Sunday, April 30, 2006

X-Men Survey

Gacked from the X-Universe message board at G's Giant State of the X-Books Survey.

Section 1: Decimation

1) Was the Decimation of mutantkind a good idea, or bad?

Fundamentally bad, for two reasons. First, anyone with half a brain knew the A-listers were safe, which means the majority of characters affected by the Decimation weren't part of any ongoing series at the time anyway (see: Chamber, Jubilee, Blob). All it really achieved was a drastic reduction in potential recurring characters - you know, the ones we like to see when we're sick and tired of the regular cast. Second, the impetus behind the storyline, at least according to Quesada and Bendis, was to return the X-Men's status quo to the Stan Lee era. This amazes me, given that "X-Men" was nearly cancelled back then due to low sales. In any case, it's one of the biggest steps backwards Marvel has taken in recent years.

2) Was the method by which the Decimation happened a good idea?

"No More Mutants"? Hell no. It was random, arbitrary, and made no sense even in the context of the scene (Wanda's mad at Magneto for not raising them properly because he was devoted to the mutant war... except he didn't even know they existed until they were adults). The whole thing is made worse by the fact that "Astonishing X-Men" had an entire opening arc dedicated to the idea of a mutant cure, one that made a lot more sense than Wanda twitching her nose.

3) Which character-losing-their-powers most annoyed you?

Beak. His entire character arc was founded on building self-esteem despite his looks. He found happiness in part because of his appearance, and then he gets turned into a perfectly normal-looking human, and that's supposed to be his "happy ending". Barf.

4) Which character-losing-their-powers makes you happy?

I can't think of a single depowering that I felt worked well within the greater context of the story.

5) Which character-not-losing-their-powers most annoyed you?

Given my views on the whole event, it's probably no surprise that I didn't begrudge any series that kept to its own path.

6) Which character-not-losing-their-powers makes you happy?

See above.

7) The 198 camp? Good idea? Bad idea?

I can see what they're trying to do, with the whole Guantanamo Bay metaphor, but it's never been explained why the government feels having two hundred mutants in the same area is a bright idea - they may be easier to watch, but you'd think the massive concentration of power would be more of a concern.

8) Sentinel Squad ONE? Good idea? Bad idea?

Hilariously bad. A prequel series to showcase the giant interchangable robot guards and their faceless pilots? You've got to be kidding me.


Section 2: UXM & Deadly Genesis

1) The slaughter of the Grey family? Good or bad?

Waste of time. Even if Rachel was supposed to be horrifically traumatized by the slaughter, it's hard to see why readers would care given that the whole clan had less personality combined than your average Star Trek Red Shirt. It was just amateur heartstring-yanking.

2) The 24-second-issue? How did/didn't you like the concept and the execution?

Loved the concept, not so much the execution because Claremont clearly didn't consider whether each action he depicted could conceivably take place within the space of a second.

3) How do/don't you like the Shi'Ar Death Commando Squad?

Hah! More one-dimensional gimmick villains from the Claremont stable. At least it's not pirates again.

4) Are you the one who thinks tattooing a winged man-part on Rachel's back was a good idea?

You mean it's not a portrait of Pyramidhead from "Silent Hill"? Damn Bachalo, you can never tell with him. ;)

5) The explanation for Psylocke's return working for you, or not?

Not really. It basically amounts to the same ego-stroking he used with Magneto - "She's back because I (Claremont) want her back".

6) Should they have used this to return her to her original appearance?

I don't place much importance on characters' appearances when it's not directly related to their development - it's pathetically superficial and smacks of fanservice. Has Psylocke's ethnicity been a story point at all in the last ten years? Does it really change the story if Beast is feline rather than simian?

7) Do or don't you like them retro-fitting a "lost" team of X-Men into the team's history in Deadly Genesis?

On the level of principle, I really shouldn't like it... but I do. Brubaker sold me on the retcon, he made it plausible enough for me to buy it. And it does masterfully exploit a gap in the original Krakoa story: just how much time passed between the original group getting caught and Xavier picking up Nightcrawler?

8) The death of Banshee. Good? Bad?

