Archive for May, 2008

ReadComics Podcast #007

May 29th, 2008 by Martin

Tonight’s recording was a spur of the moment decision, where we decided hey, why don’t we record a podcast two days before moving? We weren’t too sure of what we were going to talk about, but as always, we ended up having a lot to say…about a whole lot of different things. Some of them even about comics.

Topics included Starman, Wizard World, Marty and Florence’s impending apartment move, getting autographs at conventions, The Sword, Northlanders, God Save the Queen, Neverwhere, Suburban Glamour, Seth Fisher, Will World, Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan, Wanted, and a band more horrifying than anything Lovecraft ever wrote.

Listen to Podcast Episode #007 (17 MB, 35 min)

Serenity: Better Days 3 of 3

May 29th, 2008 by florence

I just got home and looked on my shelf for something to read, and was shocked to discover the final issue of the latest Serenity miniseries untouched! I don’t know how this escaped me when it was bought, but with weekly and sometimes biweekly trips to the comic shop for our household, it must have gotten temporarily lost in the shuffle. In any case, I was thrilled to find it, especially because the chaos of moving in a few days would have undoubtedly sent it forever into an abyss of boxes and inadequate shelving.

Naturally I devoured the issue immediately, and was unsurprised to find it to be awesome. I don’t have much to add to my review of the first issue of this miniseries without spoiling anything new. The art is my favorite style, and the characters were so consistently true that the writing is easy to take for granted. Yay, Joss.

Bad Rabbit: LJ/Blog in comic form

May 28th, 2008 by Stephanie

When Marty and I talked this weekend about comics and such, I mentioned I read a couple of web comics, particularly ones I can get delivered to my RSS reader. One of the ones I mentioned is Bad Rabbit.

Drawn by LiveJournal user auryanne, Bad Rabbit is not your typical webcomic. For one thing, there is no punchline. If you read this webcomic and think “I don’t get it,” then you’re thinking too hard. If you read it and think “wow, it’s like… a LiveJournal blog…. in pictures! With rabbits!” then you get it.

It’s a 3-frame autobiographical comic strip in which the “bad rabbit” (as portrayed by an anthropomorphic rabbit) goes through life, interacting with various friends and family and pets. Humans are anthropomorphic animals, but auryanne has a nice, natural style to her artwork that lends itself to a wide range of expression in her otherwise simple drawings. Pets are portrayed as animals (thank goodness, or confusion ensues!) You can learn quite a bit about auryanne’s world from 3 frames a week. But if you’re looking for story arc or superheroes… this isn’t it. This is a “reality webcomic,” like reality TV but without an annoying host or celebrities.

Starman: Sins of the Father (1994)

May 28th, 2008 by Martin

I enjoyed this, the first Starman TPB penciled by Tony Harris who also penciled Ex Machina, but not nearly as much as I enjoy Ex Machina. I’ll admit it, that’s secretly what I was hoping for. There are certain parallels, you’ve got to admit. Both heroes don leather jackets, and have a sort of “bad boy” look about them; but in Ex Machina, there is this rich and undiscovered back-story. In starman, we have a long (and to me also undiscovered) back-story, but it seems anything but rich. In fact, it seems rather cliché and possibly quite lame. At first I was intrigued by Opal city, until I realized it was just like every other city with superheroes protecting it. Sure, they went on about how it had been cleaner than the cities Batman and Superman protect (thus landing it square in the DC universe), but I didn’t really buy it. After all, I’m guessing the old Starman had to fight someone back in the day. And of course we find out at least one person he fought in the course of reading this book.

We also get the whole “the good son who doesn’t live up to his father’s expectations because he doesn’t follow in his footsteps” story, with an added bonus “other son who tries to follow in those footsteps but ultimately fails because he has no originality” side story.

Worth reading, but only just. I might pick up more of the trade paperbacks, if only because I found the last story reprinted here to be ever-so-slightly more interesting than the rest.

Welcome to Tranquility #7-12

May 27th, 2008 by florence

As some of our podcast listeners know, Jason would not be a fan of this arc of Welcome to Tranquility. It has zombies. It’s not trying to be original or modern or spectacular in its gore, this is just the next story to be told in this quaint all-American town full of superheroes, supervillains, and a sheriff who calls a demon a doodyhead.

