Posts Tagged ‘PVP

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.

29
Jun
11

Classic EBI #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s been about a month since DC’s big announcement, the restructuring of the universe, and I’ve had time to digest it all. So this week in Everything But Imaginary, I’m taking a more informed look at the future of the DC Universe…

Everything But Imaginary #405: The New DCU Take Two

But in this week’s classic EBI, we’re rewinding to January of 2005, when the readers of Everything But Imaginary voted on their favorites for the previous year. Set the Wayback Machine, friends, because it’s time for…

Everything But Imaginary #97: The 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards

It’s that time again, folks, for the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards, the only awards show voted on exclusively by the people who visit Comixtreme.com [CXPulp.com] plus a few other people that Blake begged to vote to help him break ties. So without further ado, here’s your host, Blake M. Petiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Thanks, Blake. Man, isn’t he a swell guy? Well friends, welcome to the 2004 Everything But Imaginary Awards. By popular demand, we’re doing away without the musical numbers and long, boring speeches by people you’ve never heard of. We’ve got 15 categories to get through and 30 awards to hand out, so let’s not waste time. The EBI awards are simple, there are two awards in every category. The Reader’s Choice award reflects the voting of you, the reader (hence the name). The Writer’s Choice award was selected by yours truly, because it’s my column and I get to do that sort of thing. Keep in mind, the Writer’s Choice winners were selected before voting was opened to the readers, so there are some categories where the same title won both honors. They get the coveted Double Blakie award! So without further ado, let’s roll on to the best comic books of 2004!

1. Best Superhero Title

Reader’s Choice: Invincible. Robert Kirkman’s story of a superhero coming of age really surprised me by pulling away to take this honor. This is the story of Mark Grayson, a seemingly average superhero, with the caveat that he also happens to be the son of one of the world’s biggest superheroes. Launched last year as part of Image’s recommitment to superhero comics, this book has not only become extremely popular, but one of the lynchpins of the Image Universe, such as it is. And it may not be the sole factor behind making Kirkman one of the hottest commodities in comics, but it sure as heck hasn’t hurt matters. I’ll admit to you guys right now, I have never read an issue of Invincible, but seeing the incredible support this title has, I’m determined to find that first trade paperback and see what all the fuss is about.

Writer’s Choice: JSA. Do I talk about this comic book a lot? Yep. And you know why? Because it’s one of the best comic books on the market. Geoff Johns and his solid art teams, currently including the great Don Kramer, have taken some of the greatest superheroes of all time, thrown them into a pot with their various progeny and successors, and turned out a comic book about heroes and legacies that is unsurpassed in modern comic books. The strongest things the DC Universe has going for it are its legacies – Green Lantern, the Flash, Starman and many others. This title celebrates those legacies and what makes superheroes great, and tells the best stories you can get in the process.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Superman/Batman, Birds of Prey.

2. Best Science Fiction Title

Reader’s Choice: Y: The Last Man. It’s hard, if not impossible to argue with the selection of this as one of the most outstanding science fiction titles in all comics. Brian K. Vaughan and his artists, most frequently Pia Guerra, have created a fascinating story in the adventures of Yorick Brown, the last man alive after a plague sweeps over the Earth. This title swerves into various storytelling styles – sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s terrifying. Sometimes it’s a sharp political satire and sometimes it’s a straight-up adventure story. One thing is for sure – it’s always a great read. With amazing cliffhangers that don’t seem forced, characters that grow and develop and a mystery like none in comics, Y:The Last Man is one of the best there is.

Writer’s Choice: The Legion/Legion of Super-Heroes. It is no secret that I’m an old-school Legion fan, but it’s been a long time since this team had as good a year as they did in 2004. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrapped up a fabulous 5-year run with an assault on Darkseid and the reintroduction of Superboy to the heroes of DC’s future. Once they left they passed the book on to Gail Simone, who delivered a great fast-paced adventure tale, which dovetailed right into the collision with the Teen Titans, and in turn, to a reboot of epic proportions. Now I was skeptical of the need for a reboot of this title, but one issue under the pens of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson was more than enough to convince me, this is still a fantastic sci-fi title, and likely to be a strong contender again in 2005.

Honorable Mention: Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Negation.

3. Best Fantasy Title

Double Blakie Award: Fables. The readers and I agree, when it came to fantasy in 2004, there was nothing that could touch the magic of Fables. Bill Willingham’s warped fairy tale follows the survivors of a bloody war in the Homelands of fairy tales as they live a new life on plain ordinary Earth. 2004 was quite a year. The Fables were attacked by the forces of the Adversary, Snow White and Bigby Wolf became parents and Prince Charming became mayor of Fabletown. Good people died, bad people thrived and through it all, the readers got to reap the rewards. Funny, exciting, beautifully illustrated (usually by the incomparable Mark Buckingham) and never patronizing or condescending to the reader, it’s no question why this has become a fan favorite. As far as I’m concerned, this book marks the high point of DC’s Vertigo line these days, and that’s saying an awful lot.

Honorable Mention: Bone, The Witches.

4. Best Horror Title

Reader’s Choice: 30 Days of Night. The vampire tale by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, among other artists, scored the most votes among horror fans in this year’s awards. The series of miniseries, including Dark Days, Return to Barrow and the current Bloodsucker Tales, is a remarkably gory, energizing horror comic. Some time ago (back in the first 30 Days miniseries), a cadre of vampires descended upon the small town of Barrow, Alaska, where darkness lasts a full month, making it a perfect smorgasbord for creatures of the night. The following series examine the lives of the survivors of that initial massacre – both human and bloodsucker alike. I just hope that when the promised movie hits the screen it does the comic book justice.

Writer’s Choice: Dead@17. Josh Howard’s tale of the undead stayed at the top of my list this year with the sequel, Blood of Saints, the current Revolutions miniseries and a Rough Cut special. Nara Kilday was killed, cut down in the prime of her life, only to return from the dead as an agent of a higher power against the forces of evil. Although Howard does sometimes tend to lean towards the cheesecake with his artwork, unlike a lot of comics, Dead@17 has a real story to back it up. With the announcement that this is going to become an ongoing series next year, replacing the series-of-miniseries format, I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

Honorable Mention: Devil May Cry, The Walking Dead, Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes.

5. Best “Down to Earth” Title

Reader’s Choice: Strangers in Paradise. In a tough category to judge – one that looks to comics that don’t rely on sci-fi or the supernatural – Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise gets the prize. For years now this has been a real genre-bender, waving between soap opera to crime drama to sitcom and back to soap opera again without missing a beat. Katchoo is in love with Francine, who’s marrying Brad. David, the man who loves Katchoo, has resurfaced and is chasing her again. And try as she might, Katchoo’s past keeps catching up to her. This is an intricate, complex, layered title, one that few others can match, and for a long time now it’s been one of the best, most offbeat comics on the racks.

Writer’s Choice: Gotham Central. If you’re not reading this comic book, guys, you’re just plain missing out. Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker, along with the soon-to-depart Michael Lark, have taken the world of the Batman and managed to tell a series of deep, powerful tales not about superheroes, but about the police whose job it is to keep order in a city of darkness. There are good cops and bad cops, and even those lines aren’t clearly defined. One thing is clear, though – this is one of the best crime dramas in comics, and it deserves all the accolades it can get.

Honorable Mention: 100 Bullets, The Losers.

6. Best Humor Title

Double Blakie Award: PVP. From its origins as a webcomic at PVP Online to its days at Dork Storm and through its current run at Image Comics, Scott Kurtz turns out one of the funniest comic books out there not just every month, but every day. Set in the offices of PVP Magazine, this strip focuses on a cast of geeks, video game addicts, harried office workers, a good-hearted but stupid troll and an evil kitten based on world domination. In other words, it’s just like your office. Kurtz has an uncanny knack for taking trite, overused comedy stories and making them funny and new again, due mostly to the great characters he’s created and his own versatility. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – man, I love this comic book.

Honorable Mention: Simpsons Comics, Lionxor, Plastic Man.

8. Best Mature Reader’s Title

Reader’s Choice: Fables. Gee, have I mentioned this title before? Just like in the Fantasy category, readers have handed the win to Bill Willingham and his crew. It’s interesting to note that one of the best mature titles on the market springs from some of the most classic characters of our youth. Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Pinocchio all have important roles in this title, but Disney it ain’t. There’s blood, sex and language that you don’t want the kids to read. But that alone doesn’t make it a good comic book. In fact, it would keep it from being a good comic book if not for the fact that the stories themselves are smart, sharp, clever and intriguing. Willingham knows that the secret to telling a great mature reader’s comic isn’t just throwing gore, boobs and f-bombs at the reader, but rather crafting a story that a younger reader just isn’t ready for.

