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.
I’ve spent the last week taking it easy during the holidays and doing my best to catch up on my reading stack. In the past few days, I have brought myself up to speed on a few titles and some 40 issues of:
Justice League – Meh. Just … meh. I wish I could offer something more on this title, but it’s leaving me bored. Might be time to drop it from my pull list soon, but I’ll finish the current arc first.
Gotham Academy – I hate to say this because I was hoping for so much more, but the writing on this title has let me down. It’s not BAD—it’s just … a little slow? The pacing is dragging for me. And it’s perfectly reasonable that many others would love the type of story they’re telling in Gotham Academy, but for me personally, it’s not hitting. I anticipated giving the book at least the first full arc to grab me, but I think I already know that it’s not going to fit. And that’s really a shame, because I LOVE the artwork on this book. Karl Kerschl’s style is so clean and so lively, and even more exciting when you throw on Geyser and Dave McCaig’s incredible colors—I wanted so badly to fall in love with this book. But I’m just … not.
Hawkeye – Umm … so, this title is coming back, right? Because I need this title. This title has to exist.
Black Widow – Natasha/X-23 team-up? Yes, please. More, please. Also, my goodness, I cannot explain my love for Phil Noto in any sufficient way for others to fathom. He is just … I can’t. I love his work so much, it’s unlike anything else. I can’t compare him to anyone. And Marvel just announced that they’re releasing a month’s worth of Phil Noto variant covers in February, which means I’m trouble and will be buying way more titles that month than I need to be….
Thor – LOVE. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Three issues in and I am OBSESSED with this book. Everything about it is solid; the writing is spectacular, the artwork is a delight, the colors are captivating. There is nothing more I could possibly want from this, and I’m so excited for the next issue.
Superman/Wonder Woman – This title was actually fairly decent under Charles Soule—it was better than what I was expecting, and Tony Daniel’s art was crisp and lovely. But Tomasi’s first issue as of #13 made this book take a giant nose-dive for me, and Mahnke’s artwork is just not my cup of tea. Wonder Woman’s characterization continues to suffer greatly since the New 52—I don’t know who that person is, but she’s not my Wonder Woman. But that in itself is a topic for a whole other discussion.
Sensation Comics – This book. This book is … just about the only thing keeping my DC fandom afloat at this point. If post-New 52 Wonder Woman is wrong, then Sensation Comics Wonder Woman is everything RIGHT and everything she should be. Reading this title is this massive dose of nostalgia, which is kind of weird, right? Because how can something brand new with different, alternative takes on a character make you feel nostalgic toward said character? It does, so very much. I’m not sure I’d do it proper credit in trying to explain, except to say that it’s very clear each writer and artist gets Wonder Woman. They get her and they love her, and that comes through so obviously in every story—which, I’m sad to say, is not the case in her actual title or in pretty much any other DC book she’s currently in. It’s a tragic state of affairs. But if, like me, you want the Wonder Woman you loved before the New 52 destroyed everything she was and everything she stood for, then pick up Sensation Comics. You won’t regret it.
Some cool female-focused stuff came out of NYCC this weekend. DC announced that Stephanie Brown is finally making her return to the DCU, and while I want to be over the moon about this, I’m keeping my guard up. As the New 52 has taught me over and over again, these aren’t the characters I love, but some horribly mangled iterations of them, so I can’t let myself get too excited about Steph just yet. Not until … I see her.
That said, Marvel took the cake as far as announcements that make me happy. We already heard a couple of weeks ago that Charles Soule is writing a new She-Hulk book. As if that weren’t great enough, we’re also getting new Elektra and Black Widow solo titles, and a relaunched Captain Marvel. That’s on top of the female-centric X-Men and Fearless Defenders books, to boot.
This reader is very happy indeed.
Except … I did notice something kind of weird.
- From Stephen Wacker’s Captain Marvel interview on CBR: “Carol is sort of a blank slate coming out of the recent ‘Enemy Within’ storyline. So she’s back to trying to find a place for herself.”
- From Nathan Edmonson’s Black Widow Interview on CBR: “Without giving too many of our plot turns away, Natasha is a character driven by atonement. She’s a hero now, but she was a villain, and a dirty one.”
- From Zeb Wells’ Elektra Inverview on Newsarama: “Elektra’s in a dark place […] The series will be about her journey to find meaning and maybe start clawing her way towards redemption.”
Is it just me or does that all sound vaguely the same? That all of these characters are essentially lost and/or trying to make up for who they are or once were? Particularly regarding Black Widow and Elektra, haven’t we already read these stories of attempted redemption over and over again? Isn’t it about time those characters get over that trope and move onto something else?
I’m not condemning these titles; in fact I can’t wait to pick them all up. But I am wary of the possibility of reading something that’s rehashed and stale. I have a relatively high level of trust in these writers, though, so I guess we’ll find out next year.
- On the flip side, here’s what Charles Soule had to say about his She-Hulk: “She absolutely has problems, just like most of the heroes of the Marvel U, but she chooses to approach them with optimism and good spirit rather than surrendering to the grim and gritty.”
Kind of leaves you with the exact opposite feeling from the others, doesn’t it? I know which title I’m most looking forward to in 2014.
