Posts Tagged ‘Starman

13
Apr
11

Classic EBI #85: Deconstruction and Glory

With tax season upon us, we’re all going to look for less expensive entertainment. In the interests of helping us all with that dilemma, I’ve taken it upon myself to sift through Amazon for a few graphic novels that — at least as I write this — can be had for under ten bucks a pop.

Everything But Imaginary #394: Eight Under Ten

In the classic EBI from this week, we go back to Oct. 20, 2004, when I look at the two extremes of the superhero genre…

Everything But Imaginary #85: Deconstruction and Glory

There are many types of comic book fans — the geeks, the fanboys, the gaming crossovers, the alts, but there are only two types of fans that really get on my nerves. First are their ones who only read superhero comics. The ones who refuse to come out of the narrow little shell and experience all of the wild, diverse realms of storytelling that comic books have to offer. Second, the ones that refuse to read superhero comics, the ones who think they’re too cool for that and anyone who enjoys a superhero comic is intellectually beneath them and that by picking up this week’s Amazing Spider-Man you are contributing to the downfall of western civilization. (You are actually doing this by picking up Action Comics.) [2011 Note: I wrote this during Chuck Austen’s run on Action Comics. I stand by this statement.]

Smart comic fans, I think, should fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. Nobody should ever read any comic they don’t like (save your money and buy something good), but it’s even more important not to close yourself off to a great story just because of the genre it is written in.

Just as comic book fans have divided themselves into these camps, however, superhero comics to a very large degree have divided themselves as well, and although there are some exceptions, almost all mainstream superhero titles these days play more to one side of the spectrum or the other — they deconstruct the heroes, or they glorify them.

“Deconstruction,” of course, is nothing new — one could argue that it goes back as far as Green Arrow’s discovery of his sidekick Speedy’s heroin addiction. There are lots of kinds of deconstructive stories — those that show the heroes has having all-too-human flaws or feet of clay, or those that simply show them failing, or achieving victory but at too high a price. The darker threats, the mass murders, the terrorist actions. These are the “deconstructive” comics.

Pretty much every title under the Marvel Knights banner fits this description — Daredevil is a great example. He was, in his early days, a brighter character, akin to Spider-Man, but as time went on he got darker and darker. Now his comic is the epitome of gritty, showing hard crime and real consequences. Matt Murdock’s world is not a nice place to live. Brian Michael Bendis, of course, is one of the tops in this realm of comics — along with guys like Grant Morrison and Bruce Jones, and perennial favorites like Frank Miller and Neal Adams. These are often the only comics the “too cool for school” crowd will touch, mainly because it’s so “grim” and “edgy” and helps to shatter the ideals of the spandex-clad warriors they sneer at the rest of the time.

Then we have the flip side of superhero comics — those that take the traditions and standards of the genre and raise them up, glorify them, and make them seem fresh and new again. Take a look at Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four for a primary example of this. While the “Unthinkable” and “Authoritative Action” storylines he told last year did get pretty dark, he stayed with what made the characters the heroes they were rather than pull them down, and he closed off that chapter of their lives in the “Afterlife” story by bringing back the Thing (killed in “Authoritative Action,”) with a little help from a certain Man Upstairs who looked an awful lot like Jack Kirby. Some readers balked at the unabashed sentimentality. I thought it was brilliant.

Geoff Johns has also proven himself quite adept at the glorification of superheroes, and he does it in a way that Waid often does too — he mines their pasts, digging into classic stories from the golden, silver and bronze ages, and uses them to craft something totally new. A lot of his Teen Titans series up to this point has been about bringing together threads left by the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez incarnation of the property, but updating it to fit in the new members of the team. In Flash, he keeps taking old villains and remaking them into more serious threats (as he did with the likes of Mirror Master and Captain Cold) or introducing new threats that tie into the past of the character (like Murmur and the new Zoom).

Johns may just save his best storyweaving skills for JSA, however, and it’s no wonder. This is the first superhero team in the history of comic books, and several of the oldest characters in industry are still members. What’s more, they have progeny and proteges that are carring on in their names. Johns has brought together the legacies of the Star-Spangled Kid and Starman stogether in Stargirl, restored Hawkman to a characterization that actually makes sense and even made a character with the goofy Golden Age moniker Mr. Teriffic a deep, interesting character.

