Thursday, November 30, 2006

We're making a list and checking it twice

Best in Dialogue. From

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

52 Week Twenty-Nine

52 #29
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


Hijacked from Is It Safe?.

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

The Culling

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.

Like food.

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.

Creeper: Crap.

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

#1s Ep.3

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

Science Fiction Double Feature

MYSTERY IN SPACE with Captain Comet and The Weird (DC)
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

Worldstorm . . . Drizzling On

Worldstorm sputters on. In its wake, a spate of fanboy grumble over delayed solicitations and underwhelming first issues that beggar the questions - - - do we really want to make these 90s comics over? Are we better off revamping Quesada's Ash instead? Or Rozum's Xombi? Or altogether quitting? And do fanboys who grumble over delayed solicitations and underwhelming first issues need to get a life , get laid or both? Azarello on Deathblow had explosive on paper - - even if the original Deathblow was shat from the asses of grown men playing with Nerf guns. And this week’s stash does have Warren Ellis’s gay Batman, Midnighter, in Garth Ennis's hands. Not altogether hopeless, then. And at least it's not Darkminds Mk.II we're soiling ouselves with. Care to frolic in the rain?

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. * *

Midnighter #1
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

Not for beginners

X-men: Phoenix War Song
Greg Pak, Tyler Kirkham, Sal Regla

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!