Thursday, June 26, 2008

Con Artist

Well, I'm heading up to Wizard World Chicago today. Feel free to say hi; I'll be wearing a name tag, working at the Stand-Up Comics booth, and spending oodles of money. Drop by and sample our wares!

Also, July is Superman Month. You've been warned.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marvelously Unsolicited Opinions

A day late and several dollars short, here's my take on the Marvel Comics for September.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #570
Written by DAN SLOTT
Pencils & Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
Monkey Variant by MIKE MCKONE
NEW WAYS TO DIE
It's the Spider-Fight of the century: SPIDER-MAN versus VENOM versus ANTI-VENOM! Who will be the last web-slinger standing? The guy with radioactive spider-blood? The man with the original symbiote? Or...hold on...just who or what is Anti-Venom anyway?! Also: a regular Spidey cast member falls prey to Menace! And Aunt May sees a suspiciously secret side of the F.E.A.S.T. center...
32 PGS./Rated A ...$2.99

Um...isn't the Anti-Venom just Spider-Man? Since Venom is the anti-Spider-Man? Seems like this ends up like Zibarro, the Bizarro Bizarro, where he's basically Superman (though strangely minus powers, apparently).

VENOM: DARK ORIGIN #2 (of 5)
Written by Zeb Wells
Pencils & Cover by Angel Medina
When a man claiming to be the Sin-Eater -- the serial killer tormenting Spider-Man and all New York City -- contacts the young Eddie Brock at the Daily Globe, Eddie takes his shot at career-making news. Who cares if the story’s full of holes? Watch the corruption that poisons Eddie’s soul until it’s as black as a certain alien symbiote...and witness the creation of one of Spider-Man’s great foes! By writer Zeb Wells (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and artist Angel Medina (SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN)!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99

A Venom origin miniseries? One, why is this necessary? After all, his origin has already been told and is available in TPB form. Two, why is this coming out now, as opposed to during the lead-up to "Spider-Man 3"?

BIG HERO 6 #1 (of 6)
Written by CHRIS CLAREMONT
Pencils, Cover & Variant Cover by DAVID NAKAYAMA
The astonishing return of Big Hero Six! Who, you ask? Why none other than Japan’s top heroes, defending the land of the rising sun in the name of the Emperor! Come join Hiro (the smartest boy in Japan), Baymax (his trusty robot companion), Honey Lemon (with her all-containing handbag), Gogo Tomago (somersaulting into an unstoppable energy ball)... plus, who are the Six’s two new members? When unknown super-villains strike Tokyo, BH6 is on the scene, and the stage is set for new adventure and a new series!
48 PGS./Rated A ...$3.99

Awww, Chris Claremont's trying to be Grant Morrison. It's almost cute.

CIVIL WAR: HOUSE OF M #1 (of 5)
Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Penciled by ANDREA DI VITO
Cover by MIKE PERKINS
The biggest House of M story is finally revealed: how did Magneto take over the world? He began life as a penniless refugee, but rose to conquer the entire planet...and now Christos Gage (Thunderbolts, House of M: Avengers) and Andrea Di Vito (Annihilation) show you how the Master of Magnetism did it! Witness Magneto's first battle with the Sentinels...the tragic end of his marriage...and his fight against Apocalypse for leadership of all mutants! The secret history of the
House of M unfolds here!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99

A "House of M" tie-in, three years and three universe-wide events after "House of M." I think this comic may have missed the boat a little. Unless there are actually people nostalgic about "House of M" at this point.

And there, I think I just threw up a little.

Man, the Zombie Variant covers are gonna be ROXXORZ!MARVEL APES #1 & 2 (of 4)
Written by KARL KESEL
Pencils by RAMON BACHS
Cover by JOHN WATSON
Variant Cover For Marvel Apes #1 by RAMON BACHS
Variant Cover For Marvel Apes #2 by PHIL JIMENEZ
Flingin' feces, True Believer-- the entire Marvel Universe has gone APE!
Just when he thinks life can't get any worse or weirder, Marty Blank – a.k.a. that lovable loser, the Gibbon -- finds himself and the brilliant-and-beautiful Dr. Fiona Fitzhugh transported to a world where monkeys rule and humans don't exist!
SEE the spectacular simian city of Monkhattan!
MEET the hominoid heroes and villains – SPIDER-MONKEY! DOC OOK! IRON MANDRILL! SIMIAN TORCH! THE APE-VENGERS! And more!
THRILL to the return of Speedball!
CONTAINS No-Ads, as we are thrilled to present you backup tales exploring the Apeiverse!
LEARN the dark secret of the primate planet!
WORRY that the fate of the entire universe is in the hands of the Gibbon!
Not a hoax, not a dream, not an imaginary story - just the most not-to-be-missed mini-series of the season! If you only buy one (well, two) comics this month about super-powered, intelligent apes-in-capes, it must be MARVEL APES!
40 PGS.(each)/ Rated T+ ...$3.99 (each)

