You can meet Mangog and all of his Asgard-hatin’
pals in glorious black and white in the new
Essential Thor Volume 3.
I’m going to put it on the table so everyone knows: I love Superman. He’s the sort of character that turns me into the typical idiotic fanboy, constantly whining “If only they’d…” and following it up with an increasingly improbable, possibly incoherent rant relating to turning the title back to an imaginary status quo that only exists in some festering corner of my hindbrain. I steadfastly refused to read comics featuring him for years, only dipping back into the water for the Loeb/McGuinness period and then walking away when I realized, uh, Loeb’s not a very good writer a lot of the time.1
Anyhow, this new trade paperback collection, Up, Up, And Away is the closest the mainline DC Universe has come to achieving this platonic ideal of the Man Of Steel’s adventures. Yes, Morrison’s making with the awesome over on All-Star Superman, but to see something that comes kind of close to his world in the mainstream title is pretty incredible, especially as it comes from the word processors of Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns. These two writers, while quite accomplished in the comics world, normally do very little to excite me. They tend to pander to the fanboy mentality of continuity-as-story instead of writing tales that are entertaining on their own.
The logline for Up, Up, And Away is thus: It’s a year after the events of the confusing, editorially-mandated Infinite Crisis. Metropolis has been rebuilding and Clark Kent, now without superpowers, is living as normal a life as possible, keeping an eye on the city and calling on the assistance of his former allies when needed. This all goes haywire when Lex Luthor, managing to worm his way out of an embarassingly long set of criminal charges and deposed from the company he built from the ground up, finds an ancient Kryptonian artifact.
This is fun superhero comics, to take a page from a certain stuffed bull. So many little sequences add to a very pleasing whole: Clark being offered a power ring by Hal Jordan; the return of “AWP!”; the Supergirl signal watch; The Avenue Of Tomorrow; Clark pondering a trip by the video store to catch up on TV he missed while flying around, saving lives. It’s nice to see the core Superman supporting cast acting halfway normal, too. Jimmy’s as goofy and affable as hell, Perry’s a ball-breaker with a heart of gold, and Lois is…she’s Lois. She’s the capable and smart woman I’ve had that stupid little crush on forever. She’s supportive to Clark, even when realizing that their year-long connubial bliss is about to come to an end – “Put it on. And do that thing with your hair. I like it when you do that.” – while managing to act like a proper reporter when needed. She’s clearly the same woman that appears in Birthright while managing to have evolved as a character.
Then there’s Lex Luthor. This is the first time2 in years that the character has been written to my personal, very selective satisfaction. Luthor’s hung on his own petard and kicked out of the company he founded after being acquited of the events of Infinite Crisis and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and instead of realizing that he’s a victim of his own hubris, he decides to ruin the lives of everyone that he feels deserves it. This means, of course, that his formerly-beloved city of Metropolis is going to have to pay and he’s got a Kryptonian artifact to help him with that. This Luthor is tremendously smart and has a motivation beyond “he’s just plain mean,” which is about 90% of making the character work for me. In shorthand, he’s the Elliot S! Maggin version of the character, essentially: pleasingly modern and up-to-date with a few touches that harken back to the Silver Age and the 70s without making a fuss of themselves.
Pete Woods and Renato Guedes owe more to clean graphic design and manga than many of their artistic peers and this story manages to be grounded in a reality that is vibrant and pop: the world where Superman should be. Playing towards one another’s strengths, the duo switches off between issues cleanly and the reader just chugs away happily. Their character designs (in particular, Luthor’s new look) are dead-on and instantly identifiable. Heck, there’s one sequence near the end where Superman and Luthor are engaged in fisticuffs that manages to homage Curt Swan without seeming out of place at all.
