Monthly archives: August, 2007

The Doomino Effect for the week of August 15, 2007

How embarrassing! As I sit down to write this, it’s 11:20pm on Tuesday and it just occurred to me that I forgot to write this week’s Doomino Effect!! I even sat here and commented on the site several times today. In my defense, I kept thinking today was Monday. I also kept thinking that yesterday was Monday, so either I thought that this week had two Mondays or else maybe I just thought Monday was really long.

Well speaking of embarrassing things that drag on, let’s start with Countdown #37. I think I said last week that I didn’t think #38 was as awful as the previous ones, or maybe it showed promise or something. Well, this week, I’ll go so far as to say that I kind of liked the issue.

I don’t really know why though. I don’t think Doom DeLuise has bothered to write his review this week, so I’ll spare no detail. I thought it was stupid that Oracle told Karate Kid to sit down so that she could deliver no news. You tell people to sit down when you have bad news, not just to build up drama for an anti-climax. She also seems somewhat surprised that maybe the virus is from the future. Could this be, I don’t know, obvious perhaps, since Karate Kid is from the future?? It seems like it was all just set up for Triplicate Girl to refer to “The Great Disaster.”

Then we’re treated to Inconsistencies With Zatanna’s Stupid Spells, as she says “Emoh su ekat” and “Ffats ekat a kaerb” in the same scene, which either means she cast spells saying “Home us take” and “Staff take a break” or else people at DC Editorial can’t wrap their heads around one of the stupidest spell-casting mechanisms in history.

Like what if she’s hanging out with her mom, and her mom makes this amazing cheesecake. Zatanna takes a bite and says “Wow Mom!” because normally her mom sucks as a cook. All of a sudden, will there be like tapdancing ostriches in the kitchen attempting to impress her mother? So very very stupid. But I’m digressing, because the inherent stupidity of her spells is not exclusively a problem to Countdown. Just the error with “Emoh su ekat.”

We return to tiny land where Jason Todd continues his competition with Nightwing to be the most horribly miscast character in the DC universe. Jason is an evil genius, but instead he’s written like a cocky, dim-witted meathead.

I still want Piper and Trickster to die, and I still don’t care what’s going on at the women’s shelter, but I think the big thing that made me like this issue was that – with the cliffhanger of Jimmy knowing Clark is Superman – I actually want to know what happens next issue! I do believe this is seriously the first time that has happened with Countdown.

Here’s my two-part theory at this point:

Book of Doom: Immortal Iron Fist #8

Iron Fist 8After a slightly disappointing Tales of the Iron Fists done-in-one last issue, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja return to telling stories about good old Danny Rand. Next up? A mystical martial arts tournament ala Mortal Kombat. What’s not to love about that idea?

Surely there’s bound to be something, and you can rest easy knowing a member of the Legion will no doubt hate the issue and point out every single one of its flaws. Come back on Saturday to see which one or how many of us hated it, and which of us were too drunk to bother writing a review.

Once a generation, the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven align on a plane far beyond the ken of mortal men. It is here that these cities send their Immortal Warriors to compete against one another in a combat tournament to end all tournaments…and it is here that Daniel Rand was spirited to in his darkest hour. Generations of mystical war traditions await their chance to prove they have the greatest kung fu…to THE IMMORTAL IRON FIST!

Meaningless Awards of the Week- 8/15/07

Line of the Week- Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #23, by Peter David

J. Jonah Jameson: “I hate that F.N. Spider-Man.”

I’m not really in a blogging mood right now, but I still wanted to bring that line to everyone’s attention. Peter David’s run on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man has in my humble opionion been a trememndous success, especially considering all the crap he’s been forced to put up with over two years: The Other, Iron Spider, the unmasking, the black costume, etc. David has made the most of an unfortunate situation by telling two years worth of incredibly fun and witty Spidey tales. And really, that’s the way Spider-Man should always be written.

Thanks to Peter David, for putting out yet another smart, funny and damn entertaining run on a comic series.

The Salon

By Nick Bertozzi
Published by St. Martin’s Press, 2007. $19.95

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Plot: Georges Braque, Erik Satie, Pablo Picasso and other artists form their own dysfunctional version of the Super Friends in order to stop a string of deaths amongst the art community. Their detective work leads them to an artist’s wife who has developed super powers and bloodlust after drinking too much magical absynthe. The blue elixir allows people to enter paintings, a literal interpretation of the ongoing philosophical discussions between the artists about how best to capture reality on the canvas.

