Posts Tagged ‘Dark Tower

10
Feb
12

What I’m Reading in 2012

Annually, I keep a running tally of all the books, graphic novels, and short stories I read. This list includes re-reads, as well as audiobooks I listen to over the course of the year, but I don’t include individual short stories if I read all of them as part of a collection. In related news, I really overthink the hell out of this stuff. And should the book be something I review online, I’ll provide a link so you can see my thoughts.

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, here’s what I’ve read thus far in 2012:

1. A Tale of Sand (2011), Jim Henson & Jerry Juhl, B+*
2. Who’s Who: The Resurrection of the Doctor, Martin Beland and the Staff of The Guardian (2011), B-
3. Age of Bronze Vol. 3: Betrayal (2008), Part One, Eric Shanower, A-*
4. Locke and Key Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom (2011), Joe Hill, A
5. Hogfather (1996), Terry Pratchett, B+
6. Scream Deconstructed (2011), Scott Kessinger, A-
7. In the Peanut Gallery With Mystery Science Theater 3000 (2011), Rob Weiner (Ed.), B
8. Eats, Shoots and Leaves (2003), Lynne Truss, A
9. My Seinfeld Year (2012), Fred Stoller, B
10. Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals (2011), Mary Jo Pehl, B-
11. A Princess of Mars (1917) Edgar Rice Burroughs, A
12. Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella (2011), Mira Grant, A-
13. Sloppy Seconds (2012), Tucker Max, B
14. Killing Mr. Griffin (1978), Lois Duncan, B
15. The Crucible (1952), Arthur Miller, A•
16. Hilarity Ensues (2012), Tucker Max, B+
17. All-Star Superman (2008), Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely, A+*
18. Ruby of Ragnoor (2012), Brad Guitar, B+*
19. What If? Classic Vol. 3 (2005), Gary Friedrich, Don Glut, Marv Wolfman, Steven Grant, Peter Gillis & Tom DeFalco, B*
20. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2008), Brian Clevinger, A-*
21. Atomic Robo Vol. 2: Atomic Robo and the Dogs of War (2009), Brian Clevinger, A-*
22. Atomic Robo Vol. 3: Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time (2009′ Brian Clevinger, A*
23. The Gods of Mars (1918), Edgar Rice Burroughs, B+
24. Sum: 40 Tales From the Afterlives (2009), David Eagleman, A-
25. The Nightly News (2007), Jonathan Hickman, A*
26. John Carter: A Princess of Mars (2011), Roger Langridge & Felipe Andrade, B-*
27. Warlord of Mars (1919), Edgar Rice Burroughs, A-
28. The Princess Bride: 30th Anniversary Edition (2003), William Goldman, A
29. Raise Your Glass,: Stuck in the Twilight Saga (2012), Keith Helinski, B
30. Clue: The Musical (1993), Peter DePietro, B•
31. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months (2011), John Locke, C
32. Forrest Gump (1986), Winston Groom, B
33. The Reporter (2012), Scott Sigler & Mur Lafferty, B+
34. Tales From Development Hell (2012), David Hughes, B+
35. Lamb (2002), Christopher Moore, A
36. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997), J.K. Rowling, A-
37. Buy the RV, We Start Tomorrow: The AV Club’s Guide to Breaking Bad (2010), Donna Murray & Neal Goldman, B
38. Coffee: It’s What’s For Dinner (2011), Dave Kellet, A*
39. Sacre Bleu (2012), Christopher Moore, B
40. Pax Romana (2007), Jonathan Hickman, B-*
41. Paradox (2012), Christos Gage, B- *
42. Avengers Forever (1999), Kurt Busiek, A*
43. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998), J.K. Rowling, B+
44. Transhuman (2008), Jonathan Hickman, A-*
45. The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012), Stephen King, B+
46. Atomic Robo Vol. 4: Atomic Robo and Other Strangeness (2010), Scott Wegener, A*
47. Atomic Robo Vol. 5: Atomic Robo and the Flying Fists of Science (2011), Scott Wegener, A-*
48. Misery Loves Sherman (2012), Chris Eliopoulos, B*
49. The Atlantis Chronicles (1990), Peter David, A*
50. Aquaman: Time and Tide (1996), Peter David, B+*
51. Pantheon (1999), Bill Willingham, A-*
52. Atomic Robo Vol. 6: Atomic Robo and the Ghost of Station X (2012), Scott Wegener, A+*
53. Marvels: Eye of the Camera (2010), Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern, A-*
54. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999), J.K. Rowling, A-
55. “They’re Made Out of Meat” (1991), Terry Bisson, B
56. Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? (2012), Brian Cronin, B+
57. The Comic Book History of Comics (2012), Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey, A-*
58. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010), Seth Graham-Smith, B+
59. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile (2002), Bill Willingham, A-*
60. JLA Vol. 1: New World Order (1997), Grant Morrision, A-*
61. Star Trek: The Next Generation-Ghosts (2010), Zander Cannon, B*
62. Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage (1993), David Michelinie, J.M. DeMatties, Tom DeFalco, B+*
63. The Hollywood Walk of Shame (1993), Bruce Nash & Allan Zullo, C+
64. The All-Pro (2011), Scott Sigler, B+^
65. Our Valued Customers (2012), Tim Chamberlain, B*
66. Batman: Earth One (2012), Geoff Johns, A*
67. The Infinity Gauntlet (1993), Jim Starlin, A+*
68. F in Exams (2011), Richard Benson, A-
69. F For Effort (2012), Richard Benson, B
70. Blackout (2012), Mira Grant, B+
71. The Monolith (2012), Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, A*
72. Locke and Key Vol. 5: Clockworks (2012), Joe Hill, A*
73. Classic G.I. Joe Vol. 1 (2009), Larry Hama, B-*
74. What If? Classic Vol. 4 (2007), Bill Mantlo, Don Glut, Peter Gillis, Steve Skeates, Tony Isabella, Mike W. Barr, Steven Grant, Mark Gruenwald & Ralph Macchio, B*
75. Firestarter (1981), Stephen King, B+
76. “Don’t Tell Jack” (2001), Neil Gaiman, A-
77. Rising Stars Compendium (2004), J. Michael Straczynski, A*
78. Fahrenheit 451 (1951), Ray Bradbury, A+
79. Morning Glories Vol. 1: For a Better Future (2011), Nick Spencer, A
80. Fool Moon (2001), Jim Butcher, B
81. The Maze Runner (2009), James Dashner, B+
82. The Scorch Trials (2010), James Dashner, B
83. The Death Cure (2011), James Dashner, B
84. Action Philosophers (2009), Fred Van Lente, B+*
85. Fraggle Rock Vol. 1 (2010), B*
86. License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold and Silver (2011), Rick Harrison, B-
87. The MVP (2012), Scott Sigler, A-
88. Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astronomy Zombies (2009), Michael Adams, B+
89. Upside Down: A Vampire Tale (2012) Jess Smart Smiley, B*
90. Trick ‘r Treat (2009), Marc Andreyko, B*
91. Madman 20th Anniversary Monster (2012), Mike Allred, B*
92. Texts From Dog (2012), October Jones, B
93. The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer Vol. 1 (2005), Kate Worley & Reed Waller, B*
94. Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 (2012), J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis, A*
95. Tremors of the Buried Moon (2011), J.C. Rogers, B*
96. The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West Vol. 1 (2012), Tom Hutchinson, B+*
97. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking (2012), Charles M. Schulz, A-*
98. Archie Classics Series Vol. 1: Christmas Classics (2011), B
99. Marvel Zombies (2006), Robert Kirkman, B+*
100. Marvel Zombies 2 (2008), Robert Kirkman, A*
101. Marvel Zombies 3 (2009), Fred Van Lente, B-*
102. Marvel Zombies 4 (2009), Fred Van Lente, C*
103. Marvel Zombies Return (2009), B+*
*-Denotes graphic novel or comic strip collection
•-Denotes stage play
^-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes short story

