Thursday, September 29, 2005

Comics Recap


OMAC #6
Spoiler warning... the OMAC finale wasn't that bad, albeit slightly anti-climactic. I think there were some other factors at play, which I will get to in a moment. The key plot point of the issue was that over one million OMAC units were set loose on a hunt for "metahumans," be it hero or villain. There are some logic flaws in that, primarily that as a reader i don't think the human mind can easily comprehend that number of objects. The closest I can get is the image of a football stadium, where there can be forty to fifty thousand people. Beyond that, it's just a number. The implications of a million individuals on a hunt for significantly less, say a few hundred at most in the DC universe, is hard to grasp. With an OMAC itself in possession of super-destructive abilities, as well as flight, the complete wipe-out of metahumans on earth couldn't take more than a couple hours.

I'm talking about fiction here, people, the degree of suspension of disbelief that is requested of us for this type of story. I have no problem with heros facing impossible odds, I just feel that when you push it to an extreme that we can no longer relate to, the caring is diminished. I was also expecting a much larger gathering of heroes to face the OMAC swarm, and to be honest, faced with those odds that battle was lackluster. Shown what the OMACs were capable of, and the sheer number of assailants, the only survivors should have been Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Green Lanterns. The only reason any of them should have survived, even the big guns, would have been because of the Green Lanterns: Guy Gardner and John Stewart-- they have the only established abilities to face such amazing, outright cosmic odds. As a geeky aside, I feel only John Stewart could even begin to navigate such a battle, if based only on his experiences wiht the Mosaic world. Time and again Stewart receives far less respect than he deserves.

Batman notes to the reader that OMACs are hunting metahumans, even though he isn't one. What he should have said was that Brother One was hunting everyone on its list of groups and individuals Batman compiled, those involved in heroic or villainous activity. What started to happen was something most of us could see coming, the systematic slaughter of obscure and low-tier personalities. I was expecting this to go on for pages, captured in shock as it was finally revealed who bites it, like that season finale of Dynasty where everyone is gunned down at the Moldavian royal wedding... that's not exactly what happened, I suspect the serious shit was saved for Infinite Crisis.

While the story unfolded well enough, the instant shut-down of the OMACs by anti-OMAC Sasha could be seen a mile away, though I wonder why they even bothered with the big showdown. Overall I found the real letdown of the issue to be the production values. There was some artist switcheroo that detracted a bit from the flow, and a coloring error made it appear that the Teen Titans were both in San Francisco and the showdown in the Himalayans. The art switching also detracted from separating those two battles. Editorially, this is a bit sloppy. The OMAC Project is supposed to be a benchmark event, a direct lead in to the premiere event to follow (Identity Crisis), and as such I expect the best DC has to offer. I would like to say, pointedly, that from an editorial standpoint this is an extremely difficult task, and I empathize. I have had my own share of artist gang bangs just to get an issue out on time, (for those of you in the dark, I was a mainstream comics editor in my misspent youth). Also I know all too well how one late artist screws the shit out of everything, and tho I have no firsthand knowledge of this book's difficulties, I can suspect some. With the muscle behind the Infinite Crisis event, one would hope such things could be anticipated and diverted. I think that would have been possible if OMAC was four issues instead of six, re-reading the series it easily could have been. DC's lust for trade compilations of a certain page count to catch the book market may have tarnished an otherwise exciting event.


Day of Vengeance #6
Not nearly as much for me to say here as in OMAC, things got tied up into a nice tidy bow. Clearly this is a setup for a new series, it does everything but announce a shelf date by the last page. I find the characters in the Shadowpact to be an eclectic mix of personalities, tho maybe (to me) not as appealing as those over in Villains United. But I do like the characters, and who doesn't love talking monkeys?