Everyone concerned here acquits themselves well. This is a modern Superman comic that makes me want to read more comics featuring the character, and that’s not happened in a long, long time. Highly Recommended
Cthulhu Tales: The Rising One Shot
$6.99, prestige format, full color, 48 pages
A sequel to the sold-out Cthulhu Tales one shot, featuring a great roster of writers: Christopher Easy Way long is teaming up with Andy Bennet on a nice dose of horror, Second Wave writer Michael Alan Nelson and Andrew Ritchie are making with the evil, Henry Alonso Myers (CSI, Charmed, and other shows) is doing a story with Ed Tadem and Steve Struble, Jim Kohuric and Jean Dzialowski are getting their claws into that most intimidating of horror Mythos, and Hans Rodionoff, the writer of Marvel’s Werewolf By Night movie and the upcoming Tekken film is working with Tim Hamilton, Cthulhu Tales: The Rising is a primal journey into a dark arena of horror.
There’s been another addition to this really great-looking book and uh…I am doing a story with Kristian Donaldson. Yes, the same Kristian Donaldson that drew the gorgeous Supermarket and the recent DMZ issue I loved to death. I’m fairly blown away by the chance to work with him and I really hope my script is worthy of his gorgeous art.
If you like my writing, or you like Cthulhu stuff, or if you can just plain tolerate both, please make sure that you pre-order this comic. It’s in the latest Previews. The order code that you can write down and take to your local comic shop is OCT063248. Learn it, use it, love it. May the elder gods bless ya.
Also, coming up in the near-ish future from BOOM!:
Anyway, Birdie did a great job with this one, didn’t he? I mean, he always does, but that last panel makes me smile an awful lot. Next week’s may be the funniest I’ve written so far, but it will probably lead to my summary dismissal. Lines will be crossed, worlds will live, worlds will die.
Speaking of the internet comics thing, Tycho’s commentary about Platinum Studios latest vaporware-sounding project involving DrunkDuck.com is a joy for mine eyes. Platinum is, of course, most famous for managing to secure movie deals for comics that haven’t seen print yet. To be fair, it does look like the graphic novel Cowboys and Aliens is going to see print, after the movie adaptation was discussed back in May, 2004. The film is expected in 2008.
Also, I think the comic about it all is high-larious.
A disclaimer, right off the bat: I hate to use a word like “reprehensible,” especially as it’s one of the most-often used elements of the right-wing, talk show blowhard lexicon that seems to think censure and scorn is a better solution than, say, discussion. It’s not a word I’m comfortable using – I’m a bed-wetting liberal who hugs a copy of the First Amendment every night before heading off to bed.
That said, How To Make Money Like A Porn Star by Neil Strauss and Bernard Chang is possibly the most reprehensible piece of fiction that I’ve read in my lifetime. Ostensibly a satire about the adult film business, Strauss’s hateful, stupid script is a simultaneously gross and limp attempt at exposing the reader to a world where – surprise – image rules and women with severe psychic damage do horrible things to their body to make a buck. Congratulations to all involved in this book – you’ve cracked the fucking DaVinci Code.
The introduction claims that How To Make Money Like A Porn Star is partially based on the conversations that Rolling Stone writer Strauss had with various personalities in the porn business while co-writing How To Make Love The Jenna Jameson Way1. By making every speaking part into a grotesque caricature, he’s done every one of those people a great disservice. I understand satire and one of the things that makes the best examples work is the use of at least one character for the audience to relate to. This is one of South Park‘s greatest strengths: no matter how nasty or over-the-top things get, Stan and/or Kyle are there for the viewers use as a kind of anchor.2
This book could have – should have – been very good. A smarter version of Orgazmo3 is just begging to be made, but this nasty piece of work certainly isn’t it. How To Make Money Like A Porn Star plays misogyny for laughs while featuring rape, kidnapping, semen collection, and the same tired jokes about pornography that the masses have been making since the 70s. Most of its threadbare plot works towards a reveal that’s swiped from George Lucas In Love. It’s tiresome, unfunny, and managed to make me feel worse for having finished it.
Bernard Chang’s art is the single bright spot in this mess – it’s a bit like Phil Noto, but with more stock faces and body types and he manages to do cartoony and “comic book” art with equal aplomb. I’d love to see him work on a book that’s not as aggressively dumb in the future.
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. For more information, visit the Regan Books site.
