Sunday, October 31, 2004

More Quick Comic Takes

CSI: Demon House TPB

I just realized this, but IDW's CSI comics series is probably the best comic adaption ever. It really feels like watching an episode of the show, as the dialogue is spot on, and the art captures likeness well. Yet it doesn't forget that the characters must tell a story, so the characters still look like people not statues as too often happens.

In Demon House, the team is investigating a robbery at a charity Haunted House center, that rather than having ghosts teaches kids lessons through actors playing out various sinful scenarios. (drug abuse, adultery, spousal abuse)

The robbery closely resembles the M.O. of a string of convenience store robberies. Yet while there, an actor in one of the "plays" is shot and killed while on stage. Leading the team to split up to cover the two different, but possibly connected mysteries.

The writing is sharp, though I was a little disappointed about how easy the mystery wound up being. The journey the team went on to get to that conclusion was interesting, yet a little more depth would have been appreciated.

The art for the present time is sharp and does the likenesses well without seeming stiff. The flashback sequences by Ashley Wood take a bit of getting used to though. On first glance they are quite sketchy and hard to define, yet further study reveals an emotional undertone and careful attention put into each image.

The only thing missing was the cool "The Who" soundtrack that always opens the show.

Remote Vol. 3

Going just by the cover alone, and my experience with the previous 2 volumes. I know to expect some teasing of a sexual nature going in, since those volumes had a large spotlight on the lead's underwear and had her nude in the shower once in each volume.

I kind of laughed and shrugged it off though, as I was really interested by the highly fun lead character. Who is a former meter maid, forced into being a partner for a genius criminologist who won't leave his room. So seeing her go out on these dangerous missions provided a fun adventure, in sort of the way the TV show Scarecrow and Mrs. King provided.

Then comes this volume, where I can't ignore the sexual nature of the story any longer. As it involved the lead going undercover at a school which is locked down under a bomb scare. Because a girl that went to the school was repeatedly raped and forced to become a prostitute by some really sick students at school.

These events are shown in great detail in the book, seeming to almost glorify in their horridness and made me wonder if they were supposed to get a gleeful charge out of the reader as well. Especially since these scenes are followed up with more crotch shots of our lead as well.

That's just too much for me, and has made me back away from this series in a permanent fashion.

Target Exclusive Mary Jane TPB

I'll admit that I wrote off the MJ series, after trying issue #1 and saw the attention it gave to Spider-Man. I wanted to read about MJ's teen life as herself, not as Spidey's girl as she has often been portrayed as.

When I saw this collection at Target I decided to give it another shot, and was glad I did. The follow up issues really downplay Spider-Man's role, which is greatly appreciated. MJ's crush on him is easier to relate to as if it was a pop or TV start who we can feel there is no hope with. (despite knowing different)

This is the best I've ever seen the other kids in Spider-Man's teen world portrayed. From Flash's obnoxious front, that hides a deeper person than one expects, who has a deep caring for those close to him. To Harry's portrayal as something other than the rich guy who feels sorry for dorky Peter Parker.

These characters are really fleshed out and gives a more solid base for how and why they act as they do. The story of young love, and the insecurities that brings to have these adult feelings, but not the experience to know how to deal with them. Is nicely handled and really pulled me along.

This only collected #1-4, but I really want to hunt up however many issues of the series there are left.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Quick Comic Takes

Ocean #1 (of 6)

Sigh, this book is an example of why I read more collections and graphic novels rather than single issues these days. It isn't a bad comic, it just isn't one that left me feeling as if I'd gotten my money's worth.

The mystery of the first few pages with the discovery of coffins under the ice of Europa (a moon of Jupiter) is a good one that has me intrigued.

Unfortunately nothing in the book after those first few pages seem really necessary so far. Since it deals with the man apparently in charge of the investigation of the mystery, as he journeys to Europa.

I wanted to get on the the mystery, not watch this guy spend page upon page of "crossing the street", "throwing his coffee away", "take a seat on a ship to outer space", "talk to a guy about how bad space travel used to be" etc. It just felt like marking time, and seemed like space better suited for something else.

It struck me as if when interviewing Neil Armstrong, asking what he thought of the Red Sox winning the World Series rather than about the moon landing.

Hopefully the series will read better in collected form, as I know that is how I'll now read it if I choose to. At least I got to see the lovely Chris Sprouse art, which has come so far since his Legionnaires days.

Adam Strange #2

As a reverse to the way little seemed to happen in Ocean #1, this book was jammed pack with action. Adam's battle over the streets of Gotham City was very well paced out, and lasted just long enough to not lose its tension.

It is hard, to me anyway, to do convincing action in comics these days. The chase here had to have a sense of movement and logic, that allowed the reader to follow along and not lose their place. Which this does amazingly.

The mystery of what exactly is going on in Adam's world has me intrigued, and the cliffhangers are paced just enough to make me want to see what happens next.

Target Exclusive Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up

This book is a bit of a mixed bag, as Todd Dezago and a mixture of artists try to modernize comic stories from the past.

I really wish I had read the original stories, in order to have a point of comparison. Yet here goes on what these stories read like to me:

With Fantastic Four - Spidey is once again trying to find a way to get some money out of his powers. This time by proving to the Fantastic Four how great a hero he is, in hopes they'll admit him as a member of their team. Only to discover that they don't earn a salary, but live off the stipends of Reed's invention patents.

The wordy dialogue of the era is kept, though the dialect is modernized a little. It's interesting to see a lighter approach taken here, but I couldn't help but cringe at the number of coincidences or awkwardness of the villain explaining out loud his entire plan. While he was trying to quietly sneak into a secret government facility no less.

With Captain America - Gosh, no wonder Captain America has such a hard time garnering fans sometimes. Here he is a walking public service annoucement, delving off into long, never seeming to end speeches about civic duty and the like. That had Spidey in awe for some reason, but left me having the check my pulse to see if I was still alive because it was so dull.

With Kitty Pryde - This is the fun kind of story I miss from bygone days. When Kitty, a trusted X-Men who handles world ending threats on a daily basis. Gets ordered to babysit for some local parents by Xavier who wants her to experience a normal life. (What she couldn't go to a movie then or something?)