JLA #119
JLA as a bimonthly trips me out. I mean, I like it, the story gets told that much faster. Here is yet another conclusion before the big IC, and I enjoyed it alot more than last issue. The entire JLA vs Despero was handled better than the entire DCU vs OMAC, and the fallout from the battle was reached more naturally. Now we have the league once more dissasembled, leaving poor J'onn J'onz left with the bill... again. Seriously, how many times have we seen this? That poor bastard. It's not a complaint, I like it, I'm intrigued by the idea of how a collection of ultra-identities reaches the breaking point to where they just can't stand each other. And there at the end, JJ will struggle to rebuild-- here, this alien with unconditional love for his adopted planet, struggles so hard to maintain an ideal. He must rebuild his family, (literally his surrogate family) because that's what he choses to believe.

A couple things confused me, and it's just because I can't remember my DC continuity. I remember the early JLA run where the founding members decided to reveal their identities to each other, feeling no more secrets should be kept. This was a result of Batman having compiled a method of defeating each of his pals, and keeping some secrets of his own (sound familiar?). But in this issue, we hear Hawkman call Batman "Bruce." Hawkman was not part of the original group when they revealed themselves to eachother, so did this happen later or was it a result of Despero being in everyone heads? Is there a connection to how the Secret Society had some funky memories of their own? And the Catwoman connection? I would like some answers, I think I missed something.

A last note, in regards to the end of the battle that finds everyone bailing out of the league: Superman is a dick.


Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1

Come on down to Detroit Rock City! I really dug the return of the Corps in its deserved, grand fashion. Green Lantern is probably my all time favorite superhero, and the concept of the Green Lantern Corps has fascinated me since I began reading comics. Yes, I'm a Hal Jordan purist, but I've been a supporter of all of Earth's Lanterns. I love Guy Gardner, and I think he's finally going to get the attention he's needed for a loooooong time. Extra kudos to artist Patrick Gleason, he draws a great Guy Gardner. Great looking book all around, too.

The story sets up the corps for something big, something that may or may not be related to IC. I'm quite interested in the fate of Kyle Rayner, he is in a very unique position as both a DC mainstay and a GL. I suspect he plays a part in IC, perhaps sacrificially, but now I'm not too sure. I was surprised not to see John Stewart invited to Oa and help build the Corps. That detail is... unsettling. Hal Jordan is has been re-set as Earth's role model GL, the JLA has been rebooted and may not include Stewart. What does that mean?? Stewart is a hell of a GL, I would consider him a veteran of high regard at this point. Is Stewart a new contender for the IC chopping block??? -gasp- It hasn't occurred to me until now. He does, however, have a serious weight in his corner, the fact that he's the GL face of the animated series Justice League Unlimited. While not out of the question, it is unlikely DC would axe such a popular representative.

I'm putting my faith in Dave Gibbons for this book. I didn't know it was being co-written by Geoff Johns, and readers of my blog will recall I have some issues with that guy. There are some definite Johns-y moments in this issue, but it was nothing abrupt, and I look forward to how it plays out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Comics Day

A very good mix of books this week, with acronyms!

New Avengers
OMAC
JLA
ABC-AZ
Kitty Pryde
Defenders
Black Widow
Silent Dragon



Chris Sprouse on Tom Strong and Kevin Knowlan on Jack B. Quick, just as it should be. The absense of Alan Moore should not be too hard to get over, as Paul Hogan has proven an adequate successor to the ABC world. I thoroughly enjoyed both of Hogan's Terra Obscura series.

OMAC reaches it's conclusion... I haven't read it yet but I'm guessing nothing is actually concluded.

Bay City Jive



Ah, San Francisco. I just got back from a few days in my hometown, popping in for the sometimes multi-annual CTIA Conference, something the ol' day job requires of me at times. The conference itself wasn't that exciting, lots of stuffy suits talking about "mobile solutions" and "network synergy." There are a couple cool things going on in the wireless world outside of games, at least things that are coming to America since we are leagues behind Europe and Japan. Thirsty? Need a soda but short on cash? How bout you just stand next to the soda machine and SMS your beverage of choice. That's just one of the nifty things on the way. In Europe, where mobile dominates the tech culture, you can make all kinds of everyday purchases through stores or vending machines with a simple SMS text message.

