Tuesday, July 31, 2007

San Diego Comic-con wrap up

So, San Diego has come and gone again, and now it's time to look on to the rest of the year.

Well, frankly, I am Comic-con-ed out! Whew!

This years was awesome, and it was a first for me. I saw how big it all was last year, but this year? Jesus. No matter how many folks scream at you about how big it is, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED!
After all the crowds, all the smells and all the screaming of Comic-con, you did have the Panels, and here is some of the Wisdom from the con:

+ Only at Comic-con can you find people with legitimate eye patches on
that are not pirates.

+ Finish it! Submit It!

+ Before you get that big project you dream of, you need to get
published EVERYWHERE.

+There is a difference between what happens in a story and what a
story is about.

+Proof the fuck out of your books

+If you don't look at something you did 5 years ago and don't hate it,
you're not doing it right

+Comics are Graphic Design and Poetry

+I want my work to be like ransom notes for hostages, people didn't know
were missing

+ When you're drawing your characters, that is the only time your touching them

+What you're working on, that is your work

+Nothing is more Amateur that poor lettering

+Why does this story need to be told?

+Be creative with you idea, but be creative with your business

+You may look at it as a comic, but really you're creating a business

There was some more stuff, but whatever I didn't write down on my Moleskine, I really didn't retain in my brain. It could have something to do with getting out of the con and getting fucking ripped every night.

I'm surprised that I didn't buy that much loot too, except for some heavy ass Frezzato Albums from Heavy Metal, my bag wasn't that heavy. I did get a lot of indy stuff wherever i could so i may put something on later on in the week about it.

You can pretty much see all my coverage on here through FLICKr and my Blog.

Ok, time to decompress and get back to work

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

...regular transmissions to resume shortly...

The Heart's been beating a little quieter than usual lately ... once we get over the summertime hump that is San Diego, expect us to get back up to speed. In the meantime, enjoy your summer, read some comics, and may the Force be with y'all!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Comic Bandwagon?

First Zuda, then Go Phone (They've been around for a bit thought) and now Virgin Comics merging with Myspace to make comics? Oh WTF? Every jump on the COMIC BOOK band wagon! Whoo!

You know I don't want to be the guy whining about a lot of what's been going on in webcomics and comics in general, and say that it's some type of exclusive "thing" to "us" the die-hard fans/creators, or it's some culture people can't appreciate, etc, etc, etc.

All this news is to the contrary.

But just look at the state of punk rock : Hot topic, crying, pussy fart, dead, garbage.

I remember when we used to really suffer to get a zine, when we used to travel hours on a bus to go to some far off fucking record store, just to find an Operation Ivy CD.

We suffered for our punk.

Hence why each and every fucking song meant something to us, every damn album was a painstaking ordeal, and every mix tape was ourselves making reality a little bit better for us.

I remember when a Misfits shirt was hard to come by.

Now that shit is gone, and you can download the stuff off the net in a second. Sometimes you don't even have to pay for it. You're deluged with video on Youtube, of concerts and videos that you had to by off some fat fuck who smelled like bourbon, tacos, and ass.

And if you want to look the part you just have to go to Hot Topic where they'll sell you a personality for the low cost of any type of ingenuity and your parents credit.

You know what? Thats fine. That shit if over. Let it die, and be happy you got to experience and go forward. YAY. It's jsut sad that it's not there now for the kids growing up. It's all changed and shitty, made in a little bite sized morsels, and it's gone in a second. Nothing was made to last forever but this stuff is a joke.

So if this comes to comics, fuck me silly, but that would just be so sad.

That's why I'm worried about the future of comics, only because I saw what all the publicity of the "salesmans" can do, like it did to punk rock, and Punk is deader than fried chicken, my friends.

I don't mind people making money I just hate to see something I love be shitted on for it.

By the way I'm going to San Diego Comic-con next week...screwy ain't it?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Review - Star Wars: Legacy 14

By John Ostrander, Jan Duursema & Dan Parsons
Colors by Brad Anderson, Letters by Michael Heisler
Published by Dark Horse Comics, July 2007. $2.99

It’s summertime, so I’ve been re-playing KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPBULIC. Which means I’ve been walking around in my daily life and imagining lightsabers. More than usual, I mean. So I tried one of the many STAR WARS comics to see what was what in the world of the not-movies.

