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This Week in Panels: Week 211

October 6th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hello, my little chicken sandwiches. It’s time for another edition of This Week in Panels. This time, I’m helped out by Gaijin Dan, Matlock and Space Jawa. This week brings the last installment of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, which means that I’ll no longer look at that title and start thinking about that “Jacko on his Backo” skit from mid-90′s Saturday Night Live. Yeah, uh… even if I try to explain it, it would be one of those “had to be there” things.

This week I’ll be heading to New York Comic Con for all four days. David will be there too, hanging out at the Image booth and doing whatever it is he does. Other than running. I know he does that, but he can’t do that there. Me? I have no plans at the moment. I’m going there for the sake of going there. Den of Geek US is going to give me some assignments, but I have no clue what that entails yet. I’m also going to dress up for at least one day and maybe get a new set of Plus Prop Challenge sketches done.

Action Comics #24
Mike Johnson, Tyler Kirkham and Jesus Merino

All-New X-Men #17 (Matlock’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-New X-Men #17 (Gavin’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

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This Week in Panels: Week 207

September 8th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welcome back for another week of showcasing what we’ve read through single panels. I’m helped out by Matlock, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Matlock went the distance, as he appears to want to read all of the Villains Month crap from DC. Better him than me. The one omission is Green Lantern as the entire issue is splash pages and that’s against the rules for ThWiP. Still, nice art.

I have a new article up at Den of Geek US. 10 Awesome Scenes from Bad Movies. Go give that motherfucker a read! I have a couple more articles slated to be posted there over the next week, including a really fun wrestling-based one.

Meanwhile at the Hall of Panels…

Action Comics #23.1 (Gavin’s pick)
Michael Alan Nelson and Mike Hawthorne

Action Comics #23.1 (Matlock’s pick)
Michael Alan Nelson and Mike Hawthorne

All New X-Men #16 (Matlock’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

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Professor X isn’t Martin Luther King, and Magneto isn’t Malcolm X, either.

April 3rd, 2013 Posted by david brothers

It’s hard to boil someone down to one position, but I think it’s fair to say that Martin Luther King wanted America to deliver on its original promise: that all men are created equal and therefore deserve the same rights, access, and opportunities. His preferred method of doing so was non-violent resistance, essentially making himself into a martyr to show exactly how unfair America truly is. I like this paragraph from his “I Have A Dream” speech:

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

“Put up or shut up.”

Of course, non-violent resistance doesn’t mean that you fold at the first sign of hate. King kept guns for protection, and many of his peers did, as well. Owning a gun is their right under the laws of America, and it’s a right that’s well worth exercising, depending on your situation. It seems weird at first blush, but think it through: non-violent resistance doesn’t mean that you let someone kill you at their leisure. Non-violent resistance is a focused tactic, something you do intentionally. Self-protection exists apart from that, right?

Malcolm X is harder to boil down, and he’s been put into competition with MLK so often that it’s hard to define him as his own thing sometimes. I like these quotes, though:

This is to warn you that I am no longer held in check from fighting white supremacists by Elijah Muhammad’s separatist Black Muslim movement, and that if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans who are only attempting to enjoy their rights as free human beings, that you and your Ku Klux Klan friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not hand-cuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence, and who believe in asserting our right of self-defense — by any means necessary.

“This a hands off policy. Y’all touch him, we riding.” –Young Jeezy.

I want Dr. King to know that I didn’t come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King.

“You can get with this, or you can get with that.” –Black Sheep.

I like these quotes because they both show a better picture of the relationship between King and Malcolm X, later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, than the usual narrative does. America likes to place them in conflict with each other, but the truth was much more nuanced. They didn’t see eye-to-eye, but they were both working toward the same goal, and they knew that.

Malcolm was more willing to be the devil than Martin was. He was willing to be the demon that America deserved, while Martin was able to become something different, something softer. Both approaches have their merits, and they aren’t necessarily fundamentally opposed. If America resisted Martin’s soft approach, Malcolm made it clear that he was right around the corner with a harder approach. “Deal with him or deal with me.”

Personally, I identify with Malcolm a lot more than Martin. I’ve had a copy of “The Ballot or The Bullet” in my Dropbox for years now, and it remains one of my favorite things to read. There is a directness to Malcolm’s approach that I appreciate and try to emulate. “You better give me the respect I deserve or I’ma take it by force.” Malcolm is bigger than his rep as the white-hating, bigoted side of the civil rights movement. That’s too small and too inaccurate an idea for him.

