Saturday, May 30, 2009

Comic Capsule Review 5/27/2009

Before I start..Kudos to DC for use of the Red Circle heroes. Nice placements. Who's ever idea that was. Gold star.

Trinity #52: A nice send off to an enjoyable story. I think Busiek and Nicieza tied up all the loose ends nicely and left a plentiful toy box of threads for creators to use in the future. bravo. I liked much of the dialogue between the characters. Particularly the discussion between Carter, Alan Scott and Jay Garrick. And I loved The trinity (Batman, Supes and Wonder Woman) discussing how they felt as gods to those closest to them and of course them doing what they do best running off to save the day in a big splash leading DC's heroes to the next challenge. The one thing I found odd was Enigma and Sphere(Steph(his daughter), They want to give Earth-3 (the opposite DC Earth and home of the Crime Syndicate) Hope...not looking like that. They need some serious new duds...they look like villains. I am not sure what's next for Krona, but he has always been an interesting character, hopefully he will show up again someday. The art was very nice, not the greatest. Bagley is great and his pages are always dynamic, but as throughout the series the companion artists haven't been consistent. And you can see it on these pages as well. Again wonderful colors by Pantazis. have fun on your well deserved vacation Kurt. Can't wait for Wednesday Comics. 8.5 out of 10

Amazing Spiderman #595: That was a great Spiderman issue. No two ways about it. Joe Kelly really did a great job with every character in the book. Especially portraying Peter's rising frustration with Osborne and wanting to protect his best friend Harry (to no avail) from Norman. Great roof top conversation by Spidey and Wolverine, just a really excellent scene. Great use of a cameo. And the After the dinner that didn't happen at Gracie Mansion, we are presented with a powerful, dramatic beat down of Osborne by Spidey...that is really to no avail again. Much to Spidey's frustration Norman Osborne always wins. In the end he gets the call from his son. Norman uses any one and any thing to get what he wants. tense powerful superhero drama. I love Norman's threat to Spidey. More then just the word it's illustrated beautifully by Phil Jimenez. And every page is beautiful. unique and expressive characters, wonderful backgrounds, detail off the scale, and intense action. the beat down scene of Spidey man-handling Norman was intense and powerful. This issue rocked. BND nay-sayers better get on board. Your missing some great stuff. 9.5 out of 10

Wonder Woman #32: Certainly the best issue since the Queen of Fables two-parter. A great massive superfight. And I must admit a pretty damn well done one to boot. Visceral, powerful, big. What the issues should have felt like all along since Genocide showed up. Nice touches, like throwing buses and missiles. Great. I even liked some of the narration by Diana. The one element of the big fight I did not like was Wonder Woman using her tiara as a melee weapon, dumb is the only thing I can say about that. Other then that, the entire fight, including ripping the lasso out of Genocide's body was amazing. What I didn't like was that although the narration was good you get no emotional resonance from the dialogue or character interaction. The reveal about Wonder Woman's feeling about Nemesis was...well...*lame* and Zeus (still in his space suit) talking at Achilles was weak at best. he needs to tell Achilles, legendary warrior of warriors and leader of the Myrmidons about intensity...I think if any one knows a thing or too about that it's the greatest mythic warrior ever. That being said I am curious about the next chapter and what Ares is up to. The art was excellent. Really nice powerful super hero slug fest pages by Lopresti. Intense. And the colors in this book are great too. A solid read and hopefully a sign of things to come from this book. 7.5 out of 10

New Avengers #53: Bendis brings it big time with this issue. Of course it's filled with great banter. Its fun in that regard. But what really is working is the use of characters, the interactions, and best of all a well executed story. I love the bit with Cap finding it odd no will take a gun. And I really love Damien Hellstorm. Wow. I have always loved him, way back to the bare chested and a cape days. But here, he comes of as an interesting character. I love his parts in the issue and his confrontation with the Hood. I love him asking matter of factly, "who is the demon possessing you?". This Search for the next Sorcerer Supreme has been fun, the Action and story has been great, and as much as I though I would hate having Wolvie and Spidey on the same team...I am thinking they should stay Avengers forever. I am not the biggest fan of Tan. he tends to be a little messy for my tastes but I have to admit he does a fantastic job with the camera and moving it around. and although sometimes the characters are oddly skinny or posed. The action and expression is dynamic. He does a hell of a super fight in the streets of New Orleans. I mean explosive. I cannot wait to see how this ends. The whole scene in Damien's apartment between him and Hood are beautifully handled. This issue was bananas. Can the Hood be saved? If Dormammu makes it to the Earth plane..the NEW Avengers are gonna need some back up. And I am curious who will be the New Sorcerer Supreme? , I was kinda hoping for Wiccan. 9 out of 10

Supergirl #41: It is sad when a great story, especially one that has ran several issues with the original art team is ruined by a fill in artist. Not that Dagnino is horrible. He is homage artist. Heavily influenced by the Davis/Hitch/Reis style. Unfortunately it comes off a ta amateurish. Some of the anatomy is too awkward and the weird panel shapes are distracting. again not horrible. But really not on a level with what Igle has been bringing since he joined the book. And worse the coloring also contributed to muting the art. Page after page instead of enhancing the art the colors are either dark, or have a burnt effect which I believe is supposed to be shading. The action is handled well overall, and there are some good dramatic scenes, like the last page. But I really wish Igle could have finished this off. I love his art. After all the complaining about the art the story ends great. We get a dramatic climactic battle and really I love hating Reactron. He has become an awesome villain. You really get impact and emotion from the script especially in the final pages of the issue. Theres a real sense of loss here. And I am sure general Lane is gonna be out for blood, Great job Gates, i really would love to see yo on the Teen Titans. I recommend this series highly. I was just let down by the issues art, Big time. 6 out of 10

Superman #688: A mixed bag. While good, and definitely sets up some more great plot. The book has been moving slow. But what was here was good. I like the dialogue a lot. And am glad Mon-el has no become a duplicate of Superman. I love Harper. I would love a series with him. Robinson does much to pull us in, but doesn't really give us anything explosive. The Sci-police freeing Tellus from general lane, with a pointless fire fight between guards and the science police as Guardian and Mon do the break out without any resistance of any type although there is a great silent confrontation with Code Name: Assassin in the night sky. So I have high hopes for what is to come. Things I did not like were. Mon-El's hair. That is not his hairstyle and never will be. Please pay attention to detail like that. Mon-el has history with a huge group of fans, Legion nuts like myself. So get it right. Next. Can some one tell Guedes Dr. Like is Japanese. And her costume is horrible. A pointless and badly conceived cosmetic change for no reason. If you are gonna do it..go all in. And lastly...What does' Mon-el know about Hemingway or what would be considered a classic quality of human women in Paris? that was odd. The art was good. I can't complain about Guedes too much. nice backgrounds and great expression. The coloring is a little washed for my taste. So over all. The book is plodding along..something important needs to happen soon. 6 out of 10

Justice Society of America #27: The past it seems comes back to haunt certain members of the Society. I think this arc by Ordway will be a nice fill in as we wait fir Willminghamn to come on board. Forgot how well Ordway knows these characters, he was drawing them way back in All-Star Squadren days. Its a solid read, but not big on action. Basically Obsidian locks out certain members from the JSA Brownstone as he has a feeling certain members are in danger. To the other he requests that they stop whatever is going to happen from getting in. Well they don't bickering in and out leads to the Ghost getting in and kidnapping Green Lantern, Flash, Wildcat, Liberty Belle and Hourman back to Hiroshima, and the heroes are powerless to stop the Atomic blast. meanwhile the issue ends with Spectre appearing before the other members essentially saying, come with me if you want to save your friends. The art by Ordway and Wiacek is perfect for these characters, I always say that when Ordway draws the book. But I can't help it, there is something about his style that captures a certain quality that works especially well on them. Not to mention he is an incredible storyteller. Simple straight forward panel arrangements, he doesn't mess around with busy scenes and hyerstylization or flash. 7.5 out of 10

Hercules #129: More fun of mythic proportions by Pak and Van Lente. This book continues to be one of my favorite monthly reads. And what has been best is how the writers in a witty way have inserted the last two major events into the title. The God Squad was fun and the last arc with the Dark Avengers was great as well..Herc being one of my favorite characters tossing around Sentry will always put a smile on my face. This issue continues Herc's mission against the evil God's plans on Earth, Athena sends Herc and Cho in to Hades to save Zeus. Unfortunately it's by way of an Atlantic City Casino. Silly? Sure. But well executed and fun. Nice little cameos of characters like Wasp and Jack-of-hearts, amusing scenes with the boatman Charon, and a great cliffhanger of Zeus in chains at Hades feet. The art is also really nice by Stegman. Clean, great character and expression and gesture. Good storytelling and he really handles the brief moments of excitement and action like a pro. Some really nice splash pages. I like the coloring, but it tends to be a little dark in places. Overall a good read, but definitely a slower pace to get to the big action that seems to be waiting n the next issue. This is a book I always recommend people pick up. You will be pleasantly surprised. 8 out of 10

