Friday, December 22, 2006
Best Story INFINITE CRISIS
Epic, cinemascope storytelling. Taking root in the universe-spanning Crisis on Infinite Earths and the more recent crime drama Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis redefines taking a plunge with blind Juggernaut momentum. Johns and Jimenez take us from a nuclear detonation in Bludhaven to the imploding Rann galactica to a universe-bending portal powered by Black Adam and Power Girl among others. We might not always get it (instantly) but we are definitely swept away. By the palpable desperation of Superman. By the sheer bravado of the speedsters and the GL corps. By the sacrifice of a teenager in love.
Runners-up CIVIL WAR: Frontline (Marvel), RUNAWAYS: Parental Guidance (Marvel), TEEN TITANS: Titans Around the World (DC)
Best Book 52
A weekly comic by Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Geoff Johns. Cover by J.G. Jones. And there's no hype to live up to. Just writers telling stories and artists sketching the missing year between I.C. and the One Year Later jump all DC titles took before IC wrapped up. What was a gamble is now an extraordinary triumph of affected storytelling. And it lives up to its promise. Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are not missed. At all. Instead we get to root for C-listers Renee Montoya, The Question, Steel, Booster Gold and Skeets, and almost forgotten fan favorites Animal Man and Adam Strange. And Lobo. The lost in space crew, the Black Adam family, the mysterious Batwoman, and Lex Corp.'s Infinity Inc. are all about to collide next year, and I'm guessing it will soon be time for JSA #1's opening panel World War III.
Runners-up FABLES (Vertigo), THE ULTIMATES 2 (Marvel), ASTONISHING X-MEN (Marvel), Y: The Last Man (Vertigo)
Best Hero IRON MAN
Because right now, he is both hero and villain and there's no one remotely more interesting in the Marvel Universe than this recovering alcoholic corporate mogul who cannot survive outside his armor. And Iron Man beating up Captain America, that's the sweetest. Turn around or not at the end of CW, he is the necessary catalyst that is changing the Marvel Universe.
Runners-up GREEN ARROW (DC), RENEE MONTOYA (DC), EMMA FROST (Marvel), BLACK BOLT (Marvel)
Friday, December 15, 2006
Haven’t posted in a while, been real busy and Thor’s been bugging to catch up on my reading but today is a special day. Forget the deadlines, forget Sentry (the TBP I’ve been reading for two days now) – it’s comics day! Four X-titles were released: two of my favorite series and two limited runs.
“What was X23?”
“She was a weapon.”
X23 was first introduced in Xmen Evolution then she next appeared in Quezada’s NY where she was a mysterious prostituted young woman with hardly any lines. Then came “X23” where Kyle and Yost told the heart wrenching story of her origin. In this limited run, they tell the story of the two years between the destruction of the FACILITY and the time she appeared in
Writers: Craig Kyle and Chris Yost
Penciler: Paco Medina
“Tell me, is that a genuine emotion?” – Emma Frost to X23
New X-men after M-day has been brutal. Forty of de-powered students murdered in a terrorist attack and three students were assasinated. During the aftermath of M-day, Wolverine called her to come to the Mansion. I think
Writer: Greg Pak
Pencils: Tyler Kirkham
“My little death machines.” – Emma on the Cuckoos
Cool cover! Zombies! Celeste giving new flesh to the Zombies! Celeste blasting the Zombies! Emma lobotomizing Celeste to block out the
Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Pablo Raimondi
“X-Factor – putting the “fun” in “dysfunctional.” - Rictor
This is my favorite book. Stories about dysfunctional relationships and persons always draw me in (I think that’s why I love listening to Aimee Mann). Also, X-Factor reminds of Angel Investigations which I miss. I have forgotten about Monet, Syrin, Rictor, Guido, Rahne, and Jaime before I picked up this new run. They have always been practically second stringers – rarely taking the spotlight in the X-men titles until Peter David. David adding Layla Miller to the mix was genius.
Issue 14 does not have a single panel of heroes fighting their arch enemies (The few panels where Monet was hitting Jaime because a duplicate seduced her a few nights before while Jaime slept with Syrin don't count. Oh and by the way, I would hit him too.) There were three pages of male-bonding in a bar, four pages of Guido explaining to the wife of the man he killed that he was used by the Singularity, three pages of Jaime talking to a shrink…. You get the picture but the dialogue was priceless (especially the male-bonding part).
The art is better too – the coloring still maintains the feel and character of the book but the pencils are far better.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
...but this new family is about to be challenged.
The beautiful cover to Teen Titans 45 by Tony Daniel...
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; Breakdowns by Keith Giffen; Art by various; Backup features by Waid and various; Covers by J.G. Jones
The Ah-Hah: First, a moment of silence for this week's Ginebra bilog-inspired cover.
Batwoman: I'm Batwoman.
Nightwing: Definitely not a Batgirl.
Heh. The Bat Family takes center stage, and it's a stage filled with Bat flirting and hornyness. This time we meet a self-conscious Batwoman who knows her ass is being watched by Buttwing while she kicked, um, assess; quite far from the grim Batdyke that Montoya knows. The Bat banter hasn't been this fun since...um...let me get back to you on that.
And now for the good, sad part. Charlie really is dying. I'm still hoping for an ex machina stunt here because I love this guy. I love the Question and Montoya tandem. They are my heroes of the year. In the middle of all the Bat madness is a quiet slice of consciously restrained writing. Much like a sigh.
The Uh-huh: Batman has gone Bat crazy after IC and appears to have successfully killed his inner batness, which doesn't really amount to anything because we all know what happens one year later. And we all know that he IS psycho anyway. Quite unnecessary, but still nice to know. ****
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Greetings on the day Crossing Midnight #1 ships! It's that time of the year again when we go all Santa Claus on our favorite costumes, metas, mutants. Time for best of and (or worst of ) lists. Naughty or nice? Fuck of the century or snoozefest? Infinite Crisis or Civil War? We can do top 3 and bottom 3, all up to you folksies.
Here are few categories to think about:
Limited Series of the Year. CW is not yet over. 52 should never be over. One All-Star title is soaring. But I'm guessing Seven Soldiers.