But it’s that idea that led to the idea of Martin and Malcolm in competition, which led directly to the idea that Professor Xavier of the X-Men and Magneto of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are the Martin Luther King and Malcolm X of the mutant rights movement.

It’s an easy comparison to make, considering Xavier’s position as angel and Magneto’s as demon, but it’s wrong on basically every single level. Professor X drafted children into a paramilitary unit under the guise of educating them, and then sent them out to fight other mutants. They’re essentially a self-police force for the mutant people. When you step out of line, they’ll step on you. This was later explored when X-Factor and Freedom Force became government-sponsored squads, a kind of walking, talking COINTELPRO.

Magneto is the other side of the fence. Where Xavier wants mutants to coexist with humans, Magneto is a mutant supremacist and terrorist. He murders humans, he brutalizes mutants, and anyone who stands in his way is found wanting and considered a traitor. Magneto is a murderer with ideals, when you boil it down.

Neither character bears any resemblance to Martin or Malcolm, outside of a short-sighted and frankly ignorant idea of what Martin or Malcolm represent. People have said it, but that doesn’t make it true.

Professor X uses violent methods to get what he wants and to police his people. Magneto uses violent methods to oppress another species and is an actual terrorist.

Martin & Malcolm wanted America to deliver on its promise. Professor X and Magneto are the hero and villain of an adventure comic. Any connection between the two sets of people is based on inaccurate data. Any comparison between the two has no leg to stand on.

There is no relation in tactics, approach, or personality.

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This Week in Panels: Week 183

March 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hey. Panel time. Full house this week as I’m joined by Was Taters, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Brobe, Jody and Matlock. You want to be added to the list? Send me some panels next week. Gamble a stamp.

Action Comics was a pain to pick a panel from. There were like a hundred great choices at its disposal.

Action Comics #18
Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse

All-New X-Men #9 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-New X-Men #9 (Gavin’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

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This Week in Panels: Week 181

March 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Good news, everybody! Rotworld is over! Open up the champagne! Knock over the giant statue of Arcane! We can finally move on!

Welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Panels, the segment that takes a bunch of comics me and some others have read and cuts them down to size into single panel chunks that best describe what kind of comic you’re going to get. With me are Gaijin Dan, Was Taters, Jody and Space Jawa. Oh, and Matlock, the guy who convinced me to start reading Injustice: Gods Among Us contributed too. Good for him.

The one for Avengers was a hard choice because it’s a really clever issue and I didn’t want to give away the ending. My pick comes off a little ho-hum. It’s still worth checking out.

Also, I had my first Improv 401 performance today. I’ve done better and I’m sure I’ll do worse, but I have two more shows left in the next month and I’m confident I can improve. It seems like I’ll have a video to post in a day or so.

Age of Apocalypse #13
David Lapham, Renato Arlem and Valentine De Landro

All-New X-Men #8 (Gavin’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

All-New X-Men #8 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

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This Week in Panels: Week 167

December 2nd, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Greetings! For another week, Was Taters has been off on vacation in the Negative Zone (or wherever), so my team includes Space Jawa, Gaijin Dan and Jody. Jawa and Jody both gave me panels from My Little Pony (“I got 8 pages and couldn’t finish. This was the best I could find.” — Jody) and I have two panels from Before Watchmen, so you get to decide who’s more despicable!

Also in regards to Space Jawa, he’s now part of the site Thought Balloons. The idea behind it is that each week, he and a bunch of other contributors choose a different character and the writers — as well as you at home — each write a one-page script about them. Give it a look.

Now some panels.

All-New X-Men #2
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-Star Western #14
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Phil Winslade

Aquaman #14
Geoff Johns, Pete Woods and Pere Perez

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This Week in Panels: Week 166

November 25th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hello. Surviving my first holiday retail weekend of the year, I’m helped out by Jody, Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. No Was Taters, sadly, meaning there aren’t enough Hawkeye panels in the mix. That stinks as much as Madam Masque’s hand.

…just read the issue.

Bleach #514
Tite Kubo

Blue Exorcist #40
Kazue Kato

Captain America #1
Rick Remender and John Romita Jr.

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This Week in Panels: Week 147

July 15th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Ah, it’s nice to finally be done with a shitty weekend of closing at work and being ready to enjoy a week off where I do little more than relax and– it’s Sunday and I have to do a ThWiP update, isn’t it. Goddamnit! Fine, let’s get this over with.

Before I get into that, just want to note that I have my very first improv comedy gig coming up this Saturday. I’ll be performing during Anybody Vs. Everybody: AN IMPROV SHOW FOR YOU at the Creek and the Cave in Long Island at 5:30 with my crew, McFlight Club.

