Thursday, December 21, 2006

Four Days Until the Fat Man Arrives

If for some reason you haven't purchased all the Christmas Cheer you are required to satiate the ravenous desires of your familial unit, or a friend surprised you with homemade cookies or a bottle of chianti, then this post is for you. Yes, folks, it's my "Very Last Minute Gift Guide of Gifts You Can Buy at a Comic Book and/or Game Shop." You'll notice a lot of these images are from the Chapters website. Sorry copyright laws, I was rushed.

Let's Begin:

For Comic Book Fans of All Ages

I don't think you can go wrong with Don Rossa's The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck or the new collections of Carl Barks Greatest Duck Tales Volumes 1 and 2. If this person should already own The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, then the Companion should go along nicely with the original.

For the New Reader

Have a niece, nephew or a friend with a child at the age where reading is new and a great adventure? Then I don't think anyone can ever go wrong with having some Tintin to read. Honestly, any of them are great. The series true start is Tintin in the Land of the Soviets but it's not all that relevant to today's kids and if you want to avoid some paternalistic racial stereotyping then I think The Cigars of the Pharoah is where you should begin, although there's probably some evil bedouins or something. If anyone is Scottish then Tintin and The Black Island is a must.

For the Person Getting Back Into Comics but Doesn't Know What to Buy Other Than X-men or Star Wars Comics

I think there's really two ways to go here, you can either pick up the first Essential X-men volume - uncanny or original recipe or help open their horizon. If I can assume people buying comics are anything like me then they will be creatures of habit and are suspicious of change or the unfamiliar. That means helping them get over this fear. Once a new door is opened then the healing and learning process begins. That being said, I finally purchased Manhunter and it is a truly amazing comic. I think if you're looking for a hidden gem of a comic to pass along then the first trade is the way to go.

The Comic Book Stocking Stuffer

Otherwise known as the all purpose gift. Not sure what to get someone that is quick and easy and sure to please? Pick up Issue #1 of Darwyn Cooke's The Spirit. It's a great comic that just came out so should be easy to find on the shelves. Add it to a few other single issues and you've got the gift people want to trade for at the office party.

Perfect For the Bookshelf but Won't Bankrupt You

I think these books could work for anyone, not just comic book folk. And if money isn't an issue then get the new Absolute DC: The New Frontier. Otherwise, I thinkWill Eisner's Contract With God Trilogy or New York (especially if you or they are from New York) are beautiful books that will entertain anyone. Same goes for David B's Epileptic.

For the Family Sick of Playing Monopoly

Okay, you don't hate it totally but you're tired of landing on Park Place while you don't own any of your own monopolies. Then pick up The Settlers of Catan. Yes, it's a German boardgame but it was like they took Monopoly and reduced it to the best elements. You need to wheel and deal every single turn or there is simply no way you will win. The rules are simple and the board is set up different every single time. Plus there are great little wooden bits that will remind the older men about marathon Risk sessions. This one has less killing and more jokes about having wood for sheep.

If you like the wheeling and dealing but want something a bit cheaper than Settlers, you can always pick up Bohnanza. Yes, it's about planting bean farms and it has cartoony cards but it can become extremely cutthroat if that's how your family rolls. Again, you need to trade every single turn or you can't maximize the profit of your bean farms. And who doesn't like trying to get a monopoly on Cocoa beans during Christmas? If you can get over the cutsy theme and remind everyone that they can't rearrange their cards in their hand, this is a heck of a fun game for up to 7 people.

For the Family Sick of Playing Trivial Pursuit

You can't go wrong with Wits & Wagers. In this game you can win without ever answering a trivia question correctly. That's because you bet on the other answers (they're all numerical answers) like The Price is Right - whoever is closest without going over. So all you need to know is the group playing and hedge your bets on things like "who is the most likely to know the length from nose to tail of the longest whale on record?"

For the Family Sick of Playing Scattergories

Apples to Apples is the way to go. You can get as many people as you want engaged in this game, as well as people of almost any age. One person puts down a green adjective card like "hot" and everyone plays one of the red noun cards in their hand anonymously, like Cocoa, Black Lingerie, Alfred Hitchcock, or Fried Chicken. The cards are collected and whichever one the adjective player thinks is best wins the round. And it goes around the table. There are over 1000 cards so you are unlikely to ever get the same answers or combinations. There is also a junior version for the younger people.

For the Couple

Looking for a simple distraction for two people? Then Phoenix is the way to go. It's beautiful to look at and simple to pick up but most importantly it's a heck of a lot of fun to play. You randomly draw coloured squares out of a bag and place them in a line. Then both players draw out their pawns randomly. The object of the game is to use the cards in your hand to arrange your pawns into the same order as the colour spectrum in the middle. Me and the wife have been playing this almost too much recently. We threw the scoring method out the window and just keep track of who arranged their pawns first and start the next round. Three rounds can be done in about half an hour. And the pieces are actually a treat to hold and look at.

For the Young One

I picked this one up for a five year old and he loved it. Heck me and my wife are tempted to get a copy for ourselves. It's called Tier auf Tier (Animal upon Animal) and it's sort of like Jenga in reverse. You roll a die to see how many wooden animals you stack on top of the alligator. One or two, do you choose the animal for one of your opponents or do they choose one for you? And the animals are the strangest combination I've ever encountered from the alligator base to sheep, penguins, running lizards, snakes, hedgehogs, and monkeys. The best part - once the kid goes to bed it doubles as a drinking game.

For the Risk Fan

Instead of listing games that cost a foolish amount and re-enact the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy or WWII I'll suggest a game called Nexus Ops. It has day-glow aliens and spacemen that are trying to own a bunch of mines on a new planet. It has a modular board and really great bits and pieces. Plus the victory points elements means that games won't last the entire holiday season. Great for getting a bit of conflict out of the way.

The Stocking Stuffers

There are quite a few really cheap card games that are available for all ages. For the younger crowd there's games like Loot, about pirates, No Thanks, Coloretto, or Turn the Tide about a sinking island with poor unfortunate sheep.

For the slightly more mature there are games like For Sale where you want to become a real estate baron selling anything from a cardboard box to a space station. Or Fairy Tale where you try to disrupt other people's fantastic tales although it isn't exactly literary. And Guillotine where you try to collect the most popular heads of French nobles during the revolution. But probably the cheapest game that will get everyone around the table having fun is Bang! There's one sheriff, one Renegade and everone else is a deputy or outlaw. You collect better guns and ammo to shoot the people next to you or further down the line. You drink beer to get better and try to avoid the idiot with the TnT.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 20 December 2006

52 Week 33
Apparently in the DCU Hannuka only has 6 days and nights instead of 8. Oh well, as long as you know what a menorah is and what it more or less looks like I suppose. This isn't reality, I mean they have a crocodile dressed as Run or DMC. Otherwise I liked this issue. It was fun, what with the gifts and the return of the Suicide Squad which people seem to like. There were a few characters I couldn't identify in both the gift giving sequence and who were in the Suicide Squad. I'll troll some other blogs to find out I guess. The letter to Santa for the credits was a good touch.
I rate this comic: Another decent issue of 52.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eisner for Everyone

Yesterday I read Will Eisner's New York. If there's one thing any reader can take from that book it is the understanding of why so many people gravitate towards big cities. It is the greatest and most dramatic stage for the theatre of humanity. This book is Eisner's record of all the different parts of his city. And it really is his city in many ways. Having spent the majority of his life there the stories in this collection, even the harsh and sad ones, are all presented with both a touch of pride and love. These stories feel like a man in awe and appreciation of his city in the same way a child feels about a parent.

The stories here are, in many ways, a catalogue of all the different sets and players involved in the life theatre of the city. The drama of the buildings, the windows and subway grates are all repeated motifs and backdrops. The denizens of this city are all warm yet somewhat deceitful although in a charming and almost honest manner, ironically. People drop off dates in expensive cars that turn out to be rented then we see the date leave the expensive apartment building for the subway ride home. We see countless people fall through the cracks but still with enough life force to continue to survive and a setting that allows them to exist.

