Saturday, January 31, 2009

What I'm Watching: Doctor Who, Repo

Okay, so thanks to the prodding of reader "teatime brutality," I am fully on the "Doctor Who" bandwagon. After sampling a few episodes on BBC America, I now have the first four "series" sets in front of me, and I've been tearing through "The Complete First Series" all week.

Unintended side effect: my son has now become a HUGE Doctor Who fan. He's a kid who's really into "Spongebob Squarepants," "Pokemon," "Total Drama Island," and anything for the Nintento DS, so I assumed he wouldn't have much interest in a British sci-fi show, but he watched one episode with me and he was completely hooked. He loves that the Doctor solves problems with his brain and a sonic screwdriver. He loves that the show can be funny and sad and exciting. He wants a Dalek action figure.

So we've finished all of the First Series, and we'll be launching into Series Two any day now. And, by the way, at least two episodes that I've watched so far involve a defeated creature (or creatures) falling through time. So any Doctor Who fan must have read "Final Crisis" and thought, "oh, that old gimmick." Morrison, by the way, is a devoted Whovian.

I also watched "Repo! The Genetic Opera," definitely NOT with my son around. My wife wasn't interested in watching that one either, and I think that was probably for the best as she would have loved 70% of it but hated the other 30% so much that she would have, I don't know, punched the tv. Or hopped on a plane to track down director Darren Lynn Bousman and then taunted him about how much of a tasteless hack he can be.

Even though it can be schlocky and disgusting at times, "Repo" is a mostly great-looking movie, and the songs are good, and most of the performances are good. Anthony Stewart Head is fantastic. Even Paris Hilton is kinda good, and I never thought I would say that. She's perfect for the role, which involves not a little bit of self-parody. It's a gruesome, horrific rock opera, with spines ripped out of people who can no longer afford to pay for them, and old-fashioned "injury to the eye motif" action. It's sickening, and while (apparent B-grade horror icon, but still TERRIBLE actor) Bill Moseley gives the worst performance I've seen in anything that cost this much money to make, it's mostly a slick, original production.

I have no patience for senseless gore or cheap thrill horror, but "Repo" has an incredible sense of humor about itself and it looks like nothing else that came out last year. It may be trying too hard to attain a cult status, and it will probably succeed, but at least it's got some catchy tunes.

What are YOU watching?

Friday, January 30, 2009

in media res

I was teaching a bit of epic poetry this week, and, tonight, I put my kids to bed with a dramatic reading of "Batman: Brave and the Bold" #1 (the new Johnny DC title). That issue ends with a very brief and shallow interview with producer James Tucker, but in the brief and shallow interview, Tucker mentions how each episode just starts with Batman in the middle of an adventure and the audience catches up from there.

It's not an innovative technique by any means (as anyone who was paying attention in my English class should be able to confirm), but its so damned refreshing to see it used again. Nobody cares how Batman ended up fighting Signal Man with the help of Airwave. All that matters is: what's going to happen next?

It got me thinking about the loud anti-Final Crisis voices and the generally flat and slowly shambling storytelling of so many comics today. Comics could benefit from more "in media res" and less slow build up. Comics could learn from James Tucker. Please.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fantastic Four #563 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Fantastic Four #563, about which I write the following sentences: "We know that can't possibly last. Ben Grimm has a track record with heartbreak and misery. And his fiancée seems so lovely and innocent that we can only imagine the horrors Mark Millar has in store for her. She doesn't even seem to understand how much her life will change -- has changed -- alongside the Thing. She doesn't realize how soon she'll be playing the role of the typical comic book love interest: eternal victim."

Read the entire review HERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When Words Collide: Final Crisis -- Here is Knowledge

Thus, an era of comics-I-am-
eagerly-anticipating comes to a close. Now that "Final Crisis" is done, comic book shopping on Wednesdays seems to have lost its luster. The world is a little dimmer now, isn't it?

This week's "When Words Collide" was delayed because I wanted to tackle "Final Crisis" in its entirety, #7 included, and so I could hit my usual deadline of 5:00 PM on Tuesday night, unless Darkseid himself dropped off a copy of the last issue on his way back through time (clearly, he had other things to worry about, and I don't hold it against him). Then the snowstorm hit New England this morning, and that delayed my purchase of the issue even more. But I read it like crazy and ignored my family tonight, and submitted my column, "Final Crisis: Here is Knowledge" just in time to make Wednesday's CBR.

Actually, the CBR folks had to work a little overtime to get it posted, and that's just another example of how awesome they are.

So read my column, then come back here and tell me how wrong I am, and I will destroy you with the power of song.

For the Record: Final Crisis #7

My WWC column on "Final Crisis" was submitted a few minutes ago, and I don't know if it will make it to the CBR main page today or not, but here's something I wrote in an e-mail to Chad Nevett yesterday:
Captain Adam's "No dualities. Only symmetries" line seems to be the key to the whole thing. Hence Libra for Balance, and hence all the apparent dualities throughout the FC series itself.

I think FC #7 will end with darkness fusing with light, perhaps Darkseid's energy form literally fusing with that of, say, a Flash(?) and bringing forth the Fifth World more completely.

Or something completely different.

But symmetrical.

And it will end with Anthro.
I was right about some of it, at least.

Punisher War Zone #6 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Punisher War Zone #6, about which I write the following sentences: "Ennis also wraps up the Ma Gnucci/Elite plotline with a vicious climax, but rather than give away those particular grisly details, I'd just like to commend Steve Dillon for another job well done. A cursory glance at his work might not allow you to fully appreciate the depths of his talent, and it may even seem like he's drawing comics the same was he has for the past couple of decades. But his work in recent years has gained a greater sense of dimensionality, moving beyond the flat planes he emphasized for so long, and giving his comic book worlds a visual depth. He also tells a story with perfect clarity and grace, and his art on this comic -- as bloody as the subject matter can be -- is a wonderful cure for the chaotic muddiness that taints so many mainstream comics these days."

Read the entire review HERE.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Northlanders Interview Action

I interviewed Brian Wood recently for CBR, and talked with him about how "The Viking Prince" led to "Northlanders" and what he has planned for the rest of this year, Viking-wise.

I didn't talk about his collaboration with Canadian rock-god Bryan Adams, but as this promo demonstrates, there's something brewing between Vikings, Brian Wood, and the power ballads of Adams.

I'm also just trying to see how many sentences I can write in which I use the word "viking."


