Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Trails of Shazam #2 - A Review

The Trail of Shazam #2 - Writer Judd Winick, Art - Howard Porter

Premise - Magic has changed and the Marvel family is no more. Billy Batson has become a replacement for the Wizard and a new guardian will be needed. Freddy Freeman (the former Captain Marvel Jr.) has to pass a test from each of the gods of magic to earn the power this time and become Shazam.

What I Liked:
1) The premise and the direction the book is heading. I love when we actually have change and try to move characters forward (see all my prior diatribes about aging Bruce and making Dick Grayson Batman). I know that DC has tried to make Captain Marvel work many times, but the innocence of the character does not work as a long term character in the structure of today's comic market place. This does not mean I can't wait for Jeff Smith's Captain Marvel - because I can't - I want that series now. Just because we move a concept forward, doesn't mean we can't do mini-series or special stories of older times. BUT - now we are taking a character forward. Billy Batson has been transformed in a combination Captain Marvel and the Wizard. Freddy Freeman is now tasked with earning the power to become Shazam. A new generation is taking over. I love it. I have been following comics for years and I welcome new generations all the time. It brings in a clean slate for new stories to be done, while honoring the heritage of what has gone before.
2) The character building bits with Freddy Freeman. A nice introduction to our hero and it we learn a fair amount in a short period of time.
3) The art. Howard Porter is learning a new style and method to doing his art. It appears to be heavily computer generated and is apparently being colored by Howard also. It was a dramatic departure from his old style and he has already gotten better from issue #1 to #2, but it is just okay at this point.

What I Didn't Like:
1) The art. I know, I said I liked it, but I'm iffy on the art in this book. I appreciate the effort that Howard Porter is putting into it and if I was betting I would guess by issue #6 the art maybe great, but I feel like we are learning with Howard Porter how to make this style work in comics as he does.
2) The white Captain Marvel with silver hair. I may get used to it in time, but for me the costume is a little too... something, it's not right for me at this point. I hope we explore exactly what the hell happened to poor Billy Batson down the road.
3) Mary Marvel's fate. At this point it looks grim and I would hate for a hero that I loved (especially in the last "I can't believe it's not the Justice League" series) and who came across so heroic would end up a vegetable for life.

Grade - B

Batman #657 - A Review

Batman #657 - Writer Grant Morrison, Artist Andy Kubert, Inker Jesse Delperdang, Colorist Dave Stewart

Premise - Part 3 of Batman & Sons - Wonderboys. Batman has taken in his supposed son from a long ago dalliance that he had with Talia. He brings Damian back to Gotham and tries to intergrate the boy into a more normal life. Damian has been trained by the League of Assassins.

What I Liked:
1) The art. Comics are strongly a visual medium and the art is the first thing that I always notice. Andy Kubert has a great style (the Kubert's are the Mannings of the comic book world) and I loved the two page Batcave spread. Between the six page spread in All Star Batman and this it appears all artists want to draw the cave. Great artwork, strong inking and great colors. Love the layouts usage, six panels, five panels, one panel, two page spread, just really well done.
2) Character bits. Morrison has done a great job of having Robin and Alfred in the book, but still keeping the focus on Batman himself.
3) The return of the Spook. A very minor villain, but a fun use of the character. Loved the undercover cop infiltrating the Spook's gang.
4) The fight scene between Robin and Damian in the Batcave.

What I Didn't Like:
1) That Batman just brings an obviously highly dangerous person into his domain and then runs off on a case.
2) That Robin was beaten by Damian in a fight. To be fair Robin was holding back and suckered by the kid, but still if felt like we lessened Robin.
3) That an apparent 10 year old (at best) kid pulled all the crap off he did in the book. I suspend my disbelief at the door of a comic, but expect some level of internal realism and this stepped over the bounds for me.

Grade - B

Side comment - since the One Year Later jump DC has put great talent against Batman and Superman and I'm glad that the two biggest and most well known heroes are being treated the right way by DC.

Daredevil #89 - A Review

Daredevil #89 - Writer - Ed Brubaker, Artist - Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano, Colorist - Matt Hollingsworth

Premise - Matt Murdock is under cover and hiding out from the law as he searches for the man who order Foggy Nelson killed. Matt does not know that Foggy is alive and in a witness protection program.

What I liked:
1) The art. Michael Lark and Stefano Gaudiano apparently share duties on this book and their styles mesh so well that without really studying the art I can't tell where one begins and the other ends. The art is detailed where needed and sparse when needed. Strong layouts and solid story telling skills make this book a nice book to look at every month. The colorist Matt Hollingsworth nails this book every month. It just sets the mood for the book perfectly.

2) The return and update of a really lame ass villain of Daredevil's from the silver age, the Matador.
3) The overall story arc seems compelling at this point. I like the mystery, but the ending will show if it is worth it or not.

What I Didn't Like:
1) The incoherent continuity and stupid premises we are supposed to accept. Matt does not know Foggy is alive? How can Electra being all knowing and know where Foggy is to protect him with 400 ninjas and she can not got a message to Matt? Plus the mysterious character behind the scenes needs to be revealed really soon or it just gets old.
2) The poker game. I thought I hated it because I'm a poker player and know you don't win every hand even when you are on fire, but others hated that scene also. Matt's powers allow him to make people fold or know other people's cards without even touching them. It was so outrageously dumb, it took me out of the book.
3) The damsel in distress smells like his old love Karen Paige and the villains know this? People have certain smells, but replicating this seems a little silly.

Grade - C+

Amazing Spider-Man #535 - A review

Amazing Spider-Man #535 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Artist Ron Garney, Inker Bill Reinhold, Colorist Matt Milla

Premise - Part Four of Six of the arc entitled "The War at Home". The series has focused on Peter Parker's personal view of the Civil War and his growing unease as to which side he has chosen to be on.

What I liked:
1) The art. Ron Garney is not my all time favorite artist, but the more I see of his art work the more I enjoy it. His work at times hovers on cartoony, but is somewhat a minimalist style in use of his lines. My description is inadequate, but what I can say is it is a great story telling style and has a nice dynamic feel to the art. Reinhold appears to be a good inker for the book and the colorist did a decent job, but I thought was a little heavy handed and too dark. I worry that many colorist have yet to take full advantage of the new technology and paper being used today.

2) The return of Peter Parker. I recognized the guy I used to love as my hero. Doing the right thing no matter what the price. He is switching sides even though his identity has been compromised and he has Mary Jane and Aunt May to protect. Spider-Man felt like he was a man again and not someone's tool. It felt as good as when Batman stopped being an asshole and returned to being Batman.
3) The end scene where Iron Man and Spider-Man start to have their fight. Just neat stuff.

What I Didn't like:
1) Tony Stark. His whole characterization is so far off any previous continuity that I don't even know who the hell I'm reading about. This guy has gone from a hero to as bad as a villain as anyone could be. If this is a balanced representation of both sides viewpoint, I'm sure interested to see a unbalanced view.
2) Reed Richards. Even worse then Tony, a totally unrecognizable character. Why is Marvel spitting on some of their core old time silver age heroes is beyond me. What utter crap. I can only hope the Dwayne McDuffie can rescue the FF out of the doldrums and crap that has been laid on their continuity.
3) The awful speech that Reed Richards makes that after his uncle is railroaded, whom he loved, it made him realize you should always follow the law. What the f*#k are they talking about. When did it make Reed realize this - one month before Civil War. Just recently he defied a government mandate in his own book with trying to remake the Fantastic Four accident. And, by the way, didn't he steal the spaceship that launched him, his best friend, his girl-friend and his girl friend's younger brother into space. Now he follows the rules - bullsh*t.

Grade - B

Friday, September 29, 2006

Supergirl #10 - A Review

Supergirl #10 - Writer - Joe Kelly, Artist - Ian Churchill, Inker - Norm Rapmund, Colorist - Rod Reis

Premise - Supergirl is trying to find herself and what her place in this world is and decided to try going to high school in a secret identity.

