Jesus Christ! I knew there were a lot of new comic-related blogs
popping up lately, but the Comic
Weblog Updates page
now lists over 130
them! Granted, a good number of them at the very bottom are now
inactive, and many of them aren't exclusively (or even primarily)
comic-related, but that still leaves a lot of comic blogs out
there. Plus, I'm sure there are a lot of them that aren't showing
up on the site for whatever reason, such as Matt Maxwell's new comics
blog, Highway 62
(Wow, two plugs in as many days. Those bribes really do
Anyway, this is all a long, rambling lead-in to my announcement that
I'll be out of town this weekend starting early (oh god, so early
tomorrow, so no blogging until sometime next week. So why not try
out a new blog if you're missing the Grotesque experience? Here's
a sample from a new blog I've been enjoying (and just added to the
blogroll) this week, Jog
What else came out today… a “Venom v. Carnage”
mini (why don‘t they just start putting random years from the 1990s in
the copyrights too while they‘re at it?), a new “Rogue”
ongoing (I’ll just have to catch up around the anniversary issue #50
that it will no doubt reach) and some huge “Avengers”
thing. They are now Disassembled, which is a bad sign because they will
need organization to compete in today’s fast-paced superhero world, and
messiness is a killer. Captain America should make a flowchart or
something. Maybe they’re saving that for the climax of the story: a
lacerating Powerpoint presentation. That would be really cool, and it
would beat the pants off of whatever is planned for the end of "Identity
Crisis" like putting Ace the Bathound to sleep or Dr. Light
reuniting with Dr. Wiley and getting Gutsman to bugger The Flash.
Given Marvel's Disassembled
, the idea of an Avengers
tie-in doesn't seem too far-fetched. Hmm. Just
imagine...Marvel and Microsoft, two of the world's most
market-share-obsessed companies, coming together on a joint project of
unspeakable evil that just had to be called...Excel-sior!
with that horrible pun, I am outta here. Have a great weekend,
Big Brain Hits Big Time
Speedy blogger Kevin
has already linked to this, but I wanted to give a
shout-out to local comic shop owner Michael Drivas, who gets a nice
today in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
article does a good job describing what sets Michael's shop Big Brain
apart from the
stereotype most non-comic-readers probably envision
when they think
"comic book store." For one thing, Michael's not afraid of the
"Geek" label; in fact, he embraces it, stamping bags and T-shirts with
the reclaimed insult in big red letters. (I have one of the
"GEEK" T-shirts and I always get a lot of curious looks when I wear it
out in public.) I have yet to visit the new store (it just
from one side of Downtown Minneapolis to the other), but the
description in the Strib sounds appealing: "Giant wooden
bookshelves outline Big Brain's exposed brick interior,
while metallic air ducts and a mix of sophisticated and retro lighting
fixtures hang overhead." Furniture isn't mentioned, but I'm sure
Michael will have some comfy chairs for customers to plop down into at
the new shop. That was one of the things that most impressed me
about the old Big Brain: Who'd ever heard of a comic shop owner
encouraging customers to lounge around and read comics? What did
he think his shop was -- a library??
Anyway, congrats to Michael on getting such positive coverage in the
local media -- complete with a sequential art story featuring him as
the lead character, no less! (Unfortunately, the short comic
isn't included in the online version of the story, but maybe I'll try
to scan it in later if I have time.) And I look forward to
visiting the new shop soon. The article said Big Brain doesn't
deal in back issues, but I'm sure Michael will want to look through my
collection of old Spider-Man comics. I have a feeling this one
comic titled "Maximum
" is really going to be worth something someday.
The Tortured Manga/Western Comics Connection
Many others have already picked out their favorite lines from Grant
Morrison's latest interview
, but for me the money quote was this
The threat is multi-fold in “Island of the Mighty,” using
the supercompressed Western manga style I’m trying to develop -
mad flesh-eating Gorilla Grodd has hijacked Superbia, the floating city
of the Ultramarine corps and plans on using the captured heroes as
unstoppable terror weapons in a war against civilization. To do this he
enlists the aid of a cosmic monster - a killer of superheroes named
Neh-Buh-Loh the Hunter, who ties directly into the upcoming Seven
Soldiers stuff...and finally there's Black Hand, the old Green Lantern
villain, who's invaded an experimental micro universe very much like
our own, where superheroes don't exist and he's the only supervillain.
It all happens very fast and very hard and leaves lots of damage.
Grant Morrison Gets It.
In other manga/Western comics crossover news, "Your Manga Minute"
apparently Doesn't Get It when he considers why some
fans might not like Identity Crisis
. Now in
fairness to Troy, I should note that the closest he gets to naming any
specific source he's responding to is when he refers to "several
ill-conceived posts on the DC message boards," so perhaps Troy's weak
rejoinders are a result of only considering weak arguments. That
said, I think Troy's column would have been much stronger had he
attempted to address more
. (For additional criticism of Troy's
piece, see David Welsh's thoughts here
Finally, in news that's difficult to fit into this post's manga/Western
comics rubric, Broken Frontier columnist Matt
has joined the comics blogosphere with Highway 62
! I think
the fact that comic columnists are taking on blogs in addition to their
regular writing responsibilities is a sure sign that the comics
blogosphere is reaching critical mass. When Augie De
starts his own comic blog, I'll really be worried.
Anyway, Matt's wondering what he'll write about without cannibalizing
column topics for "Full Bleed," so I'll offer a suggestion: Once
I send you the second volume of GYO, blog your thoughts on how the
story would have different if Ito had used birds instead of fish, had
set the whole story in a quiet American coastal town, and had cast
Tippi Hedren as the lead. Discuss!
Make Mine Burlyman!
I'll admit it. I'm really looking forward to the Burlyman
books. That sample page
from Doc Frankenstein
by Steve Skroce is amazing.
And the slaughter
from Shaolin Cowboy
by Geoff Darrow is
very...Geoff Darrow. I'll be checking these out. The
concepts sound so gleefully over-the-top that I've already started to
think of these as "American manga," if that makes any sense. The
Burlyman books certainly seem packed with more head-exploding insanity
and innovation than this
at any rate.
