Friday, April 28, 2006

The Various. The Sundry.


"Loved the Villains United Special; if you don't, I don't know what you're reading comics for. Thanks, Gail! " Scip Garling of The Absorbascon.

After reading The Villains United Special, I've realized that I just may have just read the perfect superhero comic. I wish I could say more but in the interest of not spoiling it for anyone, all I can say is this:

Villains United Special is a love letter to every man & woman who's ever contributed anything to The DC Universe. From William Moulton Marston's creaton of Dr. Psycho to The Justice League's Martian Manhunter standing side-by-side with Odd-Man (!), writer Gail Simone has crafted a story proving that some 70 years in, The DCU is the place in which to find symbolism & wonder. I still get chills as I have never seen such a clear division of good vs. evil while literally, above it all, six very different individuals try to find a way. 24 hours later, this book is still with me. Villains United Special is athe culmination of every thing good about DC Comics.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kyle Rayner: ADULT!

Let us away to Gotham City and to the first formal meeting between The Batman and Kyle Rayner...

Like any good child, Kyle just wants to help and like most children do when they help, he just winds up creating more work for the adults. By the way, Kyle , of course Batman knows who you are.

Why?


You just got hit in the head. Nothing says "Green Lantern" more than that.

There's a lot of evil in Gotham. Any given moment, one could find death at the hands of The Joker. One could find peril in an encouter with The Riddler. Not Kyle. One minute in Gotham and Kyle miraculously finds a way to get his ass kicked by a ska band.

Hell, I'd even dance to that.



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

For When One Standard Just Won't Do


I'm dangerously on the verge of dropping The Outsiders. Two issues into its' "One Year Later" run and and two things have just been grating on me.

One: Nightwing's sanctioning the kidnapping and "interrogating" of a loyalist to a corrupt regime. Writer Judd Winick goes through great pains to explain Nightwing reasoning. "Metamorpho's pheromone treatments would take too long... a seven-foot psychotic woman in a leather mask is scarier than me..."

So, after Infinite Crisis has gone through the trouble of setting up Nightwing as one of the bright lights of The DC Universe, what do we get? Nightwing sanctioning this s***. Just... bad. Where's the continuity?!? Why'd they even bother?

Two: Thunder, the daughter of Black Lightning, is sent undercover to infiltrate the cabinet of President Benin, a corrupt African dictator. Benin is portrayed as pure evil, sanctioning the rape and killing of those he considers rivals. Eventually, Benin turns his eye towards Thunder and she, not wanting to blow her cover, "consents" to sleeping with him.

When Thunder confronts Nightwing with the things she's gone through, Nightwing tells her "it was good work." Seriously, what the f*** is this s***? I don't think anyone will ever label me as a feminist, maybe a humanist, not so much a feminist. That said, I call "bullshit" on Judd Winick and his treatment of the Thunder character. Seriously, was her "sleeping with the enemy" absolutely necessary in order to complete the goals of the mission? Was it completely necessary?

Admittedly, I have no idea what brought these characters to this place in that missing year. What I do know is that the Dick Grayson I grew up with would never ask a teammate to do any thing he wouldn't be willing to do himself. Dick Grayson would never have condoned any member of any team he's ever been on's "sleeping with the enemy" for "the sake of the mission." He wouldn't have it with Donna Troy, he shouldn't with any other character.

Ever.

PERIOD.


It's not in his character and it's just so glaringly wrong. Normally, I really enjoy Mr. Winick's work but on this one he's done many characters a disservice just for the sake of the story he's trying to tell.

That said, this raises another question: "Would someone ever write a story where Nightwing would have to... I don't know... s*** a d*** for world peace?"

I'm betting "no."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Thor's Comic Column


Y'know, if you really think about it, Kyle's mask/head kinda represents the vacuum of space....

Guess who got to review Ion #1 over at CHUD: Thor's Comic Column. Wanna read some of it? Here you go...

Contrary to popular belief, I actually do like Kyle Rayner. Well, maybe not as THE Green Lantern but...trust me, I do like him. Do I believe that he ever should have been on the same Justice League, much less, the same room as say…Batman? No. One thing about Kyle, though, just as sure as he could be counted on to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, one could just as easily count on him to, in times of crisis, always do the right thing. He wasn’t perfect but the kid had a good heart. You see, I actually think that’s the character’s appeal: Kyle is US as the superhero. Face facts, fanboy and girls: no matter how much we’d like to believe it, if we were dropped in The DC Universe and suddenly granted a Power Ring, more than likely our asses would not be JLA, we'd be more Doom Patrol than anything. That said, it’s a testimony to the character’s strength that with his never being the best man for the job and Harold Jordan be damned, it was Kyle who kept the Green Lantern concept strong for well over a decade. You’ve gotta respect him for that. Now, the new millennium finds him just as the cover of Ion #1 states: “Once a Green Lantern, now something more!”