What I Liked:
1) The art. Ian Churchill has been growing as an artist and his first page of Kara walking into high school was great. He is also showing a strong ability to draw various body types and has clean solid layouts. The inker is complimenting his work well and the coloring is perfect for this book.
2) The entire going back to high school was done well. It has been a long time since I was in school and I was not a young girl in high school, so how much is really true or not is beyond me, but it read very well. It had humor and heartfelt moments through out the story.
3) The homage to the Linda Lee Danvers secret identity of the silver age Supergirl was also well done and understated.
4) The ending was fantastic, Supergirl reveals herself to her classmates and walks away from her try at being in school after being humiliated by a supposed friend.
5) The interaction with Wonder Girl and Captain Boomerang Jr.

What I didn't like:
1) Supergirl talking out Monsieur Mallah with one finger. Hate the uber powered people being so superior to anyone else. Plus enough with Monsieur Mallah - DC has other villains.
2) The flashbacks to Supergirl's early life. Still confused on the whole Kandor thing and her early years.

Side comment:
I swear I don't know why I like this book so much, because I thought it lacked direction, but I think it is supposed to lack direction as that is part of what Supergirl is going through. Joe Kelly and Ian Churchill have made me a fan of this book.

Overall Grade - B+

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Comic Reviews : JLA #2 / Captain America #22

Justice League of America #2 - Writer Brad Meltzer, Artist Ed Benes, Inker Sandra Hope, Colorist Alex Sinclair

Premise - Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman are still deciding who should be in the JLA, while the apparent line up are all off on their own adventures. Black Lightning and Vixen in solo roles and Green Lantern, Arsenal & Black Canary on a group mission and finally Red Tornado hanging out at home.

What I Liked:
1)The art work is pretty. Ed Benes is a very good artist and Sandra Hope's inks seem to compliment his work. The coloring is also well done.
2) The teaming up of Green Lantern, Black Canary and Arsenal. This harkens back to the Denny O'Neil / Neal Adams hard traveling heroes days.
3) The interplay between Arsenal and Green Lantern and Black Canary. Some nice character bits.

What I Didn't Like:
1) Are all five storylines taking place at the same time? With an issue #0 we are three issues into the series and still have not started the JLA up again. The pace is very s-l-o-w.
2) Superman asking Wonder Woman yes or no on Batman behind his back. We just established that the Trinity are tight friends and comrades-in-arms and now this stab in the back by Superman. Very out of character.
3) Vixen has her Totem belt stolen by two low level bad guys. Doesn't do much in making her League material.
4) The Red Tornado & Cathy home story. I thought I was reading Young Romance for a second. Really overplayed.

Overall Grade C+

Captain America #22 - Writer: Ed Brubaker, Artist: Mike Perkins, Colorist: Frank D'Armata

Premise - Captain America's regular comic catches up with the Civil War. The spotlight is on Sharon Carter (Cap's girl-friend and Shield agent) and she is seeing a therapist to discuss why she choose Cap over duty to her job.

What I liked:
1) The art work is solid. Mike Perkins is a good story teller and has decent art. He is not a knock your socks off type guy at this point, but it is very readable and professional. The coloring is okay, a little too dark, but keeping with the tone of the book.
2) The effective use of flashbacks to bring this comic up to date with Civil War. I doubt any reader of this book hasn't been reading Civil War, but still it was a nice way of getting the book in synch without sacrificing telling a story within the context of this issue.
3) Cap and Sharon getting together and having an adult relationship. If they are in love and can only meet on a rare occasion, this made sense.

What I didn't like:
1) The paper. It's glossy, but feels so extremely thin. A minor point.
2) The story. Sharon in fact is not in love with Captain America, but the Red Skull has Faustus manipulating her. I hate this crap. Hell why not make her a LMD on top of it. She can't really be in love with Cap, so she was manipulated into it. The Red Skull (who is fighting for control of a body) has been behind her falling for Cap for how long? All of this type of stuff is a cop out to keep the hero from every having a real relationship. It's really stupid and annoying. Also Faustus just uses an image gimmick to disguise himself. Shield would have better security then that. Finally it demeans Sharon to think she could be manipulated so easily.
3) Captain America is a supporting player in his own book to allow any real events with Cap to happen in Civil War. Crap!

Overall Grade - D.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The $3 Dollar Whore Dilemma

I occasionally enjoy the shock headline.

The $3 dollar whore is a reference (that I first heard from Jeff) to buying the single issues of comics for $3 versus waiting for a trade paper back or a hard cover format of a story. It is amazing how many formats that comics come in now days. You can buy the single issues, buy the collected trades (usually six issues or more) at a better bargain for you dollar or buy the hard cover version. Recently we have added the mini-hard cover version.

Justice from DC is publishing the comic and has the 4 issue hard cover versions coming out, a trade is sure to follow and eventually they will do an Absolute edition on this baby.

Punisher is a monthly, they do six issue trades and they do a 12 issues deluxe (slightly over sized) hard cover version. Six issue is $18, the trade is $15 and the hard cover is $30. Why are we buying the monthly version at all.

I have three books I get as trades (Punisher, 100 Bullets and Walking Dead) and I will only buy Ultimates Volume 2 as a deluxe hard cover format as Bryan Hitch's artwork looks great in that format. I buy the monthlies but try to never buy a trade of any monthly I get, unless it is something that I absolute love and want to own. Very few books met that criteria and Aquaman might be the only one right now that I will go that route. If it is especially good and I want to own it (as I give away almost every monthly) I'll wait years if need be and get the hard cover. I skipped the trades on New Frontier holding out for the hard cover that comes out next month.

I wonder with all these formats how is a comic judged as a success anymore? Does a company consider how the trade sells as wells as the book sales? And when is it going too far. Invincible (a book I love) did the monthlies, the trades and recently did the hardcover for 12 issues worth of material. Now they are offering an Omnibus of 24 issues in another hard cover format. I got the monthlies and the 12 issue hard covers, but I ain't buying the over sized version.

Still I may get the Spider-Man Omnibus which covers stuff I have in Masterworks and I have been roped in on buying other books in multiple formats, but I try to resist 90% of it. I wonder what portion of the sales of these formats reach a new customer and how much is the same customers buying the same material in different formats?

Web Confessions

I just heard on the news today that many people are making confessions online at various web confessional sites.

I love this idea and want any who visit to feel free to leave their confessions as a comment on my little blog. Let me hear about your sins and I will let you know if you are forgiven or not.

The idea of private moments and privacy really are becoming a quaint thing of the past.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Question - At what price is a comic too expensive?

Jeff - a friend and frequent commentator on this blog ask that question to me and I think it is a good question.

Comics are essentially $3 for the majors and $4 for the independents. Due to my financial circumstances, a discount from my store and my deep and abiding love for this medium I buy a lot of comics. My price point is probably $100 for an Absolute or oversized hardcover, $25-35 for a trade, $8 for a deluxe format (48 pages or more) and $4 for a regular comic. Having said that I think we are at the price point of no return for comics soon (or already there).

The average price of a comic has risen dramatically versus the overall inflation rate. The justifications are many, but the true bottom line is that with sales decreasing (in a long sense) that you need to generate more money on a single issue. Also the pay scale has risen dramatically I'm sure to attract certain talent to the industry. Still almost everyone does comic for the love of the art form over "this is the way to unlimited riches".

Still at a $3 price point picking up 10 comics a week becomes a $1,560 a year habit or about $2,300 on a gross pay basis. At a pay rate of $60,000 a year that would be only one bi-weekly gross pay and depending on everything else, maybe that is doable.

At $4 a book that gross price tag goes to about $3,000 a year. Also I believe that the financial pressures of many issues are going to take our economy into a recession soon (I hope it is just a recession) and with many books hovering at the 25,000 copies a month level, a drop off in customers buying could kill a lot of books.

I'm not trying to doom and gloom it, I just wondering out loud can comics survive all they have to face in the next five years.

