Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Let's Finally Talk Marvel's "Daredevil"

I'm not a rabid fan of The Man Without Fear, but on and off over the years, I've enjoyed reading comics about Marvel's foremost punching bag, Daredevil.  Of all of Marvel's staple characters, since the 1980's at least, Daredevil has been like a weird superhero/ noir/ gangland epic soap opera that mostly lost it's way when it veered too far into the rest of Marvel's superheroing and was at it's best when it kept even the costumed heroes and villains a bit more grounded and spent a lot of time with Murdock out of costume.*



If I were to recommend runs, I'd really recommend the Frank Miller era (the man's work just keeps bearing fruit) and the unbelievable Brian Michael Bendis era that had tremendous impact not just on Daredevil - forever changing the character while making him, somehow, even more Dardevil - but on the concept of dual identities in comics.  

So when I saw the initial previews of the Netflix-direct Daredevil show, I was a little shocked to see how much it looked exactly like a mix of Miller, Romita Jr., Mazzucchelli and Klaus Janson's work on the book and the Bendis-era Maleev tones and compositions.  And while Miller's story took place with Daredevil well established in the Marvel U, it certainly harkens back to his work.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

So, Miller is making it a Dark Knight Trilogy? All righty, then.

What do you even say when you see DC has signed up Frank Miller to create a third installment in the vein of Dark Knight Returns/ Dark Knight Strikes Again?  I think you say "DC needs a hit for the 3rd Quarter or Dan Didio will need a new jobby job."



And that's okay.  I'm a little past the point of hoping that DC Entertainment, a division of Time Warner, Inc., is really all that invested in the artistry of comics in 2015, but it's not like comics haven't recycled ideas before.  These sorts of short term stunts have generally paid off for Didio, and he's certainly running out of his usual bag of tricks now that he's exploited all of his predecessor's successes so many times over that he had to throw bags of gold at Frank Miller (or really pray Sin City 2 would do exactly what it did at the box office) in order to get him back at DC writing comics.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WWKKD? So many many #1's, so many mash-ups and watching the parade go by

San Diego Comic-Con has been ceded to movie and television hoopla, which has meant that big announcements tend to arrive in two forms now - if you're DC or Marvel, you find an actual press outlet like USA Today with which you apparently have a corporate symbiotic relationship and friendly mouthpiece to do your announcing - or you announce at a more comics-centric con like the just completed ECCC.  Here's coverage from The Comics Beat talking about new stuff from Valiant and Dark Horse announced at Emerald City Comic-Con.

We'll raise an eyebrow at the formerly legitimate-ish press carrying comic book news and the downfall of modern society some other time, but for today, let us consider the actual news about new comics about which I should be getting excited.

In a very weird way, all new comic series basically look the same to me.  And The Steam Man #1 solicitation copy is a pretty good example.

The Old West (but not as we know it): Giant robots that run on steam power are created to take down invading Martians and armies of killer albino apes in an all-out brawl. The Steam Man, a giant metal man operated by a team of monster hunters, seems to have the town protected and the West under control, until a crazed and powerful vampire comes to town to bring forth the apocalypse.
So what are we getting in this solicitation copy and that of so many other #1's?

1.  setting that is not here and now
2.  wacky overarching concept that's been done before, often endlessly
3.  with mash-up conflict from another recognizable but previously unrelated familiar thing
4.  extensive mythology in place from issue 1

you would not believe how many images come up when you Google "Robot Abraham Lincoln" to help illustrate your point

So, this comic looks to me to be:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics



If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In which we consider DC's June post "Convergence" shake-up and new costumes

Sigh.

I kind of want to be out of the business of thinking about DC's moves as a company, because it's equal parts equally unsatisfying and depressing.

In case you missed the interview with Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee that was featured at places like Comic Book Resources yesterday, they're basically moving forward by going back to not tying every book in the DC line to superhero mainline continuity.  As comics were up through the 1980's, DC and Marvel surely put out Superman and Spider-Man, but we didn't need to worry how that fit in with Teen-Age Romance Comics or Katy Keene In Love or whatever made up title I just made-up.