But man, the stuff he’s done with Hourman is even better. The original Hourman, Rex Tyler, died fighting Extant during DC’s Zero Hour miniseries. There are two other Hourmen walking around, though, Rex’s son Rick, and an android from the future with time-travel powers. In JSA we learn that the android plucked Rex from the timestream just before his death and gave him one hour to spend with his son, who could break up that hour into increments anytime he needed to talk to his father. When Rick was almost killed fighting Black Adam, though, he and Rex switched places, with Rex back in the “regular” timestream and Rick trapped in time. Johns wrapped up that storyline in last week’s JSA #66 with an ending that showed off everything that made these characters heroes.

If we’re talking about glorifying superheroes, though, one need look no further than Astro City. Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross have created a real lush, wonderful world that pays a brilliant tribute to everything that superhero comics have to offer, and they look at it from every angle. If you haven’t read this comic, you haven’t read superheroes right.

Here’s the thing — while excellent stories have been told in both the deconstruction and glorification subgenres of superheroes, not all characters are suited for both. Superman and Captain America, for instance, never really work in deconstructed stories. When you start making Superman grim or edgy, you lose what it is that makes him Superman.

This was the big problem I had with Mark Millar’s Ultimates series, and the reason I’m not getting Ultimates 2. Millar recreated regular Marvel characters and made it a point that they were not the same as the ones we were used to. However, the new characters he whipped up seemed to me to be nothing more than the original character’s worst traits magnified to the extreme. Giant-Man was nothing more than a wife-beater. Iron Man was nothing more than a drunken philanderer. Captain America was nothing more than an arrogant nationalist.

On the other hand, characters like the Punisher just don’t hold up if you try to glorify them. Even when you go lighthearted, as Garth Ennis did in the Marvel Knights incarnation of the character, it has to be dark humor, with an undertone of madness that belies the character’s situation in life.

Then there are those rare characters that work if you’re deconstructing or glorifying superheroes. I think the X-Men are probably the best example of this. During New X-Men, writer Grant Morrison dissected these characters, brought their faults to the forefront and made them face down threats — both from without and within — that tore the team apart. Much of his story was a satire of some of the more ridiculous aspects of the characters (Magneto’s tendency to get resurrected no matter what the circumstances of his death were, for instance, or the egocentric notion that the “X” in Weapon X was a letter and not a Roman numeral). He took the X-Men apart and pieced them into something new, then he put the chairs on the tables, wiped down the counter and left.

Then he leaves and what happens? Joss Whedon comes in with Astonishing X-Men and, using many of the same characters, puts them back into costumes and sends ‘em out to be superheroes. And it works, just as well. Meanwhile, Nunzio DeFillips and Christina Weir remake their New Mutants series into New X-Men: Academy X, a book about — what else? — teen superheroes. These are kids learning to one day become X-Men, and as such, the book has several elements that both glorify superheroes (the code names, the “squads”) and break them down (how Wither accidentally killed his father with his powers, for instance).

There are many, many different things that can be done with superhero comics, and a great many of them are being done right now, done very well. There’s an old saying in some parts of the country that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. With comic books, if you don’t like one, just take a step or two further down the rack. Even if you’re looking at a rack of superheroes, you won’t have far to go to find something totally different.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: October 6, 2004

Welcome back, Bill Willingham, you have been too long absent from this list, but last week’s Fables #30 bolted you right back to the front of the pack. I’ve been a fan of this title since the first issue, friends, and issue #30 is possibly the best yet. This is the answer to “decompressed” storytelling here, everything happens at once. The Fables are reconstructing their home after a battle, the election for the mayor of Fabletown is going off, Snow White is in labor (and Bigby Wolf is the father) — there are three major storylines in this issue, a half-dozen (if not more) minor storylines, and there’s still room in there for a few surprises. If you haven’t tried out Fables, this may just be a great place to 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 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.

