We Can Do Anything

Sorry about my relative silence on this blog as of late. Finals and then winter break hit me like a ton of bricks, but I got some good stuff cooking, so stay tuned.

I found something I wanted to share, though, so I figured this was an opportune moment to share it:

The reverberations are felt in Paris, where Jean-Pierre Dionnet is grinning and publishing METAL HURLANT, and Francois Roche is on the street outside, seventeen years old and thinking that he’d like to design buildings for a living and that this one in front of him is pretty nice but would be much more interesting as a vast rotting concrete stomach filled with robot antibodies, and Grant Morrison’s sitting outside the coffee shop down the road, a year older than Roche and a year away from getting published for the first time, head full of Jack Kirby comics, and Skylab swoops overhead, its Raymond Loewy-designed interior empty and abandoned but by God they did it, and David Bowie is singing, at the top of his lungs, “we can be Heroes.”

Which only means, quite simply, that we can do anything.


I love that last sentence. We can do anything. Thats what comic books are about doing anything. See what can be marvelous, and wonderful and fantastical about the world. The quote comes from Warren Ellis's Do Anything column over at bleedingcool and, well, I don't think I've heard a sentiment I like quite as much expressed in a very long time.

As we wander into the new year, remember: We can be heroes. We can do anything.



Gorga's Looking Forward to Wednesday 12/23/2oo9

A few items of interest upon my LARGE pull-list for this week:

"the Amazing Spider-Man" #616 (definitely)
Continuation of "The Gauntlet", which I'm behind on.

"Incredible Hercules" #139 (probably)
Continuation of "Assault on New Olympus", which I'm behind on.

"New Avengers" #60 (definitely)
I'm behind on everything that's coming out this week...

"Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?" one-shot (maybe)
Everyone's behind on this one because "Captain America Reborn" isn't over and they're giving us a story that takes place after its conclusion. Thanks Marvel!

"Fantastic Four" #574 (probably)
An adorable-sounding story of young Franklin Richards' birthday party with guest stars!

"Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man" #58 (maybe)
A nice-looking out-of-continuity Spidey story.

"WALL-E" #1 (maybe)
Who can resist this little guy? The silence-thing should work even better in sequential art than it did in animation. We'll find out.

"Luke Cage Noir" was really, really good.

"Luke Cage Noir" #4 from Marvel Comics

So...

I know this is very strange, but I'm going to do it: I'm not going to tell you anything specific about the last issue of this mini-series. Honestly, I feel that in my past posts I have already said too much. The twists in this last issue are very, very good and to describe why I loved this issue would be to ruin it for all of you.

I have had my copies of "Luke Cage Noir" #1, 2, 3, and 4 on the desk for a few weeks now, pondering the best way to do a retrospective post about the mini-series. The problem is that I've already written so much in my reviews of issue #2 and issue #3 that heaping on more would ruin the surprises that made this series wonderful. I considered doing a historical analysis of portrayals of black superheroes or something but that's really not the point of a review and I already wrote a paper that covered that when I was still in high school. (Plus "Luke Cage Noir"-artist Shawn Martinbrough is talking all over the net about an exhibit at the Studio Museum Harlem about the different incarnations of Luke Cage. It may or may not have already been held... There's nothing about it on their website.)

THE LONG AND SHORTBOX OF IT?
The last issue contains one awful moment of absurd, over-the-top, bloody hyper-violence.
Just to let you know.
BUT:
The last issue has several fantastic twists.
The last issue has many wonderful emotional moments.
The last issue is as good as, if not better than, the others.

The series is entirely wrapped up and thus would probably read equally well as a mini or as a trade. Of course, you can find the individual issues right now and the trade isn't supposed to be out 'till March...

Go. Go buy them.



UPDATE:

The exhibit I mentioned above eventually did occur and I covered it for the blog here.

A "Testament" to Art in the Face of Death

A few years ago, after the sudden lunge Marvel Comics made to capitalize on the upcoming Fox Studios X-Men movie "X-Men: Last Stand" and their soon to be announced prequels "X-Men Origins: Magneto" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (one of which got made and one of which didn't) a very special project was started.

It wasn't "Wolverine Origins" and it wasn't "X-Men: First Class" and it wasn't "X-Men: Origins". It was a five issue mini-series about one of their most central villain's origins.

I'll give you a few hints:

It was about the villain who appeared in the very first X-Men comic. (Pictured to the right.)

A character who never got his movie probably because Fox didn't want to do a movie about the Holocaust. Hitler's Final Solution. The genocide of six-million people. Whether Fox Studios (or Marvel Studios) may still someday make a film out of the shell of this project is yet to be determined.

It was written by Greg Pak, drawn by Italian comics artist Carmine Di Giandomenico, and edited by Marvel editor Warren Simons.

It was, of course, "X-Men: Magneto- Testament".

In 2008, almost as an aside from all those aforementioned "Origins" projects, both the comics and the films, Warren Simons began talking about the idea of a historical fiction project detailing the harrowing childhood of the character of Magneto before he became 'Magneto', even before he began calling himself Erik Lehnsherr. Greg Pak signed on as writer; he said: 'I knew from the start this was a project I had to do'. It seems that we should all be glad he did, since the book has earned a great deal of praise since its release.

I have, shamefully, yet to read all of "X-Men: Magneto- Testament". It was one of the rare occasions I chose to 'wait for the trade' and because I rarely pay attention to those releases, I never bought it. I now know a great deal about it because The Simon Wiesenthal Center (an organization devoted to keeping Holocaust studies alive) held a great event on December 8th at The Center For Tolerance here in NYC titled: "An Evening with the Author and Editor of X-Men: Magneto Testament". It was a fascinating presentation of the thought process, historical research, blood, sweat, ink, and tears, that went into the writing and production of "Magneto: Testament".

It was one of those really strange nights in which you just lean back and marvel at how two completely different spheres of interest can come together so perfectly. I didn't realize how little I knew about the Holocaust and about the character of Erik Magnus' involvement in it. I took World History II in high school and read Art Speigelman's "Maus" but it didn't cover the sonderkommando, prisoners drafted into helping the extermination process in return for better treatment for themselves and their families, or the deceptive signs convincing soon to be executed prisoners that they were about to take a shower. I'd read "X-Men" #1 and seen the X-Men films but I didn't know that Magneto had a child who died at a young age between his survival of the concentration camp at Auschwitz and the birth of his living twin children Wanda and Pietro or that it had been established years and years ago that the future supervillain was one of those sonderkommando at Auschwitz. Magneto (a.k.a. Magnus, a.k.a. Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Xorn?) is revealed in "Testament" to have began life as Max Eisenhardt. The new name was chosen because it was discovered by way of their historical consultant with the Simon Wiesenthal Center that neither of the names Magneto had gone under until that point were truly Jewish, nor were they popular names for boys in Germany at that time.

Probably the most remarkable moment of the presentation came during the question and answer session at the end, when an older woman who hailed originally from Pak's native Texas told us that when she moved to New York City after high school (possibly it was even after college, I can't remember) she had never been told about the Holocaust at all. She personally thanked the writer and editor for creating a work of art that tells the story of what the average Jewish person underwent during WWII in a visual medium that often grabs the attention of children. To this Pak responded that it has been proven that different people learn best through different media and that is why it is worthwhile and important 'to tell these stories again and again'.

