Freak-out Comix: East of West 09

April 1st, 2014 Posted by david brothers

East of West 09 - vizier

Drawn by Nick Dragotta, written by Jonathan Hickman, colored by Frank Martin, lettered by Rus Wooton. East of West 09, 2014. I work for Image.

This panel here is my desktop at work. It’s the Vizier from Dragotta & Hickman’s East of West, a character that has only appeared on a few pages of the series. I sat up and started paying attention as soon as I saw this panel, and it still makes me freak out a little. Black women in comics are rare enough, but ones drawn as well as this…well, Storm never had it so good, you know?

I spend a lot of time chasing that feeling. A comic that makes you freak out over some big move (“Now it’s my turn,” “’tis on,” the end of Top Ten, “thirty-five minutes ago,” “Me? I’m magic,” and so on) is cool, but lately I’ve been getting that feeling more from the little things, like a single panel of a comic that’s just perfect, or the way a character moves across a page. That feeling leads me directly to the feeling you get when you want to talk about something with someone else just to share the joy.

This one made me freak out because it’s drawn so well and perfectly staged. East of West is a good comic, I’m into it, but this felt over and beyond what I was expecting, like finding a hundred dollar bill in a roll of twenties. I like finding things that make me feel stupid, like I don’t even know how to explain why it works as well as it does.

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Avengers #23 and the Joys of an Intergalactic Posse

November 21st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

This week gave us Avengers #23 by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu. It acts as chapter 14 in the 16 chapter event that is Infinity. Normally, I abhor comic book events (Fear Itself broke me), but Hickman’s been killing it here. It’s a wonderful space epic that mixes two unrelated threats and intertwines their stories. On one hand, you have the Builders, a cosmic threat based on killing to preserve life. On the other hand, you have Thanos, the cosmic threat based on his love for Death.

The whole thing has been filled with a ton of great moments. Speeches and actions come off as incredibly badass and satisfying while seemingly everyone gets their own moment to shine. In this week’s installment, there’s a wonderful moment based on Captain America leading his forces to Earth, which is being conquered by Thanos and his soldiers. Cap is assisted by various alien forces, who intend to help Earth as gratitude for the Avengers being so important in the war against the Builders. Before leaving, he tells Super-Skrull and the other alien warlords in the room, “You didn’t have to… What I mean is… I want to thank all of you for this.”

Super-Skrull responds, “Thank us when we’ve earned it, human. What good is effort if we fail? Do best intentions soak up the blood and bury the fallen? And if beaten, who remembers the conquered? Not I… So save your thanks until we stand over the broken bodies of our enemies. Save it until we’ve won.”

The problem is that Thanos’ forces have taken the Peak, a SWORD space station built to prevent invaders. The team of Manifold, Black Widow and Shang-Chi go off to shut it down and protect the Avengers on their journey to Earth, but it isn’t so easy. Black Dwarf, one of Thanos’ top henchmen, is running things and he’s able to dispose of Widow and Shang-Chi easily. Manifold teleports back to the base and sees that Cap’s already left, leaving only Super-Skrull and the others. The Avengers are doomed. Earth is doomed. What can they do?

Then this happens.

Super-Skrull, Ronan the Accuser, Gladiator and Annihilus vs. Black Dwarf. Black Dwarf talks a tough game, but he stands no chance. He already took a loss when he tried to invade Wakanda, so he isn’t going to do much better here. Lot of sweet smacktalk is said and in the end, he finds himself judged guilty by the Accuser and his hammer. It’s an enjoyable moment in a massive story of enjoyable moments.

What truly makes this great isn’t the galactic curbstomping itself, but why it’s happening. This isn’t like your average superhero team taking down a threat. This a foursome of enemies. Since the 60’s, these guys have been antagonizing everyone from the Fantastic Four to the X-Men on a regular basis. Super-Skrull and Ronan represent two races that have acted like the Hatfields and McCoys of outer space. Annihilus is borderline pure evil and went to war with everyone, including his brothers-in-arms here.

And yet here they are. Fighting. Together. For us. A lot of times these superhero stories, especially in the big events, talk up how pointless and bittersweet these victories are. What good is Batman stopping the Joker when he’s just going to kill another dozen people the week after? Wonder Man even made a big stink about how the Avengers were causing more damage than they were worth with none of the writers ever really finding a good argument against it other than, “He crazy.” This, on the other hand, is kind of a beautiful thing. Former enemies to ourselves and each other are able to put their differences aside to make sure Earth can be protected all because of the ripples of Captain America’s actions.

I seem to recall Peter David’s Hulk: The End saying that the death of the human race would have led to the Kree and Skrulls burying the hatchet for the sake of celebration. Hickman’s storytelling impresses me far more.

