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Comics…Deconstructed

My Spirit Is Gone

sigh….Well, Darwyn Cooke and J Bone are leaving The Spirit with issue 12. Who better to have continued Eisner’s legendary character than these two talents?! And now…after great issue after great issue, they’re leaving. No creative team has been announced yet. One could only dream Matt Wagner would take over writing and drawing. But he’s busy with Grendel and Vertigo’s new Madame Xanadu series.

Who would you choose to be the next creative team?

July 30, 2007 Posted by | Comics | 1 Comment

The Dark Knight Teaser Trailer

How could I resist posting this?

 

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK1Mfvyqgzc]
YouTube – The Dark Knight Teaser Trailer

July 28, 2007 Posted by | Batman, Comics, Movies | Leave a comment

The Lightning Saga: WTF????

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No spoilers here. Promise.  I hate when comics fanboys assume that everyone reads the latest issues the moment they arrive.  Some of us actually take a while to get caught up on certain story arcs, or just wait for a month’s worth of books to arrive in the mail (right Peat Muppet?).  In any case, this was not intended to be a rant about spoilers, but instead a rant about the recent JLA/JSA/Legion crossover event The Lighting Saga.  I think my title for this post expresses my view on this particular storyline.

Was it just me, or was this story almost impenetrable? Sometimes I thought there was too much going on, but other times there didn’t seem to be much of a story at all.  The ONLY redeeming factor was the Geoff Johns JSA issues, and even they served only to interrupt the ongoing story he’s been creating there over the past few months.

And what about the ending (again, no spoilers…)???  Is this what was supposed to happen, a happy/unhappy accident or just plain out bad writing (or all three, for that matter)?  It seems too early for a massive crossover in two books which are just getting their footing again.  Wait a year or more before trying this again, guys.

Overall Rating (out of 10):  5 (JLA Issues), 6 (JSA Issues)

July 23, 2007 Posted by | comic books, Comics, Reviews | 1 Comment

Once…Twice…Three Times Amazing

IGN recently posted the following article regarding the upcoming changes in the various Marvel Spider-man titles.  All of the disparate titles are going to coalesce under the Amazing Spider-man header, creating a thrice-monthly published comic book.  Unfortunately, J. Michael Straczynski is bowing out of Spidey’s universe, opening the door for several new writers and artists.  IGN has posted some of the artwork below, but it’s anyone’s guess who one of the new artists is going to be.  Leave your speculations here or at IGN (or both) and tell us what you think about the new incarnation of the Spider-titles.

 

Spider-Man – Brand New Day: Mystery Artist Debut

IGN Exclusive – Day One: Introducing one of the creators behind Marvel’s thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man direction.

by Richard George

July 20, 2007 – One month ago, at Wizard World Philadelphia 2007, Marvel Comics revealed big changes were in store for Spider-Man. For months fans had heard about the epic storyline entitled “One More Day.” Drawn by Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada and scribed by J. Michael Straczynski, the four-issue arc was supposed to change Spidey’s life forever. “One More Day” would also be Straczynski’s last story; the writer has been working on Amazing Spider-Man for over six years.

But the news revealed in Philly was regarding what would come after this major storyline. Sensational and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man would be cancelled. Amazing would step in their places, shipping three times a month, creating a unified approach to the superhero drama.

However Marvel stopped there. It didn’t announce the creative teams behind this new endeavor. Rumors ran rampant, particularly with the teaser image that was released (see our related story below to view that image). But fans wouldn’t have to wait long. San Diego Comic-Con 2007 would reveal all.

But we at IGN Comics have never been the patient type. We’ve managed to secure the first interior art from the “Brand New Day” initiative (the marketing slogan attached to the new, thrice-monthly direction). Starting today, and spread throughout the next week, we’ll be unveiling pieces from one particular artist’s finished interior work. Here’s the slight catch: We can’t specifically say who it is.

 

Astute comic book aficionados are probably going to figure it out – if not today, then certainly as we reveal some more. We encourage the speculation, and if you think you know who it is, feel free to comment in our feedback thread below. More importantly, maybe determining who this is will let you see other trends with Marvel talent, and maybe you can narrow the potential talent pool even more. Regrettably, IGN knows the entire creative team, but we can’t say. But we’re doing the best we can – and wait until you see the final piece, which will be unveiled Saturday morning. To say it kicks ass isn’t doing it enough justice. And rest assured, when you finally know who’s involved, you’ll understand just how amazing Spider-Man will be.
So stay tuned to IGN all this week as we bring you more from our Mystery Artist as well as some other very cool exclusives. San Diego is right around the corner – and there are going to be some incredible announcements.

