Monday, April 30, 2007

Grab your phone, it's World War 3

Look out, Black Adam just threw an Aircraft Carrier at New York!!* Who can save us?!

Firestorm, that's who! His partner has vanished and he needs someone to merge with. No problem, just send a text message to Firehawk and she'll be right over!

Ok, now stop and think about that for a moment. With a city about to be smashed, Jason sent a text message for backup. A text meassage. He didn't call Firehawk, oh no, why waste time actually talking, when you can type with your thumb? What if she didn't get the text? Imagine her checking her messages 3 hours later. "Ooops, oh well, guess that saves me a flight...". Atleast if he called and got no answer, he'd know to just grab some random person off the street to merge with as a last resort. Would Batman use a text message?

*(incidentally, isn't that a totally lame rendition of an aircraft carrier? I didn't realise what it actually was until 3 pages later when someone pointed to it and basically said "oh look, an aircraft carrier". The way it appears in the comic, I thought it was just a hunk of the ship's hull)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

How not to treat girls, featuring Firestorm

When it comes to women, those that wield the power of Firestorm have two things in common:
1) They suck when it comes to relationships.
2) Despite point 1, they all get to make out with Firehawk.

Ronnie Raymond Firestorm started it.

Then Martin Stein Firestorm got in on the act, even though he was a clone with amnesia.

Mikhail Arkadin had to wait until he was no longer Firestorm, but it was worth it.

Even the new Firestorm, Jason Rusch, had a go.

Atlhough, that last one is part of what could easily turn in to a rant about terrible writing and characterisation in World War III.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Justice League of Mediocrity

As a general rule, I try not to be too critical about comics, because I'd rather talk about what is cool, or stuff that's so bad it's funny. But DC have forced me, by making Justice Society (which I like) cross over with Justice League (which I don't read). So, to avoid reading only half a story for the next 2 months over in JSA, I picked up Justice League #8. It had it's fair share of things that bugged me.

But, let's kick this off with what I liked.

Wildcat training some of the JLA's younger members was cool, and something we don't see nearly often enough with the 'big three' of the JSA.

Batman busting Mr Terrific for playing Green Lantern off against Black Canary in chess, when they thought he was playing both of them (blind folded!). That was cool.

Stargirl going all starstruck on Wonder Woman was not cool. If it was the first time they'd met, then maaaaybe I'd accept that, though it would still be a little out of character for Courtney. Problem is, it's not their first meeting. It's not even their second or third meeting. They know each other, there's no basis for Courtney to act like that.

Dear Hourman, just because you've upgraded from popping pills to injecting, does not mean you've stopped using drugs. Thankyou.
Anyway, since when does Rick have to defend getting his super powers from a drug. The whole Miraclo addiction story has been done, he uses a non addictive form now, and really how is swallowing something to get powers really any different from Hawkman strapping on Nth metal?
Speaking of the Hawks...

... they do not 'flap' their wings. They fly using Nth metal, not their wings, the wings are for stability (and looking cool). Plus in the space of three panels, there is a huuuge hole in the script:
"I expect her to dodge and weave."
"Instead, she stands her ground and flaps with everything she's got, hoping the wind will knock it off course."
But c'mon, she really thinks I didn't account for wind?"
So Red Arrow fires an arrow (well, a flag, but we'll call it an arrow for now), and expects Hawkgirl to get out of the way. But he also magically allowed for the wind she might generate. How did he do both? If he expected her to get out of the way, why allow for wind? By the same token, if he allowed for wind, he wasn't really expecting her to get out of the way then, was he? By 'flapping', did Hawkgirl help the arrow get on course? If she hadn't 'flapped', would the arrow have missed? If he hadn't..... you get the picture. Ugh. Now, I know there's the environmental wind he would've had to allow for, but if she was adding to it... ok, I must force myself to stop or my head will implode. Moving on...

The chess game was cool. Black Canary chipping in at the end with "I still got checkmate", is not. Sorry Dinah, you were really just playing Green Lantern, not Mr Terrific. Beating Hal at chess is, I would say, a much (much!) simpler achievement than actually beating Mr Terrific. You'd hope the current leader of the JLA would realise that, but saying "I still got checkmate" seems to indicate she things she just beat the "3rd smartest man in the world".

Which leaves me with just the last page to talk about (because I can't be bothered talking about all the other bad things in the comic). This one is an art problem though. With regards to Power Girl's costume, it's fair to say that Dale Eaglesham over on Justice Society "get's it".

Justice League penciller Shane Davis, on the other hand, doesn't "get it".