Gail Simone revels in cliches, but manages to tell an original story stocked with characters who seem to have unique pasts and powers. Issue #7 starts with lingering looks into several characters’ daily lives. We visit the aging superheroine waking up in her ever-present bunny costume. An old man continuing a once-fierce battle with his neighboring nemesis, now reduced to bickering over the fence. The pan continues, dwelling on a cute goth boy, a drunk in a bar, a man tinkering with a beloved old car, and a singing undead Elvis-wannabe in a graveyard.

It felt like a chance to visit these people and review my memories of other stories I had heard about them. It’s hard to tell how many stories are from canon, and how many are from my own imagination, which seems to have allowed them to continue living since my last visit to town.

Giving away the general story arc wouldn’t really do this series justice. Its feels like old-fashioned story-telling with no higher purpose or message, but it really sucks me in and makes me care.

Faker (2007)

May 26th, 2008 by Martin

Florence and I read this on an airplane.

It can be difficult to figure out what exactly this comic is about. Even after reading the back and pawing through the first few pages, I still had no idea. But the art, especially the cover art from individual issues, had me intrigued enough to pick this up when it came out. Let it suffice to say that it’s about some college kids who have some messed up stuff happen to them. About the first half of this trade paperback takes place around campus, and introduces you to the characters. Then the setting changes abruptly to a secret government-funded military-research facility. At first, I didn’t even know whether there would be science fiction elements to the story, but let me assure you that yes, there are!

There are also themes of childhood abuse; they are upsetting, but not sympathetic to the abuser. You have been warned.

The art and story were above average, and I’d count this as a first-rate comic. I don’t know if they’re planning on making more, but this first TPB really ties itself up, without a clear expectation for any continuation of the story. If anything, there are now a whole set of interesting (surviving) characters, some of whom may have been permanently changed by the events that transpire. It’s tough to say more without spoiling it, so go read it for yourself!

Noble Causes, Vol. 1: In Sickness and In Health (2002)

May 23rd, 2008 by Martin

This is a grim take on the superhero universe. After hearing Florence say she loved this series, and others agree (re: our last podcast #006), I was excited to read this and put it at the top of my stack. After having read it, I’m honestly not sure what I thought.

Oh, it was good, no doubt about that! Just opening to random pages, every story was gripping and totally engaging. Things happen in Noble Causes that definitely wouldn’t be seen between the covers of a regular comic book. I mean, heroes get beat up, often by other heroes (if you can even really call them that, we really only have their reputations to go on), there is lots of sex, including infidelity, murder, betrayal. Interestingly, the one big piece of connective tissue throughout the entire trade (It’s a ton of little stories with different plots.) is the Icarus plot.

The natural comparison is to Astro City, but this is way darker, and, oddly enough, feels a bit less realistic as a result to me. (Perhaps that is my own sunny outlook on life influencing my opinion.) Anyway, if you haven’t read this, I’d recommend it. I’ll definitely be seeking out more of it in the future. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read Astro City, it’s better.

For those who aren’t familiar, Noble Causes is about the Noble family. They are your average superhero family, very wealthy, extremely powerful. But they are also totally fucked up and dysfunctional. Icarus is the robot built by the family’s genius father. The robot is sentient, and very jealous of all the children. I’ll just leave it at that.

I also read (before this first TPB, actually) Noble Causes: Extended Family (Vol. 2). It too is full of unconnected short stories, this time without so much as an imagined connective tissue. (At least, I didn’t notice one.) Didn’t matter though, since these stories were also totally engaging, and without my even knowing any of the character backstories! But all of these stories felt like backstories to me. Actually much of the first TPB also felt that way. I think it’s part of the style they’re written in… there are lots of flashbacks and jumping around in continuity is the norm.

I really only mentioned Extended Family because it was a bit darker and more extreme than the first TPB, and actually may have influenced the tone at which I read the first Comic. So it all ended up feeling really dark to me. Good, but very, very dark.

Secret Invasion #2

May 21st, 2008 by Martin

Mike bought the new Secret Invasion #2 this week, and I read his copy while we recorded the podcast tonight. Neither of us thought very much of it.

First of all, whoever drew the sentry’s butt in that first standoff page should be shot. There are other “bad butts” in the issue also, including Emma Frost’s and a very shadowy Wolverine. On the other hand, Sentry was drawn with quite a large “package”.

