Monday, April 30, 2007
Ah, The Simpsons. Often imitated never replicated, er, often quoted never really ever watched by me anymore. Yeah, I can’t do rhyming advice very well but I did like this collection. I’ve not read the comic all that much. And by “all that much” I mean “ever.” Okay, I read the Bongo free-comic book day issue on offer last year and really liked it but I’ve got a limited budget and as much as I like good comics I’ve got to be realistic here.
It’s good. It’s good like those episodes you quote all the time are good. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re thinking of buying Simpsons comics you really should. They’re funny and clever and really capture the essence of the show much better than the actual show has for the last few years. Well at least what little I’ve read has.
This is a fun little collection with classic geek humour based around the Lord of the Rings and even a bit on Alan Moore’s From Hell. Plus it’s interspersed with Comic Book Guy’s totally awesome costumes, and adverts from the Aliens and Krusty. Brilliant stuff all around that had me smiling and laughing more than the show seems to these days.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Garth Ennis and various artists.
This collection is worth every second you spend with it. It's a bunch of stories about a bunch of different characters in the backdrop of WWII. It's a throw back to four coloured adventures that are self-contained and have average guys doing extraordinarily courageous things. I felt like I was reading a modern comic that embodied the essence of what has allowed comics to be remembered so fondly.
This are expertly created stories that kind of shine a light into a void we currently have - the anthology title. Basically a monthly comic that shares a setting but each issue is self contained and not necessarily based around one character. If these comics were released now as single issues on a monthly basis, I'd be a much happier consumer of four coloured adventures.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Brian Michael Bendis - words
Gabriele Dell'Otto - art
I don’t know if it’s just that I’m tired of mind wiping stories or your heroes have managed to do questionable things in their past type stories, or what, but I didn’t love this book. I didn’t hate it, and in fact, I think that it actually works better on a lot of levels than Identity Crisis did. The internal logic about the mind-wiping and the actions of Nick Fury tie very strongly to the plot and the Marvel universe itself. It’s got a very solid structure unlike Identity Crisis that had plot lines with their own plot lines and then ended.
So while the internal shenanigans all work and make sense in relation to themselves, where this story didn’t work for me was that you pretty much need to know the Marvel universe of comics to make any sense of this story. Yes, the stealth costumes were cool and I like the idea of Latveria funding technology based villains, it totally makes sense and ties to the history of the place and its classic ruler, Dr. Doom. Where it goes off the rails is that, huh, Dr. Doom is dead? Really? And why are all these villains not the classic ones I know? Like Doc Oc is a woman now, and there’s yet another Green Goblin. Why weren’t the originals good enough?
There just seemed to be too much changes that seemed arbitrary and unnecessary. Maybe they all made sense if I was reading only Marvel comics for my entire life but I haven’t and they don’t. I did enjoy a lot of the character moments and the dialogue though. I also enjoyed the art for the most part. The only part of the art I didn’t like is the same thing I don’t like in all comics – that repeated panel of a facial close up to show that a character isn’t reacting. That earthquake woman just looked too much like an elvish Angelina Jolie. Otherwise I like the painted look to the book, and the character art.
So I guess it works but it doesn’t, how’s that for a review?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The Magnificent Seven
I still haven’t seen all of the animated show yet because I’m trying to do these Bruce Timm series in order of their release (I just finished season one of Superman). I have seen a few episodes though and I do like what these comics based on the animated series accomplish. They’re what comics used to be before television was so utterly dominant as an entertainment medium. These are comics for kids. They may not be the best stories in that they’re predictable and not all that challenging to the reader but they are clear, full of action, bright colours, and paced exceptionally well. These are comics that aren’t written for the trade but give you a story from beginning to end in each floppy that allow the Justice League to get the job done with teamwork but while allowing each character a few moments to shine on his or her own.
There is a great reference to Superman Returns whether or not it was intended. If it was it was great product placement, if it wasn’t then it seems like it is in hindsight. Also, the authors continue in the unwritten rule that Superman is a bit of a dick when he makes inappropriate comments to Martian Manhunter about being green with envy and whatnot.
