Monday, January 30, 2012

Is It Wednesday Yet?

I'm glad I managed to write some comics reviews last week and I hope I can keep the momentum going. But as always, there are things happening in live that could possibly get in the way.

Plus, I thought I'd have lots of time to read comics after finishing A Clash of Kings, but I couldn't help it and bought A Storm of Swords and started reading it this morning on the way to work. I'm sorry.

Anyway. Some new comics this week:

  • Animal Man #6 (DC)
  • Swamp Thing #6 (DC)
  • Sweet Tooth #30 (DC)
  • Alpha Girl #1 (Image)
  • Fatale #2 (Image)
  • Amazing Spider-Man #679 (Marvel)
  • Punisher #8 (Marvel)
  • Winter Soldier #1 (Marvel)
I've fallen behind on both of those DC titles, so I hope they haven't started sucking and I'm not even aware of it. I'll try to catch up on them before Wednesday and let you know what I think.

Sweet Tooth is back on track now after a brief flashback story about the origins of the plague, which was illustrated (quite nicely) by Matt Kindt. That flashback made me a little uncomfortable for reasons that I still want to write about someday, but probably not today. (Hint: cultural appropriation.) But I'm not letting that turn me off too much, because other than that one thing, Sweet Tooth is still my favourite comic.

I've put Alpha Girl on the list even though I'm not totally convinced that I'm going to get it myself, but it's a new series from Image so it's probably at least worth flipping through at the store. Something to do with zombies, unfortunately. I'm a bit tired of zombies and vampires.

Fatale #1 was great, so I'm really looking forward to the second issue.

And Winter Soldier... Blargh. I'm about 90% sure I'm not going to buy that, unless I get a sudden urge to spend more money than I should. which happens a lot, so it's not completely out of the question.

PS: Follow me on Twitter and/or on Tumblr.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, The Ray, Punisher

The Amazing Spider-Man #678
Written by Dan Slott; pencils by Humberto Ramos; inks by Victor Olazaba; colours by Edgar Delgado; Marvel

Instead of writing a review I think I'll just show you this image:

Is this Spider-Man or Mr. Freaking Fantastic? Because that does not look like a human body to me. I think Ramos' art is a little too cartoony (in the sense that he distorts figures, proportions, faces, etc. for effect) for my tastes.

Otherwise, I'm still sort of enjoying this book, but it's hard to forget that it's $4 and twice a month. That's a lot of money for something that I'm only kind of enjoying. Consider it on probation.

Scarlet Spider #1
Written by Christopher Yost; pencils by Ryan Stegman; inks by Michael Babinski; colours by Marte Gracia; Marvel

I bought this out of curiosity (I like to try #1s to see if new series show any promise) and because I have fond memories of Chris Yost's Red Robin (before Fabian Nicieza took over and fucked it all up).

Scarlet Spider (aka Kaine) is apparently a clone of Spider-Man who turned evil, then died to save Peter, then was resurrected in the recent Spider Island event, and is now trying to decide whether he just wants to enjoy his new life or be a hero. That's a lot of backstory, which can be a bit of a turn off for me when I'm not super-invested in the characters, but Yost seems to deal with it swiftly in the first issue so he can tell a good story going forward.

I think I'm going to stick with this one for a few more issues. The art is nice and I like the character. The plot revolves around a case of human trafficking, which, is it just me or are super-hero comics obsessed with human trafficking? I feel like it shows up in Batman comics a lot, and lately it was in that awful Huntress mini-series. Anyway. I'm not too thrilled about that aspect of it, but it's not a major turn off or anything.

I have a feeling this series is going to be short-lived, which seems to be the fate of most solo books for non A-list characters at Marvel these days, but I'll take the risk.

The Ray #2 (of 6)
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti; pencils by Jamal Igle; inks by Rich Perrotta; colours by Guy Major; DC

I like the narration in this comic. The way the protagonist is talking directly to the reader. It's a little bit meta, but not in a high-concept kind of way. It reminds me of TV shows, like Malcolm in the Middle or something. (Was that a bad comparison? Sorry.) The point is, it's a good way to give the character a voice and a personality. Which, I'm assuming, most readers need at this point, since they're not familiar with this guy.

