Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A list of comic books I have recently enjoyed.

I feel like I've already documented my love of anything written by Warren Ellis, Adam Warren or Gail Simone. So, to shake it up a bit, I'd like to mention a few other comics I've been really digging as of late.

1. Agents of ATLAS.

Finally started reading it thanks to everyone's recommendations and man, is it ever crazy comic book fun. I haven't seen a team this gleefully eclectic, original and well-written since Runaways first came out.

2. Incognito

Noir meets supervillainy with a well-written back-up feature about a pulp icon in each action-packed book. Woof. I feel like I need a cigarette after every issue.

3. Captain Britain and MI-13

Paul Cornell made me like Meggan, for crissakes. MEGGAN. Or as I should now call her, Gloriana. I haven't been this surprised since Warren Ellis made me enjoy reading about Kitty Pryde. Damn shame this book's getting the axe, even if some folks weren't entirely surprised by the news. Find the trades if you can, you won't be disappointed.

4. Incredible Hercules

The Marvel superhero afterlife as a casino. A diner where the gods meet to have discussions. Really, it's the little touches like this and consistent humor that make this book a must-read month after month. As soon as I have the cash, I am so picking up the trades.

5. Thor

Pretty much what I said for Incredible Hercules, only more low-key. A solid read. I'm gonna be a bit bummed to see JMS' run end.

5. JSA Vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith

I don't usually read the JSA (I'm not enough of a DCU fanatic to even know who half of this superpowered Brady Bunch are) but I'm reading this with glee. On the face of it, a story about an atheist versus a group of religious fanatics might sound a little too on-the-nose. It's not. This well-plotted, interesting and suspenseful mini-series is yet another reason why Eric Trautmann deserves his own ongoing series (and why they should never have kicked him and Greg Rucka off of Checkmate). Plus, it finally gives us an update on the fate of Sasha Boudreaux after Final Crisis: Resist. *sniff*

6. Power Girl

Amanda Conner's art, you guys. She could illustrate the phone book and I'd buy it and be amused. The story's okay so far, I suppose. There's a money/ape villain, which always charms me. Needs more of Karen's Cat hurting people, tho'. I've loved that filthy, angry cat since the Giffen era of the JLA/JLE - which is another great series coincidentally out in trade. Severely worth your time, folks. Take Greg Rucka's word for it if you don't believe me.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Giving back to the man who gave us an Oracle

I'm not sure how many of you know the name John Ostrander. He, along with his wife, are responsible for - among many other things - Barbara Gordon being Oracle.

To quote Wikipedia and Gail Simone . . .

"Following the release of the graphic novel, comic book editor and writer Kim Yale discussed how distasteful she found the treatment of Barbara Gordon with her husband, fellow comic writer John Ostrander. Rather than allow the character to fall into obscurity, the two decided to revive her as a character living with a disability." - Wikipedia's entry on Barbara Gordon

"Kim Yale and John Ostrander picked up the character and made her into a brilliant master computer operator and one of the most fascinating characters in comics." - Gail Simone

And coming from Gail Simone, well, 'nuff said.

Also, he's the mind behind the classic comic book known as Suicide Squad. Deadshot and Amanda Waller wouldn't be running around the DCU being awesome (or at least awesomely morally ambiguous). Essentially? Without John Ostrander, we'd have had no Birds of Prey. No Checkmate. No Secret Six.

Hell, innumerable other additions to the DCU would be non-existent without his influence.

Tragically, the man who helped create and champion the world's first superheroine living proudly with a disability now needs your help. Thanks to Kevin Church, I've learned that Mr. Ostrander is currently losing his sight to glaucoma. One can only imagine how crippling this is for someone who works in the field of graphic novels. Luckily, you can help him keep his sight.

Look, guys, I know times are tough right now but it's the man who helped create Oracle and Amanda Waller. Hell, I'm having Ramen for dinner most of this week. That said, I still managed to at least throw a measly dollar his way today. Please, help out Mr. Ostrander with a donation, however small. Sorry to preach at you but it's just the right thing to do.

One last quote, this time from John Ostrander himself on Oracle:

". . . we knew that others with disabilities might look at her [Oracle] and feel good reading about her . . . These shouldn't be stories about a disabled person; they are stories about a compelling fascinating character who HAPPENS to be in a wheelchair and I think that's correct. Barbara isn't her handicap; there's more to her than that."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Formal Apology.and The Plugging of Geeky Greatness

It has belatedly occurred to me that a guy who just put up a post about how much he loved Spider-Man 2099 really doesn't get to rip on X-Force.

I'm sorry for being "that guy".