Just so you don't think I'm being totally negative, I'm psyched about "Marvel Apes." Honest and true, if only because it features the Gibbon, who rocks. I just hope this goes more the way of "Marvel Monsters" than "Marvel Zombies;" I'd hate to see this run into the ground and pummeled into pulp.

Note to self: buy "JLApe" at convention.

SECRET INVASION #6 (of 8)
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Penciled by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Cover by GABRIELE DELL’OTTO
Variant Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Sketch Variant Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
EMBRACE CHANGE! With these words, the Skrulls have made their intentions clear but not everyone thinks they sound all that bad. Which heroes and icons are hell-bent on defending the Earth from the invasion, and who thinks a new era has dawned for mankind? The final double-page spread of this issue will send chills down your spine, and that is a promise!!
The blockbuster event of the year heads towards its shattering conclusion by Bendis and Yu.
32 PGS./Cardstock Cover/Rated T+ ...$3.99

"Secret Invasion" didn't really grab me until the third issue, but now I'm in it for the long haul. I'm curious what the Skrulls are offering that the world might consider...peaceful coexistence? This might end up being the shades-of-gray story that "Civil War" desperately wanted to be.

SECRET INVASION: THOR #2 (of 3)
Written by MATT FRACTION
Pencils and Cover by DOUG BRAITHWAITE
The Secret Invasion hits Asgard...and Broxton, Oklahoma, isn't spared! As the Skrulls arrive and begin their massive assault on the Norse gods, Dr. Donald Blake has his hands full in a middle-school basement delivering a baby. Can Balder the Brave and Beta Ray Bill marshal Asgard's forces long enough, and fight back hard enough, to hold the line until the God of Thunder joins them? And can anybody survive the Skrull's secret weapon...?
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99

I'm torn...I don't really want to get in the habit of buying "Secret Invasion" tie-in miniseries (after all, I have seven issues of "Civil War: Frontline" taking up valuable space on my kindling pile), but this boasts an appearance by Beta Ray Bill, fighting a legion of Skrulls in Asgard. If Volstagg were in the blurb, there's no way I'd be able to resist.

Um, Xavin? You've got something on your chin.RUNAWAYS #2
Written by TERRY MOORE
Pencils & Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS
The kids are back in town, and LA will never be the same. They’ve set up new digs in Malibu, but will they be able to keep it from being destroyed the first day? The remains of Runaway Karolina’s alien race has come to Earth to get revenge for the millions who died on their homeworld. And they’re pointing their fingers at Karolina and Xavin. All this from comic legend Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo) and superstar Humberto Ramos (X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN)!
32 PGS./Rated T+ ...$2.99

I'm not sure about the new "Runaways" series. The book hasn't been on time the same since Vaughan left, and while it's been late decent, it doesn't really feel like I can remember what's going on from issue to issue due to the incredible lag it's going anywhere. With what unpleasant things unpleasant things I've heard about Terry Moore recently, it seems like this might be a good time to drop the title.

And what is it with giving all the teen-friendly titles (this, "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane") to Moore? There are other writers. I wouldn't mind seeing a Fred Van Lente "Runaways" myself.

SQUADRON SUPREME #3
Written by HOWARD CHAYKIN
Penciled by MARCO TURINI
Cover by GREG LAND
Monkey Variant by Paulo Siqueira
“POWER TO THE PEOPLE”
Meet Arachnophilia—she’s the kind of girl who always hoped the neighbors would describe her as “a quiet girl, who kept to herself”...right after she took out her homeroom with an automatic rifle. But now that this teenage outcast has found herself endowed with spider-like powers...life might just be looking up. Elsewhere, Ultimate Nick Fury learns why four astronauts returned to Earth transformed into something eerily familiar...and utterly fantastic. Meanwhile—Nighthawk takes this opportunity to make his dramatic return!
Part 3 (of 6)
32 PGS./Parental Advisory ...$2.99

Wait, so now "Squadron Supreme" is a parody of the Marvel Universe? When did that happen? Better yet, why?

