Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Finally I am not inadvertently turning into a loser by opening a soda

It appears I've finally opened a bottle of cola and turned into a winner!

Chris Tamarri's fine blog Crisis/Boring Change made me an offer I couldn't refuse. A copy of Local #1 for the low, low introductory price of an e-mail. I think he took pity on the fact that I'm in the middle of helping candidates get registered in the now official 39th General Election here in Canada as well as moving apartments on the first.

I've had to cancel my holiday flight to Halifax and stick Allison with packing the remainder of our apartment for Thursday while I'm behind my desk for enough hours that it's becoming a science experiment. I hope to prove that people can exist by not sleeping or completing coherent thoughts for 8 whole weeks. Well, I think we're allowed to take Christmas day off.

This was all made a bit less painful with the prospect of getting Local #1. I hope to actually read the two other comics I bought last week and sit down with Local at some point. It was callously sold out at both comic shops I have access to, so this is a great way to check out Wood's other work. I got DMZ and really like it.

I will post a review of this book whenever I get a few minutes to read it and finish a few coherent thought about it. Until then, read Chris's blog - anything with a Pixies quotation is good in my book.

Monday, November 28, 2005

4 - Miguel Figueroa and the Communist Party of Canada.

I think my favourite thing about the Communist Party of Canada is that they are required a leader to be registered as a party but they don’t actually have one listed on their website. I had to go to the Elections Canada website to find out that Miguel Gigueroa was the registered leader.

So these guys would have to be washed up villains or third string heroes. Fifty to twenty years ago they would have been the biggest threat to the free world but now they’re just boring, not terrorists. I really don’t know how to make them more threatening than they already sound. They’re freaking Communists. Once an iron curtain of red terror, now they’re just middle-aged and go on like Grandpa Simpson. It’s sort of sad to see them in this state. If commies were a dog, we’d just put them down to end their suffering.

How about the logo. It’s appropriate. It’s as busy as their website. Their logo is like their text – hey, we can fit some more in there so we should the more images we add, the more text we add makes it better. Why explain yourself in one word when fifteen will do? Same goes for logos – let’s add another cog or sheaf of wheat if there’s some white space, that will make it better.

Then there is the enigma of Miguel Gigueroa. I was hoping for some romantic Latin hero figure like Che Guevera or even Castro. I don’t know if this is the guy but this is what Google image search turned up. He looks pretty badass. I doubt commies support cultural expression like this but he looks like he could have kicked some ass.

I think they would just talk until you either fall asleep or kill yourself then they rob your wallet to fund the revolution. I’m so bored even thinking about the Commies that I can’t even think up funny names for them or funny superpowers. That’s sad. I can’t wait for the next revolution where we can vilify someone without fear of reprisal. I think after seeing this guy here as a villain, the KGBeast turned over in his mausoleum.

Superhero Name: The people’s defender of the proletariat worker on the principles of social justice and communal socialism
Super Powers: Text. Heaps and heaps of text. Reasoned yet passionate debate. Power of organized proletariat.
Weaknesses: The spirit of the individual means the ideology is not sustainable and crumbles when each is unwilling to sacrifice for the whole.
Superhero Team: The Proletariat Defenders of Freedom (PDF for short)
Overall Rating: C- for a once great enemy

Saturday, November 26, 2005

3 - Ron Gray and the Christian Heritage Party

Well, what can you say about the Christian Heritage Party really? I could try to get through the entire post without making fun of Christianity but I am not big enough or clever enough to do so. So right off the bat I’m thinking, really crappy name. If it was the Christian Crusaders or the Knights of the High Holy Christ, that would be intimidating. Christian Heritage Party sounds like Sunday School to me. And how exactly to you throw a party to celebrate Christian heritage? I guess you could sit around and try to turn water into wine and serve the whole party with one fish and one loaf of bread. Besides that your stuck with wandering deserts, giving up your worldly possessions and comparing people to lotuses or something – if only we could all survive off photosynthesis like the Christians want us to. Getting nailed to various wooden objects? Otherwise aren’t all our statutory holidays based on Christian heritage already?

Then there’s the logo. It’s actually not too bad if you get rid of the text. I guess the rising Maple Leaf is representative of these guys rising Canada out of the sea if the Canadian Action Party succeeds in their hidden mandate. Onward Christian soldiers indeed. Good to know there is someone clever enough to see Lady Canaction for what she truly is. Or, no wait a second, that’s just the spirit of Canada rising once it’s dead isn’t it? Ah, fuck, that doesn’t help.

Well let’s hope the leader is kind of heroic. Ronny? Oh, sorry I don’t have to file my taxes until April. Oh wait you’re the leader? Dang, I was hoping you guys would break from tradition and get anyone other than an old white guy as a Christian leader, I mean even Jesus was technically Jewish. What are you’re super powers – you can balance a cheque book, righteous indignation, turning the other cheek, rapture? Oh, I’m right, okay then. What about a name now – Christian Soldier, nope. I know, since you’re the Leader of the Christian Heritage Party you will now adopt the identity of Herry Christian. You see that? What I did there? I made a sixties Marvel comic pun of Hari Kristna.

The battle cry of “Your Responsible Alternative” just isn’t working either. It’s all fine and great if everyone was Christian and agreed with you but since half the population is women and of all the men, not all are Christians, this sort of rings hollow. Still, good for you guys for trying. You do have a nice idea if it didn’t conflict so much, and at least you’re up front about not wanting to keep church and state separate.

