You're Welcome, Internet | July 25-29, 2011

Steven Alan Gorbachev wants your eyes.

Well hey there internet. It’s been a while since we talked, hasn’t it. I mean really talked. Now, I know one or two of you were upset by last week’s instalment, but honestly? What did you expect us to do. Something like that requires and demands your full and undivided attention.

You’re Welcome, Internet.

———-

———-

———-

———-

Everybody wants one.

———-

This means you, Derek.

———-

Jesus needs some salt.

———-

It's a problem affecting 1 in 4 Americans.

———-

It's been this easy all along!

———-

Schatz: Well, the September orders are all safely snuggled groping for food at the horror show that must be one of Diamond’s warehouses – which means I am free once more to roam the streets, unicumbered by mountains of, uh… stress? Can comics be stressful? Honestly, this big DC thing wasn’t stressful, so much as it was just a lot of work. A lot of fun work. This week alone, I’ve opened five new files, filled with brand new titles. Now, will all of those people stick out the comic book grind? I don’t know. Maybe. Hopefully. But we’re bringing in new people left and right, starting up some small files, and looking to build. Our old files have all been taken care of accordingly as well. And man, September? Should be amazing if it all comes together like I’m picturing in my head. I have a lot of freebies to hand out, a lot of excellent product hitting the shelves, and the best damn customers in the city. And by gum, I’m happy. This is great. Comics are great. And I just, I want more and more people to know that. So, uh… I’m gonna’ go do that, and I’ll meet you all back here on Monday. James? Got anything to say?

Leask: I’m goddamn tired, that’s what.  I seriously need to consider trying to fix my sleep schedule, because “small evening nap, staying up until 3:30 and getting up at six” is NOT WORKING.  I suppose that I should have noticed something the FIRST time I had to close my windows because the birds chirping in advance of sunrise were too loud,  but hey, what can you do.

This week brought to you by inertia and caffeine!

Otherwise, though, it was good!  I got to wade into a couple of hot-button comics topics without once being called a jackslut, so that’s a victory.  And with only an hour before I head off to the wilderness for a weekend of drinking, boating and video games, I can’t help but think that things are gonna be aaaaaaaalright.

You have been reading Comics! The Blog. This concludes our broadcast week.

The Crackpots and These Women: The New DC and its lack of Women

Goddamn, y'all.
Yes, Laura Hudson did the same thing at ComicsAlliance, but that was a good idea and frankly, I wanted an excuse to look at Colleen Coover's art from Girl Comics again.

So, did anything happen with DC the San Diego Comic Con about the publisher and women?  I wasn’t paying attention

Of course I’m joking.  It’s kind of hard to be a part of the comics internet and not have a general idea about many people’s concerns about the degree to which women are represented both as prominent characters and as creators in the New DC Universe.  This week especially.  Last week, at SDCC, a woman dressed as Batgirl attended several of the DC panels to ask about this issue, and the response she got, both from the crowd and the panelists, got a lot of people very upset, and totally understandably.  The woman herself, “Kyrax2”, gave her report here.

Listen, there is absolutely a problem with diversity in superhero comics.  There is a disproportionately low amount of female characters with their own books, of woman-led teams, and especially of female creators in the 52 titles announced as a part of the September relaunch.  That’s just a fact.  1% of creators being women is not enough and we should not accept that it’s enough. [Ed Note: For an eloquent explanation of the problem – and why it’s not as simple as “___ is a jerk” – read Laura Hudson’s article at ComicsAlliance, which I agree with completely].   Accepting something that offends and hurts so many people and keeps them away from something they love is not something that any of us should accept.  I was raised better than that.

With that in mind, emotions are obviously running high, and the situation is starting to get out of control as different sides dig their trenches and start screaming at each other.  I get the anger.  Nobody wants to be disrespected by a company who puts out something they want to buy, and nobody likes being told that they’re part of the problem.  It’s something that I have to remind myself of sometimes, that just because there are so many amazing comics being put out today, that it doesn’t mean that those comics and the industry wouldn’t be bettered by things getting more diverse.  A fantastic Superman book by Grant Morrison doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t also be a Lois Lane series where she chews gum and kicks ass.  Things can be better and they should be better, and we need to put our dissatisfaction and our anger in places where it’s not just screaming at someone, because otherwise at some point it just becomes a screaming match, which does nothing.

01. LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

The first thing that might help is not swinging around numbers like the percentage drop in female creators, the numbers of covers with central female characters and the numbers of female-led teams & series like a sack full of doorknobs.  They’ve made their rounds and I think they’ve largely had their intended effect.  Using them as a weapon, however, does nothing except give out bruises.  The argument needs to be about more than that.

I’m also not sure it’s a particularly effective argument when it’s about the numbers.  Several women in the industry have come forth and said that they were approached to pitch for the relaunch, but declined.  Not enough to make it anything approaching 50%, but it’s something, a shade of grey.  And, like a few creators have pointed out, this is just the first wave of titles. There are going to be more titles and hopefully a lot will spotlight female characters not present so far (the Huntress has already been announced to be getting a miniseries) and hopefully include more female creators, preferably not only on series about female characters, which happens far too often.  Women can write great male characters, just like men can write great women, which gets lost in a purely numbers game.

