Posts Tagged ‘Jonah Hex

20
Jul
11

Classic EBI #99: The Makings of a Universe

For years now, I’ve maintained a steadfast and unbroken tradition of not being at San Diego Comic-Con. This is not for lack of desire. So today, I take a look at the stuff happening in San Diego this year I wish I could be a part of…

Everything But Imaginary #407: What I’ll Miss in San Diego

But moving back in time, it’s January 25, 2005 and I’m taking a look at just how tight the continuity of the DC Universe has become in the last year or two. I’ll leave you guys to decide in this counts as irony or not.

Everything But Imaginary #99: The Makings of a Universe

I believe in credit where credit is due, so you’ve really got to give Stan Lee props for really creating our current concept of a superhero “universe.” Oh, superheroes had met before. All of the top National (later DC) Comics heroes had come together as the Justice Society of America in the 40s. Superman and Batman frequently appeared together in World’s Finest Comics. Even Atlas (later Marvel) had their collections of World War II-era characters like the Invaders and the All-Winner’s Squad.

But it was Stan the Man, writing approximately umpteen billion Marvel comics every month (this record would be held until Brian Michael Bendis broke into the business) that really started to forge a world with his creations. The adventures of the JSA didn’t impact the characters in their own titles, nor did the various team-ups that had happened. What Stan did, and did so well, was begin to mix events from various comics. If the Thing lost his powers in Fantastic Four, then he’d be powerless if the team happened to appear in Avengers that month. If Spider-Man was on the run from the law (in other words, if it was a day of the week ending in “y”), Foggy Nelson may have mentioned it in Daredevil. This was nowhere more evident than when Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver — villainous foes of Iron Man and the X-Men, reformed and joined the Avengers.

These days, though, Marvel has sort of lost its cohesion as a universe. Each of Spider-Man’s three titles seem to exist in their own pocket world and barely connect. Nearly two years have passed in Daredevil during Bendis’s run, while other Marvel titles have only progressed a few months. Why, Magneto took over the entire city of New York at the end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, and not a single other title even made reference to it. Except for comments in various titles about the events of Avengers Disassembled and the gloriously continuity-heavy She-Hulk title, it’s hard to feel like there’s a Marvel “universe” anymore.

But man, DC is trying to make up for it.

As Marvel’s titles have grown looser and looser, DC’s are getting tighter. And I’m going to warn you right now, this column is about to get spoiler-heavy for half of the books in the DC line, so if you see a title bolded you don’t want to know about, you may wanna skip ahead.

It’s easy to point to Identity Crisis as the genesis of this transformation. Like the ending or hate it, it was a huge storyline that has had an astronomical impact on the DC Universe. Just a month after the story’s conclusion, we’ve already seen fallout everywhere: the death of Robin’s father has impacted his own series, which in turn has impacted the other Batman-family books. It’s also being dealt with in Teen Titans, and dealt with extremely well. The Titans are also dealing with Lex Luthor’s battle armor, lost during that miniseries.

The apparent death of Ronnie Raymond is the very catalyst for the new Firestorm series. As if that weren’t enough, it’s sparked a storyline in Manhunter, as DC’s newest vigilante is trying to hunt the murderous Shadow Thief.

In Flash, Wally West has to cope with the fact that his uncle, the paragon of virtue Barry Allen, was one of a subset of the Justice League that agreed to tamper with the minds of their enemies — and what’s worse, has to deal with restoring an enemy who, in turn, is threatening to turn many of his reformed colleagues like Trickster, Heat Wave and the Pied Piper back to their old dark ways. In Adventures of Superman, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are struggling with the same revelation.

And that’s just the stuff directly from Identity Crisis.What other links are appearing among the many titles of the DC Universe lately?

• After the events of “War Games,” the Birds of Prey have recruited a new member and left Gotham City, impacting every Batman title, particularly Nightwing — because he’s still in love with Oracle. Plus, the cops of Gotham Central are even more hostile towards the caped crusader than ever.