Wolverine: Old Man Logan #72: If this isn't the best Wolverine story in the last 10-15 years you really have to prove it to me. This is high octane, Mad Max comics with superheroes with the added bonus of two of the best creators in the business right now, Millar writing and McNiven drawing doing everything perfectly. I don't care if it's in continuity or not, I don't care about anything other then it's a fun visceral ride executed by the best in the biz. And really i can't imagine this arc done by any one else. It will stand the test of time mark my words. The writing and pace is excellent, Millar has you on the edge of your seat from the moment you get a history lesson from the Red-Skull. It all comes together. The background and character quirks make this wonderful if a somewhat fast read. But it doesn't matter, because you get a great fight between Logan and Skrull. Sure the ending is somewhat predictable, but you know that's how it has to be. Logan returns home after his personal Pilgrim's Progress to find his family is killed. The Hulk Clan are in for it big time. Vengeance. And I am sure it will be just as fun and visceral as the rest of the series. From an art perspective it is perfect. McNiven's tone and style, use of detail is amazing. All the elements come together to tell a great story. It's almost like it isn't a Marvel comic. Like Marvel characters are on loan to Heavy Metal. The violence is strangely appropriate to the title. And the expression is perfect, page after page there great facial expressions...the last few of Logan are amazing...and McNiven may do the best Red Skull ever. The book is full of memorable scenes. Especially obviously the last page of Wolverine claws extended. Brilliant. But my personal favorite image is the homage to the Zeck Captain America Cap Vs Wolverine cover with roles reversed. Nice touch. I wonder who's idea that was. This book is great. There is no excuse in the world not to buy this. 10 out of 10

Green Lantern #41: Another book that is great but suffers some due to fill in art. The story is great don't get me wrong. I love Agent Orange actually, although I don't like that his Corps are orange energy constructs he creates. I understand the power is his. And he shouldn't have to generate what essentially amount to slaves to do his bidding. He is Greed incarnate everything is his and done for his pleasure. Johns adds another layer of tapestry to the Lantern mythology with Agent Oranges origin. Very nice interesting stuff. My only quip is whats going on with Hal and the Green and Blue rings. I am kinda glad he gets his arm lopped off so agent Orange can claim it. And it was interesting how Hope is tied to Greed in the story. Where the art fails is in Tan's art. he isn't bad, but it certainly needs to be reigned in and tightened up his pages are chaotic, and at times lack focus. I am not sure having a strong inker would help. It seems to be his style. That being said he does well with alien design and landscapes. The origin of Agent Orange and the history lesson is drawn by some one I think has big things in store for him. Eddy Barrows, the guy is amazing. But for some reason he falls victim to the chaos as well. But I think it is far superior storytelling to Tan's pages. The coloring tends to be dark. And maybe it works with the story, I think with all the ambient light from the rings especially when Lanterns of different colors or the Guardians are unleashing their power it should be deliberately brighter. 8 out of 10

Hey did Animal Man come out this week? I missed it. Need to get that. Gerry Conway and Chris Batista..gotta have it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Retro-review: Silver Surfer Annual #1 (1988)

Before doing this review I would have sworn this comic came out in the 90's. I guess after having read so many books over the years many series and periods seem to mesh together for me.

But it was the late 80's(1988). I was loving this Silver Surfer relaunch.
Englehart, the late great Marshall Rogers and Rubenstein had really done an amazing job revitalizing and weaving a great tale in the first 12 issues. Essentially using the Elders to great effect in a ploy to use the Infinity Gem to restart the universe as the only survivors each become a Galactus. It doesn't work obviously, but it is executed perfectly by the creative team, who go on to continue the tale and expand into a war between the Kree and the Skrulls.

That being said the annual came out and was part of Marvel's Evolutionary War event that ran through all the Marvel annuals.

The gist of the story is the High Evolutionary wants to perfect humanity and requires some essential DNA information from Surfer to do so. So he pops up in Olympia and appeals to the Eternals to collect it for him. Since they benefitted from similar genetic tampering millenia ago at the hands of the Celestials they think it's a good idea to force Surfer to volunteer his DNA for humanities greater good. Science spawned gods they are...ethics can be ignored.

In the mean time, Sufer is returning to Earth and witnesses the reconstruction of the Super-skrull who had been scattered into the atmosphere as radiation. They fight, and Surfer wonders if he should tell Super-skrull that is race is again at war with the Kree..and have lost their natural shape-shifting abilities.. The fight is interrupted and the unlikely allies are captured by Ikaris and the other Eternals. Brought to Olympia for testing, the Surfer finally has enough and he and Super-skrull escape and battle anew with the Eternals.

Eventually Super-Skrull ties to escape, and as the Eternals go to chase, Surfer prevents them and tells Super-skrull to go and that he will hold off the Eternals, his people need him, as his genetic code may hold the key to revitalizing the Skrull race. The Skrull thanks him and the Eternals finally have a change of heart as forcing a living being to do something like succumb to unwanted testing isn't right. Nice tidy ending no fuss no muss.

It may sound silly, but even upon re-reading all these years later Steve Englehart's plot and scripting makes for great classic comics. the best of intentions lead to confrontation and realization that I was the wrong thing to do.

The execution is great. Englehart's script is to the point, and enjoyable. The characters are handled well and play their parts in the big scheme of things. Its also nice how Englehart seeds plots for the future that will last 25 issues or so and end up making Super-skrull one of my favorite characters while still making the story relevant to the larger event Marvel's Evolutionary War.

The art chores are handled well by Joe Staton. Its very cartoony as always, manages to work well for superheroes. He does a great job on the story-telling and action. There is nice action and great expression. Rubenstein inks and like always really adds nice finishing touches to the pencils. I don't think Staton's work is as dynamic as Marshall's or Lim's(who tales over Surfer soon after), but it is certainly strong enough to carry this story.

The great thing about the annuals of this time was additional content, and in this particular annual its all good. A great story drawn by Lim, and I think this was the first time I saw his art, that provided a prelude of sort to the next chapter of the story with the Eternals, and widened to eventually include a great war between the In-betweener and Galactus. And another story with the rebirth of Mantis, who also becomes an important secondary character in the book.
Finally you have some awesome pin-ups by Ron Lim and Joe Rubenstein.

All in all a great read, I really recommend every one who love cosmic comic book super heroes to pick this issue up, and to also check of the series. Englehart, Rogers, Staton, Lim, Rubenstein..they really did an amazing re-envisioning of Surfer and really told some fun, epic stories.

Grade: 9 out of 10

Aris Asks Cully Hamner

Cully Hamner is currently working on The Question which will will appear monthly as a co-feature in Detective comics beginning with issue #854 from DC. Recently he finished up Black Lightning: Year One and a run on Blue Beetle and is also known for his creator owned project RED. He is one of my favorite artists ever, and really thankful he took the time to answer some questions.

1. Why do you think people think you are Black?

I've been trying to figure that out for almost 20 years now. The only thing I can think of is that when people first started to notice me, I was the artist on GREEN LANTERN: MOSAIC. That was the one that featured the JohnStewart GL, who is black. I guess add to that a name that isn't Mike or Jim or Steve, and people's own benign prejudices or preconceived notions do the rest. I don't care, really, what color people think I am, as long they spell my name right.

2. Besides the guys in your studio who is the biggest influence on your art?

Oh, let's see. I grew up in the 70's and 80's, so I could list anywhere from DC greats like Schaffenberger, Swan, Oksner, and Giordano to Marvel ones like Byrne, Miller, Simonson, Paul Smith, and like a hundred inbetween.

When I hit my late teens, I discovered Mike Mignola and the late,great Will Eisner. And around that time I discovered that writers could influence an artist as a storyteller, as well-- probably because Byrne,Miller, and Simonson all wrote their own stuff-so it became important for met o learn what makes a story work.

I noticed a lot of television writers,because I felt that they had to work in a way that was compact and episodic,and get a lot of information across with very little. I guess instinctively felt a relation between TV and comics. So, I'd add Rod Serling very prominently to the list, along with Harlan Ellison for both his TV and short fiction.

3. How did you get into comics?

As a reader or as an artist?

As a reader, I don't remember. I read everything as a kid, and comics were around. I liked to do that and to draw, so the math is pretty evident, I guess.

As an artist, I just figuredout pretty early that it was something I wanted to do. So, I always drew,and wrote, and begged my Mom to buy me books on it all-- which, by the way,she and my Dad were actually pretty great about. I was the only kid I knew of in my area that had a makeshift drafting table set-up in my pre-teens. I had a pretty functional little studio, complete with supplies, in my room.And for me to have that in a family of six, sharing a room with my older brother, you have to hand it to my parents.

4. Are you sure you're the same guy that drew Green Lantern: Mosaic?

Yup. Like I said, my first substantial work in comics-eleven issues, I think.

5. How did you get involved with Gaijin?

I had met a writer by the name of Chuck Moore at the Atlanta Spring Comics Fair while I was showing samples around. I want to say that I was maybe twenty. Chuck knew Brian Stelfreeze, and took me over to his studio one day. It was the first time I'd ever seen a real working comic book artist's studio, and I think both Karl Story and Adam Hughes were there visiting,though I may be mixing up visits. But I basically just melted into the group. At the time, there were those guys, plus Craig Hamilton, Joe Phillips, Tony Harris, Wade Von Grawbadger were also hanging around. Dave Johnson and Jason Pearson came into that orbit right around the same time as me, I think, but there was no Gaijin yet.

