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Sep. 24th, 2011

Animal Man #1

So, I couldn't resist giving the new Animal Man series a chance, because I love the character, and the story may have potential, or at least the opening doesn't seem worse than average, but yikes, that art is seriously bad. (I preordered just based on series title, if I had seen page samples I might not have spent money on this.)

It completely lacks details and textures in the background that would create atmosphere, or even just normal looking rooms and environments. Seriously, it's like empty squares, boxes and tiles, and the artist couldn't be bothered to put in any effort, but not in a deliberate minimalist way, but just because they couldn't think to put something else on a nightstand besides a square clock, or give texture to a windowsill that would make a square look like an actual window and so on. (ETA: I don't necessarily expect excessive detail rendering, considering that there time/effort constraints on a comic production schedule, but there are ways to make panels *look* decent and alive through blacks and dynamic lines and hinting at detail and texture, just look at for example Ditko's art in old Spider-Man comics.)

Then the layout is atrocious with panels being given odd shapes for no good reason, same for some perspective choices. And the artist can't really draw humans well either. All their hair just looks odd, and okay, hair is difficult, but they get paid for this after all. Then there are sometimes odd scribbles on the faces, like in one scene taking place at a hospital I thought Animal Man contracted a weird infectious disease and those were skin sores, but he didn't. I have no idea what that texture on his face was supposed to be.

I honestly have trouble believing that they paid someone for this.

Jul. 23rd, 2011

Daredevil v3 #1

quick, and not all that spoilery opinion, just cut to be safe )

Unrelated, I just have to gripe about the weather a bit. Admittedly it is far, far better than a heat wave, because even moderate heat will make me truly miserable, but I would not mind if the highs weren't quite *this* low. Seriously, 14°C with rain? Couldn't it be a sunny 22°C? *grump*

Jun. 13th, 2011

that upcoming DCU reboot...

On the bright side, I'm happy that there is going to be a new Animal Man series. I'll probably give that a try. I also might check out Morrison's Action Comics, because I enjoyed his All-Star Superman.

I haven't really kept up with the recent developments in the Batverse, and the September solicitations don't really entice me to get back to it. For some of these setups I just don't have nearly enough trust in the DC writers, for example that Batwing series by Winick is a disaster waiting to happen, IMHO. I mean, as bad as it is to have whole continents ignored except for occasional fantasy country escapades, it's even less likely to turn out well when they put one Bat character on covering all of Africa, with a headquarter in the Democratic Republic of Congo with excursions into RL issues. I mean, it seems like jumping in at the deep end when it comes to diversifying their universe, mixed with some tokenism.

Perhaps I give Nightwing series a try for old time's sake, because that was really the first DC comic I bought regularly and Dick is still one of my favorite characters. Though I'm slightly disgruntled that they made the new costume black/red instead of black/blue. I guess it could have been worse, looking as what they did to Tim. Seriously, those feathers on Tim's costume have to be the most ridiculous I've seen since Dick's disco era costume.

Jun. 9th, 2010

Daredevil #107-120 (aka #500 in the new-old numbering)

I post about Daredevil so rarely because I tend to wait for a couple of storylines to accumulate before reading, even though I collect the monthly issues.

Now I've read DD #107-110: cruel & unusual, #111-115: Lady Bullseye, #116-120 (500): Return of the King )

Sep. 2nd, 2008

Scott McCloud does Google promo...

That Scott McCloud drew the promotional comic for the upcoming Google Chrome Browser made me actually curious enough to read forty comic pages explaining why Google's browser is going to be better than the others. Unfortunately the comic doesn't say anywhere whether there'll be a Linux version any time soon.

The browser does sound neat (as it well should in its own PR material), and if it would really make bloated javascript applications run faster as they promise, I'd try it if only to see whether maybe there'll finally be a browser that might make the delicious tag bundle interface usable for me.