Some of the problems:

1) An older (20 something) fan base that will have other priorities in tight times (family being the number one thing I can think of). An aside if comics are marketed for 20 somethings, why all the "got milk" ads?
2) A direct market formula that allows books to be ordered so tightly that casual customers may never see anything but the "big" event on the shelves.
3) A stagnation in creativity and willingness to change. The unwillingness to change for fear of losing some of their fanbase or stagnant thought that only Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker can be the hero. Creativity has been stilted as creators hold onto their best ideas to try and cash them in on their own.
4) Fewer retail outlets.
5) Digital comics.
6) Trades versus monthlies.
7) Magna replacing comics.
8) Economic slowdown

Sales are going down in the long view and we are becoming too inbred at times. Daredevil is a great book if you know all the history, but I challenge anyone to tell me of a "new" reader who has gotten into Daredevil.

Personally I hope that sales do go down a little more to force the publishers to take real chances with these characters. I still point to the "Death of Superman" as an event that brought more people into a comic book store then anything else. If these type of radical and exciting changes started to occur in most titles I believe the regular public would start to come back to comics.

Look at the death of creative entertainment in TV, movies and other mediums. Successes are cloned so fast that by the time you finish enjoying a reality show 14 more are in production. Liked "Lost" well great because we now have 15 "mystery" continuing story series on the air. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, well don't worry they will make enough sequels until you are sick of it.

Comics can be that place of real entertainment value. You have an unlimited budget with drawing and a more singular vision in comics then in almost any other medium.

Monday, September 25, 2006

What I'm Getting This Week and Random Thoughts

Can you say massive frelling comic book week. Well I can and this Wednesday is a killer. The book shelf items are Enemy Ace Archives #2 - some absolutely beautiful Joe Kubert artwork and solid stories by Robert Kanigher, Walking Dead Volume 5 (great stuff and read best as a trade), Essential Tales of The Zombie, probably Essential Thor Vol #4, comics - 52, Action, American Virgin, Batman, Batman and the Mad Monk, Batman: Journey into Knight, Blue Beetle, Hawkgirl, Jack of Fables, JSA Classified, JLA, Loveless, Secret Six, Supergirl, Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes, Teen Titans, Trials of Shazam, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Captain America, Daredevil, Zombie, War of the Worlds Second Wave, Ultimate Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Eternals and a couple others (no reason my store loves me). As I said a massive week. Still it really is a lot of decent entertainment for the $$ spent versus many other options.

My e-bay account was compromised and some moron was selling a VW beetle via my name and now I had to change my password to something very obtuse. E-Bay notified me that something was up -so if they knew it was wrong - why was it allowed. Now I have to wait to get a $40 listing fee removed.

1 Right Opinion-Comics is a brand new blog and he has an interesting post on comics. The link is on the sidebar to his blog.

The Ravens are 3-0, but boy is the NFL ever so smart with their parity scheme. There is so little difference between a 6-10 and a 10-6 team, that it makes so many of their games exciting to watch. It is a shame that we now have had nine losing seasons with the Orioles and it is hard to remain hopeful in the face of our ownership.

As I said a rather random blog for today, but I have "work" to do (no real job type work) and then I want to catch Hereos on TV tonight.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Getting Along

This one is for Jeff. To answer his quote "We are all geeks and should learn to live in harmony with one another. After all, we are all together on this lifeship called Earth."

Well if these guys can do it, why can everyone else.

Geek or No Geek

I find it is with some amusement that people seem to take pride in being a geek.

Personally I don't like to classify myself. Now I have read comics for many, many years, owned a comic book store, have enjoyed video games (very seldom anymore) and watch Star Trek, Star Trek the Next Generation, Farscape and recently a convert to Stargate, but I refuse to classify myself as a geek.

I have always managed to have a lot of fun with the opposite sex, never lived in my parents' basement, play some sports and in a poker game twice a month. I'm not overweight and I have seen the light of day and the inside of many nightclubs.

Still I'm writing a blog and participate in a comic book "radio" show. So Geek or No Geek.

My wife says I'm a comic geek, but after going a convention (for the first time in over a decade) I'm not even sure I qualify as a comic geek.

I prefer no labels and hope people judge me on what I present to them and bring to the party so to speak. I just don't get why some are proud to be a geek. Maybe they are cool geeks!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Comic Book Make Over

A fellow panelists has an interesting idea of taking a comic that you think needs to be fixed and put your all star (wish) team on the book (good idea Shawn!)

I would have to pick Amazing Spider-Man. I loved this character years ago and have enjoyed many of his adventures over the years, but lately with JMS and his making Spider-Man one of many, the Gwen Stacy debacle and with Spider-Man joining the Avengers - the character has become unrecognizable. Add too that the 1,000 year old Aunt May and his unmasking and you have a character whose core has been destroyed.

With that as a preamble I would first reduce Spider-Man down to just one book and make it an 18 times a year book. Also Spider-Man would have to have a secret identity again and leave the New Avengers. My choice for writer would be Robert Kirkman or Gail Simone. Robert Kirkman because he has done such a wonderful job with Invincible that I think he could do a great job with Spider-Man. Also he is a younger married guy himself in real life and would be able to write a realistic married couple (which seems to be missing often in Spider-Man). I also believe Kirkman could chart a course where we have growth in the character and have good sub-plots advancing the characterization. Gail Simone would be another great choice in my mind as she writes great action sequences and injects humor into almost all of her books. Spider-Man has lacked a true sense of humor for what seems to be years to me. Gail also would bring a new perspective to the characters and would probably be able to give Mary Jane a better role in the book. Both writers have made up some great villains and mange to have great battle scenes and still provide characterization and sub-plots.

My artist would be Alan Davis. Now getting that many issues out of Alan would be impossible so I would also have to have a second artist and that would be Phil Jimenez. Alan Davis has a fluidness to his drawing which I think is essential for Spider-Man and Jiminez is one of the best super-hero artist in comics.

My editorial direction would be to re-establish Spider-Man as a hero (not Charlie Brown) but a hero who does the right thing. Also I would mandate that Peter Parker be allowed to move forward, Aunt May dies of old age, Peter and Mary Jane confront having a family or not and the characters slowly get into their late 20's early thirties. Otherwise just let me know your outlines and have a blast.

Illegal Immigration - #1 Problem for the US

While we have had a great ongoing commentary about the war (for the record I think it was wrong - but now we have to exit and soon), I believe illegal immigration is the number one problem facing the US at this time.

It is a definite disconnect that our rulers (what the elected officials think of themselves) and big business want the illegal immigration and the vast majority of Americans are against it. The overwhelming problems that this 15-20 million people are causing in our country need to be fixed and fixed immediately.

Illegal immigrants are not needed by us and in fact are displacing many younger workers (especially American blacks) and creating strains on our medical and social support systems.

Illegal immigrants are an insult to the many hard working and legal immigrants who have followed our rules to become part of this country.

We need a fence across the border and we need it now. The US supported a fence to block illegal immigrants in Iraq, but have yet to do it here. The amount of crime that is coming into our country is also untenable. In Baltimore, Maryland two people were charged with essentially decapitating people and the strong suspicion is they did not pay the crime cartel the money they owed for bringing them into the US. People who live on the Arizona border have had their property destroyed and have been threatened by immigrants who come over the border every night. There are estimates that 10,000 people a day are coming across the border.

If we do not solve this problem it will be the end of the US as we know it and the middle class will be completely eroded and we will be a country and have and have nots.

Hazelton, PA has become a rallying point against illegal immigration as this sleepy PA town was having enormous problems with gangs and being over run with illegal immigrants. The Mayor and city council took a stand and now has the ACLU fighting them to change their ordinaces. Read up on it and it is fascinating stuff.

We cannot allow a short sighted big business community and our elected officials to get away with destroying our country from within.

Each of us needs to take a stand.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Comics Drive Me Nuts at Times - Catwoman #59

This issue has the type of stuff that drives me crazy. After the one year later jump we have Selina with her baby Helena, Holly as Catwoman and the strong implication that Catwoman has killed Black Mask.

