Monday, November 17, 2008

Top 10 Comic book battles

CSBG has a new top 25 up here. This is my submission.

10) Everyone vs Everyone else, including Captain Marvel vs Superman (Kingdom Come)
This fight is on my list because of the scale. It was epic. Love Ross or hate him, Kingdom Come became a classic because of this last battle outside the Gulag, with everything on the line. The panel of Superman there alone amongst the bodies of the fallen is iconic.

9) Batman and Green Arrow vs. Superman (DKR)
It doesn't ever get better. Many times before, many times after, Batman and Superman have fought, but it never stacks up to this one here. Messy, dirty, and decisive.

8) the Justice League vs Doomsday (The Death of Superman)
It's sort of a joke nowadays, but I still quite like this arc. Doomsday wades through the JLA, one of the weakest JLA incarnations. Beetle, Booster and Ice get really hurt, and Guy Gardner, Bloodwynd and Fire don't do to well either. Superman steps up to save the day. Doomsday would never again look as imposing, and Supes would be alive again by the end of the year, but the fight was really cool.

7) The X-Men vs the Hellfire Club, round II (Around Uncanny 200-210) Claremont and JRJR.
Again, no way this makes the top 25, but this fight was superior to their first meeting in the Dark Phoenix Saga in many ways. New members are on the team, and the Hellfire Club is ready to deal with the X-Men. Storm is depowered, and then Colossus and is neutralized quickly. Rogue is manipulated into stealing his powers and has to let him go or risk tearing his arm off as Leland sinks him into the earth. Just as the fight gets really nasty, Nimrod shows up. So awesome.

6) The Ultimates vs. Hulk (The Ultimates vol1, #6)
A newer fight, comparatively, but I read this issue, and then I read it again. It's great action, well choreographed by Millar and Hitch, and again, there is a feeling of tension here, because I didn't know what was going to happen. The first six issues of this book, capped off with this fight, made me a fan of Captain America like I never was before. Plus, the line "Hilk Smash Freddie Prinze jr.!" is solid. Gold.

5) East Coast Avenger Vs West Coast Avengers (2 part series in the annuals)
Eackos vs Whackos starts off as a baseball game between the two (Thor uses his hammer in place of a bat, for serious), but when The Gamesmaster and the Collector become involved, it turns into a one on one elimination fight to the death. A great fight just to see Hawkeye vs. She-Hulk.

4) Cannonball vs Gladiator (X-Men, with Joe Maduiera on pencils)
Cannonball is my favorite character, and seeing him take on The biggest, toughest guy in the universe in Gladiator was just pure eye-candy. This has no hope of making the top 25, sure, but it's a sentimental pick for me, and I reread this issue often enough.

3) Thing vs. The Champion (Marvel 2-in-1 Annual)
Quite possibly the single greatest comic book ever written in the super-hero genre. The Champion comes to earth to fight our greatest heroes in a boxing match. After easily wading through (through skill, or because they were disqualified for being morons) Colossus, Namor, Doc Samson, Hulk, Sasquatch, Wonder Man, and Thor, the Champion is getting bored with human. Then Ben Grimm, the ever lovin' blue-eyed Thing steps up, and gives the Champ the fight of his life.

2) Dr. Strange, Wong, and the Night Stalkers vs Dracula (The Montesi Formula)
Dracula is powered up, and he's coming. Doc Strange needs his allies to buy him some time to get ready, and they set up a gauntlet for Dracula. Drake, Blade, Wong, and Hannibal King step up, and then easily get stepped on by Dracula, before Drac falls for Strange's trap and a fight on the Astral plain. I love this fight, and I dream of of seeing it live action one day.

