Thursday, February 26, 2009

Developing a Brocabulary: Stylinguistics

The following pearls of wisdom from Brocabulary: The New Man-i-festo of Dude Talk are dedicated to one of the smoothest, most stylish fellas I know, Mr. David Paggi, because today we're talking about Stylinguistics or Language that pertains to the elements of style.

Or in other words, "Who cares whether it's the clothes that makes the man or it's the man that makes the clothes--what matters is that the clothes make a woman want to..." and we'll stop short there.

brawndescension - The condescension a brawny individual shows towards a less well-developed specimen: "My trainer said I was developing a nice three-pack, but I think he was being brawndescending."

cloutfit - An outfit that shows how much clout you have via French cuffs with twenty-four-karat links, a diamond-encrusted Brolex watch, a bespoke suit, polished wingtips, etc.

credlocks - Dreadlocks sported by a white dude to try to establish cred in the black community.

darecut - A haircut you get on a dare: "Dude! There's a penis shaved into your head!" "Yeah, it was a darecut. I get to use Tim's Lotus for a night if I go into work wearing this."

doucheshave - A shave befitting a douchebag.

flaircut - A haircut with flair.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Watchmen stuff I found on eBay

Watchmen-mania is kicking wild balls right now thanks to the movie opening next weekend, and that means we've all started seeing that black and yellow logo everywhere. The merchandising for the movie already popped off, too, with Halloween costumes and books and coffee and so on.

So I looked on eBay for fun (cause that's what I do for fun) to see what kind of Watchmen crap people were selling and I was surprised to see a lot of older merchandise I'd never seen before. Here's some of the stuff I found:


The DC SPOTLIGHT series was a freebie DC sent to retailers back in the '80s and they acted as previews to the coming year's new titles. This first issue was released in 1985 and features a page on a new series called Watchmen. Yep, this is the first appearance of Watchmen. It's currently going for over $150 on eBay, but before you hardcore fans drop that cash on a copy, here's a secret: The "first appearance" is only one page. And it can be seen below:

No, I know it's a tiny version, and you can't really read it. I have another picture somewhere on my computer, so if I ever find it, I'll post it here. But there you have it.It's just a quick write-up on the book, and it features the art used on the new hardcover edition of the collected series.


Yay! Alliteration! This timepiece was released around the same time the book was in the '80s. I saw one for sale at a comic shop in Texas around 2000, and even then I thought it was ugly.


Yeah, there was a role-playing game in the '80s tied into the Watchmen universe. I actually saw this at a dollar store in Muskogee, Oklahoma when I was growing up around the early '90s and passed it by. I'd heard of Watchmen, but didn't care at the time. I believe I was busy reading about Superman dying or some other very important comic book event.


How boss does this look? Looks like a Nintendo cartridge package or something. Anyways, this is another role-playing game booklet. Note the blood platter-free smiley face button on the right shoulder of the Comedian.


This is the one I think I;d like to have. Something to do with Rorschach's journal. I believe they used content in this one, which was over-seen by Gibbons and Moore, to help build that video game they're making.


These were little metal figures tied to the role-playing game. There was the box and inside were the little metal guys you could paint and play with. I have no RPG experience beyond trying to play Dungeons & Dragons with a couple friends in high school at a sleepover for about 20 minutes before the guy who was our dungeon master got SUPER pissed at us for giggling and had his mom come and pick him up early. Even still, I wonder if this RPG was any good by regular players' standards. Seems to me this woulda been rad to play in someone's basement in 1986. Here's a closer view of the pieces:

I almost snagged this at a Wizard World Philadelphia show a couple years ago from this really old - but totally nice - retailer guy for $10 before I decided it was a stupid idea and went right on living my life. What the hell was I gonna do with metal figures of the Watchmen characters? And that all brings us to this baby:


This was a poster for the role-playing game. I like comic posters a lot, and there wasn't one other than this (that I know of) for Watchmen that was also all in color.

Up next, I plan on posting all the '80s comics fan press stuff I have on Watchmen. Keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sidekicks, Replacements, etc. part two

Picking up from where we left off...

Wonder Women
As anybody who has spoken with me about comics to a reasonable extent knows, I don't find Wonder Woman to be a very interesting character. I wrote a lengthy article on her history for Wizard back around 2006 or so and after immersing myself in Wonder Woman history and lore, came to the conclusion that, for the most part, she was a character who peaked as a gimmick in the 1940's and has been coasting on name/brand recognition ever since. Now this doesn't mean I haven't read Wonder Woman stories that I've thought were killer, because I adore George Perez's run and really liked Phil Jimenez and Greg Rucka's respective work on the character as well, but none of that convinced me that at her core Diana has much I want to get invested in. It's not like Hal Jordan, where I can pretty much pinpoint why I actively dislike the character but think Geoff Johns (and a few others) are so good at writing stories featuring him that I don't care and love them all the same; with Wonder Woman, I just find her dull, and for no particular good reason.

