C!TB's Inarguable Best of 2011

by James “Dong Police” Leask and Brandon “Dong Police Brutality Victim” Schatz

It’s December, and you know what that means: festive yiffing!  Also, everybody and their grandmother has a Best Of 2011 list, and we’re no exception, dearie.  Could you get your ol’ Internet Gamgam a tea with honey?  Lawrence Welk is on.  Here’s the thing, though: every other list is plagued by dreaded subjectivity.  What was the best comic of of the year?  The best TV show?  Those are all choices that can be argued with.  Want the objective, weirdly specific truth?  Never fear! Gamgam is here with the Inarguable Best of 2011.

Now where’s my goddamn tea?

Best Improper Fraction:

Matt

Look closely.

This is Fraction’s fourth nomination and second win.

Matt Fraction, photobombing the nation to keep it safe from terror.  Because he’s the bastard the Internet deserves, but not the one it needs right now.  Actually, scratch that.  We need him.

Best Drug-Induced Time Travelling, Joy Division-Invoking Mini-Series

SACRIFICE

There are so many mostly naked dudes in this.

Mark our words: Sam Humphries is the new Kieron Gillen.

We hope you get along in the Soundproof John Wilkes Booth, boys!

 

Best Drug Parable Featuring Emma Rios:

SPIDER ISLAND: CLOAK & DAGGER

Ms. Rios, I am going to start counting and you tell me when it is the amount of money you want to do more art.

It was either this or Best Creepy Norman Osborn Featuring Emma Rios.

Best Southern Crime Sextacular

LOOSE ENDS

My guess is, things are about to go... south. *puts on sunglasses" YEAAAAHHH!

Don’t worry, nothing goes wrong at all.

No, wait.  The opposite of that.  Don’t miss it.

Best OMG DID THAT JUST HAPPEN ON iCARLY Moment

SAM AND FREDDIE KISSING AAAAAA!!!!!1!!

SHUT UP, IT WAS MAGICAL.

Best “100% True” Autobiography of an American Literary Legend Who Was Totally Into Sex Toys

MARK TWAIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 1910-2010

(MICHAEL KUPPERMAN)

The moustache that launched a thousand dildos.

What, somebody said this isn’t actually true?  I’LL CUT THEM.

Best Use of James Spader as a Comparison

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE DEFENDERS

Lady, get tested.
Click for ComicsAlliance interview

If you were a woman, would you join a team with this dude in it?  If you didn’t have a sword?

We thought so.  Well played, Fraction.

Best Comic Featuring Jamie McKelvie, Inspired by an Album with Jamie McKelvie Cover Art

BRILLIANT! TRAGIC!: THE COMIC BOOK

Featuring other people too, I guess.

Also, the album is really good!  Good job, Art Brut!  You win a “biscuit” or whatever the British call sexy times.

Best Movie Harnessing the Awesome Power of the Oakland Athletics

MONEYBALL

Yifftown, Threat Level Aniston.

It’s also about being giant nerds!  Needless to say, both James and Brandon were thrilled, and not just because James grew up watching the A’s farm team before they got famous and steroid-y.

Best Madman With a Box

THE DOCTOR

Not pictured: box

This was the year James discovered Doctor Who, which means it was also the year that Brandon discovered Doctor Who.  It’s spreading, like a sexy disease.

Seriously, there were parties.

Best Story Wherein Supergirl Partakes in Truffle Shuffle-esque Shenanigans

Supergirl #65-67: This Is Not My Life

Kelly Sue DeConnick and ChrisCross gave us a wonderful story that involved all the best of those old 80s adventure movies. Also, make outs and clockwork monkeys?

Best Use of Archie Characters in a Crime Comic where “Archie” Straight Up Plots Murder and Not in the Funny Way:

CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENT

Also, where "Jughead" does heroin.

Listen, it takes guts to take iconic character types and turn them into gamblers, drug addicts, adulterers and murderers in a deeply personal story about a father and a son and did I mention the part where everybody is awful or fucked up?

Well, except “Betty”.  I love Betty.

Best Revamp of Millie the Model as a Teen Tennis Romance Comic:

15 LOVE

Which is a reward we will be handing out again next year, right Marvel? RIGHT??!?

Okay, probably not, but damn this was a good read. You should’ve bought it. You jerks.

Best Return of Kate Kane:

BATWOMAN

Hey ladies.

Is there any series more lushly gorgeous than Batwoman?  Are there any page layouts more inventive?  It’d be hard to find any, and so for giving us a spooky addition to the Bat-Family’s various series, this long-awaited book needs to be recognized.

Seriously, buy it all now.

Best Depiction of Dead People in a Dreamscape:

MARCOS MARTIN & AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #655

If this page doesn’t make you wanna just give Marcos Martin all the money and/or have his way with you, then I’m not sure we will ever completely understand each other. Because damn girl!

Best TV Show Where Bender Bending Rodriguez is the Voice of a Magic Dog:

ADVENTURE TIME

Admittedly, this doesn't look very magic.

The only things that keep me from grumbling about how kids these days have better cartoons than I did when I was a kid are:

a) Batman: The Animated Series

2) I’m old enough to appreciate how amazing Adventure Time‘s weirdness and incredibly dark streak actually are.

Best Comic Collection That is Just So Pretty That When James Scuffed the Dust Jacket he Almost Bought Another Copy:

STUMPTOWN

What are you doing not reading this already?

Seriously, this collection, like the material itself, is just about the best thing.

Best Movie Where Ryan Gosling Drives:

DRIVE

More like "Sit-While-Parked", amirite?

Or wait, was it Crazy, Stupid, Love where he drove?  Fuck it, I’m switching this:

Gosling's legs look great in high heels, don't they?

Beast Best Sexy Dog Sex and Mineral Banging Comic:

OUR LOVE IS REAL

A whip-smart modern satire about the differences between love and sex and the bullshit we ascribe to both.

I’m pretty sure this is what Kermit was talking about when he sang about a Rainbow Connection.

That’s a sex move, right?

C!TB’s Inarguable Lifetime Achievement Award for Achievement

It’s been a great year for movies, TV, comics and so many other wonderful things.  When it came down to it, though, only one detective-agency-slash-comic-creatin’-husband-and-wife really defined our year and what we loved about it:

FRACTION-DECONNICK INVESTIGATIONS

This is how I imagine them.

Between books like Casanova and Osborn, Fraction DeConnick Investigations made us the happiest this year.  We’re excited to see what each half makes next, but in the meantime we want to give our most prestigious made up award that we previously reserved for James Van Der Beek to show our thanks.

Best of The New 52: Our Picks, Part 2

Even though Huntress makes it 53.

Boy, September sure was a doozy, eh? Yep, it definitely just happened, and I’m not late with my half of this at all.

So it’s true, a bit of time has passed since the launch month of The New 52 and today – but you guys, I have the best excuse for the lateness of this article: the comics have been selling like motherfuckers. And not just the new DC books. I’ve been plying the lessons learned from selling those books to any launching point, whether it be a new number one or story arc or creative team change. It’s been working like gangbusters, and with most of the DC line settling down to roughly double what the books were previously selling for us in the store, it makes for a busy life. But look, we don’t like leaving you hanging, and there were some amazing books that James didn’t get to in his half of this feature. So let’s get to that.

ANIMAL MAN

Right from day one, the book that surprised the most people was Animal Man. From the first page, you can tell the book will be different, as it opens with a page straight out of The Believer, a real literary magazine that would totally run an interview with Buddy Baker. You know, if he were real. But that’s just the first page.

