Thursday, August 31, 2006

Everyday Superheroes

Sa mall..
FAB: Ano ba?! May t-shirt si Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern… walang Wonder Woman?!!
Munding: Dapat madami ang merchandising ni Wonder Woman…
FAB: Oo, puro na lang lalaking super…
Munding: … para mahikayat nila ang mga bading bumili!

Sa bahay…
FAB: Teka, andami atang lesbiana sa DC ― Si Rene sa 52, si Holly best friend ni Catwoman, si Batgirl daw, at yung sa Secret Six – Scandal and her girlfriend. Wala atang bading?!?
Thor: Meron. Si Monsieur Mallah at si Brain.
Thor: Lalaki silang pareho.
FAB: Pero…. Arg!

Sa office…
ND (bagets, five years old): Paglaki ko gusto kong maging superhero. Yung mabait. Yung tumutulong sa mga tao.
Nora (ina): Sige anak, pero ang superhero dapat bata pa lang mabait na. Dapat sumusunod sa nanay.

Sa Starbucks:
Levi: Hindi maintindihan ng fiancé ko na hindi ko dapat ma-miss ang isang episode Justice League Unlimited sa Cartoon Network. Nakakainis. Pinagbibigyan ko naman pag gustong manuod ng tagalong na sine kahit torture sa kin yun.
FAB: Bahala ka, you have to live with that for the rest of your life.

Sa car…
Allan, Redg, Munding, FAB: (Singing) ---- Ang pangalan nya’y… ZsaZsa, ZsaZsa Zathurnah. ZsaZsa Zathurnah!!! ---

Bluer than blue

Written by Keith Giffen and John Rogers; Art by Cully Hamner; Cover by Duncan Rouleau

Major screw-ups at work with a capital F, and instead of the usual trip to Rustan's for a sweet threesome (Ben & Jerry's) I head to Filbar's. So I end up buying 5 Batman back issues (the ones leading to the annual), Shadowpact #2 and #4 (Ragman and Enchantress shipper, heh), and Blue Beetle #3 and #4 --- because, uh.

This title is lost in transition. Teenager Jaime Reyes is trying to figure out a lot of things, too many things: what happened in the one year he disappeared (apparently, he has been missing for a year from the time of the battle with Brother Eye), how to work the suit (nice Gundam-ish battle armor), how to un-work the suit, and what the hell a Blue Beetle should be. Dangled modifier aside, it was cool to see Jaime doing research on Dan Garrett and Ted Kord. The exchange with Oracle got me a little excited, but no. No chance of having the Birds of Prey in this issue, who I've been loving since Gail Simone took over. For now, there are mostly questions but it would be interesting to see where this series goes. Ted Kord refused to bond with the scarab. Jaime on the other hand allows it to dig deep into his back and latch on to his spine. That's gotta hurt. So bring on the pain. Bring on the other heroes. And please, bring on the answers. ***

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Got to believe in magic (and a talking chimp)

Written by Judd Winnick and Bill Willingham; Art by Justiniano, Ron Randall & Walden Wong; Cover by Walter Simonson

This is the Empire Strikes Back of the Countdown titles. That ending leaves a bitter, gnawing, coppery aftertaste. I've got to stop saying this but this is the best. Tha bomb.

The first part collects ACTION COMICS #826, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #639 and SUPERMAN #216. Eclipso's re-introduction into the DCU begins with multiple suicides. Tingle much. Then, the hunt for the perfect host. The super host. Winnick keeps it bare and simple --- Super Eclipso and Captain Marvel's slug fest is a blur of bloodied knuckles and power punches. Action porn adrenalin. I like how everything feels (reads) loud all through out until you reach the last panel. All the pumped up rage ends with a whisper to the Spectre's ear: Magic is evil. And you know he believes it. Duhn-duhn.

Day of Vengeance. The Spectre is determined to destroy everything and everyone magical, and it's up to the Shadowpact (Enchantress, Ragman, Blue Devil, Nightmaster, Nightshade, and Detective Chimp) to stop his bloody rampage. And they don't. Not completely. Which is the magic of this book. Willingham is in his element, and he has never been as inspired, as surprising in his writing as in this one. Alternately funny (the Enchantress/Ragman flirting, and always the detective chimp) and scary, with back stories that don't actually bore. Sure, Captain Marvel is still a stiff, but this is not his story. Much like Villains United, the anti-hero heroes are likely to plan screwed-up plans, are likely to panic and fumble, are likely to try harder to save the world. Black Alice was supposed to be the deal-breaker, and when that plan didn't work, there was nothing left to do but to fight. Blindly. Ten kinds of dead meat but you gotta love them for trying.

And I'm off to get the Shadowpact title. ****


A spate of #1s I roadtested and went precog on. My arbitrary rule for first issues has parallels with my filmmaking hero Samuel Fuller’s rule for opening scenes. If it doesn’t give you a hard-on (or a hot flash), discard the movie. Ripe for living by. Two hard-ons, then. And one to discard.