I’m not a big fan of the Expanded Universe stuff. I love Star Wars, as it existed circa 1984 -- the first three movies, the old figures, the Millennium Falcon. Everything else (prequels included) has been like fancy fan-fiction, and that’s fine with me. It’s fun to imagine and re-imagine Star Wars and it’s characters, but like anything some of it hits and some of it doesn’t.

Playing KOTOR and reading this issue of LEGACY -- the setting of the latter being 137 years after the first (released) Star Wars movie -- it seems like the general pattern of non-movie Star Wars stories is that the Jedi/Sith conflict is one that repeats itself over and over again. There’s always a Jedi in danger of falling to the dark side, and there are always scoundrels and bounty hunters getting caught up in the action. The Republic is always on the verge of collapse, and there are always new colors of lightsabers to be seen.

LEGACY’S Jedi in question is Cade Skywalker, a Luke’s descendent and a surly youth. He abandoned the Jedi and became a bounty hunter -- sort of like taking Luke and Han and blending them into one character. But the thing is -- Luke and Han worked best because they balanced each other out. Cade is like everyone’s high school D&D character. He’s the smartest, most charismatic, fastest, strongest, Force-iest character around, and while that makes him pretty badass to the teenager playing him, he’s not very interesting as a fictional being. And seeing him square off against a new legion of Sith, in this case Darth Krayt, who looks kind of like Stryfe from Marvel’s old X-FORCE series, just feels like the same old Star Wars story in a new pair of pants. There’s a Wookiee, there are Imperials, there’s a Hutt and a hot twi’lek -- but the pieces are rearranged into a new design.

I understand the appeal of that -- in the case of the first KOTOR it was very satisfying. But while LEGACY is competent, it doesn’t have the freshness KOTOR had. It’s interesting to see how the creators make the familiar Star Wars pieces fit, but it doesn’t have that spark of Something New necessary to keep anyone but a die-hard Star Wars fan coming back.

Tell me more: Star Wars Official Site, Star Wars @ Dark Horse.

New Avengers 32 addendum -- advertisements

The ads in NEW AVENGERS 32 were interesting -- I swear, almost all of them were for Marvel-related products. Wolverine boxer shorts, Hulk movie contests, Marvel Heroes purified water (“The Coolest Water in the Universe!”), Marvel rides at Universal Studios Orlando, and the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer video games and, um, milk.

But the really weird one was a two-page spread from Marvel Toys advertising a line of “Legendary Comic Book Heroes” action figures, with a line-up straight out of, no kidding, 1996 -- Monkeyman & O’Brien, Madman, The Darkness, CyberForce, the Savage Dragon, the Pitt -- weird, man. I would have loved them if they'd come out when I was in high school -- er, I mean, elementary school.

Review - New Avengers 32

By Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Yu
Colors by Dave McCaig, Letters by AS & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Published by Marvel Comics, July 2007. $2.99

… and then there’s NEW AVENGERS. Now, on paper? Marvel Comics, Skrull invasion, Spider-Man crackin’ wise, jet planes crashing? Awesome. Well, not literally I guess, because here it IS on paper, and it’s kind of … less than awesome.

This is probably the third separate occasion I’ve picked up an issue of NEW AVENGERS, because I want to like it so much. And I wouldn’t have even bothered this time around, except I read a six-page preview on Newsarama featuring the team on a jet arguing about Skrulls, having the same kind of conversations internet fans were having about who could be a Skrull and why, and it was funny and clever, and I saw it on the shelf this week and said -- yes, okay. New Avengers.

The backstory is this -- the team fought Elektra in the last issue, Elektra died, and turned into a Skrull. The assumption is that this signifies a Skrull invasion of Earth, in which anyone we know could be a Skrull -- and who knows how long they’ve BEEN a Skrull. Which is a pretty neat idea -- not brand new, but a kind of retro-cool that I appreciate in my superhero comics.