So these are some of the things I learned last week. Warren Simons (the editor; pictured to the left), Greg Pak (the writer; pictured to the right), and Mark Weitzman (the historical consultant; not pictured) gave us a wonderful conversation about the careful balancing act that had to be played between aggravating old-school Magneto fans and accidentally feeding the fires of the Holocaust deniers with any inaccuracies. The nightmare of scheduling something with subject matter requiring this delicate accuracy on a printing schedule for a major comic-book publisher sounds as if it would have tried the nerves of anybody. According to the two men, it was artist di Giandomenico (unfortunately not present at the talk) who most kept them on track, in the words of Simons: 'He never missed a day'.

December 8th was an eye-opening and fascinating evening and I wouldn't be surprised if the Wiesenthal Center's other programming is equally interesting.

P.S. ~
There is, by the way, an excellent essay available online here detailing Magneto's life as seen in the comics published up to that time and classifying him as a sufferer of Bipolar Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Think about that.

P.P.S. ~
I was told about the event at the Wiesenthal Center by my good friend and fellow member of the blogosphere (and consummate Jew!) Matt Rosza. (He blogs about things that cross his brain at: Risking Hemlock. Although comics are not the driving force of his interests, they do intersect with the world of history/politics in surprising ways, like in this post about the photoshopped image super-imposing the scars and make-up from "The Dark Knight" version of the Joker over the face of Barack Obama. Check the blog out.)

Already Tired of Tuesday... Late Edition

I know its Wednesday folks, sorry about that. I'm in the midst of Finals, so I'm afraid blogging gets short shrift, but in return for my being unable to fall asleep, you get new posts.

Which I guess is a fair trade.


This week's featured issue is Fables #91, the conclusion to the Witches storyline. Witches, on the whole, has been pretty unbelievably cool, with just the right level of intrigue, adventure and butt-kicking flying monkey. That's right, Bufkin, the flying monkey, has been playing a major role in Fables for the past five months and, in my humble opinion, it's one of the most satisfying character arcs that Bill Willingham has ever written. Furthermore, in between Frau Totenkinder's quest to discover the origin of Mr. Dark, Ozma's take over of the Fable spellcasters and Gepetto's quest to regain a little power, there's a lot going on here- and it's all building up to something huge. If you haven't been reading Fables, this is not a very good place to jump on- but, as the book is by far one of the best currently on the stands, you really should wait until next month, when a brand new storyline starts.

Also on the pull list for this week is Captain America Reborn #5, which may or may not be the last issue of a mini that I had high hopes for, but has been incredibly inconsistent, as well as Daredevil #503 and possibly Brave and the Bold #30. Daredevil is, I think, one of the most underrated comics on the stands these days, and if you aren't picking it up you should at least take a flip through. I haven't heard great things about JMS' Brave and the Bold run, however, the cover caught my eye, so maybe Dr. Fate is enough to bring me on, if for just one issue. We'll have to see, I guess.

"Ghoul"ish Pictography

"The Ghoul" #1 from IDW Publishing

Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson are an unexpected team-up to my mind, despite the fact they both work mainly in horror comics. The whole project is unexpected, really. Is it horror? Adventure? Fantasy? Superhero?

The story concerns a monstrously huge guy who goes by the codename The Ghoul with the features of Frankenstein's Creature and the attitude of Hellboy as he lands in Los Angeles to assist a Detective in a very strange case involving Hollywood royalty.

Wrightson's art is gorgeous. The man who earned his chops designing and drawing "Swamp Thing" (the original straight-horror version, before Alan Moore worked on it) and a billion little projects of his own as well as other horror work for the Big Two (DC and Marvel) does not disappoint and I'm sure Steve Niles is thrilled to be working with him.

Steve Niles is a very talented character-writer. Being among the few writers in the comics world to have published a work outside of superheroes and outside of the Big Two that got big-budget Hollywood treatment (his "30 Days of Night") has established him in the business.

To get right down to it...
My problems with "The Ghoul" #1 are few, but somewhat grave:

(1) The story, in this first issue, lacks energy. Its scant sixteen pages hardly contains anything exciting or scary, although it does build a fairly firm character base. Maybe it's all an intentional effort to tease us and make us wait for the insanity on the streets of L.A. to come, but it didn't make issue one very fun. The Ghoul becomes a distinct character over these pages, as does Detective Klimpt and that's very welcome in a medium that has often gotten by on 2-dimensional bland characters in the past. The tease at the end of the story implies that the next issue will be goddamn full of The Ghoul killing hellspawned demons all over Los Angeles, a concept I fear will be too much of a one-trick-pony to carry another sixteen pages.

(2) Did I mention it was $3.99 for 16 pages? Since most comics clock in at 22 pages, the nominal industry standard, and a lot of comics from the Big Two have been extending and extending that to try to give us something worth our $3.99, that was a bit disappointing.

This feeling was assuaged a bit by the five pages of prose story featuring The Ghoul to be found at the end. They were a GREAT five pages that deepened our understanding of who The Ghoul is GREATLY. But it shows him to be really a bit of a Hellboy-clone...

(3) Well, The Ghoul is a huge monster with a gruff attitude but a heart of gold who works for the government as a paranormal investigator. The main difference is that The Ghoul looks like Frankenstein's Creature, while Hellboy looks like Satan. I've said it before: I'm not the first person to call people out on 'copying other people's work' but the similarities are shocking. So far, The Ghoul as a character is off to a much better start than Hellboy was. The first Hellboy story was not very good at all and the character only became endearing to me after things loosened and the character appeared in some lighter comedic stories.

(4) We really don't get a feel for the location the story takes place. The story opens on the airstrip where the climactic scene of "Casablanca" was filmed. Okay. Awesome. But other than one wonderful-but-splashy nod to L.A. all we see are highways and the inside of a garage.

I really did enjoy parts of "The Ghoul" #1 very much, but I'm wary as to whether I will pick up #2 when it hits the street.

THE LONG AND SHORTBOX OF IT?
"The Ghoul" is a cool idea that is, so far, not being executed very well. I'm not so sure the project amounts "to a hill of beans in this crazy world." "You're getting on that plane... you've got to listen to me! ... If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with it, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."

Sorry. "Casablanca". Really good movie.

To sum up. Wrightson's art is liquid light gorgeousity. Tom Smith's colors make the line-work shine. Niles' character's are wonderful, unique, and fallible. But the pace and content of Niles' plot are a mess.

You may or may not see a review of "The Ghoul" #2 from me in the future.

Gorga's Looking Forward to Wednesday 12/16/2oo9

I'ma lookin' forward tah:

"Amazing Spider-Man" #615 (definitely)
Well... someday I'll read this series instead of just buy them and plan to read them. I still need to read #602.

"Ex Machina" #47 (definitely)
I'm not going to NOT read this. The last issues of this series (we're leading up to the final one, #50) have to go out with a bang.

"Cowboy Ninja Viking" #3 (probably)
Jeez read that solicit. How can I not buy this? It is my intention to re-read the first issue with the understanding that it is a comedy and then review it for this site. Then buy and read #2.

Huh.

"X-Factor" #200 (maybe)
THIS looks interesting.

"Cable" #21 (maybe)
I must admit the idea that Marvel is doing an X-Men crossover event named "Second Coming" about the red-haired baby-girl who was the first mutant born since the events of the "House of M" crossover returning to the present after escaping to the future and becoming a fully-grown lady is... remarkable. For many reasons.

Hey, I'm a sucker for alternate past world stories. Read the preview pages. See what I mean. So cool!

NOTE: The collected paperback edition of "The Life and Times of Savior 28" is solicited to come out this week (earlier than we'd gotten word previously). Although I almost certainly won't be buying this since I have all five issues of the mini-series, I highly recommend the series to all fans of superhero comics. If you 'waited for trade' on this one, you really, really should stick to your guns now.