After I looked around some in the news covering the Google browser, I found that apparently Mac and Linux versions are planned, but I didn't see anything specific. :( However if you use Windows you will be able to download a beta version soon.

Apr. 17th, 2008

Daredevil: Without Fear (issues #100-105)

cut because of spoilers for a fairly recent storyline )

Apr. 6th, 2008

that's an odd haircut for Superman...

I was perusing DC's June solictations, trying to decide whether I should get Trinity or not -- on one hand I quite like Busiek, and also like stories featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, otoh it's another weekly title from DC, so that's a lot of additional comics to buy -- when I got stuck on how Superman's hair looks on that cover: As if he was channeling Wolverine (well, minus the cool claws, but still).

Apr. 4th, 2008

Two Lumps icons

It's been a while since I've made icons for others to grab, but I just spent some time catching up with the webcomic Two Lumps: The Adventures of Ebenezer and Snooch by J. Grant and Mel Hynes, and thought while reading that some of the images would make good icons. Also, if you're like me and somehow missed this webcomic, you should check it out.

Just comment if you take one (or more), say if you're willing to share, otherwise the icon belongs to the first person to claim it, and of course you can modify them any way you want.

Some examples:
artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes artwork from Two Lumps by J. Grant and Mel Hynes

all icons behind the cut )

To keep the comments by people taking them in once place despite x-posting to two journals, I've disabled comments in the IJ post and enabled anonymous/Open ID comments for the LJ post. Sorry for the added inconvenience for people only or primarily using IJ, but more people are reading my journal on LJ.

Dec. 5th, 2007

kind of a minor point wrt SGA 4x09

No meta, but I know I'm not the only one whom it has been driving nuts trying to figure out what Sheppard is reading in this episode, and I finally managed.

a couple of high resolution screencaps )

Aug. 15th, 2007

Batman Confidential

So, I still haven't progressed into following the current DC main continuity, but I've read the first eight issues of Batman Confidential. The art is kind of mediocre -- both art teams actually, they switched teams when the new storyline started in issue #7 -- but not really bad. I think mostly it bothers me that it looks, um, squirrelly? Somehow there isn't really a clean line, or maybe it's that the shadows aren't really mood setting, I just rarely like that kind of style in comics but favor either a "cleaner" look or something that has a really distinct style otherwise.

Like many other Batman (mini-)series not tying directly into the current timeline it is also set in the ever more crowded early days of Batman's career, before he was joined by a Robin, so it is just him, Alfred and Gordon. I don't really have a problem with that, at least not as long as Ican turn off the obsessive inner comic geek who wants to figure out how all this could possibly fit. It's not as if I don't know that comic timelines are kind of hopeless, but obviously that never stops a fan from wanting to try...

Anyway, the first story, Rules of Engagement, in issues #1-6 (written by Andy Diggle, pencils by Whilce Portacio, inks by Richard Friend), deals with Bruce/Batman, as well as Wayne Enterprises, facing off against Luthor and his company. The story is fairly action heavy, but the action is rather fun not pointless, like this weird endless snowmobile chase I lamented about in the R'as Al Ghul Year One. The main thing I don't get is how Superman could not make an appearance in this scenario, and without any mention or explanation too. Still, other than that I enjoyed it, and I kind of like stories with Wayne Enterprises and Bruce and Lucius Fox working together in particular. Actually if it was for me Lucius could have had a bigger part. And well, there are battle robots, which counts as a plus for me. (What? I like Batman fighting robots...)

The current story, Lovers & Madmen (written by Michel Green, pencils by Denys Cowen, inks by John Floyd), is apparently another Joker origin, though so far he isn't the Joker yet. On principle I'm kind of wary of such Joker stories, but so far it is decent. The scenes with Bruce and Alfred are a lot of fun, and I like the crime spree plot okay so far. I'm a bit dubious about the girlfriend plot, though. I didn't like the "mental healing through sex" vibes I got -- you know, Bruce feeling "at peace" after he sleeps with her described in ways that imply more than that getting laid is good against insomnia. And it looks like she's going to be the damsel in distress next issue, and I half expect her to end up dead for his angst. Also, these "the blight of drugs in Gotham" plots always are somewhat cringe-worthy. Still, so far the fun bits outweigh the rest.

