Monday, April 30, 2007

Confessions of a Mask

Plug ko lang.

Abangan ang pagdating.

Superastig trabaho ni Kajo dito, 'no?

Expect my piece in the mail soon, Reno.

Annual Fix

Nightwing is one of my guilty pleasures. (I have said before that I cannot explain why – except that I think he’s the Robbie Williams of DC – may pagka-gago. Its embarrassing to admit but well … basta!) But unfortunately Nightwing by Marv Wolfman is fast becoming uninteresting and I may have to let go of Dick soon. The story arches are becoming a “monster of the week” and “girl of the week” event. Bleh. But I was looking forward to the Annual written by Marc Andreyko (Manhunter!) that was going to tell why Dick and Barbara’s engagement did not push through and OYL – they weren’t even a couple anymore (since Dick was being a DICK in New York City – grrr…). I know that you guys would not have bought and read the annual – or the series – but indulge me …

The Annual starts with the proposal taken exactly from BoP / Nightwing before the Crisis and how Nightwing was hit by a blast from Alexander Luthor and then how Barbara nursed him back to health. The way Andreyko wrote the flashbacks – Barbara and Dick recalling their first date and their adventures as Batgirl and Robin – was sweet and funny. Seeing Dick – then a big strapping teen-ager - in green “panties” and pixie shoes was silly! The laugh-out-loud moment was when Batgirl and Robin were trapped in a safe (hehe!) and because of the tight space, Robin got “excited.” He had to come out crouching, covering himself with his cape. (Now we know anotheruse for the yellow cape.)

Andreyko also answered a question that was bothering me before – what happened between Babs and Dick before Dick and Starfire became a couple. In Teen Titans – it was as if Babs didn’t exist. (I told you before I was stalking Nightwing!) Well, the scene where Babs finally decided to tell Dick that the feeling was mutual was – was like the scene in Bridget Jones 2 (the movie of course) where Rene almost gave in to having sex with Hugh Grant but then a beautiful Asian woman knocked on the door! It was a “Argh! MEN!!!” moment. Babs knocked on Dick dorm room and then Kory opened the door (scantily clad, tall, green eyes, long hair). Andreyko didn’t make Kory a gorgeous-evil-stealing-slut - in four small panels he showed how Kory was insecure and how much she wanted Dick that she lied about who knocked on the door (pizza guy with the wrong address). So not evil – just gorgeous-stealing-slut.

Babs finally did have sex with Dick – he was gone for six months and he came back from Tamaran to find out that Babs was shot by the Joker and was paralyzed from the waist down. After the sex, he gave her the engagement announcement – Kory and him were going to get married! (“Argh! MEN!!!”)

OK, back to the present (or one year ago), in the end Babs decided to give the engagement ring back – when Batman asked Dick and Tim to accompany him in his soul searching she knew that Dick was conflicted – it wasn’t a easy decision for him to choose between Batman and the woman he loved. Well, I guess she had enough – it must be all or nothing. Babs was a strong woman – but her biggest “flaw” was Dick, she knew that Dick was still unsure of what he wanted in life. Still she let go but not completely … the last panel showed her holding Dick to his promise that he will come back. (BUT HE WAS SLEEPING AROUND IN NEW YORK ONE YEAR LATER!! IS THAT WHAT YOU CALL SOUL SEARCHING?!!!!)

Thank you Marc Andreyko, Joe Bennet, and Jack Jadson for the chick-flick - it was well told and well drawn – I wish you guys were writing the series….

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Iron Clad

This makes so much fucking sense you tend to forget Jon Favreau is directing the motherfucker. Pray it's not hackwork when it finishes up.

Downey as Stark, as if I needed annotating.

That chestpiece is way cool.

My kind of hero - - -brokenhearted.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wonder Woman

OK Amazons Attack just came out – and Thor just pointed out DC is starting to become very exclusive – you need to know the history before jumping in. So lets look back and to hell with my deadlines.

I admit… I started reading Wonder Woman last year because of guilt. I was reading Batman and Superman and I know them as much as I could predict the behavior of some of my friends. Wonder Woman was just there as extra muscle. Well, girls gotta stick together so I started reading from the very beginning – well at least as far as the reboot.

