Tag Archives: Marvel
This was an exciting weekend for me. I helped some guy move. (Don’t worry, he was a friend not some random guy I saw lugging a couch down a flight of stairs by himself.) I also saw a panel featuring the majority of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (I’ll tell you about it if I have time.) Finally, Marvel announced that they were releasing 700 comics for free on their digital APP. Unfortunately, they’re only free until tonight. (Well, that was the case, but because of some server issues that has changed.)
Let me get my grumbling out of the way. Firstly, on the iPhone and Android tablet versions of the app the 700 issues were not organized in the best way. There was no easy way to see all of them at once. They were divided into groups, but some issues weren’t available unless you went digging for them. And some, from what I could see, weren’t available on the app at all. I sort of get this, as they want you to be tempted to try other stuff that you see. But, I buy a ton of Marvel comics and I was most interested in trying stuff that I haven’t read before, so I had to dig for a good long time to find some gems. Now, I didn’t mind that aspect of it too much as I love digging through long boxes and this reminded me of that. To a newbie though, this was probably pretty frustrating. If you want to see what Marvel has to offer, you should be able to access the free samples as easily as possible.
The other big problem was that the server couldn’t handle all of the interest that this promotion generated. Sometimes I couldn’t log in. Other times it would crash as I was trying to load a particular category of issues. They tried to fix this on the fly, but it didn’t help much. They’ve pressed the pause button on this, so today isn’t the last day after all. Keep your eye out on the app, and I’m sure they’ll restart it soon.
All that being said, I did download over 350 new comics, and it’s hard to grumble too much about that. There are some obvious things that you should download, like any issues of House of M or Civil War that you can get your hands on. But, there are also some buried treasures in there. Things that you might miss after downloading yet another Deadpool special. Here are some of the most interesting ones I found in my hunt:
- Any Marvel Vault issue: I didn’t know that these even existed, but they’re fascinating. These are old fill-in issues that were never needed. So, they were retouched years after they were produced and released into the world. I can’t wait to check these out. The Hulk/Human Torch team-up even has Steve Ditko art!
- Age Of Apocalypse Alpha and Omega: This was one of the greatest crossovers in comics history. At least, that’s what I think. It turned all of the X-Men books on their heads and captivated my imagination and the imaginations of my friends. These two issues are the beginning and end of that series. You can also find the first issues of a bunch of the series that take place in-between.
- Deadpool Killustrated: This series is nuts. Well, at least this issue was. Deadpool is tired of killing the Marvel universe and has decided to slip into novels and kill the characters in those. It’s very metafictional, but you do get to see Deadpool kill a giant whale. So, there is that.
All right, so those are the three that I’ve come across so far. But, there are also a bunch of one-shots, graphic novels, and first issues that are worth your time. If you come across something I should check out, let me know!
Graham Becksted will tell you about the Star Trek panel some other time. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 76th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
The newest comic book store in Toronto offers an experience that is totally unique. Have you ever bought one of those surprise bags at a convenience store? I used to love those as a kid. They’d have candy and maybe a little toy, but you never knew what you were going to get. Kensington Comics is like that in store form.
As the name might imply, it’s in the middle of Kensington Market in downtown Toronto. It’s on the second floor of a building, and it’s a little hard to find but there’s signage if you’re looking for it. George the owner is always there and is extremely friendly and helpful. The store is essentially two smallish rooms and one hallway. But, the walls are covered floor to ceiling in comics. The downside (and half the fun) is that they’re in no particular order. Every day, George brings in 1 to 10 long boxes of comics, then grabs handfuls and puts them wherever there’s room.
The signs say they’re a buck each, but every time I’ve been in they’ve been 50 cents apiece. With prices like that you can afford to indulge in whatever grabs your fancy. For instance, as you may or may not know, I’m a huge Captain Marvel fan. So far, I haven’t found any of the classic issues from the Golden Age that I’m truly interested in and, while it’s possible, I’m not really expecting to. But, I have found a bunch of issues from a mid-90s series called The Power Of Shazam! It’s not great, but I’m willing to try anything with the big red cheese in it.