Largely irrelevant - which, I suppose, was the point. When was the last time he'd been seen on-panel or even mentioned anyway?

9) Is Vulcan your choice of villain for the new generation, or not? And how/do don't you like him being a Summers brother?

He's a bit problematic. On the one hand, the character has a lot of potential - with a bit more fleshing-out, he could very well be the new Magneto. But for that to happen, Brubaker needs to expand his motivation beyond "vengeance for past sins", because that only goes so far. As for him being a Summers... well, I've always hated that loose thread, and it's plainly obvious that they only threw it in so the hardcore geeks would shut the hell up about it already. However, it's been a very smooth retcon, one that's both plausible and credible, so on creative grounds I can't find fault with it. At the very least, it ties the villain to the leader of the X-Men much in the way Magneto and Xavier were bound when they were running things.

10) Are you looking forward to Brubaker's UXM run, or not?

I am indeed. If he does half as well with it as he has with "Daredevil" and "Captain America", I suspect we're all in for a treat.


Section 3: X-Men & Apocalypse

1) Havok killed Doop. Discuss.

Doop died at the end of "X-Statix".

2) Apocalypse's new purpose, to lead mutantkind. Good or bad?

And this is different from his past motivation... how? I mean, he was always going to set himself up as the ruler of "the fit".

3) How do/don't you like the new Horsemen?

Meh. It's been done too many times to take them seriously anymore.

4) What should become of Gambit?

I honestly can't say, I haven't read any book featuring him in years and years.

5) Are you looking forward to Carey's run on X-Men?

Absolutely. I realize Carey tends to be a touch inconsistent, and he'll probably come in last after Whedon and Brubaker, but he seems to have some interesting ideas, and at the very least he isn't as paralyzed by the genre requirements as Milligan was.

6) Sabretooth and Mystique as X-Men? Good or bad?

Depends on how it's set up. It's easier for me to see Mystique as an X-Man, especially considering the events of her solo series a few years ago. Sabretooth... well, Carey's already said he's not doing a redemption story here, the animal isn't getting tamed, so presumably we're not supposed to feel comfortable with the idea.

7) Apocalypse vs Dracula. You either want to read this comic or you don't. Did you want to read it?

Not really, no. I'm not a fan of Frank Tieri.

8) Should we get an "Apocalypse vs..." miniseries each year, in which The Big A beats the poop out of a different important historical figure, real or fictional?

Sure, I can see it now: "Apocalypse vs. Abraham Lincoln: My Hat Is Bigger". "Apocalypse vs. Cher: Battle of the Immortals". "Apocalypse vs. Lara Croft: America's Breast and Brightest (art by Rob Liefeld)".

9) Name 3 such historical figures you'd like to see Apocalypse thrash. Points will be awarded for the best combination of hilarity and offensiveness.

See above. Did I win? :)


Section 3: Astonishing X-Men

1) Should Beast stay in his current form, or take the mutant-cure?

I tend to agree with Wolverine on this. I can't believe I tend to agree with Wolverine on this. But yes, Beast should stay as he is - if he takes the cure, he's admitting that he sees mutation as something that should be fixed. And he's been with the X-Men from the beginning.

2) Bringing back Colossus? Good or bad idea, good or bad explanation?

I'm going to go with good idea, good explanation. Good idea because everyone was expecting Jean, and because the only reason he was killed off in the first place was because no one knew what to do with him, and a scapegoat was needed to wrap up the Legacy Virus story. Good explanation because it's very, very simple - we comic readers have grown a bit too accustomed to the byzantine, complex and convoluted retcons, and I think that's why the ease with which Whedon brought Colossus back threw a lot of readers. Your first reflex is to look for something more, because it can't be that mundane... and then you have to ask, well, why not?

3) The living Danger Room? Good or bad idea?

Good story idea, bad X-Men story idea. I think Whedon also realized this after the fact: "Danger" ultimately didn't work because it wasn't about the X-Men at all. It raised some interesting questions about sentience and technology, but I don't know if those questions belong in that specific comic.

4) Did Xavier's dirty secret work for you?