As you explore the first issue, you find yourself smiling and many things. Buddy’s simple interactions with his family, establishing a core and a love at the center of the book. The brief adventure he goes on where things take a decidedly dark turn. And then that ending. Oh god that ending. In turns it’s the most horrific book you’ve read, and the most grounded, and the most fun and light-hearted. It’s a fine tuned, well oiled machine, and Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman are absolutely killing it on this book. We’ve upped the order several times in the store, and we still ran out of issue threes this week. There’s not a single other New 52 book on our shelves that can boast the fact that sales are still BURSTING through the ceiling.

And let me tell you, if you had told me one day, that one of our best selling books would be Animal Man? I probably would’ve laughed at you. Hard. But dammit, I’m glad that it’s around and that it’s selling as well as it is. It really is an amazing book that you should all be getting.

I, VAMPIRE

Definitely one of the harder sells of the line – though I’ll blame that on a visceral reaction many comic folk have to anything that looks remotely Twi-lite. But look, Joshua Hale Fialkov’s name was on the cover, so I knew we’d get something a bit darker than what seemed to be promised. And boy, did he deliver. The series, while taking a few cues from the current vampire phenomenon manages to toe a line that is decidedly darker and more literary than Twilight, while not alienating any of those fans, should they venture over. And the art by Andrea Sorrentino is pretty much perfectly suited. It’s like they found a Jae Lee that’s somehow darker than Jae Lee, and it all just works. Definitely a book that should be on your radar if it isn’t already.

OMAC

Behold! The funnest book of the whole DC relaunch! The Jack Kirby influence practically oozes off the page, as the new OMAC burns through some crazy science and wrecks some of the crazier things that I’ve seen in comics lately. THERE IS A ROBOT THAT PULLS UP ITS FACE TO REVEAL THAT IT HAS FACE GUNS AND THEN IT SHOOTS THINGS! And that’s just part of the first issue. It’s big, its silver age, and while it might not be for new readers specifically, I think a lot of older ones will get a big kick out of this book.

SUPERGIRL

I will admit: I was prepared for the worst when the book was announced. There was a suspicious air about it, the least of which being the book’s original writer, Brian Wood, was removed from the project before it even began. Plus, I love Brian Wood. Also, there was a bothersome bit of solicitation text that implored the reader not to piss off this new Supergirl which… kinda’ suggested this book wouldn’t be fun. But I should’ve had more faith. While Brian Wood wouldn’t be on the book, Michael Green and Mike Johnson would be, and they were behind some of my favourite Superman/Batman stories in the run. Oh, and at least one of them wrote for Everwood. So there’s that.

Anyway, this comic has been great. The first issue hit the ground running, featuring a newly arrived Supergirl who was lost, and did not know her planet had been destroyed. As the writers said in interviews, they were writing the book more for the Hunger Games crowd, which I absolutely can not fault. It’s a great tone for this book, and for this character – and as the teen group at a local library can contest, the teens love this book. (One of my regulars runs the teen program, and has been feeding them comics.) A successful comic on so many levels, despite indications to the contrary.

And so there came… an ending! But that’s not to say there were other books we didn’t enjoy. A good chunk of the line is really, really amazing. Also: there were some books that weren’t written to appeal to us. And that’s fine. But be sure to do some digging and asking to find out which comics will suit you best. We’re pretty sure there’s something for everyone in the line.

The New 52: Supergirl

I don't see what all the fuss is about.Supergirl #1 (DC Comics)
By Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar

Synopsis: While people were complaining about the costume, this was quietly one of the most exciting New 52 issues yet.

01. Suspension of disbelief is a funny thing.  Teenage space aliens with bulletproof spandex?  Sure thing.  “Questionable” costume choices?  Never!  It’s something I heard as recently as Monday, but I’m pleased as balls to report that whatever your opinions about Supergirl’s new costume is, this comic is absolutely fantastic, from tone to art.

02. This isn’t a Supergirl who’s been on Earth for any period of time.  This isn’t one who’s used to her powers.  Hell, this isn’t even one who knew she was leaving Krypton.  One moment she was out with her friends, the next she’s in the middle of a cold, dark place with a bunch of giant armored men trying to subdue her.  This is a terrifying thing to have happen, maybe the most terrifying, especially for a kid, and the art and her internal monologue absolutely sell her sheer panic as she realizes this isn’t a dream.

03. What I was surprised at was how much this made me care about Kara, right from the start.  With an introduction like this, she doesn’t have to be a hero, she doesn’t have to save anyone or give a single speech.  She’s a kid.  She’s alone, she’s scared and she’s being attacked.  It’s a remarkably efficient way of getting the reader’s sympathy; I was immediately caught up in whether or not she’d be alright.  It was perhaps the quickest any comic in the New 52 has made me care about the lead character as quickly or as completely.

04. Not that she’s helpless, of course.  She is, of course, given superpowers by the son, and the smile on her face as she realizes she can fight back is electrifying.  Every single complaint about the “crotch shield” or the kneeless boots could be immediately shut up by that single, spectacular panel from Mahmud Asrar.  As excellently he conveys Kara’s panic and fear, he also does an equally strong job showing off her powers and her ferocity in battle.  She’s not helpless, and it’s fitting that the superheroic guest appearance at the end of the issue isn’t to save her, but to save people from her.

05. The second I was done reading Supergirl, I wanted more.  What better recommendation is there than that?  Literally as soon as I closed the book I opened it again to reread parts of it, and this was when I was on deadline to read four more comics and write blurbs about them in a short amount of time, too.  It didn’t matter; I loved Supergirl so much I wanted more immediately.  That’s far more important than kneeless boots.

Recommended if you like: The old Supergirl series, Bryan Q. Miller‘s Batgirl, gorgeous art, mechs!, and good comics

The New 52 Hoedown Throwdown – Week 03

Comics! The Blog in conjunction with Wizard’s Comics brings you the New 52 Hoedown Throwdown – a quick blow-by-blow spoiler free set of recaps that help you choose which of the new books are right for you!

Look at all those muscles! Jim Lee, you are a devil.BATMAN #1

Batman teams up with an unlikely ally against the worst Arkham has to offer, and Bruce Wayne throws a party and talks about Gotham’s awesome future. Yep, everything’s coming up Milhouse for good ol’ Bruce Wayne. Surely nothing will wreck his plans?

Recommended if you like: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Scott Snyder’s Detective run, dudes getting punched in the face super hard.

BIRDS OF PREY #1

The Birds of Prey are a covert ops team, trying to make good. They start by sort of, accidentally driving a swanky car through a church.

Recommended if you like: High action comedies, twisted thrillers, Secret Six.

BLUE BEETLE #1

Jaime Reyes is just a kid who wants to go to his friend’s birthday party even though his parents won’t let him.  Why?  It’s at the house of a local crime lord.  Who is stealing a priceless artifact.  That’s actually an interstellar weapon used to destroy whole planet populations.  That might be attached to Jaime.  He’s the Blue Beetle; let’s hope he doesn’t destroy the planet.

Recommended if you like: Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Science Fiction, Teen comedies.

CAPTAIN ATOM #1

Captain Atom fights a volcano with his atomic powers! Also, science has done some terrible things to rats.

Recommended if you like: Justice League: Generation Lost, superheroes with a bit of science, volcano movies about volcanoes.

CATWOMAN #1

When Catwoman’s old digs get blow’d up, she needs to find a new place to stay and grab some cash fast. Eventually, she does these things, and it all goes off without a hitch. (Not really.)

Recommended if you like: Gotham City Sirens, cat-suit clad adventures, kittens.

DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #1: DEADMAN

In life, acrobat Boston Brand was a dick. In death, he was tasked by the goddess Rama to seek balance and enlightenment by helping others.  He is Deadman, a ghost who “connects” with people in order to help them find peace.  Lately, however, he don’t know if he’s failing or not, and to talk with his boss he might have to take drastic measures.

