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Justice League Origin HC: Review

Justice League Origin HC

DC Comics 2012

192 pages

$25

Well the first batch of the New 52 collections is in.  I have read 3 of the first group and the results are one incredible book and two spectacularly bland ones.  JLI was just not very interesting.  It failed to connect me to the characters or the story.  It did manage to make me interested enough to get the second collection, but that could just be the anal fan in me.  August General in Iron and Rocket Red were the only interesting parts of the book.  Batman the Court of Owls however was an outstanding read.

The first collected volume of the rebooted Justice League was more like the former though.  It seems that this book is only really interested in big and loud.  To be honest, it barely manages that.

Collecting the first 6 issues of the monthly book written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Jim Lee, this should have been a better book.  It NEEDED to be a better book.  Johns has set a standard in the past of telling a good, fun and smart story with strong and engaging characters.  This story was never going to be all that great just by the nature of the reboot and the needs to get things rolling, and it is clear that this is just act one.  I still would have like more meat.  There is no part of this book that I could honestly call an improvement over any of the recent JL books.  Addressing the characters, things get a bit dicey.  This, I will freely admit, is my opinion.  As with any review, much of what is said is created by the natural biases, fair or unfair, of the reviewer.  That said I am not fond of these versions of our heroes.  Batman and Green Lantern are the first we meet, and Batman is largely unchanged.  Given the reboot’s nature with him and GL, I didn’t expect much.  He is still the smartest guy in the room, he is just a bit more “in your face” about it.  Green Lantern is just a jackass at this point though.  I know this is 5 years ago, and is just the starting point, but I wanted to bitch slap Hal.  He can be forgiven for being a jerk to Bats and the others, but he and the Flash are supposed to be friends.  He is a jerk pretty much all the way through this.  Guy Gardner is rarely such a tool.  The Flash (the Barry Allen version) is much better, but not very well-developed.  Wonder Woman makes the most sense.  Her manner and attitudes are exactly what I would want to see from an aloof warrior Goddess.   She is above and yet in awe at times.  I was against the promotion of Cyborg to the JL.  Johns and the gang really seem to have a boy crush on him.  His addition here mostly works well, though.  He fits nicely into the story, even though his presence telegraphs the resolution of the current threat. Aquaman is not anywhere near as interesting as in his solo book and is just as odd and aloof in his behavior as Wonder Woman, only in a more snotty way.  This being set in the past; continuity wise probably has something to do with that.  This is also the likely reason for Superman to be so brash and quick to anger.  The problem with all this bitchyness (yes, I know that is not a real word) is that we know where it is going.  Supes cannot stay like this or he wouldn’t be Superman.  Most of these characters are going to become the essential icons we already know, and this makes the story seem like a waste.

Jim Lee is a nice artist to look at, and on that alone it is a very pretty book.  Scott Williams inking him always helps.  The colors are rich and interesting and make this book eye candy at its yummiest.  Now if only Lee could tell a story.  Like several of the Image guys, storytelling takes a back seat to a pretty picture.  Lee, like Marc Silverstri and Erik Larsen have made huge improvements in this area, but this book sacrifices all of the storytelling and strong visual structure of earlier Lee works like Hush, for the splashy, glossy smack in the face his recent work has become known for.  There are whole sections of the book where the line changes and the art looked rushed.  The layouts are convoluted in some areas and the overall feel of the book becomes too frantic to be able to express the visual parts of the narrative.  I like Jim Lee as much as anyone, but he is on this book because of his name and position at DC.  Lee’s name sells books.  Unfortunately there are other artists that would have been much better suited to tell a good story.

