Author Archive

Are Motion Comics the future of Comic Books?

October 24th, 2009 by Michael

SpiderWoman_MotionComic_NowOniTunesRecently the new Spider-Woman series by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev hit the stands. It may also surprise you that they’ve also released a “motion comic” of the series on iTunes as well.  In fact, if you read much of the promotional interviews and articles bout Spider-Woman, you’ll find that Marvel is pushing the motion comic more than the printed comic.  In addition, they just announced that the first arc of Astonishing X-Men (“Gifted”) by Joss Whedon would be released as a motion comic as well, complete with a media blitz to boot.  This follows DC’s jump into the genre with last year’s Watchmen motion comic that coincided with the movie.  So what’s the story on this hot new craze sweeping the comics world?  Is this the golden ticket that the big publishers were looking for to bring comics into the digital age?  And what is the difference between a motion comic vs. a cartoon?  Lucky for you, I’m here to help out. (more…)

Read Comics.org at Gaylaxicon!

October 12th, 2009 by Michael

gaylaxicon2009_logo_webiconLast weekend was Gaylaxicon in Minneapolis and Marty, Florence, Jason and myself were all in attendance. And a great time it was! We’ll podcast about it sometime this week but I wanted to make some call outs. First, Jason did a great job as the PR/Outreach coordinator for the convention. It was apparent by the turnout and the great time that was had by everyone that Jason worked hard in his role and it payed off. Also, the featured guests were excellent. Margaret Weis, Terrance Griep, Andy Mangels, Lawrence Schimel…they were all awesome and what I found great was that in a convention like this (as opposed to Convergence) was that you could interact with the guests of honor outside of the panels, and got a better feel for them as people. Finally, I loved the panels offered. All the panels I attended spoke to me as a gay geek and covered issues that were important to me. And it’s to the credit of the organizers that there were often tough choices on which panel to attend.

So that’s my brief Gaylaxicon recap. Next year it’s held in Montreal over Halloween weekend…I’m really interested in going!

Dr. Horrible nominated for an Emmy!

July 16th, 2009 by Michael

DrHorribleSo, here’s some cool news: Joss Whedon’s brilliant Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is up for an emmy award for the ultra-obscure Outstanding Special Class Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Programs category. Which, appropriately enough, sounds like it should come from a Whedon musical.

In related Emmy news, Dr. Horrible Star Neil Patrick Harris was nominated for his supporting role in How I Met Your Mother. He’s also hosting the show! Yay!

A Tale of Two Ozzes

December 15th, 2008 by Michael

This last week saw the release of not one, but two new series based upon L. Frank Baum’s stories about Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tip, Jack Pumpkinhead, Glinda, and the rest in the land called Oz.

First up is Marvel’s adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Yes, this is the story on which the classic movie was based, but those looking for an adaptation of the movie will be (hopefully pleasantly) surprised.  The first issue of this 8-part series takes Dorothy from Kansas to the fateful meeting of the Scarecrow.  Written by Eric Shanower (no stranger to Oz, having done some graphic novels in the past), the comic faithfully replicates the whimsical, lighthearted, and innocent storytelling found in the original novel.  But the real star of the story is artist Skottie Young, who’s dreamlike drawings suggest a fantastical storybook quality that fits the tale perfectly.  I can’t think of any artist better matched to the story than he is.  I particularly loved his Scarecrow, and Oz in itself breathes deep with life.  Credit must also be given to colorist Jean-Francois Beaulieu, who’s watercolors are bright, vibrant, and breathtaking.  Highly recommended.

This week’s other tale of Oz is The Land of Oz: The Manga – Return to the Emerald City, which covers the second part of Baum’s second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz.  While the manga has different characters, a different tone, and a different feel than Marvel’s adaptation, it is just as successful an adaptation of Baum’s Oz.  The Return to the Emerald City is written and drawn in glorious black and white by David Hutchinson for Antarctic Press, and comparing the two series you can really sense that there is a shared setting – that the stories take place in the same universe.  This story takes place well after the movie, as Tip and his companions Jack Pumpkinhead, Mr. H.M. Woggle-bug, Sawhorse, and Nick Chopper (The Tin Woodman) help the Scarecrow in his struggle against Queen Jinjur and the witch Mombi.  It’s a fun, farcical tale of misfortunes that make a great read.