Book of the Year. The OYLs feel like a Crisis hang-over. The Runaways lose and gain momentum. The Fables declare war in their heads. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are still on their asses gossiping. Much like the Eternals.
Hero of the Year. Nightwing? *wink, wink FAB*
- Best in Costume
- Best in Ripped-apart Costume
- Best Body (Male, Female, or Planet)
Team of the Year. The new new Thunderbolts. Heck, let's just call them Villains United.
Best single issue of the Year. The one comic book that wasn't a continuity sucker but had all you wanted in a comic. Could be part of a series. Or cheat and say Brave New World.
Writer of the Year. Dodo Dayao!
Artist of the Year. Post with pictures!
Publisher of the Year. Let's do this by label. DC. Vertigo. WildStorm. Marvel. Top Cow. Image. Dark Horse.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; Breakdowns by Keith Giffen; Art by various; Covers by J.G. Jones
The Ah-hah: JSA. The old timers Ted, Jay and Alan being old and obsolete. Hurts. Moment of realization comes crashing down on the three when a Thanksgiving Infinity Inc. parade walks down the street outside their headquarters with new Infiniter Jade. Obsidian goes berserk. Meanwhile, on the island of Dr. Morrow, nothing much happens. This is one of the more stand alone issues, and this goes out to all those who have been missing the JSA, me included. More of a homage than moving the story forward. All the talk on respect and what makes a superhero hit home. Nostalgia minus the Meltzer breakdown. Matter of fact, even a little cheeky. Loved it.
The Uh-oh: The island of Dr. Morrow scenes are overwritten and painstakingly slow. Bad egg Egg-fu was fun to see again sans the moustache but forgettable, really. Even Steel's getting predictable; we all kinda knew (guessed) that Lex Luthor's for everyman brew wasn't permanent. And I just cant wait to see all those Infinity Inc.-ers die really horrible deaths. After that big reveal in week 28 I was kinda hoping for more on our lost-in-space crew and the Questions. But what's great is...there's always next week. ***
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The tendrils of my comicbook fetishism run kid-deep. When Dad handed those EC comics down, I was Saul on the road to Damascus. But what I became, only the choir gets.
Comics have become fad gadgets, the future of rock and roll, pop cultural effluvia. They’ve been called graphic novels, sequential art, graphic fiction, visual literature. But comics have always been comics to me. No superfluous, fancy-dress name to fix what ain’t broke - - - an endeavor I’ve always found . . . um, corny at worst. Marketing hoohah at best. Comics are comics, deal with it - - - my words to live by.
Comics are silly, kinky, freakish, sexy, shiny, narcotic, irrational, ecstatic. All of which describes the twelve below. The twelve comics I’d rescue from a building on fire. The twelve I’d take to a desert island. Not necessarily the twelve finest comics ever made but for the fact that they are. Why twelve? Why not? Well, ten plus one each from Alan Moore and Frank Miller, whom you can’t ignore. Geek lists like this are protean, variable. OK, fickle. And there are ,as always, the painful omissions. Bubbling under and bound to sub for what made the cut in an eyeblink: Enki Bilal’s The Nikopol Trilogy , Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (prefrably the entire colored Epic run),William Gaines’ Mad , Will Eisner's Spirit, Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal, Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s Inhumans, Kirby and Lee's Fantastic Four, Neil Gaiman & Kelley Jones’ Season of Mists,Ted Mckeever’s Metropol, Morrison's Doom Patrol and tons of multi-volume manga. Crucially missing - - - homebrew. That deserves a list all its own.
BLACK AND WHITE Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz) : Certified manga nut here and still this yakuza mash-up's a charm for diamterically opposing all known manga forms while staying ostensibly Japanese, of which I'm even more psycho for.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Frank Miller & Klaus Janson with Lynn Varley (DC) : Smacks a bit of picking Citizen Kane- - - a bit obvious, a bit lazy, a bit you could see coming a mile away. But no Miller comic ever had this much vigor. No Batman comic either. Or Superman at that.
ED THE HAPPY CLOWN Chester Brown (Vortex) : What's it all about? To codify Ed is to tabulate what's in it, so let's - - - UFOs, giant rats, cannibal pygmies, magic beans, dismembered hands that travel through time, penis grafts, headless presidents, monstrous piles of shit and a cow. The headtrip is when it coheres. And does it. Comicbook dada, that'll stick.
FLEX MENTALLO MAN OF MUSCLE MYSTERY Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (Vertigo) : Reformats superheroes into opiates. Forms fracture. Tropes subvert. Noise gains color. Morrison & Quitely’s Jeet Kun Do’s always been weirder, meaning better, than Moore's , than Gaiman's , than anybody else’s. Here they are now, going sensei.
HELLBOY Mike Mignola (Dark Horse) : Oh, this is pulp - - - recombinant, supersized, prog-rock pulp. And Mignola draws like a motherfucker. So granted, it's vibrant. But I love it for the Kirby Lovecraftian monsters. Big ones. Gigantic ones. Up the kazoo.
LOVE AND ROCKETS: BLOOD OF PALOMAR Gilbert Hernandez and LOVE AND ROCKETS: THE DEATH OF SPEEDY Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics) : Gilbert's smalltown melodrama is so rich and layered, it's like Garcia Marquez, only sexier. Jaime's punk Mexican soap opera is so acute and immersive,it's like voyeurism, only funnier.
MADMAN Michael Allred (Dark Horse/AAA Pop) : Everything Allred signs his name on crackles with the joy, or a kind of amplified exuberance, that comics hooked me with forever. But this just sings like an acid trip , dig?
MARVELS Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross (Marvel) : Busiek’s in the know: nostalgia’s an aphrodisiac. What Lee & Kirby minted into prevailing tendencies he buffs to a sheen. Ross , at the height of his powers to floor, superconducts. Magic realism, then - - -with pictures that tick.
PLANETARY Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (Wildstorm):More a metacomic than you realize. Planetary combats the forces seeking to alter the shadow history of all our comicbook universes. And Elijah Snow 's a geek metaphor for every fanboy who's ever gone anal over continuity fuckups. Ellis's masterpiece.