 

14
Mar
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 162: On the Go

The guys are busy this weekend, so it’s gonna be a mini-episode recorded as the guys are out and about trying to take a bit of a break. The guys talk for a few minutes about news from the Emerald City Comicon, the announcements about the departing creative team of Power Girl, the incoming writer of Superman and Wonder Woman, and the official word on the next Superman movie. In a novel “what graphic novel do you want to buy?” segment, Kenny wants Chew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice and Terra, Blake has his eyes on Starman Omnibus Vol. 4, and Mike shows his love for the Kiss Kompendium. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Episode 162: On the Go
Inside This Episode:

01
Feb
10

What I’m Reading: Still More Blackest Night

It’s been a couple of weeks, so I’m back with a few more Blackest Night reviews for you guys. Although there was no issue of the miniseries proper in the month of January, that doesn’t mean nothing happened. We’ve got a few more “dead” series back from the grave, a few more spin-off miniseries, and a few more crossovers — including a couple of big ones. So let’s do it, again, roughly in order of release…

Blackest Night: The Flash #2

The Rogues, expecting their dead teammates (and, in some cases, predecessors) to come gunning for them, decide they’re going to go on the offensive, heading to Iron Heights penitentiary to hunt down the dead villains. Meanwhile, Wally and Barry — now complete with his new Blue Lantern ring — begin facing off against their own Black Lanterns, including Kid Flash, Professor Zoom, and the once-benevolent ape named Solovar. This issue is a bit of a mixed bag for me. The Rogues stuff is great, which is no surprise, as Geoff Johns has been taking lame villains and making them bad-ass ever since his original Flash run years ago. The fact that many of these characters have any sort of personality at all is directly attributable to him. And amazingly, while he hasn’t turned them into heroes, he’s somehow made villains you want to root for, especially in these circumstances. Villain-themed books rarely work. The only exceptions I can think of, Suicide Squad and Secret Six, work because the writers don’t try to turn them into heroes. (Thunderbolts, on the other hand, worked precisely because the writers turned them into heroes). But if Johns were to take on the Rogues for an ongoing, or even a series of miniseries, I really think it could work. The scenes with the Flashes aren’t bad, but much like Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, I get the impression that these pages merely fill in the blanks between pages of the main series rather than tell an independent story. That brings down my enjoyment of this book. But only a little.

Rating: 7/10

Green Lantern Corps #44

Kyle Rayner died, then came back to life thanks to his lover Soranik Natu and the intercession of a member of the Star Sapphires. During the brief period he was dead, however, his partner Guy Gardner went wild with rage, shifting from Green Lantern to Red. Kyle wants to rip the Red off Guy’s hand, but the rest of the Corps realizes something important. The power-mad Guy Gardner is the only thing proving effective against the Black Lanterns invading Oa. Peter Tomasi has worked in a heck of a lot of great stuff into this issue. You’ve got the moral dilemma about what to do with Guy, excellent character moments for Kyle and the rest of the Corps (including Mogo, one of the coolest GLs ever), and a ton of great action scenes, including full- and double-page spreads by Patrick Gleason, doing some of his finest work on this series to date. The last few pages bring us to a cliffhanger almost as engaging as Kyle’s “death” a few issues ago. Sometimes this book gets lost in the shadow of its parent title, but consistently, Green Lantern Corps has provided some of the best science fiction comics we’ve seen in many years.

Rating: 8/10

The Phantom Stranger #42

One of the “back from the dead” titles, this issue of Phantom Stranger could almost serve equally well as a resurrected issue of The Spectre, Deadman, or even Shadowpact. Flipping back a few months, we saw the Spectre’s human host, Crispus Allen, transformed into a Black Lantern. The real downside here? That means you’ve got a Black Lantern with the power of God’s spirit of vengeance. Here we see the Phantom Stranger lead the charge to save him as he invades the city of Nanda Parbat. Tomasi is back, this time with some beautiful artwork by Ardian Syaf to boot. If you’re looking for a spotlight on the Phantom Stranger, this issue will probably disappoint, but if you want a sort of overview of the DC Universe’s most powerful magic users in this time of crisis, this issue really does fit the bill. The issue even gives us a glimpse of the “possible” origins of the Stranger, as revealed years ago in an issue of Secret Origins, while still providing us no solid clues that confirm of invalidate any of them. I rather doubt DC will ever give us the firm truth behind the Stranger, and to be honest, I hope they don’t. He’s the sort of character that works best shrouded in mystery.