The kids and her get kidnapped by the Morlocks though, where they meet up with Spidey as well, and they all work together to find a way to get free. Which in the end turns out to be in the form of communication and understanding of differences.

Just a sweet little story, that reminds me of the joyful innocence comics had at one point.

with Thor Goodness, how on Earth did anyone stand reading Thor's painful dialogue in these old days of dialogue heavy plot dump?

Still this story works because it doesn't take itself seriously. As shown by Spidey trying to teach Thor how to trash talk, and its hilarious turnout. Or learning that Thor's favorite TV show is Spongebob SquarePants, this comic made me laugh out loud, which doesn't happen very often.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Lost our sense of fun?

Today was the day we celebrated Halloween at work, with everyone allowed to dress as whatever they want as long as it didn't involve a mask. (federal work site) I was really surprised at the lack of participatation though. Of the over 1000 people that work there, I only saw 20 people at most in costumes.

Have we lost our sense of fun? I know some folks can't afford to do much, but the general feeling of apathy or "how silly" attitude really surprised me. It seems like everything must be taken so seriously these days, and that people are afraid to have fun.

Comic related: Only superhero costume was someone wearing a Wonder Woman suit, not many superheroes who don't have a mask I guess. I colored my hair red, and found a long green shirt and brown pants. Which enabled me to go as Shaggy, outfit cost me about $12 total.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Hana-Kimi Vo. 1
Hisaya Nakajo
English Adaptation by Gerard Jones
Translation by David Ury
Viz, 184 pages $9.95 (February 4, 2004)

Mizuki Ashiya is a young Japanese-American girl who has engineered a transfer to a high school in Japan. She has a crush on Izumo Sanyo, a world class high jumper who goes there, and will do anything to meet him.

When I first heard of the concept my immediate thought was how similar that sounded to the television show Felicity. With the "stalkerish" obsession the two leads have with a boy they know little about. Yet this one has a strange twist in that it's an all boys school.

Ashiya gets around this by pretending to be a boy, and by coincidence winds up rooming with Sanyo. Things get complicated for her quickly though when she learns that Sanyo isn't quite what she expected him to be.

He's not only lost interest in the high jump, but his aloof manner toward everyone and his direct rebuff of her attempts at friendship shatters her preconceived notions of him.

Also complicated matters is the school doctor who learns her secret, and another boy who, despite himself, starts developing romantic feelings for Ashiya.

This is a comedic series at its heart, yet in its humor it does some wonderful exploration on gender expectations and roles. Such as when Ashiya must participate in the soccer game, despite not having any true interest. Because it is expected of her as a guy. Or how she must chide herself about not acting "girly" in how she shows her concern for those around her.

The most interesting aspect though, is her classmate Shoichi's growing feelings for her. He has some trepidation about those feelings at first, because he believes she's a guy and he never believed himself to be gay.

Yet his eventual acceptance of those feelings is really well done, and was the highlight of the book for me. Because its a mature take to have a character get over their own built in belief system, and be true to their own feelings.

The art is lovely detailed, with faces lavishly detailed and backgrounds full of realized. Sometimes it is a bit too much though. Some of the panels overabundance of details can make it hard to distinguish what exactly I am looking at.

The panel sizes and layouts are pretty varied as well. I couldn't tell in some instances what to read next and found myself reading things out of order.

Yet still it is a fun series, with likeable characters, in a story that makes me think and should remain fun for a while. There is an unconnected backup story, about a young girl being pulled in by a bad boy. The art was lovely, but I thought the characterizations lacked some of the heart that the series does. Or perhaps I just don't get the whole "bad boy" fixation one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Quick Note

Just a quick note tonight, I've been a too sick with a stomach flu to do much. I hope to do some big writing tomorrow and over the weekend. Here is my amusing comic book related link:

I wonder if they don't sell the bible either? A comic book creators who does series based on stories in the bible has trouble selling his book in some Christian stores because:

some Christians object to the graphic images of their comics. Samson, for instance, has been criticized for being "too violent and racy," and some distributors refused to supply Christian bookstores with the graphic novel.

The Bible is one of the most violent and racy books that was ever produced. It strikes me as a a wee bit odd that readers would expect it to be sanitized in another form.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Target Marvel Age Line Expands

Holiday Special - I wonder how retailers feel about stories from a book that wasn't solicited until last month to them, are out now in this collection?


"Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas" Marvel Team-Up #1 [1971] - Spidey and the Human Torch team-up against the Sandman on Christmas Eve. In this story by Roy Thomas and Ross Andru.

"Demon" Uncanny X-Men #143 [1980] - Kitty Pryde finds herself spending Christmas Eve along at the X-Mansion, until a deadly menace intrudes on her solitude. In a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

"Down and Out in Forest Hills" Amazing Spider-Man #314 [1988] - Peter and MJ are evicted from their apartment on Christmas Eve. In this tale by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane.

"Rhino Plastered" Incredible Hulk #378 [1990] - The Incredible Hulk finds Rhino working as a mall Santa, in this comedic take on Christmas by Peter David and Bill Jaaska.

Also new to the line are:

Mary Jane - Collecting the first four issues of Mary Jane Watson's life as a high school teen, by Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa.

Hulk - Collecting Marvel Age Hulk #1-4, a series I didn't know even existed.

Spider-Man Team-Up - Collecting Marvel Age Spider-Man Team-Up #1-3 by Todd Dezago and illustrated by various. With stories of the wall-crawler meeting the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Kitty Pryde, and Thor.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

New Comics Blog

Tom Spurgeon, former Managing Editor and then Executive Editor of The Comics Journal magazine. Has a new blog titled, The Comics Reporter. As an admirer of his work, I look forward to following the variety of content he'll have to offer there, so be sure to check it out.

The Wallflower 1: Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge
$10.95, Del Rey, 224 pages (October 12, 2004)

This comedic series follows 4 teenage boys, who are the cutest, most popular guys in school. When they get a chance to live in an incredible mansion for free they are ecstatic. The only one condition being that they must turn the owner's niece into a proper lady.