I do remember on one visit that Brian pulled me aside and said that the plan was for a bunch of the guys to congregate in Atlanta and lease a warehouse space together, to form astudio, and he wanted me in it. The thinking was that the one criteria was that you had to have a regular paying gig, and I didn't have Mosaic yet.Once I did, I saved some money for a few months, and made the move in June or July of 1992. I was kind of the last puzzle piece of that initial group to move in; Brian, Adam, Joe, Jason, Dave, Tony, and Stine Walsh (a veryfine oil painter) were already there. Karl had been there during that firstyear, but left temporarily when his wife at the time had to move for her job. He did come back to stay, though, eventually.

6. Have you ever been intimidated by another artists work?

From day one and every day since! And thanks for rubbing it in.

7. What are you working on right now?

I'm working with Greg Rucka on DETECTIVE COMICS, doing The Question,starting with issue # 854, and having the best time. I really love working on it. I like the character, I like who I'm working with, I like thes tories (which are of a very manageable length for me to do on a schedule).Just no downside so far, the whole situation has me whistling while I work.

8. Blue Beetle, Black Lightning: Year One, and now the Question.your arguablythe whitest guy in comics, what's with the ethnic characters?

You got me, pal. It's another thing I've been trying to figure out. May bebecause I try to be fair and honest in my portrayal of ethnic characters? I don't know. The bottom line is that I try to approach characters from the inside out, rather than the reverse. Whether that has ever had something to do with me being assigned a disproportionate number of characters who aren't whitey, I have no clue.

9. Do you have any other projects on the horizon after the Question?

Hmm. I do, but nothing I feel I can talk about. For the foreseeable future,it's The Question.

10. What is going on with Red?

A bit, actually. Summit Entertainment-the studio behind TWILIGHT, KNOWING,and PUSH-bought an option from Warren Ellis and me last year, and it's being produced by Lorenzo DiBonaventura, former WB studio chief and producer of TRANSFORMERS, and Mark Vahradian. Last I heard, they were talking with Bruce Willis to star and a few people, among them Richard Donner, to direct.It seems to me that they're moving with a fair head of steam, so I'm hopeful that it actually gets made.

Also, DC/Wildstorm will be publishing abrand-new edition of the original work in June. It has a new cover by me,and features all three original issues, along with Warren's first-issue script and my first-issue layouts, side-by-side. All that, plus my character sketches and the like.

11. What did you think of Kirkman's creator owned argument a while back?

I think it's a nice idea, but probably not real feasible if you're not considered to be in the top five percent of pros in this business. I'm too busy making a living and paying my bills most of the time, and I have to be very strategic about when I do creator-owned work. I'll do more, for sure,but it can only be when my own circumstances allow it. Still, I think what Robert said needed saying.

12. What is your relationship to 12 Gauge Comics?

Minimal, for now, due to my DC exclusivity, but I guess I'm part of a braintrust for 12 Gauge. I was one of the folks that was on the ground floor of it, and later accepted a "Creative Consultant" title to offer whatever experience I could without cutting too much into my main projects. Keven Gardner, Doug Wagner, Brian Stelfreeze, and Jason Pearson are all my buds,and I help whenever I'm asked and wherever I can.

13. You're on the internet a lot, how do you get any work done?

Before I can give you an answer, Aris, you have to tell me, down to the minute, how much time I do actually spend on the internet. Get back to me with that, would you?

14. Any advice for aspiring comic artists?

It's not just about drawing, in and of itself. Develop the writer within you along with the artist, take control of your craft, and always try to foster a dialogue with your writer. Be a partner, listen, but don't be afraid to contribute on a story level, as long as you do no harm to the idea. You are not there simply to take dictation. Your job is to service the story.

15. Does it make your day knowing your one of my top three favorite artists?

It not only makes my day, it makes me regular, my friend. You're my own personal laxative.

16. How long does it take you to do a finished page?

It depends on how much work the page itself calls for, but I average something like three or four pages a week, pencils and inks, give or take.

17. If you weren't drawing comics you would be?

Probably still something creative, maybe in film, TV, or animation, I guess.I never considered the possibility that I wouldn't be doing comics when I was trying to break in. How arrogant is THAT?

18. You're driving on a windy rainy night. You spot a car broke down on the sideof the road, you stop, roll down the window and its George W. Bush, what do you do?

First, I look around for cameras. Then I ask him if he slipped his SecretService detail. Again.

19. Is Dave Johnson an ordained minister?

He is, as are Karl Story and myself. When Dave was in the studio, we all sent away for certification in the Universal Life Church of Modesto,California. Far as I can tell, it's legal, and any of us can actually perform marriage ceremonies and such.

20. Gaijin Studios is an amazing concentration of talent, has been for years,are you guys actually in a studio together?

Thanks. We're together just about every day, actually, and the core of us has been since 1991. It's not one of those virtual "studios," where people live in different states, work home, and only appear together at cons. We come in every day and work.

21.Who are the other members?

Currently, Brian Stelfreeze, Doug Wagner, Karl Story, Laura Martin, and myself.

21. Who would win in a Thunder Dome style fight to the death?

Brian, 'cause he'd cheat!

22. What is the best thing about being a comic artist?

Being essentially your own boss, being creative, having fans... I could goon. I mean, sure, there are negatives, but who wants to hear that, and why on earth would I ever complain? I'm really lucky.

23. You seem like a politically savvy guy, who would you describe your politicalviews?

On my Facebook, I describe myself as a "pragmatic lefty." I consider myself a liberal, and all that that implies, but I get tired of being told that that means I don't love my country, I don't respect people in uniform, and that people like me are elitist and weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. I understand that wars are necessary at times; I just want it to be a last resort and for good reason. I understand that a strong economy depends upon favorable conditions for business; I just don't want it to be at the expense of the little guy. I understand that the majority rules, but I feel that the voice of the minority should be respected and protected. I think we should respect intelligence, not demonize it. I have no wish to live in a theocracy. I think we should take care of the planet as best we can. And I think that people should be in charge of their own bodies, and should be able to marry the person they love-period.

24. People say the days of paper comics are numbered, what do you think?

It's certainly possible, and even probable, but I don't think it'll happen with any permanence until someone comes up with a light, hand-held notebook computer that looks, acts, and feels like paper. When computers match that,that's when the change over will happen. Until then, printing on paper and reading books is still the best option.

25. Your exclusive with DC now, but looking across the pond at the otherc ompanies, is there a character and creator who you haven't worked with thatyou have been dying to get at?

Sure, a number of them. I like Spider-Man, Captain America. I'd love a real shot at Daredevil sometime. Or to work with Mike Mignola on Abe Sapien, or Lobster Johnson, or something. There are tons of writers I'd like to work with, too many to name here.

26. How is Obama doing so far?

Well enough so far, given the mess he inherited. I'm reading that this recession has perhaps bottomed out, and I think it would've taken longer to do that had he not acted when he did. Am I happy about this bailout? Of course not, but given a situation like this, deficit spending and bailing out banks is the really the only thing to do. One of the reasons the Great Depression lasted so long is that the Hoover Administration let so many banks fail without stepping in right away.And it's nice to have a President that seems dignified, intelligent, and so genuinely good. We haven't had that in many, many years.

27. Does it bother you that he bowed before the Saudi King?

Not in and of itself, no. I have no problem with the President of theUnited States showing respect to a foreign ally who is royalty. Would anybody complain if he bowed to Queen Elizabeth? He's making an effort to change the image we've had to deal with for the last eight years, and to show the world that we can be respectful of other cultures. Our great Presidential tradition should be one of humility and calling, not acting-like Chief Executive who sits at the top of the world pyramid,demanding respect and showing none. We've had enough of that, in my opinion.

But it does bother me that Robert Gibbs, President Obama's Press Secretary,didn't defend it in any way other than to lie about it. He maintained that it wasn't a bow, that the President was stooping to shake his hand. Look, I saw the video-it was certainly and obviously a bow. I think most people would totally respect it if the Obama Administration just went ahead and owned it.Ultimately, though, it was just one of those non-issues that the media loves to exploit. It has nothing to do with anything.