Recommended if you like: Brightest Day, Non-Greek mythology, improving lives one person at a time.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1

The Green Lantern Corps is the universe’s police department, with each Green Lantern protecting the inhabitants of their sector from any of a myriad of dangers.  It’s also a job that takes a toll on the civilian life of a Corpsman, as Guy Gardner and John Stewart of Earth find out when leading a normal life is more difficult than they thought it would be.  But when an entire planet gets murdered as a “message”, there’s no one else you want on the job.

Recommended if you like: The old Green Lantern Corps series, Justice League International, space action!

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #1

The Legion take some new recruits on a covert mission and things get space crazy.

Recommended if you like: The Legion, sci-fi adventures, when things get space crazy.

NIGHTWING #1

Dick Grayson faces his past when Haley’s Circus swings back through town. Also: attempted murder happens.

Recommended if you like: Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run, Batman: Gates of Gotham, circus people.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #1

Jason Todd is the Red Hood. Before that, he was Robin.  Now he shoots people, with the help of Green Arrow’s former sidekick Roy Harper and the alien warrior Starfire.  When organ-less bodies start turning up, the Outlaws are going to have their work cut out for them.

Recommended if you like: 24, Judd Winick, the 90s.

SUPERGIRL #1

Imagine you woke up in a strange place, utterly different from where you were from, with no idea how you got there.  Before you know it, people are attacking you and shouting in a language you don’t understand, even as you start to realize your body is… different.  Imagine you’re Supergirl and you’re scared for your life.  What would you do?

Recommended if you like: The old Supergirl series, Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl, incredible action.

WONDER WOMAN #1

When murderous centaurs come after Zola, she’s rescued by Diana, better known as the Amazon warrior Wonder Woman.  But with one Greek god already dying and Zeus missing, sinister forces are at work.  Is Diana up to the task? She’s Wonder Woman.

Recommended if you like: Warrior women, Greek Mythology, Fables.

Jinkies! A Beginner's Guide to Kelly Sue DeConnick's Supergirl arc

This was the last time Robert Kirkman was allowed near Supergirl.

Jinkies! A Beginner’s Guide to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Supergirl arc

It should come as no surprise to anybody that here at C!TB we are big fans of Kelly Sue DeConnick‘s recent arc of Supergirl that closed out the series’ run before the big September relaunch tomorrow.  Our mantra here is basically “talk about good comics” and these three issues were some damn fine ones.  We’ve enjoyed the series since Sterling Gates took it over and at first look, what Kelly Sue did with her issues was in many ways a departure from that.  However, Issues #65-67 work best not when taken as a separate storyline – though they certainly stand up when viewed this way – but as a continuation of the stories that came before them and a wonderful summary of the series itself.  Oh, and it also happened to be full of references to the 1980s, which I’ve been told were delightful.

Welcome to Jinkies! A Beginner’s Guide to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Supergirl.

01. DON’T PANIC, BRIEFLY

AA. ISSUE #65: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE, PART 1

The Players:

  • Supergirl, aka Kara Zor-El, aka Linda Lang, aka Linda Lane: Maid of Might.  Kryptonian teenager, cousin to Superman.  Trying to find her own way in the world since the loss of her planet and family.  Weisenheimer.
  • Lois Lane: Reporter comma trouble.
  • Professor Ivo: Evil green genius, proof that you shouldn’t drink anything just because it says “serum” at the end of its name.  Up to no good.  In cahoots.
  • The Silk Pajama Society, starring Henry Flyte: Stanhope College’s merry pranksters.  Singers of insensitive songs, students in search of nighttime adventure.
  • Shirley: Linda’s roommate at college orientation weekend. Significantly more fun.

The References:

  • P1: “This is not my life” – Possibly the Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”
  • P9: Stanhope College – Previously attended by Linda Danvers, former Supergirl
  • P18: “Moles and trolls, moles and trolls, work, work, work, work, work” – Real Genius

The Robots:

  • M.O.N.Q.I.S, monkeys.

The Plot:

College kids with similar profiles are going missing.  After saving one, Supergirl goes undercover at Stanhope College to investigate because Lois, I kid you not, “playing co-ed for the weekend, hanging out with kids your own age, nosing around on a secret mission… sounds like fun to me.”  Isn’t Lois Lane just the best?  At Stanhope, Supergirl (as Linda Lane, which is totally different from Linda Lang) meets Shirley, her roommate for the weekend, and the two get caught up with Henry Flyte, bastard ne’er-do-well and the Silk Pajama Society, who may have figured out a way to predict who will disappear next… Henry.  Then Henry disappears, everybody looks sheepish.

BB. ISSUE #66: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE, PART 2

The Additional Players:

  • Stanhope College President Gardner & her husband, Phillip: Guilty-looking, and with good “Oh hey Professor Ivo how is our secret plan going?” reason.
  • The Silk Pajama Society: Elaboration.

The References:

  • P13-14: “Robots, why… did it have to be… robots?” – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • P19: “Very Kübler-Ross” – Singing is my favourite stage of grief
  • Let’s face it, youths investigating a mystery underground has a pretty sigificant “Goonies” vibe and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Robots:

  • Rats!  Seriously, there’s like a metric poopload of them.
  • Larger humanoid robots.

The Plot:

Investigating Henry’s disappearance, Linda, Shirley and the Silk Pajamas Society uncover a series of secret tunnels and catacombs below the college – because of course they do – and, investigating, invoke the ire of Professor Ivo’s army of robot rats.  Linda is just barely able to stop them without blowing her cover and discovers Professor Ivo’s subterranean lab (and Henry).  Meanwhile, Lois investigates Stanhope College’s President – who is totally behind things – and apparently “My love of onions will be the death of me” isn’t a particularly good explanation for why you’re digging around someone’s office.

CC. ISSUE #67: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE, PART 3

The Additional Players:

  • Ngoze Onwualu: The Lois Lane kind of trouble.  Pretty rad.
The References:
  • P3: “Like a horny toad at a Gundam convention” – anime and manga franchise.  Unrelated: this is my new favourite line since “nosing around on a secret mission” in Issue #65.
  • P4: “You guys ever see ‘Tremors’?” – Too easy.
  • P9: “She’s givin’ us all she’s got, Cap’n!” – Montgomery Sott, Starfleet
  • P12: “Oh hai” – Internet cats
  • P13: “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” – The Princess Bride, my favourite movie.
  • P19: “Don’t forget me, okay?” – I don’t care how oblique this sounds, but this is a Simple Minds reference and nobody, not even Kelly Sue herself, will ever convince me otherwise.
The Robots:
  • Humanoid
  • M.O.N.Q.I.S.
  • Professor Ivo’s mechasuit of doom or at least a mild inconvenience if you’re bulletproof
The Plot:
While Supergirl fights Professor Ivo and, frankly, an increasingly ridiculous variety of robots, the rest of the Silk Pajama Society – Chris, Lily and Shirley – build giant proton pack-like stun guns to take down some other, more numerous robots.  There’re some explosions, some hacking and maybe a little romance.  Meanwhile, Lois gets some help from another genius college student (this place is lousy with ‘em, like a college or something) and the Gardners get arrested.  Hooray!  Two weeks later, Henry and Linda discover the kind of magic where you touch lips.  And?  Magic.

02. SUPERGIRL 2: THE GUIDENING

By itself, “This is not my Life” is a fantastic standalone story.  It contains almost no references to anything that’s happened in the rest of the series, with almost none of the same characters and is set in a completely new place, or at least one that’s a sly reference to an entirely different Supergirl from those heady days of the 90s, when Hanson roamed the earth devouring small children.  But when you look closely, DeConnick‘s arc not only continues the same kinds of questions and themes that the series tackled for its other 64 issues, but also serves as a great summary and coda of the series itself.