1) The X-Men vs the Imperial Guard ( The Dark Phoenix Saga)
Quite possibly the greatest all time team battle to be depicted in comics. Tense drama without gore or ultra violence. A team of heroes really put in their place. When people like Storm and Wolverine are dropped easily, it set such a tone of hopelessness, that as a young reader, I really felt that their back was against the wall, that Cyke and Jean would be hard pressed to hit that two-on, two-out 9th inning home run. When they didn't I was shocked.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Comics and the Giller

Over in his blog, Bryan Lee O'Malley has a nice letter regarding the nomination of a graphic novel for the Giller prize that I quite agree with.

The Giller was already awarded, but it's still worth noting the argument made here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 3

Sophie and I both were pretty beat up by day one of the convention, from walking around and lugging pounds of loot with us. She had blisters, and I pulled something in my hip/ass area, (sure it may sound embarrassing, but I did, and I'll admit to it.) so we just about dropped dead when we got home. Keith had just driven in from Pembroke and was anxious to go out and party, and we were quick to squash those hopes and settled in for a night of sitting around, watching wrestling and playing Soul Calibur 2.

Up early-ish the next morning, the three of us got some breakfast and went beck down to the convention center, generally enthused because a) the con is awesome and b) Keith has a car, so we're not taking the subway there. Sophie becomes less enthused as the soundtrack for the trip downtown consists entirely of a hip-hop mix I had made the week before, and her decidedly metal tastes were left unsated.

We hit the floor of the con again, and quickly discovered that Saturday was much more crowded than Friday had been, and that the distinct tastes of three people made it difficult to keep together on the floor. Keith had purchased a VIP delux pass that would enable him to meet Wes Craven, shake his hand, hug, and so on. Unsure of what merch he would like to autograph, he consistently shot down my suggestion of a VHS copy of "Shocker". I still feel that this would have been a good idea, and according to Keith, someone at the VIP meet and greet had the same idea. I still think he missed out on a great opportunity there.

We scanned the program until coming upon one labeled "Alex Maleev Tells it Like it Is". Time to sit down for a bit.

I'd read Maleev's work with Brian Michael Bendis when they were on Daredevil, and I particularly liked his art during the mob war between the Kinpin and Mr. Silke, and this was enough to sit in for me. Sophie, well, she had blisters, and any reason to sit was good for her. Alex Maleev was a good speaker, despite his hesitation to admit it to himself. He was dryly witty, very frank with his opinions ( I paraphrase him when he said; Copying manga is not art, you have to learn to draw. Go to school.) and oddly, seemingly uninterested in the rest of the comics world.

It was his blunt manner that made the talk awesome. More so than other comic artists I've met, he was not shy about his ego, and while that might put some people off, I thought it at least showed some confidence in his work. A good parallel I think would be to compare him to hockey player Alex Kovalev, who doesn't play at modesty when talking about his skill. Maleev was very sure of himself, and that too, even if it rubs you the wrong way, makes for an interesting speaker. Keith is a longstanding fan and occasional practitioner of cockiness, so he was 100% won over.

Maleev spoke about growing up and studying in Bulgaria, getting his degree in Fine Art, and coming to the United States and sort of unwillingly getting into comics. He also told the crowd he was a certified ski instructor, and if anyone had any skiing questions, he could probably answer them better than comic-related ones.

When asked what character he would like to redesign if he could, he said "Spider-Woman" as if he'd been thinking about it for a while. He told us he'd put her in a black costume, with a big white spider on the chest. A couple of days later, I stopped by his table with a couple of issues of West Coast Avengers that had Spider-Woman II on the cover, to show him that there already was a Spider-Woman in a Venom-esque outfit, and in a dry and non-plussed fashion, he only said "See, I was right. It does look better." Awesome.

We also managed to catch a screening of "30 Days of Night: Blood Trails", which was a cool, short prequel to the movie that had a lot of the introduction from the original comic which was left out of the Hartnett film. Gory, but fun eye candy. After this, we had to run off to get food and catch a Roller Derby match.

More to come.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I went to see "Wanted" last night with my friend Ali. She wanted to see Wall-E, but couldn't make it in time, so "Wanted" got the nod in it's place.

