Thursday, April 22, 2010

Seeing the Light

The first issue of The Light from Image Comics has sold out, so Newsarama has made it available for free online along with an interview with the creators, Nathan Edmondson and Brett Weldele.

It's a horror story about a deadly infection that is spread by electric lights with art that is very reminiscent of the work of Ben Templesmith.

While the story is set in Oregon, so far there isn't much to identify the with the Northwest beyond a mention of Portland, pine trees, and a very gloomy atmosphere.

It be interesting to see how they explore the region in future issues.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Quick Reviews

The Guild #2

Some time ago a prominent comics blogger proposed the question about what non-scifi/fantasy television shows should be made into comic books. While it's still only a web series, Felicia Day demonstrates that her show is a natural for adaptation. The series continues to explore how the Knights of Good came together with the a focus on Codex's neurosis and her interactions on the MMORPG. The only drawback is that the book can't include the wonderful performances of Day and the rest of The Guild regulars.

The Spirit #1

Danny Colt gets a new series as part of the launch of DC's new First Wave group of books. Mark Schultz and Moritat create a much grittier Central City and have already introduced a new femme fatale to the Spirit's rogues gallery. It doesn't hurt that there's a black and white backup feature by legendary Denny O'Neil and Bill Sienkiewicz.

The series is much more promising than the new Doc Savage title, but it still remains to be seen if this is a series that will be worth keeping up with.

Justice League of America #44

One of the appeals for the old Teen Titans series was that they represented the next generation of the JLA. Wally West was the first of these ex-sidekicks to graduate to full League membership followed by Roy Harper several years later. James Robinson's writing stint has accelerated this trend with the inclusion of Dick Grayson, Donna Troy, and Vic Stone to the current lineup. In addition he's also explored adding characters with no previous association with the League such as the 70's Starman and Congorilla.

One consequence is that the new membership has created a more family-like team that resembles Marvel's X-Men.

This issue picks up as a Brightest Day tie-in and features many guest appearances that make this old fanboy smile.

Green Lantern #53

Another Brightest Day tie-in that sets up a new direction for the Green Lantern books that continues to incorporate the multi-colored corps into the new status quo. No complaints from me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I still love you Roger!

It looks like Roger Ebert doesn't like Kick-Ass.
Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let's say you're a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the move does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in. A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.
In my own review of Kick-Ass, I anticipated that some viewers my have problems with the depiction of Hit-Girl. While Kick-Ass isn't the deepest of movies, I feel that the movie effectively satirizes many super-hero cliches including the kid sidekick.

Since Dick Grayson teamed up with Bruce Wayne, the kid sidekick has been one of the most absurd elements in a genre filled with absurdity. For more than sixty years children dressed in colorful costumes have been depicted taking down hordes of evildoers with a minimum of bloodshed. I have enjoyed many of these tales, but I can still appreciate the irony of the concept taken to its extreme.

In addition, just because the movie features an 11-year old protagonist doesn't mean its intended for 11-year olds. My hope is that parents would exercise the same discretion about letting their kids view Kick-Ass as they would any other film with a high body count.

I still greatly admire Roger Ebert and he will remain my favorite movie critic. One of the great things about his reviews is that he shares the reasons why he likes or dislikes a film so clearly that the reader can almost anticipate if they will share Ebert's verdict.

In the case of Kick-Ass, Ebert sees little merit in the depiction of Hit-Girl while I do.

Quick Reviews

Flash #1, Brightest Day #0

With the recent resurrection of the Barry Allen Flash several other prominent characters, DC has created a new status quo in its books that hasn't existed since the mid-80s. Many characters that went through dramatic changes in appearance and attitude now resemble their pre-Crisis incarnations.

For this old DC fanboy, this looks like a good thing even if younger readers may not appreciate the nostalgia of the new crop of "Brightest Day" books. So far, the stories appear to be a promising refinement of the ensemble story arcs used in books such as "52" and "Countdown".