Between the two I have to give the edge to Marvel’s version simply due to the outstanding art, but both make an excellent diversion to a land that has fascinated us for generations.

Editorial – 20 things wrong with comics

November 13th, 2008 by Michael

Writing reviews is hard.  It requires I read the comic, formulate an opinion everyone can disagree with, write it out in a coherent plot summary/commentary, find a cover image, link it, proof read it…ugh.  So instead, since I’ve got time to waste while waiting for the dryer to finish so I can go to bed, I thought I’d just bitch a bit.  Hope you don’t mind.  So, I present to you…

THE TOP 20 THINGS (off the top of my head in no particular order) WRONG WITH COMICS TODAY

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Ant Man’s Big Christmas

July 5th, 2008 by Michael

Ant Man's Big Christmas

Last weekend I was at Wizard World in Chicago and was going through the $0.25 comics bins (if you shop at a convention, wait until the last day – everything’s cheaper) and found this little gem from 1999. Just the cover alone was worth the quarter. While I’m a big fan of Henry Pym and have great affection for both him and the Wasp, he may be the lamest comic book hero Marvel has; you can’t help but not take him seriously. He’s the Aquaman of the Marvel Universe. So a Christmas book starring him and the winsome Wasp seemed funny. I was sure, however, that inside would be full of heart warming Christmas cheer as they taught lessons of peace, love, and good will toward ants. I was completely surprised by what I found.

Forget about any sappy Christmas stories we’ve come to expect with our usual holiday fare. Hank and Jan have possibly the most unhealthy relationship in comics, and while this story takes full advantage of this fact, there’s none of the melodrama that’s usually associated with these two. This comic brings the fun to dysfunctional. It starts out with the two arguing about who’s family to spend Christmas with, as they both despise the other’s families for petty reasons. Captain America intervenes like the Ghost of Christmas Responsibility, affixes them with disappointing stare #16, and sends them on a mission to bring Christmas cheer to a lonely boy who’s family can’t get along. It’s the Make A Wish program for kids who don’t need it. They discover that the kid is a spoiled brat who simply can’t put up with his families eccentricities. You can smell the sap coming a mile away with a complete set up for the two Avenging lovers to teach the kid about the importance of family during the holidays while learning the lesson themselves. Mercifully, there’s none of that. Instead, the two agree to teach the kid’s family a lesson by shrinking them down to ant size by surprise and torturing them into agreeing to never come back for Christmas again. And some of the tortures they come up with are quite inspired. The great aunt’s fussiness and habit of smoking a cigar and wearing too much perfume is combated by trapping her in a canister with a rotten orange, a fish’s head, and dog shit. The uncle with a fetish for the kid’s mom’s underwear is shrunk down, taped to the inside of a bra, and flung across the room. The cousin who brings unwanted guests and the uncle who’s only sin is telling tall tales about himself are trapped at ant size with a box full of beetles. And the cousins that bully the kid are set up for potentially permanent injury when a load of automobile tires are set up to fall on them, then they’re tied up, their crotches doused with sugar water, and ants are sent to swarm them and bite them. All while the kid video tapes the incident. Throughout all this, Ant Man and the Wasp are gleefully taking part and helping along, showing little responsibilities as adults. And these are supposed to be the good guys? I think that they use some of these methods in Guantanamo Bay. Hey, heroes, guess what – this is how Dr. Octopus and Mr. Sinister spend Christmas as well. Captain America would have to give you at least TWO disappointing stares if he knew about this.

Along the way, Ant Man is accused of being a pedophile, they nearly get eaten at ant size when trying to steal some of a families dinner, and there’s background talk about suicide. All your typical holiday cheer. If I paid the full $5.95 cover price for this, I’d be pretty pissed as the story really is pretty lame and silly, but for a quarter, it’s a fabulously ridiculous story that throws the Christmas genre out the window and stomps it into the dirty snow. It’s a great read.