I also stumbled across a Superboy Elseworld’s story that got my nostalgia senses tingling. It’s got all the hallmarks of classic 90s attempts at coolness. Superboy has a long ponytail, a bandana, ripped jeans, an earring and fingerless gloves. He and the rest of the Justice League have leather jackets, and Wonder Woman is wearing spandex bicycle shorts for some reason. It’s so lame it circles back around to being cool. Something that I’d forgotten about the copy I used to have is that it’s the second part of a two-part story. So, now I have to go back and see if I can find part one!
In that same vein of 90s nostalgia, I also picked up the first issues of Ravage 2099 and Fantastic Four 2099. Marvel once asked, what will our superheroes be doing in the year 2099? By and large, the answer to that question is, “Sucking hard.” And these issues are no exception. The thing that sets Ravage apart is that it was Stan Lee’s last attempt at writing a serious ongoing series for Marvel. So that at least makes it a fun little curiosity.
For many years, I got every issue of Wizard magazine that came out. This store has allowed me to find some of the comics they featured that I always wanted to check out. I picked up some Gen 13 issues, and The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas special. I also grabbed what might be Marvel’s most absurd comic book – Brute Force. It’s about a team of animals in robo suits who are trying to save the environment. The cover has a Dolphin running on land with an uzi. What’s not to like!?
I think my best find to date there has been the first 14 issues of the Kyle Baker written and drawn Plastic Man series. It was something I’d never really been looking for, but when you find 14 issues of a series in a row it’s hard to say no. I’ve only read the first issue so far, but I can’t wait to read more. I defy you to look at one of these covers and not want to read more.
So, if you’re in Toronto and have a few hours to kill I highly suggest you check this place out.
Graham Becksted is a small business whore. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 73rd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
The Marvel and DC comic book universes provide something that most other pop culture properties don’t. They have been in production continuously since the 1930s. Arguably, this is one storyline that stretches back as far as 75 years. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have contributed to these stories. And, those contributions have impacted the characters. This is a pretty unique state of affairs that offers some interesting possibilities and challenges.
Two of the challenges that are forever linked are these: How do you avoid getting bogged down in decades of continuity, and how do you ensure that new readers aren’t scared off by all the story that has gone before. Marvel’s solution has been to maintain one solid line, with occasional, individual, in continuity retcons and reboots. For instance, when Peter Parker made a deal with the devil to erase his marriage from history. Or, when The Scarlet Witch used her power to erase most mutants from existence. These tend to be quick bumps in the road that are easily explained. Other changes that don’t go over as well, say Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn hooking up and having babies, are ignored or retconned away.
DC, on the other hand, has a tendency to change EVERYTHING. Let me try to explain this using The Flash, since he’s an important piece in a lot of these changes. In the Golden Age (30s and 40s), The Flash was a guy named Jay Garrick. He wore a little metal helmet and solved crimes and stuff. They stopped publishing his book in the early 50s. In the mid-50s, they started fresh with a brand new Flash – Barry Allen. This one read comic books about Jay Garrick that partly inspired him. It turns out, though, that Jay and the rest of the 40s superheroes actually exist on a parallel Earth! Jay and Barry can cross over from one Earth to the other and hang out. This eventually led to a whole multiverse of Earths. There was an Earth devoted entirely to Captain Marvel and his family. There’s another one where the heroes are evil, and Lex Luthor is the only good guy.
Through the 60s and 70s, Barry and his sidekick Kid Flash (AKA Wally West) had many adventures. Barry married Wally’s aunt, who later died, and then was sent back in time as an infant, and, well, yeah. Complicated. In an effort to simplify all the bizarre continuity weirdness that had gone on, DC had a Crisis On Infinite Earths. This lead to Barry sacrificing himself and all the Earths collapsing into one. Barry stayed dead, for the most part, and Wally became The Flash. This lasted for a good twenty years or so, until Wally left this reality and was replaced by Barry’s grandson from the future, Bart. But, the audience didn’t like Bart much, so he was killed off and Wally returned. Except now he had two super-powered kids to raise. Then Bart and Barry came back to life, and once again I’m cross-eyed.
The New 52 reboot happened last year in another effort to clear some of this stuff up. So, now Barry’s the Flash again and there’s another Earth where Jay is the Flash. So far so good. Bart also exists, and may or may not still be Barry’s grandson from the future, but there’s no sign of poor old Wally.