I do like that this league is a bit more diverse. These characters, like all the characters distilled through Bruce Timms series have cut to the quick of what makes these characters so fascinating to so many audiences, and for so many years. Granted, these are some of the first issues so the series does manage to grow into itself a bit more with time but it is still decent for a nice little fun reading.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I was thinking I should do a post about heroes and the environment because of yesterday being Earth Day and all, but to be honest I can’t be bothered. Three years with the Green Party of Canada has used up all the goodwill I once had for environmental concerns. I’ll give you a quick summary of some of the ideas I had but Dave Campbell has managed to cover pretty much all you need to know about the Batmobile:
- Could the batmobile be as affective if converted to bio-diesel, electric or hybrid?
- Maybe Batman should look into some bat-alternative transportation systems that are carbon neutral.
- Spider-man, is he just ahead of his time with the biodegradable webbing/weapon system?
- Shouldn’t Superman be a bit more worried about the polar icecaps melting thus releasing the zoo in his fortress of solitude?
- Couldn’t all the cold themed villains have their jail sentences converted to helping refreeze those ice caps?
- That last issue of Marvel Adventures: The Avengers with Ego the living planet – was it a commentary on humans causing planetary “burning”?
- Is Superman affecting the o-zone layer with all that high-altitude flying?
- When will Poison Ivy start backing a Green Political movement in Gotham?
- Wouldn’t the Martian Manhunter be a bit more pissed and/or sluggish with the raising temperatures of Earth’s climate – or is it just fire and not heat that affects him?
Saturday, April 21, 2007
52 Week 50
Wow a crossover done in one issue. The transition into the action was a little rough but mostly this was a good issue. I do have to say that with two issues left to go I sort of forget everything that this series was meant to explain and tie together. One year later was a year ago but I have a sneaking suspicion the writers either forgot or got caught up in their own stories and honestly, I don’t care because for the most part I’ve enjoyed the series.
I rate this comic: A good war comic with superheroes.
Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #12
The first of two comics involving questionable sexual relationships. This is the only Marvel comic I’m buying and I’m incredibly happy with it. How many other comics involve sentient planets macking on Earth with superheroes causing a burning itch to get rid of the threat?
I rate this comic: Genius.
The Spirit #5
The second comic with a questionable sexual relationship. This time our ersatz hero is fighting mobsters and Russian military rations being marketed with his likeness. The violence in this issue is amped up and really clashes with the art style but reminds us of the world these characters inhabit. This really is one of the best comics being currently produced because every plot is interesting and introduces interesting characters and the art is awe inspiring.
I rate this comic: Still tops.
Every time I get this comic I feel a bit upset that I don’t have enough disposable cash to go buy the trades to get more caught up. Not only are the title characters all fascinating and endearing we’re treated to a fantastic version of Wonder Woman and the awe she inspires . Plus she drives a white hummer while wearing a cape, red sunglasses and a tiara. This issue wraps up the main plot involving Kate and Diana but the secondary characters seem to have won their arcs a bit more of a reprieve thanks to the series uncancellation. Plus the “to be continued: line on the last page is the best one I’ve seen.
I rate this comic: The reason comics get taken off the chopping block.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I can use this saved money to put down towards the last Animal Man trade.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
by Posy Simmonds
I picked up Posy Simmonds’ Gemma Bovery because I loved the name. Yes, I know its literary heritage but more so from Woody Allen’s short-story The Kugelmass Episode than Flaubert’s work. And while nowhere near necessary, having read Flaubert’s novel Madam Bovary would allow the reader to see many more parallels that I simply wasn’t able to. But, seriously, it’s not required reading to enjoy this book.
I know very little about Posy Simmonds other than she’s English and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her illustrations and cartoon strips in the papers when I lived there. Then again, maybe not. She’s a bit of a figure that I feel was hovering just out of my eye sight or earshot during my years living in the UK. The artwork here felt instantly familiar to me so I kind of have the feeling I’ve seen her work before. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the artwork of Miriam Katin’s We Are On Our Own but it could just be that both had a very loose and comfortable feel to them. It’s warm and engaging because it doesn’t feel over produced which really helps mirror the plot of a married English couple settling down in rural Normandy only to be beset upon by the local baker Joubert.