• Speaking of Nightwing, Starfire has quit the Teen Titans to join his team, the Outsiders, to try to help him cope with all the trauma in his life as of late.

• Speaking of the Titans, they’ve linked up with two other titles. Green Arrow’s sidekick, the new Speedy, has joined the team. A few months ago, the young heroes got caught up in a time-travel adventure that wound up restarting the entire universe for the Legion of Super-Heroes, and writer Mark Waid has promised that he and Barry Kitson are doing the new Legion as the official future of the DCU — it’s up to the other writers to get them there.

• In Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman title, we met the all-new (yet all-classic) Supergirl, who’s about to get her own title. There’s also a rumor that she may check in with the Teen Titans herself. Plus, Loeb is currently milking DC properties as diverse as Kamandi, Cinnamon, Jonah Hex and the Freedom Fighters for the current arc in that title. He’s brought back characters that haven’t been seen in years.

• In Wonder Woman’s title, she’s gone blind after a battle with Medusa. When she guest-appeared in Adventures of Superman, not only was she still blind, but she was wearing the same blindfold. Not too hard a trick, of course, since the two books share a writer, but it’ll be more impressive in a couple of months during a promised crossover with Flash.

• Speaking of crossovers and books with the same writer, Bloodhound wound up merged with Firestorm (both books by Dan Jolley) and the Monolith lent a hand against Solomon Grundy to Hawkman and Hawkgirl (two books by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray).

“Okay, Blake,” you’re saying, “We get your point. There are a lot of crossovers. So what?” My, you can be rude sometimes, did you know that?

Here’s the point of all this.

A few months ago a group of five writers, Brad Meltzer, Judd Winick, Greg Rucka, Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb, conducted an interview where they promsied that they were building the future of the DC Universe. And if you look at the books I’ve mentioned, you see their names all over the place, along with other talented writers like Devin Grayson, Gail Simone, Marc Andreyko, Bill Willingham and others I will feel bad later for leaving out.

Clearly, this is going to be a monumental task, even looking ahead to promised events such as DC Countdown and the enigmatic Crisis 2.

Those stories are going to be the framework of the DC Universe of the future.

What we’re seeing now, across the entire line, is the foundation. We’re seeing the hints, the clues, the groundwork. And knowing that this is what we’re seeing, we get to have all the fun of watching as everything is put together.

Some people, I understand, don’t like continuity that tight. I know that. But for those of us who do, watching as it is created before our eyes is something really really incredible. Something amazing.

Something I once may have even called Marvelous.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: January 19, 2005

While we’re on the subject of those truly remarkable books, I have to give credit again to Geoff Johns for turning out the best comic book of the week, Teen Titans #20. Since the murder of his father and the death of his girlfriend in agonizingly short succession, Robin has tried to repress his emotions in an effort to prevent from becoming more like Batman (which was nice and ironic, since repressing his emotions only made him more like Batman). This issue dances around some action, but at its core is a heartfelt examination of a son’s grief and his desperate attempt to continue forging his own future, and not let it be determined for him.

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.

 

 

01
Feb
11

The movies of 2010… Yep, you read it right

Okay, gang. Just before the new year celebrations kicked off, I was about to do the obligatory “best movies of the year” post, only to realize I hadn’t actually seen all that many movies made in 2010. To correct this, I added a buttload of 2010 movies to my Netflix queue and moved ’em up to the front. Since then, I’ve been cycling through them relatively quickly in the hopes of putting together a more comprehensive list. Well…by the time I was done, I’d racked up 39 2010 releases… still not enough to average one a week for the year, but better than the 22 I had at the end of December. So let’s take a few minutes and talk them out.

My Favorite Movies of 2010:

1. Toy Story 3: This should be no surprise, if you know anything about me. The Toy Story films have always been remarkably powerful, character-driven masterpieces of animation, and this may have been the best of the lot. Wonderful, emotional, and uplifting. There was no other film last year I loved nearly as much.

2. Inception: Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller took an intriguing idea — traveling into the dreams of others — and blended it with all the best elements of a heist movie to create a mind-bending trip through the subconscious. It’s not an easy movie, it’s a movie that demands your attention, and in the end I don’t think there are nearly enough of those.