How much of a problem could that be for the four coolest guys on the planet? Well they've never met a girl like Sunako Nakahara before. After an experience as a young girl, where a boy she liked called her ugly. She's given up on beauty, feminity and the outside world in general. She likes horror movies, has pimples, frizzy-hair, no fashion sense, and has huge nosebleeds whenever she gets excited.

As the boys try to bring her out of her shell, as a reader I found myself attracted to her stubborn independence. While the reasons she's withdrawn into herself are a bit tragic, I got a sense that she likes who she is and what she does.

So seeing the boys efforts to change who she is can be an interesting parallel to how people always try to get others to join in what they like. Not really taking into account the virtues of individuality and letting others like what they want.

This is a title fraught with inconsistency and repetition though. The jokes as the boys try and fail over and over to get Sunako to change aren't really different enough to not get old as you read more. There is also the feeling that what Sunako wants to do isn't right, even though she seems perfectly happy doing it.

Which sort of sends and odd message I thought. Yes she probably does need to get out a little more, but showing her interests and entire behavior as wrong seems to go across the line a bit. Though near the end that starts to perhaps change, when she kicks the ass of people who do one of her friends wrong.

This title could be interesting as it progresses and gets past the world building phase. Yet it needs to do so fast, or I can't see readers sticking around long for the same joke over and over. Unless they are going for the traditional superhero comic audience who does seem to want the same gross thing over and over again.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Odd Interview

Italian Comic Webstie Interviews Writer Ron Marz - Yet so far the interview is all about US politics rather than comics. Do Italian comic readers really care what a US comic writer thinks about US politics? Ron makes some great points I thought, but still it just seems odd.

The interview is split into two sections, the top half is in Italian, and then the bottom half is the same interview in English.

I'm a sick man!

I went browsing today, just wanting to get out and get some errands done and have a breath of fresh air before coming home to read and do some writing. I have a TON of unread books here, that I really want to sit down and read.

Yet while out I saw such GREAT looking stuff that I just couldn't pass up!!

At the Flea Market I get:


Along with a Jonathan Frakes bio comic from a company called Celebrity Comics, which I can't find a cover for. I have plenty to read, and only a marginal interest in these actors, but darn it at $1.50 it was too good a deal to pass up.

It deepens though, as I then go to the mall where the local Waldens Bookstore had these manga/mahnwa books that again I just couldn't pass up not buying:

Sensual Phrase #4

Hikaru no Go #2

Couple #2 CPM

The last one I know NOTHING about, except that the cover looked cute. The interior art doesn't have the angular and cold look, that most of the Korean books I'd seen before.

I have plenty to read, but there is just so much cool stuff out there. I guess I just have to face it, I'm a manga addict.

What makes matters worse, is that I then come home but instead of reading I have an allergy attack. So I've been too busy sneezing to do any reading. Maybe tomorrow!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Quick Bits & Pieces

The Target Exclusive Marvel Age line of magazine collections has expanded once again. Today I saw new volumes for "Emma Frost" and "Spider-Girl" containing the same material as in the digests.

Apparently the TPBs at Target didn't work out though. Since I saw both the "Avengers" and "X-Men: Evolution" TPBs on the clearance racks. Marked down to $6.98, from the original $14.99 price.

I was also amazed at how Manga has now been extended to 4 full shelves at my local Waldens Bookstore. It is a fairly small store, so seeing such an expansion was a pleasant surprise.

I visited my sister today, and my nephew was playing the X-Men: Legends game for the Playstation 2. I watched for a bit, and was pretty amazed at how the graphics made it almost a comic book come to life.

I then found myself greatly amused while trying to figure out who the "blue naked guy" was. While wondering how it got past the ratings people, since you could see his butt. (It turned out to be Iceman!)

(Edit: The material in Emma Frost at least, is not the same as in the digest. It has been edited for space and content to fit the 96 pages format. Thanks to Dave for the correction!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Quick Thoughts on Recent Marvels

She-Hulk #8 - I've only been reading the series for the past month and a half, but the writing on the book is so incredibly strong that I'm hooked already.

I never knew much about She-Hulk before, but the humor Slott instills is actually funny, which is hard to do in comics. His ability to introduce the characters and storyline in such a way that it doesn't seem forced is great. I read too many comics, and so I needed this quick recap of how She-Hulk is under obligation to challenge the Champion in order to free a world.

The approach she takes to win, and just the fresh, positive feel of the series has me so invested.

The art is serviceable, but lacks a certain energy and the lack of diversity in facial expressions hurt some of the jokes. I'd started with the Pelltier drawn issues which had that energy, so this issue with a different artist was a slight let down. Yet still a fun read over all.

Warlock #2 - I know zip about Adam Warlock, and so I don't know how "wrong" this take could be to fans of the character.

I just know I'm really enjoying this very cerebral look at the super/science fiction hero myth. The exploration of what one should do with the power to do anything, and questioning what is right and wrong thing to do has been great. The Janie character offer the counterpoint option of compassion, to the cold intellect of the scientists. She is a great character, and is as key to the series as Adam.

I can't wait to see where this series is going, as I really have no inkling of its ultimate destination.

Madrox #2 - I missed #1, it was sold out by the time I got to the shop, but remember reading most of it online somewhere anyway. I was still able to follow it though,a s the script brought me up to speed very quickly.

Once again I know nothing about the character, hmm a weird trend that the 3 Marvel comics I get are ones on characters I don't know, but what I've seen has me intrigued. Jamie is such a fun character, and his power is quite imaginative and one that would seem to lean towards some terrific stories.

The mystery of what has happened to his duplicate has me curious to see its conclusion, and the characters are just so darn likeable that I want to see more of them.

I especially like the lush atmosphere the artist brings to the book, the world is fully realized and seems real as I read it. I like the attention to detail as well. Even though he's drawing the same character over and over again, each has a unique personality that comes through even if the character doesn't speak.

Wow three Marvel titles in one week that I really like. Maybe there is hope for the big two after all.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Quick Tuesday Link Blog

Ron Marz's first Creative Process Column at Pulse has a lot of gorgeous preview art to his Samurai: Heaven & Hell series from Dark Horse Comics. As well as some great insight into comics like this:

Comics, like every other form of entertainment, are cyclical. You get your time occupying a prime spot on the merry-go-round, of being hot, and after a while, somebody takes your place.

