comics

Quick hits

Friday – 24 February 2017
There’s been a lot of comics-related news in the past couple of weeks… and I’ve had very little time to post anything about it. But, I’m carving out a couple of minutes here to do that very thing.

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Reviews from the First New Comic Book Day of 2017!

Thursday – 05 January 2017
Happy New Year and Happy Day-After-New Comic Book Day!

As yesterday was the first new comic book day of 2017, I went to my local comic book shop and came home with new things to read. This week, I picked up:

  • Champions #4  (DC)
  • Cyborg #8 (DC)
  • Green Lantern #14 (DC)
  • Hawkeye #2 (Marvel)
  • Justice League #14 (DC)
  • Nightwing #12 (DC)
  • Scarlet Witch #14 (Marvel)
  • Shade: The Changing Girl #4 (DC: Young Animal)
  • Superman #14 (DC)
  • The Unstoppable Wasp #1 (Marvel)
  • The Unworthy Thor #3 (of 5) (Marvel)
  • The Wicked + The Divine #25 (Image)

In all, it was kind of a mixed week for my books – some good, some kind of meh, and a couple of extraordinarily fun reads. My favorite reads were:

  • Cyborg #8
    I’ve been a bit lukewarm about Cyborg after David Walker’s departure. But, there was something about John Semper, Jr.’s writing that drew me into this issue. Perhaps it was seeing Cyborg “intervene” in an instance of police brutality. Perhaps it was watching the interaction between Cyborg and Exxy Clark. Perhaps it was that the Cyborg we had been reading about for most of the issue wasn’t Cyborg. I’m not sure exactly what the special sauce was, but I not only enjoyed the read, it made me laugh at points.
  • Champions #4
    A portion of this issue dealt with the literal fallout from Issue #3. And a fight with Atlanteans. And the question of leadership. And, a very quick and well-handled discussion about mutant-Inhuman relations. From the pacing to the dialogue to the artwork, I think that this is one of the freshest – and most fun – books in Marvel’s stable these days.
  • Hawkeye #2
    Kate Bishop. Superhero. P.I. (kind of, sort of). This issue picks up right after the end of Issue #1, with Kate taking a perp from her first case to the police station. She then stops a back-alley assault – there’s a kinetic feel to the two-page spread showing how the action plays out, as well as a bit of the aftermath. That scene also includes the following bit of dialogue:

    Kate (aiming bow with nocked arrow at a mostly off-panel figure): Touch some sky, pal.
    Guy: Whoa whoa whoa. I am not with these dudes.
    Kate: Okay, then you should probably mosey on out of here, cowboy. I don’t need help.
    Guy: I buy that. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone that needs help less than you in this moment.

    Our intrepid Hawkeye even has a run-in with a cultish mob. I have to admit that I didn’t see that coming, as I was reading. I look forward to seeing how it resolves.

  • The Wicked + The Divine #25
    Gillen and McKelvie continue to knock it out of the park with this book. Where to start…? Persephone is on the warpath, Woden is in her sights, and it looks like Cassandra of The Norns has been cast in the unlikely role of Persephone’s Jiminy Cricket. Readers – and Woden – are treated to an interesting look at some of Persephone’s power set – more than just *KLLK*-ing someone’s head to explode, that is – and are rewarded with this:

    Woden: Listen. We’re the clever, practical two. Baal is practical. Minerva is clever. We’re both. Who else is going to work out what’s going on? Sakhmet? Dionysus? I think Amaterasu only wears sandals so much because she has trouble with shoelaces…
    Persephone: And I am…?
    Woden: You’re the wild card Dark Arts professor who scares the shit out of Slytherin kids like me. I still have no idea how you do half the things you do.
    Cassandra: Me neither. You’re the only god who’s ever affected me. Why? You projected a performance through Owly…
    Woden: She did? That’s impossible.
    Cassandra: And… you said something happened after Lucifer died. What was that?
    Persephone: Nothing important.
    Cassandra: See! That’s the kind of enigmatic wankery we haven’t got time for when we’re all going to be dead in two years!

    And the closing pages with Baal, Minerva, and… Sakhmet (?) were a curious look at a little “family” and how they were dealing with revelations about Ananke.

