Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brazilian Movie Parody Ads Target Overweight Women

Brazilian Ads for Fit Light Yogurt show parodies of movies like American Beauty & Basic Instinct, substituting a heavy-set woman for the star actresses in each.

The tagline?

“Forget about it. Men’s preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.”


Good ol' Brazil. At least I know my Brazilian mom's constant nagging about my weight growing up originated from someplace.

And I think the woman in the above picture is beautiful. F**k them.

"Who Is Spider-Man's Venomous New Foe?"

Via The Beat we have even more spoilers --

For the purposes of this blog I present the "approved" image, plus promo copy:

Spider-Man’s Venomous New Foe Debuts On EntertainmentWeekly.Com!

The world’s most popular super hero has faced terrifying new threats in the top-selling (and thrice monthly!) Amazing Spider-Man, but now Spidey is about to encounter some familiar faces—and the debut of a character tied to one of his most iconic foes!

Head over to,,20196484,00.html to learn just how acclaimed writer Dan Slott and legendary artist John Romita Jr plan to show Spider-Man “New Ways To Die” this summer!

So what do you think, those who have decided to "spoil" themselves?

Little Billy's Letters To Serial Killers For Life Advice

This story I found on Radar was so kooky I just had to post it:

"In the late '90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy."

It turns out that the convicted murderers and serial killers "Little Billy" wrote to were happy to reply.

"Nightstalker" Richard Ramirez writes back to Little Billy,

Greetings. Got your letter. What school do you go to? Who's your friend? You should stay in school. Send pictures.

Best of all, apparently Ramirez had his own personalized stationary with his "serial killer name," Nightstalker, printed on the top. With an upside-down pentagram in the dot of the I. That's class. That's awesome that they let serial killers maintain their own "branding."

In the next letter to Billy, Ramirez asks the boy to send some pictures of women in bikinis, and see if he knows any Asian women who might like to correspond with him.

Little Billy also wrote to Charles Manson (of course), and many more.

Kind of makes you wonder what would have happened if there really WAS a Little Billy, huh?

Spoiler Warning, Don't Read The NY Daily News Either Or The URL To This Post

Warning, the following spoilers were taken from a major American newspaper who obtained said spoilers directly from the comics publisher whose book was being purposely spoiled most probably in the pursuit of mainstream media coverage.

Also, I find it interesting that the direct market is depending on the spoilers not to be spoiled in order to maximize sales, yet the company putting out the comic is purposely working with the major media to spoil the story on the morning of the book coming out. Just a thought.

I always considered the Barry Allen Flash death as one of the cornerstones of the modern DC Universe. It represented the trauma and sacrifice of Crisis, and touched each of the major DCU heroes personally.

That said, the breaking news (broke on a mainstream newspaper, no less) that Barry Allen is returning as the Flash in DC Universe #0 doesn't surprise me.

I mean, who's left to revive? Even freakin' Bucky is back in business. Jason Todd's return proved that a character resurrection was as easy as a plot device that writers in the Silver Age would have been ashamed to use.

Grant Morrison is quoted in the article as saying,

"That's the point of comics - they don't have to die, because they're fictional creations."

I am kind of disappointed that he would say such a thing. It sounds like such a cop-out, and not worthy of him. And what is the rationale behind them not dying -- is it artistic, or is it merely economical? Wouldn't it take more artistic integrity to restrain oneself from devising some fanciful way to bring a character like Allen back?

It's just that every time you bring these characters back, you undermine the emotional resonance of those original stories surrounding the hero's tragic demise. But, I suppose if it's a choice between maintaining the integrity of some past issues that will probably do ok in backlist trade paperbacks anyhow, and the thought of getting another sales spike, the latter will probably win out.

I mean, why have the Big Two restrained themselves from resurrecting these famously dead heroes for so long? Because the sales were better back then. They felt they could afford to fold their arms over their chests and say, "This character is never returning. If we did that, we'd undermine our own integrity."

To be fair, the return of Bucky as the Winter Soldier has worked terrifically for Marvel, due in no small part to the genius of Ed Brubaker. I assume DC assumes the same will work for Morrison.

Another angle to the Allen return is why DC saw fit to break this story with a mainstream newspasper at all. One would assume that the majority of NY Daily News readers are not big Silver Age continuity freaks. What meaning does "Barry Allen Flash Returns" have on the curious onlooker who is not familiar with today's comics, much less the comics of yesteryear?