 As for that story, it is clearly just the set up for more to come.  If DC’s FCBD offering is any indication, there are huge changes coming already, and I am looking forward to things settling down some.  Maybe the next arc will be better structured, and give us some depth to these “new” versions of our familiar heroes.  If I give the impression this was not a very good book, this is not strictly accurate.  I just expected more, or at least better.  The New 52 seems to me at least, to be characterized by the attempt to make these heroes seem more real to a new, more jaded audience.  What comes across more often is that they don’t like themselves or each other very much.  Not just here, but in several of the new books.  Conflict and character have been replaced by action and bitchyness.  I hope my initial impressions of the New 52 as a whole are incorrect, and that we will see more strong books like The Court of Owls. 

There is a lot of room for improvement in JL as it stands now.  There is a lot of fairly mindless fun here, though, and anyone wanting pure escapism without too much effort on their part is good to go.

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Not a review of the Avengers film

There is no point in adding my 2 cents to the pile on this film, except to say, “WOW!”  This was far more fun, silly and action packed that I could have ever hoped for.  Go see it.  I don’t care if you don’t like comics, go see it.  You will have fun, and that is all that matters with a film like this.  I never thought this would be a failure, but I never expected it could be this good, or this successful at the box office.  With an opening weekend of $207 million (blowing past HP 7 pt 2), it will be a hard opening weekend to beat.  This movie is almost certainly going to hit half a billion dollars in domestic box office, and could challenge Avatar if it doesn’t falter too much in the next two weeks.  Not likely, but it is possible.

The real reason for this Avengers related post, is to do what comic book movies almost always fail to do.  I want you to read more comics, so I will mention a few Avengers comics that people who enjoyed the film might like.  This will be more or less divided into 2 groups, modern and classic.  The division is because the classic stuff, while a great read, is very dated and comes off as a bit silly at times.  While well written for comics of the day, these books just don’t pack the serious tone and darker, more realistic style of the newer ones.  Many modern readers will just not be able to connect with them as they will seem trite and simplistic, with too much over written dialog.

Cover to the Kree/Skrull Trade Collection

One of the more interesting classic books was The Kree/Skrull war, available as a trade or hardcover collection, the Chitauri of the film are a different version of the Skrulls.  Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John and Sal Buscema and Neal Adams, this was the first really good cosmic Avengers story.  There are a few beats from this that ended up in the film.

Another classic story would be the Korvac Saga, written by Jim Shooter.  While not one that ages well, it is a decent story that showcases the team dynamic well.

The last of the great classic stories on my list, and one that is unfortunately not collected in any form yet is the runs of (primarily)writers David Micheline and Roger Stern.  With art by George Perez, this was the run of stories that really defined the title in the 1980’s and is still my favorite run on the book.  Now if Marvel would just get it into a reprint volume that would be great.  This run was from the 180’s to the early 200’s and also featured art by John Byrne, among others.

Staying with John Byrne as we go into the transition years where the stories started to develop the more modern sensibility, is Byrne’s run on a couple of Avengers titles.  The better, more noteworthy run is on the West Coast Avengers book where he redefined the Scarlet Witch and the Vision characters.  This run really pissed off some fans who didn’t like that Byrne upset the apple cart so dramatically, destroying a much-loved romance between these two characters that had lasted for over a decade.  The Darker than Scarlet and Vision Quest storylines have  been collected in trade format, and are well worth the read.

Then things went into the crapper in the 1990’s.  Lack of good stories and no real editorial direction lead to some pretty awful books.  The sales went so low as to allow Marvel to essentially hand the books over to the Image guys to revamp.  It was awful.  Many attempts are made to modernize comics for a new audience, but only a few succeed.  The Heroes Reborn books are available in trade collections if you want to see how NOT to reboot a classic title.  The Heroes Return books that came after and reset things to pre Reborn run continuity was a much better storyline by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, and is also available in trade and hardcover collections.

