Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

h1

I ACCEPT Your Contract!

June 10, 2009

This has been an epic month and a half in nerdery.  Let me see if I can cover the main points.  I am on the last case of Apollo Justice and I’m still on the Floating Continent in FF6…mostly because it fills me with unbridled rage and I don’t have enough health potions to move on and I don’t want to have to do it all again by going on the airship and then coming back later.  It’s a bit of a quandary.  Other than that, work stuff has kept me busy lately, Conor and I are PAing for a certain reality TV show that involves singing other people’s songs.  In addition, Buffy is finally no longer on hiatus, I just read the most recent Tales of the Vampires one-off written by Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, and Vasilis Lolos and a 5 issue arc by Jane Espenson is supposed to be coming out soon I believe.

In addition, our merry band of miscreants has been watching an anime series called “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion“.  It’s 50ish episodes total divided into 2 seasons and COMPLETELY worth your time.  I just finished it last night and I feel great about how it ended.  The characters are interesting and consistent, the artwork is decent and though CLAMP did the original character designs they aren’t horrible, and finally and most importantly the writing is really intriguing and subtle.  At times it can be extremely over the top, but I found that my feelings regarding many of the main characters vacillated between extreme hatred and overwhelming sympathy.

I recently started playing through Mass Effect, and it’s still too early for me to make a statement on how I feel about the game, but I must admit that the character models are GREAT and I enjoy the conversation tree system a lot.  The gameplay is taking a lot of getting used to, I’m not very apt at squad based combat but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  I tend to be a lone, stealthy person and right now Shepherd is bumbling about.

That’s enough rambling, expect something more coherent soon.  Also, I would be remiss not to recommend Endless Frontier: Super Robot Taisen OG Saga for the DS.  Conor, Terry, and the rest of our merry band have been playing the hell out of it.  Personally, I want to pick up Broken Sword but right now I’m reading a book by Herman Hesse named Narziss and Goldmund and before that I reread Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Amanda Seamus

Lelouch promo pic

h1

The Rack Jack #5

March 28, 2009

Marvel and DC, as every fan knows, are going through a number of transitional phases.  Marvel has Dark Reign and all that is involved in outright saying that “yes, our universe is now run by the bad guys.”  And DC has all the fallout from Infinite Crisis, and the apparent build up to yet another series of big events.  However, faith can be restored when both titles take one of their main characters and start putting out good, interesting, well written stories that make us forget all the insanity on a universal scale and focus on the people and characters we enjoy.

Week of 3/25/09

  • Daredevil #117 (Ed Brubaker). Return of the King, Part II. Wilson Fisk is back, and that means one thing, the criminal element has a kingpin again…y’know, besides Norman Osborn. Not just A Kingpin, but THE Kingpin. After hearing about his adventures away from Hell’s Kitchen, I never felt that he was written off just for the sake of plot, it felt natural, as did his return to NYC. But in a world filled with evil, where does Fisk fit in? Why, it’s going to be just like to good old days, right? I honestly don’t know. With promises to return the underworld to glory, he also approaches DD with an interesting proposition; to take on The Hand, who have been encroaching, and Fisk “doesn’t intend on surviving.” Perhaps the Kingpin can help Matt forget about Milla, the legal battles, the federal government, his affair, and get him back to some good old fashioned daredeviling!
  • Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon (One Shot). Batman is dead. Batman. Is. Dead. What? You don’t believe it? Ask his oldest friend, Commissioner James Gordon, who learns this the hard way. This story takes you on a narrative journey inside Gordon’s head as he has to deal with Gotham now that the Dark Knight is gone. Yet, if you read carefully, I could swear some of these thoughts belonged to Batman himself, it looks like working with the Caped Crusader for so many years rubbed off on the Commish. A poignant and touching story about what happens in a world gone mad, showing what Batman comics have always tried to teach us; you don’t need powers to be a hero, you just need to have a sense of justice, and the commitment to do what is right.

I have a good feeling that both universes are getting the footing again, stabilizing and dealing with the promises they made so long ago for new, COOL stories that will blow our minds in a good way.  Until then, we can enjoy the snippets of little stories and small pleasures.  Thankfully, I have yet to be disappointed by any of the Battle for the Cowl titles, so I highly recommend them.