So obviously then I'd have no problem with a new Wonder Woman because I figure anything to shake the character up couldn't be a bad thing. But who?

I've got a soft spot for my man Bill Messner-Loebs' 90's yarn in which Diana was briefly replaced as Wonder Woman by the more aggressive Artemis. However, like "Prodigal," "War Machine" and even the death and return of Superman, it was a very of the era piece in that it had a feeling of being temporary from the start and you never really got into Artemis in the role because you were just counting down the months until Diana's inevitable return. I give Bill and subsequent creators credit for taking Artemis, who could have been an extremely one-note character in the vein of early Azrael, and actually giving her a lot of depth to the point where I think she's quite underutilized these days and would be a nice addition to a DC team like the Outsiders or just as a more featured character. However, more Artemis as Wonder Woman would feel very "been there, done that," as that story served its purpose and we know decisively why she's not meant for that role.

The most obvious candidate for would-be Wonder Woman is, of course, Donna Troy. However, while I actually really dig Donna by virtue of her New Teen Titans years, the sad fact is that her continuity is so convoluted that no extended story or series starring her would not get bogged down by the inevitable "Who is Donna Troy?" tribute/torture, so her viability as a leading lady is limited. It's too bad, because Donna as the more clued in to the mortal world incarnation of WW is a story that once upon a time would have had real legs. I wonder what could have been had she taken up the mantel post-Crisis the same as Wally...

Cassie Sandsmark is the same deal as Tim Drake: still too young.

I actually very much enjoyed the issues of both Wonder Woman and JLA where Diana's mother, Hippolyta, took over for her as it was an interesting inversion of the usual "younger sidekick takes on the mentor's" role dynamic. It was definitely different. Hippolyta also has the added benefit for DC of keeping more or less the same look and demeanor to one of their most heavily-licensed characters so that casual fans likely wouldn't notice the difference. However, marketing somebody's mother as the star of her own comic for the long-term may not be an easy proposition, so while I think Hippolyta would be a great foreseeable future Wonder Woman, it will likely never happen.

Ditto on trying to market an entirely new character as Wonder Woman.

So like many creators over many decades, I know something needs to be done with Wonder Woman, but I'm not too sure what it is. I'm sure somebody smarter and more creative than me will figure it out eventually.

Ghost Rider
On paper, it seems like the original Ghost Rider should be fairly irreplaceable. Johnny Blaze is a stunt rider with a badass name with a flaming skull for a head, a rad motorcycle, and a girlfriend named Roxanne. On the surface, that has all the makings of an iconic characters in my book, but I guess partly because he launched in the 70's and was likely seen as a passig fad genre character not unlike Shang Chi or Luke Cage (who both rock, FYI). The ease with which Danny Ketch replaced Johnny Blaze in the 90's and then the success he had during the decade shows that when it comes to Ghost Rider, people are maybe not so concerned with whose head is on fire.

With Jason Aaron's run on the current series, I've come to really appreciate Ghost Rider for the first time ever, to the point where it actually may be one of my top ten favorite books out there right now (I read a lot of comics, so top ten is more impressive than it may sound). But as much as I love the voice and persona Aaron has grafted onto--or revitalized in--Johnny Blaze, if he kicked the bucket and was replaced by Danny Ketch, Michael Badalino or some new character next month, I don't think it would dampen my enthusiasm for the title or inspire any sort of visceral outcry for me.

To posit another theory, maybe the lack of emphasis on Ghost Rider's civilian identity comes from the material and genre he springs out of. Ghost Rider probably owes more to the grindhouse horror movies of yore or classic frightfests like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween than it does to Spider-Man or X-Men. In movies and other works from that creative neighborhood, the bad guys/monsters are the stars, and the "heroes" are more or less there to get slaughtered with one pulling the temporary kill switch at the end. Even guys like the doctor/priest (help me out here, Rickey) who is always on Michael Myers' case in the Halloween movies was nowhere near as crucial to the story and the mythology as Michael himself and really could have been anybody. In that sense, Ghost Rider is Freddy/Jason/Michael Myers/Leatherface, and whether it's Johnny, Danny or whoever bringing him out to play is inconsequential.

