Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Brief hiatus

Considering the low frequency of my posts lately, you'll hardly notice the difference. But Irrelevant Comics is going to be on hiatus for a brief period. I'm going on vacation this week and will have even less time to read/think/write about comics than I usually do.

I'll be back sometime in August, and I hope to get back to my regular posting schedule, with weekly previews and commentary. See you then.

Meanwhile, you can always follow me on Twitter.

PS: I'm reading Game of Thrones. Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is It Wednesday Yet?

This is the second week in a row that I don't post anything in between my "Is It Wednesday Yet?" columns. Why is that?

Well, I've been distracted by other things. Planning a trip, doing some writing (not for sharing), getting a new computer, watching Doctor Who, reading Game of Thrones, having sex (yes, it happened; no, I don't have pics), and contemplating an over-ambitious video project which may or may not get realized later this month. All of which means I haven't been reading as many comics as I'd like (my huge pull list from last week is still mostly in my to-read pile), and the ones that I did read I found that I either didn't have anything to say about them or was too busy/lazy to put those thoughts into words.

So, yeah, sorry about that. This weekend I went to the (air-conditioned!) library with my brand new MacBook Pro and sat down to write some quick reviews of the books I'd read over the past few days: Detective Comics #879, Batgirl #23, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2, and The Red Wing #1. All of which I thought were very good. But I just stared at the blank screen for a few minutes and then gave up.

Meanwhile, I incessantly spew forth my opinions and impressions on Twitter, so if you really can't get enough of me, you should follow me there.

More words about Barbara Gordon!

There have already been an awful lot of words written about Barbara Gordon and what's happening to her in DC's September relaunch. I've commented on it several times, here and elsewhere, and just about everyone in the comics blogosphere had something to say about it. So why am I linking to this very long piece about her on Bleeding Cool by Eric Glover? Because it's pretty good. I really hope that someone at DC reads it.

To blog or not to blog about Doctor Who?

I'm half tempted to start writing about Doctor Who. I know it's not comics, but there's probably enough crossover appeal to justify posting reviews on this blog, no? What do you think? Or should I preserve the purity of my blog's focus on comics?

Technical issues

I've had a few people tell me they were unable to post comments on my blog, which is super annoying. The other day, I even experienced the technical glitch myself as it took several tries before I was able to respond to a comment someone else had left. I'm very annoyed by this, but I'm not sure what to do about it.

If anybody has anything to say, you an always do so on Twitter or by e-mail. My contact info for both is included in the sidebars.

New comics this week!

After last week's massive pull list, I was glad (and my wallet was glad) to get a break this week. I'm only buying three books:

  • Batman: Gates of Gotham #3 (DC)
  • Supergirl #66 (DC)
  • All Nighter #2 (Image)
I'm sticking with Supergirl despite really hating the art in the last issue. Like, really, really hating it a lot. But Kelly Sue DeConnick's story is good and I want to support very rare occasion of a woman who isn't Gail Simone writing for DC.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Last week's awful Flashpoint issue, which I didn't even have the strength to review, combined with the sheer idiocy of the reveal at the end of issue #2 of Knight of Vengeance, convinced me to stop buying anything that had the word "Flashpoint" printed on the cover. Even though I was semi-enjoying at least a few of those mini-series and was vaguely curious about where the whole thing would lead and how it would flow into the New 52 in September, I finally realized that there's a reason so many people hate these comic book events. They suck!

And yet in spite of having dropped Booster Gold and that Frankenstein tie-in, I still end up with a gigantic list this week. (See below.) Going over-budget again.

Fill-in artists and unsolicited creative team changes on DC books

Yesterday I got into a bit of an argument with Gail Simone on Twitter after I made a cynical remark about not having faith in DC's ability to hold stable creative teams on the new books for more than a couple of issues. I understand why she was upset about it and how, from her perspective, it might seem like all I do is complain, but honestly I feel like my cynicism over this is 100% justified, given DC's recent track record with this issue and given that it's only going to get worse, based on DC's insistence that books will now ship on schedule and that artists will be replaced if they can't deliver the books on time. It's not like I'm making any of this up. It's coming straight from the horse's mouth. I think when a publisher who already has a rampant problem with art consistency on their books announced that they are going to have even more fill-in artists after a big line-wide relaunch, there's ample reason for me to say: "Fuck this. I'm not spending any money on these books until they come out in collections."