George Perez’s retelling of the Amazons’ and Wonder Woman’s origin was incredibly… “anti-men” (as some rabid feminists are called). The Amazons were spirits who died violently in the hands of men and were given new life by the Greek gods. The Amazons were created to set an example of peaceful existence for men (who were of course violent and dumb and selfish). In the end, the Amazons failed because the men led by Hercules tortured, raped, enslaved, and violently murdered most of the Amazons. Queen Hippolyta herself was raped by Hercules! The gods freed them of course but note that the Amazons' arm bands were actually the shackles that they wore when they were enslaved. The Amazons then retreated to Themyscira and the gods helped conceal it from the cruelty of the world of men. I mean who would blame them for banning men from the island! It was after this that Hippolyta wanted a kid so bad because when she was murdered in her past life by a man she was pregnant. The soul of that baby was still hanging out in limbo and was pulled out and placed in the clay sculpture that Hippolyta made thus Diana was born. (Pro-choice women would interpret this pro-life propaganda – fetuses have souls! No to abortion! But then again these souls could still be recycled into superheroes...)

And as the story goes - Diana went to man’s world to do superhero stuff and because her “suit” was similar to the American flag helped in her being accepted in the USA as a new superhero. Perez’ Diana had no secret identity, she needed to learn English, and fought gods and monsters. I missed some of what happened in between but in Phil Jimenez’s run, Diana became a diplomat and an advocate for the women becoming more self-reliant. Greg Rucka ran with this idea and he installed Diana as the Ambassador of Themyscira, she wrote a book on Themysciran or Amazonian way of life, she attended UN conferences and White House events. She became and inspiration to abused women all over the world, she was called an pagan and a bad influence by Christians, and a zealot of peace by fans – while fighting gods and monsters and violent, dumb, and selfish men.

From her own series and the JLA Wonder Woman centric arches - Diana was a serious and uncompromising person. Everything was black and white because of her lasso – she could not accept anything other than the absolute truth. She was just asking for trouble. What if there were two opposing truths? What if truth was based on perception and context? In JLA’s A League of One, Diana knocked out ALL of the members because it was foretold that in battling a dragon the JLA will all die – that was the truth according to the Themysciran oracle. In Golden Perfect, the lasso breaks because there was no objective truth and Diana breaks down too.

I have no idea how she became friends with Batman – with Superman it was obvious, boy scout and all but Batman? That big yet endearing sneaky paranoid bully?! But maybe they have more in common than with Supes. Anyway, Flash never wanted to hang out with Diana because she was too righteous and preachy. And Wonder Woman punching Conner Kent when she caught him and Cassie kissing – priceless!

Her decision to kill Maxwell Lord – well, truth is there was no other way to stop him even if killing is wrong. She didn't agonize about the decision - she had begun to understand that there are gradations of gray between black and white. Bruce and Clark couldn’t handle the truth. (Stupid men!) After the crisis, after the Amazons had to leave this dimension or be attacked by the USA, Diana decided to get a secret identity like her two best buds. Batman set it up and Superman told her to wear glasses because it works. But to the world of men, she was still a murderer.

Allan Heinberg’s unfinished run was very disappointing but he established that one year after the crisis, Diana was unsure of herself – she was not an ambassador, not an advocate, and NOT Wonder Woman. Donna is the new Wonder Woman. (But damn Heinberg he didn’t finish telling the story!) Diana stumbled around, she could not connect with anybody.

The US just had to persecute Wonder Woman for murdering a government agent and this was tackled in Manhunter where Kate Spencer could have won the case by showing the unedited video of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord because he was controlling Superman. True to her selflessness, Diana decided not to enter the video as evidence because people will lose faith in Superman.