‘Til Next Wednesday.

-Patrick


h1

The Rack Jack #4

March 14, 2009

Okay, DC Comics, I’ll bite.  You put us through so much with your infinite identity crises, and your inability to understand who should and shouldn’t die, but it looks like you’ve finally gotten back on your game.  Sketch pages of a new Batman title with art clearly recognizable as Frank Quitely (We3, All Star Superman, New X-Men) on your DC Nation page?  I guess maybe you do have some kind of plan.  Watch out, Marvel, if DC gets their act together, they might just find Tony Stark, and give him a job where he can use his skills instead of being hunted by…the Green Goblin?  I am a loyal fan, but stop and say your plots out loud, guys, maybe that will help.

As you can probably guess, DC has taken the lead this week (apologies for missing an update, my schedule got insane).

Week of 3/11/09

  • Battle for the Cowl#1- Okay, this is cool. New writer, but he is doing a good job. It really keeps you guessing and gives you a good glimpse into just what kind of world Gotham is, and how important Batman is. A World Without Batman? There are definitely promising avenues to explore here.
  • Top 10#4- Okay, Top 10. Originally written by Alan Moore and Gene Ha, is now just done by Ha, but it is still very interesting. How do you police a world where everybody has a power? The stories are always interesting, and have just enough of a combination of humor and insight that they keep me coming back. Especially if one of the changes they made to the cast remains permanent. I’m not one for getting rid of characters, but sometimes they just have to go (and I mean, they were really annoying).

That’s all for me, but with all that’s stirring on the horizon, I’m sure I will have more and more to say each week.

‘Til next Wednesday.

-Patrick

h1

Rack Jack #3

February 22, 2009

The Rack Jack #3

DC and Marvel are really going at it, and even still, it feels more like the calm before the storm.  The most obviously notable events that have happened in the DC universe are the drastic changes to the Batman Family.

Both the Nightwing and Robin main titles have had their final issues, and though this may fall more under a “weekly recommendation” area, it is something I want to give a bit more attention.  Whenever a title ends, it is always something to note, especially when it is from two major characters whose titles were running for 12 to 15 years (150-180 some issues), that is a sign that this whole “Batman is dead” thing might be important.  The stories told of the two Bat-Prodigies and how they are leaving their old lives behind to fill the void left by Batman’s absence.  Even Alfred is leading the Outsiders!  Battle for the Cowl is coming…

Marvel is still fighting the brave fight in the topsy-turvy world they have created.  Brian Michael Bendis is a man whose has done…well, a lot.  I loved his run on Ultimate Spiderman, but I have to say I wonder if he’s stretched too thin.  After Secret Invasion, he now has THREE Avengers titles (that’s just Avengers titles, he is still writing other things as well).  What are you up to, Marvel, what’s the end game?

Anyway…

Week of 2/18/09

  • Robin #183. As mentioned above, it is the last issue of a series I wasn’t even reading. But I picked it up because it was the end, and I found the writing to be quite good. The story was solid, heartfelt, and definitely raises the reader’s eyebrow in curiosity: I wonder where the boy wonder will wander…
  • Invincible #59. I was actually in the store when it was being recommended this week, and I couldn’t help but add a simple “you should try it” to the customer they were trying to convince to start this series with the first trade-and buy it he did. But this new issue stands out in my mind because it was a unique story. Told from the perspective of a man whose sister died because of one of Invincible’s fights, he has grown to hate the hero and has powers of his own. His quest, one issue’s worth of vengeance, and even his wife and young son support him-so he may fight the hero, but it is hard to call him a villain.
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four #60. Okay, Ultimatum? I don’t know what is going on with the Ultimate line, but apparently things are changing and coming to a close. Ultimate FF is one of the few Ultimate titles that stayed strong. It was convoluted at times, sure, but the writing has been good, and the characters sincere, as the FF should be. Susan surprised me in this issue, in a new and interesting way.

