Friday, January 30, 2009

Treasure!


So I was rifling through things that can be rifled through when I came upon this box which supposedly housed charcoal pencils. It did not!

Inside was a virtual gold mine of drawing supplies. Sharpies, pencils and pens of high craft. The sight upon opening this box was that of unexpected elation, I thought this very stash was lost during my last move from LA to Austin. I had searched in vain for a few of these items in the past, and was genuinely saddened at the thought of their loss. Stumbling on them here perhaps is like the unfiltered joy that a dog feels uncovering a bone he had long since forgotten was buried.


Amidst the common baubles were a trio of precious items not easily replaced. A pair of drafting pencils whose style is no longer made, and a worn, trusty X-Acto. That particular X-Acto is probably older than I am, I remember when my father gave it to me in more youthful days. A rite of passage of sorts for an artist, signifying trust in being able to handle such a delicate tool. Pardon me for a moment, I think I have something in my eye.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Crisis Day

There was only one book I thought of picking up, but then decided just to get it next week with (hopefully) a few more.

But I did read Final Crisis #7. Wow.

I mean, wow.

I'm not spoiling anything when I say that the giant, multiversal conclusion-- the crisis itself-- turned out to be no crisis at all.

No universal reboot. No ridiculous continuity bending impacts. Everything is as it was, as far as I can see. In the end, should Morrison have had his way unfettered, Final Crisis would have been just a crazy cool and weird stand-alone hardcover or something. In the context of the DCU as a whole, it's… disappointing.

Barry Allen is back? Maybe… not that I should care about bringing back a character who's greatest legacy was that he died saving the universe in the first place. DiDio has outright stated he's been looking for an excuse to bring back Barry Allen (after Hal Jordan) and it looks like he went and got one. I'm sure there are plenty of Barry Allen fans who admire the character as much as I do with Hal Jordan. But the fact is they didn't need to bring him back either. Are Green Lantern books better because of it? I'm on the fence there, but I will admit the appeal helps a lot. Will Barry Allen do the same for the Flash books? I'd love to hear from fans as he's re-introduced. But I stopped reading Flash a long, long, time ago. It would appear Wally West was my own "Barry Allen," and you know I don't even need Wally West back.

Batman is dead? Maybe… ugh, it gives me a headache.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The New Camel Hard Pack


I walked into the local grocery, strode past the cigarette case and spied some Camel Hard Packs with their recently updated design. I made a mental note to get a pack when checking out.

The Camel Hard Pack is a classic in and of itself, and it's amazing to see the new design invoke something even more so. It may be a bit on the decorative side, but it's sharper, cleaner, with the devil's patent aura that surounds the taboo.

At the register I asked for a pack, and one of the checkers was sent to get it. But you see, the a row of new packs was sandwiched between two of the old packs. And I knew, I just knew that dude would pick one of the old ones. It was a 2 out of 3 chance after all. So I casually walked over alongside and watched as he opened the case and indeed reached for one of the old packs.

"Ah, actually, can you grab me that one," I said, pointing to the middle row.

"Oh, they're the same," he replied."

No, philistine. They most assuredly are not the same.

"If you don't mind, I'd prefer this one," I asked, to which he conceded. Back at the register the checkout lady gave me a look, the kind of look that questions why I had to personally oversee that transaction. It's just the kind of thing that I do in the name of design.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Comic Day

Green Lantern

It's a great time to be a Green Lantern reader. Compelling story, great art all over the place. It sure makes ya feel proud. I remember plenty of stretches where GL was terribly bland, the back page of the DCU. The last couple years have been great, and it looks to stay that way for a while. It all points to Blackest Night...

Oh, darn. Blackest Night used to be a Green Lantern localized event, but from what I read it's now going to be DC-wide. Crap. Is that really necessary after all the (seemingly literally) infinite crises? No, of course not. But are they doing it anyways? Will they fill it with meaningless fluff and empty crossovers? Probably. Dammit, DC, get your shit together already. It's hard not to notice how many comics I don't buy these days.

So if you're not that into GL, there are a couple great trades out today, too. Harley Quinn: Preludes and Nock Knock Jokes collects the short-lived series from many moons ago. It was actually a great book, with wonderful Terry Dodson art. From a purely cheesecake standpoint, he hits on just about every DC babe there is, and that ain't bad at all. But the stories by Karl Kessel do hold up, with some interesting perspectives of the Villain sidekick profession. This time around it's printed on nice paper, too! The collection is not numbered, and the series ran about 18 issues, so future volumes are probably dependent on the sales of this one. (altho Dodson doesn't stick around for the whole run)

The other collection from Vertigo collects two fantastic miniseries, Vertigo Pop's Tokyo and Bangkok. Both have cool stories and great art, the Tokyo half by the much missed Set Fisher. This double helping is totally worth it if you missed the series the first time around.

Lastly, I can't say it enough: The first collection of Young Liars came out last week. If you're not already hooked on the series, get it!!!! And man, the latest issue? Freaktastic!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"From Hell's heart... I stab at thee."


Ricardo Montalban was many things. For me his most glorious role was that of Kahn in Star Trek II. Forever one of the best science fiction movies ever made, and he anchored that story with a level of acumen and bad-assery rarely matched.

New Comics Day

Prometheus
Green Lantern Corps
Young Liars

It's "Faces of Evil" over at DC. Say, isn't Marvel doing the exact same thing with "Dark Reign?" I mean the exact same thing?