This is a big ‘ole review full of spoilers. Go get your copy of Secret Invasion #2, then come back here and finish reading this post.


ReadComics Podcast #006

May 21st, 2008 by Martin

Topics for this issue: Batman’s Death (we know nothing about this), Secret Invasion (similarities between Black Canary and Mockingbird), Gambit’s accent, Indiana Jones, Spider Man Loves Mary Jane, Joss Whedon, Southland Tales, sex in comics (Cherry Poptart), Iron Man, Starfox, and which superhero gets the most play.

For this podcast we had Martin, Florence, Jason, Mike and Susie.

Listen to Podcast Episode #006 (32 MB, 70 min)

Southland Tales: The Prequel Saga

May 20th, 2008 by Martin

awesome artwork by Brett WeldeleThis comic was awesome for many reasons. First of all, it is an interesting story that ties into an interesting movie. Don’t confuse interesting with comprehensible though, because it’s not.

Florence and I rented and watched Southland Tales (the movie, directed by Richard Kelly, who wrote this comic) a couple of weeks ago from Amazon Unbox (direct to tivo, baby!), and watched it without great expectation. We’d both read mixed reviews of the movie, but I especially had secretly hoped that it would be one of those masterpieces that defies critical acclaim and rises above the popular mass market appeal. I would say that the movie failed in this regard, but that, having finished the comic book Prequel this afternoon/evening, the comic and movie together actually do make up a fantastic and epic story that, while not terribly genius, is completely worthy of the time investment required.

Since I more or less enjoyed this, I’m going to focus on the good aspects, figuring the bad aspects have probably been covered elsewhere. (You can just go read the reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes, where Southland Tales has a 34% freshness rating.) I think what I enjoyed the most about both comic and movie is that they give you a lot to examine and think about. They both operate on many levels at once, which is, now that I think about it, also one of the things that I most liked Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly’s other “cult classic” film). Incidentally, I keep wanting to abbreviate Richard Kelly as R. Kelly, which is wrong on almost as many levels.

The comic is interjected with excerpts from a script to a movie called “The Power”, which was supposed to have been written by one of the main characters, Krista Now. Krista is a porn star, and (in the comic, at least), supposedly has telepathic powers that she attained while everyone else on board her airplane went insane. She wrote the script while under hypnosis, as a response to the book of revelations.

The plot is totally convoluted and involves time travel (or the fourth dimension); a futuristic company named Treer that claims to have developed a technology they call fluid karma that uses quantum entanglement to broadcast electricity; a stupidly violent liberal terrorist group that called itself Marxist, but really did not resemble any kind of thought-out political philosophy whatsoever; the 2008 political election; a recent history that includes two nuclear terrorist attacks in Texas; and a government agency called USIDent that forces you to register before using the internet. These are all related, and culminate in an end-of-the-world type scenario that I won’t go into details about so I don’t give anything away.

I also wanted to give credit to Brett Weldele, whose awesome artwork was really inspiring. This is not your average length trade paperback. This thing is pretty hefty with over 300 pages. Sure, some of those are straight-up text and script, but there is a fantastic amount of really interesting artwork here, and it never gets repetitive or dull, in fact it feels quite the opposite.

I will say that the movie makes a lot more sense in retrospect, so given a choice, I’d try and go with chronological order and read the comic book first. Oddly enough, however, I think the comic book made a lot more sense having already seen the movie, so it’s possible this is just one of those things that requires multiple viewings to fully appreciate. Unfortunately, fully appreciate does not mean fully understand. It’s just not that kind of story. Understanding is secondary to experience, in this case.

Transhuman #2 — IPO

May 19th, 2008 by Martin

OK, let me just say right off the bat: This was, for me, a bit disappointing.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me count the ways. First of all, seemingly nothing happens here. We’re interviewing venture capitalists, which, while it may be interesting for someone who knows absolutely nothing about business whatsoever, I found incredibly spoon-fed and dry as a desert bone. Even the subtitle, IPO, didn’t actually happen. There was no exciting IPO, instead it was blah blah blah about who did or didn’t loan money to these companies. As if we care! These characters better come back in the next two issues, or I’m going to consider this whole issue a write-off. The only mildly amusing part of the comic was the two page spread of the VC getting eaten by monkeys. (Monkeys were also the most amusing part of the first comic, so I’m especially glad they made a return here.)