Writer’s Choice: Hellblazer. This is probably the longest-running mature reader’s series in comics, and this year in particular it has earned that distinction. The story of the man who has cheated death, cheated the devil and cheated his way out of every nasty scrape he’s ever been in. And he’s lasted over 200 issues now, and his stories are as good as ever. With the Constantine movie coming out next month, DC has some of its top talent on this comic, namely Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco. It’s a great horror comic that, relies a bit more on the gore than Fables – but hey, it’s a horror comic. You’ve got to expect that.

Honorable Mention: Y: The Last Man, Supreme Power, Sleeper Season Two.

7. Best All-Ages Title

Reader’s Choice: Teen Titans Go!. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t always care for this comic, because I didn’t care for the TV show. But the show and comic have both grown on me, and evidently, with the readers as well. I don’t mind telling you that this was the category with the most spread-out votes, so I had to ask one of my “tiebreaker” people to pick one, and this came out on top. It’s a solid, enjoyable comic, and at least one six-year-old I know has really started to get into comic books, in no small part because of this series. It’s a perfect companion to the TV show, and it helps introduce kids to the wonderful four-color world we’ve all grown to love. In the end, what more could you possibly ask for?

Writer’s Choice: Uncle Scrooge. Mixing new stories by the likes of Don Rosa and Pat and Shelly Block with classics by Carl Barks gives this book a fantastic balance. Old stories, new stories, great stories. The comics are clean and simple, starring characters your kids already love and that, chances are, you grew up loving too. The only downside to this comic is the hefty cover price, which is at least justified considering it’s 64 pages a month, but I’d still prefer they drop it down to a standard 32 pages and give it a price that kids can afford. Overall, though, the stories and great and the art is beautiful – and most importantly, it features stories that kids will love and that adults will still get a kick out of. That’s the mark of a true all-ages comic book.

Honorable Mention: New X-Men: Academy X, Cenozoic, Usagi Yojimbo, Ultimate Spider-Man.

9. Best Adapted Comic

Reader’s Choice: Star Wars: Republic. While a lot of people savage the prequel era of George Lucas’s Star Wars saga, the ire seems to have spared Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Republic. Telling the tales of the waning days of the old Republic, this is the place to go to read about the great Jedi of the past. John Ostrander is crafting the tales of the Clone Wars, bridging the events between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and the upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with the adventures of the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura. This makes for some of the most exciting space opera in comics.

Writer’s Choice: G.I. Joe. Although G.I. Joe: Reloaded may be getting a bit more attention, the original title is still one of the best in comics. Brandon Jerwa and Tim Seeley’s ongoing epic about the war between G.I. Joe and Cobra has taken some serious twists this year. General Hawk is paralyzed. The Baroness is pregnant. The Joe team has been cut down to 12 members and Destro has seized control from Cobra Commander. The creators of this title are never content to let the status quo rest for very long, an incredibly refreshing way to tell a story about characters that were first created in another medium, and they’ve used that fearlessness to create a great comic book.

Honorable Mention: TransFormers: Armada, Street Fighter, Dragonlance.

10. Best Comic Adaptation

Double Blakie Award: Spider-Man 2. This ran away with it in the voting, friends, nothing else was even close. Director Sam Raimi reunited with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, and threw in Alfred Molina to make one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. Peter Parker’s responsibilities as Spider-Man finally overwhelm him and he decides to throw away his costume once and for all… but has to reconsider when he finds his loved ones plagued by the mad Dr. Octopus. Great acting, great visuals and characters that are true to the comic book. This was better than the first movie, and better than almost any other superhero movie out there.

Honorable Mention: Smallville, Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans.

11. Best Miniseries or Special

Double Blakie Award: Identity Crisis. Like the previous category, this is another one that left all competitors in the dust. DC Comics took their greatest heroes and gave them something even their vilest enemies couldn’t – fear. When the loved ones of a superhero become targets for a serial killer, all heroes have to be ready to fight. A lot of people balked at the conclusion to this series, and while I didn’t think it was flawless, I thought it was expertly crafted and impeccably written. Plus, with the noises we’ve heard coming from DC over the last few years, I get the impression that this is only the beginning of the shakeup of the DC Universe.

Honorable Mention: My Faith in Frankie, Powerless, Punisher: The End.

12. Best New Title

Reader’s Choice: Astonishing X-Men. With the end of Grant Morrison’s historic New X-Men run, Marvel Comics wisely decided not to try to duplicate his efforts, but instead took the team back to its superheroic roots. Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon with beautiful art by John Cassaday, this book focuses on a team of X-Men trying to prove themselves as superheroes in a world that hates and despises them. While the “mutants dealing with bigotry” angle isn’t new at all, what is new is the stance the characters are taking: fight bigotry by purposely making themselves heroes. It’s a new take on a concept that’s been done so much that a lot of us didn’t think any more takes would even be possible. It’s a great read.

Writer’s Choice: Fade From Grace. This little-known title from Beckett Comics was literally just handed to me at the Wizard World Dallas Convention in November, and I was astonished to totally fall in love with it. Written by Gabriel Benson with haunting artwork by Jeff Amano, this is the tale of John and Grace, a young couple very much in love. Their world is turned upside down, however, when John discovers he has the ability to turn immaterial as a wraith or solid as stone. Taking the name Fade, he sets out to become a superhero. What makes this comic so unique is that the story is told through the mournful eyes of Grace, a woman in love with a hero, frightened for his life, often grieving for him as though he were already dead. This is an incredible romance totally unlike any other comic book on the racks, and well worth the read.

Honorable Mention: District X, Cable and Deadpool, Conan.

13. Best Comic You’re Not Reading

Reader’s Choice: She-Hulk. Dan Slott’s new take on She-Hulk has turned out one of the best, most critically-acclaimed comics in the Marvel stable. Shulkie gets a job with a law firm specializing in superhumans – but they don’t want her, they want her human alter-ego, Jennifer Walters. In a day and age where most comic books seem to run and hide from continuity, this title revels in it, pulling out obscure characters and storylines and crafting new, often side-splitting stories out of them. The book is so self-referential that old Marvel Comics are often used as actual legal documents. With Paul Pelletier on the art chores and the promise of a big push to help boost sales in the coming year, this book is primed to become the mega-hit it deserves. Just for Heaven’s sake – start reading it!

Writer’s Choice: The Monolith. It may be a case of “too little, too late” since the cancellation of this title has already been announced, but DC Comics’ The Monolith is one of the finest comics out there that simply hasn’t found its audience. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with great art by Phil Winslade, this is the story of Alice Cohen, a young woman with a messed-up life, who inherits her grandmother’s old mansion with the caveat that she get her act together. When she moves in she discovers her grandmother’s secret – the giant clay golem living in the basement. It’s a superhero story with a twist. It’s a “girl and her monster” story. It’s a totally new set of eyes through which to view the DC Universe. And it may be ending, but that doesn’t mean you can’t jump on and see what’s so great about it before it goes. There’s always a chance that the Monolith can rise to fight again.

Honorable Mention: Street Angel, District X, Invincible.

14. The New Beginning Award

Reader’s Choice: Green Lantern. With the conclusion of the previous series and the beginning of Green Lantern: Rebirth, fans couldn’t be happier to see what’s happening to one of DC’s iconic properties. Hal Jordan is on his way back, and while a lot of us don’t want to see Kyle Rayner vanish either, the fact is that Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver are delivering a great story with beautiful artwork that’s not just taking the easy way out. As Johns is so good at, he’s mining the past of this property to craft his story, making a tale of redemption that actually seems to fit. It looked like a nigh-impossible task, but he’s making it happen.

Writer’s Choice: She-Hulk. I’ve already gushed about this title once, but I don’t mind doing so a bit more. She-Hulk is a character that has gone through a lot of incarnations over the years. From her savage days to her birth as a superhero with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, from the zany John Byrne series and back to being a team player, Jennifer Walters is someone who has reinvented herself every few years. Dan Slott understands that this character is at her strongest when she’s being lighthearted, but rather than copy the Byrne era, he’s found a totally new way to make her title into a comedy. I hope to get to read this book for a very, very long time.

Honorable Mention: Thor, Silver Surfer, Iron Man.