Put A Shirt On, Fer Crissakes
Spotted in Marvel's
It's Fat Elvis Doc Ock versus Sixties
Thanks to Dave Lartigue
we've managed to obtain a special sneak peak at the variant cover for
SPIDER-MAN/DOCTOR OCTOPUS: YEAR ONE #5:
I believe Marvel is referring to this version of the cover as the
"Subtle But Sexy" variant.
Here's Something More Cheerful
To counter the last post, here's a lovely manga-esque image courtesy of
For more info on upcoming Vertigo projects, check out The
Pulse's SDCC coverage
WARNING: This Post Contains 3000% Of Your Daily Offensive Humor Limit
considered what would happen if the Marvel Universe went
rape-crazy, and now the V handle the DCU in a thread that had to be
CRISIS ON INFINITE RAPES
[WARNING: Humor in extremely
questionable taste follows]
Each time a DCU character is raped, they consume their
assailant via the orifice in which they were receiving unwanted
They then go on to rape another DCU character and a similar
continues until the only three superheroes remaining in the DCU are
Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in a Good, Bad & Ugly stand off.
Or spitroast (Batman and Wonder Woman either end of Superman
obviously.) This will be written by Chuck Austen and Kurt Busiek.
Meanwhile in the Vertigo universe, John Constantine is leading
Swamp Thing around the USA and getting him to change into a series of
increasingly uncomfortable vegetables to be inserted into unwilling
members of the DCU magick (sic) community. This will be written by Alan
Moore and Rick Veitch.
In the end, huh uh-huh huh, Constantine tells Swampy and Batman
that the only way they can save the world is for them to insert a hand
each into his behind and shake hands like at the end of the American
Gothic arc, but with anal sex. This will be written by Brian Azzarello.
Throughout this massive crossover series, Constantine tells Swampy
the "Death by Mau Mau" joke. This will be written by Grant Morrison.
Ads in the crossover will also be rape-themed:
New Hostess pie adverts with the crooks schemes being
being raped by the heroes with delicious apple, cherry, and blueberry
The V also consider what the porn version of Identity Crisis #2 might
I think the scene in ID Crisis #2 should have been written
DOC: I am going to rape you.
SUE: With what? There's a reason we call you Dr. 40 Watt Light
Bulb behind your back.
DOC: Turn around and bend over. Bitch.
SUE: Puhleeze. I'm married to the Elongated Man.
Eeeeloooongaaaated Man. He has a schlong the size of the Empire State
DOC: SHUT UP! Unngh.
SUE: Are you in yet? I don't feel a thing.
DOC: I'll show you. I'll whip up a light dildo the size of the
SUE: Now we're talking.
DOC: My god, you're like the Grand Canyon down there.
SUE: Ooh, dirty talk.
SUE: Awww, your light blew prematurely. Now I'm all hot and bothered. I
wonder if Plastic Man is still around.
I was going to ask who would cover the Image Universe's mega-rape
crossover, but then I remembered that Mark Millar and Rob Liefeld still
have a couple issues to go on Youngblood: Bloodsport.
Finally, in another thread, the V construct a joke guaranteed to
offend everyone (well, except perhaps Milo George
and his pal
Gojira). Countering the suggestion that rape has become writers'
new choice for Worst Crime Imaginable since "terrorism is off limits
and no-one can top the real-life horror of 9/11," John
lets slip news of DC's next big project:: "So you
haven't read the solicits for TOWER CRISIS which lovingly
depicts the twin towers being destroyed in issue one, but flashes back
to years earlier in issue two where Godzilla raped them both?"
Doing My Part To Keep The Identity Crisis Controversy Raging
In case anyone cares, here are my thoughts on Identity Crisis
(reprinted from this
on the Grotesque Rampage forum):
Identity Crisis #1
Thanks to David Welsh
, I was
finally able to read IDENTITY CRISIS #1 last night. (Thanks, David!)
First reaction: Well, I'm sure glad I didn't blow four bucks on
Second thought: Perhaps my perception is tainted by the fact
that I've heard all the discussion already, but Jesus Christ was this
the most heavy-handed writing job ever in comics? How much more obvious
could you have made things? "Let's all reflect on all the death and
misery we heroes have suffered, conveniently timed within minutes of
Sue Dibny's brutal murder."
Third thought: Good god that Turner cover is ugly. And it
doesn't even appear to be properly finished. It looks like the cover to
an ashcan edition or something.
Identity Crisis #2
Thanks to Johanna
I was finally able to read Identity Crisis #2
Perhaps because everything was so much worse in my imagination, the
actual comic wasn't as bad as I'd thought. Don't get me wrong, it
was still pretty bad, but it wasn't the atrocity I'd pictured.
Some of the still bad stuff:
- The way the rape scene is depicted, it looks like a first-person
video game where your eyes are the camera so everything's seen from
your perspective. Think of shooter games where you see your
character's arms holding the gun at the bottom of the screen.
That's what the rape scene in IC #2 reminded me of.
Unfortunately, the disembodied arms we're seeing belong to Dr. Light
the pages Tim
O'Neil scanned in, especially panels 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8)
so the effect is we're seeing things as Dr. Light. Now, I doubt
the creators intended for the readers to identify with a rapist, but
the presentation is still extremely poor.
- I generally like Rags Morales' art, so I was surprised how much
the art didn't work for me in this issue. The scene of all the
heroes hanging on to an enraged Dr. Light was just goofy beyond
words. It might have worked in a Silver Age story (in fact, now
I'm wondering if this wasn't a riff on some old JLA cover) but it
doesn't fit the tone of this story at all. And having Dr. Light
perform his Gene Simmons impersonation was too over-the-top and
actually trivialized the violence of the rape a bit in my eyes:
Yes, because only raving psychos commit rape.
- So Ray Palmer goes through all this trouble to give Jean Loring a
crossbow with which to protect herself (let's leave aside what good a
crossbow would do to the villain presumed to be the murderer at that
point, given that he was shown as fighting several super-powered heroes
despite having been shot with multiple arrows), but he doesn't even
check to make sure it still works after all that time in storage in
the basement? Sloppy.
