Sunday, March 28, 2004

Night, Dawn, Day 

Sorry, between the upcoming exams, webcomicing and whatnot, I haven't felt terribly coherent on the subject of comics.

Here's my usual short reviews, ultra-condensed. I picked up Conan #2. Man, it was dull. And I'm not just saying that to try and raise my standing in the eyes of anonymous eejits. My other comic this week was Ultimate Spider-Man #55. The stuff with Gwen Stacy is elevating this obligatory Dr Octopus storyline.

I also got the Hellboy: The Corpse one-shot. I was going to get it anyway for grins, but my local comic shop were giving it away.

That's about it from me, but while I'm here, I'd like to take the time to congratulate David on single-handedly propping up this page while the rest of us are in meltdown!


Thursday, March 25, 2004

It's All About The Cloak, Really... 

The above image comes from Eddie Campbell's upcomming Batman: Order Of The Beasts graphic novel, which I'll definitely be picking up when it comes out. The above picture is just overloaded with atmosphere, and as I'm a huge fan of Campbell in general, I'm sure the story will be excellent too.

Hmmm... come to think of it, I might have to write a post about Campbell's autobiographical Alec series sometime soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Who Rocks The Party? 

Bringing to your attention "Joycore Comics - recommendations?" -- a Barbelith thread dedicated to fun, poppy comics!

Good suggestions that have been put forward so far:

Love & Rockets -- Some of the liveliest comics I've ever read. There's a fair bit of angst in there, but the work of both Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez is just so damned vibrant that I can't help but recommend it regardless!

Madman -- He's got a yo-yo! He fights Street-Beatniks! He's drawn by Mike Allred! Of course he's joycore!

Calvin & Hobbes -- Pretty much everyone I know loves this, even folk who normally claim that they don't like comics! It's just so damned charming, y'know?

Kill Your Boyfriend -- Mmmm... improper joycore deluxe! Sure, it's a black comedy, but man, what a rush!

Kyle Baker's a good nomination too -- he's sharp, funny, and draws real purty to boot!

Anyone else got any suggestions?

Station to Station 

Steven Wintle has all your Krazy Kat needs covered right here. Is there such a thing as a retro-Furrie, I wonder? Either way, methinks it's time to give some of those Krazy Kat collections a read-over.

All That Fall 

For more New X-Men related blogging go check out this excellent essay on aggression, evolution and the conventions of the superhero genre over on Gardnerlinn right now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Do You Really? 

Those of you looking for a negative perspective on Morrison's last four issues of New X-Men need look no further than X-Axis reviewer Paul O'Brien.

As I think I established last month, I pretty much disagree with O'Brien entirely when it comes to this story arc, but he's a good critic so I figure it's only fair to stick up his opinion here amongst all the praise. Still, at least we both agree that Morrison's run was excellent overall, right? Right. I'm really going to miss it now that it's done... ah well, here's looking forward to Morrison's DC work!

Are These Words From The Future? 

So New X-Men #154 has come and gone, and Grant Morrison's run on the book is now officially over. Weird. I'm saving any major comments for a post I intend to write after I've read the whole run over again in one sitting, but what I will say is that the last five pages of this issue were amazing, and that I'm very impressed that Morrison managed to wrap up as much as he did in this one issue.

I'd like to thank David Fiore for pointing me in the direction of John's Commonplacebook, an excellent livejournal that is also the home of a wonderful post about (you guessed it!) Morrison's New X-Men run. John gets into the details of the human (or, rather, mutant!) impact of the book's cosmology, and I highly recommend that you check out what he had to say if you haven't already*.

Benjamin Birdie also commented on the end of Morrison's run, though he chose to focus more on the many strange and brilliant character moments that punctuated Morrison's run than on the overarching themes. My favourite part of his post? Right here:

"I remember when the first Quitely pages from Riot At Xaviers were breaking, and there was the one page where Beak and Angel are sort-of-but-not-really hooking up in the woods until they're caught by U-Men. It didn't have any dialogue, so all we were left with was Quitely's mastery of the form and Morrison's incredible nack for situational construction. Sure, he can write sparkling dialogue, but perhaps his greatest strength comes from the things he puts together in one page and in one panel. He makes bird people and weird bug girls and then, naturally, puts them on a camping expedition. Can you even imagine?"

The man has a point - Morrison has a skill with oddly effective drama that's rarely commented on by either his fans or his detractors!

Interestingly, somewhere between these two slices of gushing praise I find space for Flyboy's recent comment that New X-Men as a whole "only works if viewed from either a very close-up or very distant perspective."

Says he: "If you look at it with a sort of medium focus on, it's a complete mess." And you know, on some levels, he's right. For all the neatly developed themes and character arcs, clever bits of double-edged foreshadowing, and just plain mind-blowing little moments in there, there's still something slightly scrappy about New X-Men. Sometimes the "hows" and "whys" got lost amidst the madness, and some of the transitions from arc to arc or issue to issue felt a little bit jerky. But despite these frustrations, I still loved the hell out of this comic! Morrison isn't a "neat" or "tidy" writer these days, but when he's on (and when the artist is right) he really does it for me, both on a gut level and on a thinky level, and that's what really counts in the end, isn't it?

