of Champions was not only the first hero-on-hero miniseries, but it was the first big crossover miniseries. This is the comic that would set the trend for Crisis on Infinite Earths and Secret Wars. It was only three issues and normal-sized, but I’m sure at the time it seemed really epic. Even now, I’d say the first issue had that feeling. I can only imagine what it would be like back in the 80’s to see all these superheroes together in the same room.

The writing credits go to Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo and Steven Grant with Romita Jr. doing the art. So it’s got that going for it.

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