You can find out more about Cully @, they have a great message board there. Make sure to check it out and pick up Detective Comics #854...Batwoman and the Question? It's gonna be awesome.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Comic Capsule Reviews 5/20/2009

Trinity #51: Spectacular. A wonderful engaging story about Krona's mad search for secret knowledge at all costs, personal motivations of Morgana and Despero for absolute power. Enigma yo save his world from the Crime Syndicate, And the very nature of the DCU due to the primacy of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as the Trinity got even better as we hit the last several issues. In this issue The Earth is brought back together and the Trinity sacrifice the last of their power to deal with Krona, and also defeat Despero and Morgana who were contemplating a last dash for power and kill Enigma or have they. And it ends with a wonderful cliff hanger....Super, Bats and WW weakend turn to face their counterparts in the syndicate. great stuff. Busiek and Nicieza pull it all together very well with some nice scripting throughout. Bagley really does a stand out job with dynamism and energy..and I think he really does a great Batman. Pete Pantazis does wonderful colors over him. They should stay a team. unfortunately the portion of the book done be Derenick looked very rushed. Completely forced anatomy, even for his extreme style was way over the top. Morgana looked broken and twig like in many panels and some of the foreshortening was just to far and off. Still it reads well. And I can't wait to see what the climax holds. Great stuff. (Aquaman is back? Doesn't DC know they are supposed to hire me to write that story?) 8.5 out of 10

FC aftermath:DANCE #1: Mmmm..this is a tough one. admittedly I wasn't going to by any of the FC Aftermath stuff..but I love Chriscross' art. So I decided to buy it. And after reading it I still don't care about the characters, but I do like the developments. Basically Super Young Team gets sponsored by some Japanese consortium and even given a lot so super cool space station and throw a the appropriately marketed release party for their brand. What I liked was the script and Most Excellent Superbat and his internal exploration presented via "twtteratti" and his questioning through out the book. I like the part with Ultimon-Alpha a lot. Other then that nothing in it did any thing to make the characters interresting, which I hope will change as the story goes on. although the story itself is. I am curious about the ending and if MOSEXBAT finds what he is looking for and they become the next generation of heroes he sees himself as. Th art is great. Eventhough there isn't much in terms of superhero action, Chriscross really shows his chops with great character and expression, and wonderful work on the sets and back grounds. Its like super fusion comic manga-Kirby, especially the first two page splash interior of the Space Station. Impressive stuff. and he manages to bring a level of dynamism of that is usually absent in an issue that is mostly standing around talking. There is a bit of action thrown in there..and its fun, but not really essential. Not fan of the colors really, but it's not so bad as to distract from the art and story(Snakebite?). The saving grace for me is Casey's great scripting and Chrisscross' art. And that will keep me buying this series. 7 out of 10

Invincible #62: This comic is like a non-stop roller=coaster of super-fights to the max. Invincible can't get a break..coming out of the Invincible War he gets a Viltrumite powerhouse dropped on him, and he makes no pretense about it he likes to kill and destroy. Its an awesome superfight. And i love the end..the Global Defense Agency has a plan, an eerie sick plan, but unfortunately not the time to get it off the ground things don't bode well for the home town hero Invincible....if the next issues cover is any indication. The art is second to none. Almost no one can do what Ottley does every month. Cartoony, bold, dynamic, graphic...its one of the best illustrated books on the stands. and really I think out side of Mahnke no one can touch Ottley when it comes to visceral violence and power. This is a super fight you have to see. Power unleashed on a scale you would expect when two Superman level power houses face off. Punch into space? Yeo, City blocks destroyed? yep...all illustrated perfectly. and to add to Ottley's bold open art is Plascena's perfect colors. Awesome. 9 out of 10 for balls out action. There is no good reason not to read this book.

HULK #12: say what you want about Loeb, but as long as he has the space to tell his own stories and not muck with the continuous story telling in an ongoing his pretty much gonna give you an explosive fun rockarolla comic like no other. That what the Defenders/Offenders story has been. Sure we all hate Rulk, and this issue does nothing to change it...but the use of characters, cliche bolded dialogue and character antics coupled with McGuiness' power and style it's a home run hit full of fun. Listen I can't remember these versions of the characters where used this well, and really pays homage to all the comics I loved growing up and turning it on it's ear with some bizarre zaniness that blows the mind. Come silly is it that Rulk kills Hulk, surfer and Terrax uses their combined power flies through Dormammu's head and then gets in Galactus' face all indignant's as awesome as it is preposterous, it's a super hero Loeb took marvel and went Bugs Bunny Warner brothers with it. And again, blend those absurd comic sensibilities with McGuinness' style and mind blowing ability to tell stories and there is no way not to like this. Even if Rulk beats Grandmaster to death...who cares..its a fun ride, and you know what...I know it's not in my continuity, you don't have to bring it into yours either just love it for what it is. Great comic fun, with the best art you can imagine. I am dropping the book now, but am glad i picked up this arc. 9 out of 10

Amazing Spiderman #594: Another great issue. Not the stuff with the new Vulture, which is horribly designed like a cross bewteen some bad American anime and the thing from JeepersCreepers. I am completely uninterrested in him, but he serves a purpose. A menace to bring Spidey's nagging feelings about Osborne to a head. And the other elements in the story...Aunt May and J.J. Sr..did she really say YES?, JJJ, Pete's new roomate yelling at him as he walks around naked, the piece with the REAl Vulture, and finally Pete's decision at the end were all handled very well by Waid. I am also excited about the upcoming American Son storyline. The art was good but unbalanced. The inking helped Kitson's pages, which made him much stronger then I usually think he is and then you had great pages by McKone, who I think should have handled the whole issue, the last 3 pages were beautiful. A good issue in the BND era...but not as good as others. 7 out of 10

Fantastic Four #566: Fantastic is just about right. A great build up, as Doom's Master finally shows up and is somewhat disappointed in his pupil..and it seems he's come sideways across dimensions destroying Earth's and killing Watchers along the way. Yeah..The FF better get real ready real quick. I like how Millar is building this, Reed's autopsy of the other-dimensional Uatu was nicely done. I also liked Doom in Latervaria. The stuff with Ben caught me by surprise..that story line might be bigger then I thought. Great job by Millar, he has done a great job carving out his slice of FF history. A lot of things have been added and really added a sense of wonder, and creepiness to Marve;'s first family. Hitch is amazing throughout. Nice big panels and his signature detail. I really love how spooky he makes the Master's of Doom. I am certain the next issue will be blow the door off the house crazy as the FF face off against the Marquis of Death. 8.5 out of 10

Captain America #50: Wonderful tale of Bucky's non-birthday's since his early days as a 16 year old army base brat. I really enjoyed the little vignettes Really nice portrait interspersed between some great action and roof jumping. and I love how Bru brought it all together with Bucky understanding what Steve(cap) really gave him. A family. Nicely done. opening the book I thought I was going to grumble through my review..without Epting on art chores. But wow, Ross handled things beautifully. Talk about, great movement. And even better nice art during historical pieces exploring Bucky's birthdays over the years. I also enjoyed the origin and history lesson masterfully presented in full page illustrations by Marcus Martin. Beautiful. And you can never go wrong with Hembeck. I great anniversary issue. Well done Bru and co. 9 out of 10

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Best Comics Ever: the Micronauts (Marvel)

Micronauts are one of my oldest comic book memories.

This comic almost out Star Wars'ed Star Wars.

Hard to believe I know. But there was something magical about the Micronauts from the giddy up. Balls out Sci-Fi fantasy action, amazing characterizations, wonderfully designs that took from the toy line and some that departed from them completely, and you had Baron Karza.

I don’t know a lot of people that read Micronauts. But it came out in the late 70’s, a time when the toys were selling hotcakes(I had them all and still have a lot of them boxed up in storage), and Marvel was doing a great job with other toy properties like Shogun Warriors and Godzilla (and ROM too!). It was Written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by a virtual who’s who of Marvel artists, but to me the most memorable stories and covers were drawn by the legendary Michael Golden, Pat Broderick and Butch Guice.

The book followed Marionette, Acturus Ran(Space Glider), Bug, Microtron, Biotron, Acroyer and eventually expanded to Huntarr and Devil as they Rebel against the power hungry Tyrant Baron Karza who’s lust for control of the Enigma Force (a version of the Uni-power that exists in the Marvel Universe and is employed by Captain Universe.) and the rest of the universe is all consuming it leads them through many perils and adventures that play out through the series.

What was amazing about the book was that the subject matter was really taken seriously and the universe and the stories were brilliant. The book also intersected with the Marvel Universe cast of characters in interesting ways when the characters break through the Microverse in the Marvel world were they have great adventures. The meta plot of freeing the homeworld and disposing Karza is peppered with great side stories like Bug getting mutated into some sort of monster insectoid by Plantman. Coming up against Molecule man, getting involved with SHIELD and HYDRA. It was brilliant stuff. Acroyer was an inch tall and could flip a truck. And I can’t think of a character anywhere that looked cooler then he does.

But the absolute best part of Micronauts was the epic scale of it. In possibly the best issue ever Acroyer uses the power of the Worldmind, where he can absorb the power of the Acroyer homeworld to defeat the Karza and his fleet. In the process he destroys the Planet he rules. He is so grief stricken that he brands himself and his people are left homeless and his evil brother Shaitan calls him a traitor. The stuff is EPIC I tell you. And Force Commander(Prince Argon(?)) sacrificing his humanity for the power to lead his people battle against Karza(The bastard never stays down long). In the end there huge losses as the team finally defeats Karza.

I also loved the relationships and interactions between the characters. Bug and Acroyers friendship, Huntarr turning from assassin to hero, Devil struggling with his bestial nature, Ran and Karza’s philosophical battles and discussions of the Enigma Force. Karza is a great villain and certainly up there with Darkseid and Thanos. Believe that.

It’s funny the characters were popular enough to warrant a mini in which they teamed up with the X-men, and Bug managed to make his way to the Marvel Universe as member of Guardians of the Galaxy.

If you haven’t read these books before, please go find them, This was a great series. (The Marvel one.) and tons of fun for the comic and Sci-fi fan. I have so many great memories of this book and the toys. To this day the complete series is the gem of my collection. :)

If you never heard of or ever read these comics, chances are you can find them on the cheap, in dollar bins at your LCS(Local Comic Shop). Read them and join the cult of Micronauts.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Comic Capsule Reviews 5/5 and 5/12/2009

Sorry didn't make it to the comic shop last week, so I am going to double up on the last two weeks with this instalment. Thanks for giving the blog a chance.

and without further procrastination here come the reviews...