As per most of the Eisner material I've read the characters seem to exist outside of time. I feel like Eisner's element was the forties and a lot of the characters seem dressed to fit that era. Not all, mind you, and there's nothing wrong with it in the least. I feel it gives the stories a more timeless quality. They could be from any time since then and to know that a lot of these stories come from the end of Eisner's career and life is simply amazing. That someone advanced in age was creating some of the most lively, energetic, beautiful and simply youthful comic books is a testament in itself to the quality of Eisner's love for the medium and his city.

If you're looking for a holiday gift for the comic lover, budding artist, art collector or person who likes neat gifts, then I highly suggest you pick this up as it will not disappoint.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Almost 13 pages

So I got a bit distracted today with actually being useful and helping with a holiday mailout. And it's only 3:30 but I'm heading out early because my wife is off early. They had their Christmas Party today and rewarded with closing early. So I'm off and I'll leave you with almost 13 pages of my Marvel Family story - Grundy Night - which I said I'd write for cheap.

It's a really rough draft at the moment so be kind with the spelling mistake pointing out and whatnot. I should finish it either this weekend or on Monday. Happy Holidays.



Open with a silhouette city skyline panel.

Gotham. October 31st.

City is giving way to swamps surrounding it. This panel is a bit more zoomed in and slightly larger than first panel.

The children of Gotham go forth to reap their sugary reward.

Shadowy figure draped in flowing robes is skulking through the knotted trees and vines of the swampy area. This panel will be even larger than first two and close enough to show a full body shot of the “Shadowy figure.”

While in the swampy surroundings of Gotham someone with less savory designs goes forth to reap a reward all together different.


Title and splash page

The shadowy figure is revealed to be Felix Faust as he stands in the open reading from a scroll. A bunch of pale white hands are bursting through the earth all around, unearthing the title with them.

Title: The Marvel Family in Grundy Night

Tonight, Felix Faust, will remind Gotham of its past.

Prognatus primoris dies!


A kid’s hand is knocking on a door

Fawcett City

Looking through the now opened door we see three kids on the door step with huge smiles and holding out loot bags. Billy, Mary and Freddy are all there in costume as their superhero alter egos.

All Three Kids
Trick or Treat!

Side view of a woman tossing candy into their loot bags. Mary is politely smiling at the woman, Billy is looking into his loot bag and Freddy is sort of smirking and looking into his loot bag as well.

Oh my, what a handsome bunch of Shazams.


Here you go. For being so heroic.

Close up of Mary with a hand on her hip, pointing at the woman. Billy and Freddy are behind her and are either proud or embarrassed. It’s hard to tell.

We’re the Marvel Family. I’m Mary Marvel, that’s Cpt. Marvel and that’s Cpt. Marvel Jr.


Shazam is the wizard who gave us our superpowers.

The kids walking towards Uncle Dudley who is waiting at the sidewalk. Mary is in a bit of a huff and the boys are on her heals.

Nice going Mary.

Adults. They’re so stupid.

Ah, who cares? As long as they keep giving good loot they can call me Shazam until the cows come home.

Mary turning on Freddy. Freddy looking sheepish and regrets incurring her wrath.

Freddy Freeman, you might not care but I want my public to know who I am.

Billy looking confused and Mary now glaring at him.

Your public?

Quiet you!

Uncle Dudley gathering up the kids to go on to the next house.

Alrighty kids, are you still up for more candy?

Oh yeah. But can we avoid those houses giving out lame fruit bars?

This neighbourhood sucks. Nobody’s giving out chips or cheesies.

Hey, be nice.

The Marvels are walking towards the reader in the panel. Uncle Dudley has his eyes closed as he reminisces but the kids are watching a girl about their age running passed them with her arms in the air screaming and crying.

Yep, back in my day we didn’t have this sugarless candy malarkey.

Little girl screaming


Billy passing his loot bag to Freddy.

Hang on to this for me Freddy. And don’t eat my chips.

Billy raising his fist in the air yelling


Lightning hitting Cpt. Marvel who is floating a bit above the ground. Uncle Dudley is sitting on the ground and the rest of them are all sort of shocked.

You should really warn a man when you’re about to do that.

Cpt. Marvel holding out his hand to the crying little girl.

Cpt. Marvel
It’s okay miss. I’m here to help.

*sob* they…they…

Cpt. Marvel

Girl standing up and pointing behind Cap.

Those little demons took my candy and chased me away.

Cap looking over his shoulder angry.

Cpt. Marvel
Demon scum, they’ll pay for this.


Cpt. Marvel’s feet are hovering above the ground as we see four young boys in costume digging through a loot bag. One is the devil, one is a goblin, one a werewolf and the last a vampire. Two kids are digging through the bag. One kid is chomping on his fingers in fear and the other is gob-smacked while dropping an egg to the ground.

Kid 1 digging through bag
I should get more cause it was my idea

Kid 2 digging through bag
No flipping way it’s straight four-way split.

Kid chewing fingers

Kid dropping egg

Cpt. Marvel - Off panel
Well what do we have here?

Devil kid looking up in anger as the others are scared and backing off.

Devil kid
Back off you big bull- AAARGH! Shazam!

Werewolf kid
Run Away!

Cpt. Marvel cracking his knuckles looking down at the kids in tears now, as the werewolf kid has beat it into the distance with his arms over his head.

Cpt. Marvel
Looks like I’ll have to teach you demons a lesson in respect.

Devil kid
We was just checking for razorblades in the apples, Mr. Shazam, sir. Honest.

Vampire kid
Please don’t break my face.

Kids all running towards the reader but away from Cpt. Marvel and in tears. Mary is yelling at the fleeing kids while she stands beside Cpt. Marvel. The Cap looks smug.

And it’s Captain Marvel, not Shazam you schmucks!

Cap picking up the loot bag, looking at Mary

Cpt. Marvel

Well that’s what they are, the bunch of bullies.

Cap handing the loot bag back to the little girl as she’s reaching up with one hand and wiping away a tear with the other.

Cpt. Marvel
Here you go ma’am. Your sweeties are safe and sound.

*sob* Thanks sir.


A much more urban setting where a bunch of demons and goblins are ripping a kid’s bags, spilling candy all over or jumping on their backs and riding them like horses.


Kids screaming

Robin ripping a troll off a kid’s back. The troll should be elongated in a way that is simply inhuman and way too elasticy.

Every year it’s the same thing with you isn’t it?

Robin throwing the troll into a demon looking kid ripping into a loot bag. The two creatures are mixing together.

You’re reduced to actually stealing candy from children.

All the demons and goblins stop and look at the mess or their mixing compatriots or angrily at Robin.

I mean really Clayface, couldn’t you at least plan a jewel heist or something? Rob a bank maybe? Heck, burgle a senior’s home for a change of pace.

Clayface coming together and towering over Robin.

I happen to like free candy bird-boy.

Clayface starts to shoot that clay-arm spray at Robin but is hit by some type of freezing bomb.

Predictable chump.

Robin calling the police on his Robin-cycle. There’s a big nasty shadow looming behind him.

This is, uhm, an anonymous civilian tip. Robin just single handedly captured Clayface and froze him in place on Timm Street.

Can we have your name and address please sir?

Trust me. Just send someone before he’s pliable.

Robin getting his clock cleaned by a white fist in a tattered sleeve.

Off panel
Grundy punch.


Dark apartment that is chalk full of random doodads and mystic looking whatchamahoozits. There is a knock at the door.

Elsewhere in Gotham

Door smashing open to reveal Solomon Grundy.

Solomon picking up a hand mirror. Seeing Faust being reflected.

Solomon Grundy

Shop that has the lights on but the shades drawn. The shop has a huge sign over top that simply states MAGIC. There should be a sign in the window that says: Closed for ‘The Gathering.’ Solomon Grundy is slumping into the frame. This one looks a bit thinner than the one who picked up the mirror.

Inside the shop we see various mystic looking people sitting around a table. There is a blonde, slightly frumpy looking Zatanna costume, a fat man dressed as the Phantom Stranger, a guy in a suit and jeweled turban, and another woman in a crushed velvet dress. They should all be holding hands around a glowing ball or candle.

Woman in dress
Oh great Nero, in your night of nights we beseech that you send to us a messenger…

Same panel only this time a newspaper dispenser is smashing through the window and everyone is fleeing in utter panic.