Rating: 7/10

Starman #81

Writer James Robinson returned to the series that shot him to comic book stardom with this issue. Of course, the Starman that starred in this series is retired and living peacefully in San Diego, and Robinson had no intention of pulling Jack Knight out of retirement. But when Jack’s dead brother, David, returns as a Black Lantern, somebody is going to have to step up. That someone, as it turns out, is the Shade, a golden age villain who became a much more complex and entertaining character under Robinson’s pen. The Shade moves to protect Opal City from David Knight, and in the process proves just how much life is left in this franchise. Even with Jack out of the picture, the Shade and the O’Dares of Opal City are wonderful, fascinating characters. While you still couldn’t go so far as to classify the Shade as a hero, he’s certainly not the villain he once was. This was without a doubt the best of the “back from the dead” comics that DC released in January, and it has me hoping like hell that Robinson does return to the Shade in some way — a miniseries, a part in an ensemble title… dare I hope an ongoing? It would make me deliriously happy, and I know I wouldn’t be alone.

Rating: 10/10

The Atom and Hawkman #46

This issue focuses more on the Atom than the (current Black Lantern) Hawkman, but as the two of these heroes used to share a book, it seems fitting that they share the billing here as well. The Atom, like the Flash, has been deputized as a Lantern. In the Atom’s case, he’s Indigo. While most of the others were pretty obvious (Barry in Hope Blue, Lex Luthor in Avarice Orange and so on), the Atom in the Indigo light of Compassion needed a bit of justification. Geoff Johns really pulls it off with this issue. As the Atom faces the dead form of his best friend, he’s forced down memory lane, remembering all the tragedy his ex-wife Jean (also a Black Lantern) forced upon him during their life together, how it led to one tragedy after another… and ultimately, how he still managed to feel for her. A lot of characterization is in how that character is portrayed. Johns managed to take everything that’s happened to the Atom — and more important, how he reacted to everything that happened to him — and used it to explain why he was chosen for the Indigo Lanterns without contradicting a thing. It’s one of the things that makes him such a fantastic writer. Out of all the “Back From the Dead” comics, this is the one most pertinent to the ongoing tale of Blackest Night — and it’s a can’t-miss book to boot.

Rating: 9/10

Green Lantern #50

It’s probably a coincidence that the 50th issue (traditionally a spot reserved for an anniversary special) of Green Lantern fell during the Blackest Night crossover, but Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke make full use of the extra pages they’re granted this month. Picking up moments after the conclusion of Blackest Night #6, Hal and the New Guardians join up with the deputy Lanterns to face the Black Lantern scourge. As they do battle, the Black Lantern Spectre returns, and he’s gunning for Hal. Realizing the power of the being he faces, Hal Jordan understands the only horrific way he could stand a chance of victory — he will once again have to take on the power of the dark entity that once turned him into a madman, the Yellow Lantern entity called Parallax. Except for Barry and the Atom in their respective spin-offs, this issue is the only time we’ve really gotten to see the Deputy Lanterns in action yet, and it’s really great stuff. The Sinestro Scarecrow is creepier than ever, and the moments between Atrocitous and Mera, Hal and Carol Ferris, are fantastic. I’ve only got one real beef with this issue, but it’s one I’ve had to voice time and again. If you’re going to do a last-page reveal, why do you spoil it on the bloody cover?

Rating: 8/10

Blackest Night: JSA #2

The Justice Society is under siege by its fallen members from multiple worlds, but many of the Black Lanterns don’t seem to be out for blood. They’re seeking compassion, the love of their family members… and how could anybody begrudge them that? On the other hand, how could anybody trust them, either? The original superheroes were no slouches, and as this issue shows, if anything, death has made them more shrewd. James Robinson and Tony Bedard share the writing chores here, with the pencil work shared by Eddy Barrows and Marcos Marz. You can definitely tell that more than one artist worked on this book, which can be a little distracting during the more noticeable shifts. I imagine that the extra hands were needed to get this book done on time, which I’m okay with in principle, but when that happens it seems incumbent to try to match the artists’ styles, and that didn’t really happen here. It hurts the issue, but only a bit.

