Friday, May 30, 2008

Watching Lost, and out for the weekend, if I'm lucky.
Not a dig on Heath Ledger, but I would love, love, love to see the Joker after this beating.

Like I said, I don't have a Joker figure of my own--in any scale, even!--but the Oldest wanted one.

Hoping to get some toys over the weekend, but what? DCUC Aquaman? Zoidberg? Admiral Kirk? Something else entirely? Friggin' Spencers had that Batman set I mentioned now marked down to fifteen bucks, which would've been great two or three weeks ago when I was setting this up. We'll see next week, perhaps.

And just so I'm not completely dogging this post out: anyone out there with a comic or toy blog that's not on the sidebar already? Leave a comment! I haven't added any for a couple weeks!

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sure, Frank's supposed to be the crazy one, but he doesn't have visions or see ghosts or whatever. Or talk about his feelings.

I did a write-up on Daredevil #343 over a year and a half ago, but yesterday, as I write this, I found #344 in the quarter boxes. Just #344, oddly. I didn't think Warren Ellis had done the next issue, and I was right on that much: J.M. DeMatteis takes over for a few. Nor does this issue explain why the cops were going nuts the previous month, but this issue's got it's own problems: the Marvel Edge line-wide crossover, "Over the Edge" gets it's second part here. Part one's covered here, so you can catch up if you have a burning need to. Short version: brainwashed and crazy, the Punisher's been convinced Nick Fury ordered the mob hit that caused the death of his family, so he's trying to kill him.

But even though Frank's the crazy one, Matt and Nick are both having flashbacks too: Nick's lost in remembering his childhood in Hell's Kitchen, which by all accounts wasn't a cakewalk, but has to beat the hell out of having the Punisher gunning for you. Well, times might be tough, and Nick might feel like his time has passed, but at least he still has his son...what!?
I think I kinda see what the artist was trying to do here, but I'm not sure it worked.
I had never seen any mention of Nick having children, before or since: Mikel is mentioned here, for reference. It's totally plausible that Nick had an illegitimate kid. It's a little less so that the kid's in his twenties and using his uncle Jake's codename Scorpio. Still, by this point in the issue, the Punisher's already delivered Scorpio an uncharacteristicly savage beating, even for someone named the Punisher.

Meanwhile, someone's hopping around a cemetary, and the grave of Matthew Murdock has been dug up. Remember, this was back when Matt was using the name 'Jack Batlin,' but he's getting increasingly dissatisfied with it. Partially, because if you're going to go to all the trouble of creating a new identity for yourself; maybe you don't want the new you to intentionally, by design, be a total douche. It doesn't matter if being a jerk throws off suspicion, you're going to have to live like that, all day every day. We didn't even see Matt act the role of Jack very often, but Mike Murdock seems more likeable in comparison. (Those issues where Matt passes himself off as his own zany twin brother weren't readily available in the Essential format back in 1995, but I wonder what parallels could've been drawn? Not too many: Mike Murdock's been swept under the rug.)

So, Matt hates his fake life, his metal costume, and shaving; and is taking it all out on the punks of the city a wee bit excessively. Unfortunately, Matt gets a flashback to his childhood, which was bad even before he was blinded, taking beatings in the schoolyard as he tried to stay true to his promise not to fight. "Daredevil" was his tormenters' nickname for him, and lost in the moment, DD takes a swipe at Fury for calling him that. (I think one of Chris Giarrusso's first Marvel strips suggested how different things would've been if Matt's childhood nickname had been 'Dorkface.')
I cropped the scan a bit so I could get in some of the Matt's internal monolog, then realized DD's armor has arrows pointing at his junk.
Matt and Nick have a moment to respectively ponder their own and each other's childhoods, before the Punisher starts shooting at them. Between the two, they're able to pin Frank, although DD catches one in the shoulder: what damn good was that costume again? Frank has left his backup plan in place, though: the trussed-up body of Scorpio in a schoolyard. Panicky, Nick tears off to rescue his boy, and Frank easily punches down DD to escape. For his part, Matt says lack of sleep and blood did him in; and given that he's usually able to take Frank, you might have to give Matt that one.