In 2004 the Avengers Disassembled story destroyed the team, literally.  Killing off several members, incapacitating others and destroying the team’s long time HQ, this story was designed to rip the concept to its’ foundations so it could be rebuilt.  Another run that really upset long time fans, this was the book that made the Avengers a top seller again for the first time in many years.  They essentially gutted the team like a fish and started over with a new mission and a new lineup.  One of the places they went was The Mighty Avengers by Brian Micheal Bendis.  The first arc, The Ultron Initiative drawn by Frank Cho is the best of the bunch and is a great look at defining a villain that is particularly hard to write well.

The hot new book is AvX, which is not what I call great, but it is selling well and will be the story that sets the status quo for the Avengers and the X-Men for the next couple of years.

There are also a number of good runs highlighting the Avengers from the movie in solo adventures.  One of the best is Captain America: The New Deal and The Extremists arcs written by John Ney Rieber.  A very modern take on Cap and Nick Fury and how they would function in a post 911 world.  Very powerful stuff, that takes a look at the very normal and human side of the living legend of WW2.  There is also an amazing run on the Thor solo book that is not dated at all.  Walt Simonson turned everything on its head with the Beta Ray Bill story line that started in #337 of the Thor monthly book.  Lots of thees and Thous and cosmic action, with a fair splash of humor, make this book exciting for all ages.  The Iron Man Extremis story by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov is also one of the more interesting attempts to modernize a classic character, and while it is not for everyone, this was a compelling book to read and a strong entry into the mythos.

Lastly there are The Ultimates books.  This is where the Nick Fury look you saw in the movie came from and a few other similarities such as the use of the Chitauri.  This is in a different continuity from the above books, and take a more modern approach in telling the Avengers stories right from the beginning.  The first 3 Ultimates trades are excellent versions of the characters and bear some definite similarities to the version you see in the films.  Fury, Hawkeye and the Black Widow in the movie are very much drawn from these volumes.

While this is by no means a comprehensive list, it is the list of books I have most powerful memories of reading in the 30+ years I have been reading comics, and they give a good snapshot of some of the best (or at least most popular) Avengers stories.  There are many others, but these would be a good place to start for anyone that liked the movie and may want a little more.

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Review: Comic-con episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

There have never been any really great documentaries on comic book fandom.  There are many great documentaries on the industry, the medium or specific characters or creators, but nothing about the fans themselves that I can recall.  After viewing Comic-con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope on PPV last night, I can safely say that there still are not any really great documentaries on this subject.

Not so say this isn’t a good documentary, it just does not have that much to do with comic fans, much like many cons today.  THE comic-con in San Diego has been around since 1970, and for most of that time, has been about and for comics and comic fandom.  In the last 10 years or so, that has changed.  Now the con is a platform for the other entertainment media to showcase or preview their genre properties.  Comics have been pushed to the side.  There are many great comic-cons, this is just not one of them anymore.  At this point I should mention that I have not yet been to this convention.  It is one that I one day hope to go to, just for the experience, just not yet.

The film follows a fairly well established and unfortunately predictable formula.  Most documentaries are about a thing or an event either done after the fact, or as that thing or event is happening.  This film is the latter, and to get that on film, much has to be done before hand.   To achieve that, there is a lot of casting for the people who you will follow.  This is the greatest weak point in the film.  The people cast are done for the appearance of variety, but they do not really hit that mark, and the events that we will see are telegraphed and very easy to predict.  Two of the people followed to the con are would-be comic artists, and you know before they get there that one will succeed and the other will fail.  There had to be some pretty tight vetting to preview what would happen to these guys, and it shows to some degree.  You do feel for them and are excited for them, but it falls short of any real human interest or drama.

The only “fans” that they follow are a young couple that met at the previous year’s con and are together for this one.  But rather than show the con experience, we get to see the guy’s attempt to ask his girlfriend to marry him at the Kevin Smith panel.  There is nothing about the con, this could have taken place anywhere.  The guy keeps trying to get away to set things up and get the ring, while the girl is just a cligy pain.  Another instance of the production setting things up to make it camera worthy, is the fact that he actually gets to ask the question with Kevin Smith watching.  The odds of that happening for real to just any guy at the con are low.