The art by Leinil Yu is positively gorgeous -- lots of blacks, thick lines, but also great facial expressions, especially from Spider-Woman. But when paired with Brian Bendis’s wordy panels, and the entire New Avengers team riding on a jet, in a pretty complicated seating arrangement -- it’s often difficult to figure out who’s talking, and what’s happening. The characters don’t really have individual voices, so when it’s hard to tell who a word balloon is pointing to, the words therein don’t really clear it up either. The latter half of the issue involves a (Spoiler Alert!) plane crash, and there are some intricate goings-on within the plane that are hard to figure out here, too. It took me three reads to figure out what’s going on between Wolverine and Spider-Woman, for example. So while the art is gorgeous, it doesn’t always flow so well.

And while the words are clever, there are just flat out too many of them. I know it’s cliché to say that of a Brian Bendis-scripted comic, but the dude’s got a certain reputation for a reason. There’s one awkward paragraph in particular where Spider-Woman gives us 88 words (I counted!) about the history of aliens in America and Spider-Man’s reasons to distrust the media that a simple writing exercise could’ve helped -- “cut your word count here in half, and see how it reads.” Odds are, you’ll still get the info you want, and the restriction will make you the cleverer for it. Um, Mr. Bendis. Sir.

There are a lot of high points to his dialogue -- his Spider-Man is spot on, with lines like “Was that Skrully of me?” But whereas GREEN LANTERN 21 starts a superhero epic that conveys history, moves the plot forward, but doesn’t overwhelm -- NEW AVENGERS 32 is too much talky, too confusing to follow, and really only has one thing that happens plot-wise. The Skrull Invasion’s a neat idea, but I think I’ll hold off on my big Marvel crossovers until Mark Millar is writing them again.

Tell me more: Skrulls, Brian Michael Bendis.

Review - Green Lantern 21

By Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert.
Colors by Moose Baumann, Letters by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics, July 2007. $2.99

A pair of superhero sagas tonight -- first, GREEN LANTERN! The cover says this is part two of “The Sinestro Corps War,” while page one says it’s chapter one of “Sinestro Corps” -- either way, this issues features the fallout of Sinestro’s master plan to wipe out the Green Lanterns throughout the galaxy. Now, I was born and raised a Marvel man -- I kept up with DC mostly through the SUPER FRIENDS and SUPER POWERS TV shows, so I know Sinestro is the pink guy with the mustache who fights Green Lantern. What this issue tells me is that he’s teamed up with an assortment of DC baddies -- Cyborg Superman from the “Reign of the Superman” story of the 90’s, Superboy Prime from INFINITE CRISIS, and the robot Manhunters from I-don’t-know-what -- and they’re murdering Green Lanterns, following the rings to their replacements, and murdering them too. The villains wield yellow power rings, and there’s an evil insect-like parasite involved called Parallax that used to possess to Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and now possesses Green Lantern Kyle Rayner.

Whew! The good news is that most of that information flows like honey and doesn’t impede the enjoyment of the story whatsoever. In fact, it probably amplifies it -- even without the benefit of a “Previously In…” page like Marvel uses these days, it’s not that hard to get caught up in the story, and it feels -- in a good way -- like I’m being plopped into a superhero sci-fi epic that has been going on for some time now. There’s a lot of history here to take in, especially for someone (me!) who doesn’t know many Green Lantern specifics, but it reminds me of the way I felt when I read SECRET WARS as a kid -- there was a large cast of characters with pre-existing relationships, but I was able to keep up with what was happening now while appreciating the history they were sprung from.

There are a few points of confusion -- why Sinestro is embarking on this master plan, for one thing. Sinestro’s history as a Green Lantern himself is alluded to, but it’s not explained how things went sour -- something about a fall from grace, and too much pressure placed on his shoulders. I also don’t know if I buy Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Earth, as the doubting hero unwilling to bear the burden of leadership. I thought Hal was supposed to be fearless, the greatest Green Lantern there ever was. But I dunno, maybe that was Earth-2 Hal, or pre-Crisis Hal, or something like that.