We see the shop from outside as if we were walking down the sidewalk towards it. The door is being kicked open by Grundy.

Grundy walking out carrying a wooden box that looks like a cross between a treasure chest and jewelry box. The woman in the dress is shaking her fist at him as she leans out the window or door.

You didn’t have to break the window and the door you big jerk!

Cut back to the other people at the séance. Turbaned guy is pasted against the wall in a frozen death scream, the fat phantom stranger is passing out, the zatanna knock off is is cowering with one leg raised and both arms up in a classic “running in fear from the villain” pose.


Cpt. Marvel back amongst his group and looking proud.

Fawcett City

I guess you didn’t need any backup this time, huh?

Cpt. Marvel
No, chum, I had those devils right where I wanted them.

Off Panel
Marvel Family, your presence is required in my lair.

Same shot but only Uncle Dudley remains. He looks shocked.

Uncle Dudley looks a bit put out.


Dudley walking away with the loot bags thrown over his shoulder.

Ah well, I should at least make sure the candy stays safe.


The wizard Shazam sits atop an imposing throne carved out of the rock walls of his own cave. The cave is lined with torches and the statues of the seven deadly sins. The Marvels are now all in superhero mode looking up towards the wiz.

The Rock of Eternity. Outside of the realms of human knowledge and the lair of the Wizard Shazam.

Welcome to my eternal lair Marvel family. I, Shazam, have a request to make of you all.

Over the wizard’s shoulder we see the Marvel’s looking at us.

Cpt. Marvel Jr.
You know us wiz. Whatever you want, you got it.


Wizard now down off his throne and talking to Cpt. Marvel directly. A hand on his shoulder.

I am troubled by developments in the city of Gotham. I am sure you are aware of the local legend there called Grundy’s Night?

Cpt. Marvel
Sure. It’s a kid’s rhyme isn’t it? Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday.

Still in discussion

This is no nursery rhyme my friend. I fear that someone has been dabbling in powers they do not understand and cannot control.

Mary Marvel
What do you mean by “no nursery rhyme?”

Shazam looking on Mary with a bit of pride.

Ah, always so incisive and wise my rose between two thorns. You are right to ask. Tonight someone has tried to perform the rituals that allow Solomon Grundy to rise out of Gotham Swamp. Both Grundy’s eternal prison and eternal womb.

But it didn’t work?

Showing the wizard.

Oh the spell worked to rise Grundy from the swamps, but not as the caster expected.


Robin clenching his jaw as Grundy looms over him.


Robin rising and shooting his bat grappling hook at Grundy.

Welcome back Grundy. Long time no see.

Solomon Grundy is bound with his arms straight to his sides and Robin kicking him in the gut.

Robin thinking
There is no way this is going to turn out well.

Grundy laying on the ground. Robin is standing over him. In the distance a pudgier Solomon Grundy is looming closer with what looks like an old branch.

Robin thinking
This is REALLY not going to turn out well.

Grundy is behind Robin about to smash down on him with both hands.

Uh oh, bad breath.

Robin jumping over his Robin cycle that Grundy is now smashing instead of Robin

Son of a…


Cpt. Marvel looking a bit confused.

Cpt. Marvel
An army of Grundies?

Shazam reproaching him as if he were a misbehaving child.

Not quite as many as an actual army corps, but essentially – yes.

Cpt. Marvel
Have they hurt anyone yet?

They are trying but are so far unsuccessful.

Mary Marvel looking like she’s figuring something out.

Wait a minute. Who did you say was in charge of the Grundies?

I have not said my dear because this man wishes to remain anonymous. He has shielded his identity from me as best he can.

Shazam conjuring up some glowing blue Solomon Grundies each carrying an item. The one with the mirror, the box and the stick are also there. Add more if you like with random mystical objects.

Each of these creatures carries an item with a very specific property in common. Each one of these items has the ability to bind with the soul of its owner.


Shazam continues
I can only think of one man with the desire to hide away parts of his everlasting soul and to hide his existence from me…

Close up of Shazam’s glowing conjuring ball thing that is in the shape of Felix Faust’s head.

…Felix Faust!

Marvel family posing again

Cpt. Marvel
Well Marvel Family. It looks like we’re going to Gotham.


Robin standing over the ruins of his bike with his back against the wall, looking a bit worried at two approaching Grundies, covering their ears to the crack of thunder. There is a bolt of lightning overhead.

Grundy 1

The Marvels are looking at the Grundies who are no longer looking at Robin. Cpt. Marvel Jr. is cracking his knuckles.

Cpt. Marvel Jr.
Let’s bust some dead-heads.

One more thought

The new Dr. Fate? The old Question.

The Couriers + A Challenge for the Unknown

Couriers Vol. 1
Read Brian Wood and Rob G's The Couriers last night. Damn that was good comics. It was a mixture of comic book goodness, crazy ass action, insane story, kinetic energy and teen movie. So, yes, I liked it and wonder why I haven't read it before now.

Challenge for the Unknown
Since it's my last day in the office before my holiday vacation - yep, I'm taking a week to myself next week before going to Halifax where I may run in to Canada's cutest comic book couple Brian Lee O'Malley and Hope Larson or maybe Darwyn Cooke - I've decided to spend my time for the betterment of humanity. That's right I'm going to try and write a 22 page comic book story instead of doing any work. I guess it'll be my first foray into the realms of Fan Fic. And since my job basically sucks like a leech and nobody knows what I should be doing or what I can do I've decided to swing my career into Fanfic high-gear. It's ten minutes to nine right now, so if some poor soul is reading this with their morning coffee leave a comment on who I should take on. I'm willing to try any character that will result in some minor copyright violation or maybe I'll go my own route instead of being such a fanboy... only time will tell.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Curse of Dracula

So I read Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan's 1998 Curse of Dracula the other night. I wanted to like it more. The whole double cross political thriller controlling the power behind the power aspect was a great idea. The rest was a bit confusing. The team had a lot of potential but were ultimately a bunch of cliches. The woman was raped, the men are fighting for the memory of lost loved ones. I do love the loose pencils but I tended to lose track of who was who and what was happening as much as I knew what was actually taking place. Sadly this just felt totally mediocre to me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 13 December 2006

52 Week 32
The space heroes decide to take a heroic stance and the Titans have a membership drive. While both fun moments they also take the back seat to Ralph Dibny's journey further into himself and the meaning of life and death while interluding to fight a yeti. All in all I liked this issue more than the last few. It had a fun little story and advanced the plots shown in fun little ways.
I rate this comic: A bit of a return to form for 52 after a few duller weeks.

The Spirit #1
I was a bit hesitant to pick this up. I mean the original is just so damned good why would I need a remake? In the end it was the Darwyn Cooke drawing and writing that won me over and made me glad I picked this up. I like my comics to be different from the other media I buy and enjoy and that's where this comic delivers in spades. It is beautiful with fast action and strong characters and story. I like how The Spirit is essentially blurred or out of the picture for his initial sneaking sequences. Cooke knows when and what to show the reader and uses the comic frame to reinforce pretty much anything that's happening. When The Spirit is sneaking, we don't see him. When the chief is all over the place doing a million things at once he's in a panel multiple times. This is really a great update for a modern audience that doesn't ignore or disrespect the original material (from what I can tell). Then again I don't have reams of old Spirit material kicking around. I feel this is the comic book version of The Spirit that the Batman the Animated series was to the Batman franchise. It updated the character by using classic stories and structures to simply entertain rather than overtly homage the originals. These are new stories that are aware of a modern audience although based on classic material. And while fun to read this comic looks stunning.
I rate this comic: One of this year's best.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reviews off the Starboard Bow!

Okay these reviews have absolutely nothing to do with sailing or the navy, or even pirates for that matter. Still, strap in as I briefly talk about Charles Burns’ Black Hole, The Man With the Screaming Brain and Hellblazer: Papa Midnite.

Black Hole
Reading Black Hole is a bit like reading someone’s life story or life’s work. In a lot of ways, I suppose that’s what it is having taken Charles Burns about a decade to complete the work or so I’ve read on the internet. While I generally don’t trust internet content that doesn’t make me laugh I’m fairly certain this is true because I trust the sources. Once this decade long fact is known it’s I found it difficult to approach this book without that fact lingering in the back of my mind. I found myself going out of my way to look for improvements to the artwork and refinement or contradictions in the story and characters. I have to say I didn’t notice anything remarkably different from beginning to end in terms of character presentation.

