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

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cover Story

So the best cover artists in the business use their drawings to tell a story. Just like poems and novels, comics can have titles that do work within the story, a working cover in some ways. These types of cover can enhance the story, setting mood and tone for what will unfold within. It can also give a hint as to what type of story will is going to be told. Look at any of the recent Detective Comics covers and you will see that tell you up front, in the beginning who the bad guy is going to be. It’s pretty great.

If a comic is going to tell a story then it should obey all the laws of storytelling, like correct characterization. If that’s the case, and I think it is, then what is going on with the cover for Countdown #38.

I understand Robin’s stance, kind of a checking his watch sort of thing like, “When is this joker going to get out of here?” No one else makes any sense. Take Kid Devil, the youngest and most jovial of the Titans members. He’s looking on confused but stoically. The oldest Titan, who should be handling it the most maturely, is leaning over and clutching his side like he’s saying, “Awwwww shit, son.” The Titan who has gone through some of the worst events of her life: loosing her first love, seeing her mother interned, etc. well she’s fanning her face and clutching her legs together like an airhead who just found out that I got my wedding tuxedo on sale at a thrift store and now she's going to pee herself. I did actually do that, get my tuxedo at a thrift store that is.

Anyway, the cover doesn't make any sense.

Doing It Write: Dialogue

So there are a lot of people out there that say there are no rules when it comes to writing. Other than remembering where the commas and colons go if a writer can make it stick on the page then it works. I’m here to say that is a load of bull. I’m here to say that there are indeed rules to writing and while they may be bent, when they are broken half the time it turns the crap.

So today I’m going to discuss two rules of dialogue.

Rule #1: Keep It Short

Comics are a visual medium and therefore the visuals should do more work than the dialogue. An angry expression works more wonders than someone pontificating about how angry they are. If you can say it in two lines say it in one. If you can say it in one line say it in none.

Now, I know there are a lot of readers who miss the Silver Age villains walking around being all chatty. I know there are a lot of readers who loved Kryptonite Man in the pages of Action Comics when he did stuff like this:

I did not. You could say that it is genre specific dialogue; this is how people talk in comics so it’s cool. Noir characters saying “dame” and “roscoe” is genre specific dialogue, someone spouting, “You think that’s genius works, you smug nincompoop?” is not. Sure it would be appropriate for a villain in a James Bond movie to say something like this, but Bond villains sound stupid as well. That’s why so many people make fun of them.

I understand that dialogue in writing is not how real people talk, but it should be a clever impersonation of how real people talk. No one talks like the Kryptonite Man or old school Ultra Humanite, not even the podcast guys when they take to monocle dusting.

So writers should cut their dialogue down and let the visuals do more work than some flapping gums. I never thought I would use a Bendis comic as an example of good dialogue but look at this page from New Avengers #33.

That’s how you write some comic dialogue. It’s twenty-three words and three glances and you get a whole, whole lot.

Rule #2: Make Sure What Your Character Says Is Appropriate.

I don’t mean that the characters don’t swear or anything because sometimes there are characters who say some socially unacceptable things. What I mean by appropriate is that the words that come out of a character’s mouth are actually words that would come out of a character’s mouth. Sure this sounds like a no brainer but how often do you see a character say something and are like, “Batman wouldn’t say that.” I do it all the time. Look at this panel from Cosmic Odyssey:

Darkseid’s numbers “check out,” isn’t that a little colloquial for a god? Shouldn’t he be saying something along the lines of, “I have conducted my own evaluations of Darkseid’s findings. I concur with his conclusion.” That sounds a little more Highfather to me. I know that you're thinking that's just Starlin's writing or something like that. If you want a more contemporary example look at Tomasi’s writing in Black Adam #1. For the most part he nails the dialogue but early on in the comic he has this:

“That’s the spirit.” This from a person who just told someone should have been aborted. He wouldn’t say, “That’s the spirit.” Little League coaches say that after their star pitcher rockets one over the plate and it is usually followed by, “Way to put the pepper on that ball.” Or something, I never played little league.

And speaking of things that Batman wouldn’t say.

While I might admit to that fact, Batman never would.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This Is Pretty

So, I'm a big fan of covers and not just for comics. I frequently buy books, magazines, heck even CDs and videos if the cover gets to me. I think it's some avian part of my brain or something that is attracted to bright colors and shiny objects. Man, I miss chromium. Anyway, I think this week's Fables cover is just about one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I mean look at this!

It's awesome.

Podcast? You Can't Handle the Podcast!

Hey Folks-

It's that time again for a Big Monkey Podcast. I would like to say all the wonderful things that happened, all those amazing topics we discussed. To tell you the truth though I was so sleep deprived from working on my thesis that I have no idea what we said. It'll be a surprise for us all. So click over and listen to all the zany fun.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Who Isn't a Bad Guy Here?

So everyone knows Countdown is building up to something huge, something like Final Crisis. With a name like that the villain or villains better be something amazing. Well, DC isn’t skimping when it comes to possible threats and is setting up a slew of villains. So let’s take the time and look at the list:

The Monitors
Originally the singular Monitor seemed to be the good guy, the protector of the DCU against the evils of the Anti-Monitor. Yes, at times his schemes seemed a little Machiavellian, but you (or at least I) never doubted his intentions were intended for good. After all, he did choose the heroes the infinite Earths to champion his cause.

But that was back in the day. The "Brotherhood" of Monitors don't seem so righteous as the previous character to bear that name. I mean in their quest to uphold the sanctity of Earths they are willing to kill and obliterate using the darkest of beings the Universe holds. With only one Monitor striking out for a peaceful solution, Monitor Muttonchops (I'm not calling him Bob), I would say as a whole these look-a-likes are not our good guys.