X-MEN: RETURN OF MAGIK
Written by C.B. CEBULSKI & CHRISTOPHER YOST
Penciled by DAVID AJA, NIKO HENRICHON & DAVID YARDIN
Cover by OLIVIER COIPEL
At long last, Magik is returning to the Marvel Universe! But in what form will she return, and to whom will she owe her allegiance? In a touching tale of death and acceptance originally presented in X-MEN UNLIMITED #13, the X-Man Colossus continues to mourn the loss of his beloved sister, the telepathic mutant mystic known as Magik. Meanwhile, in a story from NEW X-MEN #37, Magik’s origin is explored — and her former master, the demon-lord Belasco returns! Fighting his way through hostile terrain and vicious demon hordes, Belasco will stop at nothing to wrest control of Limbo. But the evil sorceress standing in his way bears a striking resemblance to his former protégé. And finally, from X-MEN: DIVIDED WE STAND #2, Magik has indeed returned — but she’s trapped in Limbo, a slave to Belasco! Illyana yearns for her freedom and family, but she must find the lost pieces of her soul, the bloodstones, if she is to escape and defeat Belasco once and for all!
40 PGS./Must Have One-Shot/Rated T+ ...$3.99

I put it to you, True Believers: which character's return do you care less about, Magik or Archangel?

For me, it's gotta be Archangel, especially given the years they've spent trying to make Warren less of an angry cyborg Smurf.

That's it for solicits; what are your thoughts?

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unsolicited Opinions

The September '08 Solicits are out, which is odd, because I could have sworn that the December solicits just came out last month. Curse my temporally-displaced memory! Click the new little expanding posts link below to find out what I think, because you care so much.

TRINITY #14-17
Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Art by Mark Bagley & Art Thibert, Scott McDaniel & Andy Owens, Mike Norton, and Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Covers by Jim Lee & Scott Williams
Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman lead the heroes of the DCU against the machinations of their malevolent counterparts, resulting in a cataclysmic event that will change the world – but not like anyone involved expects. Plus, Hawkman and Gangbuster make their move to rescue Tarot, and Konvikt breaks loose.
Issue #14 on sale September 3; issue #15 on sale September 10; issue #16 on sale September 17; issue #17 on sale September 24
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I seem to be one of few enjoying "Trinity" so far, and maybe it's because of things like this solicit: the return of Gangbuster? Busiek knows what I like. Also, I'm surprised to see Tarot making an appearance...does this mean that Chris Sims will be annotating it?

Face, meet palm.DC UNIVERSE: DECISIONS #1-2
Written by Judd Winick & Bill Willingham
Pencil art by Rick Leonardi
Covers by Stephane Roux
Election season is upon us, and the stakes have never been higher! An unknown villain is attempting to assassinate the presidential candidates, and only the heroes of the DCU stand in the way. As Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Superman, Batman and more try to learn the killer’s identity, they are faced with the difficult task of reconciling their own personal ideals with the mission at hand.
Brought to you by writers Judd Winick (GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY, TITANS) and Bill Willingham (FABLES, DAY OF VENGEANCE) and featuring sensational art by Rick Leonardi (ROBIN, SUPERGIRL)!
Issue #1 on sale September 10; issue #2 on sale September 24 • 1 and 2 of 4 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I don't think I've ever been less excited about a comic than I am about "DC Universe: Decisions." I have a feeling that it may be the most anvilicious, straw man-filled, poorly-conceived caricature of a comic ever. Given that Winick and Willingham's politics are basically caricatures of reasonable positions anyway, I have little doubt that this series will serve only to piss off absolutely everyone.

