“All up in the Kool-Aid and don’t know the flavor.”

May 11th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

People were linking “Fanboys” by Alexander Chee around earlier this morning and praising it for putting superheroes on blast for being so shortsighted. Since I’m a killjoy who hates to see wack things get shine, here’s a rebuttal.

-His basic point, the one that people have latched onto because it confirms whatever biases they have about cape comics, is that superhero comics have gotten whiter since Giant-Size X-Men 1. He hitches this point to the idea that this is cultural backlash because we got a black president. So:

1. Chee simply doesn’t know enough to talk authoritatively on this issue. The story about the white mutant messiah was announced as early as June 2007. Sorta hard to look at it as a reaction to a black president when you know that. It’s a coincidence, and nothing more.

2. Weasel words are great when your point is this thin, so when he says, “Most of [the X-Men] are entirely white,” he’s not incorrect. Uncanny X-Men is pretty white (though Kitty Pryde is Jewish), but Astonishing X-Men has both Storm and Armor. X-Men Legacy has had a rotating cast with a latino dude, Japanese-American girl, Indian girl, and several other races.

He mentions, but then ignores, the New Mutants. New Mutants stars Cannonball, Danielle Moonstar, Sunspot, Karma, Magik, Magma, Warlock, and Cypher. That’s Kentucky hick, Native American, Brazilian, Vietnamese, Russian, fake South American Roman from Brazil, robot, and Generic White. That’s three, maybe four (Magma is questionable), white characters on a team of eight.

Are most of the books entirely white? No. The only one that genuinely is is probably Uncanny X-Men. Precision is key here, because you aren’t just trying to describe a movie you saw yesterweek while falling asleep at 2am. You’re trying to make a point about an intensely personal subject and do so by using facts. If your facts are suspect, your point is suspect, so please stop screwing it up for the rest of us.

3. White isn’t a single monolithic group. There are different types of white, which absolutely counts as diversity. Russian White, Jewish White, Fake South American Brazilian White, Welsh White, and Generic White (Cyclops, Captain America, Batman, blah blah blah). Treating them as a single group makes the argument into “white vs other,” which treats white as both the default and superior to every single other race. That’s stupid. But, this piece does it, and does it repeatedly.

4. If you’re going to make grand, sweeping statements, you don’t get to pick and choose. Comics haven’t gotten “more white.” That’s absurd. The books he picked up are fairly white, yes, but in using those to make his point, he ignores the books that are diverse.

If you want other books that feature a diverse cast, look at Heroes for Hire, Power Man & Iron Fist, Black Panther: Man Without Fear (as wack as that book is), and a fistful of others. Spider-Girl stars a Latina. Thunderbolts has a majority white cast, but never felt “white.” Dark Wolverine stars a Japanese-Canadian. Amadeus Cho is Korean and a major player. Jubilee just came off headlining a miniseries with Wolverine. How is that “more white?”

Look: cape comics are always going to be for white dudes. People who are not white dudes will read and enjoy them, but at this point? Comics can’t even afford to launch new series. They had their chance to branch out in the ’90s and early ’00s and dropped the ball. Certain specific writers and artists will do a good job with what they have, presenting diverse casts and telling good stories, but as a whole? Marvel has one audience, and whoever else they get is just a bonus. It is what it is. It sucks, but to suggest that things have regressed from 1975… that’s laughable.

words by zeb wells, art by leonard kirk

5. One more excerpt:

You could ask of the Captain America comic, “Did we go to war as a result of the comic?” or “Did the comic depict our unconscious desire to go to war?” This is a difficult question. Most of the people who could answer it are dead. Many of them died fighting that war.

“Difficult question.”

Whatever dude.

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The Children Are The Future (and X-Men is for the babies)

January 13th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Here’s a couple of bits from X-Men comics I dug, mainly for their writing.

First bit’s from New Mutants, Vol. 2: Necrosha, with words by Zeb Wells and art by Diogenes Neves. I really dig Wells’s work in general and his work on New Mutants in specific, but this trade is such a mixed bag. As soon as Wells sets up what was clearly meant to be his second arc (the soon-ending New Mutants: Fall of the New Mutants), he has to write a few tie-in issues to Necrosha (a crossover I did not read) and Kieron Gillen interrupts to clean-up some crap from Siege (a crossover I did not like). The switchover from regular New Mutants to Necrosha was pretty smooth, and the story was good, but the overall picture of v2 is that it’s a hodgepodge. I thought New Mutants, Vol. 1: Return of Legion was a really strong book, too. The ship was righted after all this crossover crap wrapped, but man. Ugly business. Death to events.

