Uncanny Avengers, X-Men, Rick Remender, and Oppression Comix

March 29th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

Here’s an image from the latest issue of Uncanny Avengers 5, drawn by Olivier Coipel, inked by Mark Morales, written by Rick Remender, and colored by either Laura Martin, Larry Molinar, or both:


I saw this excerpted on The Beat and I thought it was pretty funny. I disagree with what Alex is saying, but lots of comics characters say things I disagree with, and I’m not reading this comic anyway, so that’s a double dose of “who cares.” But I’ve also seen similar sentiments expressed elsewhere — by actual, non-fictional people, I mean, not other cartoon characters — and that always secretly bugs me, so whoops I do care a whole lot and my jaded exterior is a false face.

I have two problems with this, but they come more from a theoretical perspective than a “I don’t like this story” perspective. For the phrase “the m-word” to be viable as a concept, Alex’s speech can’t be about “mutant,” which has been the accepted way to refer to the X-Men for basically ever. Professor X does it, Magneto does it, and I figure basically every X-writer has approached it as a neutral way to refer to m-words nine times out of ten. It has been used in negative ways, but so have the pretty much neutral words black, Jew, gay, and probably everything else. The offensive part of “black bastard” isn’t “black.” It’s “bastard.”

Alex’s speech, to make the metaphor work, has to be about “mutie,” which is about as close as mutant-oriented slurs get to “nigger.” Alex’s speech is the equivalent of a black dude saying “Don’t call me black,” which is a thing that definitely gets expressed that I don’t think holds up under scrutiny at all. It prizes blind assimilation over actual acceptance. It’s not “I’m just like you” so much as “I’m just like you because I don’t mention this part where we’re different that makes you uncomfortable.”

(Yes, I’ve seen the Morgan Freeman video, people who are rushing to post it in the comments as some type of counterpoint. “Stop talking about it” is the stupidest advice anyone ever gave for solving any problem in the entire world. Nothing fixes itself.)

Luckily that’s my other point: this is naive in a way that I appreciate (honest!) but will never, ever believe in. I get what Alex is saying, but it also depends on the entire world magically changing their points of view to one that doesn’t view you as a threat. It’ll work on some people, especially if you’re a pretty mutant, but it will have less than zero effect on everyone else. “Don’t look at me like a black guy,” said the black guy who somehow forgot that racism is a system that doesn’t magically go away if you personally ignore our differences. There are years — centuries in real life, decades in comic books — of momentum that don’t just stop because you make a semantic change. This is the opposite of realpolitik. It’s tumblrpolitik. As far as workable philosophies go, it makes a nice image macro or touching edit of A Softer World.

But! Who cares? I’ve disagreed with stuff in comics before, and in X-Men comics in particular, pretty much ever since I first saw one of those idiotic “Professor X is Martin Luther King and Magneto is Malcolm X!” comparisons. (They aren’t, not even close, and you can’t support that position without being real ignorant of like… anything about everyone involved.) I’ll somehow limp along and live my life without holding a grudge over Alex “Havok” Summers believing something different from me in a comic book I ain’t reading.

BUT! I do think doing this sort of story with the X-Men is a mistake. The X-Men are, in the eyes of both Marvel and the vast majority of fans, an oppression metaphor. Mutants-as-blacks, mutants-as-gays, mutants-as-outcasts. You can fill in the blank with your preferred marginalized group, up to and including white dudes. It’s a tremendous asset to the franchise, because everyone feels alone and like an outcast sometimes. The X-Men are feared and hated by a world they are sworn to protect, which sets them up as underdogs.

BUT!!! This is an example of the franchise flying too close to the sun and getting too specific, which is usually a mistake. The metaphor has worked for so long because it’s amazingly broad and they rarely ever address the actual factual parts of being marginalized within the text. The X-Men franchise is a soap opera about pretty people having sex and fighting evil and sometimes disfigured bad guys, but somehow they’re still underdogs and we love them for it. They’ll borrow specific things here and there, but fictionalize them to the point that they have a taste of real life, rather than a full bite.

There are a few good and recent examples of the franchise going specific. The Fraction/Land run on Uncanny X-Men had an anti-mutant take on Prop 8 I think, and I’m pretty sure that Bendis is mining black nationalist language and tactics for his take on Cyclops but don’t know for certain. Peter David and Larry Stroman kinda explored this years ago in X-Factor with the term “genetically-challenged,” which used humor to kill the tension and keep you into it.

