Tuesday, July 8, 2008


I seem to be on a roll. I found Meta4orce a couple of days ago, and now I found another show on the web, that has me impressed. And there are some interesting parallels which may not seem apparent, but as this is a place to simply indulge myself, that is what I shall do.

In much the same way as I found Meta4orce without actually looking for it, I found Sanctuary. I wasn't actually looking for it, but the internet can lead you anywhere. All I was doing was browsing Newsarama. Yes, I was. No, not the message boards(I wouldn't dare), just the site. As I mentioned before, I like to browse around to possibly find interviews, news items or anything in general on comics that catches my eye. So, while I was looking for anything in general I found an interview that had nothing to do with comics but I saw the line "innovative new Sci-Fi series". That intrigued me, as I am a sucker for Sci-Fi and who isn't one for "innovative". The interview was basically about the actor sharing his experiences while working on the show, and the line where it says that it was launched on the internet is where I went for Google, my trusty sidekick.
It seems that the show was originally meant for the internet and that there were 8 episodes, 4 of which were available for free, and if you liked them, you would have to pay to watch the rest. Now this was back in July 2007, or thereabouts. Since then, this show has been picked up by Sci-Fi for 13 episodes, because of its "cult following"(Boy, is that term overused or what, I could say my blog here has a cult following, cause I am the only reader, but I follow it religiously, but I digress). But I like to think that it had more to do with the show actually being good.

Now, the show isn't available on the site anymore. But if you use my trusty sidekick, you'll inevitably find places where you can watch it. And I did watch the episodes, all 8 of them. While the show's low budget is immediately apparent in the graphics, its obviously ambitious as the entirety of the show is done on green screen. While not a new concept, it does seem to be new for a show launched on the internet. Lead by Amanda Tapping, who people may recall from another Sci-Fi show, the show is based on a concept that comic book fans may not be new to. I would say its a mix between BPRD, and X-Men. Amanda Tapping is an immortal woman who roams the world finding freaks, urban myths, and giving them shelter. She has an entirely cliched daughter,played by Emilie Ullerup, who seems to remind me of Alba's role from Dark Angel for some reason, but she's obviously modeled after Buffy, Xena and the ilk. She's the one character in the show that doesn't sit right with me, but that may change. Robin Dunne plays the new recruit. And he's recruited as a psychologist, and at other times as the damsel in distress, or empathizing angel of kindness, as the situation demands.

The first four episodes deal with Dunne getting recruited, and Emilie finding out about her EVIL father. In the meantime we have flashbacks dealing with the good Doctor's (Tapping) role as "----ist" and "-----ist" and "Xenobiologist"(Fill up the blanks if you want to). She's apparently immortal, 157 years of age, but sexy as hell in those black trenchcoats. She actually wears a tie later in the show. Whats with that? And we go into flashbacks to look at the father - mother relationship. In short it all sounds very cliched. Well, atleast as much as I can make it feel like one. But its handled in great manner. The acting, especially from Tapping, and the shrink guy, as well as the EVIL father, is excellent, and while the show obviously look cheap, its darkened enough so that you may not even notice it. But the actual presence of a shrink is what intrigues me the most. It can lead to plenty of possibilities beyond the familiar psycho-babble bits, and episodes 5 - 8 hint at actually using those possibilities. Obviously its used to a limited extent, but hopefully its used as plot devices, instead of a kinda plot twist as is used in those episodes.

All in all, I think this show is promising. And hopefully the Sci-Fi deal will mean that the show runners can really run with the concept. I am looking forward to October when it starts airing.

By the way, a warning. If you do find episodes 5 to 8, episode 8 was left on a cliffhanger. And the website provides no information. So if you don't like your shows incomplete, you may want to watch only upto episode 4.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Peter Milligan's Meta4orce

This makes me both happy as well as sad. Happy, because I get to see Milligan written stuff, and sad because that it was only chance that brought me upon it. This really needs to be out there, because its Milligan doing great stuff in a limited environment.


I came across it accidentally while I was searching for Peter Milligan interviews to read and google brought me to this interview. Actually I only clicked it because it was dated 12 June, 2008 and I thought why have I never read an interview that he did so recently. Turns out that it was not done in relation to comic books hence my familiar haunts would not carry it. But what it did lead me to, was this new Animated Series from BBC. It seems to be one of those new type of made for the web shows with games thrown in to give the "Interactive Experience". But thats not what interests me in the least. What interests me is the writing.