–Updated August 5, 2012

03
Aug
11

Classic EBI #102: How to Make a Couch Potato Read a Comic Book

In today’s all-new Everything But Imaginary column, I step back and take a look at the construction of Marvel Studios’ movie universe — and what they may have to do to keep it viable past the first generation of actors.

Everything But Imaginary #409: Making a Movie Universe

Going back to the classics, though, back in February 2005 I looked at ways to snare new readers from the realm of television, by using their favorite shows to identify comics that may be to their taste…

Classic EBI #102: How to Make a Couch Potato Read a Comic Book

As much as I’d like to, I’ve discovered that it is statistically impossible to read comic books all the time. (I learned this one Thursday morning at 3:45 a.m. halfway through Sandman: A Season of Mists when I suddenly gained the ability to see the music.) So last weekend I unwound by watching the first season DVD of the television show 24. Which, of course, made me think about comic books, because my mind is preposterously circular in that regard.

Although I had heard a lot of really good things about 24, I’d never been able to catch it at the beginning of a season and therefore have never watched it, but when an online retailer recently had the first season on sale for just $15, I saw no reason not to get it. By the second episode, I was hooked, and I wound up watching the entire 24-episode season in less than a week. The way the show works, in case you don’t know, is that each season chronicles one day in the life of Counter Terrorism Agent Jack Bauer (played with aplomb by Kiefer Sutherland). Each episode takes place in realtime and covers exactly one hour in Jack’s life. What really got me about the show was the challenge of writing such a thing, telling one story in 24 installments, making each episode make sense as a portrait of one hour, and still having each installment end at a point of high suspense without making it seem necessarily forced.

Once I’d seen the whole thing, though, I realized that I got a very similar feeling reading a comic book. Specifically, from the new Captain America series by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Now a comic can’t play with time the same way that a television series can, but many of the other elements that make 24 so great are present in this series. A story is being told in installments, each installment has moments of action and downtime, and each one ends at a point of maximum suspense. (The first episode of 24, for instance, ends with Jack’s daughter being kidnapped and an airplane blowing up, whereas the first issue of Captain America ends with Cap’s old nemesis, the Red Skull taking a bullet in the chest.)