15. The Happy Trails Award

Reader’s Choice: Captain Marvel. No surprise here, seeing the uproar that followed this comic over the last several years. Peter David’s unique take on Captain Marvel lasted this long thanks to the severe dedication of the fans. It went from a fairly lighthearted satire to a much darker satire when the main character went mad, and while that storyline probably was dragged out a bit too long, there were still a lot of sad faces when the self-referential final issue hit the stands. It was a book that had a dedicated fan base, and it’s a book that many will miss.

Writer’s Choice: Bone. After over a decade Jeff Smith’s magnum opus finally came to an end. The tale of the Bone cousins, driven off to a valley full of strange and terrifying creatures, is one of the greatest fantasy tales ever put to comics. With beautiful artwork, compelling characters and an epic feel that makes Smith to comic books what Tolkien was to literature, it’s hard to believe this title only lasted 55 issues before the end. If you’ve never read Bone, now’s your chance: there’s a massive one-volume edition collecting the entire series, and Scholastic Books is about to launch a reprint paperback series that will redo this classic comic book in color, most of the issues appearing in color for the first time. I love this comic, and while I’ll follow Jeff Smith to any project he goes to in the future, I’ll never stop hoping that he comes back to the world of Bone once again.

Honorable Mention: Sentinel, Negation, H-E-R-O.

And that’s it for this year’s Everything But Imaginary Awards! Hope you had a great time, folks, and don’t forget to tip your waitress!

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: January 5, 2005

Continuing the revitalization of one of Marvel’s icons, Captain America #2 scored the first Favorite of the Week honor for 2005. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have managed to make a healthy blend of superheroics with the spy and crime genres that Brubaker does so incredibly well. This is a book with a big ol’ mystery, lots of danger, lots of spies and lots of action. It’s been quite a while since Captain America was this good.

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.

 

25
May
11

Classic EBI #100: What Comics Do I Love?

This week, my friends, I’m celebrating a milestone. It’s the big, big 400th edition of Everything But Imaginary, my weekly comic book column at CXPulp.com! I’m highly excited about it, and decided to take this opportunity to explain, once and for all, just why I read comic books. I’ll give you a hint. It’s got a lot to do with potential.

Everything But Imaginary #400: Why Do I Read Comics

And as part of the celebration, in this week’s Classic EBI, I’m stepping out of order a little bit. Column #93 was scheduled to be next, but since I’m celebrating this milestone, I thought it would be nice to go back and celebrate the column’s very first milestone, EBI #100, from February 2, 2005. Let’s go, shall we?

EBI #100 SUPER-SIZED SPECTACULAR: WHAT COMICS DO I LOVE?

It’s hard to believe, I know, but for 100 Wednesdays now comic book fans have had something more to look forward to than just this week’s crop of fresh comic books: we’ve had Everything But Imaginary. Hard to believe I’ve been writing it for this long, hard to believe that I still haven’t run out of things to write about. It’s a wonderful feeling.

As comic fans, 100 is a huge number for us. It’s rare, especially these days, for something to last 100 installments, so when it happens it’s cause for celebration. How, then, do I commemorate EBI 100?

Part of my mission statement here, folks, is to talk about what makes good comics good. And that’s my favorite part of this job: turning people on to new comics, explaining why I think something is great or talking about how to make it better. So how better to handle this column than to talk about the greatest comic book properties I’ve ever read?

Then I hit another problem, because when I made my top 10 list, almost all of them were superhero properties, and comic books are so much more than that, and I didn’t want to focus just on superheroes.

Then I thought: “Duh. It’s my 100th issue, and I can make it super-sized if I want to.”

So that’s what you’re getting, friends — my 10 favorite superhero properties and my 10 favorite other comic properties. There won’t be any big surprises on this list. You’ve been reading for 100 columns now, you know what I like and I don’t like. The important thing here, the thing I hope you take away from this… is the why.

My 10 Favorite Non-Superhero Comics

10. G.I. Joe: Yeah, I’m a big kid and I know it. But that’s why this property is so great to me. Every little boy wants to play Army Man — well, G.I. Joe takes that concept to the extreme. And the greatest Joe tales ever were told in the comics — first in Larry Hama’s legendary run at Marvel, then with Josh Blaylock and Brandon Jerwa at Devil’s Due. What’s more, this is the property that jumpstarted the 80s nostalgia craze, and is one of the few survivors. Because it’s still really, really good. This property has grown and matured along with its audience. Guys my age fell in love with this comic book as kids. It’s amazing that, even as adults, it’s one of the best comics on the market.

9. PVP: Man, what’s left to say about Scott Kurtz and PVP? Birthed as a webtoon, turned into a successful comic, this title lampoons video games, office politics, pop culture, television, movies and everything else. It’s what Dilbert would be with a giant blue troll and actual punchlines. For me, to be actually funny, something has to be smart too, and PVP scores that in spades. I read it every day on PVP Online and I still geek out every time an issue arrives at the comic shop.

8. Strangers in Paradise: Terry Moore’s labor of love was one of the first serious, non-superhero comics I ever got into. It’s basically a love story about Francine Peters and Katchoo, but sometimes it’s a triangle with David or a quadrangle with Casey or a pentagon with Freddie. Sometimes it’s a mob drama. Sometimes it’s a sitcom. Sometimes it’s a romance. This is a title that can reinvent itself not just from story to story, but within the same issue. Moore’s work is unceasingly experimental and consistently interesting, and I love that.

7. Sandman. Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece, Sandman was the flagship title of DC’s Vertigo line, and is still a top seller in bookstores. Using bits and pieces of DC’s existing superhero universe, Gaiman instead crafted a haunting fantasy tale about the king of the Dreaming and his Endless siblings. Sandman is the only comic book ever to win a World Fantasy Award (and is likely to remain so, because the members of the Award federation were so incensed that a lowly comic book won that they changed the rules so they are no longer eligible). It’s a truly literary work, and it’s a book with a lot of crossover appeal as well, drawing in people who ordinarily wouldn’t read comics and showing them how much potential the art form has.

6. Fables: This is by far the youngest property on either of these lists, and it is a testament to how good it is that I’m mentioning it in this column at all. The brainchild of Bill Willingham, Fables takes all those fairy tale and storybook characters we read about as a child and casts them together in a bold new epic — alternately a drama and a comedy, it’s fast, smart, clever and engaging. Five years ago I never would have believed I’d be pulling for a reconciliation between Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf or reading stories about Cinderella pulling a Mata Hari routine on Ichabod Crane, but I’m reading them now. And I run — run — every month to see if it’s in my advance pack of reviews, because if there’s anything I like more than Fables, it’s telling people how good it is.

5. Archie: That’s right. America’s Favorite Teenager is making my Top 10 list. And you know why? Because it’s sweet. And innocent. And wholesome. And it’s something that each and every one of us can relate to at some point in our lives. I’d wager that at least 75 percent of comic book fans, at some point or another, have read an Archie comic. You have the love triangles, the goofy buddies, the brainiacs, the bullies, the jocks, the nerds, and it’s all wrapped up in a package that is perfect to hand to kids and entice them into reading comic books. If I ever have kids, when the time comes for them to learn how to read, you can bet that Archie is going to be part of the curriculum.

4. Uncle Scrooge: I love Uncle Scrooge for many of the same reasons I love Archie — it’s wholesome and great for kids and something we’ve all read, but Scrooge has even more going in its favor. A great Uncle Scrooge story is never dated, never too low for adults to read, never too highbrow for kids. And while Archie is primarily suited for slapstick comedy, Scrooge does it all. Want high adventure? Let’s go on a treasure hunt. Want romance? Weave the tale of Scrooge’s lost love, Glittering Goldie. Sci-fi? Fantasy? Monsters? Pirates? Cowboys? Mythology? Politics? Corporate scandal? With Scrooge and his nephews, you can tell just about any kind of story you can imagine.

3. The Spirit: The most famous work of Will Eisner is a borderline superhero comic (he does wear a mask and fight crime, after all), but it’s more than that. It’s a crime drama at its heart, but Eisner did some fantastic things with it. He delved into fantasy, comedy and horror — as many genres as Scrooge does, in fact, but he did it for a more adult audience and revolutionized comics while he was at it. There’s still one Spirit story by its creator left unpublished, a crossover with Michael Chabon’s Escapist, and I cannot wait for that book to see print.