Okay, so did you follow that? Pretty messy stuff. And, it’s all in an effort to keep things easy to follow. And, so long as you get one issue at a time, or follow a book from one month to the next, you should be fine. The thing is, so much in comics these days is about the collected editions. Trade paperbacks and hardcovers. If you buy a Flash collection from ten years ago, it’s going to be a completely different character in a completely different world than the one that appears in the monthlies. If you get one from ten years before that, you’ll have a whole new set of rules.
The long and short of what I’m trying to get at here is that in their efforts to make their universe less bogged down in continuity, they have managed to make it confusing. From decade to decade, it’s hard to tell what stories from the past actually count and what don’t.
Graham Becksted didn’t mention the San Diego Comic Con once. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Welcome back faithful readers. This week, I’d like to make a return to my topic of choice: Comic Books. I’m actually writing this on the Monday of one of the rarest of treats, a long weekend. Not just any long weekend, though. It is the day after the birth of my home country – Canada. In honour of Canada day I will be presenting to you a list of 4 of my favorite Canadian comic book artists. The Great White North is the home to quite a few of the greatest mainstream artists in the comic book field.
1.) Chris Bachalo
To start with, I’m going to go with Mr. Chris Bachalo. I’m not sure if he counts, since according to his Wikipedia page he was raised in the U.S. But, he was born here, so he counts in my book. Also, he’s one of the most interesting artists to work consistently in the Marvel and DC universes. It’s sort of a graffiti style mixed with a Bruce Timm animation style. It’s very unique and is instantly recognizable. He made his name on a mini-series featuring the character of Death from the Sandman series. His profile was further raised when he co-created the X-Men spinoff Generation X. Recently he’s done some great work on Spider-Man and New Avengers. He’s actually one of the few artists that I would consider reading regardless of the writer.
2.) Kaare Andrews
I just realized that the rest of the list features artists who are also known for their writing. I don’t know if that means anything, but it probably does. All Canadians are multi-talented geniuses or something. Anyhoo, Kaare Andrews is unique in a lot of ways mostly in that his style is constantly changing. And all of his styles are cool. This is best exemplified by his series of Hulk covers. The one above is obviously inspired by Norman Rockwell, but he did others that look like cereal boxes and Where The Wild Things Are. I first noticed him on Ultimate X-Men, and he did a cool arc on Astonishing X-Men with Warren Ellis. His signature series, though, is Spider-Man Reign. He wrote and drew it, and it’s like a Marvel response to The Dark Knight Returns. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, the art is interesting and it’s a unique take on Spidey.
3.) Darwyn Cooke
The next gentleman on this list is Mr. Darwyn Cooke. Not only is he from my home country, he’s also from my home town – Toronto. He still lives here, and he’s one of the most sought after writers/artists in comics. When DC was looking for the best people in the business to work on Before Watchmen, he was asked to write and draw one series and write another. His style is very much an animated style. In fact, he was a storyboard artist on the Batman Animated Series. He’s best known for his mini-series, DC: New Frontier, which was turned into a direct to DVD animated movie. It’s very cool, and puts the changes of the DC universe into a real world perspective. For example, it explains why Batman went from a gun-toting, fear the night, badass into a kid-friendly, sidekick toting, hero. He’s also done extensive runs on Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and he has adapted some of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.
4.) John Byrne
Finally, we come to the only true legend on this list. He hasn’t had a great run of it lately, especially since his online persona is not the friendliest. He has had feuds with some of the greats in the business, but he is also one half of one of the greatest creative teams in mainstream comic book history. He and Chris Claremont redefined the X-Men, and Byrne was at the very least one half of that equation. Probably more since he is credited as a co-plotter on most of the storylines that they are best known for. His clean, crisp style is iconic and very influential. He also wrote and drew some of the most important issues of Fantastic Four and rebooted Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. His impact in comics is undeniable, and it’s too bad that he hasn’t had much work at Marvel or DC in recent years. I hope he gets another chance to work on the characters he helped define before he has to retire.
