Fourcast! 14: The Girlcast

August 31st, 2009 Posted by david brothers


(yeah, i don’t even know. we talk about girls and women and things in an extra-special almost-hour long show this time around. save me from myself by subscribing on itunes or straight up RSS.

apologies to jack kirby.)

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Jog on Batwoman

June 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

As usual, Jog did it better than I was going to:

Almost every ‘superhero’ page in this comic is like that, often crashing across double spreads for maximum exhibitionism. It’s not enough for Batwoman to take on a gang of villains; inset panels must transform into red-tinted lightning bolts raining from the sky. Perversely, it’s not a quick read at all, since these vainglorious layout do everything to grab your attention as soon as you turn the page and force you to linger on their contours, even as, say, a panel of Batwoman getting into costume is shaped as an arrow, guiding you to the next image in a way that draws screaming attention to the obvious act of reading in sequence.

I may have some thoughts later, but I enjoyed Batwoman’s first issue.

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Batwoman: Greg Rucka x IGN

June 12th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

IGN interviewed Greg Rucka about the upcoming Batwoman feature in Detective Comics. There are a couple of things I wanted to pull out and call attention to.

You know, nobody wants to read, and we certainly didn’t want to write an after school special. But as you’ll see in the origin, there is a moment when she has to pay a huge price for the fact that she is gay. She has to sacrifice something of incredible value to her just to be true to herself.

Ten bucks says that she falls victim to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The concept art mentions a military background, and Rucka emphasizes that she isn’t Batwoman for the same reasons as Batman. Say if she were driven to serve, and it was something she truly believed in, and she was bounced out of the military? She gets back to Gotham, does the alcoholic thing for a while, and suits up, because she’s going to help people one way or another. Sound plausible?

But she is the first mainstream superhero who starts out of the box gay. And arguably she’s going to be the most prominent gay superhero.

What definition of mainstream is Rucka using here? There were a few characters in X-Statix a few years ago, and fifteen years ago we had what’s probably the best gay couple in comics– Donner & Blitzen, from Milestone’s Shadow Cabinet and Heroes.

Milestone isn’t obscure– it was published in cooperation with DC Comics, is fondly remembered by many, and sales don’t appear to have been too bad up until it closed its doors. What’s up with that?

As an aside– I don’t know if you noticed this, but IGN managed to misspell Renee Montoya’s name throughout the interview. Good going, guys. Way to, I don’t know, keep up the high standards.

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Batwoman Confirmed

June 15th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

The “Will they? Won’t they?” over Batwoman is basically over. Todd Klein (accidentally?) confirmed it on his revamped Current Projects page.

Rucka on words, JH Williams III on art, Todd Klein on letters.

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Citizen Steel and Jock(s)

April 23rd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

There’s been a bit of a hullabaloo about Alex Ross’s cover for the new issue of JSA #7, featuring Citizen Steel. Let’s take a look at it.


Ooh, I see what the problem is! It’s really, really obvious and sticking out shamelessly!

It’s boring is what the problem is. It’s some dude checking himself out in the mirror after working out, with added Photoshop Blur filters. Yes, Citizen Steel, 8-Minute Abs are working out for you. Great. I flex in the mirror, too, everyone does. It’s a great esteem builder! It is also bland and uninteresting, just like every other cover Ross has done for JSA. It’s always someone standing bathed in light, looking thoughtful or profound.

Let’s talk about an awesome cover– Jock’s cover for Green Arrow Year One.


Here’s another, and another, and a sister and her brother:

100b-cv84_solicit.jpg bm-cv668.jpg ctw-cv69-solicitation-only.jpg dmz_21_cover4solicits.jpg

In a world where Jock, Brian Wood, Dave Johnson, JH Williams III, and Adam Hughes are delivering awesome covers, month-in month-out, can someone give me one rational reason why we should talk about Alex Ross and his boring and unexciting covers? Marvel got a lot of crap for their “Our Covers Have Nothing to Do With The Book” covers a year or two back, but at least those were done by Adi Granov, JRjr, Mark Bagley, Tim Bradstreet, and a host of other great talents. It wasn’t just a character on a black background because everyone knows that that is boring. “That’s not how we rock in Theodore,” as a wise man Ghostface Killah once said.

Sorry, just wanted to put that out there.

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Gotta Have Heart

March 8th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

G. To read Alan Moore’s work, it’s so beautiful and architectural and everything about it is great, but for me, that fire of creativity isn’t there in it, and I’m not fooled by it. I read Promethea last night, and I thought, “This is Doom Patrol, I don’t care, there’s nothing new for there for me here, but it’s so beautifully constructed, I wish I could do this kind of thing…
S. …immaculate objects…
G. …yes. It lacks the transcendental, it lacks the soul. And even last night, I was talking to Warren, The Authority’s like Justice League, but to me, what I find in that is this voice coming out, that to me, Warren’s got this voice of this new whatever generation it is that’s coming up where there’s all this violence and black humour, and that’s why I love it, because it is a thing with fire coming out of it. I don’t get that with Moore’s stuff, I just get this brilliance.

