Sunday, September 17, 2006

Attention Spans & Comics

I listen to really long audio books at work, and one of the comments I've been hearing from coworkers recently is "Gosh how can you stand to listen to one story that long? Don't you get sick of the characters after a while?"

Which made me pause, as to me the longer a book is, especially if it is a good one, the better as I like getting involved with the characters. Yet I wonder if that isn't as common as at least it once was, as even among comic fans sales decline at a fairly steady rate on even the most popular series.

As a comic fan I've experienced and seen the love fans have for characters. These characters are like old friends to many readers, and getting to come in and check in on their lives so often is a huge part of the draw for many readers.

Yet I wonder if the common person isn't interested in followingthe same characters for such a period of time. Oh it might be fine to go spend 2 hours every other year on a Spider-Man movie, but that same person might not be interested in reading Spidey's adventures every week.

Look at TV, many of the most popular shows are reality TV shows. Which has a new cast and location every year. A cast that also decreases as the show moves along, meaning less info for the viewer to keep up with.

Yet meanwhile comics continue to complicate their stories, not in terms of story quality, but in the amount of info you need to know to follow along.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

News from Baltimore Con

This past weekend was the Baltimore Con, with lots of your usual comics news being released.


Joss Whedon to Take On Runaways

Proving me wrong in my previous post, where I wondered why even continue Runaways with series creator Brian Vaughan leaving. Joss Whedon, whose work on Buffy, Angel and Firefly TV shows was amazing, has me thrilled to see what he'll do on this series of young people with powers and attitude.


Thor and Nova get new series relaunches. These are two characters I've grown an interest in during the past year reading old back issues and/or collections.

Too bad they are both done by creators, JMS and Dan Abnett, whose comic work I have yet to find a taste for.


DC to Collect Who's Who in B&W Showcase Volumes Perhaps I'm missing the reason for collecting bios on characters and situations that are no longer relevant? It just seems like a sort of painful reminder to readers of what DC no longer does.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Runaways Creative Team Leaves

I must admit to being really dissapointed in the news of writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Adrian Alphona's exit from the Marvel series Runaways. It has been one of the more consistently entertaining, and fresh ideas to come from Marvel in quite a few years.

With its little ties to the Marvel Universe as a whole, it was able to breathe and do things that other series couldn't do because of the inertia of time and continuity that burden them.

The series will continue with a new creative team, and Vaughan says he wants to see it develop into a franchise. Yet this is one instance where I would rather just see the series end. Because if it does become that successful, it will likelt lose much of the appeal it brought to bear.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Galaxion Returns!

Via Johanna


One of the first "indy" comics I ever read was Tara Tallan's Galaxion series, which was a combination young people soap opera, Star Trek like sci-fi series. For years I've been hungry to see more of this series, and now I finally can with new pages every Tuesday.

I am really stoked for this!

What Have I Been Reading?

Actually I'm even amazed at myself at how odd an assortment of things I'm reading currently.

52 - No one is more surprised than I am to be reading this weekly series from DC Comics. For a long time I thought that I was through with the company, yet this weekly series has some how held my interest.

I can't help watching, perhaps in the way one can't help but look at a car wreck, for poor Ralph as just as it seems he's reached his lowest point they manage to drive him down even further. While Black Adam's role as a true vigilante hero in the vein of the original Nazi tossing Superman of Shuster and Siegel always draws me in.

Of course the series probably holds together better since I read 4 or 5 issues at a time since I get them through mail order.

Showcase: Elongated Man - I'd been a fan of Ralph and Sue for a long time, but hadn't read many of their individual stories. This collection going from Ralph's first appearance in the Flash to his run in Detective Comics was interesting.

The stories are a bit sappy, and just plain silly in spots, but they were still fun especially to see just how wildly Ralph used his powers. I was bummed that something as important as Ralph and Sue getting married wasn't covered in a story itself though.

Get a Life - This collection of Monsieur Jean stories even surpassed my already high expectations from reading other strips. As we get looks into Jean's single life, that never gets too sappy or wishy washy, but is heartfelt, entertainingly done stories of life in a clean easy to read style.

Arkham Asylum 15th Anniversary HC - Actually found this on a bargain rack at Books a Million for $3.58, despite the $29.95 cover price. I'd been interested in reading it for years, but I must be blasphamous here. I can't stand the art. It tries so hard to be intense and mood driven, that it fails to allow me to follow what on Earth is going on in the story.

The extras were interesting, especially to see a Morrison script, as well as discovering that Morrison could easily be an accomplished artist from the panel breakdowns he drew.


I'm back. Where have I been gone? Nowhere really, I just got a new promotion at work, and found myself a social life. I also found that for a long time I just had nothing to say about comics or perhaps not enough to go throught the trouble of writing. Yet anyway I'm back and let's see how it goes now.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Fastfood Stupidity

I love hamburgers, I don’t like cheesburgers though. Everytime I order a hamburger lately I get asked “Do you want cheese on that?”