I love Power Girl, I love the boob window, I love the fact that she looks like your standard mid-90's Image airhead girl when she's really a computer programmer, strong, intelligent, and the current JSA chairwoman. I love that she bucks the trend of other female characters that look like her, and can be viewed almost as a parody of them. It's times like these I wish she had B cups ('though I suspect Shane Davis wouldn't know how to draw a B cup) and a nice baggy sweater for a costume.

Oh, one other thing that amused me, just to end on a better note, was the two adverts for Marvel products in the comic. I wonder if DC and Marvel have a competition to see who can get the most ads in a competitor's book.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fun with Nemesis The Warlock

In the far flung future, the ruler of earth has a very important meeting.

Yes, it's the Arch Bigot!

Wait for it...

!!!(dramatic, I know)

Cue rant:

Yep, the usual.

The Arch Bigot is one of the best things I have seen, ever.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How not to treat girls, featuring Firestorm

It's been a while, but it's time for more two-timing Firestorm fun with Doreen!

Today's installment kicks off with our two superhero lovebirds getting cozy in a park.
Go Ronnie. But, leave it to Professor Stein to pour on the cold water.

Hmmm, I wonder who? Yep, you guessed it...

Uh-oh! Seems someone hadn't checked their superhero diary against their secret identity diary.

Don't lie to your girl, she knows.

Ouch. And still that crazy girl keeps him around.

Monday, April 23, 2007

With great power...

So, unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you've seen the tag line Marvel has given to Spider-Man, namely:

That's all well and good for him. He's married to a model, got cool powers, gets to make jokes while he kicks bad guys in the head, he has a job, and people generally like him.

Things are different for some of the other heros in the Marvel Universe. Some don't have the cushy lifestyle. Some were homeless kids, who had drugs tested on them, which turned them in to monsters. They still tried to do the right thing of course, but how good are things going for you when you have cool powers, but you're still homeless? For some, with great powers comes... income!

Next time Spidey tries to give you a hard-luck story, smack him in the mouth, would you?


While searching for a Spider-Man picture for this post, I used Google.
What's that google? Did I mean "spiderman"?


Geez, you'd think someone at google would've grown up reading comics.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Armageddon convention; Day 2

I bowled up at 9:30am, since there was nothing much happening on Sunday until10am. I was surprised at the small number of people in the venue to start out, it didn't really fill out until midday or so, and was nowhere near as busy as yesterday. That had it's advantages though.

Jimmy Cheung was doing sketches from 10:00, though he arrived 10 minutes early. I managed to be 3rd in line to see him, and got a really awesome drawing of Moon Knight
I could watch guys of his caliber draw all day.

Then it was over to the animation signing table, again managing to be third in line, for an autograph from Susan Eisenburg (JLU Wonder Woman). I decided to spend $10 on getting a proper picture signed, rather than my dvds, so I came away from the weekend with 3 signed pictures

After this it was about 10:40, the next hour was spent walking around taking pictures and mostly looking at things I had already seen on Saturday ;) Some general pics of the venue:

Time for my first gripe of the post. There was a bunch of Australian independant comic creators attending, who were pretty much stuck on tables miles away from all the other stalls

This pretty much resulted in them being ignored by everyone, either because they were so far removed, or that it was actually a rather intimidating prospect to step out of the masses and walk across a deserted space to these 6 people that were sitting staring at said mass of people. I took pity on them and went over, had a bit of a talk with them and bought a comic off each of them. They were a bit bummed they were so far away from everything, and really it should've been planned better, but shit happens.
As an aside, their comics were very reasonably priced, costing between $2 - $5. Contrast that with the New Zealand creators, one that was charging $8 for an issue, and another that didn't have any prices up. I didn't buy any of the NZ comics. The independant style isn't really my thing, but I'm still willing to support the people that turn up to Armageddon. I'm not paying almost $10 for one comic in order to do that though, and I also have no interest in approaching a bored-looking artist and asking how much their stuff is. Just a thought :)
I picked up 16 old Moon Knight comics for $1 each, they're a bit water damaged, but I don't care in the slightest, good comics for a dirt cheap price.

I killed time until midday, when Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica took to the stage for the 2nd time. His second panel was just as good as his first, the guy's a really good speaker. Plus he went back in to more bashing of CSI Miami, which is always a good thing ;) I got one pic that didn't turn out a complete blurry mess:

Billy Dee Williams (Lando!) was on after that, but I had to leave about 5 minutes in, as he was really uncomfortable to listen to. I walked through the stage area a couple of other times during his panel, and it didn't sound like it got any better. But, he's got some men's and women's fragrances coming out!!

