Friday, September 29, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday says: Eat Me

OK, I have to admit it - I have a thing for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I also have a bone-deep exhaustion for all the freakin' retellings of Lewis Carroll's stories and reimaginings of his iconic characters.

But I pretty much love Wonderland.

Taking place sometime after the now-notorious Alice has fled the scene, Wonderland picks up the thread with Mary Ann, the unseen girl the White Rabbit confused Alice for in Adventures. Compulsively committed to her housemaid duties, Mary Ann is only slightly less whacky than more familiar characters - like the Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat - also making an appearance.

At first, I was a little leery of the connection with Disney (the cover blurb says it's, "Inspired by Lewis Carroll's classic works and the Disney animated motion picture"), but the Mouse's influence seems to be mostly cosmetic. Thankfully, the story and dialogue have a healthy streak of Carroll in 'em, making it a fun read from writer Tommy Kovac.

And the art is great - what, are you kidding me? Look at that panel; see how the Cheshire Cat looks a little mottled? It's not sunlight, it's the BACKGROUND! Artist Sonny Liew has designed the Cat so he's always slightly transparent (and the creepy sucker never stops smiling, either). The art work could easily be taken from a children's book, but luckily this blend of classic illustration with a watercolor feel (and a pinch of manga expressionism) is coming out on a monthly basis.

This is a comic I don't think I'll be getting tired of anytime soon.

And the Jabberwocky is awesome.

Wonderland #2: Writer, Tommy Kovac; Artist, Sonny Liew

Friday, September 22, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday is fashionably late

A super hero, some secret-agent talk and a SEVERED, FLAMING VAMPIRE HEAD!

That's a whole lot of comic goodness crammed into one panel, that's for sure. Union Jack #1 spins seamlessly out of the current Brubaker and Epting run on Captain America, seamlessly enough that I didn't realize it was a different creative team at first.

But that shouldn't take away from what writer Christios Gage and artist Mike Perkins are doing with this book. Union Jack nicely fits into the world being created over in Captain America, but expands on it and actually cements the concept of super-powered spy-guys. Political without being preachy, steadily built tension and rich, detailed artwork come together for a first issue that makes you eager for the second.

Union Jack #1: Writer, Christios Gage; Artist, Mike Perkins


For a "regular feature," the ol' FPF has been pretty irregular lately. Usually, if I'm falling behind in getting a panel up here I'll just shrug and pretend to be busy wrestling bears or writing peace treaties. This time, though, I didn't want to let last week's Wasteland #3 slip by without a mention.

Man, this comic keeps getting better with each issue. The story is a familiar post-apocalyptic-Thunderdome-Dune kind of thing, but it'd be a mistake to dismiss it as unoriginal. There is a definite sense of a larger story, and you can tell a deep history has already been thought out; nothing happens without reason. The art is simple but detailed, and almost stunning in some panels. Restrained use of Photoshop gives the whole thing a cinematic look that really works. Wasteland is an epic in the making.

Get on board with the first issue, free and online!

Wastland #3: Writer, Antony Johnston; Artist, Chris Mitten

Friday, September 1, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday has a plan

How can you resist a baboon in a Superman suit?!?

Lex Luthor might not be the most evil villain ever, but in All Star Superman #5 he's pretty freakin' villainous. Let's warm up the ol' Comico-Analytron and break it down, shall we?


In this panel, Lex has just finished escorting Clark Kent through a raging prison riot to what he assures him is the safety of his cell. Just as they're arriving, Lex makes a crack about how Clark will write something about walking through the cell door, where Lex then "shook hands with a baboon in a Superman suit ..."

Which is exactly what happens! And then he tells Clark how he dug an escape tunnel with a robot reciting Moby Dick. It's good to know Melville's good for something.


For all the damage Frank Miller has done to the still-stumbling toddler called the All Star line, Grant Morrison redeems it with his writing on All Star Superman. There was a lot of noise about the All Star imprint taking DC back to its Silver Age roots and "making comics fun again," and damn if Morrison doesn't do just that. That doesn't mean it's fluff - Luthor's currently making a pretty serious bid to kill the Man of Steel - but it does mean it's OK to be a little silly, to be a little weird and, yeah, to have some fun.

Morrison's Luthor is classic; arrogant, insane and smart as hell. As a matter of fact, it's the first time I can think of where it's implied that Lex is so smart he had to be crazy. Oh, and this particular issue also has the best explanation I've seen for why Lex hates Superman sooooo much.

One more thing to note is Frank Quitely's art. Now, I'm on the fence about Quitely. I was OK with him on Authority (even though everyone looked like they were on the catwalk), but hated his stuff on New X-Men. Loved We3, was annoyed by JLA: Earth 2. He bugs me for the same reason Steve Dillon bugs me - they draw the same face over and over and over and over. And over. The only difference is Quitely adds the extra bonus of making everyone pouty and lumpy (not a great combination).

But when he's on, he's great. And while that lumpiness creeps in now and then, faces are distinctive and expressive, and his backgrounds continue to kick ass in All-Star Superman.

By taking some cues from the Superman of the Silver Age, Morrison and Quitely are reinventing the Man of Steel for today. They're obviously having fun doing it, and that's making it fun to read.

So let's hear it for Leopold and crazy-ass Lex Luthor.

All Star Superman #5: Writer, Grant Morrison; Artist, Frank Quitely