It's like making the big "hook" in Identity Crisis being the death of Sue Dibny. Dibny, Allen: who are these people? Do you think the new reader cares? The new reader sees the Flash on the magazine rack and on the TV, if they see him at all. As far as the new reader is concerned, the Flash is already alive; this current hoopla being mere hyperbole.

As insinuated in the article, since Barry Allen "saved" the comic industry the first time in the late 1950s, maybe he is set to do that all over again with Final Crisis. So perhaps this is all a "Pop Magic!" ploy on Morrison's part to symbolically juice up the ailing DCU.

You know what would really save the DCU? New readers.

And What Comics Are You All Planning On Buying, Hmmm???

This lovely woodcut print is made by Victor McCay,
who shows you step-by-step on his blog how he put it together

Avengers the Initiative #12

DC Universe #0

Giant Size Avengers Invaders #1 (only if it's new material, not reprint)

Hercules #1 (I have no idea how good this is going to be, but I'm a sucker for another damn Hercules comic)

That's far!

Please share your pull lists, suggestions, etc, etc.

And feel free to consult this handy dandy comics list from Brian Hibbs at the Savage Critics (who calls the entire comics industry "Asshat of the Week" for what he feels to be a less than stellar lineup of offerings, especially on the eve of Free Comic Day on May 3).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Princess Leia Spills All On Star Wars, Harrison Ford, and Metal Bikinis

Former "Princess Leia" Carrie Fisher had a lot to say on a British TV program about...THE HIDDEN STAR WARS! Among other things, The Star reports she said that:

  • Her and Harrison Ford got a little "up-close and personal" during the shooting of Star Wars.
  • Apparently her breasts had to be taped down with gaffer's tape during filming.
  • There is "no contest" between Ford and other co-star Mark Hamill.
  • That Hamill felt bitter over not breaking out as a star outside of the trilogy.
  • The metal bikini that she wore in Return of the Jedi "didn't move" -- and that George Lucas apparently owns it now.
(Still trying to figure out what the headline that accompanied this article -- "I gave Ford Obi-Wan" -- means)

Iranian Official: Barbie, Harry Potter, Spiderman "Destructive Influence"

An Iranian official laments the "destructive influence" smuggled Western toys such as Barbie, Superman, and Harry Potter are having on his country:

"The displays of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter ... as well as the irregular importation of unsanctioned computer games and movies are all warning bells to the officials in the cultural arena..."

There was an officially-sanctioned line of dolls in Iran made to compete with Barbie, Sara and Dara:

They have apparently not been as successful as the forbidden Barbies.*

This related set of photos on the Flickr user sara va dara's photostream has more interesting commentary on the subject, including pictures of another Middle Eastern "answer" to Barbie, Fulla.

Getting a real kick out of this post:

* While I have read this assessment in one of the articles on the subject, I have read no more than anecdotal evidence. I do not believe in repressively controlling the media one's children consumes, but I don't think a doll like Fulla, in traditional clothes, is the worst idea in the world for kids who are part of that culture already. Blond & thin Barbie, draped in pepto bismol pink, didn't do much for me or my self-esteem either. I am more interested in obtaining a Fulla doll on eBay.

Teen Titans: Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Hey, don't get me wrong: I think that the Teen Titans is a great brand, and potentially a excellent spawner of four-color excellence.

But c'mon:

Teen Titans
Teen Titans Year One
Tiny Titans
DC Special: Raven
DC Special: Cyborg

and now:

Terror Titans

I know how this happens: "Teen Titans is our X-Men! We should do more with it!"

But remember the last Teen Titans glut? In the early 90s?


Team Titans: 5 separate collector's item 1st issues with different covers, older mentor who was obvious Cable rip-off, and, according to Phil Jimenez:

"The unfortunate part of that was we had no idea that what they wanted was DC Comics’ X-Force. They, DC management at the time, saw Team Titans as this answer to Rob Liefeld’s X-Force"

Which brings us full circle to:
Which is not to say that the new Terror Titans won't be a good book. But there's an awful lot of Titans books out there now.

Lulu Awards Nominations Now Open: Make Your Voice Heard!