Nailing this kind of specificity is a tough row to hoe, and if you tilt too far toward realism — toward acknowledging the actual oppression that provides fodder for X-Men stories — the balance gets entirely upset. In this case, “the m-word” is clearly, clearly, trading on “the n-word,” a censored version of the word “nigger.” That pulls Alex’s argument from being the kind of pie-in-the-sky optimism that is common to the franchise (my favorite example is Professor X’s speech during X-Cutioner’s Song, I think) to something that we look at with real world eyes. It reminds us that people still get called niggers for no reason at all, and that makes the metaphor that’s central to the X-Men seem cheap.

So in as much as I am upset with or at this scene, my problem is basically that, as a dude who is familiar with the X-Men and aware of how race is treated in my culture, I can’t buy it. It doesn’t work from a marginalized perspective, and it doesn’t necessarily do the X-Men franchise any favors, either. That’s a suspension of disbelief thing, so it ain’t a big deal. I though this was funny, tweeted about it, read other people talking about it, and then I saw this:

Which is kind of a bummer, and by kind of a bummer, I mean ughhhhhhhh. It’s a dumb response when “sorry it didn’t work for you, I hope you stick around” or dead silence will do. (“Kill yourself” in any form is a pretty bad look in a situation like this.) That was when I realized that this was a whole thing already, and I thought about tweeting Remender about it, but I’m blocked for whatever reason (I honestly don’t know why) so I didn’t.

While talking to Joe Hughes, my editor at ComicsAlliance and fellow Black Dude In Comics, Remender said that the story/scene “has nothing to do with black people. It’s about imaginary mutants.” and that “the n-word doesn’t own the concept.” Which is crazy. I mean, kids still do the s-word, b-word, d-word thing, but adults? In 2013? About an X-Men comic? You can’t tell me that “the n-word” has no influence on “the m-word.” That’s crazy. That’s like… I can’t even think of a good comparison. “The m-word” is related to “the n-word” because it’s a euphemism for a hurtful word introduced with the idea of decreasing the power of the original word. Arguing that it isn’t related at all requires some pretty amazing mental gymnastics. And if you honestly believe there’s no relation between the two… I don’t know, dude. I don’t have any jokes or anything to soften the blow — this is like ground level stuff.

Later, Jason Aaron sent these perfectly reasonable messages (among others) as a way of defending Remender:

Which is true! It doesn’t match up all the time. But what I think is very relevant here is that the X-Men are a lot of things to a lot of people, but one of the most important things they are — I’m talking top two, right after “sexy people with cool powers” — is an oppression metaphor. You cannot escape this. It is built into the X-Men’s DNA. It wasn’t there at the beginning, but by the time Claremont got through with them? It was in there. It’s indelible, like Gwen Stacy for Spidey or Batman not murdering dudes. The oppression metaphor is a vital piece of the engine that makes the X-Men work.

It’s part of the incredible tapestry that is the X-Men, and it’s a big part, so you can’t really blame people for looking at it through that lens by default. And you especially can’t blame them for doing it in a story that specifically invokes that metaphor. I understand that the X-Men are a lot of things, but going by this page, the oppression metaphor is explicitly invoked. So of course people are going to look at it through the lens of real life oppression. It’s childish but… “he started it” is pretty apt here.

This isn’t even some kind of tough guy “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen” thing. Remender cranked the heat up, put a quart of water on to boil, walked away, and came back like “Wow this boiling water should totally go drown itself in hobo piss, who does this water think it is?”

My biggest problem with this is Remender’s response. Scott Summers’s weird brother saying things is pretty immaterial to me, except as a way to start a conversation. But telling people who are participating in a discussion that you invited to drown in hobo piss is aggravating. It’s contemptuous. This guy is writing Oppression Comix and when questioned on a fine point, he goes to “kill yourself?” And obviously it’s metaphorical and he doesn’t think dissenters should actually kill themselves, but if I led this piece with “if all these straight white dudes keep acting out and then telling me how offended I get to be over something they did I swear I’ma hit somebody with a hammer, whoo lawdy this racism is killing me inside” you’d probably get upset at me, and with good reason.