And DC is going back to - maybe not putting out Teen-Age Romance Comics - but they are saying "not everything here is in the main DCU, so quit worrying about that".

Jim Lee, who I am pretty sure has no idea what an actual buyer of comics looks like or thinks, was quick to tell his core audience that we're mistaken for wanting continuity to work in an ongoing serial.  And we were also mistaken for expecting both the New 52 to make sense and the five year time jump to hold together after DC said "it all makes sense, we'll show you" and then absolutely did not do so.

Now, all of this is coming on the heels of Convergence, which is a munging of the DC Multiverse, and because it's been a few years, I think we all needed to expect Didio was going to once again reboot the DCU.  They're not saying that, but they are absolutely saying that the characters will have new, unheard of status quos.  So, practically speaking, a rejigger if not a reboot.

So, let's review the images for the solicitation copy, shall we?


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rocket Raccoon Trade: A Chasing Tale (hardcover collection of "Rocket Racoon" issues 1-6)

With the release of this summer's feature film, Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel has done a better job than usual of capitalizing on the potential product tie-in for the movie.  Sure, at the time of the movie's release a few things hit the shelf that were the typical "well, this is perfunctory" new material by C or Z-list talent, but they also got name talent on a few ongoing, sustainable projects.



Of these, the one I had the most natural interest in was the Skottie Young helmed Rocket Raccoon ongoing.


SFANTHOR opens in Austin: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Horror museum and shop on South Congress


For reasons I cannot firmly recall other than fanboyishness, I follow Vincent Price on facebook.  So, I was a little surprised on Friday to see the folks managing the account - managers of the Price estate - be the ones who broke the news to me via a link to an Austin Chronicle article that the weird castle that's been under construction on touristy South Congress was not a hipster medieval bar, but a WAX MUSEUM AND HORROR-THEMED STORE.  

I had no Saturday plans, so I grabbed JuanD and he and I braved the usual Saturday traffic and crowds of South Congress (it's the kind of place where you stand in line for 45 minutes for a magical Austin ice cream - hint, it's just Marble Slab - or 2 hours for a @#$%ing cheeseburger.  G**damn this town), and went to check it out.

I was maybe two feet inside when I wished Stuart were here to see this.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We take on a tough, sensible question from a longtime reader

Horus writes in with a sensible question/ point of order:

Here's what I don't understand about you, League. I completely agree with the basic attitude of the post: any character can be good, just write them well! But then, why stick to Big 2 characters?

As you yourself say:

"And, here's the problem in a shared universe driven by editorial management: is that thing you liked replicable, or does it require the handling of specific creators with a specific vision?"

Why stick with the shared universe, which perhaps necessarily is going to end up being driven by editorial management? Or if you demand shared universe, why not go with something looser and third party (hey, Cerebus and Spawn once had a comic together, you know!).

Just saying, if you want weird, creative characters with great stories and writing, they're out there, just not provided by the folk who view characters entirely in terms of branding and name recognition . . .


Wow. Well, don't pull any punches, man.  Sheesh

But that's fair. If we can't ponder this sort of question, we aren't doing anyone any good.

here's a random picture so we have a picture

There are a lot of factors, and I'd start with the first - that I'm a human who contradicts himself and we get most angry with the faults we see in ourselves.  So, check that off your list.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Superman 38 and the Geoff Johns/ John Romita Jr. run

So, Superman #38 has been out for a week or so, and it's been generating some news in comic book land.

Superman got his buffalo wings "super spicy"


To date, this feels like the only successful run on the New 52 Superman title from DC Comics.  The title has struggled since George Perez more or less disavowed the 6-issue run bearing his name during the New 52 launch, and once Scott Lobdell came on, I gave it an issue or three and then did the unthinkable.  I actually dropped Superman.