This Lulu designed & drawn by Paul Salvi -- thanks, Paul!!!

It's that time of year again -- time to nominate the best and brightest for the 2008 Lulu Awards!

Nominations due May 14!

The Friends of Lulu annual Lulu Awards bring honor and recognition to the most inspiring and noteworthy women in the comic book industry, as well as the efforts, achievements, and works that reflect Friends of Lulu's goals. Nominations for the Awards are open to anyone. Once the nominees are chosen, only current members of Friends of Lulu will be able to vote for who should win each award. The Lulu Awards will be handed out this year during the MoCCA Art Festival in New York City, Saturday June 7.

The Women Cartoonists Hall of Fame nominees must have published work, whether self-published, company-published, or Web-published. An individual cannot win more than once.

Women of Distinction nominees must have worked in the comic industry in a non-creator role, such as editing, publishing, reporting, or retail.

The Lulu of the Year Award honors the creator(s), book or other project whose work best exemplifies Friends of Lulu's mission.

The Kim Yale Award nominees must have published work, whether self-published, company-published, or Web-published. Nominees must be nominated for this category within three years of their first published work. An individual may not be nominated more than twice, and cannot win more than once. The award is named for comics writer Kim Yale, a founding Lulu member who passed away in 1997.

The Volunteer of the Year award was introduced in 2002 to recognize those people who have volunteered time and effort to advance Lulu's goals. Current board members are not eligible. The Volunteer of the Year award is nominated by and voted on by the National Board.

To vote -- and read more details about the awards -- go here!

Occasional Links: The I Believe In Harvey Dent Edition

Spider-skills come handy when you're a window-washer. From Shanghaiist

Basically, it's what happens when you take famous comic writers like Peter David, Gail Simone, Jim Shooter, and many more, and...

"...three writers are given the same 6 page chapter to script without knowing anything about the plot or being allowed to speak to one another. The authors let their muses take them (and you) on a literary trip that only they could craft."

This sound like a lot of fun! And they're apparently FREE! Holy crap! Go download 'em! (but don't share 'em 'cause WOWIO gets paid per download)

  • Did Erik Larsen originally want to make Elektra a Skrull way-back-when?

"I wrote an opening scene in an issue of Nova the Human Rocket with an Elektra Skrull being arrested and hauled off after a battle with ol’ bucket-head and Ralph Macchio caught it (who knew he was paying attention?) and had me take it out (I swapped in a Savage Dragon Skrull, which allowed me to get in a free plug for my Image book) and that was the end of it."

I think they are sort of reminiscent of the Batman Returns ones. All-black posters, one each focusing on each main character, then a poster with all three of them:

  • Holy crap again -- they've got a Galaxy Quest comic?! You mean, Galaxy Quest as in Tim Allen Galaxy Quest comic?!!!!

It's from IDW Publishing and hits stands in August.

  • Finally, it's exactly what you need to buy for the Summer...your very own Charlie Chaplin axe-murderer t-shirt from Threadless:

(via Superpunch)

Miley Cyrus: Pretty Baby

RE: Miley Cyrus Vanity Fair pictures:

Tousled hair? Check.
Toplessness? Check.
Wrinkled bedsheet/clothes pulled up to conceal said toplessness? Check
Harsh makeup for a 15-year-old? Check.
Enigmatic expression that might be "come hither" but you don't know for sure? Check.

I know it's been defended by using those teenaged Brooke Shields Calvin Klein ads as an example:

But every time I see those photos it's a different Brooke Shields thing I see:

You know what happens when you make these young teen idols grow up too fast?

What really bugs me is that I actually watched a few of these "Hannah Montana" episodes, and I thought they were pretty cool for teenage girls to watch. But it's like actresses/singers like Miley turn 15, 16 years old and there is this big rush to establish them as "hot chix." What the hell?

That's why I'm throwing my support towards proud Girl Scout Abigail Breslin:

Nobody let Annie Leibovitz and her camera within twenty feet of that girl!

Monday, April 28, 2008

"She Yam What She Yam"

I came across this Popeye strip over at Scans Daily, and found it rather amusing (nay, perhaps even touching).

Popeye on "exter bad women" (in this case, the Sea Hag):

"If they wasn't no bad women maybe we wouldn't appreciate the good ones. Anyway, she yam what she yam."

