Thursday, February 28, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
MIGHTY AVENGERS #9 BM Bendis, Mark Bagley. Bendis got lazy. He thought he could fool me into liking his Mighty Avengers if he put three spreads of the Avengers fighting Doombots. Well, he almost did, I get hypnotized by spreads and pretty colors. But after reading the last page, I realized that the dialogue balloons were completely useless (since nothing significant was said) and that you could understand the story easily (since nothing much happened). To make sure that I buy the next issue, Bendis threw in a cliffhanger. I wonder how the battle in Latvia is connected to Secret Invasion?
NIGHTWING #141 Peter Tomasi, Rags Morales and Michael Bair. Bruce Wayne is filthy rich! Nightwing is setting up in New York and in order for him to be able to get around the city fast he needed strategic bases. He sent the addresses to Bruce and he bought all the buildings for Dick in a snap. Nothing much happened in this issue in furthering the story of the mystery of the body thieves but Tomasi wrote little special moments that satisfied my geeky heart. The JSA and JLA all pitched in to build his new HQ. Imagine having John Stewart as you architect! I was wondering when a Titan would come over and help him then Wally shows up. They shared a beer and talked—Tomasi and Morales succeeded in making the moment special.
BIRDS OF PREY #115 Sean McKeever, Nicola Scott, and Doug Hazlewood. PERFECT! Like Avengers and Nightwing, the BoP issue is setting up the stage for the big story in the arc. Avengers overdosed on fights and Nightwing was character driven but I missed the brawls. McKeever told a “set-up” story where characters evolved, the story moved forward, and there were fights! The Huntress and Lady Blackhawk went to go after Shark and they found his hide-out on a deserted island. In a few pages, Lady Blackhawk’s history with the villain was told and that Helena’s loyalty and respect for her has grown. They also fought giant eels and a damn big fish with big teeth. Oracle is still obsessed with trying to find out where their last operation in Metropolis went wrong. She enlisted Black Alice and Misfit threw a tantrum over what she believed was favoritism. Charlie was angry that Barbara considered another kid like her a Bird of Prey while she wasn’t considered to be an official agent. Just as Barbara and Lory were at the verge of a breakthrough on the case they were working on, Charlie teleported in to fight Lory. Meanwhile, Helena found Zinda drugged and transformed into an evil bitch. PERFECT!
BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #4 Chuck Dixon and Julian Lopez. Batgirl is back and Green Arrow hates her guts! (Come to think of it she’s the X-23 of DC – raised as an assassin and all but I think X-23 have more social support than Batgirl.) Anyway, after being betrayed by his kung fu master and how he and his family were hunted down by the league of assassins (the Black Canary and Sin arc) Green Arrow’s hate and distrust of Batgirl is completely understandable. The thing is Batman didn’t tell Ollie that Cassandra would be part of the team. It was typically manipulative of Batman. I have a problem with Ollie becoming a match to Cassandra in a fight. Cassandra was trained to read body language instead of verbal language—thus she could anticipate moves. Pretty much like Midnighter but without the enhancements—just human abilities but so honed and perfect that Batman once wondered if she was a meta. Unless, she was letting Ollie win so that he will feel better. Thunder is still hanging around Grace and the supposedly top secret Outsiders hideout. I don’t understand why Batman allows this. Maybe he has a plan for her, I don’t know why he didn’t put her on the team but he lets her hang out at their HQ. The reformatted OMAC is interesting—it can imitate anyone, George Clooney or Brad Pitt. I wouldn’t mind having one of those.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
To echo an obit worth echoing.
Steve Gerber made me uncomfortable.
I couldn't last more than a few pages inside his comics before I came cowering back to safety like a whipped junkyard dog to my comfy, banal superheroes. This was,of course, in my callow and foolish days as a kid geek when superheroes were the end-all and be-all of comics.
But Gail was right. Gerber was his time's cutting edge. Not so much bookish like Gaiman but druggish and fuckedupish like Morrison.
I'm much older now, a little wiser and superheroes do suck eggs most of the time and they get suckier each year. I do go back and reread my old Gerber comics - - - not much else good to read anyway. Howard the Duck. Some Man Thing. Some Omega the Unknown. And he still makes me uncomofrtable. But this time, uncomfortable is a good place.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Good night, sir.
Here's what Gail Simone had to say in the Newsarama board:
Dammit. Just dammit.
Some of you know of my adoration for this man. He's one of the few creators that I idolize so highly that I got stage fright actually talking to him.
Steve was Alan Moore and Grant Morrison before those guys were themselves. He always had a spin, an askew way of looking at everything, that made every story feel new and fresh and unique. Like we were party to something special. When he wrote a character, he showed you their secret side.
He made you feel like you were getting away with something taboo when you read one of his stories, no matter what the subject was. With Steve, the guy on the title wasn't the star, the WRITER was the star, just by virtue of his overwhelming talent and viewpoint. In a time when 'weird' was frowned upon, Steve owned the word in comics, in the best possible way.