Similarly, I have trouble going along with arguments that begin and end with the covers or advance solicitations, because they don’t actually tell anything about the story itself.  Of course, they affect whether or not people pick up the books, which is why they shouldn’t be ignored, but solicits aren’t written by the author and the cover frequently isn’t done by the internal artist.  They tell an incomplete story, so fixating on them too much might miss the intended target.  Should there be more women both present and centrally placed on comic book covers?  Absolutely.  Should they be dressed like Harley Quinn and Selina Kyle are on the covers of Suicide Squad and Catwoman?  Absolutely not.  Things like that are keeping women away from the comics and that needs to change.  But there’s only so much condemnation that can happen without actually seeing what’s inside, which could be a really awesome story about kickass women, and that won’t happen until September.  September is when the real fight begins.

02. BUT FIRST THAT OTHER FIGHT

Of course, that doesn’t mean that what happened at SDCC isn’t something that’s not worth getting riled up about now.  Rooms full of comic book fans turning on another comic book fan because she asked about why more women aren’t creators in the New DCU?  That’s absolutely fucking atrocious.  When people point to the community as an unwelcoming place for outsiders and for women, it’s shit like this that they’re talking about.  There is no excuse for any of this.

We need to be better, people.

Oddly enough, though, I’m much less belligerent about the panelists’ responses.  Dan DiDio definitely gave an aggressive response in the way he replied with, “What do those numbers mean to you? What do they mean to you? Who should we be hiring? Tell me right now. Who should we be hiring right now? Tell me,” and I can understand why people are upset.  It wasn’t exactly appropriate.  But instead, though, let’s take that middle part as a challenge.  Who are creators you want to read?  Well, let’s buy their comics, enjoy the shit out of them and be as vocal as all hell about it.  Love Colleen CooverDevin Grayson? Kathryn Immonen?  Tell people.  Let’s generate buzz.  Let’s get people reading their comics, even if they’re not ones they might normally read.  Let’s make them so successful that DC would be crazy not to approach them, if it’s an appropriate fit and they haven’t already.  Let’s make it a goddamned celebration instead of the PR disaster it was.  Batgirl’s question didn’t get a straight answer like she should have, but let’s make the point something bigger, something grander.

I also think Jim Lee, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison are taking a bit too much criticism here from some corners.  By all accounts, their tone wasn’t anything like the crowd or DiDio’s.  They made some more lighthearted comments, maybe even deflected a bit.  Honestly, I can understand it.  Things got negative in the room.  I think they were just trying to calm it down a bit but the atmosphere was pretty out of control.  And Morrison?  I don’t see anything wrong with telling people to submit their work to DC, which is all he did, just at an inopportune time.  No, they don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.  They do, however, look at portfolios.  They might not use a Batman script you send in, but if you send in a sample of your work and they like what they see?  They know who you are.  They’re not gonna hand you the keys to the chocolate factory, but you never know what little things might come from it.

Let’s start creating.

03. DIRTY DIRTY DOLLARS, Y’ALL

Of course, this isn’t a change that happens overnight, and in the meantime, we need to vote with our dollars.  To some, this means a boycott of DC, and that might be the only option that they can take and still respect themselves every Wednesday.  If that’s the case, you have to do what you feel you have to do.

Personally, I’m skeptical about boycotts in situations like this because boycotts don’t target anything.  There are good creators at DC making good, smart comics that don’t fundamentally disrespect women, and I think they are worth supporting, even if the remarks of one of its co-publishers are not.  I won’t contribute to the sales numbers of series I find objectionable, but with so much of the New 52 being some weirder non-superhero fare that used to be part of Vertigo or Wildstorm, or simply a throwback to the days when DC published more than guys in capes, sales on these could be very fragile.  Guys like Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire make great comics, and I want to make sure they continue making them just like I want to see women getting a fair shake in the industry.

What about a targeted boycott?  I’ve seen a suggestion that Paul Cornell and Gail Simone (and only them) should be spared from the boycott, partly because they’re the ones who contacted Kyrax2.  Now, I applaud them for doing that, and I love their approaches to diversity in comics.  But… how realistic is it to expect a couple of hundred creators to all contact a single person, or to issue a public statement?  Not very, I think.  I’d be happier if more of them did, just I’d like to see a formal reply from DC, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a lot of them to simply let their work speak for itself.  Good comics are, ultimately, the way out.

So how am I responding?  Not with a boycott, certainly.  I’m going to check out the New 52, and I won’t read books that I think disrespect any demographic.  For example, I won’t be picking up Catwoman, Suicide Squad or Red Hood and the Outlaws (just like I’ve ignored almost most books with Starfire’s ridiculous costumes).  There are others and I’m sure I’ll find more.  But I want to give as honest and open a chance as I can to the creators, who didn’t say things at SDCC, but who get caught in the crossfire of a blanket boycott.  I’ll flip through some issues that have offensive covers just to see if there’s a good story inside that’s suffering and maybe doesn’t have a bunch of crotch shots and nipple bumps.  I’ll send letters and emails, to individual books’ letter pages, to DC and maybe even farther up the Time Warner chain.  I’ll talk about the reasons why I’m avoiding books and why I’m loving others.  If I’m not vocal, all that remains are sales numbers, and like I said before, those aren’t necessarily the best metric.

But really, though, that’s just me.  Feel free to do something completely different.