Another group being followed is a group of costume designers.  Their story is interesting and well realized here.  You grow interested in what they do very quickly, and the events they experience are shown clearly.  A toy collector is also shown briefly, but the effect created here is that he is there for one thing and one thing only.  He gets to the booth carrying his desired toy, and then his con appears to be over, his goal met.  It comes off as kind of pathetic.

The last person followed for this documentary was Chuck Roganski.  Owner and founder of Mile High Comics, he is one of the most significant figures in the comic collecting world.  He is shown all too briefly preparing for and going to the show to sell books, including the very rare and valuable Red Raven from the early Atlas/Marvel days.  Chuck redefined collecting in the early days with his finding and selling of a pedigree collection collectively known as “The Mile High” books.  The Mile-Highs were a huge collection of extremely high-grade golden and silver age key books.  These books changed the face of comic collecting forever and made Chuck a major player in the comics retail and collecting industry.  None of this is mentioned and he comes off as just a tired old guy trying to make a buck off of fans.  Even the description of Red Raven #1 comes off poorly, as though he is trying to sell some bit of trumped-up crap for far more than it is worth.  Someone of Chuck’s fame (or infamy, depending on who you ask) deserved better.

There are several brief snippets of comic creators and people like Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon (credited along with Stan Lee, as Producers), many stating that comic-con isn’t really about comics anymore, but nothing else of substance.  This film is about Comic-con, and does show an accurate, if cursory view of the show.  There is nothing of any depth here which is a shame as there are some really interesting things to see at this and other shows.  Artist’ alley and the dealer floor can be amazing places to visit even if you are not a fan, and they are not represented at all, the only play the dealers get is through Chuck, and that is not much.

What this film does show is that Comic-con is an entirely different beast than it once was.  Not really for comic fans anymore, it is an all-encompassing multi-media showcase.  It is neither good nor bad; it just isn’t what a lot of the old timers want now.  The movie will feel very much the same.

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C2E2: An interview with Franchesco!

I made sure to sit down with another great artist at C2E2 this year and find out what ever I could about his methods, convention appearances and how working digitally has changed the way he does things.

Franchesco! (The ! is very like Elliot S! Maggin or Scott Shaw!) has become a regular face at comic conventions in the last few years, doing commissions, panel appearances and selling prints and sketchbooks.  Like most in Artist Alleys at all of these conventions, there is a tough balance between meeting and talking to the fans and getting down to the business of drawing for them and selling his many wares.

Taylor:  How many shows to you get to each year and what keeps drawing you here when it is easier to just stay home and work?

Franchesco!:  Somewhere around five, maybe?  I think that five is a safe number.  There is the big shows like San Diego, Chicago and New York and there are some of the middle size shows that I really like.

(It should be said at this point that Franchesco! is wildly popular at the shows that he regularly attends.  As we spoke there were several interruptions by fans and friends that cannot wait to get a chance to speak to him.  He is one of the most approachable artists at these shows and always has time to say hello.  So if at some point, we go off the rails a bit, that will be my fault, as it can be difficult to keep the thread going.  But watching the way he interacted with people was every bit as telling as specific answers to questions.  He truly enjoys meeting people.)

The sizes of the shows really exploded when Image came into the picture.  The size of the halls had to increase and the crowds were out of control.  At one show a Fire Marshall had to come in and close the place down, because the isles were not wide enough, so they increased the size of the isles, so now that this (referring to the width of the isles at C2E2, which seem much more spacious to me than at Wizard and other cons) is now the standard.  So the fact that this is not enough is a testament to how much the hobby has grown.  I assume that you and I have been doing this for more than a day or two, so we remember that there was a moment there that people were saying that comics are dead, it’s over, its finished, so I would get the “so what am I going to do” flash.  I love it so much and it was going to go away.  Now things are as good as they ever were.  Can you imagine if it was just the two of us that showed up?