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The Cipher 02/16/11: “mojo hand healing power like BANG”

February 16th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

super magic black origin freshly out of dopeness

created: How come people keep saying that Heroes for Hire is a bite of Birds of Prey? The gimmick is completely different, the cast rotates instead of having a core of girl power… I don’t get it, honest I don’t. But whatever whatever, here’s some stuff what I wrote:

some breakdowns of some mutants from some movie at Moviefone

a quick look at Marvel’s Heroes for Hire

definitely out of dopeness, sketch another opus

consumed: How funky is Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid? It got snubbed hard at the Grammys, but that’s life, I figure. Short post today, ’cause things are blowing up.

-via Angie Wang comes a fascinating game. Here’s what she said about it when she linked it: “An affecting wordless game where your anthropomorphizing tendencies towards inanimate objects will reward you” and here’s the link: http://www.the-end-of-us.com. I liked this a lot. Play the game all the way through (it’s as long as a song) before scrolling down to read about it.

This Jeff Yang piece about how multiracialism is redefining Asian identity is pretty interesting. I wonder if there’s a parallel in the evolution of black racial identity? Like, at some point, your great great great grandparents are straight up African or Haitian or whatever American, and then by it gets down to you, you’re just sorta… black american. That doesn’t mean that you’re not Nigerian or Somalian or whatever, but that you have more to pull from than just one mother culture. Does that make sense? It’s not a diluting so much as it is an evolution and adaptation. I haven’t given this the time to percolate that it deserves, but Yang’s piece brought up a lot of really interesting questions I need to answer for myself.

-It also made me think about fusion cuisine, which I generally think of as being wack but is almost definitely something that you’ll see more of when you hit the family reunion bbq and there’s all types of sushi and collards in casserole dishes and fish, hot dogs, burgers, and hog maws on the grill.

-There’d still be just kool-aid and lemonade in the jugs, though. Everybody loves kool-aid and lemonade.

-Guess who’s hungry right now.

-I’m feeling like Ghostface in “Shakey Dog”. “Fried plantains and rice, big round onions on a T-bone steak, my stomach growling, yo, I want some.”

-More colored commentary, this time courtesy of C-Rayz Walz and The Angel & The Preacher:

-via Ron Wimberly comes a gang of super dope James Bond novel covers. Diamonds Are Forever is great and Octopussy is creepy. It’s slightly nsfw on the sidebar (pulp covers got pretty rowdy), but you can’t see nothing so tell your boss to get deez nutz if he tries to say something.

-JM Ken Niimura, artist of the undeniably dope I Kill Giants, has a webcomic called 514H. I dig it–a little funny, good panels, nice colors. What’s up with not having an RSS feed, though?

-More Jog on Ditko.

-I dig this belt from The Hundreds, but only in black. They’ve got a store in SF. I might pop by and see about picking it up. I went from having regular belts as kids, with loops and holes you had to punch out, to woven belts in high school, and now all I rock are these types. I thought they were called golf belts, but whatever.

Joáo Lemos is an ill artist. He did the only story I dug in that Wolverine 1000 joint Marvel put out, a collabo with Sarah Cross. I hope this guy gets more and more high profile work.

People recreating old photos. I think this is good staging + Photoshop? Regardless, this is a fantastic project. I don’t think I can even pick a favorite, though the ones that span like thirty years are pretty awesome.

-The Grammys were a joke when it came to rap. They picked the laziest, safest rap albums to award. Eminem’s Recovery winning over The Roots’s How I Got Over is jokes.

-ANYway, there’s also Record of the Year awards, which prompted this:

-Four out of five songs nominated for Record of the Year were rap joints. Em and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” (straight), Bobby Ray and Bruno Mars’s “Nothin’ On You” (good), Cee-Lo’s “Fuck You” (aight, but y’all ran that one into the ground instantly), and Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” (one of Jay’s best, I guess). The fifth song is Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now.” Now, silly me, I figured we’d get a rap win.

-Four rappers. One country group named after nostalgia for back when nigras knew their place won.

-Really though? That’s pretty doggone suspect.

-The next Damon Albarn Appreciation Society post might be a little mean. A preview:

-Speaking of mean… Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s SHIELD would be an ill comic if it were about something other than how unbelievably awesome white dudes have been throughout history. I mean, dang, can’t I at least get an Arab mathematician or Chinese dude as an actual character? Only white guys did anything of substance over the past however many thousand years and next few hundred years? I feel like I’m asking for one rib over here.

knock off your set, BROOKLYN we keep ’em open

David: Hellblazer 276, Thunderbolts 153
Esther: Yes: Superman/Batman 81, Tiny Titans 37
Perhaps, if Damian is really funny: Supergirl 61
Possibly, if it looks decent: Young Justice 1, although it’s stupid that they made Robin Dick and not Tim. Tim’s been around for twenty-two years! That’s at least twice as long as the show’s target audience has been alive. Come on, people!
Gavin: Booster Gold 41, Green Lantern Corps 57, Green Lantern 62, Darkwing Duck 9, Amazing Spider-Man 654.1, Avengers Academy 9, Deadpool MAX 5, Hulk 30, S.H.I.E.L.D. 6, Thunderbolts 153, Uncanny X-Force 5

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Fantastic Four Spoiler Zone

January 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Spoilers after the jump, though I figure that you already know what goes down.
Read the rest of this entry �

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On the Unlikely Whiteness of Imhotep

March 30th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Last week, I wondered aloud about the skin tone of a character in Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver’s upcoming time-spanning SHIELD. In short, Imhotep, Egyptian doctor and Agent of SHIELD (Officer of SHIELD?), was modern-day white, rather than ancient Egypt brown.