Crazy or not, Frank knows the importance of branding.Nick mourns the death of his only child, until DD realises there's a faint heartbeat. Punisher dosed Scorpio with "a variation on his old 'mercy bullets,'" to make Nick think he'd lost his son, and left a scribbled note that "this is between us!"

For his part, Frank is shooting pictures of Fury, and telling a Polaroid of his family that maybe he'll know peace after he gets Nick. Maybe. No promises. (I had to take a second to look it up and see if Polaroids were around in 1976, and although they were, what are the odds Frank would have an intact picture after all those years?) Again, although Frank is supposed to be the crazy one, it's pretty rare for him to see the ghosts or memories of his wife and kids. Also, this issue doesn't specifically explain that Fury didn't kill Frank's family, but Frank's so insane here he doesn't question it either.
That is some 90's hair, though.
The issue ends much like it began, with two bumbling thugs fleeing in terror from Daredevil. Except this time, it's a Daredevil in the old, old school yellow-and-brown costume. Hey, this would've been a great reveal, if it hadn't been on the cover. Next month's issue teases "Identity Crisis," meaning another crummy story with that title...I don't know if Daredevil was a title that played to J.M. DeMatteis' strengths as a writer--his issues were about rebuilding and spiritual redemption, two themes you honestly don't see in this book very often. Generally, the runs people remember DD for are the ones where he's put through the wringer. Putting Daredevil back together is a thankless job at best, like building a sand castle with a line of bullies salivating over how to best smash it. Panels from Daredevil #344, "Over the Edge, part two: Old Soldiers" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Bill Reinhold.

Somewhere, I know I have the Hulk "Over the Edge" issues, and we may come to those down the line. This was in the middle of Peter David's tenure, and the smart Hulk didn't have a problem with the Punisher, so Bruce gives Fury a bit of the brushoff. Which means he felt that much worse about Fury's "death."

(Also, I would argue DD's Catholic background is just for guilt purposes: God doesn't seem to give him any solace, and I often think he's religious the same reason Nightcrawler is, because somebody thought it would be cute to have the devil-looking character believe in God.) Read more!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Still shooting for a new strip every week, hopefully until November. Right now, I'm only two, maybe three weeks ahead, and I completely reserve the right to dog out a couple short ones in the summer. Like now!
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I don't comment on news items very often, but this one struck my eye: "Red Rocket 7 10th anniversary collection on the way." Ten years, huh? I have the set; in fact, I think I have a Mike Allred autographed first issue somewhere as well. But it's not a series I ever go back and reread. Why is that?

Little sidebar: I have never seen the movie Forrest Gump, and am willing to fight to keep it that way. Partly, it's because Tom Hanks acting handicapped doesn't appeal to me, and my kneejerk snarky reaction is that Gump is exactly what it takes to get along in America: be braindead but likable. But, and more to the point here, was this movie the first to have the protagonist as a walk-in for every important figure or moment in history? Red Rocket 7 falls into that same trap: here's Red with the Beetles, here's Red with the Stones, here's Red with Elvis, gosh, isn't Red important and wonderful? I don't think I had a problem with this initially, but later it would bug me.

I'm going to put a big spoiler warning right here, OK? This part coming up is my big problem with the whole series, and it comes at almost the very end of the book. I don't want to ruin it if you have any plans to read it, and I do remember being pretty fond of Red Rocket 7 up to this point.
Red Two is hard. Core.  Period.
OK, here's my biggest problem with this book, which I'll explain via another sidebar: a friend once told me about his dissatisfaction with Bram Stoker's Dracula. My friend was originally from Texas, and although he hated it, the land, the people, and his time there; by God, he still identified himself and took pride in being a Texan. So, he took to the character of the Texan Quincey Morris, who, near the end of the film, kills most (if not all) the vampires, mortally wounds Dracula...and then dies himself. My friend told me he was so pissed, he left the movie right then and there. (I hadn't realized Billy Campbell, star of the Rocketeer played Quincey. Huh.)