FINAL CRISIS #4
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco
Covers by J.G. Jones
It's one month after the Anti-Life Equation was released worldwide. Millions now toil as slaves of Darkseid, while the Justifier shock troops of Apokolips lay waste to the planet Earth and hunt down its protectors.
The remaining free humans and superheroes are stationed around the world, besieged within the walls of ten very familiar 'Watchtowers', as they fight a desperate, losing battle against the triumphant forces of evil.
While Green Arrow and Black Canary attempt to deliver the secret of humanity's last hope across America's blasted wastelands, the Outsiders brave the horrors of the Bludhaven bunker in search of Batman. The ultimate battle is coming...but which heroes will become villain – and vice versa? And what part do the Secret Society have to play in the dawning of this new Age of Evil?
Darkness is falling and death rules the day. Is this truly the end of the Age of Super Heroes? Don't miss FINAL CRISIS #4: “How to Murder the Earth!”
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers by J.G. Jones that will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale September 17 • 4 of 7 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

So I hear that skipping the last 40 issues (or so) of "Countdown" and not actually finishing reading "Death of the New Gods" may have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of "Final Crisis" #1. In any case, I'm pretty psyched about the series, and this issue's solicit suggests that we may get the same kind of awesome dystopian storytelling that Morrison presented in "JLA: Rock of Ages." And that can only be good.

FINAL CRISIS: LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #2
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by George Pérez & Scott Koblish
Covers by George Pérez
Geoff Johns and George Perez continue crafting the Crisis of the 31st Century! As Superboy-Prime leads the Legion of Super-Villains against everything and everyone inspired by the legacy of Superman, the Legion of Super-Heroes are forced to call for help from beyond their world. Meanwhile, contingency plans are created by Brainiac 5 as he attempts to overcome Colu’s devastating betrayal, Dawnstar and Wildfire pull off a startling rescue, but at a horrible cost to the universe, and Saturn Girl uncovers the source of the Legion’s troubles.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers by George Pérez that will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale September 17 • 2 of 5 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US

"Legion of 3 Worlds" is the only Final Crisis tie-in series I'm really excited about. I think "Rogues' Revenge" will be good (even if only because it reunites Johns, Kolins, and the Flash), I'll begrudgingly buy "Requiem," I might read "Reign in Hell," and I'm curious about "Superman Beyond," but I'm chomping at the bit for "Legion." Johns' Legion arc in "Action Comics" was his best so far, and I love the Abnett/Lanning and Waid Legions to death; seeing them team up should be a blast.

But nothing can compare to my excitement over this:
The 'POP' of shame.AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #3
Written by Keith Giffen & Robert Loren Fleming
Art by Keith Giffen & Al Milgrom
Cover by Amanda Conner
Darkseid makes a list and checks it twice! Plus, a shotgun wedding, alternate universes, more OMACs than you can shake a stick at and the very important return of Super-Turtle all wait for you in this all-new, all-ridiculous third issue.
On sale September 24 • 3 of 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Ambush Bug is the definition of awesome. Ambush Bug, Amanda Conner, and the Inferior Five? This book may require a warning label to explain the side-effects of a fun overdose.

SECRET SIX #1
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott & Doug Hazlewood
Cover by Cliff Chiang
Because you demanded it! The Secret Six are back in an all-new ongoing series that promises to deliver some of the darkest, most twisted action-adventure the DC Universe has seen since...well, the last time the Secret Six got together! Writer extraordinaire Gail Simone (BIRDS OF PREY) is reunited with BIRDS penciller Nicola Scott to chronicle the adventures of the Six, and you will not believe what they have in store. Join Catman, Scandal, Deadshot, Ragdoll, and ?? as they prepare for an adventure that will take them through a gauntlet across the seediest parts of the DC Universe, and will ultimately pit them against a foe more monstrous and murderous than any they've had to face! Don't miss the beginning of the most ferocious and scandalous Six story yet!
On sale September 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Yay! This almost makes up for losing Gail on All-New Atom (and subsequently losing All-New Atom).

ADAM STRANGE SPECIAL #1
Written by Jim Starlin
Art by Rick Leonardi & Dan Green
Cover by Jim Starlin & Al Milgrom
A RANN/THANAGAR: HOLY WAR tie-in! After narrowly escaping a deadly blast, Adam Strange finds himself spiraling through the timestream, forced to relive the past and helpless to watch as his future unravels before his very eyes. Will he be able to pull himself together to rejoin the Holy War?
On sale September 3 • 40 pg, FC, $3.50 US

Dear DC,
There are writers besides Jim Starlin who can do space opera adventure stories. In fact, I daresay there are much better writers for that than Jim Starlin. Please make a note of it.
Sincerely,
Tom Foss

TEEN TITANS #63
Written by Sean McKeever
Art and cover by Eddy Barrows & Ruy Jose
Bombshell is back! But wait — isn't she dead?