Kryb gets the cover of GL Corps, and rightly so. The spookfest sees a conclusion of this entertaining (and freaky) storyline. Once again, art by Patrick Gleason is stand out stuff.

I like the character of Promethus, mainly from his kick-ass introduction by Grant Morrison, in what seems like oh-so-long-ago. He's been back a few times, without much of what made him cool, and kind of fell off the radar. I'm hoping this week's one shot has some weight to it and reintroduce the character as a continued force to be reckoned with.

Final Crisis is out this week, I gave it another in-store perusing. I feel kinda guilty that I'm not enjoying this series. It should be primo stuff. Looks great, has some blockbuster moments, but...

Young Liars, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Label Alert: Tropicana, WHY??


Oh Tropicana, how I lauded your previous incarnation.

Now it appears you've lost your verve. Your moxy. Your playfulness. This eurobland minimalism reeks of desperation. Note the complete absence of an orange with a straw in it, your brand trademark for years and years. I had to buy a carton just to prove it was real! And I was thirsty.

I'm still assessing the cultural design impact of things like the New Pepsi. This decidedly simplistic trend permeating "new branding" can either be described as striking or generic. The later has some credence.

From what I can gleam from fellow followers of package design, the recent nationwide economic kershuffle has had large brands seek the marketing of their product to literally mimic generic branding, in order to make the consumer feel more comfortable with their purchase. This I find to be outrageous in its likelihood of being true.


God help us all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Green Lantern Corps #31

So who's been reading Green Lantern Corps? It's remained strong over the past year, The Mongul storyline was a highlight for me, and it appears it's one that will continue after all.

The recent arc has plied itself into genre-mixing, the interesting combo of Science Fiction Horror. A few scenes have been outright gruesome, and the plotline following the orphanmaker aliens is way spooky. I call them such since the prime motive has the lead antagonist going about business killing entire families and stealing the leftover children. Comics sure are violent nowadays. I think in this instance Green Lantern Corps is doing it particularly well, as it has not traditionally ventured into such dark territory in some time (shades of Mosaic). Hopefully in the current Corps book, it will not become oversaturated, lessening the overall effect and consequences for future stories.

Issue #31 is part 3 of "Sins of the Star Sapphire," but the equally compelling insights into the growing Star Sapphire army is but a subplot to that which has dominated the last few issues. A freaktastic Sinestro Corps soldier named Kryb is the lead orphanmaker mentioned above, and she brings down a squad of Green lanterns in a most disturbing fashion. That's where all the Si-fi horror comes into play, but it gets even better!

One of the GLs in battle, Pree, is actually pregnant, and will stop at nothing to keep her pending child away from Kryb's grasp. In one of the most startling, defining comics moments I've read in years, the stress of battle causes Pree to call upon the willpower of her unborn child to bring the smackdown to her opponent. The following battle and imagery is... unique. That is some wild shit.


While the tide looked turned, the ending is quite the cliffhanger, and Pree's ultimate fate may be grim indeed.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's Comic Day

Had I known there'd only be one book worth me picking up, I might have waited until next week. But at least it was Green Lantern.

Green Lantern is good.

It hasn't been this consistently good in a long time, I mark the last couple of years as a high point in the series' lifetime. I maintain a love/hate relationship with Geoff Johns, there are choices he makes as a writer that I deplore. However, as a storyteller I cannot deny his prowess to tap into the good stuff (yes the two disciplines are separate). I know he has legions of followers on other books and may hold the definitive take on the modern Justice Society, but I think with Green Lantern he has hit a stride that Green Lantern fans and newcomers to the title alike are really digging. At least I haven't come across many detractors of GL in recent memory.

The last arc, Secret Origin, I mentioned it wasn't as strong under the notion that it wasn't anything I haven't read multiple times, as I'm sure long time GL readers would agree. But there was the fantastic re-telling of art by Ivan Reiss so still worth it. There were some new story elements added (somewhat) retroactively in order to tie into some new plots, not always necessary but understood. Anyways it all leads up to the current arc "Rage of the Red Lanterns" and the upcoming "Blackest Night." This is the shit I'm talking about.

There has been a gradual crescendo of the Lantern Spectrum storyline that's coming to a head, and it is exciting stuff. The focus of late has been the introduction of the Zamaron Lanterns aka aka Love Lanterns aka Star Sapphires (Pink? Purple? Indigo... I forgot the official spectral designation) and Red Lanterns aka Rage Lanterns. The Red Lanterns are great, I love them. There is quite a violent streak about it all but at least it's not violence for violence's sake. With the Red Lanterns' motivations kicking into full gear, we're given the introduction of the Blue Lanterns. The Blue Lanterns are intorduced in earnest with the latest issue, and have quickly staked themselves into the heart of the Spectrum mythology with several unique concepts that I hope will be expanded upon in coming stories. And there's still more coming! Not much data on the Orange Lanterns yet, and of course Blackest Night will introduce the Black Lanterns in due haste.

Doesn't it all sound kind of silly? A Crayola box of Lanterns? Yet it is not, I am utterly fascinated with how it's all been playing out. It has neither been rushed nor drawn out, there is alot going on and much to keep track of, and damn I am liking it. The base concept is something I'm sure many have wondered about ever since Sinestro donned his yellow ring. I bet GL readers all have had different imaginings of the Spectrum, and as varied as they may be, Johns is culling from something that seems like a natural extension and expanding the once stagnant GL universe into something grander.

On a side note of New Comics Day, this week there is a new printing of Brian Wood and Kristian's Supermarket. A great pickup if you haven't already.