Comics: 3-19-08

Plot: Joss Whedon & Brian Lynch
Script: Brian Lynch
Illustrator: Franco Urru
Colorists: Jason Jensen & Art Lyon
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall

Another over-priced issue of Angel. I'm still paying $4 for a decent story and absolutely dreadful art. So far this series has provided a nice amount of surprise even if it sometimes feels a little over-the-top. I'm still wondering why werewolf girl from one (bad) episode in season five now gets a major part. The rest of the characters are all behaving like themselves and Lynch has really managed to write for these characters in a consistent and believable manner. That's the only high point of this series. Whereas previously my only noticeable complaint was the ugly pencils and ill-defined inks, I can now add garish coloring to the list. Everything has a rubbery shine and the coloring team colors like they're using a box of 8 crayons. There is no reason why Lorne's horns, eyes, lips, and crown should all be the exact same shade of Crayola red. Maybe IDW can't afford real coloring software. This issue ends on a nice cliffhanger and the next three issues focus on the first night of the big Hell attack on LA. One issue is drawn by John Byrne, so I'm excited to see how much this series improves when it's illustrated by someone with real experience.

MY SCORE: 7.8/10

"9: Dennis --or--Bad Moon Rising"
Writer: Matt Fraction
Breakdowns: Barry Kitson
Pencils: Javier Saltares
Inks: Stefano Gaudiano & Derek Fridolfs
Colors: Sotocolor’s J. Roberts
Letterer: Artmonkeys Studios
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Supervising Editor: Warren Simons
Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

You can read this review at Comixfan.


Fat Bad Robot Club

Of course it's been a while since I did a non-comic related post. That's how things go, apparently. I've been journeying through the wild world of temping and boy has it been interesting. I worked for Juilliard for a week, helping with their audition process. This involved me sitting in front of a door for around eight hours, breaking every fifteen minutes to knock on the door to tell the rehearsing instrumentalist that it was time for them to go down to their audition. During this time I read all of Mortified: Love is a Battlefield, David Sedaris' Naked and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, The Kinks: A Very English Band, and most of Bob Newhart's I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This. All of the Sedaris intake led me to write two humorous (hopefully) essays that will probably find their way to this blog at some point. I also wrote another five pages in my comic book and was interrogated by Asian men in blue smocks. The week at Juilliard was pretty grand. I've also temped for Classic Media and EuroRSCG, both of which lasted a day and weren't as interesting, although I've never seen an office as amazing and high class and modern as the one at Classic Media. It was pretty awesome. Hardwood floors, light walls, a huge aquarium, Eames-like chairs everywhere, and awesome prints of the cartoon characters they represent on every wall.

Improv has been going well. Between Cage Match, Harold Night, and the Chris/JR/Anna birthday party, I've had plenty of good times with good people (or the Fat Bad Robot Club). All it takes is a good house party for me to realize how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing scene with such truly friendly and funny people. When all you do is go to improv shows with people, you miss out on a lot of their personality. I'm glad nights like that happen so we can all do something other than the make-em-ups. I think a karaoke party is in order. Last night was the first time I stayed at Harold for all five teams and the 600 show in months. I saw Fwand perform their last show to a standing ovation and 1985 do a backwards Harold without warning. Nights like that remind me why I go to shows and what my goals as an improviser are.

I ventured to the Russian & Turkish Baths on that Saturday with Ethan for his small birthday celebration. I'd never been to a sauna or steam room before, so it was all a new experience... experienced in ill-fitting trunks and nothing else. After reading the essay in Naked about David Sedaris' experience in a nudist camp, it was all I could think of after putting my clothes on again. I had gotten so used to seeing people barely dressed for the almost three hours we were there that putting on clothes again seemed weird at first. Truly odd since I was meeting two of these people for the first time and was immediately introduced to them in all their glory. This was a lot of fun and is exactly the sort of thing I need to do this year. It was a true New York experience, even if I wasn't solicited for sex like in stereotypical bath houses.

I kept up the "non-improv fun time" theme the next day with a small Easter get together. I hooked up the Nintendo and we all had a nice relaxing time fighting with sticks and watching both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Turtles on Oprah, which will become a viral video whenever I figure out how to get it on YouTube. The night got me wondering why a faithful live-action adaptation of Super Mario hasn't happened yet. Playing "Super Mario 3" had me itching to write the screenplay, even though I already have one passion project with my draft of X-Men 4. But really, wouldn't it be awesome to see a big Italian guy crawling through a pipe only to drop out of it, land on top of a ferocious turtle, pick up his shell and chuck it at an ornate box, thus knocking a giant leaf out of it. It'd be pretty rad. In my head it is.

