Monthly archives: June, 2008

Secret Invasion of My Pull List

I’ve been doing my best to avoid all things Secret Invasion. Considering I don’t read New Avengers, Mighty Avengers, Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel, and generally dislike anything written by Brian Michale Bendis, it seemed like a good idea to steer clear of all things Skrull. Trouble is that as long as you read a Marvel comic, you’re not going to be able to avoid the big summer crossover.

Out of the comics I read on a monthly basis, at least four are doing Secret Invasion crossovers (She-Hulk, X-Factor, Thunderbolts and Avengers: The Initiative), and another two are being combined into a mini-series while both regular series are on hiatus (Runaways and Young Avengers). While I’ve got another month before She-Hulk, X-Factor and Thunderbolts dive into the Invasion, Avengers: The Initiative and Runaways started this week.

Avengers The Initiative 14A:TI is an interesting situation, because Hank Pym’s been a major cast member since the series began over a year ago, and as we all know now, he’s been a Skrull the entire time. Another Skrull named Crusader has recently been making appearances in the book, although this Skrull- masquerading- as- a- human- superhero is actually a good guy. During the issue, Crusader realizes that Hank Pym is secretly a Skrull because he’s eating pickles and strawberries, just like Crusader does because it reminds him of a Skrullian fruit. On the other hand, he could just be pregnant. So Crusader spends the rest of the issue trying to come up with a way to out Pym wiothout outing himself in the process.

Meanwhile, the new 3-D Man is given his new assignment as part of Hawaii’s Initiative team. Longtime readers may know 3-D Man better as Delroy Garrett, who was named Triathalon when he was introduced in the spectacular Kurt Busiek/George Perez run on the Avengers in the late 90s. Delroy gets a fancy pair of goggles as a gift from one of the previous 3-D Men for graduation, and they just happen to have the ability to detect Skrulls when they’re incognito. Roddy Piper eat your heart out. But apparently this all makes sense because the previous 3-D Man got the goggles because he himself had to fight off a Skrull invasion in the 50s. That’s a nice bit of continuity there.


Book of Doom: Final Crisis #2

Final Crisis 2Let’s see…Cutesy Japanese pop heroes. Time bullets. Monkey doctors. Kamandi.

Yep, Final Crisis still sucks.

Let’s let the rest of the Legion sound of before I add my two cents…

Jim Doom: “I liked this a lot more than last issue. Unlike that awful issue 1, this gave us a mystery that gives the book some direction. I find myself actually wondering who fired the bullet traveling through time.

For the most part, though, it’s simply undeniable how badly this series has been handicapped by the past year of lead-in. That subject has received no shortage of attention here, but careful readings are hardly rewarded when some continuity is crucial and other continuity should be ignored and the only guide is the writer’s internal discretion.

It makes me wonder if I would have liked the series more if this were the first issue. This felt like a first issue to a big event much more than last month’s disaster. The fact that the drama is still being introduced with only 5 issues to go suggests quite a bit of the story will be happening in other books.

If a halfway decent story emerges out of this, it will be in spite of how the company has handled it. Because right now, it feels like we have a DC Universe where things like Batman RIP and Kingdom Come 2 are happening, and then we have the Fina Crisis DCU. It’s a shame and a slight to the Crisis brand that the two could be so separate from each other.”

Doom DeLuise: (more…)

Michael Turner has passed away

from Newsarama

Trinity #4

4In the lead: Superman seems to be not quite as KOed as it appeared last issue. He and Wonder Woman take the fight to Konvikt on the outskirts of town while Batman investigates the vessel that brought Konvikt to Earth.

In the back-up: Tarot has a dream about Despero. Really.

My take: Okay, so the back-up wasn’t that bad. There’s a bunch of gobbledy-gook about Tarot reading her own tarot cards and seeing her destiny but not quite understanding it. If all that was researched and not just pulled from Busiek’s and Nicienza’s asses, I’m pretty impressed.

Scott McDaniel’s art on the Despero “dream” sequence was much better than it was in the debut issue. That probably has something to do with the fact that he didn’t need to draw a human figure. Despero was portrayed as a badass alien conquerer, even going so far as having him devour someone after ripping them in two. That’s certainly needed for readers like myself that have always considered Despero a general non-threat (how many times has the JLA wiped the floor with him?). The story ends with Despero entering the Archway of the Eons, a teleporter that will assumedly send him to Earth to joing up with Enigma and Le Fey. But something may have gone terribly wrong…

The lead this issue was a whole hell of a lot better than it was in the last issue. The JLA is the supporting cast this time, like they should have been last issue. This is just Superman and Wonder Woman wiping the floor with Konkikt for ten pages, which is fun. And how does Batman make himself useful in this situation? By doing what he does best: sneaking around and finding the way to beat the bad guy. (more…)

A Difference of Opinion, Part 2
(feat. Marvel Executive Editor
Tom Brevoort)

This is the response to Part 1 of A Difference of Opinion.