POP GUN WAR Farel Dalrymple (Meathaus): The urge to draw parallels with Wings of Desire is there. But where Wenders was gazing at the quotidian through the eyes of gods, Farel’s doing the reverse, finding filaments of wonder in the supermundane.
SIGNAL TO NOISE Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean (Dark Horse) : Meditates on death without putting an ankh around its neck. Nothing here for weirdos to dress up as, good. Had Neil been a Beatle, this’d be his White Album - - - and 1602 is a Ringo solo record. Beautifully envisioned. Genuinely profound. Fucking brilliant.
TOP 10 Alan Moore and Gene Ha (ABC): Metahuman NYPD Blue - - -conceptually, it's blah Then you read it and it isn't Steven Bochco, dog. Nor is it From Hell , right, but superhero cop dramas will win me over any time. A whore job, some say. Beg to differ. Vastly underrated, more like it.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
It's cyclical with me. Bingeing on stash ,then my economy crumbles , and the cracks in quality I didn't see when I had money to burn start coming to relief, said cracked titles then get abandoned midway , owned copies resold or given away, and regretting mistakes I can't take back or even re-sell - - - Kevin Smith's DD and Green Arrow, Loeb/Sale's Daredevil:Yellow, Miller's Batman/Spawn, Grant's JLA/WildCATs, Gaiman's 1602 and both Deaths (you likey?) Time to cull again, sad to say. Number of reasons, mostly personal. Chief being my current salary of 0 pesos a day. Second being space,buying anymore means I have to give up my bed to make room. Thirdly,geek thresholds runneth over - - - I have outgrown this craving for continuity when I was 13 , and my collecting dynamic has always favored creators over characters, so this feels like so much backslide to me. Of course, I'm bound to be back here a year from now,swayed by the brouhaha. Oh well. Fourth, my current salary of 0 pesos a day. Fifth, and probably contradictory to all reasons aforementioned, is the spate of #1s I aim to sample - - - Iron Fist (second favorite character since I was 7 and foreskinned) , Tranquility, New Universal and Crossing Midnight- - -and I don’t want to dip into my insurance money to do that.
But mostly it's aesthetic. Something about these books just isn't giving me the rise and hook I need to evoke devotion. Hype brought them to me and hype almost always is a come-on with no follow-through. Twenty or so years of collecting comics, of Onslaughts and Heroes Reborns and Secret Wars and Crisis On Infinte Earths and DC One Millions and . . . I still haven't learned. Of course, if the busking and the begging on the streets and the whoring yields some cashflow and the withdrawals nag, I might give some of these castoffs a go still - - -Stormwatch,perhaps? Might. Otherwise, I either tradewait , torrent or just move on to better shit.
Action Comics and Superman Confidential: I had to ask : self, do you really give a bat's penis if the kid 's Kryptonian ? Obviously, I got my answer. Geoff I like. But Infinite Crisis hurt my head. Hit/miss. Then there's Cooke. Breaks my heart to let a Darwyn book go. Moreso when my gut tells me he catches fire two, three issues down. (And I don't even think I'll be up for his Spirit revamp this December ,which would be a damn shame) What sold me was rummaging through my boxes being struck that I don't have too many Superman books - - -just the Alan Moore one, the 50s comp ,the Hulk and Madman crossovers and this ,still the Superman take that takes. Reason being . . . I am not a fan of Superman. Not the movies, not the TV shows, not the cartoons, not the John Byrne revamp, certainly not Smallville. And I feel a bit silly for buying three monthlies of a character I am not a fan of. Or much like. I'm buying All Star Superman for Morrison/Quitely. I bought Up Up and Away for Busiek/Woods. And I keep the Busiek/Pacheco Superman for roughly the same reasons. Busiek/Pacheco. Also, Bizarro Swamp.
All New Atom: Gail on this was ecstatic with possibilities. And Byrne still has the give,artwise. But he's gone, the arc’s going around in circles , the first vivid wave of oddness is starting to leak out and Eddy Barrows’ art is an eyepain.
Batman: Son of Batman was hot, fast, pulp brilliance. One more issue with Grant - - - the Joker story with John van Fleet (mismo!) - - - then the baton gets passed to Ostrander and Mandrake. I don’t care for Ostrander. I care less for Mandrake. I sit this one out for the four issues they're on. Then I see you all again in May where hopefully my career and economy will have risen from the grave like a dead Marvel superhero.
Deathblow: Prime ingredients. Master chef - - -Azzarello (so not a slouch) - - - cooking it up. Gorgeous plating - - - D'Anda on 11. You bite and it tastes . . . um, OK, even good. Also tastes not just exactly how you expected it to taste . . .but just like any well-made mercenary superhero comic you've read. New dish that tastes like comfort food. Hate when that happens. Goodbye.
Detective Comics: Runs on ostensibly old-fashioned, utterly conventional tracks. Total status quo. The stand-alone format justifies the rotating artists. But only makes it prone to really , really bad lapses in art. Dini can do his Busiek Lite shtick asleep and sometimes it feels as if he is. Not bad. Not much. In boom times, this already qualifies as fanboy indulgence. Now, it's like lighting cigarettes with your legal tender. Also , like Wolverine, Batman's starting to bore me, too.
Gen 13: Again, Gail. I'm torn, really. Gen 13 has always been a guilty pleasure. But that's the point. They've never been anything but. Not even in Ellis's hands. Intriguing, yes. But my stack of Gen 13s gathering dust needs no adding to. I'm with Ms. Simone for Tranquility. This? Sorry.
JLA: Identity Crisis went over my head. Better Than Bendis is not much to hang on to as a quality. But so far, that's all that Meltzer is to me. Better Than Bendis. Only slightly at that. And here ,not even. A little levity, please, Mr. New York Times Bestselling Author. My personal JLA nadir was Grant's 1,000,000. This feels even more of a slog than that. I'll never know, though. Good.
