Yeah, I understand that Rucka and Saiz are doing a comic with OMAC in the title but just so no one forgets, let me introduce you to a fella named Buddy Blank
That's right. One Man Army Corps, baby! That's where it's at.
Nobody messes with the OMAC! OMAC was Kirby at his most Kirbyest. There were only 8 issues of the series. Sounds just right for a slightly oversized trade to me.
Yeah, I understand that Rucka and Saiz are doing a comic with OMAC in the title but just so no one forgets, let me introduce you to a fella named Buddy Blank
I'm going to post some reviews of the issues that make up the Essential Defenders Vol. 1 in the near future but I just wanted to say right off how much I'm enjoying reading these things! The first thing I noticed about the comics in this compilation is that they move fast! None of this "pages and pages of dialogue and exposition" you get nowadays. The story leaps from action scene to action scene and you'd better be able to keep up. Decompression be damned! The first Hulk issue in the book starts off with Bruce Banner unconscious and being dragged into a creepy mansion where people perform black rites on him. Damn! That's entertainment!
They're full of dialogue that would drive me nuts if I read it in something that came out recently but in the context of the early-70s wackiness that these stories come from it works, mate!
As soon as I get the scan-i-merator workin' I'll post some examples such as:
Right after Dr. Strange teleports himself and Namor into the Ward mansion. (Something abundantly clear from the art as well as Dr. Strange's words)
NAMOR: "We are back inside its walls!"
Until then, I leave you with the cover of Dr. Strange #183 which got the whole Defenders ball rollin'
at 10:55 PM
Most of you already know about this, I'm sure, but for those of you who haven't seen it, check out this flippin' huge Comic Covers Archive.
The search function is pretty good. I wish they had a thumbnail option but one can't have everything, can one?
at 11:05 PM
Today I rounded up the remainder of my holds. I got one from Marvel, one from DC and one from IDW. I only liked one of them all the way through but I only disliked one of them completely, as well.
Let's start with the bad:
Ultimate Fantastic Four #20: (spoilers)The hackneyed story introduced in #19 gets just plain dull in issue 20. The villain is tedious and unoriginal and the way Mike Carey depicts her "higher" brain output becomes difficult to keep reading. See, she's overclocked her brain so she doesn't pause between words because she's thinking so fast. Get it? This little trick made a tedious story that much harder to stick with.
This issue also contains the Worst. Villain. Monologue. Ever. She injects it directly into Reed's brain. I think this was Carey's attempt to throw the necessary exposition in there without resorting to the "Now that I've got you I will reveal my insidious plan in great detail" cliché. It didn't work for me. Warren Ellis would have done much better. That this comes right after Ellis's run on UFF makes it even harder to read. I like Jae Lee's art even though it's a radical departure from the work Kubert did when he was on board. The only gripe I have about the visuals is the cover. Everybody looks good except for Johnny. He seems to be wearing eyeliner. It's Robert Smith as The Human Torch!
EDIT: Clarified Artist reference above.
Grimjack: Killer Instinct #5: #5 made up for a lot of the problems I had with #4. Issue 4 made me realize that the first three issues had pretty much coasted along on my nostalgia. I mean, dude! Grimjack! Ostrander and Truman are gettin' the band back together, man!
#5 is every bit as full of the clichés and tropes and worn-out, tough-guy dialogue as the earlier issues but somehow in every one, except for the fourth one, it works! I think it's because Ostrander is completely unapologetic about it. There were a couple of lines I predicted as they came up. e.g.:
"No way I could take 'em in a fair fight."
"Good thing I don't fight fair."
It's like a sing-a-long. It's like a classic-rock station. We all know the songs but it's fun to belt out the verses.
This book has absolutely no surprises and it's not intended to. It's empty calories and stuff blows up. What more could you want?
Legion of Super-Heroes #7: Waid and Kitson are still doing a great job with this one. I've been a Legion fan for a long time. I have enjoyed each revamp on its own merits and this one is becoming my favorite. They have done some cool stuff with the origins and sources of the various legionnaires' powers. This issue focusses on Colu, the home planet of Brainiac-5. Something bad is happening there which ties into the larger impending war storyline.