I always want to fire back, “Did I say I wanted a cheeseburger? No I said I wanted a HAMBURGER. A burger with cheese is called a cheeseburger, a burger without cheese is called a hamburger.” Yet I’m too nice, and I guess I’m worried about getting something else on the burger I didn’t want.:)

Yet it has just made me shake my head in consternation the past few weeks as I place my order at Sonic, and the lady calls back “That’s a cheeseburger with no cheese…..”

I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it, but it can be frustrating.

Favorite Comics of 2005

Hot Gimmick - This soap opera series about the loves and internal politics in a Japanese corporate housing continued to be my favorite running series. The different plots lines of young love, obsession and how people of all ages can use each other just keeps me hungry for more.

Every new volume gives me a different perspective on things, like in Vol. 10 were I suddenly realized why Hatsumi, the 16-year-old lead who finds herself in a tug of war between young suitors and her family’s delicate job related politics, had feelings for Ryoki. (the son of the boss who runs both the company and corporate housing unit)

Ryoki is physically abusive, self absorbed and power mad. Yet of all the people seeking Hatsumi’s affections, he’s the only one totally honest about how he feels about her. Which makes him stand out to her, even if it is a wrong choice, though none of the suitors seem to be a right one for her.

Tramps Like Us - Following Sumire Iwaya, a young career woman who has taken in a young man(nicknamed Momo) off the street to be her pet has been an interesting ride this year.

I started off not really caring a lot for it, as while I love reading about Sumire, Momo just seemed annoying. Yet the more I read, the more I grew to love both characters, as they are there for each other through difficult times.

This is the one truly adult, I mean in terms of maturity not porn or bad words, manga I’ve been able to find so far. With themes of office politics, trying to love someone you’re supposed to, while really being in love with one you’re not.

These are adult concerns told in fun, but sympathetic ways, that makes for an interesting read.

Human Target - Writer Peter Milligan took human chameleon Christopher Chance on a journey delving into the very nature of identity, using stories pulled from today’s biggest headlines.

This book made me think why I and others may act as we do, as Chance has to question these reasons to become the people he does. It was a series that ended far too soon, and I only wish they’d collected the last storyline. (since I missed the last few issues)

Legion of Super-Heroes - My one fanboy conceit title here, as this is the one superhero title I have a personal connection to. Having met and bonded with some of my closest friends through it, and its rather unique spirit really drew me in at a time I was thinking of giving up comics years ago.

In recent years I’d given up on the comic sadly. I became a fan after discovering the series during the Giffen and Biernbaums era, where its internal connections and sense of anything can happen(including blowing up the Earth in my first issue) drew me in. I devoured back issues and archives, and learned even more once I got online and could talk with fellow fans and those professionals responsible for the books.

Yet shock stories, mismanagement of characters and just pure boneheaded moves drove me away.

Then Mark Waid and Barry Kitson come on board for yet another reboot, and I can’t believe how well it worked. Here is the core concept of young people trying to make a difference, in a futuristic world that is full of wonders.

Yet while keeping to the core, they are not rehashing old stories or even old relationships. These teens are familiar and have the heart of what made the original characters so loved, yet these are different kids with different experiences.

Making this one of the few series that is mindful of the past, while strongly moving ahead in fun new directions.

Gosh I feel kind of bad to have such a short list, yet over this year comics really took a lower priority with me. Add in that a lot of favorites went away, and that there seemed to be very little new to replace them. Made this a year that while it had a number of things I was interested in reading, nothing new* particularly stood out to make it a favorite.

*I did read and loved the first Scott Pilgrim GN this year, but since it came out in 2004 I didn’t want to put it on the list. Hopefully I can read the second and third one before the end of this year.

Nana Vol.1

Nana Vol. 1 Ai Yazawa’s Nana follows two very different young women who seem to have little in common at first except that they share the first name of Nana. Yet as their stories progress we see they share similar paths, though the way they reach it is from different perspectives.

Nana Komatsu is a young woman who continuously finds herself in adult romantic tangles that she isn’t ready for. While her body might be that of an adult, her emotional sense is still very childlike. She only sees men as potential love interests, which to her mind means sex.

When an older married man she had been sleeping with tells her he’s moving to Tokyo so their relationship is over, it devastates her.She turns to her friend Junko, a strong, confident art student, for help. Yet Junko has a secret of her own, she’s enrolling in an art school in Tokyo that will mean leaving Nana alone as well.

Nana Komatsu’s story is one many have to go through, as friends leave to pursue their dreams. Nana at first wants to cling to them, and follow their paths that aren’t for her, at least as she is now.

She must eventually learn to stand on her two feet, and find a strength and direction of her own, not lean and depend on others.

Nana Osaki’s is a completely different character though. While Komatsu leans on others and is unsure of what she wants. Osaki is strong and knows exactly what she wants, to be a rock star.