Lobdell is my second least favorite writer to ever take on Superman, with Chuck Austen's mind-blowingly terrible work on the character and world of Metropolis front and center.  So, to get everyone up to speed, I've basically lost track of what was happening in the Superman titles for a good long while as they crossed-over with Supergirl and Superboy (a pair of books I couldn't stand within two issues of the New 52 launch), and then the Superman line launched in to the astoundingly poorly executed Doomsday-Virus hoo-har, which I kind of read, but, sheesh.

So, in a lot of ways, Geoff Johns coming on Superman brought me back to not just to that title, but to doing more than flipping through Action Comics and saying "yup.  okay.  That's what they're doing, then."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Holy Cats, True Believers! Sony and Marvel are going to share Spider-Man!

According to Comic Book Resources and no less than the Marvel website, Spider-Man is going to get rebooted (again) and join in with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

As if you didn't know:  Sony has had the Spider-Man film rights since way back in the day, and as Marvel was their own studio and is now owned by Disney, Spider-Man has never been a part of the Marvel Universe in films or television.  At least not since he was web-slinging on The Electric Company.

I know it would lose the GDP of Croatia for Sony, but I'd love to see this on the big screen

I have to assume that a weak showing for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and a critical smackdown on the sequel meant that Sony may have decided they'd prefer to share in the money-printing machine the Marvel folks have got going on over at Disney rather than just keep stamping their feet and insisting they know how to do this.  (I think you can point to whatever went down on Spider-Man 3 vis-a-vis studio notes as the beginning of the problem).

The problem with vote-based meritocracy and authorship in comics

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, it's no secret I am easily annoyed.

Today's annoyance comes courtesy Comics Alliance.  They are currently running a poll in which they pitch the question Which DC Woman Most Deserves Her Own Solo Book?

To me, the question is non-sensical and highlights a multitude of issues - which I shall complain about below.



Friday, February 6, 2015

DC Diverges from New 52

So, apparently the new plan at DC Comics is "There is no plan".  Which... okay.

Go read this article at IGN and we'll be here when you get back.

I kind of thought something like this was a possibility, but given Didio's prior approach of a deeply editorially controlled and managed DC Universe, my odd's on it were about 10-15%.   I do see this as a bit of a "throw @#$% at the wall and see what sticks" approach, but I also think it makes more sense than trying to make 52 ongoing titles cohesive 12 times a year, plus annuals.  What it does lack is a name brand for the marketing effort - something that I think stuck around about two years too long at DC Comics with the New 52 (nothing is still new three years in), or a single message behind those books.  Which: GOOD.



When I was a kid, the gold standard by which we shall believe everything should be measured, there were a wide array of titles and comics from DC and Marvel.  'Mazing Man sat on the spinner rack next to Swamp Thing next to Batman and The Outsiders.*  I didn't pick everything up, but it made comics feel like a medium rather than a bunch of books about adults working out issues by punching things.

In the press release, it sounds like DC has realized the audience has changed and grown in the past few years and they need to serve that audience.

I can't say I'm overly thrilled with any of the announced titles in and of themselves (even I think a Bizarro book, even if great, is going to be gone by 2016), but I am pleased to see DC seems to be bringing back writers instead of just assuming characters will carry a title.  There was always a balance to be found between editorial mandate and letting writers go crazy in their corner o the DCU.

I am disappointed that there's really nothing here for me, no Superman Classic or Earth-0 book (and just seeing a book celebrating the too-many-Robins problem makes me weep a little inside), and the ongoing issues at DC in regards to refusing to provide a baseline DCU that these books are all a reaction to is a longterm issue, but that's been the story of comics and me the past few years.



*DC - making Halo a thing again is probably a good idea.  Just think of the merchandising!


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pondering Convergence and Events at DC

This Spring, DC Comics is scheduled to move from New York to Los Angeles.  It's a pretty remarkable move  considering the company's offices have been in Manhattan since the mid 1930's, but given the attachment of DC Entertainment to Warner Bros. and the close ties to the West Coast Warner Bros. machine, and the fact that publishing can really be managed from anywhere these days, I guess it makes logical sense.  Even if it's not terribly romantic.