The characterizations are good and the setups for many of the "wow" moments work well. There are two inkers credited on this issue and it shows. The style is inconsistent from page to page but it's never bad.
Mark Waid sometimes tries a little too hard to inject intrigue and conflict into the Legion and this issue has a large helping of that. He's at his best when he lets those elements come naturally out of the story instead of plugging them in but overall this is still engaging and I'm interested in how the larger story arc develops.
I'm really looking forward to this year's Dragon*Con but I am going to be busy this year! I had to plan last year's schedule to within an inch of its life and this year will be more of the same. The guest list is the best yet!
Most of the Firefly cast along with Joss Whedon will be there. Whedon's appearance is going to bring great Chaos and Doom to those two hotels in Atlanta. It'll be worse than the year James Marsters showed up. I'll have to show up early for any panel with JW in it.
Also, the comics track is full of people I want to see: Howard Chaykin, Joe Jusko, Cully Hamner, Brian Stelfreeze, David Mack, Ted Naifeh, Eric Powell, Chris Staros and a bunch of others who haven't been officially added yet.
Oh, and Dean Stockwell. DEAN STOCKWELL!!
All this and I'll be "working" in my usual capacity as a demo rabbit for Looney Labs
at 6:41 PM
New Avengers #6: The story is getting muddier and the writing is weaker than on the first five issues. Also, the art looks more Liefeld-y than it did before. I may just be nitpicking the visuals because I was unimpressed by the writing this time. This issue provides the Big Reason for the Avengers to reform. Unfortunately, the details behind the reason seem rather contrived. So, the U.S. government (or a faction thereof) is doing something dastardly and the New Avengers are gonna New Avenge the bunches of people who died because of it, or something.
The problem here is that all of the evidence for this dastardly stuff is either revealed or explained in this issue. They make some references to things that happened earlier but the setup for the big moment seems rushed and tacked on. I have enjoyed the series up to this point and I'll pick up #7 but if the story doesn't tighten up I'll drop it.
House of M #2: I was pretty lukewarm about the first issue of House of M but I really like #2. The art is excellent and the alternate reality (semantics be damned - if it's going to go back to normal it's an alternate reality) is very cool. It's like Magneto's version of the Top Ten setting. Apparently, Logan's powers include the ability to smell cosmic changes to the order of things. I'm definitely picking up #3. My only complaints about this issue involve the pacing of the scene between McCoy and Pym (the two Henrys) and the cover which uses a muted palette when brighter colors would have made the figures stand out better. They're probably saving that for the inevitable variant cover.
Astro City: The Dark Age #1: I've been waiting for this one for quite a while. It wasn't what I expected it to be at all but it is a very engaging story about a pair of non-powered brothers and how they are affected by all of the ca-ray-zee superheroes around them. It distinguishes itself from Marvels and other "regular people reacting to superpowers" comics by focussing on the relationship between the brothers. The art is good and the Alex Ross cover is cool even if it depicts a relatively minor scene. I guess a picture of a couple of guys talking very intensely doesn't just pop off the shelves.
The Iron Ghost #2: Still liking this one. I care about the major characters and I'm even more curious as to why this guy is going around murdering Nazis. Murdering these specific Nazis, that is. The art in #2 is even better than it was in the first issue and we get more of the detectives who are really cool. Chuck Dixon seems to have done his homework on what it was like in Berlin during the constant bombings. Great stuff. The violence (and there's plenty of it) is handled well both in the writing and in the art.
From the blog of the Executive Producer of the Global Frequency pilot.
"I bitch and moan about how all this emergent technology is going to change the entertainment industry and nobody's taking advantage of it. And here I have, well, unless I'm mistaken, a fan base which exists and is trying to organize for a show which has never appeared on television. Not a cancelled show -- a show which has literally never aired on broadcast television. "
Basically, the words "snowball" and "Hell" come to mind regarding the probablility of GF airing but the following quotation gives me an iota of hope.
"BUT ... having said that, I'll make some calls, talk to some humans. I'll try to learn, in what time I have, how this totally new process could work. That's what we're talking here, about you (the audience) creating a completely new process for television shows.