Superhero Name: Herry Christian
Super Powers: Cheeks of steel, Ethereal Form once dead, Righteous indignation, sunbeams, balanced finances.
Weaknesses: Crumbles under examination, stigmata, human form.
Superhero Team: The Hairy Christians
Overall Rating : D+

Thursday, November 24, 2005

2 - Constance (Connie) Fogal and the Canadian Action Party

Hot damn! The Canadian Action Party. Points for a very superhero team inspired name. It’s got Action in the title so instant points for Ms. Fogal being the super-leader of a superhero team. Except that it sounds a bit like a superhero team name from the early nineties. You know it’s exciting because it has action in the name. The only better name would be the Canadian Boob Party. Dave would appreciate that. Then again if you go by the acronym it’s CAP. That’s kind of lame. It sounds like some sort of support group. Welcome to the monthly meeting of Circumcised And Proud, CAP Session 4582 will now come to order. Negative points for lame acronym.

So let’s have a look at things here. Logo – check. But damn that’s ugly. Okay, it has a silhouette of Canada on it, but it's tilted or something. It says your view of Canada is skewed. Then the small swirly text has got to go as does the word "hope" lost in the sea of blue. Sure those of us who own a globe can recognize Canada so we’d know Ms. Fogal was Canadian but this logo really doesn’t say much more than that, except maybe that Canada is hoping to be blue for some reason? Is this a Sub-Mariner defense league or something? Or is it a pro-Atlantean movement trying to sink Canada into the depths of the seven seas? Come to think of it, the name of this group is sort of misleading. It’s just vague enough to be some cooky cult.

We’re the Action party (hear the swooshy sound effects whenever you read Action!). But what Action are you talking about – running, jumping, climbing, voting? Ummmm, actually we’re the sink Canada into the seas to become part of the true kingdom of Earth – Atlantis party. That doesn’t sound like a fun action.

Let’s have a look at the slogan. “Making a difference.” That’s sort of weak isn’t it. Why not “I’m helping, I’m helping”? I guess even doughnuts are making a difference in our society with the average weight on the increase as well as record rates of obesity and type two diabetes. That’s not the kind of difference I want to make though. I guess this isn’t exactly a misleading slogan since screaming this into battle while the villain pummels you is making a difference to the villain’ self-confidence levels and improving his or her megalomania.

Know, what can we call Ms. Fogal? Let’s have a look at her. Hmmm, well she does have the Canadian flag in the background, that’s patriotic – in the same way Bucky was patriotic. Or maybe Koryak is a better fit here. I’m still trying to come up with something better than Mistress Action, or Lady Action, or The First Lady of Canadian Action, or Canaction, actually I think I’ll go with Lady Canaction.

After minutes of research through their website, I think Lady Canaction would have been a great nineties superhero who later turns into a villain when her plan to sink Canada finally comes to light. Lady Canaction is able to tap into feelings of Anti-Americanism to increase her strength. She has set herself up as protector of the True North Strong and Free from imaginary foes. She has gotten her powers from some kind of paranoia inducing drug overdoes where she now fears the American Dollar Bill. Her aim and mission is to keep Canada separate from the United States of America – even if it means sinking it to the bottom of the Atlantic – or Pacific – or both, I suppose….

A quick Google image search reveals Lady Canaction is also a master of disguise. Makes you want to curl up to a wood fire in your footie pajamas with a cup of hot apple cider with some CBC radio on or maybe Masterpiece Theatre and she reads political polemics to you until you fall asleep to dream of one day achieving the freedom from the USA that you’ve already enjoyed for your entire existence. Say Gran, can you read the one about the smooth talking American bandit with the velvet mask who oppressed the proletariat again? That's my favourite. Then read the one about our glorious submersion into a glorious brine free from the oppression of the dreaded American Dollar bill.

Got to love those small parties, they’re all about the imaginary solutions to imaginary problems and text. Lots and lots of text.

Superhero Name – Lady Canaction
Super Powers – increases her strength by feeding off Anti-American sentiment, can whip a loonie fast enough to take out your eye, master of disguise.
Weaknesses – elections, essay competitions, photoshop
Superhero Team – The Action Team
Overall rating – C (hey they have what looks like a comic on their frontpage – it leads to nothing).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday's Loot - 23 November 2005

I almost forgot. I bought the following:
  1. The Amazing Joy Buzzards, Season 2 #2 - read it. Think it's still awesome but there was a few hiccups in the flow of the story here. I do like the frenetic pace
  2. Godland #5 - I just found issue #2 as well. Looks like I can finally get the even numbered issues of this series as well. cool.
  3. JSA Classified #5 - My first ever JSA comic. I'm a sucker for a villain story.
  4. Loveless #2 - This is the issue where I give Loveless a chance. I will still give it one more chance unless the suckage is unbearable. Issue #1 left me sort of unconvinced so I'm hoping this issue grabs me a bit more. We'll see.

So, I don't really have much time to read these today - or ever since this election looks to be going ahead. I may or may not get back to talking about actual comics. Until then, enjoy my leader/hero things.

1 - Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Quebecois

Unfortunately, Monsieur Duceppe would have to be cast as a villain or at the very least some sort of conflicted anti-hero. The entire reason for the Bloc Quebecois to exist is to pull Quebec out of Federation. In essence, destroy Canada. So he is equally feared and respected. Hero to one person, foe to another.