It's one thing for a character you like to die, but it's another for them to die after doing all the heavy lifting. That, and it makes you wonder why the narrative follows the ostensible main character if some other guy is going to be such a big point. It would be like watching Frodo and Sam trying to get the One True Ring to Mordor for three movies, and then in the last ten minutes Pippin decapitates Sauron and brings peace back to Middle-Earth. Now, there's probably a story you could get out of that, perhaps the nature of a futile struggle or a valiant effort for a redundant cause; but in this case it's a letdown.

I finally re-read all of Red Rocket 7 today: it's a gorgeous book, and even though it's ten years old, I can't believe it was only $3.95 a issue: twenty-four oversized pages in an album-sized format. It's got alien religious empires, clones, rock stars, existentialism, and ray gun fights. It also has an ending that doesn't make a helluva lot of sense, unless you've seen Allred's indie movie Astroesque. Maybe not even then...I don't want to spoil it, since it's being re-released, and it does have great art, interesting characters, and an unusual trip through some real music history. See if you can find an old issue and try it first. Read more!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Two Years and Running."
It's been two years, do I have to tell you click to enlarge?

Two years of blogging down, hopefully some more to come. A big thank you to everyone who's stopped by, commented, linked, or whatever. Enjoy the rest of the long weekend! Read more!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From today's quarter boxes, details from the first page and the last page, of two different comics set in 2020.
Martian conditioners are light-years ahead of ours.

Fricking HMO, I swear...
The weird thing is, Joe Linser's Killraven came up in conversation earlier today: a friend mentioned he bought Dark Ivory yesterday, (to paraphrase, he liked the art, but was waiting for the plot to start) and I said I hadn't read a lot of Linser but knew about this one. The art is nice: he can do some great facial expressions when he wants to, but everyone's hair looks way too nice. And the story's interesting, even though the new character is stupid on so many levels, and Killraven enables her stupidity. Stupid.

The other page is from Jamie Delano's Vertigo limited 2020 Visions, which I've had and lost at least twice. I just read the nine issues of it that I had last week, but I've been missing the Frank Quitely issues forever. Sadly, only the first one was in the bins today: I also bought issues #2 and #3 of the old Chaykin written Fury limited, after foraging around for the rest. The quarter boxes can be cruel. There were a couple of limited series in there that I'm surprised I didn't pounce on, since I'm usually a sucker for a complete run of anything, but I already have Vertigo Pop: London (it's great), don't really need Spider-Girl Presents: the Buzz (haven't read any of those Defalco-verse future ones), and like but know other people who like Tank Girl more...shoot, might kick myself on that one later.

Out for a couple days, but we should be back Saturday, I think...
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Display options"

Over at his Points of Articulation site, Poe Ghostal had a post a while back, on the subject of multiple Batmen: "I view my toys not as collectibles but as characters, and to have two Batmen next to each other, well, it breaks the illusion that he’s Batman and not just a toy."

Of course, two days after I finished "principal photography," I found another in-scale Batman. Hell, there's always room for one more, but these things happen.

The scale is a little up and down: The Batman from the most recent animated series is a little short to fit in with everyone else, as is the Movie Masters one, at least when compared to the DC Direct scale. The yellow helmeted one fits with the Total Justice/JLA of a few years back, so he's far too short to mingle, but he was the star of the first homemade post strip here. Yeah, I'm sure that makes up for it. I may have completely lost his accessory: he was, I don't know, like Bat-Tron or Internet Buzzsaw Batman or some such. The accessory ran on a AAA-battery, I know that much.

