Posts Tagged ‘Animal Man

10
Mar
13

2 in 1 Shots #6: Marvel’s Big Move

showcase logo smallIf Digital Comics are your thing, clear the space off on your iPad… Marvel is making a bold move this week at the South By Southwest Expo. Blake also gives a short spoiler-free recommendation to Oz the Great and Powerful. In the picks, it’s Animal Man #18, the epilogue to the Rotworld crossover. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

2 in 1 Shot #6: Marvel’s Bold Move

18
Apr
12

Everything But Imaginary #444: Take Off the Spandex

Not every comic book is about superheroes… and not all superheroes wear tights and capes. Today’s EBI looks at some of the alternatives.

Everything But Imaginary #444: Take Off the Spandex

01
Jan
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 251: The 2011 Year in Review Extravatacular

2011 is over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk it to death! In a ginormous Showcase special, Blake gets together with Kenny and Erin to run down all the big comic events of 2011, look ahead at what’s coming in 2012, and make our picks for the best of comics, movies, TV shows, books and more for the year we’ve put to bed. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 251: The 2011 Year In Review Extravatacular

11
Dec
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 248: Avengers Vs. X-Men and a Valiant Return

Blake and Erin talk about books both with and without pictures this week. New Kindle Convert Erin points you towards the “Black December” sale from the good folks at horror publisher Permuted Press, and Blake urges all writers to throw their support behind Operation eBook Drop. In comics chat, we discuss the passing of Jerry Robinson, the return of Valiant Comics and Marv Wolfman’s Night Force, and the next big thing at Marvel, Avengers Vs. X-Men. In the picks, Blake triples with Animal Man #4, Hack/Slash Annual #3, and Snowy Joey and the Christmas Dinosaurs. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 248: Avengers Vs. X-Men and a Valiant Return

06
Nov
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 244: Holiday Movie Preview 2011

With Thanksgiving coming upon us, Blake and Erin talk about this year’s slate of Holiday movie releases! They delve into all of the big releases, lots of the little ones, and gush profusely over the Muppets! In the picks, it’s Animal Man #3 and Peanuts #0. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 244: Holiday Movie Preview 2011

02
Nov
11

Classic EBI #110: Second Stringers

In today’s new Everything But Imaginary, I think about the nature of superpowers. Sure, it’d be cool to be able to lift tanks or fly through outer space, but let’s be honest. Some minor-league powers could come in pretty handy too.

Everything But Imaginary #422: Practical Superpowers

And in today’s classic EBI, I head back to April 2005. We all know the a-list superheroes… Superman, Batman, the X-Men and so forth. But just because a hero may not be in the top tier doesn’t mean their stories aren’t worth telling. Today, we look at the second string.

Everything But Imaginary #110: Second Stringers

With the thousands of comic book characters that have been created since the artform was invented, it’s only natural that some will be more popular than others. For every Superman, there are a dozen Gladiators, for every Batman a Moon Knight, for every Richie Rich a Royal Roy. But does that mean these characters are actually bad, or does it mean that they just missed the train to stardom? The fact is, there are a ton of really good b-list characters out there, and it always puts a smile on my face to see some of them get the respect they deserve.

I’ve always believed that there are very few genuinely bad characters, that almost any character can be entertaining in the hands of a good enough writer. Fabian Nicieza proved that way back in the early 90s with the first incarnation of the New Warriors. He picked up a bunch of characters that nobody cared about in solo adventures and decided to throw them all into a book together – Nova, Namorita, Firestar, Marvel Boy and Speedball. A bunch of B-listers if ever there was one. (Actually, calling Speedball “B-list” at that period was probably being generous.)

But somehow, he mixed in a magic touch that made those characters that nobody liked… likable. And interesting. And one of the best superhero books on the market. Unfortunately, no other writer managed to bring that same magic to the book. It was cancelled 25 issues after his departure, and a relaunch a few years later only lasted 10 issues. A new miniseries is scheduled for this summer, but time will tell if Zeb Wells has what it takes to make us care about these guys again. [2011 Note: He didn’t.]