The Doc Savage series has a fairly hokey premise that owes a lot to its 1930s roots: Clark Savage Jr is a super-intelligent doctor (hence the nickname) who’s bronze-colored and has managed to achieve the peak of physical perfection through a terrific devotion to his body. Much like most of the pulp heroes and their derivations in comics, Doc is wealthy and needs no outside support, which means he is beholden to no one and thus is atruistic beyond reproach. In the novels (and radio series) Doc Savage is supported by a crew of scientific geniuses from different disciplines that assist him as needed.
Marvel (as did several other companies) tried to make Doc Savage work on the comics page, but failed. Don’t get me wrong, the script by Doug Moench is competent enough and art from John Buscema and Tony DeZuniga is nothing to sneeze at, but the story presented in the first issue feels like a “greatest hits” of moments from one of the novels instead of giving the reader the combination of humor and characterization that sets the book series apart in the genre.
However, “Doom On Thunder Island” did do one thing very, very well: it showed Doc Savage flipping the fuck out and wailing on dudes.
He also fucks up tigers, by hand.
Thursday, I’ll scan this magazine’s interview with George Pal about the production on the film and include a few of the pictures inside.
If you’re a current fan or interested in getting hold of reprints of the original prose material, Nostalgia Ventures is going to be reprinting batches of the originals in two-fer volumes, starting with a volume that contains my favorite story, The Fortress Of Solitude. Go to their poorly-designed, hard-to-navigate site for more information, or check out the detail-free Amazon page, where you can order it.
A note to Nostalgia Ventures: Is “marketing” that hard for you to understand? Get the word out there, and get people interested. Provide Amazon with the details they need to help make your book sellable. Make your website so I can link to an exact product page that provides detail. Yes, your design is fancy. It’s also possessing piss-poor navigation that’s counterintuitive. Fire whoever designed this for you and get in touch with me. I’m sure I can help you get in contact with people that can make your site do more than click and whir meaninglessly.
I’m hitting up YouTube for a mid-day update so you people can know I’m still alive.
First, here’s the Japanese band Southern All Stars, proving that even in 1984, their culture was supremely messed up. I actually quite like the song, too.
This Geico commercial features two of my favorite things: “Remind Me” by Royksï¿½pp and the return of the Metrosexual Caveman character.
Speaking of “Remind Me,” here’s the dead good video for the single edit of the song. I love infographics!
My teeth ache at the sweetness of this Super Kawaii Disco Hello Japanese TV lipsynced performance of “Flamboyant” by Pet Shop Boys. Thanks to Betsy for the catch on this one.
I really love this performance of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” by Ben Folds and some other guys playing found instruments. It has nothing to do with the Aussie-accented cutie introducing it, no sir. Shane gave me this one, so he’s off The List for the day.
Tonight: A post about the Doc Savage magazine that includes a Buscema-drawn sequence so bad-ass that Chris Sims will promptly shit himself and hide for weeks afterwards. Stay tuned!
Most of it is crap.
I sort through it.
AUG060004 MARVEL PREVIEWS #38 OCTOBER 2006 EXTRAS PI
AUG060007 PREVIEWS ADULT VOL XVI #10 PI
AUG060008 PREVIEWS CATALOG PACK EXTRAS VOL XVI #10 PI
AUG060003 PREVIEWS VOL XVI #10 PI
Take a look at it, y’know? I’m doing my best to whittle down the monthly titles, but each time I turn around, there’s a new GN or trade collecting a bunch of stuff I really quite like the sound of. I did look at the Marvel and DC solicits briefly online and nothing quite jumped out at me.
APR060055 KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE VOL 1 TP (MR) $10.95
Someone in comments (and I’m too lazy to look) mentioned that they’d not seen this on shelves and it was solicited in April. I was under the impression it had come out and they were slow on the delivery, but it just looks like it was typical Dark Horse manga bullshit.
JUL060136 BATMAN #657 $2.99
Despite what others think, I’ve been enjoying this exactly for what it is: a competently-done, amusing Batman comic. It’s a heck of a lot better than Face The Face, which I read today while recovering from this bug that hit me. Now that is deathly dull pacing. I can’t imagine reading that when it was in floppy form.