It's not really clear to me how the Ray's light-based powers work. I think he absorbs light and then can use that energy to fly around and do other things, but then it eventually runs out. He can also manipulate how the light reflects off his body, which allows him to change his appearance.

The plot revolves around his troubles with his girlfriend and her parents, and by the end of the issue the situation has turned into a classic save the girl scenario, after these weird insect-like creatures who talk like Daleks randomly fall from the sky.

There's nothing really mind-blowing about this, but the writing is pretty sharp. Jamal Igle's art is unremarkable, but not a turn off. I'll give it another issue at least and see where it goes.

The Punisher #7
Written by Greg Rucka; pencils by Michael Lark; inks by Stefano Gaudiano; colours by Matt Hollingworth; Marvel

I just love the fact that Marvel editors have enough faith in what Greg Rucka is doing with this series that they're willing to let him write an entire issue of The Punisher in which The Punisher doesn't appear. It's great pacing for the series as a whole, giving us a little interlude after the carnage in the previous action-packed issue, and it also works perfectly as a stand-alone issue. It even functions as a pretty good jumping-on point for new readers, as the cops investigating the case kind of sum up everything that's happened so far.

The art team is also fantastic, giving the book a great pulp noir look that matches Rucka's writing style. I really don't care much about The Punisher as a character. I gave this series a try purely because of Rucka. It doesn't disappoint.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm reading comics again! // Reviews: Daredevil, Batman, Wonder Woman

Operation Catch-up on Comics has officially begun, since I FINALLY finished reading A Clash of Kings yesterday. This morning on the way to work, I read three comics.

Daredevil #8
Written by Mark Waid; art by Kano; colours by Javier Rodriguez; Marvel

This is part 2 of a two-part crossover with Amazing Spider-Man. Waid wrote the ASM issues as well, so the two really flow together as one two-part story, despite the different art team on the books. I've been enjoying Daredevil since this volume began, due as much to Waid's dialogue as to the great art by his collaborators. Here, the art by Kano is nowhere near the level of either Paolo Rivera or Marcus Martin, but Javier Rodriguez's colours help give it a similar feel.

I was pretty turned off by a few awful examples of stupid-looking sexualized poses for Black Cat, though. That's the kind of shit that takes me right out of a story, unfortunately. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the way the character is written either. (SPOILERS:) She's being very flirty with Daredevil throughout this issue, and at the end you find out that she was paid to seduce him in order to steal something from him. Hmm. A female character in a comic book having to resort to her sexuality in order to achieve something. Where have I seen that before? (Um, maybe in a million other sexist comics out there?)

It's kind of sad, really, because up to this point there wasn't really anything I didn't like about this series. Even the fact that this was a crossover didn't bother me, in part because I happen to be reading both series, but also because it's a crossover that makes sense. I love the way the two characters interact and Mark Waid's Spider-Man is even funnier than Dan Slott's. (Not to knock Dan Slott's writing. I'm enjoying ASM a lot, in spite of the mostly terrible art.)

So, yeah, that was kind of a bummer, but I enjoyed the story otherwise.

Batman #5
Written by Scott Snyder; pencils by Greg Capullo; inks by Jonathan Glapion; colours by FCO; DC

I loved Scott Snyder's run on Detective Comics just before the relaunch, but so far his run on Batman hasn't grabbed me to the same level. Is it because of the art? Maybe. Greg Capullo is a fine artist, but he's no Francesco Fancavilla. But mostly I think it's the story. And maybe also the fact that I'm kind of over Bruce Wayne as a character.

This issue's doing the whole Batman being drugged up and people screwing with his mind thing. It's not the first time we've seen something like this. It ends with a moment that might have been kinda shocking if it weren't on the freaking cover. There's also a neat trick with the layouts changing direction halfway through the book, forcing you to physically turn the book upside down as Batman spirals deeper into the labyrinth. It's kinda neat.

I'm not hating this. It's a solid Batman comic. I just think I'm at a point where "solid Batman comic" doesn't really cut it anymore. Or maybe it's just a phase. Or maybe the story's about to get really good and blow my mind. We'll see.