"Deal Or No Deal" Models To Appear In Slave Leia Bikinis

A special 2-hour Star Wars themed episode of the game show "Deal or No Deal" will air tonight on NBC. The show will feature, among other things, 26 models dressed in Slave Leia metal bikinis.

No word if they will have to wear red or green buttons to indicate if they would like their boobs touched.

Occasional Links: The GI Joe Ate My Lunch Money Edition

I met this crack team of international freedom fighters
at this year's New York Comic Con

The Superdictionary's definition of black & white, courtesy of Conjura and Batgirl

On eBay: Arnold Schwarzenegger crystal dumbbell (apparently his way of saying "thank you")

Have your fill of Batdickery with The Daily Batman

A selection from the comic strip "Bobby Sox" by female cartoonist Marty Links

Portrait of a Gaston County, Texas comic book collector. Best line:

"He found a box of about 60 1940s-era comics that were kept in a tin shed in Stanley. Many didn't have covers and had been chewed by rats. He found a bullet lodged in one where it had been shot."

F**king awesome.

Speaking of f**king awesome, here is this f**king awesome flesh-ripping Spider-Man tattoo, courtesy of Bleneral:


And I think I've finally found a challenger to the high standard of international superhero programming set by "Italian Spiderman" --

The Chocopanda Avenger!

Man Creates Protocol For Groping Women At Conventions

You gotta be f**king kidding me. This is a parody, right?

Let the creator of the "Open Source Boob Project" explain in his own words:

"At Penguicon, we had buttons to give away. There were two small buttons, one for each camp: A green button that said, "YES, you may" and a red button that said "NO, you may not." And anyone who had those buttons on, whether you knew them or not, was someone you could approach and ask:

"Excuse me, but may I touch your breasts?"

And if you weren't a total lout - the women retained their right to say no, of course - they would push their chests out, and you would be allowed into the sanctity of it. That exchange of happiness where one person are told with gropes and touches that they are desirable and the other is someone who's allowed to desire.

For a moment, everything that was awkward about high school would fade away and you could just say what was on your mind. It was as though parts of me were being healed whenever I did it, and I touched at least fifteen sets of boobs at Penguicon. It never got old, surprisingly.

Some women didn't want to. That was fine. We never demanded anything of anyone. And if you didn't want to put yours up for the Project but you wanted to touch, well, that was fine, too. It was simply for folks who felt like being open.

It was a raging success at Penguicon.... And there haven't been any hookups that I know of thanks to the Open-Source Boob Project. It is, as I said, a very special thing. (Though I wouldn't rule it out if two single people exchanged a moment.) And we'll probably do it at other cons, because it's strangely wholesome and sexual at the same time.

I've left off the names, because frankly, people should reveal for themselves whether they're Open-Sourcers or not. Not everyone wants to go public with it, and what happens at the con stays at the con. But trust me. If you are, and I meet you, I will ask. And you'll understand the beauty and simplicity of the Open-Source Boob Project for yourself.

Touch the magic, my friends. Touch the magic."

This isn't worth me scrambling to find the facepalm meme photos to attach to this.

I think if people want to have adult-themed comic book or sci-fi conventions where this sort of behavior is agreed-to upon before people even buy the ticket, that's fine. If there is such a driving need among some people to have sexual situations at a con, to fully "liberate oneself," great -- create a separate con for that. Then "consenting adults" can purchase a few fanzines, cop a feel, and call it a day.

But not at a regular convention. It's not okay to ask women wearing tank-tops on crowded subway trains during the summertime if their boobs can be grabbed or not -- what makes it okay at a sci-fi or comic convention? Should they wear red or green buttons too?

There are some arguments that the original poster was really just making a harmless intellectual point, and that he is not the "enemy." That's fine. I'm not even worried about him, per se.

What I am worried about guys who hear the following words:
"asking for it"

and do their own screwed-up math on the subject and do something stupid.

That's why you can't have this stuff going on at a convention, "consenting adults" or no. It creates an environment with the potential for abuse.

Go create a Sex-Con and touch consenting boobies. And if your life is such that the only way to release your sexual urges is at a science-fiction convention -- you need to reevaluate. You need to get more venues in your social life.