Taylor:  Well, we could have a wicked game of handball.

Franchesco!:  Glass half empty, glass half full.

Taylor:  I have watched you in recent years changing over from traditions all pencil and ink to a mix of traditional and digital techniques.  Has that been a big adjustment of is there a steep learning curve?

Franchesco!:  The switch to digital, the actual mechanics of it, is simple but I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.  For me I love, love love the idea of pencil on paper because that is how it has always been for me from when I first started.  So that is where I imprinted on the process.  When I started doodling, there was not option.  Now I can see kids in grade school doing this digitally, they could do whatever since it is just the way it started for them.  The Mechanics is not as challenging for me as the mindset.  The technology has evolved for me, to the point where it mimics the same motion and feel that you get when you are drawing traditionally.  The tool itself is not the issue, I just have a real love for traditional.  I have a love for original art, as you know, I don’t part with my original art.  Most people sell their art, but I don’t.  I hold on to everything I do.  The closest I come to parting with my original art is the sketches I do at conventions.  So I find that digital streamlined the process to the point where it is much more efficient, much faster and it gives the client something they can use and hit the ground running as opposed to having to incorporate an additional step,  like coming in and doing more prep work or preparing to make changes to a physical original.  Just scanning the artwork alone, which doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, but you multiply that by how many pages and if it is a big publisher, they have to hire someone just to do that for all the projects, just to get the images ready for post production, so when you don’t have to do that, it is a lot better for time and costs.

Taylor:  So are you working from the start of something in digital more and stay there through the full process or is it always graphite, then digital?

Franchesco!:  That is what I am doing for the Anarchy Girls project.  When I started it was the way I had always done, with paper and pencil, then after drawing it, I would scan it and send it to my publisher.  Then it got to the point where I was making so many changes to the image once it was scanned in that it seemed redundant to the process.  The digital became an “and” to the process.  Not so much taking stuff out, it was altering the artwork to where it needed to be to appease the client.  The client has a certain vision and I always enjoy being able to make the client happy.  So now when the evolution happens, it happens with one person whether it is my art director or my editor.  But for this, I am not working with one person, I’m working with a team of people and you can please all of the people, all of the time…sometimes, but that is not always the case so even when everybody is happy, some has a requirement and says, “can we do this?” and the answer is yes with digital.  Because you don’t have to now take the artwork and erase and redo it traditionally and scan it in, which causes other issues, like never being able to get it to line up or match other parts of the project just right, so that impedes the outcome.  If the changes can be done digitally, on a digital original, then everything is easier, matches correctly and the colors don’t shift etc.  So I realized that instead of doing the sketches digitally, printing it out and light boxing in for a physical original, I didn’t need to take it out of the computer then change it and put it back in because, I could now do it all in there.  Long story short, the computer has been a Godsend to the process. Sometimes it is not a perfect process.

(At this point someone handed him exclusive copies of a book for Zenescope with one of his covers on the front.  He lit up like a kid on Christmas and was thrilled to see for the first time, the finished product of this book. The book was for the Grimm’s Fairy Tales series and had a stunning cover of Alice in Wonderland, in the Franchesco! style and really was something to see.  This caused him to recall a different, not so positive experience.)

Recently I had an experience with one of my pieces.  It looked like it had been put through a meat grinder by the client after I handed it over, and I was like, “are you kidding me?” It was like someone kicked me in the nuts.  There is always the need for interpretation.  Some people see things a certain way, but this was just sloppy at best.  What made it even harder to accept was the individual that I don’t want to name, was surprised and shocked that I was upset.  I was not used to that.  Usually I work with top-notch people who do phenomenal work like this book.  This is a joy to see! Thanks for making me look so good. I really enjoyed working on this and when we started, we were going to go in a completely different direction with what we wanted to do and this one image, done just for us for fun, is what we kept coming back to.  This one, (as opposed to the other meat grinder experience) was a real fun one to do.