Outside of the conference it was just nice to be in SF. It was beautiful weather, and San Francisco is definitely a walking town. I love to girl watch downtown, there are lovely ladies all over the place. Sure, here in North Hollywood you can run into porn stars at the grocery store, but SF has a diversity hard pressed to be found elsewhere (yay brunettes!). At the Sony Metreon Center I was able to pick up a couple girls of my own, albeit in lithographic form. There was a small display showcasing some of the awesome works featured in the equally awesome book The Art of Modern Rock. A nice score.

There was a gathering for dinner at Momo's, a well-known local restaurant in the shadow of 3Comm park, where I was the only artist amidst a horde of programmers. Imagine people are talking about all the crazy shit Neo is doing in the Matrix while watching that funky green streaming code. Now imagine you can't read the code.

The phonepic above was from our hotel, the lounge atop the Hyatt Grand.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogosphere, like Hollywood, Uncaring Bitch Goddess



I never gave it much thought, but John Layman has been acting as a buffer between myself and Neal J. Pozner for years. I'm not terribly suprised to hear about his misplaced aggression; readers may find it hard to believe, but beneath my movie-star looks and undeniable charm lies a bitter, self-obsessed asshole. Such is the price of eternal beauty.

I just try to remember the good times.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Micro



Nintendo. Truly the devil will show himself as a god. Yes, I want a Gameboy Micro, and yes, big surprise, they are near impossible to get. Do not think for one second that the "shipping problems" were not orchestrated by a carefully calculated marketing campaign.

Another interesting note about the Micro is that it is not backwards-compatible, meaning it only plays Gameboy Advance cartridges. I do own a few classics for Gameboy Color that I like to pop in now and again, and some older cartridges are my only record of Pokémon prestige. This is not much of a concern to me because I can still play them on any one of my other five Gameboys that I own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New Comics Day

This was the week of the woot woot! Holy moley I can't wait to dive into this pile.

Rocketo (!!!)
Top 10: Beyond
The Ultimates
Astonishing X-Men
Mister Miracle
All Star Batman + Robin
Green Lantern Corps
JSA Classified
Day of Vengeance
New Avengers
Books of Magic


Rocketo. God damn fuck shit bitch. Despite my (self professed) literary prowess, I can only resort to Torrets-like expletives when describing my admiration for this book, a mere two issues in. From admiration to adoration, one can flip through the pages of Rocketo and experience awe, charm, blissful simplicity, and in weaker moments, outright jealousy of the artistry involved. I haven't been this excited with a new series since the introduction of Y The Last Man.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunday Eve


This weekend I headed out to the coast for a sandy bacchanal, sort of a post-Burning Man last hurrah for summer. I myself wasn't at Burning Man, but I had a few friends who were and invited me to join the festivities. It was a great time, decent weather, a full moon, and the girls were on fire. Literally! Lovely after lovely took up chain and staff and put on a show of rhythmic firedancing for all to enjoy. There were some guys firedancing, too, of course. As nice as the view was amidst the flames, the highlight of the party had to be the live drums. These guys rocked! They pounded out a groovy tribal beat for hours, giving the firedancers the timing they like for spinning and inspiring random bellydances among the crowd. The hippies are alive and well, and they know how to party.

The pic above is from my measly cell phone, not bad considering the conditions.

_

Avast, Heathens!!!



Jigger me Timbers, ya scurvy dogs! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Me great great grandad, Dread Edco Roberts, passed on the family gifts of sea-speak and pirate lore, and I be a right nifty plankhound to be usin' em for the collectin' of shiny ducats! If'n you're at yor local toy merchant, keep a steely eye out for Mega Blocks Pyrates, with package material and backstory written by your's truly!

Arrrrrrr.....


Edco, your pirate name is
Sir Arthur Treacher

What is YOUR pirate name?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comics Recap



JLA #118
What you can't see on the solicitation image above is the word balloon they added for Zatanna, "tegrof," which of course reads "forget" and is a reference to the mess she's gotten everyone into that started with last year's Identity Crisis. The balloon is a nice addition to the cover though I hope it isn't symbolic of how readers will feel after Infinite Crisis plays through.

