Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1 Comic. 1 Sentence. 1 Word. - The Flash #1

The Flash #1 - 365 Days of Comics
The Flash #1
The fast paced Flash #1 is highlighted by the talented Francis Manapul's pencil skills and paneling ability.

Lively.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Posting on Behold the Geek!

A fellow contributor to TheOuthousers.com, The Geek, recently asked me if I would write a guest post on his amazing blog, Behold the Geek! Since I am a fan of his website (the fun design makes mine look like garbage) I of course was willing to content-out a fellow blogger's page, and help out with a post.

Behold the Geek! is slightly different than 365 Days of Comics in that Geek deals with all things geek, not just comic related nerd gold. This meant I was given the opportunity to write about something other than comics! Finally! So what did I write about exactly? Well, if you follow the link, you will find a true tale about... A Gathering.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

1 Comic. 1 Sentence. 1 Word. - Thunderbolts #163.1

Thunderbolts #163.1 - 365 Days of Comics
Thunderbolts #163.1
Thunderbolts #163.1 reminds us of how good the Thunderbolts run has been, and how exceptional the title will continue to be in the near future.

Zemo.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

1 Comic. 1 Sentence. 1 Word. - Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1
A strong art performance by Sara Pichelli highlights the Bendis tale of yet another young man who gets bit by a spider and gains the power of...invisibility?

Beginning.

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 Comic. 1 Sentence. 1 Word. - Deathstroke #1

Deathstroke #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Deathstroke #1
Deathstroke #1 is a fun self-contained story which sets-up the direction of the title and introduces readers to DC's most self-proclaimed badass character.

Killer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cliff Chiang-ing the DC Talent Perception

Okay, so the title is stupid. But I say to you, reader, stumble-uponer, that DC Comics has been criticized for not having the same level of overall talent as Marvel (I have actually claimed that myself), yet with amazing artists like Cliff Chiang on DC's roster that criticism just lost a whole bunch of validity.

The Harvard grad is coming off of memorable runs on Green Arrow/Black Canary and Vertigo's Human Target to illustrate the DCNU Wonder Woman series. I am new to Chiang's work, but right away I can see that he is extremely talented with a wonderful style that feels like a cross between Daniel Acuña and Stuart Immonen: stylized yet simplistic.

Anyway, see for your self by scrolling through some of the pieces I posted below and continuing to Cliff Chiang's website.

Green Arrow and Black Canary #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Green Arrow/Black Canary #1 - Standard and Variant
Wonder Woman #1 - Green Arrow and Black Canary #9 - 365 Days of Comics
Chiang displays his background tree ability: Wonder Woman #1 - Green Arrow/Black Canary #9
Cliff Chiang Star Wars - 365 Days of Comics
Cliff Chiang's Star Wars Illustrations
Cliff Chiang Star Wars - 365 Days of Comics
Another Cliff Chiang Star Wars Propaganda Piece
Human Target interior illustrations by Cliff Chiang - 365 Days of Comics
Human Target interior illustrations by Cliff Chiang.
Cliff Chiang's Breakfast Club/Teen Titan - 365 Days of Comics
Cliff Chiang's Breakfast Club/Teen Titans piece

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is Ultimate Spider-Man the Ultimate Answer or Ultimate Hero?

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

This Wednesday, Marvel's Ultimate Universe finally brought the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, to readers. Brian Michael Bendis writes the new-reader friendly Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, in which he begins to tell the tale of how young Miles becomes the next Spider-Man. You will be able to find reviews of the issue on every other comic book website, so I will spare you my full thoughts on the book (which was amazing, by the way). What you may also find, within well written reviews on sites like iFanboy.com, is that comic book readers know their nerd fiction. In this case, their "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fiction.




The Ultimate Number?

In the Douglas Adams's classic, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Adams writes that there exists an answer to the ultimate question, and that answer, the ultimate answer, is 42. The number 42 in nerd lore is always associated with "Hitchhiker's Guide", and this may be exactly why Bendis uses it in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1.