Ever since the series began, one of the core themes has been of identity, especially in regards to being an outsider.  Kara isn’t from Earth.  Neither is her cousin, of course, but he grew up here.  Until New Krypton, Earth was the only home he knew.  It’s where he belongs.  But Kara?  She came to earth as a teenager.  She had an entire other life before she was forced to find a new one.  Just when she was finding her own identity, here comes new Krypton.  Here are her parents, alive and well, with the home and culture she thought was lost, but here is her new home and everything she has there.  Who is she,  Kryptonian or Earthling?

This was a big part of Sterling Gates‘ work in the series, and in the wake of War of the Supermen and the destruction of New Krypton, Kara had to work hard to finally find some sense of peace with who she was.  She could be both from Earth and from Krypton without besmirching either heritage, and as Gates left Supergirl, she seemed like she was in a good place at last.  This is comics, though, and as long as a series continues there are always other questions to ask oneself, other crises to resist.

As we find her in “This is not my Life,” she might know who she is, but she’s still a bit of an outsider.  She might belong on Earth, but who is she there?  It speaks volumes that in Issue #65 it’s Starman that she identifies with as someone who doesn’t quite fit in, who’s different.  Despite having a life on Earth and a secret identity as a human, it’s the blue-skinned, red-haired alien who stands out in a crowd that she confesses her feelings to.  When Lois comes to her with the plan, her first thought is, “That’s why you want me. Because my parents are dead.”  She doesn’t know how to not be that person, so of course it’s what she thinks other people see in her.  That means a lot, and “This is not my Life” spends a lot of its time dealing with this.

It does this through Kara’s identity as Linda Lang – or, for the sake of Lois’ crazy scheme here, Lane – the way she interacts with the world when she’s not Supergirl.  Linda isn’t Clark Kent, though.  She wasn’t raised here and she didn’t grow up as Linda.  Linda is a necessity for Kara to survive in the world, but Clark is who Superman really is when he’s out of the costume.  He’s Ma and Pa Kent’s son.  His wife calls him Clark, not Kal-El.  People don’t call Supergirl Linda; she’s Kara.

“People like Supergirl, they have a way of sticking around, but you and me… just… don’t forget me, okay?”

That’s why a story like “This is not my Life” is so important to the character; going off to college for a weekend isn’t Supergirl’s life.  She doesn’t really know how to be Linda, and this is the story of that happening.  Even if she doesn’t admit it until the very end, even if it goes completely off the rails when a green-skinned mad scientist gets involved, Lois is right when she tells Supergirl that spending some time being Linda would be good for her.  She doesn’t fit in with her roommate or the Silk Pajamas Society at first, but by the end, she’s connected with them in a way that’s real.  She’s able to just sit there with Henry as they’re just “some guys.”  This version of Supergirl never got to really live as Linda, and maybe she never would have, but in three issues DeConnick made Supergirl the most well-rounded character she’s been in ages.  We won’t forget her.

That’s the magic of a good story, and this is a comic about magic.  It’s a comic about the kind of magic that lives inside us, even if, as Henry says, it’s just science we don’t know the rules for, or where our mind goes when we can’t do the math.  It’s that feeling we get that’s poetic and wonderful, like feeling like we belong, coming together with complete strangers to do something powerful or a first kiss with someone we never expected.  It’s magic.  What other word is there for it?  Comics, maybe.  Definitely comics like this.

“This is not my Life” is a fantastic coda for a fantastic series, that summarizes who the character is and where she still has yet to go in a story that’s also a zany teen adventure where college kids fight robots.  It works so well in part because the series is ending, because there’s no crisis that comes next.  The final time we get to see Supergirl is when she’s having a moment of happiness and peace.  The final word spoken is “magic”.  I don’t know where she would have gone from there, but I like to think it’s someplace good.

Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Warning: She WILL cut you.
Photo by Doug Hesse

Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Just who is Kelly Sue DeConnick?

She writes comics!  Great ones!  Like Sif and Rescue one-shots, or her Osborn: Evil Incarcerated miniseries!  This week brings the end of her three-issue arc on Supergirl, and on September 28th Castle: Richard Storm’s Deadly Storm, based on the wonderful TV series Castle and co-written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Lan Medina, will be released.  Order it now!

Besides writing comics, she used to translate manga into English!  All of a sudden, I have the urge to read over a dozen volumes of a basketball manga series!

She’s married!  To fellow comics writer Matt Fraction!  They have two children!

Back in July, she raised a metric poopload of money for an awesome cause: Women for Women International’s programs in the Congo!

But enough exclamation points, it’s time for QUESTIONS.

01. SUMMER READING LISTS

C!TB: What are your favourite things you’re reading these days?  It can be anything – books, comics, magazines, etc.

Kelly Sue:  Nonfiction-wise, I’m reading Mercury 13 and Promised the Moon, both about the women of the early astronaut program.  Excellent, excellent, heartbreaking story.  Mercury 13 is particularly well-written.

And I just got an Amazon gift card that I think I’m going to use for the kindle edition of Mind in the Making – a book my son’s school recommends.

Comics-wise, I’m reading Guggenheim and Chaykin’s Blade run—loving the structure.  I think I was six issues or so in before I saw the big picture.  Disciplined crafting—and holy shit, the covers!  What else?  Making my way through the Dr. Strange essentials in preparation for Fraction’s Defenders…which, by the by, is going to blow the top of your head clean off.  Let’s see… right here on my desk today is Jen Van Meter’s Cinnamon: El Ciclo—a title I would not even know about had John Siuntres not mentioned it during our last Wordballoon interview.  I’m hoping to start that today.

I just picked up some American Vampire and Batman Detective because I’ve heard really good things about Scott Snyder.  Really looking forward to those.

What else have I got laying about here… Jon Hickman’s Red Wing (which didn’t really hook me until the last page of the first issue, but once he got me, he got me good), Emma Rios & Nick Spencer’s Cloak & Dagger—which is PAINFUL for me to read, because I’m so crazy about Emma and I seethe with jealousy that she’s working with Nick… who I’m sure is lovely, but I kind of want to get hit by a bus, in the way that you wish horrible fates on your girlfriend’s new boyfriends.  Lucky for Nick, John Boehner and my own karma, I don’t happen to be psychokinetic, so I can give in to my baser instincts a little without actually risking anyone’s neck.

I wish I was reading a novel right now, but I haven’t had time.  I have an ARC of Maria Dahvana Headley’s Queen of Kings by my bed that I haven’t gotten to read yet and the book is already out!  What fun is an ARC if the book is out, I ask you??

Every once in a while I stroke it lovingly.

C!TB: I totally understand the ARC thing; I got an ARC of Alice Bradley & Eden Kennedy’s humour book Let’s Panic About Babies!: How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant Who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain, and Finally Turn You into a Worthwhile Human Being and so far it just sits on the shelf (on top of a Saved By the Bell comic Brandon found me).  It taunts me, though every time I have a chance to pick it up, it sends me into fits of laughter.  I absolutely recommend it, even if that’s just adding to your pile.

Kelly Sue: I love the title!  Have you read Happiest Baby on the Block?  I highly recommend that one if you’ve got an infant.  Though, honestly, you can just rent the DVD and get all the fundamentals.

C!TB: Neither of us at C!TB have children – I follow Alice Bradley’s writing, which is how I found her book – but I’m sure some of our readers are or will be soon, so I’m happy to pass it along!  Recently, I’ve been digging into A Game of Thrones on friends’ recommendations.  Have you checked out Grant Morrison’s Supergods yet?  I keep it on my desk at home to spur me to read faster so I can get to it.  The blurbs and excerpts I’ve read so far definitely make it sound like it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to talk about superhero comics ever again.

Kelly Sue: I haven’t read Supergods.  My favorite excerpt I’ve run across is the one about how a “prolific and popular comics writer could make the same amount [$20,000] in a week.”