-Patrick

h1

The Rack Jack #2

February 13, 2009

This week in comics began DC Comics’ NEXT, BIG THING! Because, obviously, we haven’t had enough of their events. No, now we have Omens and Origins, which I am holding off really critiquing. It is an interesting idea, and the build up seems like it could lead to something cool. DC actually takes the lead in this week’s news, since Marvel didn’t put up too many new issues this week. A couple smaller titles also are worth consideration, and have my endorsement. But enough with the generalities, damnit, you need specifics!

Week of 2/13/09

THE HEADLINER: BATMAN #686 by NEIL GAIMAN. I will repeat that: By Neil Gaiman. Grant Morrison to Neil Gaiman. Why is it Batman only gets the best writers when he’s dead? But really, it is an interesting read. It’s a two parter, about Batman’s death. Very Gaiman. The story is a bit hard to follow, but that’s because it’s about the build up, and you’ve got to hang in for the big twist. The good news? It’s only an issue away.

DMZ by Brian Wood. The 6th DMZ trade came out this week, and I wanted to take the time to give the series it’s proper salute. Hats off to Brian Wood, the man knows how to write a good human story. New York as a De-Militarized Zone? Journalist protagonist meeting all the different types of people? It’s new, it’s rich, and it’s well done. Trade Paperback #5 explored different stories of different people in the city-from a graffiti artist to the head of a gang. I will admit I haven’t gotten to sink my teeth into the new trade, but I expect to be pleasantly unsurprised by a good story.

Incognito by Ed Brubaker. Government witness protection for supervillains! This type of thing is where Brubaker hits his stride. It’s got a character with a standard power suite (strong, tough, etc), but it really focuses on the grit, but not just human grit-superhuman subculture. Icon is an interesting publisher, offshoot of Marvel, with titles like Powers. They know what they are doing, and Brubaker’s reputation is one that has yet to falter.

Keep the faith DC and Marvel fans, I’m sure that in 2-3 years some normalcy should return to the characters we love. Y’know, except Steve Rogers…or Tony Stark…oh, nevermind.

‘Til next Wednesday.

Patrick

h1

“Honor is like the Hawk”:

February 7, 2009

WARNING! Do not read this if: 

  • You haven’t read Watchmen
  • You don’t want the surprises in Watchmen ruined for you

I have to say that I’m astonished that there is so little published scholarship on Watchmen, arguably the greatest graphic novel ever written and one of Time magazine’s 100 greatest English-language novels from 1923-present day.  Personally speaking, I’ve never been more moved by a graphic novel besides The Sandman books, and yet Watchmen, being less episodic in nature, does not suffer from the weaknesses that keep The Sandman books from being something that I reread often, namely hackneyed subplot lines and inconsistent artwork. 

 

In Watchmen, the prevalent use of World War II imagery, be it a “fat man” crushing Janey Slater’s watch or Adrian Veidt as a latter day Truman to name a few, serves to deconstruct the nature of mutually assured destruction and the idiotic nature of attempts to prevent nuclear war by deliberately wiping out millions of people through an overwhelming first strike on New York City.  In addition, the superheroes’ failure to prevent Adrian Veidt’s attempt to save the world from the path that he set it on himself by removing Dr. Manhattan as well as their later collaborating in the cover up opens up the conversation about morality and vigilantism as well as war. 

 

The thing I’m wondering about right now is how they are planning on ending the film.  In the book, Adrian Veidt owns a secret island full of artists and writers, as well as the brain of a dead psychic, which he uses to create a hideous monster that sends out overwhelmingly violent and hideous images that drive people mad.  He then drops this on Manhattan and kills millions of people.  In writing this out, it sounds ridiculous, but the whole point of it is that in convincing world leaders that there is a very real threat from outer space, it will prevent nuclear war.  Ronald Reagan once stated:

 

“When you stop to think that we’re all God’s children, wherever we may live in the world, I couldn’t help but say to [Gorbachev], just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another planet outside in the universe.”

 

While I may not agree with Ronald Reagan on just about anything, in this case he is on the money regarding Adrian Veidt’s thought process.  He sought to unite the world and idolized Alexander the Great and the Egyptian Pharohs.  He justified his actions in saying that he forced himself to see the faces of the dead in his meditations.  