Related reading:

The Open Source Swift Kick In The Balls Project

Superheroes Take Over Vogue Magazine

I took a double-take when I saw the cover of May's Vogue Magazine -- it had an Iron Man helmet on the cover!

Of course, it also had Gwyneth Paltrow hawking her new movie. But I thought the fact that mainstream comics made the cover of Vogue was pretty neat.

But that's not all -- there's also several superhero-inspired photo spreads, including:
  • Paltrow posing with various Iron Man equipment
  • Haute Couture superhero costumes -- including Poison Ivy and Catwoman
  • A model posing with Tom Welling (yow!)
  • Another shoot with the introductory text: "A shimmering flash from the dynamic duo of satin and statement jewels...the flutter of a fluid silhouette like like a crusader's cape -- summer's supercharged looks befit any radiant heroine

There's an insert booklet with Alex Ross cover art advertising The Costume Institute's "Superheroes Fashion and Fantasy" show (sponsored by Giorgio Armani) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Armani is quoted in the booklet:

"The power of fashion, like the power of the superhero, lies in its ability to bring excitement and hope to everyday life."

The article that accompanies the Costume Institute article analyzes various superhero costumes in terms of their symbolism and influence on high fashion. For example:

""The Postmodern Body," personified by the Punisher (1974) and Ghost Rider (1972), is a contemporary take on the idea of graphic signifiers, an eclectic mix of gang fashion and style."

Postscript: With magazine sales at new lows and a hurt economy making women more wary about purchasing high-end fashion items, might publications like Vogue be trying to court a more general audience with pop-culture stories on summer blockbusters and the like?

I would be interested in seeing the sales numbers on this issue.

Smiling somewhere:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Comics Are Expensive: THE DAMNED #1, SCARLET TRACES

Noted Expertologist Chris Lamb begs you not to attempt these complex reviewing maneuvers at home. You must be a fully licensed expertologist to do so.

I wasn’t ready for Comic Con. I realize that now. Not enough money, not enough sleep beforehand or during, and not nearly enough booze on hand to deal with the sensory overload (though the overpriced food court selling little bottles of wine certainly helped). What I did have was, in hindsight, less of plan and more of a vague notion that would be torn from me faster than a bit of plywood from a storefront in a hurricane: unless it was something I couldn’t find anywhere else, I wasn’t going to buy any comics.

I know, okay? I know. Before the con, and even up to standing in the corral waiting for the doors to open Saturday, it sounded like a great idea. The (ha ha) thinking behind this was something like Hey, I live in New York, where there is a fairly healthy number of comic shops. Instead of blowing my comics budget for the next several weeks on things I can probably get another time, why not pick up stuff I can’t get anywhere else? Like original art for the apartment, Chaotic starter sets (it’sforworkiswear), and funnel cake? A bit optimistic, sure, but as goals go not necessarily a bad one.

You can probably see where this is going. Within minutes of the doors opening I’d already picked up two books from Tokypop and was eyeing the Dark Horse tables for more than their giant yellow bags. While there were panels to keep me away from all the shiny things on Saturday, all bets were off Sunday, with the show floor swallowing me up and spitting me out with a bag full of treasure and a considerably lighter wallet. It’s hard to be disappointed in myself – really, could it have ended any other way?

So the bad news is that, between the art and books and everything, I can’t really afford new comics for the next couple of weeks or so. The good news, however, is that I have enough new things to easily fill the gap between now and then. It helps a little to think this was my master plan all along, but self-deluding only goes so far with bank statements.

Potential spoilers ahead, as always. Here there be plot points.

Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Brian Hurtt

When the first limited series of The Damned appeared on my radar last year, it wasn’t until the very end – I started reading one issue before the end, which was helpful in terms of not having to deal with the monthly wait between installments but a little disappointing in that there wasn’t going to be a regular flow of it. It was the sort of book that grabbed me immediately, blending a number of my favorite things – noir, stories that drop you into the middle of things, the supernatural, and the nagging feeling of reading a Tom Waits song – into a nicely twisting story backed by some very lovely artwork. By the time I’d put down the first issue, I was already putting together a mental list of people who very much needed to read it.