Now Jodi Picoult’s run – let’s forget that Heinberg happened – Diana still had the secret identity thing, the “who am I now” angst, and Wonder Woman was high on America’s most wanted but in spite of it all she had a sense of humor! (Diana was only written this way in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey when Dinah sparred with Diana - who was wearing a white tee and jeans – oops girly stuff spilling out.) For the first time reading Wonder Woman was entertaining as opposed to the grim-and-determined-feel of all that was written before. And there was sexual tension between her and Nemesis! In three installments she has made the post-crisis Diana into a character that reflected the changes brought about by all that happened before. But she was captured by the US government and imprisoned and to show that not all men are violent, dumb, and selfish- Nemesis broke her out of jail (because I think he’s in love!).

Anyway, Circe seemed to have orchestrated the whole thing and upon resurrecting Diana’s mother (who valiantly died in Worlds at War when she was with the JSA as Wonder Woman – oh, go read it if you find it confusing!), the witch (literally) told Hippolyta that Diana was being held prisoner by that damned macho US government. So we come to Amazons attacking Washington DC. They killed the first man and boy they saw and blew up Capitol. Mustering up the Amazons to attack the US was no big leap after their history with the world of men – plus imprison their Princess and you’ve got a war. The thing is Wonder Woman #8 and Will Pfiefer’s Amazons Attack #1 almost told the same story (yes, Thor, I read it again and I agree with you this time, di nga nag-usap mga writers). Its still wait-and-see but it looks promising with Cassie and Supergirl fighting alongside the Amazons and Batman with a sword - I am not hard to please – as you all know I like X-men….

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Geek Sounds on Thursday #1: "Four-Color Love Story"

I know this is probably really old news to some of you -- especially if you habitually refer to Warren Ellis for music recommendations -- but I whole-heartedly urge you to download the song "Four-Color Love Story" by The Metasciences. Trust me. You'll realize why, after you've heard the lyrics, but the title alone should give you an indication ;)

Basically, it's a loving acoustic celebration of the dewy-eyed romance, associated with Silver Age superheroics. Think of it as an 'Ultimate' or 'All Star' version of Simon and Garfunkel, if you please. Folk rock with a thoroughly post-post-modern sense of earnest juvenalia; it's light-hearted and playful, self-aware but never too arch or ironic.

Download "Four-Color Love Story" (from the band's official site)
Download "Four-Color Love Story" (hosted by me)

These are the Fables on My Street

Recently, i've been thinking about the earlier story arcs of Bill Willingham's Fables, the ongoing Vertigo series dealing with the politics and power dynamics within a tight knit community of refugees from the various fairy tale kingdoms. These "legends in exile" (as the title of the first volume calls them) mostly live together within the mystically-protected confines of Fabletown, a block of urban real estate nestled amidst contemporary New York City.

Now, perhaps this is meant to be self-evident, but I rarely see it being discussed -- I can't help but feel that Willingham created the series as a commentary on the experiences of diasporic immigrants, as much as it is an exploration of the various fairy tale mythos.

For starters, without giving too much of the plot away, the Fables have fled their respective Homelands, after they were over-run by the invading forces of the mysterious Adversary. The various characters occupied differing social strata in their previous lives, and indeed many have drastically reinvented themselves upon relocating to our "mundy" world. Financial status and historical legacies have reinforced some of their old social positions, it's true. (For example, a former Princess like Snow White is able to become a ranking government official in Fabletown; while Cinderella and Briar Rose are regarded as socialites.) However, for the most part, the behavior and reputation of most of the series' ensemble cast are regulated by a general Amnesty. This formal teaty absolves them of previous wrong-doings committed in the Homelands (most remarkably in the case of the Big Bad Wolf, the series' occassional protagonist, who has since taken on a magically altered human form, as detective Bigby Wolf).

These reinventions are prefigured by an event-like War or Crisis, just as it happens in so many other comics. But Fables offers no existential reset button to wipe out messy histories and continuities. These characters have vivid memories of their previous lives, which function as a source of both pride and dishonor, often at the same time. They've been transformed by their sojourn and relocation to a new 'host world', but the emotional weight of their former life looms heavy over their psyches. And yet their decision to make nice (or at least remain civil) with former rivals is strengthened by a conscious effort to observe the Amnesty, not by a convenient mind-wipe or reality warp.