That sort of action, the spy drama, the structure is a great thing, and it make me think about how I always say that there is a comic book out there for everyone, if only they knew where to look. So while you 24 fans are trying to get your buddies to read Captain America, I’m going to suggest a few more TV/movie analogues to some great comic books.

(And I’m not just going to suggest Star Wars fans read the Star Wars comics. That’s too easy. And if they haven’t made that leap by now, they’re not gonna.)

For fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it would be easy to suggest Astonishing X-Men. The title is written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, for one thing, and it’s got kind of the same “us against a world of evil” mentality, with a lot of drama, but a good bit of humor as well. However, I think an even better comic for Buffy fans may be Brian K. Vaughan’s Runaways. The second series of this acclaimed title starts… well… today. The basic premise of the first series was that six kids discovered their parents were supervillains, part of a murderous cult that was planning to aid in the destruction of the world. The kids – some of them with inherited powers or talents, but others with nothing but their wits – set out on their own to save the world from their own parents. The second series picks up some time after the first, and I don’t yet know what angle the new version will take, but I’ve got no doubt that it will have that same feel that Buffy fans dig.

What if you like a western? Something like Unforgiven, A Fistful of Dollars, or especially a fantasy-western like Stephen King’s Dark Tower series? Then you should be giving a read to Beckett Comics’ The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty. The book takes the classic fairy tale and transplants it to the American west, but it takes up the story near the end. An entire town has fallen asleep due to some ancient curse and a young boy, the only one to escape, is in search of a man to break the spell. When the title opens we find the boy and our unlikely hero, Cole, about to dangle at the end of a hangman’s rope. Cole is your classic tortured western hero, a gunslinger with a dark past he’s trying to atone for, even though he never believes he can. This is the sort of title that shows you how sometimes you can take two very familiar stories or styles, combine them, and come up with something totally new.

If you’ve got kids who are into (or if you yourself are into) something like Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Oddparents, you might want to check out the upcoming Mike S. Miller series The Imaginaries. Beneath all the comedy and slapstick, Fairly Oddparents is a series about the power of the imagination, and The Imaginaries is going to drip with that stuff. Folks who saw the recent preview in the Two Bits anthology know the idea – what happens to an imaginary friend when the child who imagined him no longer needs him? The pain of his parents’ divorce makes a child give up his own imaginary friend, Superhero G, who finds himself lost in an entire city made up of discarded imaginary friends. I’ve used the word “imagination” about a zillion times in this paragraph, but get ready for one more – this is the kind of comic that really tests the limits of the imagination, and that’s an incredible thing.

Maybe you just want to laugh. You’re into sitcoms like Newsradio, Scrubs or classics like I Love Lucy or Laverne and Shirley? Well man, why aren’t you reading PVP? Scott Kurtz’s comic strip is your classic office comedy – a group of geeks (and one troll) working together in a video game magazine. Throw in things like a competing magazine, a passive aggressive supervillain, frequent misunderstandings, romantic subplots, harried husbands and young crushes, and you’ve got all of the elements of a situation comedy. Kurtz, in fact, will frequently take the sort of stock situation that can be used in virtually any sitcom – a child (or troll) “runs away” after an older sibling (or co-worker) says something to upset him, and the others set out to find him, not realizing he just ran away to the broom closet. But Kurtz always has a little twist, something that makes it different from just another sitcom, something that makes it pop.

Cop dramas are huge right now. In fact, scientists estimate that if you were to play “Remote Control Russian Roulette” between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight (Eastern time) you stand a 97.3 percent chance of landing on a channel showing an episode of either CSI, Law and Order or one of their various spin-offs. So while you’re spinning that dial, why not spin over to the comic shop and try an issue of Gotham Central? Greg Rucka and the (sadly) soon-to-be departing Ed Brubaker have done a masterful job with this series, detailing the trials and tribulations of two groups of police officers (the day shift and the night shift) who have to keep the peace in a city with all of the regular muggings, murders, robberies and drugs of any major metropolitan area, but on top of that, are forced to deal with homicidal clowns, mad scientists, plant-women who can control your mind with just a kiss and some lunatic dressed like a giant bat trying to do their job for them. It’s a unique take on an old idea, and it hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves.

Then there are the soap operas. And with them all of the lying, scheming, backstabbing, deaths, resurrections and sex you could want in any given issue of Noble Causes. Like most soap operas, this one focuses on one powerful family. The twist here is that “powerful” is meant in a literal term – these guys are superheroes. There are the parents, Doc and Gaia. There’s their oldest son, Rusty, who is trapped in a robot body and whose wife Celeste has left him and he’s now dating Cosmic Rae, whom he doesn’t know is an android. Race, their younger son, died in the first issue, but his wife Liz found another dimension where he survived and she’s moved there and everything is back to normal. Zephyr is pregnant by Draconis, the family’s oldest enemy whom Doc killed, and whose son Krennick claimed he was the father because he’s in love with her and has a tendency to hire prostitutes who pretend to be her. Then of course there’s Gaia’s other son, Frost, the product of an affair after Rusty was born, except no one knew she had the affair with a version of Doc from an alternate dimension. Oh, and Frost’s affair with Celeste is what ended her marriage to Rusty.

If you’ve watched enough soap operas to have the slightest clue what I said in that last paragraph, you should be reading Noble Causes.