Umm, yeah.

Although, as another small gripe, there was a medieval shop a short distance from the main stage, who during Billy's panel decided it would be good to stage a mock fight between staff, which involved lots of kids yelling and screaming and chanting. This really drowned out the panel discussion, and struck me as being quite disrespectful to both Billy, and the people that wanted to hear him. If you want to wind people up, do it between panels.

Doug Jones came onstage at 2pm, which was a panel I had been really looking foward to. I got a seat in a good central position, and actually recorded the entire hour on my camera. The picture is set pretty small, since I wasn't confident I'd have enough memory to record it all in a higher resolution (turns out I did, damn it), but the sound is fine. I even had a pretty clear field of vision for the first half hour, then some people sat in front of me, but I still managed to find a gap. My leg went to sleep about half way through, since I had it raised on the chair in front of me so I could rest the camera on my knee. The price we pay for geekdom ;)
Anyway, his panel was really cool. He was very active and animated and told some great stories. He had a few bits of info about his role as the Silver Surfer, which is what I was mostly interested in, though he wasn't really able to say too much about it. He was really entertaining, and the hour went by much too quickly. (I'd put the video online but it's 80mb and I'm on dial-up, so it's not going to happen. If anyone would like a copy, or to put it online for me, feel free to contact me)

Quick interlude: there was a bunch of people dressed in Star Wars gear, and it has to be said that pretty much every guy there was busy checking out the girl dressed as Princess Leia, which is understandable since she was smoking hot (and in a hall full of geeks)

I don't know what was more fun, looking at her, or watching everyone check her out as she walked around the venue. Funny stuff.

After Doug's panel, it was time for more of the various competitions that involved small children, and as I mentioned yesterday, that's not my thing. I spent the next 2 hours trying to find out what was happening with the Art competition, since it was never mentioned. The people at the info desk didn't know what was going on either. At 5pm I went past the info desk, and the drawings were ready to be collected, I have no idea who the winners were or what their art looked like. A really poorly run event, and frankly if that's all the effort the organisers are prepared to put in to it, it needs to be scrapped. I don't even know who judged it, I had assumed Jimmy Cheung would be doing it, but like I said, there were no announcments. It would've been nice to be present, so I could atleast know that someone that good had actually seen something I drew. I don't need (or even want, heh) feedback on my drawing, but it would've been nice to know who looked at them. Anyway, my picture:

Never going to win, but I had fun doing it.

With a couple of hours to go before the show's end time of 6pm, the event organisers made the promotional posters, used for each of the guests, available for sale. There was only one of each guest, and I think specific to this event, so it was a pretty tempting collectable, since they would be signed too. Asking price was $150 per poster, which was a little more than I was comfortable paying. I decided to stick around (well, I had to because I was trying to find out about the art contest ;)), every few minutes walking past the guest tables to see if the Doug Jones Silver Surfer poster was still there. At 4:55, 5 minutes before signing was due to finish, that poster was still there so I hit the staff up to let me have it for $100, which they went for. Score. They pulled it down, and I took it over to Doug Jones to get signed. He spelt my name wrong, but I don't care, because it is awesome, and so is he. Like I think I mentioned yesterday, he's someone that comes across as really caring about the emotional investment the fans have in the characters he portrays, and he signed it with "you are my hero", since I geeked him out yesterday with how big of a Surfer fan I am. I even got a hug from him, since I'd spent so much money for the poster.

So, summing up the weekend:
The Bad: The scale of the comic stalls, and the Art competition.

The Good: Aaron Douglas is awesome. Jimmy Cheung is awesome. I very much like Don S Davis. Doug Jones is one of my new favourite people on the planet. I didn't think it was quite as good as the last couple of Wellington events, but it was still a very cool weekend, and one that I'm sad is over. I also managed to hit my budget of $500 almost exactly. Things were hairy there for a while, as there was a $200 Cylon model that I was reeeeally close to buying at the end, but sanity prevailed ;)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Armageddon convention; Day 1

After looking foward to this convention basically all year, the day finally arrived. The one weekend each year when I can be surrounded by hundreds of people as geeky as me. Armed with a ton of cash, and a full 2-page want-list of comics (in 10 point font, 2 columns per page), I made the trek in to the city. Doors opened at 9am, I got there at around 8:25. I pretty much timed it spot on, as there was only a few dozen people in front of me.

About 10 minutes later the line had grown a fair bit

Then it grew some more...

...and with 5 minutes to go before opening, well, it would've sucked to be at the back
This year saw the introduction of wrist bands to let you come and go from the event, and they were handed out before the doors opened. This was an excellent idea, meaning we could all just walk in, rather than waiting for all the people in front of you to have their tickets processed, which in the past had been sloooooow.

