Friday, August 25, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday goes through a phase

Sometimes it's hard to pick a favorite panel from the weekly stack of comics: This time, it was almost impossible to pick a favorite out of the single issue that is Astonishing X-Men #16.

When I was just a little pastelito, I was a hard-core X-Men fan. Then, like a lot of people, I grew up. The melodrama, the impossibly convoluted plots and the constant hammering of Claremontisms became too much until finally, with a "feh!", I stopped reading any title that started with "X."

For the most part, I've never regretted it. But when Joss Whedon started writing a new Astonishing, I was in. And month after month, along with the outstanding art of John Cassaday and the perfect coloring of Laura Martin, he reminds me of what I used to love about the X-Men. It's funny, it's heartfelt and it's action-packed. Whedon is a great writer with a talent for dialogue. Even better, he understands what makes these characters great, and you can tell he cares about them as much as we do. He's updated them without ruining them, making changes feel organic instead of like a gimmick.

And you can tell that Whedon - like the rest of us - always had a crush on Kitty.

Astonishing X-Men #16: Writer, Joss Whedon; Artist, John Cassaday; Colorist, Laura Martin

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bride of Favorite Panel Friday

I love Fell. I love everything about it; it's consistently some of Warren Ellis' best writing, and Ben Templesmith has one of the most unique and distinctive illustrative styles in comics today. I like that every compact issue is a self-contained story, but is also another chapter in a vaguely creepy, overarching storyline.

Fell, will you marry me? You and Lopez! can work out the schedule.

OK, let's put this in perspective: Ellis has written some of my favorite books, like The Authority, Transmetropolitan and, most recently, Desolation Jones. He is, as the kids say, the shit (do the kids still say that?).

And Templesmith combines traditional drawing and painting styles with Adobe-fueled technology to create work that looks simplistic at first but drips depth and atmosphere. He practically reinvented vampires with 30 Days of Night, and his current Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse should already be on your pull list.

All this is a long-winded way of saying the panel from Fell #6 above is a nice example of snappy dialogue and moody scene-setting, a combination of casual patter and building tension in a book that manages to be crime-noir, horror and love-letter to the fictional Snowtown all at once. With this panel, you're rooting for Rich Fell, in every sense.

Special bonus! Hey, the first issue of Fell is available – for free, you deadbeats – online. Check it out, why don'cha?

And man, what's with that Nixon-nun?!?

Fell #6: Writer, Warren Ellis; Art, Ben Templesmith

Friday, August 11, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday, the Destroyer

And THAT'S why, when Conan tells you he's joining your caravan, you don't try to shake him down for money.

Here's a handy rule-of-thumb to remember: Conan doesn't negotiate. He's Conan! He doesn't have time for your coy wordplay. He barely has time to kick your free-range melon out of the way.

Speaking of wordplay, I've been enjoying Joe R. Lansdale's scripting on Conan and the Songs of the Dead, a five-part mini-series which carries on the regular title's love of beheadings with this lopping from issue #2. I especially like the shot of humor he's given Conan (even if the dialogue sounds a little too much like something out of a Hap and Leonard scene sometimes), and it's always nice to see Lansdale's words coming out of art drawn by Timothy Truman. Remember how creepy their Jonah Hex stories were? Throw a battle ax and some people speaking "medieval" in there, and you've got an idea of what's going on in Songs of the Dead.

Oh, and don't forget - Conan was captain of the debate team for a reason.

Conan and the Songs of the Dead #2: Writer, Joe R. Lansdale; Art, Timothy Truman