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...