Bless his heart, Mr. Morrison lives in a very different universe from ANYONE else I know… Except maybe Neil Gaiman.  Who could absolutely bring in that sum in a week, but wouldn’t do it writing comics.

02. SUPERHEROES, BRIEFLY

C!TB: Your take on Norman Osborn was one that we don’t see as often as we do his more supervillainous side.  How did you approach the character?

Kelly Sue: Carefully and from behind…?

Sorry.  That was awful.

Um… hm.  I’m not sure I know how to answer that question.  I guess I thought I was writing the same Osborn that Bendis wrote, the same Osborn that Ellis wrote in Thunderbolts…?  That was my intention anyway. If it didn’t work, I don’t want to know.

C!TB: Oh, it absolutely worked.  The Osborn you wrote is definitely identifiable as the same Osborn that Bendis and Ellis wrote.  I don’t know if it was your dialogue, the setting (no superheroes), Emma’s genius art, or a combination thereof, though, but this was the first incarnation of the character that absolutely truly scared me.  And kudos for that!

Kelly Sue: Aw, thanks man.  That warms my heart…which makes me a weirdo, I think.  But still.

C!TB: From Osborn, you went to something quite tonally different with Supergirl, which is so lovingly indebted to 80s teen movies.  What would “Kelly Sue’s Must Watch 80s Teen Movie Extravaganza” consist of?

Kelly Sue: Ohhhh, hm. Probably the same movies as everyone else, but let’s go… Off the top of my head, in no particular order, some of which are not really teen movies…

  • The Last Starfighter
  • Tremors
  • Goonies
  • Real Genius
  • Night of the Comet
  • Who’s that Girl?
  • Pretty in Pink
  • Heathers
  • The Lost Boys
  • Some Kind of Wonderful
  • Adventures in Babysitting
  • The Hidden
  • The Princess Bride

C!TB: I’m especially glad to see The Princess Bride on there!  It’s definitely one of my favourite movies, which makes it even more maddening that my office hires an intern every year and I’m just going into a third year sharing an office with a university student who either doesn’t it like or hasn’t seen it.    One didn’t even know who Peter Falk and Columbo were!

Kelly Sue: WHAT?!

Have you seen Wings of Desire?  (Most pretentious thing I’ve said today, btw.  Course it’s only 11:40 am here, so there’s still time.)

C!TB: I haven’t seen Wings of Desire yet, but seeing as how I have seen the Goo Goo Dolls’ video for “Iris,” which was on the soundtrack for the English-language adaptation City of Angels, I feel like I’ve seen the original already.

Kelly Sue: I… I… I…

C!TB: Now that I’ve given you a minor stroke, I’ll alleviate your worries of being pretentious by giving an even worse example: in university, I wrote not one but two papers about Disney fairy tale movies, including one where I compared the narrative structure of Aladdin to that of the original story in The Thousand and One Nights, complete with some Michel Foucault and Northrop Frye literary theory.  I also wrote on noir cinematography and detective pulp conceits, but that was just fun.  Ah, the life of a liberal arts student.  I’ll have to check out the few on your list that I haven’t seen.

Kelly Sue: So jealous.  I went the fine arts route. (I did audit a class on the cultural construction of the vampire, taught by a guy named Gudni, who was white as snow and wore black turtlenecks every day… in Texas.) Which ones haven’t you seen?

C!TB: On your list, I think I’ve seen everything except Night of the Comet, Some Kind of Wonderful and The Hidden.  

Kelly Sue: Man, I hope The Hidden holds up.  Here’s the opening car chase.

C!TB: Some of the others like Who’s That Girl? are far back in my metaphorical rear view mirror, but I remember seeing them way back in the mists of time.  Growing up in the 90s, however, has gifted me with a deep and abiding love for any kind of teen comedy from that era, from Empire Records to Can’t Hardly Wait (common thread?  Ethan Embry) with 10 Things I Hate About You making it just before the decade’s clock rolled over.

Kelly Sue: I had to look Embry up on IMDB.  (Sorry.)  You know he was on a TV series called Fear Itself?

C!TB: I didn’t!  Considering my deep and abiding love of both Embry and Marvel’s blockbuster summer event, I’m calling that kismet.

Back to Supergirl, how much did the recent authors’ storylines for the series impact how you pitched your arc?  

Kelly Sue: A good bit, I guess.  I was mostly trying to find a way to stay true to the established character and at the same time distinguish myself from what had already been done.

03. CASTLES IN THE SKY

C!TB: You’ve mentioned that Brian Bendis wrote the first 30 pages of the Castle/Derrick Storm OGN and you did the scripting for the rest of the book from Brian’s plan.  How much freedom did you have in the parts of the book you scripted?  What was (or still is) the back-and-forth and editing process of that like?

Kelly Sue: Brian was really great and gave me tons of freedom.  Maybe he’ll regret it when the book comes out, but for the most part, he read my pages as I turned them in and okay’d them.

C!TB: Does one of you “lead” the art review process or is it a team effort?

Kelly Sue: Because of some scheduling hijinks, I didn’t actually see pages as they came in–I’m not sure if Brian did either.  Long story, but that was handled on this book by our fabulous and capable editors.

C!TB: Is it different at all writing a favourite comic book property than it is a TV property?  What are other dream properties – TV, comics or other – you’d like to tackle some day?

Kelly Sue: Modesty Blaise.  But that’s the dream of me and half the universe.  The half that doesn’t want to write James Bond, I think.

And I’m not sure it was any different, honestly.  I guess… I had an actor solidly in my head, but… I’m not sure that made a real difference in the writing process.

The only thing that was really any different for me process-wise between, say, Castle and Osborn, was that I was trying to be an active student of Brian’s for Castle.  So, like, there’s a two page spread where I’m clearly aping his style.  And I am not as comfortable with internal monologue caption boxes as Brian is, so I had to consciously choose to use them so it didn’t seem like Storm’s inner voice suddenly went must after page 30.

C!TB: Did you learn anything specifically from being a student of Brian’s?

Kelly Sue: He is a master of the double-page spread and I am a chicken shit.  Does that qualify as a lesson?

C!TB: Of course!  Looking at other writers’ work and being ashamed of your own is simply a fact of life, or at least I’m telling myself that to save my own ego.  It’s like that Ira Glass quote that’s going around these days about how persistence and art consumption/taste are basically the only ways you become any good.

Kelly Sue: Is the Ira Glass thing going around?  Is there, like, a recording or a written piece?  [Ed Note: Yes, there isI had coffee with Wil Wheaton on Monday and he told me about it (Can we just stop here for a moment and acknowledge what a name-dropper I am? Yeah… I had coffee with my buddy Wil on Monday… If the Wings of Desire bit didn’t make you hate me, that ought to do it.) — I don’t remember how we got to it.  Something about… I dunno… beginner’s mind, maybe?  I think we were talking about strengths and weaknesses in our own work and the patience and perspective it takes to just trust that you’ll improve and… not be content with with where you are exactly, but not to waste too much energy lamenting it.  I guess being content with where you are in your evolution isn’t such a bad way of phrasing it.

Anyway, I was saying that I’d written more than ten thousand pages of manga adaptation dialogue before I got my first American comics gig.  So I’m pretty confident in my ability to craft dialogue.  I’ve put ten thousand pages in that pit, you know? And then I think Wil told me about Ira Glass and “the gap,” which is, I gather, the same idea, only less ham-fisted in its articulation.

I should google it, huh?

My pacing and plotting gaps still hunger for pages, I’m afraid.

C!TB: Care to tell the Derrick Storm actor you had in your head, or would you prefer to keep that private so it doesn’t influence readers’ impressions while reading?

Kelly Sue: Nathan Fillion!  C’mon.

C!TB: I’m kicking myself over not immediately thinking of that.  I’m really hoping something like that comes up in the series, as a fun meta joke.  I can’t remember, but I think you’ve said before (maybe on Word Balloon) that the comic itself will come up in the series.  Will it be credited on-air to you and Brian?  Will you be involved in anything past the actual making of the comic or will that be it?