Trinity #49 and 50: Two best issues yet. strong dialogue as what looks like a defeat of Krona turns into the end of the World literally. Although Batman's plan works Le Fey sacrifices herself to free Krona and then he rips the Earth asunder. Which leads to great cosmic conversation between Krona and the soul of the Earth. Great cosmic stuff DC usually doesn't engage in. Excellent dialogue and exploration and great art by the entire trinity creative team. In the end The Trinity, Earth Soul and Krona combmine and reconstruct the Earth? Maybe? We will have to wait and see. Have to take a sex to really give a thumbs up to the great colors and efx provided Pantazis. Nice. 8.5 out of 10

Powergirl #1: Powergirl caused a bit of a Facebook stir...I guess her costume is too risque for sum...and yet no one seems concerned about the rampant whoring of pre-teen girls by what passes for pop-culture these days. But Powergirl ads on Facebook morality needs to take a stand there! Whatevah! I got the one with the Hughes cover, it was the last one...Not sure I like the style..I know Hughes is an art god, bit something was different. Nice boobage..but it didnt pop and wasn't as clever as I thought it was supposed to be. Amanda Conner can do no wrong, her interior is fantastic. Clean, open and expressive. She draws a powerful lead, and really does a great job with the action. Nice big scale action too. her style is perfect for Powergirl. She looks strong yet remains womanly, and the cartoony aspects of the style help capture great characterization and expression. the coloring is nice, but like in many comics today, the color hold on line work, especially on the faces are distracting. I don't think it enhances the art at all. But everything else was perfect. Paul mounts has always been amazing, he does a wonderful job sperating the main characters and action from the backgrounds and doesn't over do it with effects and blurs and burns. The story is interresting, although like Kara I don't get what the villain is doing even though he explains it..why life the whole island and send out an army of robots, when kidnapping few people would have gotten you the same result? Still, it made for some great action and good dialogue. I do think Kara's secret identity and interviews were kinda silly..even for a comic. Completely wrong for Kara, she needs something more mundane if you ask me, running a corporation doesn't seem right with her character. And the interview at the end with Bevlin was...well an example of the silliness to the max. I have mixxed feelings about the issue. Great art, action, nice story elements and interesting villain, I love Powergirl...but the Karen Starr stuff was completely uninteresting. Definitely going to stick around and see how it plays out. 7 out of 10

Action Comics #877: Unfortunately losing Barrows has sunk this book for me. Teles is ok at best, he may grow into a great artist, but here his dynamism, structure and layouts are a shadow of Barrow's. many of the pages with panels on top of each other are messy and do not lead the eye well, especially when bad decisions to crop or break panel boarders are made. It is like the wind was taken out of the sails of this book, because the previous issues were nothing short of stunning. And since I have no investment with these characters it's an easy book for me to drop because of the art. The story is still a decent one, and although the part with Lois lacks emotional impact, Christopher's care for Thara and confrontation with Ursa were well done. What was not well done was the ending...which was silly to the point of being down right stupid. Two Kryptonian criminals from the Phantom zone on Earth as agents for Zod..robbing a bank with Ski masks and shot guns....only to pull them off and reveal their powers because the cops showed up? And then after killing a few people still holding their shotguns kiss each other like its some big Bonnie and Clyde moment. oh, the cover don't make sense either. That was bad. It;s funny i would like Christopher to be the new Superboy actually...oh well. 4 out of 10

R.E.B.E.L.S. #4: Tell me you are reading this book. Bedard is doing an amazing job. Great characterization and developments. I love the characters. Vril is great and what is being done with STARRO(were those super-powered Starros?(WOW!)), well i don't know exactly what it is yet, but it 's great. I love the use of DC's aliens and empires and the disparate groups who are obviously going to come together some how in a big trans-galactic throw down. It's really fun, and clever and really well paced. Hat;s off to Bedard. The art is inferior to the last 3 issues. Almost like they just threw in an artist who kinda like the other guy...but you can see it's not as well defined, and weaker then it should be. What really bothered me was page in page out having art bleed to the edges of the page. very distracting. But not enough to kill the joy of a really well written space story. The art isn't horrible mind you, the story is easy to follow and the artist does a decent job, it's just not as good as it has been. Really, give this book a shot, you don't need to know anything about Legion of Super-heroes or even L'E.G.I.O.N....Bedard is weaving something new and wonderful here. Don't let anything keep you from supporting this book. 8 out 10 (woulda been a 9 if not for the art)

the Flash: Rebirth #2: Great cover. And the interior is really nice too. Van Scriver managers to throw in great detail, push the anatomy to the breaking point, tell a great story and really give the book and the Flash(es) the great energy the book needs. awesome job throughout. And I have to add terrific coloring by Alex Sinclair. Bravo. story wise Johns does his thing, but I think the book is a little too long. Too many wasted panels and pages giving Barry some history and trying to give him personality with Iris. Other then that the story is genuinely interesting, i want to know what's going on and how this is going to play out, maybe not how we all thought...Black Flash? Really? I like what johns is laying out, not sure the issue was paced right, still had good dialogue, developments...what was with the Gorillas? aren't they like super advanced? why are they drawing pics of humans on caves? 7.5 out of 10.

Secret Six #9: this book gets better every issue. i cannot praise Simone high enough for her ability to nail great dialogue, create an off beat sort of horrible fun with her use of violence and the perverse. And still manage to make a respectful nod to the Batman by her trio of sorta-good-guys-maybe then any thing the Bat-books are doing in their Battle for the cowl event. Kudos. I hated he is an interesting character. Ragdoll's Robin is awesome. And know he wants to be the Bat. and finally amid the carnage of goodness and violence of saving babies, Nightwing. Wow that was a great moment between him and the Secret Six. Nicely done Simone. the art is tremendous. Nicola is a goddess with the pencil. Wow. Terrific balls to the wall action and just great moments of eerie violence. It is captured and presented perfectly. great backgrounds, story telling and expression. I could go on and on. And I really love the walking up the side of the building nod to the old Batman show. Brilliant. this book is amazing. I recommend it highly . A very nice interlude into the Batverse for these characters. Great job. 9 out of 10.

Superman:World of Krypton #3: Rucka and Robinson are delivering big time on this title. I love all the characters and the use of the Kryptonians here. I like That Kal outsmarts Gor's bad decision to shot after the hostage crisis and how the inevitable confrontation between he and Kal come to a head. Best Part, Kal smiling with a bloody lip, fighting Gor...he was trained by Batman..that was a nice touch. This is developing nicely. Especially with the GLs showing up. Gonna be a throw down next issue for sure. Pete Woods art is simply beautiful. Clean and precise. Elegant. I love his ability to show facial expression and gesture. and he really does a wonderful job with the layouts and panels. But most of all...the kryptonian architecture and fashion is amazing. This is great work, I really believe not only in this Pete Woods best work...but I need to rethink my top 5 artists. That's how good he is. Brad Anderson also needs an award for his coloring. Very subtle and clean. great job. great comic. 8.5 out of 10

Captain Britain and MI:13 #13: Paul Cornell is incredible. The pacing on this book is really incredible and it's full on great little moments and dialogue. I really like this team And Dracula's Vampire Invasion is brilliant. It is full of great comic book things like impenetrable force fields keeping help from getting in or escape out, guests sowing up for a moment, the heroes facing a team member turned to the dark side...all handled wonderfully. The cast of characters and villains are great. and I really love the scene with "Baron" Blood and Spitfire, and i am certain Faiza isn't dead. Nice touch of narration at the end leading to Dracula triumphant in the Parliament. The art was very nice as well. Kirk shared penciling duties but it wasn't a distraction. Nice action and characters and really great mood. Whenever they draw Dracula I love it. This is a great comic book, and as I say month after month deserves your support. For those of us who remember Claremont's classic X-men run, it has all that in it. Characterization, big events, development over time, and nice twists. a great fun comic. 8.5 out of 10.

War of Kings #3: Everything you are hearing about this book is true. It's great. Abnett and Lanning have pulled in elements from the various Marvel galacticverse and really made a wonderful tale conquest, personal exploration, and war. This issue is a great turning point for the heroes Gladiator, perhaps the single most powerful space character has decided to change sides and support Lilandra. After taking out the combined force of the Starjamming X-men and Guardians of the Galaxy. And I really enjoy this characterization of Ronan, Crystal and the odd place I am finding the Inhumans. Are they that callous and prideful to put the Kree at risk for their own needs? And then there's Vulcan, still hate him, but I am sure h is going to get his in a big way. All the elements are handled wonderfully, I can't wait for Ronan to back on his feet and Black Bolt unleashed. But will they be fighting side by side or each other? The art is masterfully handled by Pelletier. really engaging stuff. Great storytelling and powerful action. This is the stuff great, memorable comics are made off. Great job to everyone involved. I have one crit and that's Gladiator. When did he get so massive? I know its been years now..but somewhere along the way he became a muscle head, if I remember originally he was much more understated. It was his power not his size that was impressive. Any way, its a tiny minor personal crit. This book is awesome. 9 out of 10

Green Lantern Corps #36: Tomasi and Gleason give us another month of super-heroic-space action to the fullest. I love the developments with Sinestro and his daughter, should prove interesting, I especially like the fact the he is going to reclaim his's been fun Mongul. The jail break on Oa keeping the Lanterns occupied as Sodam takes the fight to Mongul for the freedom and soul of his homeworld. Wonderfully written and paced. Tomasi is really showing his chops on this book. I am guessing Sodam flying into the star is going to burn the lead out of his blood and allow him to access the Ion power for his on one with Mongul. man this book rocks. Gleason brings the A+ game to the art chores. great expression and drama...and then turns the dial to 11 with so much visceral bone gnashing action its almost mind numbing. You feel all the power unleashed on sinew and flesh as bodies and light constructs mash and fury is unleashed on Daxam and Oa. This book is consistently a great read. 9 out of 10

Finaly the pick of the a week (or two) of great reads. Drumroll please...

Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1: This is a fun comic. I love that it's about Lockjaw stumbling across an Infinity Gem and then collecting a bunch of super-powered animals to go collect the rest. Throg or Thor Frog is hilarious. I love his initial telepathic conversation with Lockjaw and then the move from borough to borough to collect Redwing, Lockheed(I did know he was such an emo), Furball and MS. Lion (is a dude!). Chris Eliopoulos does a wonderful job with throwing the group together and giving them personalities. Redwing is a pompous bird, Hairball a wisecracker, and Ms. Lion..well...he;s just not with it. He's the Kramer or Dom delouise of the bunch. It's really fun and funny. The art is off the chain. The cover is great . But the interiors are simply beautiful. It looks like the art is pencils only, but with Sotomyers great washed color selections it's perfection. And I hate not having inks so that's saying a lot. The animals have great personalities and expressions, without being forced or too cartoony. It almost has an illustrative quality to it. perfection. with great storytelling, beautiful art, and wonderful fun Idea this book is a great fun read. I am certainly glad this book shot way beyond expectations, and that marvel took a chance with this. Definitely highly recommended. Can't wait to see what the next issue brings..a battle with a T-Rex!!! 9 out of 10

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aris Asks Jefferson l.o.b. Sergeant

Jefferson is a fan of comics particularly the Legion of Super-heroes and Captain Marvel (Shazam) and minister of what is fair and cannon on all things comics.

1. Where are you from and what do you do?

I'm from Brooklyn NY and I am a teacher as well as a noted authority on comicbook canon.

2. Earliest comic book memories?

My earliest memory would be driving with my Father to Sheepshead Bay from Flatbush to Silver Star Collectibles to have my first LCS experience at about 6. It was incredible being surrounded by so many comics and it was the early 80's so comics from the Silver and Golden Age were relatively cheap and I was lucky enough to get several of them.

3. What were the books or characters that initially got you into comics?

Batman, Captain Marvel and Superman. This is the true Trinity for me as you have human perfection in the form of Batman, the ultimate wish fulfillment character in Captain Marvel and the archetype for all Superheroes in Superman.

4. In those early days what were some of the other things that may have been shaping your love of comics(cartoons?, movies? books?)?

Nostalgia gets the better of us all but the eighties were truly the golden age for Geekdom.There was Kung-Fu theater every Saturday and those Shaw Bros. movies inspired my interest into Shang-Chi and Iron Fist. Robotech, Voltron and Battle Of The Planets were my gateway drug into anime and you had all of the great sci-fi epics coming out in film.

Yeah, if you are not a child of the eighties you are truly a victim.

5. What were your favorite comics growing up?

There were so many.

Avengers, Thor, Teen Titans, Captain America, JLA, I will make this easier.Basically you can take the Marvel and DC Checklist from the 80's and drop Dazzler from the roster and I pretty much enjoyed all of it.

The creativity and diversity of the period with Moore, Miller, Simonson, Wolfman, Stern, Starlin etc. all putting out masterpieces month after month was an absolute dream.

6. Do any creators stand out during the early days of reading comics that you think cemented your love for the genre?

While it becomes increasingly hard to appreciate his greatness given the Bad Byrne stories, John Byrne cemented my love for comics.

Byrne is the consummate professional, you go back and look at his work on UNCANNY, AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, SUPERMAN etc. and he never dropped an inch in quality month after month. As a fan you felt assured that you would go to the LCS or newstand and Byrne's work would be there.

When I think of the quality of work being put out by people like Simonson, Starlin, Layton, Chaykin, Miller and Moore during that period and compare it to guys today who can't even get a mini-series out on a time, I have a whole new appreciation of their talents.

7. When did you fall in love with Legion of Super-heroes?

I bought a digest sized best of the LSH stories in 84 I think and that was it. The great thing about the LSH is the canon. When I read the digest I immediately started going backwards and there was just great stories everywhere from Shooter who was a kid himself writing those clasics and of course Levitz and Giffen who put their stamp on the title.

8. What do you think is the best LoSH story ever?

That is tough. So in the spirit of certain members of the SFL I will CHEAT!!!!

Death of Karate Kid- This is a perfect comic. Ther artwork was striking, the storytelling was visceral and it holds up every time I read it. It is one of the best deaths in comics ever.

Great Darkness Saga- The Time Trapper is the arch-nemesis of the LSH but Darkseid pushed them into a whole different zone. This is where we get the creators at their best as they have the characters down cold and everything feels right.

Legion of Three Worlds- Johns+Perez+LSH = classic. While I like the complexity of people like Morrison, John's take on the LSH is the straight action blockbuster that works.

9. Are you enjoying Legion of 3 Worlds?

I am enjoying it immensely! Its the book that the new LSH series should be modeled after.

10. What is it with you and Thunder?

Thunder is a Marvel and because of that she is part of the family.

11. You also love DC's Captain Marvel, why?

Its magic, myth and wish fulfillment all in one. With one magic word a boy becomes one of the most powerful beings in the universe. The origin is one of the best in fiction and with Black Adam you have the wizard trying to gain redemption before his death in the form of Billy.

The Captain Marvel franchise should still be one of the biggest things in comics. I hope the movie and Gaiman can finally elevate the Captain of The Thunder and lightning into a top ten mainstay.

12. Can Captain Marvel beat Superman?

I am starting to doubt if you have the most comics in Florida after a question like that!

13. What do you think of the current state of the Marvels?

I think it is a glaring failure on the part of DC to allow a goldmine to languish at the helm of incompetence and indifference.

There is no way something like BEN 10 can be a runaway hit and the Marvels can't maintain a monthly.

I'll give Didio this for free.

Go to the DC archives and pull out WORLD'S FINEST with Bridwell and Newton's Captain Marvel. Copy those stories and you will have a hit.

14. Your thoughts on Final Crisis?

Final Crisis was a masterpiece.

Morrison took all the cynicism, angst and crass-commercialism that characterized so many of the other DC event books and replaced it with hope, optimism, meta-physics and the power of Kirby.

When people dismiss Superhero comics as people in "Gimp suits" or spandex clad idiocy they should pick up FINAL CRISIS. It shows the potential that only the superhero genre can achieve in this medium.

Can SCOTT PILGRIM outrace a god-killing bullet? HELL NO HE CAN'T!!!!! +1 FINAL CRISIS

15. What books are you currently reading that stand out above the rest?

Thor- This verges on blasphemy but JMS is entering Simonson territory with his THOR stories.

L03W- Johns and Perez just have the mythos locked down and the exploration of the moral code guiding the LSH is a great foundation for the story.

16. You seem to follow certain creators forums, who are some of your favorites?

Hudlin Entertainment Forum- Reginald Hudlin's forum is a great place for diverse conversation and Reggie is always there to talk about the storylines.

Comicbloc- While its a bit stiff, I enjoy the interaction with the fellow fans and Johns enthusiasm is readily apparent in everything he writes.

17. Who wins Steve Rogers Cap or Black Panther?

Black Panther is stronger, faster and smarter.

T'Challa wins 7 out of 10. YEAH I SAID IT!!!!!

18. What the heck is L.O.B.?


19. Your a pretty vocal team owner in the Millar World Super-hero Fantasy League(Kinda like a Foot ball fantasy league only with SUPERHEROES!!!), do you think the voting is fair?


Let me say this first, Nathan has created a great game that I enjoy immensely.
The SFL works best when its kind of a free for all where biased can be called out and MOCKED viciously but alays in LOVE. The votes are not fair but thats part of the fun, at least when you can call the voters out.The greatness of the game is the strategy used by the players and the twists Nathan adds. Only in the SFL can you have the Magus taking on the Mighty Bruce. You can't beat that.

20. What is "Black-Thought-Police"?

Black-Thought-Police is a blog where I write about politics and current events. I have been slacking but given the antics of Steele, the RNC and Limbaugh I will be back with a king-size edition very soon.

21. Do you think $3.99 comics will hasten the demise of the floppy and local comic shop(LCS)?

I think tradwaiters, and I am not saying any names here COUGH MO, will hasten the demise of the LCS faster than the 3.99 pricepoint.

If the product is improved people will pay 3.99 the issue now is that the material hasn't improved and there seems to be a blatant disregard for the loyal fanbase by raising prices in this manner.

What I would like to see is for fans to boycott these titles and pick up at least 2 books that need the support instead.

22. Will you follow comics digitally if you have to?

I love comics so if it comes down to that I will. Although, I don't want digital comics as the sole means of getting my fix. I think the LCS ritual is important and can be used as a means of expanding the fanbase.

23. Do you read much creator owned stuff?

Not really.

I find myself getting into people like Morrison who essentially tear everything down and essentially make WFH their creator owned work.

24. Who plays Black Adam in a Captain Marvel movie?

Batista is my first choice and then The Rock.