I confess, I haven't read the Mark Millar/JG Jones comic book yet. I will eventually, I'm sure, but I cannot compare the movie to it's source material yet, and will have to give my opinion of the film based solely on it's merits.

It has few merits.

This movie was a mix of "Shoot Em Up" (Gun fights!), Alias (Assassin training montages!), and a Gatorade commercial (What have you done today?!?). Also, the whole movie, I just couldn't get the voice-over from "Counter-Strike" out of my mind, just shouting out "Head-shot!" at every turn. Angelina Jolie was bland, and the main character, whom the audience was supposed to empathize with just turns into a jerk by the end, and his last line makes you feel as if you've wasted your time and effort in caring about his plight.

It was a cool concept that was poorly executed, and had too many brain-splattering gun murders. Though there was one saving grace, and that was hearing Morgan Freeman say "Kill this motherfucker!" Solid gold. I want it as my ring tone.

All in all, this was the least enjoyable summer comic movie adaptation. I'd have rather watched The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk or Hellboy II a second time than this. Skip it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 2

I swear, just sitting down to write something around here is a magnet for other work to arise. Either there is some technological advance that detects when I'm blogging, or this page is just plain old cursed. In either case, I expect today's entry to conjure up all kinds of distractions so that my writing it will take place over the next several hours, rather that the fifteen minutes I would normally take.

Aside from that, I was talking about Fan Expo. This was my second convention experience, the first being in my hometown of Montreal when Fan Expo came up here, about six or seven years ago. That con was a lot of fun for me, and I had a great time chatting with Darrick Robertson about Wolverine and art and such, but the con on a whole was a failure and Fan Expo will never come back here.

Sophie had been to San Diego before, but she didn't really get to enjoy the full experience, and was dragged around by her travel companions.

So we both had high hopes for Fan Expo 2008.

After DC Nation, we decided that sitting in on a panel was far superior to wandering the con floor lugging around the heavy loot we had picked up earlier (which included a page of original art by Jason Armstrong from "Lobster Johnson: the Iron Prometheus"), and we made sure to line some up for the next day before giving up and going of in hunt of food.

More to come, and maybe some photos, next time.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Toronto Fan Expo 2008 - Part 1

I had meant to get around to writing about this right away, but life gets in the way.

I went to Fan Expo 2008 in Toronto this year with my friends Sophie and Keith. It was a great con, and I had a great time. I'll try to put down as much as I can remember here.

Sophie and I went to two panels on day one; The DC Nation panel with Dan Didio, Ethan Van Sciver and Keith Giffen. Dan was on his game for the panel, which was nice as some interviews I had heard him in, he was pretty grating, but this time, he was playful and having a good time with the crowd. Ethan was defensive when I asked about the need to bring Barry Allen back, but when we mixed it up a little more over on the CBR forums, I think I got a clearer picture of why he wants Barry back, even if I don't agree. He said:

"[Fans] miss him. Barry Allen ushered in the Silver Age with Showcase #4. He's a neat character, with his ironic twist of always being late in his personal life as Barry, but having the superspeed secret ID of Flash. He raised Wally. He's a different personality, has some slightly different ideas about crimefighting than Wally West, though."

Dan spotted A guy dressed as Namor in the crowd and pulled him on stage to sit next to a thoroughly weirded-out Keith Giffen.

There was a lot of talk about Aquaman, his constant reboots, and how everyone has a great idea to relaunch him. DiDio basically agreed that Arthur works best in a team setting.

Lastly, the crowd sort of turned on Marvel, and began pandering to DC, starting questions off with lines like "Marvel sucks, but why does DC..." Dan got control of the crowd and kept the focus on DC. In a very candid moment, DiDio explained what he throught DC could do better to help out the fans, and that was to stop rebooting the characters as often as they do, saying that he thought it created a distance between fans and the characters when every few years, the heroes are reinvented.

