Friday, November 30, 2007

Aaron Lopresti Signs With DC

Well, holy f**king s**t.

"After helping to give the look to Planet Hulk and Ms. Marvel at Marvel for the past few years, artist Aaron Lopresti is packing his bags and moving across town. The artist and DC have confirmed that Lopresti has signed an exclusive with the company, and his first work (yet unnamed) will appear in early 2008."

I'm a big Ms. Marvel fan, so this is pretty earth-shaking news for me.

"While he was naming names, Lopresti picked one out at DC to cite as the main reason for his move from Marvel to DC: Dan DiDio."


And what about Lopresti's unnamed DC project?

"Well, I’m under the impression that it will be fun to draw and it probably fits within the context of what most people would expect me to be doing,” Lopresti said."

So it probably has a chick in it.

(counts off on fingers):

Batgirl? Supergirl?



Power Girl?

And who will the new artist be on Ms. Marvel?

Occasional Reviews: One More Day Of Reviews

Sensational Spider-Man #41
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski

Artists: Joe Quesada & Danny Miki

I don't think this third part of "One More Day" is terrible. I think it's just a bit "Deus Ex Machina."


1. After all he's been through, doesn't Peter Parker know that making a deal with Mephisto is a Bad Idea?

2. After all he's been through, hasn't Peter learned enough about life that he can accept his aged aunt's death...or at least not make a deal with the DEVIL to save her, a deal that will destroy all the potentiality he can have with his wife? Is there any balance at all between the Past and the Future with this guy? The death of an elderly close relative is awful...but would you contaminate the life of your spouse with a deal with essentially Satan to bring this relative back? You don't know what's going to happen. Mephisto could turn Mary Jane into a Nerf Ball and drop kick her into the pit of Tartarus?

3. Wouldn't May be absolutely horrified and disgusted that Peter could even THINK of doing this?

4. Out of ALL the intelligent & superpowered & cosmic beings Spidey has befriended over the years, is Meph is the best he can do in terms of help?

That said, I fear that in the tizzy about "OMD" what will be overlooked is Joe Quesada's art. He has obviously poured his heart into drawing this story. There are many touching moments, like Peter talking to his Daughter That Will Never Be -- simply beautiful, tender characterizations of this young girl. And Loser Peter -- overweight, alone, and with his head in a text book. Just the ultimate look of regret on his face -- it's the type of art that communicates more in one wistful panel than the whole issue of Straczynski's scripting.

But it is in his renderings of Mephisto that Quesada's work really shines. It is the sort of detailed, powerful linework that takes a lot of care and enthusiasm to execute.

So it's a 50/50 with me. I find this a beautiful book to flip through. The story is a little weak.

And if I was MJ on this story, I'd be slapping Peter in the face and saying: "HE'S THE FRICKING DEVIL! WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS?"

Because you know Lois would have done that.

Story: C
Art: A

Teen Titans #53
Writer: Sean McKeever

Art: Eddy Barrows & Rob Hunter

I don't blame McKeever for this issue. Or the ones before it.

There is no consistent voice, no consistent artist, and no consistent direction on this book. These are all, ultimately, editorial concerns.

I tried to give Teen Titans a chance for four issues. But I feel as if I have read the same fight scene over and over again.

Are things going to get better? Should I spend another $2.99 on this title?

I really want to know.

Rating: C-

Archibald Saves Christmas
Writer: Dwight L. Macpherson
Artist: Grant Bond

This quirky holiday one-shot by Image Comics was a pleasant little diversion. Mickey prototype Archibald Aardvark has a nasty habit of being connected to horrible bloody murders. He meets Santa. Hilarity ensues. Rendered in a classic animation style punctuated by grainy film-stock effects and bright splashes of red. I laughed too much at inappropriate times with this one.

Rating: B+


I knew you could do it and I'm so happy for you. You worked so hard for this and you really deserve it.

Fangirl Fridays: Down With Marriage?

In part 3 of the "One More Day" Spider-Man event, Mephisto tells Peter Parker: "I want your marriage."

That's a strange request. Wouldn't it make more sense to just kill Spidey himself and thus open the door to more unchecked evildoing? Why is Peter's marriage to MJ such a precious commodity?

To say that "OMD" is merely part of an anti-marriage agenda in comics is simplifying things way too much. I think the predicament presented by "OMD" illustrates the tug-of-war in the hearts of many married people in this society.

This society largely informs us, through its popular culture, that the personal responsibilty and self-sacrifice involved in the insititution of marriage is a cultural dinosaur and the extension of a Christian guilt-trip. Pop-psychology books and New Age gurus stress the importance of tending to the needs of the Self above all else. Aging celebrities regularly dump their spouses and "trade up." And God isn't even dead, because he doesn't exist at all.

But despite all this, "OMD" has curiously religious overtones. Mephisto is, after all, a representation of the Devil. The Devil is largely a Christian concept. Through attacking Peter & MJ's marriage, he is attacking the very institution of marriage.

And rumor is, he wins.

And Peter will get a chance to date again -- to have many adventures in crime-fighting and romance. And who wouldn't envy the choices available to him? Maybe Gwen will make a comeback. There's always Black Cat. Maybe he can date one of the X-Men -- if Black Panther can do it, I'm sure he can.

And when it's all over, in several years, maybe Peter will get lonely, sentimental. Maybe he will want to settle down again. Maybe he will crave some sort of stability. Maybe that biological need to continue his arachnid-infected DNA will crop up. Who knows? And then he'll think about it and think about it and then he'll break down and once again marry MJ. Or maybe the "reset" button will simply get hit again.

