Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

When the muse strikes...with a RAGING VENGEANCE

I'm sure you all have heard it. When a writer is really flying along he or she will say, "It was like the characters were writing themselves, as if I was merely a vessel for the words to travel through." Now, I'm not trying to support or deny the exsistence of this prose possesion. Trying to do so far surpasses the power of this humble blogger. However, I have found a few pages that might validate this experience. These pages so finely crafted that there is no way that they didn't come from some writing trance, some brilliant subconcious level of, let's call them what they are folks, of some genius' mind.

You think he's angry? Maybe just a tad? OF COURSE HE IS ANGRY. He is raging. Even his name is Rage, if that isn't a sign of just how pissed off he is than the fact that he says it four times in one panel is the real kicker. Only a writer who really tapped Rage's...well rage could really have written this dialogue. I mean look at it. It's so full of fury.

Howard Mackie takes this experience to a whole new level with Sprirts of Vengeance #2. He got so far into the mind the character that I'm not sure that he was ever able to truly recover from it.

Yeah, she wants some payback. She wants payback badly so badly that she talks like a skipping record. The number of times the word "vengeance" is uttered in the comic, not including the title, is seventeen. The only words to beat that it in frequency are "the" and "is". I'm telling you Mackie can create a character like nobody's business. Like Rage above, Steel Vengeance has her driving goal in her name. What an amazing way of using the writing craft! From what I heard Salinger almost did the same thing with Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfied was supposed to be named Sullen McDepressed and start every sentence with "Depressed". But Salinger, unlike my buddy H. Mackie, caved to the publishers and curbed his ability to truly get into his protagonist's head. Sell out.

Friday, March 10, 2006

What I Found While I Was Reorganizing My Comics

A suicidal twenty-something, a dead beat dad, a little girl, a caveman, a wannabe villain, a real villain, and a a group of Johnny Knoxville poser. What do all these people have in common? They were all bearers of the HERO device during Will Pfeifer's series of the same name. By typing in four simple letters to what basically looked like a glowing hockey puck...BAM you become a super hero. Not just one superhero but any number of superheroes. You, I or anyone could get our hands on the device and walk away with the powers to rival Superman.

It was one of the series that everything (writing, art, inking, editing) all came together. Although based on the fact that the series was ended after only 22 issues I think I'm the only one who thought this. If you ever come across the comic on eBay or some quarter bins you really should pick it up. Here is just a couple reasons why.

Writing: Will Pfeifer, under appreciated Will Pfeifer, puts together a great story. A story with a clear beginning, middle and end. A story where everything is interlinked and characters from the beginning to come back to be the heroes of the end. The characters are three dimensional, full of faults and foibles, the capacity for greatness and the tendency to the idiotic. They are human In the first arc lovable, down on his luck Jerry gets powers, goes out to fight some crime and what happens?

He gets his ass hit by a car! That is fantastic! I'm a very clumsy guy and if I had a superpowers that is exactly what I would end up doing to myself. Other HERO device owners use it to make friends or to perform stupid stunts. Things real people would do with super powers.

But the story is so much more than that. It is a morality tale. The device has no conscious it simply grants powers to whomever types in the correct letters. Thus the responsibility is placed on the handler to do the right thing. The best part is that they don't always do the right thing. Some use it for petty larceny, others for mass murder. Our favorite characters get killed and others have their lives ruined. It is life with powers. Fantastic.

Art: Kano, Dave Stewart, Dale Eaglesham, Wade von Grawbadger, and all the rest that put their time and skills into creating a visual world for Pfiefer's story. Aside from Robby Reed's sudden Barry Bonds jump in physical stature halfway through the series I think they did an excellent job. Kano with his pencils that feel like kind of like Wagner's Mage in their expressive simplicity. Check this out...

Eaglesham, who took over for 15 through 22, brought on a more traditional penciling style to the comic in my opinion but it was still great. While I would love to show you page 16 of issue 16 but I don't want to spoil it if you guys do ever go and pick up the issue. So instead I'll drop another a great page...

Look at Jenny's expression. Look at this anguish and sadness (I won't give away who died). Look at Robby's guilt. Whoa dude. It's all golden.

Covers: They say you can't judge a book by it but the covers for HERO attested to the series' greatness. In fact they were what drew me in from the very beginning. Their subtle shading, their watercolors feeling, all of it really creates a tone for the series. I'm not really that good about talking about art but let's just say that when I came across the comics again this past weekend while alphabetizing my collection I was still blown away by just how great they were. Here are my favorites.