This issue is strange in that it doesn't really seem to forward the story much at all. There are only two real plot points that are addresed. It reads more like a JLA coloring book, with an uncommon number of full and douple page splashes (of nothing terribly spectacular), and a healthy peppering of full-figure panels. Johns and Heinburg seem a little light on story, altho if anything the art team of Chris Batista and Mark Farmer is going to make a killing selling these pages on the aftermarket. There is a full page splash of Aquaman, a double page splash of the entire JLA, another full page splash of Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Supergirl, and another full page splash of Despero controlling Batman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter.

That all looks nice and pretty, but what actually happens this issue? The JLA vote on whether or not they should have Zatanna mindwipe the villains again, and Despero subdues the aforementioned Batman, Aquaman, and MM. Maybe it's just me but it seems like that accounts for maybe half a book. When I think of all the crazy shit Morrison used to throw into a JLA issue, or more recently the insane goings-on in Busiek's previous arc, "Syndicate Rules," this buildup to Infinite Crisis within the core JLA title is coming up a tad short. My opinion is that since each member of the JLA has their own book(s), if you have the opportunity to write them together you should pack as much as you god damn can into every issue. In fact I think it would be more difficult to cater 22 pages to such a cast, expanded as it is in these latest issues.

The weird thing about the storyline, and this is more of a good thing because of its oddity, is that the plot is focusing around how the villains have suddenly "remembered" all of the secret identities of the heroes and now pose a serious threat to the JLA. But this information, in current continuity, is information they couldn't have remembered at all. They are remembering things, I think, from pre-Crisis of Infinite Earths continuity. It's all very confusing to me and I've always considered myself to have a solid grasp on the DCU, at least in a global sense. There has yet to be a good rundown of what the hell is going on, maybe the Infinite Crisis book itself will summarize things.

One last note, this issue of JLA really takes for granted that you are reading every other IC tie-in book, there are at least a half dozen references to other titles. Wonder Woman's scene, for example, makes absolutely no sense out of context. It does mention she killed Max Lord, but if you didn't read the Wonder Woman issue (or the OMAC issue) for how and why she killed him, well, good luck.




Rann/Thanagar War #5
Damn this book still kicks my ass, I just have to repeat myself when talking about how much I like it. Like JLA, it has two significant plot points, but unlike JLA, they are sandwiched between a dozen others in large scale fashion. By the time the prison break goes awry and Hawkwoman is being clutched in an agonized Hawkman's arms, you feel that shit, baby. That is a page I would want to own, and I sure as hell am going to try. The book also ends with a double page spread followed by a splash, but when that double page spread is of a mindblowing, seemingly endless array of armed forces swarming down on that last holdout of Rannians, holy crap. To cut from that scene to a full page close-up of the focal enemy Onimar, well, that's how it's done!

Dave Gibbons will be writing the new upcoming Green Lantern Corps book, and after Rann/Thanagar all I can say is thank god. I have a dream of a GLC that is a glorious, cosmic mindfuck, and I just might get it.

Of Kong and Men


If you haven't been following the development of King Kong, but have a passing interest in such things, you may want to check out the latest set report. This one focuses on "digital doubles" and it's a doozy. Aside from contemplating statements from Peter Jackson like "quite an advancement on the work we did for Lord of the Rings," it's hard not to watch in awe as you see first hand the state of digital technology today. Part of me is filled with excitement and giddyness, the other part can't help having the hell scared out of it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Comics Day

I went a whole week without posting! How terribly unfair to my legion of loyal readers. For now, amuse yourself with the contents of my weekly stack of books:

Matador
Kitty Pryde
JLA
Rann-Thanagar War
Majestic



Gosh I sure with there were more books to buy this week. My purchases are mostly art related... I got X-men out of my system a long time ago, so no matter how interesting the Kitty Pryde story is it still plays second fiddle to the fluid lines of Paul Smith. Hell of a guy, Mr. Smith, I'm quite fortunate to have spent some time with him and listened in awe to his many fantastic tales of the comic book biz. I was also a fan of Leave it to Chance, man, that was a great book. I wish it had gone on a bit longer.