- The ending with Dr. Mid-Nite making his bizarre leap of
(il)logic. But others have already commented on this.
Some of the stuff that's mainly troubling from a geeky fanboy
- Wasn't Dr. Light already a bit of a joke before the era depicted
in flashback? I'll have to go back and check my trusty Justice
League Archives, but I thought all DC villains were silly long before
the Satellite Era JLA.
- How did the JLA members who were in on Dr. Light's
"reprogramming" manage to keep the deed secret from a telepath, the
world's greatest detective (and biggest stickler for moral absolutes),
and any number of mystical agents?
- Batman should be better at bugging a place than that. And
how would the villains have time to get away? Couldn't Supes be
there in a flash?
- Extreme nitpick: Ralph's present-day costume has changed
from #1 to #2. In #1 the neck had a slit in the middle, so it was
more of a collar. In #2 the neck is solid, like a turtleneck.
Some of the not-so-bad stuff:
- I can actually buy that the heroes would have been tempted to try
something like this given the intensity of the situation. I'm
still not sure how it fits in continuity, but I'll grant that DC
continuity is pretty much whatever the most recent event determines it
is. (It's still a bit odd that the heroes who were against the
reprogramming wouldn't have tried to stop the others from going through
with it, but that might just be years of reading comics where heroes
fight over the littlest thing talking.)
- Liked the bit with Hawkman able to see Wally vibrating at
super-speed, as well as Ollie's bluff with Kyle.
In all, I thought it was pretty bleh but not as bad as I had built it
up to be in my mind. Still glad I didn't blow four bucks on this
(esp. considering it's only a couple pages longer than a standard
CMX: "We Will Sell No Manga Before Its Time"
Don't know if this is already common knowledge or not, but there's a CMX mini-site
over at DC
now. It's pretty sparse at the moment, consisting mainly of
descriptions of the three previously-announced
(complete with interior
but there's also a little more info on some of the upcoming
, such as Swan
, Musashi Number Nine
The Devil Does Exist
, and Phantom
. There's also the standard comic company hype:
CMX is putting the extra time and energy into getting it
right. We're working with the best translators, some them hand-picked
by the creators themselves! We're using the latest hi-tech digital
production techniques and putting it all in a great package, because we
care as much about these books as you do.
In fact, some top manga creators — ones who haven't let anyone near
their work before — trust our dedication to their vision so much they
they picked US to bring you the first-ever authorized editions of their
work anywhere outside of Japan. Now, that's cool.
Whether you're a die-hard manga fan, a casual reader, or a first-timer
wondering what the heck you've got in your hands, we think you'll see
Not only that, but CMX manga is so fine, so pure, so sublime
we think you'll be able to taste
the difference as well.
So EAT IT, Tokyopop, Viz, and all you other inferior manga
publishers! CMX is like a well-aged sake that delights the
palate, while your manga dishonors not only you but your ancestors as
Who Lives? Who Dies? Who Cares?
Brilliant or crass? Marvel, ever mindful of the confusion their
mega-crossovers generate, has created a little chart to help fans track
which hero bites it next in the upcoming "Avengers Disassembled!" event:
Keep track of who lives, who’s hurt, and who gets the
one-way ticket to that Avengers mansion in the sky with our handy Disassembled
Remember, it's all
story motivated. It's not just shock for shock's sake. It
is about the characters.
That said, I do love some of the descriptions of the fates suffered by
various characters: "Valkyrie - FELL OUT OF THE SKY"; "Warrior's
Three: Fandral - SHREDDED - WHERE'S HIS FACE"; "Warrior's Three:
Volstagg - MISSED A FEW MEALS, FOUND STARVED IN CAVE" I'm already
trying to guess how the Marvel staff will describe Ant Man's demise
once Avengers #500
hits the stands: "Ant Man -
HUGGED CORPSE OF FELLOW MALE AVENGER, OBLITERATED BEFORE NERVOUS
FANBOYS COMPLAINED ABOUT POSSIBLE HOMOEROTIC/NECROPHILIC OVERTONES"
Now we just need DC to set up a similar checklist for all
the indignities heaped upon Sue Dibny
in Identity Crisis
Eat It, Jakala!
isn't exclusive anymore. Go check out Newsarama
for lots 'n' lots of preview art from AiT's upcoming books.
This Old House: Special Liebermania Edition!
I've got a lot of house improvement projects that have to be finished
by the weekend, so I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing this
week. I'm tempted to say that I'll be taking the week off, but
every time I announce something like that I immediately contradict
it. So...I may or may not be blogging this week. How's that
for helpful? (If I do end up not blogging, this is probably a
good week to do it, since I haven't read the
generating all the discussion
in the blogosphere right now. (But I will
be reading them
eventually, although Eightball #23
won't arrive until
But before I go, here are some quick mini-reviews for two great
mini-comics, both illustrated by the underrated Steve Lieber
(Cold Water Press • 16 B&W Pages • $2.00
postpaid) is a story about an awkward teen learning to feel comfortable
in her own skin. Katrina Lansdale yearns to snag a starring role in her
high school's production of A Midsummer's Night Dream
but instead she's stuck with the unglamorous job of costume
design. This story could have easily veered into schmaltzy "After
Special" territory, but thankfully writer Sara Ryan
crafts a story
that's subtle and understated, while artist Steve Lieber keeps things
grounded in a simple but satisfying style that reminds me of a cross
between David Lapham
and Carla Speed McNeil
My only quibble would be that Katrina looks much older than her
classmates, so at first I was a bit distracted wondering what her age
was supposed to be. But then I remembered that I'm a horrible
judge of how old people are in real life, so my being unable to tell
Katrina's age shouldn't count against the book. Plus, it's nice
to see a female high school student who doesn't look like all the usual
(Small Beer Press • 8 B&W Pages • $1.00
postpaid) is a short interlude in the life of William "Dead" Kennedy, a
down-on-his-luck thirtysomething Texan who can see dead people.
