In Comics on January 22, 2010 at 3:04 AM
DC Comics recently announced plans to re-release 1978’s Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali, a beloved piece of pop cheese, in a new hardcover edition. With any luck, this will inspire Dark Horse Comics to reprint their major contribution to novelty comic books featuring famous athletes, Godzilla Vs. Barkley. This single-issue special was put out in December 1993, not long after Barkley was awarded the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award but before Shut Up and Jam!. The story—scripted by Eisner-winner (but not for this comic) Mike Baron—follows Matthew, a spirited preteen, as he cajoles his hero into facing certain death.
Poking fun at a comic like Godzilla Vs. Barkley might seem about as challenging as dunking on a five-foot tall hoop. Baron and his collaborators are no doubt aware of how goofy their premise is, so why bother? Well, the funniest thing about GVB is not the actual Barkley-Godzilla face-off–though Barkley does get in a couple good jabs about Godzilla’s breath. It’s the comic’s relentless depiction of Charles Barkley and Matthew as total creeps. At the end of a story about a superstar athlete, the plucky boy who inspires him, and Godzilla, Godzilla looks like the best person. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, Games, Personal Tech, The Internet on December 20, 2009 at 5:42 AM
Revisiting your childhood playthings means preparing for disappointment. Play-Doh doesn’t taste as good as you remember, or you realize that Legos are basically lots and lots of choking parts. So how does a member of the working world blow off some steam without tarnishing the past–or worse, resorting to the incessant clicking of a Newton’s Cradle?
Luckily, there’s a blog for that. Toy-A-Day posts downloadable blueprints for paper toys you can assemble yourself with some simple cutting and folding.
Cut loose, DIY-style, and without the baggage. Even if you’ve outgrown Doctor Octopus (I haven’t), you can make your own Mr. Natural!
In Comics on November 17, 2009 at 3:14 AM
The appeal of Marvel comic books, from the sixties onward, has partially been that characters from different parts of the Marvel universe routinely interact, many living in the same town. Marvel tends to be slightly better at having a shared universe than competitor DC, and Marvel’s ambitious “Dark Reign” storyline takes this phenomenon about as far as it can go.
For the past year, Norman Osborn (formerly the Green Goblin, still evil) has presided as head of U.S. national security, backed by a group of villains disguised as heroes. (Osborn received the job through a series of circumstances too convoluted to summarize, and which required Marvel readers to suspend more disbelief than usual.) The effects of the new status quo have been felt in nearly all individual Marvel titles. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics on November 13, 2009 at 4:46 AM
Well, I wasn’t exactly late to the rack with Asterios Polyp. I bought the graphic novel when it came out this past summer, encouraged by the superlative-filled reviews that came out along with it. Then, knowing I’d only be able to read it for the first time once, I kept it on my shelf for two months, waiting for what felt like the right time. Since I started the book, there have been other times when I’ve been reluctant to pick it up, and for different reasons. Asterios Polyp is economically told, elegantly drawn, and at times a real disappointment–a disappointment for being very good, rather than great, but a disappointment still. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics on October 20, 2009 at 1:08 AM
Motion comics are the comic book industry’s most visible foray into new media since, well, maybe ever. These items, playable in iTunes or on most internet browsers, are more viewed than read. True to the name, characters in motion comics move around in panels, and word balloon dialogue is performed by voice actors.
Of all the major comic book companies, Marvel has invested the most in motion comics. A few months ago, popular writer Brian Michael Bendis‘ new Spider-Woman series was launched simultaneously via motion comics and print issues. Spider-Woman is available via iTunes, and can be found on Hulu and YouTube for a limited time as well. Spider-Woman is a curious choice for such a large-scale push–the character has a backstory so convoluted that I can’t see non-comic readers warming to the title, and Bendis’ name is only a draw among confirmed Marvelites. Marvel’s next motion comic series, an adaptation of Joss Whedon’s tenure on Astonishing X-Men, seems like a more lucrative move (even if all Whedon’s dialogue reads like Gilmore Girls for geeks).