04. THE CHEAP SEATS

But whatever you do, let’s try to be as positive as we can.  Let’s create and be merry and celebrate the people who deserve all the parties.  Let’s not be like certain webcartoonists I’ve seen who have responded to the whole thing with, essentially, “WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO WRITE SUPERHERO COMICS THEY SUCK THEIR READERS SUCK AND THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM SUCK.”  Where’s the creativity in just hating things?  Let’s be better and drag the industry up with us.

P!nk's Anthem for Dyslexics Used for Good (?)

Hey chums. I wondering if you could all just give me a hand with something. I’m trying to remember what grade I learned about communism in. I want to say that it was grade eight. It was definitely the same period of time where my Social Studies and English teachers were the same person, because we read Animal Farm at the same time we were learning all about Russian history and junk. But that also could have been grade seven.

Fuck.

Um… anyway, I’ve been thinking a little about cosplay and how I think the idea behind it is comparable to the idea of communism. Which sounds weird, but go with me for a second. From what I remember from my studies, the basic idea behind communism was great. Create a society in which everyone is truly equal. Everyone gets treated the same, everyone shares a bit of the wealth, and the world becomes a better place. Nice, right? But see, it all falls apart when you mix in basic human nature. See, we’re all sort of fucked up. We all desire more, and in many cases, we specifically desire more than that guy, because that way, he’ll know just how much better you are than he is. And so it all fell apart, not because the idea was flawed, but because people are generally horrible.

Now. Cosplay. I love the idea behind cosplay, but in practice, I really don’t think it has the desired effect. It’s intent, I believe, is to show just how awesome you think something is. A person has to put a lot of courage into going out dressed up as a character from something or other, even if they are in a sea of like-minded people, and that clearly shows a love. But in practice, this love is often turned into seriousness. More often than not, cosplayers tend to be very serious and defensive about certain things, about certain plot points. They feel like they are owed something for their level of fandom, which is just not true. Cosplay should absolutely, positively be about fun and expression first, and should not be currency, to be traded in for entitlement.

That said, I would like to show you something, sent to us by our Twitter pal @puckett101. It’s a video showcasing cosplayers, set to that one P!nk song that was on Glee that one time. And it’s awesome. It shows creativity, and it shows love, and more importantly, it’s just fun.

Which is what it’s all about.

The Mis-Adventures of Adam West is a Thing that is Happening

So last week, this happened:

And yes, it’s pretty much exactly what it looks like: Adam West, starring in his own action adventure book, about Adam West. Those paying close attention probably saw a preview of this  during Free Comic Book Day as part of the festivities. As always, I ended up coughing up my lone copy of the book to sate the wantings of a random customer in need (both on FCBD and last week), so I didn’t get a chance to experience the insanity until today. And look, I knew it would be crazy? But I couldn’t possibly imagine how crazy it would be.

The first warning sign had to have been the concept. I mean, with a title like The Mis-Adventures of Adam West, you already have the crazy hooks dug in. I mean, the only thing that would be more enticing than that would be if they had called it The Miss Adventures of Adam West, which I would presume would follow the actor going on gender-bending adventures through space and time. But whatever, having them be misadventures is good enough for me. Which brings us to the second warning sign: the solicitation information for the first issue. Which looks like this:

The Man, The Myth, The Amulet? Legendary star of the small and silver screen, Adam West, has his career youth-enized in this hip-whimsical, trans-dimensional epic of an adventure. When a mysterious fan delivers an exotic amulet to Mr. West’s doorstep he is Dorothy-fied on an oddysey that will change his career, his love life and, inadvertently, make him the man that saves the universe!

Youth-enized. Hip-whimsical. Dorothy-fied. These, apparently, are words that describe things. Awesome things. And so yes, there were signs that the book would be crazy – and the opening pages confirmed a bit of this crazy. It begins with West monologuing about how this city (LA) has grown tired of heroes, and no one can be trusted. But he? He can be trusted, because he is ADAM WEST!

The last part, he exclaims in a full paged slash, in which he stands, legs akimbo, chest pushed out. All he’s missing is some wind and a cape. The camera pans around to a delivery guy who tells him that it’s great that he’s Adam West, but he should really sign for the package being delivered. Signing the package, West laments the fact that television isn’t like it was in the 60s. This is about when the delivery guy notices a certain cowl in West’s house. West is disappointed to hear that this young whippsnapper has only experienced the recent Batman films, remarking that “He was the Caped Crusader long before he was the Dark Knight.” Which, I think, is a genuinely fantastic remembrance of Batman in the midst of a story that’s about to kick up the crazy.

The scene moves to West’s agent’s office where the pair argue over roles West is being offered. See, West is against the idea that heroes have to be so dark and gritty nowadays – in fact, he objects to the James Bond type spy story he’s been offered because his character blows up a hotel full of innocent people. His agent retorts with the fact that it works because he says the line “It’s been a blast” to the bad guy. But West is having none of it. He’s then offered a western, that includes a scene where West’s character has to beat up a hooker for information. His agent says it’s fine because of the line, “Keep the change.”

At a certain point, West’s agent stops hearing the protestations. He warns Adam that if he doesn’t take these jobs, he will have to find himself a new agent, giving the old man a menacing face for good measure. Adam West leaves the office head hung low, and when a passer by asks him if he’s Adam West, he turns slightly and mutters (I assume, whispers) “Used to be.”