Wonder Woman #5
Written by Brian Azzarello; art by Tony Akins; colours by Matthew Wilson; DC

This was definitely the most underwhelming issue of Wonder Woman since the relaunch. And I don't think it's just because Cliff Chiang didn't draw it, though that certainly has a huge impact. Tony Akins' art is actually quite nice, but Cliff Chiang's been absolutely killing it for the past four issues, so it's a tough sell. I'm also getting really tired of Brian Azzarello's dialogue, I think. I don't know, it just sounds too scripted or something, like it's simultaneously trying too hard and not hard enough. It's hard to put my finger on it, but it's bugging me.

On the other hand, I kinda like the way this book is turning into a soap opera involving Greek gods. I have no idea why they described this as a horror book. It's totally a soap.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is It Wednesday Yet? // What's wrong with her spine?

Ever since I started following this awesome tumblr called Eschergirls, I've been asking myself a couple of questions: How did this kind of art become so popular, and how come nobody has put a stop to it yet?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, just click the link about. You'll immediately recognize the type of pose I mean. It's the one where a female character twists her body around in ways that are anatomically impossible in order to showcase both her ass and her boobs for the reader.

I'm serious. I don't understand why that kind of art can be so popular in professionally made comic books by major publishers. The obvious answer is that dumb straight males get turned on by gratuitous shots of tits and asses, and publishers assume that dumb straight males are their primary and most profitable demographic, so they pander to them. I supposed there's a little bit of truth to that. But that answer doesn't really satisfy me, because I actually find it incredibly difficult to be believe that there are that many straight guys who actually find those images sexually appealing.

Let's put aside all the feminist concerns about whether these images are offensive or harmful for a second and just look at them as pure images devoid of any moral or political charge, designed specifically for the purpose of giving dudes a hard-on. (Yeah, I know this is a weird thought experiment and there's no such thing as amoral/apolitical images, but just go with it for the sake of argument.) Let's go even further and pretend for a moment that straight males are the ONLY people reading comics (which is completely false) and that they DEMAND that these comics include sexy images of hot chicks. (I know. Crazy, right?)

Okay. If you can somehow accept the over-the-top premise of the previous paragraph, I say that still doesn't justify these awful poses. You're telling me that's the best, most sexy depictions of women these artists can come up with? You're telling me horny straight virgin dudes are happy with that? They wouldn't prefer to see sexy images of women that, oh, I don't know, at least look human?

I don't understand it at all. I don't understand how artists can produce those images and not be ashamed of them - not because they are overly sexualized but because they are SHITTY ART. I don't understand how editors don't shoot those images down and demand that those pages get redrawn - again, simply on the basis that they don't meet their basic requirements for quality. And I don't understand why readers put up with it.


Anyway. Here are some new comics I'll be buying this week:

  • American Vampire #23 (Vertigo)
  • Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred #1 (of 6) (Image)
Wow. It's a very light week. But, oh, man, I'm really excited about that Bulletproof Coffin sequel.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is It Wednesday Yet? // Huntress, Batgirl, the New 52

If you've been paying attention to the comics blogs and news sites (and since you are reading this, I'm going to assume that you have), then you probably know that DC has announced a second wave of "New 52" titles along with other changes to their line, including some cancellations. As you might expect, some of the announcements were rather baffling. It was no big surprise that Hawk & Dove was cancelled, since it was undoubtedly one of DC's worst books and the sales were very low, but how could this possibly lead to artist Rob Liefeld being given not one but THREE books in exchange? It's really hard to understand how DC arrives at those types of decisions. I'm not going to waste any time speculating about it. The good news here is that the books Liefeld will be drawing are not books I would ever in a million years be tempted to read, so it's not like this has any effect on me at all.

Another bit of news had to do with the character of Huntress, who is currently starring in an eponymous mini-series written by Paul Levitz, and who will soon co-star with Power Girl in a new title by the same writer called World's Finest. What we learned about her is that she's not Helena Bertinelli, the character most fans are familiar with since she's been appearing in DC comics for the past 20 years, but Helena Wayne, her somewhat more obscure pre-Crisis equivalent. (Just read this post from DC Women Kicking Ass if you're confused.)