Visit CHUD for the rest.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Defense... Defense...

Thanks to John Shine for figuring out just what exactly Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis is...

...just minus that shiny guy.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Dream Teams...


We all have them. A few have even been realized. Mine personally was to see Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely on Superman. Now, thanks to All-Star Superman: dream fulfilled.

So, my question to you "Seven Hellions!" is this:

"What writer/artist/character combination would cause you to go all ga-ga in anticipation?"

Any writer. Any artist. Any character. It's just that simple and because I'm just that nice of a guy, I'll even get the ball-a-rollin':

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Rick Burchett
Character: The Question

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Sam Kieth
Character: The Creeper

Got it?
Then, have at it...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Kyle Rayner: ADULT!

Years of blood and sacrifice have brought him to this moment. Honing his mind to peak efficiency, culminating in the ability...

...to spot a total idiot when he sees one.

That is Batman's superpower.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Kurt Busiek Interview: Part Two

Artists I Love: Rick Burchett


A "sigh of relief" does not usually come very easily for me. When one does come, it can feel as good as the warmth of a spring morning. It's your body's confirmation that your brain knows it'll all be OK.

When I see artist Rick Burchett's name on anything, I know that I can always breathe easier. I know that the art will be top-notch. I know that I will not have to guess at anything. I know that a hand will look like a hand.

I first laid eyes eyes on on his work in the back of a old Femforce comic. I was a bit too young to care about the spandex-laden women but was blown away but its' gangster-laden back-up feature. Depression-era men dressed in sharp suits, menacing scowls upon their faces. Surronding them, the finest cars money and expert rendering could buy. It was a pure, unadulterated snazz. Burchett's art forever branded his name into my mind and for years I looked for his name on other comics with little success that was until he resurfaced, for me, DC's Blackhawk.

There it all was again, those gorgeous layouts, that beautiful unwasted line. Heaven was, once again, found within a DC comic.

Burchett may be best known for his work on the DC "animated" Universe of books. When many of The Bat-books floundered under terrible writing and dubious artist choices, Burchett's art was the one thing keeping me in The Bat-verse. That said, Burchett has become one of the few artists I'd follow wherever he goes.

Recommended Reading: Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood, The Batman Adventures, Volume 1 & the newly released Queen & Country: Declassified, Volume 2.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Identity: Isis

Well, it looks like Isis.

Why... I think it is!

Well, cetain design elements are different but that's pretty much the Isis I remember.

A quick story: I had a friend who was absolutely livid over other comic book companies' "stealing" of Marvel Comics' Thor. When he told me he was going to write Savage Dragon's Erik Larsen because he had the nerve to even name the hammer, Mjolnir. Furthermore, Larsen couldn't even be bothered to get Thor's hair color right.

I explained to him how mythic characters like Thor and Hercules aren't quite subject to copyright and that only the concepts that Marvel introduced within the Marvel mythos... no, actually, I just farted in his mouth while it was open and just walked away.

HA! Made ya look!

So, what I'm wondering is this: As far as I could tell, DC's never actually owned Isis outright. She was a character created specifically for television and DC went on to get the license, producing eight issues of the comics version. Has DC's gone and spent some of that good ol' Identity/Infinite Crisis money they've been making and gone and bought Isis or have they just licensed it again? Either way, I want to go on record as supporting any move, incorporating more raven-haired, mini-skirted women characters into comics.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Various. The Sundry.

Things I Want To See On A T-Shirt:
"Ditko Cares Nothing For Your Nostalgia!"

Things Said In My Store:
"If I have to hear "Detachable Penis" one more time..."

A Man's Secret Shame:


Because Of You, We're All Taking Golden Showers Vol. 3

I mean, c'mon... how could you possibly not love a comic with such a wonderfully scripted introduction scene?

By the way, the cute questioner's name happens to be Kiku. She's also the last of the Bahdnesians. The Bahdnesians believe Johnny Thunder to be some kind of god. I guess that makes Johnny their version of Jerry Lewis or something.

Anyway... with her being the last Bahdnesian and Johnny Thunder getting up in age, writer Len Strazewski seemed to be positioning Kiku as rightful heir to The T-Bolt (or Hex-Bolt).


I like him but let's be honest, he can be portrayed as a bit annoying at times.

She hasn't been seen since. Which is a shame. The "Last Of" theme runs deep within DC's comics (Superman, Last Son of Krypton, Martian Manhunter, Sole Survivor of Mars) and I believe Kiko would have made a fine successor to Johnny Thunder. I mean, how could you deny someone whose first line of dialogue is "Excuse me, aren't you a Bahdnesian Hex-bolt?"