Anyway, here’s one page from a Necrosha issue. It’s from the POV of a recently revived Doug Ramsey, whose mutant power is that he listens well. Or understands every language ever. Unsurprisingly, his mutant power didn’t protect him from being shot and killed years ago. Wells introduced a neat twist on his powers in this issue, and hopefully the red on black text (why?) is legible.

I like this, because it makes what’s honestly a pretty crappy power for adventure stories into something interesting. He can decipher what they mean, rather than what they’re saying. He can also now “read” other things, from cities to computer programs, but this was the bit I liked the best. Wells nailed the characterization here, and I particularly like how Sam Guthrie and Bobby Dacosta come off. I’ve liked those guys since I was a kid and high on that Nicieza/Capullo X-Force. Clever work.

Next is X-23 4, words by Marjorie Liu and art by Will Conrad and Marco Checchetto. Colors by John Rauch. I think this page is Checchetto, but don’t quote me. I picked up the first issue because Marjorie Liu is a pretty ill writer, but I was left pretty underwhelmed. The “Wolverine is in Hell. Hell! HELL!” stuff that’s spread across the Wolverine family of books right now is a huge drag, and that first issue wasn’t really for me. 4 was the start of a new arc, and actually feels like where the series should have begun. It’s much better than before, though I’m still not feeling the art. I think that may be due more to Rauch’s colors, though. He makes stuff seem really washed out, sort of like how Pete Pantazis did on JLA a while back. We’ll see how it shakes out.

I think the “Heroes don’t kill!” thing in comics is dumb, and have harped on it ad nauseam. I like this bit, though, because it’s more… honest. X-23 is a character who has gone from killer to child prostitute and back around to being a killer again. Only this time, she’s a Wolverine-style killer, where it’s hyped up and encouraged until someone decides it isn’t cool. And that always rubbed me the wrong way, like the guy who rails about how drugs are for idiots but is down to hit a blunt at a party. Which is it? Pick one and stick with it.

This, though, is a more honest treatment than the either/or that infests cape comics. It’s just, “You did this thing. Can you live with it?” “Yes, he deserved to die.” “Well, all right.” I like that. When your mutant power is “kills people real good,” a different approach from your usual superheroic code of honor is required. Here, the killing isn’t treated as something positive, or something to be encouraged, but it is treated as necessary, or maybe even just. More like this, please.

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The Cipher 12/01/10

December 1st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

if you smoke a dime, then i’ll smoke a dime
-I bought Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here last week and finally got around to listening to it (that’s what happens when you go on vacation, you don’t do things). It’s nuts, totally worth whatever it was I paid for it.

-Scott-Heron is gravel-voiced, astute, and clever. The production is tight, a lot more modern hip-hop than I expected, but with an eager nod toward the black blues/soul tradition. It sounds like what I want this kind of music to sound like.

-He hooked me from the first song, honestly. “On Coming From A Broken Home Part 1” opens with a few bars that are like a shot directly to my dome:

I want to make this a special tribute
to a family that contradicts the concepts
heard the rules but wouldn’t accept
and women-folk raised me
and I was full grown before I knew
I came from a broken home

-Even better: it’s over Kanye’s “Flashing Lights.”

-I listened to it twice in a row, took a break to wrap up this music countdown thing I’m working on with my TFO family, and now I’m on listen three.

-I finally broke the spell Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had over me. Listening to it twice a day, minimum, had to stop. I put on OutKast’s ATLiens and Aquemini, two of my most favorite albums ever, back to back. I ended up running through Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and Big Boi’s solo record, too. Feels like I just replaced one addiction with another.

-The new Gorillaz single, Doncamatic featuring Daley, dropped last week.

-I hadn’t heard of Daley before this song, but he seems pretty dope. I thought he was a she before I saw the video, to be honest. Apparently he’s an amateur gone pro, and that’s kind of cool.

-I like the song, but I don’t like every part of the song. The horns (though they’re probably from a keyboard, come to think of it) that sit on top of the drumbeat don’t quite work for me. It puts me in mind of circus music, or the guys with the accordion and a dancing monkey.