This week my posse includes Jody, Was Taters and Space Jawa. I obviously read that Versus issue and even I have a hard time deciphering what’s going on in the panel Jody picked.

Avenging Spider-Man #9
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Terry Dodson

Avengers vs. X-Men: Versus #4 (Gavin’s pick)
Rick Remender, Brandon Peterson and Kaare Andrews

Avengers vs. X-Men: Versus #4 (Jody’s pick)
Rick Remender, Brandon Peterson and Kaare Andrews

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31 Things That Make Me Happy: Part 2

May 30th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

11) And Now Mark Briscoe with the Weather

I don’t watch nearly enough Ring of Honor as I should, but I am damn certain that one of the highlights of it is Jay and Mark Briscoe. The two are violent rednecks who are far more realistic than your usual over-the-top redneck wrestling character. Not only are they really good in the ring, but they could make a DVD of them just talking up their upcoming matches and I’d buy one for me and a handful for the holidays.

Recently, Mark got to do a local weather forecast while wearing his tag title belt. What makes this for me is how the background isn’t mic’d at all, but you can still just slightly hear the crew laughing their asses off. It’s infectious.

“…Lighteninging.”

12) Xavier and Magneto Take on Master Mold

The X-Men cartoon in the 90′s was pretty damn good and a lot of it holds up. Not to say it wasn’t completely maddening how strict they were about the roster’s status quo.

“Hey, Colossus/Nightcrawler/Archangel/Iceman. Now that we’ve beaten the bad guys, I wanted to offer you a spot on the X-Men.”

“That sounds great. Maybe one day, but not now. I’m going to just stand over there instead.”

“Oh. Okay.”

*roll credits*

Other than that and a couple other flaws (Storm’s voice actress, oh God), the show did a great job. Other than Apocalypse’s tendency to say the most chilling shit in the most ominous voice, my favorite thing on that show was the first season’s finale. Magneto gets decimated by an army of Sentinels and the X-Men give him medical care. They go off to save Senator Kelly and defeat the Sentinels, despite Magneto’s warning that they’re “brave fools”. He ultimately decides to man up (mutant up?) and help out. The final act is filled with a lot of strong character moments with Sentinels being torn apart and blown up all over the place.

When things look to be going mutantkind’s way, a mountain explodes and Master Mold – the lead robot that dwarfs its fellow Sentinels – stands up, swearing, “I CANNOT BE DESTROYED.”

All of the sudden, Xavier shows up in the Blackbird, with a cockpit filled with dozens of boxes of explosives and drums of oil. As he rants, you can quickly see a bandaged Magneto fly by unseen by Xavier.

“You are the living embodiment of all that is evil and unjust in humankind. You must be destroyed!”

Magneto bodysurfs on the top of the plane and turns on his force field just as Master Mold blasts in what would have been a direct hit. At the last second, Xavier presses the eject button and Master Mold goes up in one hell of an explosion. Sweet.

I always found it weird how despite being the X-Men’s #1 bad guy and leading the villain army in the intro, Magneto did shockingly little in the villainy department on that show. He fought them in the third episode (where Xavier defeated him by MAKING HIM RELIVE THE HOLOCAUST, which is extremely fucked for a kid show), but all his subsequent appearances had him fighting alongside the X-Men in some fashion. Granted, there was a lot of reluctance from both sides, but he was there.

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on twilight, liking stupid things, and being a creepo

November 27th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

The best part of each new Twilight movie is the flood of essays examining the book that pop up like unwanted weeds. It’ll teach our daughters crappy values (because our daughters are idiots, I guess), it’s anti-feminist, it’s creepy, it’s fine leave it alone you haters, no it’s not fine shut up, girls like it? ugh!!! on and on and on ad nauseam. Along with all of that is the relentless mocking about how Twilight is so dumb (how dumb is it) it’s so dumb that vampires sparkle in the daylight! Haw haw haw! Never mind that telling Twilight jokes in 2011 is basically the exact same thing as having “a really good Black Eyed Peas joke” or “hysterically funny image macro.” (Sorry, dawg, but you don’t. Wrap it up and move on.)