In many ways, this echoes the social dynamics within immigrant communities, particularly in America, where employment opportunities (more or less) provide greater wriggle-room to flatten out class stratification that existed among immigrants, in their previous situation. Moreover, despite any tensions arising within immigrant communities (refugees and otherwise), they maintain a fragile sense of solidarity, united by their shared dissatisfaction with the circumstances that led them to take flight from their own Homelands.

Another way that Fables mirrors the stuggles of human immigrant communities lies in the tension between embracing the practices of the host cultures (in this case, our "mundy" society) and the well-established traditions of the Homelands. The characters vary in their degree of xenophobia, and it leads to some very interesting situations, ranging from tragi-comic (Sawyer-esque trickster Jack of Tales embracing online get-rich-quick schemes and Hollywood opportunism) to potentially explosive (the slave-owning Arabian Fables adapting to Fabletown's UN-like view of human rights).

In fact, its these more human dimensions of the series that keep me hooked on Fables, even more than the clever fairy tale deconstruction. I'll take heated inter-personal negotiations and trans-cultural soap operatics over literary wank for its own sake, any day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First Appearance (1: Paolo Cruz)

Please give a hearty welcome to me, Paolo Cruz, the latest member of the extended, quasi-dysfunctional Geeks United family. I'll be posting mostly extensive comic reviews (usually for complete story arcs, though I don't have any concrete guidelines about that). Expect some more general brain-farts as well, on a semi-regular basis. In particular, i'll be waxing pilosopo about the motifs, themes, or general direction of certain titles I'll also be plugging any future releases that I feel may be worth checking out, despite the lack of hype or page space they recieve in the Diamond/Previews catalog. As the truism goes, pre-ordering is your friend, Third World economy notwithstanding.

Oh yeah, I plan to start a weekly MP3 feature here every Thursday about songs related to geek culture, for as long as I can keep it up. So if that kind of thing interests you, please add this blog to your Favorites or Bookmarks or whatever your broswer calls it. Or better yet, get with the entire Web 2.0 shebang and subscribe to our feed.

If any of you want to get a broader picture about my tastes and sensibilities, with regards to graphic fiction, just check out my ComicSpace profile. (Add me, too, if you're so inclined.)

Finally, i'd like to indulge in the quintessentially Filipino practice of shameless plugging, barely disguised as friendly shout-outs. Pwede mag-greet? I'd like to give mad props to Eric of Fourth Wall Comics for ordering Jeffrey Brown's "b-sides" collection, Feeble Attempts, for me, at the generous rate of P50 = USD1. So worth it, people! Drop by the store, if you ever get the chance. Details on their ComicSpace profile.

More soon, I promise. Until then, True Believers...
*resists urge to carry on with half-assed Stan Lee parody*

Scientists unearth Superman's "kryptonite"

Holy green rock flung from outer space to red neck America, Batman! Now all I have to do is wait for a Superman. From Yahoo News:

Kryptonite, which robbed Superman of his powers, is no longer the stuff of comic books and films.

A mineral found by geologists in Serbia shares virtually the same chemical composition as the fictional kryptonite from outer space, used by the superhero's nemesis Lex Luther to weaken him in the film "Superman Returns".

"We will have to be careful with it -- we wouldn't want to deprive Earth of its most famous superhero!," said Dr Chris Stanley, a mineralogist at the Natural History Museum.

Stanley, who revealed the identity of the mysterious new mineral, discovered the match after searching the Internet for its chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide.

"I was amazed to discover that same scientific name written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns," he said.

The substance has been confirmed as a new mineral after tests by scientists at the Natural History Museum and the National Research Council in Canada.

But instead of the large green crystals in Superman comics, the real thing is a white, powdery substance which contains no fluorine and is non-radioactive.

The mineral, to be named Jadarite, will go on show at the the Natural History Museum at certain times of the day on Wednesday, April 25, and Sunday, May 13.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Picking Eisners

My picks. From those I've read.