Rating: 7/10

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

21
Oct
09

Everything But Imaginary #325: Back From the Dead

In January, DC Comics is going to bring back eight canceled comic books for one more issue. Granted, they’re all Blackest Night tie-ins, but I think it’s a pretty cool idea. This week, I look at why those eight books were chosen, and talk about some other comics I’d love to get just one more issue of.

Everything But Imaginary #325

Inside this Column:

09
Aug
09

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 131: 2000 A.D.

It’s time for another listener-requested episode. For some time, people have asked us our thoughts on the British sci-fi hit 2000 A.D., and this week we finally take a look. Each of us read two different volumes of 2000 A.D. material. We review our reads, talk about the history and format of the magazine, and question why it’s so darn difficult to find it in the States. In the picks this week, Chase likes Ms. Marvel #42, Mike digs Power Girl #3, and Blake goes with Invincible #64. Our graphic novel pick: Starman Omnibus Vol. 3! Contact us with comments, suggestions, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 131: 2000 A.D.
Inside This Episode:

02
Apr
09

What I’m Reading: 2009 Edition

In the past, I’ve always compiled a year-end list of the books I’ve read during the past year. However, I’ve noticed that my good pal Walt Kneeland, on his awesome Comic Reviews By Walt blog, keeps a running list on his website throughout the year. It’s something that never occurred to me before, but I like it. So therefore, I’m going to keep this post updated frequently, whenever I’ve got something to add to the list. I’ve also added the links to the right-hand column of the page, right beneath my Twitter Feed, so you’ll be able to access it easily if that sort of thing floats your boat. I’ll do the same with my movie lists. And y’know what? If it’s a book I’ve reviewed, I’ll even link to the review. I’m all about service, friends.

So without further ado, here’s what I’ve read so far in 2009:

  1. Speaker For the Dead; Orson Scott Card, 1987-A
  2. Look at My Striped Shirt; Phat Phree, 2006-B-
  3. You’ll All Be Sorry; Gail Simone, 2008-B+
  4. Tales of Beedle the Bard; J.K. Rowling, 2008-B
  5. Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street; Michael Davis, 2008-A
  6. Tales From Outer Suburbia; Shaun Tan, 2008-B+*
  7. Kingdom Come; Mark Waid &; Alex Ross, 1996-A+*
  8. Infected; Scott Sigler, 2008-B+
  9. Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions; Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith, 2008-A-*
  10. Sheldon: Nerds on Parade; Dave Kellett, 2008-A-*
  11. Mini-Marvels: Secret Invasion; Chris Giarrusso, 2009-A*
  12. Tiny Titans: Welcome to the Treehouse; Art Baltazar, Franco, 2008-A-*
  13. Fool; Christopher Moore, 2009-B-
  14. A Slobbering Love Affair; Bernard Goldberg, 2009-B-
  15. It’s Not Easy Being Green; Jim Henson, 2005-B
  16. Love and Capes Vol. 1: Do You Want to Know a Secret?; Thom Zahler, 2008-A+*
  17. Starman Omnibus Vol. 2; James Robinson & Tony Harris, 2009-A*
  18. Before You Leap; Jim Lewis, (as Kermit the Frog), 2004-B
  19. The Graveyard Book; Neil Gaiman, 2008-A
  20. Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street; Warren Ellis &; Darick Robertson, 1998-B*
  21. Tales of the Green Lantern Corps; Len Wein and others, 2009-A*
  22. JLA/Avengers; Kurt Busiek & George Perez, 2003-B+*
  23. Enemies and Allies; Kevin J. Anderson, 2009-B+
  24. Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament; S.G. Browne, 2009-B
  25. Shade’s Children; Garth Nix, 1997-B+
  26. Superman: Panic in the Sky; Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson & Roger Stern, 1993-A*
  27. JLA: Salvation Run; Matthew Sturges & Bill Willingham, 2008-B*
  28. Contagious; Scott Sigler, 2008-A-
  29. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams, 1979-A
  30. The Complete Peanuts: 1969 to 1970; Charles M. Schulz, 2008-A*
  31. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet; William Shakespeare (probably), 1597(ish)-B+
  32. 3 Geeks: Going to the Con; Rich Koslowski, 1997-B+*
  33. 3 Geeks: An Eclectic Potpourri of Reading Pleasure; Rich Koslowski, 1999-B*
  34. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Douglas Adams, 1980-B+
  35. Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs; Molly Harper, 2009-B+
  36. The Complete Peanuts: 1971 to 1972; Charles M. Schulz, 2009-A*
  37. Star Trek: Countdown; Mike Johnson & Tim Jones, 2009-B+*
  38. Life, the Universe, and Everything; Douglas Adams, 1982-B
  39. So Long and Thanks For All the Fish; Douglas Adams, 1984-B
  40. “Young Zaphod Plays it Safe”; Douglas Adams, 1986-C
  41. Sheldon: Pure Ducky Goodness; Dave Kellett, 2006, B+*
  42. Dust and Shadow; Lyndsay Faye, 2009-B+
  43. The Lightning Thief; Rick Riordan, 2005-A-
  44. Nina Kimberly the Merciless; Christiana Ellis, 2009-B+
  45. The Sea of Monsters; Rick Riordan, 2006, B+
  46. The Big Book of Barry Ween, Boy Genius; Judd Winnick, 2009, B+*
  47. The Titan’s Curse; Rick Riordan, 2007, A-
  48. The Battle of the Labyrinth; Rick Riordan, 2008, A-
  49. Sheldon: The Good, the Bad, and the Pugly; Dave Kellett, 2007, B+*
  50. The Last Olympian; Rick Riordan, 2009, A+
  51. Personal Effects: Dark Art; J.C. Hutchins & Jordan Weisman, 2009, A-
  52. Was Superman a Spy?; Brian Cronin, 2009, A-
  53. “All You Zombies”; Robert A. Heinlein, 1958, A
  54. The Strain; Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan, 2009, B+
  55. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Demigod Files; Rick Riordan, 2009, B
  56. G.I. Joe; Chuck Dixon, 2009, A-*
  57. The Dark Half; Stephen King, 1989, B
  58. The Long Walk; Stephen King (as Richard Bachman), 1979, B-
  59. Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (Deluxe Edition); Alan Moore, 2009, A*
  60. Franklin Richards: Not-So-Secret Invasion; Marc Sumerak & Chris Eliopoulos, 2009, B+*
  61. Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? (Deluxe Edition); Neil Gaiman, 2009, A*
  62. Starman Omnibus Volume 3; James Robinson, 2009, A*
  63. ABC Warriors: The Meknificent Seven; Pat Mills, 1978, B*
  64. Judge Dredd: Dredd Vs. Death; John Wagner & Alan Grant, 2005, B*
  65. Preacher: Gone to Texas; Garth Ennis, 1996, B*
  66. Preacher: Until the End of the World; Garth Ennis, 1997, A*
  67. Preacher: Proud Americans; Garth Ennis, 1998, B+*
  68. Earthcore; Scott Sigler, 2005, B+@
  69. Personal Effects: Sword of Blood; J.C. Hutchins, 2009, B@
  70. Dark Entries; Ian Rankin, 2009, B*
  71. G-Man: Learning to Fly; Chris Giarrusso, 2009, A*
  72. Drood; Dan Simmons, 2009, A-
  73. FlashForward; Rober J. Sawyer, 1999, B+
  74. Danse Macabre; Stephen King, 1980, B+
  75. Peter and Max: A Fables Novel; Bill Willingham, 2009, A
  76. Kabumpo in Oz; Ruth Plumly Thompson, 1922, B-
  77. UR; Stephen King, 2009, B+
  78. It’s Hard Out Here For a Shrimp; Pepe the King Prawn, 2008, B
  79. Kronos; Jeremy Robinson, 2008, B+@
  80. “The Red-Headed League;” Arthur Conan Doyle, 1891, A
  81. 7th Son: Descent; J.C. Hutchins, 2009, B+
  82. Cakewrecks; Jen Yates, 2009, B+
  83. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks; Max Brooks, 2009, B*
  84. Batman: The Long Halloween; Jeph Loeb, 1997, A*
  85. The Monstrumologist; Rick Yancy, 2009, B
  86. Half-Minute Horrors; Susan Rich (ed.), 2009, B
  87. Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men; Molly Harper, 2009, B
  88. Animal Farm; George Orwell, 1945, A
  89. The Colour of Magic; Terry Pratchett, 1983, B
  90. Living Dangerously With Saturated Fats; Dave Kellett, 2009, A
  91. Just After Sunset; Stephen King, 2008, B+
  92. Abducted to Oz; 2003, Bob Evans & Chris Dulabone, F
  93. The Dude Abides; 2009, Cathleen Falsami, B+
  94. Nocturnal; 2007, Scott Sigler, A-@
  95. Title Fight; 2009, Scott Sigler & Matt Wallace, B+@
  96. Lost; 2001, Gregory Maguire, D
  97. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus; 1902, L. Frank Baum, A
  98. “A Kidnapped Santa Claus;” 1904, L. Frank Baum, A
  99. A Kidnapped Santa Claus; 2009, Alex Robinson (based on the story by L. Frank Baum), A*
  100. The Gift of the Magi; 2009, Joel Priddy (based on the story by O. Henry), B+*
  101. The Fir-Tree; 2009, Lilli Carré (based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen), B-*
  102. Haunted Christmas; 2009, Mary Beth Crain, B
  103. “Scrooge & Cratchit;” 2002, Matt McHugh, B+
  104. More Holmes For the Holidays; 1999, Martin H. Greenberg (ed.), B
  105. North Pole Lost and Other Holiday Stories; 2007, William H. Cooke, D
  106. The True Gift; 2009, Patricia MacLachlan, B
  107. The Night Before the Christmas Before I Was Married; 2009, Adam Maxwell, B-
  108. Purgatory; 2009, Tim Dodge, B@
  109. Archie New Look Series Vol. 3: Moose and Midge in Break-Up Blues; 2009, Melanie J. Morgan, B*
  110. Mini-Marvels Ultimate Collection; 2009, Chris Giarrusso and others, A*