-The rest of the song, particularly the vocals (the “Talk to me talk to me talk to me” on the hook is pretty great). It’s laid back, and it fits well with the tone of Plastic Beach, or rather, a return to Plastic Beach.

-Doing a zillion things at once right now, and I’m New Here has switched over to Ski Beatz’s 24 Hour Karate School. I picked it up the other day, and the first track is pretty straight.

-Curren$y on the first track is reminding me that I need to pick up Pilot Talk II. I thought Pilot Talk was just aight. Spitta stayed in his comfort zone, which is fine, but a little boring on an LP. I like him enough that I’ll give him a second try, though.

-More on Ski Beatz: Is it just me or was the Dipset breakup the best thing that could have happened to Jim Jones? It forced him out of his comfort zone, which was being a voice in a crowd of many, and into something resembling the limelight.

-Jones was never the most lyrical dude in Dipset, or even the most interesting flow-wise, but he’s got an ill voice that’s just made for rap. That rasp really works.

-Having to go solo, or something like solo, has led to him linking up with Dame Dash, Joell Ortiz, and other cats who have pulled some good work out of him. He feels hungry again. I like that. He’s not great, but he’s interesting enough at this point that I’ll check his work out just off GP.

/*-~~JETS~~-*/ fool

-There were two songs dedicated to weed this year that were just called “Marijuana.” Yelawolf did one on Trunk Muzik 0-60, and Kid CuDi had one on Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. Remember when we used to get at least one weed smoker’s anthem a year? Bone Thugs alone had that subgenre on lock.

-Cripes, remember when the phrase “Bone: Thugs-n-Harmony” wasn’t embarrassing on any level? When they fell off, they fell all the way off.

-Back to Ski Beatz: six tracks in and I’m well pleased. Production is on point.

-A larger post on music coming soon, I think.

-Pac-Man Championship DX CE on PlayStation 3 is hotter than the surface of the sun. They completely turned that game out.

but in the middle we stay calm, we just drop bombs
created: A couple joints this time… Marvel is already trying to screw up the digital comics market like a bunch of clowns and Dark Horse has their head on so straight it’s scary.

consumed: I didn’t do much reading over the past week. I was in Los Angeles and had other priorities. Despite that, I ran through:

-Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite: I bought the digital comic off iTunes by accident like four months ago and finally got around to it. This was my second time through the series, and I liked it. I do think that the art way outclasses the script, which is just sorta okay. I’ll read the sequel for the first time next year when Dark Horse drops its digital store.

-Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches: This was fantastic. Longer post next week, since I get some other stuff done first, but: yes, you want this. I let it sit for a couple months after reading the first twenty pages or so for some reason, but reading it all in a shot was a great experience.

-I picked up New Mutants 2: Necrosha by Zeb Wells and a whole gang of artists, including David and Alvaro Lopez, who I haven’t seen since their days on Catwoman with Will Pfeifer. In a way, this book is the best example of what I like and don’t like about corporate comics. Wells is telling a pretty good story and bam, a fairly crap X-Men crossover pops up. He treads water through that, managing to do some cool stuff with Doug Ramsey in the process, and then gets back to his ongoing plot. Except! After Wells gets two issues in and introduces his big bad villain and scripts a particularly fun issue for an old X-Force fan like me, we get a crossover with Siege that’s written by another writer entirely. And then, after that issue, is a three issue detour into X-Men: Second Coming. That’s gross. And yet, Wells is holding his head through all of this, and he’s created the only X-Men comic I’m even really interested in right now. Dude is good. I just wish Marvel would give him room to breathe, but I guess working with the X-Men comes with certain expectations.

nigga, I’m feelin’ better than ever, what’s wrong with you? you get down!
David: Heroes for Hire 1, King City 12
Esther: Yes: Action Comics Annual 13, Secret Six 28 Maybe: Batman: 80 Page Giant
Gavin: Secret Six 28, Ant-Man & Wasp 2, Chaos War God Squad 1, Heroes For Hire 1, Ozma Of Oz 2, She-Hulks 2, Taskmaster 4, What If Iron Man Demon In An Armor, (maybe) Wolverine Best There Is 1, Irredeemable 20

King City 12 this week? My my my.