Secondly, the art was unfortunate. Not to say that it was badly drawn, or not my style, but I found it especially repetitive, and frankly, downright boring. Honestly, if I see another page with four panels, each one with just the face of the documentary’s narrator, I’m going to be a bit pissed off. The most interesting art in the whole book was a panel about 2/3 toward the end with a mechanical dog and cat in it. A clearly drawn reference to WE3, and a decent attempt at making this book interesting by association. The second best art was the panel showing the character Dave Apple’s art. It was meant to be pathetically unskilled looking, but it was funny and interesting, two things most of the rest of this comic were not.

The thing is, this is supposed to be halfway through the series; this is issue 2 of 4! And we got about as much story out of this issue as you generally get reading a postage stamp. I had high hopes, and I really wanted to like this comic, but unfortunately, it’s just not working for me.

Ultimate Iron Man, by Orson Scott Card (Vol. 1)

May 18th, 2008 by Martin

At first, this seemed like a win-win read for me. It’s Orson Scott Card, who I genuinely think is a good writer (although I have less and less respect for him as a person), and it’s in one of those parallel universes so I don’t really have to know anything about Iron Man cannon to enjoy it. I also (mistakenly) assumed that a relatively thick, hardcover collection would contain a whole story… but no, this ends with a cliffhanger.

I did really enjoy about the first half of the book, as I dug the blue armor stuff, and got into seeing the young Tony Stark interact with a young James Rhodes at prep school, but I couldn’t believe how dark the story got when Obadiah was introduced. Right off the bat he’s killing other children and plotting against Tony. It was relatively disturbing. So by the time I got to the end of the book, I was ready to be done with it. But then the story doesn’t end. I haven’t decided if I’ll read the rest of the series. I’ve seen Ultimate Iron Man II on the shelves, and I’ll admit if this had been better, I’d be tempted, but based my level of enjoyment here, I’ll probably hold out for library copies of the whole series.

Get ready people, it’s going to be legend…wait for it…

May 17th, 2008 by Susie

…dary! Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog has a website. So far all that is there is this glowing picture of Neil Patrick Harris all Dr. Horrible suited up. For those of you have no idea what the @#%$ I am talking about, here is what you need to know.

Joss Whedon announced today, special Internet Musical.

Whedon reports that during the WGA strike he started writing the musical which will be a limited internet series. Each of the three episodes will be approximately ten minute each.

Co-writers for the internet feature are Joss’ brothers Zack and Jed and Jed’s Fiancé Maurissa. The writing has been completed and shooting commenced today.

“It’s the story of a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to.” Says Whedon.

“Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” will star Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer, Felicia Day as Penny and a cast of dozens.

I know! Awsome! There has yet to be a premiere date set but, Joss has said it will be before Comicon, which I think is in August. And with the website up there is further proof that it is actually happening. I am giddy!

Bonus new Jossness this way:dollhouse trailer

I admit, I might be a little giddy about that too.

The Mice Templar #1-4

May 17th, 2008 by Martin

While at first appearing to be a cheap ploy to capitalize on the success of the critically acclaimed Mouse Guard, The Mice Templar has actually turned out to have a relatively rich and interesting story. It all still feels a bit thrown together, like there are a few too many diverse elements, but I guess that’s at least part of how they get that “rich” feel. You just stir in enough stuff, and of course you’re going to have a complex story.

So what does Mice Templar have in its plot pot? Other than quite a lot? (Ahem. Sorry.) There are ghosts that bleed, (at least in issues 3 & 4), Fish Gods who bestow our likely hero Karic with a waterskin that never empties, hordes of evil rat baddies who overrun a mouse village and take down a buck whenever they feel like it for food, black “death magic”, a clearly chaotic history muddled with some kind of templar war, some seer mice who possibly tell the future (or the present) by watching grain sway in the wind of swooping owls, and of course a prophesy of some kind.

Issue #1 was great, drawing me in with compelling art by creator Michael Avon Oeming (who apparently draws Powers, among other famous things), but after I read issue #2 (back when it came out) I wasn’t left terribly excited about the series. I felt the story was really quite predictable, and didn’t seem to be going anywhere in the least bit new. I kept it on my pull though (whether out of laziness or a genuine but waning interest), and now that I’ve read issues 3 and 4, I’m glad that I did. I am left wondering what is going to happen to those poor captive village mice. And what waits for us at the tree in the middle of the field (ocean) of grain? Only time and comics will tell!