And then, in a few more years, the whole marriage thing will be "boring" again.

This is a common cycle. Many marriages don't survive it. Many more will continue on with some form of infidelity. Pop-culture is not at fault, but it also isn't completely off-the-hook. Values -- considered another "dinosaur" concept by many -- plays a big part. When you're standing at the precipice of a big decision that will impact the rest of your life -- and maybe that of those closest to you -- it's funny what stray thoughts or memories will be crucial.

Should superhero comics reflect the actual or ideal values of a society? By presenting these characters as "heroes," does that necessarily mean that they should convey some sort of values that might be considered "heroic" by society?

Is the idea of a man or woman who sacrifices some of his or her needs to put towards the greater good of their family considered heroic? Is that sort of self-sacrifice necessary for the greater good of society? Or if, as Christopher Hitchens and so many other authors write, God is merely a delusion -- why should these people sacrifice anything at all? For what?

When we die, is that it? Do we have an accounting at all for our actions? If there is no God, and no afterlife, shouldn't we get what's good right now? If the sex isn't great in your marriage, shouldn't you just move on and get some better sex so that you don't "miss out" before you die? Do you want to be like Sally Brown in the pumpkin patch and miss Halloween and candy and games and stuff?

Wouldn't it be great to have a "reset" button?

I believe that the core value of sacrificing of one's wants for the greater good of one's spouse and child to be very heroic. I believe that the parent who goes into their 9 to 5 every day with the monkeysuit and the briefcase so their children can have proper health insurance is very heroic. I think withstanding the temptation to stray in order to keep stability in the family is very heroic. I think these are the everyday heroic things that go unnoticed by society -- and not only goes unnoticed but is often sneered at.

Who will champion these people? If comics is a part of our present-day secular mythology/religion -- a substitute for the organized religion that is so much under attack and "shown" to be quaint and irrelevant -- where are the role models for the adults who have to raise families and try to balance budgets in this rotten economy and struggle daily with their own sexual temptations?

I don't believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, I don't believe that homosexuality is wrong, I don't believe that good people go to a "hell" because they don't follow the same religion as somebody else. But I do believe in some basic values -- like trust in relationships, devotion, and sacrifice in order for the next generation to survive. I also believe in a God. And I believe that there is an accounting of some sort for our actions in this life.

Is marriage coming under attack in comic books? Is this a good thing? Does this help? Is it entertaining? Is the function of superhero comic books to present an idealized view of a fantasy world where we get everything we want -- a place for sheer escape? Does the inclusion of marriage spoil that? Or does entertainment hold any social responsibility at all? Or is the idea of "social responsibility" gauche to even mention in the same breath as "entertainment?"

Did the family-affirming message of the movie The Incredibles spoil an otherwise entertaining film? Was Mr. Incredible a chump for not sleeping with Mirage? In a finite, godless world, wouldn't it have benefitted him to have a bit of fresh meat? Look how fat he got as a dad and husband. Marriage ruined everything. He couldn't be a hero anymore.

But the point was, he was a hero even before he put on the capes and tights again. He was a hero when he worked at that damn health insurance company -- because he was trying to support his family. It's an important message. People need to hear messages like least as much as hearing messages about newly-single playboy superheroes.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is $2.99 Too Much To Pay For A Comic Book?

Been reading the ongoing digital comics piracy debate, and a thought popped into my mind.

Is $2.99 (or, most often, more) too much to pay for a print single-issue comic book?

It certainly isn't if the material is good.

But I've come to the conclusion that if the material is sub-par -- or merely mediocre -- it's too much money to expect the public to pay.

Let me reiterate:

In the "good old days," I used to wait on baited breath for the next issue of Morrison's "Doom Patrol" or "Love and Rockets." I mean, I would literally count down the thirty days for my fave comics to come out.

But If I buy, say, 6 comics @ $2.99 today at my comic shop, and 4 of them are mediocre reads, that means I just spent around $12.00 on mediocrity that won't even look nice on my bookshelf.

I think this is the real issue that drives the comic book pirates.

Hey, I realize not every book is gonna hit them out of the park. But I classify comics in three catagories:

1. REALLY GOOD BOOKS. Ellis's Thunderbolts, Morrison's All-Star Superman, etc.

2. "Okay" books I have a sentimental attachment to. For me that would include Iron Man & Ms. Marvel, of which I do not miss an issue.

3. Mediocre comics. They're efficient enough time-wasters, but eminently forgettable.

4. Crap.

$2.99 is too much for mediocre & crap. It's just too much money. For $9 I can go buy any number of classic movies on DVD. For $14 I can get a trade paperback that, worst-case scenario, at least can sit nice on my bookshelf or make a viable product to resell on eBay.

But what can I do with a $2.99 floppy that has sucky quality? Nobody wants to buy it from me. I usually won't give it to my friends, because I'm not in the habit of giving friends crap. Besides, they all have too many comics, anyway.

Such "filler" comics are best offered for free or a small subscription fee online. They are good comics to host ads on. They are good product to tout "exclusive comics free on this site!"

Of course, one person's crap is another person's gold. But if we had to analyze it, if we put it to a survey, certain books are going to be pointed out by the majority as either "mediocre" or "crap."

Now the whole "direct to video/DVD" movie phenomenon comes to mind. These films are not good enough to be in the movie theaters, but find a home in affordably-priced copies or Netflix.