Monday, January 26, 2009

Batman: The Strange Deaths of Batman Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Faces of Evil: Deathstroke #1, about which I write the following sentences: "Some might call a collection like 'Batman: The Strange Deaths of Batman' a 'cash-grab' or a 'cynical attempt to make money off Batman's "death" in "Final Crisis."' But it really does make sense to provide some context for the current death of Batman, and a trade paperback reprinting some of Batman's greatest 'deaths' seems like a good idea. It's a fun way to trace the development of storytelling styles over the decades, all handily tied together under one thematic umbrella. Unfortunately, this collection is wildly uneven, and at $19.99, I don't see enough quality here to fully justify that price. Some of the stories are good -- one, in particular, is a work of deranged genius -- but the rest are bottom-of-the-barrel darknight detective episodes, with the most recent stories tending to be the worst."

Read the entire review HERE.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What I'm Reading: Dororo, Beowulf, Jason Aaron

I'm not quite finished with it yet, but I've read 90% of "Dororo," Volume 1 (with Volumes 2 and 3 sitting in the pile next to my bed).

I have never been the world's biggest Osamu Tezuka fan -- and I know that's another example of my blasphemous thinking -- but his characters have never appealed to me at all. I have a few of his works on my "To Read" pile, and I'm sure my opinion will change the deeper I immerse myself in his world, but "Dororo" has already gone a long way to break down my prejudice toward his work.

"Dororo" is INSANE. Babies with no arms, legs, eyes, ears, or mouths that learn to become kick-ass martial artists and must defeat demons to gain body parts? That is pretty much what I want from my Manga, and Tezuka gives it to me here. I love it.

I also just read all three "Scalped" trades, "The Other Side," "Wolverine: Get Mystique," and "Ghost Rider: Hell Bent and Heaven Bound" in preparation for an extensive overview of Jason Aaron's career/retrospective interview series that I'm working on. Look for the fruits of that labor later this month (or maybe in mid-February -- I might hold off on the publication until after the NYCC madness dies down). For the record: Jason Aaron's work is great. In case you didn't know. Even his lesser Marvel work is better than most of the stuff you're already buying.

I'm also rereading Seamus Heaney's translation of "Beowulf" because this week begins some Brit Lit action in my classroom, and "Beowulf" has 99% more Grendel-arm-ripping-off-action than any other English language poem you'd care to mention (even if it is Old English, which, let's face it, is not recognizable as English to the man on the street).

What are YOU reading?

Faces of Evil: Deathstroke #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Faces of Evil: Deathstroke #1, about which I write the following sentences: "Nothing in this comic makes any kind of logical sense, not even using the kind of DC comic book logic that allows Batman to shoot gods with space bullets or Superman to live in the heart of the sun. (And it's way less interesting than either of those things. It's less interesting than reading the Wikipedia entries of those things.)"

Read the entire review HERE.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Superman Beyond #2 Hits THE SPLASH PAGE

This week's "Splash Page" discussion begins on Chad Nevett's blog. Read that part first, then come back here for PART TWO:

Chad Nevett: How do you think this little tangent story works in relation to All-Star Superman? It seems to have some relationship, but where that book fell flat for me, this one really worked. Is there any relationship beyond the same writer and character?

Tim Callahan: There's certainly a parallel between All-Star and Superman Beyond, most emphatically on the final page of each series. In All-Star we get the promise that Superman will continue via Quintum's technology -- "Superman 2," which we know will lead to a future strain of Supermen, as seen in the appearance of the Superman Squad in issue #6 -- while in Superman Beyond we get the ultimate Superman epitaph: "To Be Continued." It all ties in to Morrison's constant articulation of the existence of Superman above and beyond our own mortal existence. The whole "Superman is realer than us" idea.

Plus, both series feature that moment of transcendent awareness where Superman realizes how everything fits together, but, ironically, in All-Star, the moment is one in which he realizes that "we are all there is" and there is no higher power or meaning above the deeds of humanity/superhumanity. In Superman Beyond, he not only recognizes the existence of a higher realm in the Bleed, but he senses the reader as well, as he feels our breath as we "cradle" the comic book in our hands. I think the difference between those two moments speak to the differences between the two series. All-Star is a sealed-system look at the Superman mythos and our universe exists inside that one -- we are the pocket universe inside Superman's Fortress. Superman is the ultimate example of goodness upon which our sense of right and wrong is based, or something along those lines. Superman Beyond is the DCU as a creation of our universe, and like Buddy Baker, Superman can only look up at us from inside his comic book reality, but he is always trapped within it. Of course, if we take Morrison's cosmology to its logical extreme, the DCU is a layer nestled inside our reality, and our reality is a layer nestled inside the DCU -- it's a physically impossible situation to be in, or it seems to be, but maybe that's because we lack the fifth-dimensional vision to see it properly.

Why do you think Superman Beyond works so well for you, but All-Star didn't do a thing for you?

CN: I hate to go to my old stand-by, but Superman Beyond 3D just seemed to have more "energy." It's more a frantic, high-speed charge through an insane adventure, while All-Star Superman was more... purposeful, more planned, a bit too static for my tastes. Superman Beyond 3D is told in the same fashion as my favorite Morrison stories where everything happens too fast and you need to go through it a few times to really pick up on everything. It reads like a six-issue arc compressed into these two issues, which is a style that I love. And while it shows off Morrison's love of the character, this story seems to be more about demonstrating how great Superman is without spending an equal amount of time telling us that he's great, which All-Star did quite a bit through secondary characters. It was more show than tell, I guess. Plus, it's in 3D and who doesn't love 3D?

I'm pretty sure most people don't love 3D -- or at least 3D comics. Didn't you complain about the 3D last time? I know I did.

But the 3D is FAR more important in this issue. It's a great use of the effect to break the fourth wall, and while it's not an absolutely essential part of the story, it does provide a new spin on an old Morrisonian cliche as Superman reaches out toward us. I read this issue differently than the first one, too. I read the whole thing without those damned glasses, then I went back and re-read the 3D stuff with the glasses on. I just have a hard time reading the words.

CN: Yeah, the 3D wasn't that great in the first issue, but worked really well here. I do think the 3D ended a page too early since there's a non-3D page that takes place in that "higher Monitor reality" and I don't know why it's not in 3D. If you look at the story as a whole, I'm not sure the 3D works, particularly in the first issue where it's like you need 3D glasses to comprehend one level of reality, but that wears off and then you need 3D glasses to comprehend another level of reality. It's kind of odd and arbitrary in many ways. But, if you take this issue alone with the 3D, it works for the most part, I think.