I almost feel like I’m cheating you by trying to summarize the plot because any summary I give will gloss over the actual joy and brilliance of the book. Where the book shines, isn’t in its main plotlines but in the little details throughout. It’s how the characters reveal themselves and you get to know them more and more with the minimum of effort by both you the reader and through the precise line-work that conveys everything about a character exceptionally well.
On it’s most basic it’s the story of Gemma Bovery as witness through the local baker Joubert who gets more and more obsessed with her and her life. Gemma has lived a life almost mirroring that of Flaubert’s famously doomed heroine. She cheats on her husband, falls in love and eventually dies – which is no big shocking secret if you’re worried about me spoiling the plot here. Joubert is relating not just her story to the audience but his own as he is going through Gemma’s diaries as he tries to piece together everything in her life.
This is a very intimate story that captures all the highlights of “classic literature” for a modern audience. It’s a slower paced story with a judicious use of images and lots of text throughout. If I were a scale making type of man I’d say this weighs more on the novel aspect of the graphic to novel ratio on the graphic novel scale. It’s a love of words that conveys the action with graphic punches to fortify and strengthen the characters in your mind. We get one main narrator but we also get access to what all the characters are thinking and saying when he isn’t about.
If you forced me to describe this book in a word or two I’d go with something like modern pastoral, or neo-classical French intimate drama. Pretentious words I know but this is a smart book that is actually an escape from everything you think you know about comics. It’s a rewarding read, it’s a sad read, it feels voyeuristic and is ultimately tragic but you never feel cheated – which is a major accomplishment in any comic these days. Plus, it ends with the possibility for a sequel which I thought was a brilliant little commentary on the comic medium whether intended or not.
I have to agree with the Grand Old Wizard of comics Alan Moore when he writes “The pity of it is that the vast majority of people who like to think of themselves as comic fans... will never do themselves the favour of picking it up and getting a decent education in graphic narrative."
This book is wonderful and is simply a treat to have read. It's a few years old (1999 was the first printing) but is widely available in bookstores if not your local comic shop.
Monday, April 16, 2007
The first disk was fun and I liked it although I was a bit uncertain since I had such fond memories of the Batman series. This is a break from that because it is bright and larger than life and, to me, the art style was a perfect fit to the dark and intimate. To some degree this art style will always be rooted to the nuanced darkness of Batman: The Animated Series. Still, the creative team behind Superman: The Animated Series managed to approach the mythos from its own established core. This is a story of brightness, hope, and things need to be larger than life. And it all feels that way here.
What I really like though, is that the team continues to innovate on established ideas and adapts classic stories. There is a tonne of Silver Agey hijinx with Superman exploring space and acting as a test pilot for Star-Labs rocket ships – or at least their adaptations to the ship Superman arrived in. I mean, I’ve seen Superman in a spacesuit, wetsuit and anti-kryptonite suit in one season. When was the last time we saw Superman all trussed up in a different costume in the comics? Sure there’s probably an action figure sales basis to these suits, but it’s still just plain old fun. Then there’s an episode with one of Kirby’s Promethean giants crashing to Earth and the episode ends with Superman freezing it in Metropolis’s reservoir. There’s no clean up, no throwing the Promethean back into space, just freeze the city’s water supply and roll credits. I love the lack of explanation, comics-based media needs more of the show, don’t over explain to the detriment of your audience.
There are some new additions such as the obvious Live Wire who follows Harley Quinn’s move from animation to comic universe exceptionally easy. Plus establishing Brainiac as the central computer for Krypton and he’s instantly a legacy villain was a deft move that didn’t take too much re-engineering. I have to say I like it. And that’s pretty much how I feel about the whole series thus far – I really like it. I particularly like it because I’m not as versed in Superman’s history as I am in either Spider-man or Batman (and even those aren’t the most detailed of knowledge bases for me). All in all I’m loving having these cartoons to kill some time on the weekend mornings while my wife is sleeping in.