The Good: Bertozzi does so much right here that it’s hard to single anything out. His art, of course, is gracefully efficient and leans more toward comic strips than comic books. Though he includes plenty of works from the Modernist masters, he doesn’t so much mimic it as incorporate it into his own style. Like Frank Espinosa, Bertozzi uses limited colors per panel, giving each page a strong emotional feel.

The story is just as strong. It walks the tightrope between an homage to famed characters and a farce aimed at lampooning them. More than anything, Bertozzi gives mostly accurate depictions of the characters and fits them skillfully into his narrative. The book is funny, introspective and surprisingly tense.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Bad: It isn’t so much that there’s anything wrong with this book, but there is one area in which it could be better. The layouts are bland: four panels in every horizontal page, without variation. That comes from the book’s original online publication, and it doesn’t really hamper the reading.

The Grade: A It’s not too often I’ll give out such a high mark, but this book is just that good. It’s a must have for anyone with an interest in art history and further expands the realm of what a graphic novel can be. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think it seemed like the type of story the Coen brothers would make into a movie: quirky, filled with oddballs, fun, beautifully shot, hilarious and thoroughly memorable.

Book of Doom: Justice League of America #12

Some writers write for themselves. They try to figure out what they, as a reader, would want to read about. Or they might just try to push themselves as writers.

Some writers write for the fans. They try to figure out what the fans want, and they try to give it to them.

And then some writers write at the fans. They are trying to tell the fans something.

I think, after reading Justice League of America #12, I’d have to categorize Brad Meltzer’s run as a combination of writing FOR himself and writing AT the fans. This whole last year has seemed like an exercise in attempted style with a blatant disregard for anyone trying to read the book, capped off with a final overpriced issue that served only to tell us that we, the readers, are wrong for doubting his work, because Martian Manhunter and Aquaman say it’s good, and the League is as good as it’s ever been!

So DC claims there’s a “shocking cliffhanger” to this issue entitled “Monitor Duty.” Either I’m guilty of reading too much into this, or somebody in marketing was being a bit manipulative. I was duped into thinking that this would tie into the current Monitor business going on in Countdown, and I was also duped into thinking that there would be a shocking cliffhanger.

Instead, it was what has become a classic Meltzer JLA story in which nothing happens except for constant “character moments.” I don’t think I would have minded had it actually led up to something – while reading it, I actually thought that Meltzer was doing a good job of building up a sense of impending doom – here are these characters just going about superhero business like it’s a shift in the warehouse, being undeniably “human,” and little do they know that a SHOCKING CLIFFHANGER is just around the corner. So as build up to something, I didn’t mind it. As build up to nothing, it was insultingly pointless.

I mean, imagine if some Hollywood studio put out a movie of all the “character moments” that were left out of your standard 120 minute flick, expecting you to pay to see a bunch of events that might be reflective of a personality, but really are otherwise irrelevant and self-indulgent on the part of the writer. “See? I can write real people!

And then there’s the ending – the shadow figures watching in on our League – sort of like the shadow figures that were watching in during the Lightning Saga and sort of like the shadow figures that were picking the league NO MORE SHADOW FIGURES PLEASE – turn out to be Martian Manhunter and Aquaman! But I thought Aquaman turned into a squid-headed guy during World War III and then got killed in his own book…so either Aquaman’s transformation and death have been rendered irrelevant by some actions that I have yet to hear of, or this isn’t actually “Arthur,” and Martian Manhunter is just calling the new Aquaman “Arthur.” Or is his name conveniently “Arthur” also? Man, I don’t know.

The only reason I’ll continue reading this book is because Meltzer is done with it. I’m glad he left some direction for Dwayne McDuffie to pick up with. I’m sort of intrigued by some of the ideas Meltzer starts, but I have just completely lost faith in how he executes them. A dismally fitting conclusion to a dismal run on what should have been an easy home-run of a series.

Anyway, let’s see what the rest of the Legion had to say.

Q&A: Cecil Castellucci (PLAIN Janes)

A few months back, I wrote about the debut of DC Comics’ Minx line and the first books. One of those, The PLAIN Janes, I raved about. Recently, I had the luck to talk to the book’s author, Cecil Castellucci, about her first graphic novel, her love of comics and plans for new books.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJean-Claude Van Doom:Okay, first, the obvious — what got you interested in comics? Did you read any growing up? If so, what? Do you still read a lot of them?