This is still the opening salvo of the Sinestro Corps storyline, so there’s not a whole lot of forward movement here -- but I’m for sure coming back for more. GREEN LANTERN and “The Sinestro Corps War” is shaping up to be one good superheroes-in-space epic.

Tell Me More: Green Lantern.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Boys, Volume One: The Name of the Game (Issues No. 1 - 6)

The Boys, Volume One: The Name of the Game (Issues No. 1 - 6)
Dynamite Entertainment; $14.99, June 2007
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Darick Robertson

If you commute to work via public transportation, then you know what a lifesaver a good comic book can be. A gripping plot spirits you away from the shouted cell phone conversations, the ever-present reek of urine and sweat, and the general jostling that you are subjected to as a passenger. “The Boys Volume One: The Name of the Game” trade paperback had taken my brain so far from the train that I may as well have been in my own fortress of solitude… until I turned a page to reveal a full-length image of two buck-naked, sweaty cartoon people having sex (doggie-style, no less) and shouting expletives at each other (we’re talking F-bombs, here). I was suddenly reading obscene cartoon porn in plain view of a massive crowd of people crammed into a little box with nothing to do but cast furtive glances at each other. Needless to say, I snapped the book shut.

But I had to know what happened next! The need to read torment me. And that is what The Boys is all about: A tale so gripping - yet so depraved - that you will feel anguished for enjoying it. Don’t let that stop you. Read this comic. It’s going to be legendary.

On the surface, The Boys is the story of an anti-hero team that has reformed to police the world’s superheroes on the C.I.A.’s tab. (The American government being the only country with enough money and paranoia to fund such a motley crew.) By no means a public organization, The Boys shepherd the superheroes with sordid and dirty tactics ranging from blackmail-crafted public humiliation to all-out street brawls, in order to remind them who’s really in charge of this globe. However, the corrupt capes and the revenge-bent (or otherwise-demented) anti-heroes are simply the Capulets and the Montagues in what promises to be the most vulgar, riveting and gut-wrenching Romeo and Juliet story to ever grace the pages of a comic book.

The Boys are a unit of four men and one woman: The Frenchman, Mother’s Milk, Butcher, The Female and Wee Hughie. The Female (“of the species” as she is parenthetically noted when she is introduced, which provides a gleeful hint to her primal nature) is a silent, petite, Asian version of Transmetropolitan’s Yelena, with a penchant for literally ripping the faces off of her targets. She isn’t overly developed in the first arc; in fact, she hasn’t spoken a single line yet. You get the sense that Garth Ennis is masochist-ly savoring the buildup to her breakout moment. Mother’s Milk is a Luke Cage-type Bad-ass, with a soft spot. He can makes the Feds jump with a snap of his fingers, but he can’t discipline his own daughter. The Frenchman resembles (to me) Desolation Jones. Darick Robertson claims in his sketchbook notes in the back of the book that he was concerned about making him look too much like Spider Jerusalem. Teetering on the bipolar edge of insane rage and boundless affection, The Frenchman sports a trademark set of red goggles and some very expressive crow’s feet.

The protagonist with whom we are to identify, Wee Hughie (our Romeo), is the focus of the first arc. The Butcher is trying to recruit him as the fifth member of The Boys. Hughie is intentionally drawn to look like Simon Pegg (most famously Shaun, from “Shaun of the Dead”) and of all the sketchbook extras included in the back of this trade, Wee Hughie’s are the best because they show the trouble that Robertson had trying to capture the (as he puts it) contradictory combination of “innocent but tough determination” that Ennis wanted the character to portray. Wee Hughie’s got every reason to whole-heartedly jump into The Boys’ work, but he’s too realistic of a character to be that one-dimensional.

The supes in this world are a hierarchal mishmash of regional teams, with the “The Seven” at the top of the heap. Annie January, a.k.a. Starlight, (our Juliet) is the newest member. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed, cleft-chinned and barrel-chested (were you expecting anything less?) team leader is the Homelander. The rest of the team comprises Queen Maeve, a big-breasted lush of a valkyrie; a be-goggled speedster named A-Train; the dark knight Black Noir; Jack from Jupiter, the token alien; and The Deep, who is, as far as I can tell just a guy in an antiquated diver's suit (possibly a statement on the ridiculousness of all aquatic, yet land-faring superheroes?).