Taylor:  Outside of comics there has been a lot of ad work like the Axe comic.  It seems like it would be a little out of the ordinary for them and you.  How did that come about?

Franchesco!:  It was a kind of unusual thing to work on, sure.  We know what comics are like and how they come about.  You draw them, print them and go to the store and buy them.  This project is available digitally and free.  So it makes me feel good to put a comic out there in front of people who might not see them otherwise and say “check this out!”  I love doing this with Axe, because it is everything that I love to do, but it allows me to be a kind of ambassador for comics.  It sounds like a big word, but I hate the fact that we can trip over comic books anymore, We all discovered comics because we saw them on the newsstand spinner racks and that does not happen anymore.  This project makes me feel good that people who would not normally set foot in a comic shop are going to get to see this, and hopefully say “hey look, comics books”.  The fact that the people I work with, love comics as well, and they are all doing everything they can to make it the best that it can be.

Taylor:  One of the questions in these kind of interviews is the influences one.  The answers are all fairly pat.  So I want to come at with a different sensibility.  If you art was the bastard love child of any two other artists, who would they be?

Franchesco!:  (laughing)  I love that question, but I think someone else would have to answer that because I’m too close to it, I don’t see it.  I always am wishing I could do better.  I am never quite happy with it.  I always wish I could draw better.  I love lots of other people’s work, but I am too close to what I do to look at it like that.

Taylor:  Are there any things that you have done in the past that you would like back to do again now that you have grown and know what you know?

Franchesco!:  The blank page is scary enough.  It is easy for everyone else to be an armchair quarterback, with this suggestion or that and you want to ask them “where were you five minutes ago with your ideas?”  There is a 101 decisions that you make with every line.  Is the hand going to be this way or that way?  Worm’s-eye view or bird’s-eye view?  Every artist brings their own personal take, from panel layouts to vantage points, so it is always changing for them too.  To answer that directly…every single piece that I have ever done.  I never stop wanting to make it better.

A lot of artists are the same way and that comes from making it their own.  The best ones, you don’t have to look for the signature.  You see it and you know exactly who drew that.  It’s a John Byrne or Art Adams.  That is what I love about comics, the eclectic nature of the medium, that allows so many singular voices to come through.

I have not reached the point yet where the job gets old.  One of the things that I am very fortunate about is that I haven’t lost that lovin feeling.  It doesn’t feel like work.

Taylor:  You have made a name for yourself with the “good girl” art.

American Dream by Franchesco!

Franchesco!:  I wish I could say that was by design.

Taylor:  What I would ask then is, do you ever think to yourself, “Man I wish I could just do a damn landscape!”?

Franchesco!:  I’ve done that and people don’t even recognize it.  I love to draw, so if I had to draw paperclips all day long they would be the most fun paper clips I have ever drawn.

Taylor:  Sexiest, boobiest paper clips ever!

Franchesco!:  Right, they would have all kinds of curves!  But it was not by design, I just enjoy drawing the way I draw, but when I draw women, people seem to sit up and take more notice of that.

Taylor:  You said you don’t sell your originals.  What is it that is so different about the commission sketches that they can be let go so much more readily?

Franchesco!:  That is because I know from the beginning that this is not going to be for me.  Right from the beginning, before I even put pencil to paper that it is not for me.  That is the only way that I can make the distinction and cut the umbilical cord, because it was not there to begin with.

I love that I am very fortunate that I can do what I love to do for a living.  When I first got in, it was hard.  I didn’t know that I was not ready.  It was like learning every step of the way.  Portfolio review after portfolio review, and editors would say things that I shouldn’t do, but that were still evident in the books they were publishing.  It was a perspective thing.  They were looking at things differently and had a set of skills that they were looking for.  I had a lot of puzzle pieces that were missing.  I’m still trying to figure them out sometimes!