The mystery of who is the father is played with and we are left to guess Bruce Wayne or Slam Bladley. Why these two, because these are the only two guys she hangs out with and she slept with Bruce Wayne. Instead the father is a deus ex machina plot of being Sam Bladley who in this issue she basically confronts Sam and says let's get it on.

TOTAL TOTAL CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now the next issue blurb is Selina has to choose between raising her baby and being Catwoman.

The total crap answer will be Selina gives the baby to Holly to raise and she goes back to being Catwoman. We find out Sam really killed Black Mask and in about five more issues we will never even hear about the child.

It is crap. Real change is it is Bruce's baby and she semi-retires and ends up as Bruce's partner on occasion, with Holly staying Catwoman and Selina taking on a new identity. Robin feels left out - yada, yada, yada. Stories of interest and stuff that would have fans flocking back to the books, but no it is the crap way out!!!!


Thursday, September 21, 2006


After excoriating Civil War and then reading what Jeff and Shawn have said about it, I do realize that the massive company wide cross-overs are never tales for the ages. Out of all the big cross-overs within a company I think the only one that has any true worth to it is Crisis on Infinite Earths and I'm not sure if that reads all that well on its own. What separates that one from every other massive cross-over is that it changed the DC Universe forever. Infinite Crisis might be next, but as a series it was not that strong, but had the impact of doing the one year later jump which allowed DC to relaunch every single title.

The massive company wide cross-overs almost never work because they are artificial and usually forced. DC has done Millennium, Invasion, War of the Gods and a host of others and all are eminently forgettable. Marvel has Secret Wars, Secret Wars II, Fall of the Mutants, Onslaught, House of M and others and again all forgettable.

The true series for the ages are Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, New Frontier, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sandman and a select few of others. Many comics have had great runs and wonderful stories, but the true seminal events are few and far between and a cross-over has never been it and still are not it.

For my money the best cross-overs that come to mind is the JLA/Avengers by Busiek and Perez. This was a well done story and a wonderfully illustrated book containing more characters then any other series I can remember. Another great cross-over was the Titans and X-Men by Claremont and Simonson if memory serves. Both series had good solid stories behind the cross-overs.

Essentially cross-overs are the companies way of generating big sales and I think they have to laugh at us for continuing to buy these series and many of the tie in books, when we should be buying Wasteland, Invincible, Local, Mouse Guard, Fable, Human Target, Losers and other great titles.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Civil War #4 - SUCKS!

There goes all my big words, but this book just sucks and I only read it so I can be able to criticize it on Cosmix Conversations, which I will miss this week due to watching the Ravens game (priorities).

This book screams to me about what is wrong with many comics and Marvel comics in particular. It is style over substance, it pretends to be about the national debate of security versus civil liberties and most of the characters are way out of whack.

This issue revolves around the fact the Reed and Tony Stark have cloned Thor. The cloned Thor is so brutal that he kills Goliath (the former Black Goliath). We find out Tony Stark had a hair of Thor's that he saved from years ago. Why, because he planned to clone Thor in the future? That part is not clearly explained. Also the fact the Marvel is supposed to be closer to the real world and we can assume that cloning regular people is a piece of cake and cloning gods is --- what just as easy.

Who the hell is Tony Stark and Reed Richards, they aren't the characters I grew up with. People are flipping sides with no strong rationale faster then you can turn the pages. Captain America calling Iron Man a pampered punk. More so he would say something like "I can't fall old friend, no matter what because you taken the wrong path." or something other then pampered punk.

How is the fan fiction story of all the heroes fighting each other framing the national debate on security versus civil liberties. How can Sue and Johnny just find the rebels? How can Tony all of a sudden decide that psychopaths and cold blooded killers are okay to fight against his friends (at the end of this issue he has Venom, Bullseye, Electra (who is running a Ninja group in Daredevil but is a prisoner??) and others as recruits to go against Captain America's group).

As for my point on style over substance, it took me all of five minutes to slowly read this book. The art is big and glossy and well done, but it is razor thin in really focusing on any true issue.

Plus Tony would have some gimmick that would hold Cap as prisoner and not pound the crap out of him. In the forty years of Iron Man (and I haven't read all of them) I don't remember him beating up a bad guy that badly.

What little I loved about the Marvel Universe is being hurt even worse by this series. I enjoy change, but not all change is good or well conceived. Marvel made a mistake with this series. Yes it will sell, but ultimately I think it will keep shrinking the fan base.

It goes to a big gripe I have with many story tellers in comics. They have a story they want to tell and then they cast characters in the roles. Regardless of whether they fit or not. This should have been an Elseworlds styled 12 part maxi-series.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Comic Book Vocabulary

Often I have been accused of using an a big vocabulary. Once at work a person was upset that they had to use a dictionary to understand what I meant. While my college education helped I always said comics were the real reason that I had a wider then normal vocabulary. This was truer in older comics (I believe) then today's books.

I present as examples two words used in a J.M. DeMatteis scripted Legion of Super Heroes story from 1980 (issue #268 with Steve Ditko art).


loud: loud, powerful, or declamatory in tone


1. piece of learned writing: a written work resulting from prolonged study, often having a scholarly or pedantic style ( usually used in the plural )
2. long study: long hard study, especially at night

Now to try to use these in a sentence at work tomorrow.

What I'm Getting Tomorrow

This can be a weekly post.

As always I get way too many books, but as I pass on almost everything and act as one of the panelist on the Cosmic Comix broadcast I can justify it that way.

This week we should get Wasteland #3 - a great series from Oni press, Road to Hell, Conan, 52 (every week the first read), Birds of Prey, Catwoman, Checkmate, Claw, Deadman, Flash, Hellblazer, Ion, Robin, Shadowpact, Skye Runner, Superman, Testament, Wetworks, Astonishing X-Men, Civil War, FF Visionaries John Byrne Volume 6, Iron Man, Marvel Masterworks - The Human Torch (Silver Age), Moon Knight, Next Wave, Ultimate Fantastic Four, X-Factor and I will try X-Men First Class as Jeff parker has proven to be a decent writer (especially in Agents of Atlas).

What is nice is that almost every book is a decent series. Flash and Moon Knight are the poorest books and Moon Knight I may drop soon, Flash I'm hanging on to longer then I should as I send this to my daughter and she loves Bart Allen.

Personally I'm looking forward to adding the Human Torch Masterworks to my bookshelves. The above pictures are relatively recent and show what is the vast majority of my collection. I love being able to walk in my own living room and get a hard cover or a trade and either re-read in detail or just skim through some great old stuff. Marvel needs to reprint the first Agent of Shield material and DC needs to publish more Archives a year and do less Golden Age material. I also hope that the republish the Levitz Legion years in some manner as going the Archives route it would take too long to get to Paul Levitz run. Also it would have too many issues of some of the weakest Legion material. I would also love to see a five to six issue hardcover tribute to Curt Swan and his Superman work. Curt Swan was one of the best artist ever and really has not gotten the prestige recognition many others have received. Marvel is finally honoring John Buscema who was a brilliant artist.

Before reprinting everything was in vogue building a collection in long boxes made sense. But to me reading the books is why I collected comics, not to collect them. So I have bid goodbye to the hoards of long boxes hidden in an attic or a basement and hello to a bookcase that proudly displays my love for this artform.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In the Year 2525

Two things that I think will eventually happen, that right now most people would think would never happen.

One: we will chip our children. If you have a pet you know that a small computer chip can be put under their skin, so if they are lost and then found, an electronic wand can be passed over them and they can be returned to their owner. This technology is too easy to sell to parents that in order to protect all our children they will need to be chipped and all the children will be registered in a national database. It will be sold so that we can protect our children. We will also be able to probably track them via GPS like the lo-jack system. The fact that the government will have database and a way to track every human being born from a certain time will be wiped away by the people who sell the SAFETY of our children. Plus, why should you care if the government can track you as long as you aren't doing anything wrong. I would be surprised if DNA samples aren't somehow obtained at the same time. Fight against this type of idea, no matter what the rationale. This is wrong and would lead to worse things then most of us could imagine. The idea will start to be floated within the next five years.