Oh, definitely. I don't understand this saintly view of Xavier some readers hold: he's been doing questionable things since the late '60s. He faked his death and put his students through hell just to test them, he kept files on how to neutralize every X-Man he'd ever taught, there was that whole Onslaught deal... I do think Xavier is basically a good person, but he has always had a tendency to justify any action of his, right or wrong, by saying it's all for the children. And maybe he's right; how far would the X-Men have gotten without a place to hone their powers?

5) Where should they go with the current Frost plot? Good, evil, or just nuts?

This is the thing about Emma: Whedon isn't writing her any differently than Morrison - or, to a certain extent, Lobdell and Claremont before him. Emma Frost never cared about good or evil; she sides with whoever has the power, whoever she thinks will win. So the Hellfire Club falls to pieces and she switches sides to Generation X, and then they move on and she goes to Genosha, and then she had nowhere left to go but the X-Men, the largest mutant power base left. And now she's aligned with a very formidable group operating right under the noses of a very confused and scattered X-Men team. It's classic Emma. The twist, of course, is that she's in love this time, so indulging her lust for power will cost her big-time if she goes all the way.

6) The revelation about Scott's powers? Does that work for you?

Still waiting to see where that goes, but I like the idea that it was psychological after all, that he was so hysterically afraid of hurting someone that the possibility of control never even entered his mind.

7) The Cyclops/Frost pairing? Good? Bad? Should it last beyond the current arc?

I wasn't a fan of the couple at first, back when Morrison had just started working it in. Looking back, though, I find it's really grown on me, perhaps even moreso than Scott/Jean. I think Greg Pak put it best in "Endsong": Emma isn't anything like Jean, which is exactly why it works. It's new, it's different, and at the same time it's consistent with Cyclops' history of infidelity. Definitely a relationship that should last as long as it possibly can.

8) A Colossus/Shadowcat reunion? Good idea? Bad idea? Pointless nostalgia?

Excellent idea. I mean, yes, obviously nostalgia is a factor - for all intents and purposes, Colossus and Kitty were the "it" couple of the early '80s, age difference be damned. But it's more than that; it's that feeling of (to quote Utada Hikaru) "you were always gonna be the one" - it's nice to think that after the alien healers and the obnoxious British author-projections, these two were always going to find each other again, to be together. Not on the cosmic, Shakespearean level of Cyclops and Phoenix, but in a more grounded sense. And that kiss in #13 was the sweetest thing ever.


Section 4: Wolverine, Cable&Deadpool

1) If Logan just had to be on one team book, which should it be?

"Astonishing X-Men". Because Whedon gets it: Wolverine works best in short, controlled bursts, with an option for humor.

2) Which costume (if any) for Wolverine?

I suppose the brown-and-tan look was a bit less... flamboyant than the yellow spandex.

3) A second ongoing Wolverine series? Good or bad idea?

Absolutely horrible idea, especially with Daniel Way writing it. I predict cancellation around issue 12... possibly 18 if they do crossovers.

4) Now that Logan has all his memories back, which area of his past do you most want to see explored?

Not interested at all. It's been done, and done, and done.

5) Should Cable get his powers back, or keeping using artificial substitutes?

Cable's powers are tricky; he needs to stand out from the rest of the Marvel psychics, but most writers tend to overshoot the mark and elevate him to godlike level, and that boxes him in creatively. It's a repeat of the Nate Grey thing, come to think of it.

6) Do you support Cable's goals, or not? Does the real world need it's own Cable?

Well, who am I to judge? If he wants Wade to rub him down with WD-40, that's his right. Oh, wait, that's Deadpool's goal. Never mind. :)

7) Who should guest-star in Cable & Deadpool specifically so that Wade can ridicule them?

Brian Michael Bendis. I would give my left breast for that!


Section 5: Other X-Books

1) Are you for or against NXM: Academy-X turning into a mutant bloodbath?

For it. Of course, bear in mind that I hadn't been reading "Academy X" prior to this, so I don't have any particular attachment to the characters. I've always been partial to starting a new run with some kind of deck-clearing cataclysm, and "Academy X" could certainly stand to lose some of its enormous cast.

2) More or less X-23 needed in your comics?