More than any other factor, it's the issue of inconsistent art that has convinced me to stop buying monthly books from DC in September. And let's be clear: I have no problem with occasional fill-in artists on a series. I understand that doing a monthly book must be incredibly demanding for a single artist, especially given the level of detail and craft that's expected of modern comic book artists. But there's a way to plan it so that the fill-in art feels organic to the story, rather than a last-minute patch-up job. A perfect example of this is Scott Snyder's current Detective Comics run, which has been alternating between art by Jock and Francesco Francavilla, both of whom are immensely talented artists who bring their own style and unique contribution to the story. This is the kind of model that I would like to see more books at DC adopt, but unfortunately there is no indication that the editors are learning anything from the critical success of this book.

Another book that I think manages to handle the art teams fairly well is Amazing Spider-Man. The art team is constantly shifting, but it doesn't bother me that much because I don't feel like I'm being lied to by the solicitations. The book ships twice a month, so it would pretty much be impossible for an artist to draw every issue for an extended period of time anyway, so the rotating artists are part of the plan. Some of them I like more than others, but the important thing is there are no nasty surprises when I pick up a book expecting Artist-so-and-so-who-was-listed-in-the-solicitation and instead find a name on the cover that I've never even seen before. If Marvel editors can get their shit together on a book that ships twice a month, why can't editors at DC get it right on a monthly book like Birds of Prey?

So that was the root of my pseudo-argument with Gail Simone yesterday, though I'm not sure I really managed to get any of my points across very clearly. I'm disappointed that she thinks I'm just being silly and cynical, but I guess part of that comes from our different perspective on the issue. When I brought up Jesus Saiz, who was announced as the new regular artist in BOP to much fanfare and who only worked on a single issue before a fill-in artist was brought it, she justified it by saying that editors wanted him to get a head start on the September books instead, as if that was supposed to make it better. In fact, it makes it worse! Because it proves that the inconsistent art teams on BOP weren't the result of unforeseen accidents or incompetence on the part of the artists, but poor planning by the editors. They decided to pull their brand new "regular" artist off the book after a single issue, even though he was listed in the solicitations as doing the next issue, even though the previous 12 issues of the series had already suffered tremendously from this revolving door approach to art. I rest my case.

Comics posi-vibes on Twitter!

On the other hand, I hate being a cynic. It's not like I want to be right about that stuff. I want the DC relaunch to be successful. I want DC to finally get it right. I want to be proven wrong about a lot of the concerns I have about what's going to happen to those books in September and beyond.

I think as a self-appointed comic book blogger, it's easy to slip into the habit of spending more time and energy pointing out the things that are wrong (or that we perceive as wrong) than talking about the things we feel good about.

And there are plenty of comics I'm very excited about. I wouldn't have 13 books on my pull list this week if I wasn't super-excited about the state of comics! So to tip the balance back in a positive direction, I've taken it upon myself to focus on the positive for the rest of the week. I'm going to be using the tag #comicsposivibes to stuff I read and enjoy and stuff I'm looking forward to.

I don't think I have enough followers to get that topic trending, but feel free to use the tag and spread the love.

New comics this week!

  • Batgirl #23 (DC)
  • Detective Comics #879 (DC)
  • Teen Titans #97 (DC)
  • American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #2 (of 5) (Vertigo)
  • Northlanders #42 (Vertigo)
  • Hellboy: The Fury #2 (of 3) (Dark Horse)
  • Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #2 (of 5) (IDW)
  • Gladstone's School for World Conquerors #3 (Image)
  • Red Wing #1 (of 6) (Image)
  • Amazing Spider-Man #665 (Marvel)
  • FF #6 (Marvel)
  • Journey into Mystery #652 (Marvel)
  • Loose Ends #1 (of 4) (12 Gauge)
I want to point out that there's a new epic story arc starting in Northlanders. It's going to be the final story, with the book concluding at issue #50. Like all stories in Northlanders, it's completely standalone, so you even if you've never picked up an issue before, you can jump right in. I highly recommend that you do, because it's one of the best titles at Vertigo - or any publisher, as far as I'm concerned.