Kudos to the folks who have worked to flesh out Johnny Blaze, but I think stories like Garth Ennis' Trail of Tears have made it clear that it's the Rider we want to see, and flesh is the last thing on a Ghost Rider fan's mind.

Green Arrow
Given who Oliver Queen is and his personality, I can't imagine anybody raised by him being content to merely fill his role rather than strike out on their own. Also, I can't see any way Ollie would ever surrender being Green Arrow so long as he's alive. Thus the fact that Roy Harper carved out his own adult niche as Arsenal/Red Arrow, honoring Ollie but not duplicating him, and that Connor Hawke, who was not actually raised by Ollie, became Green Arrow for a spell, but only while his dad was dead.

All that said, can there and should there be a Green Arrow other than Oliver Queen? I think there can be, but given what a rich and entertaining character Ollie is, I don't think there's an overwhelming desire among readers for there to be.

As I just said, Roy has carved out his own world and becoming Green Arrow at this point would be a step back. Connor now having spent years in close proximity to his old man and having had Ollie's teachings imparted on him likely now possesses that same independent streak and at least some ego. He may use the Green Arrow name again in the future, but he'll make it his own rather than standing in his dad's shadow (my favorite Connor Hawke story ever, the Key two-parter from early on in JLA, definitely had him in Ollie's shadow--he used a boxing glove arrow!). A female Green Arrow could be interesting someday down the line for a one-shot story, but the ladies in GA's life, from Black Canary to Shado to Speedy, all have their own rich identities as well.

Oliver Queen may not have the iconic value of a Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker (his biggest exposure to the mainstream world on "Smallville" is in a form that bears little resemblance to his comic book self), but he is a much-beloved character I don't think comic fans want to say goodbye to any time soon.

Nobody but Peter Parker should ever be Spider-Man (for more than a few issues). I know I said it already, but it bears repeating and is a statement I feel fairly confident making despite knowing that the winds of comic book change can blow in some unexpected directions.

It's more than just his iconic origin or the fact that a gajillion people have seen the Spider-Man movies and know Peter Parker as Spidey. It's that even though he's an Avenger and has helped saved the world from Skrull invaders, Spider-Man's story remains a very personal one and his world should always remain appropriately confined in conjunction with that.

Everybody in the universe feels Superman's presence and thus when he seemed to be dead, it made sense that people would rise up to fill the tremendous void he left. Same deal with Captain America, Iron Man, Batman, Flash, and any number of other heroes. But with Spider-Man, I feel like the appropriate ending to his story (if there ever were to be one) is him dying in anonymity, either in some battle that very few take notice of or of natural causes with his loved ones by his side. It doesn't seem natural that there would be other folks lining around the block to replace him because "the world needs a Spider-Man."

Peter Parker's mission of redemption and responsibility is one that began with a mistake he made and will end when he's not around to keep making up for it. There's no need for anybody else to take up his cause because it's not one they could possibly share. I don't know whether or to use the Clone Saga as evidence that even the closest approximation of Peter can't fill his role, but I feel like I kinda could.

So yeah, only Peter Parker should ever be Spider-Man.

Until the year 2099.

Why the Oscars were GOOD this year

I've always been a big fan of the Oscars (in no small part due to the heated Oscar pool I've participated in for the last seven years), but it's been tough to defend the ceremony itself the last several years because they've been so dreadfully dull. This year, the folks in charge of the Academy Awards (including Marvel board member and my main man Sid Ganis!) chose to make a change and hired the producing duo of Bill Condon and Laurence Mark to shake things up.

After four hours of chuckling, applauding and wiping a tear or two, I deem this "new era" for the Oscars a budding success. Here are a few reasons why:

Hugh Jackman
There were more than a few raised eyebrows when Condon and Mark tapped Mr. Jackman to host as opposed to the traditional snarky stand-up type, but it was a gamble that paid off in giving the show a different feel from the word go. Hugh's raw enthusiasm and charm in his quirky opening musical number was a nice change of pace from the usual "insult a bunch of people in the front row" humor of past years (hey, I laughed plenty at those monologues, but it's nice to see professionals appreciate one another as well). For past hosts, it really felt like they were just there picking up a handsome paycheck, but Jackman seemed genuinely thrilled and wide-eyed to be there. And hey, it sure doesn't hurt to have a Broadway-tested and award-wining singer on hand to kill some dead air belting showtunes as opposed to talking politics.