I’m sure the usual gang of idiots crawled up his butt with idiotic harassment, but cripes dude maybe there is a better way to handle that than blanket-shaming everyone who doesn’t agree with you. It’s not hard to not be a dick. Ignore the trolls. Talk to the people with actual concerns. Ignore the people with actual concerns. Deflect. Pretend like nothing is going on. Do anything but sit there and tell a bunch of people who are dead in the center of the X-Men target audience and whose day-to-day life often provides fodder for X-Men stories to shut their yaps because mutants aren’t actually black/gay/whatever and your story has absolutely no basis in real life, even though your story is quoting an actual real life argument.


which I guess is some kind of sarcastic ironic supergenius double bluff I’m not smart enough to get or something, because it just looks another stupid and tone deaf message after a day full of them from where I’m sitting here on my ivory throne. Besides, that finger of mine that’s wagging? At this point, it’s far from the pious one, hoss.

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


Long After Watchmen: Let’s Talk About Deadpool History

July 5th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I regularly peek at the traffic of the site because of ego. No big deal, I figure. While the new stuff almost always ends up hitting the top of the hit list, it’s interesting to see what stuff regularly gets its share of visitors no matter how old it gets. The We Care a Lot and the What If stuff, for instance, still do well. One of those articles that still gets notice is the Top 70 Deadpool Moments. It’s a 7-day series of daily posts I did three years ago that listed my favorite moments in the character’s history (with a little help from the readers). It was a fun writing project, but I look back at it and raise an eyebrow.

The timing of it was deliberate. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which featured a character that was SUPPOSED to be Deadpool, was about to be released and Day 7 came out on that Friday. It was right before what I like to call the Deadpoolsplosion, where he started appearing all over the place with way too many comics to keep track of. And I think back to the list and all the comics that have come out since then and I wonder how much I’d change the list if given the chance to update it.

Sadly, I wouldn’t change all that much. There really haven’t been too many stellar incidents with him since mid-09. He’s had his moments for sure, but they’re more few and far between than there should be, what with him being all over the place. In fact, for a guy who was once one of my favorite Marvel characters, the only thing I read with him is a team book where he rarely gets shoved into the forefront.

I figured it would be a good time to look at the character’s history and see what went right and what went wrong.

Deadpool made his first appearance in New Mutants #98 in 1990, where he fought Cable and lost. While Fabian Nicieza was the writer, the basic design for the character was an idea of the artist, Rob Liefeld. Liefeld had always wanted to draw Deathstroke the Terminator professionally – something he’d get to do 22 years later at the expense of me caring about what was a fun series – but since Deathstroke was a DC character, he had to make due with a pastiche. We got Wade Wilson instead of Slade Wilson and our awkwardly-drawn villain was born.

Read the rest of this entry �

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


Uncanny X-Force #26 has EVERYTHING

June 14th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

This week brought us Uncanny X-Force #26, written by Rick Remender and drawn by Phil Noto. The current arc is a weird one, mixing a vengeful judge with no skin, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and an organization that creates assassins and programs revenge-fueled backstories into their memories. A couple pages in, we get a scene of Fantomex trying to work through Psylocke giving into his advances and then dumping him.

I had a huge smile on my face when reading this scene, just for the background happenings. It’s here that I realize that while Jean-Phillipe doesn’t seem to keep company with anyone on a regular basis, he definitely has to be an acquaintance of Stefon Zolesky from New York.

Stefon, for those who don’t watch modern Saturday Night Live, is a character played by Bill Hader. This eccentric, gay club kid is always tasked with giving people advice on where to spend their vacation when they hit New York City. He just lacks the ability to keep himself grounded and would rather suggest the strangest clubs. It’s worth noting that although Hader co-writes the material, one of the other writers, John Mulaney, has a tendency to change some of the jokes before they go live, meaning Hader has yet to do a single skit without cracking up.

“So Stefon, some kids might want to get into reading Marvel. What should they check out to start with?”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes… The hottest club in Marvel comics is the Merriment Dungeon. Started on a deadline by comic-writing prostitute Trick Remender, this club has EVERYTHING: gimps, astronauts, lusty mimes, bathrobed Lincolns, urban knitters, pandas betting on pillow fights, that guy with no hands juggling knives with his feet while wearing a diaper and Fantomex.”

“Fantomex? What’s that?”

“It’s… you know… that thing where you mix a mutant with a Sentinel and give him the power to sneeze out his nervous system and turn it into a UFO.”