I think this guy is up there as far as “misunderstood” goes to define him as a character. He’s the Quebecois version of Black Adam. But on the other hand his first language is French at that generally means villainy in comics.

Let’s have al look at his slogan and logo. I’m not much on the logo. I could take it or leave it. It certainly is a bit too “robin’s egg blue” to strike fear into the hearts of do-goodnicks and average citizens – or as a symbol to rally around if you are Quebecois(se). Although it does have bevelled edges - ooohh, photoshoppy! It must be new and modern it's faux 3D. It's fauxtramodern.

What about the slogan he would shout as he runs headlong into battle with the Federalist Forces of Canada? “Je me souviens.” Not bad. For you non-French speaking folk it says “I am unstoppable you dolts!” Or, “I remember” which is the “national” slogan for the province of Quebec. Explain that one to your kids. "Yeah, so it's a province, but it has a national assembly and a national slogan. Isn't that a provincial slogan and provincial assembly if they're only a province. Yes, just don't say that to their faces, they get test - but that could just be indigestion from the poutine."

For the most part, Gilles is looking pretty good so far. He’s got a quick slogan that taps into a feeling of national pride. It claws back through the veil of history and says, oooh, I remember, I won’t forget what you English tete-carres did to us on the Plains of Abraham (ironic that they refer to English Canada as "blockheads" don't you think?). Then you see the rest of the slogan. “Je me souviens…du scandale des commandites.” Huh? For you non-French speaking folk, it translates to “I am unstoppable you dolts! Now get me some crackers or see my wrath!” Or maybe it says, “I remember the sponsorship scandal.” That’s not so evocative of the national pride there GD, what gives?

So let’s see Monsieur in costume. Yowzas! Since Quebec is quickly becoming known as a major producer of cheese, I’ve decided that M. Duceppe will be a cheese themed anti-hero. The first major crime of the Bloc and M. Fromage was to stop the use of the cafeteria for the house of Commons. When the Bloc first became the official opposition the cafeteria was where all MPs would gather and discuss stuff outside of party politics or party lines and what not. When the Bloc was elected, fraternizing with the enemy was not really good as it would reduce their hard line. Plus the cafeteria was serving up really expensive food so they started campaigning against it and the use and reputation of the cafeteria plummeted. This is an honest to goodness true story by the way.

Then there is this story about some mysteriously disappearing cheese. What convinced a personally rational man to sink $50,000.00 of good cheddar into the Baie-de-Ha!-Ha! Is beyond me, but I see some sort of influence from Golden Age Batman villains. Only someone caught up in a wretched hive of villainy would dump perfectly good cheese into the ocean. Then it was named the “Bay of Ha! Ha!” – how the Joke is NOT from Saint Louis de Ha! Ha! is also a question I want answered – or at least why he never tried to invade the place to make it his world headquarters. I guess it all comes back to Cheese boy here. His powers of cholesterol manipulation, errant hairs (hence the hairnet) and bowel issues would be enough to keep any English pig-dog at bay. If all else fails he could slowly kill them by force feeding poutine to his victims while using the Ludvico technique with this offshoot of cheese culture.

Superhero NameBloc de Camembert or Cpt. Camembert (I can't decide).
Super Powers - Cholesteol manipulation, Can digest anything, Can communicate in own language, Cannot acknowlege the passage of history or defeat in battle.
Weakness - Too many people think Quebec is too cute to be scary (or serious), affinity to hats and the ladies.
Superhero Team – Les Blocistes (with anscilliary female group Blocenistas)
Overall rating - B

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Enjoy your damn Turkey!

So while it's a long weekend of home-cooked goodness in the U.S. of A. I'm stuck up here in the frozen north preparing for an election. My posts have been random and rather pithy recently but I have come up with a great idea. Since the government is about to fall I thought I would spend a bit of time mixing up politics with superhero comics.

I've mentioned it before how Canadian politics and superheroes have a lot in common - older white men obsessed with logos and catch phrases. You'll also notice that I've got a few links on my sidebar. I do think it's important to vote, and if you look at my sidebar you'll see that we are really not lacking as far as choice is concerned. To any of my American colleagues who are reading this - we have more than one party in every single election and elections are generally completed in one single day with out anyone suing anyone else or using the courts to decide the outcome. We're funny that way.

So since I'm now on the night shift I thought I would see how the political leaders stand up to being leaders of a superhero team. I'll look at their logo, their slogan (for this election or the last one) and try to come up with some superpowers or a name for them as hero (or villian as my mood allows).

I'll be presenting the parties in alphabetical order for no bias on my part - I do work for one - have fun guessing which one! I won't tell you so I can avoid any possible legal ramifications if I quit or get fired. Actually, I'll send you a free comic if you come up with a creative way that my career in politics will end.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wednesday's Loot - 16 November 2005

Yesterday was an odd day. For some reason the local shipment was delayed and oddly enough when I finally got to the shop in the evening Local #1 was sold out. I'll try the other shop today.

So only two titles this week although I was tempted to get a lot of trades. With the big move still happening on Dec. 1st I resisted temptation. So, surprise surprise if you can guess which comics I bought..... c'mon, you bought them too. Well you bought at least one of them.