Eh, so far so good. Kyle and Yost did a surprisingly good job with her origin miniseries, and she's hardly as overbearing and prolific as her "brother".

3) New Excalibur: Good lineup, or random collection of characters?

Random characters, random storylines, random premise. If there's a point to this book beyond "set in England starring characters nobody else wanted", I'd love to hear it.

4) In Exiles, have they succeeded in their goal of giving Proteus the Worst Scottish Accent Ever?

Yep. But that's intentional, so... does that earn them points?

5) Should the Exiles lineup have more, or less turnover and/or casualties?

"Exiles" is unique in that it's possibly the only X-book that has a built-in reason for a high turnover rate, and can afford to do so. The flip-side is that if you get rid of too many, too quickly, without really fleshing them out, it's simply impossible to care. Characterization is very important, and while I'm still enjoying "Exiles", I admit that Bedard hasn't done a great job of endearing the newbies to the readers, or let us mourn the dead.

6) Are you for or against the Storm/Black Panther wedding?

Against. Against, against, against. I can't stress how much it infuriates me that one of the most prominent female characters in comics gets turned into a trophy wife just because Reginald Hudlin's "Hollywood cred" isn't enough to sell "Black Panther" anymore.

7) How does new-X-Factor rate up against the old series for you?

Didn't like the old one, lost interest in the new one.

8) Should any of the dead guys and girls in the Dead Girl miniseries come back?

Please, we have enough dead men walking as it is. :)


Section 6: Civil War

1) Are you excited by the prospect of Wolverine vs Nitro?

2) Which X-Men, if any, do you think should be pro-registration?

3) Should the registration act be passed?

4) Should there be a villain behind it all, or not?

Not answering any of these questions because I'm ignoring "Civil War".

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Diana Triumphant: Kingdom Hearts In Retrospect

So I beat "Kingdom Hearts" last night. Sealed every Keyhole, won every Coliseum Cup, defeated the Ice Titan and Sephiroth, saved all the Dalmations... a lot of fun was had. The story doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's very easy to see past that for the vast amount of fan-service in the game: cameos and boss fights with popular Final Fantasy characters, loads of Disney heroes and villains (most of whom retain their original voice actors), a painless and effective leveling-up system that had me in the mid-80s before I even noticed... okay, I never did figure out how to work the damn Gummi Ship, but that doesn't even register as a minor quibble.

It's a very satisfying game, full of secrets and surprises and things to do; what it lacks in character development it more than makes up for in gameplay. I look forward to the sequel.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Marvel Comics For July

The following is a parody suggested by hdefined. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Just the Ultimate and Civil War sections; I don't have any time for the whole thing this month. :(

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils and cover by Mark Bagley.

(Publisher's note: this solicit was written by Brian Bendis)

"The Clone Saga," part 1 of 6. So... there's this guy, okay? This guy. Yes. There's this guy. Who... yes. That's what I'm telling you. This guy. He's a Scorpion. Scorpio? No. Scorpion. With a stinger. You've never heard of a Scorpion? Never? A Scorpion? Oy. Anyway, the clues have been laid over the past 96 issues (literally, they were laid over - read it again knowing what you know about Joan of Arc). It all comes together here, as we begin the most shocking, most mind-blowing Spider-Man story ever published! Even more shocking than when Spidey did that thing that time! That thing! You know... the thing? With the thinging in his thing? (dramatic pause) TALKING ABOUT A LAST PAGE IN PUBLIC!

Written by Mark Millar, pencils and cover by Greg Land.

(Publisher's note: this solicit was written by Mark Millar)

"Frightful," part 3 of 3. The Millar/Land run comes to a tastebud-eradicating conclusion as the Ultimate F.F. (not to be confused with the Ultimate F.U., otherwise known as Warren Ellis) are locked in a battle to the death with their zombie counterparts from an alternate Earth! In this issue... a Fantastic Four dies! Also: someone gets raped! Tying into events from Eisner-winning limited series Marvel Zombies, this is the explosive climax that's enough to make Georges Romero, Lucas, Washington, Eliot and Jetson lose their lunch!

Written by Robert Kirkman, pencils and cover by Tom Raney.