“Yes, that thing.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we have the Marvel Team-Up story we need to see. I mean, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers wrote Spider-Man: The Short Halloween a few years back and the 70’s gave us that Avengers/SNL crossover, so we have some precedent. A Fantomex/Stefon comic would have EVERYTHING: action, adventure, humor, an old hermaphrodite dressed in a raincoat, Moloids, Bill Cosby cosplayers, Prulls (Puerto Rican Skrulls) and Human Cosmic Cubes. That’s that thing where you get a midget and put him in a cardboard box and have two Nazis play catch with it.

Plus it opens things up for a Deadpool/MacGruber miniseries that I would read the shit out of.

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


that’s a one hot team every ten issues average

February 24th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Marvel’s been double-shipping comics lately, taking advantage of an increased shipping schedule to pull a little more money from their fanbase. As a result… the quality and consistency of their books has slipped over. Here’s a quick copy/paste from my buddy Ron Richards’s Marvel May solicitations post that does a pretty good job of explaining the situation:

To put it in perspective, here’s a rundown of several single issues coming out in May. Series that previously featured a “hot” artist who received critical and fan praise, and the artist replacing them:
Secret Avengers #27 – you loved Gabe Hardman on this book that JUST relaunched with a new creative team, so HERE’S RENATO GUEDES!
Ultimate Spider-Man #10 – you loved Sara Pichelli and her new take on Ultimate Spider-Man, so HERE’S DAVID MARQUEZ!
Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #10 and #11 – Esad Ribic blew your minds with the opening chapters of Hickman’s run, so HERE’S LUKE ROSS!
Scarlet Spider #5 – you loved Ryan Stegman after he launched this title, so HERE’S NEIL EDWARDS!
Fantastic Four #605.1 – you loved Steve Epting, so HERE’S MIKE CHOI (Speaks for itself after last week’s Green Lantern #6 atrocity)!
Defenders #6 – you loved Terry Dodson, so HERE’S VICTOR IBANEZ!
Daredevil #12 – you loved Paolo Rivera SO HERE’S CHRIS SAMNEE – oh wait, this is a good one…
EXCEPT, next issue…
Daredevil #13 – you loved Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee, so HERE’S KHOI PHAM!
Don’t mind me, my head’s too busy spinning.

That’s a lot of changes. Most mainstream artists can just about keep a monthly schedule. Previously, you’d see two stable art teams alternating arcs on a book to keep the book on schedule and with something of a cohesive look. With the double-shipping, stable art teams are looking less and less likely.

Daredevil is a good example of what I’m talking about, and why these art changes are so frustrating. At launch, it was announced as a book that would feature Mark Waid writing with Paolo Rivera (and his pop Joe Rivera inking him!) and Marcos Martin alternating on art duties. Javier Rodriguez was going to color Rivera, Muntsa Vicente was going to color Martin, and Joe Caramagna was going to letter all of it. That’s a good team–an astounding one, honestly. Alone, Rivera and Martin are beasts. Putting them on the same book is like having putting on a concert with fifteen Michael Jacksons on stage at once, or going to a basketball game that’s Jordan on Jordan. (It’s a pretty good comic.)

By the time we hit issue 13, we’ll have seen Rivera, Martin, Kano, Chris Samnee, and Khoi Pham illustrating the book. That’s five artists over thirteen issues. Some will have done one issue, others just a few. And on a certain level, sure, all of these artists are pretty good. Daredevil is going to be a good looking comic regardless, and will presumably remain well-written. But on another level, good looking isn’t a binary proposition. Martin’s good looking is different from Rivera’s good looking. Samnee and Kano are two entirely different types of good looking. With alternating teams of two, you can maintain a real visual identity. That’s what a stable art team does–it gives the book a look. Bringing in five artists onto a book in just over a year is far from stability. It’s another hoop for your suspension of disbelief to jump through so you believe in the story.

I saw a Marvel editor going off on Twitter about how artist switch-ups aren’t a problem, because hey, you’re still buying the comic, aren’t you? What’s the deal? It’s not like they’re ugly. I disagree. Vehemently disagree, in fact.

Think of it like this. When you hopped on Daredevil, you hopped on for Waid, Rivera, and Martin. They set a specific mood with their first issue. For another artist to tag in, even a good one, muddies that mood. Samnee doesn’t draw like Kano, who doesn’t draw like Martin, who doesn’t draw like Rivera. Rivera and Martin are complementary (though perhaps not as complementary as Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin, another killer duo), and their mood (which is aided and abetted by Waid’s script, of course) is a very specific thing.