The point of all this, friends, is that comics are a big, wide, diverse world. And if you look hard enough, you can find something for anyone. In fact, feel free to find some more – I’ll be interested to see what you all come up with.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: February 9, 2005

I had very, very low expectations for the winner of this week’s favorite award, which may be why I was so pleasantly surprised, but I thought the first issue of Young Avengers was a great read. Four teenagers with looks, powers and names that mimic Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk burst on to the scene, and J. Jonah Jameson wants the scoop. In addition to using Jameson, the book also picks up on the elder Avengers and the cast of The Pulse to investigate these kids, trying to figure out who they are and what they’re doing, all of it building up to a last page that legitimately surprised the heck out of me. Considering that Allan Heinberg has never written comics before, I think he’s off to a great start.

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 and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

30
Mar
11

Classic EBI #83: Spoiler Space

The world is full of comic book nerds, especially in Hollywood… but why don’t we see a lot of original superhero characters outside of comics? Can superheroes only thrive in one medium?

Everything But Imaginary #392: Medium Defiance

And in this week’s classic EBI, let’s look back at Oct. 6, 2004, when I thought about all the spoilers that were invading the internet… and I… struck… back…

Classic EBI #83: Spoiler Space

Now that we’ve all had a chance to read Detective Comics #799, wow, what a shocker, huh? I never suspected that Robin’s father, Jack Drake, would be killed by the Joker and a hermaphroditic gerbil on PCP. Talk about a shocker!

What? Oh, you mean you guys haven’t read it yet? You mean it won’t even be available to purchase for several more hours? Oh, gosh, I feel terrible now. Wow, it’s a good thing that everything I said there was complete and total rubbish, isn’t it? But now that I’ve got your attention, this would be a good time to talk about spoilers.

A “spoiler,” of course, is any piece of information regarding the plot of a story that you didn’t know yet, in essence, “spoiling” it for you. The term “spoiler” was coined because “ruiner” sounds funky. And before we go on much further, in case you didn’t get it, I was lying in the first paragraph. Being the kind, benevolent, dashing, callipygian, modest columnist-type-person that I am, I would never actually tell you what happened in Detective Comics #799 because that would spoil it for you. Also because some of you may know where I live.

For as long as there has been fiction, there have been spoilers. If you go back to the 1500s you can find scrolls written by people talking about that startling new play wherein, at the end, SPOILERS AHEAD! Romeo and Juliet both kill themselves. But since the invention of the Internet, spoilers have become a much bigger problem because now people have the ability to opine from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world as fast as the information can be processed in their brains. Or, more frequently, their mouths, since often people on the Internet have found ways to bypass their brains altogether.

This problem, of course, is not exclusive to comic books. Websites like Ain’t It Cool News make their name by giving out juicy spoilers for movies far in advance (and conveniently forgetting about it when the spoiler turns out not to be true), but at least they have the courtesy to stamp a big warning label before the spoiler appears. This, unfortunately, will not stop idiots from e-mailing it to you or blabbing it in a chatroom, but in this day and age, that’s the price you pay for daring to get out of bed in the morning.

You can also spoil books – I’m a big fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and frequently visit a message board devoted to such. When the advance review copies of the last book in that well-loved series began to circulate a month or so ago, there was a massive storm on that board between the people who were hurling spoilers around right and left and the people who didn’t want to know. One jerk actually went so far as to post the entire plot of the book in the middle of a thread where people were congratulating the administrator for pulling the plug on spoilers. Another popped into a chatroom and spouted out the ending to people who hadn’t read it yet. And this is for the end of a series that some people have been reading for 22 years. There is a word for people who do that sort of thing. However, I will not tell you what that word is since the CXPulp.com filter would most likely block it out anyway. (HINT: it ends in “weed”.)

Now some people don’t mind spoilers. Some people are perfectly happy knowing that SPOILERS AHEAD! “Rosebud” was the name of his sled before the movie even starts. And if that’s your thing, hey, that’s fine. But there are an awful lot of us out there, myself included, who prefer not to know the ending. You’re the kids who always snuck into your parents’ closet looking for Christmas presents, whereas we’re the kids who just looked at the 18-inch box under the tree and hoped against hope that a puppy could fit in there somehow. If you want to discuss spoilers, you’ve got every right to, but you should also have the respect and courtesy to keep them amongst yourselves and not go blabbing that you find out in Amazing Spider-Man #512 that SPOILERS AHEAD! Norman Osborne is the father of Gwen Stacy’s children to anyone who hasn’t heard it yet.

Just last week a thread appeared here which started with the phrase “Well, now that we’ve all read Superman/Batman #12…” and proceeded to give away the entire plot. The trouble with this thread was, not all of us had read Superman/Batman #12 yet. This appeared on Friday. The book came out Wednesday. Not everyone gets their comic books the day of release – or even the same week – and you can’t just assume that they have. If I hadn’t finished reading the book about five minutes before, I may have had to go to the guy’s house and hit him with a frozen halibut.