3. True Grit: I love a good western, and while I was initially nervous about anybody taking on Rooster Cogburn after John Wayne’s legendary performance, this movie more than set my mind at ease. Not a remake of the Wayne movie, but rather another take at filming the novel, the Cohen Brothers and Jeff Bridges made this story their own in a remarkable way. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin also turned in good performances, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld held her own against some of the greatest actors working today. She more than deserves the Oscar nomination she just got.

4. The Social Network. I, like you, have heard a lot of debate about the accuracy of the Aaron Sorkin/David Lynch take on the life of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, and I certainly am not qualified to speak about how accurate the movie was. But taken just as a pure movie and not a historical document, the film is a brilliant character study of someone who’s a narcissist with potential. There are no heroes in this film, just villains, victims, and a few people (including Zuckerberg himself) that seem to straddle the line between the two.

5. The Town. This one snuck in at the last minute — I just saw it yesterday. Ben Affleck, again proving that he can actually direct, helms this heist film based on the novel by Chuck Hogan about a bank robber who starts a relationship with a hostage who doesn’t know he’s the man who kidnapped her. This isn’t a high-action, thrill-a-minute heist like Ocean’s 11, or even the aforementioned Inception. Yes, there is action, and it’s good, but like most great films, this is much more about the characters, where they come from, and where they may wind up.

Big Surprises of 2010

This is a category for movies that may not have cracked the top 5, but were way better than I expected them to be. Here they are, in no particular order:

Batman: Under the Red Hood. Based on a kinda mediocre Batman comic book and written by the same man who wrote said mediocre comic, this tale of the return of the second, long-believed dead Robin really packed a whallop. It’s strange, the only significant change in the plot was the removal of one element that didn’t really make any difference at all. Is the dreaded “Superboy Prime Punch” the only thing that made us think the comic book was weak, while this animated film was great?

Easy A. When I saw the trailers for this Emma Stone comedy very loosely based on Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, I dismissed it as a stereotypical brainless teen comedy. Instead, I found a really smart film about high school politics, the power of perception and peer pressure, and the importance of self-acceptance. The cast was really funny and talented, and in the end, I felt like I’d spent my two hours very wisely.

Hot Tub Time Machine. Where Easy A just looked a bit typical, the trailers for this looked outright moronic. Still, I pulled it in from Netflix and was delightfully surprised. John Cusack, Craig Robertson and Rob Cordray star as three friends who get tossed back in time to re-live the greatest weekend of their lives. The film gets deeper than that, though, playing with time travel theory, the delicate balance of family and friends, and what it takes to give a few guys past their prime the spark back. The movie turned out to be part Back to the Future and part City Slickers, with a few 80s ski comedies mixed in for flavor. I couldn’t believe I loved it.

Worst Movies of 2010

This, of course, is based entirely on my own personal perceptions, so if you disagree… well, more power to you.

5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. goes to show you how few films I saw this year, that this cracked the bottom five, because it honestly isn’t a horrible movie. It’s weak, though, very weak. Jake Gyllenhall doesn’t for a minute come off as a Persian prince, the villain’s plot is ludicrous, and the time travel mechanics are screwy. Disney struck out here.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street. While I still think Jackie Earl Haley was a good choice to take over the Freddy Kruger role from Robert Englund, this remake of the horror classic was dull, lifeless, and often just plain stupid.

3. Clash of the Titans. Amazing, how remakes keep cropping up here at the bottom. While the original Clash was not, I admit, Citizen Kane, it was a fun romp through a specious understanding of mythology with awesome Ray Harryhausen special effects. This was a painful look at mythology based on the understanding of a writer who is probably resting his entire knowledge base on three episodes of the old Disney Hercules cartoon. Sam Worthington turned in yet another wooden, glass-eyed turn as an “action hero,” Gemma Arterton (just as she did in Prince of Persia) looks good on camera but adds nothing to the film, and Liam Neeson evidently lost a bet. And yet enough of you people saw this monstrocity for it to get a sequel. For shame. FOR. SHAME.