Stormwatch PHD: Played a bit like Wisdom. Except Wisdom was weirder, naughtier , snarkier, hipper and Brit. It's either Wisdom or this. I like Mahnke and I wish him and Gage well. Tradewait possibility - - - for the art.
Teen Titans: Never got into this. Not even when Perez was on it. Judas Contract? Sleeping pill. Can’t get into this still, despite quality signifiers saying I probably should, despite overextended Geoff being much better here. Feel the cartoon, though. Feel the cartoon massive.
Wetworks: Not for Carey. Not even for Whilce. Sorry.
WildCATs: Grant phones it in, feels like. Could be wrong but then, it's taking Jim Lee forever to draw this. Why'd it still come out looking rushed? A mystery for the ages.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Action Comics: Last Son
Written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner (!!!!!!!)
Drawn by Adam Kubert
Weird,this. Three facts ,in stone: the Donner film was piffle ,the Lester sequel was upgrade , Mario Puzo wrote both. Now the Donner film's mythic ,the unseen (and allegedly just as much piffle) Donner sequel's now fanboy grail poised to remedy what was never in need of any and Donner 's . . .uh . . . "writing" is now your compulsion to pick up Action Comics? Trick is to peg how much of Last Son is Donner. Maybe zero. Maybe it's all come-on and cash-in. Maybe it's all Geoff Johns riffing (intriguingly, must admit) off the Singer film - - -Superman as father figure. Suspiciously timed ,at that, to "coincide" with the DVD release overkill. Busiek / Pacheco may be pushing little more than within-budget status quo in-continuity but there's surfeits more incident in Superman . . .surfeits more . . .um . . . action, natch. Your sheckles are better off with that one. Your compulsion to pick this up ,though, would be Adam Kubert. Your eyes will thank you for that set piece alone where Superman catches a low-flying spacecraft with his bare hands . Uh huh. And the riffing never stops. Adam keeping it up (and he would) plus a trustfund to burn is your compulsion to see this arc through. If you do, get over the director of 16 Blocks and Ladyhawke and Goonies and Timeline and Conspiracy Theory and Maverick and . . .should I stop now? Reeve and Lester made the franchise soar. And Geoff's flying this one. * *
Superman Confidential #1
Written by Darwyn Cooke
Drawn by Tim Sale
Darwyn nails it. Granted, this is retro - - -Confidential's engine runs on prequels. But he nails the vulnerable post-Crisis ( not the infinite one,mind) Superman everybody's been aiming for nevertheless. The Kryptonite/Kryptonian schism had me at first blush. Until the Singer revamp hype wanes, though, we will never get enough of Superman catching low-flying aircraft with his bare hands. DVD's out - - yeah, we know, marketing drones at WB/DC ,we know. Beautiful first half,still. The chink in the Man of Steel's armor. The immortal's fear of death. Then it's an episode of The Wire. Bites it right there. But not enough downturn to swear off. #2, then? Possibly. If the wallet doesn't grumble. And if only for that Kryptonite chunk in a Tibetan temple. And because it's Darwyn. * * *
Written by Pete Cornell
Drawn by Trevor Hairsine
Fairies . . .um, sorry, faeries. Loathe 'em. Sort of. Coming clean here. I did nurture a prolonged teenage infatuation with Brian Froud and Alan Lee's Faeries - - -I also thought Frazetta was hotter than Rembrandt, foreskin can do that to you. Somes things you outgrow ,though,or you're a dork for life. Even in able clutches - - -Gaiman, Ney Reiber - - - faeries always had that veneer of silly. Girly, too. Wisdom, then. A.k.a. The Fairies Come Out. Her Majesty's Secret Service has a Posthuman Division : MI-13. Ask fans of the Warren Ellis Excalibur,they know about this. Pete Wisdom team-leads and Blackjack Tarr and Clive Reston (heads up, Master of Kung Fu freaks) are miffed.There's a Skrull named John and a bloke with a shield named Captain Midlands. First op's a deep gatecrash into the UK's Collective Unconscious. To throw a little fairy jihad. Fairyheads chopped off. Fairybodies broken in two like kindling. Fairywings clipped with extreme prejudice. Blood and guts in fairyland. Phonogram's top - - -but this trippy antifairy opiate is shooing-in for my yearend second best debut,all divisions. A head-clearing hit of irreverent snark to wash the stink of humdrum coming off the stash. A party to invite yourself to. Don't fail me now, Mr.Cornell. * * * *
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Written by Jim Starlin; Art by Shane Davis and Matt "Batt" Banning and Starlin and Al Milgrom
Updated Captain Comet is kinda cute. Updated attitude still rings of the 50s. And Davis' art is Blade Runner given the Lucas Film attention to detail. Not too shiny though which is good, the roughness of the pencilling, the quick strokes, is half the punchline. The rest is Starlin's quirky pulp sci-fic with battling telepaths, meta blackmarket and a talking dog (one can never go wrong with a talking dog). One third of the book is devoted to The Weird, which is almost Morrisson like in acidic wordplay, but with the hysterical giggles. Now on its third issue, it's as absorbing as ever. Cliffhangers are a dusty trick but it still works when orchestrated with just the right amount of silliness.****
TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED featuring The Spectre and Dr. Thirteen (DC)
Written by David Lapham and Brian Azzarello; Art by Eric Battle and Prentis Rollins and Cliff Chiang; Cover by Michael Wm. Kaluta
Nevermind Donner. Now, this is a super team. Lapham and Azzarello may not be working on the same story, but as writers for 2 silver age characters under one book is, well, orgasmic. For this boy anyway. The Spectre's new host is detective Crispus Allen and Lapham and Battle's generously brutal CSI noir is Vertigo worthy. Brooding but still insanely fun.