On the other hand, the entire idea of Global Frequency is of ordinary people subverting the establishment and getting things done. The concept of a fan base for the show subverting the establishment and getting things done ... frankly that's a little irresistible."
crossposted to my LiveJournal
From the "Stuff I wish I'd said" department, BeaucoupKevin (of BeaucoupKevin fame) has good stuff to say about the Global Frequency Pilot.
We need to believe in the common man as hero now more than ever, and this show could have gotten us all a little closer to that - all of the viewers would be on the Global Frequency.
Not comics-related but very blog-related:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation had published an online legal guide for bloggers.
Most of it isn't the type of stuff the majority of bloggers are going to run up against but it's still good to have this kind of thing bookmarked.
The Goon #12:
When you've got a Spanish-speaking lizard guy, a resurrected villain named "Dr. Alloy" and an army of robots what more do you need?
This is the first issue of The Goon I have ever read and that's a shame. This is a really good comic book. I had heard good things about Eric Powell before and I had been told to check out this title specifically. Powell even lives in the same state I do so I had read stories in local papers about him.
The art is incredible. Powell has a gift for facial expressions and composition that rivals Kevin Maguire's work. Powell's style is nothing like Maguire's but both artists are able to convey what they want to elegantly. Check out Powell's site for examples of his work.
The writing (also by Powell) is excellent. It's funny and compelling and downright silly in places which is exactly what this story needs. The dialogue is snappy and the jokes are always part of the story. The Goon himself is an excellent character. He's the tough guy you all want to root for. He'd make a great movie action hero but Hollywood would probably screw it up. An animated series would be better but it would have to be on HBO to really convey the mood of the comic.
The Iron Ghost #1: I picked this one up on a whim. I really like World War II stories, especially those from the European Theatre. The story is introduced very well and we get some tantalizing hints about why the title character does what he does. I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that this comic is about someone who has it in for SS Officers and goes around Berlin during the heaviest American/English bombing raids killing them. The story alternates between the Iron Ghost and two German police detectives who have been assigned to solve these murders in the midst of all this chaos.
The art by Sergio Cariello is excellent. He uses a narrow, dark pallette of browns, blacks and greys to give the whole thing a historical feel. It also fits the story very well. Chuck Dixon wrote the story and he does a great job of balancing the main character's need for revenge against the brutality of his actions. This is one angry guy. The whole thing has a very "The Shadow" feel to it. In fact, the cover is an obvious nod to that look.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #19: The story has a "been there; done that" feel to it: A they all laughed at me at the academy villain takes over the Baxter Building's defenses while the FF is out of town (WAY out of town - Like, in another dimension). She's had something done to her to enhance her intelligence and she's very, very angry at the cool kids who made the cut.
This is part 1 and I'm interested enough in what's going on to read part 2 (which should be the conclusion of the story) but Warren Ellis would have done it better. Ellis realized that Reed Richards' primary superpower is his intelligence. At least once per issue, Ellis would have Reed do something really clever. Sometimes it was a small thing but it would make me say "Wow! Cool!". Mike Carey didn't write any of those moments for Reed in this issue. It's a different style, I know, but there was nothing particularly exciting about the events. The dialogue was even kind of flat.
The art, however, I like.
Jae Lee did a great job of conveying the darkness and isolation of the characters as they move through a familiar building which has now become unfamiliar. Nothing beats Adam Kubert's art for this series but I like Lee's work on this. It reminds me of Stuart Immonen's stuff in that he really captures the "guy on fire" effects on Johnny well.
Ultimate Spider-Man #78: As I was reading this issue I was thinking "Ugh. This is a lot of navel-gazing even for Bendis". Then I got to the punchline. Nice work.
It didn't go the direction I was afraid it was going to and it did, in fact, advance the story. Brian Bendis isn't Joss-Whedon good but he keeps pulling compelling stories out of these characters. I'm not reading much else that Bendis is writing right now but I am very impressed with Ultimate Spider-Man. He has kept my interest through 78 issues and that ain't easy. There was a bit of meta-comic-geekery that threw a speedbump into the story flow but it was a minor thing.
One of the reasons I have stayed interested in US-M has been Mark Bagley's art. Damn he's good! His style fits Bendis's writing perfectly. If the title had rotated through various artists (see Ultimate Fantastic Four above) I might not have stuck with it. Consistency of art and consistency of writing have combined to keep this thing in my holdbox.