TC: What a bold defense, my friend! I guess we should probably wrap this up, and get our brains ready for whatever is in store for us next week with Final Crisis #7. Do you think the Monitors will play a role in the finale at all? Will Mandrakk reappear in the end? Or will this 3D detour remain just a thematic parallel to the main event, and someone else (Judd Winick? Gail Simone?) will pick up on the space vampire Monitors and use them as villains in the future?

CN: Actually, Mandrakk's introduction here reminds me of the way Morrison brought Solaris into Superman's world in DC One Million. I could see either Morrison or someone else picking up on the character and his followers, especially vampire Ultraman. I think Morrison began something here that will have to be addressed at some point. As for the Monitors in the finale... I don't expect much beyond Nix Uotan, but maybe he'll have a nice reunion scene with his long lost love... or maybe he'll initiate some sort of "upgrade" with the other Monitors, making them the new gods... who knows?

[Next Week's Splash Page: Final Crisis #7! And don't forget to reflect on the past with "The Final Crisis Dialogues."]

The Final Crisis Dialogues

Chad Nevett and I have discussed every issue of "Final Crisis" since the beginning, and we've chatted about the Morrison-penned spin-offs as well. The discussions used to be available at, as part of our "Splash Page" column.

Sadly, is temporarily inactive, and it looks to stay that way for another month or so.

But in anticipation of the grand finale of "Final Crisis," Chad and I have made our previous discussions available for your reading pleasure. Check it all out over at "The Final Crisis Dialogues."

What I'm Watching: Oz, Lost, Bad CW Shows

I didn't get a chance to watch much this week -- no movies of any sort, and very little TV. I'm working on a project that requires a lot of research for what will end up being little reward, but that's what has taken up most of my time over the past few days.

Anyway, one new thing I did start watching this week was "Oz: Season One." I'm only one episode into it so far, but I have to ask: does it get any better? I have seen one of the later episodes -- probably from Season Two or Three -- when it originally aired (I was in a hotel room, staying overnight to play in the Magic: The Gathering Regional Championship, because I that's how I used to roll), and I liked it okay. And I liked Episode One okay, too, but it was really, annoyingly, on-the-nose with the narration. Everyone's dialogue was pretty on-the-nose too, now that I think about it, and maybe I'm used to better writing from well-regarded HBO shows, but I wasn't super impressed like I expected to be.

Maybe it gets better written in later episodes?

I also watched last week's "Smallville" Legion of Super-Heroes episode finally, and, yeah, I really don't like "Smallville." It was cool to see and hear some of the Legion allusions, and at least the overall storyline has moved beyond the sappy Lana/Clark teen dullness, but it's still an ultra-cheesy CW show, and for every fun/engaging/interesting moment there were a dozen embarrassing bits. I can't imagine how adults can watch this stuff.

But I read superhero comic books, so what do I know?

"Lost" returned this week, and I watched that. All I have to say is Thank God for Jeremy Davies. He made the two-hour return more than just watchable. It's a good show, and I'm glad it's back, but the super-ponderous mysteries are really not all that super or ponderous. Obviously Locke has faked his death using that poison that led to the buried-alive incident of that eurotrash guy and the annoying "movie star." I really can't be bothered to look up their names.

And in addition to reading the Narnia books, Lindelof and Cuse must know their Billy Pilgrim. Unstuck in time, indeed.

There's no way the Grand Unified Theory of Lost, whenever it's revealed, will take into account all the silliness that went on with the child-stealing, fake-beard-wearing "Others" and all the other red herrings that have been thrown at viewers over the years. But it's still a compelling show.

So "Lost" is fine, it's good. I like it. But it's still not up there with "The Office."

What are YOU watching?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Justice League of America #29 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Justice League of America #29, about which I write the following sentences: "Like the 'Final Crisis Secret Files' comic from a couple of weeks ago, this is basically an old-fashioned story with new art, and it's kind of an interesting experiment. The dialogue seems ripped from an earlier era -- and maybe it is literally taken verbatim from an older story, for all I know -- which gives this comic a joyous silliness that makes it quite a bit of fun at times. And Aquaman (old-school Aquaman, not the dude with a harpoon-hand or beard or the one who's an underwater swashbuckler) punches out the bad guy in the end."

Read the entire review HERE.

X-Men: Kingbreaker #2 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: X-Men: Kingbreaker #2, about which I write the following sentences: "Yost fills the book with inane dialogue like 'I am not here to surrender.' 'You should not have come here, Empress! You know what I must now do!' And it's endless. These characters prattle on and on about their desperate situations without the story ever rising to meet them. They are blank, space-hero mannequins given lines to recite, and none of it amounts to anything."

Read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Uncanny X-Men Annual #2 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Uncanny X-Men Annual #2, about which I write the following sentences: "Fraction uses all of that history to great effect here. This is Emma Frost, unleashed, but with a depth of character that we rarely see in her. And even though this comic is ostensibly a 'Dark Reign,' tie-in, it's more about how she handles the new status quo than the status quo itself. It's about her strangely affecting relationship with Namor, and her history with Sebastian Shaw. It's about who Emma Frost is now, and who she was as a member of the Hellfire Club. And it's surprising and alive and full of robot attacks and bedroom intrigue. It's very good."

Read the entire review HERE.

Comic Book Lesson #1: Why Ghost Rider is Good

From this week's Ghost Rider #31, written by Jason Aaron, with art by Roland Boschi and Tan Eng Huat:

And a close-up, for emphasis:

Marvel Legends Undersea Ghost Rider w/Great White Shark, coming to a Wal-Mart near you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When Words Collide: Final Crisis -- Past is Prologue

Prepping for next week's release of "Final Crisis" #7 (we all hope), I reread all the "Final Crisis" issues, all the tie-ins, and a few of the unofficial prequel series.

All of that reading made the "Final Crisis" experience even more satisfying (and if you've been reading this blog, you know that I've been enjoying FC since the beginning) so I decided that I should spend the next two weeks of "When Words Collide" columns talking about "Final Crisis," past, present, and future.

This week, in "Past is Prologue," I explore the "Zenith," "Rock of Ages," "Mister Miracle" connection, and next week I'll take a look at "Final Crisis" at its conclusion -- what it all means and how it means it.