The one with the ears that mentions his cape (and the cape shows up later, but not all of it: there's two more pointy bits, it would've stood up at least another inch or two) was from the Legends of the Dark Knight line. He's in a Kelley Jones style, and was my default Batman for years. Oddly, I tried to find him on eBay just now (sorry, 'right now' means two weeks ago, when I started this post), and didn't find a single one. That was a great line for it's time, the Man-Bat still holds up, and I've always wanted that Batgirl.

Fanwank! had a strip a while back that really, really made me covet that Armored Batman. And at least a couple local stores still have, at varying levels of clearance, that DC Direct four-figure set, with some versions I don't remember...what does that one have? First Appearance, 50's style, Jim Lee version, and...disco? That can't be right. I'm almost positive it's not Robot Batman, I would've bought that already.

All these Batmen, and would you believe, I don't own a single Joker figure? Just not a fan. Luckily, I know someone who does.

Read more!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Of course, the day after I mention how nice it's been around here, it rains like monsoon season. And I biked to work this morning, so I was sopping wet by the time I got home. It happens at least a couple times a year...but, since it's not bright and sunny, I guess I should have time for a more substantial post...crap.

Although I'm not making as much progress as I was, I'm still sifting through that pile of comics in the basement, and putting together series I haven't read in a while. Or, in a lot of cases, series I haven't ever been able to read in one sitting, like this one: Marvel Knights, volume 2. Written by John Figueroa, art by Alberto Ponticelli.
'Then, Frank would hit me, LIKE THIS! And then I'd kick him in the face, LIKE THIS!'
In the first volume, Daredevil and the Black Widow, among others, had formed a makeshift team; with at least the occasional goal of bringing the Punisher to justice. This time, the three are forced to work together, seemingly in direct opposition to Garth Ennis' Punisher, where Frank beats the stuffing out of DD multiple times. Then again, Frank does seem to be having a little fun here:
This sequence does go on for another, unnecessary page: you already know that guy's boned.
The above is something you see Batman do more than the Punisher or other characters: a nameless thug or faceless goon rattles off a plot point or sets the scene, only to find his comrade is really the hero in an overly-elaborate disguise over their usual costume! Well, traditionally these situations take place in a sewer or a dark alley or warehouse, somewhere dark; so you may be able to excuse the thug not noticing they're talking to someone wearing four layers of clothing. I'm 90% sure Frank doesn't need any info or confirmation from the above thug; he's just messing with him.

The series opens with new criminals moving into the New York crime scene, with several bizarre rituals and sacrifices. A detective from North Korea, Sgt. Helen Kim, brings the three together with information about "one of the most sinister international syndicates in the world. Marco and Polo Grace, also know as--the Brothers Grace." Silly names, for rather interesting characters: a bit more outre or avant-garde than usual for Daredevil or Punisher, while not quite as grotesque as Batman villains. The Brothers were quite insane, but had a variety of interests: addicted to plastic surgery and fortune-telling, current war-profiteers and former failed movie directors. Their main enforcer was Mr. Tune, a surgeon and assassin, who often left his victims in contorted 'sculptures,' and led the Graces' army of 'Shockers,' who were fanatics willing to kill themselves at a moment's notice and dressed like Snake-Eyes circa 1983.

Even allowing for that, the Graces, and Tune, and the Shockers are all just a air above any of the generic cannon fodder the Punisher mows down in the first few pages of any given storyline. They are given some interesting quirks, true, but they don't seem to go far enough. Maybe the storyline wraps up too quickly, or maybe the drama's undercut a bit since you know damn well Frank, Matt, and Natasha are going to make it out of this series in one piece. Well, at least it wasn't waxing... However, at one point Sgt. Kim is captured, and it looks like she's going to be tortured to death. Instead, Tune tattoos mascara on her. His devotion to his art overwhelms expedience (and common sense...) more than once: at one point, Mr. Tune complements everything about the Black Widow except her employers, and her haircut. Maybe he was going to harass her to death. Again, unusual, but maybe not quite far enough.

