Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Night Fights: The final countdown!

It's the final round of Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury, and like the West Coast Sharks I'm in it to win it!

With victory in sizzling in my brain, I've unleashed the most brutal, the most classic, the most iconic face-plant in history. Witness the Grimmest Son of Gotham putting the hurt on the Kryptonite Kid!

It's so packed with awesome, I'm surprised no one else has ... has ...

... aw, crap.

Panel from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller, writer and artist

Special thanks to Scott for asking me to play along!

Check out more Great Caesar's Post here — g'wan, make with the clicky-clicky.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Monday Fly: Yes — I flew ... like a bird!



(What's with the Fly and sky-diving, anyway?!)

Panel from The Human Fly #12
Bill Mantlo, writer; Lee Elias, artist; Frank Springer, inker

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ride the Lightning

So the last time I saw my nephew he was hard-core excited about a young adult series of books called Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which is apparently about the demigod children of classic Greek gods and their misbehaving parents. I'd never heard of it at the time, but it sounded kinda neat and I've been meaning to look into it ever since.

And then suddenly, this starts making the rounds.

Now, I'm not ashamed to admit this: I've had a soft spot for Uma Thurman ever since she ripped the curl on the half-shell as Venus in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I even forgive her (mostly) for that awful, awful thing she did as Poison Ivy. I won't watch it ever again, but I forgive her. And now that she's playing Medusa in The Lightning Thief? Pretty much guarantees I'll be seeing this in the theater when it comes out.

(And was that Rosario Dawson in there?)


(It was!)

Like a lot of kids, I went through a serious mythology phase when I was younger and it's a fascination that's always lingered. Which is probably why I'm also interested in the Clash of the Titans remake.

Zeus help me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review: Rage and revenge flow through 'NOLA'

NOLA #1 is the definition of visceral.

Unrelenting in tone and unapologetic in characterization, it's a story centered on someone you wouldn't necessarily want to know, but still find yourself morbidly drawn toward. Nola was a fairly typical kind of person once; apparently successful, well-liked in the community, good to her mother and the people around her. If she's got a flaw it's her weakness for the married man who flaunts the fact that she'll never be anything more than the gal he bangs in the back room of a bar.

Set against the backdrop of the property damage and human wreckage left behind by Hurricane Katrina — no more than days past, judging by the waters still swallowing up homes and highways in the background — we can see disaster has hit Nola in more ways than just the obvious. Something Happened to Nola, and whatever it was has led her to hide her face behind a scarf, to launch an assault into her sunken city, to coldly and ruthlessly kill in search of revenge.

Clues are dropped in NOLA #1 that hint at what might have taken her from a life as a sophisticated, charming woman to someone barely recognizable anymore, a stormy reflection of a city suddenly deeply and poisonously scarred. It's these clues that give NOLA it's hook. Almost everything here is a catalyst, serving as clues to what drives Nola to pursue revenge in such an apparently single-minded way, no matter what or who gets in the way.

Vigilante violence is old hat, but an origin story is almost always intriguing, and NOLA has kicked its off with the sting of an unexpected slap. Normally I'm against decompression in comics; too much of it keeps a story plodding along when it should at least be jogging. But in this case, I hope series creator Chris Gorak and script-writer Pierluigi Cothran continue to take their time letting readers in on the big picture — a little mystery gives this story its tension, and there's plenty of other action to keep things moving.

I also appreciated the way characters speak with that particular, Southern-Gulf Coast drawl in a was that feels natural rather than forced. It's these details — the accents, the wrought iron chairs and fences, the all-too recognizable view of roofs poking out of the floodwaters like the bows of sunken boats — that help put NOLA in a particular time and place. I'd be surprised if New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina don't become characters in their own right in later issues.

Gorak lived in New Orleans for more than five years, and his connection to the city shows. I hope that authenticity carries throughout the story; I'm optimistic that we'll see the people of New Orleans and the victims of Katrina treated as characters, not caricatures, without minimizing what they went through for the sake of story.

My only minor complaint, really more of a pet peeve, is the art by Damian Couceiro. Let me be really clear here: There's nothing wrong with the art itself. Personally I'd like it if was a little cleaner, with stronger lines, but that might be more a matter of the way it's been inked and colored than anything else. Mostly it just looks a lot like the art that turns up in many other BOOM! books. That look has been less true prevalent recently, but as I reader I've seen similar artwork from the publisher enough times that, in my mind, it's the house-style. I'm ready for something with a different look.