I've also read the first five issues of Superman Confidential, an obvious choice since I'm a Tim Sale fan, but I figure I wait talking about these until the first story ends in the next issue.

Jul. 28th, 2007

any opinions on the DC solicitations for October?

Somehow this month I have a hard time deciding which new (mini-)series are worth giving a try. I probably should wait until this stuff is actually published when in doubt, so that I can take a look at the comic or maybe read reviews, but my store doesn't always order a huge surplus number of all these series.

In particular I'm wondering what you think about the Outsiders relaunch as Batman and the Outsiders (written by Tony Bedard), the Gotham Underground mini-series (written by Frank Tieri), and that Simon Dark series by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton.

I'm also waffling about getting this Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood mini-series by Greg Rucka. I mean, I like his writing more often than not, but the blurb kind of confuses me on what this is about, maybe because I'm still lagging so far behind with the current DC events?

Any opinions on these? Predictions or tea leave readings on their likely readability? Any other thoughts on DC's October solicitations? Like, what is it with this bazillion of Countdown tie-in mini-series, anyway?

Jul. 21st, 2007

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil

Well, since I won't get my copy of DH until tomorrow morning, and it's not like I could randomly surf to pass time lest I ruin my unspoilt state this late, I've been reading another comic:

Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil #1-4 (written and drawn by Jeff Smith)

This is the first Captain Marvel comic I've read. I've come across the character a couple of times in ensemble stories (like in the Justice limited series), but in general I'm not that much into the magic DC characters. However I really like Jeff Smith's work (in case you couldn't tell from my pseud *g*), so I got the series because of that.

Since I had no clue about the character beyond that he says "Shazam!" and then transforms, it was fortunate that this mini-series retells the origin story (or maybe retcons it? I've no idea whether this is in continuity or not). So I can't tell how this story would come across for long time fans of the character, but I found it was quite a lot of fun, in an entertaining, angst-free adventure story way.

I mean, it's not heavy on any mythology for the character, so after reading it I still don't know why there's some wizard bestowing powers from gods to a boy, or what kind of entity this Captain Marvel is. Before reading this I had always thought that Captain Marvel was Billy, just with added powers, but apparently he is something else and just uses Billy as a host. Kind of like a Tok'ra maybe. I also still don't know why Billy and Mary were split up or any kind of background. But I didn't really care. The comic worked much like a children's book that way, that is there isn't any attempt to reconcile it with more realist constraints.

Basically I liked the art, the transformed monsters where fun, there was a talking tiger, and the Dr. Sivana guy was hilarious.

Jul. 20th, 2007

Batman: Dark Moon Rising

I've read both six issue series falling under this umbrella, i.e. Batman & The Monster Men and Batman & The Mad Monk. From what I've heard these are supposed to take place after Year One, but before that new Joker origin story that I haven't read (yet), but as I've said before, it is kind of tricky to make the overcrowded timeline of Batman's early career work, so I found it best not to worry too much.

Batman & The Monster Men (by Matt Wagner)

I liked this one. The combination of the mafia story with the creepiness of Hugo Strange worked well for me, and Strange made a good foil for Batman. I liked Bruce's girlfriend, Julie Madison too, and how she gets frustrated and suspicious with him.

Also, I just <3 the younger Jim Gordon, because among other things his expression when he says to Batman: "Giant mutant cannibals... you... you're serious?" was priceless. The poor guy will get used to a lot through his association with Batman over the years.

Alfred's dry humor is great here, e.g.: "And so, in keeping with conventional wisdom, you've chosen to secretly drug your girlfriend."