 

Think you know who this is? Speculate with other IGN readers by posting your comments below. Your comments are actually linked to our free message boards (which are located here, so swing by some time and chat away!

July 23, 2007 Posted by | comic books, Comics, Commentary, Marvel Comics, Spider-man | Leave a comment

How Alan Moore Almost Destroyed the Comic Industry

Yep, you read the title correctly. And before you start thinking I don’t like Alan Moore…I do. In fact, I think he’s one of the most influential, if not THE most influential, comic writers of all time. But because of Mr. moore, the comic industry has suffered for years.

Sure, there were the horribly written and drawn comics from the early to mid 90’s. All the hype, special covers, overprinting, and over-speculating also almost killed the industry. But that’s another blog for another day.

Now back to Alan Moore. In the mid-eighties, Alan moore took over writing a failing Swamp Thing. Along with Steve Bissette and John Totleben, Moore crafted more mature stories and turned the comics industry on its ears. DC Comics even took the Comics Code off the covers and added “Suggested for mature readers”. No other comic writer was writing stories like these. Frank Miller started it a few years before on his Daredevil run. But nothing compared to Moore’s adult-oriented writing. Swamp Thing’s origin was re-tooled in an “everything you thought you knew is wrong” type of story. Iconic character Batman got his butt handed to him when Swamp Thing turned Gotham City into a new Garden of Eden. The Floronic Man became a psychotic murderer. And then Moore did the unthinkable. He shot Swampy out into space.

And that’s not all. Soon after, DC reprinted V For Vendetta. Miracle Man was reprinted and continued by Moore. And Watchmen showed us a more realistic, bleak look at superheroes. Watchmen is also considered by many to be the best comic story of all time. ALL TIME! How could other creators and companies possibly hope to top that? Well, they couldn’t. But soon after, DC created the Vertigo line. Amazing writers (mainly British) like Grant Morrison (Doom Patrol and Animal Man), Jamie Delano (Hellblazer), Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Peter Milligan (Shade the Changing Man) and so on, paved the way for comics to be better written and more mature in content. After a few years, gone were the days of fun, all-ages comics with fun writing and art. (Again, I’m not going into the 90’s at this time.)

Now, it’s the norm to expect great writing and phenomenal art. The second a fun, old-school superhero comic comes out, fans cry out their negative opinions online. Why? Because we as readers expect more. Comic companies can’t put out simple comics stories like they used to. Humor is considered a no-no these days. Smiling, heroic, goody-two-shoes heroes are a thing of the past. And since comics are more adult oriented, guess what? Kids lose interest. Daredevil’s one of the very best comics out there. But if I were a kid, I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Same thing with Captain America. DC’s trying to bring back the fun of comics. Geoff Johns is probably the best superhero writer of this generation. But who actually buys comics? Adults. Not kids. Is it all just video games and bad parenting that prevent kids from reading? Of course not (although it’s a big part of it). But as a kid, comics just aren’t for them anymore. Comic companies, in an effort to be more mature in content, have eliminated the need for continuity, colorful costumes, and cosmic stories. Does any kid actually think Marvel Adventures books feature the real characters? Why do companies feel the need to dumb-down their younger readers? When I was a kid, I knew that Spidey Super Stories wasn’t in continuity. And I LOVED flashbacks and references to previous issues. It made me want to read them. And if I started reading a comic in the middle of a story, with references to a few sub plots going on, I was smart enough as a first or second grader to realize that the more issues I read, the more I’d figure out what was going on.

In a world where comic stories are written based on the plan for collecting the story in trade paperback, creators aren’t allowed to actually create. Readers now expect adult stories where the six-part arc is groundbreaking and shatters the world of the main character, even if what happens is out of character and will eventually destroy the character’s fanbase (anyone remember Civil War and it’s embarrassing renditions of Spider-Man and Iron Man?).

