Sunday, August 31, 2008

Run Away from Runaways

Runaways was re-launched (or continued with a new numbering system, or whatever, this week). The new run is written by Strangers in Paradise creator, Terry Moore. And the first issue was terrible. Really, really terrible. I wasn't really expecting much, but man...

Besides the fact that it was overall terrible, and numbered #1 for no reason, Xavin spent the entire issue as a dude. What the hell? Like...seriously...there wasn't even any mention of the fact that Xavin (a shape shifting Skrull for those of you who aren't familiar with the series) is in a lesbian relationship with Karolina. At one point Chase even asks Xavin "Dude, who wears the pants in your relationship anyway?" when Xavin wants to do something that Karolina won't approve of. Seriously...WHAT IS GOING ON? I need answers.

Plus, the art was no good.

People are dropping this from their pull lists like its hot...which it is not. And that's too bad because it's one of the few truly great original concepts for a super hero comic to come out of the big two in a long time. Plus it's one of the best teen books ever. If Marvel destroys this then I will never forgive them.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rachelle Reads Manga Part 1: Action Adventure Manga!

So I have worked in a comic shop for almost two years now and in that time I have never really attempted to read manga. It's always there, that giant section of the store full of little books about people with giant eyes and minimal clothing. Stories where men look like girls, and women look like sex aliens.

People ask me to recommend manga, and I simply cannot do it. I have no idea what any of those books are about. It's second only to Magic cards on the ladder of things that I do not care about.

I have decided to take the plunge and try to read some manga. And you're gonna hear about it! Join me as I read the first volume of randomly selected manga series. Will I give up after a week of tedious backwards reading, or will I become a lifelong manga devotee/cosplay picnic organizer? Only time will tell.

I read three books from the action/adventure genre of manga to start with.

Banya the Explosive Delivery Man #1 by Kim Young-Oh (Dark Horse)

Why I picked it up: Ok, first of all, this is not technically manga. It's manhwa, which means it's Korean, not Japanese. See? I'm learning something already! Unlike manga, which is all backwards and weird, manhwa is read in the left-to-right, front-to-back style that North American's such as myself are used to reading books. Y'know. The normal way. So that was appealing.

Secondly, I flipped through it a bit and the art was really excellent looking. Better than most manga books I glance at. Plus, it's got an attractive cover.

I also trust Dark Horse so I thought I'd start with something they publish.

What it's about: The titular character, Banya, is a delivery boy in a fantasy world that looks kinda like the future and the past at the same time, y'know? He, along with his two pals Mei and Kong, make up the Gaya Desert Post Office. They can deliver any package or message to anyone anywhere for a price. It's established immediately that pretty much nothing can stop these guys if they need to deliver something. The real story starts when a wounded soldier shows up at the post office (which is like a deserted fort type place) and asks that they deliver the parcel that he was carrying to its final destination.

And what did I think about it?: As I said, the art was pretty incredible. There were a lot of really awesome pages. It's an interesting set-up, and the characters seem interesting. Mei, the lone female in the story, is particularly compelling. She isn't wearing much, but by manga standards she's practically a nun. I appreciate that, although she is scantily-clad, she doesn't have giant boobs and there is no cleavage. She also looks tough. And she is tough. She is established as the boss of the post office. That won me over.

There are a lot of mythical animals and monsters in the book that they run into while making deliveries. I'm not really into that kind of thing, but they are very well-drawn.

I find that the dialogue in manga is always kind of jarring. I guess something gets lost in translation because everything is just so awkward-sounding. In this book the three heroes talk like young smart-ass punks, and there is quite a bit of humour. It's just sort of weird-sounding.

Do I want to read the next volume?: I dunno. Kinda. If for no other reason than to look at more of Kim Young-Oh's art. This is basically the first manga book I've read, so it's hard for me to say if it's good manga. It seems like good manga. I think if you liked reading manga, you would like this.

Mei's a cool character. I guess I would like to see more of her.

Black Lagoon #1 by Rei Hiroe (Viz)

Why I picked it up: This one is new to the shop, and it was recommended to me by the owner of Strange Adventures. Plus that girl on the cover looked pretty tough.

What it's about: Strangely enough, this book also turned out to be about delivery people. This time it's set in our world, circa now, more or less. It follows a band of people who will deliver anything anywhere for a price. They travel around on a tricked-out WWII gun boat.

And what did I think about it?: It was pretty fun, actually. It's way over-the-top, but it's more than aware of how silly it is. It's a popcorn action movie with lots of violence and profanity. And the translation was far less awkward than the translation for Banya. It read a lot better, even though it was all backwards. There are some pretty awesome pages in this book too.

Do I want to read the next volume?: I could take or leave it. Of the three books, I'd probably be most interested in the next volume of this one.

Gantz #1 by Hiroya Oku (Dark Horse)

Why I picked it up: Oh God, I don't know. It was wrapped in plastic, which was intriguing. And the description made is sound interesting...

What it's about: I'm not really sure...I was a little distracted by the totally naked woman being treated horribly.

Basically a bunch of people who have recently died find themselves in a room in a building in Tokyo and are being instructed to perform missions for some sort of talking sphere.

So what did I think?: At first I thought it was pretty good...and then the naked woman showed up. She was one of the dead people to appear in the room. Her wrists are cut because she killed herself in the bathtub. She is pretty much immediately hauled off and raped by one of the men in the room, while the other men think about doing the same. There is also a recently dead dog in the room which also sexually assaults her.

And...the woman is totally naked and there are lots of close-ups of her various naughty parts. When the men are naked, however, it is blurred out. WTF?

Do I want to read the next volume: No. In fact, this kind of makes me want to stop reading manga altogether.

So that was my first attempt. I think next round I'll read some girly romance manga to see if that offends me less.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rock and Roll!

This is not related to comics at all, but I want to mention that tonight my band is throwing a big CD release show tonight to launch our third album, High Kicks.

The show is at Gus's Pub in Halifax starting around 10:30pm. You can also check out this article about us in the local paper: check it out!

Tiina's name is spelled wrong throughout the article, but other than that it's pretty cool.

The CD is released on the New Romance For Kids label out of Montreal, and is available wherever music is sold, although you might have to special order it. It will also be available on iTunes (where you can already buy our other two albums).

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Daredevil: The Luckiest Guy in the World

Daredevil [v.1] #77 is a great comic.

In it, we get to see Spider-Man, Daredevil and Namor fight each other for no reason. We see rampant brooding by both Spider-Man and Daredevil. We see no brooding whatsoever from Namor. And we get to see Spider-Man make a statement which is grossly inaccurate:

"There goes the luckiest guy in the world." Falser words have never been spoken.

I hope you guys like brooding, because here comes a pile of it:

Yes, Matthew. Please do.

Time for Spidey to lay down some mad introspection. Although he does his out loud:

Is Spider-Man talking about the same Daredevil? "What does Daredevil know about being hurt so many times you feel like a human punching bag?" Spider-Man needs to check out Daredevil issues #1-present.

Thank God this thing shows up and stops all the whining:

Namor limits his interior monologue to two sentences before tearing off his fetching fedora and herringbone coat and reminding us why Namor is the MAN:

I wish I could get away with talking like Namor. "Though Rachelle is hungry no longer, still she could go for some Arby's...for their's is the Horsey Sauce tasty!"

Anyway, Daredevil shows up and makes some false assumptions based on nothing:

What. A. Douche.


They fight and Daredevil gets his ass handed to him. Which is satisfying:

Daredevil could probably fight better if he stopped brooding for one second. Unfortunately, he doesn't figure this out:

Ohmygod, Daredevil. Please shut up. Although...that first panel is HILARIOUS.

I want to know what Namor's "classy accent" sounds like.

Spider-Man shows up before Daredevil gets himself killed. He immediately starts attacking Namor as well. Namor responds by kicking him in the face:

Their numbers end at two, Namor.

So Spider-Man, because he's kind of a jerk I guess, decides to wail on Namor for awhile to prove he's a better hero than Daredevil.

I like that meanwhile we see no thought bubbles from Namor. He's not thinking anything that he isn't saying out loud.

So they fight for awhile instead of addressing the real threat, which is that glowing thing that showed up.

Instead they capture Namor in a net. With entertaining results:

I like that Spider-Man called Namor "cutes."

This story gets resolved in an issue of Spider-Man which I don't have.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Smallville?

My previous post generated a bit of discussion on the various shortcomings of Smallville. And while I don't really think about or talk about this show much anymore, I would like to outline some of the various places where Smallville went seriously wrong.

Smallville is a show that I kept watching because I deluded myself into thinking that there would be some sort of pay-off. The thing that is so frustrating is that it was a great idea for a show...and it has a built-in, fail-proof pay-off. And yet...

Smallville missed the mark completely in so many ways. And I'm not saying it needed to be loyal to comic book canon or continuity. I was absolutely into a re-telling of the story, with new characters and altered relationships and histories. I think some of the strongest characters on the show were created specifically for the show. Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor, for example.

What I am saying is, I accept and appreciate the world that Smallville created, and that it is separate, but inspired by, Superman comics. But the makers of the show couldn't even keep a handle on that world.

So as Smallville quietly slinks toward the finish line, I am going to point out some specific mistakes made. Because I would hate to see this happen again with another comic-based show down the road.

1. Chloe Sullivan vs Lois Lane: I don't know about you guys, but I think Chloe became the strongest character on the show by, say, season 4. Right off the bat, she was clearly inspired by Lois Lane. A fast-talking spunky journalist who constantly lets her curiosity get the best of her. Plus, there's the whole massive crush on Clark Kent thing.

We knew early on that Chloe had a cousin in Metropolis named Lois Lane. Here's where the show went wrong: introducing Lois as a character on the show. If you want a great pay-off...make Chloe turn out to be Lois. This is something that there were rumours about...until Lois showed up. Chloe alluded to the fact that her cousin had no interest in journalism, and that Chloe had used her cousin's name as a pen name. In the context of this show, Chloe could have been Lois.

And that would have been great because all of the chemistry on the show is between Clark and Chloe (besides, of course, that between Lex and Clark). Lana is boring, and there is nothing between Clark and Lois. The viewers want to see Clark and Chloe together forever, but that can't happen because it's not canon. Well, make it canon.


2. Make Lana Lang a better character: Lana's character pretty much started and ended with being pretty and boring. I don't really think anyone was rooting for her. By throwing Chloe into the mix, you pretty much ruined any chance of the viewers wanting to see Clark and Lana as a couple. Lana ended up being a character that no one knew what to do with, so she ended up pregnant and married by the time she was 19. LAME. (And then not pregnant and not married soon after...but still boring).

3. The Death of Pa Kent: What a terrible, terrible episode this was. You know, the one where Clark finally tells Lana his secret, and she is totally cool with it, so he proposes to her on the spot? When they are, like 18? But then through some twisted fate and through Lex's jealous rage, Lana is killed in a car accident. So Clark goes to Jor-El of all people and begs him to change things so Lana can be alive again. And Jor-El does...on the condition that someone else Clark loves dies in her place.

You can see the problem here.

So Clark agrees to this. And then his dad dies of a heart attack the very night he wins the state senate election (which...don't even get me started about that). And ok with this? Lana for his father is a fair trade?! And for the rest of the series he's like "Gee I miss dad, I wish he wasn't dead." He didn't have to be, asshole!

4. The Constant Amnesia: There was no chance for the show to ever progress, or for the characters to grow, because every episode ended with one or more characters suffering short-term memory loss. The events of each episode never affected them. No lessons were ever learned, no stronger bonds were ever formed, no secrets were uncovered. Unlike with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nothing that happened on Smallville ever mattered. You knew there would never be any repercussions at all. So it became very boring. Chloe would find out Clark's secret, but you knew she would have her memory wiped by the end of the episode. Or someone would turn evil and not remember anything later. Barely anything carried from one episode to the next. The gang would save some fellow high school kid's life, hang out with them for an episode, have some heart-to-heart talks, and then never see them again. They wouldn't try to be their friend later? I just find that weird.

5. Let Lex Have Some Fun: Now it would take forever to list every opportunity wasted by Smallville, but this to me is a big one. Smallville is a fantasy-based drama that pretty much allows for any ridiculous scenario to be swallowed by the viewers. This made for some pretty fun episodes, such as the red kryptonite-infected Clark stories, the Jimmy Olsen film noir dream episode, the Chloe forcing everyone to tell her the truth about everything epsiode, and many others. It also led to some pretty terrible episodes (vampire sorority anyone?). Everyone enjoys an episode where someone gets to act out-of-character. Hands down, the best episode of Smallville was the body switching one between Clark and Lionel. Brilliant! It should have lasted a month!

Where am I going with all of this? Ah yes. So there were all these episodes where characters got to act all crazy and fun. But there was never really one where Lex was affected in a fun way by anything. The closest we got was an episode where Lex was split into evil Lex and good Lex (science!), or when he was possessed by Zod. When you have a comedic talent like Michael Rosenbaum on the show, USE HIM! Good lord, the possibilities!

I don't know what disappoints me more, the fact that we never got to see Lex be silly or the fact that we never got to see Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) sing!

6. That Whole Marriage Thing: Remember when Clark married that girl who could teleport? And then she died, like, the next day? She was murdered, actually. Horrifically. It was all very traumatic. The kind of thing that would really mess you up and haunt you.

Unless, apparently, you are Clark Kent. Because guess what Clark pretty much never mentioned ever, ever again before the body was even cold: his dead wife.

I kid you not. Here is Clark one episode later!:

I'm just saying, if you are going to have a storyline that stupid, at least try to make it have some sort of lasting repercussions.

And since we're talking about weddings: how about Lex's? What did we see, like, 3 weddings? At least. He's actually the lamest playboy on Earth. Every girl he holds hands with he marries.

Haha...actually, Smallville's portrayal overall of Lex's crazy, sordid life was pretty hilarious. Remember when Clark learned that Lex had slept with, like, 12 girls in one year or something? And Clark was shocked and disgusted and thought Lex had a sex addiction? Good lord. If anything, I was let down by the low score. Also...that "exclusive underground" strip club where, according to Lex, things happened on stage that were supposedly crazy? But then Clark went to it and Lois was dancing as an amateur stripper (probably one of the worst moments of the show ever) and stripped down to her bikini? Yeah, pretty crazy, Lex.

But I got sidetracked. What I wanted to mention was that Lex's whole engagement and marriage to Lana was gross and dumb. The show is so damn wholesome everyone has to get married.

7. Let Him Fly: for the love of Schuster, why the hell does Smallville have a "no tights, no flights" policy?! It's a show about SUPERMAN. Let the man fly! If I have to watch a politician in a suit flitter around the skies on Heroes, I can certainly handle SUPERMAN flying around Smallville. And the few times we've seen it, it looked kinda cool. Especially when he was ripping the door of Lex's jet.

8. Clark Is a Terrible Person: this is the biggest problem with Smallville. We've seen the evolution of Lex Luthor from weird nerdy rich kid to full-on super villain, and the whole way we've seen Clark relentlessly pushing him closer to the edge. ANYONE would become a villain if they had a friend like Clark Kent. He's a complete and utter douche. His entire relationship with Lex, his alleged "best friend," was based on Clark breaking into his home and demanding favours (and not in a sexy way). And it just. never. stopped. It was the most one-sided relationship ever.

All Lex wanted was someone to like him. To give him a hug or some sign they believed he could be a good person. Clark didn't give him anything close to that, and instead reminded him any chance he could that Lex could not be trusted.

Superman made Lex Luthor by being a complete asshole all the time to him. That's a problem. Frankly, given this back story, I am rooting for Lex for the rest of their eternal struggle.

Sorry, I just had to get all of that off my chest. Now I can forget about Smallville forever.

In conclusion, Tom Welling is not shirtless nearly enough.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

All the fun of Batman: Arkham a video game!

According to Newsarama, there is a new Batman video game in the works.

Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I know that, like, 99% of super hero video games suck, and yet I still get excited for each and every one.

I actually liked the Batman Begins game quite a bit. You got to be sneaky and clever, and I like that. This game sounds like it will be scary. Batman meets Silent Hill.

I hope it's actually based directly on the book, and that the Joker hits on Batman in creepy, creepy ways.

Monday, August 11, 2008

So, just in case anyone still cares about Smallville...

As unlikely as this sounds, Smallville will be entering its eighth season this fall. This means it outlasted Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, and a whole hell of a lot more acclaimed shows.

Lex and Lana are leaving the cast, which makes the list of people who are no longer on a show called Smallville, who really should be on a show called Smallville, a little bit longer.

- Lana Lang
- Lex Luthor
- Pete Ross
- Martha Kent
- Jonathan Kent

That seems kinda wrong to me. Also, Lionel Luthor is gone. So, really, what's the point?

AND...the following characters ARE on a show called Smallville, who really shouldn't be:

- Lois Lane
- Jimmy Olsen
- Martian Manhunter
- Green Arrow
- Doomsday

Well, at least Chloe is still around. And apparently Supergirl isn't going to be back.

Er, I mean...I don't still watch Smallville.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Random Updates


I have been watching so much Buffy lately. I believe I have mentioned this before, but I had never watched the show before. Now I have just finished season six (the downer season). This means that I FINALLY got to see the musical episode, which I always refused to watch until I had watched the rest of the series leading up to it. I felt that I had to earn it.

Anyway, it was amazing, of course.

This show is so addictive. I am not exaggerating when I say this: lately I spend more hours a day watching Buffy than I do paying attention to the events in my own real life. I am starting to forget where one ends and one begins. Which is weird.

I always thought those girls who were all into Spike when the show was on, and bought Spike calendars and such, were total losers. Like, he's clearly unattractive and whatnot. But now I am totally so into Spike. So I really liked season six.

And Angel sucks. Suuuuuucks. Although I am enjoying his show more than I was led to believe.


I have my final exams for the summer (that sounds so wrong) next week and then I have two weeks of freedom. I have been thinking about different ways to spend these upcoming two weeks, and I have decided to do absolutely nothing. I may never get that chance again! So, I'm not going anywhere. I'm just going to hang out at home and maybe try to finally clean and organize this apartment. I have already gotten all the action figures in one place. I got lots of nice decorative items for my wedding and they just don't really go with Cheat Commandos figures.


Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane is back! I had some serious doubts about this, mostly because Terry Moore was taking over. Not that I think Terry Moore sucks at writing (I'm not a Strangers in Paradise fan, but that's more because of the genre than the writing), I just didn't think he was the man for this job. Especially because, prior to taking the gig, he had never read the comic before.

I also feel that, while this is definitely a different kind of Marvel comic, in that it is set in high school and centres on a teen girl and her love life, it's still a Marvel super hero book. One of my favourite things about it is that we see, in almost every issue, a different Marvel character. We see Spider-Man fighting various villains, and new heroes and members of the Spider-Man family get introduced into the cast all the time. It's a great way to let young readers, and in particular, young female readers, learn about the Marvel Universe. So I sincerely hope that Terry Moore will continue that.

I read the first issue, which came out yesterday, of the new series. I was worried that it was going to be a re-launch, but it did actually continue where Sean McKeever left off. And it was pretty good. I think it captured the spirit of the original series.

But, man, what I wouldn't give to have McKeever back over at Marvel doing what he does best: writing all-ages Marvel comics. I feel like he's being wasted a bit over at DC.

I hate exclusive contracts.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Jason Aaron's Ghost Rider is a Helluva Ride

I am so into Jason Aaron's run on Ghost Rider. I urge everyone to jump on board.

Jason Aaron, of course, being the very talented writer behind the amazing ongoing series Scalped, along with the Vertigo mini-series The Other Side. He also recently completed a brief-yet-awesome run on Wolverine.

Ghost Rider is a character that I have always liked, but have never really found the books to be particularly awesome. The nineties kind of left a bad Ghost Rider taste in my mouth, because I will always associate the character with comics that look like this:

Yeah, that aged well.

Aaron completely understands what is awesome about the character, and it should be pretty obvious: he's a flaming skeleton on a motorcycle. This character should be in a comic book which is fun.
So he's taken Ghost Rider and basically set him in a grindhouse movie. We learned at the end of Daniel Way's run that Johnny Blaze was not in fact cursed by Satan, as he had always believed. Instead, he's been a tool of a rogue angel. So now Johnny is looking to ride into Heaven and kick some angel ass. But along the way he is running into all sorts of crazy stuff, including a bunch of nurses with machine guns:

I can't think of a single reason why someone wouldn't like this comic. It's fun, it's crazy, it's violent, and the art (by Roland Boschi and then Tan Eng Huat) is great too! Plus, Aaron has taken over the letters column, which makes for good reading as well. I especially liked this excerpt:

I'm not even exaggerating: Ghost Rider is now one of my favourite comics. I just enjoy reading a comic where I am constantly giggling and shaking my head in disbelief.

And, hey, it just so happens that I interviewed Jason Aaron for The Dollar Bin when I was at HeroesCon in June. I would like to say that this was done live at his table in the middle of the convention hall, so it was a little noisy. And I had to make up the questions on the spot. So forgive me if I sound nuts. You can listen to the interview here.

And since I am promoting Jason Aaron-related things anyway, y'all should check out the messageboard he runs, along with fellow awesome creators Brian Azzarello, Brian Wood, Cliff Chiang, Jock, David Lapham and G. Willow Wilson. It's called Standard Attrition and you can check it out here. Y'know, if you like talking about stuff on the internet. With comic fans. I dunno if you're into that sort of thing.