25. All time favorite comic issue or story line?


No one has come even close.

26. Do you think you can take Jim O'hara in a fight?


O'Hara has a better chance winning against sunlight than he does against me!

Jefferson has a blog, check it out.

Aris Asks Brian Knippenberg

Brian Knippenberg is a long time comic reader and regular poster on comic book message boards and on Facebook.

1. Your last name is about as difficult as mine, any good stories about teachers or people trying to pronounce or spell it right?

My fourth-grade teacher would call me "Kniffenberg" for the entire year. He also always wrote it down that way too. Needless to say I would get into it with him over it countless times which would always lead me down to the principal’s office. Personally, I think the man was just trying to drive me crazy. Then again, there were only three male teachers in my elementary school and they were all a bit off their rockers. Over the years I’ve heard and seen some crazy iterations (Nipplebert was a fun one), but for the curious the ‘K’ is silent and it sounds out like Nip-En-Berg. It’s a name of German descent.
Lately I’ve been thinking of changing it to En Sabah Nur because it has a rather nice ring to it.

2. Can you tell us your earliest comic book memories?

Back in 1978 (I was three years old) my parents would shuffle us from Long Island into Queens often to visit my grandparents and uncle at the 2-story apartment building they owned. My uncle was always a guy who liked to be ahead of the times and bought one of the first VCR’s (not Beta, thankfully) and, later on, a consumer video camera (which fostered my love for filmmaking). Anyway, this VCR was HUGE. It looked like a giant tape recorder that could be sitting on a rooftop in a 50’s Batman comic! My uncle had surprised my brother and I with recorded episodes of the Adam West Batman series, which was the first I had ever seen of such a character. We loved them so much we watched them twice in a row! Our father picked up on our interest and went out and brought back a giant Batman coloring book. What was cool about this coloring book was that it was done in a comic book format. I still have that book today! We were so into the show and the book that my dad took it to the next level and one evening surprised us with a Spider-Man comic book (which I can’t remember) and Detective Comics #477 which featured a reprint of an earlier ‘Tec story, "The House That Haunted Batman".
The cover showed a battle worn Caped Crusader at an open doorway, bats flying right at him from the darkness, and a green-gloved hand
(Robin’s) pointing a loaded gun towards him. From that point on, I was hooked! I would get comics every week from wherever I could find them…spinner racks at newsstands, my first direct market store "Heroes World", then moving onto many other stores and more for 30+ years now.

3. What else where you into as a kid in Queens?

I mainly lived in Hicksville, Long Island but since I visited my grandparents in Queens so often as a child and then went every weekend after my parents divorced and my dad took over the building with my uncle, I had the best of both worlds…two homes. I was always playing stickball in the streets and street hockey and involved in other sports and then drawing for endless hours on an untold number of drawing tablets or yellow legal pads. And once my uncle had that video camera up and running in mid eighties, it was all about making movies! That was a passion I developed ever since seeing the makings of Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman at a very young age.

4. What were your favorite comics growing up that really cemented collecting for you?

At a really young age (late 70’s/early 80’s), the standards were Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League of America, Adventure Comics, Flash, Green Lantern, The New Teen Titans (which blew my little mind away), Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four, Avengers, ROM: Spaceknight, and Micronauts. I was also a huge fan of the team-up titles…DC Comics Presents, Brave & the Bold, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One. Of course, a bit later were greats like G.I. Joe and Transformers (to a degree).

5. What creators from those days to you remember really being impressed or excited by?

I do remember certain writers’ names and knew that those particular guys (Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, Bill Mantlo, etc.) wrote great stories then but I was always drawn to the art. The first artist whose style I recognized was George Perez. Even back then he was amazing with every page drawn. Then there was Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, John Byrne, Bernie Wrightson, Neal Adams, John Romita, and Jim Aparo. I was always drawn to them. Other greats like Jack Kirby, Curt Swan, Dick Dillon, Gil Kane, John and Sal Buscema, I wouldn’t appreciate until a little bit later.

6. I know you are into cartoons, what was better back in the day Super Friends or the re-runs on WPIX of the Marvel Superheroes (the ones with cut out comic animation)?

As much as I loved the old Marvel toons, I’d have to go with Super Friends, which were more vibrant by comparison. However, today I still enjoy the old Captain America episodes as they hold up better somehow for me when compared to the other Marvel toons.

7. Did you like any of the Hannah/Barbera super hero stuff(Space Ghost, Bird Man, Herculoids, Galaxy Trio, etc..)?

Absolutely! All of those old 60’s-70’s Hanna/Barbera toons were just fantastic stuff! Corny by today’s standards, but still fun! Those guys were and are the ultimate cartoon pimps and I was suckling at their proverbial animated teat for most of my childhood and was it sweet, sweet milk!

8. Star Wars or Star Trek?

May The Force Be With You…so long as there are no midi-chlorians to speak of!

9. Are you annoyed yet by the constant fawning over the new Trek movie?

Not really. I have yet to see the new movie, but I did enjoy the original series growing up and "Wrath of Khan" because who didn’t want to run around bare-chested like Ricardo Montalban! It’s kind of cool to see something like that "connect" with so many people on a large-scale, even those who were never fans before, and I’m sure it is especially a great feeling for the fans who were told that their beloved franchise was D.O.A. So, I can dig it!

10. Who are your all time favorite comic characters?

Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing), Barry Allen (Flash), Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Thing, Captain America, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf and Jack Knight (Starman). Oh, and Vibe! He gave me the confidence to rock it B-Boy style!!!

11. Marvel or DC?

I have always been a lifelong fan of both. However in recent years, depending on the output and my interest, I might tend to favor one company over the other. A year ago I would have definitely said Marvel, but I think I’m back to being about equal with favoring the Big Two.

12. Do you read any thing from Image, Dark Horse, or any other independent publishers?

I used to grab just about a little of everything back in my free-wheelin’ comics spending days, because I love all types of comics, but sadly I’ve had to reduce my comics’ spending. That said, I still trade-wait on books like Invincible, Hellboy, Walking Dead and Phonogram.

13. What are you favorite books right now?

From DC….Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, The Bat-Books and Superman-Books (which have really strengthened of late), Secret Six, R.E.B.E.L.S., Flash: Rebirth and Jonah Hex. From Marvel…Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, Incredible Hercules, Invincible Iron Man, Wolverine: Weapon X & Origins, FF, Daredevil, Secret Warriors, Ghost Rider and Captain Britain and MI-13 (which has sadly just been cancelled). For the independents, it’s currently just the aforementioned titles, plus Incognito & Kick-Ass (since they’re from Marvel’s Icon).

14. Do you follow artists or writers?

I tend to follow writers across their various projects. Back in my art-days it was a little bit more of the opposite.

15. What did you think of Final Crisis?

I loved it in all of it’s Silver-Age acid trip, channel-zapping glory.

16. What does the term "event fatigue" mean to you?

Once upon a time it meant that I was going to rip my hair out over collecting all of the tie-ins for said event, but now the term "event fatigue" means to me that the constant status quo changing events that pop up tend to take away from the natural course of evolution and story growth within the titles themselves. I sometimes feel like I can’t fully enjoy a book because I know that the next "event" will most likely change and dictate the terms of what I’m reading anyway.

17. You are a big Legion of Super-heroes fan, what do you think of Legion of 3 Worlds?

I’m really enjoying the series. Granted, the Legion have been getting a little bit overshadowed by the two big "returns" they’ve had in the last two issues, but overall I really appreciate that Geoff Johns can weave story of this magnitude while still honoring, not one, but three Legions from DC’s long history. And I’ve never seen the Legion look so good in such a long time with George Perez’s pencils. I can’t wait to see where they go next with the team within the pages of Adventure Comics. Overall, it’s been really great seeing the original Pre-Crisis in action again! Since their return I’ve been able to stop drinking in the dark while wearing my Matter-Eater Lad costume.

18. I just checked the Marvel Month to Month Sales. Not a book over 100k, what do you think is the main reason comics aren't really enjoying the kind of sales they have in previous decades?

I think it could be due to a variety of reasons. As comic readers, who have been sticking with it for awhile, get older they may become more selective with what they purchase. The economy and rise in cover prices I’m sure has an effect. Also I think that a lot of the younger generation, potential new readers, are not getting into comics because they don’t have access to comics as say you or I did back in the day (plus competing forms of entertainment) and not a lot of parents even think to go to a comic shop or take the time to determine what’s appropriate for their age.

19. Are you looking forward to digital comics?

I think that comic book evolution should always occur and I hope to see it reach a level in format that transcends it’s current digital beginnings, but I prefer being able to hold a comic in my hand and not read off of a screen. I’d also rather own my collection and not rent one each year. Having said that, I did enjoy the Marvel DVD-ROM collections that GIT, Inc. had put out before Marvel launched their digital initiative. They’ve also released some Archie sets which are quite nice.

20. Did the increase of some books by Marvel to $3.99 cause you to drop any titles?

Before that I had dropped down severely in my collecting due to lifestyle changes, but the $3.99 cover charge is a blow I can’t take these days. Pretty much anything that’s $3.99 will have to be trade-waited. I’m picking up a couple of more Hulk issues and Weapon X, but they too will most likely be trade-waited.

