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Posts tagged “DC Comics

Comic Review – Hinterkind # 1

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You know, I’ve been writing about the good work that Image is doing with such frequency lately that I haven’t really had much time to sing the praises of other imprints. Dark Horse has been churning out some great work lately, and so too has Vertigo. You know, Vertigo? The imprint responsible for Y The Last Man, Fables, Ex Machina, and 100 Bullets? When Karen Berger left the company earlier this year, a lot of people considered it a sign that DC Comics was shuttering Vertigo and wouldn’t bother to utilize the brand. After all, Hellblazer went away and Constantine got his own DC title. Things certainly looked like they were going in a different direction.

But DC seems to have given Vertigo some breathing room. Brian Azzarello returned to pump out a 100 Bullets miniseries, Fables and Fairest are still going strong and now we have a new contender for most interesting book on the block with Hinterkind, a post-apocalyptic story that, even after a single issue, feels like a worthy companion to Y The Last Man.

The new book comes to us from Ian Edginton, a writer from Birmingham in the UK who has co-written comics with Dan Abnett and Warren Ellis, primarily in the science fiction and fantasy genre. He’s tackled everything from Warhammer to X-Force to Vampirella and now he’s launching a creator owned series with artist Francesco Trifogli.

Hinterkind gives us a world reclaimed by nature but still occupied by humans, generations after the change in the balance of power. We have become a society of hunters and gatherers, submissive to the whim of nature and the beasts of the wild. Edginton and Trifogli set the book in such a way that the reader slowly learns more and more about the situation of the reclaimed earth slowly and organically, with answers giving way to more questions that will likely not be as quickly resolved.

The book is like many other post-apocalyptic books but dissimilar at the same time. More Y The Last Man than Walking Dead, at least in terms of tone and character, Hinterkind is a well-paced and beautifully drawn book that I would recommend picking up now rather than waiting until months from now and kicking yourself for it.

Rating: 4/5

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Mark Waid’s Open Letter To Freelancers

MarkWaidOn Tuesday, comics writer Mark Waid, whom I have met and can confirm to be one of the nicest guys in the comics business and who if you talk to for more than thirty seconds will reveal exactly how smart, knowledgeable, and in love with the comics business he really is, posted an open letter to freelancers who may have found themselves gobsmacked by publishers and the way they are being treated by editorial staff. Mark Waid has been around the block enough times to know what he’s talking about. I’m going to post the whole thing in full so nothing gets taken out of context. I think this needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Not just the freelancers he addresses, but the fans in the industry who might not really get what some of their favorite writers and artists are going through on a regular basis.

Mark Waid wrote;

An open letter to young freelancers:

In the long run, the quality of your work is all that matters.

As a professional comics writer, I sold my first script twenty-nine years and what feels like three separate lifetimes ago. Despite not being especially good early on, I’ve been steadily employed since the beginning, which stretches the laws of probability far beyond the breaking point.  In terms of career longevity, I have enjoyed good fortune exceedingly disproportionate to my level of actual talent. If I could tell you how to replicate that luck, I would, happily, but I can’t. All I can give you, an up-and-coming comics freelancer trying to make a living in 2013, is my honest, absolute admiration at your fortitude and perseverance, because It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way.

Ever since history’s first cave painter got notes from his tribal leader, freelancers have been complaining about “editorial interference.” Thus will it ever be. Look, Siegel and Shuster got notes from their editor.  We all get notes. No one’s work is perfect, and no one is immune from criticism, especially when the critic is also the one paying a writer or artist for his or her services. And I have been a publisher and an editor almost as long as I’ve been a writer, so I am sympathetic to both the check-writer and the check-casher. There’s always some give-and-take tension between creative and editorial.

And there are a lot of good comics editors out there, probably more than ever, and I applaud them. But there are, likewise, a growing number of (1) good editors who are not allowed to be good editors by their bosses, and (2) outright chimpanzees.

What I see a lot of freelancers going through today in the work-for-hire arena is just unreal, and the horror stories of personal and professional abuse I’m hearing from the trenches on a regular, almost-daily basis are mind-blowing to me–not only because I’m sympathetic, but because every single one of their experiences is utterly antithetical to the creative process.