Last seen dating Zatanna, Doctor Thirteen is back from the dead. Infinite crisis and all, wink-wink. The doc is still at it, his ghostbusting gig now focused on hunting down vampires and co. with his daughter Traci (who the doctor has been dreaming of and not in a fatherly way). Not much of a story here but Azzarello has more than enough quirky characterization to spare. It is a solid read, with as much as Captain Comet's old world charm. ****
Monday, November 06, 2006
Written by Brian Azzarello
Drawn by Carlos d'Anda
Amp the grit. Worldstorm’s bringing macho back to the Wildstorm universe. Sin City art cribs aside, Michael Cray a.k.a. Deathblow always struck me as this mildly amusing, slightly annoying conundrum. Significantly less dorky and more grown-up than - - - though, buff acre for acre as painfully derivative as - - - the rest of the hack clonage cluttering up the Wildstorm stable ,yet somehow italicizing the profound depths of the first-gen Image overlords' retardation and imagination deficit . Whose panties get wet over superpowered mercenaries anymore except overgrown fanboys with no girlfriends and the mental age of twelve year olds? Superpowered mercenaries are an easy sell in the revamp circuit, though. The haggard cliché’s ripe for the grim-and-gritty that’s always been mainstream comics’ placebo for growing up. Just pepper with conspiracy theories, nuance with shadowy realpolitik, underbubble with black comic satire, season with designer carnage and you’re off. Azarello and d'Anda, then - - - as tag team, spot-on. And they . . .um . . . pepper Deathblow with conspiracy theories, nuance with shadowy realpolitik, underbubble with black comic satire , season with designer carnage and . . .um, yeah. Their take on Deathblow is everything you expected their take on Deathblow to be . . . adept writing, gorgeous art and something you can see coming a hundred miles away. No wrinkles. No rise. No palpitations. Alan Moore took his Deathblow to another planet and made him dickless. Deathblow By Blows was dreadful, of course. But transgressive, at least. This isn't. Bad transgressive over OK predictable any day. The envelope’s at your disposal, Mr.Azarello. Keep on pushin’, man, trick this baby up. Else I stick to Losers for my fix. * *
Written by Garth Ennis
Drawn by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story
Must admit. Ennis lost me after Preacher. Even The Boys, fun factor notwithstanding, leaves an aftertaste of rehash that spoils my getting that into it. More macho, albeit spiked with irony, his Midnighter hooked me not on the usual Garth on offer - - - ultraviolence on 11, banter with snap, malevolent caricatures - - - but when he and the ever-bristling Sprouse stage the most precise reverse-jingoistic assault on the whole heinous War On Terror silliness I've ever laid eyes on. And on that last cliffhanging page. Given Garth’s parallel career as comicdom’s resident war correspondent , that last panel ,at first blush, set off a whiff of yeah-I-figured, sort of like Frank Miller doing another hardboiled comic or Neil Gaiman doing another comic with fairies - - - except that Midnighter has more character gristle to chew on, and if Garth must meld his superhero dabble with his more palpable strengths and genre affiliations, that twist's a caketaker layered with many manly pleasure possibilities. And the crowd in my skull roared - - - more! * * *
Sunday, November 05, 2006
If you have not read the Grant Morrison’s New X-men and Phoenix End Song, reading Pheonix War Song would be like walking into the middle of two people gossiping. War song seems to be a story that was set up years ago and it is expected that you know what happened. I was always intrigued with the Stepford Cuckoos – they first appeared as quintuplets in New X-men and were Emma Frost’s favorites. They were the “five-in-one” – strong telepaths that were thought to think as one. I like the girls because they’re witty, tough and ironically independent – they survived, intact and sane after two of their sisters died.
In Pak’s End Song the Cuckoos – now the “three-in-one” played an important part – the Phoenix’s first contact was with the sleeping girls and at the end, the Phoenix force contacted one of the sisters – and since they’re identical you don’t know which of them was “touched.”
I expected War Song to be another Jean-Grey’s-alive-again story especially when the story started with the Stepford Cuckoos manifesting the Pheonix. But the story is about Emma Frost and the Cuckoos with the Phoenix Force to complicate things (which I am praying that it won’t ruin the Emma-Cuckoos story). Throw in Weapons Plus in the mix (good to know they are not that obsessed with Wolverine-like mutants).
I never saw it coming - that the girls were Emma’s clones engineered to be weapons. Pretty powerful ones than the wolverine prototype if you ask me. No wonder Emma was “drawn” to them. Emma’s last words by the third issue is, “Now, mama’s angry!” Bring it on Miss Frost!
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Written by Mike Carey
Drawn by Whilce Portacio
Cyberpunk with fairies. Wetworks always struck me as a shitload of eh? No-bearing "characters", beyond lame concept. Universal Monsters hotwired by Tom Clancy? Paramilitary monsters are so misguided a node of cool, eight shades of wrong not even a manga wonderboy on acid could whip into a half-life. What I said - - - cyberpunk with fairies. The slog-through's a nostalgia drip gone rancid. It's superhero comics with no brains and Whitney Houston redoing Dolly Parton all over again. And that's a bad way to live. So an "extinction level" weapon is stolen. So a rogue vampire stole it. So a werewolf cop appears. So werewolves and vampires used to be at war. So there's a guy who communes with the departed and another with golden skin. So everyone talks like a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie. So the fuck what? Granted,thing reads with a bit more zip. Carey's filling Brandon Choi's shoes and those are shoes even hacks like Brian Bendis or Chuck Austen could fill easy ,so it isn't really saying much. And this is the most faceless and pedestrian Carey's been. But this breaks my heart more because it's Portacio, at his shoddy nadir. One of mine and a guy you could trust. Alas , back in the day. Am outta here,for keeps. Sorry,Whilce. *
Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Jim Lee
Why nothing ticks at the prospects of Kaizen Gamorra ressurected , unholy alliances with Hellspont, Majestros in full metal makeover ,Hadrian and Voodoo in psychedelic porn mode or even the notion of corporate-funded superheroes could all come down to my not caring for any of these second-string Xmen dickwads now that Charest (or even Philips) isn't drawing them. Or to a no-show Warblade. Or to Grant on autopilot. And to Lee in progressive stages of devolution. Where's all the Steranko he said he's been channeling? Noise and color and a faint hallucinatory afterglow tiptoeing the thin line where it could just as well slide into bluster and gaudiness and a bad meth crashland. All badly drawn. And with no shiny new tropes for Morrison to trip out on. Not yet , at least , but that's probably just the wishful thinking talking. Could be massive. Could be cash-in yam. We'll see. * *
