Yesterday, writer Jim Zub started a hashtag on Twitter that quickly took off into this glorious internet waterfall of remarkable comics. There’s lots of great stuff there with both creators and fans chiming in that definitely makes it worth scrolling through the tag.
I did, of course, share my own four.
It started with my older brothers’ comics. A few Aquaman, but mostly stuff like G.I. Joe and Punisher and I remember one cover that had Nick Fury on it, but I can’t recall if it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. comic or Howling Commandos or what. Those ones never appealed to 7-year-old me, but Aquaman … oh my God, Aquaman … with his pretty blonde hair on that cover, so colorful and happy looking—that definitely drew me in. I would sit and read those comics in the attic when my brothers weren’t home so they didn’t know I was touching them. And while Aquaman himself was amazing, I eventually met Mera and couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and how fierce. That is my earliest memory of comics, and when I think about it I still get that same feeling I had when I read them so long ago. That warm, incredible feeling that something like this could exist—characters like that could exist. I wish my brothers still had those issues, but none of us have been able to find them for years, and I’m lost as to what happened to them.
I still have my hands on that Ren & Stimpy, which was the first comic I ever consciously chose for myself, picked up off the rack at the comics shop during a trip with my brothers. Calvin & Hobbes came after, a collection that my sister had and encouraged me to read again and again. Most of the jokes and brilliance of that book were quite far over my head at the time, but it was still enjoyable and further fueled the addiction. I just recently asked my sister if I could have that well-loved copy of Calvin, but was met with a resounding no. (In fact, I think the exact words were “HECK NO, I love that book.”)
As my siblings got older, spent more time being social, and eventually outgrew comics, my access to the good stuff took a big hit. It wasn’t until my preteen years when I was on a trip with my parents and happened to walk into a bookstore that—shock!—sold comics, that my love for them was reignited. They had collections of re-printed arcs, and I remember seeing an X-Men cover with Savage Land Rogue on it. That was the moment it was all over. The deed was done, the cement block of love walloped me on the head, and I was finished. I saw that issue and thought I MUST HAVE THIS.
And I did have it.
And it was like a drug.
I was already a huge Rogue fan, having grown up watching the X-Men animated series, so realizing that the story was still going and that I could, in fact, get more of it was life-changing. I continue to collect X-Men to this day. And while there’s more to my particular history of comics—working in a comic shop, branching out to genres outside of superhero, even sacrificing comics for a time—the one constant has been that feeling I always get when I pick up a book that speaks to me. It’s a feeling that no other medium can replicate. Like going home.
The #fourcomics trend from yesterday gave me that feeling a hundred times over.
I’m scouring eBay for that issue of Aquaman.
Heeeyyyyyy! Guess who has had no time to write things? ME! Guess who is not at all surprised by this, (I bet)? YOU!
So rather than do a legit review, I’m just going to talk about anything and nothing … because I would rather make a jabbering post than no post at all. You’re more than welcome to talk back.
So I’ve caught up on the last two issues of Rachel Rising, and oh crap, is Terry Moore freaking me out. I thought issues 1-3 were creepy … until I read 4 and 5 over the weekend and was taken to a new level of disturbed. I hope you all are reading this book. You should have no trouble finding it at That’s E, and as much as I hate promoting digital comics, it was just newly added to Comixology with issue 1 priced at 99 cents, so you have no excuses not to at least try it. Outside of The Walking Dead, I typically shy away from stuff like this, so the fact I’m still on board here (especially after seeing the cover to issue 9 … *shudder*), says a lot.
Another AWESOME book I started reading is Ed Brubaker’s Fatale, about which I cannot say enough good things. Wow. These are some great comics being made. When I start to get depressed about stupid gimmicky junk out there, I pick up books like this and my sanity eventually returns.
Speaking of Ed Brubaker and/or, for that matter, gimmicky junk—does Winter Soldier fall into that category? I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but if Brubaker’s name is on the cover, I can’t imagine it will be bad. Despite my UTTER HATRED of how they handled Bucky’s “death” in Fear Itself, he’s a great character, and I’m excited to read this new title.
All right. That’s enough about the guys. Let’s talk about the wimmins.