While the concept seems to be a little derivative, its set in a different kind of environment. And that seems to have been something given to Milligan rather than him coming up with it. Whoever decided to come up with the concept of 2034 London, where everything has been submerged under water seemed to have global warming as a plot point in his mind for the show. But Milligan obviously wasn't interested. The series starts off with introductions for all the characters comprising the team Meta4orce which obviously stands for Meta + Force as the team members are biogenetically augmented as the tagline of the show mentions. Its a murder mystery and for a very brief period I was afraid it might turn out to be a very generic show. After all Milligan seems to have been handed down the concept, as well as having to self censor as the show is aimed at kids, but I needn't have worried. The all too familiar themes of Milligan are all present here. The victim's identity crisis, that of the team members themselves, and that cruel twist in the end are all evidences of Milligan's talent. And all of it done in a very compressed manner of storytelling, with some assist from the 2D over 3D animation.

But its Milligan's writing that makes me want to watch more of this. Although it seems that decision is entirely upto BBC. Lets hope they don't go the way DC have, with Milligan's exclusive.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grant Morrison is back on the interwebs

He did tease that his website would be all renewed and stuff and will be offering sneak previews of things to come from him.


Go under Head where Morrison tells you what he has been upto as well as spelling out the names of the projects he has been upto. As for me, I can't wait to find out what he and Quitely have for us, next.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hellblazer #245

The last time a major American writer wrote Hellblazer, was the beginning of perhaps the worst time in this title's history. Having gone through a number of British writers, Hellblazer has a history of great stories. Writers like Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, even Warren Ellis, in his short run, have left an indelible mark on the character of John Constantine. But Brian Azzarello isn't one of them.

Lately Hellblazer has been on the up and up. Andy Diggle is one of the best writers of this generation, even though, not many seem to realize it. The Losers was one of the best series from Vertigo in recent times. Hellblazer was a natural fit for Diggle's writing style. And he has proven beyond doubt in his short run, that he's here to have his name included on the list of great Hellblazer authors. And that takes us to this issue which is part 1 of a 2 part fill in. Now I have no idea why a fill in was required since I don't see Diggle writing any other series, neverthless a fill-in it is. If I had to select any author to do a fill-in for Hellblazer, I would instinctively think of all the British authors available. I really don't see how an American writer could get Constantine's voice right. And in steps Jason Aaron. Possibly the most exciting comic book writer right now, Aaron is doing some great work both at Vertigo as well as Marvel. But Hellblazer. That seemed like an odd fit. But I love it when I am proved wrong, because ultimately proving me wrong involves writing great comics, and for that, I am game.

Aaron decided to visit a part of Constantine lore, that is often obliquely mentioned but has never been explored. His days as part of a music band. The story involves a TV crew who document little known bands who have been forgotten and here their attention turns to Mucous Membrane, Constantine's band, with a very dark past. The story is set in the band's haunt, in Constantine's favorite place. Yes, Newcastle. Switching back and forth between the TV crew and the interviews involving views on the band and Constantine, we slowly realize that there's something sinister lurking beneath the Casanova Club. While thats a familiar story, it is the execution that sets this issue apart. The front half of the book is loaded with foreboding, yet, the atmosphere is pretty casual, with generic characters and relationships. But when the horrors start piling up, they do so with an alarming speed and gruesomeness that characterizes British horror.

And all this without even the presence of Constantine in the story, who only manages to enter the picture on the last two pages, as he prepares to return to Newcastle. But this has been done before, even recently by Diggle and it hasn't managed to get old, yet. Aaron knows about Constantine, what makes him tick and what has made his series last for 20 years. The specter of Constantine is present throughout the story, even though he's personally not present. He builds up the inevitable meeting between the horrors that reside under the Casanova Club and Constantine, using horror that Hellblazer fans are all too familiar with. Sean Murphy's scratchy pencils complement Aaron's story as we are served another solid Hellblazer issue. This has become a habit, and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Middleman

If you are not watching this, you are helping Gorrila Grodd. How can you not watch a TV show that asks you "Barry Allen or Wally West"?

I liked the comic books a lot, and this seems to be a fun adaptation.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Charlatan Ball #1

Amazingly there were two solid #1's that came out from Image this week. And though I am writing about only Charlatan Ball, I liked Red Mass for Mars more than I did Charlatan Ball. A little baffling, but then again, this is not the first time I have been baffled by Hickman's writing. That he finds time to write multiple comics, draw one, and still color this, delays notwithstanding is still more baffling. But I digress, I still want to talk about Charlatan Ball, because even though I liked Red Mass more, Charlatan Ball had that vibe going for it that makes books grow on me with time. And any Casey comic I can think of does the same to me.