Inside, I had a casual walk around to see what was on offer, before striking. The comic stalls were actually a bit disappointing. There's usually an Australian comic store attending, which I have spent many hundreds of dollars at in the past, but they were absent. There were 2 mid-sized comic stalls, and another 2 or 3 small ones, but most of the stock on offer were in $3 bargain bins or the like. It was actually kinda fun trawling through them looking for gems, and I bought a bunch of stuff I wouldn't have otherwise looked for, but my want-list didn't take as big a hit as I was hoping. Anyway, I still came away with:
2 issues of Extreme Justice
4 issues of Defenders
20 issues of 2000AD (containing most of Nemesis book 6)
5 issues of Alien Legion (an impulse buy)
18 issues of Cloak & Dagger/ Strange Tales (another thing I wasn't looking for, but found me)
28 various things from my list (mostly Firestorm/ Surfer appearances)

All up, $250 spent on the above, down about $200 on what I spent last year. Anyway, on to the panels:

First up was Brian K Vaughn and Jimmy Cheung. Jimmy opted out (he went straight to the sketching table), apparently not liking talking to big crowds, so it was left to Brian to hold the fort. I'm not overly familiar with his work, but he spoke well and it was an interesting 40 minutes or so, covering his comics work, and his recent involvment with Lost.

Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica was on at noon, and was really cool. A funny guy and good at telling stories. He somehow got on to some rant about unwatchable tv shows, which included Lost (I tend to agree, though I still sit through it each week), his reasoning being that he can't suspend his disbelief enough to accept that nobody on the outside could figure out where the plane had crashed, what with all the satellites and what not. I kinda hoped Brian Vaughn could hear him, he was only a few feet away, seperated by a curtain ;)

I got autographs from Aaron (who complimented my Silver Surfer shirt, go me), and Doug Jones, the Silver Surfer in the upcoming Fantastic 4 movie. That was really cool. He told me of his frustration at trying to get the Surfer's catch-phrase of "to me, my board" into a scene where the Surfer summons his surfboard, but the director wouldn't go for it. He seemed like he really cared that fans should get the little things like that thrown in for their benefit, which gives me a lot of hope for a movie that I'm half dying to see, and half dreading. I enjoyed talking to him, and look foward to his panel tomorrow.

Don Davis from Stargate hit the stage at 2pm. I missed the start since I was getting the autographs, but caught most of it. Don was really enjoyable to listen to. I don't think he actualy properly answered more than a couple of questions haha. He'd start to, but then go off on a tangent and spend 5 minutes telling a story about whatever. I found it really endeering, and could've listened to him a lot longer. A shame he's not doing a 2nd panel tomorrow. It was quite touching to see him get a bit choked up talking about the military, and Richard Dean Anderson, two subjects he appears very passionate about. Plus he's really quite funny.

I got my Green Lantern: Circle Of Fire miniseries signed by Brian Vaughn, it's the one thing of his I've read, much less actually own. I mentioned a couple of things in it I liked, but he wasn't really forthcoming with conversation, so I left it at that.

I managed to pluck up the courage to submit the drawing I did for the Art contest. I'm in no way good enough to win, but since the art contest was in danger of not even happening this year, I felt I should support it, since I think it's loss would be a shame. It's probably the first serious drawing I've done in over 10 years. Pin-ups have never been my strong point, but I'm actually reasonably proud of the piece I submitted, I shall post it tomorrow in part 2.

I'm not a fan of the contests such as Pizza Eating, or the Dragonball Z Kamehameha, since they tend to decend into all the little kids yelling and screaming to get selected, and it's more painful than fun to watch (for me atleast, though I'd quite happily label myself a grouch when it comes to little kids screaming). I left at 4:30pm, also not wanting to stay around for the hip hop show at 5pm.

Sunday won't be so much of a rush for me, I plan to watch 3 of the panels, take some pics, and hit up a few of the artists for some drawings. Thoughts on day 2 to follow, after, y'know, it actually happens ;)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Green Lantern #18

Just a brief posting on the current Green Lantern series.