2. Bone: This is one of those rare comic books to crop up in the last ten to fifteen years that will almost certainly become a classic. Written and drawn by Jeff Smith, this epic fantasy followed the three Bone cousins after they were driven out of their home and into a valley filled with strange and terrifying creatures. Smith tricked us all by playing up the first dozen issues or so of the comic as a lighthearted comedy before delving straight into hardcore, full-out Tolkien levels of fantasy. (Tolkien played the same trick with The Lord of the Rings, if you look at the early lighthearted chapters of the first book.) If you like fantasy, you have to read this comic, and you’ve got plenty of options to do so. You can hunt down the nine volumes of the series. You can put out a chunk of change for the ginormous one-volume edition. Or you can even get the new digest-sized reprints that Scholastic is now printing… in full color.

1. Peanuts: If you did not see this coming, go back and reread the last 99 EBIs. Charles M. Schulz was, quite simply, the wisest man who ever lived. A genius, a philosopher, a teacher, a friend. And he did all of his great work through a round-headed kid, a crazy dog, a kid who couldn’t let go of his blanket and a loudmouthed fussbudget. People don’t give him enough credit for the brilliance of Charlie Brown — when you’re reading that strip, he is you. His face is deliberately blank and featureless that anybody can project themself into his situation. We’ve all fallen for the little red-haired girl or lost the big baseball game. We’ve all gone to friends for advice only to be mocked. We’ve all fallen. We’ve all hurt. We’ve all cried. We’ve all laughed. And we do it all through the Peanuts gang. To read his comic, it would be easy to argue that Schulz thought the secret of life was, no matter what, to never stop trying to kick that football. It would be far harder to argue that he was wrong.

And now for the moment that far too many of you probably skipped down to read when I explained how this week’s column was going to work…

My 10 Favorite Superhero Comics

10. Batman: Some of you are probably stunned that he’s so low on this list, others may be stunned he’s on here at all. But remember, this is my list and I can do it however I want. Batman is a modern-day fable, something that all of us can look to and wonder. What we have, basically, is a normal human who had everything that mattered taken away from him, but instead of falling prey to the night, he conquered it and elevated himself to the status of the gods. His prime motivator is guilt — he believes, on some subconscious level, that he can bring his parents back and atone for the sin of surviving by spending his entire life fighting criminals. He’s probably the deepest, most complex superhero there is.

9. Captain Marvel: And I mean the real Captain Marvel — not Mar-Vell, not Genis, not Monica Rambeaux. I mean Billy Batson, a poor orphaned boy who was led down a dark tunnel to a wizard who, upon saying the magic word Shazam!, transforms into the world’s mightiest mortal. As deep and complex as Batman is, Captain Marvel is the opposite — simple and innocent. He is a good-hearted child given the ability to do great things. Heck during the Underworld Unleashed storyline, when the demon Neron was questing for the purest soul in existence, everyone automatically assumed he wanted Superman. When he made his move for Cap, they were proven wrong. Is it any wonder that, in his heyday, he was the most popular superhero there was? More than Batman, Superman or Captain America, kids of the 1940s dreamed of being Captain Marvel. And there’s something beautiful about that.

8. Justice Society of America/Justice League of America/Teen Titans: Am I cheating by lumping these three properties together? I don’t think so, because I think of them as being different stages of the same thing: a legacy of heroism. The JSA was the first team of superheroes in any medium. They are the old guard. The elder statesmen. They’ve done it all and seen it all, and usually did it better than you. They are everything you want to be. The JLA is the pinnacle of the modern heroes. They are the first line of defense. The strongest, the bravest, the fastest, the truest. If your world needs saving, these are the guys you call to do it. The Teen Titans are the future. They’re the heroes-in-training. They look at the JSA and JLA and know that this is what they have to live up to, that the world will some day need them to become that. And they don’t back down from that crushing responsibility — because they’re already heroes.

7. Captain America: Forget politics for a moment. I don’t care who you voted for in the last election or where you live in the world or if you’re from a red state, a blue state or a marzipan state. Think about what Captain America symbolizes. A scrawny little boy who so loved his country, so loved the ideals of freedom and democracy, that he served himself up as an experiment to save the world from evil — and in doing so became the greatest soldier of all time. Someone who fights nearly 70 years later for those same ideals. Someone who is not blind to the problems of the world but who has faith in the goodness of the human spirit to rise above those faults and build something grand. You can’t tell me there’s not something awe-inspiring about that.

6. Spider-Man: Possibly Stan Lee’s greatest creation, Spider-Man is amazing (pun intended) for many of the same reasons as Captain Marvel. It’s the story of a boy given incredible power to go out and do good… but he’s given more complexity because, like Batman, he is driven by guilt. He squandered his gift, used it selfishly, and as a result lost the only father he ever knew. He was the first really relatable superhero — having problems with women, problems with school, problems with money. He’s been called the everyman superhero. That’s definitely one of the things that has made him so great.

5. Green Lantern: I don’t care which Green Lantern is your favorite. Pick one. Alan Scott. Hal Jordan. Kyle Rayner. John Stewart. Guy Gardner. Kilowog. Arisia. Ch’p. Tomar-Re. Relax, gang, I could be going this way for a long time. Green Lantern, at least to the readers, started with one man — Alan Scott. It spread out to become an intergalactic peacekeeping force like none other. Heroes across the entire universe, all brothers and sisters of the ring. When one Green Lantern falls, another takes his place. The Corps will never be gone forever. And no Green Lantern ever fights alone.

4. The Flash: First it was Jay Garrick. Then Barry Allen. Then Wally West. But it wasn’t until Mark Waid really delved into the characters in the late 80s and early 90s that the Flash became what it truly is now — the greatest legacy in comic books. He’s not just a guy with super-speed. The Flash is an ideal. A mantle. A banner that will be worn for a time and then passed down. Bart Allen is next in line after Wally. And after him, there will be more to come, an unbroken line, stretching at least to the 853rd century, for that is as far as we’ve seen. But there will be even more after that, we know. You cannot kill the Flash. You can only kill the person in that mask today.

This, as a brief aside, is the reason that Green Lantern and the Flash compliment each other so well, and why each generation of these characters have formed a true bond. One is the symbol of Justice Universal. The other is the symbol of Justice Eternal.

3. The Legion of Super-Heroes: This is one of the first superhero comics I ever read, thanks to my Uncle Todd, and it remains one of my favorite. The concept has been rebooted and revamped several times over the years, but the core remains the same: a thousand years from now, a group of teenagers bands together, in the spirit of the heroes of old, to protect the universe from evil. It’s as simple as that. It’s also got some of the most diverse, most interesting characters in comics. The group has a fantastic history and, even more, looks to its own history as inspiration. Much like the legacy of the Flash, the Legion of Super-Heroes is about a promise… that even 1,000 years into the future, there will still be heroes, still be people ready to stand against the night, still be people willing to fight, to bleed, to die… to save the world.

2. Fantastic Four: I’ve tricked you by putting this here, you know. Because unlike the last eight items, the Fantastic Four aren’t really superheroes. They are superpowered beings who Reed Richards has cast as superheroes, to make them famous, to atone for his original mistake that stole their normal lives in the first place. No, the FF is much grander than a superhero. The Fantastic Four are explorers. Of what? Anything. Outer space. Inner space. Microspace. Cyberspace. The Negative Zone. The depths of the Amazon. The cold surface of the moon. The burning depths of the human heart. The Fantastic Four are a family, dedicated to plunging the boundaries of knowledge, to seeking out what’s out there beyond the realm of imagination. They are considered the first characters of the “Marvel Age” of comics, but age is not a factor for them. When the stories are written properly, the Fantastic Four is always, always about finding something new, something grand… something fantastic.

1. Superman: He was the first. He remains the greatest. Superman is an incredible tale on many levels. He’s an immigrant. He’s an orphan. He’s an endangered species. He’s an exile. And yet he still found a way to become the greatest hero in the world. I get riled when I hear people call Superman perfect, because that doesn’t sound like they really understand the character, that they’ve only seen the work of poor writers. He struggles against being alone, against his urge to use his power for his own ends, against the ability to become a conqueror and shape the world as he sees fit. His true power comes not from the distant Krypton, but from the heart of America, from Kansas. By raising the most powerful child in the world, Jonathan and Martha Kent are heroes in their own right, giving the world a protector who very easily could have become a despot. The “super” part of his name is not the important part. Far more importantly, he is a man, a man with a good heart and a gentle soul, an iron will and an endless reservoir of courage. He is the most human of us all. He is the human we all wish we could be.