All in all, it was a great panel, and Dan DiDio stood out as funny and sharp.

More to come.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Who should be a New Avenger

This post is spoiler-rific if you're not up to date on the New Avengers.

I came back to the Avengers just as the new Captain Britain joined, only to have the team disassembled.

I understood the team's dynamic until after Civil War.

As a writer, this is not the team that I'd like to write. From the outside looking in, there are reasons I can see for wanting certain members on the team, and then there are members there that I'm not sure I'd want.

That's what I'm talking about. The writer is their god in this case, so why have this particular group here?

Doc Strange: He adds credibility to the team, gives them a big gun. Also, he ties very nicely to the Illuminati, which let the team get involved in WWH. As a plot device, he works by giving the team anonymity and transportation.

Spider-Man: He's a fan favorite, and he adds a certain skepticism to the team by questioning their path. He is also a corner of the MU in and to himself. His skills are unique.

Luke Cage: I never read much Power Man before this run, so my experience with him was basically that Punisher story where Frank was turned black and they teamed up. As a story device though, he's the driver. He pushes the team in a certain direction, and keeps the story going.

These three, I get. They're the New Avengers that make the book what it is. They're tools in the hands of the writers.

Wolverine, I've decided should be on the team because he gives the writer one unique aspect to use. He knows that they are on the wrong side of the law and all that it implies. Luke Cage acts as if he's still a super hero, and that's fine, but Logan gives him contrast. Sure he's got claws and a healing factor, But that's not why he should be on the team. He's there because someone needs to be asking "How many laws should we break to fight the good fight?" That makes for good storytelling.

Honestly, I've been disappointed with Clint thus far as Ronin. As an old school Avenger, I'd really like to see some righteous indignation on his part towards the Mighty Avengers. He's the one who would lip off at Captain America when he thought Cap was wrong, and really, I'd expect more of that for Tony Stark and the Mighty team. I'd like to see him go past that too, and get irrationally angry now and again. I think that there's something there worth exploring, and if Bobbi turns out to be a skrull, maybe that's the kick in the pants he'll need to get pissed off again.

That leaves Echo and Danny. I like Iron Fist. He's got his own book, and I don't think he's got enough to do around here except be Luke's confidant. Echo, I think, is a Bendis vanity project, and I've never been able to get what she's doing here, other than because the writer thinks she's cool.

So yeah, I think that Strange, Luke, Spidey, Wolverine and an angry Clint have a place on the team, because they contribute to the book being readable. I don't think Eco and Iron Fist are adding anything to the book right now other than as bodies. I said on the CBR message boards that I think that the real Hank Pym would be an interesting addition to the team, and let us find out what happened to him while he was being replaced by a skrull. I would also like to know more about what happened to Tigra, after the Hood and Jigsaw beat the fur off her. Maybe even Firestar or *gasp* The Scarlet Witch.

In any case, I'm interested to see where this is going.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Red Sonja Movie

Cinemablend and CBR are reporting from the San Diego Comic Con that they've announced a new Red Sonja movie for 2009, starring Rose McGowan in the titular role, and directed by Robert Rodriguez.

More "Sword ans Sorcery" is always welcome, chain-mail bikini's not-withstanding.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Batman and Shortpacked, once more

The Dark Knight

Lauren and I went to see "The Dark Knight" on Friday, opening day, which is unusual as I rarely see the superhero movies until the crowd dissipates ever since I was stuck in the front row for X-Men 2.

But we went to a quiet theater outside of the downtown core and got good seats easily.

Simply put, the movie was awesome.

Seriously. If you haven't seen it, you should. It won't let you down.

You should also stop reading here as I'll be getting spoiler-y from this point on.

The feel of this film follows very closely to that of its predecessor, Batman Begins, and with the exception of Katie Holmes, the cast is reunited with director Christopher Nolan. The solid transition of creative vision from the first film allows it to skip ahead of the introduction of the principal characters, and in order to keep the pace high, Nolan also decided to skim quickly over who Harvey Dent and the Joker are, trusting the viewers to figure it out as they go.