Graham Becksted is Canadian. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So, in case you hadn’t noticed, homosexuality has been the latest big news item in mainstream comics. Both Marvel and DC had some big announcements in the last couple of weeks regarding two B-list (at best) characters. The companies touted their announcements as big events, and game changers, and earth quaking, and senses shattering. By and large though, these have made a fairly minor impact on me and, I suspect, most of the comic buying public.
Marvel got out of the gate first, both in these announcements and in the whole gay superhero race. Northstar, who was confirmed gay in 1992 but whose sexuality had been hinted at for years, is getting married to his boyfriend in an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really change anything. Maybe it’s just me, but gay people getting married shouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t understand why anyone would be against it, and as such I find it hard to drum up any more interest in a gay marriage than I would for a straight one. I mean, maybe if he were marrying Spider-Man, or something. Then, I’d have to get the issue just to see how they pull it off. But, he’s just marrying his regular, average joe boyfriend.
The other thing about the story is that it’s happening in a sort of second-tier X-Men title. All of the main X-Men stories are happening in Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine And The X-Men. Astonishing hasn’t been an important book since Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis were on it. The creative team is Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins neither of whom is exactly a big draw. Despite all of that, it will probably sell well with people wanting to get a copy in the hopes that the value sky rockets and they can resell it for big bucks. I doubt, though, that in a year or two anyone will care that a second-rate, Canadian X-Man is married to another guy.
On to the DC side of this story. In the whole New 52 relaunch some characters were wiped out of existence due to continuity issues. One of them was the out and proud Obsidian. He was deleted because his father, Alan Scott, is now too young to have had him. And too gay. That’s right, the original Green Lantern is now playing for the other team. A character so important that he hasn’t had a solo ongoing series since the 1940s. He’s barely even connected to the rest of the Green Lantern mythos. And, he’s going to be appearing in a comic book that takes place on a different Earth than the rest of the New 52. He seems like he’ll have about as much impact on the rest of the DCU as Northstar does on the Marvel U.
All I’m asking is that if there’s going to be a push to address hot button issues, have it happen in titles and to characters that people are going to notice. Make Wonder Woman a lesbian or Wolverine a muslim, and then there will be something worth talking about. When the character you’re showcasing these ideas with can just be swept under the rug after the hoopla’s died down, you’re doing a disservice to the character and to the issue.
Graham Becksted’s too tired to think of a quippy intro line to this paragraph. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 66th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
In a previous column I discussed what I felt were short comings of some of the options being bandied about as the future of the comic book medium. Motion comics, web comics, etc., all had their flaws. I think, though, that Marvel has settled on something truly unique and revolutionary. It’s not perfect, but it brings something new to the table that adds to the experience without feeling overly gimmicky.
Marvel has branded this new feature AR, or Augmented Reality and it functions kind of like DVD bonus features. The first issue to offer it is Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 (a.k.a. AvX 1) which is a smart place to do it, as it’s the heavily hyped crossover of two of the biggest franchises is comics and film. The first small downside to AR is that, as far as I’m aware, you need a decent next-gen device to use it. Android or Apple, you’ll need to download the Marvel AR app. You’ll also need 3G or a wifi connection. Got all that? Okay, now you just need to turn the app on and point your camera at the cover of the comic.
Just like that, a trailer for the issue starts up. Including that one, I counted 8 instances where you could use the AR. One was an intro to the story from Axel Alonso. Another was Brian Michael Bendis discussing his favorite scene. There are others that are a bit more nerdy, like a power chart for the X-Man Hope and a breakdown of the faculty of The Jean Grey School that Wolverine started. It’s pretty unobtrusive to the actual issue, just a little AR icon in the corner of a panel. I read through the issue once, and then went back through and checked out the AR content.
First off, the good. It definitely gives you more bang for your book. Now that some comics have hit $4.99, this gives you a bit more justification for paying that price. Instead of reading the issue in 20 minutes or less and then storing it, you can go back and appreciate the art and some of the work that went into the issue. It also gives you a chance to get to know some of the behind the scenes people in a way that you wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s an extension of Stan Lee’s bullpen bulletins where he would make the writers and artists a bit more accessible.