"House of Magic," part 1 of 3. It was the worst day in Ultimate X-Men history. He was a media darling, a vital part of the X-Men dynamic and the newest member of the team. His name was -- Marty Stu, The Magician! Watch him live up to his name in ways you could never conceive. There is more -- much, much more about this new mutant than any suspect, and with three words ("Bring back Vaughan!") he'll change everything forever. Plus -- the fallout from the Shi'ar's test on Jean Grey has drastically unanticipated consequences involving zombies.



Written by Mark Millar, pencils and cover by Steve McNiven, variant cover by Michael Turner.

The battle lines are drawn as the conflict between the Superhero Practice of Investigation and Neutralization (SPIN) and the Benevolent Alliance of Resistance Fighters (BARF) explodes as the future of the Marvel Universe is decided for the next six months! Witness critics and retailers torn apart as the Civil War touches them in bad places, and the momentous events of last issue changes the world as our readers understand it!

Written by Paul Jenkins, penciled by Ramon Bachs and Steve Lieber, cover by John Watson.

"The Accused" - Despised by a nation, the lone survivor of the New Warriors' reality TV series is behind bars. Without family, without a friend in the world and without a reason to go on, will this hero make a deal, or take a stand and not sign up for "The Surreal Life"?

"Correspondence" - Juxtaposing stories of war throughout time with the Marvel Civil War, "Correspondence" adapts tales from World War I and more! See? It matters! It really does! We're not kidding this time! This is big! WORLD WAR I!!!

Written by David Hine, penciled by Yanick Paquette, cover by Juan Doe.

As the Marvel Universe is ripped apart by the Civil War, the X-Men also find themselves crumbling from the inside out. Except for Brubaker's team. And Carey's. And Whedon's. And the Kyle/Yost cast. Mostly it's Bishop and Angel. Will they fold up and admit defeat, or will they finally prove why they belong in an ongoing series? Find out here!

Written by Zeb Wells, penciled by Stefano Caselli, cover by Jim Cheung.

As the public turns against Allan Heinberg's schedule, the gears of Civil War threaten to crush Brian K. Vaughan's "Runaways" by sucking away their sales. Don't miss this Civil War tie-in that promises to have lasting repercussions for both popular teams, but really won't!

Written by Mark Millar, penciled and cover by Steve McNiven.

Go behind the lines of the Marvel Comics event starring Spider-Man, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the entirety of the Marvel pantheon (except for Speedball, Joe doesn't like him). This bonus edition reprints Civil War #1 ­ plus script, sketches, deleted scenes and more! It's everything the actual comic should have been, for only five dollars!

Written by Peter David, J. Michael Straczynski and various, art and cover by Mike Mayhew.

The sides have been chosen and the Civil War has begun! (Actually, it began two months ago but nobody noticed.) As heroes battle heroes, putting their lives on the line to fight for Joe Quesada's amusement, there's only one source to keep you informed on the happenings of the biggest Marvel event of the year: the Daily Bugle! This is the very newspaper the citizens of the Marvel Universe read to keep informed! (Which explains a lot about the intellect of the common Marvel Universe citizen.) With a very special editorial by J. Jonah Jameson entitled "SPIDER-MAN'S GAY LOVE AFFAIR CAUSED THIS WAR!", this is the place to go to for Civil War secrets you won't see anywhere else (unless you have Google)!

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils and cover by Ron Garney.

"The War at Home," part 3 of 6. Life couldn't be more complicated -- or more dangerous -- for Peter Parker. You thought eating heads was bad? You thought the Suit of a Thousand Gimmicks was a low point? You thought the vaguest idea of Gwen Stacy fucking Norman Osborn should have pushed him to suicide? Forget it! It's time for more whiny angst! Because the Drama Fairy demanded it!

Written by Reginald Hudlin, pencils by Scot Eaton, wraparoundcover by Frank Cho, variant cover by Michael Turner.

It's the Wedding of the Millennium as T'Challa and Storm finally make it to the altar. Can this gathering offer much-needed respite from the Civil War, or will it too be engulfed by the insanity currently stomping on the Marvel Universe? Hey, it's in the "Civil War" section, you need be to spell it out? Don't miss this historic event, because no one will remember it next month!