Newsarama on Identity Crisis #5The heroes take a proactive stance against the villains of the the cost of lives on both sides of the crisis! Unfortunately, nothing can prevent another loss in a hero's private life. With the stakes raised for everyone involved, things are going to get a lot worse before they get better!

Yeah who doesn't want more comics where despite the heroes best efforts, they fail to save lives? Who doesn't like for things to get a lot worse before they get better?

DC's hit on a "killer" idea to help sell books. Kill a supporting character a month, as you can always make more, especially if they are women. As only through tragedy and misery can good stories be told.


Comics of Interest

From Charles LePage's ComicList, these are the comics that I find interesting. All of which will hit comic shops this week.

Little White Mouse Vol 1 Perfect Collection TPB (resolicited), $12.95

Good to see this book about a young woman stranded alone on a space station finally arrive in the new manga sized digest format. The artist's style has a heavy manga influence, so should make the shift to smaller size incredibly well.

Othello Vol 1 GN, $10.95
Wallflower Vol 1 GN, $10.95

I picked up these two volumes at a book store chain nearly two weeks ago and they look promising.

Othello is about a girl with a split personality, one a nice innocent girl who lets others run over, the other a hard nosed "take no crap" force. Seeing how the different sides of herself relate to the people in her life should be interesting.

Wallflower is about a young girl who three young teenage boys try to teach to be a proper woman. The art looks quite impressive, and I'm looking forward to covering it and Othello when time permits.

Amelia Rules Superheroes #3 (Of 6), $2.95

I really love Amelia Rules! , a PEANUTS like series about a young girl as she makes friends and has adventures in a new town. I'd like to try this miniseries, but wasn't preordering at the time, so will have to wait on the hopefully eventual trade.


Video Girl Ai Vol 4 TPB 2nd Ed, $9.99

I really dig this Xanadu like series, about a young angel like figure whose purpose is to help young people win their true loves. Yet when she and her charge find themselves falling for each other, they find trouble from those up above who think they know better.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Ultimates, Rebirths, Reboots and Rehashes

Anyone looking at the superhero genre today, will notice a lot of familiar stories being told, or should I say retold over and over again.

Superheroes have always been a formulaic genre, but never quite to the extent as they are today. Be it Spider-Man taking on Electro for the 100th time in Amazing Spider-Man #400, or taking him on for the "first time" in Ultimate Spider-Man. They are still the same basic story.

Which means a lot of talent is required to make the story seem fresh and exciting to the audience. It still happens from time to time, Ellis and Immonen on Ultimate Fantastic Four for one, but as time goes on it seems fewer and farther between.

Be it Hal Jordan's return in Green Lantern, Marvel's Ultimate line, or the Legion of Super-Heroes reboot. All have become attempts at appealing the audiences, by revisiting characters and stories of times long gone.

This can work in the short term with some fans who just want to reread newer versions of the stories they read back then. Yet in the long run I think it will end in a zero sum game.

You can't really recapture past glory by copying stories of the past. By attempting to do so the people involved miss out on what made those stories great in their time.

Be it the Great Darkness Saga in Legion of Super-Heroes, Batman versus the Joker in The Killing Joke or other classic confrontations. What made those stories great wasn't writers attempting to recapture the feel of some older story, there weren't any to do so. It was creators who had a fresh idea or challenge for the book to follow, marking their own path.

Yet you rarely see that in many of todays superhero comics. Whether it is lack of interest and/or talent by todays creators, there seems to be nothing truly new happening in todays stories. When was the last time a truly new menace battled Batman? Or a new awkward situation challenged the future status of the Legion of Super-Heroes? I can't recall any, because the books today too often rely on the familiar paths.

Perhaps that why I find myself so drawn to the new or at least lesser used characters that the big two have to offer. They haven't had their classic run yet or set boundaries, and thus more can happen in them, then can ever really happen in most of the long-standing DC and Marvel series.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Comparing High School Football & LSH Comics

I went to my first high school football game in 16 years last night. If you've never been to one in the state of Texas, you are missing out on one of the oddest events you'll ever see.

The cities and towns take their games so seriously, and the traditions and such are so weird. That it left me thinking how close it was to the Legion of Super-Heroes traditions:

Football Game

Program required to know the players.

Before game players touch ceramic tiger for luck.

Fans both young and old dress up as football players and in strange outfits wishing they were playing.

Boys wear loose fitting, covering everything bland uniforms/outfits. Girls wear tiny sparkled and very revealing outfits.

Good sportmanship, challenging yourself while interacting with others is voiced. But basically comes down to beating the crap out of the other team, until you win.

Tries to live in past, with halftime music numbers being from the Westside Story play.

"Yay maroon, yay white, yay tigers fight fight fight!" is team slogan.

Older fans moan about kids constantly acting up and going their own path, and how great going to the game was when they were kids.

Legion of Super-Heroes

Whos Who required to know members.

Legionnaires "touched" on head to choose leader.

Fans of the Legion both young and old show dressed as members or in their own unique outfits, wishing they were members.

Boys wear loose fitting, covering everything bland uniforms/outfits. Girls wear tiny, sparkled, very revealing outfits.

Good citizenship, challenging yourself while interacting with others is voiced. But basically comes down to beating the crap out of the other team, until you win.

Tries to live in past by retelling old stories, and having events go in familiar directions.

"Long live the Legion!" is team slogan.

Older fans moan about kids constantly acting up and going their own path, and how great reading the comics was when they were kids.

It was an interesting evening to behold, that anyone writing about kids and hasn't been one in a while should definitely go to one for research if nothing else.

Sitting in the General admission section right next to the student section, I was able to view the different "caste" stations and age groupings. From young pre-teen on their own for the first time, to high school senior who this was their last year. It reminded me of some things I missed from when I was a kid, and others that I'm glad I've thankfully left behind.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Comic fans are "charming"

I knew I would find it as soon as I read this report at Newsarama about Mia, the teen girl who has been staying with Green Arrow, learning she was HIV positive in the newest issue.

