After Before Watchmen: What Happened to Then? We Passed Then. When? Just Now.

April 25th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday saw the release of Before Watchmen: Comedian #6, ending this big experiment and going out on a whimper. The whole Before Watchmen concept was announced 15 months ago to a tornado of controversy and online arguments. One of the things that kept it so prominent in the internet news cycle was how many talking points it brought up. Some were mad because DC Comics screwed Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons out of the rights to the series. Some were annoyed because Watchmen was such a self-contained classic that you can’t really add to it. Some felt that even if you did add to it, what’s left to be said? Some noted how desperate for money DC came off as when a 12-issue series was prequelized into 37 issues, plus a backup.

(Sorry, it’s my nature.)

The announcement appeared to be one of the straws that broke the camel’s back for David. David’s since stopped reading any and all new Marvel and DC titles and hasn’t looked back. I’m not so affected by the im-Moore-ality of DC’s actions and I’m more enthralled by the circus of this move than the comics themselves. As a comic blogger, my own philosophy is that I would love for every comic I read to be good, but if it isn’t, I hope to God it’s at least interesting because that can sometimes be even better. Whether you loved or hated the idea of more Watchmen comics, you have to admit that the audacity of it is interesting as all hell, else nobody would be talking about it.

I decided to give it a fair enough shake. I didn’t read every single comic. I didn’t even read every single series. After the fact, they announced a one-shot of Dollar Bill (which I merely flipped through) and a two-part Moloch story. From what I understand, the Moloch one wasn’t bad.

Nite Owl by JMS and Joe Kubert was something I gave up on two issues in. It had its moments, but it just didn’t grab me. I guess it lost me because the origin aspects of the character are pretty good, but then JMS rushes through that so he could get to Nite Owl and Rorschach being a team. If anything, I did like an idea introduced about how Nite Owl and Rorschach don’t see eye-to-eye because of the way they remember their mothers affecting how they see women. I just found the series pretty boring and I was already feeling anti-JMS from his more recent DC work.

I didn’t feel the need to pick up Dr. Manhattan by JMS and Adam Hughes because I just didn’t have any faith in JMS at this point. I’ve heard mixed reviews swaying towards negative, but the art is apparently pretty.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


31 Things That Make Me Happy: Part 3

May 31st, 2012 Posted by Gavok

21) Flash vs. Luthiac

Justice League (Unlimited) is to animation what Avengers is to film. Just this perfect chain of world-building that escalates more and more, delivering all the while. While the first season of Unlimited was quite fantastic, it had one glaring flaw: no Flash. Wally only went as far as showing up a couple times with no lines in group shots. It wasn’t until the following season that he even got to do anything.

Everybody stopped being mad about that after the episode “Divided We Fall”, where the core members of the Justice League are taken apart by the hybrid of Lex Luthor and Brainiac. The villain prepares to kill off Flash, a prophecy set up throughout the season. Flash – the comic relief of the team – frees himself and runs off scared.

…or does he?

I don’t even care about anything after he vanishes. It’s the limit-breaking beatdown that I go back to. The beautiful way the score starts to creep in the moment he hits his first surprise punch. The way Luthor seems so taken aback that he doesn’t even try to come up with any plan, which, if you look at it, means that Luthor’s idea of merging with Brainiac is their undoing, since Brainiac wouldn’t have been so distracted by ego. Flash is someone who’s been ignored from episodes because he’s so hard to write and they’ve even nerfed his powers so much that he had a hard time catching up to a van one time, so his existence on the cartoon is vindicated in this moment where he kicks ass with such speed that he vibrates in place, Zoom-style.

22) It’s the YETAY!

When you ask a wrestling fan about the funniest and most absurd concept in the history of the business, they’ll give you one of two answers. One is the Gobbledy Gooker, a much-hyped and mysterious giant egg that finally hatched to reveal a dancing guy in a goofy turkey suit. Then there’s the Shockmaster, a complete failure of a segment where a new wrestler meant to be the next big thing proceeded to trip on live TV, knocking off his mask and causing the entire scene (as well as his career following) to fall apart.

For me, nothing is as gleefully silly as the Yeti.