When you begin adding to that mood, Daredevil becomes a different comic. It’s like if the actors changed forty-five minutes into a film, or if the new hot single by your favorite artist changed BPM and singers halfway through, but kept the same subject matter. It’s not that strange a comparison, I don’t think. There’s a skipped beat there. Every artist is unique, and swapping an artist out of one story (and make no mistake, Waid is clearly scripting one story) and slotting another in changes that story fundamentally.

I’m actually having a hard time explaining why because it’s so obvious and basic to me. It looks different, and comics are a visual medium. You don’t just read comics–you look at them. The art matters, and when the art changes, the story changes. All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is such a beautiful hot mess because Jim Lee is the quintessential superhero artist of our day and Frank Miller scripted a story that needed a more cartoony, flexible style. I talk about it here a little, but Lee is simultaneously the best and worst choice to illustrate what Miller was trying to do. If Miller drew ASBAR, it would have been received differently. It follows, then, that Lee’s ASBAR is not Miller’s, just like Rivera’s Daredevil is not Kano’s. It isn’t a value judgment. It’s an objective fact. Blue is not red, but they are both nice colors. Same thing.

These changes also have this unwanted effect of devaluing the artist, in a way. It sets the writer up as the prime mover on a comic book. The writer is the one constant in all these creative changes, and that changes the conversation from “Waid and Rivera are doing Daredevil!” to “Rivera is drawing Waid’s Daredevil next issue!” There is a difference there, and it affects how we think and talk about comics. It gives the writer ownership of the book, and makes the artist secondary, despite the artist being such a huge part of the success of the book.

(I realize that I’m giving short shrift to the inkers, colorists, and letterers here, but please believe that I love you guys, and do not wish to underestimate your influence. Pardon my shorthand.)

I don’t expect every creative team to stay together forever. But the constant musical chairs, right when things are getting good, is off-putting. We’re paying more money for less content, and we can’t even get consistent content. I understand why Marvel double ships comics, but am I really going to keep buying two issues a month when the creative team is compromised like it is on so many books in the latest round of solicits?

I buy cape comics because I like seeing what a small, dedicated team can do with these old characters I grew up on. Spider-Man has no value in and of himself. I might get curious about a series featuring Spider-Man and Hypno Hustler, but without a strong creative team, it’s nothing. It’s worse than nothing. Uncanny X-Force is a dumb idea on paper. It’s the team of X-Men that go out and murder people at night. But it came roaring out of the gates with Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, and Dean White firing on all cylinders, including cylinders I didn’t even know Marvel had. That team made that series. By issue eight, Billy Tan was drawing the book, the quality took a nosedive, the magic was broken, and I bailed out. Why was Tan drawing it? Because Marvel shipped six issues of the series between the cover dates of May 2011 and July 2011, tossed out another two in October, and will consistently double-ship the book from February to April.

Uncanny X-Force 17-22 feature five different artists. That’s seven issues, including 19.1. There’s no in-story reason for the double-shipping. It just happens. That’s not a problem? It’s enough of a problem that I quit the series, and I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the only one. Maybe it’s just us elitist hipster douchebags dropping books over changes, but I doubt it.

Boiled down, though, my only request is this. If you want us to pay four bucks for 20 pages of comics, then at least let us trust that the reasons we’re reading the series are going to stick around. Let us get a story from a creative team that’s had time to grow together and get in sync. If you want us to pay more for less, at least do us the basic favor of giving us something approaching consistency.

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


4 Elements: Uncanny X-Force #5

February 19th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

The Deadpoolsplosion is dying down and most others would say, “It’s about damn time.” Merc with a Mouth is long gone, Team-Up and Deadpool Corps are about to bite the dust and Deadpool MAX has been turned from an ongoing to a limited series. To compound my sadness, writer of the core series Daniel Way has lost his razzle dazzle and doesn’t appear certain of what he even wants to write. Still, that’s a ton of Deadpool in the last three years, not even counting the various guest appearances, miniseries and specials that have gone to his name.

And yet, despite all of that, it’s a scene in a team comic where he only appears for four pages that speaks to me as his best and truest moment of the Deadpoolsplosion. It comes in Uncanny X-Force #5, written by Rick Remender and drawn by Esad Ribic.