The DC Message board hasn't let me down:

Aahh the Pedro Homage. We all knew it was coming

Darkcrisis77 says:I was wondering when the Pedro homage would be stuck in!

Atleast Winnick never disappoints there!

I was SURE it would ANOTHER gay character but we got a twist this time around!

Yippee! I SSSUUURREEE miss Pedro.

lukesdad : Im surprised it took him this long.

Im surprised that Winnick married that girl from the Real World. I figured he would dig up Pedro's bones and have a commitment ceremony with the skeleton.

The HIV issue

theniceman says :
Posted: 2004-10-13 21:34:03.0 I think it is very very dangerous and mean to give a message to children that someone with AIDS is "ok."
Especially with a non-super powered hero to suggest that they are not weakened and hurt, diminished physically is to suggest that the necessary precaustions that they must take against catching not only AIDS but MANY infectious diseases is misleading.

Should those with the disease be lauded for their struggle and sometimes bravery? Of course. Should we glamorize the disease and even suggest it is no big deal? Hell no!!!

theniceman : Take a look at her in her costume. A perfect sexy britney/christina blonde with a perfect body in skin tight uniform fighting evil along with the alien princess, and the rest. Super-heroes are glamorous, or didn't you know that?

Let her teeth fall out like what happened to the friend of MINE that got AIDS and then put her on the cover of the next Teen Titans annual! He was also of the opinion that getting AIDS was no big deal and so he dated a man with AIDS and that was how he got sick. At the time I tried to explain that there was no such thing as safe sex with someone with AIDS....but now he has no teeth.

For the record, I don't talk to him anymore. He continued after getting sick to have sex with people that he barely knew and not telling them. He believed that as long as he was "careful" they didn't have a right to know.

I personally don't know what to think about the story. I think in some regards it is good for comics to tackle social issues, but on the other hand this being a female character who has this negative thing happen is yet another in a long line of bad things happening to female characters there lately.

I thinkit is far too soon to label it as glamorizing before we see the story, and the attacks about Pedro are petty and should have them banned. Yet it shoould be interesting to see further reaction as the story actually progresses.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I want this!

Found this on ebay where the artist behind this bbook is selling a reproduction of the cover. The book is an "Adventures with the DCU" style book created by DC for ConEdison. Featuring the JLA, JSA, Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes and others, with a cover story titled "Learn why electricity and water don't mix." Which is fun I bet.

I wonder how many of these type of books that DC does a year? I remember as a kid reading the Radio Shack Superman ones, as well as a Supergirl seatbelt safety book.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Funny Iron Fist Related Story

Ron Marz was asked on his board about an old Iron Fist story in Marvel Comics Namor Anuual #3. He had a lot of interesting insights, but the best was about the cover:

One more nuggest: for the cover, Brian Stelfreeze did a painting of a woman in a kimono. The kanji on her sash says, "I am wearing no underwear." We didn't tell that one to the editor.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Other Quick Comic Takes

Sabrina #61 - It's Halloween in Sabrina's world, and the cool rich girl who hates her is throwing a party and invites everyone but her. Harvey foils the snob's plan by inviting Sabrina to be his guest though.

Which is good because there is a new girl in school, who claims to be a witch and so Sabrina wants to investigate given the magical world's rules against letting the "muggles" know about them.

This was the first issue of the Tania Del Rio run that didn't quite work for me. While the new friend Sabrina makes has promise and Salem the cat's new friend is cute. The book seemed very disjointed, with not enough time given to any one point to make me care. It is great to be ambitious, but too much at once seemed to happen here.

Adam Strange #1 - I don't know a heck of a lot about Adam Strange, and what little I do know has always struck me as very silly. Yet Diggle and Ferry make me care and like the character in one action packed, but still dramatically powerful issue.

It doesn't happen very often from DC and Marvel, but I can hardly wait for issue #2. As I'm involved right along with Adam, in wanting to know the mystery behind Adam's adopted home of RANN's disappearance.

Ambush Bug #1 (1985) - Almost twenty years later and this story is just as funny today as it must have been then. As the quirky green detective/super-hero takes on Republican terrorists who want congress to support new nerve gas production.

He is joined on this adventure by his trustee sidekick Cheeks the Toy Wonder. A lifeless stuffed toy doll, who so cutely gets batted, tossed and knocked around. Yet eventually winds up helping to save the day.

It feature hilarious political commentary, with hyper antics that are as relevant today as they were way back then.

Teen Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes Special #1

I used to be a HUGE LSH fan, but in recent years the concept went on a downward spiral that made me drop the series. With news of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson coming on board, to restart the series. I decided to get this book which promised to send off the current version, in order to make way for the new take.

On first read, the sendoff is one last whimper for a take on the concept that left me disappointed in recent years. Then when I read it again, I was fascinated by what seems to be a great commentary on why a new reboot is needed.

Recent stories especially have left the team's world a mass of rubble, as epitomized by the team's HQ being the mess they find it in. When disaster after disaster happens, the world the characters live in becomes such a mess that rebuilding in it can be more trouble than its worth.

The influx of SO many characters over such a short span of time, has left the team's members as individuals fairly undefined. When reading this issue I was struck by how, other than Brainiac 5, most of the dialogue was interchangeable and not distinctive of any one character.

Add in confusing subplots that even the character's can't explain, Live Wire's attempt at doing so about being in Element Lad's body was hilarious, and that most of the readers probably don't care about. Which in the end meant that the cutting of ties to what this version of the concept became, couldn't have come fast enough.

On the reverse side the little preview we get of the new take, is very promising. Teen rebellion has always been a classic theme to explore, and this one looks like it will take that theme to places it hasn't been in a while.

Instead of a military group as some previous versions had been, this looks to have the Legion be a movement for change. Which should make for a challenging read, as such stories rarely rely on "who is the toughest" to solve the problems at their heart.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Monday Links and Bits

I used the Columbus Day Holiday, it pays to be a government employee sometimes, to do some comic shopping today.

I picked up:

Teen Titans/Legion of Super-Heroes Special - Which looks to put the wraps on the current version of the LSH team, while setting up the new version to come.

Legionnaires 3 - A four issue miniseries featuring the 3 Legion founders (Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Lightning Lad) against the Time Trapper.

