Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New Comics Date

And that date is with All Star Superman.

All Star Superman
Green Lantern
JLA Classified
Action Comics (OYL)
Books of Doom
X-Statix: Deadgirl

Hrrrrrmmmm. It's not that All Star Superman is good, it's that it's so good that other books look bad in comparison. I don't know who I'm trying to sell here, it's just... Superman books have been okay, they come and they go with varying degrees of interest. I'm amazed, I guess, at myself that my interest in Superman has reached the level it has with the All Star version, something I wish happened with Batman (but didn't).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Comics Delay

I was in San Jose for the Game Developers Conference, which is as good an excuse as any for missing New Comics Day. But just barely.

Next Wave
Catwoman (OYL)
Hawkgirl (OYL)
Red Sonja

Nice to see some new art on She-Hulk, can't say the same for Catwoman, tho. Howard Chaykin on Harkgirl, damn, that's pretty sweet.

I am also of the opinion that Next Wave kicks ass.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Comics Recap

Aquaman #40 (OYL)
Sword of Atlantis
Reeeeeebooooot... Under optimal circumstances the prospect of Kurt Busiek and Butch Guice on Aquaman would be exciting, but I feel they missed the boat here. There is simply no reason to spin Aquaman as a sword/sorcery underwater Dungeons and Dragons. When I think of the seemingly endless fascination an undersea setting has to offer I just don't get why it needs to be "re-imagined" into a genre that's just fine on land. I see what they are trying to do, set up this epic quest for the identity of the (for now) new Aquaman, but I don't see a point. It's probably a great story as it pans out, but go ahead and substitute any new character for Arthur Curry and friends and it all becomes rather pointless.

The misstep is taken right from the start, as a shark king is represented as an anthropomorphic Hercules-type and a mysterious wizard has octopus tendrils for hair and beard. You lose me right there. The wonder, the awe that is the unknown sea is the life that after thousands of years is still alien to us. Why can't a shark king be a shark and why cant an old wizard be an octopus? Hell, why can't it be something new entirely? I don't like to take such critical stabs at creators who's work I admire, but there is a definite lack of imagination at work here.

I come at this from a number of sides. First, the comics side, as I like comics in general. Second from an Aquaman side, I have loved this character for so long and he never seems to get his proper due. I personally would relish the opportunity to write an Aquaman book, is has been a goal of mine for some time. That ties with my final side, my life long passion for all things oceanic. The study and enjoyment of aquatic environs from both scholastic and leisurely perspectives leave no doubt in my mind that Aquaman has the potential to be one of the coolest books on the shelf-- if only it would embrace its very nature. Sadly this latest incarnation appears not to, and they have precious little time to convince me otherwise.

Superman #650 (OYL)
So something happens with this whole Crisis thing. We don't know what it is yet, but it's One Year Later and Superman has not been active for the entirety of that year. It is unclear whether or not Superman has lost his powers, but two facts are presented: In times of peril he signals for Supergirl to take the action, and Clark Kent is punched and bleeds as a result. Very nice art by Pete Woods, and great colors by Brad Anderson.

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #4
I got this book to follow Josh Middleton's art wherever it goes, but I never expected Judd Winik's story to suckerpunch me the way it did. Previous issues had some nice scenes between Supes and Capt. Marvel, as this series recounts thier first meetings. This last issue really takes it home though. The main plot revolves around the innocent death of a boy caught in the crossfire of a Capt. Marvel scuffle, and the heavy guilt associated with that. But the surprising scene is where Capt. Marvel reveals himself to Supes as the young Billy Batson. Superman in turn actually confronts Shazam to scold him on bestowing such awesome powers and responsibilities on a child. In the end there is a set up where Superman tries his best to become a positive role model-- and friend-- to a distrought but resolved Batson. The whole thing could have come out super schmaltzy, kudos to Winick for playing it on the level. The same for Middleton for illustrating those scenes with genuine emotion. Good stuff.

Bulleteer #4
Aw man, this book... what can I say. It's kinda like that "Grudge Match" episode of Justice League Unlimited. I'm probably not supposed to like it as much as I do. I think Morrison really taps into the mind of adult comics readers, and by that I mean grown ups who still read comics, like me. I've tried to describe this to people before, about the segment of readership who started reading comics as kids, went through adolescence, and became adults with comics still in tow. The fantasy of comics that was instilled as a child remains, but the adult mind firing on all cylinders is in control, therein lies a unique struggle for which side should be appeased. In this miniseries there is a skewering of conventions related to power fantasies, dominance, and sexualization, and the beauty of it is you can take it as a serious reflection of what comics created or you can just go along for the ride. That is where Morrison so often separates himself from other writers. I look at Bulleteer and I love it, but I "get it." I look at All Star Batman and Robin and I feel dirty. Over and under all the Morrison subtext is the crisp, sexy artwork of Yanick Paquette, making Bulleteer an easy favorite of the 7 Soldiers repertoire.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

That Thing That I Bought

Damn you, DC Direct. Damn you.

(click for big pics)

I'm Too Sexy for Wizard World LA

But I went anyway.

A hop onto the Metro got me to the LA Convention Center with little hassle. Then I had to wait in line to buy a $25 ticket (r i p o f f), but it timed out that when that was taken care of the floor opened. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was pretty small. There is no way you would need to go for 3 days unless you just HAD to go to multiple panels or different talent you wanted to see went on different days.

I ran into some old friends and had some good chats, but the convention itself was kinda lame. I was in, through, and out in two hours. I didn't even buy anyting!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Comics Day

A very interesting week of books.