MUTO–Stop animation graffiti

May 16th, 2008 by Martin

Blu, who is, I believe from Bologna, created this absolutely amazing stop animated video that you just have to see to believe. Are animated videos comics? If so, this definitely qualifies as a live-action comic. (Hmmm. This may take more thinking to categorize.) But anyway, it’s well worth a watch!

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
(Via BoingBoing.)

Comic book club?

May 15th, 2008 by jason

Back when we first started up, we had multiple plans for what we wanted to do with it. One of our ideas was for some of us to get together and do a book club, but with comics, trades, etc. and maybe record it for a podcast. Now that we have readers and listeners, maybe we should revisit the idea. Much like the podcast, maybe one of us just needs to pick a book, set a date and location, and go for it. So I’ll do it.

First pick will be Northlanders #1-6, by Brian Wood, a Vertigo comic, with issue 6 coming out next Wednesday. The first five are still available at various comic shops around town. We’ll meet Wednesday, June 11, at 7:30pm, location to be announced. Podcast #005

May 14th, 2008 by Martin

Tonight we recorded a shorter podcast than usual, weighing in at around 25 minutes. We discussed The Pro, Weight Watchers, XXXombies, the living dead in general (and Jason’s phobia), The Chronicles of Narnia, Love and Capes, and how garage band has the metronome setting on by default. Yes, you can hear it. Hopefully it’s not too bad. I did remember to turn it off somewhere around minute twenty. If you can stand it, this is (hopefully) still a decent episode.

Listen to Podcast Episode #005 (11 MB, 25 min)

Iron Man #47 – “The Birth of the Power!” (1968)

May 12th, 2008 by Martin

I’ll admit that the movie made me do it. I decided I wanted to read some Iron Man. I never have before, and I didn’t know if it made sense to start at the beginning, so I just decided to see what was at the library, and read some of that. There I found the collection The Many Armors of Iron Man, which starts with this comic, Iron Man #47.

Much to my surprise, when I cracked open the TPB, I discovered that this is the comic that tells the first part of the story from the movie! I looked for some sign that the trade was simply a movie tie in, but I didn’t see any. I’m sure I could probably dig online here and find some indication of whether this book was published before or after the script for the movie, but it probably doesn’t matter. It tells Iron Man’s “origin story”, so it’s a natural choice to base a movie after.

I quickly finished the comic, and now I’ll give you my impressions. (Note: SPOILERS AHEAD!)


The Pro

May 11th, 2008 by Martin

This comic took a simple premise and ran with it: what if a run-down street prostitute and mother suddenly got superpowers! I love anything that parodies the ridiculous superhero comic genre well, and this definitely did that. But surprisingly, it did more than just that. By the end of the comic, I felt like there was actually a meaning to all the swearing and gratuity. A statement about what it means to be a hero (and by extension what it means to be human, since all hero stories are really meant to be about everyone).

Florence thought: boobies. She likes ’em. She also notes that there was certainly a callback to Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex (by Larry Niven, which Susie just mentioned in her recent post). She thought the green lantern parody was amusing, but got old fast. I actually found that to be one of the more tactless parts of the book, but she rightly argues that it’s a satire of some of the poorer depictions of token black characters in comics. I guess I thought it was a bit more offensive than some of the other offensive parts of the book.

Perhaps the main thrust of the book was to poke holes in the righteous nature of superheroes (mainly DC characters), belittling the big story lines that don’t adequately capture the sordid day to day struggles that regular people want help with. The characters in this book only fight supervillians. It’s almost like Americans declaring themselves “world” champions at the superbowl, even though none of the other countries are participating. These superheros are really only fighting battles in a certain arena, yet declaring themselves the saviors of all humanity.

Entirely worth reading just for the scenes with “The Viewer” (aka “Voyeur”), who was a not so subtle take on the Monitor. Overall: awesome and recommended.