Well, that's all he wrote.... for now! Be sure to check back in this space to see what I buy!


UPDATE: 12/20/2oo9

Once AGAIN this week some comics could simply not be located: "Chimichanga" #1 and "Cowboy Ninja Viking" #3 are either delayed or got lost in a shipment or something.

Cap Reborn #4 didn't look very good. The preview pages are kind of misleading and... dammit, I don't care about this series anymore. We'll have to see how the last issue is.

"X-Factor" #200 turned out to be an expensive book with a lot of reprints in the back. Short story, bunch of pages of reprints, 5 bucks. Does not compute.

Seeing "The Brave and the Bold" #30 on Josh's pull-list made me curious and when I flipped though it I decided it looked awesome and so I picked it up. It is wonderful.

"Cable" #21 was surprisingly good and you will probably see a review of it from me in the coming weeks.

You will definitely see a review of "Ex Machina" #47 from me soon.

And I picked up Amazing Spidey #615. No surprise there.

From DC's Source blog, check out the cover to Batman and Robin #10.
Why is Frank Quitely so damn good at his job?

The Mighty Matt

Today it was announced that, after Kieron Gillen's six issue run on the title, Matt Fraction will take over the writing of Thor, and will be joined by John Romita Jr. on art.

This is great news.

Although I'm in a bad mood because I am in the midst of finals, reading this article totally made my day. If you're interested either in Fraction or the God of Thunder, take a peek.

For Asgard!

UPDATE: This Fraction interview over at CBR indicates that Romita may not be doing the Thor ongoing, just the Free Comic Book Day book. We'll just have to see about that, I guess.

Punished.

Twice in the month of November, Marvel revamped the Punisher. Twice.

Now, that sounds absurd- and it is (although, you could see it happening, the way things turn around at the Big Two), but when you realize that it was in two totally different books with two totally different continuities, well, then I suppose it makes a little more sense.

What's so interesting about these books (Punishermax #1 and Punisher #11) is that they take the character in such totally different directions- stylistically, thematically, artistically, etc. The first is a revamp of Marvel's long-running Punisher ongoing published through their adult MAX imprint, starting with a new number one. Having never followed the book before, I can't tell you what has changed besides the title, but I can tell you there's a damn good reason its published under the MAX banner. This book is violent as all hell, which I suppose plays to Steve Dillon's strengths, but there you go.

Dillon's art is, I think, a good place to start: has there ever been a more perfect artist to draw the Punisher? It's been said that his art is a little too goofy for this incredibly serious sort of book, but I wonder if that may be the point- you take this absurd level of violence (and, just think about this for a second, at one point in this issue Wilson Fisk pops a guys eyeballs out by squeezing the dude's head) and you combine with this grim n' gritty anti-hero and you can either take yourself too seriously and end up doing a bad Garth Ennis impersonation (which, I imagine, is why no one has done particularly well with the character in the last few years) or you can make it seem just as ridiculous as it is- not playfully ridiculous, mind you, just flat out ridiculous. Dillon's art walks this line perfectly, I think- it's just absurd enough to make the reader knows that it's absurd, but realistic enough that I actually cringed about a dozen times throughout the course of the issue. This makes sense, since the only other book that did that to me on a regular basis was, well, Preacher.

Jason Aaron, too, seems to be just the right guy for this character. He seems to get what makes him compelling and what makes him dangerous, and he gets the moral ambiguity that this book should have just right- the Punisher, ostensibly the good guy, is out for revenge- killing, murdering, torturing, doing not good things to not good people. Wilson Fisk, soon to be a paper Kingpin and nominally a bad guy, doing what he does so that he can make a life for his wife and son. Aaron's a smart guy, and he's writing a smart book- again, which is just what this book needs to be. Otherwise, the violence would go from senseless to gratutiously so, and what is a fantastic book would cease to hold any interest for me.

Rick Remender's revamp, on the other hand, is pretty much just silly (something that Jon predicated way back when). The plot goes something like this- bug eyed yellow guys save the remnants of Frank Castle from H.A.M.M.E.R, Man-Thing beats up on some Osborn cronies, Morbius puts the Punisher back together, Punisher throws a series of tantrums.

OK, it's more complicated than that, but where Jason Aaron impressed me with nuance and grace, Remender reveals that he has no concepts of the terms.

Which isn't to say that the book is bad- it's not. In fact, it's actually a lot of fun. It's not a high-concept story, and it knows it's not high-concept. I get the distinct feeling that someone said to someone else, "wouldn't it be cool if we took the Punisher and turned him into Frankenstein?" and that the idea just snowballed from there. It also happens that it's kind of like candy- nice, but sugary sweet and when it's gone, it's gone.

That the art is so unabashadly goofy doesn't help either. I think Marvel may have overcompensated here a little bit- I mean, really this art is often just silly. Frank Castle's Frankenexpressions are good for a laugh, but even those just help enforce the seemingly throw away nature of the story. Clearly, there's something at stake for the monsters who bring Castle back to life, but there's not really anything at stake for me.

Still, if you're looking for some fun with a bizarre idea, Punisher #11 should be right up your alley. If you're looking for really good comics, though? Check out Punishermax #1- you can't go wrong.

Would You Accept Candy From These Strangers?

Jon Gorga: "Strange Tales" #2 has come out (in fact number 3 has come out, but let's not talk about that) and we have both read it. So now it is time to review it! I found this issue much more balanced than the first one, do you agree Josh?

Josh Kopin: Yea, I think that's true. There was still a lot of parody, but some of the funnier strips (in particular, Lookin' Good Mr. Grimm) took advantage of how absurd comics can be without really lapsing into parody and I appreciated the more serious stuff towards the back of the anthology.

Gorga: HA! "Lookin' Good, Mr. Grimm!" Delightful. Jacob Chabot's art is even better than his writing, and that's impressive. Those last two panels crack me up every time I read them. But I REALLY appreciated finally seeing an interpretation from one of these artists (many of whom I have tremendous respect for) that had some fun with a Marvel character without being purely comedic. "The Black Widow" by Matt Kindt is definitely in the running for my favorite piece so far in this series. Although I still have a soft spot for the M.O.D.O.K. story from the first issue and the awesome "Anything but RETAIL!" by R. Kikuo Johnson from this issue couldn't fail to amuse and excite me, as it hits real close to home for a recent college grad!

Kopin: Speaking of things that hit you as a recent college grad, how do you feel about what may be the most experimental piece in the anthology: Jonathan Hickman's series of advertisements seeking heralds for Galactus? It, beyond all the other works in the issue, takes the idea and runs with it- it's the least the comic-y thing we've seen in the series so far, it references the absurdity of comics (and of Galactus in particular), but it doesn't feel like parody to me- how about you?


Gorga: Oh, it's a parody. It's just not a story. It's a satirical poster series (or video?). Galactus doesn't need to advertise, he's a goddamn god-like being. I know that sounds worthy of parody. I'm not arguing it's not. I'm just saying that if you were a Devourer of Worlds, you wouldn't need a poster campaign... I don't know, am I being far too loose in my use of the word parody? To my mind, a parody comes from a different frame of mind than the thing being parodied, specifically the constructed, mocking frame of mind. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about people poking fun at my favorite funny-books.

Kopin: Well, I'm not sure Hickman's posters fit into that particular definition of parody- they are poking fun at Galactus, of course, but I'm not sure they're doing it from a mocking place.

