I was working on a couple of arc strips for Violent Blue last night and considering how far we’ve come, and what doing that strip has ment to me.
I’m working on the website for my company now. That’s something doing Violent Blue helped make possible. When launching the series, Comic Fury provided me with a nice template, but over the years I’ve added and subtracted to it, created links and buttons and images for it, and had to familiarize myself with coding a bit.
I also started blogging again. My last blog was a failure – mostly because I just never had the initiative to keep at it. This one has been a lot more enjoyable. initially begun to help with google searches and get Violent Blue a bigger audience, it’s turned into something I like. Something connected to my comic, but still a separate entity. I think that happens a lot, I kind of see it over at Ctrl-Alt-Del and Penny Arcade.
Because I was already doing Argo City Comics, when our advertising guy suggested to my boss that we do a blog to help promote the business I jumped right up and volunteered for the job, pointing out that I was already doing this for my side projects and had experience in graphics and keywords. After doing the blog for months and pretty much making it my own (how many jobs can you say you get paid to talk on the web about how you’re doing on Lego Batman?) we had a turnover at the company and lost our web designer. Management decided I was the logical replacement.
Violent Blue has been my outlet, my art, my release. It’s not necessarily my real world job, but it’s so cool to see how it affects that real world job.
I did an audit of my buffer. I have two story arc and about 50 strips left before the planned end of the series.
Even though there’s a project that will come after Violent Blue, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Not sure at all.
Every now and then I’ll check in on series that I kind of like but am not reading. Avengers related titles are on the top of that list. When it’s good, it’s really good, but most of the time, I just don’t care.
I noticed the Hawkeye redesign. I’m really liking the look, which of course is a direct result of the look from the Avengers movie, which in turn is directly related to the Ultimate’s series ten years ago. Yeah whatever.
I’m not a hater though. It’s a good look and fits with the modern design ethic. That’s not saying I don’t like the old costume. The purple and blue always worked for me. Somehow the pointed mask sold the tough guy feel of the character to me, and really, characters like Green Arrow and Shaft and Hawkeye NEED great costumes. It distracts us from the fact that they’re just these guys with bow and arrows.
Hawkeye’s usually gotten more development than that, but I really like the direction they are taking, where anything he touches could be a weapon, and making him more a marksman like Bullseye or Deadshot. It works well for the character and the new costume fits that idea better. It’s got me interested enough to pick up the first couple of issues of his ongoing comic series.
Speaking of ongoing comic series, there’s new Violent Blue tomorrow. Hope to see you there!
A while back I did a Violent Blue strip where i mentioned that The Lone Ranger from Dynamite comics was one of the best books being published. That’s still true, even though I’ve missed a bunch of issues. They restarted the numbering after the hiatus and it’s thrown me off, but “Hard Country” was a perfect example of everything I love about this book. The Ranger is more established in these stories now, and his reputation precedes him. That makes him a little more familiar to the reader as well. We’re past the learning curve arcs. “Hard Country” is a set of mostly self contained stories with a two parter on the back end. It’s a great place to jump on for folks who haven’t been reading the book and if you haven’t I really recommend that you do.
This book is the first time I’ve seen someone get the Lone Ranger right….the first time I’ve seen it since the TV series in the 50’s. That’s a lot of water under the bridge huh? The problem over the years has been that every writer wants to deconstruct him, and reimagined his relationship with Tonto in a way that’s more politically correct – even adversarial. No one wants to see that. The Lone Ranger is like Superman. We want a pure, noble hero. dynamite gives us that, while at the same time expanding the mythos. They have given us more to look at, a better understanding of where the silver bullets come from, how The ranger relates to his lost brother’s wife, how he lives and a bit more depth to the characterization. They do this all without trying to drag him down. I love these books.
The “Death of Zorro” series has been surprisingly great as well. It didn’t necessarily have to be. Crossing over The Lone Ranger and Zorro was going to sell books one way or another, but the ideas they have presented here work well. It’s particularly interesting to see the Ranger’s father in this series and how he was helped by Zorro. I’m still missing the last two issues of that series, but I’m comfortable singing it’s praises as it is.
Suicide Squad is another story altogether. I was excited about this book coming back as a regular series. Hopeful even. There’s enough of a fan base I think, to keep it afloat if DC really puts some effort into it. And that’s where we find our problem.
Remember last week when I was complaining about Image’s Bloodstrike? How they stripped it of everything that made it fun? Much the same is happening here. One of the things that has always made Suicide Squad interesting is the bureaucracy. It’s always been a part of the book, even during that brief run by Keith Giffen that everyone seems to have disowned. The bureaucracy was INTERESTING. It was years before we’d see it become the norm in the 90’s Image books. It was new and different. Interesting to see Waller as the liaison dealing with the psychiatrists, the prison Warden, and guards and the Chaplin. Interesting to see the intrigue as she deals with Washington politicians and intelligence. Fascinating to explore the relationships between the normal people and the super powered convicts. All of this has been stripped. It’s pretty much Waller as the only symbol of authority. The only “good guy” in the room.
That’s another problem. The Suicide Squad as it existed in ’88 consisted of both heroes and villains. The heroes were perhaps a bit shady, Bronze Tiger being a reformed villain and Vixen being a bit of an outcast. But it provided a better balance. The villains, were by and large, sociopathic. Really bad folks. They were familiar names; Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Poisen Ivy, Count Vertigo, Doctor Light. Characters you’d seen beaten in other titles but never given any real character development. Before, they were merely foils. In John Ostrander’s hands, they became truly scary, and you realized they didn’t have a sense of right or wrong. THAT’s what made them evil. Not robbing banks or kidnapping the mayor’s daughter. These familiar faces would kill anyone and do anything as long as it suited their plans.
All of that is gone. It’s just a bunch of cardboard cutouts now. These characters are just the colorful foils they always were in the superhero books and Suicide Squad is far less interesting because of it. particularly when it comes to Waller and Deadshot.
Deadshot is now the leader of the suicide squad and he’s portrayed as a bit of a go getter. The soldier type. His death wish is gone, his attitude. Someone at DC seems to have decided that Deadshot is popular and he should be the main character in the book, but they failed to understand WHY he was popular. Ostrander created great depth with Deadshot, exploring his relationships, his family and his pathology. He wasn’t a hero. He didn’t want to be. Gail Simone picked up on this when she was writing Secret Six and ran with it. There’s a lot to Floyd Lawton, and still more that could be explored, but this guy in the new 52 universe isn’t him. He’s just your standard not-quite-a-hero type and far less interesting.
Everything about her that was unique, everything that was special has been thrown out. A pretty, young secret agent with an attitude and a mouth? What’s special about that? What is there to this character that I haven’t seen a thousand times in any other comic book or TV show? Amanda Waller was fascinating in the past because she was a middle aged tough as nails strong black woman.She had wisdom and determination. There was a good deal of amorality to her, though not quite enough to push her towards sociopathology. She knew the game that politics was and played it as well as anyone. She pulled her self up from the mud by her own bootstraps and BUILT this life for herself….and she did that after her kids were grown. This young chippy that’s running around with the huge rack and thin waist calling herself Amanda Waller isn’t half the person pre-52 Waller was. Nor will she grow into the role. She doesn’t have the requisite adversity to overcome. Someone explain to me what it was that NEEDED to be changed or updated about this character. Come on. I dare you.
It’s been 12 issues now. You had your chance DC. I’m dropping this book…..something I’ve NEVER done with a series called Suicide Squad.
Grifter has changed a bit, gradually over the years. Not a huge amount, if you were to pick up an early WildCATS book and a current Grifter, you’d notice some differences, but not enough to be unrecognizable. Slow as they were, they’ve been almost unnoticeable. The biggest one I’ve seen is his recently developed Telekinesis. That’s not as big a deal to me as I may have expected. When the TK and other Psi abilities started to really show up with Cable, it didn’t change the character that much. He was still all about the guns and strategy. If DC takes this approach with Grifter, it’ll be just fine.
Grifter isn’t a great book. It doesn’t aspire to be. It’s a solid, average series, and it always has been. That may be it’s strentgth. It’s never been Sandman, but then again, it’s also never been Great Lakes Avengers either. I can be confident that if I pick this up I’ll be entertained. I always empty Grifters out of bargain bins at comic shops and cons, and I pick them up off t he racks here and there. When I think about it. Every few months. No biggie. Please new 52 DCU, don’t screw this one up.
Finally, I revisited Dynamite’s The Shadow. I pretty much nailed it when I said Ennis seemed to have a heavy Chaykin influence. He admits as much here: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2012/02/14/the-shadow-interview-garth-ennis-knows-what-evil-lurks-in-the-hearts-of-men/ Which is fine. I have that series. I even like it, but it’s far from my favorite. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by all the other versions. I far prefer the O’Neil one from the 70’s, even the Klauta work for Dark Horse. Honestly I even prefer the poorly done movie to Chaykins version (Check out Klauta’s comic adaptions of that by the way, it’s actually superior to the film and manages to fix a lot of the movies issues without compromising the story – but I digress). Back when I was 12, and Chaykin was the only game in town I enjoyed it more.
Still, I’m going to stick with this for a while. Kevin Smith didn’t really hit his stride on The Green Hornet until issue seven or eight, and after he left in issue twelve, the series improved further still. I want to see the next story arc on the Shadow, hopefully we’ll be back in New York battling the mob. Ennis talks about the “potential” of the character. I believe in that as well. Lets see where it takes us.
Last month I had the opportunity to see Robocop in the theatre. Now, I’ve seen this movie a hundred times, on TV, on video, criterion cut, with or without commentary, I know it.
But this was different.
Back when there was still a theatre in Avon Lake ( It only had four screens. Imagine that?) my parents would take me out to the movies frequently. once a month or more. It wasn’t quite as expensive back then and you could afford to take a chance on a bomb. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark there. Flight of the Navigator, Space Hunter, The Empire Strikes Back. I probably caught at least one of the Star Trek films there.
I remember one year, the math says I was 11 or 12. They had the Robocop poster up. Actually it was a huge cardboard stand up, same image as the poster. I walked past that stand up at least half a dozen times, and it made me a little sad, because I knew there was NO way my parents were taking me to see this movie. And I wondered why would they rate a movie like this, which had such obvious appeal to kids, “R” ?
That’s why it was so special to walk into the Cedar Lee last month and see it finally on the big screen. And that got me thinking, what other movies was I dying to see as a child that I missed because I wasn’t old enough? I’m not talking about Evil Dead or the Return of the living Dead or Hellraiser movies that I would see posters from and think “That’s cool”. I’m not talking about stuff that I appreciate as an adult that I barely noticed as a kid. I’m talking about movies I wanted to see so bad it hurt, and that I would immediately watch as soon as it hit TV.
Ghoulies comes to mind. I know that’s a little weird, but the commercials made it look so mysterious, with a real fantasy edge to it. Perhaps this is more memorable to me because I actually asked my parents to take me to it even knowing it was a hard “R”. I figured I’d give it a try. After all, other kids parents would sometimes take them to “R” movies like Freddy and Jason movies.
Much to my shock they said yes. We went to the theatre less than a month later. I was more than a little devastated when I learned we had a communication problem here. They hadn’t taken me to Ghoulies, but rather to GOONIES. I’ve never liked the Goonies. I don’t think it’s entirely due to this miscommunication, but I can’t help but think it may have had something to do with it.
The other movie that comes to mind, is The Untouchables. Even as a kid, I was developing a fondness for the 30’s and 40’s. The look and the whole gangster story. The commercials for The Untouchables not only had that wonderful mob movie feel to it, but a slickness and the packaging of an action movie to it. he sight of Ness cocking a shotgun and walking into that bright foggy street gave me chills. It led me to read Elliot Ness’s Biography and Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso (Ness’s time in Cleveland). I watched the old TV show and recorded the movie the first time it was broadcast on TV. I still love it, even though nowadays I realize the only thing the movie got right was the names (and the appearance) of the two lead characters. If that ever hits a revival theatre around us you know I’ll be there.
So what about you? Do you have any movies that you REALLY wanted to see as a kid and never could?
This is a scene from this month’s Walking Dead. We’ll be talking more about that title later this week as I continue my Comic Book catchup. For those of you that read this series I want to ask a question: Is she right? If Michone had killed the Governor, would the attack on the prison still have happened? Or would it have been to great a blow to the people of the city? Would they have been in disarray or perhaps reformed under saner leadership? Or would it have been crazier leadership? What might have been different if the Governor had died when Rick and Michone escaped?
So yesterday we talked about mostly what I didn’t like…really it was about the stuff that didn’t make an impression on me. Today it’s going to be about a couple titles that really caught my attention.
Oh my GOD this is so good. I grabbed the first to issues in the mini series and tracked down three of the five (i think) digital issues. It’s all just brilliant. It almost has that more barbaric feel to it that the early mini-comics (the ones that came packed with the first wave of action figures), yet they haven’t tampered with the history (like the 2002 version did). Adam is a simple woodsman, taking care of his ailing father. But at night, he dreams of being a warrior. He dreams of He-Man.
You see…at some point, Skeletor won. Not only did he win and take over the world, he made all the heroes forget who they were, and scattered them. There is no champion of Eternia, There’s just Adam, but he still dreams of He-Man. Now, on a quest, he finds he has skills he shouldn’t have. Skills with a blade he couldn’t possibly know. And what’s with the eagle that follows him? Somehow he knows it’s name – like it told him. It’s name is Zoar.
This series is magnificent. It’s possibly the best treatment of the characters I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen it all. No offense to Val Staples and Emliano Santaluca who were doing the MVP series in the early 2000’s. They had their hands tied by Mattel, and the entire series was being squeezed into a mold that it really didn’t fit into, along with a toy line that was being grossly mishandled. This is a far better story that Keith Giffen is telling and they seem to have more creative freedom to explore the mythology. In fact, I think I should check over at Val’s message board He-Man.org to see what the consensus is over there.
Check out the digital copies too. The Battle Cat one is incredible….how did they manage to take a silly talking tiger and create such an engrossing short story with it?
Then there’s the Shadow. Four issues in and the jury is still out on this one. I was really intrigued to see what Garth Ennis would do with him. The Shadow is a good character for ultra violence, and if you’ve written the punisher, then this should be a good venue as well.
I’m not thrilled with how Margo Lane is written. She’s always been a pest but in this she’s a real pill. Ennis appears to be heavily influenced by Howard Chaynkin’s version of the character. This could very well be the 40’s version of Chaynkin’s 80’s series. I’m not a big fan of that. Ennis also gets a little too rapey for my taste. That’s a hot button with me and he’s including a lot of it in this story – all references, nothing graphic, but it‘ll keep me from reading this one too often.
When it’s good it’s very good. Ennis knows his violence and gets creative with it. I would like to see more of that though, and perhaps a little more mystery. You could probably distill everything I like in the first four issue and fit them in a book and a half. I grew indifferent towards Dynamite’s Green Hornet, though it got better once Kevin Smith got off the book. I see myself heading down that same path here.
I dipped my toe in Dynamite’s new Dark Shadow series as well. I think it’s taking place further along in the series than what I’ve watched so I’m putting theses on hold for the time being. Interestingly enough, I discovered this because of the Dark Shadows/Vampirella crossover!
The thing that I find the most striking about the Dark Shadows book, is
how well done the art is. They capture Collinwood perfectly. Not just the look of the house, but the rooms
themselves. The artist obviously has a bunch of photo references. Everyone looks exactly as they did on the TV show and the we frequently see the rooms we saw on the show, drawn in exacting detail. It’s a really well done book and I’m looking forward to picking it up again.
Finally, I sampled a couple of the Before Watchmen books. You know, I really don’t know why this hasn’t been done before. They are good stories and the characters feel very natural, very familiar. It works.
That’s not to say it’s the masterpiece that Watchmen is. It couldn’t be. It’s not supposed to be. Do you expect every issue of Superman, or Batman or Justice League to be the triumph that Kingdom Come was? This is the groundwork. I think these stories get us into the characters and attach us further to them. Far from being detracting, if anything, these stories make Watchmen better. Give ’em a chance. You’ll like them.
I still have half a stack to cover. I haven’t even cracked my Lone Ranger books, my stack of Grifters, or Suicide Squads. So I’ll be back with part three, hopefully next week. Until then, check out this weeks Violent Blue!
Sheesh. It’s been at least four months since I was in a comic shop. A whole freaking lot can happen in that time……
I was aware that Valiant was coming back. I was also somewhat aware of the new Shadow series that Dynamite was going to start, but I was a little hazy on exactly WHEN any of this would be happening. I had no CLUE that DC had the rights to Masters of the Universe again. I also really wasn’ t aware that the Extreme universe was relaunching under Image comics.
So I stopped to grab a stack of comics and catch up. I had NO IDEA how much I missed. Let’s start off with the small stuff, I’ll leave the titles I really want to talk about untill tomorrow.
The New 52
I still hate Superman’s new costume. It’s been a year. You’d think it would grow on me, but I just hate it. It’s kind of like the way Matt Smiths costume in Doctor Who bugs me….wait. No it’s not. I got used to that….and the longer coat he sometimes wears is a great improvement. Superman just looks….wrong. Superman doesn’t need armor…or “Kryptonian bio-tech”. He looks like a bad Extreme villain from the 90s (Oh and just you wait. We’ll get to that.) It’s a pity too, becasue I kind of like Clark Kent’s new look….and that’s about it. I just don’t recognize this guy as Superman. He fails to instill that sense of awe in me. This Superman isn’t the aspirational figure I’m used to to and that’s a shame. We are all lessened by it.
Really digging the Ame-Con girls series. It’s fluff and it knows it is, but it’s fun fluff and gives those figures a purpose at least.
All Star Western is a GREAT idea, but so poorly realized that it’s almost heartbreaking. I love the western Gotham. I love bringing in a bunch of old DC western heroes, but lose Wayne and give me a more compelling story. It just didn’t work.
Not digging the new Green Lantern. Seems too much like pandering to me. I still need to catch up on Grifter and Justice League and Wonder Woman may be worth a second look too. Batman is okay, but just….meh.
On to Extreme.
See, here’s the thing with Extreme. I liked Extreme, but never bought into the hype when Image was at it’s height. I bought all of my Image second hand, after the industry crash and got them for .50 – .25 or less. It’s fun stuff. It’s flashy and violent and loaded with belt pouch goodness, but let’s not take ourselves too seriously. You’re not reading this stuff for the same reason you read The Sandman. You’re reading it to see big fights, big racks and lots of lens flares.
I’m not sure if Image understands that. Bloodstrike is a prime example. This was a weird series that started as a team book, then was reworked to a solo book, and then reworked again back into a team book when we learned the mysterious title character of the solo book was the leader of the old team-book version…..
*pauses to catch breath*
It’s back to a team book now, they are trying to pick up where they left off and bringing back all the old characters from the beginning of the series, but the art is merly mediocre, and the costumes are a little more 2012….and that’s not good. just about everything that was fun about this book has been sucked out of it, and we’re only three or four issues in.
The relaunched Youngblood on the other hand is a bit better handled. I think they are relying a little to much on a couple of the previous relaunches and it seems like a bit of a Frankenstein project. A bit of the YB that was a media satire, a bit of the ’93 YB, bit of team YB…I’m not sure how to feel here. I like the idea that Shaft has been replaced. Not so sure I like the team being considered a joke by pop culture in general (remember, along with Spawn, this was one of Image’s primary flagship titles). Serious props for that panel where Diehard rips off his mask. At first the way they were handling Vogue was a little upsetting, but they’ve gone just a little deeper and shown some reasons for it….I can handle it. Great line from her to Diehard: “One night is a mistake. One year is just a guy breaking a girls heart”. That’s better writing that this title deserves. It’s interesting that they are still following Jeff Terral even though he’s not Shaft right now and this title has a lot of potential. I hope they don’t mess it up.
I don’t want to even talk about Prophet. I think the vision for this series has always been a little hazy and it’s lost its way to such an extent that it’s unrecognizable from the series I knew and loved when it began in the 90’s.
Valiant is a whole other story.I was really disappointed in the Acclaim version of Valient, I realized why they had to change everything (weird contractual obligations…I don’t have the space here….)but it was a real drag. The new valiant is so much better. X-O Manoowar is a perfect example. The art and designs are so much more clean and polished- modern. But the look and the story do the source material justice. The new suit looks very cool, and a little shocking when you see a spider alien in it. Even more shocking is Aric loosing a hand. It’s all good stuff. Every bit as good as Valiant in the 90’s. Not necessarily better, and that’s okay. Valiant in the 90’s was good stuff in of itself.
BloodShot has a similar premise to Bloodstrike. Reanimating the dead, occasionally messing with thier memories and turning them into the perfect soldier. Bloodshot makes it work, something Bloodstrike 2012 fails to do. I didn’t read much Bloodshot back in the day, I’ve come across him here and there in crossovers but don’t have enough history with the character to have an opinion on how well he’s being handled. I’ll thell you this though, the art? This title LOOKS better than it ever has before. Speaking of art, Archer and Armstrong also comes to mind
Archer and Armstrong crossed over with my favorite Valiant title Shadowman a bunch of times. I’m well familiar with t he guys. I even have a small collection of their title because I’m a bit of a valiant fanboy and I KIND OF liked what I saw in Shadowman.
I’m really liking the relaunch. It looks better than before and it reads really easily. I’m interested in the quest and really like the renewed dynamic between the two title characters. I’m interested in where they are going with this one and I expect to actually stick with this series for a while.
That’s it for today. Go read some Violent Blue and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about the comics that REALLY caught my attention.
As the weekend began,I finished up this months Violent Blue and came home to find a big yellow envelope waiting for me. I immediately recognized the return address….something I don’t always do.
Back in November. I sent Whoopie Goldberg two pictures. One from Star Trek, and one from Burglar – my favorite of her films.
It took ten months for her to reply, and when she did, what I received was this:
A head shot. It’s autographed, and I’m reasonably certain it’s real. The signature matches (though slightly varied also good. That means it’s not an auto-pen), and I’ve seen this picture before, but with the autograph in different places on the pic and written in different colors. I tested the lower left edge of the underline to see if the ink was separate from the paper. You can see a little that I rubbed off.
But really? Almost a year and I don’t get my pictures back? That’s kind of weak. I suspect my letter and pictures got lost somewhere and they only now rediscovered my SASE during a recent work session.
It’s a little off-putting, but on the other hand, I really don’t have much to complain about. I DID get an autograph from it. That’s better than just getting a pre-print, or nothing at all (which I was suspecting. At this point I had given up on hearing from her). Remember my autograph tutorial – she doesn’t really owe me anything. Signed on my pics or not, sending that auto is still a favor she did me, and I’m grateful.
But I’m more grateful to Malcolm McDowell for sending me a headshot AND signing my items too. Mr. McDowell, you’re a better dude than Whoopie. That’s all I’m saying.
We’re continuing Mel Brooks month with the Cleveland Cinema’s Late Shift. This weekend it’s Spaceballs! You know, this is one of the few Late Shift films I’ve actually seen in the theatre before. I was still a kid though and even though I’ve had it in my movie collection for years and seen it a bunch of times since then, I’m interested in seeing how it looks on the big screen as an adult. It’s a pity this film didn’t do better, but really, it came far to late to lampoon the Star Was movies that had been out of the theatres for years. Still it’s better parody than the Scary Movie or Epic movie franchises. I kind of wish we’d seen something like it to make fun of the prequels. If ever there was a set of movies that DESERVED it….
I’m headed out to Capitol theatre this Saturday for the movie. It’s only $5 and the Capitol is a much nice theatre than the Cedar lee where we’ve been catching most of the movies this year! Come on out Saturday at midnight!
Don’t forget, there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!
I’ve heard Malcolm McDowell was really hit or miss when it comes to getting him through the mail. I wasn’t sure I was going to get him back, and kept putting off my letter for months.
I sent the obligatory Clockwork Orange photo, but I also sent out his villain from Star Trek Generations. I’m not sure how often he sees those.
Not only did he sign and return my pics, he also sent me a nice 8X10 glossy (which got a little bent around the edges in the mail, but nevertheless) ! It’s always a pleasant surprise to open up one of those SASEs and find more in it that you sent it away with…