As way of apology, here's a free comic book to read. It's the interesting first issue of a sci-fi meets noir headbender series called Existence 2.0, courtesy of the good folks over at Comic Book Resources. Maybe not your cup of tea if you don't like unsympathetic protagonists, noir-ish plots and a liberal amount of killing but hey, I enjoyed it. Of course, I am a terrible person, so your mileage may vary. Now, if only the folks behind the intriguing Chew series would be kind enough to put the sold out issue of #1 online for similar perusal, I'd be doubleplus happy. Ah, well. That's just what I get for not hitting my comic shop every Wednesday like a proper geek. I even slept through my alarm today and missed getting my copy of Wednesday Comics (along with Booster Gold and Superman: World of New Krypton). Even if the Superman part of it is up for free at USA Today, the lack of this oversized pamphlet o' fun in my hands makes me a Sad Panda.

Ah, but there is one thing on the horizon that makes me happy. Let's talk about The Middleman, shall we?

This fantastic show, based on the immensely terrific comic book series of the same name created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, was a witty, light-hearted and impressively clever show about two people who "fought evil so you don't have to." Alas, this always enjoyable romp was canceled because . . . well, I don't know exactly. Life must be tempered with sadness?


Since I can't attend the upcoming Comic Con Panel where the last episode will be read aloud, I must harbor hope for a different dream. While it's true that Javier Grillo-Marxuach has moved on to a new, intriguing show, I still hold a slim, geeky hope in my heart for it's resurrection. True, the chances of it being brought back on the air are nearly a million-to-one but in a world where Futurama returned due to strong DVD sales, I don't see the harm in begging all of you to purchase the box set of Season 1. My plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity.

Who knows? Stranger things have happened. At the very least, you'll be up one box set of an extremely great TV show. I know that, despite my dire finances, I'll be picking it up and placing it proudly between my Series Collections of Wonderfalls and Firefly (of course, if you're an alphabetizing TV fanatic freak, I suppose you'd have to put it between MI:5 and MST3K or something).

And that's just TWO
minutes from ONE episode!
So, to sum up - mea culpa, happy reading and happy watching!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two characters you've probably never heard of are kissing

I don't know how many of you know or care about two B/C-List superheroes from the 1990's but Peter David's most recent issue of X-Factor had Shatterstar coming out of the closet. He and his fellow X-Force teammate Richter share a passionate kiss after he breaks free of mind control (and long after they've both apparently broken free of their horrible 90's hair and outfits - see above).

The reaction from the comic blogging nerd community has unsurprisingly been very positive or very indifferent thus far. The reaction from Shatterstar's original creator, on the other hand, has been snippy at best and homophobic at worst (and has resulted in a "so bad you have to watch with popcorn" train wreck/flamewar between himself and Peter David in the comments section). Other people have been, shall we say, on the opposite end of the spectrum than Mr. Liefeld (A mention on Queer As Folk even? Wow, I salute their obscure nerdiness).

Personally, I was unsurprised. It's a canny move to increase sales on a book that's under a lot of people's radars. Also, Peter David kind of has a history of doing this sort of thing before. Mind you, if people really want to go on and on about how much a gay hero coming out pleases them, maybe they should take a few seconds and stick up for a real one. Just a suggestion. Don't mind me. Let's move on to talking about the important things in life, like comic book continuity from the 1990's.

As for this being a natural extension of the previous canon or not, I'd had suspicions even in my naive teen years that writers were trying to hint at this. I vaguely (mis?)remember that they had the two guys being "Roommates" in a mansion that could house dozens of people. Mind you, it's never been a topic that weighed heavily on my mind. They're remnants from X-Force, for crissakes. X-FORCE. Yeah, so what if I totally collected in the 90's, I was young and foolish then. Shut up. I'm just mildly amused and hesitantly pleased by this. I mean, this is Peter David, so he could just be setting up this couple to only have one or both of them die in a tragic/ironic way (possibly in a way that also involves a terrible pun)*.

Still, it's a nice change to see Richter out as a bisexual. Yes, I said bisexual. He's slept with women, such as Rahne Sinclair, prior to this little revelation. Clearly, he is both bisexual and has kind of a definite fondness for redheads & strawberry blonds**. In popular fiction of any stripe, but especially sci-fi, fantasy and the like, bisexuals are often rarer than rubies (English fiction not withstanding). My favorite thing about this revelation thus far is that nobody's screaming bloody murder about his bisexuality in all this fervor about Shatterstar coming out of the closet. Mystique is the only other bisexual character I can think of in Marvel Comics and she's either crazy, evil or evil and crazy***. For every touching moment Claremont wrote between her and Destiny, some other writers have her using Sabretooth to get knocked up or hitting on her daughter's boyfriend or something equally squicky. And now she's dead or something. I think. Lord knows, I can't keep track of the X-Titles without a scorecard anymore.****

Anyways, I think people are making more of this than it actually is. Despite Peter David's claims, this is still a mild revelation about two characters only a handful of people remember (nerds of all sexualities on the Interweb aside). Plus, I haven't seen a word of this on the national news, so I really don't think that anyone should cross their fingers that Richter and Shatterstar are going to be the next Midnighter and Apollo. If I'm proved wrong, well, hooray for tolerance and Shatterstar roaring back in popularity, even without his terrible 90's hair and amusingly over the top double swords (Man, I shoulda tossed him in that Sulu and Spiral thing. Too late now, I guess.)