A long while back, DC mentioned they were going on a bit of a hiatus in the comics for two months while the company moved, and not ones to give up money for two months, they cooked up an event.  Known as Convergence, the event is a new sort of Crisis for the DCU where - I think - various versions of the DCU will be trapped in time by a now multi-verse spanning Brainiac and, because it's superhero comics, probably have to fight each other.

Because if Dan Didio likes to try something and watch it fail, he likes to do it even better a second time.

I feel like I'm the only person who remembers this
Arena wasn't all that long ago by my comic reading standards, but it was a lifetime ago for people who got into DC with the New 52.   And even longer ago, another omnipotent despot also kidnapped heroes and made them do battle...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Artist Norm Breyfogle recovering from stroke

If you're anywhere near my age and you read comics in the 1980's, then you know the work of artist Norm Breyfogle.  Norm Breyfogle and Jim Aparo were some of the definitive 1980's Bat-artists - Aparo leaning more to the Neal Adams illustrative mold and Breyfogle's work more impressionistic and visceral.



Breyfogle's lines in Batman evoked energy and action, something he also brought to page layout and panel management.  He has a keen sense of design that even the better illustrative artists couldn't always bring to the page.  It's something a lot of artists could stand to study a bit.

a pretty awesome 2-page spread



Monday, January 26, 2015

Answering Questions - The Picky Girl asks Where One Should Start When it Comes to Comics

Picky Girl placed the following in the comment box

Ok, I have a question. So I was not a comics girl growing up. I read a ton - and a lot of stuff that was probably way above my head - but the only comics I ever came in contact with were Archie and Veronica at my grandmother's house (in the bathroom...).

In college, a prof handed me Watchmen, and I loved it. I read some graphic novels and did a lot of reading about comics and the superhero, but when it came to comics, I never knew where to begin. There are so many iterations that I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?

I'll go ahead and ask my fellow comics dorks to weigh in down in the comment section.  I know you've got your opinions, and my suggestions are just that.  They're just some suggestions by me.  So, chime in, buddies.

First of all, I think if you get down to it, a lot of people had their first and often their last exposure to comics through Archie Comics.  There's a reason everyone over a certain age recognizes Archie and Jughead, and enough people are aware of the Archie-Veronica-Betty love triangle so that you can use it as cultural shorthand.

I'm one of those kids, too.  I have a warm spot in my heart for Archie, even if I can't imagine how one remains a lifelong reader, but people do that, and that's kind of cool.

yeah.  every high school guy has two girlfriends who are cool with this situation.

Back in the 90's, you got to ride the wave of 1980's envelope-pushing comics and academics for whom bringing in anything on the edge of culture to teach was kind of a novel thing.  Watchmen has sold a lot of copies to kids taking a blow-off course where they could read comics, but it earned its rep as one of the very, very few comics that reads like a sprawling novel and talks to an audience of people who also read Thomas Wolfe.  I cannot stress how rare this is in capes and tights comics.  Less so in other genres of comic.

The 1970's brought in the first writers that wanted to push beyond kiddie-stuff and you wound up with Green Arrow seeing his ward shooting up smack (no lie!), but it still read as a 22-page adventure with only loose tethers to the past and future.  And, 95% of the time when comics think they're writing for adults or to make a point, it's still basically Speedy doing smack.

First it's comics, then you smoke one rock of pot, and then wham-o!  You've riding the white pony and defending Jethro Tull in public.