Why does this matter? As some people have pointed out, in the reboot, all characters have been changed, so this was never going to be the pre-New 52 Huntress, regardless of her name. That may be true, but clearly some characters are changing more than others. Bruce Wayne may technically be a few years younger than he was, and a few details from his early years as Batman may have changed, but if you're reading Scott Snyder's Batman, you know that he's pretty much writing him exactly the same way he would have written him in pre-52 continuity.

The point is, while there are a few New 52 books that I think are really good, almost all of them would have worked just as well in pre-New 52 continuity: Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Batman, Batman and Robin. The books and characters that have been changed the most - Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, Batgirl, Superman, Justice League - are of no interest to me, because they all feel like inferior versions of their predecessors. (The only exception is Wonder Woman.)

So now we have Huntress in her own mini-series, wearing essentially the same costume as in her pre-New 52 appearances, drawn gorgeously by Marcus To, going on an international mission to Italy where we find out that she's fluent in Italian. I hope you'll forgive me for assuming that this was Helena Bertinelli. And I was reading it in spite of the fact that the story is a freaking bore and some of it is vaguely racist, simply because this is one of the only female characters I liked from pre-New 52 DCU who survived unchanged and got her own book, so damn right I'm going to support it.

But, hey! What an idiot! I can't believe I fell for it. Of course she's not who I thought she was. She's Helena Wayne. A character I've never read before and don't really care about.

Why the change? Is it because she's more interesting if she's linked to Bruce Wayne? Is it because DC is more concerned with appealing to old men who used to read comics and maybe might be interested in reading them again if they feature characters they recognize?

I don't know. But I lost interest. I'm not even going to finish the mini-series. I'm done with that one.


Incidentally, I'm also done with Batgirl. I read this interview with Gail Simone and it annoyed me for a few different reasons I don't even really want to get into. But the short version is that I have no desire to read this book anymore. I was very much against the idea of Barbara Gordon not being Oracle anymore and the only reason I decided to read the new series was to give Gail Simone a chance to prove me wrong. I think five issues is more than a fair chance, and at this point I have read absolutely nothing that in any way justifies what they've done to the character. The story they are telling is not terrible. But it's just not worth what was lost. Not even close. I miss Oracle. I miss Stephanie Brown. And I miss Bryan Q. Miller.

The worst part is that Gail Simone keeps mentioning that Batgirl is the top-selling female solo book on the market, which I suppose is one way to measure it's success, and I feel like a goddamn tool for having contributed to that success. I bought the first five issues was so that I could judge it for myself and nobody could tell me I was bashing a book I hadn’t even read. Well, I read it, and I hereby judge it to be bad. If I could go back in time and un-buy those five issues, I would.


Oh, well. Here are some comics I will buy this week:

  • Batman #5
  • Wonder Woman #5
  • Amazing Spider-Man #678
  • Daredevil #8
  • Superior #7

Monday, January 9, 2012

Is It Wednesday Yet?

Oh, man. Working full time. It takes a lot of energy. Not that I'm complaining. I'm happy. I love my job. I love the fact that I have money and benefits and job security. But finding the energy to focus on personal creative projects on evenings and weekends is a real challenge.

Last week, I had to work on music every night in order to prepare for a show I was playing on Saturday. It was torture, because all I wanted to do was lie down on the couch, eat potato chips, drink beer and watch TV. But I think it paid off in the end. (You can judge for yourself by listening to the recording of my set.)

This week, my plan is to get back into writing about comics. And again, all I want to do is watch episodes of Breaking Bad. I'm thinking maybe I should start writing in the morning. I'm too brain dead in the evening. I'm smarter, more relaxed and more focused in the morning. But I might have to wake up an hour earlier, which would mean going to bed an hour earlier, and I already find it hard to go to bed at 11:00. I don't know...

Anyway. Comic books! I've been reading some.

I thought the first issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' FATALE was pretty good. Nice blend of crime noir with hints of Lovecraftian horror. Only hints for now, but judging from the cover and the essay on Lovecraft in the back pages, I'm guessing it'll get more explicit soon. Recommended.

I also caught up on a few series I'd fallen way behind on, such as DAREDEVIL and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY. I don't really know if I need to say anything about the former, because critic on the internet seems to be praising it, and it's well deserved. A perfect marriage of story and art. Just a joy to read. Meanwhile, JIM suffers from being tied to the Fear Itself event and its aftermath, but is still worth reading because of the awesome characterization of young Loki. The art is also a bit all over the place, depending on the creative team.