In Bendis's first issue he explains that there are tests being run on multiple spiders so that the source of Spider-Man's powers can be reproduced by Norman Osborn. The spiders involved in the tests are numbered so that the researcher, and more importantly the comic reader, can understand that many spiders are being tested upon. The spider we are concerned with, the spider that eventually bites Miles Morales, is the spider numbered 42.

Is this a clever reference to "Hitchhiker's Guide?" It would make sense seeing as 42 is the ultimate answer and this Spider-Man is in the Ultimate Universe. The Ultimate question coming into this new Ultimate Universe reboot was, "Who will be the new Spider-Man?" The ultimate answer-numbered spider bites Miles to answer the ultimate question. But...

Spider number 42 - 365 Days of Comics
The spider that eventually bites Miles Morales is numbered 42.

What if there is more to the number 42?

What if there is another significant reason Bendis chose to label the spider that gives Miles powers, 42?

When I first read Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, and saw the spider was numbered 42, I actually did not think of Douglas Adams; rather, I thought of Jackie Robinson.

When Peter Parker was killed-off, and Bendis and Marvel had to decide on who to make the new Spider-Man, or rather, how to sculpt the next Spider-Man, they ended up making a rather unique and slightly risky decision: Spider-Man would be black.

Of course there isn't anything wrong with that, and it really shouldn't matter, but to this point there has never been a top superhero that has been black. Spider-Man is probably one of the top 5 recognized superheroes in the world, and along with the others (Batman, Superman, and whoever else you may argue) he was white. The big boys, the top guns, the money makers...they are all white.

That's kinda messed up!

That is why I thought the number 42 was an ode to Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson #42 - 365 Days of Comics
Jackie Robinson (#42) with the Brooklyn Dodgers
Robinson was the first black baseball player to break the color barrier (April 15, 1947). Robinson was the first black baseball player to play Major League Baseball (Dodgers). His entrance into America's most popular sport, and form of entertainment (at the time), is arguably one of the most important events in the last 100 years, of the United States' history. Miles Morales is actually a mix of several US minorities, but he is recognized as black and "black" basically just means minority in this situation. Miles is breaking a barrier that has stood for far too long.

To me, the number 42 represented a positive change in comics and our society in general. It represents equality. 42 marked a social hero, a cultural hero, a baseball hero and a people's hero. An American hero.

But you know what? Maybe I am reading way too far into this. After all, when Douglas Adams was asked why he chose the number 42, Adams did not give some amazing, magical or logical answer. Adams simply said, "It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one...I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do'. I typed it out. End of story."

Why do you think the number 42 was chosen to mark the spider that would create a hero, in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Voice on the WTO Podcast!

In a brilliant move by my good friends Scott and David, I was invited to provide my nightingale-like voice to the Way Too Opinionated podcast. To be honest, I am unsure how bright a move it was seeing as we review last weeks set of new DC 52 books, of which I read one of them. But hey! I have opinions! Plus, the book I read was Action Comics #1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales...a big-deal of a book. You can read my written review of it in TheOuthousers.com 52apolooza: Action Comics section.

Without further words not spoken in my angelic voice, proceed to the newest Way Too Opinionated podcast's newest episode featuring...me!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Worth Your Digital Dollar

Fantastic Four 1234 #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Fantastic Four 1234 #1 - Morrison & Jae Lee
There's more to owning a digital tablet than just carrying it around in public and absorbing everyone's hatousy (hate and jealousy combined...a.k.a. jealate, the other Italian ice cream). A purchased tablet should be filled with entertainment and information that will come in handy when on a long flight or while at a convention you were forced to attend by your company. I fill my iPad 2 tablet with apps that stream TV shows and films, arcade style games and of course, comic books.

The comic book apps such as Comixology, the Marvel app (which runs on the Comixology platform) and Graphic.ly are must haves for digital comic readers, but simply having the apps on your tablet does not mean that you have a vast library of comic books on your reader. The apps will offer free books for download and mental consumption, but not many. Plus, the amount of free high quality comic books is limited. To get the more appealing comic books on your tablet you must purchase them individually (costing anywhere between $.99 to $3.99 a comic book).