Kelly Sue: Not me.  I think Brian might have a thing happening, but I’m certain I shouldn’t expound on that.

05. WHEREIN EYES ARE THREATENED, BUT WITH A GOOD REASON

C!TB: With so much being said about DC’s relaunch, its lacking of female creators & other issues of gender and diversity, we’re trying to take positive approach.  What can readers do to affect change?

Kelly Sue: I love you dearly.  Truly, I do.  i like your website, your twitter feed and your sense of humor.  I believe that you want to help.  I adore you for wanting to be positive.

But if anyone else asks me about being a woman in the comic industry this week I’m going to pop their eyes out with a heroin spoon.

Don’t make me take your eyes, James.  They’re beautiful eyes.  Let’s leave them right where they belong.

C!TB: Absolutely understood!  I’m definitely trying to keep my remaining working eye (long story), so I’ll do my best not to deserve the spoon.  I definitely understand not wanting to talk about it more for the time being, so my apologies for not guessing that before I asked.

Kelly Sue: You only have one working eye?!  Well now I feel like a heel for threatening the other.

Are you actually blind in one eye?  My friend Jane is blind in one eye–she was born with one blue eye and one brown.  She’s like a gorgeous version of David Bowie… though, honestly, David Bowie is a gorgeous version of David Bowie, isn’t he?

Anyway.  Your eye is safe.  In the future I will threaten your thumbs or something.

(Really, I just… it’s complicated, right?  Diversity needs to be discussed.  But not, right now, by me.)

C!TB: I am actually blind in one eye.  Childhood, “mild” hit to the head, partially detached retina, glaucoma, yadda yadda yadda.  Long story short, my tennis game is not particularly good for much other than my opponent’s laughs.  I didn’t get any of the cool Bowie-ness, sadly.

Kelly Sue: Let’s just pretend you’re Odin. Wait, does that work if you still have the eye?

You might have to cough up the eye.

04. JAMES AND KELLY SUE’S MEALTIME VARIETY HOUR

C!TB: What is your workday like?  Do you and Matt both work from home or in the same office?

Kelly Sue: We both work from home but we have separate offices.

Summer schedule:

I get up with the kids, generally around 6:30/7:00.  We hang out until around 9, when the sitter arrives.  When Fraction wakes up varies wildly, depending on when he went to bed.  Once Beth arrives I, take my coffee and go down to my desk.  If it’s a good, orderly week, I have blocks of time chopped out for various projects, if it’s not, I’m in panic mode. I usually start with email and try to set a time limit for myself so I don’t get stuck.

At 5pm, we knock off, send Beth home and play with the kids.  I usually make dinner.  After dinner, we have some family time (hello, dance party!) then Fraction gives them their baths while I clean the kitchen.  Story time, then bed. I go to sleep with the kids, Fraction goes back to work.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

C!TB: What dishes have you been enjoying cooking lately?  I’ve recently been dipping my toes into the world of pan-seared meats and homemade ice cream.  Last weekend I made a saskatoon berry chutney without a recipe that really surprised me with how good it was.

Kelly Sue: I love you for saying saskatoon.

Let’s see… I made some blueberry frozen yogurt and coconut crumble the other day.  That was pretty great.  I just a few minutes ago put some chicken breasts in the crock pot with onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, cilantro, ginger, coconut milk and broth.  I was just kind of throwing stuff in… no idea if this’ll turn out.  We might be ordering pizza–who knows?

(My confidence is waning a bit because I made some marshmallows over the weekend that weren’t very good.  And I took them to a party where a couple of teenaged girls tried to hide that they were throwing away the ones they’d bitten.  I wanted to chase after them and explain that I’d used the wrong pot and I couldn’t get the sugar to the right temp without it boiling over, consequently they were on too long too low… I came to my senses and decided just to live with the failure.)

C!TB: Don’t feel bad, I wouldn’t even attempt marshmallows; recipes always make them sound so finicky.  I’m scared of making/ruining candy in general – I really only make orangettes at Christmastime, since it’s only moderately easy to set my apartment on fire while candying orange peels.  Candy making is not for me and I admire you for even trying.

Kelly Sue: Given my recent failure, you’re not going to believe me when I say this, but they’re not that hard.

C!TB: I don’t!  Truthfully, I stick to savoury dishes more than sweet ones; I’ll make galettes now and again, or a pavlova with some jam, but roasts, savoury tarts, biscuits and vegetables (I make a mean layered ratatouille) are my wheelhouse.  I also made pea pesto for the last time last night, which I am bragging about because I spent too long shucking peas last night to not be at least a little proud of myself.

Kelly Sue: Oh, I hear you.  Have you ever made anything with fresh fava beans? They’re awesome, but you have to peel them TWICE.

C!TB:  I haven’t, and I don’t mean to point fingers, but you might have ensured I never do.  Actually, I’m really looking forward to making that lamb recipe that was in Casanova and posting the process and results as an article on the site when Avaritia comes out, under the CASANOVANAUTS banner.

Kelly Sue: Sweet.  Did you submit a letter for the new letters column?  You totally should.

C!TB: It’s been sitting open on my home computer for a few days now.  It might be a tad unseemly to just write, in all caps, “THANK YOU YOUR COMIC IT HAS BEEN A MASSIVE INFLUENCE ON ME I RECOMMEND IT TO EVERYONE I CAN,” you know?  I’ll figure something out.

Kelly Sue: Matt and I used to cook together more.  I miss that.  We should do that again.  With the kids, one of us is on baby duty while the other one is preparing the meal – save for once or twice a year when we make a Timpano.  The last two of those have been rushed though.

Wahwah.  Look at me with my beautiful happy family and dream job!  Don’t you feel sorry for me that we don’t get to cook together like we used to??

::sad trombones::

05. SHIT GETS SERIOUS, GUYS

C!TB: Some creators have mentioned that having children has had a big effect on their writing, in terms of the projects they take and how they tackle the actual subject matter – like gender and violence.  Have you noticed this with yourself?

Kelly Sue: It’s certainly affected what media I consume.  I used to love salacious violence–true crime crap.  Guilty pleasure.  I can’t stomach it anymore. And I get pissed when people use violence against animals or children (or rape) as a lazy writing device.  I did it myself once (I killed a dog to show that a villain was Really Bad) and I haaaate myself for it. It’s shit writing and there’s no excuse.

C!TB: I had a similar experience with crime procedural shows.  I spent two years working at an inpatient treatment program for convicted sex offenders and, while I learned all sorts of incredible skills and things about my own capabilities, it pretty much took away my ability to enjoy any true crime or crime procedural and absolutely destroyed my ability to stomach any kind of fictionalized sexual violence.  I never liked it, but now Law & Order: SVU will send me out of a room faster than anything.   

Kelly Sue: Oh… oh my god.

Holy shit.

I simultaneously want to pick your brain and beg you to never tell me a single thing.  Are you… okay?  Jesus.

I kind want to feed you spaghetti now.

C!TB: Don’t worry, I’m okay.  It’s definitely an intense work environment and they actually hired me afterwards to design some research on what kind of effects (“vicarious traumatization”) those environments could potentially have, but the combination of tremendous and supportive coworkers, necessary black humour and a long commute home really helped.  It was a great experience working there, but a few years of no longer having to hear firsthand descriptions of some of the worst things people can do to one another has definitely been good.  But yeah, needless to say, there are a lot of TV shows and movies that have become off-limits for me.  

Should you ever have any questions, feel free to ask me; I’ll answer as much as I am legally allowed to divulge.  And I’ll always accept spaghetti.

Kelly Sue: Okay.

Can I mail spaghetti?