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The Cipher 10/20/10

October 20th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

leave with lifeless lungs or come in peace
-Remember when I said “You should be reading it” in relation to the Fraction/Ferry Thor? I take it back. I was okay with the first issue being empty, what with it being essentially the first chapter in what is meant to be a book, but the second is just as empty. All of the goodwill I had for it was instantly sapped by the pace and plot. Check out Tim O’Neil’s pretty good review of the issue. I agree with everything he said, I think. Pretty art, I dig the letters, but you’re cashews if you think I’m gonna pay four dollars a month for that.

-I’m slowly working my way through the books I bought at NYCC… and the books I bought after NYCC, and the books I’m probably gonna buy tonight. Time to scale back the insanity some, maybe? Who knows.

-I went to APE. It was okay. I liked the Writers Old Fashioned panel on Sunday. I bought a couple pages of art from Steve Oliff, the incredible colorist who did Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira.

akira color guides

One of the best comics ever, seriously. I’m happy to own two bits of it. These are also the first two pages I’ve bought that don’t feature colored folks.

-Disc-less Netflix on PS3 > Netflix on 360. The interface is smooth as silk.

-I deleted like ten gigs of mp3s last night. Goodbye, Canibus and Cassidy. You overstayed your welcomes. Drake, you’re next.

-If all goes well, I’ll have both a new Pretty Girls for Friday and a good post for tomorrow.

-You ever feel like there’s something you’re forgetting, even though it’s consumed your thoughts for days? I’m having that feeling right now. It was definitely something to do with comical books.

i would rather have you fear me than have you respect me
wrote: Ehh, light week. Just a preview. You should watch the footage of our panel from NYCC, though, and leave comments about my looks.

read: One Piece, Vol. 55, Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Volume 4, and Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, Vol. 11. OP was great, as expected. GSC flagged a little toward the end there by introducing a major character and then ignoring him for the rest of the book. It stumbled, but other than all the pedo stuff, it was pretty great. (Ugh.) 20thCB11 introduced a staple of adventure comics (crippling self-doubt!) and resolved it over the course of a chapter (I am invincible.), so that was nice. I like it more now, but it’s still threatening to spin off into absurdity (more than it already has, I mean). I hope the guessing games are mostly done. The stuff about Kanna was really strong this time around. More of that, please!

watched: I ordered The Night of the Hunter and received Seven Samurai. Why? Because Robert Mitchum and Akira Kurosawa, that’s why.

listened: It is positively absurd how much I’m feeling Rick Ross’s Teflon Don. Who knew? I’ve mostly been listening to Kanye and old joints, though.

laws and rules don’t apply to me
david: Hellblazer 272, New Mutants 18
esther: Possibly, but not likely: Batman the Road Home: Catwoman, Commissioner Gordon. Possibly: Batman and Robin 15, DCU Halloween Special, Tiny Titans 33. Probably: Superman/Batman 77
gavin: Azrael 13, Batman And Robin 15, Green Lantern Corps 53, Carnage 1, Chaos War 2, Deadpool 28, Hulk 26, Shadowland Power Man 3, Steve Rogers Super-Soldier 4, Darkwing Duck 5

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This Week in Panels: Weeks 48 and 49

August 29th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Due to extenuating circumstances, I wasn’t able to do ThWiP last week, so it’s been accumulated into this week’s update. For last week’s picks, I’m disappointed in David for choosing that specific Avengers Academy panel when the true honors should have gone to Reptil asking a disgruntled Cain Marko if he can say, “Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!” for his amusement. Was Taters rejoins the show once again, unable to choose between panels for Superman/Batman, so we went with both.

Warning: there is something really fucked up going on with Hal Jordan’s hands in the Legacies image and you won’t be able to stop yourself from staring at it.

Action Comics #892
Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Pere Perez, Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo

Age of Heroes #4
Elliott Kalan, Brendan McCarthy and others

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This Week in Panels: Week 10

November 29th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

A good variety of panels this week. Granted, it may not be the greatest thing that I’ve been reading Clone Saga out of pure nostalgia mixed with curiosity, but that’s still better than hermanos reading Jeph Loeb’s Hulk for whatever damn reason.

Amazing Spider-Man #613
Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta

Arkham Reborn #2
David Hine and Jeremy Huan

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Hola, Bobbito!