*A note for regular readers of the Barbelith comics board -- don't worry, he doesn't use Morrison's belief system as an excuse to embark on a game of Quaballic Scrabble as some folk are want to do from time to time! He actually, y'know, analyses the text instead! And rather well at that...

Ah Nuts... 

ARGH! Blogger just ate a rather sizable post about New X-Men #154, and unfortunately it's not exactly coming back to me right now!

Hmm. How does that cliche go? Ah yes - back to the drawing board...

Monday, March 22, 2004

By The Way... 

If you're at all interested in seeing me write about music and movies and stuff, then you might want to know that Cakes and Money 2.0 is up and running now.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Eye To Eye 

Here's the cover for issue #2 of Joss Whedon/John Cassaday's Astonshing X-Men, and you know what? I like it! It's simple, striking, and promotes all sort of speculation as to what Whedon and co are going to do with the Emma/Scott relationship, as those kinky buggers on Barbelith will be all too glad to tell you! Also in that thread: repeated uses of the term "body condom" (my bad!), and much back and forth about whether or not Astonishing X-Men is going to be any cop.

Faster Than The Speed Of Wall 

So Scott's latest comic strip sort of hints at why this place has been so quiet of late. I don't want to start making excuses here, but the truth is that we've all been a bit swamped with Uni work recently, and have thus been goofing off more than normal during our spare time. I'm going to post a couple of things later today, and I think we're going to continue posting throughout the exam period, but if we do so then updates are going to be irregular at best for the next month or two. I really wish I could devote more time to blogging at the moment, but this is just the way it's going to have to be for the time being.

Take it easy out there,

Monday, March 08, 2004

Attack of the Cliffhangers! 

Sorry this is up late, I forgot to pick up all of my books this week, and was in a bit of a haze at the weekend.

Supreme Power # 8

This issue was largely dominated by a big punch-up and set up for the next part, which should be an interesting confrontation between Mark and his masters.

Oh, bugger it! I’ll confess what I really think…

To be honest, I like the general direction, but the pace isn’t quite what I’d like. I’ve been buying this book haphazardly since it started, forgetting to pick it up one month, then getting two the next, so maybe that’s contributing to what feels like it’s slow pace, but we’re 8 issues in just now, and I’m not sure I’m that interested. Also, I seem to be part of that camp that has no idea if this is an ongoing or a limited series.

Yes, it does remind me of JMS’ other series, Rising Stars, which I felt started stronger than Midnight Nation, but that it waned after act one and MN ended up being a much better read than it. But, as I said, the problem I’m finding with this one is not the similarities, which are fine, but that the pace is glacial. Issue’s 7 and 8 could have easily been a single part, because it felt like very little happened in them. If the China angle turns out to have a bigger part to play than I’m guessing it will then maybe I’ll change my mind a bit, but I’m not sure that it wasn’t just an over-long McGuffin for Mark to find Joe Ledger. Plus, the whole Amphibian interlude in 7 did nothing for me. Can we focus on some of the other characters instead of Mark, please? Even Joe Ledger is too connected to him to be much of an interest yet, and he’s been the only one with any decent face time. Basically, if the next issue wins me over, I’ll keep buying it for a bit longer.

Oh, and Gary Frank’s art is still largely quite good, but clunks here and there – especially on that panel where Hyperion’s jaw seems to get larger!

Captain America and the Falcon #1

Stop hiding behind the couch you cowards! Just because this is a Christopher Priest comic, doesn’t mean I’m going to go on and on and on and on…

Yes, I’m only trying this on the strength of Priest’s last two works, Black Panther and The Crew, which I really liked, because I have no clue what to make of it’s protagonists. I was mostly convinced to pick it up on the strength of his weblog entry. Less straightforward than The Crew, we’re back in the odd juggling style that Black Panther kept up quite nicely, giving the book pace while keeping the reader interested, but confused. The jumble of Captain America’s actions seem odd and disjointed until the last page, which is makes the issue make more sense, while leaving us on a mysterious note.

Once again, Priest plays with the themes of identity, loyalty and shady black-ops. The Falcon a traitor? Captain America just a straw man? Government lying to its people? I think it’ll be interesting to see where this is going, but, as I’ve said, I’ve liked Black Panther, The Crew and what I could salvage of Xero. One slight thing I found though was that I’m not too sure about the cast. The Crew and Black Panther had casts that I liked, and I’ll be interested to see if Priest manages to make me as interested in Cap and Falc, instead of just having them end up as sounding boards

However, if there’s one thing about this book that isn’t going to keep my enthusiasm up, it’s Bart Sears bizarrely proportioned art! There’s a lot of steroid abuse and collagen injections going on here, and I have this odd sense that I read a crazily detailed buildup for Wrestlemania. I can see why Priest would want to work with sears, as his art almost evokes ChrissCross (Xero) and Joe Bennett (The Crew), but fails to match up to them. So, I’ll be back for issue 2 of this with slight reservations.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Life In Plastic 

So the one comic book that I bought this week was... (drum roll please!)... issue #4 of Kyle Baker's Plastic Man.