06. I AM NOT TOO PROUD TO BEG, PEOPLE

C!TB: You’ve said a dream project of yours is a 70s-style revenge western comic done with Emma Rios.  First, please make this happen, we want to buy this.  

Kelly Sue: Well… okay.

07. WHEREIN C!TB GETS A NEW FAMILY, I AM HOLDING YOU TO THAT, KELLY SUE

C!TB: Finally, a C!TB tradition: Will you adopt us?

Kelly Sue: Yes. But you have to share a room.

C!TB: I call top bunk.

XX. THE PART WHERE YOU BUY THINGS

Wasn’t that great?  Talking to Kelly Sue was definitely just about the best thing this site has ever led to me doing, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to run around the office pumping my fists in the air for a minute.

While I’m doing that, check out Kelly Sue’s author page at Amazon.ca (Americans, go here ; Europeans?  Work for it) and buy everything you can.  Just clean them out.  Should you want to empty the shelves at a physical store, visit your local comic book shop and remember to ask them to save you a copy of Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm on September 28th.

This isn’t an option.

You Read These With Your Eyes! – August 17th, 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.

GENERATION HOPE #10 (Marvel Comics)

Well, yesterday they announced that Kieron Gillen‘s time on this title will soon be drawing to a close. He’s writing the book up until issue #12, and then calling it a day, in the wake of Schism – which, to be fair, is quite okay. The new team that’s coming in seems more than up to the task, and after seeing that teaser, I must admit, I’m intrigued. But I’m getting a little off track here.

Generation Hope has been a fantastic title, and this issue? This issue is going to be big. It ties in with the X-Schism event (though can be read completely separate from the series) and concerns the actions of Edie, the girl whom Wolverine has seemingly taken a shine to over in the “bigger” book. Things have been happening lately, and holy crap have they been crazy and of course the effects are being felt with the kids inside this book the most. After all, they’re just learning and getting their footing, and suddenly, their world is shifting around them.

For all of you X-Men readers who have not yet started getting this book – do so this week. Marvel was nice enough to send stores a small overship in some cases, so you should have no trouble grabbing one off the shelf, and really, it’s always a fantastic read.

STUFF OF LEGEND: JESTER’S TALE #1 (Th3rd World Studios)

Finally, the new series is here!

Every year, a preview of the new Stuff of Legend is offered up on Free Comic Book Day, and every year, the wait for the series to start is unbearable. The series is pretty much a bizarro version of Toy Story, in which the toys are attempting to save their owner, who has been spirited away by a boogie man. The art for this book is lush and brilliant, with a design that makes the pages look old and weathered. And the story? Man, the story is good. The last mini series ended with an absolutely brilliant twist that turned much of the series on its head, and put our heroes in a slightly different frame of mind than before and man… I can’t wait to get back to just… all of this. And now, my wait is over. (Oh, and you should be buying this.)

SUPERGIRL #67 (DC Comics)

Normally, we’re in the business of talking about comics that are starting here, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention this book – which is actually an ending. Although it was only three issues long, a bridge in between the old Supergirl series, and the one to come in September, Kelly Sue DeConnick and ChrisCross have done a phenominal job in giving us a fun, Goonies-inspired tale, featuring the maid of steel. After the previous two installments, we really can’t wait to get our hands on this conclusion, if only to see if Supergirl makes Professor Ivo do the Truffle Shuffle at the end. (Please oh please oh please.)

ARSENIC LULLABY: DEVIL’S DECADE

Chances are, I will end up feeling like a terrible person this week. Just the worst. Now, normally I can shrug off such feelings. Fact is, I know I’m a terrible person, but I usually just deal with it so all of you bright and happy people can bask in my spendour. But this week, the decade collection of Arsenic Lullaby hits, and I just know after I find myself laughing at the first Holocaust joke, things will go swiftly downhill from there.

Arsenic Lullaby is a rare thing that finds the best/worst kind of humour in all the wrong places. Douglas Paszkiewicz, the series writer and artist, will make you laugh at all sorts of things, like suicide, abortion, genocide, infanticide, starvation, and more. Hell, one of his big selling points is a quote from Warren Ellis saying “Lord help me, it made me laugh.”

It made Internet Jesus laugh, people. That’s not a thing that happens every day. So if you like terrible jokes, and if you’re in the mood to explain yourself to anyone who picks up the book, drop some dollars on this collection. You will almost certainly regret the decision… but you’ll still feel okay about it.

WE3 DELUXE EDITION (Vertigo/DC Comics)

There’s not reason I should be buying this book again. Double dipping is usually my limit, and I already have the single issues and TPB. But then they had to go an make an oversized hardcover with more story pages, and concept development stuff. Naturally, my resolve crumbled.

For those new to We3, this was a three issue mini-series Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly did for Vertigo quite a few years ago. It was basically their take on a movie like Homeward Bound in which super killing machine robit animals attempt to find some sort of home. Its a beautiful book with some amazing writing, and that ending! Oh god, that ending. It’s out this week, and you should make it yours.

These are just five of the many great books being released this week! You can find the full list of comics being released here. If you have any other recommendations, let us know in the comments below.


Kappa Kappa Supergirl

College has changed since I went.SUPERGIRL #66 (DC Comics)
By Kelly Sue DeConnick, ChrisCross, Marc Deering, Blond & Travis Lanham

Synopsis: Supergirl goes on a Goonies adventure, except with more murderous biorobotic mice.

01. Fun is underrated.  I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point it became a lot of people’s expectation that comic books were supposed to be tough and gritty and reflect real world problems very closely.  I don’t like this.

Now, sometimes, a story like that is exactly what I want.  I’m absolutely loving watching Batman track down serial killers and mobsters in Scott Snyder‘s Detective Comics run, for example.  But that can’t be everything that superhero comics are.  Sometimes, I want them to have a goshdarned adventure.  Enter Kelly Sue DeConnick and Supergirl.

02. The last few arcs have been tough on Supergirl.  We’ve seen her lose her parents and her planet, help track down missing children and struggle with her identity.  And those were great stories!  But now that we know who Supergirl is, now that she knows who she is, this opens up a lot of possibilities where we can just get to see her do what she does best: be a hero and be a teenager.

03. I love comics involving teenage heroes because it opens up so many possibilities.  Teenagers are still developing and they make mistakes that adults just don’t, especially iconic adult superheroes.  If Superman or Batman were investigating some subterranean tunnels in their civilian identities with a bunch of regular people, would they almost get caught using their powers or abilities and blow their cover?  Doubtful.  But with a teen hero like Supergirl?  These mistakes become possible and seeing her navigate her way through them is a great experience.

04. And college!  Damn, that’s a fun sandbox to play in.  Kara was never a teenager the way her companions here are, and having her try to be one of them makes for a wonderful story.  This college experience, even a superhero-y adventure one, is something new for Kara, even if it wasn’t for the audience.  Okay, my university had slightly fewer killer biorobots, but otherwise it’s pretty similar.  Hell, there were a lot of buildings I never even went into at my school, maybe that’s where they kept all the superhero adventures.  Nonetheless, the combination of teen adventure, college spirit and The Goonies is one I haven’t seen Supergirl in before, and I’m loving seeing it now.

05. Chalk up another wild success for Kelly Sue DeConnick, who impresses with every issue she makes.  Supergirl is a different assignment from Osborn, Sif or Rescue, but the fit is so natural that I can’t help but wonder if there’s a kind of comic book she can’t hit out of the park.  By referencing and borrowing bits of teen comedies and, yes, The Goonies, the result is something new and incredibly, astoundingly fun.  ChrisCross, Marc Deering and Blond craft a beautiful, bright book that never manages to be gloomy or excessively dark even when the script tosses around things like “dank underground tunnels.”  That’s not easy.  The closest thing I can think of is Bryan Q. Miller‘s Batgirl series – my favourite issue of it is still the one where Batgirl and Supergirl fight 24 draculas – and that’s one of my favourite series out there, so Kelly Sue & Co.’s Supergirl is in good company.