That's right I'm talking about everyone's favourite hero in complementary coloured spandex.

All Star Superman #1
Superman's origin in five panels (one is a two page spread) and eight words. Perfect storytelling. Then my jury left the building and are still out. I'm happy that Morrison doesn't treat the reader like a complete tit here - we all know Superman's deal so let's get on with the story. I feel like I need to know a bit more about Supes to get what's happening or understand who these characters are but in all honesty I don't care and I don't think it matters. I really enjoyed this story. Lex Luthor is actually imposing as a crazy mad scientist without being too mustache twirling.

I'm sure others out there who know more about comics and the entire history of Superman already have this issue covered so go read their stuff. I just give these piddly little, hey I liked the comic reviews. This one is good and is a breath of fresh air after that other All-Star title.

I like that Superman is laid back, heroic, and the clumbsy Clark Kent in equal measure. It's oddly refreshing to see the boy-scout version not cram goodness and the American Way down your throat (you can now all make jokes about cramming things down throats).

I rate this story: If all Morrison's comics are this good I'm an idiot for this being the first one I've picked up (if only I bled hard cash...).

I also picked up Fantastic Four and Iron Man: Big in Japan #2. Haven't read it yet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I like my mind right where it is, thank you very much.

Has anyone else noticed how all the promotion lately is going to "blow our minds"? Man, if the comic companies were right these four colour floppies will have spinal fluid leaking out our ears so fast and furious there will be nothing left with which to enjoy the pleasant effects of alcohol and narcotics. If TV rots your brain then comics blow it (actually that sounds funny when you think about it) how come we can still read these things? Wouldn't we be, I don't know, dead?

I wonder if the guys over at Comics Should be Good have realised that comics will blow their minds since they've sentenced a few DC employees to perform said action on Dan DiDio. No wonder parent's don't let their kids buy comics - comics may fellate your brain! If only. I always thought blowing anything was meant to be a loving action and well, we're a conflicted bunch I think. Half of us are happy, half of us are raving mad, and most of us have internet access to we can see people blowing all sorts of things for free, so do we need this?

I would just like to see some solid story telling - you don't have to shock me, you don't have to grab my groin, you don't have to chew on my eyeballs like a pitbull on a rump roast, you don't have to blow my mind. Just entertain me. Go buy that Robbie Williams album with "Let Me Entertain You" on it and play that song on a loop in your creative space. I don't care if you don't like it, listen to what he's saying. I like the status quo. I like the pattern of serial comic book story telling. Please, everyone, for one month only, don't blow my mind. Just give me a status quo story that doesn't completely change everything again.

I know change is the only constant in life but aren't comics a bit of an escape? How about a little non-change. How about something pedestrian? How about a superstory where the hero is defeated by the bad guy at the beginning and the hero learns from his or her mistakes and cleverly defeats the villian at the end of the issue? I'd buy that. I'd buy that every month. Heck, I'd buy that every Wednesday. Maybe I need to buy more Archie comics or something. I think when I'm done sucking at the Infinite Crisis boobie I'll just buy the JLU books and Spidergirl for my superhero fix. Or possibly just buy the Bruce Timm DVDs since I like those versions of the heroes anyway.

Wow, this went on longer than expected. Sorry folks. There's a constant threat of an election here in the frozen north so I'm pulling crazy hours and my life is in constant upheaval - maybe that's why I don't need mind blowing crisis and change every week. I have it in my day-to-day existence, if I didn't would I want the constant change?...perhaps I'm on to something there.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Batman 'n stuff

So, Batman is everywhere these days. Love him or hate him. There he is staring up at you through his cowled visage. I watched disc 4 of the Animated Series and then Batman Begins in one day. It's weird how much I've come to like the Scarecrow because of this. There's one thing that struck me though from watching Batman Begins - he's so concerned about leaving a legacy but he's got no children to carry on his name. Forget about the Batman, that can be passed on to anyone really, but who will be the next Wayne to keep contributing to Gotham? And don't tell me Dick Grayson. I believe in adoption but this is different. This is the end of a familial legacy.

I now know the first Batman story I want to write. I'll call it "The Last Temptation of Batman." He can get hit with more fear stuff from Scarecrow only I think his real fear is not having a family and particularly a son. He's so freaking conflicted about his parents' death, and his father's influence on him and Gotham that I think this is Bruce Wayne's real fear. Would you read that? I would.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembrance

Sorry no comics today.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, and I'm slightly upset that we don't all get it off work in order to honour those who gave their lives for our country. Public servants do and it should be manditory for them to go to a service in my opinion.

Since I'm in Ottawa a bunch of us are leaving the office to go to the big remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph.

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month please hold two minutes of silence for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

This year's silver cross mother is the mother of one of the soldiers killed by American friendly fire in Afganistan.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Animated

I was watching some of the Batman the Animated Series this past weekend and I was reminded why I have such fond memories of it. These are some of the best Batman stories ever told. They really did manage to get to the essence of what made Batman such a great character. Sure there are two part stories but for the most part these are all little self contained episodes in the life of the Batman. There are dark moments where you can see why the Batman strikes fear into the hearts of criminals but you can also see him make a joke with Robin or fight a giant robotic tin soldier controlled by the Joker. And it all works together. He’s equal parts dark night, hokey hero and portrayed as an actual man not a constant mythically dark knight.