  • Green Lanterns #14
    There’s a GL book on my list. Amazing surprise. But, this issue wrapped up a storyline that had an interesting premise: What if one ring could harness the entire emotional spectrum? (And, as much as I hate to admit it: I just made the “One ring to rule them all” connection. Yep, Slow on the Uptake Guy, that’s me!) While I found the character who found that ring a bit tedious, I liked the concept. What I enjoyed even more was a breakthrough for rookie GL Jessica Cruz. She has a lot of potential and want to see her live up to it. It was also nice to see other members of the Corps show up… and the reactions of Jessica and Simon’s to who it was that dropped in. Sam Humphries also left a nice little surprise to be unraveled at the story’s end.
  • The Unstoppable Wasp #1
    When talking about Champions earlier, I said that it was one of the freshest and most fun books coming out of Marvel these days. This book is another. Let me first start by saying that I’ve been reading – and thoroughly enjoying – Jeremy Whitley‘s PrinceLess titles for the past few years. (As the father of twin girls, I love the concept of a princess who didn’t need a prince to rescue her. If you haven’t read PrinceLess or PrinceLess: Raven – The Pirate Princess, do so!) When it was announced that he and Elsa Charretier – and Megan Wilson – would be doing this book, I was intrigued. And then came the wait.The wait is over…

    The Unstoppable Wasp

    …and I’m happy to say that Whitley’s Nadia Pym is an absolute delight! And Ms. Charretier’s artwork is a perfect pairing with the writing.  Nadia is unstoppable. (Just ask Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird!) She has an irrepressible spirit and drive that is a refreshing change from so much of the angst associated with so many heroes these days. And she has no pretense, just a passion to help and to do good. Oh, and she’s loves science. A lot. She’s also a total fangirl, as evidenced in this post-battle conversation with Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel:

    Nadia: You worked on one of my father’s projects? I’ve researched them all. I don’t remember a Bobbi.
    Mockingbird: “Bobbi” is short for Barbara. Barbara Morse.
    Nadia (realization dawning ): Biologist Barbara Morse? Like, “Project: Gladiator” Barbara Morse? Like, almost succesfully reproduced the Super-Soldier serum Barbara Morse?
    Mockingbird (somewhat astonished): Those are not usually the things people remember about me.
    Nadia: Like, lady adventurer scientist in the Savage Land and hanging out with Man-Thing in the Everglades Barbara Morse?
    Mockingbird: That is… weird that you know all of that.
    Nadia: You are my hero! I read your research on the super-soldier serum and you talked about all the traveling and the Savage Land and I thought– I thought “This is who I want to be when I grow up!” A woman who’s a super scientist but doesn’t stay in the lab all day. She has adventures! (reaches over and hugs Mockingbird) You inspire me.
    Mockingbird: Okay… that… that’s a lot right there, and I just… you know, I’ve worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. for a long time… and I… I don’t know that anybody has ever said that I inspire them, and… and it’s totally cool for a super hero to just cry in public… people don’t remember that I’m a scientist. They just remember that I used to be married to Hawkeye1 and I hit things with sticks. So that means a lot. Come here, kid. It’s been a rough couple of months for me. Can I have another one of those hugs?
    Nadia: Heck yes!

    See, unabashed science-loving fangirl. And superhero. And, from the look of the last page, ready to take on the world.

    If there is one book that I’d recommend reading from this week’s new titles, this is it. Buy it. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

And that’s a wrap!

1 – Clint Barton, not the aforementioned Kate Bishop

Luke Cage: A brief look at Marvel’s newest series

I shouldn’t have to become a bulletproof-Luke Cage just to feel safe as a black man in America.
Jay Whittaker
30 September 2016

This comment sparked an interesting – and introspective – thread on the Facebook account of my friend, Jay Whittaker.

Like me, Jay is a long-time comics fan. Also like me, he was eagerly anticipating the release of Luke Cage on Netflix this past weekend.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage

I’ve been a comics fan since the mid- to late-70s. Most of the heroes wore capes and tights (and their underwear on the outside). It was pretty easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. “Representation” wasn’t really a watchword when I started reading comics, but there were some signs of change and inclusion around the time the 80s rolled around. Today, you can find heroes of all colors, genders, belief systems, and/or sexuality. And they aren’t just in comics. They are also on TV, in books, and in major motion picture releases.

I’ve come to appreciate Black heroes more in the past fifteen years. For me, it really started with John Stewart, the Green Lantern on the Cartoon Network Justice League series. (My affinity for the character isn’t something that I’ve ever been shy talking about.) But, I have taken the time to become more familiar with Static, Black Panther, Cyborg, Nick Fury (MCU/Marvel Ultimate Universe version), Black Lightning, and many others.