Power Pack tv pilot

May 10th, 2008 by jason

It seems like at one point or another, just about every super-hero has had some sort of film or television appearance.  And if it’s something that never actually aired on tv, you can bet that someone made a pilot for it that never went anywhere.  Just recently, I got the opportunity to see something I had been trying to find for years, the unaired live action Power Pack tv pilot.  Alex, Julie, Jack and Katie might’ve had their very own tv series, had this show impressed some execs just a bit more.  Judging by the style of the show, they were going for a Saturday morning, or mid-afternoon show, seeking the coveted Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers audience.  What they made, though, was a little closer to Small Wonder.  Most people might say that’s a dis, but at the time, I loved Small Wonder.  And I can see me back then, eating this up with a spoon.  However, being made in 1991, the producers missed the Small Wonder boat by a few years.  Not enough action for MMPR, too young for Saved By The Bell, I’m not sure which fan base they were really going for here.

As far as the story goes, the origin is similar.  The kids still got their powers from an alien named Whitemane, the powers are mostly the same, but they’re not super-heroes.  They don’t fight Snarks.  Their parents know about their powers.  And most of the situational plot comes from not letting the neighbours know about their powers.  They’ve just moved to a new town, and they get a lecture from Mom & Dad about how important it is that they fit in here, so no using powers in public.  Their powers are similar to what they have in the comics, with some twists.  Alex is pretty much the same, Julie is super-fast, but couldn’t fly (at least not in this episode–she does pedal a bicycle at superspeed with the rainbow trailing her), Jack appears to only be able to shrink, and Katie…well, she has some sort of energy powers, but I have no idea what they are.  What was shown in the episode was her creating a glowing globe in her hand, and releasing some sort of energy at a ghost, but not explosive energy.  Plus she doesn’t have to “charge up” by disintegrating matter.

The production quality was that of a pilot, never meant to be aired.  The producers were trying to sell the episode, so the effects are pretty dicey.  The background music during the beginning was from Beetlejuice and in one scene, the radio is playing New Kids on the Block.  I can’t say I blame the executives from giving this one a pass, but I’d like to see what could’ve been had the show been greenlit. It wasn’t unenjoyable, but it was a little bit closer to Alf or Bewitched than it was to the Marvel comic that meant so much to me as a kid.

My favorite not actually a comic book, comic book stuff

May 9th, 2008 by Susie

I love comic books, that is pretty obvious, but I think I may like these things even more.


1) Marvel/DC  

No I am not talking about the rival comic publishers, or their occasional cross company crossovers.  I am talking about the youtube webseries starring action figures of both companies most popular characters.  It started as a parody of, the hi I am a mac and I am a PC comercials.  And it was funny.  Superman played the uptight PC role and Spiderman was the laid back Mac. It worked as a parody of the comercial as well as poking fun at the characters and their respective companies. Observe


It is clear that the creator Some Random Guy, has a deep affection for the characters he has borrowed. As the series progressed more characters were worked in and the format shifted from the mac ads formula to a narrative.  The Universe threatening crisis that concluded the first season was far more exciting and engaging to me than anything being published by either company right now.  The second season Marvel/DC: Happy Hour has just started.  I must admit I was more giddy about this than about the upcoming release of the Dark Knight.


2) Year One 

This webcomic strip is currently on a long term hiatus, presumably so Matt Parkinson the creator can find work that will pay.  The archive is definitely worth taking a look at.  The first month or two of strips can be skipped unless you want to see how far his skill as a stripist(?) stripper(?) progressed.  The premise is simple, all the marvel characters are children that go to school together. The charecthers are pretty adorable my favorite being the hyper and a bit dimwitted Speedball

Sometimes the strips are simple gags like Beast from X-Men morphing into Cookie Monster at the sight of a plate cookies.  Other times they are dissections of the often ridiculously complicated Marvel continuity.  Here is a strip featuring  the kids from the school across the road.



3) Cat Tales.  This a long runing series of fanfiction.  There are currently 5 books and at least 2 spinoff projects.  So far I have only read the first seven chapters of book one.  It centers around a relationship between Batman and Catwoman, but whole batcast is featured.  It is very well written and a pretty funny and compelling look into their heads.  IUt also is conveniently available to download in PDF, making it easy to transfer to portable devices.

So that is it, my favorite comic related stuff.  Ooooh!  One more.  Larry Niven’s essay Man Of Steel, Women of Kleenex.  It was written in the seventies and deals with the problematic realities of procreation for Superman and Lois Lane. It’s funny y’all.  It was collected in his short story collection All the Myriad Ways.

Podcast #004

May 8th, 2008 by Martin

In this, the fourth podcast, we talk about Starman, Brian K Vaughan (Ex Machina and Y, The Last Man, Runaways), Suburban Glamour, free comic book day, Sandman, starting a comic book library, and the Hi, I’m a Marvel… and I’m a DC parody on youtube.