My first thought upon reading this: "Who the hell is Bombshell?"

My second thought: "Isn't she on X-Force or something?"

My third thought: "Why am I still reading Teen Titans?"

SUPERMAN #680
Written by James Robinson
Art by Renato Guedes & José Wilson Magalháes
Cover by Alex Ross
“Atlas,” part 4! The grand finale of the Atlas epic finds Superman's foe seemingly victorious! With Superman down for the count, who can stand in the way of the city's supposed new ruler? Enter Krypto, (Super)man's best friend, who will do anything to protect his master. Don’t miss Krypto at his most heroic, a worthy addition to the Superman Family – and a very good boy. Plus: A new, magical character settles in Metropolis, just when Superman needs him most.
On sale September 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I can't wait for James Robinson's Superman to start, but this solicit got me thinking: is Kurt Busiek's Krypto-centric story ever going to get published? Because I'd really like to see that.

I wonder if they'll even mention her toddler parents.SUPERGIRL #33
Written by James Peaty
Art by Ron Randall
Cover by Stephane Roux
Coming off the most devastating decision of her young career, Supergirl finds herself at a crossroads. Is she worthy of the "S" she wears? Can she involve herself in the affairs of humans again after misusing her powers so badly? Enter the Empress (of YOUNG JUSTICE fame), who has a whole different perspective on the matter!
On sale September 3 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

I'd complain about Supergirl getting another new writer, but I'm so incredibly happy about seeing Empress again that I can't bring myself to say anything bad.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #17
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art and cover by Phil Winslade
Supergirl and Raven team up to save San Francisco from a new super villain with deep roots in the DC Universe!
On sale September 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

You know, I like Marv Wolfman as much as the next guy, but I really hope he isn't permanently taking over "Brave and the Bold." If Waid can't do it, why not Karl Kesel? Dwayne McDuffie? Someone else with an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU and the ability to write characters with distinct voices? As far as I can tell, Wolfman's only got one of those skills.

Also, that cover is hideous.

GREEN LANTERN #35
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Cover by Ivan Reis
The conclusion to “Secret Origin”! The prelude to the Blackest Night begins as the climax of the story of Hal Jordan’s first adventure comes to a close! Hal and Sinestro are confronted by the Guardians over their greatest fears. Plus, Sinestro uncovers a new prophecy all his own as the stage is set for next month’s “Rage of the Red Lanterns”!
On sale September 24 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US

Oh, holy crap. You know, I thought "Secret Origin" was almost done at this point. I was kind of expecting it to wrap up in the next issue or two. I mean, it's not a bad story, I just can't bring myself to care about the latest retelling of Hal Jordan's origin. Yes, it's a great deal better than "Emerald Dawn," does it have to be twice as long too?

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #25
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Ed Benes
Cover by Ed Benes
Vixen and Animal Man journey into the sacred Tantu Totem to solve the mystery of their altered powers. But Anansi, the African spider god responsible for these changes, has only begun reshaping the powers and histories of the Justice League, as eight-year-old Bruce Wayne shoots the burglar who killed his parents, Wonder Woman retires from the JLA after the tragic death of her husband, Superman, and The Green Lantern Corps quarantines Earth after one of their number destroys an American city. With the team’s history changing before Vixen’s eyes, is the JLA we now know gone forever?
On sale September 17 • 48 pg, FC, $3.99 US

McDuffie has gotten the short end of every stick with this JLA run. Between the artist, Meltzer's loose threads, and half a dozen stupid crossover tie-ins, there's been very little opportunity for him to do anything interesting or original with the series. I'm glad to see him still trying, and this story looks pretty interesting, but I'd really like editorial to give him as much free reign as they gave Brad "six issues of table talk" Meltzer.