So there you have it. Not just one, not just ten, but twenty of the greatest concepts ever put forth in comics. Not necessarily the most famous or the most popular, but the ones that speak to me more than any other, the ones I love even through the lean years — the Superman Red/Superman Blue fiascos, the spider-clones, the “Ninja Force” nonsense and even in the face of those Bad Writers Who Shall Not Be Named. Because even when these concepts are mishandled, there’s no writer on Earth bad enough to destroy what makes their core work. Even in the bad times, it is only a matter of time until a good writer (I’m looking at you, Gail Simone) finds that core, polishes it, returns it to the light and makes their stories great again.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: January 26, 2005

Two months in and Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s new Legion of Super-Heroes has twice won my “favorite of the week” honor. In issue #2 Brainiac 5 leads a team of Legionnaires to Dream Girl’s homeworld of Naltor, where the youths of the planet have lost their ability to sleep and, with that, their precognitive abilities. It’s part sci-fi mystery, part superhero romp and part political drama. It’s great. Waid has frequently won “Favorite of the Week” for his Fantastic Four work – with that ending, it looks like he’s going to keep that distinction on a regular basis here with Legion.

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.

02
Feb
11

Classic EBI #75: Crossing Over With Blake Petit

Welcome, friends, to an all-new Everything But Imaginary. Today I’m talking all about Wizard World New Orleans — the stuff I loved, the stuff I hope to see improved next year. Take it all in…

Everything But Imaginary #385: Adventures in Conventioneering

And in this week’s classic column, we’re going back to August 11, 2004, when I took a look at what today we’d call a “mini-event,” the sort of crossover where only a group of related comics are involved, instead of every damn book in the line. I dug those then. I still do.

Classic Everything But Imaginary #75: Crossing Over With Blake Petit

Today, friends, we’re going to take a little time to commune with the spirits of the dead in comic book land. To join me on this deep, spiritual quest, I’ve invited some special guests. With me today is Eric Lenscherr, alias Magneto… huh? What do you mean he’s not dead anymore? Dang. Okay then, allow me to present Rex Mason, Metamorpho. Huh? Geez. Okay, I know, Hal Jor–

Aw, cripes in a handbasket.

Okay, forget the spirits of the dead thing. But since I already put “Crossing Over” as the title, let’s talk a little more about crossovers. Not the inter-company kind, but the intra-family kind, those that affect a group of related titles for a period of time. Now we’ve talked about this phenomenon before, but I think the time is ripe to peek in on it again because, for the first time in quite a while, both of the Big Two comic companies are doing such crossovers at once. Also because I couldn’t think of any other topic this week.

Every so often, the folks responsible for those four-color flights of fancy decide to group together a series of related titles with a single storyline, and that’s what’s happening right now. A lot of readers, understandably, are irritated by this. They feel like it is a marketing gimmick that will force them to purchase titles they don’t ordinarily read in order to get the full story.

I can certainly understand that mindset, and see why the fans of the Batman universe may feel that way right now. Last week DC Comics began a storyline called “War Games” which promises to link all of the various bat-titles over the next three months. They even went so far (as they have done in the past) as to launch the storyline with the uber-cool, uber-cheap one-shot, Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure.

For those of you who don’t read all of the titles, this one shot served both as a prologue to the story and as a primer on the Batman universe. It ran down the big bat himself, the various Robins and most of the satellite characters, all through the eyes of the Spoiler, who took over as Robin after Tim Drake quit, but got fired herself in only three issues (which I’m fairly certain is a new sidekick record).

Spoiler witnessed all of the top mob bosses of Gotham City come together on the invitation of a mysterious letter-writer, only to have the whole meeting go haywire. Tempers flared, bullets flew and a lot of the upper echelon of Gotham’s underworld ended up dead. With the mob bosses wiped out, their mobs went to war together, a war that is engulfing the city, and that Batman and his team have to put down.

Based on last week’s and this week’s issues, the prologue and first three chapters, DC has planned this well. Each title, while advancing the overall plot, is keeping its own distinct feel. Detective Comics #787 was a pretty strategic-minded book, for instance, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #182 actually tracked the efforts of the vigilante named Orpheus as he worked with Batman to keep things under control. Best of all was Nightwing #96, which managed to incorporate its own current storyline about the title hero’s uneasy relationship with Tarantula and his guilt over allowing her to kill the mobster called Blockbuster. Writer Devin Grayson perfectly balanced Nightwing’s guilt and fears with his efforts to solve the mystery of who called the various mob bosses together in the first place.

“War Games” is going to be the biggest bat-family crossover in years, touching some ten different series over three month’s time. People who only read one or two books that will be affected may get mad because they’re essentially being forced to read a chapter of a story they don’t want to read — either that or miss an issue of a title they do want to read.

Then there’s always the fear that the crossover story itself won’t be any good. I’ve experienced that myself. But I’ve always found the Batman editorial team one of the best in the business when it comes to putting together a crossover storyline that satisfies the reader in the end, if they’re willing to stick it out. And I, for one, am willing.

Over on the Marvel side of the aisle, there’s another big crossover a-brewing, although this one isn’t nearly as tight as “War Games.” Several Avengers-related titles are currently being grouped together under the banner of “Avengers Disassembled.” What makes this different from “War Games,” though, is that while each chapter of the Batman story seems to advance the plot as a whole, “Disassembled” seems more like a group of thematically-linked stories that, so far, have no real connecting force.

In the core title, Avengers, tragedy has struck. The team has come under attack from within. Heroes are dying. Their headquarters is being destroyed. And they have no idea who is behind it or what the real threat may be. Only one chapter of this storyline is out so far, in the form of Avengers #500, but it was a good one.

As we all know, because it is impossible to keep a secret from the comic-book reading public anymore, the point of this storyline is that entire Avengers team is going to fall apart and lots of new members will come on-board in an effort to duplicate the “big guns” approach DC comics has with its JLA series. (In other words, they’re putting the strongest, most popular and most recognizable characters they have all together in one book, fueling the rumor that Wolverine is going to join the team, despite the fact that he already appears in 17,421.92 comic books a month.)

However, there are six other titles carrying “Avengers Disassembled” banners, but none of them really seem to link to the main storyline at all. Instead, each of these titles has a connected sense of doom, of things going to hell in a handbasket and of heroes being forced to face their darkest hour. Iron Man is facing the devastation of his company, Stark Enterprises. Thor has finally reached Ragnarok, the destruction of the Norse gods as foretold in mythology.

Captain America has it the worst — in his own title he has reconnected with his old girlfriend Diamondback, unaware that she is now working for the Red Skull. In Captain America and the Falcon, his partner is on the run accused of crimes and he’s hitting on his old teammate the Scarlet Witch for some reason. Even in Spectacular Spider-Man, an old enemy of his has done something to the wall-crawler and is slowly turning him into a spider.

Spectacular Spider-Man is one of the more confusing books linked to “Disassembled” — unlike the other characters I’ve listed, Spidey isn’t an Avenger. At least, not now. But he has been in the past and rumor has it that he’s going to be part of the new team once the dust from “Disassembled” settles.

The other confusing book that’s linked is Fantastic Four — no members of the FF are currently Avengers, nor are they rumored to be joining the new team. However, it’s not really that much of a stretch when you think about it. The FF and the Avengers have been friends for years, three out of the four members of the team have been Avengers at some point or another (all of these points, I should point out, occurred in the 80s)… heck, they even lived at Avengers Mansion for a time after the original Baxter Building was destroyed. So it’s not too hard to imagine they’re concerned about their buddies.

As much as people complain about the “Disassembled” crossovers, though, they’re missing what seems to be a key point. Each of the titles is telling its own self-contained story, none of which (so far at least) seem to connect. So if you don’t want to read one title or another… don’t.

I’m a fan of the crossover, when it’s done well. Too often it is done poorly, I’ll admit, but we try to dwell on the positive here. There’s a lot of stuff to choose from in the comic world right now, and if big, epic storylines are what you’re into, now is a good time for that, too.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: August 4, 2004

Ah, this is actually what I was referring to with the “Crossing Over” title. Yeah. (Cough.) Anyway, in a week of solid books (Y: The Last Man #25, Majestic #1 and Batman: The 12-Cent Adventure were all solid contenders), the comic that brought me the most sheer enjoyment was PVP #8. Skull the troll wins tickets to see “paranormalist” John Edward live, and Brent goes along to debunk the mystic. That was cool, but I was even more entertained by the second story in the book, that of Skull’s first date. The big doofy lug reminds me of myself. I’ve got to love 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.

15
Dec
10

Classic EBI #91: How to Shop For the Geek On Your List

I this week’s new Everything But Imaginary, I take a short break from the Christmas content to talk about something kind of cool that happened this weekend — a grassroots campaign to give Lois Lane her own comic series. Could it happen?