Did you all read Kelly Thompson’s fantastic article on Comics Should be Good? Because it’s very, very important that you do. Check it out here. Please.
I hear that Mera kicks all kinds of ass in this week’s issue of Aquaman. This makes me happy.
WOMANTHOLOGY! I preordered my copy last week and I’m soooooo excited to get my hands on it! If you have not heard about it, this is a record-breaking Kickstarter grassroots project about women, by women, for everyone. And it’s going to be phenomenal. Click the link just there, or check out their Twitter page.
Lastly, even though everyone and their mom has already linked to this, I’m going to link to it, too! A new trailer for Pixar’s Brave is out, and IT IS AWESOME: http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/23/new-trailer-poster-for-brave/
Move aside, boys, move aside.
That’s all I have this week—check in again soon for more talk about stuff and things. And in the meantime, you know, comment or e-mail. It’s fun and I don’t bite that hard.
Have a great weekend, all.
I’m having a rough go of this DC stuff, guys. A real rough go. If I had to pick one book this week to tell you to avoid like the frigging plague, it would be Teen Titans. Don’t do it to yourself, readers. You deserve better.
While That’s E is my LCS, occasional place of employment, and all-around hub of awesome, working in Boston can make it difficult to swing by store hours during the week to pick up comics. That activity is typically reserved for the weekend when Boyfriend and I—now Fiancé, hip hip!—have the time to chat with our friends behind the counter, praise the latest works we’ve enjoyed, or talk smack about that week’s failures (at which point hilarity and raucous laughter ensue). But when Wednesday rolls around and the excitement of new comics fills the air, it can prove hard to wait those extra few days. That’s when I usually wander around Harvard Square during my lunch hour and inhabit Million Year Picnic, a quirky little hole-in-the-wall shop with cozy shelves and some super nice people running the register who clearly know their comics. And when I went in there this week, the item I immediately grabbed for a quick read-through was Aquaman #1.
Laugh at me all you want, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Aquaman. His was the first comic I’d ever read when I was a kid, secretly borrowing my brothers’ comics to read whenever they were out of the house. I can get into the myriad reasons why I love Aquaman and will defend him ‘til the end, but that’s a topic for another post (which I’ve been working on for like six months and might never see the light of review day). When DC announced this title, I was actually excited. Aquaman! What!? And not belligerent old hook-hand Aquaman either—no! This was the young, sexy blonde Aquaman that had made my tiny toddler heart skip a beat (he was so pretty!). As I flipped through the pages gawking at the beautiful artwork and reading the story, I knew immediately that this would be one of few keepers for the New 52.
Geoff Johns loves Aquaman. He’s proclaimed as much time and again during interviews, but you don’t need to hear him say that in order to get it. Reading Aquaman #1 felt very much like Johns’ love letter to Aquaman. He cares about this character, and we see that from page one. The entire issue is devoted to building up Aquaman—first with a display of brute strength in the opening pages, followed by a glance at his reputation and insight to what’s in his heart, ultimately ending with a declaration of intent. And in between it all, it is funny as heck. I’m not sure a New 52 book has given me as much enjoyment yet as Aquaman did. I loved this, and if Geoff and Ivan Reis (whose art was ridiculously great) can keep the momentum, I’ll be hooked for the long run.
Uh, no pun intended.
I hate it when this happens. You hear so much hype about a book—it’s built up and talked about everywhere and every review you read is like “THIS IS AMAZING!” and you think, oh my, I can’t wait to be hit with the awesome. Then you get the book and … the balloon has popped. To smithereens. You’re deflated and your pieces are scattered everywhere, and you don’t feel like picking yourself back up.
That’s kind of how I felt after reading this issue. Despite how gorgeous it was for the eyes—as though anyone would expect any less from J.H. Williams on that—it left me deflated. Yet, I’m not really sure what my expectations were. Story-wise, I had none. I’m not a huge Kate Kane follower, but I liked her enough to sample this. The only thing I left the issue with, though, was a sizeable dose of confusion. I haven’t read Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective—the only Batwoman I’d read was the “zero” issue that came out last year or so—and as such, I had no frame of reference for a lot of what was happening in this book. Whatever happened to “new reader-friendly”?