I always thought Deadpool would work better in a team setting. Years ago, people suggested that Peter David put Deadpool in X-Factor, mostly for the sake of being in a comic with Siryn again and I agreed with it. I didn’t think that Deadpool would drive up the wackiness level of the comic, but that the comic would ground Deadpool just a little bit more. He’s spent so much time playing off himself that there doesn’t seem to be much development left for him. That’s why Daniel Way’s written the same “Deadpool wants to be a hero” plotline that Joe Kelly and Fabian Nicieza have written before, only to write himself into a corner and make him purely a mercenary again.

X-Force is the perfect team for Deadpool. Naturally, you have a rich guy who will pay him to keep with Deadpool’s mercenary motivation. The team, especially with Deadpool, acts as a tribute to the dearly departed Cable. Then there’s Deadpool’s comedic and at times pitiful dream to be recognized as a member of the X-Men. I don’t know if they planned it, but Way’s recent storyline where Deadpool momentarily joins the X-Men and sacrifices his own reputation to make them look better works as a perfect prelude/explanation for what he’s doing here.

For those not up to date, the first four issues of Uncanny X-Force have featured the team of Wolverine, Archangel, Psylocke, Fantomex and Deadpool going to the moon in order to kill the recently-resurrected Apocalypse. While the X-Men members do this for the sake of saving mutantkind the headache of a fully-realized Apocalypse attack, Fantomex and Deadpool openly tell each other that they’re only there for the money.

The big twist is that Apocalypse isn’t like how we know him. He’s only a child, yet to grow up. His followers have been brainwashing him to be their leader, even though he doesn’t want to kill the weak. It’s a fantastic, action-packed story arc that ends with the team cornering the young Apocalypse and arguing over whether or not they should kill him. Wolverine decides that they’ll take him in and raise him right, since he’s only a kid. Arguments and scuffles ensue, only to be silenced when Fantomex coldly shoots the boy in the head. During all of this, Deadpool has been physically unable to speak, so we don’t know his take on this situation. He’s not the only one silent as the ride back to Earth is filled with awkward wordlessness.

That brings us to the issue at hand. Specifically, this scene.

There are four reasons this scene rings true to me.

Read the rest of this entry �

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


Remender and Moore Care a Lot

December 9th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

It’s been announced today that Rick Remender and Tony Moore — the guys who game us Fear Agent and Frankencastle — are joining forces once again for another ongoing.

Yes, Venom #1 will be released this coming March. Although the host is a secret (from what I hear, it’s totally John Jameson), the alien/human hybrid will be off trying to save the world under the government’s watch. Sure, this is the third time Venom’s worked as a government lackey, but I don’t stop eating pizza because I’ve had it twice before. Here’s a look at Venom-Wolf’s not-slobbering-and-crazy-for-human-flesh appearance.

So, yeah. I’m completely on board.

The real question is what do I have to do to become the guy who writes the “Venom Saga” backup in the first issue?

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


Franken-Castle: A Look Back at Rick Remender’s Graveyard Smash

October 7th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Just last week, Rick Remender’s infamous Franken-Castle story arc had come to a close. Never have I seen a more divisive reaction to the character’s developments in all his history. At least with his whole Punishment Spectre-lite run, just about everyone hated it. I thought the whole Frankenstein concept was interesting and fun and I’ve seen many agree with me, but I’ve seen just as many hate it with the fury of a million Nick Furys. My local comic shop for months had a bulletin board with nothing up it other than Punisher #11 with a sign over it saying, “DISGRACE!” I kept forgetting to lovingly lick the covers of whatever Punisher issue I was buying while at the register.

Since Matt Fraction took up the character in Punisher: War Journal, Frank Castle has become more and more involved in the greater Marvel Universe. Outside of Jigsaw being killed off (and then being replaced with another guy taking up the mantle several issues later), not much carried over into Rick Remender’s Punisher run other than his latest injection into the superhero scene. The problem was that the Dark Reign banner put Frank’s writing in a corner. With Osborn and Hood in charge of things, he obviously had to be itching to take care of them, but even as the protagonist, he can’t. There’s far too much plot armor to work through. So how does one write a story about Frank Castle being completely impotent as an unstoppable vigilante?

The first ten issues of Punisher and the one Annual take their time to get to something super-strong. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun bunch of issues, but the first five-issue arc is so closely melted into the second five-issue arc that there doesn’t appear to be much more than wheels spinning in place. There is one piece of interest in all this in the introduction of supporting character Henry Russo. Henry is a young hacker who tracks down Frank and makes himself the third man to take the role of Punisher’s tech-savvy sidekick. I really like Henry and want to see more from him. Thankfully, he’s gotten play in other stories like Deapdool: Suicide Kings and Anti-Venom: New Ways to Live.