Even worse was an incident a few weeks ago in the forum of our own Chris Sotomayor. Soto, one of the best colorists in the biz (and I say that out of genuine admiration, not just because he hosts a forum here), was discussing his upcoming work on the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead. Fans were speculating as to who would appear in that book, since the current Avengers Disassembled storyline was resulting in many casualties. Then someone appeared in the thread and asked Soto if he could post some pictures since, by now, we all knew that SPOILERS AHEAD! Hawkeye was the character who died in the much-touted Avengers #502.

The problem with this? He posted this message nearly a week before Avengers #502 even went on sale!

Oh, I was ticked.

Now to his credit, he’d tried to do something, at least. He changed the font color to white. Unfortunately, since the background text on the site is various shades of gray, that was worse than useless and the book was seriously spoiled for me. And it didn’t help that everybody else was talking about the death like it was common knowledge soon afterwards.

The obvious question to ask here is, how long is information considered a spoiler? Technically, I’d say any time before you, personally (or to be more specific, I personally) have read the comic. But that gets a little ridiculous. I mean, just because someone has never read Avengers #4 doesn’t mean they don’t already know SPOILERS AHEAD! they found Captain America frozen alive in a block of ice, thawed him out, made him a member of the team and he served proudly for at least 500 issues.

So how long is a reasonable amount of time to consider something a spoiler? When do you have to stop putting information like SPOILERS AHEAD! the boat sinks and Leo drowns in those little gray text boxes we use to shield the masses? I know some fans would prefer something remain a spoiler until the trade paperback comes out – this specifically applies to those fans who wait for the trade paperback. But I don’t think that’s always necessary. If you’re writing in a thread about Identity Crisis #3, you can reasonably assume people have read Identity Crisis #2 and know that SPOILERS AHEAD! Dr. Light raped Sue Dibney already.

Rather than cruising on a set period of time, I think it’s fair and logical to assume something is a spoiler until the next issue of that title comes out, whenever that happens to be. When Birds of Prey went biweekly, by the time #74 came out it should have been acceptable to reference how, in #73, SPOILERS AHEAD! Oracle defeated Brainiac.

And if that means you’ve got to talk about NYX #5 in spoiler blocks for the next six years or so before #6 comes out, so be it.

Some people don’t mind spoilers. Some people even like ‘em. And those people have plenty of opportunity to talk about them. But if you’ve got spoiler info, make sure you present it as such for a reasonable length of time. Otherwise, you’ll be like Homer Simpson walking out of The Empire Strikes Back and saying, SPOILERS AHEAD! “Wow, who would have thought Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father?”. This would, by extension, make the rest of us the people standing in line outside the theatre who wanted to kill him for saying it, and since very few of us have yellow skin, four fingers and an overbite, it’s not a fair analogy.

Like so many problems in the world of comics (and the rest of the world too, when you get right down to it), you can solve this one if you just apply a little common sense. Try it sometime. You might even like it.

Favorite of the Week: September 29, 2004

It’s a darn good thing that I had read Superman/Batman #12 before I read the spoiler, because this was a fantastic issue. (And considering how long it took to come out, it better have been.) Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Barda have stormed Apokalips, hoping to rescue Kara from the clutches of Darkseid… but what if she doesn’t want to be rescued? There’s plenty of action this issue, and then just when things seem to have settled down, Jeph Loeb hits you in the gut with a knockout punch, a real shocker. Granted, it’s the sort of shocker that you’re certain will be resolved in one of two ways, but it’s a shocker nonetheless. Now let’s all just hope Michael Turner manages to turn out issue #13 before Kara is old enough to have grandchildren.

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.

24
Nov
10

Classic EBI #139: Giving Thanks For Comics

Hey, friends. No new Everything But Imaginary today, as I’m giving this week to Erin, but I had enough time to post this classic EBI from Thanksgivings past. Originally presented on November 23, 2005, this was a look at what I was grateful for in the first post-Katrina Thanksgiving. Boy, things have changed — Alias Enterprises is no more, Dan Slott‘s Thing comic didn’t make it past ten issues… but hey, there’s still stuff worth being thankful for.

Everything But Imaginary #139: Giving Thanks For Comics

Tomorrow, my friends, is Thanksgiving, and as such I wound imagine most of us will not spend our day sitting in front of our computers. I know I certainly won’t. Sure, I’ll be on briefly in the morning working on my book for National Novel Writing Month (word count waits for no holiday), but the rest of the day I’m going to be with my family, enjoying their company, celebrating the fact that we’re all together and safe (especially after the nasty hurricane season we just went through), and eating gargantuan amounts of turkey, ham, various potato-based side dishes and pumpkin pie. And it will be good.

The day is intended, of course, to give thanks. I’m thankful for my family and friends, for everyone in my life that’s important to me, for the fact that I’ve entered quite a productive period as a writer, and for a lot of other things that people reading a comic book column don’t particularly care about. But there are things out there in the realm of comic books that I’m quite thankful for. Now normally, if I’m going to do a holiday column, I like to talk about comic book tales that took place on that holiday – Christmas and Halloween are notoriously easy for this project. Thanksgiving is more difficult. The only Thanksgiving comic I’ve read in years was JSA #54, a celebration with the Justice Society and the Justice League, and while this was a decent enough comic, it was quickly overshadowed by JSA #55, which was one of the best Christmas stories I’ve ever read in a comic book. (Geoff Johns must have been on a real holiday kick that year.)