There’s not much else I want to reveal about The Boys, because I don’t want to be a spoiler. There are plot points that create new arms in the superhero mythology. There are scenes that push the limit of deviance and moral acceptability, which are nonetheless entertaining and therefore confounding. The events and conversations that happen in first volume of The Boys will make you laugh out loud, and also occasionally blurt “Oh, fuck!” and “Holy shit!” The Boys houses a collection of plot twists and turns, one-liners and quote-able quotes that, when you meet your mates out for a pint later in the evening, you will recount with relish, as they were something that happened to you during your day. Jings! Did I mention this should be for “mature readers only”?

P.S. The Boys is, according to Wikipedia, a creator-owned property, which vouches for its genuine depravity and creativity. The first six issues were originally published by DC-owned Wildstorm, before Dynamite took over.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Review - X-Men: First Class No. 1 (of 8)

X-Men: First Class No. 1 (of 8); $2.99; June 2007
Writer: Jeff Parker
Pencils: Roger Cruz
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorist: Val Staples
Cover: Marko Djurdjevic

This is that "safe" issue you have been waiting to buy for yourdaughter/niece/wife/girlfriend. X-Men First Class No. 1 has what I like to think of as "The Big Three" of stereotypically non-fangirl, superhero-focused comics: 1) there is no outrageous violence, 2) it contains only a few gratuitous depictions of the female physique (none at all, really, compared with your standard X-Men issue) and 3) it has a "girl-power" focused plot.

Not that I need gratuitous violence (though I do appreciate it on occasion, if it's accompanied by the proper wit; Check back later for my upcoming review of "The Boys"), but if you are going to have a comic book plot that is primarily focused on superheroes' relationships, the writer has really got to whip up some sterling private moments to keep those pages turning. X-Men FC No. 1 is all about Marvel Girl and the trials and tribulations of being the only female on the newly formed X-Men team, alongside Cyclops, Beast, Angel and Iceman. It's a worthy premise that's short-changed by being crammed into a one-issue arc.

Professor X sums up this plot for the reader in an interjection that's about as subtle as a Tony Stark pick-up line. Faster than you can say "Xavier," Sue Richards, a.k.a. The Invisible Girl, flies in to mentorJean, and immediately gets called back to save Manhattan from the Mad Thinker and an Awesome Android. Now I ask you: What teenage girl, upon hearing that her assigned role model is cutting out early on the job, is going to blurt, "I wish you didn't have to leave. I'd like to hear more of your insights"?? So, maybe it's not the most awkward statement, but it's just not something Jean would say.

Herein lays the snafu of introducing yet another re-telling of the X-Men’s origin: Because we fans know our beloved characters so well, and because they are so well-established, Parker’s writing is held to a higher-than-normal standard. Even otherwise forgivably bland or dull writing can seem offensive, such as my example illustrated. Jean’s witty. She’s a sullen teenager. And it’s the Invisible Girl, which is just begging for some corny “What, you’re going to disappear on me already?” pun.

On the other hand, when the writing is true to character, the author can tackle present-day issues, such as what it's like to be the only female on a superhero team, and give the reader a new level on which to identify with the characters.

There are some nice moments. In one particularly touching instance, Jean and Sue are quietly picking through some debris to sniff out theThinker's lair and Sue lets slip some worthwhile advice in casual conversation. This scene is capped off wonderfully by an excellent display of the Invisible Girl's power, in which she turns an entire sprawling, rocky valley transparent to reveal the underground hideout. I think Parker captures Jean's reaction juuuust right: "Sue…you're a little bit on the AWESOME side."

The art is what I'd call "equal-opportunity" exploitative. Everybody's lithe, sinewy and bulgy in all the right places. Some panels look a bit cartoon-y for my taste (low-detail faces; stars encircling heads, that sort of thing), but Cruz does hand over some memorable panels.