Everything but Imaginary #378: Grassroots Comics

But going back in time, let’s go to December 1, 2004, when I first took the time to explain something very important to you all…

Everything But Imaginary #91: How to Shop For the Geek On Your List

Ah, here it is, December First. The lights are going up, the trees are getting decorated, here in Louisiana we’re thinking about rolling down our sleeves… it truly is Christmastime, isn’t it friends? That’s the important thing, after all, that there are only 25 shopping days left.

As much as I love Christmas, actual Christmas shopping is always a tremendous pain. I like giving gifts, but I never know what to get anybody. Will he like this book, does she already have that DVD, is chocolate appropriate, does any human being actually need that many drill tips? It can get maddening, and it can sometimes get even more maddening if you’ve got a comic book geek to shop for.

So for once, this week’s Everything But Imaginary isn’t necessarily aimed just at you, our regularly-scheduled mob of comic book lovers. This is for the people that want to get you a present this season, so feel free to print this out, casually leave a copy where your girlfriend can read it, forward the links, etc. And I’m not even asking for a dime of commission, I do this purely out of the goodness of my heart.

There is one simple way to shop for the comic book fan in your life, one that he or she has doubtlessly made you aware of. Almost every geek has one or two favorite characters and will gleefully accept virtually any gift bearing this character’s image. With me, for instance, it’s Superman. Everybody knows this. As a result, over many years of birthdays and Christmas presents, I’ve wound up with Superman floor mats for my car, Superman magnets, Superman lunchboxes, Superman statues… I even have a tin carousel shaped like the Daily Planet building with Superman, Supergirl, Krypto and Streaky flying around it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now the thing to be careful with when purchasing your geek paraphernalia with his favorite character is, of course, you want to make sure not to get him something he already has. Geeks themselves help you avoid this problem, because chances are he’s got an area — a room, a desk, a wall — where his prize possessions are on display. Statues, action figures, posters, hardcover books, signed comics… you will know where to find these items, catalogue his current collection and then add to it.

There are a few ways to find items specifically. Head to the nearest comic shop or toy store (he’s doubtlessly dragged you there before) and see what they have, or check out online sellers. If these don’t pan out, though, if you’re looking for something really off-the-wall… well folks, you’ve simply gotta try eBay.

The great thing about eBay is that you can find bizarre, unique things you won’t find anywhere else. Let’s say, for example, that your geek’s favorite character is Wolverine. (I know, this is like shooting fish in a barrel, but I’m making a point.) A quick eBay search, just in the “Toys and Hobbies” category, turns up 1087 items. Among them are video games (both old and new) a 12-inch Hugh Jackman doll, Mini-Mates, statues, posters, comics, pen and pencil sets, model cars, board games, a bobblehead doll, a plush doll, card games, lithographs, keychains and, for some insane reason, University of Michigan collector plates. Now if your geek’s favorite character is, say, Brother Voodoo, you’ll have a harder time finding paraphernalia. Of course, if your geek’s favorite character is Brother Voodoo, it’s time for him to reexamine his life choices.

If you do the eBay route, though, I suggest you only buy from people who accept PayPal as a payment option, and you do it soon to make sure you get it in time for Christmas.

Let’s say you don’t want to go the toy and knick-knack route, though. No problem. What about clothes? It used to be the only comic book clothes one could get were poorly printed t-shirts that were approximately three sizes too small. Not so anymore. They’ve got lots of fairly stylish shirts, hats, jackets, sweaters, neckties or even boxer shorts with small, tasteful comic book themes (emblems on breast pockets and the like). Jewelry works too: watches, cufflinks, rings… Plus, ladies, here’s your chance to dress your guy however you want and he won’t complain. (Many women I know enjoy dressing up the men in their lives regardless of the nature of their relationship. I once allowed a woman to help direct my clothing purchases and wound up with almost an entirely new wardrobe, plus the admonition that tucking in shirts is the enemy.) And there are plenty of women out there, even ones who may not read comics, who would happily wear a Superman t-shirt or pajamas.

Another shopping option, and this is more for the younger geek who is just building his or her collection, but the older folks will appreciate it too: lots of comics. When I was a kid some of the coolest Christmas presents I ever got were simply boxes full of comics from that year — Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America, New Mutants — I got almost the complete run of the X-Men’s “Mutant Massacre” storyline this way. It was nice to know Santa had a supply line to Marvel Comics. You can either go out and buy a bunch of comics yourself (old or new, from comic shops, flea markets, yard sales, etc.), or you can again turn to the Internet for sites that offer “grab bags,” or bid on eBay. This is a way to get large lots of comics fairly cheap (unless you wind up in a bidding war), and these lots are often grouped into themes — Disney comics, Batman comics, Archie comics, etc. Now the more comics you give at once the greater the risk you run of getting them something they already have, but with sheer volume, they’ll accept this as a necessary evil and concentrate on the cool new stuff. Plus you can always go back and sell the duplicates on eBay to some other geek shopper next Christmas.

Finally, I’ve got one last piece of advice — and this is for the Geek himself, so if you’re showing this column to your girlfriend, you may want to have a “printer mishap” that obscures the next few paragraphs. The December gift-giving season is not a bad time to attempt a small “geek conversion” present. You know what I mean, guys. She’s sweet, she’s beautiful, you love her, but she just doesn’t see what the big deal is about those guys in tights that beat each other up.

But she may have some soft spots for certain comics as well. Let’s say you’ve gotten her in the habit of reading Scott Kurtz’s PVP online, and she thinks that Skull the Troll is cute. Well then, why not get her a Skull doll this Christmas? She’ll think it’s sweet, and this will help slowly indoctrinate her into your geek culture.

I do have to caution, however, that you should not attempt a geek conversion present solo, particularly for someone you are in a romantic relationship with. If all she gets for Christmas is Skull the Troll, you will most certainly not have a Merry Christmas and you can probably throw any hope of a Happy New Year out the window too. But if you’ve also got her some jewelry, a nice sweater, a Corvette, etc., then adding in a Skull doll will seem like adorable garnish to a fine meal.

And there you have it folks! By just following these few simple suggestions, you can give your geek a Merry Christmas. Hope I’ve been helpful, friends. And if I have, you can find my wish list at Amazon.com

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: November 24, 2004

There were a lot of good comics last week, even a few really good comics, but there was only one I would classify as a must-read, which is sad because almost none of you, I suspect, will. Uncle Scrooge #336 took my favorite of the week spot with a reprint of Carl Barks’s classic story “A Christmas For Shacktown.” Daisy Duck is planning a Christmas party for the poorest families in Duckburg and sends Donald to beg Uncle Scrooge for the last $50 they need. Scrooge is a tightwad, but not utterly heartless, and agrees to give them half if they can raise the other half. From here, the story goes on to show what a master of story construction Barks was — events spiral totally out of control, spinning off into a dozen subplots before coming together with a wonderful happy ending that manages to get the moral across to young readers without being sappy or patronizing to adults. If you’re looking to give a box of comics to the kids on your list, this issue should be right on top.

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.

 

25
Aug
10

Classic EBI #62: From Peanuts to Spandex-Why Comics Will Never Die

Comixtreme.com is suffering from a temporary failure of service, which means no new Everything But Imaginary column tonight. Hopefully we’ll get the problem sorted out and I’ll get the new one online later this week. For now, though, it’s time for your usual Wednesday blast from the past. From May 12, 2004, it’s time for a glimpse at… well… everything I love about comics, and why I think we’ll always have them.

EVERYTHING BUT IMAGINARY 5/12/04

From Peanuts to Spandex: Why comics will never die

As I think I may have mentioned once or twice or a trillion times, I love Peanuts. And not the salted, honey-roasted kind, although I do love a good PB&J sandwich, which my doctor says is bad for my triglycerides so I’m going through withdrawal right now and thank you very much for bringing it up.

No, friends, I’m talking about the comic strip Peanuts, four panels of brilliance (more on Sundays) that graced the pages of newspapers all over the planet every day for almost five decades, the idea that spawned countless books and TV specials, cartoons and greeting cards and put words like “security blanket” in the global lexicon. I mean Peanuts, the brainchild of the brilliant Charles M. Schulz and the greatest comic strip of all time.