Quality Montages
Typically a glut of montages are what kills the Academy Awards, but this year, the visual tributes were creative and entertaining. I loved that they did the genre-specific highlight reels of 2008 and weren't stingy about including movies that were nowhere near sniffing distance of the Oscars but that people loved all the same. Who would have ever thought we'd see multiple clips from Rambo and Forgetting Sarah Marshall at the Oscars? The Best Picture montage splicing in thematically similar past winners with this year's nominees was both clever and well-executed.

Musical Mashups
Having Hugh Jackman and Beyonce duet on an ode to musicals-made-movies is a neat enough idea, but throwing in the High School Musical kids and some of the younger cast from Mama Mia gave the number an extra flare and yet another chance to acknowledge movies that wouldn't have been mentioned otherwise. Also, running the Best Song nominees in a free-flowing medley saved time, but having the Indian music of Slumdog Millionaire overlap with the Peter Gabriel jam from WALL-E created a unique and lovely musical moment.

Hiring/Utilizing Talented People
They could have gotten anybody to compose the aforementioned Jackman/Beyonce/jailbait song and dance-fest, but they got Baz Luhrman, which was pretty cool. Spicing up not-so-exciting categories like the Screenplay awards by having Tina Fey and Steve Martin riff off one another or letting Will Smith have fun with the Sound and Effects categories were a welcome departure from the "let's just bulldoze through these" mentality that grinded past shows to a halt. And of course I can't not love them letting Judd Apatow create a Pineapple Express mini-movie and plopping it in the middle of the show. Seeing James Franco and Seth Rogen crack up at The Reader or Franco watching himself make out with Sean Penn in Milk and then putting his arm around Rogen--classic.

The Acting Awards Presentations
Far and away the most dramatic change from past years but also without question the most impressive addition to this year's show was having the quintets of past recipients in the four Acting categories deliver speeches about each of this year's nominees rather than somebody just reading their names off a sheet of paper. For one thing, just seeing the likes of Robert De Niro, Sophia Loren, Christopher Walken, Whoopi Goldberg, Kevin Kline, Shirley Maclaine, Anthony Hopkins, Halle Berry, Ben Kingsley, etc etc. up there again is a treat. What I really liked though is the feeling that every nominee, win or lose, got to at least be acknowledged by a respected peer. It was like watching a group of graduate students be acknowledged by their favorite professors. The process created 20 (give or take a couple duds) personal and emotional moments that you felt lucky to be a part of. And Cuba Cooding Jr. giving Robert Downey Jr. shit for "taking parts away from black actors" made me laugh.

The Little Things
Queen Latifah singing "I'll Be Seeing You" over the In Memoriam tribute as opposed to pre-recorded music being played. Tina Fey being allowed to make a scientology joke. Ben Stiller taking potshots at Joaquin Phoenix. Heath Ledger's family getting to be the ones who accepted his award. The preview of 2009 movies at the end. The traditional accountants info being read over the credits as opposed to during the show. Touches like these just made a good show that much better.

Of course, it wasn't perfect. There were lots of technical glitches. The choice to keep switching camera shots during the In Memoriam tribute was distracting. The "telling the story of a movie being made" throughline didn't really work. But hey, give me a fun show that's rough around the edges over a technically flawless but unentertaining one any year.

Looking forward to 2010.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Milk

This was a good movie, but not the masterpiece I was expecting based on the acclaim it has garnered. The unfortunate thing for me is that I'd say the bulk of my problems with it come from filmmaking decisions which overshadow a great script and excellent acting performances. The first half of the movie is just badly paced, racing through the early portion of Milk's awakening as an activist and taking all the punch out of landmark events. Once things slow down for the second half after he's established and time is taken to really invest in the workings Milk's life and the politicial system, it gets good, but your end result is an uneven viewing experience. This could have been a very strong three hour movie, but instead, it's a clunky two hour piece. Gus Van Sant also makes some weird choices with slow mo shots and other strange cuts that don't work for me, again, mostly at the beginning--it's like he figured things out when he was halfway done and then didn't bother going back to fix his mistakes. As to the story, it's an important, powerful one and I'm glad it was told; the screenplay is definitely top notch. Sean Penn is charming as Harvey Milk and you can really tell how much he invested himself into becoming this real-life figure, which makes what he does all the more impressive. Emile Hirsch is excellent; James Franco, Diego Luna and Alison Pill are all really good. I'm a bit split on Josh Brolin, but it's hard to process him as a conservative politician and take it seriously after W. I'd recommend Milk, but I wouldn't raise your expectations too high; you'll appreciate it more that way.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kiel's New Site: Four Color Forum

There's a good chance that everyone on here already knows this, but a few weeks back during the New York Comic Con, I launched a brand new interview blog called Four Color Forum. Aside from links to all my work for CBR,, Wizard and the like, I'm also posting original long form interviews and other reportage.