The first couple of weeks I didn't purchase any comic books. I simply downloaded the free comics and marveled at how those issues looked digitally: color-popping and awesome! I wanted to buy some books, but which to buy? If I started buying an ongoing I would want to read from the beginning, so the whole title would have to be listed for purchase digitally. Also, I don't want to mix and match my ongoing titles between digital and physical comic books. That would add to confusion when trying to reference an old issue or looking for it to read in the future. So...what to start with?

Great Suggestion Marvel, I'll Take Some More!

As mentioned above, there are free comics available for download...usually they are #1's. Plus, often the #1's are apart of a mini series that only includes a limited run of issues. Perfect for a few reasons.
  1. If the mini series is only 4 issues long, and I get the first one for free, I essentially get a fourth of the series for free. This makes buying the rest of the series quite painless.
  2. The mini series aspect limits my commitment in regards to space dedicated to the downloaded title.
  3. With physical comic books, when I purchase a #1, yet don't particularly care for it, I end up still completing (purchasing) the mini series. "I already spent money on a fraction, I might as well finish out." Since I am now able to test the waters for free with the first issue digitally, I have no monetary commitment to the title and thus, I have no need to complete the mini series and waste money on unwanted content.
Marvel has done I nice job when it comes to offering #1's of mini series. They have offered up entry point issues for limited series runs, by popular creators such as:
  • Grant Morrison and Jae Lee (Fantastic Four 1234) - 4 issues long
  • Mark Millar (1985) - 6 issues long
  • Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin (Doctor Strange: The Oath) - 5 issues long
So far I have spent most of my money on mini series runs, but because of the great issues provided digitally I have also expanded to one-shot issues. Obviously, one-shots come with no continued buying commitment, so these are also great books to spend digital dollars on. The one-shot issue I purchased happen to spawn out of my enjoyment of Jae Lee's art on the purchased mini, Fantastic Four 1234. Lee had done one issue of The Incredible Hulk where he manned the artistic duties for it's interiors. I used the "search creators" function in the Marvel app and found myself a great book.

Marvel Mondays - 365 Days of Comics
Hopefully the issue you want is available on Marvel Mondays
Oh, and if you happen to catch a mini series you have been thinking about purchasing during one of Marvel's discounted "Marvel Mondays" then you are in luck. The "Marvel Mondays" issues are all available for only $.99!

DC Has a Good Thing Going Too

I highlighted why Marvel has been able to sell me by way of mini series, but DC is also doing the same thing. Unfortunately for DC, I have always been more of a Marvel person, but also, I have caught them at a weird time. Buying a mini series about a world of characters that DC has rebooted and made some minor adjustments to (here and there) feels odd. If I like where the DC mini leaves me at the end, will I be angry that I know it doesn't lead to anything that effects the characters today? Maybe. I don't know! And that is why I don't want to take the chance on the old DC mini series books.

Mini series aside, DC does have the owning the complete series from issue #1 thing going for it. Since they are restarting all of their titles at #1, and releasing all of their titles day and date (releasing physical comics the same day as digital), I am more interested in starting up some DC ongoing collections digitally. So far I have bought Grant Morrison's Action Comics #1 and Justice League #1 by Jim Lee and Geoff Johns. With Marvel I am only taking the digital ongoing plunge on their new Ultimate Universe line of comics, but with DC...their whole line is the limit.


If you have a tablet and haven't bought any digital comics yet, but would like to, I suggest checking out the titles I mentioned above...especially Fantastic Four 1234 and Doctor Strange: The Oath.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Moon Knight #5

Moon Knight #5 - 365 Days of Comics
Moon Knight is like the USA Network: Characters Welcomed
I can't say enough good things about Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's, Moon Knight.
  • Quirky.
  • Original.
  • Funny.
  • The best kind of reboot.
Okay, that's enough...for now.

Moon Knight is possibly the best Marvel Comic for non-Marvel readers, or non-superhero readers for that matter. It reads like a P.I. story, and to this point, hasn't involved super powers...just old fashion hand to hand combat between men, and most recently in Moon Knight #5, women. Moon Knight gives you the grit of real life confrontations with bad guys, while still holding on too that bit of flair that comes along with an occasional costumed hero.

