Archive for November, 2011

Snark Week

Snarked #2

Princess Scarlett and Prince Rusty are hiding out with Wilburforce J. Walrus and Clyde McDunk to avoid being captured by the traitorous royal advisors. They hope to be able to set sail to locate the King, but the advisors have other plans — they’re going to hire the most feared, most unstoppably unstoppable tracker and bounty hunter in the nation — the Gryphon! Will they be able to give him the slip, or are they all bound the the royal dungeons?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun cartooning and excellent, deceptively emotional storytelling. I love the re-imaginings we’re getting of Lewis Carroll’s characters, and the dialogue is quite good. You’ll definitely want to check out the backgrounds while you’re reading — lots of funny stuff gets hidden outside the main action.

Justice League International #3

Multiple giant robots threaten the Earth, and the Justice League International has not yet been successful at stopping even one of them. Do they have a chance when they have to divide their efforts around the world? Maybe if they don’t take the giants on directly. Booster Gold and Batman focus on the ground underneath a giant in Peru, while Rocket Red and Ice travel to Russia, Fire and Vixen visit South Africa, Godiva and August General in Iron go to Canada, and Guy Gardner checks out the situation from orbit. But there are more threats to be dealt with, both underground and in outer space…

Verdict: Thumbs up. In a way, I want to not like this — it’s not a particularly deep, meaningful comic. The villains are pretty forgettable. The dialogue is not ideal, though the characterization is getting stronger. And I don’t know why a bunch of giant robots and a huge spaceship would mobilize a bunch of second-stringers and not the entire Justice League. But it’s good, solid, unapologetic superheroics. I like the characters, I like the costumes (and since so many of the A-list DC Reboot comics have been plagued by awful costume changes, that’s saying something special), I like the action, I just plain like what I’m seeing here.

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Walkin’ Away Blues

The Amazing Spider-Man #673

Spider-Island is over, the Queen has been destroyed, and everyone in New York City has been de-spiderfied. That means a lot of people hanging around NYC without any clothes on, which brings us plenty of very funny episodes. Most of this issue is dedicated to wrapping up the previous storyarc — Aunt May finally gets to leave the city for Massachusetts, Kaine leaves town, Carlie has figured out that Peter is Spider-Man and breaks up with him, and Peter finds out from Dr. Strange that the spell that kept anyone from learning his secret identity is no longer in effect.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I think after that lengthy storyarc, it’s nice to get a little breather issue in. Love that cover, too, by the way…

American Vampire #20

We get a flashback within our flashback as the Indian woman in the cave tells Hole in the Sky, the renegade Apache leader, her story. She was formerly the wife — or maybe the slave — of a frontier trapper. She agreed to travel with a party exploring the country as a native guide. She enjoyed the journey, but became suspicious of the party’s captains, and soon discovered that they were vampires. When they caught her, she was turned into a new kind of American vampire — and her bloodlust was almost entirely uncontrollable. Desperate to find a way to keep herself from killing more and more people, she blocked herself inside a cave — until Hole in the Sky set her free. Even then, she doesn’t want to cause any more harm, and Hole in the Sky, disgusted with what he sees as her cowardice, kills her. But is that the end of the nightmare, or just the beginning?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice story, nice characterization, nice art, and a fun twist on vampires from a Native American perspective.

Swamp Thing #3

Much of our story focuses on a kid named William, who has to spend his life inside a plastic bubble because he has an extreme allergy to chlorophyll, and he’ll die if he ever leaves a sterile environment. His doctors want him to socialize as much as possible with other kids, but some of the other kids, even terminal cancer patients, are a bit psycho and are looking forward to ways to pierce his sterile bubble and expose him to the air that would kill him. Meanwhile, we get to know Alec Holland’s new benefactor — Abigail Arcane, who used to be the Swamp Thing’s lover, but who Alec can just barely remember. It turns out that, like Alec and his intrinsic connection to the Green that makes him a natural candidate to become a Swamp Thing, Abigail and all of the Arcane family have an intrinsic connection to the Black, the underworld of dead matter. Oh, and you know William, the kid in the plastic bubble? His last name is Arcane, too.

Verdict: Man, I do not know. The horror here is very good. The art is top-notch. And I think it was clever to name the doctor in this issue for Dick Durock, the actor who played Swamp Thing in the movies and TV series. But I think I’m starting to get really tired of Alec Holland not being Swamp Thing. I’m not going to be able to stomach more than one or two more issues where Holland isn’t mossy, noseless, and slow-speaking…

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Friday Night Fights: Ibac for More!

It’s Prize Fight night, and SpaceBooger has declared that it’s a night for Arch Enemies. And I looked around my comics, and I don’t have any particularly good fights with Batman and the Joker, or Superman and Lex Luthor, or Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.

So I went wandering a bit farther afield and hit on the Big Red Cheese. There are some fights between Captain Marvel and Dr. Sivana, but they’re a bit anticlimactic. But there was at least this battle with one of Cap’s sub-arch enemies, Ibac.

So, from July 1973’s Shazam! #4 by Denny O’Neil and C.C. Beck, here’s Captain Marvel vs. Ibac!