So rather than trying to dig up some Thanksgiving stories to shine a spotlight on, I’m instead going to take this column to go over some of the things in the world of comic books that I am, at present, particularly thankful for. Great trends, great stories, great comics, great creators. It’s easy to find things to complain about – and don’t worry, I’ll no doubt get around to that around the first of the year – but today I want to go over some of the things about comic books that make me smile.

I’m thankful for the way DC Comics and a lot of the smaller publishers stepped up to help comic shops here in the Gulf South after Hurricane Katrina. DC offered shops in badly impacted areas their products free of charge for a period of time. Many other publishers and individual creators started working on benefit books or auctions to help aid the Red Cross and other relief organizations. As disappointed as I was that some of the other giants in the industry didn’t do more to help out, I was extremely proud of what DC and everyone who worked on a benefit did.

I’m thankful for Alias Enterprises. In a comic book industry that often seems too focused on drawing the dollars out of those same readers that have been around for years, Alias seems to be making a real effort to reach out not just to new readers, but to younger readers. They’re creating comics for all ages like Lullaby and The Imaginaries, bringing back great comics like Opposite Forces and Tellos that have really wide appeal, and even tapping into an often ignored Christian readership with ArmorQuest and David. Even if Alias isn’t necessarily putting out anything for you, you’ve got to appreciate its efforts to reach out.

I’m thankful that more and more classic comics are finding their way back into print. In addition to Marvel’s Masterworks and Essentials comics and DC’s Archives, this year DC began their Showcase Presents series and the Dark Horse Archives began reprints old Gold Key comics including Doctor Solar: Man of the Atom and Magnus: Robot Fighter, as well Steve Rude’s Nexus. And let’s not forget the reprints of the old Little Lulu comics, the Complete Peanuts series (which was joined this year by Complete Dennis the Menace). There are even reprints in the works for old Harvey Comics like Hot Stuff. There’s a reason classic comics become classics, and putting out old material in new editions is the best way to keep them alive. In the future, here’s hoping somebody starts doing archival editions of great stuff like Tales From the Crypt, more of the Archie superheroes like The Comet, Charlton classics like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom and old kids comics like Richie Rich or Casper.

I’m thankful for how Infinite Crisis is shaping up, again, by bringing back those elements from the past that made the DC heroes such icons in the first place. I’m thankful that the writers across the line took their time and set things up instead of just rushing into the story headfirst. I’m glad that, for once, we’re really getting a story about a universe, about an entire world of heroes that legitimately impacts each and every title, and I’m increasingly hopeful that the new DCU that emerges from the other side will be better and brighter.

I’m thankful that Fables, my favorite comic each and every month, hasn’t lost a single step even since Bill Willingham whipped out the identity of the Adversary. In fact, I’m thankful for all of my favorite comics, including (such diverse titles as) JSA, Uncle Scrooge and PVP. I’m thankful for surprises – books that weren’t even on my radar that turned out to be great, such as Young Avengers and Son of Vulcan. If there’s anything better than finding a comic you had no intention of reading and turning out to love it, I don’t know what it is.

I’m thankful that Marvel had the good sense to give She-Hulk another go. It’s by far the best comic on their roster – one that has a sense of humor about itself and the world it inhabits, and its gentle self-deprecation blends perfectly with classic superhero stories. I’m glad Marvel is recognizing the talent they’ve got in Dan Slott, giving him the fantastic GLA miniseries from earlier this year (and the upcoming GLX one-shot), and I’m really, really happy that they’ve put him at the helm of the new title for my favorite Marvel character, The Thing.

I’m thankful that the big publishers are starting to take chances on genres other than superheroes again. DC is making a big push to resurrect the western with Loveless and the excellent Jonah Hex, and Marvel is dipping their toes in that same water with The Dark Tower, although in that case they are no doubt more motivated by the appeal of having Stephen King write a comic for them. And speaking of which, I’m really grateful that somebody finally got him to dip his pen into a comic book inkwell. As I said before, though, I just hope Marvel really takes advantage of all the potential having him writing a comic book can represent.

And finally, most of all, I’m thankful for this dandy little site called Comixtreme.com CXPulp.com. I love having this outlet to talk about comics, to espouse my feelings, to think about and analyze the trends and direction of the industry, and I’m thankful that I’ve got swell folks like you out there who read along and talk it up with me. It’s the most fun you can have talking about comic books – all right here.

So have a great Thanksgiving, folks – have an extra slice of pumpkin pie for me, and be sure to come back next week when I announce the categories in the Third Annual Everything But Imaginary Awards! See you then!

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: November 16, 2005

That’s right, it’s finally back! I’ve missed having this feature here in Everything But Imaginary every week, and I’ve finally gotten my comic source stabilized enough to start dishing on the great comics every week again. And for my money, the best comic that came out last Wednesday was the first issue of the new Thing series by Dan Slott and Andrea DiVito. As I’ve often told you guys, the Thing is my favorite character in Marvel comics, and as far as I’m concerned, the best hero to ever sprout from the collected imagination of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His new first issue was a lot of fun, lighthearted but not as over-the-top as She-Hulk… it really felt like a classic superhero tale. Here’s hoping he enjoys a nice long run.