Another notable aspect that brings a sense of reality to the book, for me in particular, is that the story takes place in Los Angeles. For many local readers (LA locals) that I have spoken with, the location is actually appealing. The story also involves Marc Spector (A.K.A. Moon Knight) working in the entertainment industry which in real life is populated by many comic book fans. So I think the ability of Moon Knight to connect to comic book readers out west is strong.

Moon Knight #5 was a particularly fun issue for a couple of reasons.
  1. Marc's fully on crazy comes out in this issue when he is torn on how to react to a confrontation with the police. In his head, 3 different voices consisting of Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine are telling him to do different things. Each one of them speaks in a way consistent to their actual characters. For example, Cap is overly understanding of the cops' hostility towards Moon Knight, where as the Wolverine voice thinks Moon Knight should cut the pigs up. Great inner (but really outer) dialog.
  2. Marc gets his ass beat by Echo. In a wonderfully funny moment, Marc reads a situation poorly and kisses Echo. Echo is shocked by Marc's frontal assault on her face and proceeds to bloody his own face with a few fists of fury. As she storms off he yells out a charming joke to her, but since she is deaf it goes unnoticed. Great scene.
The dialog is top notch and the art fits the tone of the book perfectly. I've raved about Moon Knight before, and I have no problem doing it again. Bendis and Maleev have rebooted a B lister without even having to restart a whole line of comic books. Get this book. It's excellent.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Who Framed Rocket Raccoon?

I did.

Over the weekend Aaron Brothers had a few coupons for 50% any one item, so I thought I might as well make some art presentable. I took a few prints and an original sketch of Rocket Raccoon by Timothy Green II (which was also inked) to the store and found my matting of choice along with some clean basic frames. When I went to pay for the frames and mats I was informed that the frames I picked-out were already discounted frames, and that the 50% coupon did not apply.

That's when I got all Larry David on them.

Many frames throughout the store were supposedly pre-discounted by Aaron Brothers, and had the lowest price guaranteed "all the time." The sticker on the wrapped frames proved this. The employees said those frames were always discounted and thus, a coupon could not be applied to those frames. But here's the thing... If some frames are always discounted, then that discounted price becomes their actual price. If the price always remain the same without change, then that is the actual price. There is never a time when the frames' price raises. Thus, the price is not really discounted. The price simply is.

I then insisted that my 50% off coupon should apply to one of the frames. If the price is always discounted, then it can never really be discounted because the price is always the same.

I went back and forth with 3 different employees on this point. I was never really mean, however, I may have seemed a bit snarky. I did raise my eyebrows and give a slight smile while I tilted my head saying, "But again, If the price is always discounted, then it can never really be discounted because that is always the price."

The employees may have understood what I said, but I think to think they didn't get it. I had turned into Larry David from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" where watchers of the scene I had created understood my point, yet the people I was interacting with didn't seem to have a clue.

Before I went into a stare-down, backed by some clarinet music, with the employees to see if they truly got what I was throwing their way and not lying about being clueless, I paid full price for my frames (though i did get a mat for 50% off saving $2) and left.

When I got home I matted the original sketch of Rocket Raccoon by Timothy Green II, and mentally moved on from frustration...to delight.

Rocket Raccoon by Timothy Green II - 365 Days of Comics
Rocket Raccoon by Timothy Green II doesn't understand why the 50% off coupon didn't work.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another Justice League #1 Review

Justice League #1 - 365 Days of Comics
Guess which 3 heroes didn't appear in JL #1.
Over at theOutHousers.com the grading of the DC 52 is underway with the review of Justice League #1.

The way the review system works:
  • 3 Different reviewers review an issue.
  • The reviewers consist of a DC enthusiast, a Marvel Zombie and an all around comic reader.
  • Reviewers rate the issue out of a score of 100 total points.
I was fortunate enough to be selected to review the first of the new 52, Justice League #1. Geoff Johns is a proven power-house of a writer when it comes to huge events and Jim Lee is one of the greatest artists to draw comic books, so I was definitely looking forward to getting my eyes on Justice League #1. You can read my review (I'm the Marvel-fan reviewer), and the other 2, by clicking on to 52apolooza: Justice League.