The Yeti was born from a storyline involving Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against the Dungeon of Doom, no doubt the silliest of all major factions in wrestling history. It was made up of an old, fat man barking orders at his “son” Kevin Sullivan and a collection of henchmen wrestlers, all goofy as all get out. The whole thing is such a clusterfuck that I’m going to bypass most of it, but the main conflict is Hogan vs. the Dungeon’s biggest and newest threat, the Giant. The Giant is billed as being Andre the Giant’s son, wanting to avenge his father against Hogan. On an episode of Nitro leading up to their big PPV match at Halloween Havoc, they show a huge block of ice. Kevin Sullivan refers to the figure inside as the Yeti, only he insists on pronouncing it “Yeh-tay”.

At the end of the final show before the PPV, Hogan fights off the Giant in the ring and some crazy lights start going off. The crowd is excited and with only a second of airtime left, the ice on the stage explodes to reveal… a seven-foot-tall guy dressed as a mummy.

And if that doesn’t tell you to purchase the PPV, I don’t know what does.

The match itself continued its clusterfuck ways and by the end, Randy Savage and Lex Luger come to Hogan’s rescue. Soon after, the Yeti follows, accompanied by Tony Schiavone on commentary screaming, “And the YETAAAAY!” Yes, even he’s insisting that not only is this giant mummy a yeti, but it’s pronounced exactly the way Sullivan insisted. Somehow, it’s that little detail that acts as the lynchpin to why this is so wonderfully ridiculous. Hell, they’re so focused on the YETAY! that it’s a footnote that Luger has already turned on Hogan and Savage in the ring. During this beating, the Yeti and Giant bearhug Hogan from each side and Yeti moves his hips back and forth in a way that makes him look like he’s raping Hogan. When he isn’t attacking anyone, he wanders the ring with his arms out like Frankenstein. Despite being in the ring for only two minutes, his bandages have already torn a bunch and we can see plenty of his skin, showing how flimsy a concept the mummy wrestler idea was to begin with.

As far as I know, there was no follow-up to Yeti fighting Hogan. Instead, he faded rather oddly into obscurity with no fanfare. First he started dressing like a ninja instead of a mummy. Then he kept that look and changed his name to Super Giant Ninja. He immediately lost to the One Man Gang and was repackaged for another day.


Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


25 Jokes About Kevin Smith’s Before Watchmen

February 6th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Last week we heard the big news that DC is going to be releasing Before Watchmen, a series of prequels about the adventures of everyone’s favorite dysfunctional vigilantes. The thing has been nothing less than controversial, erupting in anger from many and curiosity from others. This isn’t about that debate. There are other places for such a thing.

The one thing I will say is that shameless cash-grab or not, at least DC is putting their ankle into it. They aren’t half-assing this. Of all their talent on the project, the most troublesome is a guy who at least once gave us a cartoon where the Ghostbusters killed Cthulhu with a rollercoaster. Sure, JMS is pretty bad now, but at least there’s the possibility that he could get his head into the game and make some decent lemonade.

A couple days ago, Bleeding Cool revealed that we dodged one hell of a bullet as Kevin Smith was offered a spot in the Watchmen Writer Illuminati. He turned them down for a damn good reason: even at his best, he’s a complete ill-fit for anything Watchmen.

Talked to Jim [Lee] and Dan [DiDio] about it two years ago. Only passed because I’m not Alan Moore, sadly. If I was Alan Moore, I’d be all over it. As Kevin Smith, I’d likely just make Bubastis “big pussy” jokes and have Rorschach wet himself. Hurm.

Smith made a couple jokes at his own expense, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized how much “Kevin Smith’s Watchmen” writes itself. I wanted to make a quick response, only the punchlines kept piling up in my mind. So for your enjoyment or annoyance, here are 25 jokes to be made about Kevin Smith writing Watchmen.


1) Ozymandias: I did it 37 dicks ago.


2) The miniseries is six issues, but DC releases #4 followed by #2 and then cancels it.


3) Nite Owl: It’s like I’m Blue Beetle, you’re the Question, she’s Nightshade and we’re in that fucked up bar!


4) Rorschach: What is a Nubian? Hurm. Must investigate further.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


This Week in Panels: Week 100 SUPER SPECIAL EXTRAVAGANZA! (Part 2)

August 22nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Okay, so PART ONE is getting a little too stuffy. Here’s part two.

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


This Week in Panels: Week 100 SUPER SPECIAL EXTRAVAGANZA! (Part 1)

August 22nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

God, has it been 100 installments of this garbage already? Well, I said we’d be doing something special and I wasn’t lying. The regular update is merely the appetizer.