If you've got some time this weekend, pop on over and read my interview with indie cartoonist and Kramers Ergot editor Sammy Harkham, my report on the ICv2 Graphic Novel Conference and just today my very own "Wizard feature that never was" – an interview with Bill Sienkiewicz on Marvel's Black Widow.

I doubt I'll be cross posting everything I do at the Forum here at the CKT (hooray blogging pet names!), so I'd love it if you guys bookmark or RSS the new site like you do for here. ROCK!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sidekicks, Replacements, etc. part one

I toyed with calling this "Round Robin: The Sidekick's Revenge" out of love and admiration for Kiel, but held back.

After my lengthy post about Wally West the other day, I got to thinking about the nature of sidekicks, and what happens when the characters evolve beyond their standard role. As noted in that entry, Wally West replaced his mentor and became the Flash and Bucky Barnes is currently doing a tour as Captain America, but those are more the exceptions than the rule. A sidekick usually either stays young forever, adopts a third role in between sidekick and mentor, or does a brieft stint as the main event and then reverts back to one of those first two states.

Here are some ramblings about what sidekicks deserve to "graduate," which shouldn't, what has and hasn't worked in the past, what heroes can/can't be replaced, etc.

Thinking it over (as writing a post such as this would require me to do), there are some "big-time" heroes whose roles and personas lend themselves better to another guy picking up the baton for a lengthy period of time because while they're each and every one great characters, they lack that intangible that tells you somebody else couldn't do the job. I'd say Green Lantern and Flash certainly fit this bill, Captain America does more than I would have suspected, and I'm not unconvinced there couldn't be another Iron Man or Wonder Woman.

The four A-list heroes who I don't really think can be replaced other than for a storyline or two are Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the Hulk. It's not just that they're very special characters, it's that their origins are so linked to personal tragedies that if somebody else put on the mask (or cape or torn purple pants) it's just not the same. Whereas Green Lantern was given an awesome ring and Captain America got to go fight Nazis, Batman does his thing because his parents got killed in front of his face and Bruce Banner must be the Hulk because he was caught in a terrible accident. You can replicate the circumstances that created the Flash, but you can't kill another guy's uncle and call him Spider-Man.

That said...

Batman & Robin(s)
Like I said, I don't think you can ever really have a Batman who isn't Bruce Wayne. Even if it's another raven-haired orphan who lost his parents, Batman's origin is too unique, iconic and unquestionably tied into the DNA of what makes him a great character that you can't swap the guy under the cowl out for too long.

And yet Bruce Wayne is currently RIP/MIA/etc. But that's totally ok, because while you can't replace Batman long term, stories about replacing him short term actually have a lot of potential.

It's been well over a decade now since the "Prodigal" storyline saw Dick Grayson (aka Nightwing, aka the original Robin) become Batman for a bit while Bruce Wayne healed up from his ordeals with Bane and Azrael. I found "Prodigal" to be a curious case of untapped potential, since the ideas behind it were intriguing but it didn't seem long enough or pivotal enough to make the impact it should have.

Dick Grayson can really never be Batman. The whole idea of Robin when he started out was that, despite the tragedy of his origin, he was the total 180 to Batman and thusly fleshed out the strip from a reader's standpoint and served as a valuable weapon from the characters' standpoint. Dick's Robin was chipper, optimistic, colorful--everything Batman was not. He was the acrobatic distraction that caught the bad guys' eye so Batman could come in and kick the shit out of them. For that character to somehow morph into the morose creature of the night who relies on fear that Batman must be is betraying the most integral spirit of the character. However, at the same time, you have to figure that Dick has spent his entire life since childhood thinking in the back of his mind, "That's gonna be me someday" about Batman the same way any kid secretly wants to take over their dad's business regardless of how unqualified or unsuited they are for it. Dick realizing he can never fulfill the role Bruce spent years training him for and coming to terms with it is a story I still think has worth; like I said, "Prodigal" touched on it, but it was over too quickly and done in an era not known much for its character development.

(As an aside, Nightwing is one of my favorite characters precisely because he has the bad ass qualities of Batman and yet the people skills of Superman. He can do the whole "I figured out 20 ways to beat you five minutes ago" junk that Batman does, but people actually like him. This is the reason I eternally hope he'll have an extended stint on the Justice League someday.)