In particular two episodes stand out – the Grey Ghost episode and the introduction of Clayface. Technically, they are three episodes but the Feats of Clay was a two-parter. I know this show had a lot of problems with the censors and whatnot because they were using actual guns instead of laser beams so the show had to make some concessions. I’m thinking of a horribly obvious moment in that Sewer King episode – “Kids and guns don’t mix. EVER!” There’s also the requisite anti-drug episode but that was dealt with in a really creative way where the message really drove home the drama already present in the episode – old crime boss is losing control of his life.

So back to the point at hand. I know these episodes are good for one reason. Allison was on the couch reading and she stopped to watch the episodes. The Grey Ghost episode is really one of the most clever television shows I’ve come across. It works on two levels simultaneously (perhaps a few more). The story in and of itself is a cool take on the classic superhero story. But the other story going on is that it’s a comment on the TV appearances of Batman as a character. The story of The Grey Ghost is the story of Adam West, who is voicing the character. The villain looks like and is voiced by Bruce Timm – the obsessed collector who is willing to ruin the character he loves in order to own everything. Hmmm, comment on the comic market, anyone? There’s some big time action with stuff blowing up and a nifty little mystery. There’s a character’s redemption to himself and there is a really touching moment between Batman and The Grey Ghost when he shows him the collection of memorabilia. Bruce gets to meet his childhood hero and manages to inspire him to accept that being typecast as The Grey Ghost is as good or bad as you are willing to make it. Wow, doesn’t sound like the current Batman does it?

Then there’s the Clayface episodes. I know there is a lot of talk about how this series rewrote the origin of Mr. Freeze and how Harlequin was written into comic continuity, but this episode beats them both – although the Two-Face origin is pretty close. These people were masters at making villains that the audience could identify with. Almost all of them are bad because of circumstances not some inherent evil on their part – I think only Joker is pure bad but I’m not even done the first season so I’m sure things change. This show just shows how easy it is to create motivation for characters that can run afoul of Bats. Here, Clayface is basically a drug addict. He was a vain actor who made one mistake and was then thrust into horrible situation after horrible situation. He gets blackmailed then the mob tries to kill him by drowning him in the toxic clay he’s addicted to. Clayface goes after the real bad-guy but his passion and vanity again get in the way. The villain isn't beyond redemtion, they are caught up in situations beyond their control and trying their best to deal with it.

Plus I’m pretty sure there is a gay couple in this episode. I know the relationship between Clayface and the other man is explained as that of actor and body double but I think this is Timm and crew being really clever again. These two characters live together for Pete’s sake and the body double is around a bit too much to just be a “friend.” Okay I know this isn’t a sign of homosexuality but the relationship is pretty obvious and really ahead of its time – especially for a kids show and a cartoon. I wish the show didn’t have to hide it like they do but they were progressive on all other fronts so I’ll encourage you to watch the episodes and let me know what you think. I think it adds a lot more depth to the character – he’s always hiding who he truly is or at least feels he has to. Mind blowing huh? A progressive and unbelievably smart cartoon. Sign me up for more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wednesday's Loot - 9 November 2005

I managed to save a pretty penny this week. Only two floppies and no trades. So here goes.

DMZ #1
Awsome. I've been waiting for this ever since the preview artwork was made available online. I was simply drawn in by Riccardo Burchielli's work. It's just so unique and complex. I'm happy to see more of a graphic approach being taken that isn't completely incomprehensible. Then there's Brian Wood's storytelling which really is top notch. This is a first issue so one has to wonder whether or not this issue manages to set up both the world and the stories effectively. I would have to say that since I started reading comics again this is best set-up I've seen. We're instantly pushed into the action and watching the characters bounce off each other (sometimes literally) and start to interact with the world is fascinating. I see this as being one of the more unique war comics out there because it's dealing with current issues but in the dystopian tradition like Brave New World or 1984. The lead character Matty doesn't get the wool pulled from over his eyes, it's blown off by an attack chopper. He seems to be a slacker/drifter who is suddenly forced to grow up and take responsibility for himself when he's caught in the middle of a warzone but we don't know him yet and this first impression could be off. This was a very explosive first issue that has me really waiting for the next one.

I rate the story: As stunning as it is clever.

Infinite Crisis #2
Well don't I feel like a tit buying the Crisis on Infinite Earths after the first issue. Thanks Mr. Johns for condensing it for us newbies who already spent the extra duckets. Sure this was exposition but I'm intrigued to see where this is heading. It's a fun "talkie" of an issue. Is anyone else slightly creeped out by the Earth-2 Superman talking about the DCU like it's a cancer? I'm happy that Johns et al aren't afraid to go back to deal with everything left over from the first crisis. The possibility for a free flowing DCU is enough to keep me glued to my seat for this story.
I rate this story: Fodder for the bloggers who thought Allred's Batman story was preachy.

Hmmmm, having trouble with posting images. Will try again later...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The two other books (and a fake conversations).

Well, I’m officially dropping out of the NaNoWriMo contest. November turns out to be the worst possible time I could ever attempt this. I’m moving, I take a sculpture class, there’s talk of an election and my parents are coming to visit. I know this would never be easy but on top of working crazy ass hours in case there’s an election called the last thing I want to do is go home and sit in front of this computer screen any longer. Maybe next year.

Well, on to comics.