Things are going well right now and fingers crossed that I get a real job.


Comics: 3-12-08

"World's Greatest 2 of 4"
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inkers: Bryan Hitch & Paul Neary
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC's Rus Wooton
Associate Editor: Molly Lazer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Millar and Hitch continue their run with a new issue four weeks after the last one came out. Yes, that's how a monthly book is supposed to be done but for a Millar/Hitch book, it's a pretty phenomenal feat. If they get the third issue out on April 9th, there may be hope for a hitch-less run (pun way so intended). This issue isn't as much slam-bang fun as the last one since most of this issue plays with the exciting reveal of last issue. This issue's only new development is almost a head scratcher and would be a detriment if I thought it wasn't going somewhere. Johnny's Storm's mystery villain/make-out buddy is initially void of personality and possesses very ill-defined powers (she makes things go...um, she throws things and, well...she can cause riptides or earthquakes or...huh?). Johnny accuses her of trying to raid a diamond truck but nothing on any of the pages makes that clear to the audience and their make-out session almost seems to be the stuff of mind control. It's jarring but I know it's going somewhere, so I can't really fault it yet. Other than that it's a solid issue and I'm looking forward to seeing the FF fight a force of nature that is, in fact, nature and not Galactus.

MY SCORE: 8.5/10

"Time Is On No One's Side"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Mark Bagley
Inkers: Danny Miki & Crimelab Studios' Allen Martinez
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Assistant Editor: Molly Lazer
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

The most fun I've had looking at a comic in years. For this time travel issue, the creative team went back and actually made every page look like an old comic from 1975. Footer notes, newsprint coloring effect, faded off white pages, it's done with such detail and enjoyment that it leaps off the page and into the reader. The story itself isn't so spectacular; Iron Man, Sentry and Dr. Doom try to find a time machine to get back home without disrupting the time-stream. Snappy dialogue and seeing the Marvel of days past make this issue special, particularly the panel where Doom admires Mastermind's abilities and then says that more people hate Iron Man now than Doom. Great great great exchange. Mighty Avengers is a great old-school hero comic and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

MY SCORE: 8.8/10

X-FACTOR v.3 #29
"The Only Game In Town 1"
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Valentine De Landro
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
Editor: Aubrey Sitterson
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

X-Factor has made a habit of addressing the problems that the other x-books forget. M-Day was first, last issue we had the impact of the super covert (sarcasm) X-Force, and this issue we have the dissolution of the X-Men. As the only game in town, hence the story arc's title, Madrox is determined to keep the team together even though most of the others have other ideas. This team has really come together to be one of the most dynamic casts in all of Marvel and I love seeing David come up with new obstacles for them. I'm excited about where everything in this book is going, even more so now that Larry Stroman is returning after almost 16 years away. This is a great time to be an X-Factor fan.

MY SCORE: 9.1/10


Comics: 3-05-08

"Wolves At The Gate 1"
Writer: Drew Goddard
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorist: Michelle Madsen
Letterer: Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy
Executive Producer: Joss Whedon
Editor: Scott Allie

March 5th was Frustrating Comics Day, leaving me uninspired to write the reviews until now. This one has maybe the most talked about fourth page of any comic ever published. You know, the one that reveals that Buffy has had a one-night stand with Satsu, the slayer who confessed to her love of Buffy last issue. My immediate reaction to this was one of shock, the page screaming "look how high above the shark I am!" Buffy has never been a lesbian, never had lesbian tendencies, and this new development just pushes the comic further away from being the Buffy I love. The main cast feels splintered and the new characters are all one-note. Making Buffy act out of character is just insult to injury. Upon another read and having a couple more weeks to digest the turn of events, I can see where this fits in with her character. This is the woman who had sex with Spike, someone she loathed, in the Bronze while watching her friends dance. This is the woman who immediately fell for Parker and slept with him on the first date. Buffy is a young woman with sexual desires and it's not unusual for her to do whatever she can to satiate them. When faced with an attractive individual that admits to loving her, it's not that surprising that Buffy would jump on it (hmm). Thankfully Goddard has the entire cast of the book find out about the tryst in one of the funniest sequences in a comic from recent memory. This gets the secrecy problem that plagues even the best of series out of the way, sparing the audience a year's worth of stories about Satsu and Buffy almost getting caught. I'm actually glad to see Dracula back. His episode was never one of my favorites because it always seemed, well, fan fictiony and it never played a big part in the Buffy mythos. I think this arc will, if it's done well, make that episode even better.