Two: euthanasia is okay for older terminal patients. The aging baby boomers and the crush that they will put on the health care system will begin to bankrupt all of our resources. Therefore more and more States will look for ways to stem the bleeding. Ultimately the idea will be floated as a humanitarian gesture to save people from suffering. It will come in increments as first only the most severe situations, but ultimately it will be widen and become an morale dilemma for the generation in charge. You only have so much money to spend and you can't save everyone, so harder choices will have to be made. It will be sold as a benefit for the people receiving it.

I could be wrong, but I think both ideas will eventually be pushed into the main stream.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dan Didio - Senior VP - Executive Editor of DC

Again this is just my opinion as a fan.

Dan Didio also seems to have a great passion and love for the artform. When I saw him at a couple of convention panels and I have read his remarks in interviews and his weekly column he seems to be a sincere individual with a love for the artform. Also under his tenure DC has re-invigorated their entire super-hero line. In total I have to say that I think the over all line is in the best shape it has been in a long time. Getting to that point was often painful and I think that until we hit the One Year Later jump I was seriously doubting Dan's vision for the super-hero line.

Under Dan's leadership they built-up to Infinite Crisis and have essentially relaunched every super hero title in their line with the one year later jump and have launched and succeeded (so far) in producing a weekly comic (52). While every issue of 52 is not a home run, it is the book I want to read first every week. Also under Dan serious talent has been put on the main two characters of DC Batman and Superman. It is the first time I have been buying Superman for years and Batman has been very good for the first time in at least 10 years. I think it is important that DC's most recognized characters are also well done books, by strong talent. DC has a slew of solid series Aquaman, Atom, Birds of Prey, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, Outsiders and more are all good entertaining comics month in and month out. The various mini-series as opposed to launching a ton of ongoing series is also a move I agree with. Too often a series is launched based on one or two good concepts and then flounders and dies. This way we have the ability to spotlight characters that would no warrant an ongoing book. Of those Spectre, Secret Six, Mystery in Space, Martain Manhunter and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters are good series that comes to mind.

We have had some spectacular failures and the worse one of all is a core DC character - The Flash. This book was so bad that is should not have been published. The Wonder Woman relaunch has been bland and the first couple of issues of the Ion maxi-series were very poorly done. Ion has picked up and I hope that Flash can improve.

Another gripe I have is Dan's idea that Bruce Wayne will always be Batman. Superman is an alien so he can age ever so slowly, Wonder Woman is tied to the Olympus Gods and can have immortality that way, but Batman should age and Dick Grayson should take over as Batman. Dan has a similar trait with Joe Q. Over at Marvel and that is they think there characters are timeless for certain core characters and that means they adjusted reality to work around these characters. That causes too many reboots and too many fast and loose interpretations of continuity. Be bolds and daring and let the human characters age.

Another complaint that I have is that it seems like Elseworlds has gone by the wayside since Dan has taken the helm. These are the type of stories that have created the best comics has to offer - as Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come and New Frontier are non-continuity projects that allow free reign to do what you want in the DCU. The amount of these projects was overwhelming, but I feel like those projects are no longer being sought.

All in all I believe Didio has done a good job in handling the DCU and has focused on making each book the best it can be. Also when he makes a mistake (wanting to kill Nightwing) he at least had a logical and good reason for why he wanted to do it and is now challenged his people to make Nightwing more of a central player.

I have been more of a DCU fan then Marvel for a long time now (although the Silver Age Marvel was my first love) and under Didio I don't see that changing.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Joe Quesada - Marvel's Editor In Chief

This is just my view as a fan.

It is impossible for me to know what Joe Quesada as EIC of Marvel has actually done versus what are the plans and demands of the people above him. As he is the face of Marvel comics many of the negatives that I associated with him are complaints I have of Marvel comics and not Joe Quesada the person.

My impression of Joe Quesada the person are of a nice guy who is passionate about comics and loves the artform. I had the privilege of having him sign a Batman: Sword of Azrael #1, back when that was the main project he was attached to. Also I have a rare straight up autograph before it became overly stylized. Also I enjoy the man's artwork. That Batman mini-series was a great one and I wish they would give that the hard cover treatment. Joe Quesada the man anytime I have seen him in person and heard him speak seems to be a decent person.

Of course that is a preamble to my gripes about Joe Quesada the EIC of Marvel. He has brought back some excitement to Marvel, he got Grant Morrison to do the X-Men and we have had Ed Brubaker move to Marvel and produce some great work on Daredevil and Captain America. He brought Neil Gaiman in to write some books at Marvel and has drawn in outside talent, inside talent and has pushed the borders of what Marvel is publishing. It has been a slow and painful process but he has done Westerns, Monster Comics, launched ICON and is now pushing Classic Illustrated (or whatever it will be called). Also he is keeping his eye on digital publishing and trying to stay cutting edge. All of these all good things.

I learned that we should start with the good before we go to the bad. It also seems as Marvel under Joe Quesada is a total liberal organization. I have no inherent problem with writers exposing their view points in the context of entertaining, I just get the overall feeling that the viewpoint is all the same. Everyone talks about diversification, but it all comes down to everybody can look different, but think the same. Civil War is the best example of this. While personally I'm on Captain America's side from the standpoint of being more of a libertarian then anything else, I find that the "conservative" viewpoints are depicted as villainous. I want writers with more then one world view.

Next grip the sliding scale of Marvel continuity. It appears that under Joe's reign that Marvel has adopted a concept that everything that happened, occurred in the last ten years. It is just another expression of this moronic idea that the heroes never age. It's stupid, it's inane and it makes for stories that ultimately have no impact on a character. Now Tony Stark became Iron Man in Afghanistan (it was Vietnam), Spider-Man was now 15 when he became Spider-Man (it was 17), I guess Nick Fury was a commando in Vietnam and Reed and company stole a Space Shuttle in 1996??? The franchise is the Fantastic Four, not Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny. The franchise is the X-Men and Spider-Man, not Cyclops or Peter Parker. People point to Dick Tracy and other examples of characters that never change, but Dick Tracy is no longer relevant, James Bond is not published on a monthly basis three times a month. True growth and change come with age and introducing a new generation of heroes will be exciting. It is what is being done in the Ultimate line, why not let the original universe actually change. Hell, could the FF be any worse or more boring from where it is today?

The third complaint is the multiple reprint formats. I prefer the twelve issue deluxe format, but now both companies are doing 4-6 issues hard covers, then a trade and maybe a full size hard cover. If that is the route they are going at least announce it, because now I just wait two years before I make any decision to purchase anything.

Last issue for now. I know that part of the job is to be a huckster for the new product, but stop the inane teases that treat us like six year olds. If you can't comment, that's fine. If you can comment tell us what you feel is appropriate.

In summation Joe Q. Appears to be a man who is a decent person, passionate about his job, but he is also part of what I feel is the overall problem with our industry and that is the inability to push for and allow real change.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why I Hate Politics - Part II

This is a quick rant, until I start to type and then it is a times a never ending stream. But another reason I hate politics today is the instant world that we live in. Someone makes a remark and fourteen talking heads are online and on the air telling us what the person really thought or what we should think. Nothing has any real analysis to it and then we move on to the next thing so fast, that the issue just lays on the side of the road going nowhere. The insatiable appetite for news and events has the "news" outlets creating news. Then every frigging outlet seems to have a slant to it. Reporting has become a game where you spin things in the direction that you want. It has gotten to the point that I immediately filter everything I hear and decided on my own whether to believe it or not. Maybe this is better then watching the evening news and believing it when I was growing up, but I'm not sure if it is.

On the plus side thanks to Airelle I now will be reading up on Grover Cleveland, and based on my early review of his life he looks like a President that I could really have gotten behind and supported.