If you’re a young freelancer, here are some things you ought to know:

First, if you feel like you’re practically being hazed, you’re not struggling through Business As Usual. If you’re fairly new at this, do not let anyone tell you that bullying is excusable in any way whatsoever or that it’s part of any “learning curve” or “breaking in.” This is a business; you have a right to be treated professionally. If you have produced a script or artwork in good faith that was accepted but, a week or two later, the editor calls you to ask for some minor revisions, give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not trying to annoy you but is just sincerely trying to hone the work to everyone’s benefit. On the other hand, if approved work, through no fault of yours, suddenly became retroactively “unapproved” and needs a heavy rewrite or a total redraw, a lot of you are being required to do that work for free, over and over again, desperately racing to get to the end zone before someone moves the goal posts again. That’s bad form; when you’re not at fault, you’re supposed to get paid for substantial revisions. Your time is valuable.  If you’re not being compensated for redo after redo after redo on that has nothing to do with quality and everything to do with editorial whim, that’s unprofessional and unacceptable and you’re being taken advantage of.

Similarly, if you’ve done work based on reference supplied to you, upon agreements made with your editor, or upon approved outlines and then been asked to make major, time-consuming alterations because “things have changed,” you should be entitled to charge for rewrites and redraws. If you’re discouraged from standing up for yourself under threat of losing future work–and so many of you have been and are–that’s unacceptable behavior, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you are being bludgeoned with non-disclosure agreements–not just asked to sign one as a matter of course, but having them lorded over you threateningly like a caveman swinging a club–that’s unacceptable. That comes top-down from a place of fear and a pathological need for control, and I don’t have to tell you how poorly fear and control facilitate creativity. (Also, be aware that in this industry, NDAs are almost impossible to legally enforce and always have been, which is why we got along 75 years without them.)

There is no guild in comics, no union, no ombudsman for freelancers. You’re on your own when dealing with publishers, and given the current state of the industry, I can tell you without hesitation that if I were just starting out today and had to deal with half of the nightmare stories I hear from you guys about what it’s like to work at certain places–executives flat-out lying to your face, higher-ups demanding loyalty from you while offering none in return, editors calling you at the eleventh hour to demand 180-degree changes in stories that have already been approved and then acting as if the fault is with you–if that had been the Way Things Were 29 years ago, I’d just be getting out of prison about now.

There are some really good reasons to do work-for-hire. It’s a valuable way to build a reputation. It’s probably not wise to devote 100% of your time to it, but only you know what your priorities and appetites are, and no one else has a right to judge them. And, yes, every job has its drawbacks and moments where it’s better to be flexible than absolute. I truly, truly understand having to take work you don’t love, or work with folks you don’t love, in order to make the rent. And early on, there are things I put up with that I now regret, and there are opportunities I lost because I pushed back, and there are still things I do sometimes to be a get-along guy that aren’t always in my best interests. Everyone’s threshold is unique, and sometimes you let someone take undue advantage because the cupboards are bare or because you’re dealing with a friend who’ll get yelled at if you don’t toe the line. I get that. Circumstances are circumstances. But if you never listen to another word I say, and I talk a lot, please know this: the only one watching out for your future is you.

Be professional. Be a problem-solver. Be willing to compromise in the face of a solid argument.  Be willing to lose sometimes because you’ll learn more that way than you will by always winning. Ultimately, if a client is paying you for your services, he or she has every right to set the specifications, just as you have a right to your integrity. But when people jealous of how you make a living try to rag you with that old truism that every company employee has to eat shit now and then, remind them that you are not an employee. You’re a contractor. You do not receive health benefits, sick days, pensions, vacation time, or any of the other considerations traditional employees receive. Your clients have zero ethical or moral ground to lie to you, to denigrate you, to cheat you, to demand more from you than they’re paying for, to unapologetically walk back on promises or treat you maliciously, or to exploit your need to put food on the table. The good ones won’t. Never trust the bad ones.

Have a sense of humor and maintain a cool head. Pick your battles, but don’t pick fights–even if you’re in the right–because it’s easy to get a reputation (even when you’re punching up, not down) as a loudmouth who can’t go on the internet and tell anyone what time it is without it being characterized as “another rant.” (So I’ve heard.) Take the notes sometimes, even if they seem to be change for change’s sake, be genial…but always protect the work. Know that, five years from now, as fans or prospective publishers are looking over your published pages, no one will care that the comic they’re reading sucks because the publisher moved the deadline up or because the editor demanded you work an android cow into the story. All anyone will care about is the pages they see in front of them, and they will hold you responsible for them, no one else. Mediocre work will follow you around forever.