Chuck #1

June 16th, 2008 by Michael

I picked up Chuck #1 on a whim…I’d been looking for something different from the usual Marvel superhero fare I’m used to. The art looked kinda cool and the pages I skimmed through looked intriguing enough. Then I read it and I had to admit, I was a little confused. There’s this guy named Chuck who daydreams at work about Gilligan’s island inhabited by his coworkers at a Best Buy knockoff that gets blown up. Apparently he’s some spy type of person in some agency that employs psychics and there’s some sort of “intersection” in his head. Whatever that means.

Admitting defeat, I sheepishly turned to the internet to find out more about this comic. That’s when I found out that this was a comic adaptation of a TV series…one I don’t watch. The comic was obviously written for fans of the show (which makes me wonder how successful they hope the comic will be? Is there a huge market for comic versions of somewhat obscure TV shows?), and was thus lost on me. I was more intrigued by what I at first thought the story was about…some poor geek at the “Buy More superstore” who dreams these fantastic situations he puts himself and his friends in…and makes this his reality. But since I’m not a fan of the show and they didn’t really make the comic that accessible to a new audience, I most likely won’t be picking up any more. Which is unfortunate, because there is some genuinely witty dialogue and storytelling here. If anyone else watches the show, though, I’d be interested in what they thought.

Chuck is Written by Peter Johnson and Zev Barow with art by Jeremy Haun and Phil Noto

Red Mass For Mars #1

June 11th, 2008 by Michael

Red Mass for Mars #1It’s been a long time since I’ve been really interested in a good sci-fi comic book. Sure, I’ve been reading the Annihilation stories in Marvel and while I enjoy them, they’re pretty much run-of-the-mill comic stories in a science fiction medium. To me, good sci-fi should be thought provoking. It should make us look to the future while teaching something about our society in the present. It should be intellectual, educational, and challenging. A Red Mass for Mars by Image comics does all this very well.

Written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn beautifully by Ryan Bodenheim, the story takes place in the year 2115 on an earth that has been decimated by numerous disasters and atrocities. Marcus Farber Astorga (also known as ‘the Benefactor) has the ability to see the future, which has naturally made him incredibly wealthy and has used that wealth to create a new paradise on earth, and the population loves him for it. But this ability also sets him apart – even the most brilliant of people on earth are a bore to him. What could they give him that he hasn’t already forseen? How would you live a life in which you knew what would happen and yet had to go through the motions, acting a part in order to fulfill these preordained acts? It’s an intriguing question and in him we have a fascinating character that I can’t wait to see develop. Equally as interesting is what is shaping up to be a potential villain – Lightbender. As the head of the English Language Reclamation Project, he is a soft spoken dictator that nonchalantly describes why he had to defile the corpse of the queen of England (three times) while worrying about what the implications of conquering his native country will have on his family reunions.

Of course, there’s also the standard sci-fi plot of an alien invasion, but it’s the characters and concepts that are presented that are the most interesting. It covers the nature of life and death, what a utopian society really means, religion, politics, man and gods, and the future. It brings up topics that I can’t wait to discuss and debate with others that read this, and to me that’s what science fiction should be.

Young Avengers Presents: Wiccan and Speed

April 7th, 2008 by Michael

I had intended to write a review of Young Avengers Presents #3: Wiccan an Speed but then came across a review posted at a slightly lesser known site called Newsarama and thought it summed up my thoughts nicely. So instead of going to all the trouble, I thought I’d post the link here. The part that makes the review so notable is that it addresses the handling of two young gay males and their relationship.  Instead of a full review here, I’ll comment on a few things I found funny:

1. Do you really think that Hulkling hangs out with his boyfriend all the time as big and green?  I would think that he would “unhulk” at those times.  Unless Wiccan really digs it.

2. Does anyone else find it creepy that Hulkling can transform into a carbon copy of his boyfriend?  Next time someone tells Wiccan to go fuck himself, he really can.