While attending a family reunion, DK has to try to figure out what's
bothering a dead relative. If it sounds a little too "Sixth
Sense," don't worry: Instead of simply going for shock or
's story deals with less fantastic elements, such as the
tendency of families to gloss over, distort, or entirely rewrite
unpleasant incidents from the past. And it's all rendered in a
wonderfully appealing style by Lieber. I'm not quite sure how to
describe the style, but it's very different from his work in Edith
(aside from the completely believable "real people"
characters in both books): It's much softer and more shaded -- as
though it were done in charcoal. The faces of characters are more
modeled and three-dimensional; I was reminded of the depth Kevin Nowlan
inks often add to other pencillers, but even that doesn't quite get at
the look Lieber delivers here. I guess the only way to see what
I'm talking about is to buy the mini-comic. (How's that for a
Finally, I should also point out that Steve Lieber is offering both
mini-comics together for only two
. Why not skip one of the double-shipping Marvel comics
and spend the money on something different this month? I think
you'll be pleasantly surprised with these charming short stories.
Overdue One-Line Reviews
For Graeme: "Skidmarks
is...a cute slice-of-life tale of actual ethical dilemma...told with
charmingly loose art."
"Are Puny Humans Laughing With Hulk Or At Hulk?"
So everyone's reading the
, but I haven't seen ol' Jade Jaws address this
from his past.
Eat It, CWN!
That Larry Young is such a sweetie to us bloggers. Not only does
he shower us with lots of comics to review (even when some of us aren't
exactly quick at turning around reviews -- Jakala, I'm looking at
you!!) but he also sends us other goodies as well, such as this EXCLUSIVE
preview artwork from Brian Wood and Toby Cypress's upcoming work THE
Check out the rest of AiT/PlanetLar's
2004-05 publishing schedule
for more info on THE TOURIST and other
Identity Crisis Crisis
Given the controversy
that's sprung up around Identity Crisis
(especially the second issue), I'm interested in reading it, mainly so that I can be better informed when I wade into discussions
about how the series might alter underlying assumptions about the DCU and its heroes. The thing is, I really don't want to shell out $3.95 an issue ($3.95 an issue??? Didn't DC say that after #1 "Subsequent issues are 40 pages at $3.50
"? Guess they wanted to squeeze a little more money from hardcore fans) just to research the latest corporate comic crossover gimmick. So I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who's willing to work out some kind of arrangement whereby I can read the first two issues. Obviously, I'm hoping to get these as cheaply as possible, but I'm willing to swap for them or pay up to half cover price. I am not
interested in the collectible value of these comics (which, let's face it, will be nil) so please don't offer to sell me a lot of 100 copies
. Please contact me via email or in the comments thread below if you can bear to part with these comics. Thanks!
David Welsh has kindly offered to send me his copy of Identity Crisis #1
, so now I'm just looking for #2 if anyone who really hated it is looking to get it out of their house.
UPDATE ONCE AGAIN:
Johanna is sending me a copy of Identity Crisis #2
, so soon I'll be able to join in the outrage and
be informed while doing so! (Thanks, David and Johanna.)
"And In This Corner, Weighing In At Approximately 7.35 x 10^22 Kilograms..."
My favorite part of this image is the implication that the moon is
somehow a dark version of the Martian Manhunter:
And how do you pick a winner in that match-up? What are the
moon's powers, other than its size and gravitational pull? If it
can burst into flames, I might just have to go with the moon over J'onn
Marvel Solicitations On Crack
are incredibly bizarre this month. Graeme
already caught many of the most outlandish ones on his blog, but
here are some other snippets that amused me:
- ASTONISHING X-MEN #6: "After the events of issue #5 – and
its shocking return of a classic character – you MUST not miss another
issue!" (I have to buy it -- the solicitation
ordered me to do it!!)
- CABLE/DEADPOOL #8: "Can Deadpool find a way to stop Cable
from saving the world before Earth's Mightiest Heroes take a shot at
it? Probably not..." (I just love the resigned way it peters
at the end.)
- EXILES #53: "It’s up to the Exiles, the Avengers, and the
Fantastic Four to keep the Earth from becoming Ego Junior!"
(Simply because the idea of Ego Junior is almost as good as
- ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #3: "There’s something under the
Tunguska Wasteland, where a comet crashed a century ago. The Ultimates
and the X-Men have entered it from different sides, unaware of each
other—and unaware of what’s waiting for them. There’s something under
the Tunguska Wasteland, where a comet crashed a century ago."
(But is there something under the Tunguska Wasteland, where a comet
crashed a century ago?)
- SHE-HULK #8: "A titanic tale of foxy boxing in outer space!
Yes, FOXY BOXING!" (Sigh - why hasn't Marvel released a trade
for this series yet? I'm being punished for assuming that Marvel
simply release everything in trade, aren't I?)
- PUNISHER #12: "The bloodcurdling, bloodthirsty, bloody ending to
Kitchen Irish!" (They forgot bloodbath, bloodshed, bloodsport,
bloodstained, and bloodhound!)
And in general I just love how everything's suddenly an
anniversary: WOLVERINE'S 30TH ANNIVERSARY, MARVEL’S 65th
ANNIVERSARY, MARVEL KNIGHTS 5th ANNIVERSARY. What, no celebration
for ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR's 1st ANNIVERSARY???
And There Was Much Ambivalence
Busiek and Ron Garney are the new regular team on JLA
they will be, once another rotating creative team's arc is over
(following Busiek and Garney's own upcoming arc featuring the Crime
Syndicate of Amerika). I'll admit I have mixed feelings about the
news. I'm generally a fan of Busiek's work, but some of his stuff
leaves me cold, including his Avengers
run, as well as
mini, which the Crime Syndicate of
Amerika storyline is
out of. (And before you suggest that I should just avoid Busiek
on superhero team comics, I liked his Power Company
I'm also skeptical that Busiek can do a proper Morrisonesque take on
the CSA, even if Busiek is working from a pile of character notes from
Morrison himself. Finally, has Garney been able to maintain a
regular schedule on a monthly book recently?