For those of you other there who haven’t had the book forcibly shoved on them by me, the short version: The Damned is the story of Eddie, a guy floating somewhere between “two-bit hood” and “lowlife” with an interesting twist – he can’t stay dead. Oh, he can die easily enough, and does so on a regular basis, but all it takes is something alive touching him to bring him back (at the cost of whoever did the touching, naturally). Eddie’s world is a nasty one, made up of a nameless town during the prohibition era where the underworld isn’t just a fancy word for the criminal element. Demons live amongst us, controlling organized crime and never letting the cowering populous forget who’s boss. Over the course of the original series, Eddie found himself stuck between a rock and a number of hard places, including a war between demon gangs, the strange gray place he visits every time he dies, and an ultimate power play that would have seen the demons replaced with something possibly worse. When last we saw him, he was running a club under one of the most powerful families around and looking to finally enjoy life a little.

Not that any of it was meant to last, of course. Before catching up with how Eddie’s been, though, the new issue first flashbacks to introduce us to his family, hinting at a much happier time of his life and the dark dealings between his father and a particularly nasty bunch of demons. It’s a nice moment, setting up not only an issue dealing more with Eddie’s estranged brother than Eddie himself but establishing that the whole thing with the demons running things behind the scenes has gone on for a good long while. It’s a simple but effective scene, building nicely on top of what we saw of how the world works in the first series. Only in a world abandoned by god and given over to the monsters could a guy like Eddie be the hero, and this briefest of looks at what he grew up with provides just enough fodder for your imagination to have you sympathizing with him by the end.

The rest of the book deals with Eddie reconnecting with his aforementioned brother Morgan as part of a frankly insane plan involving what might be the current location of their dead mother’s soul. There’s some serious history between the two (which will no doubt be delved deeper into over the next two issues), including a connection between the curse keeping Eddie alive and the strange tattoos covering most of Morgan’s skin. Perhaps even better than the requisite weirdness, though, is how well their scenes are written – Bunn establishes their relationship so quickly and firmly that everything past the first few panels of their meeting in a bar is just gravy. Their troubled relationship might not offer anything that hasn’t been seen before, but the skill with which its fleshed out packs more grace and subtlety than I’ve seen a comic manage for quite some time. It also provides a welcome change in perspective on the ordinarily cool and collected Eddie, which is always fun.

While any one who read the original series will feel right at home, things may be a bit rougher on new readers. With only three issues for the story there’s not a lot of time for playing catch up, and the weight of some scenes will most likely be lost without the context of the original series. That said, the broad strokes of what got us here are present throughout the issue, providing just enough detail to fill in new readers (and whet their appetites for the convenient trade of the original series, a mere $14.95 from Oni) without ruining the good bits, of which there are plenty. The Damned was a fantastic work, creating a world both eerily familiar and strangely horrifying at the same time. While it might only be three issues, “Prodigal Sons” appears to be picking up where it left off without missing a beat.

BUY STATUS: In for the duration, and secretly hoping this shortened series means we’ll be getting another one before the year’s out. The Damned is pure fun through and through.

Writer: Ian Edginton
Artist: D’Israeli

Scarlet Traces is the sort of thing that makes me wonder if I have some sort of deep-rooted psychological trouble that’s caused me to blank out at any time during the last few years, as it’s the only real way to explain how I haven’t heard of it before seeing it at the Dark Horse booth. An unofficial sequel to War of the Worlds, dealing not only with what England did with all the Martian technology lying around at the end of the invasion but her plans for an offensive against the red planet? Clearly some sort of Durden-esque double life is the only way to explain how I could have missed a book so clearly written just for me. I suppose spending my lost time looking like Brad Pitt and sleeping with Helen Bonham Carter makes up for it, though. Maybe.

As touched on above, Scarlet Traces takes place in a post-Martian invasion England, a land transformed by the salvaged technology of the would-be conquerors into a steampunk (minus the steam) slice of the future where cars walk on insect legs, homes are warmed by modified versions of the deadly heat ray, and the country has isolated itself from the rest of the world, resentful over their lack of help during the war and hording all the treasure for themselves. It’s a cold place, for all its advancements, feeling very much like a child pretending to be an adult. While London rejoices in her Martian makeover, one doesn’t have to look too far to see the bad that came along with the good of the country’s great leap forward. More and more factories in the rural areas are becoming automated, with families so desperate for work that anything – including an ad looking for young women to work as housemaids in the big city – is worth jumping on if it means putting food on the table.