The highlight of Casey's writing in this issue is the narration. Its not very clear whether there's actually a narrator from the fictional world of Charlatan Ball, or its simply Casey narrating in "True Believers" style, but its done in an interesting manner. This first issue is obviously a setup issue but the setup is done more obliquely than is the norm these days. Its not filled with story heavy exposition, but it introduces the protagonist, as well as the big bad. And we get to see a few pages from each. But while the bad guy, Demon Empty(yeah, thats his name) seems pretty generic, our hero Chuck Amok, while also a little cliched, seems to have more personality than the typical loser. He's got a sense of humor, and whats more, he doesn't fail to use himself as the subject of humor. He's got a rabbit sidekick, who becomes, well, I don't have words for what he becomes. Maybe I can call it Super-rabbit. So we do get introduced to the main players, get an idea of the overarching plot, as well as get an idea of what sort of tone Casey is going to use.

But I do think that the best thing about this issue is the art. As I said before, its groovy. And although there's an obvious Kirby influence, the art has a very distinct style. And the coloring adds a lot to it. I look forward to what crazy panels Andy gets to draw in future issues. Because all those covers look out of this world.

As I said before, this was a good issue, but not as good as I had expected it to be. I can't help but think how different it would have been if it was a regular sized issue. All complaints aside I look forward to future issues.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Ambush Bug: You know you want to get this

Its still a month before Earth's wackiest(yeah I know it sounds corny) returns but DC has already released a one page preview featuring Ambush Bug and his favorite companion. Yes, the mighty Darkseid. Take a look if you don't believe me. With JH Williams III doing cover duty for the first issue, Jim Starlin for the second issue, I can't wait to find out who gets to do the others.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Final Crisis

There was this small comic that came out a couple of weeks ago, that furiously divided people into two warring camps. On the one side there were people who flat out loved it, and on the other those who flat out loathed it. Then there were other camps who commented on and on about how impenetrable it was for the new reader, or those who bemoaned how much this comic didn't fit with Countdown or Death of the New Gods. And now we get an interview from Grant Morrison.

There are a number of points to note in the interview, not least among them being the clarifications that Grant provides for the various discrepancies.

1. It seems that Grant seems to regard Countdown and Death of the New Gods on two different levels. While he consciously tries to be inclusive of Jim Starlin's series, his attitude towards Countdown is more "I don't care". And quite rightly. But even Starlin's series required no consideration. Maybe Grant has a lot of respect for Starlin. The way I see it, both series have DC Editorial written all over it, and frankly I don't care for either. And unlike his interview with The Comic Foundry, he sounds more resigned to the fact that DC Editorial was going to mess with all of his plans and they did.

2. Morrison mentions that JG Jones was on #3 atleast 2 months ago, which heavily discounts Rich Johnston's theory. I am now pretty sure that all of Final Crisis will come out on time.

3. Morrison cites online commentators in general terms. I didn't think he actually read what online commentators ever said, because most of the time, online commentators have no idea what is going on in a Morrison comic unless its spoon fed to them, but not only does he cite what they are trying to say, but he even tries to annotate some things, and confirm plot points, like the last page.

4. Even though he originally said Final Crisis would be self contained, I begin to get the feeling that to get the full impact of the story, I'll have to read Revelations and Superman Beyond. Not that I wasn't going to, but it just seems a departure from his previous stance.

5. Furthermore, Grant announced the relaunch of his site with new content. His site has been defunct now for probably 4-5 years now, and it seems like a welcome move.

All in all, interesting interview. He didn't sound his typical enthused self, and was obviously more than pissed at what DC has done to his plans. But knowing Morrison, I know that I am in for an epic ride. Personally, for Countdown, I blame Mike Carlin. Maybe someday I'll make an exhaustive post about what projects Mike Carlin has been on, and how I can make a direct relationship between the degree of suckitude of a project and Mike Carlin.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Army@Love returns in August in the form of a new mini. This was one of the strongest series from Vertigo in recent years, but sales killed it. Thankfully Vertigo persisted with it, and this is now back, with chances of more in the future. Rick Veitch has a preview up as well as a link to a great article on possible background sources for the book. It makes for interesting reading, and hopefully creates more interest for this must read book.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Charlatan Ball

This is a new comic from Joe Casey that looks and feels groovy. I have never heard of Andy Suriano but the art has a Kirby flavor with the added incentive of modern coloring. Everything about this book feels over the top fun, and it sure as hell has me hooked already, without even reading an issue. But thats what previews are for.

Here's how Image describes it

Story by Joe Casey
Art by Andy Suriano

Meet Chuck Amok, a down-and-out stage magician pumping the sleaze 'n' peanut circuit. When he and his trusty rabbit, Caesar, are transported to a reality where magic actually works, Chuck’s showbiz compulsions take on a whole new meaning. But why was this wayward chucker picked? Only the vile Demon Empty knows for sure! Take your comic book rulebook and tear it up, y'all! This is graphic fiction on shrooms, True Believer!