So while I can imagine half a dozen ways this could go wrong, I'm still
curious enough to check it out. Plus, I can always hope that Kurt
will have some of his Power Company
cast join or interact with
his JLA. (Between this and the upcoming
series, I figure there's a pretty good
chance of seeing the Kirk
(I am wondering what will become of the JLA arc by Gail Simone and
José Luis Garcia-Lopez, but it sounds as though there might be a
"Legends"-type spin-off for JLA in the works, so presumably that's
where the arc would see print.)
"Watch Out, Boy - She'll Chew You Up"
CBR has an interview
with Marc Andreyko
, writer on DC's upcoming Manhunter
series. It sounds as though Andreyko has some interesting plans
for this series, including a focus on different conceptions
of justice. (Jim Henley
alert!) I realize that Manhunter
is still going to be a mainstream superhero book, so I'm not going to
get my hopes up for a nuanced examination of Rawls' Theory
, but quotes like this still sound promising:
One of the predominant themes in the series is a discussion
of "real" justice, something not seen in most superhero comic books and
Andreyko says the issues is one close to his heart. "It's important to
me to explore the concepts of justice, punishment and retribution
because we all feel the need for these things whether it is on the
terrorists who felled the WTC, the bully from grade school, or someone
like Jeffrey Dahmer or Manson.
"Why hasn't this issue been explored in more comics? Well, it's not a
black and white issue. It is incredibly complex and, even within my own
opinions, I find myself torn between being pro-capital punishment in
theory, but against it in its actual... Ahem.... execution. So,
exploring the moral ambiguities and nuances of justice, along with the
hypocrisies and inconsistencies, is a challenging and, I think,
I also liked Andreyko's remarks regarding the problems of costuming
Female protagonists are generally hard sells for comic
fans, unless there's an instant visual sex appeal or a long-standing
history, but "Manhunter" is a series in which Andreyko hopes to buck
the trend. Kate's costume is practical, not sexual; realistic not
titillating and there's a good reason for that. "Not having Manhunter
in some chain-mail, T&A costume was something that was agreed upon
during the conception of the series. I wanted to write a complex female
lead and was wholly supported, and advised/guided, by both Dan DiDio
and Joan Hilty.
"That, and being a gay man, I tend not to ogle women in thongs and
push-up spandex costumes [laughs]."
Maybe we need more gay men writing female comic book characters so
we're not subjected to idiotic costumes like this:
(And I know Gail Simone has said she's planning on changing the costume
at some point, but it still boggles the mind that Jim Lee thought this
was a good design for a non-powered urban crimefighter.)
Pessimistic Previews: Street Angel #3
Fans of Street Angel
might be a little let down by the
third issue, due out in September. The story marks a departure
from the manic, madcap tone of the earlier issues, and while the
experiment is daring, it's ultimately disappointing. In place of
the goofy ninjas and pirates that served as Street Angel's opponents in
the past, this issue sees Jesse battling Satanic cultists who kill
their victims in gruesome fashion. (One panel showing a priest's
throat being torn out is especially ghastly.) There are still
some humorous moments (such as a scene where Jesse throws the cult
leader off balance by preemptively refusing his marriage advances) but
overall the mood is decidedly darker.
Which raises an interesting question: Is it a flaw in a work if
it doesn't deliver what its audience has come to expect from it?
I'm not sure there's an easy answer. The first example that comes
to mind is the old truism that Spider-Man comics work best when he's
fighting street-level bad guys rather than cosmic-level or mystical
threats. (Give me a break: I've been reading the
surprisingly intriguing "Life
series about the fiasco that was "The Clone Saga" so the
example is still fresh in my mind.) I've seen this criticism
leveled a lot against Straczynski's run on Amazing
is probably fair. Spider-Man
doesn't really work
when it's all-mysticism, all the time. But I always liked the
occasional story where Spidey would team up with Dr. Strange, if only
because it was fun to see Spidey so out of his element.
So how does this apply to Street Angel
? Well, part
of the problem might simply be that it's too early in the series' run
to change gears so drastically. The audience hasn't settled in
enough to be ready for a study in contrasts. (To follow the
Spider-Man example, Spidey didn't meet Dr. Strange until the second
annual.) Plus, much of Street Angel
's appeal was
that it was designed to make comics fun again, so readers may feel
somewhat misled by the sudden shift in tone. In fact, bringing
back a sense of fun was practically trumpeted as a mission statement of
sorts by creators Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca in
an early interview
. Yet with the third issue things have
already become more "grim 'n' gritty": Jesse has been thrown out
of a window and lies battered and bandaged as the Satanists
attack. (To return to the Spider-Man comparison, the sight of
Jesse bruised and bloodied reminded me of Mark Millar's
"hyper-realistic" take on Spidey, a take that's very far from being
fun.) True, in the same interview Rugg and Maruca indicated
their desire to experiment from time to time, and I certainly don't
want to pigeonhole them or the book. But just because something's
different doesn't mean it's successful, either.
Perhaps it comes back to something David Welsh touched on in
one of his reviews
: Mastery of tone. In previous
issues, everything "fit" no matter how odd or insane it seemed.
In this issue, however, the humor feels out of place given the horrific
elements that permeate the tale. In addition, there are other,
more specific flaws that keep this issue from being as strong as what's
come before: Narrative captions introduce a new character when
that character remains off-panel for another page. The opening scene
of Street Angel crashing through a window is never fully
explained. (Who threw Jesse through that window? We can
make an educated guess, but the writers could do more to integrate this
isolated scene with the rest of the story.) Finally, the ending
(which I won't spoil) is frustratingly ambiguous.
If it seems like I hated this issue, then I should clarify that I'm
only being hard on it because I've come to expect so much from the
series. If I gave out scores with my reviews, this would probably
rate a solid 7 out of 10. (Heck, taking into account this issue's
inside cover squid battle -- easily my favorite so far -- I might even
be tempted to bump it up a notch.) Street Angel
even when it's not up to its usual standards -- is still better than
90% of the comics out there.