I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with using fill-in artists to keep a book on schedule. So when DC announced they were going to use Carlos Pacheco to help J.G. Jones to meet Final Crisis deadlines, I can at least say I understand where they’re coming from; they don’t want to delay the book and they don’t want to delay the story. Fair enough.

But just like I did two years ago, I disagree with the mentality, particularly in the case of something like Final Crisis. For big events, I think the visuals should be cohesive, because these big events will be looked back on and read as one whole. While Final Crisis, at least theoretically, ties in with the rest of the DC Universe in 2008, it is undoubtedly intended to be able to function as a self-contained story. When it is eventually released as a graphic novel, it won’t require an appendix of everything else DC was releasing at the time. It’s not as self-contained as something like Watchmen, but surely as self-contained as something like the original Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Publishers are aware of the increasing popularity of collected volumes, but using a fill-in artist to keep a book on schedule puts the priority on the monthly comics; delaying a monthly book to keep the creative team intact puts the priority on the art and the story, as nobody remembers the delays when they pull the graphic novel off the shelf. As I said in the comments a few days ago, the artist is much more than just a person who depicts what the writer is writing; the artist is part of the storytelling. Wanting to keep a commitment to the monthly buyers is completely understandable, but using a fill-in artist is just a short-term solution. Considering DC waited two years for its third Crisis after waiting 20 years for its second, however, the powers-that-be at DC are clearly no strangers to short-term planning.

I’m just a reader, though, so while that all makes sense to me, I asked Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort what he thought now about his 2006 decision to delay Civil War, allowing Steve McNiven to remain the sole artistic voice on the book. With almost two years of hindsight, and with DC’s recent decision to use a fill-in on Final Crisis, I asked him if he would’ve decided any differently.

Doom and Doomer: The Incredible Hulk

incredible hulk posterWelcome to the latest installment of “Doom and Doomer,” in which members of the Legion take a look at comics on the big screen. Tonight, your participants are Doom DeLuise and Jim Doom, looking at the new Incredible Hulk movie, starring Ed Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

DOOM DELUISE: The new Incredible Hulk movie sought to reinvigorate a character that was pretty bungled in his first go ’round in movie form, ala Batman Begins’ attempt to reboot that character a few summers ago. Batman Begins was successful for a variety of reasons, and the sequel to that, The Dark Knight, is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. Do you think the Incredible Hulk succeeded in what it was trying to accomplish, and do you think sequels will be in the wings, or was this just another big green dud?

JIM DOOM: Well, yeah, it definitely rebooted the character.

And I think more importantly, it rebooted the character in a way that fit in with Marvel’s bigger-picture efforts to create a cohesive universe from film to film.

The tone difference between Hulk and Iron Man wasn’t night-and-day the way X2 and Fantastic Four 2 were. There were differences for the sake of the character differences and the needs of the story, but it’s easy to imagine this all coming together. Tony Stark’s appearance didn’t hurt.

It wasn’t as good as Iron Man, but it was a very good superhero movie and way better than the first Hulk.

DOOM DELUISE: You’re right. I did appreciate how it worked to create the Cinematic Marvel Universe. The inclusion of the Super Soldier Serum was a nice touch, and the appearance of Stark, as you said, didn’t hurt at all.

However, I did not much care for this movie at all, whatsoever.

JIM DOOM: No kidding? What did you dislike about it?

DOOM DELUISE: First and foremost, try as they may, try as they might, the Hulk still is a computer graphic; he still looks fake; he still lacks weight; and he still distracts from the overall believability of the movie every single time he steps into frame.

And, yes, I realize I’m complaining about the believability of a giant green guy hopped up on gamma rays. (more…)

A Difference of Opinion, Part 1

When DC announced last week that they would be adding Carlos Pacheco to the creative team of Final Crisis in order to keep the book on schedule, Jim Doom brought up a very good point. This decision is eerily reminiscent of the choice Marvel made a couple years ago regarding Civil War, even though in this case the opposite decision was made. Jim and I rarely see eye to eye on comic-related manners, but I don’t think we’ve ever been as vehemently opposed to one another as we were during Civil War.

So we’ve decided to be a little more civil (ha!) this time around. Jim and I have realized that we just have a fundamental difference of opinion on this matter, and nothing either of us could say to one another is going to change that. Each of us is going to explain his viewpoint in a stand-alone post, so it doesn’t end up devolving into a huge argument. Or worse yet, a really boring AIM conversation.

My view: It’s better to keep the story on schedule than it is to keep the creative team in tact.