And as long as we're mentioning inappropriate behavior, there's this:
Not that this was a bad series, but wouldn't it have been far more memorable if Frank had complained about never getting a backrub? Daredevil doesn't have a ton to do in this series, really: he's the straightforward superhero, without his trademarked gloom or angst. The Punisher's there to shoot bad guys and that's it. But the Widow actually gets some interesting moments, like training Kim to play at the same level as the big kids.

So, the verdict: not a bad series, but not as quite fun as Dixon's Knights and as hardcore as any of Ennis' Punisher. As has probably been said before, it's not reinventing the wheel, but what is? I'm not sure this has ever been collected, but I don't think it should be too tough to find. Read more!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not to make excuses or anything, but it's really, really nice out this week. I've been out biking with the Oldest and filling up the kiddie pool and working on my tan lines. I was going to say posting could be a bit spotty for a while, but then, I've been putting more effort into the homemade comics than I have the regular posts lately. Today though, let's take a look at what sounds like a bad idea to me, from last week's new Iron Manual. I was a little let down that it was a bit more a Handbook-style book than like the old version, which was a lot more a 'how-to-build-your-own-armor.' ("Step one: Be a billionaire.")
I can't read Japanese, but that probably says 'You suck.'
I'm not at all certain I would want my office decorated by my ex-girlfriend's parents. My late ex-girlfriend's parents. And I don't think they liked Tony that much when Rumiko was alive, for that matter, but then, a lot of the time, I don't think Rumiko liked Tony all the time either.

Rumiko had a pretty good run, as far as supporting character/girlfriends go in Iron Man. Especially when you consider that her name was the result of a throwaway line in the Marvel 2099: to sound more futuristic, Stark Enterprises was then a conglomerate, Stark-Fujikawa.

She was probably at her best in her earliest appearances under Busiek, but I remember most Tony revealing his secret identity to the world, when he had never told her. Jerk. Tony's and Rumiko's relationship had all the usual super-hero relationship problems, problems that start to seem a little silly when you have your own relationship problems and realize it's surprisingly easy to wreck things with your significant other even if you don't have a secret identity or live a life of danger and excitement. Maybe not as much fun, though.

I don't know if it's been mentioned in the actual books, but I did like the explanation that Iron Man's armor flies via "full-body nano-fan arrays" and the boot-jets are more for quick bursts of speed, or perhaps just show. Michael Hoskin is credited as head writer, but that touch and the diagrams look like the work of Eliot R. Brown. It's a fun book if you're at all an Iron Man fan, and maybe especially if you haven't been reading closely for a bit. Check it out. Read more!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weirdly, this panel could've been in any of the movies. Or could even refer to making the fourth one. Heavy.

Although, now that I think about it, the future of archeology is probably going to involve digging up a lot of land mines and hazardous waste. Like many, I'm looking forward to the new Indiana Jones film more than I'm looking forward to, I don't know, the election, summer vacation, anything. Now I'm in the process of convincing the Wife and Oldest about it: they loved Iron Man, but she's never seen any of the originals, and I just finally got the Oldest to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark today.

Luckily, the kids and I went to Burger King for toys today. That may have helped sell him...I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to get my sister and folks to come up to see it next week.

For good measure, a friend lent me some Indiana Jones comics the other day: some of the old Marvel ones, and some of the newer Dark Horse ones. I feel bad, because he had Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis #1-3, and I'm positive I have issue #4 somewhere. I'll spot him it, if I ever find the damn thing...I think I liked the Marvel ones better, actually. As a kid, I know I read either #1 or #2 (almost positive it was #1) off the spinner racks, but didn't buy it. I'm pretty sure I didn't because of the cliffhanger ending, since back then finding the next issue could be risky.