Everyone gets their moments in the movie. Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox get some great one-liners, as does Michael Caine as Alfred. Bale is better as Bruce Wayne in my opinion, still flaky and extravagant, but not as over the top as in the first film. Ledger's Joker is iconic, and scary, and will redefine the character in other media undoubtedly (much in the same way that Hugh Jackman changed the look and feel of Wolverine after the first X-Men movie), but Aaron Eckhart really has the choice role in this film, getting to stretch his chops in a wide range of emotions, and culminating in his transformation into Two-Face.

There's been a lot of talk about Heath Ledger and academy awards, and while I agree that he was a great Joker, I think more credit should be given to scriptwriters David Goyer and Christopher Nolan for giving him choice lines and creepy plots to work with. The Joker that they wrote was dark, disturbing, and actually funny at times, in a way that made you uncomfortable in laughing along. Kudos to them.

Joker's plans are genuinely upsetting. He is beyond reason, and he works on the theory that was presented in Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke", that everyone is one bad day away from losing their mind. The idea of saying on television "Someone in Gotham will kill this person in the next hour or I will blow up a hospital." is frighteningly effective, in that the public, now full of fear, weighs the life of one man against that of their loved ones in the hospitals, and they proceed to riot and several people decide that the life of one is not worth the risk.

Harvey Dent wins you over. His campaign slogan of "I believe in Harvey Dent" is true, and as he progresses, you do see in him the chance for Gotham City to turn the corner. So it makes the fall of Dent and the birth of Two-Face truly tragic, as you see the true loss of a good person to the dark madness that he was driven to, and more darkly, you understand him when he goes and murders five people. Eckhart has a really solid role here, and he shines through it, playing both the shining knight and the broken man equally well.

Harvey Dent loses everything, and you can see why he's lashing out. As he struggles with what has happened to him, you ask yourself what would you do if you were in his place, if the events of your life spiraled out of control and you were to lose all that you loved. How long could you go before you snapped too, especially in a world like that of Gotham City. You ultimately end up believing in Two-Face.

The movie itself is fast paced, very tense, and keeps you anxious and nervous about what's going to happen next. It takes from the comic books what it needs, and when it makes changes, it does so carefully, adding to the quality of the story without taking away from the mythos. I can say that it is as perfect as a superhero movie can get.

Comic Book Movies in the Pipeline

Wired blog has a good list of comic movies in production or pre-production for the next few years that's worth a look at.

Some that have me the most excited are Wolverine, Scott Pilgrim and Whiteout.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Michael Turner

Comic artist Michael Turner has passed, at age 37 after a long battle with cancer.

Thirty-Seven is just terrifyingly young. My condolences to his family and loved ones.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kick-Ass #3

I've spoken about Kick-Ass before, but I didn't really like the first issue. I stuck it out, if only because I really dig the John Romita jr. art, and issue three finally paid off a little. The first two books really beat up the protagonist, so it was nice to get past that and see him shine a little, as I find it's hard to read a book where the one character you like gets knocked around all the time without ever winning.

The book still needs some meat, however. with essentially only one character, the plot thus far has been about him fighting, and that's just about beginning to wear thin. Issue #3 is a step in the right direction, but the art will only be able to be a draw for so long.

The Incredible Hulk

I went to see The Incredible Hulk last night, just on a whim and not really with much anticipation. I liked the last one well enough, but it never really grabbed me, and the Hulk can be really hit-or-miss as far as storytelling engines go.

First off, the opening credits cut right to the chase, and as the music is still playing, you get that Bruce Banner is the Hulk, and he's on the run. This really lets the story get going right away, and even if you missed the Ang Lee/Eric Bana movie from 2003, you still get it. It was a smart move, and really kept the audience into the film.