A couple years ago, out of the blue, and I have no idea how he got my email address, he wrote and said this to me:
"Gail, I'm currently reading your BIRDS OF PREY stuff from the beginning.
I hope to hell you have some idea how good you are.
I am telling you, it's hard to imagine a kind word before or since that knocked me out of the chair like that. I was sure it had to be a hoax. That this guy, this hero of mine, would write something like that to a total stranger, it boggles my mind still.
I had to write back something like, "Uh, you do know that you are STEVE ****ING GERBER, right?"
We corresponded often in the next couple years, Steve always gracious, always generous, always funny, and always very humble about his place in comics (despite my constant protestations to the contrary). We talked about craft, we talked about the industry. He sometimes spoke about his health, but I never heard him complain. It was just the life he had, and he always hoped for the best. But it was clear that his health was pulling him under.
Last year, I got the chance to live a dream and work with him a little bit, writing a tie-in Black Alice comic to his Helmet Of Fate series. I have to say, I don't think I've ever felt the pressure to do a good job as much as I did on that book. For the readers and for myself, but also because letting Steve down was simply inconceivable. I'd rather hide in the closet forever.
I will carry his kind words with me the rest of my life.
Just a couple weeks ago, when I heard he'd gone back to the hospital, I offered to ghost write an issue of Dr. Fate so he could get some rest. He said he'd take me up on it, at least at the brainstorming stage. And he sounded very optimistic. He was concerned about something that might take him off the donor recipient list. I told him I had my fingers and toes crossed for him.
We never got to that brainstorming session. In a way, I'm sad, but in another way...who could really ever ghostwrite for Steve, even with the best of intentions? I never read a Steve Gerber story that didn't move me in some unique way. He combined brains and heart and a deadshot eye for the absurd in a way that is often imitated, but rarely achieved.
If you're going to have a legacy as a writer in comics, I think that's a pretty damn good one to leave behind.
Love you, Steve. Thank you for everything.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
New Avengers Annual #2
Hood’s injustice gang is back! They pulled an unbelievable prison-break to free their members who were arrested during the bank heist a few issues back. How they pulled this off wasn’t shown – that would have been interesting because according to a SHIELD agent reporting to Commander Hill, 17 men were killed. These guys want pay-back from the rogue Avengers. They beat up Tigra to tell them where the secret hide-out is. She said, “Everyone in the Initiative knows but they just can’t prove it.” And why? The favorite story-telling tool of Marvel of course – MAGIC! (*SIGH* and I am again reminded of One More Day)
I like Bendis’ New Avengers – they’re gritty, witty, and desperate. My sympathy's always with the underdog. When they win a fight, they don’t take it for granted or are all cocky about it. They tend to their wounded, some are still angry and tightly-wound up, Dr Strange is drained, Logan is hungry, and Spidey’s still bothered about who among them is Skrull. Then Hood’s gang attacks. I liked it that Spidey’s first instinct is to get the Jessica and Luke’s baby away fast. Jessica flew after him and almost decked him for taking her baby. With the baby safe and out of the way, Spidey went back to help fight. Pagulayan draws this time and fight scenes were excellent. The numbers were against the New Avengers, even with Tigra showing up to help. When all seemed lost… the team was saved by…. MAGIC! Ms Marvel and the SHIELD storm troopers arrive after the fight and Carol decided to let the team go – “They avenged the 17 men …”
The story ended with Jessica finally doing the most logical but extreme hard thing to do… “Please I want to register… help me protect my baby.”
I enjoyed this issue – even with the “magic ex machina” thing. I was emotional when Jessica and her baby were shown together outside the Mighty Avengers HQ, begging to be let in. One more thing – Spiderman – he’s still in black , he’s still the Spidey we knew before OMD. I miss him much.
Privileged and polished. This is how they seem after reading New Avengers. Their personal angst is petty, immature, and ridiculous. Still, Bendis writes funny quips for all of them in thought balloons. Yeah, some people find this irritating – I find it funny. The team fights a choke-full-of-Manhattan-Venom_virus-
affected-population. The Venom virus spread even to some of the Avengers team – Natasha, Jessica, and the Giant Janet. The New Avengers came to help but except for Luke Cage, all were infected. I think Bendis just wanted to play around with Venom Wolverine, Venom Dr Strange, Venom Iron Fist and so on. Cool, though.
They don’t get saved by magic – with Tony and Hank around – science was the solution. Again, it was Carol who decided to let the New Avengers get away. (She might as well join the team!) Highlight was when Tony saw that Hawkeye – Clint – with the New Avengers. Tony was surprised and hurt that he joined them.
The comic book reminds me of New X-men – students learning to be heroes. Adding Taskmaster to the “faculty” was a brilliant idea. The guy could fight – makes me wonder how he got defeated by the Avengers. He provides no-nonsense combat-training. It fits his name, really. While training an MVP clone bites the team in the ass. I like Slott’s writing here – his humor shown in his run is She-hulk is a bit muted but that’s fine and Caselli’s drawings are beautiful.
Ant-man's on the team - I wonder, will he be the jerk as he was was written by Kirkman? Oh, and there’s a Skrull on the team!!!