Cecil Castellucci: I did read comics when I was a little girl. I’m French Canadian (but grew up in the States) so my parents got me into Tin Tin, Asterix, Smurfs, Lucky Luke. Also, I was obsessed at a young age with Batman and Superman. Let’s just call them “boyfriends.” Then I also had a little brother who had a fine collection of superhero books. So that’s where I read a lot of Spiderman, Avengers, X-Men, etc. etc. etc. He also got into Vertigo stuff when he was in High School and I was in college. I loved those. Sandman and Animal Man were faves.

Then I was in Montreal, where Drawn and Quarterly is, so I discovered a lot of indie comics, Julie Doucet, Chester Brown, Seth. I loved Roberta Gregory then, too. I wrote her a fan letter when I was 20, and she sent me a Naughty Bits button back. Then I kind of stopped reading because it was too expensive an addiction, and quite honestly I was flat broke. I would occasionally pick some stuff up. And now, happily I’m back reading as much as I can. And am enjoying Fables, Y the Last Man, and all things Superman.

JCVD: How did you get into writing as a career? What made you want to write for a younger audience (I assume that’s not a mischaracterization of your first novels)?

CC: I always wanted to write books and tell stories. I think one of the things about writing for YA is that it is such a compelling time in life. Everything is for the first time. Every feeling runs so high. Every day you are moving from who you were to who you are. It’s like a time where you awaken and I think that is very interesting. That’s why I write for young people.

JCVD: How did the partnership with DC/Minx come about? Had you been interested in doing comics?

CC: I think what happened was that Shelly Bond was starting the Minx line and was looking for some new voices, to see what was out there in people in the YA world who might want to write a graphic novel. She had talked to my friend, an author named Rachel Cohn, who wasn’t interested but passed along my name because Boy Proof (my first novel) is about a girl who reads comic books (a lot of Vertigo ones.) (more…)

Book of Doom: Justice League of America #12

We’re a little late on this one, because I didn’t realize it was my week until Wednesday night. So instead of picking ahead of time what we’d all experiment with, it instead became a game of “What did we all buy?”

Booster Gold #1 would have been a nice Book of Doom, but Jean-Claude Van Doom has gone rogue, so instead we settled with Justice League of America #12.

So if you haven’t already done your shopping for this week, or if you already picked it up, or EVEN if you have already done your shopping, but you want to go back to the store, read this issue and then join us back here on Saturday to see what Fin Fang Doom, Doom DeLuise and I thought about it.

Prep your minds with these words from DC:

Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Ed Benes, Sandra Hope and Eric Wight
Standard covers by Alex Ross
Variant cover by Michael Turner – they finally don’t make you pay more to NOT get Michael Turner!!
Brad’s Meltzer’s fantastic run on the JLA concludes with a shocking cliffhanger! “Monitor Duty” is an amazing day in the lives of the world’s greatest heroes, as only the League’s artist Ed Benes could envision!
Retailers: This issue will feature three covers. Standard Edition Cover A and B are by Alex Ross and will ship in approximately 50/50 ratio. One copy of the Variant Edition, with a cover by Michael Turner, may be ordered for every 10 copies of the Standard Editions ordered. Please see the Previews Order Form for further details.
rces section of Previews.
On sale August 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.50 US

Booster Gold #1, my first comic in a month

Let me just tell you, the Time Away From Comics is not going so great. My life hasn’t fallen into a complete pile of dog poo or anything (lots of job interviews and looking at apartments), but I just flat out miss comic books. I’ve read plenty of blog posts about how it doesn’t really hurt that much to leave the Happy Wednesday cycle for a few months, but hump day just isn’t the same without a trip to the comic shop.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo, it was a pleasant surprise when the fine folks at DC Comics sent over a copy of the new Booster Gold series this morning. The series, as you probably know, spins out of 52 (such series are cleverly referred to as “52 pickup”). Booster is back, still a dickhead but at least without logos plastered on his costume. Skeets is also back and evil free. The initial fight with the Royal Flush Gang is a nice reference to the character’s origin, and just like then, Booster uses the petty bout to ingratiate himself to the JLA.