Friday, Marvel’s Luke Cage joined the list of Black characters who have reached out from comics into other media. Who is Luke Cage? He’s:

  • A man framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • A man who wants to help his community.
  • A man who never wanted to be a hero… but became one.

I’m only about halfway through the series, but I am enjoying it. In bringing the character to the small screen, a few changes have been made, but nothing that makes the character unrecognizable. Something that I found interesting was what I can only assume was a rather conscious choice on the part of the show’s staff: Dressing Luke in an outfit that has become associated with many Black shooting victims in America today – a hoodie and jeans. Part of this is because Luke is trying to maintain a low profile and a hoodie affords a bit of anonymity. But, I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t a couple of underlying messages in that choice:

  1. A hoodie doesn’t automatically make someone a criminal, in the same way that a suit doesn’t mean that someone is respectable.
  2. Anyone can be a hero.

The series has also depicted something that doesn’t often get seen on the small screen: Glimpses at and inside the Black community. No, parts of it aren’t always pretty nor clean, but I don’t know of any community that truly is. But, you see the community – what brings them together, what tears them apart – and not just a caricature of it.

For a more personal connection to what made this series so special for so many people, I’ll defer to Jay once again:

Cage has always been the character I’ve truly identified with. Yes, I know you’re thinking, “But, what about Falcon?” [For those who don’t know him, Jay’s been a vocal fan of Marvel’s Falcon over the past few years, even cosplaying as him at Salt Lake Comic Con.]

Put it this way: Falcon, War Machine, Black Panther have always been the brothas I’ve wanted to BECOME. Falcon & WM are both respectable service members AND CAN FLY! Black Panther is a damn king. The same can be said about John Stewart as Green Lantern. But Luke Cage has and always will represent who I’ve BEEN and probably always WILL BE. He’s an experienced man of the streets, who’s seen and done things he’s not proud of. His dark past is shrouded in mystery and difficult for him to talk about, but in the end he’s an everyday guy who just wants to do the right thing. He’s more realistic than a high-tech brotha that can fly. That’s why this show is so important right now.

You don’t have to soar through the skies to be a successful black man. You can stay on the ground, make a difference in your community and push forward…ALWAYS FORWARD.
Jay Whittaker
September 30 at 3:31pm

After reading that, I messaged Jay, asking if he’d be alright with me quoting him. I also noted that his summary of what Cage meant to him was “perfect.” Why? As I told him:

…your POV is a great one – not only for people who know the characters, but also for people who just know the movies/Netflix series.

It humanizes – and personalizes – the character in a succint but very poignant way. Pointing out that the others are (ex-)military, given your background, and that Cage is still the most similar to you and the core of your being…? That adds a level that anyone can relate to.

The Washington Post called Luke Cage “…the blackest thing that Marvel has ever done.” Whether or not that’s true can be called into question, but it’s definitely about time that people – everyone – has a chance to see something like this.

Check it out.

 

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016: Coda

Saturday – 03 September 2016
Salt Lake Comic Con
2016 has come to an end.

This was, quite possibly, my most fun time at the con to date. I had a great time seeing friends, reacquainting with others, meeting new people and being a panelist for the first time! (Hopefully, I’ll get to do it again next year!) There were some things and people that I did not have the opportunity to see, but I really can’t complain about this year’s con experience.

This morning, Sara and I took Team DiVa to the Con (ahem… “the costume party”), so that they could see people in costumes. We found “a few” Captains Marvel, to Diana’s glee, but we had a hard time finding a Ms. Marvel for Vanessa. I was hoping to see the young lady (also pictured below) that I saw on Friday; she was nowhere to be found today. Sara managed to find both a Captain AND a Ms. Marvel – at the same time – who were both happy to take pictures with the girls. This happened while I was having a brief meet-and-greet with Phill LaMarr (Pulp Fiction, Mad TV, the voice of Green Lantern John Stewart on Justice League). WHEW!

We left Comic Con, so the girls could have lunch and some down time. I realized that I needed some recovery time, as well.

I returned to the Con a little after 5 PM… to find that the main floor was closing at 7 PM. Fortunately, I had managed to check off most of the boxes on my “To Do” list during the earlier visit. I visited with the Dr. Volt’s crew and managed to get more than three pictures of cosplayers today. I wrapped up the evening attending a panel with three-fourths of the lovely ladies from the Hello Sweetie Podcast, and three other panelists.