MY SCORE: 8.3/10

CABLE v.2 #1
"War Baby 1"
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editor: Will Panzo
Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Pretty underwhelming, I have to say. As far as plot, this issue doesn't really have one. Cable arrives in New Jersey in the future, takes out some troublemakers, and then gets shot by Bishop at a diner. The mood is great, the artwork is really different and sets the tone well, I just wish something would have happened to make me want to buy the second issue. It seems like Marvel is making ongoing series now knowing that, in today's market, it's rare that an issue makes it past issue 12. I don't know how else to explain the current crop of comics being released with such light premises that you have to wonder how long they can really run. This, X-Force and the renamed X-Men: Legacy all seem like books that will have run out of story and momentum in a year when their simple premises stop generating ideas. Maybe that's why nothing happens in this issue. I'm not a fan of Bishop's portrayal at all. I can understand his turn to the dark side, which was done pretty believably. I do not believe that he needed to get a monstrous robot arm and glowing red eyes. It's like they're trying to make Bishop out to be 1940s Red Skull, some huge caricature of a villain. Really, just ditch the ridiculously huge arm and red eyes and Bishop would be a lot more believable. I'm interested in knowing more about the mutant baby but, art aside, nothing about this premise or setup really fascinates me. There was plenty of space in this issue to discuss more of Cable's plan, why he's in the future, what he thinks of Bishop, what he thinks of the baby, just, you know, more. As it is we have a very one-dimensional portrayal of Cable and the mustache-twirling Bishop, neither of which I'm that interested in.

MY SCORE: 7.2/10

"X-Men: Divided 2"
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Mike Choi
Color Art: Sonia Oback
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Assistant Editor: Will Panzo
Editor: Nick Lowe
Executive Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

Click here to read the review at Comixfan.

X-FORCE v.3 #2
"Angels & Demons 2 of 6"
Writers: Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost
Artist: Clayton Crain
Letterer: VC's Cory Petit
Production: Paul Acerios
Assistant Editor: Aubrey Sitterson
Editor: John Barber
Executive Editor: Axel Alonso
Editor in Chief: Joe Quesada
Publisher: Dan Buckley

I think the last thing the comic world needed was the mindless gore, guts and guns of the early 90s to meet the hyper dramatic modern realism style of today's comics. That's what X-Force is. It's a brainless cavalcade of blood dressed up with melodrama to seem intelligent. Isn't it cool how X-23 totally blew up the Purifiers' headquarters and all the key players happened to survive??!!! Isn't it so cool that Warpath is all like "how can you have all this blood on your hands?" and X-23 is all like "whatever you're a pussy I'm a bad ass!"??!!!! Whoah!!! But really, the combination of ruthless violence with strong characterization is painful to read. I don't want to see Warpath's will get broken. I don't want to read about Wolfsbane becoming overrun by vengeance. I don't even know X-23 that well, but I don't like seeing her turned into a complete killing machine. The premise of the series becomes even more ridiculous in this issue when Angel drops by (no clue when all of this fits in with what's going on in Uncanny). If Cyclops is trying to keep X-Force a secret, why is he having meetings at Angel's place? How stupid does he think Angel is? He flies down, sees everyone in their black/sneaky/obviously x-uniforms and isn't supposed to make the connection, especially considering how X-Force was used openly during "Messiah Complex"? The art is also hit or miss. Crain's depiction of Rahne in captivity is strikingly creepy, but he also managed to give Warpath huge breasts and an hourglass figure three pages prior to that one. Crain's not consistent, but his work is definitely at home in this title. His work with Magus on the last page was wonderful. On the topic of Magus, much like The Kitty Pryde Fiasco, this is another huge continuity blunder. Bastion says that Magus was left at the bottom of the ocean by the X-Men when, in fact, he was last fought almost 20 years ago on another planet. So...is this an untold tale that we're about to see? Unlike Cable, X-Force has covered a lot of ground in the first two issues and proven that it does have a reason to exist. Actually, the premise of a black-ops X-Team is one that could go for a good long while, I just don't think I can read it for very long without getting thoroughly depressed.