A lot of writers see these second-string characters as a challenge, as real fodder for bizarre or unusual tales that they simply wouldn’t be allowed to tell with Superman or Captain America. Look at what happened when Grant Morrison took over Animal Man. A lame character with a lame power (he could duplicate the abilities of any animal in the vicinity) and managed to tell some of the most intelligent, thought-provoking comics ever published at the time. He found new, intelligent uses for the power, and beyond that, made the comic a bizarre, metafictional hit. Writing this comic pushed Morrison on his way to becoming one of the most respected writers in comics.

Now he’s doing it again with his Seven Soldiers series. He’s taken a B-list team and reimagined it with seven B-list superheroes: Shining Knight, Guardian, Zatanna, Klarion, Frankenstein, Mr. Miracle and Bulleteer (actually, I’d consider Zatanna A-list, but clearly Morrison doesn’t) and he’s again having some fun experimenting with seven independent stories that will theoretically weave together to create a larger whole. And people, for the most part, seem to be enjoying them.

Keith Giffen also had a lot of fun with the b-list, rounding up forgotten or cast-off characters like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red and third-string Green Lantern Guy Gardner and making them the Justice League. He made clever, hysterical comics, too, so much that even now, over a decade later, people are lining up for new material from this creative team (including J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire) with these characters.

And come on, folks – you’ve all read Countdown to Infinite Crisis by now, right? Were it not for the respect and notoriety Giffen gave the characters all that time ago, the events of this book would have been meaningless. Instead, although the title somewhat dampens a great deal of what he created back then, it makes for a powerful, heartbreaking story about a true hero – the Blue Beetle, trying to put things right when the “A-team” has completely abandoned him. There’s a moment in that book where Maxwell Lord tells the Beetle “You were never second-string.” And the events of that issue, to many readers, proved that Max was right.

And how about characters that are created, not just as second-stringers, but as nigh knock-offs of the A-list characters? Let’s look at Mr. Majestic. An alien comes to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Gee. Where have I heard this before? I was never interested in him, because I didn’t see the point in reading about a faux Superman when I could read about the real thing.

Then last year, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning took that ”fake” Superman and temporarily made him the real one, when Big Blue went missing in the timestream. All of a sudden… this guy was interesting. DnA (as they are sometimes collectively called) didn’t focus on what made Majestic similar to Superman, they focused on the differences, and how those differences made it difficult for him to truly replace the man of steel. He was an alien, yes, with similar powers, but he was raised on his homeworld and came to Earth as an adult, with different ideas and values than the Kansas-raised Superman. It wasn’t then that I saw the potential – Majestic isn’t a fake Superman, he’s what Superman could have been under other circumstances. Filtered through that perception, he’s a much more intriguing character. I followed that character, then, into his own miniseries and now into his ongoing, which I am enjoying quite a bit.

The same goes for Dan Slott’s new reimagining of the Great Lakes Avengers. I’m not sure what John Byrne was thinking when he created this team in the pages of West Coast Avengers, but they were never exactly played for the jokes that they really were. They wanted to take themselves seriously. It was the readers who couldn’t. Goofy characters like Mr. Immortal, Big Bertha and Flatman just didn’t have a place alongside Captain America and the She-Hulk. So what does Slott do in the new GLA miniseries? He plays it for laughs. Dark laughs, to be sure, but laughs nonetheless, and he tells the best story these characters have ever had. And in case the original team wasn’t lame enough, he’s decided to add even more loser superheroes, like Squirrel Girl, to the team.

Even a company like Archie Comics recognizes their second-string. They’ve just launched the new Tales From Riverdale Digest, which gives a spotlight to characters other than those who headline their own books – Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica. In this digest, their writers can have a little fun playing with Dilton or Moose or even Ms. Beazley, the Riverdale High Cafeteria Lady, should they be so inclined. (Look, you can’t rule it out. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I began writing this column, it’s that every character is somebody’s favorite).