Friday, April 13, 2007
It's not quite finished as I wanted to get a proper introduction up there and just flesh it all out a bit more, but if you see the first post I was forced to jump the gun with you may just understand. It's sort of my repository for all things not comic book related.
I wanted to use it as the internet companion to Wednesday Nights at The Manx - which is me and friends drinking and shooting the shit. You'll get to be a fly on the wall of what we see happening in our lives. Oh yeah, I'm not the only contributor.
I'll even explain the title.
You may notice a little something I completely stole Mike's site. It was too good to pass up.
You may resume reading four coloured floppies full of uppercuts now.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Vonnegut will always be that last summer in Antigonish, Nova Scotia for me where I spent my time with friends going to a pristine lake or the ocean for swimming, random road trips to Halifax for the hell of it, drinking and smoking too much and just generally milking the most out of each and every day. Those four months found a group of us that were constantly swapping Vonnegut books with one another that we managed to scrounge up second hand and turned us into a bunch of quick witted sons of bitches.
I also remember in my third year of university there was newspaper article in the Chronicle Herald that said Vonnegut was dead. Then I saw him in a credit card commercial and thought that was a bit distasteful. I’m sure he would have loved to hear about his own death long before it actually happened.
If you haven't read any of his books yet, you are truly missing out on one of the world's greatest writers.
As he wrote in the Book of Bokonon in Cat's Cradle - It is never a mistake to say good-bye.
This issue would have been the best issue ever if they had a hypnoray instead of hypnogoggles, otherwise this is pretty much what I want from series like this. Good action, good intrigue, and a some retroactive setup for the year that was/will be. And I’m always a sucker for the swirly background image a go-go. This is more Science Squad hi-jinx but with action figure sized metal men and a decent moment between a couple of characters who had a civil relationship way back when this whole thing started – it’s nice to see two characters actually maintain a decent relationship even if both are mad scientists.
I rate this comic: One hypnoray away from perfect.
All-Star Superman #7
I like this issue but not as much as the others so far. I think it’s solely because this issue strays from the single issue format that I love so much (don’t ask me why I’m not reading Jonah Hex, I just don’t know). It doesn’t mean I was disappointed, not by a long shot. This issue is chalk full of great supporting cast moments, from Perry White fire-extinguishing a bizarro zombie, to Jimmy commandeering a blimp, to Lois having a quick and quiet moment with Superman. Plus Supes gets to put a blowhard in his place and we’re given the square Bizarro world with Anagram Zibarro – I can only image the dialogue about to come and how it will relate to the action in the next issue.
I rate this comic: I’m so happy I’m reading this.
I’ve never read a Madman comic before this one. I can’t afford the Gargantua volume but would probably enjoy it. I love the art and I’m happy with the gonzo storytelling here. There is lovely lovely art in this book - I love the strong linework and clarity of it all.
I rate this comic: A good pick for the uninitiated like me.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Anyway, I was actually reading Posy Simmond's Gemma Bovery and really enjoying it. Such a wonderful change of pace to what I pick up weekly. Stay tuned for a better mildly informative review at a future date. So, I was reading this book and the television was turned to TLC when Honey, We're Killing the Kids came on and I discovered a very funny television quirk. Whenever they show the kids as the morbidly obese adults they tend to have either no hair left or a terrible haircut, cheapass glasses, some kind of moustache and possibly bad teeth to go with it. When they show the healthy adult the images have stylish glasses, well groomed facial hair and really nice haircuts, not to mention what appears to be fancier clothes. Now this may be an actual measured phenomenon, I'm not a scientist so I can't say for sure but the fat images generally look poor and unsuccessful - it may be a comment about self confidence and self-image issues that are connected to obesity but I can't say for sure.
All I know is that I want to be the dude who takes the photos and makes laughable fat people out of fat kids. It's as close as I can get to being an actual mad-scientist reshaping humans to my evil purposes - kind of interning for eventual world domination.