The story and the presentation are both simple and effective while not being simplistic or derivative. The plot of a sexually transmitted disease that manifests itself in horrible mutations on the infected could easily be the plot of any schlock horror movie and while there are elements of that in the story there is also a real heart to the story as well. The characters presented act and read like real teenagers stuck in a confusing time of their lives made all the more confusing by the possibility of horrible mutation by giving in to the desires of the flesh. This is a time when they are coming to terms with themselves, their place in the world and their own bodies which in and of itself is a confusing process. Add to the mix a horrible disease and you have yourselves a great story there folks.

These characters are charming because they feel genuine. Yes there is some melodrama but what high-school aged life didn’t have some melodrama in it? The melodrama in itself feels genuine for the age group and situation. The characters screw up and suffer their way through the curveballs life throws at them, just as they should be doing at that age. They want more and fumble in their attempts to get more out of what life has given them. They essentially, as the Queen song explicitly states, want to break free, and they do it through sex, drugs, booze and attempts at art. Only with the bug around they aren’t given much leeway to actually screw up without major consequences. This explores the same sort of themes and ideas as X-men claims to, only without the tights and the crime fighting. It takes an identifiable group that is already socially awkward and uses their “affliction” to explore ideas generally relegated to feminist, gender, queer or race politics and writing. Is it better to pass as “normal,” insulate your group or try to find an option outside of the obvious dichotomy. Sort of Archie with tentacles really.

As for the actual art of the book I love it. Then again I like most artwork that looks a bit like woodcuts. The panel layout of flashbacks and dream sequences are both obvious and subtle enough to indicate exactly what they are to you as the reader. I was a bit confused in trying to identify some of the characters in the beginning but that’s a general problem I have and could be me simply not paying enough attention as I read. Eventually one of the male leads gets a haircut and identification gets easier from there.

Not being a fan of stream of consciousness storytelling I was glad it was kept to a minimum in this book. It was a few moments of thematic and symbolic fancy that didn’t distract too much from the rest of the plot for me. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

So, all in all, the accolades you’ve read are well founded. This is a great book exploring how people try to fit into the world. But with sideshow freaks.

The Man with the Screaming Brain
This is the comic book version of a Bruce Campbell B-movie and it delivers exactly that. The tough guys are extra tough, every woman is a sexy bombshell, plus robots and evil scientists transplanting brains with a riff on the possessed hand from Evil Dead 2. Definitely worth a quick read.

Hellblazer: Papa Midnite
I enjoyed this as a back story to a character I haven’t read a lot about. I know he’s part of the Constantine mythos and all that but I’ve only really read a lot of the more recent stuff in trade available at the library. Which I find rather awesome that my tax dollars are buying comics about black magic and demons. This felt this comic was a bit like a pilot episode for a TV spinoff. It’s rare that they work out but if they find their own feet they can work and grow into something unique. I do like the nature of the curse on Papa Midnite but I fear if this became a series there would be too many gangstas for me to stick with it for very long.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Balls

Hello everyone. Since Marvel released their version of cut-out Christmas tree baubles I figured it was time to make our own. Let's see if you can predict what will happen in Civil War and the fall out in cut out circular form. Please make your own Christmas-tree bauble that predicts something that will happen in the Marvel Universe and I'll compile a list of links. I'd offer to post an image but I tend to have trouble getting images posted here on the best of days.

I predict two things: The Punisher will kick Spider-man so hard he'll change the spelling of his name to Spiderman since it'll be easier than correcting the internet usage.

I also predict a Hercules and Ghost Rider team up, perhaps as The Champions.

That kick was lifted from
Chris's ISB who does a better job of finding kicks to the general head-facial area in comics, than I could ever dream possible. The second one I'm not too sure where I found it but let me know and I'll link you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

So comics are my thing

I was at a Festivus Party last night and we all discovered that comics are my thing. There were people claiming to be things like Semilliers, or movie afficianados, chronic shoe buyers, my wife is a bag lady - um that isn't right. She likes purses. I told my wife if I ever use afficianado in an unironic way she could punch me as hard as she can. I said I'm a bit of a comic book afficianado to make fun of the movie afficianado.

Turns out being a movie afficianado means you like really boring movies.

Me, I just like the punching and the kicking and whatnot.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 06 December 2006

Well the end of the year is rapidly approaching and I'm apparently buying more comics.

52 Week 31
Okay Cpt. Comet? Ew. Just ew. I'm pretty sure people are right about Booster Gold and Supernova. And I did enjoy Ralph's part of the story this week. I'm a sucker for detective stories with mystical helmet sidekicks I guess. Plus, I'm telling you people - repeatedly - Ralph and helmet are the parallel to Booster and Skeets. Why do you think it was him talking to Supernova? Otherwise the entire space battle as a setup for the next installment of the space bound heroes was quite clever in my book. I guess they've teamed up with Akron's head now. I do like that their story went from castaways to one big-bad head chasing them while relying on an outsider to being faced with gruesomely powerful almost insurmountable odds. And the bug-dude Green Lantern earring = brilliant flourish.
I rate this comic: A decent Sci-fi battle and other creepiness/setups.

Agents of Atlas #5
Another fun issue of a really great team based book. This is the issue where the team throws the smackdown on each other then makes up. I like this team a lot, Parker has a great sense of character dialogue and interaction. If you haven't been buying these get the trade when it's out or better yet, seek the back issues. It'll be a great read for your flight home to spend time with the family. And it'll show you that talking gorillas, aliens and robots wouldn't make your family gatherings more fun they would just add explosions which are deadly in real life.
I rate this comic: Still fantastic, if not getting better.

Manhunter #26
I'm glad I managed to get this after getting #25 so long ago. I thought I may have missed an issue or two but "yay!" Again, why the fuck wasn't I reading this before? This really is the series for me. Clever dialogue that is self aware, separate and distinct characters that act and sound like individuals with interesting plots. Tell me you didn't snicker when Kate asks why the courts waited over a year to get to this point? The relationship with Wonder Woman is something I like as well. She should be a tutor. Makes sense that she should help a sister out. I do wish I had read more than just this issue and the last issue because I don't really know anything about any of the characters (other than the fact they're well written). I'm on for the long haul here folks. And that preview should cause some general pants defiling for the fans of that guy.
I rate this comic: Exactly the type of comic I like.

Detective Comics #826
Some dodgy art aside this was the best issue of Robin I've ever read! What? This was... ah, damn. Okay, best issue of Detective that focusses on Robin I've read in a long time. I think Dini should put on classes about writing Joker stories. The Joker is unbelievably disturbing in this issue but his antics hit the evil funny bone for me at least. And that punch to the teeth was just nasty of Robin. Damn, that kid got cold. I do think "going Batman on his ass" should be used more often but with the whole gay subtext and generally homophobic jokes at their expense, having Robin deliver the line is kind of unfortunate, or brilliant. I can't decide. Still, this was a great Holiday story even if I couldn't tell that was Dick Grayson or Bruce Wayne.
I rate this comic: My surprising Holiday Special.

hypnoray: Phase Beta Commences

I've been working on a post about media convergence since Monday but work and life have gotten in the way again. It seems that not blogging is the new black these days on the internerd. It will go up at some point between grumbling about having the work Christmas Party cancelled and other holiday merryment. I've also just caved and hit the "yes I want to use Blogger Beta" button because I got tired of being asked about it every time I logged in.

Pride of Baghdad
This is a fantastic book that is all around engaging and has Brian K. Vaughn's answer to the age old question of who would win - Grizzly Bear or Lion? The answer was a bit of a cop-out but still pretty bloody as you'd expect with a touch of melodrama. But honestly, I don't need the lion rape.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gray and Greyer

I haven’t posted some reviews of comic trades you’ve probably already read a long time ago, in a while. So here goes.

Today you get Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things and The Incredible Hulk: Ground Zero. Now, I also read two Hellblazer trades – Staring at the Wall and Stations of the Cross – but by now you probably know that I’m enjoying his dark arts a bit too much. All I’ll say is that I was happy to read a couple of story arcs in context and I like how the apocalypse isn’t really avoided with any consequences. Good stuff, just hide it from the kids or your Christian friends who point out evil things. Unless you like fingers stuffed in your face, then whatever.