2. Splice. Adrien Brody stars in a sci-fi thriller about a couple of scientists trying to… hell, I don’t even know what their actual goal was, but they whipped up a hell beast that was part human and parts a lot of different animals and really deadly. It was actually really close, if I would put this at #2 or #3 on the list. What finally put this below Clash was that, although it did have Sam Worthington tromping around ancient Greece for months without ever outgrowing his buzzcut, it did NOT feature (SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO BE SURPRISED WHEN YOU SEE THIS MOVIE AND/OR HAVE A MODICUM OF GOOD TASTE) Adrien Brody having sex with a half-human/half-animal clone of his wife in the middle of a barn. That was hands-down the creepiest scene in any movie in this year. In most years. Maybe ever. I want to boil my brain.

1. Jonah Hex. Now I’m going to be fair here. Objectively, this Josh Brolin/Megan Fox/John Malkovich western based on the DC Comic probably wasn’t the worst-made movie this year. But it was without a doubt the one that made me angriest. I love the Jonah Hex comic book. It’s a brilliant piece of comic literature that could have made one of the greatest, grittiest westerns of all time. Instead, we got a bastardized hybrid of the character mixed in with The Crow, The Sixth Sense, and some leftover set pieces from Wild Wild West. There may have been worse-acted, worse-written, or worse-directed films this year, but nothing had me walk out of the theater this angry. On the other hand, let’s hear it for Josh Brolin? How many people can say they were the hero of the year’s worst cowboy movie and the villain of the year’s best cowboy movie in the same year?

Conclusion

Okay, guys. All that’s left is the comprehensive list. Before I give it to you, though, let me just say I rather enjoyed this experiment, and I’ve still got more 2010 films left on my Netflix queue than I’ve actually seen. Maybe in a couple of months I’ll want to reevaluate this list. Maybe it’ll be totally different. Maybe I should start quantifying all years in cinema this way. Compulsive list-maker that I am, that could be a lot of fun. When I see a film, I’ll open up that year’s list and pop it in where I think it belongs. Of course, I’m not about to start going back and ranking every movie I’ve ever seen that way, that would be preposterous. I’d have to do that just with movies I see from now on. By that rationale, of course, it means Logan’s Run was the best movie of 1976, since that’s the only movie from that year I’ve seen recently. Of course, that may actually be the best movie of 1976, so why belabor the point?

I’m rambling now. Thanks for taking the time to read, guys, and who knows? Maybe I’ll do some updates in the future. I leave you with the complete list of 2010 releases I have seen, in order of preference:

  1. Toy Story 3
  2. Inception
  3. True Grit
  4. The Social Network
  5. The Town
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  7. Tron: Legacy
  8. Hot Tub Time Machine
  9. Iron Man 2
  10. Easy A
  11. Buried
  12. Tangled
  13. Despicable Me
  14. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  15. Shutter Island
  16. Batman: Under the Red Hood
  17. How to Tame Your Dragon
  18. Due Date
  19. Waking Sleeping Beauty
  20. Predators
  21. Kick-Ass
  22. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  23. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
  24. Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics
  25. The Losers
  26. Dinner For Schmucks
  27. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  28. The Wolfman
  29. Planet Hulk
  30. Survival of the Dead
  31. Alice in Wonderland
  32. Repo Men
  33. Robin Hood
  34. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  35. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  36. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  37. Clash of the Titans
  38. Splice
  39. Jonah Hex
09
Jan
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 204: 2010-The Year in Review

A little later than they would have liked, but Blake and Kenny are coming at you this week with their look back at 2010 in comics and geek culture. In this mammoth episode, the guys dish on big events for the publishers, the characters, the multimedia properties, and take a look ahead into 2011. It’s the biggest Showcase of the year! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 204: 2010-The Year in Review

30
Dec
10

What Movies Did I Miss in 2010?

So here I am, trying to come up with some sort of “end of the year” blog, and I decided it may be good to comment on what I thought were the best motion pictures of the year. I’m a geek, right? I watch a lot of movies, I comment on a hell of a lot of movies. I know movies.