Just a quick post–
- As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Ben Affleck was cast as Batman in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie. And as I said on Twitter this morning, if you’ve seen Man of Steel or any other Zack Snyder movie, I think Ben Affleck should be the least of our worries. But the haters are out in full force—there are already petitions popping up demanding a re-cast. Which, is some legit crazy news, right? Petitions are for important things, like GMO labeling and putting an end to fracking and building a fully operational Death Star.I have to admit, though, that I love it when stuff like this happens, because then the Internet all comes together on a unified quest for utter hilarity that, strangely, kind of renews my faith that everything in general will be okay. Besides—I remember hearing some uproar back when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, and look how that turned out. (I mean, aside from the real-life stuff.)
Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for that Wonder Woman movie.
- Speaking of fan rage, Lobo’s getting a redesign! He’s all New 52’d up—wanna see? Calm down, though, guys—it’s going to be okay. Remember what I said above. Personally, I can’t say I mind this at all, and given what they did to the likes of Amanda Waller and Starfire and Cheshire however many others, it’s only fair the boys should suffer some. I wonder if DC will actually let this stick.
- Apparently Justice League of America is turning into Justice League Canada. I’m honestly only sharing this news because I think the title of this article is HYSTERICAL.
- Natalie Dormer is joining The Hunger Games as Cressida. Woo! I don’t have much to say about this other than I’m super happy about it.
All right, kids. Hope everyone has a great weekend. I’ve been stuck indoors all week at work and/or at home binge-watching seasons of Master Chef; now I’m going to spend the weekend out in the sunshine as much as possible.
Comics Beat did a summary of a really interesting Wonder Woman panel discussion at Denver Comic Con: http://comicsbeat.com/on-the-scene-denver-comic-con-2013-jimenez-perez-fradon-kelly-find-wonder-woman-problematic/
My favorite piece of this, when talking about adapting Wonder Woman for TV/film: “In [Phil] Jimenez’s reading of Wonder Woman stories, he sees a figure from whom humanity can learn a great deal, but in proposed adaptations, she has always been reconfigured as a character who needs to learn from humanity. It’s a fundamental problem, he felt, that dilutes the character’s strengths.”
Many more great points there, so check out the article.
Hey, gang. As I’m sure you know by now, Boston Comic Con was in fact forced to cancel at the last minute, due to the manhunt that took place in Boston and the neighboring area on Friday. My understanding is that the organizers of the con are hoping to be able to reschedule, and ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as they work toward this. On the bright side, many guests of the con who had already flown in wound up at various other sites on Saturday, such as Comicazi, signing and sketching for free. I wasn’t able to go to any of these, but I hope some of you did—if you were there and feel like writing to me about how it was, drop me a line and I’ll post your thoughts on the blog.
Some quick updates on what’s happening in my world:
Attended: PAX East, where I got to play a bunch of games, attend panels, and score swag.
Played: Injustice: Gods Among Us on the PS3. I’m about 85% of the way through Story Mode. Unfortunately at this point, I would not recommend spending the $60 for this title. While the gameplay itself isn’t bad, the story and overall delivery is some of the poorest I have ever come across in a video game. If you’re really intent on checking it out, give it a bit of time for the price to drop and just play Versus. I kind of wish I had taken those three hours playing this game over the weekend and spent them reading comics instead.
Currently Reading: Hawkguy, catching up on Fables trades, and my usual round of weekly webcomics. If you aren’t reading JL8, you’re missing out something huge. Also just picked up A Song of Ice and Fire paperbacks and hope to start making my way through those, because I’m …
… Watching: Game of Thrones. Obsessively.
Working on: My next post for CSBG; wedding planning; day job.
Speaking of which … back to work I go. ‘Til next time.
Guess what, guys?! I read, like, twelve comics last week! That is HUGE for me! Stuff is really happening!
Here are some things I wanted to share with you until my next post:
The incredible Phil Noto did a staggeringly awesome cover for Journey into Mystery featuring Sif and you need to see it.
Next, more awesomeness: Peter V. Nguyen’s new DC women print is here and, uh, wow. It’s too big to embed here and I didn’t want to re-size or scrunch it up, so check it out in full-size glory at the link.
Also, if you followed the 2012 Olympics at all, you might find this as hilarious as I did. I am totally buying this cover.
Finally, one thing I’ve been meaning to mention again since back in July is a project called How i Made the World. You may recall I linked to the comic earlier this year as an “honorable mention” in the list of web stuff I’d been following. The artist of the comic, Randy Michaels, was kind enough to send me some of his and writer Liz Plourde’s material that was published in an anthology called Lies Grown Ups Told Me. That collection wound up winning a Stumptown Comic Arts Award for Best Anthology. It’s some pretty great stuff, and if you can get your hands on a copy (it seems the print run was low, so that might be a task), I’d highly recommend the read.
But the even better news is that Randy and Liz were awarded the Xeric Grant in July. They write on their website:
We’d discussed applying for a Xeric grant since we first began work on How i Made the World. When we heard there would be one final comic book review, we knew we had to apply. Yet, we also knew the competition would be fierce. Entries from throughout the U.S. and Canada are judged on “originality, literary and artistic merit, and a sense of commitment to the work.” […] Today, we’re thrilled to announce we are the recipients of a 2012 Xeric Award. The grant is to be used for the printing, advertising, and distribution of our comic book, the pilot issue of How i Made the World. We’ve enjoyed the comic books of past Xeric recipients for years. They are among the most entertaining and innovative independent comic books being published, and they are often included in Houghton Mifflin’s annual The Best American Comics. We’re deeply honored to be among those recognized by the foundation. We’ll be working on the final stages of our comic and preparing it for press in the coming months. Stay tuned! This is only the beginning.
So here’s a late congrats to the team, and I look forward to reading more!