Gorga: Well, it feels mostly that way to me. But Hickman in particular has always rubbed me the wrong way for some reasons I can't put very articulately: He appeared out of nowhere with strange comics in which it is difficult to discern what's going on, to both my eyes and my mind (while they're certainly still not BAD, just NOT GREAT). I heard one of the iFanboy boys (possibly Ron) say that "The Nightly News" was (paraphrasing here) 'the future of comics' and I thought 'If this is the future of comics I hope that future is populated with creators with some sense of restraint.' I feel about the same way toward this short experimental-comic/faux-posters-thing. I see more lost potential. But maybe turning 23 has finally turned me into the old-fuddy-duddy I always was on the inside. [Note: At the time this section was written, my birthday had recently come and gone.]

Kopin: Well, I'm an old-fuddy-duddy at 19, so there you go. Pardon me while I go chase some kids off of my lawn.

Sorry, I'm back. Having not read that much of Hickman's stuff, I have trouble agreeing or disagreeing with you [Note: Since the time I wrote this sentence, I have read and reviewed an issue of Hickman's Fantastic Four for this site]. I am curious about his presence here, though- given that he's been writing Secret Warriors for almost a year and also that he's been handling Marvel's first family for a little bit, it's hard to argue that he's "an indie creator" at this point. Do you feel any better about the way Marvel has handled this issue, simply in terms of their labeling it an "indie" book?

Gorga: Yes! Specifically, because it has so much more variety than the last one. We got a hilarious and warm story from a cartoonist-cum-New-Yorker-cover-artist ("Anything but RETAIL!" by R. Kikuo Johnson). A spy-story from the master of subtle spy comics ("The Black Widow" by Matt Kindt). AS WELL AS an ironic abstract piece by one of the more unique artists working anywhere ("The Invincible Iron Man" by Tony Millionaire), a pulpy 'blaxploitation' comedy piece ("Brother Voodoo: Death Rides A Five-Dollar Bag!" by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca) and a faux-document parody piece ("Feed Galactus, See the Universe" by Jonathan Hickman)! That is much closer to an accurate representation of what 'indie' comics is.

Kopin: Got any new favorites, then?

Gorga: I did really enjoy the Brother Voodoo story! one panel: "The building is too qui--" next panel: "KA-BOOM" That's great. But other than that it's still hands down the Black Widow story by Kindt and the R. Kikuo Johnson story about poor blind recent college grad Alicia Masters and her father the Puppet Master! The dog! It can talk! But you don't know until the end! Great! What are your favorites from this issue?


Kopin: Well, I think my favorite one from this issue that I haven't already mentioned is Jhonen Vasquez's M.O.D.O.K story. What is it about the Model Organism Designed Only For Killing that works in this format so well? Is it just that he's so damn ridiculous? I mean, he is a giant floating head-chair.

Gorga: Galactus is an equally easy, but always welcome, target isn't he? Although Vasquez's style often comes with stuff that makes me want to throw up, it also comes with an equal amount of things that make me weak in the knees with laughter. (His "Fillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!" is the funniest comic I've ever read.) Galactus munching on Mars (ever so delicately poised between two halves of a sesame bun) with a planet-gut hanging out of his purple outfit is one of the latter! I imagine, if you were a Devourer of Worlds, you might need a slice of bread every now and again. Well, I feel as if we've said everything that needs to be said about this issue and this post has taken longer to gestate than some babies! What say we turn it loose on the world, Mr. Kopin?

Kopin: And loose it shall be, Mr. Gorga.

This Sounds Awesome:

From Kieron Gillen's X-Position interview with CBR:

2) Can we expect to see Spider-Woman in any issues of "S.W.O.R.D.," as she was made an agent in the first issue of her new series?

She turns up in issue #2 for a brief cameo. I'm using "cameo" in its true technical meaning of "banging someone's head into the pavement".

If that's not reason enough to check out the issue of S.W.O.R.D that comes out tomorrow, I don't know what is. Click here to read the whole thing.

Gorga's Looking Forward to Wednesday 12/9/2oo9

My thoughts on the comics that interest moi this week!

BIG week:

"the Amazing Spider-Man" #614 (definitely)
Still only beginning to catch up with this book...
The "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars" was one of my favorite comics to dig through boxes for in comic shops (sometimes all around the world) when I was a kid, so the idea of dropping in at the BEST moment of the series (the opening of issue #4) and depicting it from my favorite character's POV? I don't even care if this turns out to be out-of-continuity I think I will buy all four!

So far I didn't buy #1 and then I bought #2, but mainly only because it was a sale weekend at St. Mark's Comics... Spider-Man never seems to actually show up in these, but I get the feeling they really need to be read to follow the story-line "The Gauntlet" currently going through "Amazing".

"New Avengers Annual" #3 (maybe)
I loved the first annual from a few years ago, felt kind of lukewarm about the second one. Depends on whether the Web-Head shows up. We shall see.
Well, the first part of "Stark: Disassembled" in last issue was great (as can be seen in Josh's review here), so we'll see how things move along here. Considering the connections this story should have to the upcoming 'events' from Marvel I should read all of it just to best appreciate "Siege" and whatever the hell "The Heroic Age" will be.

"Daytripper" #1 (probably)
A completely original work from the remarkable team of twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá? Why wouldn't I pick this up?

"Ghostbusters: Past Present Future" (maybe)
The Ghostbusters take on the mythical ghosts of Charles Dickens' classic story "A Christmas Carol"! Deeeeee-lightful!

"God Complex" #1 (maybe)
This looks pretty good to me. Fun, cool, smart.


UPDATE: 12/10/2oo9

So Spidey appears in the "New Avengers Annual". Also? It looks like Bendis is finally going to make sense of the muck he has made out of the character of Hawkeye in this issue. Exciting!

"Web of Spider-Man" by comparison looked okay, but had no Spidey... His name is in the title, right?

"Invincible Iron Man" is really about as excellent as superhero comics get.

"Daytripper" is equally excellent. I can't wait for this series to be complete! It could be truly brilliant.

"God Complex" and the Ghostbusters one-shot? Well, they just seemed a bit too rote, you know? Standard choices being made.

I also took a long and hard look at "Wolverine: Under the Boardwalk" and seriously considered it. Looked very good, but I have TOO MANY COMICS. I passed on it.

"Spider-Man and the Secret Wars" #1? I bought it. I make no apologies.

Already Tired of Tuesday- Daytripper #1

So, I've decided to try a new format for Already Tired of Tuesday, and that format is this- I'm going to pick one book each week, talk about why I'm going to pull it in excruciating detail, and then just list everything else I'm going to take a look at. The old format was getting boring, and it was actually pretty difficult to write, which is why I've been kind of lax about this lately. So, we're going to start this new format with....


Gabriel Ba's and Fabio Moon's Daytripper #1, which I'm almost hysterically excited about. Two of the best artists in comics today, artists who have worked with both rising stars like Matt Fraction and industry stalwarts like Mike Mignola, Bá and Moon do work that is distinctive, moody, smooth and, most importantly, consistently awesome. I have no idea what their abilities as writers are, although they certainly seem to be pretty good from the Daytripper previews I've seen, but I think that the concept (the life of Brazilian obit writer Brás de Oliva Domingos, told non-linearly but in a presumably illuminating way) is interesting enough to support the book even if the writing isn't all there. Make no mistake, though- if you're buying this book, you're buying it for that art. I'm hoping to pleasantly surprised by the writing- Vertigo seems pretty high on it, anyway- but I'll be disappointed if the drawing doesn't blow me away. Did I mention it's set in the twins' home country of Brazil? Beautiful Brazil drawn by artists with bountiful brilliance? What could be better?

Other Things Worth A Peek This Week:
S.W.O.R.D #2
Invincible Iron Man #21

Earth One... For the First Time All Over Again?

DC is going to be up to some crazy tricks next year.