Adam Strange #1 - Andy Diggle and Pascal Ferry version of the character, looked far too interesting to pass up.

Ambush Bug - For years I've heard great things about this character who Keith Giffen created. When I saw one of the shops had 5 issues featuring the character in a pack for $6 I decided to give it a look.

TV Shows on DVD site has the news that DVDs of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" will start being released in 2005. I loved this show when it was on, as I thought it showed a true human side to the characters and was just a really fun show.

Too bad this news comes on the day after Superman movie actor Christopher Reeves passed away. His movies were what introduced me to the character, and made me want to read the comics as a kid. He always seemed to handle himself with true class both on and off screen, and was someone I really looked up to. He will be missed.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Sunday Link Blogging

I'm feeling really worn out after a bad night of sleep, so only a quick link blog post today.

Johanna Draper Carlson has a nifty review of Little Archie collection. I wasn't even aware of the stories until the solicitation but this part of her review struck a chord:

"Archie's resilience and cleverness shines through, placing him squarely in the tradition of such boy heroes as Tom Sawyer. I had a hard time reconciling a kid with so much gumption with the teenage slacker he supposedly grew up to be."

Has Archie always been a slacker? I'm not sure why but I always had the feeling growing up that he was a character that did a lot of cool things. Wasn't he a race car driver once? And then there is the band thing, with those around him (mainly Jughead) being the ones who didn't want to do something.

I wonder if it is only recently he's moved towards the slacker most kids are portrayed as. Or if I'm just misremembering old stories from when I was very young.

Ron Marz answers a question about his research material for Samurai: Heaven & Hell series on his board:

I was surprised to see him list fictional titles as research material as well, but I suppose it is good to see how things have been done by others. One of his recommendations, "The San Ichiro mystery series by Laura Joh Rowland (about a samurai detective)" sounds very intriguing to me. I'll have be sure to give it a shot in the near future.

Ah boobs talking about boobs On the JSA board is a thread that started out discussing the need to cover up Power Girl's chest. Yet has turned into a 30 page thread with fanboys discussing the merits of big breasts in comics.

Doesn't that make you proud to be a comic fan?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

More Meanwhile...

Excerpts from Bob Greenberger written Meanwhile... in "Legion of Super Heroes #27" dated 1986:

One of the promises of the direct-only side of the comic business was the variety we would be given. Since those early days when "different" titles like CEREBUS, ELFQUEST and FIRST KINGDOM were embraced by fans and shop owners alike, we have watched the field expand and contract.

Fans have kept the business thriving by wandering into their local shops every week and buying up the latest from the "Big Two" and whatever else attracts their fancy. Rather than encourage the expansion of the direct-only business by displaying an interested in the different types of genres possible, the fans, you the reader,have latched onto the super-heroes and little else.

He then goes on to discuss how fans also seem to only want cohesive universes. He talks briefly about how they got complaints from readers who were upset that a miniseries they did called DC CHALLENGE used characters in a non-continuity story.

I found the continuity thing interesting, but feel it is a trap they set themselves up for. With things like Crisis On Infinite Earths, DC made their shared universe a big deal in their series. So I don't really see how you could get upset only two years after the fact when fans want more of that.

I do think it quite surprising to see something from a publisher, pretty much taking fans to task for only buying what interested them.

While I agree with the basic point, as I too wish more fans would buy a more varied selection of comics. I have to wonder how a lot of readers at the time felt about being taken to task for not supporting diversity.

One of the things I've always found is that some fans who only read super-heroes, seem very defensive when you dare suggest they should try something else. This coming from someone inside the industry had to be especially eye opening to them, and I wonder what kind of feedback it received in return.

Though it is kind of scary to see that 18 years later, we still have the same problems going on.

Excerpts from "Meanwhile..." written by Dick Giordano in "Legion of Super Heroes #3" dated 1984:

If I were asked to sum up DC's publishing philosophy in two words (and incidentally, no one has actually asked me to do so). I would have to respond: diversity and commitment. (Er...the similarity between those words's initials and our company's name is purely coincidental.)

Diversity in genre, diversity in format, diversity in style. We strive to present a variety of styles rather than a standardized (but easier to attain)"house look."We know we could milk the success of TEEN TITANS and LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES by endlessly cloning or spinning off new titles from those(and other) titles. The advantages are obvious. The advantages are also short term.

Paging today's Marvel and DC editors, where every book seems to be a spinoff of a franchise book.

Instead we choose to build for the future with diverse formats, genres and styles like CAMELOT 3000, NATHANIEL DUSK, RONIN, THRILLER... yes, even OMEGA MEN, BLUE DEVIL, and VIGILANTE, which even though they fall broadly into the "favored genre" of super-heroes, try to appeal to different segments of the audience by using a different approach.

What? You mean someone actually realized at one point that not all superhero fans like to read the same thing. So that it was good to have options even inside it? Shocking!!:)

Something I bet a lot of would be comic creators would love to hear today:

We need to be very active in the solicitation of new ideas We have to read and examine 15 or 20 presentations for every one we select.

Seriously though, when looking at this article I was quite impressed by how much energy the ones running DC seemed to have. Their committment to diversity, and not just shoving anything that doesn't quite fit their core books off to the "weird" other lines. Was impressive and showed a bit of forward thinking, and a forward sight that I wish more people had today.

I especially liked that they realized the importance of bringing in new ideas and series, rather than just living off the franchise books as most of the big comic companies do today. No other medium relies on the exact same concepts, approaches and styles, with an almost hostile eye to anything different. Yet for comics it has become a way of life.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Anyone remember the old "Meanwhile.." columns DC used to put in their series. Which had articles, usually by Dick Giordano, about what was going on at DC, their thoughts on the industry and such.

I've been reading some old DC series, and reading these old columns has been a wonderful treat. I sort of wish DC would reprint them, but over the next few days I'll do a writeup on some of the highlights.

First up was Marv Wolfman talking about what would eventually lead to the move to the exclusive direct market that we find ourselves in today. He talks about how the creators wanted better quality of paper for the then super popular NEW TEEN TITANS and LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES titles.