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.

21
Jun
10

Recent Comics Roundup: Brightest Day & Dark Tower

Today I’m going to give you guys my thoughts on a few recent comics, including three more Brightest Day issues, and the most recent comic in Marvel’s version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Let’s start with a book that hit the week I was in Pittsburgh…

Justice League: Generation Lost #3

Continuing the story of the four Justice Leaguers who remember the truth about Maxwell Lord. As we’ve learned through Booster Gold’s little robot sidekick Skeets, though, computer intelligences also remember Maxwell Lord and all the nasty things he did — and that includes the scarab that gives power to the current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes. Jaime’s family is targeted by a group of Max’s OMACs, and he joins up Booster Gold to help hunt down the man who murdered his predecessor. It’s really nice to see Jaime having a place in this group, and what’s more, writers Keith Giffen and Judd Winick spread out and cover a lot more of the DC Universe here as well. Fire’s confrontation with her former associates in the Checkmate organization is very strong, and the return of another former JLI member at the end bodes poorly for our heroes. The tone of this book, of course, is drastically different from the old “Bwa-ha-ha” comedy of the original JLI run, but that doesn’t mean the book doesn’t work. the story is very solid and the characters feel like they’ve evolved since the old days, Booster especially. I also really love Tony Harris‘s cover, featuring Jaime and Ted Kord. It’s just a great cover, really. Three issues in, I’ve really been impressed with this maxi-series. I just hope that the writers can keep up this quality for the next 11 months.

Rating: 7/10

Brightest Day #4

In the fourth chapter of the core Brightest Day series, the Hawks find an arch built from the bones of their many, many former incarnations. There’s a trap that’s been laid for them, something that’s been calling to them for a very long time. Deadman, meanwhile, finally gets a chance to rest, only to find himself throwing down with Hawk and Dove, an oasis in the New Mexico desert mysteriously dries up, and Ronnie Raymond starts to have some nasty dreams about what he did while he was a Black Lantern. There’s definite plot progression here, although some of it is incremental. The Deadman story, however, moves forward quite a bit. This, I think, is the way to best handle a book like this one. With such a large cast, coming out every other week, each issue should progress all of the stories a little bit and one of them a lot. That makes for a satisfying read, and it seems like Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have figured that out. What happens at the end of this issue is really cool — it’s one of those instances where the characters come to the sort of conclusion that the readers did two or three issues ago, and they start to act on it. One of the most interesting things about Brightest Day thus far has been the strange new powers that Deadman is exhibiting. If the cliffhanger here is any indication, next issue we may actually get an examination of how those powers work, and that’s something we’re all interested in seeing. It’s also nice to bring in the Hawk and Dove story, which hasn’t played much a part in this main title yet (they’ve been featured more prominently in Birds of Prey). Solid issue.

Rating: 7/10

Birds of Prey #2

Speaking of the Birds of Prey, Gail Simone and Ed Benes‘s return to this title has been magnificent. Black Canary and Huntress find themselves facing a strange woman called the White Canary. As they go into battle their teammates — Hawk, Dove, and Lady Blackhawk — arrive on the scene just in time to find themselves targeted… not by the villains, but by the Gotham City Police Department. While the characters feel familiar — and wonderfully familiar — the book has a different dynamic than it did in its previous incarnation. There’s a different status quo, a different feeling, and that’s all to the good. We’ve actually got the Birds here trying to escape the GCPD and protect the Penguin, and the way it comes about doesn’t feel forced and it doesn’t make anyone seem out of character. The book is exciting, the fight scenes are fantastic, and the last few pages really makes Oracle out to be the bad-ass she actually is. Forget the fact that she’s in a wheelchair, forget the fact that she doesn’t have any super powers. Barbara Gordon’s mind and skill can make her one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, and Gail Simone gets that more than anybody else. The book doesn’t really seem to have a direct tie to Brightest Day, other than the inclusion of Hawk and Dove, but that’s no problem. You can read the title by itself or as part of the larger story, and either way, you’ve got a great comic.

Rating: 9/10

And as a little change of pace, let’s look at something that doesn’t have anything to do with Brightest Day, but is cool nonetheless…

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger-The Journey Begins #2

Despite having perhaps the most unwieldy title of any comic book published this year, this miniseries has really turned out to be strong. The first cycle of Dark Tower comics ended with the previous miniseries, The Battle of Jericho Hill. Although this miniseries has begun the adaptation of the first Dark Tower novel, we’re still filling in backstory, showing how Roland, the last gunslinger, went from the massacre at Jericho Hill to the point we find him at the beginning of Stephen King‘s masterwork. Here we see Roland’s final journey to his destroyed homeland, the introduction of a creature whose family will turn out to be very important to him later in the series, a terrible sight and a bloody battle, and some haunted happenings back home. Robin Furth, King’s longtime assistant, is doing great work developing the story. All of her additions and alterations come with King’s approval, which makes it easier to accept, but even if he wasn’t involved the things we see here work very well with the world he established. Peter David‘s script, and the artwork of Sean Phillips and Richard Isanove come together to make a really magnificent comic book. I’ve been reading the Dark Tower comics ever since Marvel began publishing them a few years ago, but it’s been some time since I was so impressed by an issue that I felt compelled to talk about it. King fans, check this out. It’s great stuff.