The next thing that worked well was something that I was really worried about, and that was the casting of Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. I thought he'd either be too deep or play it too pathetic, but he really seemed to play Banner the way that I read the character as being in my favorite comics. Nervous, but responsible, and just driven enough to keep going. He was a great Banner, and he gets my kudos for it.

The Incredible Hulk also picks up where Iron Man left off, and really sets itself in the Marvel Universe. As the Army gets ready to chase Hulk around, weapons and schematics are labeled with "Stark Industries" and documents and references are made to SHEILD. The last scene of the movie, which I won't spoil, also made sure to make the fanboy in me salivate.

The movie also borrowed plots from the comic books, taking elements from both
Bruce Jones' run (Banner the fugitive) as well as from The Ultimates (Banner working on the Super-Soldier serum) and this really made the world more cohesive without pulling non-readers out of the story.

All in all, the movie was a success for me. The cast was as good as they had to be, the action was clear, Hulk smashed the Army and the Abomination, and the movie left the door open to introduce Doc Samson, The Leader, or tie into other things without weakening itself as a stand-alone. If you liked Iron Man, you'll like Hulk too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Avengers/Invaders is a 12-issue crossover that's oddly being joint-published by Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment. I say oddly because every character in the book is a Marvel character, and a far as I can tell, the only reason Dynamite is involved at all is because the idea was pitched by Alex Ross, who has been over at Dynamite working on his “Project: Superpowers” book.

Avengers/Invaders, though only two issues in, has come out to be pretty cool thus far. Set in a post “Civil War” Marvel Universe, the Mighty Avengers (made up of Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Wasp, Wonder Man, The Sentry and Ares) are living their lives as usual when a portal opens up in the middle of Manhatttan and the World War II heroes, the Invaders, tumble out, disoriented and lost. Captain America and Bucky, the original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro and a younger, brasher Namor he Sub-mariner believe this to be a Nazi trick and take on (and take down) the Mighty Avengers, who are just as confused as well as being shocked to see their fallen comrade Cap alive and kicking.

Two big twists at the end of issue two really sold me on the series. The first is the New Avengers being informed by Spider-Man that the Invaders are in town, and they then decide that they will rescue and recruit their former leader. I like the idea of a three-way super-brawl. The second was the terribly hard-core portrayal of Bucky Barnes in escaping the custody of his prison cell onboard the SHEILD heli-carrier. He actually cuts open his arm and removes sticks of plastique he had stored there in order to blow his door open. Bucky shows some of the grit that writer Ed Brubaker would highlight in making him into the “Winter Soldier” over in the pages of Captain America a few years ago.

All in all, the book is good, and still a little under the radar. I recommend it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Invincible vol.9

I just picked up the latest trade paperback of Robert Kirkman's Invincible, featuring art by Ryan Ottley. Volume 9, titled "Out of This World", allows the readers to take a nice break from the high drama of the last volumes, and finally shows a few things going right for the hero and his friends and family.

The last volume was full of action and melodrama, with Mark's fellow superheroes getting murdered and maimed by the villainous Lizard League, with Mark haaving to break up with his girlfriend, and generally just everything in his life going wrong.

This book however lightens the tone by showing both the reader and Mark that everything isn't as bad as it seems and that there's always tomorrow. In fact, he creepiest part of the whole book is when Mark walks in on his roommate wearing his super-suit, sans-pants.

Plus, there's a visit from my favorite character, Allen the alien, and when ever she shows up it brings a smiile to my face.

As usual, the trade also has some sketches and developmental art in the back, with commentary from the writer and artist. A particularly painful piece where Ottley's two-year old son snuck into his studio and went to work on a nearly finished page of art with a chunky red marker. Funny, but painful to see.

All in all, it was a good read, and a nice break from the previous volumes' pain and loss.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1

I just managed to read Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men #1 last night, and I found myself a little perplexed by the book.