Maybe the same principle should apply to comics. Maybe publishers should have a high bar as to the quality of all their print "floppy" books, and then just publish the rest online.

As for the argument made by many digital comics pirates that "sampling" comics for free online will actually lead to more purchases -- we all know this is not the case for mediocre & crap books. The glaring crapocity of a book becomes all the more noticeable when you downloaded an entire week's worth of books and are flipping through files.

Think about it -- you just got 30+ comics for free in one download. The choice is already overwhelming. A title that you might have, one-upon-a-time, actually purchased to "sample" is now ignored by you after glancing at a couple of digital pages.

Do you know how many comics I have purchased that I've regretted? How is this an efficient use of my time? Can I afford to keep "sampling?" Can I afford to buy 4 books a week that are just "okay?"

This is not meant to be a knock on the comics industry. I'm just literally looking at my wallet in preparation for the day's purchases and asking some questions.

Occasional Links: The Dilton Doiley Will Have His Revenge Oh Yes He Will Have His Revenge Edition


Casting Thunderbolt

Blog @ Newsarama doubts William Hurt's ability to play General Thunderbolt Ross in the upcoming Hulk flick. Of course, everyone knows that Ross should be played by crusty hard-as-nails actor Sam "'Stache" Elliot. But here are some other actors who could have made the cut:


No, "Archie Meets The Punisher" Was Apparently Not Enough

Comics Should Be Good reviews the latest Archie epic from Tales Of Riverdale Digest, "Denim." Does the story surpass the standard set by the groundbreaking "Civil Chores" event? Is this the last stand of perennial Archie third-string character Dilton Doiley?

And is this a good time to start the "Archie Comics To Kill Archie, Rename Company Jason Todd Comics" rumor?

Quotables & Quips!

We're talking about a guy who points to his unusually high sperm count as evidence of his credibility on gender issues "

-- Reflections on Internet Instigator Du Jour Rational Madman

"Rational Mad Man is the Hugo Chavez of internet fandom."

--I really don't know what that means, but it sounds good, doesn't it?

"No really. F*k you, all of you. F**k you silver age fanboys, and f**k you golden age fanboys. F**k you feminist fans and f**k you masculist fans. F**k you Marvel fans and F**k you DC fans. A big sidewise two by four up the ass f**k you to independent and literary comics fans. F**k you fat smelly fan boys, and f**k you preppy soap loving fan boys. F**k you hot cosplay fangirls and f**k you fat ass cosplay fangirls. F**k you Bendis fans and F**k you byrne fans. F**k you johns fans and f**k you simone fans. F**k you dixon fans and f**k you beau fans. A big f**k you to "when fangirls attack" and a manly anti-feminist f**k you to F**k you all right in the ear."

-- You know, my mom always used to say that when teh Internets stop being fun for you, it's really time to do something else.

"I wonder what Gardner Fox would say if he saw this?"

--Pretty much the essence of a lot of The Four Color Media's Monitor's posts, bless his heart.

"I'm not ready/eager/willing to read Joe Q's personal take on feminism yet."

-- Dan Bizzle's reaction to the proposed Marvel Classics illustrated adaptation of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique.

"Uh...well, I just read Thunderbolts: Breaking Point this afternoon. And before that...I read Penance #3...guest-starring Wolverine. And then I read...World War Hulk #5..."

-- My hastily-put-together answers to the question "what comic books are you into?" at the NYC Friends of Lulu meeting last night.

"J.K. Rowling is a lily-livered literary chicken."

--Berke Breathed

"You folks are so very "special."

--We here at the OS blog try to limit ourselves to only one Chuck Dixon quote a day.

"It’s not a “Laverne and Shirley.” It’s more like a “Joanie Loves Chachi”"

-- Aint It Cool News on the possibility the Herc/Cho team-up in "Incredible Hulk" is just a set-up for a spin-off series. Which begs the question...who is "Joanie" in this equation?


Teh Best Spidey Ad Evah

This ad is too funny.

It will be even funnier if it turns out that whoever made it didn't get the rights from Marvel.

(via Journalista)


When Environmentalism Goes A Mite Too Far

Dollymix reports on a startling new fashion trend apparently coming out of China:

"...there's a new trend of using recycled condoms to make hair bands. *

no wait, it gets better

"It's reported that there's a certain risk of bacteria being transmitted to the girls, as a lot of us ladies put our hair bands in our mouths while we gather hair to put it in a ponytail."

(vomits coffee and donuts onto keyboard)

"Even worse, if the condom that was used to make the hair band does have infectious bacteria on it, any sort of oral or skin contact with the bacteria can cause the girls to catch STDs ranging from genital warts to HIV."

Even Quagmire now is digusted.

"Girls, if you're thinking of using these hair bands, please don't. They're USED condoms for god's sake! Used! They were in and on some stranger's genitals! DON'T DO IT!"

Blissfully unaware:


The OS Community

We now have breaking video of OS regular Angry Zen Master on the crapper

And Brady Russell reviewing Green Arrow/Black Canary #2

Peoples, get to know your fellow commentors. Shoot videos. Shoot videos on the toilet. Or not. But get involved.

Along those lines, I was thinking of including a "spotlight" on regular visitors to the blog. Similar to what they do on Pop Candy --- but, you know, with a far smaller audience and more of an accent on "World War Hulk."

Along those lines, does anybody out there want to corporately underwrite/sponsor this blog? I won't be able to plug any products that suck, but I will host your Nike ads.