But as I sat down to compile my list, I realized something startling: I haven’t really seen all that many 2010 movies. Even counting direct-to-DVD films like the DC and Marvel animated projects, I’ve seen a total of 22 feature length films released in 2010.

Oh, I’ve seen a lot compared to some people, I suppose. Some people wait a long time before seeing movies, some people place no particular importance on seeing them opening day. And I’m fine with that — I think opening day releases are kind of overrated anyway, unless the film in question is one that I’m absolutely dying to see. Looking at my list (I’m a nerd who keeps lists of such things) I’ve seen well over 100 movies this year, but only 22 of them were from this year.

But it seems like in previous years I saw a lot more. Back in the old days, when we were fresh out of college and single, I would get together with my friends (primarily my buddy Jason Champagne — what’s up, Jason?) and catch one or two movies almost every weekend. This year? On my list of 22 films from 2010, I saw 17 in the theaters. Not even twice a month, friends.

What’s even more horrifying, though, is the fact that as I look back at 2010 in the theaters, I don’t even feel like I missed much. I would like to see Despicable Me. I’ve got interest in Red and True Grit, and there are several others I wouldn’t mind seeing, should the opportunity present itself. But is there any 2010 release that actually upsets me because I haven’t seen it?

No.

I think that says as much about Hollywood’s output as it says about me.

Not surprisingly, out of my 22 films there’s a very high geek quotient. Eight of them are based on comic books. Five are fully animated. Three are based on fantasy novels, nine of them are remakes or sequels to older films that appealed to the geek in me as a youngster. Only two of them are totally original concepts, by which I mean they aren’t sequels, remakes, or based on a story from another medium, and those two are Inception and Due Date.

Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed by myself.

So here’s what I’m going to do, friends. Between Netflix and borrowing DVDs from friends and family, I’m going to spend January playing catch-up. You name a 2010 release (and direct-to-DVD films do count for this) that I haven’t seen and I’ll throw to the front of the queue, steam it if it’s available, or borrow it from somebody else and I’ll try to watch as many as I can in the hopes of giving you a more rounded view of what I think of 2010 in cinema. Any film, any genre, so long as it’s feature length and available on DVD. (And if I can, I’ll try to sneak in a few trips to the theater for the remaining December releases that are worthwhile.) Help me, my friends. You’re my only hope.

So you know where I’m coming from, though, here are the 22 films released in 2010 that I have seen, in alphabetical order:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Due Date
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • Jonah Hex
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
  • Kick-Ass
  • The Losers
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Planet Hulk
  • Predators
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
  • Survival of the Dead
  • Tangled
  • Toy Story 3
  • Tron: Legacy
  • The Wolfman
22
Dec
10

Classic EBI #142: Christmas Comics From Duckburg to the Watchtower

It’s the last Wednesday before Christmas, my friends, and that means it’s time for my annual look at all this year’s Christmas Comics! There are plenty of ’em — a Larfleeze special, a Night of the Living Dead one-shot, an appearance by Dynamo 5 and Jingle Belle, the usual offerings from the Simpsons, Disney, and Archie, and more! They’re all right here:

Everything But Imaginary #379: The Christmas Comics of 2010

But here at the ‘realms, we’re going back to December 14, 2005, and one of my early Christmas round-up columns… let’s take a peek…

Everything But Imaginary #142: Christmas Comics From Duckburg to the Watchtower

Less than two weeks until Christmas, gang, and the comic shops are swarming with Christmas issues this year. There have been Christmas comic books for as long as there have been comic books at all, and if I’d been alive then, I would have been a fan of them for just as long. As everyone who’s been following along with the Christmas PArty testify, this is the one time of year that I lean more Clark Griswold than Clark Kent.