Criminal Vol. 2 #3

This week saw the release of the third issue of this series. There was a long gap between issues two and three which Brubaker explains was because of Philips' who lay sick on a hospital bed and still drew this issue. And it still looks sexy as hell. Maybe he used all that pain to good use.

This is third in a series of one-shots that focus on a particular character, and this time we have Danica's story. Danica has been a player in the last two issues as well, and now that I look back it seems natural that this was an inevitable story. Brubaker non-linearly brings us to this point, with the first issue telling us about Danica at the very beginning, but also at the end, while the second issue told us what inevitably lead to that end. This issue tells us of the events leading up to the story in the second issue. And that is where my sole problem with this book lies. It is very obvious that Brubaker wants us to read the singles, but these issues are much more satisfying when read together, as the dots Brubaker puts in there, are so much more satisfying when connected.

That aside, I believe this issue would still have been very satisfying for anyone who decided to pick it up, without having read anything before. Even I didn't remember most of what had happened in the past issues, and had to go back and read the past issues to discover the connections. And yet it was beautifully written as a stand alone story. It opens with Danica in a car going somewhere with a man, who is the everyday average man, with non average fantasies. The story is mostly a flash back as we go through her past and her many tragedies. And Brubaker excels when dealing with shades of gray.

The main character is by no means, an angel. She's, as cliches go, molded by circumstances. And yet there are parts of her that aren't black. She still has some kindness in her, the realisation of which leads to the inevitable conclusion of this chapter, as revenge becomes everything for her. And we wait with baited breath for tragedy speeding towards her. The last one. And when it comes to tragedies and noir, count on Brubaker and Philips to deliver.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

How long will these be around

These are all titles skirting the line of cancellation in terms of sales. They haven't been canceled yet, but may do so anytime soon.

Blue Beetle: Under John Rogers this was one of the best superhero comics coming out. Now, not so much. Its decent, but there are a lot of decent titles out there. And neither Will Pfeifer or Matt Sturges have shown any ability to drive sales up.

Checkmate: Its now got Bruce Jones on writing duties. Yeah, that shows a lot of confidence in the title, DC.

Simon Dark: This is pretty solidly written by Steve Niles, and Scott Hampton's pencils add so much to it. Maybe DC's hoping that Niles' horror fans will buy the trades. Or maybe they are just going to cancel it.

Manhunter: Yeah, its just returned. And yeah, its as good as ever. But two cancellations in the past don't exactly inspire confidence.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


DC's new weekly, Trinity starts today. Considering their past record, this could go either way. I am hoping it goes the way of 52 and considering that Busiek is involved I am cautiously optimistic. But then again, Countdown had Dini. Atleast the art will be consistent.

This is how DC describes it

Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza; Art by Mark Bagley and Art Thibert, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher and Mike Norton and Jerry Ordway; Covers by Carlos Pacheco

DC's new weekly series TRINITY explodes in an extra-sized debut issue featuring art by fan-favorite Mark Bagley (Ultimate Spider-Man) and Art Thibert with lead stories and dialogue by Kurt Busiek (SUPERMAN, ASTRO CITY)!

The lead feature explores the unusual bond — and importance — of DC's top three characters, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, as a mysterious dream links them together and may prophesy important changes in their trinity!

Plus, a co-feature in issue #1 explores the mysterious connection between several villains who are watching the Trinity —as well as the near future for these characters and their surrounding world! Co-features in issues #2-4 fill in back-story on some of the other important players in this major storyline. These stories are written by Busiek and Fabian Nicieza with art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens (NIGHTWING, GREEN ARROW), Tom Derenick and Wayne Faucher and Mike Norton and Jerry Ordway (ALL-NEW ATOM, INFINITE CRISIS).

And Newsarama has a preview

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sin Titulo - A Webcomic by Cameron Stewart

I haven't updated this in a long time, hopefully that'll change.

Anyway, I have been reading this webcomic, Sin Titulo by Cameron Stewart who some of you may know from Seaguy and The Other Side if not the many other projects he has done. And even though he hasn't scripted any comics before he feels right at home writing this, and as always his strong pencils make the comic a looker.


Go check it out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Young Liars - Why it is much better than Reviewers make it out to be

Over the last few weeks, while traversing the streets and corners of the blogosphere, I have come across numerous reviews of the new series from Dave Lapham, Young Liars. I have read a lot of those reviews, agreed with some points but in general have had a differing point of view. I also found some common threads and patterns in those reviews which I am going to highlight here and thus explain why Young Liars is so damn good, and why you should read it.