Doc Savage #1

I really wish I could be more excited about the return of this classic pulp hero, but so far the main feature starring the Man of Bronze and his "aides" fails to capture my interest.

However, the "Justice, Inc." backup feature does appear to be worth following. It has some great artwork by Scott Hampton and features another old pulp hero in a modern noir environment.

Irredeemable Special #1

Mark Waid uses this anthology issue to provide some backstory to his saga about a superhero gone bad. Highlights include an interesting take on the Batman as a family man and some excellent artwork form the prolific Howard Chaykin.


This new series written by Jonathan Hickman provides an alternative take on Marvel's secret spy organization with twists that resemble the steampunk adventures found in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

With works such as the Nightly News and his recent run on Fantastic Four, Hickman has shown that he is one of the most promising new talents to emerge in recent years and is destined for great things. It's too soon to tell, but the new S.H.I.E.L.D. may be one of them.

Black Widow #1

With her upcoming movie debut in Iron Man 2, Marvel has seen fit to give their favorite Russian super-spy her own series by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna.

The inaugural issue sets up a nice mystery and does justice to one of the more interesting super-heroines. My hope is that they maintain a subtle touch when using integrating elements of the Marvel Universe into the book. An added bonus in the supplemental material explaining the Widow's complex history.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nortwest Connection; Marvel Adventures: Spider-man: THWIP!

When starting this blog, one of my intentions was to spotlight comics that were in some way connected to the Pacific Northwest. It's my way of celebrating one of the things that make living in this region so special.

To start things off, I thought I would take a look at "THWIP!" the first volume of Marvel Adventures: Spider-man written by Paul Tobin, a fellow Portlander.

I'll have to confess that I'm not much of a Spider-man fan. I wouldn't deny that there have been many great tales using the character and Peter Parker is one of the most influential comic characters of all time. My difficulty is that I feel the things that made Parker unique have been co-opted by other comic titles. As a result, the Amazing Spider-man can seem like just another generic super-hero comic.

Attempts to rectify this problem have included the Ultimate Spider-man books by Brian Bendis that offered a more stream-lined version of the Spider-man saga.

Another effort has been the Marvel Adventures (formally Marvel Age) series. For over fifty issues this ongoing series has featured the adventures of a high school age Parker in a sequence of stand-alone issues aimed at younger readers.

I can't speak for the quality of the books before Tobin joined the title with issue fifty-three, but he has contributed a very enjoyable interpretation of Spidey along with the development of an interesting supporting cast.

With his first issue Tobin has introduced four significant additions to the this Marvel Adventures book. The two most familiar to past Spider-man stories are classmate Gwen Stacy and her Police Captain father, George Stacy. Both of these characters were killed off long ago in the regular Spider-man books, but Tobin has resurrected them for his own stories.

Within the first issues, Gwen's development is limited, but the use of George Stacy has been a revelation. He seems to become kind of mentor to both Peter and Spider-man. A decent man who balances his duties as a cop with a belief that the wallcrawler is not the criminal he's widely believed to be.

The two other additions are more of a surprise. Emma Frost is more familiar as the villain-turned-hero featured in many X-Books. Here she's a manipulative young woman who uses her telepathic abilities to make New York City her personal amusement park. Joining her is her best friend, Chat, a kind-hearted teen with the mutant ability to communicate with animals.

The stories feature plenty of action, but the real highlights include the growing friendship between Peter Parker and George Stacy and the Chat development as a new romantic interest.

Tobin's scripts are full of wit and humor and he does a good job of conveying the lives of teenagers without being condescending.

Tobin's writing is complimented by the art of Matteo Lolli. With this series, Lolli has a manga-inspired style that clearly distinguishes the teenagers from the adults, shows a great attention to detail, and provides consistent visual storytelling.

As the parental advisory says, this book is for all-ages. That shouldn't discourage older readers from checking out these comics. This is one of the best Spider-man fixes you can find.