DC in October
has spotted DC's
solicits for October
. Some items that caught my eye:
sounds like an interesting concept -- an entire issue
devoted to a single artist illustrating stories involving multiple
characters by multiple writers. The blurb says that artists are
free to work "in a variety of genres" but the first issue (which
focuses on Tim Sale) is 100% superheroes. Is that the way Solo
will always work, or was that just what Sale wanted to do?
- The first Focus collection is released, a 144-page, $9.95 TPB for
Time. Could it be manga-sized?
- The CMX
are all running around 200 pages for $9.95.
- I am very excited for this.
- You knew it was coming once the writers of The Monolith
on Hawkman: Guess who's guest-starring in Hawkman
- The next
JLA arc is by Kurt Busiek and Ron Garney and
I'm sorry--"explodes from the pages of Busiek's
JLA/AVENGERS!" I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad
thing. But the return of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika might be
enough to sucker me into checking this out.
- Huh? John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" guest-stars in Outsiders
#17. Is this another one of those hokey media tie-ins
to get lots of free press? Well, it is written by Judd Winick...
- Those kinky superheroes!:
Finally, Ed Brubaker is writing a two-part arc on Tom
, which might just be enough to get me to pick up this
series again. (The fact that the two-parter is illustrated by
Duncan Fegredo certainly doesn't hurt.) But I'm afraid even
Brubaker isn't enough to make me interested in The
I don't think I've seen this announced anywhere else yet, but it looks
as though Mike Bullock (whom I know from the time I was a staff member
at Broken Frontier) has not only launched
his own site-slash-company
but also written
his very own comic. It's called "Lions, Tigers
& Bears" and it reveals that Disney's Scar and Shere Khan were
actually mutants with spooky glowing eyes:
Just kidding. Actually, the premise sounds pretty
interesting. Here's how it's described on the Runemaster site:
A child’s instinctual need for the comfort of a stuffed
animal is rooted in a reality long forgotten by the adult world. The
hidden truth is that these companions have been defending children
since the dawn of time. Follow young Joey on the adventure of a
lifetime as he travels through the Stuffed Animal Kingdom, a journey
that puts the fate of all the world's children in his hands and brings
him face to face with his destiny.
Sounds reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh
, The Velveteen Rabbit
and The Chronicles of Narnia
, but with a darker twist à
la CrossGen's Abadazad
. It also sounds like a concept
that would work well as a manga, so I'm interested to see how this is
formatted. Will it be released as traditional floppy single
issues, a thicker OGN, or smaller manga-sized digests? Is it
being self-published, or will it be released through Dabel Brothers
Production, where Mike is PR Director as well as a staff writer and
editor? If it's the latter, how will DBPro's recent
Devil's Due impact the series? Guess I'll just have to wait until
more info is released.
Anyway, best of luck to Mike and everyone else involved in this
project. It's certainly interesting to see smaller publishers
step in to fill the gaps left by the Big Two when it comes to
Man Volumes 1 & 2
- Wounded Man
manga with a
lot of potential, but that potential is marred by an ugly incident that
occurs early in the first volume: Reporter (or "pure-as-white
reporter" as ComicsOne's
puts it) Yuko Kusaka, who has traveled
to Brazil in search of a big story, is raped by Keisuke Ibaraki.
Keisuke stops raping Yuko only when he discovers that she is (well, was
a virgin (a recurring element in manga illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegame;
is surprised by this discovery because Yuko didn't strike him as the
virginal type with her determined, driven attitude. Nice.
So not only does Keisuke rape Yuko, but he then goes on to insult her
a variation of the "you were asking for it" line of thought. ("If
you had carried yourself demurely like a proper Japanese woman, I never
would have raped you.")
Keisuke then attempts to apologize to Yuko, explaining that he only
raped her so that she would go back to Japan and leave him alone.
You see, Yuko is in Brazil to investigate reports that Japanese
expatriates are mining for gold. And as it turns out, Keisuke is
not only one of those gold diggers, he just so happens to be the most
successful miner of them all--the rumored White-Haired Demon.
Keisuke is stockpiling as much gold as he can find so that he has
enough money to take on his dreaded nemesis, the all-powerful
pornography company, GPX. (Incidentally, GPX stands for G
-rated Film. Not the pornographic
films God watches, but pornographic films so pornographic they may as
well have been made by God.) So why does Keisuke have such a
hard-on for GPX? Well, it seems that GPX attempted to recruit
to star in their films, but he refused because of his devotion to then
true love Natsuko, who died while she and Keisuke were captives of
GPX. Now Keisuke has vowed to destroy GPX, but he needs lots of
moolah to bring them down since they're so influential in the worlds of
politics and business. (Apparently porn really does
the world go round.) And what does any of this have to do with
Yuko? Who knows. The story never makes it clear.
Perhaps Keisuke feared that her investigation would draw attention to
himself. But if Keisuke is trying to avoid attention, then
committing a violent crime seems incredibly stupid. What if Yuko
had reported the rape to the local authorities? Then he'd be the
subject of a police investigation in addition to Yuko's journalistic
It's too bad that the series is
tainted by Keisuke's rape of Yuko, as
it otherwise has a lot to recommend it. There are many themes
worth exploring in Wounded Man
: Can one sustain
one's drive for
revenge if one finds happiness later in life? Can one be faithful
to the memory of a departed lover when one finds new love? Is it
unfair to a new partner to remain too attached to an old love? Do
puritanical societal attitudes toward sex create a harmful black market
for pornography? Even without such meaty topics underlying the
narrative, Wounded Man
would still be a entertaining read
because of its charismatic
characters and the over-the-top scenarios they find themselves
in. The interplay between Keisuke and Yuko is fun,
playful, and believable. In fact, if we ignore the rape, Keisuke
Yuko actually have an enviable relationship. But we can't forget
the rape. It looms over the entire book, since that's how Keisuke
and Yuko met. Every time you get caught up in the story, it's
there nagging at the back of your mind: Keisuke raped Yuko.
How can you give yourself over to the series after that?