I think it’s good – even important – to have a “second string” of characters in any attempt to create a shared universe. First of all – it only makes logical sense. If you’re going to have people like Superman leaping tall buildings in your hometown, it’s natural to imagine that there will be lesser characters hoping to snag some of that glory for themselves. As goofy as many of the B-list characters are, their very existence tends to add a small degree of realism to comics. Second, it helps flesh out a universe and make it more full. There are tiers of superheroes, just as there are tiers of actors, or politics, or authors or musicians. And everyone, no doubt, has their own opinions as to who belongs on each tier.

And third, this is where future characters are going to come from. It’s virtually impossible, at this point, for a new character to burst onto the scene and become the new Superman or Batman. Any character who isn’t currently A-list, almost by definition, will be B-list when he’s introduced. But that B-list isn’t really that bad a place to be. You can pick up fans slowly, experiment, gain in popularity. And if the character and writer are good enough, that B-lister can eventually graduate to the A-team.

Just ask Ted Kord.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: April 6, 2005

As nervous as I was about the whole premise behind Green Lantern: Rebirth, Geoff Johns has totally turned me around. Issue #5, out last week after something of a hiatus, was a total home-run, not just for the great writing and fantastic art (of which both fully met my expectations), but because in this issue, Johns did something that needed to be done. And I’m going to spoil the issue a bit here, so if you haven’t read it, jump to the italicized bit at the end of the column.

My biggest concern about this comic was that DC, in catering to the Hal Jordan fans, would dismiss all the fans of Kyle Rayner. This issue proved to me that this isn’t the case. As a resurrected Hal faces off against Sinestro, ol’ purple-puss makes a crack about how he’s going to kill the remaining Green Lanterns, leaving Kyle for last.

Hal’s response is what sealed the deal. “Kyle held the torch when no one else would. When no one else could,” he said. “You will respect him.”

Somehow, that’s all I needed to hear. That the people writing the comic know and understand that’s how the Kyle fans feel about the whole thing. That was the last niggling bit that was bothering me about this whole project, and now that it’s been dealt with, I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the finish.

Man – and what a last page, huh?

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

16
Oct
11

2 in 1 Showcase 241: Dinosaurs, Zombies, and All Things Cool

The boys are back this week to talk in-depth about a flurry of the new fall TV shows. Listen inside for our thoughts on Terra Nova, Community, The Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, The New Girl and more! Plus, a new reader writes in with his perspective on the New 52! In the picks, Blake gets ready for Halloween with The Theater #1 and Animal Man #2. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Note: The premiere of the TV show Grimm, which we speak about in this episode, is on Oct. 28. Either the network changed it or the website we referred to in this episode was wrong, or aliens altered the audio before it reached your ears, we’re not sure which.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 241: Dinosaurs, Zombies, and All Things Cool

04
Sep
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 235: A Whole New World

The DC Universe changes this week, and Blake and Erin are there to report on it! The two talk about the conclusion of Flashpoint, the first issue of Justice League, and some of the upcoming New 52 books hitting stores in the coming weeks. In the picks this week, Blake is down with Sergio Aragones’ Funnies #2 and Doctor Who Annual 2011! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 235: A Whole New World

02
Mar
11

Classic EBI #79: Even More of the Best Comics I’ve Never Read

In this week’s Everything But Imaginary, I do a little number crunching, hurt my brain, and discover…

Everything But Imaginary #389: Why Comic Geeks May Fail Math

But in this week’s classic EBI takes us back to September 8, 2004, I go back to take a look at comics that (at that point at least) I’d never read, but wanted to…

Even More of the Best Comics I’ve Never Read

That’s right friends, it’s that time again, time to play everybody’s favorite game “The Best Comics I’ve Never Read.” As longtime readers of this column will recall, once upon a time I asked you guys to give me a list of great comic books (preferably available in graphic novel form) that I haven’t read, so I could periodically come back and let you know what I thought of them. Rules of the game are simple — I pick up a trade paperback you guys recommend from time to time. If I like it, it moves from my reading list for myself to my reading list for you guys. If I don’t like it, it is consigned to the bowels of my comic book collection, next to early 90s issues of X-Force and any Spider-Man issues that reference a clone.