One of the arguments frequently brought up in this classic debate is a simple one: “Y’know, Watchmen shipped late.”

It’s a good point. After all, Watchmen is pretty universally considered the best comic story ever told. If Chris Claremont had suddenly started scripting Alan Moore’s plots or George Perez had filled in for Dave Gibbons on issue #9 in order to keep the book shipping each month, Watchmen would have been a much different (and undoubtedly much, much worse) story.

Yes, Watchmen was the greatest comic story ever told. And yes, it shipped late. But do you know why that doesn’t matter?

Because Watchmen was a great stand-alone comic story.


Book of Doom: Wolverine #66

wolverine 66I like Wolverine. He’s a cool character. I find it enjoyable to have a few drinks with friends and get into ridiculous arguments about who would win in a Wolverine vs Batman fight. He’s just a fun, versatile character that is a major badass.

But, boy, do I hate his comic.

I don’t regularly buy it, but I tried it out for a couple issues last year when Jeph Loeb started writing the final battle of Wolverine and Sabretooth, a concept so stupid that the entire Legion here balked at the first issue out of the gate. Some of us stuck with it, though, and Jim Doom claimed in our year-end awards that the conclusion to that arc was one of the worst moments of 2007.

Yet, here we are. A solid new creative team (the one behind Civil War) has jumped on the Wolverine monthly to tell their unique take on how Wolverine’s going to end up many years down the road. The cover claims, “Wolverine’s all-time greatest adventure begins here!” Is it as good as advertised?

Judging by the first issue, I can easily say no. Wolverine’s old, has a ranch, talks like an old-timey wild west cattle herder, owes money to the Hulk Gang (Bruce Banner’s grandchildren), and hangs out with Hawkeye before heading off on an adventure across the country in his Jeep.

I guess it laid the groundwork for, well, something. A buddy comedy? A completely inconsequential story about something that will never impact anything or actually be canonized as the future of the Marvel Universe? Well, sure, there’s that.

Chances are, I’ll probably pick up the next issue, but only because I like Steve McNiven’s art, which is pretty great here. I wasn’t thrilled with the rest of the production.

And, yes, as always, I will hold the story accountable for something an overzealous marketing department slapped on the cover.

Now, let me turn it over to Jim Doom to bring this one home: (more…)

Friday update

• Check out Rokk’s Comic Book Revolution for a great analysis of Secret Invasion and Final Crisis sales as well as a thorough look at what has differentiated Marvel and DC over the past few years.

• Not much has changed since Civil War, when Fin Fang Doom and I disagreed over using substitute artists to meet deadlines, as discussed in this recent post about DC’s decision to bail out J.G. Jones. So in the next few days, look for a column from each of us describing how now, two years later, we still find ourselves in the same position in response another Mega Event and the opposite decision.

• And check in tomorrow for a review of this week’s Book of Doom, Wolverine #66 — the beginning of the Old Man Logan story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven.

Trinity #3

3In the lead: Konvikt beats up the entire JLA, including Superman.

In the back-up: Tarot gets attacked by some local thugs, who in turn get attacked by a mysterious werewolf-like creature, who mentions that Tarot “is meant for the three who are to rise.”

My take: Oh crap, this isn’t a good sign.

Quite frankly, this issue sucked. Someone needs to remind Mr. Busiek that this series is called “Trinity,” and that said Trinity should appear on more than four pages of the issue. If I wanted to read a story about the JLA, I’d still be reading JLA.

The Tarot back-up was boring, but at least that’s obviously leading somewhere. We saw in the debut issue that Tarot will be involved with the Trinity at some point, and Busiek wanted a chance to introduce the character to those who are unfamiliar with her (myself included).

The art in the back-up was the best yet, which I was sort of anticipating. Mike Norton is by far my favorite of the three back-up artists announced, although this really didn’t resemble his recent work on Green Arrow/Black Canary much at all. That just goes to show you how much of a difference an inker can make. The art here looks a lot more like inker Jerry Ordway’s (The Brave and the Bold) than it does Norton’s.

Things to keep an eye on: Tarot’s friend Jose apparently used to be a superhero (or villain, I guess). I’m not familiar enough with DC lore to figure out who it is, though. Anyone have additional insight?

My first guess as to Enigma’s alternate identity? Two-Face. Enigma’s half-mask does cover the half of the face that Harvey Dent is scarred on, and it looks to me like Mark Bagley was drawing Enigma’s face a little scarred underneath. Also, Dent has a more personal relationship with Batman than most of Batman’s rogues.

Tarot “is meant for the three who are to rise.” But does that mean the good Trinity or the evil Trinity? Or perhaps a third trinity that’s yet to appear? That would certainly seem fitting, after all.