The All New Atom #1(DC)
Gail Simone and John Byrne

A rejig this big on weird with no let-up and you’re suspecting that’s Grant Morrison’s doing, his much-ballyhooed black notebook being the spirit juice that feeds the Brave New World franchise this is loosely attached to. Gail's got her own surfeit of strange , though, and most of this feels so her. Gardner Fox and John Broome’s Atom always had an aura of off-kilter that never got as ferocious or determined as, say, Arnold Drake and Bruno Permiani’s Doom Patrol. Simone bringing that to a boil is a gambit that smacks of what God intended. No Ray Palmer around . . .yet. But we do have that eccentric gaggle of mostly geezer scientists in a college town where the dogs are a bit . . . odd. And the new (and Asian) Atom quoting The Incredible Shrinking Man. And that ether of unease. A superhero comic that makes me uncomfortable - - - loftier praise does not exist. Weird superscience and bizarre combats loom, a future vivid with possibilities. * * * *

The Creeper#1(DC)
Steve Niles , Justiniano and Walden Wong

Steve Niles is a hoax. His horror comic ubiquity is a shot wad long on rehash ,short on attack. And the further away from the comfort zones of his snowed-in vampire town he is , the more his work gets haggard and asthmatic. He leaves the overfamiliar Steve Ditko template untampered - - not god worship, no, but lack of a clue, more like - - -but the Creeper's fetish clown garb has more layers than one note anti-hero Jack Ryder ,wrung ,as he is, through a catalogue of cliches, through severe lapses in logic , through motions without vigor. What joyless crap. This ends here. *

Eternals #1(Marvel)
Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.

Tales to astonish, right. On one hand, obvious - - -Gaiman tackling gods. The Thor gig would have been moreso. But Gaiman in the folds of Marvel continuity,hard superhero country there, and drunk on trippy Jack Kirby bongwater with Romita Jr. supplying the eyecandy - - -gimme gimme. Also, amnesiac day-glo superheroes , tropewise, bode well for sizzle. Also, three issues in - - - Iron Man guests. Evokes 70s era Marvel comics - - -with its Kirbyesque dynamic of rubbing the out-there up with the mundane - - - and crackles. Expect the arcane cosmologies to foreground. And Gaiman to make the overlap when worlds collide sing octaves. And Romita to eyefuck the scenery. Grab Grant's own Kirby cover ,Mr. Miracle , to go with this. And upgrade your toilet reading. As the deafening Gaimanhead silence rises to a din.
* * * *

Monday, August 28, 2006

Top 3 stories that made me cry

Rio of Comic Quest: "Ma'am nangongolekta kayo ng comics?"
Me: "Hinde, habol ko lang yun
g kwento."

Yes, its the drama, suspense and action! Not so much interested in 1st printing and variant covers and mint condition eklat. As long as it's not folded or torn -- that's fine with me. Let's start with the "drama" -- here are my top three:

Superboy's death in Infinite Crisis - First read it without reading any of the countdown to infinite crisis series. I felt sad and teary eyed. But when I read
it again after reading most of the pre-requisites and a couple of Teen Titans trades - I was crying and mourning with Cassie and Robin. Oo, iyakin ako.

Logan and Jean Grey's relationship has always moved me more than Jean and Scott's. I don't know - I just think that Logan loves Jean more. I particulalry love the moment in Grant Morrison's New X-men #148 when Logan had to go through the traumatic experience of yet again needing to kill Jean and deciding to end his life as well by walking out of the doomed space station... but then of course these are the two people in X-men that can never ever die.

And finally....

'Nuff said.

The dragons are coming!

"Looks are as deceptive as a light-fingered kender."
—Raistlin Majere, Dragons of Autumn Twilight

I was as much addicted to the Dragonlance series as I was to Star Trek. It all started with the three books I had borrowed --- Dragonlance Chronicles: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

There's going to be a movie next year!
The cast includes: Lucy Lawless as Goldmoon, Michael Rosenbaum as Tanis Half-Elven, and Michelle Trachtenberg as Tika Waylan, and Kiefer Sutherland as Raistlin Majere.