"Final Crisis" is far from perfect, but it's a jagged epic monstrosity of pure comic book thrills.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #1, about which I write the following sentences: "Spider-Man's most dangerous villains (well, excluding Venom, and Carnage, and all the other ones with big, pointy teeth) are buffoonish clods throughout most of this issue, with only Mysterio using his powers to any great effect. The heroes they face, namely Iron Man and Dr. Strange, may play it a little more straight, yet they don't come across as all that competent either. It's only Doctor Doom who maintains his dignity here, and Tobin's version of the Marvel Adventures Universe is one filled with lighthearted violence and witty dialogue."

Read the entire review HERE.

X-Men/Spider-Man #3 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: X-Men/Spider-Man #3, about which I write the following sentences: "Describing it this way makes it sound ridiculous, sure, but it embraces its ridiculousness and blankets it in the luxuriant artistic stylings of Mario Alberti. And for all of the inherent absurdity of the Jim Lee-era X-Men trying their best to be tough and cool, and the clone of Spider-Man not really getting what he's supposed to be getting, Gage doesn't resort to cynical mockery. This is a loving tribute to these characters, maybe not as majestic as 'All-Star Superman,' but in the same vein. And if anyone is going to be spoken of in the same sentence as Frank Quitely, it should probably be Mario Alberti."

Read the entire review HERE.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Odyssey #5 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: The Odyssey #5, about which I write the following sentences: "Marvel seems to be heading toward a better direction with the recently released 'Wonderful Wizard of Oz' adaptation, which at least has the distinctive visual style of the also-wonderful Skottie Young to make up for the loss of narrative voice. But 'The Odyssey' has Greg Tocchini, and while he's a fine draftsman, and his character designs and layouts are solid, he doesn't bring anything unique to Homer's ancient epic. Sure, it looks better than Armand Assante running around with his shirt off from the god-awful made-for-TV movie version, but it's still just a bland version of Odysseus's journey. And that's the problem. It's not bad. It's a faithful, honorable interpretation of 'The Odyssey' done in comic book form. But it's bland, bland, bland."

Read the entire review HERE.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #47 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #47, about which I write the following sentences: "DeZago's story is a lot of fun too, with the Prowler and Dragon-Man getting caught up in a case of wrongful accusation and industrial espionage. DeZago keeps the text sparse, giving Greene more room to work his magic, and yet he manages to convey the characters and themes nicely in a relatively short amount of sentences. He even includes a moral at the end, but it feels earned and not imposed from some know-it-all authorial voice."

Read the entire review HERE.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What I'm Watching/What I'm Reading

The return of the "Splash Page" knocked my recently-established weekend blogging routine out of whack, and I really didn't actually read many things that weren't comic books this week, so here's a combined "What I'm..." post for today.

Other than the NFL playoffs, the new episode of "The Office," and getting caught up on the last three episodes of "Batman: Brave and the Bold" (Batman dies in that show, too!), the most significant piece of on-screen entertainment this week has been the enthralling "Superman III."

I know everyone HATES "Superman III." I can understand why. But I love it.

I forgot how much I love it, until I watched it again this week. Part of it has to do with the fact that "Superman III" was the only superhero movie we actually owned when we were kids. Television's Ryan Callahan can attest to this, but we watched this thing about a dozen times on VHS because (a) we didn't have cable when we were that age, and (b) it was Superman AND Richard Pryor!

Richard Lester hams everything up whenever possible, but Richard Pryor has so many brilliant scenes in "Superman III." Look, the skiing off the skyscraper and landing in the street gag is not funny, but it's the little gestures that make Pryor's Gus Gorman into the fascinating on-screen character that he is. My favorite moment: when Robert Vaughn grabs Pryor by both arms and emphasizes something he just said, and Pryor awkwardly reaches to give Vaughn a little hug because he doesn't seem to know what else to do with his arms. It's a complete Michael Scott moment, and it's hilariously subtle.

And the visual asymmetry in this movie makes it more interesting than the others in the Christopher Reeve series. Superman, in costume, sitting on Lana Lang's floral-patterned couch? Brilliant visual. And it's followed up by sleazy Superman's line when he says "nah, I don't need to rescue that truck."

"Superman: The Movie" NEVER made me believe a man can fly, but "Superman III" made me believe that superheroes can be weird and wonderful (but mostly weird), and I will carry that lesson with me forever.

I also have begun my newest Geek Assignment (TM 2007 Timothy Callahan) with "Doctor Who." Challenged by reader "teatime_brutality" to learn to love the good Doctor, I finally sat down and watched the two most recent episodes of the BBC series. And now I'm becoming a little obsessed. I want to watch more. I want to immerse myself (and those two eps were really, really good), but I'm not willing to shell out for the $80 season sets just yet I'll have to wait until my Season sets arrive (just got Seasons 1-4 on ebay for under $150 total about five minutes ago, and I'm a sucker for a deal, even though that is still ridiculously expensive). Still, I'll keep you posted on whether or not this Doctor Who thing is just a brief dalliance or a real and total geek out.

Speaking of Doctor Who, besides my weekly stack of comics, a large chunk of "New Teen Titans Archives" Vol. 3 (I just picked up Vol. 4, and remembered that I never read the third one), a Calvin and Hobbes collection I'm reading with my son, I've also just started a novel by Paul Cornell called "British Summertime." I don't know anything about it, but I'm on a Cornell kick, and since I couldn't get my hands on any of his Doctor Who novels in the U.S. (which would have fed into my Geek Assignment and my Cornell crush, but oh well), I picked this one up. I don't know if it's any good, and I probably won't get around to finishing it this week, but if it's worth reading I'm sure I'll blog about it eventually.

What are YOU watching and reading?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Final Crisis #6 Hits THE SPLASH PAGE

Since Sequart continues to have trouble with its online presence, Chad Nevett and I are continuing our long-running "Splash Page" column via the cross-blog express.

This week's topic: Final Crisis #6, obviously!

Chad Nevett: And we return with our first column of 2009 to, once again, discuss the new issue of Final Crisis. Can I assume that you enjoyed the issue, Tim? Or did the art finally diminish your enjoyment a bit? Because, honestly, it's starting to bother me (especially the colouring of Shilo Norman), but I know that the quality of art plays a larger role in your enjoyment of a comic than mine, so I can only imagine that it's starting to bother you. Am I right?