Those are some more or less random choices from the stuff I've been reading mostly on my morning commute to work these past couple of weeks. Going forward, I'm going to try to be more diligent about writing short reviews for individual issues.

Here's what's on my pull list this week:

  • Batgirl #5 (DC)
  • Batman and Robin #5 (DC)
  • Batwoman #5 (DC)
  • Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #5 (DC)
  • The Ray #2 (of 4) (DC)
  • The Shade #4 (of 12) (DC)
  • Northlanders #47 (Vertigo)
  • Amazing Spider-Man #677 (Marvel)
  • Journey into Mystery #633 (Marvel)
  • Wolverine and the X-Men #4 (Marvel)
That's a lot of books and not a lot of non-DC/Marvel stuff. Sorry about that.

BATGIRL is teetering on the edge of my tolerance threshold right now. I can't say I'm enjoying it very much and the only reason I'm still buying it is that I feel some kind of obligation to stay on top of things in terms of the whole Oracle/New 52 situation, so that I can form my own opinion about it and potentially write about it later. I've tried to resist saying too much about how I feel about it for now, but sooner or later it's all going to come out. And when it does I'd like it to be an informed and carefully thought-out analysis, not just an emotional outburst.

Meanwhile, BATMAN AND ROBIN is a title that I had decided to completely ignore in the New 52, but I was convinced by Damian's considerable fan-following on Tumblr to give it a try. I bought the first four issues and read them over the holidays and I have to say it's really good. And I realize now just how much I missed Damian. Peter Tomasi has a good understanding of the character and Patrick Gleason's art is very pretty. The only problem I have with the series so far is that the first arc is yet another story about whether it makes sense for Batman to refuse to kill the villains he fights when they keep escaping from Arkham and killing more people. It's been done to death already, so it's hard to take it seriously. I'm also a little bit nervous about the preview for this week's issue, which teases a betrayal by Damian/Robin. But on the other hand, come on, that's gotta be a red herring.

I'm considering skipping FRANKENSTEIN this week, as it's a stupid crossover with OMAC. Although according to Dan DiDio, it's not necessary to read both. *sigh*

First issue of THE RAY was okay. The first three issues of THE SHADE were fantastic. As were those of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN. And AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has been pretty consistently entertaining, despite the mostly shitty art.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Irrelevant Comics in 2012

Hey! I'm still here! Things got a little crazy in December, so I had to put IC on hiatus. But now the new year is here and it's time to get back into the groove. 

First, I want to say that I started a new job! This is not totally on topic, but I'm telling you anyway, because it's a big deal to me and it affects everything I do, not only in terms of schedule but also in terms of interests.

I work in the marketing department for a toy company, so all of a sudden toys are something I think about A LOT. Since I'm a comic book fan, toys have been on my radar for a while, but I've purposely kept them on the periphery of my interests, simply because I didn't want to open up that can of worms and start them. Well, that ship has sailed. Now they're pretty much on my mind all the time.

Which company do I work for? I'm not going to name it, because I don't want my professional and blogging lives to intersect too much. But we make construction toys (building blocks) and the name doesn't start with "L." That should narrow it down some.

Anyway. I'm happy and excited. I was in desperate need for a change of pace, and I got one! No more part-time work, no more freelancing, no more working from home. This means I spend more time working, yes, but it also means I feel more motivated than ever, so it's a good trade-off. I also get 45 minutes of public transport commuting twice a day, during which there isn't really anything to do other than read comics (or books).

I haven't figured out yet how much writing I'm going to be able to get done. I'm still adjusting to my new schedule and settling into a routine. But I have big plans for the year, and they include this blog.

My first step is going to be to relaunch my weekly column, "Is It Wednesday Yet?", starting next week. The rest is up in the air for now, but rest assure that there will be more.

Meanwhile, Tumblr continues to be my instant-gratification dumping ground for reblogging images, ranting about gender politics and occasional comic book commentary. I'm going to try to be more diligent about linking back and forth between this place and Tumblr, but if you want you can follow me here. And of course I'm also on Twitter.

Stay tuned, faithful readers.

  © Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2008

Back to TOP