Yet she too must learn the hard lesson of losing those close to her, as they seek paths of their own. Her love Ren is the lead guitar of the band she’s in, but has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to join another band that has just signed a major record deal.

Osaki’s path is different though, as she can easily go with Ren to Tokyo, marry and have his kids. Yet it would mean giving up her dream of being a singer herself.

Despite how much she and Ren love each other, that path just isn’t for her. She can’t give up her dreams, even for love, because that would be a betrayal of who she is at heart.

The theme of love not being enough was very emotionally moving, because it was handled so well. There is no right or wrong here, there is just the circumstance that they find themselves in.

It is an impressive first volume, future volumes will have the two Nanas meeting each other, and I’m curious to see how they react given how different they are. Yet with their similar paths they should find some common ground.

Recent Comic Capsules

Infinite Crisis #3Infinite Crisis #3 - I really want to like this series, as I really like DC’s stable of characters. With this being the foundation of years worth of future stories, I want that foundation to be strong enough to make what comes after fun.

Yet it just isn’t working out, as I feel like this mini has been a collection of scenes from other stories I’m no following. I don’t feel like I’m getting a story out of this unless I go out and follow all of these other books as well.

Green Lantern #6 - Don’t let the cover or blurb on the DCGreen Lantern #6 website fool you, this issue’s art isn’t by Ethan Van Sciver, but by someone named Simone Bianchi.

This issue has some of the worst artistic storytelling I’ve seen in a comic in a long time. It seemed like someone did paintings on a bunch of vans and then tried to say they were a story.

The panels and pages could have been put in any order and made as much logistical sense as they were here.

Which is a shame, as I thought a story with outer-space gremlins could be a blast, and a fun nod to a more innocent time.
X-Factor #1X-Factor #1 - As a fan of the Peter David written Madrox miniseries from last year I had high hopes for this series starring the same cast, just expanded.

Those hopes were met and then some, as while the issue mainly focuses on Jamie (the lead of the Madrox mini) the brief glimpses at the other members has me intrigued as well.

Most importantly is that unlike many other new team books, this first storyline isn’t about getting the team together. The team’s already there, though they are possibly expanding, which is a refreshing change.

Legion of Super-Heroes #12 - It’s a shameLegion of Super-Heroes #12 that Mark Waid isn’t more involved in the Identity Crisis miniseries.

He’s doing exactly what that series should be doing here, by juggling a huge cast that are each on their own missions. Giving them all equal time and importance, while leading to something bigger and more dangerous on the horizon.

He even has the knack of bringing in past favorite characters and story elements, only from new directions. Like the introduction of one of my favorite past Legionnaires Shrinking Violet, known as Atom Girl here.

Though it may take me a bit of time to get used to her being a kick butt, take no prisoners hard-ass. Rather than the quiet, reserved young woman with a hidden strength that even she doesn’t realize at times.

Yet that’s something that makes this series a favorite of mine, familiar elements of the past done in new exciting ways.

Green Lantern Recharge #3

Green Lantern Corps Recharge #3

Despite having one of the ugliest covers in some time, the contents inside are often quite fun.

Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner are going against protocols by entering a restricted area of space to rescue a captured colleague.

I was a bit worried when I heard the GL Corps was returning that the GLs would lose their individual personalities. Often military stories focus on the big picture, ignoring the small, and making everony a generic character.

Yet at least in this mini that has not been the case, as Guy is still the irrelevant loud mouth, whose bark is worse than his bite. While Kyle still questions his role, and is willing to work outside of the box if pressed to while trying to do what is right.

Unfortunately, while the human characters are still interesting. The alien characters still lack that level of connection for me. Two alien GLs from warring races are just too generic so far to make their bickering matter. They come off more as the odd couple rather than two bitter enemies out for one another’s blood as their story should be.

The female alien, Natu, who comes from the same race as GL’s arch foe Sinestro and whose entire race has a burning hatred for anything Green Lantern related after what Sinestro did to them during his time as one. She has the most potential, as she sees her first duty to be as a doctor, not a part of the hated GL Corps.

This should be been fodder for many stories, yet in just two issues that conflict seems resolved because she gets captured and then gets an empowering speech from Kyle. That just seems like too quick a resolution, especially considering that if the ring hadn't picked her she would never have been captured in the first place.

Art wise, artist Patrick Gleason’s work is very uneven. At times his figure work and scene layouts are quite intuitive. While at other times it seems like everything is mashed together, making heads look squashed. I'm not sure if this is the artist's frailty, the fault of having two different inkers, or perhaps a production problem that for some reason doesn't resize the art correctly.

Whatever it is, it can be quite jarring to see, especially in regards to other scenes where the problem isn't evident at all.

Still Kyle and Guy's buddy movie style interaction make the book work. The two characters play off each other well, with Kyle being a calming influence for Guy, that doesn't come off as preachy since Kyle isn't as stodgy as others. While Guy brings out Kyle's independent nature, as he is someone Kyle can relate to but not be in awe of as some of the other legendary GLs are.