Marty, Florence and Jason are joined by Susie via Skype.

Listen to the Podcast Episode #004 (54 min, 25 MB)

Tori Amos is editing a book of comics written about her songs!

May 7th, 2008 by Martin

This is probably old news to just about everyone, but I hadn’t heard about this book, called Comic Book Tattoo, so I’m posting it here anyway. I don’t know how much editorial control singer/songwriter Tori Amos really had, but supposedly she had her fingers in the book-making pie from start to finish.

It’s already available for pre-order from amazon, (including a super-deluxe hardcover edition for four-times the price), and they list the release date to be July 16th.

I found information about this all over the place (when I started looking), but the best article was at Comic Book Resources, as it has a lot more details and includes some sweet art from the collection.

I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space – Issue 1

May 5th, 2008 by Martin

Who would not want to read a comic with this title!? I mean, the story practically tells itself! The title already told the story! In fact, just having read the title, this comic could not possibly have lived up to the innuendo-laden science fiction odyssey that I then imagined. And all this for only $.99!

Oh yeah, so how was the comic? Well, go see for yourself. Turns out you can read the whole thing online. And the next one too! (And I think the reest of the series, although it looks like the author may be only partway through the last issue–number six.)

UPDATE: Re-reading this review, I really sounded lackluster about this comic. I put a lot of exclamation points in there, but while I’ll admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by the first issue, I did really like it. The story is light and fun, and it kept me reading and wanting more.

I’m now through issue 5 (reading them online, page by page), and reading “In search of the fourth wall”, which the author —Megan Rose Gedris, who according to this interview is only 21– calls an intermission issue. This isn’t even Megan’s first comic. She also has an apparently quite successful webcomic called YU+ME.

Anyway, I regret that I was in a bit of a rush when I wrote this. I think having discovered that the comic was available online kept me up that night well into the wee hours, and I think I basically pushed this out because I wanted to write something before I fell asleep staring at the laptop.

So give IWKBLPFOS a try!

Infinite Invasions of a World War Crisis

May 5th, 2008 by jason

On a recent sleepless night, I read the Sinestro Corps War saga that ran through the Green Lantern titles last year. At the end of it, I felt a sense of satisfaction with the story, the epic, the huge event. It felt complete, while hinting at the repercussions from the saga that will occur over the next couple of years in the DC Universe. I felt like I got a full story, which stayed exciting right up until the dramatic conclusion. I realized, at the end, that this was kind of a new experience for me: satisfaction with a “comic event storyline”. I think the closest I’ve come to that sort of satisfaction was with the conclusion of Crisis on Infinite Earths over two decades ago, but to be honest, I felt a little let down at the end of that as well. I think that’s the trend with comic book Events. Big E Events, with Earth-shattering ramifications! They’ve become the comic book equivalent of summer blockbuster season, with one event bleeding into the next event, and sequel after mega-sequel.

We’re getting ramped up into the two latest events from DC and Marvel with the upcoming Final Crisis and Secret Invasion respectively. Both of these are sequels or continuations of previous events. Both of them will cause the very foundations of their respective universes (or multiverse) to quake! And as far both of them go, I’m exhausted already. Over the past several years, we’ve experienced event after event after event. Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, 52, World War III, Amazons Attack, Countdown, Disassembled, House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, and that’s not even counting the ones that are exclusive to the X-Men titles. My god, living the life of an X-Man would be tiring. Not just from the pitched battles with your foes, but from having to take part in all these events! You don’t have time to sit down, take a breath, before you’re flung from one cataclysm to the next crisis. It’s possible now that you may be taking part in simultaneous crossovers. There won’t be room on the cover for any art, just event logos. I fully expected to see a comic with World War Hulk at the top, the Initiative listed underneath that, a quarter page of art and a flashback to the Civil War single color bottom half. Oh, with the title listed somewhere among all that.