Later, in traffic, West opens his package, that he took with him in his car to meet with his agent and finds an amulet. Grabbing hold of the amulet, he suddenly finds himself out of LA traffic, driving a car high speed on a cliff, young once again. A guard rail comes up, and acting quickly he stops the car, just at the edge – which is when the car is rammed by mysterious foes. He leaps out of the way, and eventually, into the lap of a sexy girl spy, who drive him away to a hotel. Once there, the two drop a whole lot of exposition. Adam West doesn’t remember how he got to where he was, or why he’s so young and being called Dominic Cane – but he knows that the name is familiar. In short order, he finally realizes that it’s a name from the spy flick he read the script for, in which he blows up a hotel full of innocent people. The woman, also explains in excruciating detail, that she used to work for the bad guys, but Adam West’s charms swayed her. He asks if they made it to the love scene yet, and she replies that they have, which is sad for Adam, because there was only one in the script. Oh Adam, you old dog you.

Anyway, this is where a mysterious ninja figure bursts into the room and gases Adam and the girl. He later wakes up in a room, talking to a dude on a monitor, who wants Adam West to… I don’t know, finish acting through the weird Twilight Zone movie script thing. Adam asks why he should, to which the guy replies “My name is Robinson… And I mailed you the Amulet that brought you here.”

Which.

Explains.

Nothing.

And then the comic ends. Which… yeah. That was some kind of crazy. But still? Does not touch upon the craziest things in this book. No, the craziest things are two advertisements. The first, is for the Keith Richards bio comic coming out from Bluewater. Which looks horrifying. And then there’s an ad from PETA.

Ohhhhh, the ad from PETA. It’s done all comic book style with horrifying stylized McDonals characters. It begins with the Grimace (who is fucking terrifying on his own) proclaiming that they are out of chickens to make nuggets. Ronald sends out the Hamburglar (real names used, BTW) to go and get some more. This is when Birdie arrives home to a pile of blood. She asks Ronald “when you said you were having my family over for lunch today, what exactly did you mean?”

To which everyone laughs. Then it launches into the bit at the bottom – which is what we call in the biz, “the point”. It goes like this:

Chickens killed by McDonald’s suppliers have their throats cut while they are still concious and are often scalded to death in defeathering tanks. Please urge McDonald’s to require its suppliers to use a less cruel slaughter method that would end the worst abuses of chickens killed for the restaurant chain.

Which, okay, sure, that sounds pretty terrible. And I’m not going to sit here and debate points that I know pretty much shit all about (my first arguement: chickens are delicious). But man, dropping some straight up child memory murder in the middle of my fun Adam West romp was a little crazy.

Aaaaaand, that was the book! Which… which yeah. Happened. And will continue to happen for at least three more issues! Can you wait? I can’t.

Meet the Digital Reader, Same as the Old Reader

HULK NO LIKE STOCKS APP

A DARING TALE OF SUSPENSE AND CREDIT CARD BILLS

First, DC Comics announced that starting in September their entire line would be released digitally on the same day and date that they were available in stores.  Understandably, some people freaked out.  Just when they were calming down, Marvel announced that starting with Spider Island, the Spider-Man event beginning this week, all the Spider-Family books would be going day-and-date with the X-Men to follow in October and November, and once again, there was some excitement filled with a little bit of “Ohshitohshitohshithowdarethey?” thrown in for good measure.

While most of the worry about digital comics has been on the retailer end of the issue, there’s one notable exception.  John Siuntres, gentleman, scholar & host of pretty much the best comics podcast around, Word Balloon, has been asking questions about whether new readers reading digitally will be put off by waiting a full month for the next installment of a 6-or-more-part story.  Siuntres’ idea is that in an “instant gratification” environment, people not used to going to the shop every month might benefit from more 2-part or done-in-one stories rather than be immediately tossed into the deep end of stories like Invincible Iron Man‘s “World’s Most Wanted.”

I don’t think Siuntres is wrong.  I think comics in general could benefit from more stories done this way.  As Dan Slott and others say, every comic is somebody’s first, and being forced to understand too much continuity can absolutely put people off reading more.  I spend a frankly absurd amount of money at Brandon’s shop every week, and unless I’m out of town or unable to stand, I don’t miss a New Comics Wednesday.  That said, I’ve been reading almost all of the X-Books for a few years, and I still have to go to Wikipedia around once a month just to remind myself about something like what exactly Quentin Quire did so that I can understand the latest X-Event.  I still don’t know exactly what the deal is with Illyana Rasputin, and I’ve read about 5 miniseries or story arcs she’s been a part of.  Hopefully, some post-Schism stories are going to be new-reader friendly – and to their credit, that’s more or less what Marvel has said, regarding these digital initiatives and future ones – because otherwise the day-and-date digital X-periment [Ed Note: Sorry, I couldn't resist] results could look exactly like what Siuntres is concerned about.

At the same time, that’s why I think that Siuntres doesn’t need to worry as much about new digital readers as we all need to be about comics storytelling in general.  Just like Batman Incorporated or Grant Morrison‘s fantastic run on Batman probably aren’t the best places for a new reader to jump on, even at the beginning of a new arc, the same could be said with relative ease about most of the superhero comics industry in general.

It’s why I think that, gender issues aside [Ed Note: More on that later, if we can figure out a way not to get rocks thrown at us], the DC relaunch is a fantastic opportunity to land new readers.  A new continuity is just an open boxcar for new readers to jump on and ride the hobo rails to a land of great stories.  And yes, I think digital readers are a big part of this.