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils and cover by Leinil Francis Yu.

Brian Bendis teams up with Leinil Yu to tell the story that no one thought would ever be told after "Avengers Disassembled": New Avengers Disassembled!

Written by Marc Guggenheim, with art by Humberto Ramos.

Everything you think you know is wrong. So if you're thinking of buying this book, at least you know where you stand.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Comics vs. Webcomics: Genre

It's one of the first things a new reader will discover about comics: All Their Base Are Belong To Superhero.

Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with the superhero genre - quite the contrary, it's as valid a storytelling vehicle as any other. It's given birth to its fair share of masterpieces, from Morrison's "Zenith" to Moore's "Watchmen" to Robinson's "Starman" and more.

The problem, insofar as the Big Two are concerned, isn't with the genre but with the companies' near-total commitment to said genre. For over four decades, superhero stories have dominated the genre in a rather vicious cycle: they sell, so Marvel and DC make more superheroes and hype them as being even bigger, everyone makes more money, repeat ad nauseum. These days, the superhero genre has become so bloated that it dominates the market, squeezing out anything that steps outside the box, that challenges generic limitations. I suppose that, from a marketing perspective, it's a fact of business: there are only so many spotlights, and you're not going to hype "Sentinel" over "Civil War". Consequently, books that deviate too much from the superhero formula don't sell, get cancelled, and everyone clucks their tongues wishing the market was more hospitable.

DC is slightly better at this - they have the resources to establish imprints like "Vertigo", which has produced more than its fair share of excellent non-superhero stories. However, this also means that the DCU proper is even more congested with superheroes than the Marvel universe, by virtue of having somewhere to shunt those non-spandex concepts. Of course, this hardly bodes well for books that are neither DCU nor Vertigo, such as Gerber's "Hard Time" or Pfeifer's "H-E-R-O".

It's a very frustrating situation, because generic conformity is rarely an indication of actual quality. On the creative spectrum, it's simply inconceivable that "New Avengers" does better than "Runaways", or that "Superman/Batman" outsells "Fables". But the market - and the greater readership, I suppose - seem to regard quality as secondary to fulfilling very, very specific roles and traits.

Incidentally, this is precisely why I stay away from printed indie comics, or even companies like Image - for all that they allow themselves greater freedom in trying new things, they're still subject to commercial considerations, and I feel they're untrustworthy for this reason: writers like Jason Rand will have the fortitude to try something different with "Small Gods", and it will work on every level save the one that keeps it on the shelves.

With webcomics, I see a symbiotic effect reminiscient of fanfiction, or rather the rationale behind fanfiction: namely, the idea of an alternative which addresses a lack. Just as fanfic allows writers and readers to explore concepts that can't or won't play out in the canon, webcomics seem to hold up a mirror to its printed sibling, exploring all the areas neglected by the latter. From what I've seen, superhero webcomics are rather rare - if they're there at all, there's usually some postmodern or parodic spin (ie: "Evil Inc.").

The most common webcomic genre seems to be the down-to-earth "slice of life" - in many ways the antithesis of the flashy, high-action world of the superhero. Series like "Something Positive" and "Boy Meets Boy" are largely about ordinary people in ordinary situations, and it would be mundane if not for the fact that they're interesting people. This, I think, points to a glaring flaw in the traditional superhero scheme: if you take away the powers and the adventures, the heroes themselves aren't very engaging characters. There's a monotony to Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, a static aspect to their depictions where they go through the motions of aging and changing and progressing and learning, but it never sticks and it's never particularly profound. After all, the story requires the hero to save the day, and that's what makes the story - as Bendis' run on "Daredevil" proved, many people simply aren't interested in reading a series about Matt Murdock, rather than the red-clad Man Without Fear.