DC announced their new "Earth One" project this morning.


So: Who wants to see a new comic about Batman becoming Batman? Again.
I'm not sure I do.

But: Who wants to see new stories about established superhero characters in the full-length graphic novel format?
That I'm pretty sure I do.

Apparently the first of these graphic novels (fittingly featuring the first superhero character) will be "Superman: Earth One" and will be written by the excellent J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by Shane Davis (whom I've never heard of but, if this Superman image is any real indication of his work, he'll be welcome in my brain) and will soon be followed by "Batman: Earth One" by drum rolllllll... Geoff Johns and Gary Frank!

(from DC: The Source blog, via the "Comics Books" program wall)


I have been saying for years now that the future of superhero comics could be in graphic novels.

Sci-Fi books and films gained huge readership and slowly got established as a part of the cultural canon where Sci-Fi television never did.
Superhero films have pretty insane box office clout these days where superhero comics are being ignored by comparison.
Graphic novels are becoming the darling of 'literary' types where comic-books are left by the way-side (most obscenely in the occasions where the story was serialized as a comic-book before it was a collected trade-paperback).

See, people are doing this silly thing called 'trade waiting'. We'll hear more about this later, but basically it's the comics equivalent of 'Who has time for television? I'll wait for the DVD season set.' (Which, by the way, I do. Television is much harder to follow for me than monthly comics.) They don't pick up the monthly individual issues of an ongoing comic-book, they instead wait six months or more for the paperback collection. People like the feeling that they've gotten their money's worth, that they can hold a meaty consumer item, something that looks nice on a shelf. I'm as guilty of that as anyone. Although I have rarely, rarely, rarely waited for the trade on an ongoing series, I certainly feel the pull. I did twice decide to wait for a trade of a mini-series and I have bought paperbacks of stories I already owned entirely in single issues. Some series are built for it and some aren't.

I do believe there is a certain weight, a certain power, to complete 'full-length' works of art.

I think the film "Citizen Kane", the novel "Invisible Man", and the graphic novel "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" attest to this.

Do I think they're actually categorically BETTER than short-form serial fiction? No. Do I think it's right to squish a random chunk of short-form serial fiction together and pretend it's a complete single work? HELL NO. I think that's a mess. I've written to that effect elsewhere on this site.

This is not the first effort to do graphic novels with established superhero characters. The excellent "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth" stands as proof. What the "Earth One" graphic novel project might signify is a shift toward graphic novel series, i.e. long-form serial fiction. Something more like the James Bond films. Okay. Maybe that's a bad example?

When Straczynski was asked in this interview on Ain't It Cool News conducted by columnist "Ambush Bug" with both writers Straczynski and Johns what he thinks of this possibility, his answer is wonderful:

BUG: The graphic novel format has been a preferred reading experience for a growing number of fans. Trade-waiting is a pretty common term I hear thrown around these days. What do you think; does the release of such a high profile product in a graphic novel format signify the end of the monthly single issues?

JMS Not at all. It's like saying that the production of movies signifies the end of dramatic series TV. Each serves a different need, and fills a different niche. If there's anything that is signified by trade-waiting, it's that we need to write better stories. If a reader can wait until it's all done to buy it, then we're not doing our jobs right. We should be writing stories that the reader can't wait to buy as soon as the next installment hits the stands, and then at the end, wants to gather together for ease of re-reading. If a reader can wait it out, then we as creators need to re-evaluate our work. Seriously.

And here's the more optimistic side of the coin from Johns:

BUG: Apart from event books and maybe the occasional guest appearance or team book appearance, this is the first time I recall you doing a Bat book. What was it about this project that finally attracted you to Gotham?

GJ: Three words: “Gary Frank” and “freedom.” Obviously, I love long form storytelling. ... BATMAN: EARTH ONE allows Gary and I to break the restraints of any continuity and focus on two things: character and story. Add to that the idea of working on a line of graphic novels instead of being limited to twenty-two pages, it’s a challenge and I love a challenge.

Sounds good to me.

Siege Attacks!

Marvel is up to some crazy tricks.

"Siege: The Cabal" came out this week. It was pretty sweet. This is where and when the crossover 'event' is scheduled to be played out from here on to APRIL:

The main crossover 'event' miniseries itself: "Siege" numbers 1 through 4, in January through April.
The connected mini: "Siege: Embedded" numbers 1 through 4 in the same months.
An issue of "Avengers: The Initiative" for December and then each month the mini comes out.
An issue of "Dark Avengers" for each month (a no-brainer really).
An issue of "New Avengers" for each month.
Three issues of "Dark Wolverine" for the first three months of the event.
Three issues of "Thor" for the last three months of the event (although if you ask me, the new arc that just started with #604 HAS to be connected at least as prologue).
Three issues of "Thunderbolts" for the last three months.
Two issues of "Mighty Avengers" for the last months in March and April.
One issue of "New Mutants" (#11) in March.
And, of course, a handful of just FOUR one-shots: the one that just came out, "Siege: The Cabal", the cryptically titled "Origins of Siege", "Siege - Storming Asgard: Heroes and Villains", which are probably either collections of short stories or a collection of written pieces (a la "The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe") about the players, and what is probably an epilogue one-shot tentatively titled "Fallen".

(Also, the story just started in "the Invincible Iron Man" #20, is probably going to be prologue material too.)

The main mini is going to be written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Olivier Coipel and if you remember how much I like "House of M", you'll understand why hearing those names again makes me excited.

You want to know the really weird thing? "Fall of the Hulks" started this week too, with the "Fall of the Hulks: Alpha" one-shot...
That just seems stupid to me. They're probably not going to connect much at all and it's asking the average reader to cut-back on what they would spend otherwise.

I won't be reading "Fall of the Hulks". Primarily because I'm not a big fan of the Hulk family of characters, and partially because the one issue I read of Jeph Loeb's Hulk was pretty bad, but I would have considered it more seriously if not for the clear fact that I would probably find myself deciding between the two events at some point over the next few months. I expected that they were going to spread these things out over the next calendar year. Giving us breathing room. By not doing that, they are risking exactly what I warned against in my last editorial: widespread 'event burnout'.

In a complete sidenote related to crossover 'events', I bought issues #1 through #5 of "Identity Crisis" which I'm quite excited to read, on Black Friday. And just last night, while walking through Times Square, I bought "Zero Hour: Crisis in Time" #4 through #1 (they are numbered backwards, get it?) from a street vendor. I really do love that part of living in New York, unequivocally. Now, neither of those were a full miniseries. So after I do some reading I will have more buying to do...

When Writers Put Back Their Toys

Because I go to a shop that's sort of far away from the place where I live, and also because I was home last week due to Thanksgiving, I hadn't gotten to read the Giant Size Thor Finale until yesterday, when I went to Millbrook to pick it up from my shop.

As the title of the issue indicates, it is JMS's last issue on the book, which is both a good thing and a bad one. On the one hand, maybe now that Kieron Gillen is writing the title, it'll ship on time. On the other hand, JMS's run was unbelievably fantastic- each time I thought it couldn't get any better, it did. The Giant Size Finale isn't his best issue of the series, but it is still pretty good (the highlight, by the way, is Volstagg being badass, something which will never cease to delight me). Unfortunately, JMS saw fit to end his run in a way that always makes me cringe: he decided to put his toys away before he went home.