I know I have been gushing like a school girl but when a comic is really good one should talk about it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Many faces of Booster Gold Pt. 2

The next stop on our little look at Booster Gold is February of '87. Booster has got himself his trademark suit of blue and yellow, those fancy goggles of his and a popped collar. I'm not saying this is the best fashion choice but Booster has always kind of struck me as the frat boy of the DCU. Can't you just see Guy Gardner saying, "Dude, I thought I was good but that Booster is the king of the JLA keg stand. A day and half, he is a machine!"

Anyway, so Booster dons this suit and flies around. He fights some super villains, he saves some ladies and he....

BECOMES A FREAKING PERVERT. Booster man, I don't know how they do it in the 27th century or whenever you are from but in the late 80's women really didn't appreciate having some guy take a peek at them while hovering at ceiling height. I should know I pulled my fair share of Cruise moves on a sorority or two in my day. You might be a superhero and all but that won't stop you from getting a well manicured backhand.

Also, I don't mean to quibble but I'm not sure that I would call that particular angle on someone, we'll call it the "taint" angle, a "nice view". Again, beauty could have changed a lot from now to the 2480 or whatever but somehow I don't it has changed that much. If I were you I would try to keep this meta-peeping incident under the rug or it might keep those big wigs over at DC from allowing you your big come back and you will find yourself at the back table of some dingy bar slugging back cans of Sparks with Hammer and Anvil .

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It Takes a Big Man to Admit When He is Wrong...

As I've said before, not only in this blog but out in the real world, when a character dies I want them to stay dead. When a character passes on in a particularly emotional way we shouldn't say, "They'll only be dead till Claremont takes over." or "He'll be back. I heard they're retconning him in a new darker and grimmer mini coming out next summer written by that guy working on that show." Death in a story should never be written in lightly, it is a serious moment that should have a lasting emotional affect on the reader as well as the characters in the story itself. If you start bringing back to life everyone who has died over the years in comics not only will you bring back some terrible characters *cough*Hammer and Anvil *cough* but you rob the writer of the ability to give a character of a truly meaningful death. There are some exceptions to this rule, Kevin Smith's resurrection of Green Arrow was fantastic in my mind as was Geoff Johns' and Hal Jordan, but I love these characters and because of this I start to waiver…a little. Despite my joy at these guys kicking around the DCU agian I STILL think it was a cheap ploy. Overall, I hold in the belief that bringing back a character can only lead to substandard writing.

Enter Judd Winick and the return of Jason Todd. That's right Todd is back. When I first heard this I was dumbfounded. The death of Jason Todd shaped has Batman as a character for almost two decades. Nearly twenty years of trying to make up what Bruce feels is his biggest and most fatal mistake. Notice I said nearly because with the Hush saga we start getting tiny little hints that Jason is back and this time with a gun in his hand a vengeance on his mind. Suddenly he is jumping about in biker leathers and a metal helmet like something out of Death Race 2000.

“Why?” I wondered. “Why taint an important moment in at least my comic reading history with this bullshit?”

All riled up and ready to pull a rowdy I actually bought the comics just so I have something to bitch about. Here it is folks, here is where I start to eat my words. The story that unravels is a really good one and I think pushes Batman to a level that I don’t think he has been at for a while. He is starting to FEEL again. Sure it is in kind of his twisted Batman way but it shows signs of a heart beat. After all this nonsense with him being an asshole to the JLA, the OMAC business and his break with Superman and Wonder Woman with the return of Todd as the Red Hood Batman is again reaching out. While reading the story we have build, we have drama not mention some pretty sweet action all leading up Batman #650.

Whoa. Here it is coming to a head. What we have isn’t only a knockdown, drag out physical battle but also a very emotional one. Jason isn’t acting out against Batman because Batman failed to save his life. No, he is seeking his revenge because of the fact that Batman has yet to kill the Joker. It isn’t typical bad guy motivation or even typical good guy turned anti-hero motivation. It is more “You, my father figure, my role model, have let me down beyond all reason. You let our greatest enemy live when he ended my life. Well, you know what. It's time to get back.” Or just check out how Winick does it which is way better than my paraphrase. Double Whoa guys, Double Whoa. You don’t usually get this type of storyline and I, the Keep 'em Dead Kid, for one was moved.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with how he was brought back. I have a feeling that from now on this reason will be used to explain all DC’s continuity probIems, “Hawkman is his own mother? Damn you _______ of Earth _____” I won’t give away exactly the cause because Winick, Davis, and Morales worked hard on this comic and you should go out and buy it. Nor am I saying that everyone should be revived but this time it works. Like Jason Todd himself, this story arc sparkles with life.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Why I Love Oni Press...

Where else would anthropomorphic vomit become an omen for success.

Corey Lewis you are my hero.