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Batman/The Spirit: Crime Convention, Jeph Loeb and Darwyn Cooke (DC)

Best Continuing Series
Tossup: All Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC) or Monster,Naoki Urasawa (Viz)

Best Limited Series
Batman: Year 100, Paul Pope (DC)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Abandon the Old In Tokyo, Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

A.L.I.E.E.E.N., Lewis Trondheim (First Second)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, Naoki Urasawa (Viz)

Best Writer
Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, Batman, 52, Seven Soldiers (DC)

Best Writer/Artist
Tossup: Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets, New Tales of Old Palomar (Fantagraphics); Sloth (Vertigo/DC)
or Paul Pope, Batman: Year 100 (DC)

Best Writer/Artist—Humor

Lewis Trondheim, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. (First Second); Mr. I (NBM)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Steven McNiven/Dexter Vines, Civil War (Marvel)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M (Desperado/Image); Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)

Best Cover Artist
Dave Johnson, 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC);

Best Coloring
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #17 (ACME Novelty)

Friday, April 20, 2007



Best Short Story

”The Black Knight Glorps Again,” by Don Rosa, in Uncle Scrooge #354 (Gemstone)
“Felix,” by Gabrielle Bell, in Drawn & Quarterly Showcase 4 (Drawn & Quarterly)
“A Frog’s Eye View,” by Bill Willingham and James Jean, in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
“Old Oak Trees,” by Tony Cliff, in Flight 3 (Ballantine)
“Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man,” by Stan Lee, Oliver Coipel, and Mark Morales, in Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man (Marvel)
“Willie: Portrait of a Groundskeeper,” by Eric Powell, in Bart Simpsons’s Treehouse of Horror #12 (Bongo)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot)
Batman/The Spirit #1: “Crime Convention,” by Jeph Loeb and Darwyn Cooke (DC)
A Late Freeze, by Danica Novgorodoff (Danica Novgorodoff)
The Preposterous Adventures of Ironhide Tom, by Joel Priddy (AdHouse)
Skyscrapers of the Midwest #3, by Joshua Cotter (AdHouse)
They Found the Car, by Gipi (Fantagraphics)

Best Continuing Series
All Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
Captain America, by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting (Marvel)
Daredevil, by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark, and Stefano Gaudiano (Marvel)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard (Image)
Young Avengers, by Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung, and various inkers (Marvel)

Best Limited Series
Batman: Year 100, by Paul Pope (DC)
The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M, by Frank Beddor, Liz Cavalier, and Ben Templesmith (Desperado/Image)
The Other Side, by Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart (Vertigo/DC)
Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, by Ian Edginton and D’Israeli (Dark Horse)
Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident, by Tony Millionaire (Dark Horse)

Best New Series
Criminal, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Marvel Icon)
East Coast Rising, by Becky Cloonan (Tokyopop)
Gumby, by Bob Burden and Rick Geary (Wildcard)
Jack of Fables, by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Tony Akins, and Andrew Pepoy (Vertigo/DC)
The Lone Ranger, by Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello (Dynamite)

Best Publication for a Younger Audience
Chickenhare, by Chris Grine (Dark Horse)
Drawing Comics Is Easy (Except When It’s Hard), by Alexa Kitchen (Denis Kitchen Publishing)
Gumby, by Bob Burden and Rick Geary (Wildcard)
Moomin, by Tove Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly)
To Dance: A Ballerina’s Graphic Novel, by Sienna Cherson and Mark Siegel (Simon & Schuster)

Best Humor Publication
Flaming Carrot Comics, by Bob Burden (Desperado/Image)
Onionhead Monster Attacks, by Paul Friedrich (Hellcar)
Schizo #4, by Ivan Brunetti (Fantagraphics)
Tales Designed to Thrizzle, by Michael Kupperman (Fantagraphics)
Truth Serum, by Jon Adams (City Cyclops)

Best Anthology
Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, by Bill Willingham and various (Vertigo/DC)
Hotwire Comix and Capers #1, edited by Glenn Head (Fantagraphics)
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, edited by Frédéric Boilet (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)
Kramers Ergot 6, edited by Sammy Harkham (Buenaventura Press)
Project: Romantic, edited by Chris Pitzer (AdHouse)

Best Digital Comic
Bee, in “Motel Art Improvement Service,” by Jason Little,
Girl Genius, by Phil Foglio,
Minus, by Ryan Armand,
Phables, by Brad Guigar,
Sam and Max, by Steve Purcell,
Shooting War, by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman,