Bad editors and publishers will ask you to type their stories, not help you tell yours, and sometimes that will seem like a small price to pay for a steady check and to bank karma as a “good soldier.” In the moment, it’s often very hard to know if you’re compromising in a way that might bite you down the road. All I can tell you is that the better your work is–both as submitted and as printed–the more opportunities will come your way, and sometimes that means–politely, professionally, without rancor–saying no or turning down the check. It can be nerve-racking,but while I cannot name names without embarrassing them, I can–purely off the top of my head–think of at least a dozen freelancers who hit every impossible deadline ever asked of them… who were pleasant to work with and always professional even if their editor was a jerk…and who always did exactly what their editors asked them to do, even if it was obvious to a blind man that the quality of the finished work was lessened, because they were trained to believe that their first priority was to serve their editor and do so in a timely manner, and whatever creative voice they brought to the table was secondary. They were good soldiers. They were great soldiers.

All of those people have been unemployed for years.

The quality of your work is all that matters. That’s what buys you longevity. You’re sweating the future because you had one disagreement with your editor? Neal Adams helped get Superman’s creators money and recognition by shaming Warner Bros. in The New York Times, dude. Neal’s not selling cars for a living today. You’re being given an absurd deadline and you think you’re better off turning in crap than being late? We used to literally stand over the fax machine at the DC offices while Neil Gaiman sent in his Sandman scripts in batches of exactly one page. Not admirable, but twenty years on, no one remembers how slow Neil could be, just how phenomenal the stories were.

A quick favor for a good editor here, incorporating a pointless note to keep the peace there…yes. Be flexible, not overtly defiant. Don’t be what a reasonable, uninvolved party would define as “difficult.” But be good above all else. Stand up for your work, and whenever push comes to shove (as it will), never let anything get in the way of you doing your very best, every time. In the long run, the quality of your work is all that matters. That is your only resumé.

Don’t let anyone scare you. Don’t let anyone bully you, ever. Some will if they think they can, but you teach people how to treat you. You can be confident and show integrity without being argumentative. And for God’s sake, don’t be so afraid to explore your options that you keep turning in work that makes you wince; no good decision was ever made primarily out of fear. You can always walk away from any monkey house if you have drive and talent. There are still plenty of places in comics to do work-for-hire without being poorly treated, and there are huge opportunities to self-publish and build a faithful paying audience through the web. It’s hard work, but it’ll be better work, and it’ll be the work you’re remembered by.

If any of this applies to you–if I’ve struck a nerve and you want to talk more about this–I’m not hard to find. I’ll listen when I can make the time, and I’ll give you what advice I can, but truthfully you don’t need me. You just need to know that being taken advantage of is, full-stop, unacceptable and that your work may be for hire, but your dignity is not.

I know that might register as “TL;DR” for a lot of people, but the implications of this letter are massive. How many horror stories have we been hearing out of DC since the new 52 initiative rolled out? How many bridges have been burned and how much ink has been spilled about the editorial vs. creative element in the comics business nowadays? If you look at the patterns and the attitudes of people working in the industry at this point in time, we are poised to see another dichotomy shift that we haven’t seen since the early nineties when McFarlane, Lee, and Liefeld went off to form Image comics.

While the Image comics inception might have been more about making money for themselves while retaining the rights to their characters, I feel that an exodus to creator-owned comics is forthcoming and for the most part it will be driven simply by the desire to not be spat upon by the people who crunch the numbers. Robert Kirkman has been saying for years that creator owned comics are the wave of the future for comics. DC is nothing more than a content farm for movies at this point. They don’t truly need to publish those books. It is incidental. Anyone looking for the best stories in the comic medium isn’t looking at DC or Marvel. They’re looking at Image, Dark Horse, and small press publishers. Places that are willing to take a risk and let artists be artists.

I have a feeling we will see a massive shift at DC soon. Either all the creative people who are tired of getting stepped on move elsewhere or the editorial staff gets the boot. Either way, in a short amount of time I truly do believe we will see a massive change at DC that will make the new 52 relaunch look like a slight rearranging of furniture.