Still, that could just be me, and the art is solid and detail-minded in a way that sets the stage — and the mood — for the story being told. The character of Nola herself is fascinating; she seems to be a real car-wreck of a person, with an internal, emotional ugliness you can't help but stare at as you try to put the pieces back into a shape you can understand. I'm looking forward to seeing where Nola's brutal story goes from here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Pull List (11-18-09): A good week for robots

Hey guys, I'd just like to apologize. I know that lately I've just kind of been phoning in posts lately and *ring! ring!* Oh, hey, it's a pull list!

Drone #1: I first talked about this title with writer Scott Chitwood way back in April, and I'm glad to see if finally coming to press. The concept — remote-controlled warbots are taken over by the bad guys and the only ones who can stop them are some good guy hackers who have been using the drones as a form of reality show entertainment — is solid, and the art by Randy Kintz looks lush and kinetic. Bringing the human element into contrast with the often depersonalized idea of the battlefield is something I hope will be explored in Drone — plus, it always fun to see things get blowed up real good.

Flash: Rebirth #5: It's never a good sign when you're putting your pull list together and you get to a title and wonder, "Wait ... was I still reading this?" Whether that's a reflection on the time between issues or the story itself, I'll let you decide. At this point, I'm in it out of sheer stubborness and a hope that Geoff Johns will be able to pull it all together by the time it wraps up with the next issue.

Nola #1: BOOM! Studios has consistently produced uniquely interesting stories that use some pretty high concepts as jumping off points. Not every title has been a winner, but hits have been more common than misses, which is what I'm hoping will be the case with Nola. A lot of people's nerves are — rightly — still raw concerning the events surrounding the Hurricane Katrina debacle, and I'm both intrigued and leery of a revenge story set around the disaster. It can either be gritty and real and honest — or it can be pandering, shallow and insulting. My fingers are crossed that the folks at BOOM! will guide it in the right direction.

Robot 13 #2: If Hellboy and Atomic Robo made sweet, strange love and had an awesome bastard child that was equal parts science, magic and mayhem, it might look a little something like Robot 13. The art by Daniel Bradford is appropriately pulped (though maybe too-obviously indebted to Mike Mignola), and makes watching a robot with a harpoon fight a kraken as much fun as it sounds. The script by Thomas Hall promises more fights with more mythological monsters for mysterious reasons, and that should be all you need to know to pick this one up.

Underground #3: Writer Jeff Parker continues his slow burn with his tale of intrigue and violence surrounding a greedy developer trying to open a cave as a tourist attraction and the park rangers who are in danger of being killed for trying to protect the natural wonder. Parker is single-handedly inventing ranger-noir amid a story of high-stakes spelunking, but I do wish he'd kick things into a slightly higher gear since so far things have been interesting, but lacking any real tension. Maybe that will happen with this issue. In any case, Steve Lieber continues to bring the goods with his artwork, particularly with his moody covers and claustrophobic interiors (though, again, the story probably would have worked better in black and white).

Victorian Undead #1: Look, I'm sick of zombies, OK? Just sick of 'em. But dammit, this is SHERLOCK HOLMES VS ZOMBIES. And I'm so, so weak.

So what did you pick up this time around? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Monday Fly: Put your hands in the air, Red




Panel from The Human Fly #6
Bill Mantlo, writer; Frank Robbins, artist; Rod Santiago, inker

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adventures in Sound: Part 12

Panel from Excalibur #9
Letterers: Tom Orzechowski and Agustin Mas

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It came from '94!

So I came back from lunch today (Seafood Delight, thanks for asking) and found the most incredible, the most improbable thing waiting for me on my chair. When I realized what it was, I may have squealed.

One of my coworkers had been digging around in the supply closet and hidden there behind dusty file folders and rusting, Neolithic binder clips she found something amazing, a true relic of mythic comic book history:

A copy of the September 1994 issue of Previews.