MY SCORE: 7.4/10


Thanks, Jeffrey!

Jeffrey tagged me! I've been tagged! I have to post 15 quotes from my favorite movies and YOU guys have to see if YOU can figure out what movies they are from! Whoah! And I get to tag people to continue the fun! I'm going to resist tagging people who have topic specific blogs (Nicole & April, Jennifer & Laurel) because that would be rude, I guess. Instead I'll tag Davis, Frank, Ethan and Katey.

1. Mmm....s'good.
2. Who's scruffy looking?
3. But in the Munich circus, I was known as The Incredible Nightcrawler!
4. Dodgson, Dodgson, we have Dodgson here!
5. My hands are dirty too, what are you afraid of?
6. You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you!
7. We need a hero, courageous sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for 'em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to hold on a second longer. I believe theres a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dreams.
8. See, here I'm now by myself, uh, er, talking to myself. That's, that's chaos theory.
9. You might think it upset me that Paul Metzler had decided to run against me but nothing could be further from the truth. He was no competition for me; it was like apples and oranges. I had to work a little harder, that's all, see I believe in the voters; they understand that elections aren't just popularity contests, they know this country was built by people just like me who work very hard and don't have everything handed to them on a silver spoon. Not like some rich kids who everybody likes because their fathers owns Metzlers cement and give them trucks on their 16th birthday and throw them big parties all the time. No, they don't ever have to work for anything. They think they can just all of a sudden one day out of the blue waltz right in with no qualifications what's so ever and try to take away what other people have worked very, very hard for their entire lives. No, it didn't bother me at all.
10. Moesha Moesha Moesha!
11. A Jose Canseco bat?
12. You are as abandoned and noisy as any character in a porn film, Laura. You are Ian's plaything, responding to his touch with shrieks of orgasmic delight. No woman in the history of the world is having better sex than sex you are having with Ian... in my head.
13. I see the fleas, mummy! Can't you see the fleas?
14. Who ever heard of being shot down by salad?
15. There's no reason we need to be shackled by the strictures of the employee/employer relationship. Unless you're into that sort of thing. In which case, I got some shackles in the back. I'm just kidding. But seriously, I've got 'em.


party time wasting is too much fun

I'm pretty sure I can now expect every March to contain a life-changing out-of-nowhere crisis. Last year I was homeless, this year I'm jobless. I'm shifting gears to focus more on my writing and comedy, which is a good thing even if it wasn't exactly my hand on the gearshift. I was driving the car though, definitely away from the disgusting craphole that is Chinatown. I did not get the job at Wizard, thus giving me a much more visceral hatred of anime. I did have a great interview and I do believe that I made a positive impression that will hopefully lead to an opportunity in the future. I can't deny (actually I flaunt) how emotionally trying it is to keep going to interviews for your dream job only to have it go splat. I have to remind myself that I'm 23 and have my entire future ahead of me. I can't expect to be at my dream job right now, even if I've been close enough to smell it and give it a smooch a couple of times. That was a creepy visual, right? Smelling and smooching?

On Monday night, a group of us journeyed to Davis and Amanda's apartment in Brooklyn and then to the Wham City stage production of They Should All Be Destroyed, a stage play of Jurassic Park.

Yes, you read that right.

The play was staged in one of the more...exciting?...parts of Brooklyn. Let's just say that we knew exactly where the venue was because of the completely out of place herd of white hipsters crowded on a random corner under the subway. The whole experience had a very house show feel to it; everyone sat on the floor and it was strictly BYOB. The turnout was mighty and the enthusiasm in the show was mightier. Papier-mâché dinosaurs stomped around to perfectly synchronized sound effects, John Williams classic score was turned into a sweeping pop ballad through the addition of insightful lyrics, and each role was played with the hilarious combination of a wink, a nod, and glee. This was a true Only In New York experience. Or any of the other surrounding major cities the show is going to.