I wasn’t too sure I should have been requesting Courtney Crumrin books from the library but I figured I could tell them it was for my kid or something if anyone asked. Thankfully nobody seems to be taking out the comics but the kids so, really I shouldn’t mention what a great, free, source of comics the Ottawa Public Library is so I can keep it to myself. But I had heard good things about the series and I was looking for something that was an easy escape from my generally cynical existence these days.

Yeah, if you’ve read this comic you’ll see the irony of that last statement. Wow, this is not a happy lovely kids book. It’s a brilliantly insightful collection of stories about the pain and agony of growing into a world that is essentially a shell of everything you were told it was. Your parents are fake, unthinking gobs of humanity trying to sound important and appear impressive without actually working to do anything important or impressive. And the people they are trying to impress have themselves not actually done anything except have their parents die and leave them money. So this isn’t exactly the tween or teenage version of Baby Einstein videos.

What it is, is fucking brilliant. This is the kind of comic I’ll be giving my kids, especially if I have a daughter who likes to read. It is the perfect mix of fantasy and reality that really just treats its intended audience as someone who wants a good story instead of a fragile mind waiting to be molded into banality. This is the goth cousin of the frantic Muppet Show that actually gave my generation a sense of humour and sense of adventure and play. Yes I know we’re talking two different mediums for two different age groups. If I was forced to compare this comic to other comics I’d say its closest relation would be the Scott Pilgrim books. One writer artist in black and white that focus around a charming lead character in an interesting world that goes off into wild directions – only one has video games and the other has witchcraft.

The Hulky Stuff
So is this meant to be good or bad Peter David? I can’t remember which story arcs people liked him writing because I’m not the biggest Hulk fan in the world. I gave up on Planet Hulk even though I was basically enjoying it. Then again I was enjoying Aquaman as well and gave up. Really for no particular reason either. They just weren’t doing something for me.

Anyway there were a couple of things I couldn’t get over in this. The first was the horrible typo on the back cover. It’s “an end” Marvel, not “and end.” I know you’re the “art” focused group but c’mon. And the other was that every white male character seemed to have the same haircut. They all looked like that zombie skeleton from The Cramps album cover of Bad Music for Bad People. I know both of these aren’t Peter David’s fault – most likely an editor and Todd McFarlin, but I had a hard time getting over it.

As for the actual story it’s really great superhero action. The Hulk is like a vampire that’s in his grey and smart phase and is trying to go with the help of Rick Jones and some rogue SHIELD agent to get rid of the US government’s stockpile of gamma bombs. What ensues is something you don’t see anymore in comics. A story arc that is connected and works together as a larger story but each separate issue can be read on its own. If nothing else, this showed me that comics haven’t really evolved because they have eliminated the need for craft. When you don’t need to force a story to fit a format then what’s the point of the format?

I don’t want to get into the writing for the trade thing again but honestly, I really like this type of storytelling. A plot is furthered but each stop on the journey is separate and unique. It was used well in television series like Alias, Angel and Buffy and in comics of the past but really hasn’t been seen that much lately. Or maybe just not in what I read and I don’t read that much anymore.

This is a great timepiece that has visual flaws – dated artwork (not a big deal really), but when it’s one uber-glossy paper you wonder why they didn’t redo the colouring? But the structure, pacing and plot are simply fantastic and show what skills have really been lost in the evolution of comics. Yes, I am missing the old days because they were actually better in this particular case.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Comics I'd Write for Cheap - Day Five - The Outsiders

Yes, The Outsiders, because let's face it - I couldn't do any worse.

Tomorrow I'll have some actual content that isn't so snarky. Sorry to whoever is actually writing The Outsiders these days. You are a nice person and you have more talent in your toenail clippings than I have in my entire being.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 29 November 2006

52 Week 30
The Batman is dead. Long live Batman. Plus a nicely self-aware Nightwing and Robin with a Metal Men backup.
I rate this comic: Good stuff.

Yes I know I should have bought the Spirit and Batman crossover but I'm not in the mood to spend that much money on a comic. I'm saving for X-mas gifts.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Comics I'd Write for Cheap - Day Four - X-Axis

X- Axis

I noticed I haven't mentioned any Marvel ideas and to be honest I'm only buying Agents of Atlas these days so I'm a bit out of the idea loop.

This is probably the easiest idea I came up with. Well, I saw the name on some other blog that I can’t recall, but still. It’s about the X-men villains and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in particular. All that this book requires is that I’d get a copy of the X-men script from whoever was writing it and I’d rewrite the story from the villain point of view.

That’s it. Villain point of view for every single X-men issue. I'd make millions. Millions I say.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Comics I'd Write for Cheap - Day Three - Nightwing

Okay, seems like Comics I'd Write for Cheap Week was only 2 days last week because of my days off and job interviews and stuff. Fingers crossed. I could actually be happily employed elsewhere which means better posting here.

On with the post!

I’m taking Nightwing because of the whole “he’s crap and I know how to fix/kill him vibe that’s going around the net these days.” Yeah, he was supposed to die but didn’t. Whatever.

A while back I think I sort of mentioned how I’d fix Nightwing but I’m too lazy to search through my own files so I’ll probably repeat myself a bit. My first idea was to try and re-establish him in Gotham. Bring Blockbuster back into the picture and go the whole “gangster war” route with him. Blockbuster and Penguin are trying to rule the streets maybe? And there’s Nightwing beating up people – but in a light hearted sort of way. I’d cut his hair and only have him pout when Batman points at him and says “NO!” Otherwise, no more emo bullshit. It’s been done. It’s time he sucked it up and became a man with a plan.

I think this may be happening in the title, but I’m also just making it up. Did, The Monitor show up and tell him he was supposed to be dead? If so, I think that’s a great idea. I think Nightwing should be picked up and thrown to the alternate reality dogs. In fact, I like that term a lot and they’d be villains even if that idea seems to have remained in my subconscious from the days I read Excalibur and those chrome dogs chases that phoenix chick around.

I think the one thing Nightwing is missing is more exposure. I’d like to see him become DC’s version of Wolverine. There should be like Nightwing month or something where he guest stars in every single title – even the Vertigo ones because he is hit by the “Split Infinities Ray” and is sent to every existing reality at once.

My other idea was to have Connor Hawk show up a whole bunch so they could hang out. Kind of like Iggy Pop and David Bowie, but Connor seems to be busy these days what with the JLA and all. Actually that could be fun. Connor shows up but is basically too busy being called away by the JLA to really help Nightwing. They’d be chilling at the Bat and Arrow Pub to watch some hockey and Connor would be called away to fight Gorilla Grodd or Starro. They’d be on a stake out and Connor would be beamed aboard the satellite because of an emergency backup response system. Fun stuff.

But then it hit me. Nightwing doesn’t need to be a well adjusted adult who is just hitting 30 and helps Robin and Batman from time to time. He needs to be the guy who adopts Rex the Wonderdog. And slowly, the book can become more and more about Nightwing being captured and Rex rescuing him until Nightwing doesn’t even appear anymore for issues on end until everyone forgets about him and the internet stops its bitching for ever and ever.

That would be awesome.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday's Loot - 23 November 2006

52 Week 29
A great play on the JSA JLA Thanksgiving issues opens up this week of 52 and it quickly turns into Mark Waid’s rehash of Kingdom Come only mutated to fit the Everyman Project. I am liking the fact that there is a bold Luthor plot as one of the main parts of 52. It wouldn’t really be the DCU without that would it? And Wildcat putting his mitts on the table – brilliant. Then Mad Scientist a go-go with an homage to The Life of Brian.
I rate this comic: Another solid issue of 52.

Godland #14
I liked this comic from the moment it said “The atmosphere is thick with scheming beauty.” And the phallic missile plot to hit the egg centre of the Earth was quick fun as well. Then the rest of the issue feels a lot like a setup for future plots. Not the best issue of Godland I’ve read but still a good comic overall.
I rate this comic: Best mention of Superman Returns in comics.

Kirby Meme

Naturally, I can't seem to post images today (when I want to) so follow the links for the images.