 Although sales are slowing climbing, they still don’t compare to sales in the 80’s and before. Most readers can’t simply enjoy a fun comic. Spider-Girl is really the only “old-school” comic out there. Since it’s just one book, it’s managed to attract enough “old-School” fans to keep it going, barely.

Thanks, Alan moore. We love ya, but still…

July 22, 2007 Posted by | Comics | Leave a comment

Brubaker + Epting – Cap = Totally Cool

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Ed Brubaker continues to amaze me with his writing on this book. I mean, who else could get away with producing a completely riveting (and complicated) story arc without the title character? There just doesn’t seem to be any lame concept in Captain America’s past that Brubaker cannot infuse with total cool. This issue featured a newly-restored Serpent Society, and again Brubaker took these fairly useless villains and made them ruthless and horrifying.

Steve Epting’s gritty, realistic art hearkens back to even the legendary Steranko, and coupled with the fantastic storytelling there are really few negatives I can find.

I was a latecomer to this newest Cap series, but I’m glad I’ve finally caught up.

Overall Rating (out of 10): 9

July 22, 2007 Posted by | Captain America, comic books, Comics, Marvel Comics, Reviews | 1 Comment

All-Flash: When Just One Flash Won’t Do

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There’s nothing quite like the return of an old friend – and by this, I mean Mark Waid as much as I mean Wally West.  It’s clear from the very start of All-Flash that this is the character Mark Waid was born to write.  There’s a fluidity of language here that is missing in so much of his other work (though that “other work” ain’t shabby either). 

If there are any quibbles about the book, it’s that the art (handled by a cadre of very talented artists) is inconsistent. That’s not to say that it’s poor – rather that one artist’s idea of what a character looks like might be radically different from another’s.  This lends the issue a disjointed visual element, which fortunately Waid makes up for with a superb script and an excellent revenge against the man (boy?) ultimately responsible for Bart’s death.

Overall Rating (out of 10): 8

July 22, 2007 Posted by | comic books, Comics, Commentary, Reviews | Leave a comment

What’s Your Pull List?

By complete happenstance, I discovered an amazing and really enjoyable website last night – particularly for comic book fans.  The site – www.pulllist.com – is a DIGG-like site where users rate, review and comment on each week’s comics as they are released.  The site has a relatively tiny user base at the moment, and it needs a bit more visual polish, but overall I’m impressed at what one person has been able to accomplish in a short amount of time.  Please do yourself a favor and visit the site, and check the RSS feed in the right-hand column of this page to see my most recent “pulls”.

July 21, 2007 Posted by | comic books, Comics, Graphic Novels | Leave a comment

Doomsday Comes for Superman…Again??

Even though I was far from the biggest fan of the entire Death of Superman arc way back when, I’m excited about the forthcoming animated movie based on that story.  Basically, anything done in the neo-classic Bruce Timm/Paul Dini style is worth watching (though it will be hard to surpass the final episodes of their Justice League Unlimited).  In fact (and I think this argument was made SEVERAL times after the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm film was released) I would prefer that they just make the animated films and skip the live action stuff (Christopher Nolan excepted, natch).  Obviously that will never happen, but can anyone explain why the Dini/Timm production team doesn’t stay on a project for more than a few seasons?  Oh well… maybe we can hope for a Justice League film next.

 

[YouTube=http://youtube.com/watch?v=l3keuiWzY-Q]
YouTube – Superman Doomsday Trailer!

July 21, 2007 Posted by | Animation, Comics, Movies | Leave a comment

The Kyle Baker Show

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If there is one writer/artist I am glad to see still around and still viable today, it’s Kyle Baker. Yesterday, I came across an article on CBR (see below) about Baker’s new Special Forces series, and it got me thinking about my own history with this unique artist.

In the late 80s, I discovered Kyle Baker primarily through his work on DC’s The Shadow ongoing series. It was odd work, to say the least, and the stories were equally strange. I don’t know how he and writer Andrew Helfer got away with it, but they managed to simultaneously mangle and elevate The Shadow into a comic nightmare. The Helfer/Baker issues have a wicked sense of humor to them, coupled with an unbridled joy at deconstructing a pulp legend. I mean, who else could get away with decapitating the Shadow, only to then graft his head onto a robot? The infamous story that this took place in was sadly the last issue, and it’s really too bad, too, as these two creators had managed to create something avant-garde and unforgettable.