Captain Atom
It’s been a little while since Nathan Adam was supposed to assume the role as a would-be conqueror. Everyone knows the story, all this set up had been done to making him the big bad of Armageddon 2001 but when the surprise was blown, DC changed it at the last minute. Thus, Nathan Adam: Monarch was put away until the Battle of Bludhaven, where he made his explosive return.

Well, better late than never I always say. The Bleed residing, universe-hopping warlord is out to stop the Monitors. Now, based on what I’ve said these guys seem like the need stopping. However, any time you go about protecting reality by building a secret armada trained by a being that used to be your enemy’s secret weapon…well that can’t be a good thing. We’ve haven’t exactly seen his plans but some how I doubt that they will be rolling in Han Solo style to destroy The Monitors’ ship at the last moment.

The ruler of Apokolips was out of the picture for a good long time, having been thrown into the Source Wall. With the Wall being the thing that holds the 52 worlds apart who knows what knowledge he came out with. Also, Darkseid wasn’t out of the Wall long before two things happened: he mastered the Anti-Life Equation and he got caught up with Mr. Mxyzptlk (see my I’ve Got A Theory post for more on that). All in all, Darkseid is just as big a threat as ever.

In the pages of Countdown, we’ve seen Darkseid play some Heroclix and build an army. Rarely, when a domineering overlord builds an army is it a good thing. If you read my previous post you will notice I have other theories on his relation with the Monitors. There is one thing that kind of sticks in my paw. At the end of Firestorm, Darkseid grabbed Dr. Martin Stein who was close to discovering the Life Equation, which could be used to counter the ALE. Now this would make him and his Shadow Demons unstoppable. Wouldn’t that mean it would also stop the Monitors army of Shadow Demons? Could Darkseid’s goals actually be towards the greater good?

Probably not.

Sinestro Corps
Writer Geoff Johns has said that the Sinestro storyline will not be seen in the pages of Countdown. Well, that be true but I don’t believe for a second that it won’t be intersecting with Final Crisis. The Monitors, the Bleed, the Source Wall, reality itself is going to be tied up in this thing and with the Anti-Monitor and Hank Henshaw (who has been one with the Source and crossed universes) being a part of the machinations there is just no way that this fear-powered corps will not be coming in swinging.

There are also certain movers and shakers that haven’t been really looked at. The Gods of Olympus are making their presence known, there is also that unworldly voice that relocated the Titans (issue #47) and tried to kill Sleez in Countdown. With all these things stacking against them, with all these fronts being attacked, do the heroes even stand a chance?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Big Reveal

So not to ruin Countdown 39 for you is you haven’t read but this post is going to be about what was revealed during the “History of the Multiverse” backup storyline. I’m actually going to only write about two panels because they felt like pretty crucial panels. Look here…

I don’t know about you guys but when I read those two panels I nearly lost it. There are so many questions and possibilities that are raised from those two panels because the last time those Shadow Demons made an appearance it was in the pages of my second favorite now cancelled series –


That’s right, my boy Jason Rusch went toe-to-toe with these nasties in the last few issues of his series. They weren’t called Shadow Demons though, they were called Parademons and they were working for Darkseid. Whoa man, beings of pure Anti-Life Equation working for the ruler of Apokolips, if we didn’t believe that Darkseid had mastered the ALE before we better believe it now. However, something about these two panels has been getting to me.

Look what Monitor Lincoln Beard says in the second panel. “Nothing can stop them save our calling them back.” Well, didn’t we see months ago that Darkseid is capable of calling them back? Shouldn’t he have said, “ Nothing can stop them save a few beings capable of calling them back,” or something like that? Since the statement is worded in the way that it is we have four options.

1) The Monitors don’t know that Darkseid has control of the Shadow Demons.
2) The Monitors don’t think that Darkseid’s control of the Shadow Demons is worth mention.
3) The Monitors are working in conjunction with Darkseid.
4) Jurgens was never told or forgot what happened in the pages of Firestorm.

Options 1 and 2 are unlikely and if either are the answer, I’d say it would be a mischaracterization of the Monitors and their powers. The Monitors can supposedly see every place but the Bleed and there is no indication that Darkseid is operating there. Also, one would think that the Monitors would notice (and comment on) another being taking control of their ultimate weapons.

Option 3 would explain what Lincoln Beard said. The Monitors don’t mention anyone else having control of the Shadow Demons because no one else does, they sent the creatures to aid Kalibak. In fact, I would love to have it be Option 3. It would add a new level of threat to the heroes of New Earth. All seeing beings in an uneasy alliance with the cruelest villain in the DCU, that would be sweet. Of course if the Monitors were working with Darkseid it would lead me to ask, “Who’s The Good Guy Here?” Which, interestingly enough, is the title of the post that will come tomorrow, Tuesday at the latest.

As much as I would like Option 3 to be the answer, my guess is that really it is Option 4. There is a lot going on at DC right now and I’m sure the editors there are super taxed and can’t keep up on everything. Maybe the tidbit about someone else controlling the Shadow Demons just missed being past onto Jurgens and thus he didn’t write the Monitors saying it.

Which option do you think?

Oh, on an entirely different subject, Sin in the Black Canary mini-series isn’t dead. The whole boat/Speedy/Green Arrow thing was just a ploy to make the League of Assassins think the little girl was killed so they wouldn’t keep trying to kidnap her. You know it’s a whole fake your own death thing.