I decided a few weeks ago to get my hands on every Christmas comic book that was put out this year – or at least all those I could find, and share my thoughts on ‘em with you guys here in Everything But Imaginary. Comic books, after all, make the perfect stocking stuffer – if you’ve got kids that you’d like to see get into the habit, what better way than to give them a dose of four-color jollies under the tree? I was surprised, however, at how many I managed to find this year. Perhaps there’s just more Christmas spirit in the air, I don’t know, but I’m in favor of it. So rather than doing one monster of a column, I’m going to break it up into two, and I’m going to begin this week by taking you down to visit the gang in Duckburg.

Since the classic Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade published by Dell back in the 50s, Disney comics have been some of the biggest boosters of Christmas in print, and I’m happy that the current licensee, Gemstone, is continuing the tradition in its third year of publication. This year’s Walt Disney’s Christmas Parade #3 is a ginormous collection of comics both old and new, kicked off with the Carl Barks classic “The Golden Christmas Tree.” Donald Duck’s nephews announce that they want a golden tree this Christmas, but when the tree turns out to be cost-prohibitive, the boys fall into a trap left by a witch concocting a potion to eradicate Christmas forever. It’s a grand adventure in classic Barks style.

Next up is Mickey Mouse in Romano Scarpa’s “It’s a Wonderful Christmas Story,” a familiar tale in which the world-famous mouse falls down on his luck and wishes he’d never lived in Mouseton. When a special guest-star (okay, it’s Santa Claus) shows him what the world would be like without him, he changes his tune. “Sentimental Energy,” by Marco Rota and Tony Isabella, is another gem, in which a group of aliens crash in Duckburg on Christmas – and need very special fuel to get back into the air.

The book also features stories with the Big Bad Wolf, Pluto and Grandma Duck and another Barks classic, “Silent Night,” focusing on Donald’s everlasting feud with his neighbor. It’s a fantastic package that any kid would gobble up.

But the Christmas Parade wasn’t enough for Gemstone. They gave Christmas themes to all four of their regular monthly Disney comics as well, starting with Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #663. Now this issue starts with a non-Christmas tale, Don Rosa’s “The Magnificent Seven (Minus Four) Caballeros,” a fantastic story in its own right, but I’ve already reviewed that one. Mickey Mouse, on the other hand, is featured in two Christmas stories this issue. In “The Spirit of Christmas,” that old crumb Pete is at it again, stealing an experimental virtual reality machine. Mickey makes a play to get the device back, but the real change for Pete comes in the form of three visions of the past, present and future. Yeah, it’s the old Dickens formula… and it still works.

In “Miracle on Main Street,” Goofy gets a job as a department store Santa, but when a little girl sees him changing out of his costume, she loses her faith in Santa Claus. Mickey and Goofy set out to prove that he exists – and have a little help. The issue also features great winter (if not specifically Christmas) stories with Chip and Dale, the Big Bad Wolf and Donald Duck.

In Uncle Scrooge #348, we get a great old-fashioned Scrooge adventure, “The Hunt For White December.” The richest duck in the world makes a bet with his old rival, Argus McSwine, that Duckburg will have a white Christmas. When McSwine realizes he’s going to lose the bet, he calls on Magica DeSpell to help him win. The witch double-crosses him, using the bet as a pretense for her latest effort to get her hands on Scrooge’s number-one dime. It’s really a great adventure.

In “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t,” Gyro Gearloose loses Helper, his lightbulb-headed assistant, while delivering decorations for Daisy Duck’s Christmas party. Gyro calls on his friends to track Helper down, but he may be too late. This is a really unusual story for Gyro – it doesn’t rely on a screwy invention to drive the plot, but rather on his faith in his friends, making it one of the best Gyro stories ever. The book also gives us the Beagle Boys in “The Christmas Gathering” – the notorious crooks call up all their family for a Christmas crime spree. It’s a funny tale that rounds out this issue’s holiday offerings nicely.