Manapul and Buccellato to take over DETECTIVE COMICS

627A while back we reported that Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato would be leaving their acclaimed run on The Flash to take over an unspecified title. Well, the news has broken that that title will be Detective Comics with current scribe John Layman of Chew fame set to announce the book he himself will hop aboard at NYCC. Artist Jay Fabok has not announced his next project as of yet, but considering he got the cover for the villains month issue of Batman featuring the Joker, I’m sure he’ll land a job somewhere doing something for DC very soon.


Commissioner Gordon Coming to TV

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With Agents of SHIELD premiering tonight, the news that DC has successfully sold FOX on a Jim Gordon centered television show set in Gotham before the first appearance of the Batman doesn’t seem all that shocking. Details are still coming in but it is known that Bruno Heller from The Mentalist will be handling the show and that it will simply be titled GOTHAM. According to press releases from Deadline the show will follow Gordon who is “still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. The Gordon character was introduced in 1939 in the very first Batman comic.”

DC has a good thing going with Arrow on the CW network with a Flash spinoff gearing up. If they can maintain that level of quality at the very least this should be an entertaining show. Let’s just pray it isn’t like that god forsaken Birds of Prey series from a few years ago. I don’t need to deal with that sort of nightmare again.


DC Comics Attempts PR, Apologizes For That Harley Quinn Debacle

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I didn’t cover the furor over DC’s art contest, in which aspiring artists were encouraged to submit their take on a series of panels that depicted Harley Quinn in a bathtub, electrical objects suspended precariously above her naked body, in an apparent imminent suicide attempt. As you may have guessed, the internet flipped the ever-loving frickafrack out. DC seemed reluctant to make any apologies for the page in question, deflecting with statements that the intent of the issue did not line up with the offense being thrown their way.

Jimmy Palmiotti, who I consider to be a class act all the way, said that he felt disheartened at the reaction and explained the intent of the issue to be more in line with Looney Tunes slapstick and was not intended to be a mockery of the dreadful seriousness of suicide. With Suicide Awareness week looming, he made sure to let everyone know that nobody intended to offend anyone.

But following pressure from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness, DC issued an official apology for the carelessness of the contest;

 “The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story.”

I feel like the correct response would probably be to completely discard the page in question. I know DC would never consider doing such a thing. Let’s just applaud them for recognizing that they made a mistake in the first place. That seems to be a huge step forward for a company that seems so hell bent on alienating anyone who doesn’t fall in line with their way of thinking.


Weekly Comic Reviews – 9/12/2013

Hey everybody, it’s time for that all important time of the week where I run down a number of comic books and tell you whether they make the grade. Last week was uncharacteristically downbeat, with The Star Wars being the one bright spot in an otherwise grim slate. But the thing about comics is that there is so much on the rack that if you wait a week you might just strike gold. There were a number of books this week that I sat down and read in the hopes of giving you guys a greater variety in terms of recommendations so without further ado, let’s go ahead and get this show on the road.

ac_cv23Action Comics 23.2 – (General Zod)
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Ken Lashley
Cover by: Gene Ha
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price:  3.99
On Sale Date:  Sep 11 2013

General Zod storms into The New 52! Witness the origin of this genocidal maniac, and learn how far he will go to destroy those who oppose him!

Greg Pak is a writer who I tend to enjoy. I think a lot of that is holdover good will from Planet Hulk. I’ve talked to him at conventions and he seems to be a pretty cool dude as well. I picked this issue up based more on the fact that his name was in the writing credits than any loyalty to the character of Zod. I’m not sure which incarnation of Zod DC planned on utilizing this time around. I remember there being a great deal of confusion regarding Zod from his previous uses in the Our Worlds at War crossover only to be re-imagined a few years later with Brian Azzarello’s For Tomorrow storyline just to be re-purposed by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner for Last Son. This issue gives us a Zod that doesn’t really line up with any of those, and delves into an origin story for the character that allows us to start from scratch and accept this version of Zod as one that has no conflicts with previous iterations of the character.

Our Zod is one who had to survive a harsh environment in his youth, losing his emotionless parents to a savage attack by alien beasts and eventually being stranded in that hostile locale until he is rescued by the house of El almost a decade later. That time trapped in the wilderness turned him into an embittered, sci-fi version of Green Arrow. He harbors aspirations of vengeance against the alien race responsible for wiping out his family and at the same time rises through the ranks of the Kryptonian military.