Written by Gail Simone
Drawn by Talent Caldwell
Bland posthuman teenagers. Postmodern comics' perpetual tricky gambit to pull. Long exhausted by Claremont Prime, leaving little elbow room for the odd tangents that could take it to other places where it can sing. Seen one run of Generation X and you've seen them all,honestly. And when the tweaking gets hardcore, as with Milligan's X Force , it's a thorn in the side of many fanboy wussies who want their beloved fancies to stay exactly in the same pitch. Gen 13 's a semi-guilty pleasure, though. Characters had more pulse ,I justify, but my forebrain's don't-kid-yourself centers know that's pushing it. OK, it had funny going for it. Gail has funny going for her as much as she has weird. And her ground-up reboot sidesteps one, downplays the other. You do sense that she feels for these overfamiliar misfits. A good sign. And this had me at artificial realities and megabudget snuff porn but only on a half curious/half faithful degree until whatever Gail has up her sleeve blossoms and mutates. Hopefully. * *
The Authority #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Gene Ha
Grant's Authority zooms in , severely decompressing that blockbuster widescreen world into a claustrophobic one of ill-lit interiors and fragmented sentences and uncomfortable closeups, and dunks the hot and fast event overdrive Warren Ellis minted into a languid ocean of deep mood. Inversion over tradition any day. It's all mood-setting at this point. So nothing happens in the usual superhero comic sense of things happening. And I doubt if it will. But there is frisson in the way Ha fractures the panels to evoke salvage diver Ken's head full of static
- - - the stress, the confusion. Parallel dynamics curdle between his crippled marriage and the crippled Carrier he finds at the bottom of the ocean,portending a slow-burn build-up to something I haven't seen in an Authority book yet. You watch. My outrageous referent is the Tarkovsky of Solaris taking superheroes on and what a wonderful thing the Tarkovsky of Solaris taking superheroes on is. Give it up for Grant and stop your whining. Unexpected, right. But nobody reads Morrison expecting more of the same,anyway. Unless you count WildCATS.
* * * *
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Meant to bag a trophy from Neil Gaiman but getting a not tonight instead, Noisy Blood , the new comic by Bong and me, has been spilt at Komikon 2006, photofinished within an inch of our lives and with half of my last 2000 pesetas on the planet.
Way way before American comics got over the predominance of its men in tights, Tagalog komiks were already gamut-running the genre pool. And calling them (graphic) novels at that. With art to die for. Noisy Blood cherry-pops a series of standalone stories Bong and I (and hopefully others) plan to do as an offhand tribute to the form - - - up next is a haunted house story. Tackling the gamut. With art to die for.
Except that, as a kowtow to contest regulations, Noisy Blood is in English.
Sorry about that.
25 pesos. Autograph optional.
Preview faux-ashcan Marvelous Komiks is in Tagalog. The beta version of the forthcoming superhero revamp Bong and Reno Maniquiz and Chayenne Quintana and myself are masterminding for the Ravelos with their no-slouch creative input , this slim little volume has first looks at Bong's Darna, Chayenne's Dyesebel and a Captain Barbell short story (" . . .And They Called Him X!" ) Reno drew specially for this that has me making with the B-movie retro and throwback paraphernalia such as thought balloons, giant lizards, team-ups , not to mention a guest star that will out your secret age - - - and your inner jologs- - - if you recognize who he is.
Beta version - - - so the thing's glitchy in parts. But a blast.
30 pesos. Autograph optional.
You are Green Lantern
will power and a good imagination.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Smallville. Season 5. Episode 4: Quiver. Loads of it. Finally, Smallville feels alive again thanks to the Green Arrow (panty-bundling, bicep-ruling Justin Hartley), resulting in an almost great episode. Tom Welling's doe-eyed, mumbling, wooden acting Clark needs the interaction. And competition. The Lana-Lex thing is bleh, the Lana-Clark thing is meh, the Chloe-Jimmy Olsen is oh-kay. Smallville needs to up the ante and bring in more familiar supers or else it's just another Dawson's Creek with really, and I mean really, bad acting. Hartley's not the best actor in the world but at least his Oliver Queen has attitude, and is the prick that Ollie is meant to be. And besides ... look above and below.
The trick arrow bits were cool, and that what's-right-and-wrong argument was very JLA (can't wait for that "Justice" episode with Kid Flash, Cyborg, GA, and Aquaman). And the best thing is, you dont have to be a Smallville fan to enjoy this episode.
Star City, anyone? Please?
Monday, October 16, 2006
Action Comics (DC)
Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza; Art by Pete Woods;
Cover by Dave Gibbons
Of course. Good old, dependable action, and under Busiek's, it's just straightforward smackdowns with some interesting pairings. Firestorm, Nightwing (Buttwing to the ladies), The Veteran, and Superman in Star Wars bickering gung-ho, all played out like classic Westerns. Perfect introduction too to the Geoff Johns storyline coming this month. The Superman book is also getting a much needed facelift care of the same writer where the stories are as hard-hitting as the punches.
Written by Garth Ennis; Art and Cover by Darick Robertson
This has got to be the guiltiest pleasure of all. Sometimes, you just want to see them superheroes getting their asses kicked, and with Ennis helming, asses are bound to be pounded and ripped. Apart. That's a lot of ouch. Out-preach the Preacher then, with bellowing giggles along the way. A nasty sister to Ellis' Next Wave, the Boys (and a girl who rips faces off of her opponents) are out to get the big Seven---the world's greatest superheroes where justice and blowjobs are mandatory---to teach them a lesson on humility. Impalement begins this week! And double yay because this book is bi-weekly.
Written by Judd Winick;
Art by Matthew Clark and Art Thibert
Green Arrow (DC)
Written by Judd Winick;
Art and cover by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
Yeah, Winnick. He takes time (well, years) to warm up but his current work in the Green Arrow and Outsiders books have recently been my favorite downtime reading. My shot of espresso. My rock n' roll riff. Outsiders (the OYL run, specifically) is brash, blood-splattered, caked in dirt. The stink adds to the attitude, and the fist fights are always well drawn. Morrisson's loverbirds, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain (thanks Do for the trivia), also up the freak factor, the outsider-ness that makes the book less familiar, less cozy.