Now this is a strange little series if ever I've read one. Some folk don't like it because it's not as sharp or adult as Baker's best work, while others aren't happy because it doesn't play to the strengths of the old Jack Cole Plastic Man comics. Me, I fall into a third category of readers: the ones who are not quite sure that the direction the book has taken works.

One look at the inside of this comic is enough to tell you what you're in for, and I like that. Between the constant twists and turns of Baker's line work, and the garish hues in which the book is coloured, this, it is clear, is a light, springy comic book. And you know what? I'm so good for that right now. But still, with each successive issue I've found myself uncertain as to whether or not I'm actually going to bother to pick up the next one or not. Don't get me wrong - the mix of straight-up slapstick, and goofy, tongue-in-cheek superheroics that Baker has served up here has been amusing enough so far. Last issue's joke about the way that so many comic book writers cough up Batman's origin in place of actual characteristation was an amusing little meta-comment, for example. But on the whole... it's all pretty obvious, and while I don't mind that in itself (I like obvious slapstick when it's well executed), I'm not entirely sure it's enough to keep me interested in the book on a long-term basis.

Being A Man 

Oops - looks like I didn't get around to blogging yesterday. What can I say - my essay writing commitments have just sort of scoffed-up most of my blogging time recently.

Anyways, here's a link to a short interview with alternative cartoonist Jeffrey Brown in which he talks quite a bit about Be A Man, his own piss-take of his debut graphic novel Clumsy.

I found this link on Thought Balloons, which is just one of many excellent comics blogs that I've been meaning to link to for a while now. Honestly, we will get round to sorting out the sidebar sometime soon. In the meantime, I'm off to read over the massive stacks of comics single solitary comic book that I picked up this week, in the hope that I'll think of something interesting to say about it later.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Banana Skin Pending 

In case you haven't worked it out yet, I'm in a really, really silly mood right now. I know, I know - I've hidden it well, but it's true.

With any luck I'll be feeling slightly less goofy tomorrow, when I should be writing a short post about the comic books I picked up this week, and (hopefully) putting up a rather haphazard little entry about Joe Casey's comic book work.

Dignity, Always Dignity... 

Well I'll be - it turns out that your mom was right after all!

After the cops let me out of jail (they held me over night for my nudie, nudie antics, the incorrigible swines!) I spent an entire evening smashing comics of varying quality off of my fellow blogger Scott McAllister's head, and could he make any astute critical judgments about said comics based on these four-colour impacts? Could he hell! Whether I was jabbing him in the eye with a rolled up copy of Youngblood #2, or batting him across the forehead with my trusty Ghost World trade paperback, Scott's reaction was the same: the dopey bastard just sat there foaming lightly at the mouth and staring firmly into the middle distance the whole time! The only variation in this came when I smacked him with a hardcover copy of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan graphic novel, which caused him to topple from his chair, and then crawl out of the room while mumbling about his teeth or something. Weird that.

Anyways, there you have it - solid proof that Scott would not, in fact, know a good comic book if it hit him in the face. Apparently, he wouldn't know a bad comic book if it hit him in the face either, but that's hardly the point here, is it?

This Post Is 100% True 

So I hope y'all took part in this year's International Read A Comic Book Naked Day. I know I did, and so did Sean Collins, apparently. Good fun, yes? I'd post my own photos, but my attempts to merge this event with International Read A Comic In Public Day resulted in troubles with the law, as predicted, and our camera was confiscated in the resulting scuffle.

Crunch Time 

Some news you may know already...

John Romita JR is set to leave Amazing Spider-Man . Man, that's not good. I like JMS' work, but at least half the fun of this book is the art. This is a serious case of seriousness...

And, hey, Sleeper's second series starts in June (Don't click if you've only read the Out in the Cold TPB, it'll ruin the end of season one!). Cool. I've made sure David's reading it... Just Graeme to go... Mu-hah-hah-ha!

(both found via Neilalien).

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Good News Everyone! 

Here's a little slice of comic-book related news that should fit in nicely on this blog, given the very obvious enthusiasm that we here at Insult to Injury share for both Hellboy and the artwork of Cameron Stewart - from an e-mail sent to the Cameron Stewart mailing list earlier today:

"Also just announced is a short story that I will be contributing to the second paperback collection of BPRD (for those not in the know, BPRD is the spin-off series from Mike Mignola's HELLBOY). It's an 8 page tale exclusive to the collection, written by Mike Mignola himself, and it's got zombies!"

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