I had forgotten, if I ever even knew, that John Byrne had done some issues. I liked issue #24 a lot too: great Michael Golden cover, and the top panel. Watching the opening scene of Raiders, or the map room scene, sometimes you can drift out of the movie for a moment and question the practicality of poison darts, light-triggered booby-traps, or crushing yet really round boulders. Particularly when you put all of those at what's basically your church. Maybe no one's that observant anymore, it's more of a Christmas-Easter thing...

Panels from the Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #2, "22-Karat Doom!" Written by 'Missouri' O'Neil, layouts by 'Chicago' Byrne, and inks by 'Michigan' Austin; and #24, "Revenge of the Ancients" Story and layouts by Herb Trimpe, finishes by Danny Bulanadi. (Great Michael Golden cover on #24, too!)

Read more!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Group Dynamics, or, What the hell is all this crap in my wallet?"
Kyle's new costume is either in the wash, or the dog collar on it shrank. What was that thing about? Pick a side, and click to enlarge!
Haven't got my DCUC Aquaman yet, obviously, but this was a fairly nice, modern one.
Ever feel that maybe, just maybe, 'Clark Kent' isn't a good use of Superman's time? Clark's like Second Life, only he can't do anything good...
J'onn's just going to man up and take the ball on this one, just like he had to for the six months of Clark, Diana, and Bruce looking at pictures and dishing.
I know the accent's probably wrong, but I picture the new Blue Beetle as sounding like the Squeeky-voiced teen from the Simpsons.
It hopefully doesn't show, but Dinah's standing in a pile of sticky-tack stuff.
So the idea for this one came pretty shortly after seeing the announcement for James Robinson's Justice League book. I think his lineup was Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Supergirl, Batwoman, um, Congorilla (I swear I'm not making that up) and maybe someone else. My first thought was, does everyone in the DCU have to belong to multiple super-teams?

It used to be hip to not be a team player: Metamorpho and Black Lightning both famously refused Justice League membership, and what did it get them? Once their books were cancelled, they were all but shelved until Batman drafted them for the Outsiders, and both eventually ended up in the League. (Metamorpho was rarely as well written as he was in early JLI.) So already we've got two "loners" that have been on two teams...

You have to admit, it makes fiscal sense to put characters on teams; whether they're B-listers like Rex and Jeff who couldn't possibly carry their own book; or A-list draws. When Kyle was the Green Lantern, he had a stint on the Titans...admittedly, not a shining moment for either, but there it was. Ditto Supergirl, although I never thought she was a good match for the Titans, as all of Superman's powers tend to make a green monkey and a bunch of sidekicks redundant.

Speaking of Superman, he's had JLA and Legion of Super Heroes memberships, but am I forgetting any others? Batman had JLA, and the Outsiders...I can't think of another team for Wonder Woman besides the League, and that's kind of disheartening, considering Firestorm even has dual memberships: JLA and the Power Company...hey, it still counts.

Stuff I forgot: I was going to have Wolverine in the background somewhere, going through a wallet crammed with ID cards for the X-Men, Alpha Flight, Avengers, and more. And I forgot about JLI, Extreme Justice, and Living Assault Weapons alumni Captain Atom until this morning! I know he's probably still Monarch, and yeah, if Monarch was ever even remotely popular, wouldn't he have gotten an action figure by now? He always seemed bland: even a Dr. Doom homage like the Extremists' Lord Havok looked cooler.

Also, a local store has an Animal Man marked down to $9.99, but every time I see it, I've just bought something else. He would've been a good crowd-filler, but I've only read his JLI appearances and his Grant Morrison Secret Origin so far.

I'm looking forward to the new DCUC Green Lantern, since the old one, from DC Direct's Hard Travelling Heroes subset, is past due for an update. So is Black Canary, but the only recent one I thought looked good was the Alex Ross Justice one; and I'm not sure about the scale or articulation there. On the other hand, I still think that Green Arrow looks perfect.