Only the ending of his story, being shunted off into the Phantom Zone, the one constant that never seems to change in his narrative, seems familiar. Zod’s motivations don’t seem reminiscent of any version of the character that I can remember, although I am sure there are through-lines that I’m just missing out on. The fact that we are getting a definitive take on the character for the new 52, working from a blank slate, makes the book interesting to read because the expectations of the reader should be equally as open.

Another nice surprise was the inclusion of Faora, who stole the show in Man of Steel this summer. Hopefully the folks at DC plan to utilize her effectively, as the DCU could always use some well-written female antagonists. She gets little face time here but it is Zod’s name on the cover after all. I’ll keep my eyes out for future appearances.

All in all, a better issue on all counts than last week’s Cyborg Superman issue, which I did not cotton to at all.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5

Batman-23.2-The-RiddlerBatman 23.2 – The Riddler
Written by: Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes
Art by: Jeremy Haun
Cover by: Guillem March
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date: Sep 11 2013

I pretty much eviscerated the 23.1 Joker issue last week. I felt like it was a harbinger of much worse things to come. After all, if the highest profile Batman villain in the bunch couldn’t get a decent issue, what chance did anyone else stand? The Joker isn’t a hard character to wrap your mind around creatively if you approach it from the correct angle. Giving insight into a tortured childhood isn’t the way to go. The fact that we get abusive parent back-stories for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn as well just goes to show that applying the same wrote, hack writing tricks to a character like the Joker just isn’t going to fly and that is why the issue failed on the whole.

The Riddler is a hard character to get into as well. For my money nobody writes the guy as well as Paul Dini, though I admittedly liked the turn Jeph Loeb gave him in The Long Halloween and Hush. Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes take on the character here and the take is one that works. In order to understand the Riddler you need to understand narcissism and self-importance. I am surprised that so many writers have such a hard time empathizing with such emotions because as a writer you have to tell yourself constantly that you are the most talented person in the room, you’re smarter than everyone around you, and your work should stand on its own merit by virtue of escaping from the confines of your imagination. The Riddler deals in similar themes. It comes through very vividly in this issue, where he systematically bypasses each and every security measure in Wayne Tower, returning for the first time since the events of Zero Year.

Riddler matches wits with the head of Wayne’s security, who also used to be a guard he crossed paths with during a stay at Arkham Asylum. This man’s downfall is that, unlike the reader and, especially the writers of this issue, he doesn’t realize that the Riddler is more than a simple criminal. He fails to empathize and it ensures his demise. The Riddler is always three steps ahead of those he feels are below him, which is simply everyone. Riddler is the green-tinted flipside of Batman without the grace of humility. Snyder and Fawkes realize this and write him as such. The issue plays out wonderfully, especially the climax which demonstrates that the entirety of the Riddler’s mission was for a singular purpose that I won’t spoil here, but it renders the rest of the issue in a light that makes perfect sense in regards to character motivation and seals the deal that these guys know what the Riddler is all about.

This is definitely the high bar for the villains month so far. Which, given Snyder’s previous work with Batman, is not at all surprising.

Rating: 5 out of 5

DTC_23-2-Harley_4cda5hj5a0_Detective Comics 23.2 – Harley Quinn
Written by: Matt Kindt
Art by: Neil Googe
Cover by: Chris Burnham
Color/B&W: Color
Page Count: 32
U.S. Price: 3.99
On Sale Date: Sep 11 2013

If Dr. Harleen Quinzel wasn’t crazy when she fell for The Joker at Arkham Asylum, she sure was messed up afterwards! Find out more from Harley’s time with her beloved Mr. J. and see what got her into so much trouble that she was “recruited” for the Suicide Squad!

I haven’t been keeping up with Suicide Squad or paying much attention to Harley Quinn. She doesn’t resemble the character I fell in love with back in the early nineties watching episodes of Batman : The Animated Series. There is a cynicism to this version of the character that I don’t identify with. This issue gives us a beat by beat origin story for Harley, where we see that some of the elements of her original incarnation still live on. She was brilliant and became a psychiatrist, then wound up at Arkham hoping to truly challenge herself by helping the worst of the worst of the criminally insane only to be sucked into the Joker’s world. She posed as an inmate to get closer and wound up getting a little too close. That all works and doesn’t rub me the wrong way that much.