Terra is totally the Titans' Charlie Brown. If Charlie Brown were sleeping with the teacher and taking down the Peanuts Gang from inside, that is.TINY TITANS #8
Written by Art Baltazar and Franco
Art and cover by Art Baltazar
School is in session at Sidekick City Elementary and it’s time for report cards and parent teacher conferences.
Plus, Beast Boy gets more than he bargained for with a trip to the local library and hilarity ensues at Blue Beetle’s birthday party with a case of mistaken identity and much, much more!
On sale September 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.25 US

I love "Tiny Titans," and that cover gag is precisely why. Major props if this issue has Raven waiting in a pumpkin patch for the Great Trigon.

Also:


Hm...the Doctor Manhattan toy looks more like a Photoshop effect than an actual action figure. Is he unfinished, or just naked? I notice there's no new Minx titles slated for September; is it just a lull in the schedule?

Anyway, that's about it for DC. Looks to be a much better month than July. I'll hit Marvel up tomorrow.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Something I first wondered years ago...

Being someone who grew up watching Doctor Who, I remember making this connection early on. I've wondered about it occasionally since, but I've never really bothered to talk about it or research it or anything. So, I put it to you, the reader:

Is Bill & Ted's time-traveling phone booth explicitly based on the TARDIS?

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Library Update

The Library Saga keeps on rolling. I sent the librarian my recommendations list and a handout for their first meeting (which I'll get to momentarily), and I'm working on some of the other handouts for the class (which I'll get to, again, momentarily). I'm not totally sure what I'll be presenting, really (except for a bunch of Free Comic Book Day comics courtesy of the awesome folks over at Stand-Up Comics), but I'll be giving recommendations and information as best I can.

So, when it came down to it, I split up my book recommendations into "all-ages" and "teens/advanced readers." I gave the librarian a larger list than was on the handout (didn't want to overwhelm the kids), and I left manga off...for the time being (that'll be my next recommendation). Here's my list of recommendations, indexed by appropriateness (all-ages, and the 10-12-and-up crowd), with the ones on the kids' handout marked in red.
All-Ages

  • Amelia Rules
  • Baby Mouse
  • Batman Adventures
  • Bone
  • Fantastic Four: Franklin Richards
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • Leave it to Chance
  • Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century
  • Marvel Adventures: Iron Man
  • Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man
  • Marvel Adventures: The Avengers
  • Mouse Guard
  • Owly
  • Power Pack
  • Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil
  • Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
  • Superman Adventures
  • Teen Titans Go!
Which breaks down to:
  • 12 superhero comics
  • 6 Marvel, 6 DC
  • 6 non-superhero comics
  • 4 comics with specifically female protagonists
  • 10 comics related to other-media properties

Teens/Advanced Readers
  • Batgirl: Year One
  • Batman: Haunted Knight
  • Blue Beetle
  • Confessions of a Blabbermouth
  • Fantastic Four Vol. 1: Imaginauts
  • Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin
  • Kimmie66
  • Marvel Team-Up Vol. 1: The Golden Child
  • Re-Gifters
  • Runaways
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Superman: For All Seasons
  • Superman: Up, Up, and Away
  • The Plain Janes
  • Ultimate Spider-Man
  • Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Gods and Mortals
  • X-Men: First Class
  • X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
Which breaks down to:
  • 13 superhero comics
  • 7 Marvel, 6 DC
  • 6 non-superhero comics
  • 6 comics with specifically female protagonists
  • 8(ish) comics related to other-media properties

I also basically gave a blanket recommendation for the Essential and Showcase lines.
I'll be bringing more to the table when I do the presentation, and I'll be sending along some manga recommendations as well, so keep the reviews and comments coming :).

Other stuff I'll be doing for this event include an overview of terminology (paging Scott McCloud) and jobs associated with comics (%&$#ing tracers), comic-related and kid-friendly websites and blogs (Comic Book Resources/Comics Should Be Good, maybe?), and a description of the process of making a comic, from idea to finished product. I think I've got a decent handle on most of that, though advice and recommendations would be great.

One thing, though: I can give a run-down on just about every job associated with comics, from penciller to letterer to colorist, but I'm a little fuzzy on how work is split up among editors. I know there's managing editors and EICs and whatnot, and somehow continuity policing and story coordination and copy correction and deciding what books come out, and when, is all part of the "editorial" province, but I'm not totally clear on who does what. Anyone a little more informed on the process? I may even drop an e-mail off to the DC offices later tonight if I find that it's a real sticking point.