JUN060258 BITE CLUB VAMPIRE CRIME UNIT #5 (OF 5) (MR) $2.99
I just plain love the Bite Club world. I suspect that, much like Midnight, Mass, I am one of the very few followers.
JUL060173 HAWKGIRL #56 $2.99
When is Chaykin’s run done? Do we know who’s taking over art afterwards? Have I just not looked like I should? I probably should investigate before I fly off the handle, but it’s a tactic that suits so many other comics bloggers so very, very well.
No, I’m not talking about you.
JUN060169 SUPERMAN UP UP AND AWAY TP $14.99
8 issues of quality Superman for $9 less than the cover price on the regular issues. Again, why are people buying floppies?
Yes, someone’s going to tell me I’m killing comics in the next five minutes. I don’t really care.
JUL061674 TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD IMAGE ED #1 $2.99
If you’ve not read any of the trades (expect Larry Young to show up in comments with ordering codes) or previous issues, don’t worry – this first issue serves as a great introduction to Tom Beland and Lily Garcia’s romance. One of the better comics on the stands because it embraces its material without turning into tepid schmaltz.
JUL061962 DAREDEVIL #89 $2.99
Matt in Europe under the Worst Assumed Name Ever! This should be fun.
JUL062036 ESSENTIAL TALES OF ZOMBIE TP (MR) $16.99
I’m surprised with how much I enjoy the black-and-white Marvel horror material from the 70s. Werewolf By Night, for instance, is pretty thoroughly dumb but it zips along quite nicely and Monster of Frankenstein or whatever it was called is surprisingly creepy. Of course, Tomb Of Dracula is just plain legendary.
JUL062035 ESSENTIAL THOR VOL 3 TP $16.99
JUL062034 THOR ETERNALS SAGA VOL 1 TP $24.99
Despite having one of those eyebrow-raising Marvel Trade Prices, I think this should be quite a bit of fun. Pal Mike says it’s one of the better not-Kirby-or-Simonson runs, and with Simonson and Buscema providing art, it should at least be not-eyegougingly-bad until Keith Pollard shows up.
AUG063408 DONT CRY GN (MR) $7.95
Lance Henson’s 56-page Xeric Grant winning graphic novel seems to be exactly the sort of emotionally thick, autobiographical thing that I like. You can find out more about it in this Comicon interview.
JUL063558 WILL EISNERS NEW YORK LIFE IN THE BIG CITY HC $29.95
I just got a review copy of this book and it’s gorgeous, just like the A Contract With God trilogy collection. This is the sort of presentation that this material deserves.
A cursory bit of Google work shows me only the bare minimum of details about this project – what do you people know? From what I’ve seen in various eBay listings, it’s a black-and-white magazine much like the one this ad was taken from (there will be more on that in the next paragraph) – is it any good? Do any of you have some that you’d be willing to throw at me cheap if so? I’m a bit of a Holmes fan.
Anyway, I’ll be taking a look at Marvel’s Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze magazine this week, including a Claremont-written interview with George Pal, producer of the wrongly-maligned movie,1 some pinups featuring Ron Ely in the title role and maybe, just maybe, some panels from the absolutely gorgeous John Buscema-drawn story contained between the covers.
For added amusement, grab a copy of “Moon Patrol!” and make up lyrics about Tomazooma to it.
“Tomazooma! He’s the totem that walks!
Tomazooma! He means death to all!”