One pattern that I have repeatedly seen among reviewers who don't seem to like Young Liars is the fact that they are big Stray Bullets fans, going to the extent of saying how many hardcovers they own, how they discovered comics through Stray Bullets and so on. One would think that this is something going in favour of a comic written by Dave Lapham, but it doesn't seem so. I personally, haven't read Stray Bullets but I do plan to do so, whenever it is actually complete. But that is neither here nor there. The thing that strikes me is the fact that these reviewers aren't really looking at Young Liars as a new series. Instead they see this as another series that Lapham is doing instead of doing Stray Bullets. Now I have nothing against people wanting a creator to complete a series, but Lapham clearly was not making money on the series and he needs to do something that lets him have an income. He's not shying away from it, he wants to do it, but not at the expense of incurring a financial burden on himself.

This inevitably takes me to the second of the common threads I see in these reviews. The inevitable comparison of Young Liars to Stray Bullets. I believe that this is an incredible disservice to Lapham. I have read through reviews that have gone to the extent of comparing structuring, storytelling and themes between the two series with a bias towards Stray Bullets. And by bias I mean the attempts of the reviewers at saying this is not Stray Bullets. Of course it is not. It never set out to be. Lapham did not name it Stray Bullets, because its not. Its been a long time since Stray Bullets. In between Lapham has done projects with DC/Marvel, with mixed reviews, and learned lessons. Many reviewers try to point out the fact that Stray Bullets started out slowly building up layers upon layers of story but they forget the fact that Lapham cannot follow the same model as Stray Bullets, because it did not sell. Thats one of the underlying aims in the different writing style he uses here where the first issue, for lack of a better phrase, is organized chaos. Its his attempt to introduce the cast as quickly as possibly to the readers with highly energetic storytelling as the introductory scene of the female lead was. This becomes even clearer from the fact that this same scene was used in the previews to the book. Meaning Lapham wanted this scene upfront to tell his prospective audience what they were in for.

Another point was the presence of cliched characters which made it difficult to sympathize with them or root for them. I ask this. In this day and age where almost every possible character has already been shown in one form or the other cliches can hardly be escaped. But as opposed to most creators, Lapham manages to make these characters more real. He peels layers off them as the plot progresses while at the same time tries to drown us, the readers in a cauldron of lies. The second issue was an example where the familiar story of an innocent child's life in a not so innocent neighborhood goes remarkably awry. But its not so familiar after all. Because the "innocent" child seems to be not so innocent and not so normal inspite of his surroundings. On the other hand Sadie Dawkins seems to be more familiar to us. She is that tragic heroine that we are familiar with. But we know that is not true because of what she is going to become eventually. And all this while we listen to a song written by Danny Noonan, talented song-writer.

Its crazy, its full of lies. Its going at a thousand miles an hour and I am strapped in. Hope you join me as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Comics from April 9

This was a disappointing weak for me as a DC fan. And that is heightened considering two of the strongest series from DC came out this week. Both Booster Gold and JSA suffered from slow pacing, and no movement of plot. As before I review two comics that I was impressed by among the bunch I have read till now.

Wonder Woman 19 - Gail Simone continues her run, rejuvenating the character of Wonder Woman from the mess it had become earlier. After the 4 issue arc The Circle which introduced new antagonists that actually measured up to the standard of Wonder Woman, this 2 issue arc Ex-Patriate sends her on a space adventure.

Gail has been highlighting the warrior aspect of WW throughout her short run, and last issue showed that her renown as the same is not limited to earth. Khunds, whom I have no previous exposure to, are supposed to be a tyrant, warrior race with the sole aim of conquering other civilizations. Wonder Woman is called upon to save the same race from genocide, by appealing to her compassionate side. Last issue ended with Wonder Woman discovering a Green Lantern out to stop her. This issue continues with that fight and we go straight to battle mode. Reading WW's thoughts show her as a shrewd strategist. War is not her first choice, but when driven to it, she fights to win. WW defeats the Green Lantern with a very new use of the lasso, the lasso being something Gail has been highlighting in her run. But the scene after that, where WW offers her hand in peace, shows her resolve towards peace. Brilliant writing. The last scene is characteristic Gail humour, something that defines her writing, and shows that if given the chance Gail can be a solid Green Lantern writer.

There were a few Tom Tresser scenes where he goes through an internal monologue, but it seemed largely irrelevant to the main plot here. Clearly it is supposed to pay off sometime in the future but for now, it is clear Tom Tresser is not the strongest part of the cast in this book.

The art by Bernard Chang was impressive, though suffering from the rather bland inking throughout. Chang is clearly more comfortable drawing characters rather than backgrounds but his fight scenes were well drawn. All in all, a Good Read

Gamekeeper V2 02 - The first volume of Gamekeeper had thoroughly impressed me. Both Andy Diggle's writing and especially Mukesh Singh's art had made the series into a Must Read every time it came out. That they were going to do a volume 2 had both filled me with dread since neither of the creative team were returning but also anticipation since I like Jeff Parker's writing.