Best Reality-Based Work
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
I Love Led Zeppelin, by Ellen Forney (Fantagraphics)
Mom’s Cancer, by Brian Fies (Abrams)
Project X Challengers: Cup Noodle, by Tadashi Katoh (Digital Manga)
Stagger Lee, by Derek McCulloch and Shepherd Hendrix (Image)

Best Graphic Album—New
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Billy Hazelnuts, by Tony Millionaire (Fantagraphics)
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)
Ninja, by Brian Chippendale (Gingko Press)
Scrublands, by Joe Daly (Fantagraphics)
The Ticking, by Renée French (Top Shelf)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint
Absolute DC: The New Frontier, by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley (Fantagraphics)
Mom’s Cancer, by Brian Fies (Abrams)
Shadowland, by Kim Deitch (Fantagraphics)
Truth Serum, by Jon Adams (City Cyclops)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips
The Complete Peanuts, 1959–1960, 1961–1962, by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics)
Mary Perkins On Stage, by Leonard Starr (Classic Comics Press)
Moomin, by Tove Jansson (Drawn & Quarterly)
Popeye: I Yam What I Yam, by E. C. Segar (Fantagraphics)
Walt & Skeezix, vol. 2, by Frank King (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books
Abandon the Old In Tokyo, by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)
Absolute Sandman, vol. 1, by Neil Gaiman and various (Vertigo/DC)
Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900–1969, by Dan Nadel (Abrams)
The Eternals, by Jack Kirby (Marvel)
Ode to Kirihito, by Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material
A.L.I.E.E.E.N., by Lewis Trondheim (First Second)
De:TALES, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)
Hwy 115, by Matthias Lehmann (Fantagraphics)
The Left Bank Gang, by Jason (Fantagraphics)
Pizzeria Kamikaze, by Etgar Keret and Asaf Hanuka (Alternative)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Japan
After School Nightmare, by Setona Mizushiro (Go! Comi)
Antique Bakery, by Fumi Yoshinaga (Digital Manga)
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster, by Naoki Urasawa (Viz)
Old Boy, by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi (Dark Horse Manga)
Walking Man, by Jiro Taniguchi (Fanfare/Ponent Mon)

Best Writer
Ed Brubaker, Captain America, Daredevil (Marvel); Criminal (Marvel Icon)
Bob Burden, Gumby (Wildcard)
Ian Edginton, Scarlet Traces: The Great Game (Dark Horse)
Grant Morrison, All Star Superman, Batman, 52, Seven Soldiers (DC)
Bill Willingham, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)

Best Writer/Artist
Allison Bechdel, Fun Home (Houghton Mifflin)
Renée French, The Ticking (Top Shelf)
Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets, New Tales of Old Palomar (Fantagraphics); Sloth (Vertigo/DC)
Paul Pope, Batman: Year 100 (DC)
Joann Sfar, Klezmer, Vampire Loves (First Second)

Best Writer/Artist—Humor
Ivan Brunetti, Schizo (Fantagraphics)
Lilli Carré, Tales of Woodsman Pete (Top Shelf)
Michael Kupperman, Tales Designed to Thrizzle (Fantagraphics)
Tony Millionaire, Billy Hazelnuts (Fantagraphics); Sock Monkey: The Inches Incident (Dark Horse)
Lewis Trondheim, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. (First Second); Mr. I (NBM)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team
Mark Buckingham/Steve Leialoha, Fables (Vertigo/DC)
Tony Harris/Tom Feister, Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
Niko Henrichon, Pride of Baghdad (Vertigo/DC)
Michael Lark/Stefano Gaudiano, Daredevil (Marvel)
Sonny Liew, Wonderland (SLG)
Steven McNiven/Dexter Vines, Civil War (Marvel)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art)
Nicolas De Crecy, Glacial Period (NBM)
Melinda Gebbie, Lost Girls (Top Shelf)
Ben Templesmith, Fell (Image); The Looking Glass Wars: Hatter M (Desperado/Image); Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse (IDW)
Jill Thompson, “A Dog and His Boy” in The Dark Horse Book of Monsters; “Love Triangle” in Sexy Chix (Dark Horse); “Fair Division,” in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
Brett Weldele, Southland Tales: Prequel Saga (Graphitti); Silent Ghost (Markosia)