Truthfully, I see less work in getting new digital comic readers to stick along for the ride than I would in getting them to do the same by going to  a comic book store.  Going to a comic book store is a trip.  Between scheduling, children and everything else that takes time away from unadulterated free time, it’s one that’s difficult for a lot of people to make.  Even a lot of comics professionals will admit in interviews that they can’t make it out every week because of these reasons, so it’s completely understandable that a new reader whose job doesn’t involve keeping up with comics might find the same thing hard.

But digital comics?  You can buy those at any time of day, from anywhere you can connect to the internet.  With a smartphone, that’s just about anywhere.  Tap tap tap tap COMIC.  Anytime, anywhere; what could be better for a new reader?

Really, it’s the same delay until a new issue for a new reader regardless of whether or not they’re going to a store or buying a digital copy from wherever they damn well want.  The difference that even if going to a shop isn’t part of their routine to pick up new issues, using their computer or their tablet is, and the digital services themselves are trying to make it as easy as possible for readers to remember what’s coming out.  Weekly emails with new issues listings.  Push notifications so that their iPad will tell them when a series they like is coming out and take them to the in-app listing for that issue.  Finish the end of an issue?  The app itself will ask if you want to sign up to be notified when the next part of the story comes out.  The future is here, and it lets me be lazier than ever if I want.

There’s also the largely unspoken issue surrounding new readers: comic book shops themselves.  Even if a person has time to visit a local store, even if they have a glut of stores in their area with a convenient location, the reality is that a lot of stores aren’t very good.  It took me years before I found a local store that:

a) Had a good level of stock

b) Didn’t ignore me when I entered

c) Didn’t outright lie to me when I asked about release dates by telling me that there is no list of releases that exists anywhere

d) Didn’t try to steal from me by ringing in comics at 1000% the listed cover price and hoping I wouldn’t notice

Years.  In a city with a dozen comic book stores, it should not be that hard to find a local comic book store that meets this list of criteria.  But it was.  To me, any shop that does these is making it harder for new readers than digital comics and 6-part stories ever could.  It used to be, in comics’ heyday, that you could buy single issue comics at lots of different places; drug stores, grocery stores, book stores, you name it.  Now, it’s basically comic book stores, and like I said: a lot of those are terrible.  I pity the person who sees Captain America: The First Avenger and walks into most of the comic shops in my city to try to read more about the character.  The direct market saved the industry once before, but with the ghettoization of comics behind the curtain of the stereotype of the Comic Book Guy – something my experience and any comics comment section/forum on the internet could argue is not as untrue as we might like it to be – comics need to expand.  Without spinner racks coming back to my local Rexall Drugs, I think digital comics are our best chance at that.

Even assuming an “instant gratification” culture – and I don’t, not entirely – you could make the argument that people who buy things as digital copies – music, TV shows, movies, books, magazines, newspapers or video games – are used to buying theses things online.  They’re used to setting up notifications or checking the digital storefronts, and they’re used to waiting – years, in some cases – for new content.  30 days isn’t unusual.  The experience of buying an issue through Comixology is almost the exact same as buying through iTunes, Steam or Kindle storefronts, and that’s a good thing.  Those are services that have done it right.

Of course, there’s the chance that they could still, with all those strengths, buy a new digital issue, find it unsatisfying and decide not to continue.  It’s certainly happened to me many times before.  I simply don’t see it as a digital-specific issue, because in my experience, it hasn’t been.  Marvel and DC probably should do some shorter stories.  It’s just as much for the benefit of somebody walking into a shop as it is for someone tapping away on their tablet.  Maybe more.

The Schisming: Part Two: Schism Me Deadly

X-MEN: SCHISM #2 (Marvel Comics)

by Jason Aaron, Frank Cho, Jason Keith, and Jared K. Fletcher

Synopsis: After Quintin Quire’s mind-attack on world diplomats, Sentinels roam the earth. And also, Kitty Pryde is Jewish.

01. Or “Jew-y” as Marc Maron would say, but I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to say something like that. Whoa, wait, is this thing on already?

02. No matter how much I’m enjoying Fear Itself, I have to admit, what Jason Aaron is accomplishing with this book is just a stunning, shining example as to how these things should work. And again, I’m not saying this to belittle Fear Itself – operating a book on that kind of scale can’t be easy, especially when you have editors from every corner of the universe (as well as creators) doing a little bit of “plug-and-play”, and Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen are absolutely killing it on that book. But here’s what it comes down to: Fear Itself is a fantastic book. But X-Men: Schism? Thus far, it’s been near perfection. And I’m only saying near perfection for fear that someone is going to “um, actually” me in the comments. (Why do you have to ruin this for me??!?)

03. What was first sold as a book about a split between Cyclops and Wolverine is quite a bit more. While in the pages of this second issue, you can see a few more of the cracks forming, it’s not actually about the split. It’s about terror, its about politics, its about survival, and more importantly, it’s about the strong albeit strained relationship between Scott and Logan. Never is that more apparent later in the book when, after a pretty tense disagreement over policy, Cyclops rounds on a doucher that’s been making fun of Wolverine and seethes, “If I ever, ever, hear of you belittling Wolverine again, I will personally break you in half! Pray every day that you will someday be even half the man he is. Because as it stands now, I wouldn’t take six of you on your best day for one of him on his worst!”

It’s a god damn thing of beauty, illustrating a trust and strength while simultaniously showing the strain of the situation the team and the species is facing. And that’s far from the most awesome thing that happens in this comic.