 

 

Toward the end of the book there is an exchange between Veidt and Dr. Manhattan that summarizes the inveitability of conflict when there will always new more powerful weapons being created to keep the peace:

 

Adrian Veidt: I did the right thing, didn’t I? It all worked out in the end.

 

Dr. Manhattan: ‘In the end’? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends. 

 

Watchmen has an ending that some believe is ridiculous but most recognize that it is the only way that book could have ended.  In recent trailers it seems like the strike on New York may be something else altogether and I just hope it’s something in the spirit of the work that will make sense.  A central focus of the novel is the deconstruction of the superhero trope and Zac Snyder seems to be deifying them.  Don’t get me wrong, I will be there opening day with everyone else, I just have my reservations and hope that the nuclear strike in the 2nd trailer is the one from Dan Dreiberg’s dream and not something else.

 

Amanda/Seamus

 

 

Works Cited:

Jeff Smith, “Reagan, Star Wars, and American Culture”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Jan/Feb 1987, p 25.

Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen.

h1

The Rack Jack

February 6, 2009

DC or Marvel? Dark Horse or Image? Paper or plastic? In the world of comic books, there are hundreds of different titles, from dozens of different companies, from even more different writers out there. Every Wednesday, we wait with baited breath to see what new storyline, artist, or character will surprise or entertain us.

As somebody who has been reading and collecting comic books for 14 years, I’ve read a good amount and seen characters change drastically. From Kyle Rayner being the last survivor, to his restarting the entire Green Lantern Corp and Hal Jordan returning to take the reigns of the main Green Lantern title comic, to Magneto serving up one of the best surprises in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men to his becoming depowered after M-Day, the world of comics changes quickly, and constantly.

My goal, in this section of the blog, is to give you some recommendations and thoughts about the current comics out there for the week, and spotlight the really interesting ones. A lot of comic book fans tend to go negative, criticizing and picking apart all the details, I’m in it for enjoyment. I read everything from The Flash to The Invisibles, all for different reasons. I think every comic has it’s own merits, and will do my best to give you a good taste of what is out there.

For my first post, I’d like to give my recommendation of my favorite series that are out there right now, and then get into the weekly updates in the next entry.

Series to Watch:

-The Walking Dead=I’m one of Kirkman’s biggest fans, and have been since Invincible. This title is full of surprises and twists that will keep you hooked, and characters and realism that will give you ideas for what to do when…sorry, if the zombie apocalypse happens.

-Invincible=Kirkman took Superman, then spun him on his head and gave him a teenage life that is so relatable I find myself asking, “Robert, are you actually still in high school?” But it the best way possible.

-Fables=Fairy tales for today. It’s a new spin on stories that have been done a hundred times over, and it will make you laugh, think, cry, and just rediscover your inner child all over again. That is, if your inner child grew up and was living in New York and fighting a battle against the mysterious Adversary.

-Justice Society of America=I have always loved DC, but recently they have been…confusing. However, in this time of great change and character upheaval, the JSA is still going strong. Geoff Johns has given this title real heart, and I have to admit, his Starman is one of my favorite characters I’ve seen in a long time.

-Astonishing X-Men=Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. And now Warren Ellis has taken over? This comic has gone from amazing writer to amazing writer to amazing writer, and each has helped it grow and stay fresh, and it is still going strong after years.

-No Hero=Only a couple issues are out, but the concept is interesting. What would you do if a drug could give you superpowers? How committed are you to the idea of being a hero? What if one man was in control of whether or not it would happen for you? It’s definitely one to watch. Warren Ellis rarely disappoints.

-The Boys=Violent operatives working for the CIA to expose and control the screwed up worlds that superheroes live in. The characters are layered, the content is mature, and fights are almost as graphic as the language and the sex. Definitely not for kids, but definitely for a more mature reader.

That’s all I have for this first post. I wanted to steer clear from DC and Marvel on this first one, because, frankly, both companies are letting the dust settle on their big events that just eneded. The Civil War and Secret Invasion are over, and Norman Osborn came out on top, as the Iron Patriot? The Final Crisis was brought to a close, but can somebody explain what happened to Batman to me? They each have a lot of good titles, but for my introduction, I wanted to open you guys up to some of smaller titles and publishers.

‘Til next Wednesday.

Patrick