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In Comics on September 29, 2009 at 12:38 AM
Robert Kirkman’s Invincible is a coming-of-age superhero comic, in the tradition of the earliest Spider-Man books. Invincible Ultimate Collection (vol. 1), from Image Comics, collects the first thirteen issues of this series from 2003. Mark Grayson, son of a Superman-like hero named Omni-Man, begins to develop powers of his own, and struggles to balance crime-fighting with college applications and social ineptitude. Analogues of preexisting characters in Invincible don’t end with Mark’s father; throughout volume one, Mark battles proxies of Spider-Man villains like Rhino, Vulture and Sandman, and dreams of joining the Guardians of the Globe (nearly all of whom are modeled after members of D.C.’s Justice League).
Because of Kirkman and his artists’ heavy reliance on these analogues, Invincible occupies an odd place in contemporary superhero comics, and a place that could only exist after several decades of Justice League stories. It’s too sincere to be parody, but doesn’t engage Watchmen-style genre commentary either. The series is unique, in part, for just how frequently imitations of other characters pop up: analogues from different ficitional worlds often occupy the same space. (In one issue, Omni-Man rescues the crew of a faux-U.S.S. Enterprise.) Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics on September 26, 2009 at 12:41 AM
‘Old Man Logan,’ a delay-plagued story by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven that had been running in Wolverine throught the past year, finally concluded this week in the Giant Size Wolverine special. Set in a Marvel Universe some decades after the villains finally won, the story follows Wolverine (and archer/former-Avenger Hawkeye) on a road trip across the decimated American landscape, with stops at Giant Man’s giant bones and the tourist trap where Thor’s hammer fell. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics on September 12, 2009 at 1:33 AM
For the past decade, Jeffrey Brown has been producing funny, often poignant memoirs in comics form. (He has also stepped into more absurd territory with books like Bighead and Incredible Change Bots, but that’s another post.) I started reading Brown’s comics around the time I started looking at alternative comics generally, but I hadn’t checked out his latest release Funny Misshapen Body (out back in April) till now. Two of his earliest works, Clumsy and Unlikely, recalled failed relationships through out-of-order vignettes. Later works followed suit, and also featured elliptical statements on topics like friendship and maturity. Funny Misshapen Body traces Brown’s growth as an illustrator; it’s not necessarily his best work, but it is similarly goofy and honest, and a reminder of what comics are good for. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics on September 6, 2009 at 9:17 PM
Brian Michael Bendis is a comics writer known for his “decompressed” style of storytelling, where plots tend to unfold over several issues and action gradually builds. Bendis has been at the helm of some of Marvel’s most high-profile titles over the last decade, including New Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil, and is one of the people most associated with the now-commonplace trend of “writing for trade”—plotting and scripting individual issues of a series with a later, collected volume in mind. The benefit of this trend is the potential for stories of greater scope and depth, which Bendis realized with this Daredevil work; the downside is that issues are often unsatisfying as stories in and of themselves.
I’ve casually (but consistently) followed each of the titles mentioned above in collected form, and they’re some of the most entertaining mainstream superhero books available. Bendis’ books are consistently among Marvel’s best-sellers, but he his share of detractors online. I’d been peripherally aware of this, never really understanding why, until I decided to start reading Bendis’ new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man as it came out from month to month. And the truth is, following Bendis’ work on a monthly basis can be, well, pretty aggravating. Read the rest of this entry »
In Comics, Eating My Way Around The World on September 5, 2009 at 9:34 AM
Red Wine, it comes in a jug, in a box, in a bottle. There are screw tops, synthetic corks, and good old natural corks. But who knew that it could also come in a can with a pull tab no less? Well it can, and your intrepid reviewer has just finished an entire… can. With no appelation, nor date, I could only guess where and when the grapes came from that ended up in this can, but after my first can, I must wonder if any grapes made it at all into the can. It would be naive to ask of Vess grape soda, “Where did the grapes come from?” I think it’s similarly limiting to ask that of Red Wine in a Can.
More canny wine AND Paul Krugman, after the jump
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