Red Wing is a new mini-series by Jonathan Hickman.

Loose Ends is something that was completely off my radar until I heard Kelly Thompson's enthusiastic endorsement on this week's Three Chicks Review Comics podcast. I'm not sure they'll have it at my store, but if so I'll probably pick up a copy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Is It Wednesday Yet?

I don't really have time for much commentary/ranting this week, so I'm just going to leave my pull list here.

  • Flashpoint #3 (DC)
  • Jonah Hex #69 (DC)
  • Superboy #9 (DC)
  • Sweet Tooth #23 (Vertigo)
  • Astonishing Thor #5 (Marvel)
It's so tempting to just drop Flashpoint at this point, since I'm not really interested in the relaunch and it's pretty obvious that this event is not going to be a self-contained story at all, but merely a set-up for whatever comes next.

Jonah Hex is a comic book I've never read in my life, although I keep hearing very good things about it. This month I am finally picking it up because it features art by Jeff Lemire, who has a big week with Superboy and Sweet Tooth also hitting the shelves. Isn't it kind of weird that DC stacks all of his books on the same week like that? Wouldn't it make more sense to spread though across the month, so his fans have a reason to go to the store more than once?

Astonishing Thor is the last part in a mini-series that started like ten months ago. I really hate these bi-monthlies. It's way too long to wait between issues.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quick reviews: Amazing Spider-Man, American Vampire, Project Superman

Amazing Spider-Man #663-664
Written by Dan Slott; pencils by Giuseppe Camuncoli; inks by Klaus Janson; colours by Matt Hollingsworth; Marvel.

After a thankfully brief but very mediocre Avengers Academy crossover, Amazing Spider-Man is back on track. I enjoy Dan Slott's pacing in this series. He finds a good balance between advancing the various subplots in small increments to tell an overarching story, while keeping things interesting with the more immediate action with the villain of the month (in this case, Negative Man). The art by Camuncoli and Janson is very functional, not overly flashy or spectacular, but getting the job done quite well. All of which adds to a pretty solid and reliable comic.



American Vampire #16
Written by Scott Snyder; art by Rafael Albuquerque; colours by Dave McCaig; Vertigo.

I'm loving this, though I don't really have much to add. Every issue in this arc has been very good, so this is just more of the same, though I mean that as a compliment. Albuquerque's art is a bit difficult to follow in one of the scenes here, and I'm not entirely sure if it was intentional or not, but in any case it's not a big enough deal for me to take points away from this issue. Between this and the Survival of the Fittest mini-series with Sean Murphy, American Vampire has turned out to be a surprising hit for me, considering I don't really have any interest in vampires otherwise.



Flashpoint: Project Superman #1
Plot by Scott Snyder and Lowell Francis; script by Lowell Francis; art by Gene Ha; colour by Art Lyon; DC.

This wasn't really what I expected. I thought it was going to be about Superman being held captive by the military and experimented upon, but he doesn't even show up in this book until the very last page. It takes place 30 years before the events of Flashpoint and is about Neil Sinclair, a man who's getting turned into a super-soldier for a secret military project, presumably using Kryptonian DNA? As he gets more and more powerful, he also becomes more disconnected and inhuman. I was reminded a bit of A God Somewhere, a graphic novel about a dude who acquires God-like powers and flips out, although Neil doesn't become as violent and amoral as the character in that story did. There's some speculation that this character is going to turn out to be Apollo (the Wildstorm character) in DC's relaunch of Stormwatch in September. This comic left me pretty cold. Neil Sinclair doesn't have much depth as a character, because don't know much about his life before he enters this project and he doesn't seem to have a personality. The supporting cast is even more flat. The story is by-the-numbers. The art is okay.


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