Another New York Only experience happened last night when I went to the Comic Book Club show at the P.I.T., another improv theater. I got to see an interview with my favorite comic book writer of all time, Peter David. I'll write more about Peter David later as part of my X15 series, but I will say that his initial run on X-Factor back in the early 90s contains more than one of the few absolutely perfect comics I own. I walked in and found my level 501 improv teacher Chris Gethard (check out his blog for some of the most hilarious stories ever written) sitting on the couch reading She-Hulk #26. Of course Gethard would be there; he had a letter printed in X-Factor #105 and is as big a Multiple Man fan as I (remember?). He was invited to be the comedy guest for the show and read his letter on stage to Peter David, the man who made him love Multiple Man so much that he cried when a later writer killed him off. I sat down on an ottoman and waited for the doors to open. When Peter David entered, he was greeted by the hosts right next to me. It's been a while since I've felt that nervous, but having the man who wrote "X-Aminations" stand right next to me caused me to almost hyperventilate. What was even better was having Gethard across from me, a guy whose improv talent I admire and one of the best teachers I've ever had, equally freaking out and mouthing to me "that's Peter David." Comic geekdom, the great equalizer.

The show was a lot of fun, even the parts about DC and Dark Tower, both of which I'm not at all interested in. I was touched to learn that Peter David gave Rahne Sinclair the codename Wolfsbane back in 1980ish while dropping by the Marvel offices and hearing Louise Simonson talk to Chris Claremont about it. "If being a wolf is the bane of her existance, call her Wolfsbane." Rahne is one of my favorite characters, David's writing being a major factor in that, so hearing that really got to me. This whole experience and my new gig reviewing comics for ComiX-Fan has made me love comics even more. I would have killed to work for Wizard (not really killed but you know...) and I hope to someday. In the meantime, thoughts of starting up a blog solely for comics keep running through my brain. I would if I didn't think that this one would suffer entry-wise.

Also, I've been listening to a lot of Roxy Music, hence the title of this blog. I downloaded the rest of the songs from Siren that I didn't have only to discover that they are great. I now have two Roxy Music albums I can listen to from start to finish (hello, Country Life). If I ever get around to it, I'll watch the second DVD of my The Thrill Of It All DVD set. That's all 1980s stuff, which I find to be quite schmaltzy.

That's about it for now. Sigh.


X15: Favorite Creators #9

X15 is a series of blog posts celebrating the 15 years of x-fandom I have experienced. From the 15th anniversary of first seeing the X-Men in Fox's animated series (late October 1992) to the 15th anniversary of my first comic book purchase (January 1993), I will explore every facet of Professor Charles Xavier's gifted youngsters.

#10 Mark Millar/Carlos Pacheco

First Work Read:
Excalibur #83 (November 1994)
Favorite Work: Ultimate Fantastic Four #7-18
Notable Work: Excalibur (1994-1996), X-Calibre (1995), Nextwave (2006)

It's rare that a writer can mix insane science, truckloads of sarcasm, a dash of cynicism, and characters as big as a zeppelin and not offend me with one or all of those ingredients. Ellis manages to accomplish just that, most of the time. His stint on Ultimate Fantastic Four introduced the Ultimate versions of Victor Von Doom (Victor Van Damme) and the N-Zone with a very modern sense of excitement and wonder. It's been a while, but from what I recall about his run on Excalibur, he actually treated the characters with respect and was somewhat knowledgeable of the issues prior to his run (looking at you, Grant Morrison). The highlight of this being the pub issue, #91, where Nightcrawler and Captain Britain get terribly drunk and threaten to murder Pete Wisdom if he dares hurt Kitty. A fun moment. Ellis is taking over for Whedon on Astonishing X-Men, and I'm not to upset by that.

First Work Read: X-Force #44 (July 1995)
Favorite Work:
X-Force #71
Notable Work: X-Force (1995-1998)

Yes, I only know him for his work on X-Force, but the 26 issues he drew provide the absolutely definitive versions of the team. Rob Liefeld, the teams hyper-excited adolescent-minded creator, could not even come close to the energy, dynamism, innovativeness, and creativity that Pollina brought to the title. The characters looked their age and wore the clothes to match. The covers are all iconic, even if the rest of the comic-loving world doesn't know it. His collaborations with Jeph Loeb and John Francis Moore brought both their work up above anything they could do alone, as proven in the mediocre longer stints they went without Pollina. The man's art was quirky and weird, exactly the right fit for X-Force.