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AvX and Marvel’s Infinite Comics: Review

Well, it is here.  Marvel announced its new concept, Infinite Comics and the first offering is an Avengers vs X-Men tie-in. (Starring Nova of all people)

First, the basics.  Infinite Comics is a digital delivery platform, like the others.  Teaming up with Mark Waid, who is writing this issue (can we still call them issues?  Or is that too anachronistic?), Marvel has tried to take greater advantage of the technology to make the reading experience better, more interactive and work more effectively with the storytelling medium of comics.

The overall functionality of the interface is the same.  You still control things with your finger.  That process does not change.  What has changed is what you get with that swipe of the finger.  The concept of the page is very different and the use of the word page here is a little odd since there really does not have to be one in the same way, and over half of the issue is single panels that now function as the entire page.  The landscape format is better utilized here as well.  This is not a comic that was scanned and converted to the comic reader format, this was built from the ground up as a digital reading experience.  The story has a 12 page intro that asks if you are ready to have the future of digital comics at your fingertips.  The future may be a little odd for some, but I like what I have seen so far.  .  This .99 cent download has 65 “pages”, but the traditional definition of a page is going to have to change somewhat.  The first 4 pages of this are the same image that alters only slightly aside from the text, one sentence per advance.  (In print, this would NOT be a 65 page comic.) Then the story bursts in.  The panels, or what here are pages, flow smoothly from one to the other in a dissolve.  There is often no change in the basic panel, but information is added to the same image to progress the narrative.  The intro flows into the story and there is another set of images that build on the start, telling you what you need to know ONLY at the pace you need it.  There is no spoiler effect caused by turning the page and seeing info or images farther ahead than what is supposed to come next like you get in a regular print book, and even in the standard full-page view of a digital book.  As you swipe through, text is added to the same image several times, controlling the flow of the story very solidly.  There are instances where if you saw all the text at once as you usually would, the effect would be lost.  Here, you get what you need in a way that tries to preserve the emotional content and impact of the story.  There are several uses of blurred images and racked focus, so that you see images as though you are pulling focus and seeing it firsthand like a participant.  When more traditional panels are used, they flow on the screen one at a time and form a widescreen “page”, but they do not always flow in what would be a natural progression of left to right.  There are times when you get a left to right, then the image is interrupted by something in the middle of all that.  It is jarring and that is the point.  You really can feel the impact of the events unfolding.  There is a sequence that in print, would be a double page spread with panels within the main image to simulate movement of bodies in story-time and through the panel.  Here that is achieved with a single image that is expanded and altered to show what the passage of the story events are doing.  It is very like if you were standing there watching it happen in front of you.  Then the changes get even more subtle, page to page.  The next sequence uses a minimum of images that slowly change as the story moves.  Some change very slightly, others completely.  It fits what is happening in that the POV is from someone starting out not fully aware of his surroundings and gaining more info as he goes.  In one shot, the panel does not change, but the focus racks from foreground to background. The images included here do NOT do this package justice.

This is a stunning presentation.  The story by Waid is slight, as it needs to be.  It is a teaser after all, and cannot give too much away.  But what you get is strong and interesting.  The art by Stuart Immonen cannot be given enough credit for the success of this product.  You cannot tell this story as effectively in a traditional manner, and a lesser storyteller would have failed to use the format as well.  The book (can we use that word anymore?) is a joy to look at and is never overshadowed by the technology employed to realize it.  They compliment each other perfectly.

That will be the real test of this new digital medium, I think.  Superior creators will thrive.  Learning the tech is just a matter of choice, and they are tools like any other, but only the really skilled in their craft will thrive.  Waid’s new all-digital venture is one example of what happens when someone who really knows their stuff tries to force the medium into a place it NEEDS to go to survive.  Now the trick for Marvel will be, are they going to squander this with just any old crap, or only use it sparingly to start off.  They should allow only the best kids to play in this particular sandbox?  Unfortunately, Marvel has not always showed the most restraint when they get something good, but to be fair, most publishers are all too quick to run something into the ground in order to make a quick buck.