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Legion Errs

The Legion of Super-Heroes has always been plagued by continuity confusion. One of the problems with writing a series about the future, which frequently ties into the present, is that major changes in the present must be directly addressed in the future. This is part of the reason for the soft reboots (replacing Supergirl with Andromeda, the pocket universe) and the harder reboots (Zero Hour, the current relaunch). This has been a bit of a stumbling block for the series to obtain and retain readers.

This problem with continuity stability is only exacerbated by failures to maintain stability from creative team to creative team. I'll be honest, I really liked the Waid/Kitson reboot, and I was sad to see it go. But I'd be a lot more happy with the Shooter run if there were any sense of consistency between the two teams.

What really stuck out to me are the detail problems. It was a fairly major plot point early in the Waid reboot that the Legion flight rings are keyed to their owners' genetic signatures, and thus can't be used if stolen. Shooter apparently missed that point, as a recent issue had precisely that happen, with no mention of the reason for the change. Today I'm flipping through the newest issue, and I see various Legionnaires pulling brand-new costumes out of the automatic closets. While this is a particularly cheesy way to introduce a new look to the team (especially since I thought some changed costumes at the beginning of Shooter's run), it's also totally unnecessary, because, as also established early in the Waid run, the costumes are images generated by the Flight Rings, and can be changed at the wearer's whim.

I know these are minor problems, but I think that's precisely the point: there's no reason why a halfway decent editor, or a quick perusal of the first trade or two, couldn't have cleared them up. I mean, I haven't read the relevant Waid issues since One Year Later hit, and yet these inconsistencies stick out like sore thumbs to me.

It just annoys me to see errors like this that could have been avoided with a sharp-eyed continuity editor, a thirty second Google search, or the fifteen minutes of research that ought to have been standard practice before taking over the title.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Libraryin' 2: Eclectic Boogaloo

Is it just me, or have my puns steadily gotten more forced and protracted over the last several years?

Anyway, I've been thinking non-stop about this Library Presentation thing, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to comment. Please, please, please keep the comments coming.

As far as my recommendation list goes, here's what I'm basically sure of so far:
Super-Hero Comics

  • Blue Beetle
  • Batgirl: Year One
  • Fantastic Four (Imaginauts)
  • Fantastic Four: Franklin Richards
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century
  • Marvel Adventures: Avengers
  • Marvel Adventures: Iron Man
  • Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man
  • Power Pack
  • Runaways
  • Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil
  • Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
  • Superman: For All Seasons
  • Superman: Up, Up, and Away
  • Teen Titans Go!
  • Ultimate Spider-Man
  • X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga
  • Various Essentials (Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel?) and Showcases (Wonder Woman, Justice League of America, Superman, Supergirl, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, Green Lantern, Flash, Batman).

Other Comics
  • Baby Mouse
  • Bone
  • Mouse Guard
  • Minx: The Plain Janes
  • Minx: Re-Gifters
  • Owly
  • Scott Pilgrim
  • Star Wars Tales

Manga
  • Azumanga Daioh
  • Inu-Yasha
  • Naruto
  • Sailor Moon
  • Yotsuba&!


And here's what I'm less sure on. Most of this is stuff I've either never read, or haven't read in quite some time, so I can't remember (or don't know) how accessible or appropriate it is. I'd appreciate anything and everything that you can give me as far as quick reviews, yays and nays, or counter-recommendations. I'd like to represent as much as I can of the big guns, especially the ones with recent or upcoming movies or other media presence.

Superhero Comics
  • Wonder Woman: Down to Earth (Greg Rucka trade; I'm thinking next best thing to Gail Simone)
  • Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin (I'd like Iron Man to be well-represented on the list, but I haven't read much. I know people were excited about this when it was announced; did it turn out to be good/appropriate?)
  • Batman and the Monster Men (haven't read it yet; how is it for the budding Bat-fan?)
  • Other Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men trades.
  • Other trades with some sort of diversity to 'em.

Other Comics
  • Amelia Rules (what's it like?)
  • Blue Monday (Adam Ant? I think I'm gonna have to read this!)
  • Leave it to Chance (is it in print still?)
  • Little Vampire
  • Minx (What's good? I've only read the first two titles.)
  • Patrick the Wolf Boy
  • Queen Bee
  • Sardine in Outer Space (what's it about?)