Secondly, the bad. The creators who we get to meet don’t really sound comfortable or at ease. They might benefit from having someone else to banter with, as opposed to droningly addressing the reader. Also, anytime one of the AR things was text based it was almost impossible to decipher. At least, that’s the way it felt on my iPhone. Text was so grainy that it was hard to make it out, but it might benefit from having a narrator read it outloud. I know they’re probably trying to save people some bandwidth, but what’s the use of having a mini-bio of Hope if you can’t read it?
Finally, the issue also included a free download of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 a sort of prologue to the main series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen. As far as digital comics go, it really impressed me. I think it helped that it was made specifically for the digital format, whereas most of the other digital comics I’ve read were meant for paper and then got crammed onto a little screen. There was a feeling of motion, but stuff never really moved in any way so as to make it feel like a crappy cartoon.
All in all, I was very impressed. With a few tweaks, it could be a great addition the medium.
Graham Becksted spends so much time on his phone it’s starting to feel like an omni-tool. If only it could do Cryo Blast. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Up here in Canada, and more specifically in Ontario, yesterday was Family Day! It’s a made up, but much appreciated, holiday to celebrate how great it is to have a family. I spent the day playing boardgames with my friends and pressing ignore whenever my parents called. (Just kidding. My parents didn’t call at all. ((They called the day before.))) Anyhoo, this got me thinking that I should show some love to Marvel’s first family – The Fantastic Four.
As a delicious bonus, I’ve had a running argument with a guy at work about whether the Fantastic Four suck or not. This is my opportunity to rebut him in public and in writing. So Adam, you better read this one. I also think they get a bit of a bad rap in general anyway.
To be honest, I think they’re kind of a hard concept to pull off well. Reed Richards needs to prove to the world that he’s all super smart, so he builds a rocket and launches it before it’s ready. Because he’s a supergenius, he launches it with himself, his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s brother, and his best friend inside. The rocket gets bombarded with cosmic rays and instead of them all getting cancer they get super powers! Reed becomes Mr. Fantastic with the power to stretch his body as if it were made of rubber. His girlfriend, Sue Storm, becomes the Invisible Woman and she can turn invisible and make invisible force fields. Her brother Johnny can set himself on fire so he becomes the Human Torch. Ben Grimm, Reed’s buddy and pilot, becomes a rocky, orange Thing. And, instead of seeking medical help of any kind, they become The Fantastic Four.
What sets them apart, and I know this is somewhat clichéd, is the fact that they are a family first and a team second. Reed uses his super smarts to invent junk and let them live a super cushy life in the top floors of the Baxter Building. When monsters and aliens attack, they decide to use their powers to save the day. Mainly because it gave the rest of the team something to do. That stuff is just there to draw readers in. Really, the book is about how they interact with each other.
This can be really tough to showcase properly. Some writers make it too nicey nice, where they all get along way too well. Other writers treat them more like roommates. The best, though, are able to show them act like a real family. Sometimes Reed gets so busy in his lab that he forgets about Sue and their two kids (Franklin and Valeria). Sue, on the other hand, can be tempted by the fiery passions of other men like Namor The Submariner. Ben and Johnny play pranks on each other, and can be downright cruel. But, when the chips are down, they always come to each other’s aid.
Something else that sets them apart from a more typical team book like The Justice League or The Avengers is the fact that they’re not your typical superheroes. Often, the comic is more like an adventure. They don’t really fight crime, but they go to other dimensions like the Negative Zone, or repel alien invasions like the Skrulls. The first time they fought the Skrulls, Reed hypnotized them into shape shifting into cows and forgetting that they were ever anything but cows. It’s a fairly creative, if somewhat cruel, way to solve that problem.
It’s also the comic that gave us Galactus, The Silver Surfer, Doctor Doom, The Inhumans, The Black Panther, The Kree and the Fantasticar. And those are all in the first 65 issues. They’ve just passed issue 600 and have been a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe through all of that. They’ve gone through some changes: Thing was replaced by She Hulk for awhile, and a lady Skrull joined the team around this one time that Reed died. (He got better.) The whole team was replaced for two issues by the coolest four person line up Marvel could cram together: Spider-Man, The Hulk, Ghost Rider and Wolverine. The issues kind of suck, but the very thought of it got my blood pumping when I was in grade 8. Who am I kidding? It still does.
