Saturday, October 28, 2006

Worldstorm Signal Number - - -huh?

Fessing up here. First-gen Image was,as advertised, why comics stunk in the 90s. And why the outside world thinks comic geeks are dorks for making cash cows of these bull turds. Splash page panels, gratuituous runway posing, zero storytelling skills, zero story, horrendous art ,retarded characters. Roping in writers who could actually write - - Moore, Robinson, Gaiman, Sim, Miller, Morrison, Casey - - - helped a bit. Nothing classic. Just less painful. Everybody's upgraded since then . . .except maybe for Rob Leifeld and Jim Lee. But Lee's taken his chunk of that universe over to DC and it's been spoiling for a proper revamp for ages. Here you go, then. Least it's smart enough to trot out a sound strategy from the get-go, roping industrial-stength rockstar writers - - - Grant, Gail, Garth, Azzarello, Carey ,Gage- - - and effectively banning Brandon Choi from writing anything . . . not that he ever did any. A rundown of the first four. In ascending order.

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. * *

Gen 13#1
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

I am....

The Flash
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Shameless Plug

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.

I am Hal or Kyle or Guy or John or that, err, planet

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Mr. Pointy

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 #1

Sometimes, a boy just wants to have fun. Especially in the comics he reads. There are titles I pick up because the writing is good, the story's fresh, or the art's amazing. Then, there are titles that are just fun to read. That bring out the 7 year old---or the violent-horny fucker---in me. These titles all rate high in the fun factor, so no stars on this one.

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.

The Boys (Wildstorm)
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.

Outsiders (DC)
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.

Gago si Batman!

War games

Writers: Ed Brubaker, Andersen Gabrych, Devin Grayson, Dylan Horrocks, A.J. Lieberman, & Bill Willingham
Artists: Ramon Bachs, All Barrionuevo, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Paul Gulacy, Kinsun, Mike Lilly, Sean Phillips, Brad Walker, & Pete Woods (p), Raul Fernandez, Nathan Massengill, Troy Nixey, Andy Owens, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sean Phillips, Francis Portella, Rodney Ramos, Lorenzo Rugiero, & Aaron Sowd (i)

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

52! 52!

Written by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid; Breakdowns by Keith Giffen; Art by various

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

The Girls: One Year Later

Birds of Prey #92
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.”

Supergirl #6
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.