Obviously meant to cap off the 24-issue, 4 year run by Joss Whedon and John Cassady on Astonishing X-Men, it works to wrap up the stories he's been writing and as he gets ready to hand the reigns over to another creative team, make sure there isn't too much left dangling.

But four years is a long time, and Whedon makes some creative decisions that don't lend themselves to periodical issues. I could have done with a little exposition and flashback work, which is avoided in favour of some fan service by the writer as he tries to include as many heroes in the Marvel Universe as he can. Granted, he does write a decent Spidey, but for a book with a big #1 on the cover, it really should have taken a little time to remind the readers who the characters were, specifically in the residents of Breakworld, Ord included, and Agent Brand, as well as the newest X-Man, Armour. This will matter less, of course, when the book is republished in the trade, but the fact is I didn't buy the trade, I bought the issue, and I felt a little let down about it.

The best part of the book was the ending, and Kitty really should have gotten some more of the spotlight during the run in order to drive home the poignancy of her sacrifice. It does have a stronger impact when you look at how Astonishing begins, with Kitty's return to the mansion and her memories of growing up there, but that was four years ago for the readers, and should have been brought back into our minds.

John Cassady was his usual brilliant self, and I feel the really added to the book, trying hard to add emotional resonance to a single issue whose script was lacking, and did so, especially with the great moment of redemption for Ord. It's a shame he wasn't given the chance to recap his own work.

All in all, once collected, I'm sure this chapter will fit right in as a nice ending, but as a single issue, it was less than grand. As well, if you have a favorite heroine, and she's cute and spunky, you'd do well to keep Joss Whedon away from her.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Facts In The Case Of The Departure Of Miss Finch

The Facts In The Case Of The Departure Of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman caught my eye almost right away, sitting up there all pretty-like on the shelf of my local comic shop. Matte-finished, hard cover and smelling just like a new adventure, I snapped it up and brought it home.

It lay on the shelf for about ten days, as I wanted to wait for just the right mood to read it.

It was a charming tale, especially because of the art by Michael Zulli, and it was just weird enough to keep me smiling all the way through. I liked it, and I'll definitely be sharing my copy with my friends, but I also have found that while the images have stuck in my head, the story was more of a one-off, and it hasn't called me back to re-read it like some of Gaiman's other works, like 1502 or Good Omens. It's a shame too, because it did make me smile in a nice and simple way.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fantastic Four - Millar and Hitch

I was looking to add a new title to my pull list a few months ago, and the promise of what Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch would bring to the Fantastic Four seemed almost a sure thing. I mean, after all, this was the creative team that brought together the first Ultimates book, and are generally at the tops of the list for quality comics.

Three issues in, however, I'm less than impressed.

Hitch's art is fine, I guess, if not a little static. Three issues in, and he's finally been given a big fight scene to draw, and it ends up being clunky and cluttered. It was a let down, especially when compared to his Ultimates work.

Millar, who usually is able to weave a nice mix of drama and action, but in this run, it's more melodrama along the lines of a reality television show. Johnny Storm is even in the process of setting one up as a side-plot.

Basically, I've bought three issues and haven't felt at all that I've gotten my money's worth. This book is gonna be dropped from my list as soon as I get back to the shop.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Project Superpowers #0-#1

Project Superpowers from Dynamite Entertainment is a new series out, with covers and plotting by comics superstar Alex Ross, scripted by Jim Krueger and interior art by Carlos Paul.

The basic idea as seen in the link above is that shortly after the second world war, all the superheroes mysteriously disappeared, and were, for the most part, written off to live on only in history books. The truth is more sinister than that, with ghosts and myth and betrayal all mixed in.

The Alex Ross covers are nice, if not a little static and cluttered, but his plotting gets me down a little bit. The first two issues really seem to tell you that this is basically Ross' attempt to play with DC's "All-Star Squadron" and making his copies to work the book over at Dynamite. The characters all feel familiar, but in this case, I found that to be detrimental to the storytelling.