Of course, it's important to note that genres can be broken up into sub-genres: you've got superhero comedies, superhero detective stories, superhero tragedies and superhero dramas in comics. But while the same division can be found in slice-of-life webcomics, webcomics in general seem to allow a range of generic experimentation miles beyond the Big Two. Epic fantasies, fairy tales, surreal horror... and that's without looking at the sprite sub-genre, which is a whole other box of matza. They're not all slice-of-life in the way the majority of comic sub-genres are still superhero stories. Personally, I attribute this to the fact that webcomic authors have no mandate and no higher authority than themselves - no matter how fresh the blood on a Superman book, it will still be a Superman book at the end of the day. So, at least on the level of genre representation, webcomics certainly have an advantage.

This dovetails nicely into next time's post, where I'll be discussing the commercial/creative schism and how it affects the playing fields. Is it really all about the money? How might the different sets of priorities affect the creators?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Comics vs. Webcomics: Introduction

Well... where do I begin? This is an introduction to a series of commentary posts I'll be making regarding a dilemma I'm facing: namely, which is the better medium to follow, the printed comics of Marvel and DC or webcomics? I'll be looking at the question from several perspectives: limitations of the medium, common genres, creative potential and so on.

It's no secret that I've been very disappointed in the directions taken by the Big Two of comics in recent years: DC with its impenetrable crossovers and incessant preoccupation with times and stories past, Marvel with its shallow stunts and creatively bankrupt endeavors. Before anyone asks, yes, I'm aware of indie comics, or even secondary companies like Image and Dark Horse, but they don't interest me for reasons I'll get into later.

While my interest in comics has been waning, I've been exploring the field of webcomics, and it's been a very different and very interesting experience. Not all good, of course, but I can't deny that webcomics have emerged as a very strong rival for my entertainment to comics.

I should emphasize here that I'm focusing on writing and story, as I've never been one to evaluate art - it's also not really relevant to the discussion, since webcomic creators obviously don't have the resources available to comic companies to polish their artwork.

The question is: since I'm not happy with the status of the comics industry as it stands, and there's no indication anything is going to change in the coming months, should I just abandon comics altogether? Should I move onto what may be greener pastures? It's a tempting prospect, since there's finally a viable alternative in sight. I've been thinking about this for some time, and I haven't come to any concrete conclusions: these posts will basically be me throwing things out and trying to put my thoughts in order.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Smut Cliches: NOT WORK-SAFE

Gacked from prodigal:

To which I can only add: the slash-fic cliche where every woman on the planet suddenly becomes an intolerable bitch, at which point the men realize the only way they're getting some is with each other.

A Winner Is Me?

Marvel reports that due to health issues - specifically, cardiac stress - Chris Claremont is taking a leave of absence and his run on "Exiles" has been postponed.


Well, obviously I wish him a speedy recovery; regardless of how I feel about his work, I reserve the heart attack voodoo dolls for politicians alone.

At the same time, I'd be lying if I said the potential silver lining of "Exiles" remaining on my pull list a bit longer isn't a rather happy thought, especially if Bedard's run is extended.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Robert Kirkman

Or: "Brainless Zombie Cap: Representing Marvel Since 2006"

I had an interesting thought while idly flipping through the "Marvel Zombies" miniseries; Robert Kirkman is popular because he's simple, and - unlike most of his peers - he actually means to be that way.

It's easy to forget that while complexity is often considered a good literary quality for most types of stories to have, not every writer can get there; Marvel, specifically, has an overwhelming majority that aims for deep but either misses the mark entirely (Millar, Bendis, Hudlin) or hit overkill (Ellis, Straczynski).

Kirkman, in this specific context, is a godsend; he's very plain, but he knows he's plain. There's none of the usual pretentiousness where he claims he's applying some byzantine metatextual commentary we all know he can't pull off. "Marvel Zombies" does what it says on the tin: a bunch of Marvel zombies eating people. It's boring as hell to anyone who sets their standards higher than "color-by-numbers", but a fairly large percentage of the readership are just looking for something nice and easy. And Kirkman provides that without making them feel ashamed of wanting it.

I still don't find his writing interesting in the very least, but at least I feel I've solved the enigma of why he's so successful: it's not the quality of the writing itself, but the fact that said quality isn't presented as being anything more than it is.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Ears On Her

No disrespect to Faye Wong, but Angela Aki's rendition of "Eyes on Me"?


If she'd done "Suteki da ne", I'd be in Nirvana right now.