04. Both the threat is a joy to watch unfold. Aaron deploys the “creepy small children” gambit and lets it run wild, culminating in a genuinely horrifying scene with something that may or may not be a kitty cat. The results would be horrifying if a person were just start at words, but Frank Cho really adds an element of… well, of sweetness to it that just tilts the whole scene ever so slightly. Which is to say nothing of what will probably come next. Right now, everything is up in the air. You don’t know what the kids are really planning, and you don’t know how the X-Men are going to react to their current predicament, but man, just the potential that exists. Aaron has set up a humdinger, all from quieter bits of story where he implies and ascribes importance to certain traits and characters. It’s a slow build, but within that build things are happening, and yeah. It’s pretty nice to read.

05. And then there’s the Kitty Pryde thing, which is awesome. I don’t want to spoil things, but basically, Kitty drops the sickest burn in the history of sick burns in this issue. It’s such a fantastic slap to the face to a man who quite deserves to be slapped in the face for all of his complete bullshit, and I applaud the creative team (and by extension, Marvel editorial) for letting it happen. Just a hilarious and beautiful moment that somehow manages to fit within the story flow, not disrupting it like it pretty much should have. Not exactly sure how it was carried off, but it was carried off well – and if the great art and writing don’t sell you on this book, you should probably just pick it up for this scene alone. My goodness, that was great. If this is how the Wolverine and the X-Men stories will be told once Aaron starts that monthly up, then I am there.

Drunk Comic Recaps | Uncarny X-Men #429

Great, now I just want this book to be about circus people. But anyone who is different than you is circus people, AMIRITE (no I am NOT).

Awright cats and kittems! It is time, as they say in Britain, for the Drunk! Combic! Reeeeecaaaaaaaaaaapppsss! By now, you probably know the rules, but whatever. It goes like this: I exocsize a few mugs full of spirits and then I read a comic. While I do that, I also write about it, without using the spell check. Then, in the morning, when I wake up? I’m not allowed to change any of the words. I can only add tags or pictures, for ease of, uh… something. Veiwing.

Tonight! The beginnening of The Draco which is apparently an important part of Chuck Austen’s X-Men run. Is important the word? I think it might be. I’m not going to lie: I enjoy reading these stories, but not in the way they were meant to be enjoyed, methinks. But whatevs. ONWARDS, I say. For the GLORY OF THE EMPIRE!

Uncanny X-Men #429: When two people love each other very much, one of them might be Satan

The book begins! With Scott Summers emerging shirtless from the Danger Room whistling. WHen he does this he walks by a camelflagued Nightcrawler who goes out of his camelflague to beep-boop-beep some numbers and pop into the room what contains the big plane the X-Men have. The Blackbird, I think? Just like that one Beetles song. About the Yellow Submarine.

Anyway, before this duder gets into the plane, he screams a bit and hold his head, and then gives a creepy lookin face with drool coming off his mouth, which says to me something happened to maybe control his brain? And then he gets into the plane and flies it up, and Wolverine is all WTF guy, where are you going??!?

Meanwhile, a cook who is also a dog-thing asks a mutant with at least three arms to grab some food from Xavier’s walk in freeze, so he can make food for the kids and faculty and junk and when they open it, oh BALLS, it’s Iceman and something is wrong with him. Later, a bunch of people are gathered, telling Bobby that he should’ve told them about the problems he had been having. Bobby is all “yeah bros, I should’ve told you” and then Wolverine bursts in and yells “ANYONE HERE SEND KURT ON A MISSION” in comically large letters. I mean seriously, these things are amazing. They are title sized.

`Anyway, no one sent Kurt on any kind of thing, which prompts Professor X to start spilling his guts about a thing that’s been happening> He says that all kinds of teleporters have been acting crazy balls lately, and they are all converging on an island. Havok then says that its the very same island that him and Kurt and Lorna visited to dig things up a few issues ago. The one where they discovered some weird things or something. Anyway, Kurt goes there, and is greeted by some other blue dude who has alittle bit of blood trickling from his mouth thing.

Back at Xaviers, Annie is all “don’t leave Havok, I looooooover you” and he’s all, I’ll be back, and she says “And maybe when you get back, you can wear that suit — you know — just for me”. Which is neat. This when Lorna comes into the room (Lorna, the crazy bitch Havok almost married) and starts being a bitch, and Havok is all, yeaaaaaah, I’m gonna take off, and then he does.

Annie asks what the professor and Lorna are doing there, and the Prof, showing just some STUNNING lack of forsight here, says that he’s going to probe Lorna’s mind, to see just why she’s been such a crazy bitch lately, and thinks that the infirmary, where Annie works, would be the best place to do this. He hopes Annie doesn’t mind, which is when Polaris says “Why SHOULD she mind Professor? Just because I tried to kill her and that precious little CHILD of hers.” This is when the Juggernaut shows up and demands an audience with Charles, which he agrees to, leaving Annie and Polaris alone. Way to go, champ.

Anyway the pair of them go off and talk about their issues. Juggernaut wants a plane to fly and see his kid friend Sammy and the Professor won’t let him, and then they start yelling at each other for being dicks to each other when they were younger, which ends in them both admitting to be beaten as kids, and that Sammy is probably being beaten right now, and so the Prof lets Juggers go up to Vancouver to see/save Sammy.