Also, my wife read both Buffy comics last night. It was a bit creepy. Next, I'll be reading The Devil Wears Prada if these worlds continue to collide.
Why didn't anyone tell me how utterly fantastic Gears of War is for the X-box 360. I spent way too much time playing this split-screen co-op over the long weekend. It's a fantastic narrative that just works on every level. Beautiful computer graphics, tense action, mature dialogue, and a truly engaging experience. It should get boring to keep ducking behind cover, peeking out to shoot aliens, running and ducking in a slow advance to the next boss fight but it never ever gets old. If you don't have access to an X-box 360 (like me who relies on a friend) and don't plan on getting one anytime soon or making friends with video gamers, then all I can say is that the entire game is like the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan only with bad-ass sci-fi soldiers with chainsaw bayonets on their guns fighting aliens who don't drop on one hit. Generally I get bored playing games where you keep repeating the same thing over and over in a slightly different environment but this game just sucked me in and wouldn't let me go.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I enjoyed the Montoya-Nightwing team-up. I was a bit lost with the whole Abbot guy leaving the evil animal men, was it because Mannheim was pissed at him and criminals like nothing more than helping the heroes when they’ve been betrayed by other criminals in order to get back at said first group of criminals? Otherwise I don’t mind Renee Montoya as The Question, although she was such a great character already it just seems unnecessary to me and that this was change just for the sake of change. But in the end, I’m fine with it because The Question can simply be anyone as long as The Question kicks people in the head – the addition of the space-gun was pretty cool though. The art was a bit scratchy in this issue and I think they explained in a very round about way why the Crime Bible interns didn’t go after Cassandra Cain instead of Katherine Kane as the twice named daughter of Cain – she was too young, I think? Whatever, they’re determined to use the new Batwoman although it would have been great if they actually killed her off in this issue and said they were just kidding about the whole new series thing a while back as a way to get some press.
I rate this comic: I’ll bit $3.99 for Black Adam.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2
Again, I like the series so I like this book. I did feel there were a few jump-cuts that had me a bit lost for a panel but otherwise this comic captures the characters essence perfectly. I’m a bit unsure about reading that Brian K. Vaughan will be writing issues 6-9 though. Not because I don’t like his writing, I think he’s a fantastic writer but it kind of makes me wonder how dedicated Whedon is to the whole thing. Then again, if I was him I’d be a bit sick and tired of going back to something that ended a long time ago and dealing with questions about characters who are treated as real people by a whole lot of whacky characters who actually are people. You get what I’m saying? It feels a bit like a cop out but at least it's Vaughan who is like the hardest working man in comics, and I respect that (not to mention love his writing).
I rate this comic: Hey, it’s got a giant, a Nick Fury homage and a horde of undead Scotts in kilts, what’s not to like?
Detective Comics #831
I think this story was done before. Not with the same characters or whatever, but the whole Harley Quinn going strait storyline. That being said, it’s still a fantastic issue that not only gives us a great Harley Quinn and Batman caper but makes the new Ventriloquist a lot more interesting – what’s her connection to both the old Ventriloquist and, perhaps, The Joker. Really, wonderful stuff.
I rate this comic: Did I mention how much I love Paul Dini writing Detective Comics?
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Comic book usage: No Robin, don't drink that water! The diluded Clayface in Gotham's drinking water could be teratogenetic. Or so I suspect. To the Bat-cave!
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
No this isn't about how Superman's Metropolis is based on Toronto or a detailed list of all the great comic creators who are Canadian.
What I realized is that comic book fans are like Canadians in that whenever we see comics in another medium we need to tell everyone we know about it, and especially tell them how said media got it wrong. Much like watching American television to see some hoser in a parka sprinkling his conversation with "eh," red serge and some weird pronunciation of the letter "o" means that you have to get disgusted and frustrated by the insult yet tell everyone at work/school the next day anyway is a sign of being a Canadian and seeing how those outside the Canadian community just don't really give a rat's ass about portraying us as anything but a stereotype.