I was tagged by Plok a while back on the Jack Kirby Character Design Meme and didn’t realize it. Sorry Plok, I didn’t read your blog for a while, I’ve been off the net, kind of – well reading it anyway. I was out of the office yesterday and away from my computer for most of it so no update yet on comics I'd write cheaply (I know you're all waiting on tenderhooks for that) and I didn't even get to the shop to make a purchase. That probably means I'll miss out on Godland.

I’m not all too sure what to do since my knowledge of comic book history is, shady, at best but non-existent is more appropriate. Which is sort of what I’ve been working to remedy with the help of the public library and my own hard earned cash. Sure I won’t be collecting old issues or anything but with the collections out there I’m reading a lot of stuff I normally wouldn’t pick up if I had to pay collector’s prices for them.

Anyway, I looked up a bit of online Kirby history and I fired up Freedom Force on my PC again to get in the mood. So far Doom, Thing and Silver Surfer have been covered. All great choices in themselves for the reasons stated – inhuman pathos, pride and power, and the streamlined stylized human form.

I wasn’t honestly sure which way to go here with Kirby. I do think that his more garish, throw everything at a character’s costume design is more emblematic of Kirby’s approach to comics in general. I love Omac’s Mohawk (Mohican to you Brits out there) and Black Bolt’s tuning fork field goal setup, but RAB covered him already. I would normally go for Black Bolt because he’s a badass who wants you to make fun of that accessory – but that’s not exactly a comment on his design per se.

There’s the excesses of the entire Fourth World costumes, Galactus, MODOK, and Thor that get countered by the simple jumpsuits of the Challengers of the Unknown, the protohuman abstract of the Silver Surfer and Kamandi as, basically, Thor in his blue fur underpants. I’m also a fan of Captain America being the living embodiment of the American Flag with his warrior’s winged helm – yes it’s a bit gaudy but so is the source material, sorry. Happy Thanksgiving down there by the way.

So what is all this rambling about anyway? Well it’s me saying I found it hard to choose between 3 real contenders. As much as I wanted to go for the emblematic Kirby flourishes I was drawn towards his simpler approach. In other words I tried to find his Revolver instead of his Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

With that I looked at the original X-men. Yeah they’re a bit goofy but they’re also very eye-catching. To me they use old school colouring techniques to their highest with bold contrasting colours draped over different human forms. They look like three character studies – man, woman, hulking man body types that have become the staple of every single superhero creation screen in video games. But they weren’t my choice.

Neither was Devil Dinosaur. I love the look of Devil Dinosaur. I mean it’s a Tyranosaurus but it’s bright red. It just embodies mean, rip you a-twain chompy stompy comic book goodness. Plus he’s always jumping which I’m pretty sure a T-Rex couldn’t do but who cares. He’s mean and totally inhuman in the same way Etrigan embodied the same aspects in a more human form.

Nope, in the end I went with Kirby’s creation that is having the most successful revival these days. Machine Man. Look at him. He’s essentially one colour with a few contour lines that allow the character to divide, extend or have any other deus ex machina apparatus at the main points of figure articulation. Like the Silver Surfer he’s been streamlined which reflects his robotic nature and those freaky bug-eyes keep him from being too visibly human. Not only in their bug-eyed look but in the fact that they clash horribly with the main color of the character. Now, all that streamlining to one side what is it about the character that really makes him stand out for me? It is the fact that all this streamlining allows Kirby to showcase his approach to art through the character. Because the character is a robot with random points of extension, we’re constantly allowed to see the comic in Kirby-rama perspectovision.

So I’ll tag Kevin and Mr. Sterling, if they’re feeling generous, because I know Kevin is a devout Kirby follower and Sterling has a much more encyclopedic knowledge of comics than I’ll ever have. I’ll also tag Kalinara because I really like her perspective and sense of humour.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cormier, Jon Cormier

I saw the new Bond movie last night. It was one X-ray eyeball short of being perfect.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Comics I'd Write for Cheap - Day Two - The Marvel Family

The Marvel Family

Okay, this is really my least thought out idea of those I’ll present this week. I figured it’s best to just sort of get it out now instead of waiting all week for inspiration and then disappointing everyone with a BIG Friday reveal that is essentially – crap.

Forget Earth’s Mightiest Mortal, let’s focus on his family. That ragtag group of individuals that are generational and gender derivatives of the big red cheese. They need to be aware of their place in the DCU and know that they’re essentially derivative of Cpt. Marvel. And that’s what a lot of people forget. He isn’t Shazam, he’s Captain Marvel. So let’s make this group of people military brats with the Wizard Shazam as their mystical Charlie.

They can move from place to place across America and the world just like a military family being relocated and transferred from base to base. What’s the reason? They can be the core DCU version of John Constantine. Yes, I know there’s the Shadowpact but this is more about the “solving problems by applying brute force repeatedly” approach to mystical incidents. Plus time traveling and space travel. Why? Because I can.

This book should be aimed at a slightly younger audience and be a slightly veiled comic book substitute of a Geography textbook that explores local myths and legends. Again, I think it should be a done in one single issue approach with cartoony goodness and bright colours. I guess they’re my Mighty Scooby Gang in many ways – but with less haunted theme parks.

As for the cast, it should be Captain Marvel if he’s available but definitely Mary Marvel, Cpt. Marvel Junior, and Uncle Marvel with a few guest stars along the way like Spy Smasher and Mr. Tawky Tawny – only more of a Tellos or Thundercats looking type of guy instead of cartoon tiger in a zoot suit.

What would some of their adventures be like you ask? Let’s brainstorm:

1 – Because every first issue needs a guest star they’d go to Gotham for Halloween and the Solomon Grundy story. Guess who would guess star? Everyone’s favorite hero – Robin!
2 – Off to the deserts of America where there are stories of coyotes with mythical trickster powers – turns out it’s Dr. Sivana and his animal men.
3 – They go up to Washington state to deal with Big Foot who has been terrifying campers.
4 – Up to Alaska where Inuit legends are coming to life around the northern communities – turns out it was a dismantled Mr. Atom who is being unearthed and reassembled by The Red Crusher as a neo-soviet attack robot to house The Great Red Brain and the radiation is affecting people’s imaginations.
5 – They go to Norway or somewhere in Scandinavia to deal with a ghost Viking longboat. Turns out it’s King Kull.
6 – In this issue they try to solve the mystery of the mummy in Egypt but also have to deal with Black Adam.
7 – They meet up with Mr. Tawky Tawny somewhere in generic “Africa” and deal with Anansi the Spider plus third world politics.
8 – To England where they deal with high tech highwaymen or maybe the Loch Ness Monster.
9 – They go to China to deal with the mad Coy Fish Dragon which is burning a swathe through the countryside and they’re forced to team up with Black Alice.
10 – To the Swamps of Louisiana where they deal with some hoodoo voodoo and meet Swamp Thing and they agree water pollution is bad.
11 – Off to Transylvania to deal with vampires.
12 – Big meet up with Black Adam and Dr. Sivana as they investigate the case of The Mummers in Newfoundland.

Like I said, this is my mighty mystical version of Scooby-Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I need to give a shout out to Marvel Family where I pretty much just looked at their list of characters and threw them into my “plot ideas” regardless of whether or not I may be “right.”

Monday, November 20, 2006

Comics I'd Write for Cheap - Day one - The Brave and The Bold

This week I've decided will be brainstorming week where I tell you about comics I'd write, not for free, but for a low pay scale. Other people, more passionate than I have offered to write stuff for free, but I'm now a married man so I gotta get paid. Sorry I won't link to you if you've written something on your blog that you'd write for free because I don't want to miss anyone accidentally. Or I can't remember who did this already and I'm too lazy to find out - just mention it in the comments or something.

Brave and the Bold

I’m calling this book, The Brave and the Bold because it’s a heritage title and works with the characters. I wouldn’t make it an ever-changing team up book like it used to be because let’s face it they’d have about 4 team ups a year in these days of decompressed stories. And that’s assuming it stays of schedule. Not me. I’d make this book about Batwoman and Renee Montoya’s version of The Question. I'm predicting here, obviously. And as many single issue stories as possible.