I need not have worried. The transition is smooth, although after Mukesh Singh's art, Ron Randall's art in the present series seems to be a step down, but its very competent. Jeff Parker shows that he has the chops to deliver an enjoyable and action packed story. And one fact that I notice is that Parker writes it in such a way that you don't have to remember who each of the characters are. He expertly weaves the threat levels of each of the antagonists without having to go into any exposition and the same time he paces the story well to both highlight the expertise of the Gamekeeper as well as the main antagonist.

Parker's Gamekeeper is still Diggle's Gamekeeper. Very dangerous and with a sharp mind. At the same time he builds up the character of Raven as a foil for the Gamekeeper. What lies ahead promises to be an exciting read. And for now, like Diggle's series, this is a Must Read.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

On Message Boards and Message Board Culture

Lately I have been spending more and more time on reading through blogs, message boards and the like. And there are a number of habits that seem to permeate through all of them.

When you are talking with someone who is actually physically present in front of you, there's a sense of moderation in you. Even if you want to speak your mind, you speak it in a civil manner. Well, atleast most of the time. Unless you are an exception. I find that almost universally the opposite happens on the net. Its as if being on the net, anonymous, opens up the Hyde part of you. Or maybe thats just the projection you want to make others see you as. Who knows, perhaps the vilest people on the net are the meekest, most introverted people you see around you. And being a malevolent alpha-male is what they fantasize about.

Worse yet is the fanboy culture on sites involving comics. Possibly the same culture is also present on sites involving games, movies etc but I am more versed in sites about comics. Take for example Newsarama. Statements like "If you don't like this, you don't have any heart", "The kids suck, kill them", " That editor is a moron, kill him" are ubiquitous. Would you actually make such a statement if you were on a public forum , physically present. Do people who make such statements actually ask questions like "Why do I say such things on the net, if I don't do it in real life" or are the thought processes more like "My boss yelled at me, so I'll take out all my frustrations on character X or person X".

Constructive criticism is a thing of fiction as far as Message boards go. They are present on blogs but they are more or less individual points of view. Often comments on blogs follow the same pattern present on message boards and hence have to be moderated. And people ask why comic book fans have such a stereotyped image. When the discussion most participated in, is about who has the bigger rack, or who'll defeat whom in a one-on-one battle, what else do you expect.

By the way, if there is actually a place where healthy discussions about comics take place, please point me the way.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Grant Morrison: Batman and Costume

If you don't know, Grant Morrison, who's just about the best writer ever to have written comics is writing Batman. And Batman hasn't been this good since I don't know how long. And now that we have out recap paragraph out of the way, lets get on.

Morrison recently did an interview where among other things he teased that he'll be doing a lot of stuff to Batman in the upcoming issues which would have permanent ramifications on the Bat mythos as well as setting up threads going upto 2010. One small thing that he mentioned was that he would also change the costume.

"What else? We finally get to see the Club of Villains we hinted at in the “Club of Heroes” storyline from last year – Charlie Caligula, Scorpiana, Pierrot Lunaire, the murder mime…and a bunch of other cool freaks. And there’s a new Batmobile, a new costume, more Bat-Mite…"

All DC characters in general, and Batman in particular are considered iconic. And an element of that, something that seems to highlight that fact, has always been the costumes. They have existed as long as the characters have, virtually unchanged. So, one would think tinkering with them is something simply not done. But I think otherwise. The fact that most superheroes wear underwear on the outside of their skintight spandex has often bugged me. Even if they are not going for realism, these superheroes are still supposed to exist in a world where the equivalent of real people, real thoughts etc etc exist. And in that world, such costumes would be, simply put, silly. I hypothesize that originally these costumes were conceptualized with inspiration from wrestlers, who wore only underwear. Possibly artists wanted their heroes to look iconic and wrestlers seemed to naturally fit that role. But that doesn't mean it still makes sense now.

When Morrison came onto New X-Men, a change of costume was one of the points he made in his proposal. He wanted them to wear uniforms rather than spandex. Which seems to suggest that Morrison may have similar feelings about others as well. And quite possibly thats what he'll be trying to do when he finally unveils the new costume for Batman. The absence of underwear on the outside of the costume. The only obstacle could be WB restricting him from doing so, but seeing as Batman costumes wouldn't be a very happy topic among WB execs, maybe they'll let it go. Besides Nolan is already going for a more realistic approach. That line of reasoning may convince them if need be.

How about he does the same to Superman next. Although it'll be tougher there. The Superman movies have made that particular costume too visible in the general consciousness of people. But if possible, redesigns are in order. A more Kryptonian looking costume possibly. And once thats done, Wonder Woman should be next. That costume often interferes with my enjoyment of the Gail Simone penned series which is rather well written. Its impractical in every sense of the word.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Secret Invasion #1

Because This is supposed to be hot, right.