Returning to this list is Grant Morrison, a writer who did fantastic runs on JLA and New X-Men, but whose opus The Invisibles left me pretty cold. This time out it was suggested I give his run on Animal Man a try, something that was pretty easy to do since DC has recently collected the entire run in trade paperback form. Isn’t that thoughtful?

Animal Man was a cheesy character with the power to absorb the abilities of any animals in the viscinity. It was kind of a goofy power, but in the hands of a good writer even goofy powers can make for great stories, so when Morrison took his stab at the character, you at least knew you were in for something different.

Morrison gets major points in my book for inventive uses of the character’s powers and for giving him some solid characterization, something he’d never had before. He loses points, however, for lapsing into the political screeds from time to time. I don’t read comic books to get a political lecture. If that’s your thing, I imagine you’d enjoy it more, but that stuff made the book more distasteful in my eyes.

Still, there was a lot of good stuff, and I’m told that the really innovative things came towards the end of his run. (Of course, I was told how innovative The Invisibles was too…) I’m not ready to give up on Animal Man entirely, but I didn’t like the first trade paperback enough to give it a full recommendation. I’ll try to find volume two. Until then, Mr. Morrison gets an incomplete.

Next up is a book you guys may have heard me talk about frequently, since I finally read it not long after my last “Best Comics I’ve Never Read” column — Mike Kunkel’s brilliant Herobear and the Kid. I got turned onto this comic by our own Craig Reade in his Still on the Shelf column. This is the story of Tyler, a normal 10-year-old kid, who inherits a toy teddy bear and a broken pocketwatch when his beloved grandfather dies. Tyler is forced to cope with the loss of his grandpa and moving to a new town all at the same time, and just when his life couldn’t get any worse, he discovers an incredible secret. His teddy bear comes to life and turns into a 10-foot, certified cape-wearing superhero, Herobear, a character that is “100 Percent Good.”

With such a premise, it would be easy for this comic book to lapse into the sugary or the sappy, or even worse, the patronizing. There is nothing that will turn a child off of a story faster than the sensation that they are being spoken down to. This comic never does that, though. It’s sweet, but has a darker, more realistic side as well. It’s about a child with real problems and fantastic solutions. And most of all, it’s about the power that can be found in a good heart. If you’ve got children, I urge you to get this comic book and read it with them. You won’t regret it. Herobear and the Kid graduates to my recommended reading list, big-time.

Third is something that I’ve been hearing about for a long time here at CX, Sean McKeever’s Sentinel. I didn’t read any of the Tsunami comics when Marvel launched that doomed imprint, but the new Marvel Age digests are a nice (and inexpensive) way to catch up. I’m also not that familiar with McKeever — the only work of his I’m sure I’ve read before is the first Marvel Age Fantastic Four digest, which frankly didn’t wow me.

In Sentinel: Salvage, we meet Juston Seyfert, a teenager with an absent mother, a lousy school life and a couple of bullies who have picked him as their favorite target. One of his best friends is about to snap, the girl he likes is off to meet up with her college-age boyfriend… things just aren’t going well.

Until Juston finds a Sentinel, one of those giant robots built to hunt down mutants like the X-Men, repairing itself in his father’s junkyard. Fortunately, this is the only real link to the larger Marvel Universe in the title, which is fortunate because the story doesn’t need it. It stands on its own extraordinarly well. While some of the characters can border on the edge of caricature, most are full of real emotion and strong characterization. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a comic with a teenage protagonist whose father isn’t stupid, abusive or absent. Juston’s dad, to the contrary, is as loving and supportive a character as any father in comics.

The Sentinel itself, of course, makes for a lot of great plot points, such as when Juston uses it in public to try to make himself a hero — and learns a lesson. Not in the gooey “Afterschool Special” kind of way either but in a way that evolves from the characters.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the second (and sadly, final) TPB of this series. Yeah, comic books are a business, but I find it extremely sad that Marvel is turning to the umpteenth Gambit and Rogue series to try to make money while a gem like this is left sitting on the shelf. Read this one, friends, and let Marvel know you want it back.