The rest of the issue does have flaws. I was not a fan of the fact that we got a beat-by-beat rundown of how she acquired pieces of her uniform. It seemed forced. And maybe I am just off base but the violence of the issue didn’t sit well with me either. There is no comedy to her rampage, just ruthlessness. I suppose that’s just the tone the character has now, but fans of the old Harley probably won’t enjoy this particular take on her. The word I used earlier was forced and that seems to be the whole issue with this revamp of Harley. They’re trying to make her something she isn’t and it simply doesn’t work. It’s not Harley. The tone is all wrong and you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole this way. I’m sure there are fans of this take, and I don’t begrudge them that, but my feelings are that such a revamp of her character makes her indistinguishable from other hyper-violent creations with no sense of irony or fun. It is a bleakness that simply does not jibe with pre-established notions of the character.

I’m probably just being stubborn, but there wasn’t much for me to enjoy here. I think I’m just not the target audience.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Eternal Warrior # 1
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Trevor Hairsine
Colorist: Brian Reber
Cover Artist: Clayton Crain, Trevor Hairsine, Dave Bullock, Patrick Zircher
Price: $3.99
Pages: 32
On Sale: September 11, 2013

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Pak (Batman/Superman, Planet Hulk) and superstar artist Trevor Hairsine (X-O Manowar, X-Men: Deadly Genesis) launch a brand new campaign for Valiant’s immortal champion, the Eternal Warrior, in an all-new monthly series!

Across ten millennia and a thousand battlefields, Gilad Anni-Padda has traversed the darkest, most mysterious corners of history. But the horror and bloodshed of constant warfare has finally taken its toll on the man myth calls the Eternal Warrior…and he has abdicated his duties as the Fist and the Steel of Earth for a quiet life of seclusion. But when a blood vendetta from the distant past suddenly reappears in the modern day, he must decide if he will return to the ways of war…for the child who betrayed him thousands of years ago…

I went into this COMPLETELY blind. I had no idea what to expect. I just saw the cover and thought it would be worth reading. I guess the logline for the story could be Conan the Barbarian meets Highlander. We open on the brink of a massive battle in olden times. Gilad, the Eternal Warrior, an immortal but not entirely invulnerable mass of muscle and sinew, is preparing for a war against a horde of enemies who worship a god of death. Gilad forbids his daughter, Xaran, from involving herself in the battle. So opposed to her involvement is Gilad that he gives her a closed fist smack to the jaw, then rides into battle with his son, Mitu. What follows is a betrayal and a slaughter, then the passage of thousands of years, to a time when the Eternal Warrior is living Wolverine-style as a hermit with only a dog for companionship when the source of his betrayal returns.

I really enjoyed this issue. I like the concept, and Greg Pak brings the action in a way that recalls his time spent writing The Incredible Hulk all those years ago. Fans of books like Conan should give this one a read. I haven’t been following any of the new Valiant comics but this one was rewarding and a surprise pick of the week for myself. It runs a little short because so much of the issue is spent dedicated to action scenes, but overall the series shows tremendous promise. I’ll definitely be picking up issue two.

Rating: 4 out of 5

detailInfinity : The Hunt
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Steven Sanders
Price: 3.99
Release Date: Sept. 11, 2013

Hank Pym, Wolverine, and She-Hulk bring the students of the Marvel Universe together to announce a new CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS!This CONTEST OF CHAMPIONS pits the super students of schools all over the Marvel U (including some you’ve never seen before) against each other.However, the Contest is interrupted when Thanos’ forces descend on Earth. What do they have to do with the young heroes?

Man, oh man. Big event crossover tie-ins, right? Why do they even bother anymore. But hold your horses there, Mr. Cynic. This issue is something a little different. Feeling more like a companion piece to Avengers Arena and other books featuring the next generation of Marvel heroes, almost none of the issue feels like a cash-grab tie-in to Infinity. In fact, were it not for the Infinity title on the front cover, you would never know this is related to that event. The book feels more like a crash course intro into different corners of the youth oriented Marvel Universe. Characters from the Future Foundation, Avengers Academy, Jean Grey School, and more are assembled for a gathering that will put them to the test and determine which school for gifted youngsters is producing the most viable talent.