Rex Libris #2.
If you haven’t picked up this book yet you are definitely missing out on something here. It’s unique in a lot of ways. Unique art, unique story, lots of pages with no ads. I’m still undecided about whether or not I like the art-style but I definitely liked it more this time around and it doesn’t look like anything else out there right now. Especially in superhero comics. It’s fun, action packed and well, just plain clever.

This issue sets up more of what I think is to become the supporting cast. It probably helps if you’ve read some classics or are at least a bit aware of them as Greek and Egyptian legends are referred to as much as Sci-Fi clich├ęs. Even if you end up not liking it, I think you should really give this book a try – more so if you are looking for something new and other cape books are leaving you feeling a bit flat and like you’re only a wallet to them.

Marvel Team-Up #14
I picked up this issue because I wanted to see a bit of what Invincible is all about without ruining the continuity of his own series. It’s on my trades list of a few days ago. And I’ve always been a Spidey fan even if I don’t buy the books anymore. I really wanted to like this book a lot more. It was a bit of fun and I like generic heroing when it’s done right. This wasn’t so good. I think it probably started out really good then something happened. I think it was like this:

Robert Kirkman: Hey Corey, I’ve got this Team-Up book at Marvel, it’s a lot of fun because they’re letting me do Marvel the way Marvel was know for. You know, House of Ideas and what not. So anyway I sort of had a busy week and threw them the idea of doing an Invincible crossover with Spider-Man. They said yes, but I said you had to draw it.

Corey Walker: Cool man. Are you going to let me draw Doc Oc? That would rock. We could do this great old fun timey Spidey story.

RK:
Yeah that’s what I wrote. Here take a look. We’ve got Invincible and Spider-Man meeting up with Doc Oc getting away. They get to know each other and realize they’ve got their hearts in the same place they share a few laughs then they work together to find Doc and stop him

CW: Sounds like fun. This can be our homage to Lee and Ditko.

RK: Exactly. But nobody's supposed to mention where we got the idea for Invincible so stop that.

TIME PASSES

Marvel Editor: Okay Kirky, I love the issue. Perfect baby, perfect. There’s only one thing I’d like you to clear up.

RK: What’s that?

ME:
Well you know how Spider-Man and Invincible meet up and work together to stop Doc Oc?

RK: Yeah?

ME: Well I don’t buy it.

RK: You don’t buy it?

ME: No, you see there’s only two heroes in this book wouldn’t it be better if there were more. I think they could figure out where Doc Oc is if they go home and meet up with the New Avengers.

RK: Uhm, why?

ME: Well, you see, Spider-Man is now an Avenger and it would be faster if he was working with all the other Avengers.

RK: That would ruin my whole story. Why is Spider-Man alone to begin with?

ME: Maybe he was sent out to get milk or something, I don’t know? Just make sure you introduce the New Avengers, okay Kirky?

RK: What the f@$%?

ME: Look man, if you don’t put the New Avengers in this book somehow they’ll kill my family and yours and replace us with robots, you think Ultron is fictional? How do you think Stan Lee got an acting career this late in life?

RK: Um I’ll have to call my artist.

CW: So, like instead of the heroes being heroes they just sit around and get introduced like it’s a shitty assed party with no booze and you’d rather chew your own arm off than talk about the guy next to you’s stereo?

RK: Pretty much. But they won’t kill our families.

CW: Ah well, let’s go buy diamonds for our teeth.

-FIN-

Were you aware that Marvel has NEW Avengers out now? Good thing they're in all the books because I had no idea. Well they do get lost in the ads sometimes...

Monday, November 07, 2005

The book that cracked the ether in half

Yes, jokes about the internet and cracking have been done. In fact, that horse has long since died but I won’t be happy until the carcass is beat to the same shade and consistency as fruit punch. I have more snarky pun/jokes to whip out at a moments notice. It’s easy and fun at parties. Well, parties where everyone else knows what comics are and where that marketing ploy came from, but I digress.

Smax. Damn that was a good read. I’ve never read Top 10, and the book isn’t on my list of essential reads but I may have to make a bit of room for it now. So for anyone who doesn’t know two of the characters take a leave from their superhero cop title and spend some time in a sword and sorcery fantasy world. One of them, the big blue guy, is from there and is returning for his uncle’s funeral.

Long story short, much hijinx ensues. Allison asked me what I was reading because I kept chuckling (Allison is my spouse/girlfriend/significant other - what do you call someone you live with for years but aren’t married to that doesn’t sound ridiculous?). The best thing I could come up with was Shrek for adults. In a lot of ways that’s exactly what this book is. Because it isn’t written primarily for children the characters are allowed to have expressions and emotions that I can identify with. The message is a pretty basic one and is similar to that other movie I’ve mentioned but it isn’t presented in a pandering to the kids type of way. Not that Shrek pandered either but the message needs to be more obvious for a younger audience not so here.

Anyone who ever lived in a small town or an industrial town and left will be able to identify a bit with this story. That plays a huge role here. Jeff who “Americanized” his name from Jaafs is going back home from the big city. An it’s a home that he’s been conflicted about for a long time. This is a really common experience for a lot of people throughout the world. Here in Canada the east coast, where I grew up, is a lot like the fantasy land here (in the small town/big city respect, not dragons etc). There is a general exodus of youth from the place who then return somewhat older and somewhat wiser but apprehensive about the place they left behind.