Could I follow along with this? Yes. I could piece together most of what I think I needed to know by the end of the issue. But was it easy, or even rewarding? Not really … I didn’t leave it feeling as such. I’d like to blame that on the fact that J.H Williams, like many on the New 52, is artist-turned-writer. That’s not an easy transition to make. I’d also suggest that this title was never actually meant to be part of the New 52—it wasn’t written to entice new readership or be part of this comics-holy endeavor. It was just a title that kept getting delayed and kept getting delayed and eventually found its way to being a part of this. I think it’s done some harm.
I’m going to read issue two. I’ll likely stick out the entire first arc, because I think whatever nitpicks I have with this can certainly be overcome. I will say that the opening scenes in particular were incredible, and I’m looking for more of that to come. Overall, the book just didn’t hit me the way I was expecting, and so much of that I’m sure has to do with the internet hype. Drowning it out for next month.
Ugh. I really … I didn’t want to do this. I staunchly and adamantly shot down this book before it came out; very loudly voiced my hatred at the concept of a new Birds of Prey without Oracle or Huntress or Gail Simone behind the board. I was NOT going to give this a shot. But in a week where Catwoman and Starfire were degraded and exploited beyond all comprehension … suddenly, a female team book felt more alluring. And really, let’s face it—I’m a masochist. Comics fans in general are absolutely masochists. We know it’s going to be bad—we know it’s going to hurt, but damn it, we just can’t look away. We just can’t stop.
So I picked this up. And … it broke my heart.
First of all, let me get this off my chest: Dinah’s outfit is absolutely dumb. Dumbest thing ever. I will say that I’ve never minded the fishnets in her previous getup—I thought her outfit was fine, and no, I didn’t think she looked like a hooker. I thought she looked like a badass biker chick, though much of fandom had complained that the fishnets were tacky. DC’s answer to that, apparently, was to re-tool her costume and add even MORE fishnets? Up her ARMS, no less? What the hell, guys. This is the stuff that makes me want to cuss my head off. (I’m trying to tone it down—it isn’t easy.) It’s just the most senseless outfit of all the redesigns, and that’s saying a lot considering there is some genuinely BAD stuff out there. My eyes … they bleed.
Okay. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about this book. The Birds of Prey, to me, has always been about friendship. Well, it’s about girls kicking ass too, but mostly, it’s friendship. The unfailing, strong-in-the-face-of-all-danger, love-you-no-matter-how-many-times-you-screw-up friendship between Dinah and Barbara. Then Huntress eventually came along and stirred the pot, and the book became even more amazing because the relationships built between the three women was not something that was found in any other DC book, or any other comic book period. Add Zinda Blake to the mix, and things still kept getting stronger. Four ladies, four unshakeable ties. A family. That was the Birds of Prey. And I came back for it month after month after month, because it felt like these were my girls. You find things you relate to and after so many years of a book like this, you build these immensely personal ties and attachment to it. Not having the Birds anymore—my Birds—is heartwrenching.
This? If they had called Duane Swierczynski’s version anything else—anything at all other than “Birds of Prey,” I might have actually been able to swallow this. But I can’t. I keep looking at this book hoping that it’s what it was—what I want it to be, but it’s not, and I’m not MEANT to look at it that way. We’re supposed to look at it as something new. It’s its own thing. DC is asking us not to compare it to what came before. But that’s really unfair, and it’s just not something I can do. DC built this attachment of mine; they gave me a security blanket that I loved and loved, and they can’t expect me to throw it away for some new toy.
I’m genuinely sorry about it, too, because the artwork on this was flawless. One issue and I am already a huge Jesus Saiz fan. And as much as I wasn’t crazy about Swierczynski coming on board, I have to give credit where credit is due—he writes a pretty damn good Black Canary. Maybe even second best to Gail. Unfortunately, I won’t be sticking around to see what he can do. He screwed that up for me the moment he introduced Barbara Gordon in this issue for no apparent reason whatsoever outside of raising a million continuity questions that he doesn’t proceed to answer. I can’t look at this with the new eyes that it needs. Maybe some day … but for right now, looks like I’m out.