Dancing Fool

Video: A Spider-Man 3/Saturday Night Fever mash-up

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Vast Statue-Making, Woman-Hating Conspiracy?

Thunderbolts: Breaking Point contrasts two women: the cold, amoral manipulator Moonstone, and rebel-with-a-heart-of-gold Songbird. They are former criminals who have both been conscripted by the government to work for the Thunderbolts. Because of her cunning, Moonstone has become team leader, while Songbird labors with the rest of the "rabble."

The U.S. government that employs Thunderbolts is a bit on the corrupt side -- Harry "Green Goblin" Osborne is one of their officials, for pete's sake. They are also licensing out the images of the team members to make action figures and other collectibles.

Because she is popular with "tweens," Songbird gets the inspirational and beautiful action figures made of her. On the other hand, Moonstone gets a variation on the cheesecake "Mary Jane" statue made so infamous earlier this year.

As Osborne tells Moonstone:

"'re popular with...males 18 to 49--a very desirable demographic. They have more disposable income, so we're thinking of a higher-end collectible for you."

Now, there has been some controversy as of late regarding the inclusion of this sequence. Lisa from Sequentially Speaking writes,

"Personally, I get the feeling that the gang over at Marvel is not taking the concerns of feminist fans seriously. There were news stories in the mass media about this, and while not all did, many expressed concern at the story the statue was telling. Rather than letting it lie, Marvel brings it up again, as if to say, "ha ha ha feminists, we're making fun of your concerns again!" Maybe they don't think we actually read Marvel comics? Or maybe they don't want us to read them anymore and are showing us the door with this panel?"

I have to respectfully disagree with her assessment.

If anything, scripter Christos Gage has actually written something rather subversive. By making the analogy between the Moonstone & MJ statues, he is indirectly also making a connection between the corrupt (or merely shameless) government organization that runs Thunderbolts and Marvel Comics. I don't see it as an angry "down with the Man" connection, but it is a connection.

Had Marvel Comics been so concerned about swaying the public's opinion via subtle story details in their books, I would think the first order of the day would be to veto the whole issue outright on the basis that it might be criticizing their licensing practices.

Instead, I see this as Gage (and, by extension, Marvel itself) poking fun at themselves. This is not Captain America holding up a Mary Jane statue and telling feminists to "lighten up." This is Harry Osborne -- certified fruitbat -- holding up a Moonstone statue and saying "hey, this piece of s**t statue will certainly bring in some revenue with the fanboys." He's not to be taken seriously. He's a fruitbat. The whole organization is not to be taken seriously -- they're corrupt. Moonstone is not to be taken seriously -- she's a cold-blooded killer who makes Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct" look like Pippi Longstocking.

Then who should be taken seriously in all this?


Songbird has consistently shown herself to be the most capable and moral person in the entire Thunderbolts. She's brave, a great strategist, and a tough fighter. She's a true superheroine. As such, she apparently appeals to teenage girls in the Marvel Universe because she is a great role model.

It is the Moonstone statue, the organization who made the Moonstone statue, and the inspiration of said Moonstone statue who are all shown to be negative in this story. As an alternative to all that, we are given Songbird -- regarding whose personal life and psyche the whole issue is about.

That said, the controversy over this sequence has brought up a connected issue, reflected upon by commenter James Meeley on Lisa's blog:

"They see this as a way of sparking controversy and publicity for the Marvel brand name. They know there are tons of well-meaning fools, who will see this image and jump onto their blogs and pimp the hell out of it. Sure, they'll be calling it "disgusting" and other things like that, but the exposure (no pun intended) will net them lots of interest. It will most likely make this book sell better, once word gets out, since whenever someone calls something out, people flock to it to see what the big deal is."

Are comic book companies purposely including these things knowing that feminists will get angry and blog about it -- thereby providing free publicity?

I think that line of thinking gives too much (or too little) credit to the "think-tanks" for the big comic publishers. A bunch of curious readers buying some comic just to see the boobies on page three will not save or even seriously impact numbers on a book that is crap. A little sales bump on issue whatever is not going to turn the tide on a title -- good writing and art will (and perhaps a guest-spot by Wolverine). Even if this was a strategy that is used -- which I most certainly think was not the case with the Thunderbolts issue -- it is a short-sighted and ultimately impotent one.

Do the big companies completely disregard the (oft-times totally justified) concerns of feminists regarding their comic books? I have first-hand information & second-hand information that this is not the case. It is on Marvel & DC's radar. The question then becomes, "how much on the radar," and "what are they doing about it?" Those are good questions. But they are not in a bubble, and to paint a picture of villains sitting behind their desks, twirling their mustaches, and laughing about how a half-page scene in an obscure one-shot will really "stick" it to the feminists is stretching things a bit.

And the editor of Thunderbolts: Breaking Point was a woman, by the way.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Exactly How Many Women Are Working In This Industry, Anyhow?

I'm a firm believer that the best way to have diversity reflected in comic books is to have a diverse editorial staff. The writer and artist may create the book -- but it's the editor who sets the tone and hires the creators.

A question bandied about the blogosphere a bit is, "are there enough women working within the comic book industry today?" Of course, "enough" is a pretty arbitrary sum. But you get the idea.

With all this in mind, Friends of Lulu turned to some of the biggest comic companies today to get an up-to-date and accurate list of the women on their payroll. We then broke down the jobs into some basic categories and made an alphabetical listing. (Just to be clear, this is a listing of non-comic creators working for publishers -- editors, marketing people, etc.)

You can see the results here at the Friends of Lulu site.