The fairly boring intro becomes a lot more interesting once Rip Hunter shows up and spouts a whole bunch more mumbo jumbo about the multiverse and timestream being under duress because of wormholes and time jumpers and whatnot. Honestly, Rip Hunter is one entertaining SOB. Can you imagine being friends with him? How off-the-wall would parties get once he showed up?

“Oh, the keg is all empty, is it? Well my chrono-intensifier will allow us to warp to the inter-space of the Greek gods of myth and steal their sweet ambrosia!!! Now pop some DMX on the stereo, Rip’s gonna get down!!!”

Sadly, the jumbled mess of time traveling nonsense that ensues in this issue makes just about as much sense as the above sentence. Which is to say, none at all. It’s no surprise that Geoff Johns is involved. Sinestro Corps aside, he’s been one of the main culprits in crafting this new status quo in the DCU, and it just doesn’t make a lick of sense. We’re all supposed to be concerned about these “time jumpers,” yet we never actually see them in action or how or why they’re jumping or how exactly this is hurting the multiverse. It’s like the writers and editors just invented this threat (also present in Countdown, et al) and just expect us to say, “Oh, okay, this is dire!” They need to SHOW us that it’s dire.

A key example of this nonsense comes when Rip explains that Booster essentially needs to reprise my role in Timecop and save all the heroes from time-traveling villains who will strangle them in their cradles, or something. Then he says they need to catch those dang time jumpers. However, their first act is for Booster himself to create an anomaly to save some people from Black Adam, circa World War III. HUH? This could all be some masterful groundwork of an incredibly intricate time-traveling mystery plot. I just don’t see it. Instead, it looks like a certain someone is hoping no one gives any thought to what he’s writing.

The sad thing is, this book has kind of a cool retro DC feel. In Dan Jurgens’ art and Johns’ writing, there’s the feel of the fun and frivolous stories of yesteryear. It’s written in a way that far too few books are, a way that younger readers can enjoy. Too bad it’s a convoluted mess. So if you’re looking for a good DC comic to share with the kids, stick with The Brave and The Bold.

The Doomino Effect for the week of August 8, 2007

So that Fin Fang Doom’s tribute to the late Mike Wieringo could stay up a little longer, this week’s Doomino Effect is a little bit late. But now, it’s time.

Speaking of being a little bit late, I’ll start with Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America – Iron Man, the fifth and final chapter in the series. I’m not sure when this came out, but I realized that I had missed it when it did, so I grabbed it last week. In spite of his downward spiral on Wolverine over the past few months, Jeph Loeb did a really nice job of wrapping up this series – another reason I hope Captain America stays dead. Falcon’s farewell speech was done very well, and I especially liked little acknowledgments, like the fact that many of Cap’s surviving World War II friends have already had to go through this.

I’m not on the John Cassaday bandwagon at all, but he did a decent job on the art here. The funeral scenes managed to stay subtle and somewhat understated, while the big battle flashback splash pages were grand enough. The fact that he really only has one Male Face in his artistic arsenal was exposed somewhat, as everyone fronts the same sorrowful expression. But it did what it needed to do, and it wasn’t a disrespectful way to end the series by any stretch of the imagination.

Speaking of Captain America flashbacks and disrespectful endings, that leads me to New Avengers #33, which featured an awesome Cap flashback to Hawkeye’s early days in the Avengers, plus an unceremonious termination of b-list villain The Owl.

Skrullanoia continues to infect the New Avengers, to the point where Luke Cage now doesn’t even trust Jessica. The team is fairly strained and splintered, while a warehouse of bad guys unites under a mysterious new bald guy. A de-activated Deathlok is now at their disposal, and Wolverine has snuck onto their trail.

The bar scene with Wolverine is a great example of one of the things I love about this book. Bendis brings out humor by tapping into some of those “real life” aspects of superheroes – the fact that the bartender hates Wolverine because he’s always trashing the place – without having to hit the reader over the head with some kind of deconstruction of the fascist superhero archetype. It can have those touches of reality’s implications without having to pull you out of the realm of superhero action comics. This book is still consistently one of the best comics out there.

R.I.P. Mike Wieringo

Mike Wieringo was one of the first comics creators I ever became a fan of. He was one of the first guys whose stuff I liked so much I’d follow him to a new book without hesitation. Sensational Spider-Man to Tellos to Fantastic Four and back to Spider-Man again, I’m a happier person having ejoyed the work of a truly great artist. He will be missed.