Archive for February, 2014

A Mighty Wind


Mighty Avengers #6

Well, some ignorant Teabagger arsonist is getting chased through the city by swarms of pigeons. Probably a lot better than he deserves. The White Tiger is wearing herself out patrolling almost all the time. Power Man has just learned that his powers are strongest after he’s studied history, of all things. Spectrum never should’ve had her hair straightened. Luke Cage and the Blue Marvel have a big argument. And glory be, ring the bells, this issue is illustrated by Valerio Schiti, not that hack Greg Land!

Verdict: Thumbs up. NO GREG LAND!

For the rest of the story — lots of great moments of character interaction, particularly between Adam Brashear and Jessica Jones, and between Adam and Luke. I also really, really dig the bit with Spectrum regretting her hair-care decisions — I get the impression that her new hairstyle was decided on strictly because Land was too lazy to change the hair he’d traced from his Halle Berry pix.


Lazarus #6

The Barret family are, in the jargon of the corporate-blessed future, Waste. They’re not the mega-wealthy Families who own the world, and they’re not the proles who are useful to the Families. They made a life in the wilds of Montana, but a flood has wiped out their home, and they have to choose between rebuilding and getting even further in debt to the Carlyles or hitting the road and risking starvation and bandits to try to enter the Carlyle’s service as serfs. Meanwhile, Forever Carlyle tracks a security breach, unaware that others may be plotting directly against her.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Characterization and artwork are still outstanding, and I love the weird plausibility of this future timeline — the one-percenters have everything, the 99%ers have nothing, and the world has legitimately gone to hell.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • There are so many great superhero movies that could be getting made — if only Hollywood would get off its butt and start thinking seriously about stories and demographics. (Warner’s stubbornness on the Wonder Woman movie is looking more and more like a mental deficiency, and I can’t figure out why Marvel keeps sticking A-list actresses like Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow in supporting roles behind less impressive actors and less bankable stars.)
  • This article on the recent evolution/creationism debate is entirely worth reading.
  • George Zimmerman is one of the worst people in the country, and the fact that he keeps getting away with crimes, keeps getting paid real money, and keeps getting worshiped by the racist segment of the population should be embarrassing to the entire country.

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Friday Night Fights: Laugh it up, Fuzzball!

I waited ’til pretty much the last minute to get this done, so let’s skip the usual overbearing intros and get right into… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes to us from November 1989’s The Sensational She-Hulk #7 by John Byrne, Bob Wiacek, and Glynis Oliver. Shulkie and a bunch of new friends (spacefaring truckers, if you must know) have been captured by the diabolical Xemnu the Titan. Can the Glorious Green Giantess get the drop on the overgrown sack of hair?





That’ll do it for this week. Enjoy your weekend, guys and girls, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.

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A Marvelous Debut


Ms. Marvel #1

Just doing one review today, but it’s for what I think is probably the most significant pro-diversity comic put out by either of the Big Two in at least five years. I mean, it’s a comic about a teenaged Muslim superheroine, by a big-name writer, and it got a lot of publicity and a very high-profile release. Marvel knew they had something special, and they pulled out the stops to make it happen.

Our lead character, if you haven’t heard already, is a girl named Kamala Khan, a Westernized Muslim high schooler living in Jersey City. She’s got a few friends, including one who’s a bit more strict about her beliefs, and a few non-friends, who mostly seem to think she’s to be pitied because she’s not white. Her parents are fairly strict — not about religion, but about the upbringing of their children — and her brother is trying to be the best, most religious person he can be.

Kamala is obsessed with superheroes and desperately wishes her parents would let her go to parties with other kids from school. They forbid her to go to parties where there are boys, so she sneaks out one night to go to a party on the waterfront. Most of the kids are just not very nice to her and try to get her to drink alcohol. She ends up bailing on the party to go back home — and blunders into a cloud of the Terrigen Mists, which had been released at the end of one of Marvel’s recent crossover events… I really can’t remember which one, because they all blend together these days.

Anyway, the Terrigen Mists are what give the Inhumans their powers. And for the last few thousand years, the Inhumans have been leaving their hidden city of Attilan to breed with normal humans. That means that a certain percentage of the population have an Inhuman heritage, and if they’re exposed to the Terrigen Mists, they can get powers, too. And it looks like Kamala has some Inhuman ancestry.