And I mean, personally, Twilight isn’t even on my radar. I don’t really care about vampires. I’m not a teenaged girl (or a cougar, which I think is another large part of that franchise’s fanbase? I don’t know anything but what the internet tells me). I don’t like the summaries I’ve heard (though the vampiric c-section sounds pretty crazy). But Twilight is a sales juggernaut, dominant in pop culture right now, and a post about it in one style or another guarantees a certain number of hits and controversy. So sites I like roll out their Twilight coverage and I trip over it. People I know dis it hard and others defend it as a thing of value. I don’t really have a horse in that race, but I like reading things, so sometimes I go against my better judgment and read big fights about something that I don’t care about beyond being curious about people’s reactions to other people liking/disliking it.

I had a Twilight-inspired epiphany earlier this year. It was while I was at San Diego Comic-Con, in fact. Twilight fans showed up at SDCC and camped outside to see… I don’t even know what they were there for, come to think about it. Maybe a panel with an exclusive trailer or a signing or something. Regardless, they had tents, sleeping bags, the whole shebang.

Late one night, the people I was with were like “Let’s go to the Twilight camp and take pictures!” This was like 1am, I think. Very late, but before the shuttle buses stopped running. I was pretty sober, since drinking during SDCC is expensive and I don’t particularly like being drunk anyway, but I went along because I wanted to keep hanging out.

We got there and they took pictures and I felt completely creeped out the entire time. It just felt strange and ugly. My skin was crawling. I really didn’t want to be there, but I waited it out and left when my friends were done. It bothered me, though, and it stuck in my craw the entire week.

Later on, I realized that I was the creep. There’s this aura around a lot of the criticism about Twilight, a suggestion that the fans are creeps with bad taste who like bad books. But they weren’t the ones taking photos of folks who weren’t doing nothing in the middle of the night or creating long, punishingly funny posts about how terrible Twilight is. They were just having fun.

I like a lot of things. I like books, movies, music, girls with certain haircuts, Anna Karina, girls with freckles, and even a few video games. But if you asked me to camp out for four days so that I could get a brief taste of any of those… honestly, I’d laugh at you. That’s a silly idea to me.

I think that’s because I don’t like anything as much as those people like Twilight.

Which is sorta crazy, because I straight up love a lot of things, but that’s a step too far to me. I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t even wait in line to get things signed, because I could care less about autographs. Midnight opening for a video game? What, so I can go home and play it for ten minutes before falling asleep so I can go to my job on time? C’mon, son.

Grantland posted a really good Twilight photo-essay by Lane Brown the other week. I clicked because I generally like Grantland, and was curious to see their take. Would it be defensive, a desperate plea that Twilight is okay? Or would they go on the offensive and strip Twilight bare? Turns out, it was neither. They took a look at the fans and talked to them.

It’s a really nice piece. They found a bunch of friends and families who treated it like a vacation. They were out there to have fun and enjoy this thing that they like. Everybody looks normal. There’s old people, young people, and in-between people. They’re just out to make some fun memories.

The Twilight phenomenon is pretty interesting. That sort of devotion is foreign to me, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little jealous of the fans. I like things I like to the fullest extent that I like them, and that’s fine. But I don’t “camp out overnight” like anything. There’s a difference in approach and scope that’s really interesting to me. Everybody consumes things differently, and these people found a way that works for them just like I did.

The onslaught of Twilight press is draining. Every time I see somebody that probably reads X-Men comics or plays the same crappy video games as everyone else talking about how terrible Twilight is in that exaggerated “Pay attention to me, love me please!” sort of way that abounds online, I sorta wince.

I’m the last person to suggest that you shouldn’t call things bad (everything I have seen about Twilight suggests that it is at least as bad as them Anne Rice novels my mom used to read, and probably equally as bad as that comic where Ms Marvel was impregnated by and then gave birth to her own son from another dimension), but critiquing the fans instead of the work is… it’s pointless, isn’t it? Because really, who cares? They’re not going to stop liking what they like, the people who like you will parrot your jokes, and then life goes on. And on top of that, you’re critiquing a legion of people who like the books for a legion of reasons. That’s like trying to hold water in a funnel. It isn’t going to work. You’re going to lose.

There’s no deeper truth beyond “Yeah, this lady likes Twilight because she likes the way the lead actor looks” or “Yeah, this dude likes Twilight because his girlfriend got him into it.” It’s popular now, and its popularity will fade, just like everything else. Maybe the stars will have to do something drastic to avoid being typecast, like the major characters in Harry Potter did. It seems like it’s way more interesting and… maybe not fulfilling, that’s a realer word than I want to use, but let’s use it anyway: more fulfilling to talk about the book and what it’s saying than some schmuck who’s willing to sit outside because he likes something more than you do.

I don’t really have a point, I guess, beyond the fact that I hate feeling like a creep.

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