No it wouldn’t be a lesbians on ecstasy book. In fact I’d make their relationship more like Elaine and Jerry’s relationship from Seinfeld instead of Ross and Rachel from Friends. The whole one hero loves the other who doesn’t love her back shtick has been done. Not here. Here there’d only be the occasional awkward mention when someone like Superman asks them how they met and they’d have to explain they used to date and that no, it’s not weird to work together and be friends. So, adult and normal instead of painfully cliched.

The big question would be why would Gotham need another dynamic duo – in addition to the Birds of Prey? The Birds of Prey are in Gotham right? I should probably read that book at some point, right? Well, it’s simple really. They’d be the Gotham version of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow team up dealing with timely issues. You know, things like environmental politics or low voter turn out for the municipal election – with kicks to the face at a premium.

They could deal with the ex-Batman villains and the occasional top billing villain who is a Gotham staple or just visiting. While Batman fights in the shadows against the core corruption at the heart of Gotham, these heroes would essentially protect Gotham’s borders. They’d be the minutemen of Gotham, without the current hatred of Mexico you see on those news stories of old white guys watching a fence in the desert. I’d keep them on as protection against Intergang and their efforts to rebuild. I like the idea of Intergang and these two staying on basically to thwart them.

Who could they fight?

Well, let’s brainstorm. Just off the top of my head I’d do the following issues:
1 - Intergang imports a Rocket Red suit, and it’s used for evil – they fight it.
2 - Intergang tries to obtain the Spear of Destiny – it’s a fake or some other macguffin.
3 - The War-Brides come to blow shit up – they get foiled.
4 - That plant man from Detective Comics shows up – the one that Paul Dini just created that was trying to kill Poison Ivy because she’s evil.
5 - They team up with Birds of Prey to bring down, I don’t know, let’s say, Bizarro Superman.
6 - They beat up pimps for like 22 pages solid.
7 - The Phantom Stranger shows up and they need to fight some demons and other crazy stuff because someone used the dark arts irresponsibly – like drugs or some other thinly veiled message.
8 - They fight Robot Devil – because I just saw that episode of Angel with the Luchadores and I love the idea of the Devil’s robot – but this would just be a robot that looks like the devil – it has flamethrowers.
9 - Intergang unleashes a new designer drug so the heroes can get all preachy.
10 - They track a shipment of Kryptonite to Metropolis in an attempt to save Superman from certain doom – Batman helps.
11 - Captain Cold comes to town and Mr. Freeze doesn’t take kindly to it - also Icicle shows up.
12 - Because Chris’s idea blew my mind, they’d fight The Karate Shark.

And there is a list of 12 single issues for a year. I’d just, you know, have to actually write them or arrange for a presentation at an elementary school where I talk about how cool my job is as a comic book writer and suggest an exercise for writing stories and steal the work of the children.

I could set up a few of these in each previous comic so there are a few continuation threads playing along. And I could add some random dude to each comic like how Hitchcock would show up in each of his movies.

Tune in tomorrow to see what else I’d write – cheaply. I mean, besides this content.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Helping Kevin

Because I don't really have anything to post today after yesterday's bout with mysterious alien influenza I'm helping out Kevin with a random panel meme. Go grab your own copy and get your photoshop on.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 15 November 2006

52 Week 28
More space adventure but it seemed a bit confused to me. Also looking like a new Question will appear soon which feels unnecessary to me.
I rate this comic: Still coming out weekly.

I also read Grant Morrison's Seaguy last night. It's pretty fucked up. If you like the insane wacked out version of Morrison's writing then this book is for you. It's bright, it's funny, it's weird and depressing all mixed into one ball of genuine insanity.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Maybe I'm just dense...

...but I read Kingdom Come this weekend and, honestly, I don't see what the big fricken deal is. Seriously. It was dull, boring, I would even venture. I did like the older version of Superman with the black in the S-shield, but the rest was just sort of confusing and generally lost on me.

After looking at the very last page where the different group-shot covers are listed with who and what the characters are I think I figured this one out. It's like Saturday Night Live when I was in middle school. You stayed up late (I was an hour behind so it was on at midnight) watched it and didn't find it all that funny, but Monday morning we'd sit around and recap it and all laugh our asses off.

I think this story is simply better when related second hand. I bet it was an easy sell because trying to describe it and relate it to someone makes it sound like a good story. But the actual story isn't exactly good - well to me at least.

On a better note - Dungeon Twighlight, Vol 1 was awesome, as was Hellblazer: Rare Cuts.

Then again, I couldn't make it past a few pages of Julie Doucet's My Most Secret Desire or Daniel Clowes Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. I just can't read stuff that is very obvious but thinks it is something deeper - or maybe the joke was just lost on me. If you want to laugh at me for not being smart enough to get those books go ahead because I'll laugh at you for being a wanker. I like my obvious books with a heaping helping of entertainment thank you very much.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 8 November 2006

52 Week 27
Ralph sort of gets his vengeance on then self-flagellates while we are pretty much hand fed the fact that Batwoman is important. I actually like how Ralph and Dr. Fate’s helmet are the new Booster Gold and Skeets, only more emo for the new generation. I’m still waiting to see whether or not Renee becomes the new Question, which I could live with but see as a bit unnecessary at the moment. Whatever, I can swing with it.
I rate this comic: Back to the “setting things up” week.

Batman #658
This issue starts with the line “It’s not about the flying bat-ninjas” but I have to say, it is EXACTLY about the flying bat-ninjas. I have a co-worker who says it’s never a complete evil plan without flying monkeys. But I have to say it is a totally awesome plan with flying bat-ninjas. There are some additional explosions and the promise of a Joker story next issue. The end.
I rate this comic: Your monthly helping of ninja man-bats.

Action Philosophers #7
Some of the missing Greek philosophers appear in this issue.
I rate this comic: Extremely worth your while.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Which reminds me about this time...

Okay, I'm about to go all "bad stand up comic" on you. Or possibly bad social critic. Sorry, no comics today. Haven't read many recently but tomorrow's Wednesday so that should change.

I'm going to mention how I don't like certain elements of society. I feel they lower our collective IQ and general happiness index quotients.

I'm talking about people who are in-fucking-capable of ordering a coffee and paying for it in under ten minutes. It's ridiculous. Seriously. There should be gated communities for people who need to dig through various items of clothing for a couple of bucks and then have to pay for their coffee with a bank card and then search their being for their "free coffee" punch card.

I swear to god I heard this today while waiting in an ever increasing coffee line. Yes, we were all relatively irritable. "Oh, um I don't have any money, I'll just run out to my car for a minute, it's only 3 blocks away." My response - "No coffee for you! Go to the back of the line." Idiots!

Just once I'm sure I'll see the Eddie Izzard moment of "Can I pay in string? Just a moment then, it's wrapped around my body."

Seriously, how bloody self involved do you have to be to take that long to order a hot beverage in a paper cup? Don't you realize there are others waiting for coffee too? I try to be as quick as I can because I know other people don't want to hear my life story as told to a coffee clerk, hear about any sort of ailment I may have or about how I like hot water mixed with two separate coffees then foamed up with skim milk and that I usually get that for half price because of the water in it.

Gaaaaah! I don't know what it is that makes people into rude arseholes like this? Is it the suburbs? I think it's the suburbs and that they spend too much time isolated in their suburbs and in their cars during their commutes. This leads to them being incapable of taking part in a shared society.

These coffee illiterate are about to overtake Mel Gibson and "people who come into work sick" on my shit list.

Please post your own shit list in the comments section. Mine is so far:
Sweden* - because of Ikea not having all the parts to a bed I purchased for over 3 months, Ace of Base and the generally being better at hockey than Canada these days.
Air Canada - monopolies suck.
Mel Gibson - I won't even watch Braveheart anymore, and I loved that movie - anti-semite bastard.
People who come in sick to work - yeah, I think we can get someone else to sit at your desk and avoid answering the phone.
People who can't pay for their coffee in under two minutes
Cranky Bus Drivers
White Suburban Complainers
Self Righteous Environmentalists
Anyone who goes into detail about their car, stereo, tv, etc.

*Actually I don't have a problem with Sweden ever since they got that bikini team.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hellblazer: All His Engines

I totally meant to have a review for this book up on Halloween, but I'm sort of like a deer these days. Distracted by bright shiney objects and feeling like I've been hit by a car.