I am primarily a DC fan. I like my fair share of Marvel(by fair, I mean 2 or 3 titles) but I like to think that if there's something good from either company I'll read it. So reading this was an endeavor in that direction.

And besides its supposed to be hot, right.

I came into this without ever having read either of the Avengers titles. Well except that one issue where Elektra is killed, and turns out to be a skrull. I disliked that issue immensely and decided that not reading Avengers was a good decision on my part. I even read the first issue of Mighty Avengers. And the use of thought balloons was so nonsensical, I decided to not try any further.

Right, thats the background. No previous knowledge of where this title is coming from. The issue opens with........ Ok, I don't think that method of reviewing will work, because this issue really didn't have a plot. It was a series of reveals. With first character A revealed then character B and then a whole spaceship worth of possible characters. All of that w have been cool, IF, I actually knew most of these characters. I was actually revealed in the online prologue that Dum Dum Dugan was a skrull. Now that would mean something to me if I actually knew who this Dugan fellow is. And then there's that full page of Mar-vell indicating that either he's a skrull or he knows someone at Thunderbolts is. And I have no idea who Mar-vell is. Am I supposed to think that Bendis is trying to tell me, go read the tie-in issues because I can't tell you everything here. Is that what self-contained is supposed to mean. I don't think so. And if this crossover is supposed to bring in new fans, well then good for Marvel. But the new fans might not last long reading such a series.

So instead of a plot, we have a series of reveals. And instead of a script, we have what I may refer to as Bendis-speak. Because thats what most of the dialogue, especially in the pages containing Stark, Pym and Reed had. Bendis-speak. Unreal, unfunny and without the slightest amount of edge which a title whose entire premise is an underlying paranoia, is supposed to have. Then again, writing like this is the primary reason I do not like Bendis writing superheroes.

Yu, on the other hand impressed me. While I would hardly call his faces expressive, the actual line work was good, making you want to look at the pages slightly longer than what a Bendis script would make you.

Mind you, this was more of an analysis. When I first read it, I felt it was alright. Nothing brilliant but readable. On the other hand an analysis of the issue would make it out to be worse than it actually is. Why that discrepancy? Possibly the fact that the scope here is huge. That feeling you get when you are going into a blockbuster movie which sometimes clouds your judgement because of the preconceived notions about it. Thats what this has.

Besides, how can I not like the fact that both DC/Marvel are basing their big events this year on Kirby's stories. That counts for a lot in my book. But then again, in my book, Morrison has no equal in skill. That may indicate where my sympathies lie in terms of stories I am looking forward to.

Comics from April 2

I still have to read stuff but there are two comics I read this week that require special mention.

Infinity Inc 8 - This title is floundering in sales. That is no secret. But this is pure genius. That, I believe, is a secret. Peter Milligan is one of the best writers to have ever written comics books. But he doesn't always write with that brilliance. The atrocious Ras Al Ghul arc was an example where he write two Robin issues. The less I say about them, the better. But at the same time he's writing two brilliant series, that have hardly been noticed. The Programme and Infinity Inc. The former may be the subject of a post I do some other time but right now we are talking about Infinity Inc.

Its been hampered by the fact that most conventional comic book fans don't get it. This is not a superhero comic in any sense of the word. Its very much a Milligan comic exploring many of the stuff that Milligan does explore in his comics. Like the mind. The effects of events happening around you on the mind. How much your personality gets shattered by tragedies. Or for that matter by your inability to express yourself as you truly are, or want to.

There are characters from just about every part of that spectrum in here. Natasha, who lost her powers that defined her, being almost second nature to her. Erik, who isn't sure why he's a man, because he's more in touch with his feminine side. Gerome, a very introverted person, who wishes to project otherwise, and so on. Milligan expertly used the angle setup in 52(Oh, how I miss that title) of Luthor giving them powers and then taking them away, here. He establishes the basic premise, that those powers didn't really go away, and are now mutating into projections of their thought processes. The first few issues got off to a very slow start, and dealt primarily with the psychosis of the antagonist of the first arc. But it seems that most fans, as well as it seems DC Editorial didn't like the art which was very much in keeping with the mood of Milligan's writing. So now we have Pete Woods, who is, in every sense of the word, a superhero artist. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but its very different from what an ideal artist for Milligan would be. Yet, Milligan takes that in his stride and even creates humour out of Woods coming on, and the members getting costumes. The panel where Steel says "Now that you have costumes you need the things that all heroes need" and Nat says "Personal Problems?" is evident of that fact.