Well, the same thing happens to comic book fans. We tend to go to comic book movies and bitch and moan about everything they got wrong but we'll tell everyone about it anyway. Or if you're watching TV and someone makes a mention of a comic book or superhero you'll feel the need to explain to whoever is in the room with you the history of said book or character. The same thing goes with being Canadian, we all felt the need to tell everyone when Kramer said he only watched Canadian Football, or how Kevin Smith is obsessed with Degrassi and why Degrassi is so definatively Canadian in the same way Beverly Hills 90210 is definatively American.
I don't have much of a point other than there are similarities here, and that really, there is a more predominant media catering to a predominant audience who don't really want to know the history of whatever it is you happen to be/like. But we'll do it anyway.
I did receive the second disk for the Superman animated series from Zip.ca but it was cracked in half so I couldn't watch it. I received the replacement disk yesterday and will try to watch it this weekend. Me and my wife are going away for the long weekend to a cottage in the Gatineau hills with some friends and their kids. Woo hoo, Easter chocolates, hyped kids, flying kites and getting stuck in mud all with a healthy dose of booze, cards, board games and possibly some X-box 360.
I really can't wait.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona
I really love getting these digests and I may actually switch to this format for a few other comics that are available this way. On the same note I’m pretty sure the oversized or hard-cover formats that Runaways is printed in, is where the art really gets to shine. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with how it’s presented here but every time I’ve flipped through a copy on the stands the artwork stands out that much more because there is simply more to look at and appreciate.
This is one of those titles I heard everyone raving about but was far enough into the series that I just never bothered picking it up. Also, it was essentially a teen drama (same for Young Avengers) and I didn’t really need any more teen drama in my life. My job supplied me with enough melodrama and ineloquent angst for any one man. But it looked beautiful, so I gave myself a note to pick it up in trades. One library card later I’m more or less caught up on this series and I am extremely happy I’ve been picking these trades up.
This is a comic that reminds me of those cult movies that sort of hit the big time for a little while but aren’t exactly pop-culture worthy. Whenever you discover this item you’re surprised at how good it actually is because while people talked it up and said it was good they never really said how it was good or the explanation was sort of all over the place and sounded like a piece of work that’s been done a lot before. Well that’s sort of what Runaways is. It embodies the creative era of superhero comics because it’s giving us new characters but going through some pretty classic and time-tested ordeals.
Yes, there are teen-drama books, superhero team books, great-power vs. great responsibility stuff all over the place but here it’s new and it works because it simply doesn’t have the baggage of other big-two titles. It’s rare enough for a new book based on new heroes to survive at all beyond a few issues in today’s market which in and of itself should be hint enough to its quality. I’m just worried that the Q-Continuum at Marvel will see that this book is consistently performing and then cock it all up (and lets not turn the comments into a pro-Joss, anti-Joss dichotomy until we’ve seen a few issues).
I don’t think it was Spider-girl but this book that was the little comic that could. It simply works on all levels. Great art, interesting characters and team dynamic as well as the creator’s knowing both the history they are working with and creating. This is the nostalgic comic we all want to remember – the new one created for a new audience that hits all the notes that made those comics of yore stick in your mind for so long. This is that Marvel comic as a bookend to Marvel Adventures: The Avengers, which is pretty much a great Avengers book for anyone with a joi-de-vivre.
This is the “serious” counterpart to the summer action flick of the other. Drama versus action is sort of the dividing line in that one has drama and action while the other pretty much has action.
Oh yeah, the plot. The Runaways are back in LA and there’s the requisite Oliver Twist runaway children being exploited by a thief story. Then there’s another counterpoint team of older computer geeks who try to resurrect the Runaway’s traitor only for a very cool twist to pop-up. Heck, any book where the team’s mode of transport is based on a leap frog and they team up with a super-skrull in training who also happens to be betrothed to one of their members is really good in my book. Plus actual character development and consequences. Very good stuff that is wrapped in one of the most attractive art packages on the stands for the big-two.