Tim Callahan: Honestly, the art on the new issue of Captain Britain (which one of our colleagues gave FIVE STARS to) bothered me a whole lot more, with its Mike Collins fill-in hackery on a few pages. Final Crisis #6 did have three artists working on it, and some of the Pacheco pages looked a little rushed, but I actually didn't mind the art at all. I thought Jones's pages looked mostly great, and the Mankhe Superman pages looked chaotic and bombastic and a little sordid, and that final page gave me the chills, even though we all know that it probably doesn't mean what it seems to mean.

I don't think we need to put up and SPOILER alerts at this point, considering all the other coverage that people must have been exposed to, but, yeah, Batman's dead. Deceased. A stiff. Totally and absolutely dead.

I would like to talk about some other aspects of Final Crisis #6, but Batman's death is pretty damn important, so let's get that out of the way first. What's your take on how the Batman sequence played out?

CN: Honestly, I thought the showdown with Darkseid was great, but Batman dying didn't surprise me at all. For the supposed death of one of the biggest superheroes around, it was surprisingly underwhelming. When I saw that Newsarama had a story up about it, that's when I went "Oh yeah, Batman's dead... people probably care about that, don't they?" Otherwise, fantastic sequence. I know it's unclear if Darkseid died as well, but I think Darkseid's downfall coming in such a quiet way would work very well.

TC: I thought Batman's death was a perfectly placed big-superhero final showdown moment, but that's only because I just read the final two Morrison Batman issues. Does Batman's appearance in this issue even make sense otherwise? I mean, he's totally out of the comic -- easily disposed of in issue #2 -- and then he randomly reappears now and defeats Darkseid basically out of nowhere?

I like the bit with the gun, and we should have known that god-killing bullet would reappear to, uh, kill a god, but in the context of Final Crisis itself, does this Batman climax even work properly?

CN: How would I know? I've read those same Morrison-penned Batman issues. I think the mention of Batman killing the clone army in issue five may provide enough of a reminder that the most dangerous man in the world is in the building, but I can't say for sure. Then again, it works for me since I have read those other comics.
Speaking of other comics, did the opening of this issue bother you? It obviously references the end of Superman Beyond 3D, which comes out next week. Or the possibility of spoiling the end... kind of... of Legion of Three Worlds?

TC: It does make Superman Beyond seem kind of pointless, since he just apparently hangs out in the bleed for a while and then hitches a ride from Brainiac 5 to get home. I don't think it spoils the Legion spin-off, but who knows.

I liked the Miracle Machine bit.

If you recall, which you probably don't because you are not a Legion geek, Matter-Eater Lad once went crazy because he ate the Miracle Machine, so I can only imagine what Morrison's going to do with it in Final Crisis #7.

So, to recap: I was barely annoyed by the art, slightly annoyed by the spoiling of Superman Beyond, which ties in with my overall great annoyance at the terrible shipping pattern of this book and the spin-offs, and I was not annoyed at all by the Batman death, and I enjoyed the heck out of this issue overall. It felt vast. It had scope. It feels like a pretty big Crisis now, for all those haters in the audience who said it wasn't Crisis-y enough at first. And even though we didn't get nearly enough of the new Nix Uotan in this issue, Morrison has primed us for a big conclusion with Flashes running real fast, Superman real pissed, and the Super Young Team finding themselves useful for once.

CN: I didn't mind the spoiling at all, because the end result isn't of primary importance in a Morrison comic. The journey is almost always much more important. As well, we all expected that little adventure to end with Superman rejoining his fellow heroes, so there's no big shock there. It's really just a sign of DC's bizarre and inept scheduling.

I'm with you, I really enjoyed this issue... but that's not really a surprise since we've enjoyed every issue so far. I love the Nix Uotan two page bit--it was a very inventive layout that worked with his new abilities. There were a few small moments that I don't think worked (the Hawkman/Hawkgirl dialogue, which served what purpose?), but, overall, a standard great issue.

As well, I haven't paid too much attention to the online reaction, but I've noticed a lack of people, for the most part, complaining that they don't get this series. You're much more tuned into reactions from across the internet, have you noticed an altered reaction to this issue?

TC: Not really. The people who don't get it still don't get it, and the people who like it still like it. But there are, of course, people who get it and don't like it, and maybe there are people who don't get it but like it anyway. I'd say that the reactions have remained pretty consistent, which doesn't make a lot of sense, now that I think about it, since the middle issues seemed to be way more in tune with what people said they wanted from issue #1. But there's no pleasing the haters, I guess.

I'm more curious about how Final Crisis meshes with Morrison's Batman stuff. In a recent interview, Morrison mentioned that when DiDio heard about his plans for Batman in Final Crisis (which was proposed back in 2006, I think), and then he heard about "Batman R.I.P." he thought that Morrison should kind of tie them together, even though "R.I.P." was intended to be a "psychological deconstruction" and not a literal death. That makes sense, and it explains why Morrison seemed to go out of his way to show that the explosion at the end of "R.I.P." wasn't Batman's final fate, even though it kind of implied that it was with the Nightwing pose and all that.

And I also wonder why I'm not getting calls from nationally syndicated radio shows this week, now that Batman has REALLY died, instead of just sort-of-but-not-really-at-all died. Don't people care about Batman's REAL, irrevocable, complete and non-refundable (but will probably be explained away within a year) death?


Friday, January 16, 2009

Amazing Spider-Man #583 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Amazing Spider-Man #583, about which I write the following sentences: "The letters page mentions that the story was a one-week rush job, but that doesn't make the story any better to read. Written by Zeb Wells, with art by Todd Nauck (and to make matters ever worse, colored by Frank D'Armata, who over-highlights everything he gets his stylus on -- take a close look at how he colors Obama's face in the third panel of the third page of the story and see his hideous brand of coloring in action), 'Spidey Meets the President!' has all the wit and wisdom of a Twinkie ad and about half the laughs. It's a slapstick, wacky episode involving Obama, Spidey, and the Chameleon, and if this is Marvel's way of bringing customers into comic shops to buy more comics, I think they've done a lot more harm than they realize. Reading this embarrassing story couldn't possibly make any new reader want to come back for more. The Obama story is so bad that it might make a new reader give up on Spider-Man, and maybe even the Democrats, forever."

Read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Batman 2.0 Costume Challenge

Project Rooftop, superhero fashion central, is holding a big-time contest to design a brand new costume for the inevitable (maybe, possibly) Dick Grayson-as-Batman!