This list is just part of our overall goal at Lulu to provide a number of useful resources relating to the topic of women in comics. We're tackling the huge "women in comics" section next, which will provide an up-to-date list of all female comic creators.

I realize this might flood my inbox, but if you're a woman and we either forgot to list you on the "Women in the Industry" list, or you want to make sure we have your name, credits, and updated web address for the "Women In Comics" list, drop me a line.

Also, we will be putting together similar lists for female comics retailers and comics journalists/bloggers.

Finally, if you are interested in becoming a member of Lulu -- or were sort of thinking about it for a while but were putting it off -- contact me and I'll give you the run-down on our projects, membership rates, and all that cool stuff.

So anyway, what do you all think? Is there "enough" women in comics? Feedback? Thoughts?

Occasional Links: The "Spidey Loves Oranges" Edition

Okay, Who Here Wouldn't Do Angelina Jolie? Let's Try It That Way.

Breaking News: The latest Hollywood starlet to enticingly drop hints that she'd like to shag Angelina Jolie is...Hayden Panettiere! She apparently told GQ:

"Well, if you want to make me a lesbian, that's totally fine with me. That would be a pretty funny rumour. I'd love to have a love affair with Angelina. And there are other beautiful girls I like too - Charlize Theron, oh my God! Kate Beckinsale is gorgeous too, and Jessica Alba."

I don't want to get started on a rant over here, but why can't male celebrities have the same freedom in describing their own same-sex dream romps? Can you imagine Orlando Bloom or somebody saying in an interview, "Oh, I'd totally do Elijah Wood! OMG!"

And where's the creativity in Panettiere's choices? Jolie, Alba, etc. -- how banal. Now, if she had said "I'd totally do Marsha Cross" -- see, that takes some ingenuity.

In other entertainment rumors, Tom Cruise might be guest-starring in an episode of Doctor Who. As well as possibly Angelina Jolie. Because she's not over-exposed.

Lesbians are..."Special." Yes, that's it. Complete with the little bus.

See, I totally could have linked the above two news items and made a Tom Cruise gay joke...but that would have made me better than the throwaway "nancy-boy" lines in "Countdown" how?

I think there is an inherent homophobia in Tom Cruise gay jokes.

Homophobe Batman, what do you think of that statement?

I kid. Batman's not homophobic. By using the word "special" Bats simply meant "awesome."

And as writer Chuck Dixon points out:

"He's Goddamn Batman, right?"

Yes. Exactly.

"Dr. Light With Rapey Grip Action"

Meanwhile, Evan Dorkin, wondering why they don't make great super-villains like The Scorpion anymore, observes of today's comics:
"Gripping powers, out. Raping abilities, in."

I'm getting a vision of one of those old-school Super Powers action figures with the little karate-chop lever in the back.

(via Journalista)

As If Yu Care...

Lenil Yu assures us that Tigra will have her revenge --

And meanwhile Yu & Bendis have apparently redeemed themselves for the Tigra beatdown with their unexploitative Spiderwoman shower scene:

"There are so many ways that this could have gone wrong, so many. But instead they made it work for me. I think because a) it's Wolverine. Wolverine's not one of my favorite characters, but even I, at my most irritated with him, would never suggest the man is a rapist. He might stab her in the head, sure, but he wouldn't rape her."

I agree: I soooo would rather Jessica Drew be stabbed in the head by Wolverine than raped by him.

"Save The Males"

Journalista's Dirk Deppey comes to the defense of Wonder Woman scribe Gail Simone after she came under a nasty ad hominem attack by blogger Rational Madman:

"This is the point where intelligent men and women, even those who might otherwise agree with what Mr. Rational has to say, will invariably tell him to go fuck himself with a rusty knife. And they’ll be quite right to do so."

Which leads me to reproduce this classic quote from the Rational Madman post in question:

"One of the reason I read comics in the first place is that its one of the last bastions of male competence in entertainment. "

The scary thing is, I've heard variations of this argument from within the comic book industry before, the most prominent being the mantra of one long-time editor:

"Comic books are adolescent male fantasies. As such, they need strong men and sexy women in peril."

They also need ads for "Grit." And the 1969 ABC Saturday Morning line-up.

Teddy Scares
So a teacher in Sudan lets her class of 7-year-olds name their teddy bear "Mohammed."

Guess what happens next?


Video: Why Spider-Man Will Never Get Scurvy:
(via NeedCoffee)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Warner Bros: The Batman Smackdown!

The latest word from LITG:

"Oh and Dead Batman/Todd Batman/God Bruce Wayne? So not happening. You can still expect a status-challenging new scenario, still expect Alex Ross covers and designs, still expect some intricately complex yet instantly entertaining Morrisonia, just, expect something else. Did Internet reaction affect this? Not one jot it seems. All decisions are taking place at a much higher level, and Warner Bros. have made their feelings known."

All this flip-flopping is getting rather ridiculous, isn't it? And yet, it's completely plausible.

Batman -- with its core mythos intact -- is a cash cow for Warner Brothers.

You can't f**k it with it.

My impression? The corporate higher-ups applied the Smackdown.

These smackdowns, in the interest of "brand purity," happen all the time.

I would argue that you have less leeway to f**k with Batman than you do even with Superman.

And then there is the whole "brand confusion" angle. You can't have Dark Knight in theaters and Jason Todd as Batman in the comic book.

And you can't have Jason Todd as Batman because thematically, it's all wrong. And Todd hasn't earned it.