Aquaman (OYL)
Birds of Prey (OYL)
Superman (OYL)
JLA Classified
Infinite Crisis Secret Origins
Superman/Shazam First Thunder
Nextwave (Director's Cut)
Essential Godzilla

I'm pretty sure the DC's One Year Later books were not supposed to be out before the finale of Infinite Crisis, but that's what's happened. I picked them up out of both interest and art, the books I chose all had good art, and I must admit I'm a little curious of this whole "Sword and Scorcery" Aquaman thing (even though I think they've been missing the needed approach on Aquaman for years).

This reprint of Nextwave is cool not just because Stuart Immonen rocks, but also because it's neat to see an actual comics script by someone who gets paid to do it.

I also picked up something else at the comics shop this week, maybe I'll post about it later...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I read Playboy so you don't have to

But really, why wouldn't you?

This month's issue of Playboy has a multi-page article on comics. Specifically, the maturity of comics as a medium. It doesn't bother with past comics history but instead goes right to the turning point: that wonderous year that was 1986. Sure they gloss right over the sad state of affairs that was the 90's and skip right to current books like 100 Bullets, Transmet, and Promethea. There are a healthy spattering of quotes from-- and a sidebar dedicated to-- Alan Moore. They also make the tie to Hollywood's latest infatuation with comics-based films.

It is a well-written, interesting article with only one snafu that I noticed: There is a picture insert of The Authority's Engineer, but she is labeled as "Shen." Oops. It's okay, I've not once read a mainstream article or seen a tv news piece about comics that didn't have some error or outright falsehood. Funny thing about the Engineer's pic, seeing as how it's in Playboy. It's the retouched cover to Vol 1 #9, sans-nipples. I assure you folks first hand that the original cover has nipples! I kid you not when I say I watched as Laura DePuy painted them out per request of DC muckety-mucks. Apparently Playboy's research dept. let us all down on more than checking the Engineer's name, I would think it painfully clear to the casual observers of all things nipple that the pic was retouched, yet they didn't dig deep enough. It's a sad shame that in the one place they would have been right at home... well, you get me.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

New Comics Day

It was Wednesday Lite.

Tom Strong
American Virgin
Dare Detectives
Rocketo TPB!!!

Damn am I a lucky fella. Who should be sitting on the couch as I walk into the comics store but Frank Espinoza, creator of Rocketo!! He was signing his new trades and I was fortunate enough to get the last one before he left. Frank was very nice and enthusiastic about talking about the future of Rocketo, and it was just a pleasure to meet him.

"Americans are comfortable with this font."

Tuesday nite I went to the Apple Store at The Grove to see some bona-fide rock stars.

Not just any rock stars, but...



Andy Cruz and Rich Roat of House Industries, my favorite (and worshipped) foundry were on hand to give a presentaion. For a little over an hour they spoke of custom lettering, design, and all things typographic. It was awesome!!! Throw up the horns, man!!!!

It was a real treat to look into how their company was started and how they evolved over the years into the premiere type factory that they are. Their attention to detail in all things seems matched only by a razor-sharp sense of balance in design. Their love for the classic stables of fonts and styles is brought forth in new and contemporary faces. I love these guys. And in an almost unheard of cool cooincidence, at the lecture I was standing right behind pop artist Coop! Coop's art of course needs little introduction, but he also has a font set produced by House.

For true aficionados of type, design, and all things House, I highly recommend the House Book.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New Comics Day

Post #201: Egads! Crisis!

Books of Doom
Ultimates 2
Red Sonja
Strangers in Paradise
Y the Last Man
Green Lantern Corps
Infinite Crisis

Okay, I read Infinite Crisis already. Five issues in and... well... let's just say the issue starts with a prayer. Literally, it's a bunch of superheroes in a church presided over by Zauriel. Then Superman and Old Superman fight. Yawn. At this stage in the game there is no cliffhanger that's making me cringe in anticipation. The more I think about it, DC could have simply instituted the "One Year Later" event without the hoopla that is Crisis.

The more interesting things in Crisis, and there are actually some, are at best glossed over. Alex Luthor's universe construction kit has some legs, but it's ultimately just the vehicle for the chaos. The subtext spouted through dialogue about how the universe is "broken" and "corrupt" (with even less subtext as to who is responsible) is not appealing to me as a reader. But the concept of collapsing and reconstructing universes is potentially fascinating, it's too bad the writers have such a hard on for wanting to "fix" everything they think is wrong that they bypass the crafting of a truly science-fiction-infused epic.

By the way, Infinite Crisis as comic art looks bad. There were three very fine artists coupled with veteran inkers on the book and some top notch colorists-- but I have to say it looks bad. The artists are not to balme--- poor (or non existent) art direction is, for DC editorial to have such a supposed landmark event represented as such boggles the mind.

Over in The Ultimates, things are looking up, and it's proof that while I loathe to admit it, Marvel is on more of a hip swing than DC. Even though I derided last issue of being rote destruction for destruction's sake, this issue things get personal. The confrontation between Tony Stark and Natasha plays out really well, just when you thought an emasculated Iron Man had been dealt his last card, out comes the ace. Hawkeye's escape is also keen. The best bit is at the end, where a defeated Captain America makes ready for some major payback. Even though the event could be seen from miles away, the execution is still damn cool, and that's what makes a good book.

The difference between Crisis/Ultimates and DC/Marvel can be best described by two lines from the respective books. Somehow the big tag line of Earth 2 Superman's "You killed my wife!" pales when compared to a bloodied Captain America's warning, "Get the hell away from my girlfriend."