Here's the info, direct from PR's own Dean Trippe:

You’re going to need every tool in your utility belt for this one! Project: Rooftop is flipping on the signal. That’s right, old chum, in honor of the recent (apparent!) demise of the Dark Knight in Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, and the likely torch-passing to follow, we’re announcing a very specific new contest: redesign the Batman uniform to suit his most likely successor, Dick Grayson AKA Robin AKA Nightwing.

Think about it, Nightwing was raised to be Batman 2.0, so any uniform he dons as the Caped Crusader should demonstrate that. And sure, Nightwing might not be the next Batman, and Bruce Wayne’s heroic death probably won’t last forever…but let’s enjoy the design opportunity anyway!

More information, and a list of PRIZES can be found at the Project Rooftop site, but all entries must be received by February 4th! So get working!

And you might be interested in this tidbit: In addition to the normal PR judges, the finalists will be judged by a panel of guest judges including J. H. Williams III, Dustin Nguyen, and Geniusboy Firemelon's own...ME. That's right, I've been brought in to judge what will surely be an amazing batch of costume designs.

This is gonna be cool.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Words Collide: Zombie Landscaping

Did Robert Kirkman leave Marvel and craft a hastily-produced manifesto because he couldn't tell a multi-year serialized story in which Mary Jane learned to use a katana to defend NYC from an attacking zombie horde?

Probably not.

But he's pretty damn good at long-form serialized storytelling, and after spending the last couple of weeks devouring the nine collected volumes of "The Walking Dead," I realize how completely idiotic I've been for ignoring this series for all of these years.

It's really good.

So join me in this week's "When Words Collide" column as I explore the subtle nuances of "Zombie Landscaping."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #2 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #2, about which I write the following sentences: "There's a great scene where Hellboy tries to sneak by the giants with a charm of invisibility, but makes it only halfway through before he realizes, hey, he's Hellboy! So he drops the charm with an 'ah, screw it,' and unleashes on the big baddies. That's only the opening sequence, and the issue then turns to the sad tale of Gruagach the transformed. Something is being set up for future issues here, though I'm not exactly sure what. But the Fegredo artwork looks amazing thoughout, even when Hellboy's not around to liven things up."

Read the entire review HERE.

El Diablo #5 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: El Diablo #5, about which I write the following sentences: "Writer Jai Nitz does something else in this issue besides throw a curve at the reader: he brings in the post-'Infinite Crisis' version of the Freedom Fighters and writes them better than they've been written in any of their own series. The Freedom Fighters are a strange sight in a comic like this. 'El Diablo,' is, of course, a DC western concept, and even in this superhero incarnation it has maintained a kind of gritty postmodern western flavor, and the Freedom Fighters are patriotically garbed national heroes of substantial gaudiness."

Read the entire review HERE.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I'm Reading: Sarris, Kael, Fenwick, Rex

Over the past week, besides my normal weekly comic book reading (and we all know that I read a lot of those) and besides the books I'm teaching in school right now (Pnin, by Vladimir Nabokov, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, for the record), I've been reading:

The American Cinema, by Andrew Sarris

I Lost it at the Movies, by Pauline Kael

Hall of Best Knowledge, by Ray Fenwick

The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex

I dug out copies of the Sarris and Kael books to remind myself what good criticism reads like, because I've been reading and writing too many bland comic book reviews. And it's fun to see Sarris and Kael go at each other in their writing. By the way, Kael absolutely blows Sarris out of the water with her prose, and her attack on the auteur theory is far more effective than Sarris's lame defense of it (even though, after the 1970s age of the director, most people have kind of internalized the auteur theory anyway).

Fenwick's book is fun, but slight, and it's really just the kind of book that would be fun if you bought it as a B&N remainder copy or something. It's not nearly as good as Fenwick's Mome contributions, and it's not worth the $20 cover price.

Rex's children's novel is something that I'm reading with my son, and it's a massive tome (over 400 pages) about an alien invasion gone wrong. Kind of like Secret Invasion, but written with style.

What are YOU reading?

I'm Unusually Excited About This...

Kingpin + Brubaker + Aja?

I have been telling you guys that Daredevil's been getting really good lately, and it looks like it's going to get even better very soon.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What I'm Watching: Budd Boetticher

Last week, I was asked to contribute to the "What Are You Reading?" section for the Robot 6 launch, and it made me think that I should do something like that each week on my very own blog. So this is the first installment of "What I'm Watching" and tomorrow you'll get the first installment of "What I'm Reading." It gives me something to write about on the weekends other than comic book reviews, and it will be interesting to see what you guys are all watching and reading too.

What I'm watching this week: Budd Boetticher Box Set. I've already watched the documentary on Boetticher: A Man Can Do That, and last night I watched The Tall T, which is a brilliant western that's shocking in its vicious austerity.

Hopefully I'll be able to fit in some more Boetticher over the weekend, but, you know, NFL playoffs and all. Football is good.

What are you watching?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Wolverine: Switchback #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Wolverine: Switchback #1, about which I write the following sentences: "I'm not familiar with the work of Joseph Clark or Das Pastoras, but I like their approach in this comic. Pastoras uses a fully-painted style that I can best describe as Richard Corben meets Frank Quitely meets pastel colors. Some of the faces get a bit wonky (especially Logan's face from certain angles), but the lush backgrounds and clean compositions make up for any anatomical strangeness. Pastoras's style meshes perfectly with the western-themed story by Clark. In essence, it's a wild west tale with a modern spin."

Read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

WWC: 15 Creators to Watch in 2009

In this week's "When Words Collide," I take a peek at the upcoming year of comics and spotlight fifteen creators that I think deserve your attention.

Some of these creators are super-famous mega-stars (at least in the comic book world) and some you may not know quite so much about, but all fifteen (well, sixteen really, because I cheated and doubled up on Ba and Moon) are worth reading anytime, anywhere.

So check out my preview of things to come and my babbling about why these guys and gals are so damned good: "15 Creators to Watch in 2009."

And don't forget to join in on the discussion at my CBR Forum!
Ah, bring on the stabbin'!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Black Lightning: Year One #1 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Black Lightning: Year One #1, about which I write the following sentences: "But there's just not much here. It's Jefferson Pierce, ex-Olympic athlete turned principal, coming in to a gang-infested area with intentions of cleaning it up. Reading the issue doesn't give you much more texture than you would have gotten reading a summary of it. It all seems so rote, like a by-the-numbers remake of that ghetto drama that you've seen a million times before."