That takes spunk. That takes pluck. Kiko had that in spades. Kiko needs to be re-introduced to The DCU.

Now, that I would love to see. That would be "so cool."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Thanks, Again.

I didn't know you'd stop by but I'm very glad you decided to visit. You've been coming to this place for a year now and well... I think I owe you an explanation.

This silly little blog has become very dear to me. It gave me something to do with myself when I honestly had no idea what to do anymore. "Seven Hells!" removed me from a very deep sadness. "7H" was created six months and a day after the death of my mother. Before that, numbness became very automatic.

I went to work. I tried to make sure my brothers were OK. (I'm the oldest of five.) I tried to be too much of a man. I failed in just as many ways as I may have suceeded. I don't know if you'll understand this but I just... existed.

I'd forgotten how to live.

A very good friend of mine, not knowing this, returned to me something I'd been missing: joy. I came to rediscover the joy I'd felt the first time my mom put a comic book in my hand. It was pure. It was simple. It was mine. Through "Seven Hells!," I've rediscovered things I'd thought lost. In "Seven Hells!," I've found kinship in people I'd never laid eyes upon. It may sound weird but you were there when I didn't know that I wanted you around. I cannot thank you enough for that.

I didn't know you'd stop by but I'm very glad you did.

Have a good one.

Monday, April 10, 2006

This Is Not A Contest

Lately, I've been asking my customers a question and the results have been incredibly interesting.

The question is a simple one. The answer not so much so. Here it is:

To who will comic book history be kinder, Alan Moore or Grant Morrison?

See? I told you this one was tough:

Let's look at the stats, shall we?

Nearly 20 years ago, Alan Moore wrote what many consider some of comics' greatest works: Swamp Thing, The Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow , Miracleman & V For Vendetta. All classics that will certainly stand the test of time but what happened after that?

A run on WildC.A.T.S. that while good wasn't quite the "Alan Moore" everyone was looking for. An arc on Todd McFarlane's Violator? Well... they can't all be classics. Rob Liefeld's Supreme? Good stuff but would you put it between your copies of Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns?

Then, seemingly, out of nowhere Moore gives us his comics line, America's Best Comics. ABC produced, among others, the pulp fiction throwback Tom Strong, the ethereally cerebral Promethea, the cop drama of Top 10 and the wonderful League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Winners all and strong on beautiful prose but most people I've spoken to lament the lack of "grab-you-by-the-cerebellum" goodness of Moore's earlier works.

Moore also wrote Captain Britain which, in my opinion, was the closest thing Moore has ever come to writing "pure" superheroics. Captain Britain, while good reading, caused me to reconsider Moore's "superhero" work, leading me to this conclusion: Moore writes superhero comics that fit his sensibilities. Honestly, I don't really think Moore likes superheroes. To paraphrase Warren Ellis, "they wake up with wet spots on their pants." Nothing wrong with that but ask yourself, "Would Alan Moore participate in something like DC's upcoming "52?"

...and that leads me to Grant Morrison.

Morrison has, over a fifteen year period, written some of comics' better comics: Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Doom Patrol, Animal Man & the criminally out-of-print Kill Your Boyfriend.

People will probably remember his run on Animal Man simply for the story of "The Coyote Gospel." In Doom Patrol, he took a team concept many believed dead and made it jump up and dance. Kill Your Boyfriend captures post-Eighties angst as well as anything ever could.

What has he done since? Turned The Justice League into the powerhouse franchise it is today. His version of Batman as DC's Swiss Army Knife of Justice is, perhaps, the most significant version of Batman since Frank Miller's "Dark Knight." We3 proved he still has a place in the universe he helped create.

The Invisibles, 7 Soldiers & The Filth may have failed in some of the things it tried to accomplish but you have to admire the man for trying to push storytelling in new directions.

Morrison re-created a whole new set of fans for himself with his work on New X-Men and Marvel's "first" Ultimate title, Marvel Boy. I'll go on record as saying that I rejoined The X-Men with his run and ended it with his run.

Morrison may not have penned as many classic stories as Mr. Moore. I believe, though, if you consider Morrison's track record, what stands out is the wide scope of the things he's written. The same man who wrote JLA gave us The Brotherhood of Dada. The same man who wrote a new millenium X-Men wrote one of comics' most romantic tales, All-Star Superman #3.

Soon, we will see him redefining anew, The DC Universe versions of Batman and Superman. Soon, he will "team-up" with three of comics' finest writers to bring us one of comics' grandest experiments, 52.

So...there it is your "tale-of-the-tape." Two fine writers, both still making comics great. Because of this, we all win.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Because Of You, We're All Taking Golden Showers, Vol. 2

Legend has it that in the 80's and 90's, a DC Comics editor hated The JSA's existence. His rationale seemed to be "Why'd we go through all the trouble of cleaning up The DCU with "Crisis On Infinite Earths" if all we're going to do is keep The Golden Age characters in play?"