I get what Geoff Johns is doing with GL, re-establishing the old mythos and rogues gallery. I know this, but it doesn't help me to find it interesting. The series has had it's entertaining moments, and maybe it'll be great to pick up in a couple of years time, once Johns has rebuilt everything. But as for now, I don't care anymore. The stories underwhelm me, I don't accept DC's reasoning for it regularly shipping late, and now we get the Sinestro Corps files tacked on to each issue. Seemingly a good way of getting the art side back on schedule, but I don't care for it. I only skimmed the feature in #18. Not interesting. Maybe it's just me, but hey. GL is dropped for now, and sadly I don't think I'll miss it.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

2000AD #1519 - 1522 Part 2

Alright, so I established yesterday that the ABC Warriors are awesome. But what of the other stories contained within the current 2000AD? Dire stuff. First up:

Nikolai Dante
I have no knowledge of this character outside of the 4 issues I just bought, but he seems like your general light-hearted trouble maker. This story finds him in the land of the Amazons, where every female he fights either starts out naked, or ends up that way. He has a big battle against a giant amazon, and somehow ends up hiding in her breasts

But that's easily countered, why, she takes off her top

This is all very lighthearted and I assume it's supposed to be amusing. By my way of thinking, it's more suited to the pages of Heavy Metal, or Penthouse Comix, than 2000AD. Light titilation for either young boys who think it's daring, or adults who only like comics with naked people (who also probably think it's daring). Then it's on to:


First glance seems to indicate it could be ok. Big ugly guys hacking other monsters to pieces is a good start. Also a potentially interesting story, what I assume are genetically altered humans, protecting the planet while humanity proper sleeps in stasis. It's been done before (Starriors!), but atleast it's in keeping with what I'd expect from 2000AD. The writing though is where it goes horribly wrong.

The main character is called "Gene the Hackman". That's just too clever for it's own good. The 3rd-person narrative is brutally retarded: "Them had found Gene... Them had found whetted death". Oooh, scary!
Gene also has an annoying way of talking:
"Scrap them dead!"
"Your mouth is full of wrong"
"Tougher and tough!" etc
That last one pops up with annoying frequency, and was starting to piss me off, heh.
I'll admit that many of the classic 2000AD stories had moments where they were less than great, but at their worst they still had enough cool factor to overlook it.

Next up is Stickleback, which I confess to not having read, but it looks like it's set in england early last century, and is basically a detective story. Nothing futuristic there.

I wonder if I can send back these pages and get a discount.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

2000 AD #1519 - 1522. Part 1

Just looking at some old issues, it's been 15 years since I bought an issue of what once was my favourite comic. Since then, I've flicked though a couple of issues, but was confused by the likes of Strontium Dog (what do you mean the main character is dead?) and Rogue Trooper (did Rogue change his name to "Friday", or is this a different character?), so never bothered with it. Though looking through wiki, it seems that my worst fears about 2 characters I grew up with, long before I'd heard of stuff like X-Men, were true.

Anyway, I noticed there was a new ABC Warriors storyline running, and I used to love those guys above all else, so I figured I may as well pick up the latest issues. A bit of hunting around various bookstores managed to yield the last 4 issues. As an aside, 2000AD has slipped a looooong way from the brilliant comic it was 20+ years ago, if these issues are anything to go by, but more on that in part 2. For Part 1, I want to focus on the ABC Warriors, which had me giggling with glee.

I've missed the first part of the story, but currently the Warriors are reflecting on old battles, which for the character of Mongrol, is essentially a retelling of his origin, although fleshed out a bit. It's actually really cool to see him pre-demolition (he later joins the Warriors after being rebuilt from scratch, essentially rendering him like the classic Hulk in both mental and physical terms), as the leader of his paratrooper squad. The typical humor is still present, with Mongrol having a taste for cigars, and humans being referred to as "floppies". We're also introduced to a new model of Warrior, the flame-throwing "Zippo", whose head is, well, a Zippo.

The thing that really stands out is the digital art of Clint Langley. My scanner can't do it justice, but you really get a sense of the power of the robots

One place the art does fall down a bit, is the inclusion of actual photos of people in the human roles

It stands out, and breaks the illusion of realism that the art gives to the largely mechanised cast. Plus Lara is portrayed as a nubile rebellious teenager with 'assets', as opposed to her traditional casting as a rather sorrowful, robe-clad romantic, saving Mongrol out of compassion. But I'm nitpicking really.

One of the best lines in the story comes when Mongrol is captured, and taken to the enemy base, which happens to be in a church. Monrol asks his robotic captors where he is, with the reply
"It's where humans contact their manufacturer for technical assistance".

Mongrol of course escapes, which also leads to some more great lines.

I really enjoyed this story, so I guess I'm committed until it's end. It's somewhat of a bummer though, that each issue only has 6 pages of ABC Warriors, and 4 or 5 other stories that are frankly abysmal. Even the Judge Dredd strip is weak. Much negativity to follow in Part 2, when I talk about everything else ;)