Tim Drake still feels too new to me, even after having been around two-plus decades. I'm not ready for a story where he becomes Batman unless it's set in the future.

Jason Todd taking over the Batman role for a spell could actually be kinda neat, despite the fact that it's somewhat redundant. "Knightfall" was essentially a poor man's version of what Jason as Batman would be like, with Azrael filling the role of Batman disciple with a mean streak who takes over and goes nuts, forcing Bruce to take him down. However, the fact that Jason actually has a legitimate tie to the Batman legacy as opposed to being a character only a few months old and because his and Bruce's relationship is so complex could add the extra layers that would make for good drama.

Iron Man & War Machine
Not too long ago, I read the "James Rhodes as Iron Man" story I'd heard so much about when it was collected in Iron Man: War Machine and, like with "Prodigal," I was a bit let down by it being too short and taking place in the wrong era to really get the character exploration it deserved.

I was writing about Rhodey for earlier this week and noted that a lot of his appeal comes from just how out of place he is (or at least should be) in Tony Stark's world. Stark is this brilliant but flighty playboy whose fatal flaw is he doesn't generally realize the stakes he's playing at whereas Rhodey is a somewhat world-weary realist with real grit and work ethic who weighs every decision he makes. Their differences make for a great dynamic, but I always kinda yearn to see those scenes where Tony has to rush off to a meeting or stumbles off to bed wasted and Rhodey is left awkwardly in an environment he is completely uncomfortable with.

That was the story being told in that trade, as Tony "dies" and leaves Rhodey in charge of Stark Enterprises, a job he is woefully unqualified to handle and that he clearly hates. The flipside is that he gets to be Iron Man, but even there it's weird because he's wearing his dead best friend's suit. Seeing Rhodey, who is normally so self-assured, try to settle into those roles, creates dramatic tension I'm interested in reading about. But unfortunately, before you know it, Tony is back and Rhodey is out.

It's a shame, because back then I do think Iron Man was a character you could have replaced for a few years at least and Rhodey would be the guy I'd want to see do it. I know he had a longer stint as Iron Man back in the mid-80's, but I find it more interesting when Tony is out of the picture entirely and half the book isn't devoted to him.

Now, thanks to the "Iron Man" movie's success, Tony Stark is a pretty irreplaceable commodity and there also happens to be a lot of damn good stories being told with him. Also, after so many years as War Machine, Rhodey has his own niche and his becoming Iron Man would seem a step back since he's already his own man. I'm not particularly heartbroken by the current status quo because I think Tony as Iron Man and Rhodey as War Machine works just fine, but I do wonder what could have been.

Aquaman & Tempest
Tempest should absolutely be Aquaman. It should have happened like five years ago.

The fact is, despite a world of potential, Aquaman has been a stagnant character for quite some time. He gets brought back every few years only to be put down again because people are more interested in the idea of Aquaman than in reading a book about him. I do think there are some cool Aquaman stories starring the original out there waiting to be told, but I'm not sure they're so great we need to wait this long.

I think it's a Barry Allen situation if I ever saw one (which I never have because I wasn't actually reading comics back in 1986 at age four): there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting a beloved but new character in the orange scale suit and seeing what happens.

I'm biased because my buddy Phil Jimenez revamped him past his Aqualad days and has spent many an hour extolling upon me his virtues, but I think Tempest is a great character. He's nothing like Wally West as far as his personality, but he's got that same potential that Wally did back in the day. Garth has been a meek second fiddle most of his life in comics, standing two steps behind either Aquaman or the Titans, but when he has been given a chance to shine, he generally steps it up.

And he's got cool magic powers that beat Aquamans skillset.

I think a Tempest-as-Aquaman series with a shiny new number one and a dope modified costume would have been a really cool idea either after Arthur "died" during Our Worlds at War or with the One Year Later re-launch (which was actually a pretty cool book, but ultimately suffered from being close to the Aquaman people were used to, but not close enough to keep traditionalists happy and not new enough to bring in new readers--Tempest could solve both those problems).

Given that Aquaman is still kinda in limbo now, I maintain giving Tempest a go is worth a shot. Watching him try to rule a kingdom, fit in with the JLA and fight his mentor's villains could be pretty rad. And if it doesn't work, whatever, bring back the original.

The Hulk
There are a few good reasons that only Bruce Banner should ever be the Hulk.

1. Like I said above, he's got a great origin that is integral to the character and really wouldn't work shoved onto somebody else.