Perhaps that's another theme the creators intended to deal with in the
series: To what extent does a horrible past event color
everything after it? However, the fact that Yuko's rape is
quickly forgotten within the story argues against such a charitable
interpretation. True, at first Yuko tries to enact "revenge" on
Keisuke by getting him aroused but denying him the opportunity to
satisfy his urges, but that quickly ends after the two engage in an act
of consensual love-making midway through the first volume. After
that, Yuko can't proclaim her devotion to Keisuke often enough,
insisting that she would gladly die for him. I certainly don't
mean to suggest that life
and happiness end after rape, but I simply can't wrap my mind around the
notion of someone falling in love with her rapist. It might have
been interesting to show how Yuko carried on with her life after being
raped, but having her fall so quickly and completely for her rapist
trivializes the impact of the
violence committed against her. She treats her rape as some
insignificant slight, something no more meaningful that Keisuke
forgetting her birthday.
Even worse, the creators attempt to portray Keisuke as some noble soul
who deserves Yuko's deep and utter adoration. After all, wasn't
Keisuke willing to die for True Love? Perhaps, although it should
be noted that this account comes from Keisuke himself, who doesn't
exactly seem to be the most modest individual around. Perhaps
he's engaging in a little self-serving revisionist storytelling?
At any rate, even if Keisuke was once as high-minded as he says he was,
his actions in the present call into question his current
character. This is a man who is willing to leave Yuko tied up to
a tree to serve as bait for his enemies. This is a man who tells
Yuko to satisfy herself with a corpse's artificially-induced
erection. And, of course, this is a man who raped a woman in
order to scare her off his trail. Any man who could contemplate
that as a proportionate course of action is permanent damaged goods in
The disturbing thing is, as much as I actively dislike Keisuke, I still
want to continue reading the rest of this series. Not because I
care about Keisuke and his self-indulgent quest, but because I've grown
to care about Yuko (despite her abominable taste in men--"Smart Women,
Foolish Choices" is an incredible understatement in her situation) and
want to see what happens to her. Perhaps this is the greatest
trick writer Kazuo Koike (yes, that
) pulls off: He crafts both a character so
a character so repulsive that readers stick around to see if the former
will ever escape the latter. With any luck, Keisuke will reach
demise and Yuko will be free of his loutish charms.
UPDATE, Sunday 7/11:
$#%@! Talk about jinxing
Sequent And It Looks Like Art
While I wasn't looking, the site Continuity Pages revamped itself as
. The site's design
leaves much to be desired, especially
that ghastly front page, but what the site lacks in aesthetic appeal it
more than makes up for in quality content. One of the best
columnists so far is Jeff Chon (and I'm not simply saying that because
Jeff just emailed me to ask if he could quote one of my brilliant
insights on manga in a future column; really, I'm not), whose column
"Arbiter Of Good
is a snarky delight. Some sample segments:
On superhero comics'
from goofy silliness to grim 'n' gritty
Green Arrow used to be a guy who shot plungers and boxing
gloves from a bow. Now he’s an earnest tough guy with an acute
social conscience who no longer shoots arrows with whoopee cushions and
chattering teeth attached to them. Why forsake one for the
other? Why suck out all the charm and the one thing that
distinguishes him from Hawkeye? Why can’t Green Arrow be an
earnest social crusader who shoots arrows with wax lips as tips?
On the similarities
between recently departed former president Ronald Reagan and
now-inactive comic book activism
for a site that was like Reagan in many ways -- it polarized the
public, certain people wanted it to die, and it also was involved in an
arms for hostages deal.
On the behemoth that is
As you may or may not know, a gigantic mountain of crap is
released every month and there are a lot of great comics you may have
missed in Diamond Previews while reading about the lunchboxes and Zippo
Jeff, in a long aside leading up to his review of Nausicaä
Valley Of The Wind
, also has skeptical thoughts on the
American comic publishers repackaging their works to resemble manga:
Some people view manga as
the new “starter comics,” in that kids will read Dragonball Z
or Inu Yasha and then graduate to something more sophisticated
like Micronauts ... in theory. Manga
will save the mainstream comics industry in less than two generations
because of the new readers it will bring on board ... in theory.
So, since manga is so popular, what American
comics need to do is repackage their comics to look more like manga ...
From the context, it appears that Jeff is mainly addressing attempts to
draw characters such as Superman and Spider-Man with "big eyes,
speed-lines, and spiky hair," but I wonder what he thinks about efforts
existing Western works in the
more bookstore-friendly manga digest size
? I know Sean
has been a big advocate for this move, but Jeff's comments
make me wonder if it'll really make any difference to fans of Detective
City is now going to be manga-sized
I also loved Jeff's description of Nausicaä
I could be wrong, but this is the only comic in the
marketplace written and drawn by an Academy Award winner. OK,
fine -- two-time winner Diane Wiest (Best Supporting Actress:
Hannah and Her Sisters, Bullets over Broadway) wrote something called Badrock
Vs. the Bride of Robotjox, but until Rob Liefeld finishes drawing
it, it’s merely a comic solicited by an Academy Award winner
and nothing more.
And for those of us who weren't ga-ga over Spider-Man 2
we've found another like-minded soul in Matt Martin
Apparently Spider-Man is basically just a super-powered
firefighter. 2 for 2, Spidey!
Glad to see Doc Ock hit Magneto’s garage sale when he
went looking for a fusion reactor…
Doc Ock is apparently either a master detective or an utter
fuck-up. Harry sends him to convince Peter to give up
Spider-Man’s identity. How does Octopus get Peter’s
attention? By throwing a car at him when his back’s turned.
So either Octopus knows that Peter is Spider-Man (and hence, his Spider
Sense will save him) or he’s trying to kill him. And neither
choice makes any damned sense at all.
Was there anyone in that movie that Peter DIDN’T take his mask off for?
Like lifting scenes (and sets) from the first movie for the second
wasn’t bad enough, it looks like the third flick is setting up to be a
straight remake. If you didn’t know it was a Marvel production
beforehand, you sure as hell do now.
OK, that's probably enough shameless shilling for the site,
right? So you'll make me look good when you quote me, right,
Last Month's Comics...Today!!