Well… in my opinion, anyway. Everybody’s got their own and is entitled to it, but I doubt anyone can logically argue that Peanuts isn’t at least the most important comic strip of all time. It’s a global phenomenon, universally recognized, beloved every day for nearly 50 years with no reruns or ghost writers and, most importantly, it brought a wise, philosophical tone to the newspaper page that many have tried to emulate and most have failed at. To my mind, the only two comics that even come close to Peanuts in terms of sheer intelligence without sacrificing the endearing humor that draws you in the first place are Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

A few weeks ago, a discussion erupted here at Comixtreme about comic strips versus comic books — as this is a comic book site, that’s what we spend most of our time discussing here. Strips and books aren’t the same, but they aren’t completely different either. It’s sort of like the difference between a movie and a television show — one is more frequent but shorter as well, one is something you pay for while the other is free or part of another package you buy (cable TV or newspapers), but the storytelling tools and language are the same. There have been overlaps in the two since the beginning — the very first comic books were reprint books of newspaper strips before someone got the idea to create new material. Dozens of comic strips, from Peanuts to Pogo to Dennis the Menace and Heathcliff, have all graced the comic book page at some point, whereas some comic books like Superman (initially a pitch for a newspaper strip before National Periodical Publications put him in Action Comics), Spider-Man and the Hulk have appeared in newspapers. There is even more overlap today, with Liberty Meadows abandoning newspapers entirely to focus on a comic and webtoons like PVP and Dork Tower enjoying a healthy coexistence as both a strip and a comic book. Artists have even crossed over, with Kelly doing the occasional Disney comic way back when and John Byrne doing a guest run on Funky Winkerbean some time back.

But Peanuts is still the ruler of them all, as we all saw last week when Fantagraphics Comics published The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952, the first of planned a 25-volume series that will finally reprint every single Peanuts strip in sequence, including hundreds that have never been reprinted since they first appeared in the newspaper. That was the greatest thing, for me, as I read this book: for the first time in four years I was reading Peanuts comics I’d never read before. The strip only had four characters at first — Shermy, Patty (the non-peppermint kind), a wordless Snoopy and good ol’ Charlie Brown. In the course of this first two and a half years, Violet moved in to the neighborhood and Schroeder, Lucy and Linus each made their debuts — as Sally would later — as babies, eventually aging to the point where they were peers with Charlie Brown and then freezing at that age with him. We see Snoopy’s first words, Schroeder’s first concert and Charlie Brown’s first baseball game (when he was a catcher).

Several of these characters would fade over the years as new ones would be introduced — Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Woodstock (who started out not only nameless, but as a girl), Franklin (whose appearance actually angered some readers because it showed the kids attended an integrated school) and dozens of others who have become part of this national treasure.

As Schulz got older, the strip got simpler, sliding from four panels to three to meet newspaper syndicate demands, and sometimes consisting of a single long panel. His line began to shake and the characters started to wobble. But even with the Golden Age over, they were still Peanuts and still beautiful.

In an interview in the back of this book, Schulz talked about comics in general, and what he considered a mistake in several. He said it was easy to destroy a comic with one mistake. He came close, he said, when he began introducing Snoopy’s brothers and sisters (and in fact only one sibling, Spike, appeared with regularity after that). He said Bob Seager destroyed Popeye when he introduced Eugene the Jeep. And he said Superman himself was destroyed a very long time ago, when he first learned to fly.

When I read this, I was jolted out of the book, because it made me realize something very important. This man, one of my heroes, still someone I consider one of the wisest men who ever lived… I thought he was wrong. I still do. I don’t think you can destroy a good comic, not one with a real heart and soul to it, the way Peanuts and Superman both do. His argument is that Superman’s flying power unhinged him from reality and made him less relatable. And perhaps that’s true, for people who knew the character at the beginning. But for younger people, for me, that was always part of the appeal. Who wouldn’t want to fly? I can’t tell you how many hours I spent as a child (almost as many as I have as an adult) dreaming of being able to take to the air, go where I wanted, unfettered by borders or rules. Does that make Superman hard to accept? Perhaps. But only if you’re unwilling to open your imagination.

Superman has suffered from some terrible storylines over the years (let’s not get into the Blue/Red fiasco), and a lot of people gave up on him. But new stories, great stories are currently being told by the likes of Jeph Loeb and Mark Waid. And even if they weren’t… well… a bad storyline now, even a thousand bad storylines now, can never take away the wonder of the stories we loved in the past.

I’m using Superman as my example because Schulz did, but I think the same holds true for any truly great comic concept: Batman, the Fantastic Four, Captain America. Someone told me recently that, after the last few years of Uncanny X-Men, they didn’t think they would ever enjoy the characters again. And it’s true that a comic’s present can be shattered and possibly even destroyed for that one person. But as long as the heart still exists, there is always the possibility that some new writer, some new artist, some new child who has never read the comic before will find it, breathe life into it again, and make it new.

And the same goes for the great strips. Even if the last few years of Peanuts weren’t as good as they were in the glory years, they were still better than 90 percent of the comics in the newspaper. And it’s why thousands of newspapers still run Classic Peanuts every day. It doesn’t matter if we’ve read them before. Everything that strip taught us is still true: unrequited love is the hardest; a watched mailbox never produces a Valentine; just because a kid has a blanket doesn’t mean he’s not smarter than you; happiness is a warm puppy; there is no problem so immense that it can’t be summed up with a “Good grief.” And most of all, no matter what, never, never stop trying to kick that football.

Charles Schulz knew all that. And he taught it to me.

And maybe somewhere out there right now, some new kid is picking up the newspaper for the first time, and seeing today’s Classic Peanuts

…and smiling.

Because a great comic, a true comic, can never die.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: May 5, 2004

And speaking of Superman, in a comic week with no real jump-out-of-your-seat awesome comics, Superman: Birthright #10 took favorite of the week honors for being the most consistently entertaining. Mark Waid and Leinil Yu have done an incredible job of reinventing the man of steel. In this issue, Lex Luthor launches a fake invasion of the planet Earth by Krypton, Superman is down for the count and everyone thinks he’s part of the invasion force. He’s ready to quit. He’s ready to give up.

The last page sells this. The last page reminds us what Superman means. Oh, if only Waid were writing Action Comics

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

03
Apr
10

What I’m Reading: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

With a movie coming out in a few months and certain comic-reading pals of mine gushing over this series, I thought I should finally give a read to the first volume in Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s Scott Pilgrim series, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life.

Scott is an unemployed 23-year-old who spends his time in an (admittedly) terrible garage band and semi-dating a 17-year-old high school student he met on the bus. One day, he starts having bizarre dreams about a girl with wild hair on a pair of rollerblades, and when he finally meets the girl at a party, he’s head over heels for her right away. The only catch — she’s got seven evil ex-boyfriends that he’s going to have to battle to keep her in his life.

To be honest, this is a book where I’m left wondering just what the big deal is. To begin with, Scott is an inherently unlikable character. He’s a loser who can’t get a grip on his own life and treads dangerously close to statutory territory with his sort-of girlfriend, Knives. (The character names, incidentally, are pretty unlikely as well.) The way he’s willing to throw Knives away the minute he meets Ramona Flowers doesn’t really help the situation. Then, after spending most of the book coming across as sort of a pantywaist, the first evil ex attacks and he magically turns into a character from Street Fighter, complete with special moves, with virtually no explanation. O’Malley has violated the number one rule of speculative fiction — you’ve got to establish what the rules of your universe are early, and stick to them. The superpowers are as out of the blue as they would have been if David Schwimmer had suddenly started hurling around fireballs in the third season of Friends.

That said, I’m still planning to pick up volume two.

Why, you ask? Boy, is that a legitimate question. The book isn’t a total loss. There’s a quirkiness to it that I do enjoy, and while Scott is somewhat pathetic, these circumstances are the sort of thing that can make a character man up and develop into someone you want to read about. I’d like to see that happen. And I don’t even need him to complete that journey in volume two (there are six or seven of these, I think), I just need an indication that he has that potential. That said, if I read volume two and I’m left with the same feeling I have now, I doubt I’ll read volume three.

I’ve been reviewing my butt off lately. Here are some of my latest:

18
Jan
10

What I’m Reading: 2010 Edition

Like I did last year, I’m going to keep a running tally of my reading list this year. This includes both prose books, graphic novels, short stories (if I read them independently of an entire book, that is), and audiobooks that I listen to. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, I’ll place a link to this post on the righthand “Blakestuff” column, and periodically update this page with new material. Also, if I happen to review the book either here, for the Amazon Vine program, at Comixtreme.com, or otherwise, I’ll make the title a link. Because I know you would want it that way.