Green Arrow is Winnick's soaring chorus. Ollie left for dead and shot through the heart as Star City goes up in flames and a wounded Mia is buried under a collapsed building is, whew, tha bomb. The coup. The Empire Strikes Back moment. The fuck-you to the doubters, me included.
Writers: Ed Brubaker, Andersen Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Dylan Horrocks, A.J. Lieberman, & Bill Willingham
Another one of Batman’s scenario-building/contingency planning gone wrong. First he got expelled from the JLA because of his contingency plan for each member – well how to off each one to be exact – if ever they go rogue. I mean that is very logical and practical. In War Games his scenario-building of “what-will-happen-if-I killed-off-all-the-gang-leaders-of-Gotham” was put into action by Spoiler. He really should keep his files under tighter security.
The whole story actually covers five books with War Drums and War Crimes as book ends. The arc was so impressive because of the consistency in writing and the art in spite of the various writers and artists from comic titles based in Gotham (except for Nightwing who came from Bludhaven). The writing and art was very cinematic and engaging even if the inking/coloring was really dark.
But let me get back to what I really want to say, "Gago si Batman! Know-it-all son of a bitch! Nakakainit ng ulo!" What he did to Stephanie was unforgivable. He broke her emotionally and ultimately destroyed her fragile self-esteem when he fired her as Robin. What Batman did was as bad as Deathstroke manipulating Rose. Batman was Stephanie’s “father.” This lead to the hundreds dead, thousands injured, millions worth of property damage, and Stephanie’s death. I never read about Stephanie/Spoiler/Robin before War Games but I grieved for her because of the shitty life she had. Good thing she had Batgirl and Robin (and even Catwoman) as friends for a while.
Batman’s handling of the whole disaster led Oracle to leave Gotham and Tim moving to Bludhaven. Dapat lang.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Week 22. 52's on a roll. Consistently solid writing, great, great stroytelling. This time around we meet Super Chief, and I'm thinking, man, this is gonna be cheesy. But it wasn't. The sort-of revered tone on the character's history leveled off the goofyness, and that last bit, that tragic twist, just powerful. Steel's somewhere in the panels, but a totally forgettable appearance. Lex Luthor is getting more paranoid and insists that Supernova is Superman (but that can't be him with being powerless and all). So, who is Supernova? Superboy would just be too easy. I like Connor, I grieved when he died, but I don't want to see him back. Not just yet. The guys over at the Raging Bullets podcast think it's Booster Gold. Now, that I like. We also get to see the Metal Men, thoush some have turned evil. But if you've been picking up Meltzer's JLA, you kinda know that they'll be surviving whatever's happening here. *****
Week 23. Couldn't wait for the Black Adam family to return, along with the Question and Renee Montoya, cos I just know this will all end badly. Black Adam hasn't made an appearance in any of the OYL books --- still waiting for the JSA re-launch this December --- and I kinda have a feeling that it won't be happily ever after for him and Iris. Especially after this issue, he just can't make an Adam Jr. without tragic repercussions. And they're headed for China! Week 24 has on its cover Firestorm and Bulleteer, and a hole bunch of other guys. I just love love love how this is expanding the DCU and (re) introducing heroes, though I still have no idea what the mystery of 52 is all about. ****
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
By Simone, Siqueira, and Riggs
There are two stories here: The defection of the Crime Doctor and Black Canary’s training to be Shiva’s second liner. The panels jump from one story to another and things happen in both story-lines at break-neck speed.
Shiva’s on the team (because of a deal she made with Canary – that they exchange places - Canary trains to be an assassin while Shiva takes her place) and I thought she was always a “page-turn” away from killing someone. You knew that the team will never kill anybody but with Shiva smashing the Ventriloquist’s dummy, jumping from a moving car to take out two flying HIVE agents, facing Killer Croc head on… No wonder Oracle and Huntress were constantly worried and - as any decent woman would do - endlessly nagged Shiva.
Canary was in a village somewhere in Asia and her initiation to the training was getting beat up by men while tied and blindfolded. Oh and it was expected that she defend herself. If she lives, here education will continue. No superheroes here – just fists, feet, and guts.
With Gail Simone writing, there were moments where I found myself chuckling and grinning – kinda weird when you’re sitting at Starbucks alone. My favorite panels were Huntress shooting Clay Face with three explosive charges in the crotch (Clay face: “Aw. Now that’s just cold.”) and Shiva telling Croc, “Perhaps tomorrow, I’ll have made myself a pair of boots. Something tasteful, perhaps with nipples on the toes.”
By Greg Rucka and Ed Benes
Good lord, what the hell is happening to Kara?! From Batman/Superman she quickly went into self-destruct mode --- OK, her best friend died (Harbinger), she was manipulated by Darksied and exposure to black kryptonite made her remember that she was sent to Earth to kill her cousin – I give her that.