*-Graphic novel or comic strip collection
“”-Short Story
@-Audiobook

Last updated on December 31, 2009

28
Feb
09

Two signs of the Apocalypse

Today, on TV, I saw two almost certain signs of the apocalypse. First, a commercial for a new direct-to-DVD movie: Ace Ventura Jr. Seriously? Look, I know that there are no original ideas left in Hollywood. I know 75 percent of the films currently in production are remakes, prequels, or sequels. But honestly, was anybody really aching to see a kiddie version of a Jim Carrey movie from 15 years ago? Are these the same people who are shelling out money to see Space Buddies? Are they the ones I need to hit with the sack full of Mardi Gras beads Erin can’t fit into her suitcase for the trip home?

Second: the new TV Land original series, The Cougar. It’s a dating show (i.e., yet another Bachelor rip-off) about a 40-something woman trying to pick up a bunch of 20-something guys. Aside from just being basically offended that yet another TV network is ripping off a show as soulless as The Bachelor, as a male I’m offended by the double standard. If this was a show about a 40-something dude going after 20-year-old college girls, every member of NOW would be Googling his name to cross-reference him against databases of registered sex offenders and there would be picket lines from the front door of the network stretching out so far that someone would drown in the Hudson River. And that’s not even assuming the network headquarters is in New York.

In other news, Erin goes home tomorrow, which makes me sad. But she’s got a stack of graphic novels to read on the way, including Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman?; The Complete Bite Club, Superman For All Seasons, The Umbrella Academy and volume four of Strangers in Paraside. That should be enough to get her to her layover. I, meanwhile, picked up volume two of the Starman Omnibus to keep me company once she leaves.

12
Oct
08

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 88: Daredevil Redux

It’s a new beginning for the 2 in 1 Showcase podcast! With a slight change in format, the guys decide to go back and talk about a character who didn’t get his due the first time they discussed him — Daredevil. Blake and Chase talk about the character’s history, some of their favorite stories, the way the book is featured today, and rumors of a new movie. But that’s not all! This episode features the first ever 2 in 1 Showcase Trivia Contest! In the picks this week, Blake loves the first Starman Omnibus, while Chase enjoys the new Flash Gordon comic! E-mail us with your comments, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com.