But basically, the fans would have rioted. And so the Smackdown was most likely applied.

While I agree that the Internet buzz didn't directly kill the Todd/Wayne Death storyline, I'm sure it might have underlined it a little to Those Who Know.

Bruce Wayne tells his fans:
(God, it's too late at night to be reading or writing these posts...)

New Red Hulk Images...

Multiple covers (naturally) for Hulk #1, accompanied by the following ad copy:

"Now that the dust has cleared and World War Hulk has ended, the Hulk is seemingly no more. But if that’s true…then who is this new, red skinned Hulk? And what connection does he have to the murder of a classic Hulk character? With Iron Man, She-Hulk and Doc Samson on the case, the answers will be unearthed—and you won’t believe what they discover!"

What do you think?

With Amadeus Cho doing the "hard-travelling heroes" bit with Hercules -- and Doc Samson, She-Hulk, and Thunderbolt Ross (all in the original promo art) apparently in the clear -- my bets are with Rick Jones as Tomato Hulk. Which would dovetail nicely with Bucky-as-Cap and, dare I say it, Jason Todd as Batman.

It's "youthsplosion" down mainstream comics way! The kids have taken over. Only, the kids are all kinda pushing thirty.

Countdown to...Change?

It's the mid-point for the weekly extravaganza Countdown, and apparently -- according to this interview with Newsarama, at any rate -- some changes might be on the horizon...

1. “Let every book be itself.”

The oft-awkward pacing of other DC Comics to fit in with the overarching Countdown storyline had been somewhat of a disaster. Maybe Dan DiDio agrees? He says in the interview:
"Let every book be itself.” Let every story have its own pace. If someone feels, correctly or incorrectly, that their “experience” has been revealed in Countdown or revealed in say, Sinestro Corps War, that’s reflected in another series…I’m willing to make that sacrifice because at the end of the day, I’m confident that Countdown is better because Superman Prime appears at the moment he does, or more importantly, the Superman Prime storyline plays out in the way it does in Sinestro Corps War, and we don’t alter one story or the other."
Will this mean that writers will have more freedom to develop/structure their plots and storylines outside of the iron-clad dictum of Countdown-Countdown-Countdown?

I think that some writers have been alienated by that level of control and capitulation to the needs of the larger event. I don't just mean that the writers have been merely "inconvenienced." I mean, some might have been alienated, disgusted, straitjacketed, frustrated.

And the problem with taking so much independence from said writers is that post-Final Crisis success is going to be measured by how many skilled writers besides Grant Morrison is writing DCU.

2. Adding editorial boxes to clarify continuity and crossover issues.

See, I think the utter pomposity of DC in interviews regarding their refusal to add the editorial boxes in Countdown did a lot to cheese off readers. I mean, obviously there was a problem, there was confusion. But instead of responding to that, DC got defensive. They were like: "you said we made a mistake but we didn't and just to show we didn't we will not change one iota."
But in the inteview DiDio says:
"And this is where we’re going to be adding in editorial boxes that will tell readers what’s up if a character’s appearance or actions don’t reflect their actions or appearance in any other issues at the time, it will say something like, “Read Green Lantern #25.” Again, I don’t want any individual story to suffer just to make things line up perfectly."
This is rule one not only of interacting with comic book readers but with today's consumers in general: get off the high horse. Have a dialogue with them. Respond to their feedback. Adapt.

3. The "bounce" towards the Final Crisis.

C'mon, who wouldn't guess that there would be an effort to make the last issues of Countdown better in an attempt to maximize sales for Final Crisis?
"I believe the series has leveled off, and I’m hoping that we see a little bit of a bounce moving towards the conclusion, because I feel that people will start to respond more to the things that are going on in the series itself in the sense of they’ll feel that things are occurring at a much more rapid pace. I’m also suspecting that we’ll pick up more readers as we get closer to Final Crisis because people are going to want to see what the line is between Countdown and Final Crisis itself. And I think that if anyone is coming to this series curious to see what’s going on, they’re going to be excited by it, because rather than being exhausted at this point, everyone is pushing as hard as they can, and there’s a lot of energy on those pages."
Which is a noble sentiment, I guess, but the proof will be in the execution.

In closing, I'll leave off with Dan's description of why Superman Prime has captured the imagination of readers:
"Sure, he’s the Anti-Superman, but more than that, some of the greatest villains you can face are the ones who are single-minded, and above all, who don’t see that they’re a threat or a villain in any way. No villain wakes up in the morning, spins their moustache, and says, “I’m going to be villainous today.” They have incredible justification for all of their actions, no matter how horrific they are. That’s what makes Superman Prime great – he believes he’s working towards something better. He believes he’s doing the right thing, and he truly believes that the ends justify the means. He is so adamant about his beliefs that he is completely combative with anyone who disagrees with him. He has complete belief in his convictions, and is willing to do whatever it takes to implement them."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Another Vidcast!

"The Occasional Superheroine Show"

This week on the show:

Wolvie gets pwned!

The Illuminati get off the hook!

Supergirl brushes her teeth!

Lower-level superheroes die!

Inappropriate laughter at a New God's expense!

And plenty more!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nightwing Preview Page and "Warm" Vs. "Cold" Art

Via Rags Morales's message board is a page of the new Nightwing with him on pencils & Mike Bair on inks. I think it's pretty sweet.

But it does bring up to me the old question: can this sort of bravura classic art style still attract hoards of fans the way more abstract "flavor-of-the-month" works do?