Which reminds me, hey, Jenny Sparks was bisexual as well and she was the team leader of The Authority. Except for the being dead part, she's probably the most heroic, exemplary example of a bisexual comic book character I can think of.***** Man, Ellis' Authority was awesome. But I digress, to steal a phrase.

X-Factor, on the whole, is one of those books I want to like more than I actually end up liking it (unlike Madrox and David's original X-Factor run, which I adored). Mostly, it just rubs me the wrong way for a wide variety of reasons******. Even so, I applaud Peter David for taking this step and hope it works out well for everyone. Mind you, I do find it a trifle amusing that a creator recently lambasted for taking fans on the internet to task for posting his work without permission is now the same person responsible for making the furious assertions of slash fic writers into canon.


*I mentioned my annoyance at Peter David's "writing tics" in an earlier post and that's definitely the topmost one. Mind you, this is differentiated from the Joss Whedon Method, which involves people dying in a somewhat ironic/shocking, sudden way WITHOUT a pun. Usually as punishment for having a healthy, enjoyable sexual relationship - gay or straight. The man is all about people of all genders and sexualities getting punished for having sex or being happy, which is why I suppose he gets all those nice GLAAD awards. Hey, I kid because I love, you rabid Joss Whedon fans, you.

**Since I'm sure a few of you are wondering by now, this is probably the only quality I both identified with and shared with Richter the angry Hispanic superhero cliche growing up. Yes, that's right - I love redheads. There. I said it. God, that feels good to finally get out there.

***Oh, and Shinobi Shaw, I think but who even remembers- *looks up* Oh, hey, wouldja look at that?

****Re: the X-Men titles - while I loved them growing up, I now only enjoy the blessedly continuity-free Astonishing X-Men and have a love/hate relationship with Fraction's Uncanny X-Men (i.e., the "art" of Greg Land and the too-cutesy captions). Otherwise, I'm in the dark. The art on the new X-Force book is amazing, tho', gotta give 'em props for that. Just a damn shame it's, well, X-Force. Team Stabby McBlood Stabby Bub Snickt Stabby Blood does little for me.

*****And before you complain about fridging, Jenny Sparks died saving the Earth by killing GOD. And lived being the badass spirit of the 20th Century, which hey, nice work Ellis. And even though we're discussing Wildstorm, let's just put a pin in talking about Sarah Rainmaker for now. These footnotes are long and obnoxious enough.

******See footnote one. See also, things like the dupe baby and titles like "Dirty, Sexy Monet". Groan.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It's a dream that we all share, it's the hope for tomorrow

Happy 4th of July, everybody!

I know that at this juncture, I could speak about why America is a country I'm actually proud to live in, despite our flaws. I could discuss how we were founded on beautiful ideals and how we still manage to provide a sense of hope and justice to many, even when we occasionally fall far, far short of those ideals. I could announce my appreciation and support of our troops overseas, for even if I do not agree with the reasons some of them are out there, I admire their fortitude, honor and dedication in being there (while we all sit around blowing things up and eating grilled meat). How it is our inclusiveness, not our divisiveness that defines us, despite how often the opposite seems to be true. And most importantly to me, I could say how the American Dream has changed in many ways but still survives based on life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness for everyone under Lady Liberty's shadow.

But really, who wants to hear some comics blogger go on and on and on about how the USA is a fundamentally decent place to live, and in a totally non-ironic manner no less?

So in lieu of all that schmaltzy crap, please enjoy this patriotic video:

In short: America. Fuck Yeah.

Additional Links By People More Patriotic Than I Am!

Chris Sims Reminds Us Of Who The Real Heroes Are And Also Hurts Our Souls!

Sally P. Goes Green For The Fourth of July! (Lousy Hippie)

BeaucoupKevin Salutes Old Glory! Kind of.
And reminds us that even Batman and Robin are Patriotic!

Polite Dissent celebrates with cartoon characters and music!

And lastly, the folks at 4thLetter! remind us that TODAY . . . IS OUR INDEPENDENCE DAY!

And now I'm off to throw on my Superman t-shirt and go eat some hot dogs!

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Splendid Surprise

So, the talented artist known as Neil Cameron is doing an gloriously geeky A-Z of Awesomeness over at his blog. The main idea is that you go and suggest the most "awesome" geeky combination you can think of and bam! He draws it! I really should have mentioned it earlier to you all, considering how hilarious they've all been, but I didn't want any of your suggestions as to what he should draw to beat out one of mine. Mwoo-a-ha-ha-ha! Mine is an evil laugh.

Ah, but now that my Machiavellian scheming has worked, I suggest you get over there toot suite to give him your suggestions. And oh, yes - I am also proud to present the talented Mr. Cameron's use of my suggestion for the letter "S" . . .

Suck it, Second-place Sims!

And many thanks again to Neil for drawing a guaranteed smile a day. I'm really looking forward to seeing what he comes up with for U-Z.