She has a near-religious vision of Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Iron Man, who inspire her to heroism after she confesses that she’s always wanted to be like Captain Marvel. And then she wakes up trapped inside a cocoon, trying to figure out how to escape — and what she discovers when she gets out is not exactly what she was expecting.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Loved it even more than I was expecting to. And I was expecting to like it a heck of a lot.

I was a little in doubt about Adrian Alphona’s artwork, which looked a little odd in some of the previews, but the full comic definitely won me over. His artwork is quirky and a little cartoonish, but he’s really good with facial expressions and body language, and I think he’s gonna help make this comic a lot of fun.

G. Willow Wilson is the writer, a Muslim convert, best known for writing the World Fantasy Award-winning novel “Alif the Unseen,” as well as the graphic novel “Cairo” and the series “Air.” She brings a ton of personality to all the characters here — not just Kamala, but her family and friends, and even the party-hardy knuckleheads out at the waterfront. There’s not a stereotype in the bunch — not bacon-desiring, fanfic-obsessed Kamala, not her wannabe-holy man brother, not her strict, blustering, hidebound, but still patient and canny parents, not her wants-to-be-more-traditional friend Nakia, not her wants-to-be-her-boyfriend Anglo pal Bruno. They’re all interesting and non-stereotypical, and I’m really looking forward to reading a lot more about all of them.

Not that you wouldn’t expect it from a Muslim writer who’s written books starring Muslim characters, but the grandest thing about this book is probably the lack of stereotypes. Every Muslim character is a little bit different — Kamala doesn’t wear a headscarf or any other traditional Muslim clothing, and she madly desires bacon, which she describes as “delicious, delicious infidel meat.” Nakia wears a scarf, but her parents think she’s just going through a phase. Kamala’s parents are fairly Westernized, but still conservative, and her brother Aamir spends his whole day praying, partly out of devotion, partly because he doesn’t want to get a job. They’re all real people, as different from each other as any group of Christians would be from each other. It’s a wonderful contrast when most forms of entertainment still portray Muslims as fairly cookie-cutter characters.

Lemme go ahead and sum this up — I loved the comic, and I think it’s something you should read, too. Go pick up the first issue and get on board from the beginning.

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Infographic Theory

I don’t have a lot of time to write a review, so we’re going with something that we’ll be able to talk about pretty quickly.


Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong

Infographics are great for folks who have trouble grasping complex data analysis — which really means they’re great for almost everyone. It’s really hard to look at a column of statistics and be able to make hide nor hair of them. A good infographic makes data more clear to the layman, and if designed well, they can actually make data fun.

Tim Leong is a very good designer, a very good number cruncher, and he really likes comic books. And so we get “Super Graphic,” a book full of infographics about comic books.

It’s really difficult to show you how good most of these infographics are, because the book is really stiff, and it’s hard to get it set down on the scanner. Still, I found this one online, so here ’tis:

(Click to embiggen)

Among the other infographics in the book are graphs analyzing manga, the heights and weights of various superheroes, the histories (and mergings) of many comic book publishers, the ingredients of pizzas preferred by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a comparison of superhero-themed roller coasters, the political leanings of comic book characters, the stats on Charlie Brown’s baseball team, the influence of comic books on hip hop, a flow chart on how the Punisher determines who he kills, and much, much, much more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an incredibly clever book, beautifully designed, and grand fun to read.

My primary quibble with this book is that I kinda wanted all of the graphics to include useful data, and some of them are just there for the sake of silliness or showing off Leong’s design chops. For example, “A Personal History of Saying ‘Good Grief’ ” is just a black zigzag on a yellow background — in other words, the pattern on Charlie Brown’s shirt. It’s cute, but that’s about all it is.

But again, that’s a quibble. I had a blast reading the book, pored over all the stats, gloried in the graphic design, and found plenty of things to laugh about and learn from. If you love comics — not just superheroes, but all kinds of comics — and you love the statistics and data and minutiae of hardcore comics continuity study, go pick it up.

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