And not that I'm complaining exactly, but-- wow, this was rather more bloody than a usual Batman comic. So you should probably avoid it if you have problems with gore, but otherwise it's a good read.

Batman & The Mad Monk (by Matt Wagner)

This is also a mix of Batman vs. mafia and an encounter with the "new kind" of creepier villain. I liked that Batman worries whether he inspires or encourages the costumed villains. True, that angst is somewhat of a classic theme, but it works for me.

I also enjoyed the tension that comes from Gordon still working within a widely corrupt police force, and that Batman was shown doing detective work. To get some nod to the pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent was pretty cool as well.

I found Norman Madison's fear of Batman quite believable. However the (fake?) vampire cult didn't work as well for me as Hugo Strange did in the first series. While it was plenty gruesome, it just didn't build up as much terror somehow as I would have expected with the threat to Julie and the whole bunch of injuries Bruce suffers while fighting them. Still the plot overall was engaging enough, and some of the scenes in the castle were bizarre yet worked.

Anyway, I enjoyed both series but liked the first better.

Jul. 19th, 2007

Year One: Batman/Scarecrow

Year One: Batman/Scarecrow #1-2 (written by Bruce Jones, art by Sean Murphy)

This was pretty good. I really liked the art, and I actually recognized several panels from icons I've seen around, so I guess I'm not alone in my fondness for Murphy's art.

I'm a bit tired of yet another psychopath getting a cliched backstory with an evil mother (or rather grandmother in this case) figure warping him, aided by the ubiquitous bullies, at but least the specifics of his case with the birds were rather cool and creepy, and I liked the Scarecrow overall.

In particular I liked the visual parallels between the young proto-Scarecrow's defining scene with the birds swooping down on him through a broken skylight, and the typical iconic panels in Batman's origin stories of bats coming down on young Bruce and such. That nicely sets up the following scenes where Bruce angsts about his similarities to costumed villains dressing up as something scary.

I also liked that this story, despite being set earlier, already includes Robin, though it would have been nice if Alfred had been present as well. Also it seemed that for information gathering purposes this particular early version of Batman could have used Oracle's talents with the way their investigation progresses. But I didn't mind that much, overall the plot was okay, and the art and atmosphere made the comic as a whole really enjoyable for me.

Jul. 18th, 2007

so, I'm reading Batman comics to remind me that there's more to fandom than HP anticipation...

First, the whole Harry Potter thing is making me jittery. I haven't sought out the leaked copy because I'm not about to slog through hundreds of pages as crappy photographs, that's just unpleasant for reading. Not to mention that I don't really reread the HP books, so I'd rather read it the one time as proper book. But it is hard to keep away, knowing other fans have already read the book and are talking about it, even though my f-list is good with not spoiling me so far. (*insert the obligatory dire threats here*).

I will only get my copy on Saturday and I'm not the fastest reader, so at the earliest I'm going to talk about Deathly Hollows on Sunday if at all, and then I will of course use cut-tags and be very careful not to mess them up accidentally.

But until then I definitely need to distract myself with fandoms besides HP-- those still exist after all, even if half of my f-list apparently decided to avoid LJ and sometimes the internet entirely to be on the safe side. Anyway, thus I'm going to talk some more about Batman comics, in particular:

Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul #1-2 (written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti)

One of my main reasons to buy these (besides being a general sucker for all Batman comics DC publishes) was actually that I found the three color covers (black, white, and red) really attractive. I like the interior art okay too, but not as much as the covers (take a look at cover #1 and cover #2). If only the story had lived up to the packaging...

For the sake of my sanity I didn't even try to figure out why this is published as "Year One". I don't think this is supposed to fit in Batman's "Year One" or even just his early career, but rather after Batman: Death and the Maidens? But I don't have Ra's al Ghul's backstory that present. Maybe it is because of some flashbacks in the comic, and those could be made to work somehow in his first year.