I emailed Dustin Weaver with a link to the post, and he wrote back pretty quickly. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, it was a mistake in the production process. He’s done a lot of research on the book to try and make sure things make sense, and that’s something that slipped through the cracks when doing color tests. He’s gonna try to get them fixed in the trade, if Marvel’s amenable to it. He’s a pretty cool guy.

Just an update!

edit: I asked Dustin to quote a bit of his email and he agreed. In his own words:

Oh, man, you’re right! I’m embarrassed and shocked that I didn’t catch this mistake before it was finished. I’m surprised nobody caught this mistake.
The 2 page spread of the Egyptians fighting the Brood was the very first thing that got colored for this book and it was the testing page for the style of this whole series. I think it went through 4 different versions before we got something we liked. I think with all this back and forth with the style of the thing we missed the fact that they were white. I feel pretty stupid. I seriously did a lot of research to get a lot of the details right. To miss something so blatant is embarrassing.

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We made it cool to wear medallions and say “Hotep!”

March 24th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver, two very talented creators, are the creative team on Marvel’s new book SHIELD, which is easiest describe as historical fiction in the Marvel Universe. Here’s the pitch:

Leonardo Da Vinci was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So was Issac Newton. So were Imhotep and Zhang Heng and Galileo and many other geniuses throughout time. They were the first heroes to defeat Galactus and the Brood and turn Celestials back. They saved the world long before Captain America or Iron Man were ever born, but what does this mean to our heroes of today? What does this mean to Nick Fury? Do not miss this Marvel Comics masterpiece that fans will be talking about for decades to come. All the insanity is courtesy of JONATHAN HICKMAN (FANTASTIC FOUR, SECRET WARRIORS, Nightly News) and DUSTIN WEAVER (X-MEN).

It’s a neat idea, the sort of thing What Ifs are made of, and while I’m not super excited about it, I’m a little interested. Sort of thing you skim to see if you want it, or maybe just cop the hardcover a ways down the line. CBR recently posted an exclusive unlettered preview of the first issue, with nine story pages and one cover. We get a look at (and these are educated guesses going by the text above the issue) Zhang Heng staring down a Celestial (maybe Gammenon the Gatherer?), Da Vinci strapping on a flight harness, and Galileo getting ready to face Galactus and his herald. That leaves one guy facing down the Brood. He’s dressed in Egyptian garb, which makes him Imhotep. Here’s what he looks like:

Here is the problem with that image: he looks like a generic white guy. Imhotep, to my understanding, was worshiped in Greece in the form of a brown-skinned man. Much of the art I’ve seen, or books I’ve read (granted, this was years ago), supports that idea. I don’t know whether he was black or not, but I think it’s fair to say that he wasn’t white, either.

The subject of the race of ancient Egyptians is an intensely frustrating one, and one likely to not see any closure ever. I’m reasonably sure that everything I have read says that the Egyptians were not white, but they weren’t black (as we know the term), either. They were somewhere in-between, some flavor of brown.

The thing about the race of the ancient Egyptians is that the water is severely muddied by past racism. Egypt was essentially claimed by white scholars and separated from the rest of Africa, which served to further the idea that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites.

(Another similar instance of this is the story of Ham, Shem, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah. The three sons theoretically represent three races: African, Semitic, and European. As Ham was cursed in the story, and blacks were descended from him, they were also cursed. This is taught in black churches and is the worst kind of self-loathing there is. If you believe this, please, wake up. Don’t be ignorant of your own history.)

Later, Imhotep as a black man was fully embraced by afrocentrists, people desperate to rebuild a culture that had been stolen from them. Having the father of medicine and architecture be a black man is a huge boon to the self-esteem of an oppressed people.

You can see how this can get very complicated, and very touchy, very quickly.

I’m not here to say that Imhotep was blacker than the nighttime sky of Bed-Stuy in July. I don’t know, I can’t say, I’m not qualified for that. I do feel confident in saying that he was probably brown. He was definitely African. He was an amazingly smart man.

But, he wasn’t white. And the rest of the Egyptians on that page– they wouldn’t have been white, either.

I’d like to enjoy SHIELD. But honestly, stuff like this makes me a lot less likely to pick it up. Maybe that’s just me.

edit: I emailed Dustin Weaver to ask, and he said that the coloring is a mistake, something that just slipped through the cracks. Hopefully it’ll be fixed in the trade. Either way, Weaver is a cool dude, so I’m trying the first issue at the very least.

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