Yet DC says that such higher production costs would mean they couldn't sell it at 7-11 stores, so would have to sell them at comic specialty stores only. At the time the books sold evenly well on both newstands and comic shops, so they were at a crossroads as what to do to not lose one audience.

Paul Levitz suggests doing two different versions, one for newsstand and one "super version" with the comic shops having both versions. Suggesting that the newsstand version could later become the reprint book for the main title, though a lesser version given the paper's limits.

I find it quite odd that DC would go into this thinking that fans would only want part of the story, or wait for the rest, and would be happy with an inferior product on newsstand. While reading just the TALES OF LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES issues of this, I was struck by how much I would be missing out on. Including a story resolution here and there, if I didn't have the Baxter series to read as well.

I really think they overestimated how much drive the common fan had to continue reading the series if they felt left out. I wonder if such troubles as going to a comic shop, if they had such a thing, or mail order as worst case to get their books perhaps made many fans decide it wasn't worth it.

It also just doesn't seem like DC had any forward thinking at the time either, beyond what they could offer their current fans by having them go to these exclusive shops. Making me wonder if anyone at DC thought about how they could get their product into the face of people who were not comic fans.

Yet then it was this type of behavior that has left the field in the situation it currently lies in.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Order Thought Process

I'm sitting down this week and weekend to make out my order from Discount Comic Book Service

I'm this far along so far:

Marvel Holiday Special TPB - Only $7.99, and I usually love holiday stories.

Marvel's Wha Huh? - Could be fun, especially the "What if Identity Crisis happened in the Marvel U.?" story.

Yet I've pretty much decided to pass on them both.

I look at the first one and there are too many by creators on characters that I've never cared much for. I find it hard to believe that a Thomas, Claremont or Byrne X-Men, Fantastic Four or Spider-Man from 20 or more years ago will hit home as well today

The main story that interested me in the volume was the Kitty Pride one. Yet I think she's a character that while I really like, I will never read a story that has what I like about her in it. Er if that makes sense?

Then on the second it is by a vast number of creators, with only a few exceptions who I doubt will get much space, telling stories that "skewer" the comic industry.

Yet I think many of the creators doing the work on it are "part of the joke" that the big two don't seem to get. So I doubt their jokes will be very funny, as I don't think they realize their own failings.

Or to sum it up, I firmly believe in the idea that you can't really be funny if you can't laugh at the stupid stuff you do first. Which I don't think the majority of the creators on this do.

Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 2 TPB - Ellis and Immonen for $8.44 seems like a great deal. Yet I just don't care for the FF, as the characters have always bored me. I love Immonen's art though, and reviews have made the story sound interesting. Yet there is a lot out there I want to try, and I'm not sure if I want one of my experiments" to be a Marvel book.

I'm beginning to wonder if the New Frontier series, first trade on sale for $9.99, might be one of those that "everyone should be aware of/read" given the near unanimous praise I've seen about it. Yet I don't know, it feels petty but I have a hard time supporting anything with the Hal Jordan character as a lead.

The nastiness some of his fans have perpetrated for 10 years, has just taken him from a character that held no interest, to one I just despise because of the zealot behavior he seems to inspire. Which is odd I'm sure, and I probably shouldn't let that effect me, but it still does. Kind of in a "I don't want to be associated with people like that" way.

SAMURAI HEAVEN & EARTH #1 - I've gotten to see some pages from the first issue of this series and was blown away by the art's beauty. It is the story of a samurai who must quest after his kidnapped love across the world. Which could make for a very lush story, that works on many levels.

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #1 - I used to be a HUGE fan of this series, but events of the past 4 years or so pushed away from the book. I'm willing to give the new team and direction a try, to see if I can be brought back into the fold.

SHE HULK #10 - I just became hooked this month when I picked up issues #5-7. Its blend of action and humor had me hooked quickly, and makes it the only regular series I will preorder.

LOVE FIGHTS TP VOL. 2 - I love Andi Watson's work, and though he's working in a genre (super heroes) here that I find myself tiring of, it is still worth reading.

AS IF TP VOL 1 - Descriptions say it is strips of life in 1980s high school , which sounds interesting.

LUNCH HOUR COMIX #1 - I enjoyed Robert Ullman's From The Curve: Grand Gestures one shot, and look forward to this collection of strips.

TEMPORARY CUBES AND LADDERS #1 - Johanna Draper Carlson's reviews of these two books, make me want to give them a shot anyway.

HOPELESS SAVAGES VOL 3 TP DIGEST EDITION - I loved the first miniseries of this about a family of punk rockers, yet found the art to volume 2 unreadable. Hopefully volume 3 with yet another artist will make it much more appealing.

SCANDALOUS GN I love stories about reporters, and this one about gossip reporters in the 1950s could be something really special.

BLADE OF KUMORI #2 - This series about a young woman who is the last in a long line of samurai, set in modern times. Gives me an almost Buffy:TVS series vibe from the art I've seen.

IDIOTS GUIDE TO CREATING A GRAPHIC NOVEL TP - I've never had any serious plans to make a comic of my own. Yet I've always found the process behind putting a comic together fascinating, and hope this volume will give me a great insight into the process that might even help my overall understanding of the field.

So thoughts? Anything I'm missing that I just have to get?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Oni is the Mainstream Argument

Oni as the New Mainstream article seems to have started a number, of discussions about the topic across the blogosphere.

I just see it as Oni trying for a different audience, that the direct comic market doesn't seem to pay a lot of attention to. Yes there may be some superhero movies and shows, yet there are far more other types of entertainment that for years comics has ignored.

Oni tries to play to it, and for that I applaud them, and do think their material is closer to the type of stuff that "comic civilians" would read. Rather than the superhero or artistically driven books that get so much press at times.

Of course, with the plethora of reality shows on TV perhaps even that vision of mainstream Oni has is becoming a bit outdated as well.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Monday Sundry

Why aren't you reading She Hulk? - I was late arriving to the party myself, just picking up issues #5-7 last week with the trade on order. Yet this has already become my favorite Marvel comic, possibly ever, as it blends great humor with nice action and bright ideas to make just a superb comic that is FUN.