Yeeaaahhh … I have to say, I was really on the fence about this one. I had no idea what to expect until a few weeks back when I watched this hysterical interview with Brian Azzarello about his run on the book. He has such utter disdain for the interviewer in it and he’s so frank with his responses that I couldn’t help but be oddly endeared. Suddenly, any worries I had about the title just kind of fell away.
Despite being turned off by the idea of yet another revamp for Wonder Woman, after over a year of horrible, pedantic, pointless WW issues during the “Odyssey” story arc of Straczynski’s ill-conceived run, I was suddenly DESPERATE for a title re-launch. Time to kick the lame pants and jacket, adolescent writing, and cheesecake artwork to the curb. Cliff Chiang on art duties? GODSEND. Brian Azzarello writing? Er … I hadn’t read the guy. There was a 50/50 chance this could work.
I liked this issue. It took me two reads, but I liked it. The first read through was a little rough—Azzarello wasn’t lying when he said he wanted to introduce a “horror” element to Wonder Woman, and at first, it just seemed like a whole bunch of violence and gore. But on the second read through, the issue took a much better shape, and I caught things I didn’t catch the first time around. The tone was different, and I actually liked it. It was hard, but in a good way. Azzarello re-introduces some of the Greek gods, and for the first time in a long time—maybe ever—they actually come across really cool, powerful, and scary. When was the last time the gods were actually scary? They SHOULD be scary. It’s refreshing to see. Especially interesting is the fact that this doesn’t feel as “mythological” as it actually is. You’re not watching the gods walk around in togas and hang out on Olympus the way you did during Greg Rucka’s run (which I loved as well). It’s not in-your-face ancient mythology. It’s modern day, and it WORKS. So much so that I’m surprised.
The story involves a human girl named Zola who has unknowingly gotten herself mixed up in godly affairs—literally—and it’s up to Wonder Woman to protect her from the wrath of who we presume to be Hera and Apollo. I was very concerned with how Wonder Woman would come across under Azzarello’s pen. Would she just be a violent Amazonian? Would she retain any of her compassion? Would she wear pants? (Just kidding.) My favorite renditions of Wonder Woman have always been the loving, empathetic ones—Simone’s and Rucka’s. An overly violent Wonder Woman goes against the grain of everything the character represents.
That said, she isn’t afraid to kick ass when ass needs kicking. She isn’t afraid to kill if it’s what must be done (see Maxwell Lord). And in this issue, Wonder Woman kicks a lot of ass in what is one of the most well-choreographed, beautifully drawn fight scenes I’ve read in ages. Cliff Chiang kills on this book, illustrating a Wonder Woman who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, but can also show concern where it’s called for.
Did this completely fire on all cylinders for me? Not entirely. I have a few nitpicks, to be sure—for example, this being her own title book, it felt oddly as though Wonder Woman somehow wasn’t in it very much. I also wasn’t crazy about the use of her lasso in one scene, and I feel like some of the dialogue can be tweaked as we move forward. But overall, this is a HUGE improvement over the garbage Wonder Woman fans have had to suffer through over the past year. I am most definitely on board here, and the creative team has set my expectations high. For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait for the next issue of Wonder Woman.
Actually, it’s only Flashpoint for now. For the next hour(s) it takes me to write this, because that’s absolutely all I can take of it. After that, I’m reading Walking Dead and X-Men: Legacy and calling it a day. Helloooo, four-day weekend.
Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1 – I read this book first, despite the fact that Emperor Aquaman came out before it. I’d seen a preview online of the first few pages and was taken in by the artwork, so I just had to grab this up, and I actually wound up loving it overall (first time I’ve enjoyed a Wonder Woman book in over a year). The story opens up with a great scene that just so perfectly captures naïve, happy, laughing Diana and makes me miss the Wonder Woman I know and love all that much more—ironic that she’s not actually the Wonder Woman I know and love. We’re quickly introduced to Aquaman by way of baby Kraken, and although I suspected some of what would happen (yes, Diana’s mother is killed, because apparently there’s some decree that Hippolyta must die every year), there are still some nice twists I didn’t see coming that add another layer to the story. Good job by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning in keeping things fresh via these twists, rather than recycling the same old lazy narrative over and over. The artwork, which piqued my interest in the first half of the book, got a little weird toward the middle and started to fall flat toward the end. It’s an odd style to try to describe, as the backgrounds have almost a CGI feel to them, but I didn’t entirely despise it. At least, I didn’t let it detract from the story and from the better pencils. If you’ve picked up Emperor Aquaman and if you’re at all interested in the behind-the-scenes of the Flashpoint world, I encourage you to pick up this title.
Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1 – So, it’s a good thing I read Wonder Woman and the Furies first, because this would more or less have spoiled everything otherwise. While the former title shows us the backstory of Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s encounter, this title skips ahead into the Flashpoint world as we know it. It’s a nasty one where Aquaman has a grudge to bear, and he shows it by drowning the heck out of Rome. Let me take a moment to say that this is where Ardian Syaf’s pencilwork absolutely excels; Michelangelo’s Pietà floating in the background, Aquaman swimming menacingly through the water, paying absolutely no attention to the dead bodies polluting it—that stuff is gold. Wussy, old school Aquaman? He ain’t here. This Aquaman is villainous, and he’s even got the butch, redundant buzzcut to prove it. Amazing. You absolutely should read this if you want to have any hope of understanding the war between the Atlantians and Amazons. It isn’t a masterpiece by any means, nor is the end “surprise” of the issue anything that you couldn’t already deduce, but this slightly above middle-of-the-road work is sufficient for a tie-in and the writing is decidedly better than some of the other stuff running. Let’s see what happens next issue.
Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1 – Umm… I honestly don’t know what I just read. Maybe I’m zoning out because I read it so late last night and was on the verge of falling asleep, or maybe it’s just because the book was completely uninspired. Wow. Yeah, that was genuinely bad … then again, I saw “J.T. Krul” written on the cover and didn’t expect much, so I guess I wasn’t let down. I generally like the guy’s story ideas, but his execution is typically poor. There’s just too much that doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel natural, particularly some of the dialogue. It’s too forced. Too rushed. I wasn’t buying it, and that makes me sad, because this is DEADMAN and the FLYING GRAYSONS, for goodness’ sake. This should be AWESOME! But … it’s not. And aside from like, one page, it’s completely unessential reading. We waste half the book on nothing—absolute nothing, because the set up (happy Grayson family juxtaposed with cranky egotistical Boston Brand) could have been accomplished in four pages instead of the ten it took. Boring, and so very cookie-cutter. The only positive I can give this title at all is that the rendering on the artwork was rather lovely. Unfortunately, that alone is not worth my time. Passing on the rest of this.
Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1 – Now here’s one that really confuses me. This is written by the same team who did Wonder Woman and the Furies, so I expected something more than what I actually got from this issue. Maybe it’s the pressure of writing two three-issue tie-ins at the same time with a limited window in which to get them done and published, but … that’s really no excuse, is it? I was let down by Lois Lane and the Resistance. Especially when you look at the cover. Check that out. I’ll be among the first to tell you not to fall for what you see on a cover, but that totally sets you up for something different than what’s being offered here, at least so far. I also hated the interior art, and the entire thing overall just felt so … 1991. The story itself? Nothing to write home about. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are trapped in Europe when Aquaman’s big drowning wave hits, and Jimmy Olsen bites the bullet. Did I just spoil that? No, I promise you I didn’t, because his scene—which should have been emotional and tragic—just fell completely flat and took place in all of one panel where you don’t even see him. You just see water, and Lois Lane cries “JIMMY! OLSEN!” Disappointing. What feels like two minutes after that rush of flood and death, the big bad Amazons appear out of nowhere and “rescue” the select people they see fit to rescue. I put “rescue” in quotation marks because these Amazons are just so darn mean and tough and bad that it really isn’t a rescue so much as arguable enslavement. And in the context of the story, none of this makes any sense. Groan. As let down as I was by this issue, I’ll still probably check out the next one to see if it gets any better. I demand to see a badass Lois Lane leading a Resistance at some point in this mess. Let’s get on that.
The score is Likes: 2, Dislikes: 2. That’s a better result than I anticipated, though I suspect it would be heavily swayed toward the latter if I were to read more of these.
Okay—I’m out! Everyone be sure to fire up those grills and have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Go out and get some sun!