Yes, yes. I’ll get to the next We Care a Lot soon. I promise.

Read the rest of this entry �

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


What If Marvel Really Loved Gavok?

September 17th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

For the past week, Marvel’s been revealing the upcoming What If stories and creative teams. We have a story about Norman Osborn winning the Siege. We have a backup where Stan Lee tells what would have happened if the Watcher killed Galactus during their original debuts. What would have happened had Spider-Man killed Kraven during the Grim Hunt? Or if Clint Barton assassinated Norman Osborn? Or if Dr. Doom and Tony Stark were roommates and… uh… they switch brains and Tony loses his memory and… oh, who knows.

One of the issues is about Wolverine raising Daken. An interesting comic on its own, but keep reading.

If there’s one person who shouldn’t raise a child, it’s a berserker killing machine. In the regular Marvel Universe, Logan wasn’t there for Daken, and his son grew up to become the murderous Dark Wolverine. But what would have happened if Logan had known of Daken’s existence as a child, and had taken him under his wing from his first moments? Can a child with Logan’s blood running through his veins ever turn his back on murder? Can Logan find redemption and be a good father? Raising Daken will be Wolverine’s greatest battle. PLUS, What If: The Venom Symbiote Possessed Deadpool – Part 2!
40 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

So let’s review for a second.





It’s official. I have a secret admirer at Marvel.

Speaking of Frank Castle, alternate realities, Deadpool and I guess Venom, I should probably get around to writing that one review…

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


Frank Castle and the Marvel Universe

November 25th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Solo #7 was originally supposed to have a cover by Mike Allred that depicted the 1960’s Adam West incarnation of Batman dancing the Batusi. It was replaced with Wonder Girl doing the same pose. One of the rumors as to why it was scrapped was that Dan Didio wants to put the kibosh on emphasizing the West-style Batman due to beliefs that West’s portrayal ruined the character for many decades up until Dark Knight Returns returned him to form. You get the idea: you can’t take a man dressed as a bat with underwear over his pants seriously if you’re reminded of that show where Cesar Romero painted over his mustache.

Is it true? Probably not. Batman: The Brave and the Bold is very Dick Sprang Batman and Sprang’s take on the Caped Crusader is practically brothers with Adam West Batman. Then again, I’m not sure if Didio had any real say in that.

But the precedent is there. There are fans out there who seem so stuck in their ways that to even portray their beloved character in a different tone offends them. That’s the case with the current Rick Remender Punisher storyline, Franken-Castle.

People HATE this image and all it represents. If you’re seeing this for the first time, chances are you might be thinking, “What the hell is this shit?!”

It’s awesome, that’s what it is.

Read the rest of this entry �

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


Today’s Mathematics: De Likkle Comic Man Dem

June 19th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Two instances of dumb ways to write “ethnic” characters, one counter-example, and a brief explanation.

The first two! On the left, we have Brother Voodoo Brudder Voodoo. On the right, we have the Shaolin Scientist Squad. From New Avengers #53 (Brian Michael Bendis and Billy Tan) and Punisher #6 (Rick Remender and Tan Eng Huat), respectively.


A counter-example for Brudder Voodoo, from Gambit #9 (John Layman and Georges Jeanty):


A brief explanation:
Brother Voodoo was needed to fill a role. As part of filling that role, he’s got to talk with a comic book Carribbean accent, I guess. Even though he hasn’t been portrayed as talking like that recently, nor originally, I believe. But, you know, he practices voodoo, and voodoo dudes need to have that authentic accent. Never mind that he’s a psychologist and Haitian ex-pat who’s been living in the States for years– he needs to be de likkle Claremontian stereotype, brudder. Just so you know he’s foreign.

The other is the Shaolin Scientist Squad, who are kind of like an evil Sons of the Tiger, I guess. My problem with them? Having Chinese villains refer to a “Great Western Satan” is like having a Jewish villain screaming about how Captain America is merely an avatar of Yacub, maker and creator of the Devil. GWS is something I’ve only ever seen in regards to Islamic extremist rhetoric, most notably courtesy of Iran a couple decades ago, not Chinese.

Nah, son. You got to do better.

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