I think that Salt Lake Comic Con 2016 was fantastic convention and hope that it was a great success for all involved. I’d also like to thank and congratulate the staff and crew of Salt Lake Comic Con for putting on a great event… and for letting me be a part of it this year! I look forward to what SLCC 2017 brings.

And here are the pictures…

 

 

 

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016: Day One – Aftermath

Thursday – 01 September 2016
For a No Bad News Thursday, today wasn’t horrid. It didn’t start off as what I would have called “perfect,” things came together by the end of the day and it ended with a bang! The day started with me at work and not at the Mark Hamill and William Shatner Salt Lake Comic Con panels that I had originally planned on attending. Oh, well. (As the song says: “I guess this is growing up…“) The work day came and went I left work a little early and made my way downtown.

People. Everywhere.

Many/most of them were in costume. It was great to see the array of characters and the work that people put into their outfits. (I only took one picture.) Of the standouts I recall, there was:

  • A really great Rule 63 Flash (Jay Garrick)
  • Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers),
  • Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan),
  • Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell, in a costume that looked to be primarily body paint),
  • An armored “trooper” that I don’t think that it was a Stormtrooper, and
  • Squirrel Girl.

I made it to the convention center, picked up my badge, and hung out at the Dr. Volt’s Comics booth before heading to my panel discussions.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016

Wile E. Coyote… Special Guest! (What!? It has the same initials as “Super Genius!”)

Leigh George Kade (Geekshow Podcast and Frisch) moderated both discussions. They were fun and hopefully informative. Audience members asked a number of good questions across a decent spectrum from – we even fielded a few questions after each panel ended. I think that augurs well. (And, if it doesn’t… just let me sit here and enjoy my little delusion. Thank you.) The fifty minutes passed far too quickly – it felt like we had just gotten a good head of steam built up when the “Five Minutes” sign was waved. Hopefully, I’ll get an opportunity to be a panelist at a future con; if not, I’ve scratched an item off my bucket list that I didn’t even know was on the list!

For now: Sleep.
And tomorrow: Work… and Salt Lake Comic Con: Day Two!

Bandette

Friday – 10 June 2016
This evening, I spent some time getting reacquainted with a series that caught my eye a while back: Bandette, from Paul Tobin, Colleen Coover and Monkeybrain Comics.

bandetteindiepromo_lores1

Bandette is… well… here, let’s just take a look at what Mr. Tobin had to say about it (excerpted from an interview on Comicsverse)1:

Bandette is a carefree teen thief in sort of a fake Paris. Its a very French comic, its very Tintin-inspired. Even though I do love things like Colder and doing really unsettling horror, there’s also a very carefree side to my writing, very whimsical. Bandette is that for me. She’s a thief who works with the police every now and then. She fights a secret organization of evil masterminds called FINIS. And she steals a lot of things! Basically, it’s as charming as we can make it.

And there you go. And that, along with the picture above, is about the best possible summation of Bandette. Ever.

But, just in case that wasn’t enough, there’s also the description on Monkeybrain’s Comixology site:

The adventures of Bandette, a young costumed “artful dodger”, leader of a group of urchins dedicated to serving justice, except when thieving proves to be a bit more fun. The story of Bandette treads a thin line between Tintin and Nancy Drew, with a few costumes thrown in. Bandette and her crew at turns join forces and cross swords with the mysterious master thief known only as Monsieur, and one B.D. Belgique, perhaps the most harassed police inspector of all time.

I don’t recall exactly how I first stumbled across the title, but I think that it might have been a Free Comic Book Day offering. However it happened, it was an excellent find. It’s light-hearted and fun, which is getting difficult to find in books that aren’t rated “All Ages.”2 It is also a welcome change of pace from the traditional cape-and-tights fare that most people think of when they hear the words “comic books.”

Bandette #3 (cover)

Bandette #3 (cover)

If you’re looking for something new – and fun – to read, I suggest heading over to Comixology and checking out the first issue of Bandette. She’ll steal your heart. (And your candy bars!)

1 – The interview can be read in its entirety here.

2 – This is not intended as a knock against “All Ages” books nor books for older readers. -Disclaimer Man

World’s Finest

Wednesday – 02 March 2016
For those who don’t know: the name “World’s Finest” or “World’s Finest Team” is usually applied to the pairing of Batman and Superman.