Also purchased: The Goon #12 and Iron Ghost #1 but I haven't read those, yet.
I am sitting next to a really big collection of black & white Defenders issues. There are two things written on the cover that make me very happy:
1. Sal Buscema - Because it means that there's lots of early-70s Buscema art inside.
2. Volume 1 - Because it means there's gonna be a Volume 2.
It's the Essential Defenders collection! There are (if I counted correctly) 24 issues featuring The Defenders in this thing. All for seventeen bucks!
Some of the other names I am glad to see on the cover are "Len Wein", "Steve Englehart" and "Gene Colan". I don't know who's making these decisions over at the House if Ideas but I hope they stick around!
at 5:22 PM
From Comics Should Be Good Jim Steranko was the inspiration for Mr. Miracle and the Kavalier & Clay escapist character. I had read that Steranko was an escape artist back in the day but I didn't know he was the inspiration for Scott Free
The Steranko bit is the second of the Comics Urban Legends. They're all ineresting.
at 12:36 AM
Rann-Thanagar War #2 Good art. Muddy storyline. Lots of explosions and people getting disintegrated. Kyle Rayner gets some good screen time but Hawkman and Adam Strange not so much, this issue. I've made this complaint about other series and I'll make it about future ones, I'm sure but here we go again:
This issue suffers from "Trades Disease" which is the unnecessary padding of what should be a 4-issue miniseries or story arc into a 6-issue run because that's the number of issues that fit nicely into a trade paperback compilation. Not a lot happens in this issue. Having said that, there is some good padding in #2, especially on the Tamaranean queen if you know what I'm sayin'
Sorry about that. My biggest complaint about this series is that people keep showing up as if we're supposed to know who they are. Me heap-big comics geek and I don't recognize a lot of these cameos. Maybe they'll be identified in later issues. Also, so far, this conflict is not triggering any sort of emotional investment on my part. I really don't give a damn about most of the characters. In a war story, you're kinda supposed to, aren't you? I'll pick up #3 to see where this goes.
Lex Luthor Man of Steel #4 The Adventures of Businessman! continues. I'm still liking the series but this penultimate issue is the weakest yet. It's well-written but it's also all over the place. Also, Bermejo's art (still awesome!) makes a couple of the secondary characters look really insane in a couple of spots. Check out the freaky morning-show guy on page 14! Woah!
The introduction of Hope was done very well and I have to mention Dave Stewarts colors. They make this book. It wouldn't have a tenth of its impact without them.
The Stardust Kid #1 This one's by Image. I didn't know anything about it when I saw it on the shelf. I liked the cover art (see below) and I saw J.M DeMatteis's name on it.
Definitely worth the money. There's too much telling and not enough showing for a visual medium like comics in this intro issue but the story is very good and I am very interested in what happens next issue. This is by far the best comic I picked up this week.
More to Come My holdbox is at the other comics store and I won't have the stuff in there until Saturday. More mini-reviews then. In the meantime, it has come to my attention that many people have not heard what Rot Lop Fan can do for them. This will be corrected as soon as possible.
Zatanna #2 I said earlier that when Grant Morrison is on he's on and he continues to bring the goodness with Zatanna and the rest of the Seven Warriors of Victory megaminiseries. This one has action, wry humor, great art and cool characters. I want a Zatanna monthly series!
Matador #2 The art in this issue is some of the best I have ever seen. In fact, Brian Stelfreeze's work on this comic deserves its own post. Once I get the scan-u-lator and the computerizor talking to each other properly I'll do that. For now, let me just say that his use of color is perfect for this story. He and Devin Grayson work very well together. The writing is good but it almost has trouble keeping pace with the quality of the art. The story and the main character got some more meat to them in this issue. It has turned from a typical "obsessed cop gets pulled from the case" story into an interesting study in the similarities between cops and criminals.
The Imaginaries #2 We've seen elements of this story before: Imaginary friend gets left behind by his kid. This comic handles the tropes a little differently in places and it adds a really cool setting and some very cool secondary characters such as Melee Mouse. That's one of the best names anyone ever came up with. Melee Mouse. I wish I'd thought of that. The art is very good and fits the story to a tee. I'll definitely pick up #3.