Jeff left on something of a low note. He ran away from what he perceived to be a horrible, embarrassing and ass-backwards situation. I’m not sure how he is in the regular series, but here he seems to have tried to remain separate from pretty much everything. He wants to be an independent man who can support himself and is respected by others. He basically wants to take care of himself. The problems he has with his old home town isn’t necessarily how others perceive it but how Jeff thinks others will perceive it and him by connection. I see it all the time as well where other east coasters allow their brethren to make fun of the east coast but it just doesn’t sit right when people “from away” make fun of the place. Make a joke about anyone’s home town and it’s the same thing – even if they hate the place the joke will feel like an insult to them as well because they were raised there. The first real world decision most people make is to leave home so there is always a sense of “what if” at play when people think of the place they left behind.

Other than that the plot is just a riot. I love the Englishness of the queue for the questing license and the general Kafkaesque bureaucracy mixed with Tolkienesque fantasy tropes. The writing is top notch as one would expect from Alan Moore’s reputation alone. The dialogue is just fantastic. Equal parts epic speech, slang, sarcasm and ABBA songs. There’s a weird sort of happy cynicism going on. There’s an unintentional hero who doesn’t think he’s an unintentional hero who is generally angry but is only happy when he’s angry. Is Alan Moore always this hard to explain? I feel like my descriptions of his works are as wordy as his panel descriptions…

Then there’s the artwork. This is the unexpected gem of the story for me at least. I love the general scrawl of the linework that makes it look like most of my notebooks and textbooks from my school days. I spent as much time doodling in the margins as I did reading, writing and ‘rithmaticing. That’s what most of the panels here feel like too. Every crowd scene references something (and I’m sure I missed half). I saw Trogdor from the Homestar Runner website (go to Strong Bad e-mails/dragon if you haven’t seen that yet you poor soul), a wacky-races car (Mutley’s I believe), an advert from the Matrix, Dirk the Daring, Luke Skywalker, and even the Disney animated fox Robin Hood among many more. I’m left wondering if this was all in Alan Moore’s instructions or if Zander Cannon just ran with things. I do have to admit that the pixie projects with familiar mushroom houses was fricking hilarious as were the numerous Deaths. I have a soft spot for grim reapers in comedies. I say that a metaphysical personification of Death can help any story.

So to sum up. Smax = Good.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Characters and what not

Eric Larsen is bringing up some ideas I had to struggle with during my animation course – namely consistency of character design. I think he makes a good point about it though. If we can’t recognize these characters without them being identified by name isn’t that a bit of a failing? It’s a tough nut to crack and I don’t think this is a blame game or anything. I never really thought about it before – why don’t we know what Bruce Wayne looks like? I’m guessing this is why we are seeing so many animators being successful in comics these days. It is drilled into the heads of animators to make all their characters distinctive in look and silhouette.

Then again this could also be one of those quirks that are simply inherent in the medium of comics. There are so many similar characters (in and out of costume) that they really are interchangeable. Nothing is wrong with that either. After all we want to read about Batman and Spiderman more so than Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. These characters are still easily recognizable even when filtered through different artists. If suddenly Batman showed up wearing pink with a unicorn horn on his cowl then I’d say the artist doesn’t get the character but simply messing with the same colours, size of his “ears” and the oval/no oval conundrum doesn’t rob Batman of his, well, Batman-ness.

Same goes for Spidey, perhaps more so. Think about all the costume changes that went on with him and he was always recognizable. I never realized how clever that black costume was until now. It’s Spiderman at his most minimal. Large eyes, large spider on his chest – the rest was removed, even colour, and he’s still recognizable. Then there was something about a lot of clones…never read it. If he showed up with a uni-visor, a lime green cape and a wombat on his chest then he’s not exactly “spider” man anymore is he?

And since it’s making the rounds elsewhere and I love the site, here’s the link to the character design blog that I’ll sidebar at some point. Read the interviews too.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wednesday's Loot - 2 November 2005

Wow, two posts in one day. I really wish money wasn't so tight there was a lot of great stuff out there this week (and every week when you have a lot of catching up to do).

I decided to pick up Smax instead of The Originals simply based on economics. I hope to find the time to read it soon.

Batman: Gotham County Line #2 of 3
I wasn't sure where this story was going in the last issue but I like that it's taken a bit of turn towards the mystic instead of regular zombie fare which looks to be set up for the next issue. I like the use of Deadman here. His bright red costume is a great contrast for the muted tones dominating this story. It's a great focal point since he's the one who knows what's going on. I also like the character design for Radmuller - simple yet easy to identify with his bald head and arced neck. I like the artwork here for a great change of pace, still not to thrilled with the price point though. Anyone else get the feeling DC is seeing if people will buy this "prestige" format so they can release more books this way and own our limbs and first born children?

I rate this story: A bit flighty but equally creepy and pretty to look at.

Detective Comics #813
I'm glad I stuck with this story this month. I wasn't too sure about it after the last few issues but I liked this one. The clever upstairs downstairs play is really great here. The dual cities and the contrast between one man with a mission and basically the commie masses working as one body against him is a very cool idea. That's great potential for conflict. One body against a throng of others working as one. Batman's always been up against a city of crime but they've never acted together as one like this. Plus - freaky vantriloquist dummy vs. Robin.

I rate this story: A great set up for an epic climax.