3. Master Pandemonium (Master P) now resides as a depressed slob in Cresskill, NJ?  He really does reside in hell.

4.  Do you think New Jersey gets sick of being the butt of the country’s jokes?  I bet it and Iowa have a support group.

Also at the same Newsarama page, there’s another review of Kick Ass that touches on another offensive part that Jason and Marty missed in their commentary. It’s worth a read.

Anyway, here’s the link:

http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=152795

Just make sure you come back here when you’re done!

Secret Invasion #1 (minor spoilers discussed)

April 6th, 2008 by Michael

It ain’t a secret anymore.

Apparently it’s been four years in the making.  We were hit with the opening salvo a year ago in the form of an Skrully Electra.  And now it’s here.  What has been a really satisfying slow build up has now exploded into an intense, in-your-face declaration of war.  I enjoyed the first issue, but at the same time, I kinda wish we could go back to the prelude.

Part of the reason for this is that the title Secret Invasion is a bit of a misnomer.  It really isn’t a secret anymore…it’s a full out invasion.  While Tony Stark, Hank Pym, and Reed Richards are investigating why the Skrulls are invisible to any detection powers, SHEILD tracks a Skrull transport that crash-lands in the Savage Land, and Iron Man’s Avengers go to investigate.  Except Luke Cage’s team of renegade Avengers decide to steal their Quinjet so they can get there first.  This delays Iron Man’s team all of three minutes and they have a stand off in front of the transport.  Then all hell breaks loose as the Skrulls attack at several strategic locations across the globe, each with a cultish “He loves you” mantra.

I had to read this twice to decide if it was a good issue or not.  What I liked about the months leading up the event (dubbed Secret Invasion: The Infiltration) the suspense of not knowing who was a Skrull and who wasn’t, how long they’ve been masquerading as our heroes, how long they’ve been here, how many there are, and what happened to the heroes they’ve replaced.  Those questions are quickly tossed out the window, and while we are not given the answers, they’re replaced with a flurry of battles, double crosses, and surprise reveals (and some not all that surprising).  I felt it was too much for the introductory issue of the event.  Despite all this, it was fun if a bit rushed.  I still really don’t like Leinil Yu’s artwork…the lines are too heavy, the proportions off, the action sequences are sloppy, and his females all look like Aunt May on Halloween.  Look at the attack on the Black Widow…probably one of the most sloppy representations of Spidey’s webs that I’ve ever seen.

Final word: it’s a good, if not great, opening that makes me intrigued for the rest of the series.

Wolverine = comic book creator???

March 25th, 2008 by Michael

I was checking out ew.com and saw the interesting headline:

Hugh Jackman Developing Comicbook Series

And I respond with a big, “meh.” Here’s the press release:

“(FROM VARIETY) – Hugh Jackman and Eli Stone co-creator Marc Guggenheim are teaming with Virgin Comics to develop a new comicbook series that can eventually be adapted into a movie starring Jackman. The comic, Nowhere Man, is focused on a character, similar to Will Smith’s role in I Am Legend, living in a futuristic world where mankind has traded privacy for safety. ”This is our first comic, and we feel the concept is transferable to other arenas, perhaps first as a videogame, and then a movie,” John Palermo, Jackman’s Seed Productions partner, told Variety. Guggenheim has previously written installments of Amazing Spider-man and Wolverine for Marvel Comics. Jackman is currently shooting X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the spinoff movie set to release in May 2009. (Variety)”

I have a few reservations about this. First of all, the idea, while intriguing, is about as original as last week’s toast. Perhaps they got the idea from the Bush administration. The very title, Nowhere Man, has been used countless times (ok, perhaps not countless, but at least six times on film alone according to IMDB). Then they admit that they’re borrowing from I Am Legend. Even worse, they want it to be a launching pad for other platforms…film, video games, lingerie, etc. Which would be fine if the comic were already a hit, but here they’re looking to capitalize on the popularity of comic adapted materials. In other words, the comic is being created to be marketable. And before anyone yells at me about being hypocritical about spinoffs and being a Marvel fan, I’m not really excited about the aforementioned X-Men Origins: Wolverine either. Finally, how much do you want to bet that Hugh Jackman’s name is attached only for marketability? Meaning Marc Guggenheim does all the work and Jackman gets the big paycheck. Especially if this makes it to film like they want to.