Matador is a decent cop story, on par with an episode of any random television drama. The draw of course is pictures by Brian Stelfreeze, with a nod to the colorist as well, colors have really been setting apart the scenes in the book and have been complimentary to the art. Too many times an artist is overwhelmed by over-rendered colors and downright ignorance of light direction and (especially nowdays) mood. It's like most colorists don't even read the script, or more likely, aren't given the opportunity to. I'm talking mainly to you, Marvel, tho DC's secondary and tirtiary tier of books is not exempt.

Speaking of colors, I'll just throw out one of Marvels' saving graces: Justin Ponsor. I am a big fan of Jim Cheung, but I can't get behind Young Avengers at all. BUT, god damn that's a beautifully colored book, with duties by Ponsor. I'm sure Cheung is rushed to keep a monthly schedule and as such the issues I have seen contain sparse background work, if any. Ponsor, however, fills the empty space with lush renderings and textures, becoming part of the story itself when without it Cheung's pages, no matter how nice the figures are, would look noticeably bland. Let it never be said that a talented colorist is worth any less than the artists alongside them. Such a case may be made for letterers, too, since the vast majority of lettering in comics is well below par, but perhaps that is a subject for another time.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Comics Day

I was actually hoping for alot more books this week!

Y the Last Man
Uncanny X-Men
Superman/Shazam: First Thunder
Villains United

The only reason I picked up First Thunder was because of the art of Josh Middleton. My very first look at his work in what seems like a lifetime ago was the gorgeous tease Sky Between Branches. I wasn't the only one who noticed as he was promptly snapped up by Crossgen, for which I don't think he ever did anything, then Marvel where he did a few rounds of NYX. NYX was really nice, it was all hip and modern (and not exactly the easiest read) and the art was enough to get me to pick it up. That went to whatever comics limbo swallows such things and now Middleton's at DC. Drawing Superman of course, which I think is a bit of a vanilla use for such a unique style. Sky Between Branches looked so god damn interesting.... the promise of its release got continually put off by work for a mainstream publisher.

Not that I blame him. I do not know Middleton at all or the nature of his contracts, but if I were to take an educated guess I think it would go a little something like this: Sky Between Branches is a personal project by a very talented artist. And by "personal" I mean "on his own dime." Middleton may not necessarily need to draw Superman, but DC will certainly pay him to do so. For all I know it may have been his lifelong dream to draw Superman and/or Shazam, and if that's the case I wholeheartedly offer more power to him. Or maybe Sky Between Branches did come out and I didn't even see it?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ay-oh! Oh-ay!

My co-worrkers and I hit the Good Neighbor for lunch on an almost daily basis. For the last month we were haunted by the billboard out front which featured a freakishly huge close-up of Tony Danza, but today we were graced with his replacement, Chicken Little's ass.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tourney Play


Thursday night I made way back to Charles Billiard in Glendale to get in on a regular 8 Ball tournament that's held there. It's not even sponsored by the house, it's just hosted there, run by some dude who also manages another tournament in Pasadena. I left work early to fight traffic but there was surprisingly little so I had plenty of time to practice. There were a few guys there early too, and as soon as they found out I was waiting for the tournament, they invited me to get in a game.

They were nice guys as I got to talking to them, but I knew I was being sized up, it was kind of funny. As more people showed up I realized they all knew each other pretty well and I stood out as the only new face. There I was, the unknown, tho I could hardly be considered a threat to almost any of these clearly frequent players. ( Ball was the warm up game of choice, which was good, because when it comes down to it 9 Ball is anybody's game. I was able to get to the table, make a few runs, and basically let folks know I had some idea how to play the game.