Slowly making my way through the big box of last month's comics that
I ordered this "two-parter" for all the wrong reasons: Because I
liked the Steve Epting covers. Because I always enjoyed the old Marvel
series. Because I always thought Spidey and Cap
were a funny match up. Well, at least the Steve Epting covers
were nice. Other than that, these two issues were dismal.
The chemistry between Spidey and Cap was off; Spidey's humor felt
forced; and Spidey acted very out-of-character. (Having Spidey
refer to a woman--even a villain--as a "skank" is just wrong.)
Even worse, although this was billed as a two-part story, nothing is
resolved by the end of issue #16. There's even a little
"Continued..." caption at the end of "part two." (I think I'd
like to suggest an addendum to Scott's S.C.R.U.B.S.
if a multiple-part storyline does not
conclude with part X of X.)
of Superman #629
: Not much to write about either
way. Lt. Leocadio's attempts to seduce Superman (and his
continued rebuffs) were somewhat interesting, but otherwise there was
nothing that made me want to return next month.
: Yes, Circe is still
resurrecting Medousa. I think this sub-plot has been going on for
the past half-year. I'm glad this was the final issue I
After being so disappointed in the super-powered spandex comics offered
by the "Big Two," I turned to Sgt.
Frog Vol. 2
as an antidote. As the flowchart in
the front (or back, depending on how natural the right-to-left
formatting of unflipped manga feels to you) of the book indicates, this
series has become an amusingly complicated soap opera featuring
unconventional attractions: A hard-boiled alien male frog falls
for a human teenage girl; a male soldier longs for his male superior;
and a young boy feels his heart race every time an androgynous boy with
wings and magical powers is nearby. I'm sure it's
not for everyone
, but Sgt. Frog
continues to delight
Duds and Discounts
Yipes! So that's what things look like when I don't turn on my PC
for three days -- my Hotmail account is nearly full, and there's way
too much to read throughout the comics blogosphere. Much of the
seems to revolve around a little movie called Spider-Man 2
which I did manage to see yesterday. So far Sean's
probably best sums up my own feelings, but I've still enjoyed
on the movie. I agree with Jim that the
themes he discusses are in the movie, but that's part of my problem
: The themes are in, around, under, and on
top of this movie in such a painfully hammered-home way that it's
impossible to get lost in the story. Everyone's speechifying
their laughably inane thoughts in the most stilted manner
possible. Perhaps this is the Ditko influence by way of Ayn
Rand? We can't have moments that are subtle or nuanced;
everything must be made obvious and tedious, preferably by having the
pontificate philosophies at the audience via long-winded soliloquies.
I did think the filmmakers managed to make Doc Ock a much cooler
villain than he ever was in the comics. Loved the idea of the
arms controlling him, especially with the visual of the pincers as a
dinosaur head whispering in his ear. The sound effects also went
a long way toward
establishing the alien-ness of Ock's tentacles without overdoing
it. (Perhaps the movie would have been better if the special
effects crew had also been responsible for reining in Maguire's and
Back in the realm of actual comic books, I've been reading a lot
of trashy, pulpy manga lately.
My local Half Price Books has stacks of what look like remaindered
books from ComicsOne
reduced to the low, low
clearance price of two bucks apiece. So I picked up full sets of Offered
, and Kabuto
as well as the first two volumes of Wounded
(As further evidence that these books were remaindered,
ComicsOne is unloading sets of these and other series at half-off
Finally, DCBS has this month's specials
up. Fans of Mark Millar should be happy, as both the Ultimates
hardcover and the first MK Spider-Man
are offered at 50% off. Myself, I'm more excited about the Russ
Manning Magnus Robot Fighter
HC (50% off), Andy Diggle
and Pascual Ferry's Adam Strange #1
(75% off), and the
first two volumes of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol
"This guy starts thinking about superheroes at a level where most
writers leave off."
Collins, on the genius of Brian Bendis coming up with the novel
idea of killing off characters and having things blow up in "Avengers
For some reason, Sean's quote made me imagine Bendis referring to
himself in the third person like Dr. Doom: "Who but Bendis would
have the vision to slip a tamer version of 'Fuck, Marry, Kill' into an
Avengers script? WHO BUT BENDIS WOULD DARE?! Other men
would leave off with the Avengers fighting three, maybe four Ultrons,
but such paltry threats are for lesser writers. For Bendis is
BENDIS, and only HE could conceive of a level where the Avengers fight five
To All The Links I've Loved Before
reads more manga. She enjoys
less enthused about Gyo
links to the Grotesque
Rampage Forum's discussion
of the "Avengers Disassembled" preview
thereby saving me the trouble of reworking my snark into a blog entry.
is at it again, dissecting the hidden meaning behind two recent
covers. And they've even provided helpful English translations of
everything, including the annotated cover art! (Love the "creative
" newspaper shield.)
Graeme (the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn't very
pretty) links to two especially disturbing
have gone crazy and are reviewing every single free comic
coming out for FCBD. Start at the linked threads and work your
, but I probably won't get to it til this
at the Comic Treadmill
has a looooooooong look at The Golden
Age Spectre Archives
. I thought the collection was
frightfully dull, but H gets a lot of mileage out of it. I
particularly liked his "Wrath Watch" feature, where H tracks whom the
Spectre killed and how. (And the crack about each 10-page tale in
the Archive being equivalent to a trade paperback collection today was
funny, but I'd still rather read most stretched-out modern storylines
than the tightly-packed but painfully written comics of yesteryear.)
's description of a single throwaway gag in Sgt. Frog
convinced me to break down and order the book online
since I couldn't find it anywhere locally. I can picture the
“Please… keep horseplay to a minimum” sign David describes and I'm
already laughing, which I think is a testament to creator Mine
Yoshizaki's strong, distinctive style.
has a very nice discussion of the Intentional Fallacy Fallacy.
After reading this essay, I realized there's really no point in my ever
trying to write that follow-up piece on reviewing I once promised.
compares Dark Knight Strikes Again
and Planet of
. Personally, I think he's giving DKSA
much credit, but the two-in-one review is still an interesting read.
And in case I don't blog again before then, here's wishing everyone a
Happy Fourth of July and Free
Comic Book Day
CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATORY BANNERS