June 17th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I dug the first issue of New Mutants, but #2 hit one of my few nitpicky pet peeves. This bit right here:


Naw, son. In addition to being browner back in the day (what’s up with the coloring in this book? everything is set to “superbright”), Bobby is Brazilian. They don’t speak Spanish down there. It’s Portuguese. In fact, here’s a bit from a letters page I found in an X-Force comic I was reading about a month back. It’s from somewhere between issue 80 and 82, I think. The page it was on had reactions for X-Force #76, so you do the math.


Listen to Giancarlo Lima, fellas! I’d have emailed this directly to whoever’s editing the book, but New Mutants doesn’t have a lettercol email setup, near as I can tell. And leaving Zeb Wells a Youtube comment just seems… weird.

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New Mutants #1

May 11th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

newmutv3001_dc11-1I don’t have history with the New Mutants. I never read their original book, and by the time I’d tried the satellite X-books, they were X-Force. I know a lot of X-Men fans hold the New Mutants in high esteem, but for my money, X-Force was way more interesting. I reread that old X-Force stuff a few months back and didn’t regret it, exactly, but it wasn’t very good, either. The idea of a second generation of X-Men who decided that Xavier’s way wasn’t perfect is a good one, and one that Grant Morrison revisited to great success in New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s.

That was years ago at this point, though, and those times are long gone. The members of X-Force have given up, regressed, grown up again, and joined the actual X-Men. New Mutants #1 was written by Zeb Wells, pencilled by Diogenes Neves, inked by Cam Smith and Ed Tadeo, and colored by John Rauch. I checked it out mainly off the strength of Zeb Wells. He wrote the awesome New Warriors: Reality Check, starring Marvel’s other second generation of heroes, which was quickly thrown under the bus by Mark Millar’s Civil War. After reading it, the name New Mutants is basically a nostalgia grab. It stars Sam Guthrie, Roberto Da Costa, Amara Aquilla, Illyana Rasputin, Xi’an Coy Manh, and Dani Moonstar, and I found it a pretty solid first issue.

I’m really only familiar with Sam and Bobby as far as the cast goes, in addition to the surprise villain at the end. Even still, Wells does a pretty good job of selling me on the characters I don’t know, two of whom are blonde females of about the same height. I like that Illyana, who I’d previously seen when she died and maybe in some old X-Men reprints, is back and not exactly a good guy. She’s actually pretty sinister, and not in a “rough edge on a smooth team”-Wolverine sort of way.

The fact that the young students hate her is also a good touch, and a good example of something Wells does that I enjoy. He references a lot of backstory pretty seamlessly, but I never felt like I needed to know exactly what went down in, say, X-Infernus, which was a worthless story with solid art. The references are just used to build history, and to give Wells a bit of short-hand when sketching out the characters for new readers. I feel like Wells gets these characters. Sam and Bobby come across as best friends from jump, and Sam’s loyalty to his friends in particular is very clear. I also didn’t mind the suiting up scene, which usually comes across as corny.

I’m not as keen on the art. John Rauch’s coloring is working in that same style Pete Pantazis has been doing over on JLA– where each character is so brightly light that they look washed out and lightened. To be frank, it’s offputting and ugly. There’s not really any mood to the coloring, other than Outside, In A Basement, and Red Because She Might Be Evil. The color should enhance the art, rather than detract from it. It also sucks that Bobby Da Costa looks about as Brazilian as Bobby Drake.

At the same time, Neves’s art is solid, but unspectacular. He’s pretty solid at drawing kids, though his adults tend to skew a little too much toward the overmuscled superhero stereotype, rather than the early 20s mutants they should be, but that’s just comics as usual. Neves pulls some great facial expressions out of his hat, and though the issue doesn’t have a traditional fight scene, it seems like he’d be perfectly fine at choreographing and staging a solid fight scene.

New Mutants #1 was a solid, if a little unimpressive, read. I’ll give it another issue or so based on my past enjoyment of Zeb Wells and the fact that I like Bobby, Sam, and the surprise villain at the end. For it to be truly good, though, it’s going to need better coloring to even up the art. As-is, it’s a good start, enough to keep me interested, and a pretty decent mid-tier Marvel book. I like seeing these old characters turned into adults, and hopefully it’ll stick this time.

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