First, while the basic idea that the Lazarus Pits affect death and life's balance in general was neat (even if what exactly their connection is was never really explained in any remotely consistent or logical way), the plot built around this was too thin for 96 pages. On the bright side, it had zombies, which is always a plus, but I can't say I enjoyed much else.

And even the zombies weren't particularly great specimens. Okay, so destroying the Lazarus Pits somehow stopped and even reversed death, thus the zombie problem, but I didn't really get why that particular horde of disgruntled undead was after Batman.

The action sequences were plain confusing sometimes, like when Batman was running from the zombies I had no idea how he suddenly got into the Batmobile again after, or if that even was still the vehicle he started out in earlier that night, which was definitely a car not some sort of glider. Yet later his vehicle could suddenly fly. Traditionally the car can't, right? So maybe what he used then wasn't the car, but some magically appearing Bat-Glider or whatever that was supposed to be, that we don't even see him remote call as far as I could tell. Maybe the Batmobile car transformed into a glider.

I also didn't understand what happened to the zombies he lured into that supermarket, did he lock them up there somehow? I couldn't tell, later it seemed he did lock them up, leaving them to rampage there, but why didn't they smash the glass?

Other times the action was just boring. You can tell that a comic has too little plot if it shows a frelling snowmobile chase over eight(!!) pages. Eight. I like certain kinds of action in comics, but snowmobile chases just don't come across that well in this medium. Certainly not if they last eight of the 48 pages in an issue and that on top of other chase scenes. And in a fairly pointless flashback at that.

Anyway while we get zombies, we don't really get to see Batman fight them for plain zombie fun, he flies flies around the globe interspersed with boring Ra's al Ghul flashbacks about some magical peach, and then Batman happens to find a monk chanting the Lazarus Pit formula, yet Ra's al Ghul followers were too stupid to figure that out... The whole thing made no sense to me.

Jul. 17th, 2007

another Batman limited series

I actually read this a few days ago, but didn't get around to take notes right away, so this is lacking detail. (me = sloth)

Batman: Journey Into Knight (written by Andrew Helfer, art by Tan Eng Huat)

Overall I enjoyed reading this limited series quite a lot. There were some elements that bugged me (like that hypnotist was cringe-worthy), but in the end those didn't overshadow my enjoyment.

The first major problem of this series is of course that Bruce Wayne's early career as Batman is already kind of "overcrowded" so it is hard to fit yet another thing into the continuity, especially if it covers things that were addressed previously (like Bruce getting involved in Wayne Enterprises) and presents them differently. But if you read with a relaxed attitude and don't view it as a canon puzzle this story is quite cool.

I liked that Bruce wasn't yet fully competent and equipped to deal with the criminals he encounters, especially the crazy ones, because he expected to fight "normal" crime. He still makes mistakes and still learns. In some instances he made mistakes that I couldn't quite believe Bruce would make, even this early, and thought he should be more competent, but overall I liked this view. I also liked that he just acted plain younger. I also liked Alfred and Bruce's relationship with Gordon. I could have done without the Joker though.

Still, I think it's worth picking up.

Jul. 12th, 2007

Batman: Jekyll & Hyde and an appropriate new icon

Batman: Jekyll & Hyde #1-6 (written by Paul Jenkins, art by Jae Lee)

I didn't like the art much, the inking in particular. The black areas--and there were many of them--seemed more randomly dumped than being placed deliberately for either consistent composition, drama or lightening reasons, so there was a lot of black scattered around making the page look flat and dark, and the shapes harder to see for the lack of a clear line, and the many smallish black areas didn't help guide the eyes through the panels and pages either. All of which made the reading slower and more tedious than it needed to be, with no equal gain on the "dark and gloomy" mood scale.

That said, I quite liked the mini-series otherwise. Okay, so there didn't really need to be yet another origin story for Two-Face making his history even more complicated, and the mad scientist running creepy gothic labs in Gotham (in cooperation with Two-Face no less) isn't the most original thing either, but the basic set-up of the drug plot worked for me.