11
Sep
08

What I’m Reading: The Stand-Captain Trips #1

The Stand was the first Stephen King novel I ever read. Back in high school, when they announced a TV miniseries was in the works, my Uncle Todd lent me the book and told me I needed to read it before I watched the miniseries. Despite its prodigious 1,000-page length (and this was the abridged version) I tore through the book very quickly, so you can say that Uncle Todd is directly responsible for making me a Stephen King fan. Now that I think about it, my love of Stephen King is directly responsible for me meeting Erin, so I guess Uncle Todd is responsible for that too. Thanks, Uncle Todd!

Ahem. Anyway, Marvel Comics has already had a lot of success with their adaptation (and then expansion) of King’s magnum opus, The Dark Tower, so it wasn’t a surprise when they announced a second King series, based on The Stand. Captain Trips is the first of six planned miniseries which will tell the complete story of the epic novel. Now, as The Stand is one of my favorite novels ever, it’s hard to divorce myself from my love of that property while reading the comic book, so keep in mind that I critique it as a fan. And as a fan, I must say, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, line artist Mike Perkins, and colorist Laura Martin are off to a great start.

Captain Trips, like the novel and the miniseries, begins with Charles Campion, a low-level soldier who flees in terror when the base he’s stationed at experiences some sort of accident, releasing something deadly into the air. Campion bolts with his wife and baby son, finally crashing his car into a gas station in east Texas. His wife and son have already succumbed to some flu-like sickness, and Campion has it himself. The true danger isn’t evident to the five men who witness the crash… but it will become so soon enough.

The most amazing thing about the novel is the way Stephen King balances a truly enormous cast. In this first issue, we meet just three of our main characters: Stu Redman, an everyman who bore witness to Campion’s death; Frannie Goldsmith, a pregnant college student; and Larry Underwood, a musician who thought he hit the big time with a hit single, but whose plunge into the entertainment world of alcohol and drugs has him crawling back to his mother in New York to try to put his life back together. The characters are identified and fleshed out quickly. Stu is a strong-jawed, quiet type. Larry comes across as a guy who’s in over his head. Frannie is a girl that you can love right away (although I know Erin is just happy that she doesn’t look like Molly Ringwald). There are a hell of a lot of characters yet to introduce, but the three we meet this time are solid.

Perkins’ artwork is pretty masterful as well. The three leads here each have a distinct look — there’s little chance of anyone mistaking Larry and Stu for one another — and along with Laura Martin’s colors, the artwork creates an air of portent, an ominous feeling like something terrible is about to happen… which, of course, is exactly the case.

With a few exceptions (The Green Mile, The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption… hell, let’s just give it up for Frank Darabont), most film adaptations of Stephen King’s work have failed to live up to the original novel, and even though I liked the TV miniseries, it wasn’t even remotely as good as the book. The Dark Tower has convinced me that comic books are a far more appropriate way to adapt King’s work, and the first issue of Captain Trips only further justifies that belief. It’s a really good comic, and a great start.

Join my Facebook group!

If any of you guys are on Facebook, you may have noticed the new blog app that allows you to track your favorite blogs on the website. Naturally, attention whore that I am, I signed up for it as well. So if you’re on Facebook, please check out the Evertime Realms group. Oh, and also, I still need a couple of people to verify that I am, in fact, the author of this blog (like anyone else would take credit), so if you can do that too, I’d be highly appreciative.

More Reviews:

It’s been a while since I updated this, folks, so there are lots of ’em. Here are all the Comixtreme.com reviews I’ve written in the last several weeks:

16
Jul
08

What? No EBI this week? What’s happening to the universe?

Sorry, gang, I’m afraid there’ll be no Everything But Imaginary column today. In just a couple of hours, I’ll be off to spend a few too-short days with Erin. I’ll be home on Sunday, and your usual schedule of columns, podcasts, fiction, and whatever else I can find will resume on Monday. I may wind up posting short bits while I’m gone, but it won’t be a regular schedule.

In the meantime, I do have something cool to report. In the “Picks of the Week” for this week’s Showcase podcast, I mentioned an awesome little comic called Love and Capes that Erin told me about. I’ve recommended a lot of books to her, but this is the first time she’s ever recommended a comic book to me. Well, Thom Zaler, the cartoonist behind the book, found the podcast and gave us both a nice little shout-out on his website. Thanks, Thom! I’ve been blurbed for my reviews a few times now (go pick up the hardcover of Marvel Zombies 2 and look at the Comixtreme.com quote on the back cover — that’s all me, baby), but this is the first time Erin’s gotten the nod from a creator she’s talked about. I’m so proud of my geek girl.

Reviews?

Since I’ve got nothing else to share with you today, and may not for several days, why not check out the most recent batch of reviews at Comixtreme? Here are the reviews I’ve written in the last week or two:




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