Episode 88: Daredevil Redux
Inside This Episode:

27
Sep
08

What I’m Reading: Starman Omnibus Volume One

Let me tell you a bit about my personal history with James Robinson‘s Starman. This was one of several new comic book titles that spun out of DC Comics’ Zero Hour crossover in 1994, and I was going into my senior year of high school. I was still reading a prodigious amount of comics, but funds were limited and I had to be selective about what I bought on a monthly basis. Although I got the zero issue of the comic and enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it enough to add it to my monthly pull-list. The only issues I got over the next few years were the One Million issue (part of the DC One Million crossover, natch) and two issues that crossed over with Jerry Ordway‘s sublime Power of Shazam! series, which I was a huge fan of. Several years later, having heard for I didn’t know how long that this was the best-written superhero comic ever, I finally picked up the first trade paperback, and I loved it. So I got the second volume, and I loved that too. But then… I could never find volume three. And, not wanting to jump ahead in the series, I stopped reading.

Until now.

DC has recently released Starman Omnibus Vol. 1, the first of a projected six-volume set which will collect all 80 issues of the regular series, a few specials and annuals, and the spin-off Shade miniseries, finally, in one place. This first hefty hardcover collects issues #0-16 of the ongoing series. In case you’ve never read the book, Ted Knight was the original Starman, a hero of DC Comics’ Golden Age, a member of the Justice Society of America, and one heck of a swell guy. But when he — like most of his JSA teammates, were fast-forwarded to their true ages during the time crisis of Zero Hour, Ted realized it was time to pass on his Cosmic Rod to a new generation. His younger son Jack, the proprietor of a secondhand store, had no desire to become a superhero, so the rod went to the elder Knight, David, who eagerly embraced the chance to become the new Starman.

And he promptly went out and got killed.

One of Ted’s old foes, the Mist, was targeting not just the new Starman, but everything Ted Knight and his family had built. To save himself and his father, Jack had to take up the weapons of Starman and go into battle, refusing the name and refusing to think of himself as a superhero, even though it was clear from the first page that it was he, and not David, who truly had the hero’s heart.

With the Starman series, James Robinson created a hero of depth and power unlike anything seen since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko turned out Spider-Man. Jack never wanted to be Starman, but he loved his father. Ted never hated Jack, but his disappointment in him gave Jack that impression. David wanted to be his father so badly, but he never got a chance to prove himself. In these 17 issues, which contain three complete storylines and a few assorted one-issue tales, we already see a great deal of development in Jack. We see him agree — if not welcome — to carry his father’s mantle, we see the birth of Jack’s own arch-foe (a decidedly different sort of villain than most comic books), we see the return of an obscure one-time holder to the Starman name and the rebirth of a villain of the Golden Age, and we are introduced to a wonderfully rich supporting cast and a brilliantly thought-out city.

Let’s talk, for a second, about Jack Knight’s Opal City, one of many fictional cities that dot the landscape of the DC Universe. Unlike Metropolis or Gotham, though, whose geography seems to change depending on who’s writing the story that month, Opal City is mapped, planned out, and designed meticulously by Robinson’s collaborator for most of the Starman series, artist Tony Harris. Opal City is as much a character in this book as Jack and Ted, the O’Dare family, the Shade, and the Mist. As a place, it feels alive, it feels real, it feels like the town that could birth a hero.

I’ve long regretted not picking up this comic when it was being published, and have at times wondered if it wouldn’t be more expedient to try to hunt down the back-issues than the horribly-absent trade paperback volume three. Now, I don’t have to make that choice. I’ll be waiting for the new hardcover omnibus each time DC puts one out.

Where I Go Online

Here’s a nifty little website I recently discovered: oneword.com. At this neat site for writers, you are given a one-word writing prompt, then 60 seconds in which to write whatever comes to mind based on that word. No backtracking, no editing, no changing your mind: just put it on the proverbial page and submit it. The word for this week, for example, was “feathered.” Sixty seconds later, I’d written this:

A long beaked bird soared through the air, feathers dangling from the wings, bristling as the wind whistled through them. The feathers were red, blood-red, and the bird itself was as long as a city block, large enough to blot out the sun, large enough to consume anyone or anything that entered its field of vision. It was enormous. It was a monster. It was a god. And, as far as Larry was concerned, it was pretty friggin’ cool.

It’s a fun writing exercise. Heck, even if you’re not a writer, it’s fun. Give it a click and see what you come up with.

 

Stumble it!




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