06. When I last talked about one of her books, I mentioned I couldn’t wait to read every single thing DeConnick wrote from then on.  Two issues into her newest series, absolutely nothing has changed.  God damn, this is a fun book.

Recommended if you like: John Hughes, The Goonies, Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl and good comics.

Recommedation: Supergirl #65

SUPERGIRL #65 (DC Comics)
by Kelly Sue DeConnick, ChrisCross, Marc Deering, Blond and Travis Lanham

Synopsis: After a swarm of clockwork monkeys straight up attack a gondola, Supergirl is sent back to school, just like in that Rodney Dangerfield movie. Caddyshack.

01. I would like to watch a movie where the Supergirl from the Supergirl movie and the Caddyshack from the Caddyshack movie got together to solve crimes. Also, I have yet to see either of those movies. So.

02. This is a comic that starts with clockwork monkeys, makes mention of poetry by Guillaume Apollinaire, and ends with the sudden exit of that one college kid who takes the idea of brilliance far too casually. It features things you see everyday alongside circumstances that can only exist within dreams. It shouldn’t work, but somehow, it does. Well, I say “somehow”, but the reason is quite apparent: Kelly Sue DeConnick has crafted a wonderful story. What at first glance appears to be a stopgap in between two runs, ends up functioning and flourishing in its own right – a carefully crafted story with a bit of mystery, a dash of the fantastic, and a whole lot of fun and character. Honestly, this is a charming read, and one that should not be sluffed of just because the line is primed for a relaunch in less than three month’s time.

03. The story is simple: after witnessing an attack, and putting a few strands of thread together, Lois Lane discovers a plot involving missing students from a university. Considering the age of those involved and Supergirl’s need for a bit of fun (quick note: Lois even says the words “nosing around on a secret mission… sounds like fun to me” – which is so very Lois) she asks the girl to help out in the investigation. What she discovers isn’t so much an evil plot (though make no mistake, there is evil afoot), but a very aloof, very “serious-about-not-being-serious” lad by the name of Henry, who seems to think he’s on the trail of something big as well. There’s a bit of conflict, and in the end, something happens… which is good, because man. How awful would it be if the book just ended with people standing around each other awkwardly for several pages.

…actually no, I would like to read that. Just once, not all the time. Can… can somebody get on that?

04. And of course, ChrisCross is a damn magic scientist on the pencils. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I was a wee lad buying copies of Slingers off the newsstands and dammit, the man hasn’t stopped being rad. There’s a certain kinetic energy to the art, and while it plays a lot better within the pages with more clockwork monkeys in them (re: the action pages), his work during the quieter scenes was quite exemplary. Also, I really, really, really want there to be clockwork monkeys in pretty much every book ever.

05. A couple of things. First: you should definitely buy this book if you come across it. You will enjoy the heck out of it. Second: one of the characters (Supergirl’s roomie) proclaims to be so excited about college that she bought a scarf that has the words Carpe Diem on them, and damn if that’s not the most freshman-y, college student-y thing ever. It’s just friggen delightful. And third: Guillaume Apollinaire? Totally looks like this:

Look at that suave son of a bitch. Can you believe we live in an age where this guy is mentioned in our Supergirl comic books? Truly, there has been no better time to be into comics.

God damn.

Recommended if you like: Flying mechanical monkeys, learning junk about dead writers and good comics.

C!TB Narrates What DC Announces, Part 6: Action is our Reward

Star light, star bright...

C!TB Narrates What DC Announces, Part 6: Action is our Reward

Well gosh-dang if last week wasn’t an intense one, with all those announcements from DC and all the heavy emotion and whatnot.  On Friday, the company kept all of us waiting pretty damn long to unveil its final four titles out of the 52 that are a part of the September relaunch, and fuck, if they weren’t doozies.

Super jeans!ACTION COMICS
Written by Grant Morrison, art by Rags Morales

Whenever there is a comics announcement, or any media announcement for that matter, there tends to be a certain amount of hyperbole that gets thrown around.  But when DC says that the new Action Comics series, written by Grant Morrison with art by Rags Morales, will be full of “tales of The Man of Tomorrow unlike any you’ve ever read before”?  I believe them.

I wasn’t a Superman fan for most of my life.  I just couldn’t get into the character, he didn’t engage me.  Then I read All-Star Superman.  Suddenly, there was an incarnation of the character I could connect to, that felt like Superman to me, that felt like the character should.  From that moment on, I was a fan.

Will this new series give me that same feeling?  I don’t know; I’ll have to wait and see.  What I do know is that I will follow Grant Morrison‘s Superman wherever it goes, because I want to re-experience that feeling I got from reading that All-Star Superman comic.  Morrison tells stories like nobody else, so yeah, I believe them when they say I’ve never seen something like this.  I can’t wait to crack open that first issue, to see what this new world looks like for Clark. (J)

SUPERMAN
Written by George Perez, with Breakdowns by Perez and art by Jesus Merino

So apparently, DC isn’t screwing around with the whole “Superman” thing. And why should they? Their last launch – though well intentioned, saw JMS jump ship halfway through his (somewhat unintentionally) amazing run of Superman, while Paul Cornell killed it with some Lex Luthor stories.

Anyway, with this launch the guys are bringing in George Perez to do a bit of heavy hitting – and by that, I mean writing and providing breakdowns for this new series. While Grant Morrison tells some of the early origins of this “new” Superman over in Action, Perez is in change of all the current stuff, really digging into something different with the solicitation text referring to something strange with his relationship with Lois Lane and The Daily Planet. Of course, DC is being tight lipped about many of the detail, but suffice to say, with this creative team, it should be pretty rad. (B)

I don't see what all the fuss is about.SUPERGIRL
Written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, art by Mahmud Asrar

When the solicited cover art for this comic leaked on Thursday, it felt impossible to find a place on the comics internet where people weren’t complaining about Supergirl‘s new outfit.  The collar, the cape, especially the kneeless boots; everybody seemed almost exaggeratedly upset.  Honestly, I find it funny that so many people will criticize boots without knees or capes with a Power Girl-esque collar for being silly and implausible, but are totally okay with the idea of bulletproof spandex worn by teenage aliens flying through space.

Here’s the thing: putting aside any costume criticisms, this series could be rad as hell.  Michael Green and Mike Johnson wrote some great issues of Superman/Batman.  Worried that they wrote for Smallville because it wasn’t your cup of tea?  Well, remember the last Smallville writer DC hired for a teenage superheroine: Bryan Q. Miller, who’s knocked it out of the park on Batgirl.  Plus, Green wrote for EVERWOOD.  Oh, and some little movie coming out about some guy with a green flashlight and some fancy jewellery or something.  I’ll remember its title later.

And the art?  Well, like I said, look past the costume: doesn’t Asrar‘s cover look gorgeous?  I want more of that, and in September I will!

These are all good things. (J)

SUPERBOY
Written by Scott Lobdell, art by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean

A companion series to the interesting looking Teen Titans series perhaps? Being written by the same writer, and featuring the only character on the team with their own series, it looks as though Lobdell will have a lock on where the Titans will go for the foreseeable future. Which hey! I haven’t really read a whole lot of what Lobdell has done, and this? It looks like it will – at the very least – entertain me. Whether that entertainment hews closer to All Star Batman and Robin (or “AssBar” as a file customer recently called it) or that of a book where the Lincoln Memorial comes back to lead an army of dinosaurs on an attack against Nazi war machines… well, that remains to be seen. But the art by C!TB fav R.B. Silva is going to be a treat regardless. And you can bet your ass when this book ships, we’ll be here to tell you allllll about it. (B)