Read the entire review HERE.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Mad Men, The Loved One, and More

Television's Ryan Callahan gave me Season One of Mad Men for Christmas, and I spent the following week caught up in the 1960s world of the Sterling Cooper ad agency. As I usually do when I dive into a new series and meet a whole bunch of actors I don't know much about, I hopped over to imdb to check out who's who and what's what.

That's how I learned that Bertram Cooper, he of the Ayn Rand obsession and the barefoot walking about, was played by none other than an aged Robert Morse, from the 1965 movie version of The Loved One.

I teach The Loved One, and it's not only my favorite Evelyn Waugh novel, but it's one of my all-time favorite novels by anyone, ever. If you haven't read it, it's a satire of Hollywood and America, circa 1948, but it resonates just as deeply in our shallow world of 2009.

I should have recognized his famous gap-toothed grin from the halls of Sterling Cooper, but the thing is that Robert Morse isn't exactly all that super-famous, and The Loved One was the only thing I'd ever seen him in before the twelve spectacular Mad Men episodes.

And it's not like the movie version of The Loved One was particularly memorable -- it's not even a film I bother to own, and I own a ton of 'em. The problem with the movie is that is that Joyboy is completely miscast with the legendary Rod Steiger. Steiger is maybe one of the greatest film actors ever --well, some people say things like that, but I actually don't think he's all that great, to be honest -- but his puffy physical presence doesn't capture the creepy sadness of the Liberace-esque Mr. Joyboy. Liberace is actually in the movie in a tiny role, by the way, and I can only imagine that he was invited to try out for Joyboy but either the studio wanted a more seasoned actor in the role or Liberace didn't have the dramatic range for the part. Not that Joyboy needs all that much range. He just has to go from creepy to joyously creepy then to sadly creepy. That's pretty much all Liberace can do, anyway, so he would have been a perfect fit.

And getting back to the whole Loved One/Mad Men connection: Robert Morse is in both. Both are about the superficiality of American culture and the way desire is cultivated to make a profit. Mad Men star Jon Hamm, playing the tormented but manly-man Don Draper, has a line in an early episode where he says something like, "love doesn't exist. Guys like me invented it." That pretty much sums up the bought-and-sold notion of the American Dream, and it sums up The Loved One too. Everything that might have once been pure and innocent has been artificially recreated for your mourning pleasure, mechanical beehives and all.

But, seriously, the movie has way too little Liberace.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Young X-Men #9 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Young X-Men #9, about which I write the following sentences: "Rafa Sandoval is no Yanick Paquette, but he has provided some nice art for this two-part arc. There's no doubt that after nine issues, this has been the best-looking launch of the New Mutants/New X-Men/Young X-Men kind of team. Sure, many of those series attracted great artists later on (Bill Sienkiewicz and Skottie Young to name a couple), but the first nine issues of 'Young X-Men' have looked better than plenty of X-Men comics of any variety. And Guggenheim's ability to provide clean, straightforward, and often charming characterizations, has made this book a fun read month in and month out."

Read the entire review HERE.

Batman Cacophony #2 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Batman Cacophony #2, about which I write the following sentences: "All of that may be part of Smith's take on the Batman/Joker dynamic, or it might be setting things up for a more fierce showdown in the finale, but it seems to demonstrate a fundamental problem with this series. Smith just seems to be out of touch with these characters as he puts them through the paces of a story that doesn't matter, even to the characters to whom it's happening. Many of the moments seem perfunctory, unspectacular. The characters seem to be going through the motions, without any sense of irony."

Read the entire review HERE.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Superman #863 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Superman #683, about which I write the following sentences: "I've been critical of David Curiel's coloring on this book before. His use of white highlights, especially on skin tones, rarely looks good, and his pastel palette doesn't give the characters the weight they need. His coloring on Atlas, over the summer, made the character look less like a Jack Kirby demigod and more like a silly bodybuilder made from yarn. But I have to admit that his light and airy approach to coloring looks pretty good this month. His style hasn't changed, but when James Robinson, Renato Guedes, and Jorge Correa give us the showdown at New Krypton, with dozens of theatrically-dressed characters zipping through the air, Curiel's coloring fits much better. These Kryptonians look fragile, even though they're insanely powerful, and that contrast works well for the story. Curiel's gentle tones have finally found a suitable subject."

Read the entire review HERE.

What I'm Reading at Robot 6

You've probably heard by now that the former Blog@ crew have found a new home, and that new home is CBR(!). They've begun their soft launch already, but I think the official launch is tomorrow. Glad to have them back.

To kick off their weekly "What Are You Reading?" installment, they asked a few CBR regulars to share what's piled up next to their beds, and you'll see my slight contribution in the final half of the post.

So go check out Robot 6, because that's what all the cool kids are already doing.

Fraction at Comics Reporter

Tom Spurgeon gives us yet another excellent interview today, this time with Matt Fraction.

Some highlights:

Fraction on Morrison's Batman:
Have you read Grant Morrison's Batman run? It's a pretty spectacular example of this -- using Batman as frame of reference for Batman. The gag is that everything that's happened in the Batman comic actually happened to Batman, right? And what would that do to a human mind? From the bleak noir stuff to the bam-sock-pow stuff and everything in between. He's using the whole history of the character to comment on the character as the character endures it. And to comment on the comics mainstream, and on heroes, and all that great stuff. I mean, the first fight scene takes place in an art gallery during a Pop Art retrospective where these faux-Lichtenstein paintings of comics are commenting on the comic we're reading as we're reading it, for god's sake. And as the run went on, Morrison really used the entirety of the character's history as a frame of reference and context to comment on the character. Batman-as-Batman-
as-Pop-Culture-in-toto. It's a mess, and a glorious one at that, and his reach might have exceeded his grasp for a couple reasons not exactly germane to this discussion, but it's been a pretty amazing piece, all the same. It's the Cremaster of superhero comics.

Fraction on Iron Man being "damaged goods" before he launched Invincible Iron Man:
I don't think any character is "damaged goods." I reject the premise. Creators can be damaged goods, sure. But characters? No character is damaged goods in the hands of a writer with vision. It's fiction. You can do anything. Some people on the internet didn't like the way the character behaved in a story. That's not "damaged goods."