Meanwhile, the X-team has arrived on the island, where they see Kurt taking part in like a summoning thing, which summons some bad people, and then the issue ends. Oh noes!

I was gonna attempt another onna these, but I don’t think that’ll happen tonight. Oh well! This one still did gooder?

Until next ime, my pretties:

Komitchiwham, bitches!

You Read These With Your Eyes – July 27th, 2011

Can you hand me that cheese?

Every week, Comics! The Blog goes through the list of new releases and we tell you which comics to plug into your mind hole. Your mileage may vary.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 (Marvel Comics)

It’s here!  Spider Island is finally here!  And it’s about damn time!  Listen, I love Dan Slott‘s run on the series, I don’t think that’s any secret.  But it’s been two and a half damn months since the Spider Island-teasing Free Comic Book Day issue of the series whetted my appetite, and all those Infested teasers that have been running ever since have only made things worse.  At this point, I want my giant Spider-Man event, and I want it now!  Do you hear me, world?  I’m mad as hell and I’ll only take it for so much longer.  If that’s okay.  I’ll sit down.  I’m sorry.

But yeah, if Spider-Man is your thing, you could do worse than checking this out.  Peter’s been doing pretty well without his spider sense, especially with some kung fu kung pao magic – I’m sorry guys, I didn’t eat dinner – from Shang-Chi.  But what if an untold number of New Yorkers got all of Pete’s powers and didn’t necessarily have the same moral compunctions?  How bad would things get?

We’re about to find out.

Aw, they're gonna hug!ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN AND WOLVERINE (HARDCOVER COLLECTION) (Marvel Comics)

Did you miss this fantastic miniseries while it was coming out?  Don’t worry, I was a big fan of it and I still missed the final issue, which I’m not sure if I should blame on myself or Brandon.  Let’s say Brandon, since he’s not here right now.

Isn’t unjustifiably blaming one of your best friends (and writing partner) for something fun?  You really should try it.

Oh wow, I can totally turn that into a segue!  Basically, much like Brandon and I are apparently bros with issues (in that I don’t have a certain one), so are Logan and Peter.  Then they start tripping through time because of some magical diamonds and thugs with magical diamond-encrusted baseball bats, and at one point Doctor Doom is a planet and gets shot with a bullet that’s the Phoenix Force.  And that’s just the middle!

Basically, if you enjoy fun, there is no reason not to read this series.  It’s funny, it’s poignant, and there’s some Bosom Buddies-eque (time) hijinks to be had, which is a thing that I can never get enough of.  Can you?  Stop lying, no you can’t.

CAPTAIN AMERICA AND BUCKY #620 (Marvel Comics)

Co-written by Ed Brubaker and Marc Andreyko.  The untold stories of Captain America and Bucky’s first years together, told from the latter’s point of view.  Yeah, that’s amazing.  That’s probably reason enough to buy this issue.  But do you know what’s absolutely the reason to?  The reason that, as soon as I tell you, you’re going to start camping out at your local comic book store just to make sure you get a copy?

Chris Samnee on art.  Pa-zow!

Sure, your wallet hates you.  This is worth it.(Image taken, obviously, from Comic Book Resources)

Yeah.  Pa-zow is goddamn right.

If you read Thor: The Mighty Avenger, the backups in the last few issues of Captain America, or Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale, you know and love Samnee‘s art.  You’re not alone.  Let’s buy the shit out of this book, guys.

Ruh-roh.CRIMINAL: THE LAST OF THE INNOCENT #2 (Icon Comics)

I’m actually a new convert to the wonder that is Criminal – I know, I know – despite it being the exact kind of book that I would like.  I actually took a class on crime pulp and noir stories in university, in which Criminal came up in discussion, and yet I never picked up an issue until the first issue of the latest story arc.  Of course, I was immediately blown away by the sheer genius of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and as soon as I closed the book, I wanted more.

The Last of the Innocent is the story about Riley Richards, a pretty regular kid who got himself into a messed up marriage and a bunch of gambling debt.  Visiting his hometown after his father passes away, he sees another path his life could have taken if he’d made different choices as a teen, and he comes to a conclusion about the only way he can get things back the way they should: he has to kill his wife.

This should… go well?  Either way, I’m in.  Hot damn, I’m in.

DUCK TALES #3 (Kaboom! Studios)

Life is like a hurricane here in Duckburg

You’re damn right, italicized lyrics of the theme song to a beloved cartoon from my childhood.  You’re damn right.  A few issues into the latest series in Kaboom!‘s plan to kill me with sheer happiness, I can’t believe my luck.  So far, the issues have felt exactly like it felt watching the Duck Tales cartoon on Saturday afternoons when I was a kid.  Between all of them, Warren Spector and his art team have absolutely nailed this series, from the crazy locales and plots to the relationship between Scrooge McDuck and his family.  If you’re not reading this, you really should be; it’s a great all ages book and an example of a licensed property done absolutely right.  It’s fun.  It’s exciting.  It’s the Duck Tales I remember, and I can’t believe my eyes.

These are just five of the many great books being released this week!  And how fantastic a week is it?  I didn’t even get to the two Scott Snyder comics comic out.  Or Jonathan Hickman‘s two series, including the finale of Secret Warriors!  Hell, I didn’t even get past the letter D!  Aren’t we spoiled?  Yes, we are.  Aw yeah, comics!

You can find the full list of comics being released here. If you have any other recommendations, let us know in the comments below.