Finally, as is the custom, I’m going to wrap this up with a new volume that neither you (the royal you, all of you reading this) nor I have mentioned before in one of these columns: Doug TenNapel’s Tommysaurus Rex, which secured a co-”Favorite of the Week” spot when it came out. I first became aware of TenNapel, best known for his Earthworm Jim video game, a few years ago with the release of his fantastic sci-fi graphic novel Creature Tech.

In Tommysaurus, he tells the tale of a boy sent to spend the summer with his grandfather to help him cope with the death of his beloved dog. He finds something much more incredible, though — a real-live dinosaur. This is a fine graphic novel with a lot of heart to it, and it doesn’t lapse into the pseudo-religious stuff that turned some people off from Creature Tech. It’s a straight fantasy with a good lesson, one that I highly recommend.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now friends. What about you? Here is what’s on the list…

BLAKE’S READING LIST (from you)

Black Panther: The Client
Blankets
Cerebus Vol. 1
Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
The Gypsy Lounge
Hulk: Boiling Point
Goodbye, Chunky Rice
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World
Jinx and Goldfish
Knights of the Dinner Table: Bundles of Trouble
Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Planetary: All Around the World
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Red Rocket 7
Rex Mundi: Guardian of the Temple
Safe Area Goradze
Terminal City
300
Torso
Top 10
V For Vendetta

YOUR READING LIST (From Blake)

The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius series
Astro City series (Vol 1: Life in the Big City)
Bone series (Vol 1: Out From Boneville)
The Complete Peanuts
Creature Tech
Criminal Macabre
Daredevil: Wake Up
Dork Tower series (Vol 1: Dork Covenant)
Fables series (Vol 1: Legends in Exile)
Fantastic Four: Imaginauts
Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction
Herobear and the Kid
The Liberty Project
Meridian series (Vol 1: Flying Solo)
Preacher series (Vol 1: Gone to Texas)
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Road to Perdition
Sentinel: Salvage
Tommysaurus Rex
24 Hour Comics
Understanding Comics/Reinventing Comics
The Wizard’s Tale

Got any comics you want me to add? Want to talk about any of the ones we’ve already covered? Here’s your chance, friends. Give me an assignment. Add some books to that list! I’m always looking for a good read.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: September 1, 2004

Been a while since this title made it into a Favorite of the Week spot, but Ultimate Spider-Man #65 was one of the best single issues of that title ever. I was frustrated, even mad at how Gwen Stacy was killed a few weeks ago, and I thought the end of the Carnage storyline was lackluster, but this issue is all about aftermath. Peter, Mary Jane, Liz Allen. Flash Thompson and Kong in detention. That’s about the whole issue. And it gets so deep into character, so brilliantly revealing, this is one of the best issues of this comic yet. Once this was considered by many the best mainstream comic in America – it’s issues like this that got it that rep.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

22
Aug
09

Back to work…

I’ve actually gotten an awful lot of work done this week, so I thought I’d share it with you. In addition to the new chapter of Lost in Silver (the book is almost over, so those of you who told me you’re waiting for the end to read it all at once, get ready), I’ve gotten many, many pages written of my newest project, still untitled. I can’t say exactly how much, however, because it’s all been written longhand, during moments I’ve managed to steal during the day. I don’t know why, but I often find I work better if I do my first draft longhand.

Also longhand, I’ve done work on A Long November and Other Stories. I’ve written an introduction for the eBook, as well as notes on each of the nine stories it will contain. It was actually a lot of fun to write, it was like visiting old friends again. (That reminds me — if my sister is reading, I still want to do that Bixby series some day. He shows up in the Christmas stories and I miss those characters, damn it.)

And finally, I’ve been reviewing up a storm. Here are the reviews I’ve tossed out there since the last time I updated you guys:

Look to the skies…

100_1225




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