I’m prepared for the DC events this summer, having just finished Countdown yesterday, which fizzled like a sparkler at the end of its sparkle. What started out a year ago as skyrockets, in the end was merely a punk. I was really looking forward to this series wrapping up and meaning something, but the last issue, Countdown #1 really seemed like the writers had lost their steam somewhere along the way. There were awesome moments in Countdown, like in 52, but at the end, maybe it was just too much, too quickly. And to be honest, all the action happened in the various other mini-series happening around the DC Universe, like Death of the New Gods, Countdown to Adventure, and the mini-epic going on in Batman and Action, The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul and Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, respectively. There were some very fun stories to be found in the DCU this past year, but the “spine”, as described by Dan DiDio, was suffering from a calcium deficiency.

The follow-up to Countdown, and the bridge leading into Final Crisis, is DC Universe #0, written by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns, and illustrated by everyone and their brother. You get a little taste of everything in this issue, with vignettes featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, the Trinity of the DC church, plus the second tier of character who will be having major stories happening over the next year, including Green Lantern, the Legion (or at least one of them), the Spectre, and a surprise guest (who is really no surprise if you’ve been paying attention). Countdown was a mess that couldn’t seem to tie itself together without massive Dei ex Machina leaving axle grease all over the place. The stories in DC Universe, by contrast, were gourmet hors d’œuvre, served up in a pleasing series of courses, each giving a taste of the multi-course meal coming up. That some of the courses may leave you feeling a bit gassy, bloated or unsatisfied remains to be seen.

Free Comic Book Day

May 3rd, 2008 by Martin

Today is Free Comic Book Day, so don’t forget to head down to your local comic book shop and ask for–nay demand–your free comics!*

* Note: Not all stores participate in Free Comic Book Day. Your mileage may vary. Some assembly required. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

I was curious, so I went wikipedia hunting. Free comic book day started in 2002, and the first one was scheduled for the day after the first Spider Man movie was released. Many free comic book days have coincided with big comic book movie releases. (Iron Man just came out yesterday.)

Linked from wikipedia was this interesting blog post about the real costs of free comics, and who pays for them.

In about half an hour, I’m meeting Jason J, Mike, Jason T, and maybe some other folks for breakfast before we head to The Source for their comics, and the annual sale they have on Free Comic Book Day. Maybe I’ll see you there!

White Picket Fences: Double Feature

May 2nd, 2008 by Martin

This is the twin to a previously reviewed double length from Ape Entertainment, Bizarre New World. This also had a three issue series that introduced the story and characters, and this was also released in an over-sized trade paperback-like edition.

Contrary to the title, there are three stories contained within, though the middle one is only a couple of pages, and less a story than brief character building exercise. None the less, it was probably my favorite piece in the book. Maybe it was because of the Iron Man-like nature of one of the boy’s fantasy future that got me, but the art and artist were also different, making the coloring a bit more vibrant than the rest of the comic which had been, like the first three-issue prequel, drawn in a sort of sloppy, colored-pencil style. The colors are thus are a bit muted, a bit less bright and crisp than I’d have preferred.

As far as story is concerned, White Picket Fences doesn’t start out with any context. (I remember this about the previous series also.) It just dumps you into a story about three (or four) boys, living in a strange and exciting town where anything can happen. The year might be 1950, (I don’t think we know), but the comic ends up feeling like a cross between Leave it to Beaver and Evolution (the David Duchovny movie from 2001). Anyway, the first three-parter is better than this book, but this is pretty fun too. There are lots of other good things out right now though, and I’m sort of on the fence about the next three promised issues.

Faeries are comfort food

May 1st, 2008 by florence

After picking up my pull from The Source a few weeks ago, I was milling around waiting for Marty when the last issue of the Suburban Glamour miniseries caught my eye. I have to admit, I usually stick to known favorites or hand-picked recommendations from my sister Susie or friends, but this time I just picked up something new and immediately felt like I had stumbled upon a treat- a story about faeries. Not just faeries, but a teenage faerie changling in our world- a girl who never quite fit in and suddenly discovers that she is special. I have read many many variations on this story, it is my ultimate comfort food literature, and even though I am far past the age of pubescent transformation, it still makes me feel giddy and transported.

Realizing that the issue said ‘4 of 4’, I resisted reading too much. I searched the store for back issues, but only found #2, so I had the missing issues ordered for me. Last week I picked up the completed arc and immediately devoured them, bumping them in front of my hefty to-read pile. I was not disappointed. I won’t spoil the story, but anyone who shares my love of this genre already knows exactly what happens. The art, by creator Jamie McKelvie, was lovely, the main characters relatable, and the story of a girl having her world turned upside down- comfortingly familiar.