Also my sister Joan is running for election in her District, which is overwhelmingly one party and is running on a shoestring budget just to at least offer a choice for people. It is something way out of her comfort zone, but she is doing it for all the right reasons and she deserves a lot of credit for putting herself on the firing line.

I know everything in the distant past wasn't rosy and great, but I believe that we used to have more leaders who were interested in serving society. I also believe that we had people in the media who felt an obligation to report what was happening and wait until all the facts are in to draw conclusions. The "me first" culture that we have created makes everyone more interested in themselves, more then society as a whole.

I have slowly given up some of my more materialistic ways as I have gotten older and hopefully getting past the me first focus. I have also learned that when I do something for somebody I do it because I want to do it for them, not expecting or needing anything in return. I also don't do it thinking I'm building up good karma or a later reward, I do it because I want to do it. I believe that we can make the world a better place, but we have to change what we can change and lead by example. It just seems that as a whole we are doing the wrong things and I don't understand why we continue to watch our country go down a path that seems to be fiscally and morally destructive. Everything is faster paced and we are moving to an information society, the switch from agrarian to an industrial society was not smooth, I don't think this switch will be either.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Aquaman - Sword of Atlantis

Aquaman has become a really great series. It appears as if this will be a bi-monthly series, but since it is not crossing over into fourteen other books and has secrets that effect every corner of the DCU, I can live with that. Whether it is Butch Guice being unable to produce a monthly book or Kurt Busiek having too much on his plate or any other reasons, again I can live with six issues of this book a year.

What makes Aquaman good in my opinion is that we have an almost Edgar Rice Burroughs type feel to a sword and sorcery saga. We have the mystery of why Orin (the Dweller in the Dark) doesn't remember that he was Aquaman, what caused his radical change in appearance and where did he get all of these powers he is displaying. How come the new Aquaman (Arthur Curry) become a water breather and exactly what is his origin. Why is King Shark apparently on the side of the angels. The layers of mystery and elements that are being slowly revealed are well played in this book. Instead of them hanging over our heads these mysteries make up a portion of the back story. They do not interfere with the story that started on the one year later jump and has continued forward. So the first element that makes this a very good series is the writing by Kurt Busiek.

Another element the makes this book work is the richness of the artwork. The characters are all distinctive and well drawn. The art conveys the feeling that we are underwater, yet retains a clarity. Personally it feels like there is none of the computer enhancements and shortcuts that mar many of the comics being published today. Too often we have a slickness to the artwork and coloring that seems to be burying mistakes and the lack of ability to draw the human form. The layouts in this book are well done and dynamic and enhance the story telling. Bold when needed and detailed panels when needed. The second element that makes this book is the artwork of Butch Guice.

A comic book is a visual medium that is enhanced by words and is made great when the story is interesting and well told. It is still just a few issues into it's run with Busiek and Guice but this really feels like a great story arc and could go down as an all time run on Aquaman. Ocean Master came back this issue and he is really menacing. We are following the plight of Mera and the people of Atlantis. A rich underwater world with multiple peoples and races are being developed. We stand in the new Aquaman's shoes trying to make sense of all that is happening.

It is such a good read and enjoyable book that I can forgive fighting with swords underwater, because even though it is ridiculous to the extreme it looks very cool and if we have an underwater world we need to make some of the action "realistic" from a land perspective.

Just a really, really excellent series right now and one that is making Aquaman a book I look forward to reading. Hell I'll get the trade and hard cover (if it gets that treatment).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why Do I End Up As Wonder Woman??

You Are Wonder Woman

A true goddess, you have the strength and skills to rule the world.You're one sexy amazon... all of the superhero guys are fighting over you!
What Superhero Are You?
Okay my daughter sends me this link and she is Batman and I answer the questions and I am Wonder Woman. I mean I not sure if we have ever explored Wonder Woman's sexuality, but if I'm Wonder Woman we will be lesbian. Not sure if I'm into the bondage, but I'll try to adjust.

This was really way too funny as a good friend took the test and he was Superman. Somehow three fans of comics managed to be the DCU's Trinity.

Still - I wanted to be Batman - life can be tough sometimes, but I guess I have to take it like a man - but now like an Amazon?

Why I Hate Politics - A Partial Summary

Okay, I know it is new comics day. But before I retreat into the comic world a quick rant on politics and some of the reasons why I hate the system we now have in place. As a side note I was greatly bummed out that the fine comic book store I deal with ( was not sent their copies of Wasteland today. This seems apropos as what I'm ranting about is a wasteland.

My home state had their primary and in Maryland if you aren't registered Democrat you might as well not vote in the primary and until recently the primary was the de facto election. I'm not a Democrat and have been registered as a Republican and a Democrat at different times in different states. In my mind their is almost no difference between either party. Both continue to inure power to themselves. The campaign Finance Reform bill of a few years ago actually makes it tougher for an independent party to grow. The Republicrats all suck. It seems very, very few really care about public service, it is about power and money.

Special interest and corporate America own most of the government. In ways both small and large they control the money, which controls who gets recognition and ultimately controls who gets elected. The occasional outsider who makes it in is either shut out by the people controlling the governmental bodies or plays their game and becomes an insider.

How can we continue to throw money at problems (education the number one thing) and assume this will fix the problem. Building a building out of gold cost more and has less utility then a building made out of bricks and mortar.

So many people seem to agree that we have problems, yet they elect the incumbents time and time again. Are we daft or is the whole system rigged. How much of a difference would Kerry have made over Bush? Both are of the same cloth. Yet, we are ready to anoint royal families. In 2008 will it be Clinton (Hillary) v Bush (Jeb)? Is that even a choice?

Last election I voted libertarian, this election I want to vote for none of the above and if that wins we have a new election in 90 days with a new slate of candidates.

My tactic at this point is to vote against all incumbents in the Federal and State government levels for legislatures. I figure at least try someone new.

Our system is badly in need of leaders and people who want to be servants of the people, instead we now have a ruling elite, who believe they know best what is good for the people. Call me a cynic, but then prove that I'm not a realist.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What I'm Getting Tomorrow

I buy way too many comics, but I allow myself to buy a lot because I no longer ever own these books and in fact mail them out to two people, who I know also share some (if not all) of these books. And after collecting books for years this seems to be the right thing. I think comics were made to be read and passed on. If it is really good, now days it will be collected. If it is an excellent story they will collect it in multiple formats until you feel like a total idiot buying the same story three or more times. Before all of the trades, saving stuff to read again made sense, but in today's world it seems foolish to have these long boxes of comics that no one ever sees. My main collection is hard covers and trades and they are on my book shelf to be read and enjoyed by any who asks.

Tomorrow I'm picking up 52, Aquaman, Legends of the Dark Knight (just for this arc), Doom Patrol Trade (great Grant Morrison stuff), Fables, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Green lantern, Green Lantern Corps, JLA Classified, Martian Manhunter, Annihilation, Captain America, Hulk, Wolverine Origins (fast fading book), Talent (very cool) and Wasteland (see prior posting). So it should be some decent entertainment.

DC has been my favorite company for a few years and I think they have done a good job at making most of their line interesting again. A large portion of their cape books are enjoyable enough for an ongoing series and some are excellent. Others , Flash chief among them, are dumpster material. Plus DC has Vertigo and Wildstorm so their books have more viewpoints and different types of material. Marvel is essential stuck with capes and has not really generated a major hit character since Wolverine. It is amazing when you realize the company has lived off the concepts that Lee/Kirby/Ditko all started 40 plus years ago. Marvel feels like style over substance. This is not always true as I enjoy Next Wave, X-Factor and Daredevil a lot, but on the whole it is the feel I get from Marvel.

The independents are the most fun right now as they have no vested interest in maintaining the status quo so their material is wide ranging and all over the place. There is a lot of self published crap out there and some really weak stuff, but if you look you can find some of the best books being published today.