The page of original artwork to buy from this issue has got to be No. 13: Cyclops' expression after watching the Human Torch hit on Jean in front of the press on TV is priceless. It's his wrinkled little chin, beneath that gaping, wounded-puppy-dog shock that really does it for me. Nice chin-job, Cruz!

If I could ask Cruz one question about his art for this book, I would definitely want to know where his preoccupation with abdomens comes from. I would brush off the "womb-power" placement of the X insignia merely as the artist trying something new - different for the sake of difference - with the X-costume, but there's too much love of the lower intestine in the figures throughout the issue to claim it's coincidental.

All in all, the female-affirming theme of X-Men FC No.1 can be chalked up to the first step in team-building-themed miniseries about the formation of the original X team. I’d wrap up this issue and give it to a friend who didn’t grow up reading the X-Men.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Review - All-Star Superman 8

By Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely & Jamie Grant
Letters by Phil Balsman
Published by DC Comics, July 2007. $2.99

No am tempted to yell preview in perfect English.

This issue of ALL-STAR continues Superman’s adventures on Bizarro-Earth, a square planet slowly sinking into the Underverse. He has to escape the planet or die under the influence of the Underverse’s red sun, and to help him he has only a bunch of Bizarros, a superslow Bizarro-Flash, and one singular Zibarro, the Bizarro-Bizarro. Also, Solaris, the Tyrant Sun makes a cameo.

I tell you this -- every issue of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is packed full of more sheer dynamism and superhero excitement than anything else Marvel or DC will publish in a year. It’s not about fistfights and power grudges -- it’s about Superman and the people he loves. Grant Morrison is crafting the Superman stories Jimmy Olsen’s grandkids are going to hear about. He’s taking the myths and characters we know -- Clark & Lois, Lex Luthor, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen -- and infusing them with a new sense of wonder and love.

Penciller Frank Quitely is, for my money, one of the finest comics draftsmen I’ve ever seen. His layouts are simple but graceful, and the subtle difference in body language twixt Superman and Zibarro speaks more to their differences than any fistfight might. Digital inks and colors by Jamie Grant bring a unique atmosphere to every setting, from the red glare of the Bizarro World to the bright green of Mr. Quintum’s moon laboratory.

The only downside to getting chapter-chunks of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is that the ads for other DC books look either disappointingly flat or deceptively exciting -- after living in the ALL-STAR world for 20-odd pages, I’d really love to believe that DC COUNTDOWN is as fulfilling a superheroic tale, but I just know it’s not true. Pick up ALL-STAR SUPERMAN in individual issues, read them, and pass them on to someone you like. Get the collected edition to keep and reread whenever you forget how super Superman can be.

Tell me more: Grant Morrison talks ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, Get the book, already.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Review - Buffy Season 8 #4

By Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty & Andy Owens
Colors by Dave Stewart, Letters by Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy
Published by Dark Horse Comics, June 2007. $2.99

I watched BUFFY on TV intermittently -- I was more of a FIREFLY guy when it came to Joss Whedon -- but it was without question one of the best written TV shows of its time, and Joss wrote the heck out of the X-Men recently, so I was pretty interested in what BUFFY SEASON 8 had to offer*.

The first four issues of BUFFY feel like a two-hour season opener. Some time has passed and we’re caught up on what our friends have been up -- Buffy’s still slaying, Xander has one eye, Dawn’s a giant -- and though not all of the “where are they now” questions are answered, there’s enough to set the new status quo. Like I said, I wasn’t the biggest BUFFY fan from the start, so there are certain things I’m not quite up to speed on -- the skinless dude introduced at the end of issue 3 felt like it was an important reveal, but I had no idea who it was -- but all the same, it feels more like a fully realized world you’re stepping into rather than something so continuity-laden you’ll be lost if you don’t have the DVD box sets to reference. Joss knows how to write comics, and he knows how to write BUFFY -- the characters come to life and the dialogue is fun, efficient, but tailored for the form.

The art, by Georges Jeanty and Andy Owens, captures the expressions of the actors who used to play these characters in a way that’s fun and familiar, but not overbearing. It’s amazing how a few lines on paper can capture Alyson Hannigan’s smirk just so.