There is some comic art that is currently hot that seem to lack all facial expression and subtlety. They belong to that classification of comics art I call "cold" -- very stylish and maybe even beautiful, but no personality.

Whereas art like Morales/Bair's seems to be built around the emotional imperative of the character or scene in question. They almost seem to be asking: "where is the character's motivation?" and take it from that point.

I call that sort of art, for lack of a better term and in the interest of contrast, "warm."

I honestly don't know what readers get from "cold" art -- other than perhaps that "wicked cool!" factor. Okay, say the overly-stylized drawing in question is "wicked cool" -- just like a car or video game character. If there is no emotional impact -- how does it serve the story? What do you get out of it?

And if you're a comic writer and a "cold" artist illustrates your book -- do you get frustrated that something is lost?

It's like you can either get Cate Blanchett or Jessica Simpson to star in your movie.

What do you think?

Occasional Links: The Holiday Slave Leia Exclusive Action Figure Edition

* Sexy Santa Slave Leia custom action figure now available on eBay. "...makes a great stocking stuffer or the coolest, sexiest ornament on your tree, as she can be fitted with an ornament hanger upon request."

* "He's Goddamn Batman, right?" -- Chuck Dixon.

* Little Lulu: the first vegetarian vigilante?

* Breaking news: Countdown to officially include little editorial boxes to explain what the bloody hell is going on.

* Jack Black on the Green Lantern movie that never was: "I was going to be capturing bad guys with green, giant prophylactics." Now if Seth Rogan can only lose the Green Hornet movie, we'll be 2-for-2.

* In a thread entitled "John Byrne: Metrosexual," the comics legend discusses proper skin care.

* Dan Slott's alternate cover for "Fallen Son: Death Of Captain America." I think an all-Slott issue of Amazing Spider-Man is in order, don't you?

* Breaking news: Shatner still angry that he was not asked to be Kirk in new Star Trek film.

* Tech Watch: Bikini lifejacket with inflatable...well, you know.

*Hulk Hogan informed of wife's divorce plans by reporter. Says, "Thank you for the great information," lifts some weights, cries into his protein drink.

Christmas cheer from The Dating Game:
"It's the holiday season and I'm Santa. You're on my lap. Little boy, take it away..."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Occasional Links, The Slapsgiving Edition

Video: How I Met Your Mother tries to hone in on Seinfeld's imaginary holiday racket by staging "Slapsgiving." Do you know anyone in need of a good slap this holiday season?

The Macy's Thanksgiving balloons have been both a source of wonderment and abject terror growing up. I always had this nightmare where I'd see a semi-deflated Kermit knock against my 6th floor bedroom window with his floppy hand.

Here are several links with cool photos of the balloons:
Macy's Balloon Inflation (there is one shot with Pokemon & Ronald McDonald that looks sort of dirty...can you find it?)

This is a helpful timeline of great moments in Macy's Thanksgiving balloon history. Get a load of the mug on that Superman balloon...far more Walter Matthau than the Man of Steel.

And here is a gallery featuring photos of the Macy's balloon over the years.
Are you as annoyed as I am about characters who don't really deserve it having balloons? I mean, really: does Jimmy Neutron really deserve a balloon? Is his show even on anymore? I smell crass commercialism.

Speaking of Macy's, here are two videos of the Marvel Comics presentation during the 1987 and 1989 parades. You can't underestimate how awesome watching this on TV was as a kid. On par with those "Challenge of the Superfriends" TV specials, but with better acting. And Robocop, Melba Moore, and Emma Frost.

I'm sure you've watched the classic 1973 Charlie Brown Thanksgiving at some point, haven't you? I always wanted to do a rant on that cartoon. Peppermint Patty is such a bitch! It's like Lucy went on vacation and Patty took over in the bitch department. It's not like she was invited to Charlie's house for Thanksgiving...she basically invited herself. And he did the best he could to host dinner, despite limited resources. Why did she need to chew poor Chuck out? These Peanuts specials always had these unsettling, really adult bits of dysfunction in them, whether it was Charlie depressed over "killing" the Christmas tree, Patty's bipolar episode over the Thanksgiving dinner, or delusional Linus's pumpkin obsession. That's why I prefer The Jerry Lucas Super Kids Day Jamboree.

A Thanksgiving ritual for me growing up was watching the original King Kong on local television at around noon after the parade. Every year they played Kong and his sequels. Did they do this in your neck of the woods as well? I never really understood what a giant ape had to do with Thanksgiving. By the way, have you ever seen the alternate Kong ending?:

If you're totally not feeling it this holiday, here is a list of 194 things you could potentially be thankful for. "Muppets" ranked higher than "pornography," while "Jesus" hangs out further down on the list at #74. The rock band "Oasis," meanwhile is at #163, with -10 votes.

People have different views on Thanksgiving. Here is a Native American perspective on the holiday, and one from a vegetarian. When you're done reading that, you could watch the classic "Eat Me" Thanksgiving pageant from Addams Family Values.

Well, it's time for me to go now and start preparing my Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, giblets, and pumpkin pie. The smell of cooking tomorrow will fill the house, the comforting sounds of the Macy's Parade will play in the background, and the household will both review the bounties of the past year as well as prepare for the winter holiday's festivities. I leave you with what I consider to be the ultimate classic of Thanksgiving television moments. Have a happy holiday, and don't let any turkeys fall on you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who Dies In Heroes For Hire #15???

Admittedly, I have not always been the biggest fan of the latest incarnation of "Heroes For Hire." I've always seen the title as somewhat less than "Birds of Prey" and somewhat more like Marvel's amswer to Top Cow's "babe" line of comics. But apparently somebody dies in tomorrow's issue.