Next week: Batman! Maybe. Unless something else jumps out... Read more!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You might recognize the artists, maybe even the setting, but probably not this book.
There's probably a Buddy Bradley in space joke there, somewhere, but I haven't read a lot of Peter Bagge's stuff.

On the other hand, from Mad to Groo, I've read a lot of Sergio Aragones' over the years. Hell, he co-wrote that Bat Lash limited series. Last issue of that comes out on Wednesday, and it's been solid: buy it or bury the comic book western...

Here's a Travis Charest panel, just to contrast some of the different art styles this one had. Further down on this page, there's a girl that is more indicative of Charest's style, instantly recognizable as his.
I don't recollect who drew that Batman/Aliens thing, but it probably shoulda been Kelley Jones.  What?  Wrightson?  Is that right?
And Kelley Jones had been here already, in the limited series Aliens: Hive. I haven't paid full price for Batman comics in a dog's age, but his new limited series? Yeah, probably.

These were all panels from Aliens: Havoc. From the ad for the Alien trade paperback catalog in the first issue, Dark Horse had already put out at least thirteen trades by 1997. So, to shake things up a little, this one was a two-part jam series, with artists as diverse at Moebius, John Paul Leon, Jay Stephens, Mike Allred, Tony Millionaire...I could keep going, but you get the point, a boatload of artists. (And one writer, Mark Schultz!)

Moreover, the other artistic challenge was "the action in Havoc is always seen from an off-panel character's point of view." The notes in the first issue show a cut panel from Arthur Adams, since he had done a bird's-eye view, but was kind enough to redraw it. I figure if you nitpick your way through the whole series, you'll doubtless find a few slips; but the first read or two you'll be too busy checking out the art.

I think, although I may never be positive, that I bought these full-price off the racks; but I have a ton of Aliens books from the quarter-bins. Still, Havoc, Hive, and um, there was a sharp looking Kilian Plunkett one with a rather generic name like Infestation or something. Those three at least I can tell you are worth giving a look, if you've ever enjoyed an Aliens story.

I have a vague idea for an Aliens strip, but I don't know if it will pull together or not. Shoot, gotta finish up tomorrow's! Read more!

Monday, May 12, 2008

This is another one where I'm talking about something that comes up later.
Why can't I buy buzzknucks yet?
So, I was working on another strip for Wednesday, and looking at some Batman redesigns; most of which weren't really working for me. And I had a snippy little comment about how making Batman's costume pointier and brown wasn't going to cut it. And then I remembered this one: from Batman: Dark Allegiances, written and art by Howard Chaykin, letters by Ken Bruzenak. I had to take a minute to make sure I hadn't posted from this one again, since it's a favorite. Chaykin could do a Batman Elseworlds like once a year, and I'd be fine with that.

Set in 1939 (or '38, it's a little vague, and need to look up more of the timeframe) a self-made Bruce Wayne fights American fascism as Batman. Whether intentional or not, this one has a little starter lesson on a dark, and relatively ignored, part of American history; which will get you more interested whether you like it or not. But even with that background, Chaykin writes a Batman that's having a lot more fun than usual. I hesitate to say more, since I was going to mention a cameo appearance that's awfully surprising for a Batman comic, even considering the year. And all with a color scheme for Batman that you probably won't see an another dozen Elseworlds.

Ken Bruzenak is one of the few letterers I'll always mention, by the way. And Chaykin's art here is among his best. I'd scan more, but it's a $5.95 squarebound thing, and I like it too much to cram it repeatedly into the scanner... Read more!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's a great name, with a nice hook, and a killer costume. But do the three work together?