When I say that, what I mean is this- JMS decided that, in the last issue of his run, he was going to reintegrate certain parts of the status quo before he started writing the title a few years ago. Now, this is his right, but I don't understand why writers feel the need to do this. By killing one of the most interesting characters he introduced during the course of his run, he prevents us from seeing where another writer would have taken the concept (one that was, by all means, worth developing further). Additionally, I think I wouldn't be quite so pissed about the whole thing if Kieron Gillen hadn't sort of mishandled the fallout (which is in the preview for Thor#604 at the end of the issue)- although I suppose it could still have the dire consequences for the book's villians that I think it should have.

I understand that the above paragraph is nebelous, and it was the less egregious of the two examples anyway- what really makes me wonder why unwriting of this sort is necessary is that JMS gives Donald Blake his limp back.

I know, I know, it doesn't sound like a lot, but it is- he couldn't have just let Donald Blake keep walking normally? Why not? I mean, it's not like it's essential to the character, or anything- if it were, the run wouldn't have been nearly as successful. The whole half-cripped-guy-turns-out-to-have-superpowers thing is pretty played out at this point, so I'm not sure it's actually going to bring anything to the comic that wasn't already there.

The only concievable reason why any writer should unwrite him/herself like that is because they don't trust whoever is coming up next to play with the new status quo very well (or, at least the first writer thinks the second one won't). Quite honestly, it's kind of arrogant, and it brings a run of issues that should have ended with a bang (Volstagg being badass and associated dick joke notwithstanding) out with a little bit of whimper.

I understand that this is, in the end, a very small complaint. The book is a good book, and I certainly recommend reading it if you want to get into Thor, but this sort of writing frustrates me to no end because it nullifies ideas that make comics interesting- something that we're always a little short on.

How exciting is this shit!?

We are now numero THREE in Google searches for "long and shortbox"!

(Click the images to see them in better detail.)

Even better, if you narrow it somehow, like with the word "reviews" or "editorial", we're number one! Yeah, it's just a popularity game. But that's the internet for you. Gotta be easy to be found to get read!


Google bases this stuff on page hits as well as number of times you link back to us. So a big, big thanks to all our readers!

And a personal thank you to my two fellow bloggers Clare Nolan and Josh Kopin, who continue to stretch themselves to provide excellent reporting and opinions on our favorite entertainment medium.

Here's to more months of THE LONG AND SHORTBOX OF IT!

An "Arch" of Progress

Two weeks ago I had the honor of attending opening night of the latest MoCCA exhibit:




, an exhibit on the history and 'Arch' of evolution of the never-aging Archie Andrews and the company named for him, Archie Comics. It will run from November 19th of '09 until February 28th of 2010.

Check out my fantastically awkward video of the festivities!

video

(Somehow tilting my iPhone entirely to the side seemed like a good idea at the time...)

Like all of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art's exhibits and festivals, I highly recommend going. If you're in the NYC area, or will be sometime before the end of February, you should mosey on down to 594 Broadway and check this out!

The exhibit moves through each decade of Archie's existence and points out the ways in which he changed to suit the times. The original art for the Eighties cover depicting old-school-Dan DeCarlo/Archie-style drawings of high school kids in punk fashions is amazing. The best delight is the few pages of art from an unpublished Archie story in which Archie reads a letter from his adult cousin Andy Andrews aloud in class, and everyone enjoys a rousing (and probably bogus) spy-story by proxy.

Finally, the exhibit also includes some material from other Archie Comics creations like Josie and the Pussycats (which was adapted to film) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (which was adapted to an animated TV series, a TV movie, a very successful live-action TV series, and then... another animated TV series).

To say that Archie Comics is just the little brother to the Marvels and the DCs isn't... well honestly, it's just not as true as I thought it was. Are they putting out the same quality as Marvel and DC? I would say no, but that's really an opinion anyway, isn't it? I think they're making a good step in the right direction with this ongoing "Archie Gets Married" story-line structured around the famous Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken". The idea is that as Archie reads the poem, he receives visions of his possible futures: three issues depicting what it would be like if he married Betty, three issues depicting what it would be like if he married Veronica. Whether all this really constitutes strong art is, again, purely opinion.

Original art from the currently ongoing story is on display at the exhibit. Me thinks you should go to MoCCA and decide for yourself!

Free for MoCCA members, $5 admission for non-members.

Gorga's Looking Forward to Wednesday 12/2/2oo9

Sorry to those (any?) of you who follow us weekly and have been missing my weekly pull-list posts. Starting my new seasonal position at a museum's gift shop has made my schedule a little too hectic to be regular...

weeklies:

"Jonah Hex" #50
Darwyn Cooke is such a genius that the comics he makes are rarely NOT worth looking at. This week a double-sized issue of Jonah Hex arrives drawn by him.

"Siege: The Cabal"
jesus... Read the preview pages.

"Supergod" #2
Haven't finished ish #1, but I am intrigued.
Disgusted, but intrigued.

Books:

"Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary"
This sounds wonderful...

"365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice"
This looks like genius, right here.

A nice light week.

Last week I bought a huge number of things at the two Black Friday sales in Manhattan: one at Jim Hanley's Universe and another at St. Mark's Comics. (The St. Mark's sale doesn't end until this Wednesday, which means you can get your weeklies there for 10% off! Shhh!) To list everything would be stupid and a waste of your time.

The two things I will mention are two graphic novels that I had been very excited about for a long while: "Asterios Polyp" by David Mazzucchelli and "Monsters" by Ken Dahl.

Who knows? You may see a review pop up on the latter from me eventually!

UPDATE: 12/2/2oo9

Right. Because of Thanksgiving the schedule was pulled back, so the new books will be out on Thursday the 3rd. Sorry about that.

UPDATE: 12/5/2oo9

I just picked up "Siege: The Cabal" and "365 Samurai And A Few Bowls of Rice" this week.

I passed on "Binky Brown" because it's a giant commemorative over-sized reprint of what was originally a tiny mini-comic. It's also a reproduction of the original art, white-out strokes and all, not the comic-as-printed in 1972. Not my bag, man.

I couldn't find "Supergod" #2 anywhere...

By the way, I've learned that "Monsters" isn't really a graphic novel. It was a mini-series. (See: #1, #2, and #3.)

It's Astonishing

One of the advantages of going home for Thanksgiving was getting to finally pick up my issues of Astonishing X-Men, the last vestiges of the days when I used to get my books directly through Marvel. Because Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi only produced a few issues of that book in between July of 2008 and June of 2009, I still had seven issues left on my subscription when the Ellis/Phil Jimenez run began a couple of months ago.

Two (#31 and #32) of those issues were sent to my house in Chicago's suburbs, and there they sat- until this weekend, when I took them, brought them back to school with me, and read them.

They blew my mind.

I think that, at this point, it might be something of a cliche to say that Warren Ellis is a genius but I'm going to say it anyway: Warren Ellis is a genius. These two issues may be the most perfect comics I've read in a long time- maybe not the most interesting, maybe not the most fun, maybe not even the best- but certainly the most perfect. Everything that's good about comics, and about the X-Men in particular- action, adventure, soap opera, one liners, air harpoons-is in these issues.

From these pages it's clear that Warren Ellis gets the X-Men and furthermore that he gets what the X-Men are currently missing. The story (which is set in the near past, before Scott leads his people onto Utopia) is exactly what a comics story should be- that is, it's not trying to be something it isn't. It's big, it's bombastic, there are lots of explosions and cool aliens and spaceships and bio-sentinels and giant air harpoons and everything that makes comics wonderful, but at the same time it doesn't really stretch into absurdity.

Now, I understand that I can get in trouble saying something like that- comics are inherently absurd (did I mention that the book has air harpoons?). While it may be absurd, however, it takes itself just seriously enough. It's not too grim n' gritty, but at the same time it's not too ridiculous either.