And of course, Ibac surrenders soon afterwards.

Don’t forget to head over to SpaceBooger’s place and vote on your favorite fights!

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Cabaret Goon

The Goon #36

Nowheresville gets a visitor this issue — a real live burlesque performer named Roxi Dlite! She’s on the run from just about everyone for crimes ranging from simple seduction to theft to murder and everything in between. Once she and her pilot Abercrombie blunder into Nowheresville, they decide to re-open the burlesque house, but are quickly captured by the harpies and Madame Elsa — but Roxi quickly turns the situation to her own advantage. Meanwhile, the Goon and Franky have stolen the world’s most expensive knick-knack and peed on a wealthy dowager — but will they be able to keep the knick-knack out of Roxi’s greedy hands? And will Franky ever know true love?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very funny, very cheesecakey, wonderfully violent and crude. All the things Eric Powell and the Goon do best.

Avengers Academy #21

It’s a new day for Avengers Academy — Veil has left the program, but it’s now been included to allow any powered teenager to be trained at the West Coast Avengers campus. But the previous members of the Academy are now worried that, as the potential villains they all are, they’ll be thrown out by the Avengers. And that leads to the Academy members trying to beat up the Avengers, which doesn’t go very well. But the Avengers realize that they need to treat the kids with more respect, and they introduce two new members joining the inner circle — Lightspeed from the Power Pack, who’s now about 17 years old, and White Tiger, who gets her powers from her Jade Tiger amulets. But Jocasta, who has been trying to figure out a way to help all the Academy members, has just been killed — something pretty tough to do to a robot with multiple backup bodies — and it looks like someone on the Academy campus is responsible.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of appropriate teen angst — and they’re able to do it without killing each other. See that, Teen Titans? It’ll be nice to see some new members, too. Only downside — it’s too bad that the first time Jocasta does something interesting, she gets killed.

Static Shock #3

Static once again avoids death at the hands of Virule and the Slate Gang — and Virule learns that he can replicate if he’s exposed to Static’s energy. Virgil tries to figure out a way to track down the Slaters by using his own experiences with the gangs in Dakota’s Paris Island, which serves to get him some respect. Will Static be able to survive another confrontation with the assassins?

Verdict: Thumbs down. It’s boring me. I mean, the most interesting thing about this issue is the bizarre situation with Virgil’s sister and her clone. But I’m not going to stick with this one any more. I love the character, I love Milestone’s comics, but I can’t stick around forever and wait for it to get interesting.

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Boredom and Solutions

Well, here we are. I’ve got nothing I particularly care to blog about. I’m done with all my reviews, at least ’til I go pick up new comics this afternoon. Not that I’ve got a lot of enthusiasm about that either, because I’m really feeling burned out on reviewing comics. There just isn’t much that feels like it’d be fun to blog about. I don’t have any particularly old comics that I could scan and make jokes about. I could run a “Dose of Awesome” post, but I can’t think of much that feels awesome lately. Waffles? Strawberries? Sleeping ’til just barely late, but not late enough to get a headache, on the weekends? No, nothing that feels like a really good topic.

Part of the problem is that there’s just not much worth getting enthusiastic about in the comics biz. I’m not saying there aren’t good comics out there, both from independents and by the big companies. But I’m well past the point now where I’m able to get very excited about anything anyone is offering.

DC’s rebooted 52 is an exercise in undisguised cynicism. Even with titles that are otherwise pretty good, you just can’t escape the idea that Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns are having a laugh at our expense. And that doesn’t even get into the way they keep treating women and non-white readers as some sort of barely tolerated embarrassment, only good for drumming up outrage, not so much for telling good stories to. There’s nothing like feeling used and disrespected to make you want to skip reading comics for a few months.

Not that Marvel is a lot better. Sure, they’re not doing anything as blatantly disrespectful as the “New 52,” but any company that’s still letting hacks like Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar call the shots is never too far away from pulling off something that’ll make “Red Hood and the Outlaws” look like Sunday tea with your maiden aunts.

On the other hand, I really do like a lot of what I’m reading from Dark Horse, IDW, Boom, Image, and other companies. In a lot of cases, they’re the only publishers who are really working to push the comics bubble. They’re working to expand what comics can do.

I think the only way we’re going to see exciting comics again is to work at it ourselves. If you write or draw, and you want to break into comics, it’s time to take Marvel and DC out of your Future Ambitions file. More and more often, working for the Big Two is a good way to tell stories the corporation wants but no one else does. Work on your own characters and your own stories, whether it’s within comics or somewhere else. Write webcomics, novels, screenplays, short stories, videogames, roleplaying games, children’s books, you name it.

And if you can’t write or draw — and there are plenty of us who can’t — keep reading new and good stuff. Keep pestering DC and Marvel about what a bad job they’re doing — because ignoring them just sends a message that we all approve of them. But let’s keep an eye out for good stuff, and let’s make sure other people know about them. Comics as an art form — heck, storytelling as an art form — must move forward, whether or not DC and Marvel are in the lead or at the back of the pack.

There won’t be much to be enthusiastic about immediately, maybe not for a while. But it’s got to happen eventually.

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