World's Finest Team

Batman and Superman: World’s Finest

If we look at the way the trailers have presented the introduction of the Dark Knight to the Last Son of Krypton – antagonists rather than reasonably amicable crimefighters –  it is (somewhat) understandable why Warner Brothers chose to go the “Batman versus Superman” route.

That said, YouTube user Adeel of Steel has created a mashup of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s Batman teaming up with Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s Superman to take on The Joker and Lex Luthor (Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman, respectively). And it is fun. See for yourself…

 

“Alone and bored, on a 30th Century night…”

Tuesday – 01 March 2016
For a team/comic that hasn’t had their own title in nearly two-and-a-half years, the 30th Century’s  Legion of Super-Heroes has been popping up in a bit of comics-related press in the past few weeks. (As far as I’m concerned, this is far from a “bad thing.”)

There was a cover shot of LSH #300 in DC Comics’ press video for the upcoming “Rebirth” event/non-event

30th Century super-team

LSH #300

…apparently, there was a nod to the Legion in last night’s episode of Supergirl

Some of the 30th Century's finest technology...

Legion Flight Ring

…and the team – or, at least, the founders – are featured in the upcoming LEGO Justice League: Comsic Clash… which means it’s pretty much a shoo-in that I will watch this video.

After watching the above clip, I went to heat up my lunch. Waiting for the microwave to do its thing, I noticed I was humming Madonna’s Material Girl. In and of itself, that’s not so bad… but not really Legion-related. The thing is: I caught myself reparsing the lyrics from:

‘Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

to

‘Cause we are living in a material world
And I’m an immaterial girl

…referencing Phantom Girl and her abilities.  Thankfully, I stopped before I started changing the verses to fit a 30th Century theme. For now.

Send help.
Please.

Robots!

Monday – 29 February 2016
The New York Post offered up this article today: Robot secretaries are a real thing now.

They’re only 30 years late with this one – the Fantastic Four has had a robot receptionist since 1982:

Roberta

Better late than never, I guess…

Thoughts on the latest ‘BvS’ trailers

Sunday – 24 January 2016
I just finished watching the latest trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

BvS_Who_will_Win

Yes, I was watching the football games in which they aired. However, I didn’t sit through many/most of the commercials, so yes, I just saw the newest one online. But, that’s not the point. The point is, with this trailer…

…something in the way that Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne spoke to Alfred about the threat that Superman posed struck me as sounding very similar to the origin of the protocols that Batman developed in the pre-New52 DC Universe, as seen in Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” (spoilers) storyline in JLA (and whose story was the basis of the Justice League: Doom animated feature):

Tower of Babel deals with Batman‘s perceived betrayal to the superhuman community by keeping and concealing hidden records concerning the strengths and weaknesses of his allies in the JLA, which include plans to neutralize his allies in a fight. His files are stolen by the criminal mastermind Ra’s al Ghul, who uses them to defeat the League through a coordinated attack in order to prevent them from interfering with his latest scheme, the reduction of the global population.

There appears to be a lot of pent-up rage in Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, but it sounds like all that he wants to do is find the key to defeating the heir-apparent to the “most powerful being on the planet” title… and then retire to the Batcave for a Bat-beer. Corollary to this thought, I can’t help but wonder if we will see Batman taking notes on other members of the League (as we meet them) and compiling methods to best neutralize them, as well. As much as I think I’d enjoy a live-action take on “Tower of Babel,”” I think that we will see the League taking on Thanos Darkseid as the main villain of the Justice League movie.

Something else just dawned on me about the Clark Kent/Superman side of the equation… and I’m a little bothered by the fact that it didn’t occur to me sooner. I’ve seen this trailer before:

…but I didn’t think of it in the same comic book terms as I did the Bruce Wayne one. Until now. Listening to Clark and Perry’s discussion after watching the Bruce Wayne clip, I was almost immediately reminded of Man of Steel #3 (1986) in which Superman goes to Gotham City to take on – and take down – a certain “bat vigilante”:

mos3_bvs

Let’s just say that their first meeting was “strained,” at best. It was also very well written and included a couple of twists that made the not-quite-a-team-up work under the tense conditions. Clark’s comments in the trailer seem to resonate with one of Superman’s internal monologues from MoS 3, in which Superman goes over what he knows about Batman.

As I said, just a couple of quick thoughts. What do you think?