So for those of you seeing this for the first time because of the allure of triple digits, here’s the skinny: every week, me and my crew (usually 4L boss man David Brothers and readers Was Taters and Space Jawa) supply panels for all the comics we’ve read from the previous Wednesday. Each panel is meant to be a breakdown of what the comic is about. The essence. The chance to sell it and show off its tone. Give you an idea of what its contents are all about. Yes, some people actually enjoy this. Go figure.

Now let’s get moving.

Avengers #16
Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.

Avengers Academy #18
Christos Gage and Andrea DiVito

Read the rest of this entry �

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Gamble a Stamp 03: Superhero Comics Are Dead

October 24th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The story goes that Dark Knight Returns was born when Frank Miller realized that Bruce Wayne was younger than he was. This character that he’d looked up to, or at least enjoyed, since he was a kid in Vermont was suddenly younger than he was. Miller was getting old, and part of getting old is looking at the things you loved as a child stay young. The aspirational aspect of superheroes, the “Gamble a stamp!” element that makes the genre so fascinating, is a little tougher to swallow when you’re finding wrinkles in new places and Bruce Wayne is still 29 years old.

So, Miller added twenty years to the character and in doing so, plowed fresh ground. Batman became someone Miller could look up to again, with his universe and methods updated accordingly. Superstitious and cowardly criminals were replaced with a threat birthed from societal collapse and the apathy of good men. Batman turned pointedly political, and Miller took on Reagan and pop psychology over the course of DKR. He created Carrie Kelly and made her the new Robin, both updating and critiquing the Robin concept.

Getting older killed the superhero for Miller. He couldn’t relate as he once did, and he took steps to make superheroes cool one last time. Dark Knight Returns is a blaze of glory for the superhero, that last, brilliant blast of light before death. It says that these dusty old characters are still just as vibrant as they once were, but not in the same ways. People grow old and change, and their interests change with them. At the end of DKR, Batman isn’t a soldier in the war against crime like he once was, and like he is now. He was a general, as his severe turtleneck and demeanor suggests. He’s leading the war, not fighting it. He grew up.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen came from Moore wanting to write a superhero story with weight, something like Moby Dick in particular. He wanted to write a superhero for adults, and chose hard-edged pessimism to get the job done. Its rigid structure shows a world that has no use for acrobatics or melodrama. It has no place for many of the staples of cape comics, whether you prefer Jack Kirby-style action or classic stylings of Curt Swan.

Watchmen, then, is an autopsy. By the end of it, all of the secrets of the superhero are laid bare. You see the paunches and watch their muscles sag. You get a front row seat to Nite Owl’s impotence and the way superhero costumes function as fetish objects. Rorshach is revealed as being not that much better than the villains he fights. An old man gets his brains beaten out, the only true superhero is so alien as to be inhuman, and in the end, the villain wins and saves the world. The heroes? They compromised because to actually defeat the villain would have resulted in the destruction of world peace. Rorshach refuses to compromise and is killed for it.

All of your illusions and ideas of the superhero are deconstructed and proved false by Watchmen. They’re normal people, rather than superheroes, and act accordingly. There’s no magic, no aspirational aspects, and nary a wink from Superman. Just hard edges and gritty realism.

DKR is the blaze of glory. It’s a revitalization before death. Watchmen is the autopsy. At the end, there are no secrets. What’s Flex Mentallo? It’s a wake, that time when everyone gets together, gets drunk, and talks about the deceased.

Wally Sage is overdosing on painkillers in Flex, but that’s not all he’s taken. He’s had a bottle of vodka, a couple e pills, a quarter ounce of hash, and he’s tripping on acid, too. As he’s dying, he’s talking about all the amazing comics he read. He’s talking about the good, the bad, and the irrelevant. He’s painting a picture.

The picture he’s painting is of the full spectrum of comics, or at least the full spectrum of the comics he read as a child. He talks about how exciting they were, how sexy, and how scary. He talks about how superheroes couldn’t stop his parents from fighting or save us from the bomb. Flex is about how fiction is real, and the way that the two rub up against each other and interact at certain points.

Flex Mentallo is a hopeful book. At the end, the superheroes return to save us all. They are revealed as us, or at least a significant part of us. Flex saves the day. The magic of reading superheroes as a kid is adapted to the real world. The glow of the lamp that Wally read comics by as a child serves as a blatant metaphor for the brilliance of superheroes. At the end of the book, the light is restored to Wally’s sight.