Best Cover Artist
John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men (Marvel); The Escapists (Dark Horse); The Lone Ranger (Dynamite)
Tony Harris, Conan (Dark Horse); Ex Machina (WildStorm/DC)
James Jean, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (Vertigo/DC)
Dave Johnson, 100 Bullets (Vertigo/DC); Zombie Tales, Cthulu Tales, Black Plague (Boom!)
J. G. Jones, 52 (DC)

Best Coloring
Kristian Donaldson, Supermarket (IDW)
Hubert, The Left Bank Gang (Fantagraphics)
Lark Pien, American Born Chinese (First Second)
Dave Stewart, BPRD, Conan, The Escapists, Hellboy (Dark Horse); Action Comics, Batman/The Spirit, Superman (DC)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #17 (ACME Novelty)

Best Lettering
Ivan Brunetti, Schizo (Fantagraphics)
Todd Klein, Fables, Jack of Fables, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall; Pride of Baghdad, Testament (Vertigo/DC); Fantastic Four: 1602, Eternals (Marvel); Lost Girls (Top Shelf)
Clem Robins, BPRD, The Dark Horse Book of Monsters, Hellboy (Dark Horse); Loveless, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man (Vertigo/DC)
Richard Sala, The Grave Robber’s Daughter, Delphine (Fantagraphics)
Chris Ware, Acme Novelty Library #17 (ACME Novelty)

Special Recognition
Ross Campbell, Abandoned (Tokyopop); Wet Moon 2 (Oni)
Svetlana Chmakova, Dramacon (Tokyopop)
Hope Larson, Gray Horses (Oni)
Dash Shaw, The Mother’s Mouth (Alternative)
Kasimir Strzepek, Mourning Star (Bodega)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism
Alter Ego, edited by Roy Thomas (TwoMorrows)
Comic Art 8, edited by Todd Hignite (Buenaventura Press)
The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Dirk Deppey, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)
The Comics Reporter, produced by Tom Spurgeon and Jordan Raphael (
¡Journalista!, produced by Dirk Deppey (Fantagraphics,

Best Comics-Related Book
The Art of Brian Bolland, edited by Joe Pruett (Desperado/Image)
Cartoon America: Comic Art in the Library of Congress, edited by Harry Katz (Abrams)
Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book, by John Hitchcock (Octopus Press)
In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists, by Todd Hignite (Yale University Press)
Wally’s World, by Steve Sarger and J. David Spurlock (Vanguard)

Best Publication Design
Absolute DC: The New Frontier, designed by Darwyn Cooke (DC)
Castle Waiting graphic novel, designed by Adam Grano (Fantagraphics)
Lost Girls, designed by Matt Kindt and Brett Warnock (Top Shelf)
Popeye: I Yam What I Yam, designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)
The Ticking, designed by Jordan Crane (Top Shelf)

Hall of Fame
Judges’ Choices (2): Robert Kanigher and Ogden Whitney

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito
Dick Ayers
Bernard Baily
Matt Baker
Wayne Boring
Creig Flessel
Harold Gray
Irwin Hasen
Graham Ingels
Joe Orlando
Lily Renée (Peters) Phillips
Bob Powell
Gilbert Shelton
Cliff Sterrett

Thursday, April 19, 2007

World War III

52 #50, World War III 1-4

This is DC's fuck you to Marvel's Civil War, five installments in a day, kudos to the group just for this rare experience.