The majority of the issue, as I said, is introducing us to the concept of the book and the characters that will populate it. Only in the end are we treated to a cliffhanger that will set events into motion. I find myself marveling at how adeptly the book was able to draw me in. I don’t read any of the books involving the characters who populate the issue and yet I found myself sucked in. The script is tight and flows from panel to panel fairly effortlessly. If there is one flaw in the book it is that people who are familiar with these characters my grow easily bored with the exposition heavy element of the first issue. As it stands, I appreciated the time spent to set things up and explain everything because if there is one thing I hate it’s not being able to follow a story with characters I don’t know for a tie-in book I shouldn’t have been reading in the first place.

Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5

detail (1)Mighty Avengers # 1
Writer: Alasdair David Ewing
Artist: Greg Land
Price: $3.99
Published: September 11, 2013

The Avengers are light-years away in space, contending with the Builders! Thanos’ marauders ransack the Earth, doing as they please! Who will stand in defense of mankind?Luke Cage! The Superior Spider-Man! Spectrum! The White Tiger! Power Man! And a mysterious figure in an ill-fitting Spider-Man Halloween costume! These unlikely heroes must assemble when no one else can—against the unrelenting attack of Proxima Midnight!

I won’ speak to Greg Land’s art. Let’s ignore that at the moment because I know it’s a deal-breaker for a lot of people. The writing of the issue works. It practically sings. Power Man (the new one, not Luke Cage) is a character I want to read more of. His voice is fun and vibrant, and his interactions with Luke Cage make for enjoyable reading. The interplay between Cage and Spidock-terman is fun and lively. Of course, this is a tie-in to Infinity and spins out of that event. If you’re not reading Infinity, it doesn’t really matter because all you need to know is explained in a matter of pages. All you need to know is that the Avengers are off-world so Thanos wants to break Earth in twain while it is undefended. Luke Cage ain’t gonna let that happen. Oh, sweet Christmas, it ain’t gonna happen.

I don’t know who Alasdair David Ewing is. I haven’t read anything with his name on the cover. This is my introduction to his work. I have to say I’m impressed. The team is filled with characters I enjoy, and something has to be said about the diversity of the team with Luke Cage, White Tiger, Power Man, Spectrum and some new guy called Spider-Hero who is an enigma and a non-entity at the moment. This is the most diverse team I can think of at either of the major publishers, something that will likely get a lot of press given how the diversity in comics debate is starting to really become the major issue of the industry at the moment.

You know what, I’ve gotta say something about Greg Land. Yes, the art is dry and terrible. I’ve seen these same traced facial expressions more times than I can count. I’m just going to leave it at that. Everyone knows Greg Land refuses to advance himself as an artist. I would say stop buying his books but he seems to land (ha!) books that are worth buying, this one included. It’s a book with a diverse cast by a new writer who seems eager to prove himself and it’s likely Land won’t be on the title forever. Do yourself a favor and get the book and try to ignore how the art is trying its damndest to give you eye herpes.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 


Shocking News : Another DC Creative Team Leaves Book (Amicably This Time!)

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November looks like it will be a time of creative shakeups at DC, as another shift comes to a major title. Brian Buccalleto and Francis Manapul will bring their three year stint on THE FLASH to a close. While I haven’t been keeping up with the title recently, their work on the book seemed amazing when I last followed the book, and I felt they were gearing up for an extended run with the scarlet speedster. One of those runs to rival Geoff Johns on Green Lantern. It was Johns after all who brought Manapul into the Flash-fold when he relaunched the book to tie-in with Brightest Day.

Manapul and Buccalleto were quick to point out that this was a decision not hastily made and that they will be each transitioning to a new book at DC in the very near future.

“We were REALLY honored to have the opportunity to usher Barry, Iris, Patty, Lenny, Forrest and the entire Flash universe into the New 52. We’ve lived and breathed Barry and are sorely gonna miss him, but after 3 years and over 30 issues (annuals, zero, Villains Month), we felt it was time to Move Forward and take on a new creative challenge.”

Solicitations for The Flash # 26 indicate that it will be a fill-in issue written by Cristos Gage. No indication has been given as to the permanent creative team replacement.