Almost nothing in capes and tights before or after Watchmen is Watchmen, and I've written extensively about how comics have learned all the wrong lessons from a superhero comic that wrote up to a literate audience.  We can cover that again some other time, and surely will, but that wasn't really your question.  What I'm doing here is: expectation setting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Up is Down, Black is White: Rocket Raccoon 3rd Best-Selling Comic in 2014

Wow, I've got to check out this crazy new character in a #1 comic... this..  Spider-Man


People, according to ICv2, Rocket Raccoon #1 was the 3rd best selling comic of 2014.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Back around  January of 1987, a somehow-even-more awkward version of myself was lumbering around Austin Books & Comics and used Christmas money to purchase all four issues of the Rocket Raccoon limited series by Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola off a spinner rack.  By that evening, we were bona-fide Rocket fans.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

iZombie to TV this March

Coming in March, the Chris Roberson/ Mike Allred comic "iZombie" is coming to the CW as a weekly TV show!



If the CW's success with The Flash and Arrow is any indication, this should be pretty good! I notice some significant changes to the comic's set-up, but the tone and basic idea are intact, at least in the trailer. And certainly Gwen's look is spot-on.  Although it does seem her name has been changed for the show.  Which...  huh.

Well, The Flash has changed a lot from any version of the comics, but it's still The Flash in spirit, so, you know...  I don't really get that bent out of shape about changes from comics to TV or movies the way I once might have, unless it seems like the moving picture version just sort of missed the point of the comic.  (cough... Man of Steel)


Here's to hoping the great world Roberson and Allred built makes it's way to the show.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In Her Satin Tights, Fighting For Your Rights - "Wonder Woman '77" coming to comics

Over here at The Signal Watch, we don't "binge-watch" much TV.  When I hear someone watched an entire season of a TV show over a weekend, I think maybe that person has a butler who runs their errands, walks their dogs and amuses their friends and family in the hours when they aren't at work.  For me, "binge-watching" is watching an episode or two of a show a night, maybe 3-4 days a week.  I've done it with maybe 4-5 TV series, and haven't even finished most of those (sorry, Breaking Bad).

pew!  pew! pew! ping! ping! ping!


At the end of the summer and through the fall, we watched all 3 seasons of Wonder Woman.   We did so out of order and it took a while to do it, but we did finish.  And now?  I kind of miss it.  But I know it would be weird to watch the whole show over again so immediately.*

Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Me and Comics Since June 2013

I really don't know how to write this post, because, if you've been following me for any length of time - and, in particular, if you've been here because of comics, this is where I disappoint you.

I am no longer a "read 20 comics per week" kind of guy.  I'm more of a "I'll knock through a trade once a week or so" kind of guy.  My comics reading and collecting was changing before this site was frozen in carbonite, and it's continued to mutate.

y'all buckle in, because it's about to get pedantic and ornery up in here

I kind of quit trying to keep up with Marvel as a universe around Secret Invasion, which was several years ago now.  I've tried to keep up here and there with Captain America and a few other titles, but Marvel's insistence on the cross-over stunt has made that exceptionally difficult.  Pair that with the fact I read Marvel in trade collections rather than floppies or digital comics, and their "all new #1's all the time" marketing strategy, and I literally gave up trying to understand what was happening at Marvel as a Universe.  But I will be picking up some of the Star Wars books for a few months and see how I like a Marvelized Star Wars U.

DC and the New 52 kind of sent me screaming.   The quality of DC hasn't really improved much over the past two years, and it was in the basement with the launch of the New 52.  I recently read that by Spring, DC will have canceled 60 titles since the launch of the New 52, which is an indication that I'm not crazy to think they have some problems and maybe they aren't serving their audience very well.

In the past year, it's safe to say my habit of reading comics has greatly reduced.  At least the reading of new comics.  When I do buy floppies, I collect them for a couple months and read a few at a time, unless it's something that's self-contained.  And I'll talk about what I'm buying as floppies, which isn't much.

The other day I mentioned that I've recently also sold off a huge portion of my collection.  Well over half my stuff has been dispensed with since August, something like 15-20 boxes (short and long), something like 4-5000 comics.  I've also sold a huge number of my action figures, graphic novels and other items.

And - you know - I don't miss them.  I have more than a room full of great stuff that I like and feel like showing off from time to time, and it's a lot more focused than it once was.

So What Happened?