This was a mystical horror comic done the way I like them. Equally disgusting and beautiful to look at. The story was extremely clever, using flashbacks in a manner that I don't think I've seen before. And, for once, there's unpronouncable names that weren't actually made up. Sorry, but I can't pronounce any of those Aztec or Mayan god names.

If you've never read a comic with John Constantine in it before then this may be a useful volume for you. The history of Constantine at the back of this volume was rather useful and engaging. But basically, he's a working class magi who will pretty much do whatever it takes to save his own skin. It usually means that you don't want to be his friend no matter how much you may think he's a great character. But oddly, these sacrifices are necessary, not just because it's a character trait but because underneath it all you know that it is more important to have this one major player alive than a few innocents. It's an admission of everyone's dark truth, not just Constantine's, which makes him an extremely powerful character.

As for the plot - it involves hell on earth and a deal made with an ancient god that screws over other demons. Which, oddly, seems rather similar to the story arc in Angel: season 4 that I'm watching on DVD.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 1 November 2006

Yes, Wednesday's feature on Friday - because nobody demanded it. Sorry, I've been a bit busy.

52 Week 26
Halfway through and we see The Question taking up his mentor role again with Renee. After all these weeks I’m still wondering why, and where this is going. I’m still in love with the mad scientist island. The bug robots, the fact that there’s armed guards to deal with haywire bugbots, the cheesecake posters and the geek stereotype usually reserved for comic store owners being pawned off onto another male dominated profession. And who would have thought that dinner with the Sivanas would be like dealing with east coast money? I loved their comedy of manners and the fact that only in 52 a comedy of manners contains serving robots constantly bursting into flames and a crocodile man who just wants to be friends.
I rate this comic: Still good with its weekly little doses of fun.

Agents of Atlas #4 of 6
I’m not sure what I like better. The fact that I’m reading a retrofitting exercise that is still entertaining as a story or that on the list of Atlas fronts there wasn’t just Atlas Robotics but Atlas Pottery Shack as well. This is great spy-team stuff with the perfect blend of punching, cheesecake, gorillas and aliens to make me happy. It’s pretty much what I’d like from my comic book miniseries.
I rate this comic: The only Marvel book I’m reading it seems.

Mouse Guard #5
Another fine issue that makes me really happy and smug that I started reading this series since its inception. It is one of comic’s finest examples today. Everything from the format to the art to the simple childlike wonder of the story make this essential reading for me. I feel like too much time passes between issues and I tend to rush through each book as they come out. Still, they are light but with a feeling of density to them. It’s hard to explain. Beautiful artwork that looks kind of like Beatrix Potter was asked to do art for Tolkein. The story is being revealed more and more with each issue with tension mounting and larger action both happening and being set up. We are on the climb towards the inevitable big confrontation between a pretender to the throne and the honourable mice guard.
I rate this comic: The best comic about mice and a mystical axe wielding warrior.

Detective Comics #825
I really enjoyed the purple prose of Alfred in this one but his plot device role seemed a bit ham fisted to me. I do enjoy that relationship between Alfred and Bruce but it seemed a bit off that the guy who moments ago could determine footprints burned into the ground after an explosion couldn’t remember basic chemistry. That aside I feel this issue does continue a lot of what Dini was setting up as far as getting Batman back to his core and the expounding villain was a very nice touch that makes this comic feel like it understands its own history. I do think there is a bit of room for improvement but the core is very strong so as McGraw gets more comfortable with the structure and his characters we’ll see some Batman stories. I do like his take on Batman and Alfred – even the Commissioner seemed right on, for his brief moments.
I rate this comic: A decent start for a new team.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Accept no substitutes

Because I managed to lose my post about Usagi Yojimbo you’re getting some quick thoughts on Frank Miller’s 300. I've traded bunny samurai swords for naked Greek men with spears.

I liked it. I liked the format and how it fakes the dimensions of a movie screen. I like how the characters are just the meanest motherfuckers Ancient Greece had and they’ll do whatever they can to maintain that reputation. Mix that machismo with a whole lot of naked men who pile up corpses and use that to intimidate their enemies – twice, and you pretty much get 300.

It’s brutal and yet it’s captivating. It’s pointless and yet it’s noble.

What I wasn’t expecting when reading this story is that it is essentially about how storytelling creates the world in which we live. It’s not just the events that matter but the importance of what the storyteller leaves in or omits that matters in our interpretation thereof. Are they noble or foolhardy? Was their sacrifice a noble one or is this simply a story used to inspire the rest of Greece to take up arms against a common enemy?

I had no idea what to expect from this book and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. It’s a great distraction that’s worth checking out – but try to figure out what the message is and what the point of the story is. Who is actually telling this story? It has more going on than you’d like to think. I didn’t expect that from a book with a hunchback and multiple head-spearings.

It inpired me to pick Alexander the Great and Greece when I fired up Civ IV on Sunday. Unfortunately, my phalanx units were not so successful against barbarians.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Contract With God Trilogy

I've decided to continue posting for a while yet. I hope that someone returning to comics like I recently did finds these useful. I'm using them, the comic shop and the local library to catch up on the history of great works out there. If there's anything you think I should check out please let me know.

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I enjoyed this book for pretty much the exact opposite reasons I enjoyed the first volume of Ultimate Spider-man. This isn’t a straight forward story and it doesn’t explore the lives of the characters in extensive detail necessarily. The plot jumps forward and moves along between the panels as much as it does in any single panel. It’s interconnected as I used to say during my English Lit days. And with each volume I see that it isn’t just the relationships between the characters that is being explored but how they relate because of their attachment and association with a location. The characters relate because they are connected to Dropsie Avenue and the street moves from being a setting for some disconnected stories to a setting for connected stories to becoming the focus of an entire volume.

As the book progresses we learn more and more about the location as we do about the characters associated to it. In the end we learn that without the location we’d have no characters to read about at all. But much like Polanski’s MacBeth we see that the action and behavior of people in this location is cyclical. Not because of the location but because people are simple creatures at their core both blessed and cursed with the gift of consciousness.

Now this book is divided up into three separate volumes and was never planned to be one larger epic. That’s fine by me. I read them all as they came out in chronological order. And well, you can see the progression, not just of Eisner’s vision of what graphic storytelling should be but at his constant evolution and improvement as an actual storyteller. The books start in a simpler form then gets ever more complex with Eisner experimenting in the actual way he tells a story, not just the artwork which is consistently some of the best ever created. Eisner is, simply put, one of the apexes of American artists. In regards to the story structure, the first volume is more like a collection of short stories that are all set in one location. The second volume takes a more complex approach with Eisner weaving multiple storylines and characters around one another, again they are all connected to the location but their lives are all drawn together through various mishaps, fate, accidents, happenstance, dumb luck and human generosity. While the last volume the story is focusing on the location and observing the plethora of humanity that washes around it.

Oddly, the more Eisner focuses on the location the more human the stories become. The more the focus is removed from individual characters the more we get to see the human condition for what it is in its glory and degradation. I do think this is all the more powerful when you read these stories together since we see how people are set up as unique beings in the world. They are more than simple creatures striving to stay alive so the heights they reach are that much higher and their lows are that much sadder. They simply know better and have the ability to be better, unlike cockroaches for instance.

This is one of the better works of fiction I’ve ever read about the human condition. While the characters desire simple things or want to simplify themselves to basic instincts, wants and needs they can’t. They can’t reduce themselves as much as they can’t escape the fact that they are human. As we get closer to the characters we, the reader, are more sympathetic to them. We may not actually like them and they may not actually be nice people but we can sympathize with them. When we watch the maw of humanity from the point of view of the indifferent location we see that as a whole they tend to work in cycles that they can’t escape. It should feel fatalistic but it doesn’t. It feels like while each individual is capable of greatness the group reduces them because of the limits inherent in social interaction. How many times have you had the same conversation with someone? Try to explain to someone that comics are moving and brilliant sometime to see what I mean. That person might be a great person but when they resort to social expectations they revert to something assumed about the unknown.

If you haven’t read any of these stories yet, I implore you to do so at your earliest convenience. These really are some of the most original stories and some of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve seen in a long time.