Twists and Dead Ends: The thing is, DC doesn't seem to be interested in attracting new readers. World War III's marketing blitz is a tiny, lonely spark compared to the fireworks display of Civil War or even Infinite Crisis. No doubt it is a major event with gazillion book crossovers but it does feel that it is solely for 52 readers. I can't imagine jumping into this arc without reading the past 49 issues of 52 and a few OYL titles (Supergirl, Trials of Shazam). With this frighteningly focused market, in this sense, World War III is an ambitious indy act, let's say Sufjan Stevens, let's say Sufjan Stevens' Avalanche album, an acquired taste, a collection of rarities and B-sides, and only for the loyal listeners. 52 #50 is, not surprisingly, the best of the bunch, drawing to a close Black Adam's murderous rampage. The other closures---the Question and Montoya's, Batman's soul searching, Luthor's rain of the supermen---all neatly tied, if a little too hushed. Black Adam's journey in contrast is superhero UFC smackdown, loud, fast and furious. The ending is quite a punch, mystical in nature but true to the characters.

World War III takes a close look at the events of 52 #50, with a few forced and useless plotlines, mostly found in Book Two. Supergirl comes back from the future changed. Duh. Or this is why she has two ongoing titles. Donna Troy picks up the Wonder Woman tiara, but never answers why. Bat Girl confused; Jason poses as Nightwing. Given, given. The return and death of Terra...whathafuck? How? And why?

But the books do succeed in telling the story of Black Adam and J'onn J'onzz. No spoilers here, but choosing Manhunter to be the narrator of the story worked beyond my expectations. The loss and guilt that connects both characters made the telling more...poignant. Not the greatest thing about a comic book mega-event but it's what is sorely lacking in Civil War. All fists. No punches.

Highlights and low life: Martian Manhunter vs. Black Adam. China's heroes vs. Black Adam. DCU vs. Black Adam. All sweet. Infinity Inc.'s response to Black Adam was hilarious. Loved the conversations between the DCU heroes before the final attack: love lives, rent woes, anything but what they were about to face. Major mehs: Teen Titans. Interesting pre-OYL line-up but too many questions left unanswered like why BB left the Titans in the first place. And Terra? When and how did this happen? Apparently it's the same Terra, GF's sister. And Frankenstein Jr.? Argh. Years worth of Teen Titans history in my head and the Titans are written out of sync. There's nothing remotely Raven about Raven, Gar's a mess, and...just too many gaps in the telling which started immediately after the OYL jump. Sorry, grumpy fan. And oh, the art. Not very good especially in the first two books. I guess it's what DC had to sacrifice to meet the shipping schedule.

All in all, a great story in the DCU continuity. And mired in continuity this is. Works for me but definitely not for walk-ins.

52 # 50 (Rucka, Johns, Morrison, Waid, Various artists) *****
World War III Book One (Champagne/Oliffe and Geraci) ***
World War III Book Two (Champagne/Smith and Snyder) *
World War III Book Three (Ostrander/Derenick and Rapmund) ****
World War III Book Four (Ostrander/Jadson and Ramos) ****

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Geek Porn

More where this came from.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bullet Points: April 12

Teen Titans #45 (DC) - They're going down fast much like the writing is devolving to cromagnon stating the obvious grunts. Damn you Beechen. Raven is all Deanna Troi, Wonder Girl's still weepy over Conner, Robin's still weepy over Conner, Bat Girl's all grr and hi-yaa but she gets kicked on the head by a one-armed C-lister, this from the girl who almost killed Shiva. Unbefuckinglievable. I love this book, used to be on the top of my pile. They're making dropping this title so much easier. *

52 Week 49 (DC) - Already? Sure, the art and writing were wobbly at times but the effort itself, the intersecting locations and characters, the simmering and the murderous boiling over as it reached the week 30 mark, everything, it's just mythic. Great Black Adam and Atom Smasher bit and the scientists in the Island of Dr. Morrow (funny, that) still mad giggly. It looks like I'm on board for World War III. ****

After the Cape #2 (Image) - The first issue was interesting enough. Alcoholic superhero gets booted out of super group and now robbing banks to buy a house, but the drinking still gets in the way. Nicholas Cage should star in the movie. Issue #2 is just meh. Pacing is slow and the plot is stuck in mid-air. And, yeah, that's about it. **

Fables #60 (Vertigo) - Finally back to its major story with the Frog Prince arc. Wheels are turning fast for Fly and his turn from bumbling fool to mighty avenger is both tragic and triumphant. The ominous soundtrack is back, new plots unravel and a few secrets are revealed. Yum. ****