  1. Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos (2009), B-*
  2. Under the Dome by Stephen King (2009), A-
  3. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 1 by Eric Shanower (2010), A-*
  4. Replay by Ken Grimwood (1987), B+
  5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954), A+
  6. The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens (2009), A*
  7. 7th Son: Descent by J.C. Hutchins (2009), A- @
  8. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (1987), A
  9. Star Comics All-Star Collection Vol. 1 (2009), B-*
  10. “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft (1928), B
  11. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002), A-
  12. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2009), B+
  13. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (2008), B+
  14. The Magic Book of Oz by Scott Dickerson (2009), B+
  15. More Blood, More Sweat, and Another Cup of Tea by Tom Reynolds (2009), A-
  16. PVP Vol. 6: Silent But Deadly by Scott Kurtz (2009), B-*
  17. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865), A-
  18. Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951), A
  19. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900), A
  20. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2001), B
  21. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (2003), B
  22. “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving (1824), A
  23. Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies by Michael Adams (2010), A
  24. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (2008), A
  25. Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage by Grant Morrison (1990), B*
  26. Doom Patrol: The Painting that Ate Paris by Grant Morrison (1990), B+*
  27. The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason (2008), A-
  28. “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1836), B+
  29. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (1894), B-
  30. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley (2004), B-*
  31. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce (1890), A
  32. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595-ish), B
  33. “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain (1865), A
  34. Lost Ate My Life by Jon Lachonis & Amy J. Johnston (2008), B-
  35. All the Great Books (Abridged) by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2005-Stage Play), A-
  36. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max (2006), B
  37. Reduced Shakespeare by Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor (2006), B+
  38. The Zombie Wilson Diaries by Timothy W. Long (2009), B
  39. Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz by Marcus Mebes (2008), B-
  40. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper (2004), B
  41. “Winter Dreams” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922), B
  42. Blockade Billy by Stephen King (2010), B+
  43. Honor Brigade by Tom Stillwell & Bradley Bowers (2009), A-
  44. Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships by Eric Shanower (2001), A*
  45. Marvel Zombies 4 by Fred Van Lente (2010), B*
  46. The Toxic Avenger and Other Tromatic Tales edited by Tim Seeley (2007), B-*
  47. Iron Man and Philosophy: Facing the Stark Reality edited by Mark D. White (2010), B
  48. Sheldon: Living Dangerously With Saturated Fats by Dave Kellett (2009), A-
  49. “The Far and the Near” by Thomas Wolfe (1935), B-
  50. “In Another Country” by Ernest Hemingway (1927), B-
  51. “The Corn Planting” by Sherwood Anderson (1921), B
  52. “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner (1930), A
  53. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895-Stage Play), B
  54. Heaven Book V: War by Mur Lafferty (2008), B@
  55. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Conner (1955), B+
  56. Kissyman and the Gentleman by Scott Sigler (2010), B-@
  57. Carrie by Stephen King (1974), B
  58. Unbeatable: Hotter Than Hell (2010) by Matthias Wolf, A-
  59. DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories Vol. 2: Batman and Robin (2010), edited by Bob Joy, B-*
  60. I’ll Mature When I’m Dead (2010) by Dave Barry, B
  61. Wertham Was Right (2003) by Mark Evanier, A-
  62. Little Adventures in Oz Vol. 2 (2010) by Eric Shanower, B+*
  63. Age of Bronze Vol. 2: Sacrifice (2004) by Eric Shanower, B*
  64. Fantastic Four Visionaries: John Byrne (2004) by John Byrne, A*
  65. The Crypt Book One: The Crew (2010) by Scott Sigler & Various, B+@
  66. Vampire Brat (2001) by Batton Lash, B+*
  67. Haunt Vol. 1 (2010) by Robert Kirkman & Todd McFarlane, B+*
  68. Ancestor (2010) by Scott Sigler, A
  69. The Customer is Not Always Right (2009) by A.J. Adams, B
  70. Atomic Robo Vol. 1: Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (2007) by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, A*
  71. Starman Omnibus Vol. 4 (2010), by James Robinson, A*
  72. Hater (2006) by David Moody, B+
  73. “Everything and Nothing” (2010) by David Moody, B
  74. Penny Arcade Vol. 6 (2010) by Jerry Holkins & Mike Krahulik, B+
  75. And Another Thing… (2009) by Eoin Colfer, B-
  76. Dog Blood (2010) by David Moody, B
  77. The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904) by L. Frank Baum , B+*
  78. Sheldon: Still Got It (2009) by Dave Kellett, A*
  79. Literature: Unsuccessfully Competing Against Television Since 1953 (2010) by Dave Kellett, A*
  80. Drive: A Hero Rises (2010) by Dave Kellett, B*
  81. Beneath (2010) by Jeremy Robinson, B-
  82. Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories (2010) by Zack Whedon, A*
  83. Night of the Living Trekkies (2010) by Kevin David Anderson & Sam Stall B+
  84. The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus (2010) by Fred Hembeck, B+*
  85. “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe, A
  86. Curse of the Were-Woman (2009) by Jason M. Burns, B*
  87. A Teacher’s Night Before Halloween (2008) by Steven Layne, B
  88. Ghostopolis (2010) by Doug TenNapel, A*
  89. Superman: Earth One (2010) by J. Michael Straczynski, A*
  90. Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives (2009) by David Eagleman, A
  91. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010 Graphic Novel), B*
  92. The Lost Hero (2010) by Rick Riordan, B
  93. Stupid Christmas (2010) by Leland Gregory, B-
  94. Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (2001) by Ace Collins, B+
  95. Full Dark, No Stars (2010) by Stephen King, A-
  96. The Case For Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger (1998) by Lee Strobel, B
  97. Amelia Rules: A Very Ninja Christmas (2009) by Jimmy Gownley, A*
  98. The Curious World of Christmas (2007) by Niall Edworthy, C+
  99. The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories (2010), edited by Craig Yoe, B*
  100. Top Cow Holiday Special 2010 by Phil Smith & Paul Dini, B*
  101. Graphic Classics Vol. 19: Christmas Classics (2010), B+*
  102. The Truth About Santa (2009) by Gregory Mone, B
  103. The Starter by Scott Sigler (2010), B+

*-Denotes Graphic Novel or Comic Strip collection
@-Denotes audiobook
“”-Denotes Short Story

Last Updated on January 1, 2010

16
Dec
09

Everything But Imaginary #333: The Year Ain’t Over Yet

We stand here at about the mid-point of the month of December. Christmas is rapidly approaching, and the week after that, the new year – and with that, a lot of people are putting out their year in review pieces. But is it quite time yet? There’s still a full twelfth of the year left, but the people in charge of the wrap-ups act like nothing that happens in December matters! So for the sake of those poor, orphaned announcements that have been left out of the year end lists, I thought I would talk about a few of them in the here and now. And fans of the Christmas Party, fear not — I talk about the Christmas collaboration between Scott Kurtz and Neal Adams, as well as the new Ghostbusters Christmas one-shot!

Everything But Imaginary #333: The Year Ain’t Over Yet
Inside This Column:

11
Jul
09

What I’m Reading: Blackest Night #0

Blackest Night #0Since I’ve more or less decided to review all the chapters of Blackest Night here at Evertime Realms, I went back and pulled out the zero issue released in may for Free Comic Book Day. Produced by the same creative team — Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis — that will handle the regular miniseries, this issue takes place just after the Green Lantern #43 I reviewed the other day.

Hal Jordan is joined by his best friend, Barry Allen. Both the Green Lantern and the Flash are heroes who have come back from death, a feat that has been accomplished by a lot of people across the DC Universe. Today, though, they ponder those who haven’t come back from death’s door, and perhaps more importantly, why they did.

One of the central themes that Johns says will be explored in Blackest Night is the question of why so many superheroes seem to be able to cheat death again and again, and this issue sets up that theme nicely. It’s also a good focus on Hal and Barry as friends. Their own friendship is explored, as is their relationships to certain fallen heroes that we know will show their faces as Black Lanterns. (At this point at least five different Black Lanterns have been confirmed through solicitations and the like, but I won’t mention them here). Basically, the point of this book is to show the readers the chessboard. It reminds us where all the pieces are, who is in play and who isn’t, and gets us ready for the main event.

The book also features a series of pages drawn by Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke. Each spread features a different one of the eight corps and points out the key players in each one. For those who may not have been reading the last two years of the two Green Lantern titles (more the fool you), it’ll get you up to speed quickly.

So that’s it. The prologues have been read, the players are all in place, and the Blackest Night is about to be unleashed. More than any time in my life of reading comics, I just can’t wait for Wednesday.

RATING: 7/10

Since we all do have to wait for Wednesday, though, how about you take a look at some of the other reviews I’ve written lately over at Comixtreme?




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