Today, fueled by a newfound discovery of love for comics tradition, The JSA stands as one of DC Comics best-selling titles, proving that the best concepts are timeless.

Again, that wasn't always the way of thinking. Somehow amidst the holofoil, among the mutants and under the radar, The Justice Society of America made their triumphant return from an editorially mandated limbo...

...and no one seemed cared to care.

Justice Society of America was released in 1992 written by Len Strazewski and drawn by the late and truly missed Mike Parobeck . Parobeck's line was truly sublime in its' simplicity and years ahead of its' time. I maintain that if he were alive today, he would be one of comics' most sought after artists working with the likes of Grant Morrison or Greg Rucka. His style was light exactly where darkness was needed.

Strazewski's JSoA was a breath of fresh air in the stagnant comics market. Strazewski was doing unheard of things like getting his voice out of the way, letting the characters speak for themselves. In Strazewski's JSoA, we found a team of men trying to find their way in a world where they were deemed unecessary.

In the first issue, they meet "the future" head-on...

...and "the future" can't compete with a man used to humbling his oppenents through the use of a green, flaming hockey stick...

...and his best friend who deflects rocket-propelled grenades with his hat...

There was a time when the good guys made looking like a good guy seem fun and easy. In the 90's, not so much so. Strazewski and Parobeck's Justice Society of America honored those times while gently racing towards the future.

I love how Parobeck has The Green Lantern and The Flash breaking the panel's borders. It subconsciously renders them larger than life and almost uncontainable. His work truly should be studied by anyone wanting to become a comic book artist.

In the last panel, Jesse Quick sums up, perfectly, my feelings on Strazewski and Parobeck's 10-issue run on JSoA: "I saw it... and I loved it."

Well, didn't you know that at one time Jesse Quick was a member in good standing of The Justice Society?

That is a story for a different day.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Brave New World, Indeed

Many are excited at the possibilities inherent within DC's June release of Brave New World.

Phantom Lady is more excited than others.

Many are focusing on certain aspects: Martian Manhunter's apparent survival post-Infinite Crisis. The return of one of DC's most enigmatic creations, The Creeper. The shock of white Captain Marvel's hair.

The "stupid" jet-pack thingy The All-New Atom is wearing.

All of this is well and good and it gives something to complain about but look closer at the second picture. Do you see it? Well, here it is.

The new Atom is decidedly Asain-American.

...and he isn't judo chopping....

...or offering sage advice...

...and he definitely isn't anyone's "comedy relief."

So, here's to trying to get it right the second time. Between this and The New Blue Beetle, we truly are being given a Brave New World to explore.

Check back tomorrow for Kyle Rayner: ADULT! and Thursday for a follow-up to Monday's post.

Meanwhile... over at Big Monkey Comics' Big Blog: Sherin, Drew and Kyle (snicker) offer b***hslaps.

Meanwhile... over at Fan Fatale: Sherin loves She-Hulk. Take that as you will.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Because Of You, We're All Taking Golden Showers.


It happened like most things in my life happen: with three dollars and the best of intentions.

I went out and bought the four issues that comprised 1985's Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt. I now kinda wished that I hadn't. It's just indefensibly bad. I drug the four issues around back, shot 'em. Later on, a little boy named Calvin came by and promptly urinated on them. OK, they weren't that bad. I could sit here and explain why it was pretty bad but where would I start? The robot cockroach, the abysmally written Chandler-esque dialogue, the pink t-shirt wearing male secretary she'd nicknamed "Sunshine" just so she can walk through a door saying, "Good morning, Sunshine?"

Whenever she walks through that door, I imagine Sunshine secretly mumbling under his breath, "Come a little closer so I can hug you around the neck with my hands, b****."

What struck me the most about trying to read Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt was that it never should have had a chance. It was designed as a legacy character to the Golden Age character, Johnny Thunder but it ran into a small problem called "Crisis On Infinite Earths." Due to massive continuity upheavals, virtually everything in Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderblot was rendered unusable. Trust me, that was a good thing because Jonni Thunder wasn't.

I choose to focus on something else: Roy Thomas' love for Golden Age DC Comics.

If it weren't for Roy Thomas, I doubt that we'd all be giving even half a damn about DC Comics as they are today.

For those who remember All-Star Squadron was essentially Roy Thomas' monthly love letter to DC's Golden Age characters and their Quality & Fawcett acquisitions. It was a very good thing and something that lead, in my opinion, to an even greater thing.

Something lost. Something we weren't ready for. Something beautiful.

But... that is another story for another day.

Like tomorrow?