Furthermore, Ellis gets the team dynamic just right. While Uncanny sometimes feels like a Scott Summers solo book, Astonishing really feels like a team book, like every member is contributing something and isn't just some mean to an end in Cyke's grand plan. The dialogue, the back and forth, the bickering, it's all there and it's all brilliant.

Phil Jimenez's art helps. While Simone Bianchi is an excellent artist, I think his work is just too pretty to make really good comics. It lacks that energy that Jimenez brings to the book in spades, and I think that such an energy was sorely needed- it pushes the book from fantastic to near-perfect. While certain artists seem to do static or dynamic but not both, Jimenez makes both look easy, and he transitions between the two seamlessly, page to page and even panel to panel.

If you're unhappy with the current X-Men status quo, pick the book up. If you like Warren Ellis, pick the book up. If you want to see crazy shit go down, pick the book up. I can't emphasize enough how unbelievably cool this stuff is, because it's a near perfect comic book. Ellis and Jimenez clearly have a story worth telling on their hands, and you're going to miss out if you aren't there to see it.

A Post-Thanksgiving Two For One

My belly is full of turkey, I'm at home with my family, and I'm ignoring my copious amounts of homework.

What should I do?

Why, review comics of course! On Tuesday I told you I was going to pick up the new issues of both Invincible Iron Man and Fantastic Four, because I had been looking for a chance to jump on each and this week, both because they seemed like good points to jump on and I was going to be away from the shop with my pull list, seemed like a good opportunity for me to do just that.

Now, before we delve into the comics themselves, I should mention that I've never really been all that interested in either set of characters. My reasons for disliking Tony Stark are well documented, and I don't really want to go into them at this juncture (although you can find them here, if you're interested) and, for some reason, The Fantastic Four have always just rubbed me the wrong way. I think it's probably because I always sort of saw Reed as the driving force behind the team, and I don't like Reed very much, for many of the same reasons I don't like Tony.

With all of that said, there is no Reed Richards in this issue of Fantastic Four, just Ben, Johnny, Sue and the Richards children (who, incidentally, rub me the wrong way just like their father does). The way the issue starts, with Franklin relating the events to Sue, is both very clever, but also very limiting- Franklin is a capable young man, to be sure, but, if there was any real consequence to the events, you could be damn sure we would be seeing the Fantastic Four save the day rather than just hearing Franklin tell us about it. That feeling, that Jonathan Hickman may have outsmarted himself a little, is pretty consistent through out the whole issue. The writing is just a little too clever for its own good, as if Hickman knows something we're not always quite privy to- although this may be because I jumped onto the title here.

Still, the book isn't bad by any means- it's just not particularly noteworthy, either. That the art is inconsistent doesn't really help. I'm unsure where to go from here, with the Fantastic Four. I might pick up another or issue or two, just to see what the book is like from month to month, but I'm not sure.

Now, where Fantastic Four #573 seemed a little bit too clever, Invincible Iron Man #20 seemed just right. Fraction seems to be a master plotter in the old Claremont style, with putting bits and pieces in place that won't come to fruition for years- actually, kind of like the Tony Stark that he's writing. That Tony barely even makes an appearance in the book is pretty incredible, too. He's the catalyst that gets the ball rolling, sure, but other than that it's up to everybody else to get the job done, and that's only the pieces that he's got going on. Where does Madame Masque fit into all of this? Norman Osborn? How does this all fit into Siege? It's all very exciting.

It helps that the trade dress is so damn cool. I don't know if it's something that's new just for Iron Man or what, but I really dig it. Sometimes I think that designing comic book covers is something of a lost art, but that clearly isn't the case here. If I have one complaint, its that I'm not sure how I feel about Salvador Larroca's art. It's not bad, by any means, and he's an excellent storyteller, but it all just feels a little bit, I dunno, mushy.

Still, with only the one, relatively minor, complaint, it's hard for me to imagine not picking up this book for a while to come. Matt Fraction is one of my favorite writers for a reason and if anyone can make Tony Stark interesting, it's probably him.

We all know what the best part of Thanksgiving is...


The Spider-Man balloon, of course! ;)

And the turkey, and the pie, and the weird family traditions. Hope everyone had a good turkey day!

Also, some exciting news for anyone in the New York area. St. Marks Comics is having another sale this weekend. Back issues are 50% off, new comics, trades and toys are 10% off, and statues and Star Wars toys are 30% off. So if you've got that issue that you've been meaning to get then do Black Friday comics style!

If you're not in New York then I highly suggest you check out your local comic book store this weekend! They may have a Black Friday sale going on as well. When everyone else is out buying HD TVs you could be scoring some sweet books! Less people to fight with too.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are all full of food!

SHIELD



Well, this is cool.

Jonathan Hickman's new series, called Shield (and, unless I'm mistaken, there are no periods in there- maybe we'll get to see the birth of S.H.I.E.L.D?) will reach into the past and "chronicle how some of the greatest figures in history worked to protect the Earth from Galactus and other interstellar threats." I'm a sucker for series like this, so I'm curious to see where this goes.

Already Tired of Tuesday 11/24/09

AHA! Finally a big week of things for me to report on Already Tired of Tuesday!

First off we've got the final story in JMS's fantastic run on Thor- its sad to see the writer leave the God of Thunder as the stories he's told have been unbelievable. He's taken Thor and Asgard to entirely new places and while many of the comics that the Big Two produce seem to be recycling themselves Thor has been blazing its own trail for as long as JMS has been writing it. I did, however, really enjoy Kieron Gillen's first issue of SWORD, so I'm hopeful that the series will remain fantastic, although I'm certainly invested enough in it that I'll probably keep pulling it, even if it blows.

Staying in the realm of the divine, the second of part of Assault on New Olympus comes out tomorrow too- if you're interested, check out this interview over at CBR- and, seeing as I've been digging Incredible Herc so much recently I'm excited to see where Pak and Van Lente take this.

Matt Fraction is keeping the trouble coming for the X-Men in Uncanny #517, Tracy Lawless is sure to find some of his own in Criminal: The Sinners #2 and the JSA is going to tear itself to shreds in #33, the last issue before Matt Sturges takes his team and splits it off into JSA: All Stars.

Additionally, there are two more things I'm going to take a good look at: the new trade dress for The Invincible Iron Man is fantastic, and I've been waiting for a good point to jump on Fraction's Tony Stark story, so I'm going to try it out for a few issues and see what happens. Also, I've been hearing really good things about Jonathan Hickman's Fantastic Four, so I might be picking that up as well.

Anything else I should take a flip through?

"Siege"? I'm feeling 'event burnout' dude. Wait? Spider-Man! Wait! A new way to do events?



So this "Siege" thing looks cool! Spider-Man is involved, I guess. Now I can care...

I'm terrible. Time to be a bit more academic about this, Jon.

Joe Quesada has written about "Siege" and Marvel's 2010 crossover 'events' at his Cup O'Joe blog. Apparently, they are attempting a new model this year:
"Joe Quesada: It will be a different feel from what has been going on these last few years, let's just leave it at that."
Since 2oo8's "Secret Invasion" was the end-point of Brian Michael Bendis' crazy-huge Marvel Universe-wide meta-story 'event' series that he had been building since 2oo4's "Avengers: Dissasembled" they are going to follow it with several smaller scale "family" events. Whether this is set in stone, I couldn't tell ya, but:

"Siege"
Considered the Avengers event for 2010, (which essentially makes it the next Earth-wide Marvel U event) will tell the story of Norman Osborn's attempt at taking out the last item on "The List": the removal of Asgard from its spot floating above American soil. Yeah, good luck with that Normie...