Currently, Jonathan Hickman is doing wonders for the team. His first couple of arcs in particular did a really great job of balancing the sci-fi action with some tender family moments. I highly recommend it.
THAT IS ALL.
Graham Becksted was once bombarded by cosmic rays but all he got was this lousy t-shirt. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
All right! All right! I guess I’ll just have to give in. This week, there’s one thing all comic book blogs have to talk about. I’m not going to bury the lead any further. Watchmen. Prequels. There. I said it. Now, I don’t really know what else to say since every other blog seems to have said it all before. But seriously, was anyone really surprised about this?
I mean, sure there might have been some initial shock, but wasn’t it only a matter of time? For the past twenty-five years people have been saying, “They better not make a Watchmen sequel!” “How could they even consider doing a follow up?” “Watchmen is untouchable.” Turns out they were half right. Prequels are untouchable (at least for now), but prequels are totally fair game. At least, that’s what DC says. Alan Moore is not pleased.
But, Alan Moore is never pleased. The only time I’ve ever seen him even close to pleased was when he was talking to some Occupy London protestors. And I’m not just being flippant. It was on the news! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FumNSfY7SfI) Seriously, though, Moore fights with anyone over anything. He fought with DC over creator rights, and a rating system. He ended up not trusting the Image guys and Rob Liefeld in particular. He fought with Jim Lee when Wildstorm was sold to DC and they started messing with his work. He hates Marvel for some reason that I cannot quite figure out. (It has something to do with his time writing for Marvel UK.) So, Alan Moore not liking something is not reason enough for it not to be done.
The entire comic book industry is about taking other people’s work and exploiting it. I knew this isn’t exactly a news bulletin, but even Watchman is based on other comic book people’s work. Rorschach is a thinly veiled version of the Question. Nite Owl is Blue Beetle. Doctor Manhattan is based on Captain Atom. Has he ever thanked Steve Ditko for letting him corrupt all of his characters?
Besides, it seems like whenever comic book pundits say you can’t do something the industry takes it like a dare. After Chris Claremont killed Jean Grey in the Dark Phoenix Saga, there was an ongoing contest in the Marvel offices to find a way to bring her back. So, just when fans are getting used to the idea of Jean Grey being dead, she gets resurrected.
There used to be a saying, “Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Bucky are the only characters who stay dead.” Add to that Batman’s first dead Robin (Jason Todd), and you have a pretty important group of characters. All but Uncle Ben have returned to life in one form or another, most notably Bucky and Jason Todd. All three are characters whose deaths had a serious impact on other characters. They represented the greatest failures of Captain America, Batman, and Spider-Man. They influenced their thought processes and their priorities. But, that didn’t stop the industry from bringing them back.
Why should Watchmen be any different? Bucky’s resurrection has lead to a “new” character and some fantastic stories by Ed Brubaker. He even lead a group of Avengers for a short time. Maybe Watchmen could follow a similar trajectory? A lot of concern and dissention, but ultimately a big success? They certainly got a strong group of creators to give it the best chance possible.
Graham Becksted watches the Watchmen. And, apparently, so does the rest of the internet. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
P.S. Honestly, I’m not even all that interested in these prequels. But, I’m sure I’ll try ‘em out in trade just to see what’s what. At the very least it’ll give me something else to write about.
Marvel recently announced that the next in a long line of Spider-Man cartoons. In the last ten years there have been three different series, and Ultimate Spider-Man will be the next. Based on the Brian Michael Bendis modern retelling of the character’s history, it will begin airing on Disney XD in the summer. I’m really looking forward to watching this if only for the crew attached. First of all, Bendis is heavily involved. Second, most of the other main writers/producers are best known for comic book work (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Steven Seagle and Duncan Rouleau). And finally, the other big brain on the show was one of the creators of the Batman Animated Series – Paul Dini.
That Batman show was part of a great superhero cartoon renaissance of the 90s. Animation standards went up, and so did writing quality. Batman, Spider-Man, and The X-Men cartoons all started within a few years of each other were all cartoons that could be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike. The Marvel ones in particular introduced storylines that would run through multiple episodes and even season long arcs. The X-Men cartoon was can’t miss TV for me as I had to know what was going to happen next.