Any comic that can do a "super villains shrink themselves and invade a superhero to escape jail" and not have the story seem hokey, nostalgic or snidely "see how dumb these stories were?" is aces in my book. Plus how can you not love Awesome Andy!

Future of comics?- Hal Jordan fans on the Green Lantern board were asked how many copies they were buying of the Rebirth series. Most seem to plan to buy at least 5 copies of the book in question.

Perhaps this is the secret to comics future? The same fans buying the same comic over and over again? That's not too far from what they are doing now, but I think I see now why there really is no support for diversity in mainstream comics.

Applause for Johanna - Who else can do reviews about comic books about an egg and in the recent past dots and yet make them sound like books you really want to check out. Not just laugh at what seems at first glance a really hilarious premise, kudos!

Oni the Real Mainstream - Nice piece at Newsarama, talking with Oni Press editor James Lucas Jones. Could be formatted better, as there is a ? every other word. Yet it discusses a lot of interesting items like Oni's place in the direct market, singles vs. trades/OGNs, and upcoming projects.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

CrossGen Revival?

On former CrossGen writer Ron Marz's message board leading bidder for the company John Taddeo has posted wishing to contact Ron.

Could this be a first step to reviving the CrossGen Comic line?

Commentary on Astonishing X-Men #4 & 5

I know people are reading this anyway for Whedon and X-Men, yet isn't that one the dullest covers to a comic you've ever seen? Ooh a big metal fist!

One of the bad things about having too many variations of comics or characters was put on display for me when I read Astonishing X-Men #4. At the end of the issue someone long thought dead, was found to be alive and so much of the last part was an astonishment by the others at that revelation.

As a reader though, it took me two or three minutes to realize why everyone was so surprised at this character's sudden appearance. Because with so many different variations I didn't immediately comprehend that the character was supposed to be dead.

Death happens and "unhappens" in comics so often it is hard to be surprised or much less keep track of. Yet when you tie that in with numerous versions of the characters, in different but similar settings. I wonder how many people can really keep up with it all?

Whedon is still doing quality work on this title though. He isn't reinventing the wheel here, and is basically telling a solid if standard for the franchise story about a group of mutants trying to make the world better.

Yet in an industry where most big name creators come on and seem to "break the toys " they are playing with. It is nice to see one who understands the process a bit better, and wants to leave things in a way that they are better and others can play with and enjoy for years more.

Will I look back at this run 10 years from now and think it was a definitive run? I don't know, but I do know that I'm enjoying the ride today, and that's more than most of the other things Marvel and DC has going for them right now.

Warlock #1

Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss when it comes to reading comics. In the past not knowing anything about the history of a comic has led me to some great reading experiences, because I don't have the connection and knowledge others do to know if something is "wrong."

This led me to becoming a Legion of Super Heroes fan, when I tried it for the first time with the controversial V.4 run, and is probably working now with this new Warlock series.

The only thing I know about Warlock, was that in some way he is connected to the Infinity Gems that Marvel's version of Darkseid Thanos is always after. So this entirely new version may be a slap in the face to the fans of the character, but for me I'm intrigued by what I see.

I'm not sure where or when this book is taking place, with jokes about no "spider bite" origins, I'm thinking it isn't in the Marvel Universe. Yet with things like acid rain making it hard to breath without masks it isn't in "our world" exactly either.

That doesn't really matter much now, but it was a question I did have given where this story seems headed.

Janine, a spunky designer, has been hired by a group of scientists to design a look for their new superhero who they hope will save the world. She believes they are movie producers making a superhero movie, and want her to design the look for it.

It's a thin plot for the first issue, but after reading it I felt intrigued not only by the premise but by the creators approach.

There are no thought balloons or captions in the entire book. The creators are taking the substantial risk that as when meeting new people, the reader must learn about the characters through what they say and how they act. Not by the cheat of getting inside their head and to their inner thoughts, and thus the living vicariously through their deeds.

That's a real brave approach, especially since it leaves a lot up to the reader to interpret what they see on the page. So the creators must put a lot of consideration both in dialogue and art, to give the reader the key elements of the story they are trying to tell.

There aren't too many books out there that seem to trust that their readers are intelligent enough to work at their reading. I hope they are rewarded with enough readers that do, to see more things along this line in the future.

Friday, October 01, 2004

"Coming Out of the Basement"

It's something every comic book fan has to do at some point, explain to new friends that you read and enjoy comics.

I've done so lots of times, and had to go through that once again today. A few weeks back the crew I worked on dissolved and I was put on another crew where I knew no one else.

I've made new friends though, one especially I am especially pleased by because she loves the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel TV shows as much as I do. Something I was enthused by, because I didn't know anyone else from my area that appreciated those shows.

Today I brought some of the comics I've gotten recently, to read on my breaks and she noticed and asked about them.

Now I'll say up front that I've never been ashamed of buying comics. If I was I wouldn't bring them to work to read. Plus for the most part, I think I buy comics that are of fairly good quality, so it isn't the comics themselves that causes the problem at times.

It can be the reaction that can come from the other person that can perturb me a bit. In the past I've gotten condescension, bewilderment and even pity. Which always cheeses me off quite a bit, because these folks who think nothing of spending $100 a weekend on beer or $300 on some stupid gun. Think my buying comics is something wrong for someone my age, but I usually just say F--- 'em about it anyway.

Still I was a bit wary, as I really like this new friend so far, and with her being my main connection at work I didn't want to lose that.

I was pleased this time though, as my new friend seemed to be actually interested in them. Asking questions about some of them, expressing surprise when I told her writers like Joss Whedon and the like were writing for them. Genuinely showing an interest in the books, rather than the previous best case, shrugging acceptance, I've mainly gotten in the past.

It was just so nice to meet someone who was genuinely open to learning about a field they knew nothing about. I'd never really realized just how much fun it is to be able to share my comic hobby with someone else. To talk about the things that really had me enthused, explain how something was done, and well just gab to someone about something that really interested me.

Especially given that before this to find fans who shared my particular comic interests, I had to go online. And even then there are only certain places and people who seem to like the particular things I do.

Which just made for a great day, and making me want to "come out of the comic book basement" more often.