House of M #1 Not much I can say about this that you can't find elsewhere. I like the art and the Magneto angst. I am also a sucker for alternate-reality stories. My favorite DC stories were the various Elseworlds tales. Marvel's essentially doing the same thing with House of M and I think they're off to a good start.
However, I think they could have told the same type of story without being as arbitrary as they have been with HoM. The story as Bendis is telling it requires several well-established characters to either act completely out-of-character or to be temporarily stupid in order for things to work themselves out "like they're supposed to". This is weak storytelling.
There's also a lot of unnecessary talking in this issue. I don't mind talky comics. I do mind comics that waste space by showing panel after panel of the same characters rephrasing what they said two pages ago. We get it! Dr. Strange and Professor X, two of the most powerful people on the planet, are stymied! The situation is that dire! Move on!
The final panel has a nice little surprise for those of us who are Spider-Man geeks. I missed it the first time I read that page.
I'll pick up the 2nd issue because, despite its flaws, the story is interesting and I want to see what happens next.
Mark Millar is not a bad writer. I think the things he chooses to write about are very well-written. He's good at the craft of writing. I don't think he's a good storyteller, though. Grant Morrison is a great storyteller. His sense of pacing and the interactions of his characters are both top-notch. Morrison can write some stuff that at first seems to have the consistency of a fever dream but he usually pulls an excellent and interesting story out of all of it. For example, Morrison's Zatanna mini-series really has me hooked. It's got a cool, well-told story and compelling characters such as the girl who is tagging along with the title character.
Millar seems to have an idea of where his story arcs are going but, to me, it looks like he gets lost along the way. He's got Points A and Z thought out but there's not much of a sense of the path between those points. Many things just seem to happen. He has dropped some hints about future events (such as the Vision android) but the introduction of said synthetic being just seemed incongruous.
In Ultimates 2 Millar is definitely going somewhere with Pym as well as with Captain America & The Wasp but I get no sense of an arc or of any compelling elements which tie any of the parts of this story together. I have no problem with a comic that tells a self-contained story in each issue but Ultimates 2 is obviously on an arc.
Another thing that good storytellers do well is suspense. Allan Heinberg is doling out the information about the main characters in Young Avengers with an eyedropper. And I love it. We are several issues into the series and we just found out something very important about Hulkling. Heinberg is keeping me interested and I actively look forward to each new issue. This is, no doubt, something Marvel would be thrilled to hear.
Millar, however, has not captivated me with the mystery of the Ultimate Traitor. Ultimates 2 #6 ended with another tease showing that Pym knows who the traitor is but we, the readers, don't yet. It also ended with a cliffhanger that in the hands of a better writer would have made me say, "Woah! What the hell? I can't wait to see what that's about." Instead, because the events of the cliffhanger have had no build-up, I don't care. That's something Marvel doesn't want it's readers to say.
The opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference.
I think the main reason that Millar's writing bounces off me is that he doesn't seem to care for the characters he's writing about. Allan Heinberg does. Joss Whedon does. Giffen and DeMatteis do. Let's take another writer who does.
This allows me to make a direct comparison between the two writers because they both worked on The Authority. Ellis writes cynical, smart, bastards who have seen too much. Some say he writes those characters too often but that's fodder for another essay. Jenny Sparks and the rest of the Authority are willing to do extremely violent things to make the world a better place for the majority of its inhabitants. They are not amoral but they do not abide by any law that keeps them from doing their jobs. This is one of the core premises of The Authority.
As written by Ellis, The Authority were a bunch of bastards but they were Bastards for Justice. They were also sympathetic. There were several moments in the first twelve issues of that comic which moved me and one or two that nearly had me in tears. Millar never did that. When he took over The Authority became assholes. Just assholes. I no longer cared about these formerly fully-realized characters. And I don't think Millar did, either.
EDIT: The distinguished commentor makes a good point. I could tack on some specific examples of the differences between Millar's and Ellis's Authority work but it will take up quite a bit of space and this post is plenty long, already. So, STAY TUNED for part two wherein I go on at length about that comic book.
No one will be seated during the thrilling Hegelian Dialectic scene!