2. You don't need somebody else as the Hulk since given the nature of the character and the history of how he has been handled under guys like Peter David, you can just switch his persona without switching the man beneath the monster.

3. If you do make somebody else the Hulk, they're just going to end up getting one of the default Hulk personalities anyways, so what would be the point?

4. Banner's continued torment and inability to escape his curse are crucial to why the Hulk remains compelling. Some other guy just starting out as the Hulk doesnt have the same emotional weight as Banner having to deal with the guilt and stress that he's accumulated over decades.

5. Rick Jones was the Hulk for a bit once and he had an awful, awful mullet. It's a sight I'd like to forget.

All that said, it only takes one good story to prove me wrong (and it would be the first time).

More to come...

Watchmen cereal

There's already tons of Watchmen product debuting to tie into the upcoming film. But none of them compares to this product I found while reading Push #2, the comic based on the recent Chris Evans sci-fi movie:

Look closely for the Dr. Manhattan cereal to the right. Nummers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Whatever Happened to Jim Lee's Watchmen?

At San Diego Comic-Con in 2008, Jim Lee was supposed to unveil a Watchmen jam piece from him and all his studio buddies. The above art is the the only thing I've seen online about it and that was back during summer 2008 here. Lee just did the layout.

Has anyone seen the finished product? WAS it finished?

Either way, this Lee layout is rad. Can't wait for the movie on March 6.

AIM Adventures: Ben & Kiel's new venture

Out of nowhere, Kiel has an idea...

Kiel: Ben, you should get a job just coming up with new franchises for giant media companies to exploit
Ben: Yeah?
Kiel: Example: give me a reimagined Disney property that could inspire brand loyalty across multiple plat forms in the hip, snarky 11-year-olds of the new Millenium
Ben: Peter Pan set in modern day New York City and the Lost Boys are a street gang
Kiel: GOLD!
Kiel: We'll use hip hop in it too
Ben: Obviously
Kiel: That suggestion is why i get a creative executive credit

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Like a Virgin: FABLES VOL. 3

As I said over in the first installment of this column, I fancy myself a well-read comics fan, but there's tons of highly praised stuff I just haven't made it to, yet.

So, I've decided to tackle Fables from Vertigo Comics and I'm posting my reactions to each collection here. Watch out for spoiler if you haven't read the books!

This time it's Vol. 3: Storybook Love.

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Bryan Talbot and Linda Medley
Inked by Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton, Talbot and Medley
Covers by James Jean and Aron Wiesenfeld
Collects Fables #11-#18

What I knew going in (remember: there will be spoilers!):
  • Snow White and Bigby Wolf are going to have babies.
  • Gapetto is the Adversary/series creator Bill Willingham intended for the Adversary to be Peter Pan before it was discovered that copyright laws in certain places didn't have Pan in the public domain, which is a criteria Willingham uses in his recruiting for the characters in the series.
  • James Jean is a dope-ass artist.
  • I originally bought and read issues #1-15 of the series as they came out and just stopped one day because I was spending too much money and it landed on the chopping block for no good reason.
What I thought as I read:
  • Lookit Aron Wiesenfeld doing his cover thang! I dunno why he did the cover for issue #11's standalone story, but he did. He also did the late teens/early 20s covers for Y: The Last Man, too. He's a solid artist I first noticed from his spectacular covers on that anthology book WildStorm!, and you can check out his line art here:

So, when I saw him in Fables, I was tickled and baffled. And both were very welcome feelings. I think this cover may be only one of two for the entire series NOT done by Jean. The first being that Maleev variant for issue #1.
  • Zombie farmyard animals? Rad.
  • I gotta say, as much as I enjoyed Medina's art in the first volume, his art in this volume's two-issue story about a journalist who thinks the Fables are a community of vampires was top-notch. Great layouts and angles and pacing all over. Wow.
  • Did I mention this story is about a journalist who thinks the Fables are a community of VAMPIRES!? Fuck, that's exactly what I meant in my vol. 1 writeup when I said I was excited about the story possibilities this series could present. And seeing a group of the male characters stumbling around in heist fashion to steal any evidence the journalist had is so much fun to watch.
  • Seeing Bigby knock Bluebeard down a peg was pretty cathartic considering Bluebeard is kind of a tool. But I wasn't prepared to see BB cry like that - and even more unprepared for how sorry it made me feel for the formerly murderous pirate.
  • Forget my crush on plain ol' Beauty - I now have a crush on SLEEPING Beauty:
  • Cold, Bluebeard. Yer cold as ICE:
  • Tiny patrolmen on mice?! YES!
  • The sparring match between Bluebeard and Prince Charming that ran across the bottom of the pages in issue #14 was a little distracting at first, but I didn't mind the switch-up in structure by the end.
  • Goldilocks and Bluebeard?! Ew, lah lah!:
  • Heroes:
  • Not sure I dig the way Buckingham draws Bigby's mouth (or lack of a mouth) under his facial hair. Maybe I'll get used to it...
  • Pinocchio made an odd design change between issues #13 and #15 - what's with the square jaw?:
  • I just like this panel:
  • Fucking hero:
  • I like Prince Charming setting up some detective work of his own by hiring the tiny police agents from the farm. Just as I was thinking the guy was a one-note douche character, he pulls some stuff like that.
  • Fucking EPIC hero:

See, it's the side battles and arcs like this that really keep me glued to this book. The Snow White and Bigby stuff is usually front and center and then you get smaller (literally smaller, as is the case here) intrigue from sprinkled bits like this. It usually leads to no fat in the series, which I like.
  • It's cute to hear Bigby's proclamation of love to Snow White. Following up on the text piece from the end of the first volume, Bigby's explanation that Snow White, no matter all his work to make the fact not true, is his one eternal love...and he's known it for some time now. Genuinely touching stuff and surprising emotional responses from characters I thought I had pegged for sure.
  • Here's my favorite splash of the series so far, courtesy of Bigby's huff and puff attack against a sniping Goldilocks. You can feel the power in the art:
  • Speaking of which, finding out the Bigby's dad is the North Wind is a stellar touch! Looking forward to seeing THAT interaction followed up.
  • Oh Snap! Bluebeard vs. Prince Charming? PC comes out on top. Poor Bluebeard.
  • As if Goldilocks unloading a rifle into a full-grown Bigby's wolf mouth weren't brutal enough, in comes Snow White with the thwack:
  • The following chilling panel reminds me of Brad Pitt in Fight Club whispering "What's that smell."
  • And the fight goes on for a few panels. It's really beautiful, frightening survival of the fittest shit going on. The volume is worth a read for those few pages alone.
  • Ah-ha! I did NOT know that was how Snow and Bigby got preggers. The poor couple.
  • Notice in the standalone backup story from issue #18 that as the tiny adventurer and his brave bird fly back into the Homelands for a miracle to save his people, he tells his bird to fly "straight on 'til morning." Those, of course, are the final words of direction used in "Peter Pan" to explain how to get to Neverland. I dunno how long it was before Willingham decided not to go with Peter as the Adversary, but to get back to the Homelands you had to at least go through Pan's realm, so I'd assume it was still in Willingham's head in issue #18.
  • My favorite cover in the collection? Right here:

It's dangerous, soft, stylized, leveled and pink. But here is my choice for second place, which is unfortunate, because I stopped buying the series initially just one issue before it. And you can see this is the collection where James Jean really starts feeling comfortable with his voice on the series' covers. As always, I love his pinks here. And the mood in this cover is just the right mix of noir and elegance for me.

Now on to volume 4...

Monday, February 16, 2009

I saw My Bloody Valentine 3-D!

Please please please, if you can still do it, go and see My Bloody Valentine in 3-D. It's like a roller coaster opened at your local theater and you had no idea. Seriously, when's the last time you could go see a wide-release slasher film in theaters? Jaws 3-D? GO! It's nuts fun. Yell at the screen! Eat some popcorn! Grab the person next to you! Bring 12 friends! Kidnap a baby, raise it to love slasher films, teach it how to master 3-D technology and bring about an army of 3-D movies for future generations in which a character has a pick-axe shoved through their eyeball!!!

And I'm not gonna try and review this beauty. Instead, I want to share with you something I didn't realize when I was going in to the theater:

Tom Atkins is in this motherfucker.

Yeah. Tom Atkins. He's still around and kicking all the shit out of bad guys. In honor of his surprise (to me) role in this film, I now give you the top 8 reasons I love Tom Atkins:

He plays Rehme in

He plays Stan in

He plays Dr. Dan Challis in

He plays Frank McCrae in

He plays Michael Hunsaker in

He plays Detective Ray Cameron in

He plays Nick Castle and (sleeps with Jamie Lee Curtis) in

And, of course, he made my heart happy by playing Sheriff Burke in

Thank you, Tom!

And you, reader, must go and have a good time asap at My Bloody Valentine 3-D. Just look at this picture I had a stranger take of me when I exited the theater with my 3-D specs still on and a bag of Watchmen (!) popcorn:

That's joy on my face.