There's more humour in this issue than has been in previous issues, which is an added bonus. Milligan seems to be using Steel as a representative for those fans and members of DC Editorial who want it to be a more superhero book, which would make it like any other of the thousands of comic books available. The scene where Steel comes up with costumes, as well as the one where he comes up with their secret identities both have dialogue that seem intentionally stilted, in contrast with the rest of the issue. The issue mostly deals with the Infinity Inc actually become Infinity Inc, their members trying to accept someone they have fought before as enemies, as well as a continuation of the Gerome arc. Nat, Erik have already had stories highlighting them. I hope similar stories are told for the rest of the team, for these characters are more interesting and well constructed than almost any character in comic books today.

In closing, I hope Milligan gets to tell a lot of stories on this book in the future, sales be damned.

Action Comics 863 - Now this is pure superhero comics, unadulterated. Both pure and unadulterated do mean the same thing, but this comic and Johns' writing deserve those adjectives doubly, and hence the repetition.

There's all the elements that make a great Geoff Johns comic in there. Continuing from last issue's cliffhanger the story moves forward on two fronts. The simultaneous beating that Superman gets at the hand of Earth-Man, and the Legion fighting the Justice League. The outcome is obvious yet, Johns manages to make it exciting. Edge of seat stuff. The eventual moment when Superman opens his eyes is choreographed in a beautiful way. The cheesy Superman dialogue "I am for everyone" works, in Johns' script, and so does the Legion splash page. Correction, the splash pages. And as an added bonus Johns manages to touch upon Superman's deep rooted connection with the legion in a touching manner.

Gary Frank's art seems much better than all the previous issues, which were dominated by the oddly looking wide-eyed look. He gets to draw two splash pages with the legion in all its glory and does not disappoint.

And if the actual issue wasn't enough, the teaser images at the end is there to get your heart racing. Johns and Perez on a Legion book is a promising notion. August, though is still a far way off.

Countdown - The truth behind the atrocity revealed

I imagine this is how Countdown got green signalled. All names are indicative but they are probably true judging from the said names' past records.

Mike Carlin(MC) - You know, I still don't get how 52 sold so much. It didn't even happen in the present. How can something sell that is not happening in the present. Continuity. They need continuity. Continuity is law. Continuity.

Matt Idelson(MI) - Yeah, beats me.

MC - .........

MI - Wait, doesn't it happen like one week in each issue. They do like, each day of the week, so the reader feels like continuity is happening. So its pseudo-continuity.

MC - Wow, thats it. Pseudo-continuity. Well, we'll do continuity cause continuity beats pseudo-continuity every time.

MI - Yeah. You are a genius man.

MC - I know. Isn't that stupid Morrison doing that big series. Final Crisis. Stupid Morrison. He doesn't even care about the fine line of continuity. He writes stupid series like Animal Man. Who's stupid enough to write himself into the series. Thats against continuity rules.And Final Crisis. As if its going to be final.(Chuckles) When I fix continuity again, there will be another crisis. Cause thats what Crises are for. Continuity.

MI - You are a genius.

MC - I know, I know. So we do a Countdown to that series which will be ----- wait for it ------- Weekly. And because its now continuity not pseudo - contnuity, it will sell bazillions of issues, and I'll get promoted again, and Dan DiDio will get fired.

MI - You'll promote me too, right.

MC - Absoloutely. You are my bestest pal. I'll make you head of them all, just under me.

MI - Wow, thanks.

MC - Anyway, we'll use all the characters that Morrison is gonna use, and make them cool. Like you know. Mary Marvel, we'll make her hot, all black like Spiderman. And we'll show her panties in every issue.

MI - You are a genius man.

MC - I know. And Jason Todd. He's cool you know. He got killed because of phone calls. But he was the best Robin. He killed people not like those lousy other Robins.

MI - And Kyle Rayner. I love Kyle Rayner. And the monitors, I love monitors. They look cool.

MC - Yeah and them too. We'll write all of it. And they'll sell bazillions.

MI - But we can't credit ourselves. We are humble, aren't we.

MC - Yeah, I am very humble. I won't take credit even though this is going to sell bazillions. Get me that list of all the DC Exclusives. I'll close my eyes and whoever I put my finger on will be the lucky ones.

MI - Yeah(Brings the list, and MC uses his magic fingers)

MC - We got 'em.

MI - You are a genius man.

MC - I know. Now lets pitch it to DiDio, he can't not do this. This is genius.


At DiDio's office.

DiDio - Yeah

MC - We got a proprosal for a new comic.

DiDio - Yeah

MC - Its a weekly

DiDio - Weekly. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee



MC - See, I told you. In one year, when this is over, I'll take over.

MI - You are a genius. You know, your genius inspired me. I have a proposal too.

MC - Yeah, tell me.

MI - How about, like, all the Amazons attacked America.

MC - Genius.