C!TB’s Best of the Week | July 25th, 2011

Your mother was an attractive lady. Also: I hate you.

How are you, dear readers?  Did you enjoy the football this weekend?  There’s football, this weekend, right?

Listen, I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t follow football that closely, maybe it is over.  Maybe forever.  In which case, that just means time for more comics!  Comics like these, which were the best of last week!

I’m segueing the shit out of this, folks.

The Biebys, we call them.

Tony Stark always loved a good game of Blueprint Keepaway.DRINKIN’ WITH MY POCKET-SIZED HOMIES

Do we take it for granted that Tony Stark is a recovering alcoholic?  I mean, “Demon in a Bottle” was back in 1979, and sometimes it feels like ever since, more often than not, that’s been treated as a done deal at worst, as the kind of character detail that other characters can use in quips at best.  It seems like the difference between having been an alcoholic and being an alcoholic.  The thing is, that’s not generally how addictions work.  In my line of work, I’ve seen men fuck up their lives because something they “had beaten” turned out to not be quite so gone.  In the nonfiction media I consume, there are even more examples.  In the fiction I love, even more.  In an episode of The West Wing, White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry tells his attorney that a relapse he had wasn’t about intelligence – “Do you have any idea how many alcoholics are in Mensa?” – and that, quite simply, he can’t just have one drink.  His brain works a different way.  “Who wouldn’t want to feel this good all the time?”

Enter Tony Stark, because that’s what I love about The Invincible Iron Man and especially Issue #506.  Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca‘s Point One issue introduced new readers to Tony through his alcoholism, and it’s kept coming with the series’ Fear Itself tie-in issues.  After watching the horror that is the decimation of the entirety of one of the world’s greatest cities, Tony sees only two things he can possible offer up to Odin to get him to intervene instead of just destroying the Earth, only two things he really has to give that means anything: his sobriety and his dignity.  But it doesn’t end there.  Why would it?  Tony’s an alcoholic.  He can’t just have one drink.

Working with surly dwarves to make weapons and war machines to fight the serpent, we see Tony’s almost complete collapse.  He had finally extricated himself from the business of death, but here he is.  He had fought for and maintained his sobriety and convinced himself that his relapse was a one-time thing, but then the dwarves take their break.  The beer gets poured, and we’re reminded that, maybe, it’s not about smarts.

And watching all this happen?  It’s harrowing.  It’s terrifying.  I want to to end, but I’ll eagerly anticipate the next issue, because this one is just so goddamned good.  And for that, I give this issue and its creators the John Spencer Booze Explosion Award. (J)

BRANDON IS THE WORST.

You guys, I have to appologize. I really don’t have any awards to hand out this week. Which is strange. I mean, I read a lot of amazing books this week – a lot – but I went and pained myself into a pretty tight corner. For starters, it was a pretty busy week at the shop, what with the whole “getting ready for the new 52″ thing wrapping up. This resulted in me reading far fewer comics than I usually do. And then I went and spent most of that reading time burning through One Soul and Power Lunch, two graphic novels from Oni that are just spectacular, but really deserve their own articles (especially One Soul).

Which leaves me with some fairly slim pickings. On the one hand, I could probably write up a few more words about the new Daredevil book by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, but you all watched me yammer on about that for several hundred words last week. (Though, what the heck – I can still give it the Mariska Hargitay Memorial Award for Scenes of Law and Order and skip the whole “more words” part.) And then there was another good candidate, but both James and I agreed that it would be a crime if that book didn’t get the “Bestie” for this week, and it was his turn to drive that part of the article. Which leaves me with… well, a lot of good comics, but not any that really grabbed me, you know? So look, we’ll have to just do without my input for this week. Which is probably a good thing, what with the subject matter James tackled above with Invincible Iron Man and what he’s about to cover below, whatever I would have to say would just seem like a bad dong joke sandwiched between two slices of some kind of bread metaphor. And look, no one wants that. So let’s not do it. Okay? Okay.

Penises.(B)

Better than alllll the rest

I normally don’t talk about the same comic book issue twice in the same week when it comes around to do these things.  If I’ve already written a 500 word recommendation for an issue, what’s left to write about?  Usually, I let Brandon write the Award or Best entry for those issues because it bores you less and excites me more because I get to hear what he has to say.  But this week?  It would be absurd to call anything other than Generation Hope #9 the Best of the Week.

This world. This world...

Truth be told, this was a very tough issue to read.  I actually had a small breakdown on Wednesday night, in the wee small hours of the morning, as I cried as I read on, as my heart broke at all the cruelty in the world.  But I reread it.  And reread it.  Every time, I had the same response.  Every time, I wanted that cruel son of a bitch who drove his friend to suicide to just get what he fucking deserved, because the idea of being in a world with people like that was just so hard to bear.  Of course, the story remained the same, as it always must, but I kept crying and wishing that this world could be a better place.  I mean, I just realized I’m crying right now, thinking about it.

This is the world we get, though.  It’s mean and it’s cruel and it breaks me so very, very much.  But it’s a world with good people, as trite as that sounds.  It’s a world with art, with stories like this that make us weep for people that will never exist, just from their beauty.  How can we not fight for a world like that?

All that from twenty-something pages of floppy paper.  A breakdown and hope for rebuilding.  How could I call anything other than that the Best of the Week?  Isn’t this art of the highest value?

Absolutely. (J)

This is Comics! The Blog. We now commence our broadcast week.