The central mystery of the book is built around one such want ad, pulling war veterans Robert Autumn and Archie Currie out of semi-retirement in the name of tracking down Currie’s seemingly missing niece. The plot naturally thickens along the way, with the trail to the lost girl becoming littered with buildings blown up to hide evidence, thugs packing pocket heat rays, and a homeless Sergeant finding and his pet dog finding emaciated bodies along the muddy banks of the Thames. All of this leads somewhat inevitably to a larger conspiracy, and while its revelation towards the end isn’t exactly a surprise, the scope and potential of the plan make it more than worth the wait.

Which is both a good and bad thing. In building up to the story’s turning point, Edginton and D’Israeli seem almost restless with their more mundane detective story, eager to just get through it and finally embrace the more fantastic elements. It doesn’t hurt things too much – the larger story of Autumn and Currie getting closer and closer to the madness lurking behind England’s brave new world is still a good read, but compared to the twists and turns things take from the start of chapter four on it can’t help but come off lacking. It’s a slow boil beginning that’s just ever so slightly off to such a minor degree that you might not even notice till you’ve finished the entire thing. Not a huge thing, but as I’m running out of ways to say “it’s really, really good” I thought I might gripe a bit to inflate my word count.

And it is really, really good. D’Israelli’s art is completely on throughout, creating machines and buildings both incredible to look at and slightly horrifying to consider. Edginton’s script drives home at every turn how little people have changed despite their wonderful new toys, creating a cast of characters ranging from tragically noble to the sort of disgusting that only comes with being sure you’re doing the right thing. Scarlet Traces is a thrill to read, a genuine new world built on the remains of the old and just the sort of thing comics were built for. For all the comics I read, few of them manage to stay with me after the fact. Yet even now, days after gobbling it up after getting home from NYCC, I keep getting distracted imagining the clatter of a traffic jam made of six-legged cars on cobblestone streets. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

BUY STATUS: Sorely tempted to throw sense to the wind (yet again) and grab the second volume immediately, but remaining strong. First thing on the list once I’m back in a cash-having way, though.

So far, so good. Next week will see more Con purchases, and maybe the week after that, but don’t let that stop you from recommending anything coming out in the meantime via the comments or an email to I’ll be keeping a list of what I’m missing at the shops for when I can pick things up again, and may even be checking it twice. See you then.

Dark Knight Poster: Shades of the WTC?

I found this official Dark Knight poster on The Beat, and I agree with one of the comments that it brings back memories of 911.

1. Skyscraper with plane-sized hole in it in flames? Check.

2. Debris falling from building? Check.

3. Smoke pouring from top of said building? Check.

But hey, at least Gotham has Batman, right?

And best of all: no tasteless exploitation of Heath Ledger!

(it should be noted, however, that as a native New Yorker, the emergency break pulled on my subway train by a passenger with a bad case of sciatica brings back memories of 911)

Fangirl Fridays

RE: Indiana Jones IV

Aliens? Really?

What the hell?

Countdown To Change, Part 58, "The Final Chapter," Electric Boogaloo

Donna Troy: The next Sarah Silverman?

So I won't have Countdown to kick around anymore. Whatever shall I write about?

52 issues of Countdown populating the quarter bins of this fine country.

Are Harley & Holly doing it, or what? Is it because their names sound similar?

And so is it safe to say Jason Todd learned nothing from this experience? Could somebody sue DC for the rights to this character so he can be killed off?

Between Countdown & last night's "Smallville," I think it is safe to say that the intrinsic appeal of Jimmy Olsen has been greatly overestimated. It's like if we did a whole TV show based off of that holographic doctor from "Star Trek: Voyager."

Mary Marvel discovers the many pleasures of the
"personal massage" department at Walgreens.

I actually purchased Countdown #1. I figured at the very least, it would be a good lead-in to Final Crisis. What does Harley say at the end of it? Her philosophy on how to deal with problems?

"A positive attitude and lots of denial."

That about sums up Titans #1

Lest it be said (and it has been said) that I am unfairly dumping on DC for Countdown, I should remind you that I had a similar reaction to Marvel's House of M.

My honest-to-god reaction to House of M #1: "What the f**k?"

I read House of M at a time when I was trying to make an effort to actually read comics again. The first issue of that mini-series almost stopped me cold. Countdown had the same effect.