Krueger does what he can with the scripts, but the star player here has to be Carlos Paul. I tried to do some research into him, but the web doesn't offer me much more than his work on this book. He's new, he's good, and he'll be big once all is said and done. His art looks like a mix of Neal Adams, Cary Nord, and is obviously influenced by Ross' character designs for the book.

So far, I've dug the first two issues, but I'm worried that Dynamite made a mistake with the release of a #0, as the exposition and the setup all happens there, and without it, #1 would have been hard to understand. But, as you may have noticed, I really dig WWII comics, so this one will be on my pull list for a while.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I really have been a fan of John Romita jr. since his work back in the early 80's on Uncanny X-Men. Mark Millar hasn't ever really bombed either. Kick-Ass, from Marvel's Icon imprint should have been a slam dunk as far as I was concerned, but after reading issue #1, I'm feeling it was more of an air-ball.

I feel for Romita, who is a brilliant artist, and has always been one of my favorites, because the story really doesn't give him much to play with. His angles, "cinematography", and dynamic action are all spot-on, and if this was just a book of pretty pictures, I'd have gotten my money's worth.

But the plot was so...leaden. Millar doesn't take the reader anywhere, and for a first issue of a series, he really fell flat. Page after page of exposition, introduction, and pop-references meant that by the time the action did happen, I was already bored. Sadly, #1 did not kick-ass.

Friday, January 25, 2008

All-Star Superman

I just picked up the hardcover collection of "All-Star Superman" by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely yesterday and finished it up this afternoon. Whenever Morrison and Quitely get together, something magic happens, as in their collaborations on New X-Men and for the JLA one-shot "Earth 2".

All-Star Superman had a lot of hype around it before I picked it up, as it topped many a top-ten list before I had gotten around to reading it, and the accolades it garnered over at Fanboy Radio and Comics Should Be Good basically wore away my general apprehension of the big boy-scout outside of the Justice League. Superman usually comes across as a little too good, too powerful to really have anything interesting to say in his stories, and without a Batman or Wonder Woman to offer up some contrast, Superman just becomes silly or boring.

First off, before really even getting into the story, the first thing to catch ones eye is the absolutely gorgeous art by Frank Quitely. He has his share of detractors, but I've always been a fan of his, and on this title he really shines. It looks just so...pretty, which is a little odd to say about a comic, but I can't think of another way to say it. It just looks that good.

Morrison and Quitely do a great job of breaking Superman out of this stigma and really whittling away all the junk from his history, hearkening back in some ways to the Richard Donner film in their simple presentation of the icon.
From the first page, you can see the simplicity of it all. Four panels. Eight words. The origin told more completely and more efficiently in decades. And it doesn't stop there, either, as Morrison takes care to takes us to visit all of the members of the supporting cast, with issues that feature Lois, Jimmy Olsen, Ma and Pa Kent, and of course Lex Luthor.

Taken in all in one sitting, the book did lack a little bit of the mounting pressure that I've come to expect from Morrison's writing. Instead he churns out little 22-page gems that just tell you a nice, fun, perfect little Superman tale. All in all, I can say that the hype and reviews were right, and "All-Star Superman" was one of the best super-hero books in years.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Legion of Super-Heroes

I picked up Legion of Super-Heroes #37 as I dropped Amazing Spider-Man due to the stupid stuff that Joe Quesada had said about "One More Day". Making a decision to drop it and replace it with a DC book, I chose the Legion as it was a new creative team coming on, and I liked the old issues Jim Shooter wrote as a kid, and the art inside looked great.

The issue was good fun, and Francis Manapul has got some pretty good chops, so it looks like the book will be a keeper for a little while. Shooter isn't 13 anymore, but he still seems to think that comics are supposed to be fun, and his writing reflects that thus far. Plots are set up, action scenes are there, characters are introduced without it having to be spelled out for you, and the book ended having both said something and leading into the next issue.