Now she and Powergirl seemed to be superheroes in a reality where Kal-El is evil and is ruling Candor. How the hell did they get there? Also the last time I saw these two together, they couldn’t literally be near each other. It’s inevitable that they kill each other off (This has a headachy but logical explanation - P.G. is Kara’s Earth 2 version – they could not occupy the same space – something like that). It was as confusing as time travel! But since the issue raised more questions than answers… well, I just had to see what happened next.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Nothing much happens in week 21 but it does tell a good story. Infinity, Inc. is resurrected care of LexCorp., and the kids are likeable enough, ambitious enough, desperate enough, but not good enough to be heroes. A pre-OYL Teen Titans line-up also makes an appearance, and it's great to see a totally new dynamic, or the lack of it. The imperfect groups always make the more interesting read, and I want to see more of BB and Raven trying to get the Titans together, and the comings and goings of members. I want to see what made BB give up on the Titans. So, a good issue? Yes. But. It doesn't really move the 52 story forward. But still. Also, it looks like the Metal Men will be in the next ish, so there's still plenty to be happy about. ****
TEEN TITANS #39
Written by Geoff Johns; Art by Tony Daniel and Kevin Conrad
Part Two of Titans Around the World and we get to meet three ex-Titans: Zatarra, Miss Martian (who's like Miss Marvel, only green, or not) and a girly Captain Atom whose name escapes me right now but is downright annoying. The search for Raven is muddled, lost in transition, and much of the clues are frustrating to read or figure out. The banter is still quick and funny (Zatarra to Robin: You must be Wondergirl) but there's really nothing much happening except for that great reveal in the last frame. But I still like the way it's written, the realness of the dialogues (and the art's back to its original greatness). Out of all the books I'm reading, I'm closest to this title because by now the Titans have become real people to me (Man, I wish the boyfriend will never get a chance to read this or there goes my sex life). And playing catch-up is always fun, is always like that once a month drink at a bar with old friends. ***
SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #22
Written by Mark Waid and Tony Bedard; Art by Barry Kitson, Adam DeKraker and Mick Gray
How do you follow-up an almost great issue on Braniac losing his mind? You don't. This is all about flirting and dating, all about the boys loving Supergirl and the girls hating Supergirl, and the shortness of her skirt. Loved how Invisible Kid (?) explains to Cosmic Boy (with charts and tables) how its all about physics (the palpitation, the dizzyness) between Cos and Kara. Because Invisible Kid wants her for himself --- in which we get to see the Kara shrine and the freak factor goes a notch up. The kid's acting out of character and maybe it IS all about Kara. In fact, everyone has been a little different since Supergirl joined the team. Evil clone, anyone? I've been reading both Supergirl titles, and Kara's really messed up, and with the LSH, she's just too...cute. Hope there's an actual story in the next issue. **
Written by Joe Kelly;
Art by Ian Churchill and Norm Rapmund
This is a curious creature, this book. It took me awhile before I finally picked it up, and I'm not at all regretting that I did. It's so fucked up that it's turning out to be good. After that strange Kandor arc (which hinted at lesbian and incestous sex in one issue), things are sort of back to normal for Kara. Normal being haunted by freaky flash backs on her last days in Argo while trying to fit in. It's Carrie meets Buffy, psycho instinct meets hero instict. Lots of moments to love here: that bit of girl talk between Cassie and Kara while Cassie's fighting a french-speaking gorilla grodd, Kara and Boomer hanging out, and THAT Carrie prom-night flash back, goosebumps over goosebumps. When Jeph Loeb brought Supergirl back to the DC universe, he made it a point to giver her an entirely different history from her previous incarnations. This Kara was sent to Earth to kill Kal-El, and has been brought up as an assassin (I'm assuming from the flash backs), which has made her monumentally mental. Can't wait to find out how she'll do Nightwing. Heh. ****
Monday, September 25, 2006
Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; Breakdowns by Keith Giffen; Art by various; Backup feature by Waid and various; Covers by J.G. Jones
Great cover. Says it all. Perfect for this fickle flu bug that I can't just seem to shake. Well, it's not like I've been turning in early anyway. So it's our space cadets and church of the something fish priest Lobo in a crummy planet with strange, desperate aliens. A gazillion space bugs attack and each of our heroes get to show-off their decapitation skills. Kory grabs the eye and everything's all deathly glowy and a handful alien thingies are saved, but not yet really, because the glowyness caught the attention of a major, major bug. Everyone's so cool in this issue, but Lobo rising from his own blood and guts has got to be the coolest. The green eye is a, well, an eye-popper, and I kinda want to find out how it ends up with that villain lady in the 31st century. Or if it's even the same eye. Mark Waid made an announcement at a comic-con that not all of our heroes will make it home. I've always liked Starfire (Kory and Dick Forevah!), but I'm beginning to LOVE Animal Man. Adam Strange also has a family and all, and the man's blind for chrissakes. Grr. I wish it would be Lobo, but he can't die. There's also a Supernova appearance, and he's in ... the fucking Batcave. That alone got me bubbly rabid for the next ish, and it looks like the Teen Titans will also be in week 21, so, waiting and drumming fingers til they bleed. ****1/2
V For Vendetta (Directed by James McTeigue): Verbatim was never key to the book/movie schism for me,more knowing which bits carry fire when crossing milieus. My beef has little to do ,then,with things lost in translation - - -Natalie Portman as Evey does argue for miscasting and those limey nuances go over my Third World head anyway. But those Wachowskis amp the din so it crescendoes into broad-stroked polemic hyperbole. That's not only a dystopian no-no, it's an expressway to the ordinary, a stroke of bad judgment one or two of the sleek set pieces briefly relieve but ultimately don't. You miss the blasted despair, you miss the pathos and grime, you miss the claustophobic,imploded noir this should've been and the Matrix overlords should've known better to make. * *
Mirrormask(Directed and Designed by Dave McKean):
The makeover sequence is a highlight - - - McKean in full-on auteur mode unhinging from the anorexic story boxing his possibilities. Mckean unhinged is always a highlight. Also the point where the voices guiding him - - - Jan Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay , Jeunett-Caro, F.W.Murnau, Hayao Miyazaki - - - achieve total osmosis and invisibility. Also the point where it becomes apparent that scorer Iain Bellamy is the endeavor’s twin engine. The fairy tale’s immaterial ,of course - - - clunky like orthopedic shoes and you could see where it comes from and where it’ll go, unique only to the tragically shortsighted and pigheaded faithful. But the trouble McKean has in making the characters summon up something more resonant than leftover angst reheated is offset by the dense , intoxicating siege of imagery - - - orbiting giants, attacking sphinxes , riddling dog, temperamental books, traffic of fishes - - - he teases out of the little he has to work with. The emotional pay-off may be a mere awe for the cosmetic. But the cosmetic here runs poetic and deep. * * *
Friday, September 22, 2006
Which Lost Character are You?
You're Hurley! You have a great sense of humor and are always looking for the fun in things. On of your favorite pastimes is golf.
Take this quiz!
Heh. And the quiz didn't even ask if I was fat or not.