Fraction on Larocca's tendency to photoreference with celebrity images:
I can't stand that stuff, personally -- yanks me out of the story immediately. Not photo referencing, that's not what bugs me, but using celebrities just... it's as intrusive as someone standing over your shoulder reading the word balloons with funny voices. Bums me out.

Fraction on Casanova's return:
It's a safe bet we could sell at least as many copies at regular length, in color, for a buck and a half more, and actually not just break even but Ba and/or Moon could make something approaching a wage. Maybe it's the format; maybe the book's just never going to find an audience. I'm not ready to concede the second point so I'm focusing on the first.

Good stuff. Read the whole interview HERE.

Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #3 Review

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Wolverine: Manifest Destiny #3, about which I write the following sentences: "Don't let the 'Manifest Destiny' tag throw you off. This isn't part of some crossover event, and it has little or nothing to do with whatever else is going on in anything else labeled 'Manifest' or 'Destiny' this season (except maybe the idea that the characters have moved to San Francisco, and they are on various solo adventures). This thing should more accurately be called 'Wolverine: Fists of Pointy Fury,' or 'Wolverine: Kung-Fu Boogaloo.' Because what it is -- and after three issues, it hasn't changed its mind yet -- is a Wolverine martial arts movie in panel-by-panel form, with echoes of 70s cinema and the comics of the Bronze Age."

Read the entire review HERE.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What's Possibly Better than Booster Gold?

This post is dedicated to Andy Khouri.

Seventeen DC comics from 2008 (off the top of my head) that are better than Booster Gold, listed, for your consideration, in alphabetical order:

Action Comics
Blue Beetle
Detective Comics
Final Crisis
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps
Jonah Hex
Justice Society of America
Legion of 3 Worlds
Legion of Super-Heroes
Tangent: Superman's Reign
Teen Titans
Terror Titans
Tiny Titans

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Top 10 vs. CBR Top 100

CBR has posted the final batch of its Top 100 Comics of 2008, and I thought it might be interesting to see how my votes compared to the final tally. Please note that the Top 10 I voted for is slightly different than the Top 10 I listed in my WWC column because, for the CBR voting, I wanted to include some things that I ranked in my Best Collected Editions list. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's what I did, so Local and Omega bumped Bottomless Belly Button and Hellboy out of my Top 10 for voting purposes.

Anyway, here's what I submitted for the voting, with each comic's final CBR rank in parenthesis:

#10 Marvel 1985 (Didn't make CBR's Top 100)
#9 Powr Mastrs (#96 on CBR)
#8 Local (#89 on CBR)
#7 Omega the Unknown (#15 on CBR)
#6 Criminal (#2 on CBR)
#5 Batman (#11 on CBR)
#4 Scalped (#3 on CBR)
#3 Acme Novelty Library (#12 on CBR)
#2 All-Star Superman (#1 on CBR)
#1 Casanova (#13 on CBR)

CBR's Top 100 list is all in fun, and it gives a wide range of contributors a chance to make their case for the best comics of the year. I'm really surprised not a single person besides me voted for Marvel 1985, which is Millar's best work of the year, and looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to Tommy Lee Edwards. I think it will have a much longer shelf life in hardcover/tpb form than much of the other stuff in the Top 100.

It's nice to see that everything in my Top 7 made the CBR Top 15, and I was glad (and surprised, but mostly glad) to see Scalped ranked even higher on the consensus list than on my list. I've been a champion of Scalped since the beginning, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time. Hopefully it's extremely high ranking on this list will prompt more readers to give it a shot.

I just can't help but be a bit critical about some of the choices on the list. It's all subjective, I realize, but the voting was based on submitted Top 10 lists, and here are some of the comics I cannot believe were on ANYONE'S Top 10: Booster Gold (#17[!] on CBR, and completely mediocre by any standard), Madame Xanadu (#30 on CBR, and I know Andy Khouri likes this one a lot, but I gave it four issues and I thought it was cliche-ridden nonsense with pretty art), Final Crisis: Rogue's Revenge (#39 on CBR, and, I mean, it was fine for what it was, but how was it on anyone's Top 10?), Family Dynamic (#53 on CBR, and, sure, it was under-promoted and axed too early, but that doesn't make it a great comic), Trinity (#57 on CBR, and keep in mind that all of these comics ranked way higher than Local), and I could go on, but I won't. If you think any of these comics are honestly better than anything that ended up in the CBR Top 10, please feel free to try to convert me. Because I just don't see how it's possible.

But, no matter how much I may disagree with the final tally (and, really, the Top 20 is mostly filled with excellent stuff that I would highly recommend, so there's not much to complain about -- except Booster damn Gold), I love this kind of thing, and I'm glad I could be a part of it. Gotta love the lists!

Fantastic Four Cosmic-Size Special #1

Recently reviewed by me at CBR: Fantastic Four Cosmic-Size Special #1, about which I write the following sentences: "But there's a more sinister agent at work in the story, and as the house-bound heroes (and, importantly to the story, Franklin and Valeria Richards) begin turning on each other. It's a classic sci-fi set-up, with each character becoming increasingly paranoid and vengeful, but Bates provides excellent characterization and allows the members of the team to express their true thoughts about one another. There's nothing particularly surprising here, but Bates writes all of the characters well, and paces the story perfectly. It's far from the 'Cosmic' implied in the title, as it's a very inward, twisted family melodrama, but it's a good one."

Read the entire review HERE.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

When Words Collide: Confronting Kramers

I pre-ordered my copy of "Kramers Ergot" #7 back in August, and it finally arrived last week, just in time to wrap up my 2008 run on "When Words Collide."

(For the record, even though last week's column was blurbed as my "penultimate column," I'm still going to be churning these suckers out every week in 2009. It was probably supposed to read "penultimate column of 2008," but the word count was too high for the blurb or something. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me with concern about it.)

Anyway, in "Confronting Kramers" I take a gander at the massive "Kramers" volume and do what every sane, level-headed comic book pundit would do: I compare it to "Rann-Thanagar Holy War" #8 and "Hulk" #9. I mean, the connection is obvious. One is a high-priced, ambitious, impressive art comic of tremendous splendor and aesthetic range, while the other two are about punching real hard. But "Kramers" #7 is about punching, too! And I didn't just want to go through all 60 stories and tell you which ones are good or bad or anything like that. It's not that type of book. It's the type of book that can only be understood in relation to the generic superhero comics of the day. Or maybe that's a completely insane idea that makes no sense whatsoever. Your call.