I do agree with some of the commenters on Brian Hibbs' post "Count This!" that the responsibility for this series needs to be spread a little further out than it has been. I'm figuring Dan DiDio had a lot to do with the general thrust of Countdown, but he was not its ultimate mastermind or main scribe. Nor did he personally edit it.

But there's no use crying over spilled milkshake, is there?

New York Comic Con: Not Enough Giant Hulk Statues

Comic Baker Marion Vitus re-enacts that
Sarah Douglas scene from Superman II
at the New York Comic Con

I see there has been some criticism regarding New York Comic Con on teh internets.

My assessment?

It wasn't the big bomb-diggity San Diego was last year. But I don't think it was terrible. And it should be remembered that SDCC is not a convention, it is a gigantic freak of nature, some sort of high-holy event where pilgrims are trampled and flagellate themselves with their badge lanyards in the blazing heat.

Was it anti-indy? I didn't get that feeling. I had plenty of independent press books to choose from. And I bought a lot of them.

Were certain exhibitors placed in obscure places & ignored? Maybe. I dunno. Some of that is about dressing up your booth to attract the right amount of attention. I mean, The Comics Bakery booth was not huge, nor was it placed in some yummy sweet-spot right off of the Marvel section. But it had a clear, visually-appealing banner, it had a "brand," it had fresh scones (playing off the "bakery" brand), a great set-up so all the comics were displayed properly, and a good sales pitch. Comics Bakery maximized their space potential.

Was it too much mainstream capes & cowls? The manga/Japanese culture aspect was pretty pronounced. There were, of course, the monster DC & Marvel booths, but I think that's standard. Giant Hulk statue? Standard. Hey, I need to see a giant Hulk statue at my comic book conventions. I know it's gauche. But there you are.

If there is a problem with New York Comic Con, or any large-scale comic con, it's that it tried to be all things to all people. That's not so much a problem -- because I think it needs to appeal to that broad base -- as it is a formula that will inevitably lead to some people being unhappy:

"It had too much manga."

"It didn't have enough manga."

"It had too many superhero comics."

"It had all those weird Japanese stuff instead of enough of my superhero comics."

"It didn't have enough independent comics."

"It had too many of those comics I've never heard of and not enough DC & Marvel."

So I wasn't unhappy with NYCC. But I am still exhausted.

Ain't It Cool Occasional Superheroine News

I thought I would mention that "Occasional Superheroine 2.0" is still on. I mean, "on" in the sense that there is an actual chain of events underway that will lead to OS 2.0.

I'm hoping by the end of the Summer, maybe a little bit before.

I keep talking to the BF about Occasional Superheroine limited-edition vinyl figurines, keep getting this eye-roll in response.

Occasional Ball-Buster?
I had one person from a comics publisher comment to me at NYCC that he was really relieved I liked their particular offerings, because apparently I have the reputation of being a "major ball-buster."

Ball-buster? Me?

Have a good weekend, all!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Kinder, Gentler Supergirl

Kudos to DC on their newly-announced Supergirl title, "Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade."

As I've said on this blog many times before, Supergirl is (or can be) an excellent character for young girls to look up to. And I think the idea of a sweet, sprightly, wholesome adolescent Supergirl is a great one...

My only disappointment regarding all this is that Dean Trippe isn't working on it. He started a powerful meme on redesigning Supergirl a year or so ago. And the art he did of a younger Kara touched many hearts:

Superpowers Don't Make The Man

Ape Entertainment's Bizarre New World: Population Explosion is a continuation of Skipper Martin and Christopher Provencher's intriguing comic book series exploring what would happen if people had superpowers in real life. And by the last page, the verdict seems to be: "superpowers alone don't make the man."

This brought me to the bigger question of what happens when superpowers are granted to an underachiever. I have heard this argument about Peter Parker: that he was very flawed when he received his powers, these flaws resulted in his uncle's death, and it was only after confronting tragedy that he really changed into something resembling a hero. But the powers themselves did not make him a hero, didn't magically transform his mind into something noble.

I think the most interesting superheroes are those who are so flawed -- whose own foibles and neuroses, selfishness or conflicts, are bigger adversaries to them than the super-villains they have to face.

What do you think? Who is your favorite flawed superhero?