According to the online preview, it looks like it might be Humbug, who is apparently infected with some Brood-like thing. But I think in order for the issue to be really emotionally resonant (yeah, I realize this is the same book that showcased "Heroes For Hentai," but...), either the core characters of Misty Knight or Colleen Wing would have to go.

My money's on Colleen. But we'll see tomorrow.

Also, does anybody know if #15 is officially the last issue? I know on books like this with short runs, the last issues can get kinda crazy because "all bets are off," as it were.

"See, I thought Spider-Man movies were okay for girls to go see now..."

...but most women would apparently want to see "Vagina Street" instead.

Jason Todd New "Batman?"

LITG reports:

"I can now tell you that the new Batman will be designed by Alex Ross and will see Jason Todd under the cowl."

Well, Didio was given the ball, and he went with it. Jason Todd was rumored to be his favorite character, and he (allegedly) made him Batman. He burned through the entire DCU oeuvre, character-by-character, universe-by-universe, and indelibly left his mark.

But isn't that what Grant Morrison has done as well? And isn't that what most writers, given the opportunity and power, would do? Shape the fantasy universe in question in their own image?

True, you have those writers like Kurt Busiek and Mark Waid who try to figure in the "integrity" of past continuity while at the same time adding new elements.

But here is the common scenario I have heard repeated over and over again by comic book writers and editors (and many fans):

"I was growing up and things were at times less-than-ideal, (fill in the blank here). Comic books were a real outlet for me, a place to escape. In particular, I related to (fill in the blank here). I never thought that character had a real break. So I decided that when I grew up, (blank) would be the most popular character. I would fix things."

Another common device is "freezing" one's book in the time period one remembers most fondly. Certainly an author like Brad Meltzer has been accused of this in his "Justice League" run. But again -- Grant Morrison does the same thing.

It's called fan-fiction.

Now, "fan-fiction" isn't necessarily a dirty word. There is a lot of good fan fiction out there. But there is a difference between meticulously creating a new world and new memes and looking backward at when times were good. People like Morrison and Moore do both, at times castigating themselves for their own damned nostalgia.

I see no good reason (thematically) why Jason Todd should be Batman, other than to goose
readership and create controversy. But maybe, from a business standpoint, those are good reasons.

Here's the scenario.

"Bruce Wayne To Die." -- this almost certainly gets mainstream press. CNN, Fox News, etc. This creates an interest in reading the comics from beyond the hardcore fanbase. These numbers can be huge. See "Death of Superman."

"Jason Todd is Batman" -- this almost certainly will cause hysteria in comic book circles. And no matter how much people bitch, most will probably check the issues in question out.

Even if this is just a gimmick -- which, given the Bruce Wayne "brand" and the larger interests of Time Warner, is almost certainly the case -- lots of money will be made.

But within all this, one thing must be remembered.

As much as Dan Didio is a passionate fan, there are other passionate fans. Their visions are not lining up. As a jaded ex-industry person and 25-year-plus comic reader, I have the luxury of not getting too emotionally involved in it. "Bruce Wayne to die?" Yeah, sure. We'll see in three years if that sticks. But there are many many fans who this is (if it is true) going to devastate.

Fans get devastated. Devastated. You can be like Shatner in that SNL skit and say, "get a life." But it doesn't change the fact that fans get devastated.

There are fans out there with Batman tattooed on their arms. It's not Jason Todd they have tattooed on their skin. Under that inked cowl is Bruce Wayne.

If this story is true, the mainstream media will totally pick it up. And all the non-comic reader will hear is, "Bruce Wayne to die." And they are going to wonder whose idea this was.

See, this is why I think Joe Q. was smart with Captain America. He tried to make the event as solemn and respectful as he possibly could. He wasn't flip. It wasn't a cheap gimmick. And he maintained a very talented writer on the book who has successfully maintained the title without its leading character.

If this "death of Bruce Wayne" thing is true, Dan Didio should do the same. Don't crack jokes. Don't get cocky. Don't have Ed Benes pencil the death scene.

Because fans are passionate. And many, had they had their chance to run their own comic book companies, would keep Bruce Wayne as Batman forever.

Occasional Links, The Sugar Bear Edition

News YOU need to know: Sienna Miller cast as the Baroness in the new GI Joe movie! (via Blog@Newsarama) Women-with-eyeglasses fetishists rejoice.

News relevant to YOU: World's first Barbie store in Buenos Aires. Offers make-up & manicures, targets girls 3-9. Owner insists: "But when they go home, they're still little girls."

Hard-hitting news for YOUSE: Were these big-name stars ashamed of signing autographs at the Big Apple Con last weekend? Val who?

YOU demanded it, we report it: Toyfare lists the top 50 imaginary weapons. Thor's hammer is #10, Cap's shield is #6, He-Man's power sword is #2. Let the bitching begin.

News YOU can use: Marvel (or is that just writer Christos Gage) laughs at itself in Thunderbolts one-shot. "A limited-edition me, it will be very tasteful."

YOU news something-something: The Red Hot Chili Peppers sues Showtime over "Californication," claims the cable TV show "has caused and continues to cause a likelihood of confusion, mistake and deception." In other news, David Duchovny is still kinda hawt.

Breaking news: Guy Gardner's ass.

Video: 1964's Sugar Bear sounds strangely like Dean Martin, gets menaced by floating one-man jazz band.