I almost hope that sales go way down for DC and Marvel so they are forced to make real changes. It would be more interesting to have Superman dealing with an aging wife, Green Arrow failing as he got too old and pushed it too far, or Connor being Green Arrow full time again and him and Speedy being the main characters. The newer and younger characters are almost blank slates that have stories that could pour out of them. The stories for the human heroes aging would be fascinating. But it seems real change only comes when it is forced to happen, otherwise the status quo rules with "events" being the story.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What Do We Do After the End of the World

Lately I have been enjoying three different post-apocalyptic stories.

First off is Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charles Adlard. I love this book in trade format. Essentially a cop wakes up after being in the hospital and finds out the world has been turned into flesh eating Zombies. Yeah I hate when that happens too. The tag line for the book is a great one and says "In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living." In this book our hero Rick learns he is not the only survivor and eventually finds his family and has put together a rag tag group of survivors and they are constantly fighting a battle to survive.

Second is War of the Worlds: Second Wave by Michael Alan Nelson and Chee. This is actually what the title says it is. The second wave of invaders comes to Earth and this time they are not just dying off. So far it is ground level view of some survivors.

The third and so far in my opinion the best is Wasteland by Anthony Johnston and Chris Mitten. This is a book that is picking up 100 years after the disaster called the "Big Wet" and so far we are focused on a character called Michael and are learning what cultures and what types of societies have evolved since the disaster.

All three books bring a few things into focus. First and foremost is life comes into sharper focus when living is a struggle for survival. It goes back to Maslow's hiearchy of needs, but done in a graphic story form it is captivating. I guess given that I'm more of intellectual then a handy man type I figured I'm worthless after the disaster so I want to see how others handle it. Second is the look at what someone imagines our society will rebuild into, so far it is not a pretty picture.

Still all three series are all unbridled fun.

Wasteland appears to be mapped out the best and almost is unfolding as a novel that has been written and each issue is a chapter.

Walking Dead is great fun, but I believe that they have to move a little faster with the story as the story has slowed down a lot. Also I believe some perspective as to how the rest of the world is surviving would be of interest.

Second Wave has it moments, but is the weakest of the series. The incredible slow start to this story was bad enough, but again we need to move forward and also get some bigger picture perspective occasionally. I enjoy the view from the main character's perspective, but it's like each issue takes only a day or two to happen and at that rate it will be issue 50 before we learn anything of the big picture.

Still I think the appeal for me is the same as it is with other science fiction novels I have read and other TV series I have enjoyed and that is the opportunity to see new worlds. The apocalypse portion of these stories appeals to my idea that we have way too many people on this globe and a mass house cleaning might not be a totally horrible idea.

I'm sure today's date got me thinking about this subject, but it was not on a conscious level. Still when talking about today I always think of the heroes that men and women of the New York Police, Fire and other departments were on that day. They were incredible and I hope I could be as brave as those people were if the need ever arises.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Why Batman is the Best Hero Ever

Batman is, in my mind, the best hero ever created. Now the Batman that really sold me on this was the Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams Batman. There version really brought the character to my attention and since then I have tried to examine why he is the greatest hero ever. Also since I recently heard Didio state that Batman is Bruce Wayne forever and I think he is wrong and keeping Bruce as Batman is one thing that needs to change.

I digressed for a moment, but then I do that way too often.

Batman is the best hero because first and foremost he is human. Theoretically if I had the motivation (and had the wealth) I could have dedicated my life to training and become the Batman. Strip away the money and you still have a brilliant detective and one of the best hand to hand fighters in the world. Since he is human I believe that ultimately he needs to age and then pass on his legacy.

Next up is his altruism. Bruce witnessed the death of his parents and took that as a motivation to never let what he lost happen to anyone else ever again. Some writers have made him psychotic because of this, but I see it as a magnificent obsession. Yes, he is obsessed, but in a good way and he is desperately trying to make his part of the world a better place. Bruce Wayne as the philanthropist and Batman as the crime fighter.

Third family is important. While the portrayal of Batman over the years have presented somewhat different views on this I have always seen Batman as someone who values Dick, Jason, Tim, Barbara, Jim, Alfred and others as family and always did what he could to protect them. Dick is his son for all intents and purposes and should be the one to take up the mantle of the Bat. Jason is the son who didn't work out, often despite our best efforts we cannot change someone to be better then they are. Tim is the youngest son and seems to me he would ultimately grow into a role of a leader and perhaps teacher of younger heroes. Tim also would be more of the master strategist.

Fourth, Batman does the right thing. In the Tower of Babel storyline where Batman had contingency plans to take down the JLA, I think he is right. If these heroes are ever compromised, not having a contingency plan to deal with them is foolish. Also he would never tell them about the plan as it would hurt any chance of it succeeding.

Also Batman does not kill. Now while I have almost screamed out loud for him to kill the Joker and I disagree with an absolute rule regarding anything, Batman does not kill and he sticks with his chosen moral. It shows integrity. I personally would like to see a scenario that Batman is forced to kill an evil person to save others and then have him deal with the repercussions, but Batman has always found a way to save the day without killing and that is a really cool thing. Batman remains true to his own internal code of ethics.

There are other reasons, but the above is the heart of the matter and no other hero matches Batman.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


After attending a comic book convention and watching some episodes of Stargate SG-1, I realized how much in many areas of our culture we are taught to be a maverick. George Washington and the rest of the founding fathers were revolutionaries. Many of our popular fictional heroes from Jack Bauer in 24 to James Bond, to Captain Kirk and Picard are break the rules people when they know the rule is wrong. Today Mark Waid said Superman was his favorite hero because he had the power to rule the earth, but doesn't and instead helps the world because it is the right thing to do. In suffragette and civil right movements our heroes are those who stood against the status quo and would not follow the rules. Our founding fathers ignored the rule of law and stood up for what was the right thing.

This is all a prelude to the fact that when it comes to personal and professional situations doing the right thing and standing against the others who maybe wrong usually exacts a high cost. Often times in the government or corporate situations whistle blowers are only lauded by the people trying to attack the institution being reported on. Often this people are vilified and treated as outcasts by society at large, because now how can you trust a traitor. In a personal situation being right and trying to do the right thing often buys you trouble also. Even when proven right in the long term, people don't want to be reminded of the situation.

I know I have tried to do the right thing and have succeeded on occasion and there has been a price to pay for doing it (both in my personal and professional life). But no matter what I will always strive to do the right thing and be the maverick when called upon and pay the price. Because if I have learned nothing else from the comic heroes of my formative years there no option, we do the right thing regardless of the consequences. I just wish then in real life those people were lauded as well as they are in fiction.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Mystery in Space #1 - Review

Mystery in Space was a very well done book. All reviews have an automatic basis and this book had two pluses from the jump for me. One a fondness for older characters that have had limited time in the spotlight and a creator whose work I have enjoyed before, so Captain Comet and Jim Starlin made this book a buy from the start.

Captain Comet was an older character who has been allowed to age and the first issue resolves this problem by having Captain Comet be resurrected as a younger version of himself. I appreciate the fact that a character's age is recognized and dealt with either a form of immortality, a new person taking the mantle or some deux ex machina to make them younger again. Plus given Captain Comet's powers this didn't feel as contrived as Green Arrow's resurrection.

Without getting into too much detail the reason I think this comic was well done because the stories were well written and has me wanting to come back for issue #2, the talking dog giving us the Captain's backstory, the tie-in between the front and back story, the return of the appropriately named "Weird", the artwork by Shane Davis for Captain Comet and Jim Starlin and Al Milgrom for the back up story, 38 pages of art and story for only $3.99. In one issue they have managed to give us the back story of both characters, introduce a small supporting cast and a villain, and bring to the forefront one under utilized character and one almost forgotten character.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New Comics

Very little time, but wanted to remark - Mystery in Space was very cool, as was Local and Cross Bronx.

Back to reading as we are doing a Cosmic Conversation tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They're Action Figures - Not Dolls

My wife calls them dolls, but I know they are action figures. They are actually inaction figures, but hey why quibble. I don't know what has gotten me into liking these action figures so much, but it is a lot of fun to see you're favorite characters brought into 3-D. I just wish to hell someone could make better faces for many of the woman action figures. I mean this is a medium that has some of the most beautifully drawn woman ever and a lot of the female action figures fail to capture the beauty in the female faces.