How would a bail-bondsman come up with such a cool design? Codeflesh was one of the two main features in Double Image, a short-lived anthology book from Image. The barcode mask he wore may owe a bit (or a lot) to the Question or Rorschach, but it was still a striking visual. Not so sure about the stocking cap with it, though.
Do the stars work in a 'hard-hitting, hard-boiled drama'?  Eh, I'll allow it. A lot of his backstory was hinted at but left vague, but Codeflesh's real identity was Cameron Daltrey, a bail bondsman. Several characters hint that Cam used to write bonds for criminals he knew would try to skip out, just so he could bring them in. A judge forced him, somehow, to get out of the bounty hunter part of the job, so Cam brought on a pair of partners to do that for him: his friend Staz, who was mostly just a front for his other partner, Codeflesh. Cam was doing exactly what he was before, he just had to put on a mask and pretend someone else was doing it for him.

So, Cam's living a life he chooses, but it's demolishing his relationship with his girlfriend, who's on the verge of leaving him the whole series. It's also not really spelled out why he loves his work so much, since it seems to involve a good deal of him getting badly beaten. He's not out for vengeance or justice, and the money doesn't seem to be a big draw. The fights aren't the typical comic book Bif! Bam! Pow! either, so it's hard to see what thrill, if any, he's getting there. Maybe he likes the pain.

Charlie Adlard's an artist I've seen here and there--in fact, I think I just re-read Scarface: A Psychodrama this afternoon, and I remember he did a batch of X-Files and Shadowman issues too.
That's Eisner-like, isn't it? This is from someone who hasn't read a ton of the material in question, but I think he and Casey were maybe going for a bit of a Spirit feel: the villains are grotesque, the hero takes his lumps, and each issue opened with a new logo and title.

The only problem (besides the series' brevity, which doubtless prevented some of the mysteries from being revealed) is that the why of that mask design and name is never given, and then they aren't tied to the premise. "Codeflesh" is a great name, but it sounds like a Vertigo book. And the bail bondsman-turned-incognito bounty hunter could be a TV pilot. The three elements don't quite gel, but maybe that's just because of the series ending.

Would the EMT's and surgeons end up with invisible hands?
I liked Codeflesh a lot more than the other feature, The Bod. Young Kelly Gordon arrives in Hollywood, but she's not the hot hick fresh of the bus that she appears to be. Her sister's a lawyer with a boyfriend that has a special effects workshop, where Kelly cheerfully starts working. For about twenty minutes, until she accidentally gets doused in a "hydrated resin" and other chemicals, and ends up invisible. Permanently. Later issues would drop the floating eyes and mouth shown above.

In short order, Kelly gets a sit-com, becomes hugely popular, steals her sister's boyfriend for revenge, then spirals down on from the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to Jerry Springer to Judge Judy. (Sidebar? I hate Judge Judy. Swear to god, she's a puppet.) Even though it's a fast-forward rags-to-riches-to-rags story, it's a little too fast; and the idea of even a marginal celebrity having to do Springer or Judy's shows is dumb. It feels like name-dropping, but Heebink does a good job on the likenesses. Still, this one's mostly just invisible T&A; and didn't even run all the way to the last issue. The Bod was missable, but I wouldn't mind seeing Codeflesh back.

Panels from Double Image #1-5, "Codeflesh" Written by Joe Casey, art by Charlie Adlard; "The Bod" Written by Larry Young, pencils and colors by John Heebink, inks by Walden Wong. Read more!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"America in Flight"

Click to enlarge, as usual.

Unlike the equipment that, say, an army or police force might use; I don't think that S.H.I.E.L.D. would design or order tools that would be intuitive to use. A super-secret spy agency wouldn't want weapons that anyone could pick up and fire; wouldn't they prefer items that required advanced training, in order to make sure only they could use them? S.H.I.E.L.D. technology probably doesn't work or turn on the way you might first think it would.

In the same vein, I wonder: would Reed Richards or Tony Stark's equipment be that user-friendly? Maybe the later versions, but I think the early models would make sense only to them. Just like most of my ramblings. Anyway, I have to get back to work on these: I was a couple of weeks ahead, but this weekend set me back. Have to get another DC one finished... Read more!