Thanks for pushing the boundaries, Kyle…. but do finish up that Shadow story some day.

KYLE BAKER DEPLOYS HIS “SPECIAL FORCES” by Michael Patrick Sullivan, Contributing Writer Posted: July 17, 2007
“Special Forces” #1, on sale August 22

Kyle Baker has established himself as a modern renaissance man of comics. As an Eisner and Harvey Award-winning writer and illustrator, Baker has worked on iconic DC and Marvel characters without ever losing the indie cred he earned with such graphic novels as “Why I Hate Saturn” and “You Are Here.” Now, Baker brings his sense of humor and of outrage together in a biting satire about the state of the United States military, “Special Forces.” Baker briefly spoke with CBR about the six-issue miniseries. “First and foremost, this book is about teenage hot-bodies blowing shit up,” Kyle Baker told CBR News. “All the best comic books are about fights and teenage angst. You want messages, buy a phone. This story is more about teenagers growing up in the 21st century. A world where kids post suicide manifestos on YouTube before shooting up their school with easily obtained automatic weapons. A world where the hot underground drugs are Adderall and Xanax. You can’t make this stuff up.”

“Special Forces” is a comedy based primarily on recent news stories about armed forces recruiting scandals. “The military is so desperate for troops right now that they’re letting almost anyone in,” said Baker. “The main [‘Special Forces’] characters are criminally violent girl, an autistic boy, a crooked recruiter, a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and an obese guy. There’s a black guy, but everybody knows the black guy always dies first.

“They all go to Iraq to battle terrorism. It’s a story about how young Americans from different cultural backgrounds confront their individual character flaws and become better people by uniting toward the higher purpose of bringing freedom and democracy to the oppressed savages of Iraq. This miracle is accomplished without the aid of armor or clean water. Also, about one million people get killed. Lots of explosions and gunfights.”

Baker mentioned a specific news story that particularly inspired the series. “Last year, the Army recruited two autistic kids and tried to send them to fight in Iraq,” Baker explained, referring to the case of Jared Guinther, who was diagnosed as autistic at the age of three and at the age of eighteen was allowed to enlist in the United States military with an eye toward the position of cavalry scout, one of the most dangerous assignments. Guinther was released from his commitment when his family protested the enlistment and the recruiter’s refusal to accept his medical records. The recruiters involved are now being investigated.

“It’s in the newspaper every day,” said Baker when asked about research for the project. “About ten pages after the Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole stories. ”

On the surface, the irreverent tone and military setting of “Special Forces” may put readers in the mind of such films as “M*A*S*H” or “Stripes.” Baker agrees, “It’s exactly like those two films, also ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ and ‘Catch-22.’ Every generation needs their war comedy.”

While recognized for his creative innovation, Baker chose to go in a more familiar direction, artistically, when it comes to “Special Forces.”

“My new creative innovation is to draw it in the old style I used on Marvel Comics in the ’80’s,” said Baker. “It’ll look a lot like ‘Why I Hate Saturn’ and ‘The Shadow.'”

A political satire such as “Special Forces” is likely to draw attention from quarters outside comics, and indeed it has. Baker’s even had inquiries from the film industry. What he hasn’t heard from is the United States Government itself. Said Baker, “I hope the military knows they have bigger problems than cartoons.”

“Special Forces” is one of Baker’s first projects to be published by Image Comics. After having operated Kyle Baker Publishing for the previous two years, “I was spending all my time at the Post Office,” Baler explained. “I didn’t realize that publishing involves making lots of packages and invoicing and purchase orders. If a book is successful, you will have to make hundreds of little packages, invoices, and [post office] visits. It was taking time away from the cartooning. Image is run by cartoonists –good ones– and I don’t get into arguments about format.”

Beyond “Special Forces,” Baker has much in the pipeline, both from Image and elsewhere. “Two more ‘Bakers; books,” said Baker, referring to the comedic graphic novels based on his family life, “and the long-awaited ‘Important Literary Journal,’” being Baker’s upcoming parody of high-art comics. “I’m doing a lot of animation, which can be seen at kylebaker.com. Inexplicably, I’m making income on the website, so I’m putting more energy into it.”

“Special Forces” hits the stands August 22, 2007.

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July 21, 2007 Posted by | Animation, Comics, Graphic Novels | Leave a comment