Eventually the tournament started, maybe 20 or so people were in. The buy in was $15, and that also let you play all night long evean afterwards, so that's a pretty good deal. I got assigned to the tree and had my first games with a Brit named Clive on table 23-- my lucky number, for about 10 minutes! On the first game I made quick work of the table one ball shy of the 8, Clive had missed a couple early on but with all my balls clear he ran out on me. The second game Clive cleaned up on his third turn and left me with 5 up. Just to show I wasn't a chump I went back to the table anyways and cleared those 5 balls like it was my game anyway. I didn't know if I could do that but I did and it earned me some credit and a laugh or two. Clive went on to the next round and I moved one bracket down-- that's what sucked about this tournament, it was best two out of three to move on. Two games down and it's time to move on.

It only got worse cause in the second bracket you only get one game, so it's do or die! I lost that game when my opponent got down to the eight on his first turn, I had one turn up but there was no way I was suddenly gonna run 7 balls, so after my miss he took it and I was out for the night. We played another game just for fun which I did win, so at least in my mind I wasn't being totally snarked.

The thing I noticed most about this crowd was the side action, guys were playing 9 Ball for money through the practice time, and then taking bets on the bracket games. I wasn't into taking any bets not knowing anyone but it's good to know the score. There was this one Indian dude, he had some monster cue and was playing pretty slick, but he kept going to all the tables looking for crazy bets. He spoke with a thick accent and really fast, crazy shit like "One hundred dollars you can't run out! Come on, run out, one hundred dollars! Here, I put one hundred dollars, you put twenty, that's a good bet! You lose you pay me twenty dollars, you win I pay one hundred!" Nuts, man, nuts.

I stuck around for a bit and played a few pickup games, flirted with the cocktail waitress, then called it a night. I might go back a few more times but I don't think I can make it a regular date. For one thing it's a bit out of the way, but mainly I don't really dig on the house, or at least I haven't warmed up to it. One huge reason is that the damn place is on a slope. I mean, that's insane. The tables are all leveled out but on half of them you're standing tall for the brake and then you've got your ass in the air at the spot. There are some level floored tables in the corner and there are a few tables in an upstairs section, but for as fancy as the joint is, that's a huge drawback. It's a quirk I can tolerate, but sure as hell nothing I want to get used to.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ted Koppel is my Hero


One last thing here: I just watched Ted Koppel interview Michael Brown, Director of FEMA, on Nightline about what was (not) going down in New Orleans. Brown was promptly and succinctly handed his ass by Koppel in a line of direct questioning I didn't even realize still existed in television news.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Storm Chime

Wednesday night CBS had a special report on Katrina, as did ABC, as all major news shows are doing this week. The situation looks grim, I was uncomfortable watching alot of the footage, I mean it just looks bad. As the reports went on, they fell into typical reporting cliches (like playing blues music over footage of a flooded town), and I was caught between was was more upsetting-- the actual event or the reporting of it. You can catch the details on blogs far more informed than mine, I avoid soapboxes such as this because I don't feel it to be much my place. However a little titdbit over on Information Overload points out how fucking deluded we are as a country. The CBS report I saw was quoting how this was the worst disaster ever, hundreds, possibly thousands dead, how the news coverage will center on this event for however long it takes. What's bothersome about that is that it wasn't 4 days ago on 60 minutes that they were reporting on the genocide in Sudan. Now that was a horrendous story, the death toll already dwarfs anything Katrina could possibly offer. I mean, New Orleans will be rebuilt in some form or another. It's going to be a bitch and a half, you know, with the alligators and poisonous snakes and all, but on the scale of worldwide disastrous events, I think we can handle it. Areas are going to be weeks or more without power (this is not fun-- I lived in SF for the '89 Loma Prieta quake, just a few days without power or water is tough to handle), and that sucks, but it's hard not to compare it to regions of the world who go months and months, even years without any sort of power or water infrastructure at all, after a cataclysmic event.

I've already heard the Bibilcal references for Katrina, and humor does help us deal with tragedy, but please. I do not trivialize what has happened in the south, but such Americentric observations make me roll my eyes.