–from an interview with Grant Morrison conducted by Spiros Xenos in 1999

My secret shame as a comics fan is that I’m not an Alan Moore fan.

I’ve spent a couple days trying to write this post, actually. It veered a little too close to being a Moore vs Morrison whinefest. I’ll try to hit you with the bullet points.

Let’s discuss.

I’ve read a few Moore books that I liked. Watchmen (I own the Absolute!), V for Vendetta, Top Ten, and LXG are all good stuff. They’re technically impressive and Moore has an incredible grasp on the craft of comics-making. He may be the best technical writer ever, and he’s been gifted to work with some stellar artists at the same time. Dave Gibbons, Kevin O’Neill, JH Williams III, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, all of these guys are ridiculously good.

However, I just can’t get into the majority of Moore’s work. Promethea leaves me flat, Lost Girls turns me off, and the majority of his America’s Best Comics were really sort of boring.

I think my issue with it is, as Morrison kind of describes above, it’s lacking in heart. It feels empty. Top Ten is the best superhero pastiche/homage since Planetary, but it all feels very by the numbers. Here’s the Fantastic Four analogues, here’s the DC characters, and so on. There’s no sense of the “Gee whiz, this is cool!” that I get from other comics writers.

I think that this is because Moore’s work is so perfectly constructed. You can tell the care that goes into his pages. You can tell that he’s thought a lot about it. However, because of that construction, all of his work feels very calculated. It doesn’t feel fun at all. Not to say that he hasn’t done some fun comics, as a handful of issues of Tom Strong were really very fun, along with that issue of Mr. Majestic he did years ago with the Dyson Spheres, I believe. But, my overall impression of Moore’s work is that it is all very serious and important and literary, capital letters optional.

I feel like I can see the man behind the curtain in too much of his work. It’s lacking in spontaneity. It’s too perfect. It’s there to be held up and admired, like art, rather than devoured, like pop culture.

(I’m an English major, honest. I’m not a literiluddite, I swear!)

Have you guys seen the proposal for Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes? It’s a DKR-style tale of superheroes gone wrong and fascist and their grisly end. Check the internet. It’s hailed as being an incredible tale, full of vim, vigor, and clever plot twists.

I read this proposal and was completely repulsed. Billy Batson as a leather sex midget? J’onn J’onnz as a murderer? John Constantine being so stubborn that he’d doom himself to a life of loneliness out of spite? Again, technically and craft-wise, it’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just lacking that heart and charm that I like from my comics.

Reading Moore is kind of like reading the classics. It’s very, very good, but it isn’t really very fun. I love Albert Camus, Voltaire, and Faulkner. I’m okay with Hemmingway, but you’ll rarely catch me reading them just because. Alan Moore’s work is a lot like that for me.

On the other side is Grant Morrison, relentless optimist and imperfect creator. His work has a snap and just earnestness about it that I don’t get from Moore. Even when he screws up or falls short of his goal, most especially in Batman 663, you just get this sense that he’s trying to give you that same feeling of “Gee whiz!” with his work. All-Star Superman illustrates this really well. He loves the Silver Age Superman and, when combined with a talent on the level of Quitely, you can tell.

His reach can easily exceed his grasp and he sometimes falls victim to scripting anticlimaxes, but he’s really very earnest about it and that comes through in the work. JLA Classified, New X-Men, The Invisibles, Vimanarama, and half a dozen of his other books all show this. They’re cool scenes, one-liners, and dialogue that sit on top of one mad idea after another. Flying jet apes, Barbelith, secondary mutations, Flex Mentallo, and Xorn. Shoot, Fantomex. He isn’t perfect, but he’s going to take you on a wild ride.

Alan Moore is literary comics. He writes comics as if there is a comics canon out there. His comics are smart, technically impressive, and wonderfully crafted. He’s rightfully hailed as one of the greatest ever, but like a lot of literary canon, his books can be boring and not very fun to read.

Grant Morrison is glam comics. It’s focused on fun, but with a point, and isn’t really aspiring to be anything other than fun. It’s shiny without being empty, and stylish without being substanceless.

I kind of prefer Morrison’s approach. I want that cool shot, I want that one-liner, and I don’t mind when my comics fall short of their goal. I want my comics to wow me and be awesome because it’s cool. I like pulpy stories.

Am I making sense or do I need to be put out to pasture? I’m not pitching this as either/or, just as an exploration on how I’m feeling about these two creators.

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