The sort-of-downside is that this opening arc is working like a long episode of a TV show, whether you know it as a comics reader or not. There’s a moment in issue 4 when you think something terrible has happened to one of the characters -- we see their hand reaching up from off-panel, we turn the page -- and they’re fine! It’s a bit of a let down, because everything we’ve seen or half-seen up to that point has led us to believe some serious biz-ness has gone down with one of our near-and-dears, and given that this is comics and not TV, there’s a danger in the air that anything’s possible. If Xander only has one eye, and Dawnie’s a giant, who’s to say Buffy can’t lose an arm, or be turned into a dude, or Willow or Giles or Anyone Else No Matter How Important can’t be killed? When the Very Bad Thing turns out to not happen -- well, one gets the feeling there’s more to meets the eye, and that we’ll find out to what extent in later episodes. Er, issues. And that will no doubt pay off in the long run, but as a story unto itself, it feels a little like a bait and switch.

I bet the BUFFY SEASON 8 trade paperbacks are going to blow up. They’re really good comics, and the folks making them (so far) really know what they’re doing.

Tell me more: Joss Whedon, Dark Horse Comics.

*That said, with the news that VERONICA MARS SEASON 4 is coming to DC/Wildstorm immediately post-cancellation, I think an ill-thought trend is forming -- being that if it’s not good enough for TV, comics will still take it! Joss knows how to write for comics, he’s written for comics before, and he ended BUFFY on his own terms years before “Season 8” came to be -- so that’s fair game. But when a series is cancelled, no matter how well-loved the series may be -- I think it sets a bad precedent to immediately shift it over to comics, as if it’s a second-best medium. It’s a different medium, not the lunch table you can slink over to when the cool kids don’t want to talk to you anymore.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Review - Captain America 27

By Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting & Mike Perkins
Colors by Frank D’Armata, Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics, June 2007. $2.99

I’m not really a Captain America guy, and I don’t know what it means that this issue is part of “The Initiative,” which seems to be a post-Marvel Civil War non-crossover event, but what I do know is this: two issues ago Captain America died, and the result seems to be the best CAPTAIN AMERICA comics since the last time they got rid of the guy, when Ronald Reagan was revealed as…

…“The Deadliest Snake of All!”

Okay, so that was an imposter posing as Ronald Reagan. But it was still a pretty awesome comic book to nine-year-old-me.

These days CAPTAIN AMERICA is an ensemble piece, following Cap’s old partners the Falcon, Sharon Carter, and the Winter Soldier (a newly alive and bionic Bucky, Cap’s WWII-era teen sidekick) as they deal with his death. Also part of the supporting cast is Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, who many feel is directly responsible for Cap’s death following said Civil War. Oh, and Sharon Carter sees Dr. Faustus (the Marvel one, not the German one) in the mirror, taunting her over the post-hypnotic suggestion that a) caused her to murder her boyfriend Captain America, and b) keeps her from telling anyone about it, even though she’s tortured over what she’s done. Also Arnim Zola is in it. Arnim Zola’s head is in his chest:

If it sounds like superheroic soap operatics, it certainly is. And the Brubaker/Epting/Perkins team are doing a great job of it, too. Issue 27 also features the Black Widow, former Soviet spy and former lover of the Winter Soldier, who, for reasons unclear to me but probably clear to folks who read THE AVENGERS, the Winter Soldier thinks should be “an old woman by now.” But she’s young, hot, and dressed in leather instead! It’s actually a pretty neat moment when the Widow and the Soldier fight in the street over the possession of Captain America’s shield (the Widow is working for that dastardly Tony Stark, you see), and the ex-Bucky wishes that he could go back to the old days where his memory would be wiped after every mission. I don’t really know what that means, but if you’re used to having your memory wiped, and now all of a sudden it won’t be, and you’re fighting your ex-girlfriend over your dead best friend’s favorite shield ... well, I can understand a little pining for the good old days.

In summary: the current run of CAPTAIN AMERICA? Future superhero classic. Get it while it’s hot!

Tell me more: Marvel Comics, Captain America.