Yes, Kristin is out of town and I’ve been left alone in the house. Now you know how empty my life is.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a comic that’s as thoroughly inept as Eight Way Bandits #1. Writers Vincent Van Hustle and Stevie “Street” Hustle1, apparently working from characters and concepts created by Albert Avilla and Leroy Douressaux, II, craft a completely unreadable and unlikeable story that comes across as a weird hybrid of Elektra and a Sci-Fi Channel version of Blade Runner starring Dolph Lundgren. Both captions and dialogue are written in a clichï¿½-heavy, purple prose that harkens back to the 70s, when Don McGregor apparently was paid by the letter but the difference is, his material’s still fairly lucid and readable. Despite trying to be serious, Eight Way Bandits features the thoroughly laughable: “This is the near future, and it’s only a few world-shattering tomorrows away!” and “Daddy, be careful! You know how these Americans are so paranoid about someone stealing and murdering their children.”2
The art in is provided by Federico Zumel with Jeffrey LaJaunie on inks and it’s amazing in its inconsistency. Many panels look like they’re from a third-tier Top Cow artist who never finished Anatomy 101, some seem to combine Nagel and McFarlane in some weird hybrid that’s almost appealing, and others are just plain atrocities against God and Man. I’m not even going to go into the lettering, which is badly kerned and done in a non-comics font3 or the fact that nobody thought spellchecking (“oppurtunity” springs to mind) was important – I’m telling you to walk away now.
Eight Way Bandits is obviously written and drawn by people who learned to create comics by reading comics, and it appears that every good lesson was missed. This is a thoroughly muddled, ill-conceived venture for everyone involved and the lack of an editor to keep a cohesive narrative flowing has helped ensured that this comic is most likely going to last a scant two or three issues before sinking in the same morass that’s claimed many other self-published, black and white ventures. Enthusiasm isn’t enough – craft is required, and a significant lack of that very thing is on display.
A copy of Eight-Way Bandits was provided by the creative team for the purposes of review. A preview is available here.
2To be fair, that line’s just so fantastically bad that I wonder if it’s supposed to be comedy. Sadly, the rest of the dour, noir-by-people-who-don’t-know-the-genre text indicates otherwise.
3An example of a good comics font can be seen on this Blambot page, where the “I” that starts the first sentence is not the same “I” that appears in the word “Wicked.”
Wow, that’s a nice font. I may buy that…
Dear Reed and Tony,
I just wanted to touch base with you guys about recent occurances in Civil War, a crossover event published by Marvel Comics. It’s written by Mark Millar, who has a decent way with dialogue and manages to create a well-crafted scene in the middle of a bombastic narrative that’s barely strung together. The art (which is quite lovely, to be fair) is by Steve McNiven, who is apparently lagging so far behind that the seventh issue of a series billed as a “blockbuster Summer crossover” won’t hit stands until January of next year. I’m sure you’re all aware of this, but sometimes, a man wants his position known.
Anyway, I’ve read the latest issue of this series and I’ve got to tell you, you guys aren’t coming out so well. Millar and eager fanboys are rushing to the defense of the story whose machinations have made the two of you, frankly, to look like much bigger assholes than you are. The issue of a “Superhero Registration Act” has caused a schism in the community you two inhabit. I can understand that you both might hold strong convictions on the idea of making sure that the general populace stays safe but your activities have been, in no uncertain terms, shameful.
Tony, you’ve taken up arms against Captain America, a man you’ve worked with for more than a decade, a man you should trust more than any other on this planet by now, just because he has a fundamental disagreement with you on governmental policy. Reed, you’ve let this hot-button political issue fray your family. Sue has left you because you’ve become inhuman in your pursuit of the people you once called “allies” and “friends.” The two of you have apparently decided that creating a clone of Thor and giving him a giant technohammer that shoots lighting is a better way of handling this instead of debate or compromise.
This is atypical, to say the least. In fact, it indicates that there’s something terribly wrong with the two of you.
As recently as a few months ago, I really enjoyed writer Warren Ellis’s taken on you, Tony. Ellis is a man who’s not particularly known for creating likeable characters, especially when technology and futurism collide, but his version of you pleased me to no end. You were aloof, driven, and maybe even obsessive, but you were human. Reed, the relationship you have with your family is one of the things that places you among my favorite characters. Much like Tony, you’re not always quite with us, but the second your family needs you, you’ve always made me, as a reader of your adventures, proud. The devotion you have not just to your wife and kids, but to the myriad other people that have become fixtures in your strange and endearing world, is laudable.