I think the only thing that saves these figures from being dolls is that don't come with different outfits to change them into, but given how many heroes have had multiple costumes, it is only a matter of time and if I find myself dressing and undressing an action figure, I may have to concede the point to my wife and admit they are dolls.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Odd Rant

Heavy workload and having to buy new glasses ate up my day, but it caused me to go to the mall and evoked this rant.

Who the hell decided that everything in a bathroom is run by sensors. The john doesn't flush until after you walk away from it, the water doesn't come on unless you break and a sensor and you have to wave your hand to get a god damn paper towel (and a small one at that). Hell the water doesn't run that long, god forbid you need to flush twice and if you want a second paper towel to dry you hands you might be waving at the damn thing all day.

What happens when the power goes out. I can understand some off it from a standpoint of not wasting water and what not, but still the water hardly runs long enough to really wash your hands and one towel the size that dispense is inadequate to dry your hands.

Stupid thing to rant about true, but it struck me as absurd and I still want to know how to we use the bathroom if there is no power?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Old Comic Ads

I love the old comic ads and this one is a great one. Who knew you could learn the deadly secrets of the ninja from a handbook. All from simple physio-mental powers.

What you cannot read from the photo is the Attention Law Enforcement Agencies box, that states that they can get a discount on these booklets so all our law enforcement people would have the powerful ninja secrets.

Why were these never taught to our police officers and special forces team is beyond me.

All of this was for just $5. Why did I not order this book as apparently the secrets are now lost again.

Wikipedia - A World Made by Consensus

Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference website on the Internet. The content of Wikipedia is free, written collaboratively by people from all around the world. This website is a wiki, which means that anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer can edit, correct, or improve information throughout the encyclopedia, simply by clicking the edit this page link (with a few minor exceptions, such as protected articles and the main page).
Others have commented on this and Wikipedia certainly can be a fun source to read, but calling it a reference is frightening. How many people think that all of this stuff is true. It is truly a world gone mad when we have a "reference source" that is a history made by consensus. Reality is being blurred by our governments, our media and our internet.

This is disturbing to me on many levels.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Avengers Suck

In coming up with titles for my post I feel like this is a scandal sheet type headline. Designed to garner attention, but not necessarily the actual truth of the matter.

New Avengers by Marvel to me is a strange animal. It is almost universally considered to be a horribly written book. I picked up the first six issue trade to read it just so I could be sure that if I was being critical of something I had an actual basis on which to criticize the book. It was worse then I thought it would be. Bendis had almost zero percentage on getting the characters' voices, the art was the over rendered David Finch - whose are has a certain quality that can make it appealing, but ultimately lacks consistency in faces, has poor layouts and has way too many lines. This was an absolutely horrible comic with a "team" that did not fit. Wolverine in this comic is so forced as to be unreal, Sentry does not work as part of the Marvel mainstream universe and Spider-Woman has been given such a convoluted background (triple agent - please) as to be untenable.

Yet the book sells well for Marvel. Give them credit with the long list of issues that had variable covers they jacked up the sales numbers. The non-thinking fans who buy any books their favorite character is in help to prop up this book also.

I never understand why such utter crap continues to sell.

Recently during an "online radio" show that I participate in (, I heard the last two issues of the New Avengers were good books. So reluctantly I tried them and the solo Luke Cage and Spider-Woman issues were indeed decent reads, but then I realized these were solo books and not a team book. Bendis does okay on his solo work or a book like Powers, but his group book has been really, really been awful.

So I just ask that if a book sucks after six issues and no new team is in sight, please stop buying it just to have a full run. Or better yet try Wasteland, Invincible, Local, X-Isle or Fell - or any other book that you normally don't read.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

No One Does Comic Book News

Maybe it is just my viewpoint, but there is no online true "news" source for comics. Most of the major websites actually act as pimps for the various comic book companies and almost have to or they would have probably have no access to the comic world. Lying in the Gutters actually is the closest thing we have to a comic book reporter and he makes it a gossip column to please the fans.

I never see any real news stories out there about comic books or the industry.

Where is an in depth study on the over sales figures on comics. Using Diamond as the only source of sales numbers misses the bigger picture of the sales of trade paperbacks and other collected forms of comics. Based on my own research the actual sales of comic books have continued to decline for the last few decades with only occasionally jumps back upwards. By having a 20% sales jump from 20,000 to 22,000 sounds great, except when the book sold 50,000 copies five years before it dropped to 20,000.

Why no stories on what makes a writer or artist sign up for an exclusive contract and how are these contracts being constructed? Once I turn in my 24 scripts is my two years over? As an artist if I have a five year commitment does it end with a number of pages? How does a company guarantee getting the work? Do they take back benefits, charged the person?

Why no articles on the lack on new characters being created in Marvel and DC books? Is this because the company doesn't want to have to share in any monies made off the characters or because everyone saves their own ideas for independent publishing?

Where are the articles interviewing people who have left the industry and what they are doing now? What happened to Jim Shooter? Where is Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas? What happened to other artist and writers?

Where is the hard line interviews where questions are asked with more substance they "why hasn't Adam Strange's beard grown more in the 17 weeks of 52?". Where is an interview with Paul Levitz talking about comics versus animation? An interview with Joe Quesada asking how he will insure the retailers who are taking a hit for Civil War lateness are being helped? Ask these guys questions that you know the answer for and call them when they are wrong or evasive.

The interview podcasts are even a bigger joke, if I hear one more "interviewer" suck the writer or artist ass I think I'll throw up.

I know this is just comic books and most of us are fans, but there are still some interesting and underlying questions that should be made to the main people running these companies. We should be examining the sales figures at length to determine where is the industry heading. Are the fans just underwriting the book market and being used and abused to buy the monthlies so the book sales can be made?

Is the direct market dying? How many stores are left and how harmful is it that Diamond is the sole and exclusive distributor of these goods?

I had to order Action philosophers Giant Sized book straight from Evil Twin Comics because my store couldn't get anymore from Diamond. Why is that? I don't mind giving the creators the money directly, but are the sales of these type of books hampered by Diamond's practices?

It just seems to be what passes for news and interviews from 99% of the online comic sites is nothing more then press releases and love fests. One interview website's interviewer is so fawning and loving to his subjects that I can no longer even listen to it.

If someone knows of a real news website for comics, please let me know.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Neal Adams and Great Covers 3

Okay these are all great cover images and all done by one of the most influential artists ever.

Neal Adams was one of the most innovative and dynamic artist to hit comics. In my opinion he is the most influential artist in comic book history. Note I said artist. I think Kirby and Ditko added more then just art, but judging just on art alone Adams changed the industry forever. His more realistic style and dynamic layouts and perspectives still resonate with today's artists (and most can't hold a candle to his work).

In addition to being a major art influence Neal Adams also became known for being an advocate of creator rights. Truly one of the all time greats and we still get his occasional variant cover art work for a comic now and again. I really wish he was doing All Star Batman.

I also admire Neal for his willingness to go out and publish his opinions on all subjects and be willing to take the heat for some of those opinions.

I have his Deadman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow and all three Neal Adam Batman hard covers as part of my collection. I'm not trying to downplay the writers, but Neal Adams is one of the all time best artists ever in the field and the major reason I purchased those collections. Now if DC would just publish his early Spectre work.

Great Comic Covers 2

It is almost impossible to find a bad Steve Ditko Amazing Spider-Man cover, but I really love this one. It has all the elements that made Steve Ditko the artist that was perfect for Spider-Man. Steve Ditko could draw action and angles like no one else. His art has a fluidness to it that makes it seem alive. Now in fairness Steve's woman were not the best in the world, but for dynamic action, movement and weirdness Ditko was and is one of the best. I don't think anyone has done a better job on Spider-Man or Doctor Strange.