I hoped that it will be live action but... it'll be animated. OK lang, I'm just a bit disappointed. With today's CGI technology it would have been really cool to see dragons.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts

Possibly Sufjan Stevens' best song. Possibly the best song wriiten about Superman. Possibly one of the best songs ever.
First Look: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes

The Teen Titans animated series is sorely missed, but here's something to look forward to. Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes takes off in September. I think that it should be "Superboy" in the title but there's still an ongoing rights issue that needs to be ironed out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

One ring

Legion Flight Ring: Created by Brainiac 5 in 2965 (AD 329) and used to this day, these will-powered rings have become a symbol of Legion membership. The Legion emblem on the ring carries Science Police authority (AD 352). Like the flying-belt, they too utilize the anti-gravity Element-152 created by Mon-El (AD 305). They only work when the user is conscious, so the person will fall if stunned (AD 343) or rendered unconscious (AD 346/347). They also have a built in signal emitter for emergencies, which can be activated by turning the "L" on the ring upside down (AD 357). For this reason, heroes capable of flying under their own power- like Superboy and Mon-El - still wear them (AD 369). Though extremely durable, the flight-rings have suffered breakdown from repeated high impacts from Legionnaires who use their fists more - like Karate Kid (AD 347) and Ultra Boy (AD 361). The flight-ring's mechanism can also be damaged from unprotected passage through the time-barrier, as when they use Rond Vidar's time cube (AD 349). Flight-rings can also be used for limited-range travel through space, provided that the non-invulnerable wearer has spacesuit protection (AD 343). All Legionnaires and Reservists are given flight-rings (AD 351, AD 370). Legion Academy students are provided with them for flight-ring drills (AD 371).

And I want one.

We3: Lost and Found

Grant Morisson, Writer and Frank Quietly, Artist

Morrison and Quietly brought a world of changes in the X-men. They created Xavier’s ultimate nemesis, demolished the S’hiar empire, erased Genosha from the map, ended Scott and Jean’s marriage, gave Emma Frost a secondary mutation and was made a core member of the X-men plus a teen-age pregnancy storyline on the side. I had high expectations with the sci-fi We3.

A talking dog, cat and rabbit. Nothing new.

Make them super soldiers that could obliterate an army. Cool but then again, nothing new.

They escape and they try to find their way home. I think there was a movie…

Half-way through I sat up and the roll of tissue paper never left my side. In three chapters, I was chuckling, crying, and horrified. These animals were built to kill. They in fact killed a lot of soldiers and two innocent people on their way “home” – in excellent gruesome detail that you can only find in comics with the label “for mature readers.” But I was rooting for the animals who were just being true to their nature – the dog wanted affirmation from humans, the cat wanted to just be free from stinking bosses, and the rabbit, well it just wanted to have enough to eat. Put these all together and you have we have what we human beings also want in life and We3 was mostly about being disappointed over and over again despite doing everything right.

Favorite character: Turned out to be the cat – practical, realistic, and loyal.

Favorite Scene: The “lost” posters made by the owners of the animals and the panel where the animals were running for the cover of trees while helicopters were in pursuit and the cat said, “We3 No Home Now.”

Thursday, August 24, 2006

No Batman! No!

Got this from Random Panels. So, your task is to fill in the blank like so:


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Villains Unlimited or who needs heroes when the writing is this good

Written by Gail Simone; Art by Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Wade von Grawbadger and Prentis Rollins; Cover by J.G. Jones

In the thick of things. In mid-sentence. Three. Two. One. I like my villains unpredictable, ready to detonate plots at any given moment. Not necessarily evil, but definitely life changing, hell, universe changing schemes. Not just out to hurt or kill, that would just be cheap. True villains aim for resonating pain. Like what the Joker did to Bat Girl, a permanent handicap that haunts. Even as Oracle, her lifeless legs constantly remind her that she is not what she used to be, that she is crippled for life (for now, at least). And that's how you kill a superhero. Or another villain.

Now. Villains United is villains vs. villains, the Secret Six versus Luthor's Society, outsmarting, outlasting, out killing each other in hideouts and bedrooms, in strategies and revelations.

To put it simply, fucking awesome.

I haven't had this much fun in a comicbook in a long while. And credit much to Gail Simone who wrote a gripping, funny arc and a cliffhanger ending that is pure torture. I especially like the idea that the Society was formed in response to the events that took place in Identity Crisis where the Justice League agreed to let Zatana perform a lobotomy on Doctor Light after discovering that Light raped Sue Dibny --- gripping drama but pass for a re-read. Different views on what is right and what is wrong blurs the moral standard, and suddenly villains are the winsome underdogs. And this twist mostly takes place in my head like I don't have more important things to think about. And yeah, I was partially rooting (well, a whole lot) for the Society's plan to mindswipe ALL the superheroes.

The Secret Six, or the six stupidest of all the villains when it comes to loyalty and sex, is like Doom Patrol lite. Again, how Simone made me care for these losers is beyond me. It helps that they're crazy on different levels, in varying degrees, from very crazy to fucking crazy. Chesire's I'm-pregnant-with-your-baby never gets old, and Parademon's fascination with Ragdoll is, well, weird. And Catman. (Significant pause) Disturbingly hot and bothered. I don't mind that his costume's too much like Batman's, I mean, please, no whiskers.

Favorite scene? Catman and Deadshot in the kitchen, eating eggs.

Barring Day of Vengeance, which I haven't picked up, Villains United is the best of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis titles. The fight scenes are well drawn, gritty and graceful. And the writing, oh the writing. This is how superheroes should be written. ****