Following in Batman’s footsteps, DC launched a whole line of cartoons in the same style. First there was Superman, then Superman and Batman, and finally the Justice League. The Justice League cartoon is the only Saturday morning cartoon I watched with any regularity since defeating the horrors of puberty. It has multi-episode arcs, complicated character relationships, and consequences that last beyond the closing credits. The third and fourth seasons took the show to a new level with a rotating cast of more obscure characters. When kids start hunting for action figures of Vixen (a member of the crappy as they sound Detroit Justice League) and The Question (Steve Ditko’s Ayn Rand inspired faceless detective) you know a show’s doing something right.
Marvel recently followed in a similar path with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I haven’t followed that show quite as closely, but I really enjoyed what I saw. It had the same vibe of “absolutely anyone can turn up in any episode”, and it definitely had running plot lines keeping a sense of consistency. A second season has been announced but has yet to air. Hopefully it can keep the good times rolling for Marvel’s cartoons.
The potential for great cartoons is one of the best things to come from the Disney purchase of Marvel. DC has had Warner Bros backing for their cartoons for years and their cartoons have really thrived with that connection. I think that’s a pretty good sign, as Marvel has had trouble making consistently good cartoons in the last decade or so.
Graham Becksted knows more about cartoons than most 26 year olds should. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I’m back! After a week in the sun, sand and booze I’m ready to start the New Year. And what better way to do that than with an obligatory best of the previous year post!? Except, I don’t read nearly enough to make a truly representative best of the year, so it’s just going to be a my thoughts on the previous year.
First and foremost, I have to talk about Unwritten. I think it started in 2010, but I started reading it in trades this year and it is fantastic. Great writing and art, it’s an addictive read that is packed with literary references. Anyone who likes Harry Potter and YA literature in general should check this out post haste. And, if all that doesn’t convince you, THIS will: there’s a choose your own adventure issue.
Next, how can I talk about this year without mentioning the DC New 52. Great from a sales perspective, but, at least in my opinion, not so great with the actual execution. Admitedly, I haven’t read all that many of them so far. But, what I have has left me a little cold. In fact, of the ones that I’ve read I found the Internet enraging Catwoman the most intriguing. Wonder Woman was also quite good, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it. Superman by George Perez was completely awful, and Hawkman was just dull. But, I will gladly try anything else that anyone would like to recommend. I’d love to try collecting something in the New 52 on a monthly basis, but I just haven’t found anything that’s worth it yet.
As usual, Jonathan Hickman’s genius confuses and amazes me. I’ve read every issue of SHIELD and they’re all very interesting, but I have no idea what’s going on. Nikolai Tesla’s son is caught in a war between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci. Michaelangelo is involved, and so are Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic’s fathers. There’s time travel, fighting robots in ancient Greece, and Galileo repelling Galactus. I feel like I should go to the library and do serious research after every issue. Either that, or yell at Hickman for making me feel like I’m a recent lobotomy patient.
My last two are comics that I’m depressingly late to the party on. Firstly, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. By which I mean the 2009 relaunch, and not the relaunch from this year. Bendis and David Lafuente really gave the character a cool fresh start and introduced some fantastic twists. Like, the Human Torch and Iceman moving in with Peter Parker, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. The superhero stuff is great, but the teen angsty drama was a ton of fun. And don’t take this as a slight on the current Miles Morales Ultimate Spidey, I just haven’t gotten that far yet.
And, lastly – Clan Destine. This is a series that Alan Davis created, wrote and drew for Marvel in the mid 90s. It tried to introduce a new family of super powered characters to the Marvel Universe, but ultimately wasn’t successful (as evidenced by the fact that you’ve never heard of them.) Davis is an amazing artist and a decent writer, and puts both his talents to use creating an interesting drama. It’s simple and sweet, and has a way of drawing you in. All of the characters are interesting and unique, and clash against each other in a really familial way. They fight, but they also all clearly care about each other. They aren’t really superheroes either, just a bunch of people who are trying to get by. Good stuff.
All right, that’s all for now. If you’ve got any recommendations, please feel free to send ‘em my way in the comments.
Graham Becksted is back in the country, and has the barest hint of a tan. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 50th follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.