Jonah Hex #1
Wait, was that a self contained single issue? Holy fuck I hope someone at DC loses their job over that. I'm kidding, by the way. I'm extremely happy to see a single issue be an actual single issue. This is a great character to do that with isn't it? He goes from job to job. I know I wouldn't have referenced Clint Eastwood so obviously but they did and they do a good job of it. Again, there is some really brutal scenes like there was in Loveless, but here everything is so obviously amped up that I accept it a bit more. I like the use of the omniscient narrator. Am I the only one happy to see that again? This comic is as subtle as Jonah Hex's scar but watching the story run with that was great, not all my comics need to be nuanced. This comic is a real mix of retro features with modern aspects. Third person narration, compressed story but then some disturbing comments on child abuse of a sort. I'm hoping this series goes in a direction like the Buffy tv series where each episode is episodic however they can be connected with an occasional continued story (well I've only seen series one and am on series two at the moment so this could all change for all I know).

I rate this story: A great single issue story that I've been waiting for.

I've also picked up Marvel Team-Up #14 and Rex Libris #2 but don't have the time for them right now.

Those empty calories are killing my soul

Well, I’ve realized that I’m posting a lot of empty calorie posts lately. Is it truly a post if you’re posting to say you have nothing to post?

So here’s a few things I’ve come across:

Mark Fossen at Focussed Totality has a fantastic post about books he wanted to like but didn’t. It’s a feeling I tend to echo a lot these days. Plus, Mark has my favourite quote of the week so far “I don't consider the purchase price of a comic to be an all-ages pass to Snarkland: The Amusement Park.” I can’t say it better myself man.

Greg at Comics Should be Good has another good post about why changing the status quo is basically the status quo. Or as I see it, we buy these things called comics precisely because of the status quo (well sometimes). On a side note he writes “Everyone is abuzz about Bruce Wayne ending up in Arkham and Dick Grayson becoming Batman.” Really? I’m not. I like Dick (okay you can giggle at that) and I think he’s become a character that fits into the netherworld between classic hero and modern hero. Even the Omacs recognized him as “truth and justice” or whatever it was. Still, I find I like him better in theory than in practice. He’s another one of those characters of great potential who’s potential is often explored but never achieved.

In other areas I’m feeling strapped for cash and just plain hecticly busy so I find myself going for buzz books or completist selections. This is exactly the behaviour I wanted to avoid coming back to comics. I suppose I can allow myself to be completist on one title but the rest of the books I buy will be because I want to. I’ll allow myself to finish the current Detective Comics arc. After that I’ll re-evaluate it.

I’m also thinking of focussing a bit more on trades since Smax and The Originals are being released this week I’ll post a few things I’m interested in and give a quickie explination.

Invincible
I’ve enjoyed all the Walking Dead trades so far and I like superhero hijinx. Plus whatever I see by Kirkman appeals to me on some level – even Battle Pope. I don’t know if this will be the first thing on my list, but it’s definitely a contender.

Animal Man
I’m ordering all 3 trades here because I’m exploring some similar ideas in my NaNoWriMo project. I figure since Morrison was there first I should try to read the things. I’m excited about it because I haven’t read much (any that I can think of) Morrison and I’m hoping this is a good place to jump into it and get a feeling for his other work.

Fables
I read most of the first issue from the online preview at DC/Vertigo and like what I see. I am a fan of interpreting fairy tale creatures in new ways. Again, I want to get into this but I’m not sure where it rates on my list but it has definitely been an interest for a long time.

Swamp Thing
I’ve never read any Swamp Thing. Get your torch and pitchfork. Again, I’ll get to it but I don’t know when. I'm sure Mike Sterling will ban me from Progressive Ruin.

The New Teen Titans: Terror of Trigon
I’ve always meant to check out old New Teen Titans stuff. Jim Roeg recommended it so I’ll be checking it out. I trust the man. I’m sort of mourning Double Articulation these days but it does allow me to explore the archived stuff there.

Essential Luke Cage
I wish it was in colour but this is on my list over all the other Essential stuff – and I could happily buy all those collections. Personally I wouldn’t know where to begin with the Essential stuff or try to get some colour trades of the other materials.

Hellboy
I have the first two and love them. I know I’ll be picking this stuff up whenever I need something to read on Fridays when I wait for Allison to show up at the super-duper packed pub I can get to before the crowds show up.

Golden Age
I’ve heard good things. It’ll be read sooner or later. Same with New Frontier.

Also on my list are Runaways and Scott Pilgrim. I’ll get to both of these as well – probably Scott Pilgrim first because it’s Canadian and EVERYONE seems to love it already.

Anything else I should check out? I want some suggestions on things that flew under radars or are better than you’d think. Creator owned is good but I already went through the indy autobiographical phase and can live without more of that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Long week ahead

Well, the first Gomery Report was issued today. Looks like it will be a long week for us in Canadian politics. Hopefully the government won't fall this week and we can wait for the second report before an election is called. If the government falls after this week then we'd have a holiday election and I don't think anyone wants that.

I bet there is a good story in here that could be used as a comic book plot...

In other areas, Halloween was fun. I even got about 10% of the treats we collected. I had to explain to the 3 year old vampire why I had a stake and garlic (so he wouldn't bite me) and most of the vampire mythos (left out the whole religious bit). I think he was a bit worried when I said if he got a lot of candy at one house he'd turn into a bat for them.