"DoomWar"
The Fantastic Four event, will tell the story of an attempt on the parts of the FF, the Black Panther, and the X-Men to finally depose Dr. Doom from his perch as ruler of the small Eastern European country of Latveria.

"Fall of the Hulks" and/or "World War Hulks"
The Hulk event, will be... all those damn Hulk clones and sons and whatever wailing on each other for a long time... or something.

"Second Coming"
The X-Men event. There's always an X-Men event. Ever since, like, 1986 there's almost always an annual X-Men event. This one will tell of the return from the future of the young girl named Hope, so named because she was the first mutant born since the "House of M" event storyline in the present.

I think this new model is pretty exciting because, if nothing else, we're finally going to get a change from the status quo.

Superhero comic-book publishing history lesson: Big publishing companies produce big-scale stories they call 'events' that affect wide swaths of their characters simultaneously. And they've been doing this since the Eighties.

But before 2oo3 things were way more organic, although things started out strictly annual...

First, DC published many stories that specifically dealt with their Golden Age 1930s characters in the Justice SOCIETY of America interacting with their Silver Age 1960s characters in the Justice LEAGUE of America. The first was told in two parts: "Crisis on Earth-One!" and "Crisis on Earth-Two!" in Justice League of America v1 #21-22. This went on annually from 1963 till 1971 then a bit less regularly from 1973 until 1984.

In 1985 DC shook things up in a big way with "Crisis on Infinite Earths", the third story to be referred to as an 'event'. The sequel "Zero Hour: Crisis in Time", which came out in 1994, put a lot of the chaos of the original "Crisis" back in its place. Then there was "The Final Night"in 1996, "Day of Judgment" in 1999 and "Our Worlds at War" in 2oo1.
(All Universe-wide stories.)

So what exactly is an 'event' story-line, you may be wondering? What makes the difference between a normal everyday story and a crossover 'event'? WELL... that's hard to answer. Wikipedia.org is as helpful as ever. The page for "Crisis on Infinite Earths" defines a "summer crossover" as a:
"series designed to tie many of their [any given publisher's] comic book titles together under a single storyline (and thus sell more comic books)"

In 1982, Marvel picked up on the idea of a story with all the major characters interacting and produced the first 'event' limited series: "Marvel Super-Hero Contest of Champions" in 1982. Then a toy line tie-in prompted the creation of "Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars" in 1984, followed by "Secret Wars II" in 1986, "The Evolutionary War" in 1988, "Acts of Vengeance" and "Atlantis Attacks" in 1989, "Infinity Gauntlet" in 1991, followed by "Infinity War" in 1992, and "Infinity Crusade" in 1993, "Onslaught" in 1996, the sequel to which was "Heroes Reborn" in 1997, "Maximum Security" in 2ooo, and finally "Infinity Abyss" in 2oo2.
(That's just Earth-wide stuff. Not the bajillion X-Men events that came out in the meantime...)

Then Marvel Comics hired Brian Michael Bendis and things changed. The pattern of about one Earth-wide story occurring like clockwork every calendar year has been happening for about six years now (usually in the Summer):

"Avengers: Disassembled" - 2oo4
"Secret War" - 2oo4
"House of M" - 2oo5
"Civil War" - 2oo6
"World War Hulk" - 2oo7
"Secret Invasion" - 2oo8

Most of these stories were either written or orchestrated by the quite brilliant Mr. Bendis.

To counter this DC produced more regularly as well, eventually creating a 'Summer blockbuster'-type competition between the two companies:

"Identity Crisis" - 2oo4
"Infinite Crisis" - 2oo5
"52" - 2oo6
"Countdown" - 2oo7
"Final Crisis" - 2oo8
and currently
"Blackest Night" - 2oo9

Marvel's stories invariably end up named "______ War" and DC's stories are always "______ Crisis". Other than the names the stories can vary widely as they more or less are always written by different people, drawn by different people, and produced under different corporate administrations. Generally, in the past six years Marvel has been working on making their events more interconnected and character-driven, while DC has been making strides in adapting the format of the event itself.

See: "52".

"52" was a weekly comic-book published, #1 to #52 from May 2oo6 to May 2oo7, but it encompassed so much of the DC Universe that it worked on the scope of an 'event' and was indeed a limited series. Limited to 52 issues, but still limited. It was immediately followed by "Countdown" another year-long weekly series this time published starting from #52 down to #1. All major threads of the DC Universe were involved. It was definitely a crossover event.

How this new wrinkle of mini-family-events will affect the crossover event format in the future is difficult to see. I'm guessing this new format will be more profitable for Marvel as they will have by the end of the year put even more comics featuring multiple characters on the racks without alienating as many readers who feel 'forced' to buy the 'event' books to continue following their favorite character. However, if readers still buy all the series anyway (which they might, comic-book readers do tend to be strange. duh.) then they may complain even more of suffering from quote-unquote 'event burnout'. At any rate, Marvel's gunna make more money this way for sure. If successful, why wouldn't they do it this way for a few years?

I think this will end up feeling a bit more organic from a storytelling point of view. And that is only good. My only question is: Where's the Spider-Man event!?

Paperback Writer

There's an interview with Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon over at CBR- if you're interested in their work, particularly their upcoming series Daytripper, you should give it a look.

I Have No Idea What This Means

Any guesses? (from Techland, via Robot 6)

Meanwhile, at the Pull List of Clare!- 11/04/09

Another hefty week for me, but hey that's okay by me! The more comics I read the happier I am. So, let's see what's in store for me this week:

From DC this week comes a bunch of great titles. I was really interested by the first part of Leviathan so I'm looking forward to picking up Batman: Streets of Gotham #6. While I much prefer Dini, Yost is telling a great story with one of my favorite characters- Huntress. Then there's Tiny Titans #22, which we all know I'm quite fond of. Then there are the Blackest Night tie-ins! I'm totally excited for Adventure Comics #4. Not only do I love this book like crazy but it also marks the return of Superboy Prime after the events of Legion of 3 Worlds. Plus it comes with the Blue Lantern ring! The Blue Lanterns are my favorite so I'm psyched about that. Outsiders #24 is a continuation from Blackest Night: Titans and it comes with the Star Sapphire ring. Then there's Superman/Batman #66, I don't exactly get how an out of continuity book ties in but it's got Bizzaro and Solomon Grundy so I'll give it a shot.


It's one of those weeks where I have more Marvel books this week. From the Other Company I've got a few good ones. Amazing Spider-Man #612 has been solidly good since American Son. I'm not sure what Gauntlet is exactly going to be but I'll give it a shot. However, I know I'm going to enjoy Dark Reign- The List: Amazing Spider-Man. Let's be honest, this is the moment of Dark Reign that we've all been waiting for-- Norman versus Peter. Bring it on! says I. Dark Avengers #11 and Mighty Avengers #31 have been two books I've solidly enjoyed. Dark Avengers just started a new story arch and Mighty Avengers is wrapping up something pretty epic. Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #5 is one of those books that I can't help myself with. Funny, stupid, mindless violence, hot chick with underwear showing (satirically, of course), and sweet movie-parody covers. What's not to like? Spider-Woman #3 is one of those books where I like where it's going but I'm not sure I'm in love yet. We will see! And wrapping up Marvel is X-Men Legacy #229, a book I believe to be highly overrated.

And let's top it all off with a nice cherry-- a Dr. Horrible one-shot explaining everyone's favorite villian's backstory. Nice!

Have a happy Wednesday, my loves! This weekend should hold a review of the first issue of Mark Waid's "Strange" from myself.

Aw yeah Wednesday!