Now, I’m not very familiar with Guggenheim’s work. I know he’s done stuff for Marvel and DC and will shortly be writing Young X-Men (even writing the title makes me gag…call them what you want, they’ll always be the New Mutants). He’s one of those writers pulled from the world of TV and cinema, having written for Brothers and Sisters, Law and Order, and The Practice. He recently developed Eli Stone, of which I saw some and found witty and kinda funny but it got tired pretty quick. Despite the negative tone of this post, I do reserve complete judgement until the comic comes out, but I have a feeling I’ll be passing this one by.

Why the Skrulls are going to save the Marvel Universe

March 10th, 2008 by Michael

skrullsThere’s an invasion going on in the Marvel Universe. Alien shape changers have infiltrated our super teams and taken over the persona of some of the most mighty heroes. Their intent: to take over our planet, which they see as rightfully theirs.

Go Skrulls!

I’m really looking forward to this spring and summer’s Mega Event. It just feels exciting. According to interviews from Marvel Mastermind Brian Michael Bendis, this storyline has been brewing for years. According to him, after this story is done we’ll be able to look at recent events such as Avengers Disassembled, House of M, Secret War, Civil War, and Captain America’s Death, and be able to see a Skrully hand manipulating all of it. This doesn’t feel like a simple retcon to me…this apparently has been sneaky ol’ Bendis’ plan from the very start. And I think that’s why I’m enjoying it so much. It’s creative, it’s well planned, and it feels like there are real consequences. Who knows who could be a Skrull? We’ve already seen Elektra and Blackbolt revealed as Skrulls…could we see Spider Man as one? Thor? Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy? Since they did the unthinkable and killed Captain America – and kept him dead for a year now – you have to wonder if Marvel is willing to take chances on some of their other major characters.

When Marvel announced Civil War a couple of years ago, they said the intent was to bring a level of distrust back to our heroes. It used to be that when Spider-man crossed paths with the FF, there would be some doubt about the other hero’s motives. The FF saw all the negative reporting in the newspaper about Spidey and wondered if he could be a criminal, and Spidey distrusted anyone that might be inclined to try to have him arrested. The Skrull storyline succeeds where Civil War fails. Civil War seemed like a good idea with a lot of potential that ended up rushed, written by committee, and edited to pieces. On the other hand, Secret Invasion seems well crafted, paced correctly, and genuine. The threat seems real, the implications seem dire, and the distrust between the heroes seems at an all time high. Not only does each character have to wonder if their teammates are aliens, but they also have to wonder who has known what, and for how long. It’s a fun story line and I fully hope that Marvel is finally able to fulfill the potential of the story. Most importantly, this is a story that deserves to be an event.

So who is a Skrull? Of course, I have some ideas. Here, I present my top 5 Skrull Choices:

1. Cyclops. The leader of the X-Men has gone all hard assed of late. Apparently the mutant decimation and loss of Professor X has gotten to him. Or maybe a Skrull has.

2a. Ms. Marvel. You can bet that the Skrulls have landed in SHIELD. Who better than a SHIELD agent who also leads the Avengers, and can keep close tabs on Tony Stark? If not her, look for….

2b. Maria Hill. Stark’s #2 at SHIELD led the organization from Secret War to Civil War, and her arrival coincided with with Nick Fury’s disappearance. Speaking of which…he’s due for a return. What role will he have in Secret Invasion?

3. Wolverine, but only the New Avengers Wolvie. The X-Men’s is the real one. It would go a long way to explaining how he can be in every comic at the same time!

4. The Scarlet Witch. A Skrull with Wanda’s powers could have intentionally caused House of M (a perfect opportunity for Skrulls to move in?). Plus doing so allows Marvel to bring her back, all heroic-like and not at all crazy.

5. Hawkeye. Hey, weren’t you dead? Oh yeah, that’s because you’re a Skrull.

What do you think? Who’s a Skrull? Who do YOU trust?