Manga
  • Gon (I remember that this was kind of a big deal a decade ago, and I notice trades are still in print. Is it as good as the Wizard hype suggested?)
  • Dragonball (too violent? Too graphic?)
  • Galaxy Express 999
  • Bleach (how's the violence?)
  • Abenobashi
  • What else?


I've been reading oodles (which has given me quite a bit to blog about--look for Scott Pilgrim and Re-Gifters reviews soon) for this, and I really appreciate all the advice. You've all been fantastic, and I can't thank you enough for the help. This comic book club thing is going to rock.

Oh, one more thing: I've been asked about all-ages-friendly comic sites and blogs. Obviously the company sites will make the cut, but what else?

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Whow.

Beat it, "Blink." Fall back, "Family of Blood." I've got a new favorite episode of Doctor Who.

There are hardly words to describe how awesome "The Forest of the Dead" was. I laughed, I jumped, I sat with my mouth hanging agape for a full three minutes, I almost cried. Stephen Moffat is my hero.

Anyway, the pieces are obviously starting to fall into place for the end of the season, and I think I can catch a glimpse of the shape of things to come. I'm not sure what this episode does to my (heretofore unstated) theory about the Doctor's "Song" coming to an end, but we'll see how it all pans out.

I almost pity Stephen Moffat. He's got the reins of the show starting in '10, but I don't know if he'll be able to top this. Anyway, open thread: have at it.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Libraryin'

So, apparently my hometown library is going to be doing a summer course sorta thing on comic books, and I've been asked to provide advice, recommendations, information packets, and some kind of presentation.

Anyway, you all know where my expertise lies by now. If the kids want to talk about the big names, I'm all over it. Superman? Ask me anything. Spider-Man? Just you try and stump me. Batman? Don't make me laugh.

Unfortunately, I've hit two snags in my thinking on this subject. First, I want to be all-ages-friendly, but I haven't exactly been keeping up with many of the specifically all-ages titles (Marvel Age, Johnny DC, Minx, etc.), so I'd like you all to offer suggestions as to what's good--especially with Minx.

Second, I'm totally out of my depth when it comes to manga, and that's likely to come up when I'm talking to a 10-and-up group of young'uns. So any advice on what's good/appropriate would be very welcome.

Off the top of my head, this is what I'd be recommending:
Blue Beetle (first trade)
Wonder Woman (Gail Simone? That's not out yet, but Heinberg's is)
Superman: "For All Seasons," "Up, Up, and Away"
Teen Titans Go!
Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century
Marvel Age: Spider-Man
Marvel Age: Iron Man
Marvel Age: Avengers
Justice League Unlimited
Spider-Man/Human Torch
Fantastic Four: "Imaginauts"
Runaways Vol. 1
Batgirl: Year One

I'm also hoping to keep it pretty gender-balanced--as much as I can, anyway. I'd like to put Birds of Prey on the list, but I want to go with a trade that's accessible and not full of T&A art. I'd like to put Manhunter on there, but I'm going to have to re-read the first trade from the POV of a ten-year-old. So, what are your thoughts?

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Hairless Heroes

Jon asked me an interesting question after we saw "Iron Man." He noticed various similarities between Obadiah Stane and Lex Luthor, and asked me if, besides Professor X, there were any bald superheroes. After all, it's easy to rattle off bald villains: besides those two, you have Kingpin, the Vulture, Ultra-Humanite (sometimes), Puppet Master, Brainiac, Dr. Sivana, and so on. It gets exponentially bigger if you accept a fringe (Mr. Mxyzptlk, Red Ghost, etc.).

I thought for a few minutes, but I didn't come up with much. There are quite a few black heroes who are or have been bald--Steel, Black Lightning, Luke Cage, Ultimate Nick Fury, John Stewart, Patriot. There are some aliens--Martian Manhunter, Silver Surfer, Chameleon Boy--and some not-quite-humans--the Thing, Red Tornado, Vision. There are even a bunch of bald servants and sidekicks to heroes: Alfred Pennyworth, Edwin Jarvis, Wong. Even the JSA, where it would really be expected, the only bald hero is one of the youngest members, Jakeem Thunder.

Can anyone expand the list? Why is there such a color gap among bald heroes? Why isn't it acceptable to have bald Caucasian heroes, or Asian heroes, or Hispanic heroes? Why does the combo of "bald" and "white" seem almost universally to mean "old" or "evil"?

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