Flex is a celebration of the superhero. All of it, from good to bad, from perfections to imperfections, is important. The sexualization of superheroes serves a purpose, either as masturbation material or as an outlet for the creator’s desires. The Silver Age zaniness provided a look into other worlds, whether unsettling or fantastic. The escapism provided a look into a better world. The Starlin acid trips, the fear of the superhero, the edginess, the pointlessness, all of it matters. All of it fits together. It’s all part of the same picture. All of it is wonderful, in one way or another. It’s a puzzle with a million parts that still manages to stay in sync.

And in one of the last scenes, the point of Flex is laid bare. “Look at you! A half-naked muscleman in trunks! What’s that supposed to signify? What are you? Do you know what you are?” asks a teenaged Wally Sage. Flex shrugs and says, “Sure. I’m a superhero. Being clever’s a fine thing, but sometimes a boy just needs to get out of the house and meet some girls.”

Implicit in Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and Flex Mentallo is a critique of the superhero. DKR teaches that the superhero is broken and it must be made cool again. Watchmen teaches that the superhero is broken, and here is how it is broken. Flex teaches that superheroes are broken, but that brokenness is just as natural as the parts which aren’t broken. Blaze of glory, autopsy, wake.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Motion Comics

September 5th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I’ve been looking at the various trailers for motion comics at amazon.com, trying to come up with a consistent opinion on them, and failing completely.

Some, like The Astonishing X-men, look just atrocious.  The figures move like bobble-heads, the zooming of the camera doesn’t let you appreciate the art and the voice acting is flat and unpleasant.

Others have better production values but seem misguided.  Batgirl: Year One, though a great story, doesn’t lend itself to motion comics.  The many flashbacks were difficult to assimilate in the book and just look confused when there’s visual differentiation between present and past, no time to linger, and the camera won’t stop moving.  Also, the voices are way off, with Babs sounding sixteen and James Gordon coming off as angry and repressive, instead of good-natured but over-protective.

Comics like Mad Love and Watchmen, no matter how well done, are just redundant.  Mad Love was already both an episode of the TV show and a comic.  Obviously it’s a popular story, but it’s a story that has been told frame-for-frame in two different kinds of media.  Motion comics split the difference without adding anything.  If you want to see the art, pick up the comic.  If you want to see the story, buy the actual episode of the show.  Same with Watchmen.  We have a movie and a comic.  A motion comic is overkill.

That being said?  I want those Batman: Black and Whiteepisodes.  I want them baaaaad.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Who Wants the Watchmen (Blu-ray)?

July 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

This’ll actually be our second Watchmen contest… here goes!

This one is easy. The kind folks at M80 want to give away a copy of Watchmen on Blu-ray. At some point over the past year, probably after I bought a PS3, BR became my favorite way to watch movies. Tons of special features, top notch quality, all that fun stuff that nitpickers love. I assume the Watchmen Blu-ray will be similar.

If you want it, here’s what you’ve gotta do. Leave a comment here with your first name (your actual first name, not your fake first name for the internet) and your favorite Watchmen character. You don’t have to justify it, you just have to name it. I’m going to go through the comments on Friday and randomly pick out a winner. I’ll email you for your address, you’ll send that to me, and then you’ll get a Watchmen Blu-ray in the mail.

A couple notes– US residents only, please! Also, please make sure you own a Blu-ray player. And if you don’t put a valid email address in the comments… I’ll have to pick someone else. So don’t put nospam@nospam.com. We’re not (ever) gonna spam you.

Our Wolverine contest from last week is up, and I’ll be emailing the winners tonight. Watch your mailboxes, and look for a post later this week on the best ones.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Who Wins the Watchmen?

April 3rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Couple days late, totally my fault, etc etc. Here’s the names of the winners!

-Dave, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2
-Steven Marsh, Brief Lives
-LtKenFrankenstein, From Hell
-Matt Ampersand, Watchmen
-Justin, Tygers
-Scott, From Hell

All of the entries were good, but I felt like these did the best job of both selling me on the books (note the presence of From Hell twice, a book which I have consistently quit reading about four pages in) and explaining why they’re so good.

This was pretty fun. I think I may try to do this kind of thing more often.

Fellas, look for an email tonight/tomorrow morning so I can get your addresses!

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon


Watchmen Contest Update

April 2nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I don’t know if you noticed, but I posted the winners 35 minutes ago.


Sorry all. We moved offices at work and I’ve spent today, yesterday, and the day before buried in networking issues and cables of all sorts. Look for it tomorrow at lunch.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon