GRANT MORRISON: TALKING WITH GODS Documentary (2010)
Director: Patrick Meaney Distributor: Halo-8 Find out more about this documentary here! Reviewer: Ambush BugSo I had a chance to check out the new Grant Morrison documentary titled TALKING WITH GODS this past weekend at the New York Comic Con. The doc played to a packed theater and the director, many of the producers, and other people behind the film were in attendance along with quite a few creators who were there as well. The theater was also filled, obviously, with Morrison fans, exactly the type of audience this film is geared for.
I myself am not a die hard Morrison fan. Sure, I love quite a few of his projects but I rarely pass judgment over the entirety of projects coming from one creator. For the most part, a lot of Morrison’s stuff has left me with more questions than answers and often, instead of feeling satiated after reading a Morrison book, I’m left scratching my head.
But after seeing this documentary, I have to say that my interest in Morrison has been revitalized and the best compliment I can give the makers of this documentary is that is makes me want to seek out more of Morrison’s books or give some I have written off a second pass.
The documentary is actually an hour and a half interview with Morrison, the artists that have worked with him (Frank Quitely, J.H. Williams III, J.G. Jones, Cameron Stewart, Frazier Irving, and Phil Jimenez among others), fellow writers (Geoff Johns, Warren Ellis, Jill Thompson, Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron, and more), other industry types (Karen Berger, Dan Didio, and Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston), and tons of fans. For most comic book writers, the idea of making a 90 minute focus on one writer’s life seems to be a stretch. Let’s face it, the most interesting thing about most comic book writers are the stories they write, not the lives they lead. But everyone knows Morrison is not most comic book writers and this documentary does an amazing job of illustrating that.
From his early days as the son of a political protester to his first comic book attempts through his years trying to make it in a band and then on to his success as one of comics’ most groundbreaking writers, this documentary patiently shows it all. Each road stop along Morrison’s life path is punctuated with interviews with anecdotes from personal friends who were there at the time or illustrated in Morrison’s own words. Most fascinating was the segment talking about the clash between Morrison as a new writer and Alan Moore the elder writer involving the possibility of Morrison taking over MARVELMAN after Moore left the property. This segment revolved around an exchange of letters between the two writers that would make for an intriguing documentary in itself. In the documentary, Morrison is represented as the antithesis of Moore who rose to fame for deconstructing what it meant to be a super hero by casting Morrison as someone who is taking those deconstructed pieces and making something brilliant with them.
What I found most interesting as I watched this series is how honest Morrison has been in his mainstream comics writing and how the ups and downs of his own life are constantly present in his work. His father’s role as protester, family deaths, his own experiments in fetishes, drugs and alternative subculture, and issues with his own health are illustrated in the film and skillfully paired with chapters of his own most famous works in ANIMAL MAN, THE INVISIBLES, THE FILTH, FINAL CRISIS, and his recent Batman work. Seeing Morrison speak about coping with the death of his father and his pet cat around the same time gives new resonance to chapters of THE INVISIBLES and WE3. These issues dealt with similar heavy moments almost exactly how Morrison experienced them with the truth covered by a very thin veil of story.
The documentary is extremely well made and slickly produced, transitioning from one writer to Morrison then back again to an artist. Selected panels and a smattering of special effects take the viewer through some of Morrison’s more trippy rants. And though occasionally Morrison’s thick accent makes things kind of tough to understand, I hear the DVD will have subtitles in these areas. You’d think that a documentary featuring a ton of talking heads would make more than one audience member look at their watches, but it never happened in the theater I saw the film in. I could have sat an hour more with this film and still not be bored. And from the reaction of the applauding audience in the theater, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Meaney does a great job of keeping the pace moving, focusing on one aspect of Morrison’s history then quickly jaunting to another. Known for being out there in both his work and public appearances, I was surprised at how human this documentary portrayed Morrison. This documentary captures the writer not performing for a crowd, but just being himself, something harder to do than one would imagine.
This film could have easily veered into the territory of an ego project from an artist full of himself or a kneepad wearing-out knob-slob session by a starry eyed fanboy. This documentary is neither. It’s a bold, brave, and honest look at an artist whose life is worthy of this type of attention. Say what you will about Morrison’s work, but Patrick Meaney’s GRANT MORRISON: TALKING WITH GODS is a fascinating study of the man behind some of the most influential and controversial comics of the last 25 years. The film is playing in select theaters throughout the month and is available on DVD through their distributor, Halo-8 soon.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Support a Bug by checking out his comics! MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 & MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1. VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER #1-2 (interview, interview, preview, & review) VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #20 WITCHFINDER GENERAL (preview, review, in stores now!) NANNY & HANK miniseries (interview, interview, interview, preview, & review, still available to order in Previews Order #JUN10 0824, in stores October 2010!) Zenescope’s upcoming WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 (in July Previews Order # JUL10 1200, in stores in October!) THE DEATHSPORT GAMES miniseries (in September Previews Order #SEP 100860, in stores in November 2010!)
Two Reviews of NEONOMICON #2
Writer: Alan Moore Artist: Jacen Burrows Published by: Avatar Press Reviewed by: BottleImpWow.
I came out of reading this issue with mingled feelings of disgust, loathing, and horror. There’s a fine line that separates art from pornography, and it’s a line that Alan Moore seems to enjoy skirting. LOST GIRLS, in particular, seems to take a long, looping walk to explore both sides of the line. In NEONOMICON, the innuendo and vague clues of bizarre sexual rituals that the FBI agents encountered in their investigations in the first issue are thrown aside for a clear view (almost) of that underground element that is at once graphic, shocking and disgusting.
But that feeling of disgust is, after all, the intended effect.
Anyone who is familiar with Lovecraft’s work knows that one of his recurrent themes is the melding of humankind with the dark creatures that populate his Mythos. In “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” the narrator discovers his heritage as a descendent of the fish-like people who were spawned from the union of men and the Deep Ones. “The Dunwich Horror” centers around the monstrous Wilbur Whately and his (even more monstrous) brother, birthed by a woman who had mated with the Elder God, Yog-Sothoth. This motif even made an earlier, and slightly less cosmic, appearance in HPL’s “Arthur Jermyn,” wherein the title character realizes that in his case, man’s descent from ape took place not millennia ago, but merely decades. When you get right down to it, a good deal of Lovecraft’s mythos revolves around monster-fucking…just not on the page. As Moore puts it (voiced by the character of FBI Agent Merril Brears): “[Lovecraft] was sort of asexual is my guess. There’s no women in any of his stories, no sex of any kind, not on the surface…it’s all just dark hints. Unnamable couplings, stuff like that.”
And Moore seems to reply, “I’ll show YOU unnamable couplings.”
The brilliant thing is that even with the amount of detail shown—and believe me, there’s a lot-strap-ons, ballsacks, bushes and cockshafts abound—I still think that Lovecraft would be proud of the way in which Moore and Burrows still keep the horror just out of sight. Out of sight for both the reader AND our protagonist, as Agent Brears is bereft of her contact lenses and is only able to see fuzzy shapes, and Burrows (or colorist Juanmar; I’m not sure who deserves the credit) renders those panels seen through Brears’ point of view with a blurring Photoshop effect. I’m not normally a fan of using the Photoshop filters—usually I find the special effects a detriment to the art rather than an enhancement—but in this case the tool is used for perfect effect.
Even though the pornographic elements end up working to sell the story, there still is a misogynistic element to the cliffhanger of this issue that nags at me. The difficulty here is that the horrors that Brears is forced to endure (and by the looks of things, she’ll have to endure a lot more when the next issue rolls around) are essential to both the narrative and the tone of the book. I’m back to that same argument of art vs. pornography, just substitute sadism for porn. I know this is a criticism that has been leveled at Moore’s work before in regard to such works as WATCHMEN (the Silk Spectre’s rape by the Comedian) and THE KILLING JOKE (the Joker shooting Barbara Gordon and then taking pictures of her naked, bleeding body), and to some extent, I can see his detractors’ points. It’s upsetting… but it’s meant to be upsetting, right? I guess the final question has to be: is it just violence and torture for their own sake, or do the disturbing elements serve as essential, integral parts of the story?
In this case, they do. NEONOMICON is disturbing, to be sure. Possibly upsetting. But effectively horrifying, and genuinely Lovecraftian…even though Lovecraft never wrote about women getting facials from spiny green johnsons.
When released from his Bottle, the Imp takes the form of Stephen Andrade, an artist/illustrator/pirate monkey painter from the Northeast. You can see some of his artwork here. He’s given up comics more times than he can remember. But every time he thinks he's out, they pull him back in.
And now for another view of NEONOMICON #2
Writer: Alan Moore Artists: Jacen Burrows Published by: Avatar Press Reviewed by: KletusCasadyI know, I know you’re afraid to open an Avatar book. I don’t blame you. Not because there’s a lack of story or good art, but because CROSSED has tainted your eyes and now the mere mention of an Avatar comic book send you into a flashback complete with cold sweats, violent outbursts, and crapped pants. I promise you this isn’t as intense as those…well…at least…not as gory. Alan Moore is a legend whether you like him or not, so pretty much any new project he’s putting out that I can get my hands on without going to Border’s and paying $100 for a fairy tale porno book, I‘ll check out. As with most Avatar books, this comic isn’t for everyone but the art is great and if you don’t mind a lot of exposition the pay off will be worth it. As my man Laserhead put it, “Alan Moore's doing something very, very fucked up.”
Basically the story (without spoiling anything) is about two cops investigating a strange set of murders that may or may not have a connection to H.P. Lovecraft. I will admit I know little to nothing about HPL except for he was one of the first horror writers…is that true? I don’t really care enough to wiki it but you can if feel so inclined. A lot of this book is SEEMINGLY meaningless dialog about the case and personal anecdotes about the two major characters’ lives. I think if you’re a fan of Alan Moore than you’ll at least let him take you through the entire issue before you make judgments but I can see a lot of readers getting bored.
The interesting thing about this book is that because I watch a good amount of horror movies, I recognized subtle things that happen where you say “That…is definitely leading to something bad down the road,” and most of the time it’s true. Much like many horror movies, the anticipation of bad things to come is a large part of the fun and this issue is very similar in that sense. The first issue has an ending that really fucked with me: the way it was set up, the way it was drawn was a fucking scary surprise which took me a second to understand but when I did it was pretty cool. This book seems like it’s going to require some patience to get through but I’m confident Alan Moore will deliver. The art in this book is handled by Jacen Burrows and his art is always solid. There’s always good detail, the page looks clean, and apparently he has no problem drawing a ***** being ****** by a man being ****** also a ******* being ****** off by a crazy ass ****. If that doesn’t entice you nothing will.
This book kind of affected me in a similar way that the show “The Wire” affected me. What I mean by this is that there’s a good amount of set up in the beginning but if you can get past that, what follows is a very rewarding experience. Some comics have no interest in setting an atmosphere because they don’t want to bore the reader. Well I’d argue that if it’s done correctly, it greatly helps the reader care more about the characters and it also puts the reader in the mindset the writer wants them to be in. So things that seem meaningless early on become very obviously relevant by the time you hit those last few pages and damn if you don’t get hit with a double whopper with cheese by the end of this.
The art is great as always, so don’t even worry about Burrows, he’s got your back. Seriously check this out if you have patience to sit through a lot of talking to get to some juicy holy shit comic book moments. Oh yeah, don’t read this at work…there’s definitely a chance you may catch a charge if someone from the opposite sex catches you. That’s it! That’s all I’m saying, now go read it!
BRIGHTEST DAY #11
Writer: Johns & Tomasi Artists: Reis, Clark, Gleason and Prado Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Optimous DoucheI’m confused…simply call me Obtuse Douche from here on out. Just when I think that I have everything figured out in BRIGHTEST DAY, Johns and Tomasi decide to start throwing faster curve balls than Randy Johnson on meth. Issue 11 opened up a hell of a lot of questions and not one card has been tipped yet on what the hell this is all about. Since we have a fairly erudite following of comic’s finest minds in the TalkBacks, perhaps if we act as a hive mind we can collectively start to answer some of the BRIGHTEST DAY mysteries.
Silly me to think that the Black Lanterns are no more; evil is never eradicated, merely washed clean for a time period before things start getting sullied again. Yes, the dead Firestorm has returned and has now dubbed himself Deathstorm. Cool, but what? Never mind…I’m just going to roll with it.
Then keeping in-line with the ADD scattershot snippets of stories that have defined this series, we move rapidly on to Aquaman and his personal Judas, Mera. Aquman is still battling for…well, I’m not quite sure. I mean he’s battling Black Manta to prevent a happy reunion between evil father and oblivious son, and I guess that’s enough when you are as virtuous as Aquaman. But seriously there are so many spinning wheels in this thing, I totally forgot why Aquaman is going after Manta or his kid in the first place. Aquaman, Baby Manta and the adoptive father of sea-evil end up getting picked up by a trucker.
Don’t get too comfortable, kids, because we are now flashed back to Deathstorm (am I the only one that thinks he sounds like the opening band at a RATT concert), which death has made more absorbent than Tampax®. Deathstorm sucks in Professor Stein and Jason Rusch’s father. Oh, now I see why this issue is named “Father’s Day”.
Wondering what happened to Aquaman and baby Black Manta? Fear not, we get a one pager with Aquaman placing the conch of destiny in Baby Manta’s hands and inside is…a treasure map. Oh ya, now I remember four issues ago when this was brought up. I didn’t expect a map that looked it was found on that back of a Cap N’ Crunch box, but uhmmm…OK that one mystery out of the four hundred mysteries is solved…sorta.
After we get through that hullabaloo we are treated to the fortune cookie lantern, I mean the White Lantern that speaks like a fortune cookie, telling Deathstorm that he should form an army, destroy the twelve and stop the savior from being reborn. And then we are treated to the infamous RISE and all 12 of the heroes that were resurrected at the end of BLACKEST NIGHT, and are still currently alive, appear behind Deathstorm in their rotted Black Lantern forms. Seriously, I like to think of myself as a semi-intelligent human being, but how are these fuckers dead, yet still alive. Between my love of comics and science fiction I have accepted some pretty large leaps of faith when it comes to logic, but this is just ponderous.
Wait though, we’re not done. Remember Deadman, and the Hawks, and Max Lord? Well they don’t show up, we’ll get back to their stories three issues from now. No, after everything is said and done the final splash page is a White Lantern emblem made of foliage set against the barren backdrop of Mars and we get a…MARS RISE call-out box! OK, that’s pretty cool. I would love to see a whole new planet opened up for human colonization, and since we don’t seem to have fuck-all chance of this happening in the real world, I’ll settle for it in a comic book.
In the end analysis, BRIGHTEST DAY is starting to wear thin on my patience. It’s a fine crafted story that I’m sure will read fantastic in trades, but as a monthly there’s just too much going on and too much lag between issues to keep it all straight. Plus, this whole mythos is getting long in tooth. “Sinestro Corps War” was amazing because it came out of nowhere and bitch slapped us all into remembering how cool the lanterns actually are…”Blackest night” was able to keep riding that wave and for the most part was very enjoyable and epic in scope. Now though…I’m beginning to seriously have doubts. I predicted a year ago that GREEN LANTERN would fall by the sidelines in 2010 into 2011 and The Bat would come back strong enough to trump the emerald light. Unless BRIGHTEST DAY starts to deliver some answers soon…I will stand firmly behind my prediction.
Optimous has successfully blackmailed fellow @$$Hole BottleImp into being his artist on Average Joe. Look for Imp's forced labor on Optimous brain child in mid-2011 from COM.X. Friend Optimous on FaceBook to get Average Joe updates and because ceiling cat says it's the right thing to do.
CHAOS WAR #1
Writer: Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente Art: 1st story - Khoi Pham (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks) 2nd story - Reilly Brown (pencils), Terry Pallot (inks) Publisher: Marvel Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My HomeboyAn interesting and absolutely fantastic take on gods in a universe full of super heroics has come out of Marvel in the past few years. Most notably, the presence of Hercules as a major player in his own series has been a spectacular run for the character. But the question remains, does it warrant a big time event book? With CHAOS WAR, Hercules is placed front and center, and, for the most part, delivers. The opening issue is a great opening salvo, though it does falter about at times.
Writing (4/5): Pak and Van Lente have been writing one of my favorite runs of all time the past few years in THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES, and this is their chance to show it on a huge scale. And for the most part, they deliver. Hercules, having been bestowed with a new unchartable power level, has a whole new outlook on life, which is an interesting twist. While he's missing some of his usual charm and humor, it's nice to see a Hercules who is trying to live up to his new expectations. His attacks on the other gods and calling them out works well, exemplified by a worthwhile sequence that shows off his newfound lack of respect for the gods. The other major player of the Incredible Herc duo, Amadeus Cho, serves much more than a supporting role here as he has in the past. But after such an extended time with Cho in his PRINCE OF POWER miniseries, it's a nice change of a pace. The two writers keep Amadeus as interesting and enjoyable to read as they always have, while not letting him steal any of the spotlights from Herc. What the event is missing is the traditional humor and charm the two brought to Hercules when they took over the INCREDIBLE title. In many ways the humor was the best part of the book (and possibly Marvel right now); it is sorely missed. A back up feature by the two focusing on Hercules' time spent in exile brings back some of the humor, but it's still missing the charm from the previous series.
Art (3/5): With three artists on board, the comic, though an interesting looking book, feels very uneven. Some scenes, such as the reintroduction of the Chaos King, are fantastic. Others, such as the confrontation with the other gods, feel rushed and oddly paced. Overall, the book has good artwork, but the splintered bits are off-putting and take the reader out of the moment. The extra scene, done by Reilly Brown and Terry Pallot, is fun and reminiscent of the series proper.
Best Moment: The reintroduction of the Chaos King. It's a great set piece and lays out the tone for the rest of the book.
Worst Moment: The introduction of the rest of the heroes into his army feels forced, especially with the quick shot over to the Fantastic Four. Also, this is going to be fun to try to fit into current continuity.
Overall (4/5): A nice start to an event. The series should pick up with Hercules back on top game soon, and I couldn't be more excited.
Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: R.M. Guera Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics Reviewed by Humphrey LeeSometimes life just gets in the way. Sometimes, just sometimes, in the span of a month you work almost two hundred hours, get married, write 10,000 words for your Masters program. And all this results in you not being able to write a comic book review for pretty much the same amount of time, really hurting your @$$hole cred. And then sometimes you go through the hell that Jason Aaron routinely drags his creations through each issue of SCALPED, and it makes real life problems seem a bit tame. Except for the abortion scare part or this; I call that Tuesday. But more on that later…
My favorite selling line on this book as it was really starting to flourish was to routinely compare it to “The Wire”, aka the greatest TV show to ever exist. As things have played out, I would like to say, for the record, I was two-thirds right. While SCALPED’s plot has not quite reached the level of build that piece of seminal television did – it has its moments but it does not quite interlock and overlap its threads, or weave as many to begin with as that show did – it has more than rivaled it in two other areas: the centerpiece that is the locale in the plot, and the aforementioned sheer hell, and occasional glory, that the characters are run through within its bounds.
As I said before, sometimes life just happens. Thanks to mine, it’s been hard to really sit down and appreciate this medium I love on a consistent basis. When I do, it’s nice to know that I can rely on a book like this to enthrall me as soon as I open it up. Or, in the case of this issue, fucking mortifies me. If SCALPED is anything besides just a good fucking comic, it’s also a kick in the balls, or in this case, two abortion attempts in three pages by a woman who has hit rock-goddamn-bottom. Meanwhile, our lead, Dashiell Bad Horse, has started to recover from his own trip to the dregs, only to awaken to the reemergence of his father, a figment he’d rather leave behind. Both these key moments hit like a hammer, both are rife with the best, most harrowing drama that fiction can provide, and both are a prime example of the range that comics can show and how their nature can really drive home these peak emotions.
According to the feed of our Mr. Aaron, SCALPED is not long for this world. The end is nigh, and given the nature of this book, that has deeper meaning for the characters that inhabit it. It will be a shame to see it go, but in a way it will also be for the best as there’s only so many emotional body blows you can lay into your characters and the reader through them before a work becomes a parody of itself. But as of now, when they hit, they still hit hard, as does pretty much everything SCALPED does. Thank you so much, Mr. Aaron, for being a right bastard with your creations and making my entertainment value and outlook on life all the better for it.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a Blogger Account where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
NANCY IN HELL #3
Writer: El Torres Artist: Malaka Studio/Antonio Vasquez Publisher: Image Comics Reviewer: LyzardI do not know why NANCY IN HELL keeps on disappointing me. It is not like my expectations are that high. I guess I am just hoping for one hell of a grand finale in the last book.
What readers will notice first, if they have been keeping up with the series, is the change in art. It is not drastic, but it is noticeable. The faces seem smoother, less intricate. I would go as far as to say that the artist even grows lazy in a few panels when it comes to character design. NANCY IN HELL #3’s artist goes off of what Juan Jose Ryp started, filling the panel with a lot of action. Like Ryp’s work, this leads to a cluttered look, but also makes the areas that are less detailed stand out more. Again, this change is mainly seen in the face of the characters, but also in the backgrounds. I still remember the waterfalls of blood and hordes of braindeads filling the pages. This new look is not necessarily a bad thing. I found the comic easier to follow and much easier to know what to focus on. It is just a matter of getting used to and accepting the change.
This book picks up right where NANCY IN HELL #2 left off, with no time lapse. Her decomposing “friends” are attacking Nancy Simmons while Lucifer is being tempted by a smoke demon. Though Lucifer fights off the temptation (ironic, usually he is the tempter) Nancy is saved by the demon Pytho. Lucifer finds Nancy and they continue their journey towards the gates of Hell, but not before they are stopped by at trio of furies.
Knowing my Greek mythology, I saw the references to the Virgilian erinyes aka furies. They have the same names, though not the same physical descriptions. Thanks to Wikipedia and my high school English teacher, I also know that Dante used the same three furies in his Inferno, one of the major sources of homage used in NANCY IN HELL.
This particular book did have some good character moments. Lucifer began to fight against fate and ordained rule, while Nancy too stood up for herself. But I’m still waiting for Lucifer’s inevitable turn towards evil. I’m all for pissing off the Catholic Church, and making Lucifer the hero would be highly sacrilegious, but I just don’t see that happening in this comic.
Maybe I was wrong to say I was disappointed in NANCY IN HELL #3. It merely did not blow me away. It did have some elements that I preferred to the second issue. But every time the characters did something I liked, they went and ruined it. This little romance between Nancy and Lucifer is hard to believe, especially because Nancy did have a boyfriend just before she died. Maybe she didn’t care about her beau, but to move on to the Prince of Darkness, to be blinded by the “morning star” when your soul is on the line, does not seem very smart in my book. Flaws in some characters aside, the furies were a nice touch and I can only wonder what El Torres will bring us in the final issue.
Lyzard is actually Lyz Reblin, a film student at Chapman University. Lyz’s love for comics stems from an internship at Dark Horse Entertainment as a freshman, which may explain why some of her favorite comic book writers are Gerard Way and Steve Niles. You can find her on Facebook, but only if you follow her band: Castle Town Convicts (possibly a Zelda reference?).
BATMAM CONFIDENTIAL #49
Writer: James Patrick Artist: Steve Scott Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: KletusCasadyImagine being in the desert, with a sweater, black pants, and boots immediately after smoking a huge bowl of wee…uh…tobacco, you have no water, no food and a pocket full of money. Cotton mouth has now set in and you’ve been there for a good 4 hours wandering with nothing in sight and all of a sudden, appearing in the horizon…a bar…with food, water, beer, air conditioning, a pool party in full force and people hanging out for no apparent reason in the middle of the desert. Think of how soothing that would be…that is how I see this issue of BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL. Overly dramatic allegory? Hell yes but this is how refreshing this issue was to me. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve read a straight forward Batman story that wasn’t connected to some larger thing that is going on. This is a pretty great single issue Batman story that highlights the things I love about Batman: detective work, spontaneity, ingenuity and it all takes place in one apartment building.
I don’t hate Grant Morrison. The guy has churned out, if nothing else, some pretty interesting Batman stories even if sometimes (as my boss repeatedly points out) that it seems like we’re missing a page or two from the narrative. The thing is that I’m sure when Morrison reads these stories back to himself, he’s fully confident that all the elements of the story are there and everything makes complete sense...to him. The problem with this is that those ideas, while being very cool and original, sometimes don’t translate to the reader the way I’d like them to.
The reason why this comic felt so refreshing to me is because I didn’t feel like a page was missing from my comic and all the information I needed to know was IN THIS COMIC. This issue demonstrates the contrast between someone who wants to put their personal stamp on Batman (not that there’s anything wrong with that) versus someone who wants to just write a comic book starring Batman. This issue is Batman at his best, completely within his element, but that doesn’t make his job easier. I love seeing Batman’s thought process as his mind is rapidly putting together possible theories and how those theories can evolve within a second as he discovers new clues. I really wish more comics showed this aspect of Batman; a lot of comics get caught up in the adventure side of Batman (not that there’s anything wrong with that) where he’s just saving the day whilst whooping ass but I like the slow moments where Bruce’s finely tuned noggin is processing shit as he goes, fuck the Bat-computer.…
SIDE NOTE- I just caught some kid stealing comics from the shop I work at after I ordered a bunch of statues for him, what a fucking asshole! Sorry; back to the review.
Damn I was on a roll before that shit happened…where was I? I love seeing Batman like this fully submerged in rapid thinking deductive/ inductive reasoning mode. The artwork is pretty awesome and does a great job of setting the dim atmosphere of the apartment building; the emotions in this issue are also really well done there’s no question as to what these characters are feeling. Honestly this issue could have been a “silent issue” and I think it would still have been an effective comic book. This is what Detective Comics should be (started out that way) with single issue crime stories with Batman doing what he does best.
Editor’s note: Check out an interview with James Patrick, the writer of BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #49 by Elston Gunn here!
Writer: Mark Millar, Jonathan Ross, Frankie Boyle, Jim Muir, Mateus Santolouco Art: John Romita, Jr., Tommy Lee Edwards, Michael Dowling, Peter Gross, Steve McNiven, Mateus Santolouco Publisher: Titan Magazines Reviewer: Mr. PastyI remember hearing that Mark Millar was going to be rolling out a new magazine titled CLiNT, and I pretty much had the same reaction as I did when I heard that Keanu Reeves was going to be playing bass guitar in a band named DOGSTAR. The astute among us will remember that DOGSTAR’S original name was SMALL FECAL MATTER and well, I don’t think you’ll need to bother opening the Clue confidential file to uncover who’s getting the candlestick treatment in this review.
I don’t like magazines. Besides being booby-trapped with those annoying subscription inserts that come flying at you like some sort of 20 lb. dull matte throwing star, they’re littered with advertisements featuring cologne I’ll never afford, clothes I’ll never wear and models I’ll never bang. When you finally do reach the three pages of actual content, it’s a smorgasbord of useless gear, boring interviews and pompous editorials.
That brings me to CLiNT #2. Let me start by mentioning Chloe Moretz, who’s on the cover because she contributed a “Travel Diary” for this issue. What do you get from the diary of a 13-year-old girl? Well, she likes chocolate croissants, got a haircut and still uses LOL when she speaks. Don’t advertise her as Hit Girl (she’s never shown out of costume) if she’s going to break kayfabe and talk like Stephanie from LAZYTOWN. It bothers me because this is a book being marketed to adults and it just feels creepy. Case in point: One of the other guest appearances is by David Baddiel. Here’s a question from his interview: “Would you fuck your dad to save your mum?” Nice.
To its credit, CLiNT does use the medium to present a collection of entertaining comics, including KICK-ASS 2, AMERICAN JESUS, and NEMESIS. There are some solid offerings here and it’s a shame this wasn’t a magazine that featured the aforementioned books along with some behind-the-scenes stuff like storyboards, alternate drafts and commentary.
I know this is going to sound crazy, but just hear me out: I read comics because I like comic books. And while I’m not the type to get weak in the knees over every little thing Millar puts his name on, most of the time he produces high level stuff. I’m kinda over KICK-ASS, but NEMESIS is a great read. There’s also some interesting stuff from Jonathan Ross and Mateus Santolouco here as well. This is what I have such a hard time understanding. We’ve got a magazine that showcases some really great comics but insists on wasting valuable real estate by proving how clever it is. I don’t mind the ads, even the ones that shill for Millar, because I understand you gotta pay the bills (even though I think Zips should sue for royalties after seeing that carbon-copy Adidas ad).
What I do mind are these hammy “columns.” You can’t possibly read CLiNT and not get the impression they’re trying way too hard to be MAD Magazine. It’s all here, from the “Hey, we’re not only poking fun of you, we’re poking fun of ourselves!” shtick to the tired gags including “Make your own iPad,” which gives you a black border to cut from the page and hold up over live events to experience them in HD. You know, kind of like when Peter Griffin had no television and taped a cardboard rectangle to his head, inventing new channels as he walked the streets of Quahog. Funny, right? No? Well then maybe you’ll dig the “Stupid Baby Names” feature or “Armadillogeddon.”
Maybe it’s a UK thing, but I don’t like CLiNT the magazine. I do like CLiNT the comic book collection. And if I have to pay six bucks or whatever it is to keep up with TURF and REX ROYD then what choice do I have? I mean honestly, it’s not like this rag is an aberration or an insult to the industry. It just reeks of ego. Mark Millar is a great writer and a talented storyteller and he proves it deep inside the pages of CLiNT. It’s just a shame you have to wade through so much sludge to get close enough to see it.
Web heads who can’t get enough of Mr. Pasty’s word vomit are encouraged to watch him operate as Nostradumbass over at MMaMania.com here. Love, hate and Mafia Wars requests should be directed here.
SECRET SIX #26
Writer: Gail Simone Art: J. Calafiore Publisher: DC Comics Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My HomeboyManage Your Savage.
SECERT SIX has consistently been one of the best series DC has to offer. And with any other series, this issue would be a stand out success. But with the kind of track record SECRET SIX has, this issue feels quasi-disappointing. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't live up to its predecessors.
Writing (4/5): Simone is on, as always, but a surprising amount of this issue falls flat. The fire-fast dialogue is missing for the most part, and much of the in-team snark this series has perfected is absent. Deadshot, as always, gets a number of great moments, usually playing off the government liaison Tremor. Some sequences are spectacularly written (Waller and Spy Smasher’s confrontation is utterly fantastic), but others just don't live up to the earlier highs. The evolution of Bane in this series has been great and it continues here, but other characters such as Catman and Scandal don't work as well as usual (Catman’s quiet rage isn't as pronounced and effective as last issue, and Scandal isn't her usual brilliant self).
Art (4/5): J. Calafiore has yet to do a bad issue of SECRET SIX, though this issue is less impressive then others. The designs and layout make Bane's opening attack a stand out moment. Unfortunately, the rest of the comic lacks the speed and insanity of that first scene. Most of the faces and small touches are marvelous, but moments such as the one with the lake monster seem forced and arbitrary. The final fight scene between the two teams isn't nearly as exciting as hoped for. It lacks any real substance, and quickly dissolves into your standard "the two teams meet" fight. The art here is amazing, though just not as good as it has been.
Best Moment: Bane’s opening attack.
Worst Moment: The lake monster seems out of place. It establishes how strange this new setting is, but that's already been achieved. It didn't need a few pages focusing on it.
Overall (4/5): That's how good SECRET SIX is. This review came out sounding much more negative then I normally would write for a 4/5 comic, but compared to some of the past issues, it's just not as good. But a mediocre issue of SECRET SIX is still better then 89% of super hero comics today.
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here, back from NYCC with a slew of new indie goodies to share. I’ll be peppering out my reviews of these indie treats through the next few weeks, but here are a few to start things off.
FEEDING GROUND #1 By Swifty Lang, Michael Lapinski, & Chris Mangun ArchaiaOne of the cooler books I picked up at this year’s NY Comic Con was this new offering from Archaia. FEEDING GROUND is unique in almost every way, from the gorgeous art which uses a limited palette in order to communicate the multitude of emotions of the characters within the pages to the concept of setting a werewolf story on the backdrop of the dangers and perils of crossing US/Mexican border illegally. This first issue offers a sympathetic stance toward those crossing the border illegally, but doesn’t lay on the political debate thickly at all. If anything, the story takes the role of reporter, showing the trials of the illegals and the coyote leading them to a new world with an unflinching eye. What I liked most about this first issue is the attention the makers of this book take toward small moments. Multiple panels showing miniscule moments embrace the reader and pull one into the scene. A drop of blood falling on the desert ground echoes off the page. The wind blowing shirts hanging on a clothes line fully paints the scene as the characters strive for something greater and make sacrifices to attain that goal. The limited color scheme makes the world all the more desolate and perilous. You’ll shiver as Flaca, a little girl who seems to be the heart of the story, is attacked by a growling beast in the fields surrounding a factory that is forcing the people to take the dangerous journey across the border. This issue is just beginning, but the first issue grabs you by the throat and will leave you gasping until the next issue drops. As an added bonus, this comic is printed in both English and Mexican language as a flipbook for no extra cost. I had a chance to interview the makers of this book at the con. Be sure to look for the interview in the coming weeks. In the meantime, take my word for it, seek out FEEDING GROUND. It works as a political commentary ripped from the headlines as well as a nail biting horror/thriller. Highly recommended.
PHILOSOPHER REX Vol.1 By Ian & Jason Miller (writers), Geraldo Borges, Rick Silver, Ricardo Soathman, & Adidia Wardina (pencils), Junior Capoeira, Estudio Haus, Cristiano Lopez De Sousa, Alex Silva, & Rick Silver (inks) Arcana StudiosScrew Doctor Strange, there’s a new mystic in town. The Brothers Miller (Ian & Jason) inject new life into the genre of sorcerers and modern magic in this trade paperback collecting the first five issues of PHILOSOPHER REX. Dr. Ishmael Stone is a traveling mystic and monster hunter whose cold demeanor houses enormous magical powers. Along with him is a cadre of characters: psychic con men, boy masters of mystic weapons, a half ghost/half witch (a ghost-wich?), and a blind monster detector, all of whom are both fun and powerful additions to a paranormal team supreme. Part DOCTOR STRANGE, part GHOST HUNTERS, part SCOOBY DOO, PHILOSOPHER REX is both fun and scary all at once. Much like X-FILES, the Doc and his team travel the country taking on one paranormal case after another. Be they evil possessed wolves or possessed townies who cannot die, the Doc and his crew seem ready for anything. The Miller Brothers write tightly woven stories and juggle the varied characters with ease. I especially liked the next to last story told from the diary of a young woman in peril that the doc and his crew come to the aid of. Though these five issues are drawn by various artists, the people behind this book are to be commended for making the art style consistent from one issue to the next. All of the artists mentioned above seem to have a firm grasp of drawing and inking both fantastical and mystic imagery and switches from one to the other without a beat. This is a strong effort from Arcana and worth checking out by anyone who longs for magic done right. I received PHILOSOPHER REX a while back, but with SDCC and other things, I didn’t have a chance until now to check the book out. Now I’m kicking myself for not reading it and passing the word on to you all sooner. Be sure to check out this graphic novel. It’s magically delicious!
DRAGON PUNCHER HC OGN By James Kochalka Top Shelf ProductionsDRAGON PUNCHER is one of those gems you stumble upon and thank your lucky stars for your luck. While perusing the Top Shelf table at NYCC, I couldn’t help but notice the crude drawing of a lanky giant with a photo of a cat for a head running through a photograph of a grassy landscape after what looks to be a dragon. When I cracked the hardcover open, I found that kookiness of an equal caliber oozed from every page as artist/writer James Kochalka casts his cat and his son as the main characters in this incredibly cute and enthralling adventure. Armed with his lucky spoon, Spoony-E tries to befriend the famous puncher of dragons, Dragon Puncher. Though Dragon Puncher claims that he fights alone, he finds that a friend is not a bad thing to have when faced against a dragon wearing the photo-face of the artist/writer of the book. This is one of those endearing stories that you can share with kids and still enjoy for its clever simplicity. Looking for something to read your kids that doesn’t suck? This is it. At the end of the year, I usually name my pick for Best Childrens’ Book for the @$$ies. It’s going to be hard to find anything better. Though it’s a quick read, I found myself returning to this book over and over, laughing and marveling at how ludicrous and brilliant it is.
THE LITTLEST BITCH HC OGN By David Quinn & Michael Davis (writers) & Devon Devereaux (art) Sellers Publishing, Inc.Here’s another one that falls under the category of child-like stories for grown kids. THE LITTLEST BITCH follows a snooty miniature CEO who continues to shrink the bitchier she acts. Drawn with a toe dangling into the artistic pool of Edward Gorey, Devon Devereaux does a great job of making the Littlest Bitch bitchy looking. This story doesn’t quite live up to the standard of the old BEAUTIFUL STORIES FOR UGLY CHILDREN books, but it comes close. Told with a definite dark flair, the story pulls very few punches and ends on a pretty black note. Upon further inspection, this one is from the twisted mind behind FAUST. Anyone who remembers that fantastically perverted and horrific series will be shocked to see David Quinn’s name on the cover, but once the tone of the book is understood, his involvement becomes more clear. The book lacks in both the amount of cuteness and uniqueness found in DRAGON PUNCHER. But in the end, it holds up as a decent cautionary tale to all who feel like acting bitchy is the way to go. This may be a good gift for that overbearing boss or cranky co-worker; just make sure it’s an anonymous gift or it may be your former boss or co-worker.
WEREWOLF HAIKU OGN By Ryan Mecum HOW BooksThis is the third in a series of phenomenal books by the modern master of poetic macabre, Ryan Mecum. Much like his ZOMBIE HAIKU and VAMPIRE HAIKU books, Mecum shows his talent at stringing the five-seven-five word structured knows no bounds once set upon a backdrop of a specific brand of horror. In this story, a love-struck mailman who longs for the heart of a woman on his route is bitten by what he at first thinks is a rabid dog. The hound turns out to be a werewolf and the reader is taken through a poetic journey as the romantic postal worker turns from shy, sheepish sob to wicked, wolfish wild-man. Mecum has a gift for delivering humor with bite:
Despite the movies, I do not have the desire, To surf on van roofs.
But this book is not declawed in the gore department either as exemplified by poems like these:
Constant gag reflex, Thanks to new strands of long hair, Growing in my mouth.
The best thing about Mecum’s books is that he is able to really wear the flesh of the monsters in his haiku poems. His little details and observations make all of the difference in making this werewolf story better than most.
Like a hand massage, Clawing makes small vibrations, That help calm me down.
If you’re looking for that perfect gift for the horror hound who has everything, buy WEREWOLF HAIKU and Ryan Mecum’s other great monster poetry books.