A quick note about the main AvX book:  ugh!  I really think this one will be crap.  What I have read other than today’s review, is awful.  Sorry folks.  A fun idea that looks like it will be poorly executed if the zero and first issues are anything to go by.

I am truly hopeful.  This is the best digital comic I have seen yet.  If the format is properly used, Marvel’s Infinite Comics could be exactly what the industry needs to not only survive, but prosper and continue on for a very long time.

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A Quick Format Update…

Just for those who might be interested in the reviews of the books and films without slogging through every last post, the Review Page has been updated with a list of and links to every complete review I have done.

Some of them make me cringe a little given that I was not always as diligent about proof reading as I should be, but I’m not changing them now, so deal.

Anyway, there they are.

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The Ax Hath Fallen…

The first casualties of the New 52 are official.

Earlier I posted my personal predictions, based on just the first set of numbers, saying that any book selling less than the lowest selling Vertigo title was at risk of cancellation.

You will NOT be missed. DIE. DIE. DIE!!!

There were a few surprises, but all in all, much of what I thought would happen, has.  Mister Terrific, Hawk and Dove, OMAC, Static Shock and Blackhawks were my likeliest candidates and they are all now going to end with issue #8.  No I am not supernaturally gifted with a power beyond mortal ken, this was just simple numbers.  A bit more of a surprise to me was that Men of War is also ending.  The impression I had gotten was the sales of that were climbing, and was really developing a following.  Many of these will end their runs selling better than other titles that I predicted for the chopping block.  House of Mystery and Captain Atom appear to be getting a few more readers and holding on though.  I would expect announcements of some getting the ax will come once numbers on the first trade and hardcover collections come in.  There have always been books that survive only because of the sales of the collections in the past and the New 52 will be no different.

I can’t imagine that there was anyone inside or outside of the DC offices that expected all 52 to survive and this is just the first wave of cancellations.  There will almost certainly be another bunch, 3 or 4 titles at least to end with their second arc.  To DC’s credit, they are spinning it well and making it feel organic.  They were ready, as we all would have suspected, with the launch of a new group of books to replace them.  In some cases, the replacement is pretty obvious continuations of concepts and characters that we saw in the cancelled books and other recent DC projects.

The new books have a great deal of promise.  Everyone expected to see another Batman Inc to conclude the arc and it is now official.  Not a surprise.  Also announced early on, and now on the schedule is Earth 2 by James Robinson and Nicola Scott.  The characters have been a fan favorite since their return to the DCU and Robinson’s take on them has been excellent and mostly well received.  On my must get list is World’s Finest, starring Power Girl (yay!!) and the Huntress by Paul Levitz with George Perez and Kevin Maguire rotating art duties for each arc.  These are the Earth 2 versions, stuck in our world and trying to get home.  Makes me wonder what will become of this Earth’s Karen Starr though, as she has been relegated to girlfriend in one of the now cancelled books.  This new book looks to be a continuation, of sorts from the Huntress mini series, and Levitz is the only writer that has ever really done justice to the Huntress.  Of course he DID create the character, so one would hope that to be the case.

Dial H, G.I. Combat and The Ravagers all look to be interesting books.  But only Dial H will get a look from me.  I have never gone in for combat books and anything spinning off from the mediocre Teen Titans holds no interest for me.  I have always been surprised that war books do well.  Men of War  is likely going to have its audience carry over into the new book.  China Mieville on Dial H will be a draw for a while at least, but I think The Ravagers will not hold on very long, just a hunch really.

I am still enjoying the New 52 and think that it is being handled well.  I am looking forward to what happens next, and that is what DC really want to hear from the fans.  Love the books or hate them, they are still generating interest nearly 6 months in, and when was the last time a comics “event” did that?

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