Mickey Mouse and Friends #283 continues the yuletide offerings with “Mickey’s Christmas Trees.” Pete is at it again (man, that guy gets around), this time using the Christmas shopping rush to hide a shoplifting spree. Goofy decides to go “undercover” to sniff him out, leading to a hysterical confrontation in Mickey’s Christmas tree lot. Come on, if you’re gonna tell me you don’t find cross-dressing cartoon characters funny, I’m calling you a liar. Later in the issue we get “Songs of the Season,” in which Mickey and Horace Horsecollar go head-to-head in a Christmas song competition – after all, anything would be better than the “Silver Bell Rock” that keeps bludgeoning their ears. It’s a short, quick story about the spirit of Christmas, with a great punchline.

Wrapping up (no pun intended) the Gemstone offerings for this year is Donald Duck and Friends #334, with another Barks story. In “Santa’s Stormy Visit,” Donald has taken on yet another job, this time at a lighthouse, but his nephews are concerned that Santa Claus might not be able to find them there. Desperate, the boys attach a letter to Santa to an albatross and send him off to deliver it, but a hellacious storm blows him off-course. This being a Disney comic, of course, there turns out to be a happy ending after all. “Santa’s Helpers,” by Lars Jensen and Marco Rota, is actually a sequel of sorts to an earlier tale featuring (of all people) the Easter Bunny. When Santa sprains his ankle making his delivery to Donald’s house, he summons the Easter Bunny to finish his rounds for him, asking Donald to tag along. The Bunny soon discovers that Christmas deliveries are a bit different than hiding eggs, and Donald is in way over his head. Out of all the stories I’ve read in these comics, this screwy little tale may just be my favorite.

If Disney comics aren’t your thing… well, you’re kinda reading the wrong column, aren’t you? But let’s finish up this week’s installment with a couple of non-Disney comics. First up is Justice League Unlimited #16. I’m on record as saying that the JLU cartoon is one of the best superhero cartoons ever made, and the comic book is a great extension of a great TV show. This issue it’s Christmas Eve, and the JLU (displaying flagrant ageist policies) has a rule that the junior members are on monitor duty. So Supergirl, Power Girl, Stargirl, Atom Smasher and Firestorm (along with a volunteering Hawkgirl) are holding down the fort at the satellite when the call comes in – Girder has broken out of Iron Heights. The team scrambles to capture him, but Atom Smasher discovers that his motives may not be evil for once. This is a strong Christmas tale that’s also notable for pointing out the diversity of the cast – it’s Atom Smasher, the lone Jewish member of the JLU, who remembers what the season should be about.

And finally, let’s talk about the debut product from a new company, Taylor Comics, I Gotta Catch Santa Claus #1. This comic actually came out in October, although Taylor promises to follow it up with more one-shots, I Gotta Catch the Easter Bunny and I Gotta Catch the Tooth Fairy. This is a rather different sort of story – a grade school chess team finds a rather unlikely contest – a $25,000 chess scholarship for anybody who can provide proof of the existence of Santa Claus. Drawing on their strategic skills, the children lay traps for him at each of their houses… but c’mon. Santa has been at this for centuries. Do they really have a chance? It’s a cute story – not quite a classic, but entertaining enough if you can find a copy for your kids.

Am I kind of a nut for Christmas? Well heck, of course I am. And I make no apologies for that. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glance at some of this year’s holiday offerings, and come back next week when we’ll visit the gang from Riverdale High School, a Christmas party at Dr. Strange’s, and more!

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: December 7, 2005

Just two issues in, I’ve already completely been won over by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s resurrection of the classic western hero Jonah Hex. A hard-ridin’ western hero who has no qualms about killing wrongdoers, or even leaving them to face their own horrible deaths. This issue, when a priest is murdered, Hex rides off for some vengeance. Like this first issue, this is a simple done-in-one story that works wonderfully. The western is back, and DC has got it!

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.

01
Aug
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 181: Inception, Under the Red Hood, and Ranting!

Finishing up a summertime holiday, Blake and Erin sit down and give their thoughts on Christopher Nolan‘s Inception and the new DC Universe animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood. They cover some leftover news from Comicon, then answer your e-mails! In the picks, Erin is reading Mary Roach‘s Bonk, and Blake picks Penny Arcade Vol. 6: The Halls Below. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 181: Inception, Under the Hood, and Ranting!




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