Deep from the heart of the overheated '90s, it's filled with all the excess and cross-hatching anybody could handle. Imagine my joy when I saw this:

Vampire Batman! And not only that, it's the goddamn SEQUEL to Batman: Bloodstorm, a book apparently so awesome it made Batman bite himself in radness. As if that wasn't enough, in a bit of prescience, look at who was on the back cover:

Suddenly I was back in my sorta-tender years, snappin' into Slim-Jims and wondering what was up with that Spider-Clone thing. If you were reading comics at the time, you couldn't help but feel the excitement. Previews wasn't going to let you get away with that:


... sorry.

Anyway, I can't think of anything that could capture the overwrought, over-hyped and over-not-a-minute-too-soon '90s comic scene like this copy of Previews. In celebration of this discovery, and as a warning to you kids out there, I'll be periodically bringing you selections from Vol. IV, No. 9, the issue that dares to ask, "Do You Grock Spock?"

You've been warned!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Monday Fly: The acrid, overpowering feline stench ...




Panel from The Human Fly #4

Bill Mantlo, writer; Lee Elias, artist; Rod Santiago, inker

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, this is still one of the best openings ever.


The Pull List (11-4-09): They call me Slim Pickin's

Hey, it's new comic book day! And yes, I realize it's late in the day and half of you have probably already gotten your books, but what about the other half, huh? What about them, tough-guy? Besides, I didn't want to go yet another day without posting because that's just getting ... ugh. So let's see what's on this week's list!

First, let me ask a question: Is the steady rise in the cost of monthly comics and the higher price for one-shots and limited series hurting you as much as it's hurting me? 'Cause seriously, it's getting so bad I'm starting to walk funny. Because of that, there aren't a lot of comics I'll be bringing home with me this time around. There are plenty I'd LIKE to get, but I'm on a budget, people! What am I going to do, borrow money from China?

Luckily, one of my favorite new comics is still at the $2.99 price point, and it's actually one I'd be happy to pay more for because it's just that good. Sweet Tooth #3 continues the darkly melancholy story of Gus, a boy with deer antlers making his way through a post-apocalyptic world with hard-edged killer and new BFF Jepperd. On the face of it, it all sounds a little goofy, but writer/artist Jeff Lemire is a master at telling a story that is really about much more than a kid with antlers coming out his head.

The writing gives readers an appropriately slow boil, unhurriedly but insistently raising the feeling of tension until you're sure something is bound to blow up. Language and dialogue also go a long way in helping establish character in Sweet Tooth, and Lemire handles it well enough that it becomes unnoticeable in the way that natural things do. And the scratchy, organic artwork strongly conveys the feel of the various settings, from the cool morning air of the woods to the cold, oil-stink grayness of an abandoned parking lot, making the environment as much a character as Gus and Jeppard.

There is really nothing about this book I don't like, and I hope Lemire is given plenty of time to tell his story. Sinister, sad and unpredictable, Sweet Tooth could be a template for almost any kind of coming-of-age story; thankfully, it's this one. Get a taste of the first three issues with the previews up at the Vertigo blog.

What else is on the list

Strange Tales #3 (of 3): I've really been enjoying Marvel's playful mash-up of superhero characters and indie comics creators, but at $4.99 an issue I'm kind of glad this is the last chapter.

Superman: World of New Krypton #9 (of 12): A lot of people have been giving writer James Robinson shit about his Justice League of America stuff (granted, deservedly), but I'd say give World of New Krypton a try. Co-written by Greg Rucka, this has been a title that's fun, wide-ranging and an interesting look at the guy who is equal parts Kal-El, Clark Kent and Superman. A preview is available for download from the DC Web site.

X-Men Vs Agents of Atlas #2 (of 2): Jeff Parker writing about his beloved Agents of Atlas should be all you need to know in order to pick this title up. If not, you sir and/or madam, are a fool. The Agents (whether the original limited series, the regular monthly, THIS limited series, OR the upcoming continuation of the regular monthly title ... yes, it's confusing) is one of the best written team books available, period. The art by Carlo Pagulayan and Chris Samnee (hey, I was just talking about that guy) is pretty swanky, too. Check out a preview of the first issue here.

Other tales of interest

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1

Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #1

Kill Audio #2

Stumptown #1

Think I'm missing an overlooked gem? Wondering what's going to have to wait until the trade? Care to point out my apparent weakness for lady-spies? Let me know what you think in the comments.