21. What do you think the companies should do to increase sales?

As much as I love FCBD, is it smart to mainly hold them in comic shops and advertise on comic-based websites when the people who don’t read or collect them are unaware? What about supermarkets, malls, or movie theaters? I think there needs to be more accessibility and advertising of comics to the general public again. Marvel ran their "Embrace Change" Secret Invasion ad on TV, but it was on ESPN 2 during a Minor League Baseball game! What about creating brief commercials (which they had for their G.I. Joe comics in the 80's) that could be played during their own Marvel cartoons?

22. Does continuity matter?

Once upon a time I thought it did, and it does to a degree, but as these decades old characters continue to be published it can become harder to keep track of it all and applying it at all times I feel restricts future story potential and character growth for these characters. I view it on a case by case basis, but overall a comic that shows a kind of neglect in paying attention to continuity details from time-to-time doesn’t affect me all that much.

23. Do you have any aspirations to write or draw comics?

Absolutely! When I was younger I wanted to enter into the art-side of things, but that fell through the wayside after the death of my father.
I’ve been writing various things for years now, nothing you’ve seen or read, mostly stories and screenplays for filmmaker friends. I would very much like to be writing my own comic as well as for the Big Two.
Right now, I’d like to pair up with the right kind of artist online and see if we can get something accomplished. Seeing that’s how it’s the best way to be viewed as a writer by the comic publishing companies.
Artists, writers…use the internet to your advantage! There are so many ways to research and utilize resources to increase your chances for making the comics that you want to make and/or break into something bigger. Don’t be afraid to take a chance!

24. All time favorite single issue?

If I have to pick one (and that’s very hard) but I’d have to go with New Teen Tiatns #38, "Who Is Donna Troy?" Marv Wolfman & George Perez brilliantly tell a tale that doesn’t involve costumed characters and epic battles, but a smaller story about the lengths one person would go to to help give back his closest friend’s past and identity. A very heartfelt and touching story which taught me at a young age that comics are one of the greatest forms of storytelling because you can do so much in these little panels to make people feel, make them care.

25. When some on asks "Brian why do you read comics?" you answer?

Where else can you go to that married the written word to dynamic visuals in such a way that unleashes your imagination? There are so many wonderful comics, in so many wonderful genres, and it’s just as valid as anything else consumed by a society that craves storytelling.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Best Comics Ever: Justice League of America #200

This is one of my single favorite comics. I had been reading JLA on and off for some time already, but not steady. Only what I could find on the stands as a kid. I liked them. Loved the expansive team back in the late 70's and early 80's. I mean Green Lantern, Flash, the Atom, Zantana(in the blue and white even!)and Red Tornado just looked cool and that's only about a third of the team!

But it didn't really all come together perfectly for me until issue #200.

I found it at a comic shop. The cover was stunning. In those days wrap-arounds were rare. But this was a beauty executed by legendary George Perez. The classic JLA vs the newer JLA! With colored tiles of the various places the battles take place in the interior. The cover just screamed "greatest superhero comic".

It was a "Super-sized, Star-studded" anniversary issue. Heavy in your hand, and only a $1.50!. And you know what the cover with Superman hoisting Hawkman over his head and Flash whacking elongated man wasn't gonna let you down and it doesn't. To this day it may be may absolute favorite single issue ever!

So what's the big deal?
This comic has it all.
Recaps the origin of the team, has the original threat that united the Justice League rear its ugly head as a real threat and tell a kick ass convincing emotional story, heroes fighting heroes! And artists galore!

Some of the highlights for me are the way Gerry Conway handles all the characters, uses the history, and gives you the greatest capes action ever. I mean serious where else have you seen Green Arrow tricked by a decoy get handcuffed by Batman? And complain about it? Hawkman drawn by Joe Kubert taking out Superman Robots unit his mace finally meats with the man of steel? Jim Aparo Aquaman vs Red Tornado? Gil Kane GL vs the Atom? Wonder Woman vs Zantana? Firestorm vs Martian Manhunter and all the main stories by Perez? You haven't and you certainly haven't seen it done flawlessly like this.

And in the end the heroes all get together and stop the alien warlord powerhouses from taking over the Earth.

I mentioned flawless and it was. And right now, if you like comics and never gave DC a chance because its too complicated. Go find this comic. Read it. Everything you need to know about the JLA and the main DC characters is right there in one issue for you.

Best comic ever? Hell yeah.

Teaser: Aris Asks interview with Gerry Conway coming soon, so stay tuned!!! (he wrote JLA #200 by the he may just be the BEST COMIC WRITER EVER!!!!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aris Asks Adrian Barrios

Adrian Barrios is a talented illustrator and animator currently working on the Chaotic Trading Card Game and TMNT 4Kids Entertainment.

1. You are a pretty amazing artist. When did you start drawing?

Thanks Aris! But I don’t know about the “amazing” part, I started having an interest with art since I was very little, I always used to copy my dad’s illustrations, drawings and paintings and pretend that I was him, I used to always get in trouble for using his art supplies and selling his art in school , but when I was around 12 I completely stopped my art and started getting into music when one of my cousin told me that I will get more girls if I was in the band, I listened to him but didn’t really get me anywhere so I started drawing again when I was around 18

2. What are some of the influences on your work?

Hmmm…It’s funny because there are so many amazing artists I admire and get inspiration from, I try so hard to get influenced by them but they are just so amazing that I can’t even see it in my art, I’m mostly into European artists like Juano Guarnido, Claire Wendling, Messimiliano Frezzato, Alfonzo Aspiri, Milo Minara, Moebius, just to name a few, and of course, Frank Frazetta, Ottomo Katsuhiro, Mashume Shirow, Glenn Keane, Rudy Nebres, Alex Nino, Syd Mead, Hal Santiago and my dad Francis Von Barrios

3. Have you had any formal art training?

I didn’t got to college for art, but I do think that I had a formal training, I had a mentor when I was in the Philippines, Hal Santiago, same as my father’s mentor, then I also had my father trained me in the field of animation/storyboards/layout

4. Do you think formal art training is important in animating or comics?

Absolutely, it’s definitely a big help to have formal training on anything, but there are people out there are just born kicking ass! Like you Aris!

5. Do you read comics?

I used to. I still buy them just to look at the art now.

6. Any comic artists who stand out as mind blowing to you?

There are lots of them out there, Alex Ross, Joe Madureira, Mike Mignola, Eric Canete, James Jean, Adam Hughes…

7. You are interested in doing some comic work, are there any characters who you want to chance to draw?

Hell yeah! Wolverine!!!

8. How did you get you first job in animation?

Referral from my dad

9. Why do you think so many comic artists moonlight as animators?

I guess it’s all in their style, there are some comic book illustrators out there that has that animation style, minimal lines, no black shadows, simple silhouettes, very animation friendly, the best example I can think of is Cheeks amazing work.

10. You work with some very talented people (Not Jason!). What is the vibe like in the studio?

Yeah, I’m surrounded with amazing artists here in the studio, the vibe is awesome and intense for me, keeping up with these bastards are pain in the ass! – I try my best but they are just beasts!

11. You have a band called Diablo Royale. Tell us about it?

Front man of NYC based Heavy Rock band, I thought I’d give it another try, so far so good and what my cousin said is true. ;) You can check our site out here or our myspace

12. So you really want to be a rockstar right, you have that rockstar vibe?

Why not and I guess so

13. You do a lot of digital work, do you think it will ever replace pen and paper?

In my case, it already did, I haven’t done any art on paper, I kind of regret it in a way but they have their own differences. But I’d love to get back on paper, replacing pen and paper completely? I don’t think so, people/fans/collectors are always gonna want originals

14. Do you think today's crop of artists are too dependent on digital tools?

Yes, but if the product comes out better and faster, why not?

15. You are pretty fast drawing wise, how long do you think it takes for you to do a finished comic page?

It depends on the page and style, I guess, I’ve never really timed my self. A page a day, I guess.

16. Are you jealous of my power(Keith and Jason are!)?

Everyone is jealous of your power; you’re the all mighty Aris! But I still think that I can out bench you!

Aris replies: (Big Deal I know for a fact you can't out bench Doug Mahnke!)

17. What advise to you have to some one who wants to be an artist?

Don’t be lazy, draw, draw, draw and always be a student. Learn from anyone (I keep telling this to my self too)

18. Do you think social networking sites are good places to promote your art and find work?

Yes! – Networking is the key to meet the right people! Befriend all the cool artists you know, there will be a time you’ll ran into them and they may be able to hook you up with some gigs or anything, but also be genuine with them.

19. If you weren't drawing for a living and rocking out at night what would you be doing?

Join the X-MEN probably.

20. Who is the BEST artist you know?

GOD.Oh you meant BEST human artist?Hard to say really, umm…I would go for Frank Frazetta

21. Explain what you do in animation?

I do Character Design, I get character descriptions from the script and I design the concept and if the director approves it then I go to “clean up” (ink), then sometimes I have to do the “turn around” (5 different views, front, back, side, ¾ front, ¾ back), then action poses, then facial expressions, mouth chart. And I did some storyboards for a while too.

22. Do you have any parting words for people reading this?

Why you wasting your time reading this?!?! Get back to the drawing board! PEACE!

DC, Marvel...Adrian would love to draw for you. Every one go check the guys work at, he is available for commission work. And Again...Marvel or DC, Image...this guy is looking for something to do! Scoop him up!