As I said, something’s not right. You two need to fix this before your characters are damaged beyond repair. I would recommend checking up on the Hatemonger or Loki, because they’re just the sort of fellows that would be behind this sort of event. Maybe Dr. Strange could look in on Dormammu and do you guys a solid. In your world, there are literally thousands of possible causes for your recent irrational behavior. I find it galling that two men of your formidable intellgence are not noticing the symptoms and investigating the situation further before punching one of your fictional universe’s most noble characters in the face with cybernetically enhanced, armored fists and murdering yet another minority character with the help of artifical lightning.
I’m sure that you’re tired right now. The readers seem to be tired, too. Hell, I know that Captain America is certainly tired.
Get in touch if you guys need any help. I’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction, to help you get to a place where you’re admired instead of feared and everyone’s glad to see that you’re on their side instead of horrified at your methods.
Kevin J. Church
I’m doing a meme because Bully did it and I like him more than I like you and it’s been ages since I did one. Deal.
Total amount of music files on your computer:
The computer doesn’t contain that many. Maybe like 1.5gb of my stuff. Mother Box, however, contains 58.5 MB of music and now that Apple’s announced an 80gb version with seamless playback, my knickers are getting moist. I’ve got so many DJ mixes that I can’t carry with me because the current iPod’s habit of paus[------------------------]ing between tracks that are supposed to go together drives me up the freakin’ wall. What I’d really love is to finally get everything in portable form and slapped up on a 300-400gb hard drive so I could put these CDs far, far away.
The last CD you bought was:
I have been using eMusic.com lately to get more obscure electronic material as well as finally fill in the holes in the FAX Records catalog. I think the last download I bought was Flunk’s version of “Blue Monday”, but I did go buy two CDs this past weekend: the new Mouse On Mars record Varcharz and the new Basement Jaxx album Crazy Itch Radio. The former is great crunchy, noisy techno with some amazingly head=noddy bits and the second is probably the second best pop album I’ve heard all year. (The first, of course, goes to Fundamental by Pet Shop Boys.)
What is the song you last listened to before reading this message?
“The Internal Locus” from BT’s new album, This Binary Universe. While I think his previous record, Emotional Technology was a steaming pile of rat droppings, his new one is a fairly stunning collection of longer cinematic tracks that go from symphonic to jazzy without ever seeming cheap. You can check out the album at this very flash-heavy, high-bandwidth site that drips of pretension, but really, it’s about the music, which is the best thing he’s done since ECSM.
Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.
I’m going to type it, is that OK? And these are the most recent “Oh my gosh, I can’t stop listening to it!” songs. Let’s not go for “personal meaning” because I’m a shallow, craven man.
I’m in Los Angeles today – asked a gas station employee
if he ever had trouble breathing
he said “It varies from season to season, kid.”
It’s where our best are on display: motion picture
actor’s houses maps are never, ever current, so save
your film and fifteen dollars.
Also: I kinda hate LA. No offense to my friends, publishers, and colleagues that live there.
PS> No, I don’t want to hear about how you hate DCFC. I won’t tell you that [INSERT A BAND YOU LIKE] sucks if you just walk away now.
Who are you going to pass this stick to? (3 persons) and why?
Probably the best use/abuse of Video Blogging I’ve seen. Soundtrack is Arvo Pï¿½rt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel, so it’s probably more effective than it has any right to be. A few bad words show up, so keep the volume low or use headphones if you’re at work. Warning: the entire piece is just shy of 10 minutes, so wait until later if you’re working on a time-sensitive project.
Built by Professor Ivo, Amazo was originally constructed to imitate the powers of the original JLA members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, the Martian Manhunter and Aquaman. Later on, Amazo was able to duplicate the powers of any metahuman he encountered through the use of “absorption cells.”
Guy can imitate some of the most powerful people on the planet, and this is the only sort of ad hook they can come up with for the poor bastard? He got even more gaudy? They promise “Super-Action against the Super-Heroes” but all I’m seeing is a V-Neck that would make even Hasselhoff pause.
Doesn’t she have a terribly ill husband to worry over more than a fictional mutant terrorist? Seriously.