And while I don't have all the details of the various Two-Face background stories very present, this expansion still goes with the general stuff I recalled from the others, so it's probably not a retcon or intended to be outside of continuity. It made about as much sense as these attempts at supervillain psychology ever do, and is IMO actually one of the better examples for this kind of plot. (I'm kind of ambivalent about the trend to somehow rationalize supervillain behavior through some cobbled together (pseudo-)psychology because it almost never works well.)

And it was nice to see Batman working with Gordon, and there was plenty of Alfred too, so overall I think this was a solid mini-series.

Also, I made a Two-Face!RatCreature icon, because I don't have any Batman villain icons yet.

pencils and larger inked version )

Jul. 11th, 2007

Y: The Last Man #27-57

I spent much of last night catching up with 30 issues of Y: The Last Man.

First, I didn't notice this as much in monthly reading, but I really like the series' structure that alternates between single shot stories giving more background on the characters or focus on minor characters elsewhere, and the multi-issue stories.

Y: The Last Man #27-57 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Pia Guerra and Goran Sudžuka, inks by Jose Marzan, Jr.)

my reactions while reading, cut for length and spoilers )

Jul. 10th, 2007

All Star Superman

When I asked what next to read from my waiting comic pile, Y: The Last Man topped the list, followed by All Star Superman and Fables. Since of these three All Star Superman didn't involve me remembering the place where I stopped and previous plots, I decided to go with that firstt.

All Star Superman #1-8 (written by Grant Morrison, pencils by Frank Quietly, inks by Jamie Grant)

I am less enamored with this than I thought I'd be. It is a lot of fun, but I think it is a bit too whimsical for my taste. Or rather... it's not that I mind the absurd, but I think I miss the underlying angst that I appreciate in mainstream superhero comics, which is strangely absent, and that despite the overarching plot being Superman facing his death from Lex Luthor's cunning plan to overload his system with solar radiation, and subplots like flashbacks to when Jonathan Kent died. Also, the art is okay, but not outstanding, that is, I can't really find anything wrong with it, but it didn't grab me on a visceral level or really connected with me.

That said, the series is definitely entertaining to read, and there's a lot of humor, both in the dialog and in visual jokes. From the start we get hilarious lines, like Luthor's exploding monster telling Superman "The purpose of my existence is to explode! You have no right to limit my ambitions, fascist! No right at all to stand in the way of my self-realization!" or the visual jokes, like when Clark, without disguise, saves people by being clumsy, e.g. when he saves someone from a dropping part of a flying vehicle by stumbling into him, without anyone even realizing it. Or the punchline with the key to his fortress being regularly sized (for being more secure) but actually turning out to be superdense and thus even heavier, and impossible to lift by anyone but him etc. The series is packed with funny details.

And I enjoyed the wacky hijinks in the plots, like the dinosaurs at earth's center, the Frankenstein scientist in a rainbow coat, who is actually kind of creepy if you stop to think about what he does, Jimmy Olsen crossdressing, the Bizarros zombiefying lots of people... and while I wasn't too impressed with the art, it does very well with illustrating all the quirky and bizarre stuff, like that Chronovore rampaging through Smallville.

Anyway, if you like wacky and funny superhero comics, and don't need baseline angst in the genre, this series is perfect.

Jul. 7th, 2007

SPN tie-in comics

Not exactly a reprieve from the comic posts, but it's about the Supernatural comics, so no people wearing their bright underwear on the outside! :D

Supernatural: Origins #1-3 (written by Peter Johnson, art by Matthew Dow Smith)

First, I like that the art doesn't try for photographic likeness, because that is really hard to pull off well in tv tie-in comics, i.e. far too often the likeness is mangled and/or the drawings look stiff. So I'm fine with the art being stylized. One major problem is though that the artist doesn't seem to be able to draw small children. Baby!Sam in particular just looks really, really odd. Also the coloring doesn't always work for me.

As for the story, cut for spoilers )

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